Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
Mrs Boggs has a gun and will use it
The sheriff was looking at me.
“Don’t you have a negotiator?”
“Tried. We have fifteen minutes before she starts shooting them.”
“Given the circumstances, surely there is a more simple solution.”
“She’s not in a position where we could neutralize the problem.”
I could see the scene in my mind. Benderby’s passion for privacy was going to be his undoing.
“She wants the truth about her son’s death.”
“I wasn’t there when he was killed.”
“You were when they confessed.”
“So were you?”
“The recording was inadmissible evidence, a confession gained under duress.”
“Then it doesn’t matter what I say, the same argument applies.”
“Just tell her what she wants to hear and get the gun. We’ll take care of the rest.”
“And if she shoots Sam in the process?” Finally, my mother decided to speak.
“I don’t think she will, but we will take precautions.”
“I’m not going to change her mind, but if it saves her life, I’ll try.”
I didn’t see how the bulletproof vest was going to help if her aim was off, a very genuine possibility. It made me feel like I was overweight, and it restricted movement.
A large crowd had formed outside the venue, and it was hard to tell what they were thinking, other than this was yet another random act of gun violence.
The deputies cleared a path, and we went into the large room that was usually full of diners. People within a six-table radius had moved away, leaving Benderby, and Alex, sitting somewhat stultified, glancing in the direction where Elsie Boggs was.
She was not visible from where we were standing, yet it appeared she could see us.
“That’s far enough, Sheriff. Just send Sam here, and back off.
As the sheriff backed away, I walked slowly towards the table where I could now clearly see Benderby and Alex, and then I felt a shiver. His first wife, rarely seen in public, and daughter, Alex’s younger sister were also at the table. She had left him long before Benderby had embarked on his questionable ventures.
Wrong place, wrong time, and possible collateral damage.
I stopped about fifteen feet from both Elsie Boggs and the Benderby’s. The two women were visibly terrified.
Elsie Boggs said nothing, which surprised me after asking for me.
“If you want justice for your son, this is not going to achieve it. At least consider letting some of these people leave. They have nothing to do with this.”
“No. They’re witnesses.”
“To what exactly?”
“It isn’t a confession if it’s under duress. It won’t be admissible in a court of law, and you know as well as I do that Alex would confess to anything if he believed it would save himself.”
“It’s not him he’s going to save.”
I heard once the effective range of a handgun was about twenty feet, and in the hands of an amateur far less. I was not sure if Mrs. Boggs knew how to use it, but she was certainly holding it steady, using both hands, like I’d seen on TV.
I suspect the weapon was Rico’s, because Boggs had shown me a gun he had found hidden away in the closing in the spare bedroom where Rico had been staying before being arrested.
I remembered it had a safety lock, but I couldn’t see it from where I was standing.
But the threat was real, she was aiming the gun at Alex’s sister. That was not going to help her case when this was over. It also brought into focus her state of mind, which was more than likely all over the place after losing her son.
I had to try, and talk her out of this course of action.
“This is not the way to get things done. It’s a matter for the police, and I’m sure they will investigate any claims you make.”
She shook her head. “The sheriff is in Benderby’s picket. There will be no investigation. Their minds are already made up.”
She was right of course, and without any real assurances the sheriff was going to do anything, regret seemed little point to stop her.
She raised the gun towards the roof, over the heads of the Benderby’s, and shot a round into the ornate plasterwork, breaking it and showering them with plaster dust and normal dust.
It caused three of them to cough.
Two distinct points were resolved at that moment, the safety was off, and she could shoot. Would distance be the only factor?
“You’re running out of time, Alex.”
I saw a slight movement in what would have been her peripheral vision, more armed police moving into several more accessible places, one improving the firing line for a marksman to eliminate the problem.
Unfortunately, she saw it too, and shot another round in that direction, hitting a female police officer who was one of three with weapons drawn.
Mrs. Boggs situation just went from bad to worse.
“I told you all to leave,” she yelled, “so whatever happens now is on you.”
The other two officers had to hold their fire because returning fire might hit one of the Benderby’s. I hadn’t realized until then that she had also positioned herself so the Benderby’s became shields.
And if she shot at me, she would have to take the Benderby’s out of her sights, which might give a quick-thinking, or quick moving officer a chance of a shot.
This was where I should come up with some calming words, but it was clear that the last foray by the sheriff’s people had rattled her. The gun was getting more unsteady in her hands.
“Alex,” she said, a tinge of hysteria on her tone, and an edge that indicated time was running out for someone at that table, “You’ve got five seconds.”
Alex was not the bravest of souls, but, sitting at that table with his father, maybe he feared being a failure in front of him, than losing a sister.
He turned towards her, and said, “Go to hell.”
Five seconds later it was over.
Mrs. Boggs changed the target and shot Alex in the head, changed aim, and shot Benderby, and before either body hit the floor, three officers shot Mrs. Boggs.
The moment Alex spoke his words, I dropped to the floor, only registering what had happened after the five shots, and watching Mrs. Boggs collapse to the floor. No husband, no son, Rico in jail, she had nothing left to live for.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022