Chapter Six: The Shot


Thomas and William sat in the living room silently. A rare occurrence. It was an odd dynamic without Richard, but it did not hinder them from having fun at his expense. "I wonder when he's going to return?" William asked, honestly wanting to know the answer. "Eh who knows," Thomas said as his body slouched even further into the couch. "Well what are we going to do about production, the team is coming here next week." “Well, we can't wait for him, if he's not back then he's not back. We are starting either way.” William opened his mouth but before he could say anything Thomas jumped in "I know what you're going to say, it's Richard's design, I know. If this weren't a time-sensitive scenario I wouldn't do this.” William nodded. “He would do the same if it were one of us.” “That's true, he would.” “I’m not going to worry about it until we need to, we have time. Why wouldn't he return soon? He wasn't close to his father.” “I don’t know much about his family.” The men both sat facing in the direction of the bay window. It was opened a tiny bit and slender snippets of air slithered into the room.

The wind was a refreshing touch on a sunny day. Their silence was interrupted by the sound of someone's knuckles rapping on the front door. William stood, Thomas, put his hand out a gesture telling him not to bother. "I have to...." He said. "What if it's important?" Thomas rolled his eyes. "You're too nice and it never is." William politely listened to his words from the hallway then continued his way to the front door. Another tap occurred just as he pulled open the door. "Can I help you? Oh, good afternoon Carol." "Aw honey you're so polite, how's Richard coming on?" She handed him a canvas bag. "He's still away actually, I did talk to him on the telephone the night he arrived in Butler." He looked down at the bag she was holding. "Just some homemade dinner for you boys. I figured you could use it." " Oh my, that's so nice of you". Would you like to come in?" She peered past him and lowered her voice: "Is, um, is Thomas home?" "He is." He said laughing. "I better not then, he scares me quite a bit." William put his head down nodding "I understand." "Are you sure I can't offer you anything?" "There is one thing, I'm alone a lot, would you come to my house tomorrow night for dinner, alone... obviously." "Oh, of course, I would be happy to." "Good." She said. "Well enjoy the food, see you tomorrow. Let's say around five." "Sounds lovely.” He said a bit surprised by her overwhelming influx of kindness. He watched her walk back to her house. She turned to close the door, waved then disappeared.

William, in turn, closed his door and walked back into the room. "What was that about?" Thomas asked, annoyed that he answered the door in the first place. He turned to him. "What's that?" He said pointing to the bag. “It was Carol, she made us some dinner." Thomas bent his lip down and nodded his head, an approving frown. "Not bad, maybe she isn't that horrible...No, actually she is.” William shook his head and went to the kitchen to unload the bag "Does that mean you're not going to eat what she made?" "No, I'm not stupid, a free meal is a free meal." William laughed. They sat in the dining room and ate silently.

To break the awkward empty feeling they started to talk about Richard. "How much do you want to bet Richard really has found a wife there and is not coming back. ". "Oh I hope not, he would unquestionably do that... Eh that makes me sick, We don't need anyone else here." “I'm sure he will be back before he finds a woman." "Let's hope, I mean he's so short, maybe he won't even come across a woman shorter than him." They laughed. Thomas and William spent at least an hour making fun of him. In the end, they realized it was not nearly as fun as when they made fun of him to his face. They had little to do the next day. William had dinner with Carol which was uneventful. She asked him about his work and he about her son. She asked him to come back again. He agreed. William didn’t have much work since Richard's design was picked and not his. They just had to wait to work out the details for their deal.

William sat on the edge of his bed. The lights were off and the window was shielded by the drapes, they weren’t nearly as thick as the drapes in the living room but they kept a decent amount of the light out.

The bedroom was shadowed but not dark because it was still daytime. There was about a centimeter gap between the curtain and the window which let in natural light. The natural light from that one window was the only source of light, which left the room in a dreary shadow. It was like the haze of an evening in the summer. When William returned to Carol's house the next day the dynamic was a lot different. It was less friendly and nonchalant and much more tense. They were joined by Carol's son David Ray. David Ray was in his late twenties and seemed very overprotective of his mother.

David Ray was very meticulous, he seemed to like to control everything and William could easily tell he did not like any surprises or uncertain outcomes. Even his clothes were meticulously ironed. Cleanliness wasn’t necessary, just whatever he desired at the moment was what the standard was. That night she kept steering the conversation back to his car company. William thought it was a bit odd but he figured she was very isolated from anyone with his car knowledge, so he humored her. It wasn't until her son interjected trying to quell her odd obsession that William realized it was, in fact, an odd obsession.

Dinner finished without the mention of the topic but when her son went to take out the garbage she lowered her voice and leaned In. “Don't mind him, he's not any fun.” William pursed his lips flat. "So how fast do they go?" William laughed. He shook the notion of her questions being oddly obsessive and went back to thinking she was just a quirky old lady. "I can take you for a ride." She smiled at his offer but also looked taken aback. "Oh no, those are too monstrous for....". ”I don’t think so." Said her son returning abruptly. She glared at him.”

William eventually left, having had a much worse time than his previous visit. He didn’t like the dynamic Carol's son brought. He couldn't quite remember his name at that moment because when Carol introduced him he interrupted her. He was very rude. William told Thomas about David Ray after he remembered his name. While he was yammering on and on Thomas had zoned out. When he normally ignored William it was because he was being intentionally rude but at that moment he was truly preoccupied. He was focused on the radio show he was listening to. "I wonder if Richard is having a better time?" Thomas said under his breath while William was prattling on.

That night the air got a lot colder than it had been. Of course, on average, every night was colder than the day before, but not typically by an extreme amount. That night it felt like it dropped thirty degrees.

It was very dark out, and they had barely breached the late hours of the night. William wrapped himself in a thick blanket and sat snacking on popcorn while listening to the radio. Thomas was asleep so he had to keep the volume very low and in order to hear it. He was practically touching it with his ears, hunched over and anticipating every word.

They were both in the living room. Thomas has a habit of falling asleep on the couch. William would not have been so considerate but he didn't want to deal with Thomas at all. When his program finished, he quietly clicked off the radio and walked into the hall. He walked over to make sure the front door was locked, and when he turned the knob he saw a glimpse of someone or something moving around near their garbage can. He stood still watching for a moment and then realized that he wasn't watching a raccoon but a person. He stepped outside, the woman continued to dig. He walked closer. "Carol?" He said, completely confused that an old lady was digging through his garbage at night. Carol looked up. "Oh, hi William." She said smiling. She greeted him like they were casually passing in a department store. "What are you doing?" He asked, wondering if maybe her son was right to be concerned by some of her actions. "Trying to see what he was looking for" "Who?" William asked, partially curious and partially humoring her. "My son. I woke up to use the bathroom and saw a beam of light flash past my window. I looked out and saw my David digging through your garbage cans. He was very fast about it and left with some crumpled up paper balls." William furrowed his brow, he tried to figure out if Carol was losing her mind, or if she uncovered something odd. "Does your son live with you?" He asked. "No, but the last few weeks he's been over a lot, a lot more than he's ever been. You know...I'd like to think he's finally taken an interest in me but I think he's obsessed with those." She gestured to the cars. "Interesting." He said to himself. "Would you like me to walk you home?. She stood up and brushed off her knees. "Thank you,”

William was left with a disgruntled look on his face. His eyes were so scrunched they were almost closed.

He couldn’t get the image of Carol digging through the garbage out of his head. He wanted to know what was going on with her, and her son.

The next day when Thomas returned from lunch William told him about the encounter. They realized that the only papers he could’ve pulled out of the garbage would have been scratched car sketches and specification information. Thomas called Sean to discuss the situation. He thought it would be better if he talked to someone who knew them before he addressed them himself. William walked into the room just as Thomas hung up the phone. "Sean's going to investigate." "Ok good. I'm glad you took my advice and called Sean before dealing with them yourself." "Well, that's not my style, but we don't have the time to deal with it." "Are you ready to go?" "Hold on. I'm still cleaning up our breakfast plates." "Come on we just ate, the food isn't going to rot while we're gone." "I guess...” William said.

William strode outside to start the car, there he saw Carol fiddling with her mailbox. “Hi, sweety.” She said. “Where are you headed out to?” “Oh, we are going to finalize the car deal.” Carol looked shocked. “You mean you are setting up here permanently?” “Yeah, why?” He asked. “ I thought you were just scouting this location, I didn’t realize this was your final choice.” “Yup.” He said. “Ah, that’s good!” She said smiling. He walked back into the house and once he closed the door she ran into her house very quickly.

They drove to the factory to check it out before they signed the final paperwork. It was a textile factory years before but the company that owned it expanded so they moved to a bigger place and the factory closed down. It had been for sale for a while and it was rented out to various companies.

Roger was standing outside the factory's office entrance. He waited for the men to arrive. He had no idea that they would be driving there in a Copan and he got excited when they pulled up. He tried to act professionally by walking to the car to greet them, but he was just trying to get a closer look at the car. Thomas researched South Catma Industries a bit more since their last meeting, they were a prominent steel company and held a huge fortune. Roger managed the lesser more important business details. Since the men weren’t there to sign a contract and just tour facilities the owners sent Roger.

Roger started the tour by leading them through the office door. The office was for the floor manager, it was small and cramped. He funneled them through the other door that led to the factory floor. Everything was either a rusty brown color or gray. The brown was mainly limited to wear and tear on the aged metal walls and large doors that allowed big products to be pulled out.

The doors were big enough to pull their cars through. William noted that. Thomas told William to write down the features, or anything he noticed during the tour. There were long tables in different sectors that were for different steps of production. There were a lot of people in the factory, they rented it out whenever they could for smaller businesses that produced a gross of their product a few times a year.

The product lines were pretty standard, that’s what made it great to use for different operations. “The Lucky Toy company is making their Christmas toys this month. They have occupied the buildings during October every year since this building was vacated.”

They walked through the lines and Roger suggested what sections could be applied to their production process. “You certainly did your homework,” Thomas said. “That’s my job,” Roger said. “I have to make sure we find a place that is feasible and works with your requirements.” William and Thomas looked at each other and exchanged a look that expressed that they were both impressed. They climbed the open staircase to the second story which was a loft that looked over the factory floor. There were two huge offices. “Here we can remodel this area to create three separate offices or one big one depending on what your preference is.” He knocked on the office door, and the temporary manager in charge of the toy production opened it. They stepped inside and suddenly there was a loud bang. The glass that covered the front of the office shattered. They covered their faces as the glass flew past them. William was the first to look over through the broken window. He saw a person on the second-floor platforms. The person was hidden by the shadows and continued to be a gray silhouette while running away. “What just happened?” Roger said. “Look.” He yelled.

The noise from the factory floor covered up the noise of the glass shattering. The toy manager, Clint, looked at what William was yelling about. He jumped past the other guys and hopped onto the platform.

Thomas knelt looked at the wall behind them. The wall was made of softwood and there was a bullet nestled in it. “Look.” He said Roger looked, “oh my goodness! I thought the glass shattered from air pressure or something.” “Nope. It looks like someone tried to shoot one of us.”

The police came about ten minutes later. By then they left the main offices and were standing inside the tiny floor manager's office by their car. They figured it was the safest place since it didn’t have any windows or any places to hide.

The detective introduced himself, his name was Oliver Wenhom. He had been the lead detective at the local police station for ten years. In those ten years he cycled through several partners and at that moment he didn’t have one.

They explained who they were and what happened. The detective explained that high profile businesses often attract unwanted attention. He then offered to station an officer at their home and the factory. “Well, we aren’t sure who the target was. It could be me or William, so that means it’s business-related, or it could’ve been for Roger or Clint.“ Thomas said. The detective looked around. “I highly doubt Clint was the target.” He said. “Why not?” “Why would someone take the time to learn where he was and what his job was and shoot him when he was surrounded by people? From what I’ve gathered he’s in these offices a lot and most of the time he’s alone.” “The shooter was either trying to kill someone or warn them.” “Do any of you have any enemies or someone that comes to mind that could have the capacity to do this?” William shook his head. “ I can’t think of anyone either,” Roger said. “Though, I work for a high profile company too so there could be thousands of suspects.” “I’m sending an officer to your house Roger, and if you don’t mind, after I look around here some more I am going to stop by to talk to you two, then I will send an officer to each of your houses.” He said pointing at William and Thomas. “Can I get everyone’s address?” “We are staying together,” Thomas said, putting his hand on William's shoulder. “Oh, good that makes things a lot easier.”

An officer took Roger home after he called his office to tell his bosses what happened. Roger was always on a very tight meticulous schedule. Thomas and William waited for the detective and they took him home with them. The detective, Oliver Wenhom was about six feet and three inches tall and his ethnicity was indeterminable. He was semi muscular and his hair was black and his eyes were dark brown. Detective Wenhom constantly was looking around and more specifically behind him. They entered the duo's house and William brought him into the living room. They began to talk and William served them food.

Thomas, being his stubborn self, explained his feelings. “You protecting us here is a waste of manpower, we can handle ourselves.” “Thomas,” William said. “We do not even own a gun.”

Detective Wenhom immediately clocked what sort of people Thomas and William were. It was important for his job to be able to analyze any person. “I am not staying to protect you.” He said, trying to restore their confidence. “I want to see if anyone shows up here. So far we don’t have any leads...So you haven’t noticed anything odd around here lately?” After he asked he lit a cigarette. “Hey what about that garbage can thing,” Thomas said. William's eyes got wider. “Yeah, that might be something. Our neighbor Carol is a little old lady who has a son that visits her, he’s pretty mean. Some weird stuff has been going on with them. Like, he never used to visit her but ever since we moved in he’s been visiting her more often. Last night I saw her digging through our trash. Her son always alludes that she senile but when I asked her what she was doing she said she saw her son digging through the trash and wanted to know what he was looking for but she had no clue. She is like the neighborhood’s private eye.” He said laughing. “ She has a notebook and loves writing every movement down. “ “Even her sons?” “Yes, I imagine so.” “I’ll check her out in the morning.” They sat and ate then talked for a bit. Everything was pretty professional until Thomas brought out the alcohol.

Thomas was a bad influence in general, but he was not as dangerous as William. Thomas was unmistakably a rough person, he was a fan of drinking and anything reckless. But William did all the same things and had the appearance of a good straight-laced person. The detective befell under their umbrella of fun. Thomas began to drink to get over the incident, William started out a lot slower than him. Detective Oliver Wenhom thought it couldn’t hurt to have one scotch. That’s all it took to get him to loosen up. They had an entertaining night playing cards and joking around.

Detective Oliver Wenhom slept on the couch. He wasn’t drunk, just relaxed. He kept his dress shirt on. He, like any stereotypical detective, had on a leather shoulder holster that hid his guns under his jacket. He slept with the guns attached to him. When he was first promoted to detective, he did not enjoy sleeping with them when he had to. After a while, he got used to it.

The three of them ate breakfast and lunch together. They all sat in the living room and Thomas passed out again, he was flopped over on the side of the couch. Detective Wenhom was drinking coffee when Thomas moved suddenly and he spilled the coffee on his shirt. He jumped up. “Damn it.” He said to himself. He set his cup down, pulled off his holsters, and then removed his shirt. He was wearing an undershirt. His skin was darker under his clothes than the skin that appeared when he was wearing a suit.

It was not much darker, but just enough to notice that it was odd. He was distinctly Italian and William suspected that race and appearance played a bigger part in the police force in America than in England. He knew it wasn’t ever black vs white, it was much more complicated than that. In England, it was often villager vs villager, east vs west all of the same ethnicity. Everyone seemed to hate anyone they were told to.

He returned to the living room with his shirt and holster back on. His shirt was damp but he didn’t care. Detective Wenhom didn’t plan on staying around, he put his jacket on and went to visit Carol. Carol's son David Ray was there and as Detective Wenhom expected, he was not friendly. “I heard you keep a journal of everyone’s activities around here?” The detective asked Carol. She smiled. “Yes! Would you like to see it?” Before she could stand up her son shut her down. “I don’t think that’s a good idea mom. Sit down, you're getting over a cold.” David Ray led Detective Wenhom into the kitchen and told him that all of her notes were sort of delusional and he was trying to squash her obsessive behavior. “Would I be able to see the notebook anyway? I can determine myself if it’s worth my time.” “I would rather you didn’t.” He said.” The detective realized his efforts to see the notebook were not going to be successful until David Ray wasn’t there.

Carol's son thought the detective left the neighborhood because there wasn’t a police vehicle anywhere. He didn’t realize that the detective drove into the neighborhood in a Copan with William and Thomas. Carol watched him enter the men’s house and waited for her son to leave for work. She had her notebook hidden under the living room couch cushion. Carol dug out the notebook then ran over to her neighbors. The detective answered the door and smiled when he saw what Carol was holding. He welcomed her in but she said she couldn’t stay so she handed him the notebook and ran back home. “That’s odd, her son treats her like she’s not athletic.” He said to himself.

The sky was a haunting gray that morning. There were huge fluffy dark clouds spraying light raindrops at random intervals. Detective Wenhom sat down on the couch and started reading through Carol's notebook. The room was very dark. There were two windows in the room, the bay window and a smaller window on the parallel wall. They never moved the thick curtain so the left side of the room was always sulking in darkness.

Carol's notebook started a few months prior. Back then she was still very active but she broke her ankle and was starting to go stir crazy. Her nurse wheeled her to the bedroom window during the day and she started to become entertained by the action outside. There wasn’t a lot of action but it broke up her boredom. She ended up needing to stay off her ankle longer than she expected so she was stuck at her window even longer. By the time Richard, William and Thomas moved in she was deep into her stalking hobby.

Detective Oliver Wenhom noticed that her son started to visit his mom a lot more often since William, Richard, and Thomas moved in. He wasn’t sure if she hadn’t recorded his movements before or he suddenly started showing up. He wrote that down along with a few other questions in another notebook. Detective Wenhom left with the notebooks and returned to the police station.

William enjoyed the peace and quiet while Thomas was still asleep on the couch. Ultimately, he decided to head to his room. His bed there was higher than his bed at his home in Longbridge. It took him a while to get used to it, he was very particular about certain things. To him beds were important and the slightest annoyance while trying to sleep led to a lot of unwanted anger. He wasn’t as particular when he was drunk but that wasn’t a nightly occurrence.

When he was just getting comfortable someone knocked on the front door. William groaned as he got up and slowly walked into the hallway. When he opened the door he saw Roger standing there with a clipboard tucked under his arm. He always looked ready for a boardroom. “Oh, hello Roger, will you just give me one moment?” He asked. Roger nodded. William left the door open and ran into the living room. “Thomas!” He whispered into his ear. “Roger is here!” He placed his hand on his shoulder. “Who cares?” He said still under the duress of sleep. “I don’t want to wreck this deal.” He slapped him. Thomas got up and left the room, William ran back to the door, “Sorry about that.” He said. He welcomed him into the sitting room. The room was very bright that day, the windows were not covered by the thick curtains since the detective opened them earlier. He gestured for him to sit down on the couch. “Tea?” “No thank you.” He said. “I wanted to talk about yesterday.” “Yeah, that went differently than I expected.” He said laughing. Roger didn’t laugh, he was too focused on his work. “ South Catma Industries is ready to set up the deal officially this week if you’re ready and if you liked the factory.” “Let me go get Thomas, he’s going over some papers in the dining room I think.” He excused himself and went to the dining room. Thomas just finished eating and was trying to clean himself up. “Ready?” He asked. “Why the hell not.” They returned to the living room

They set up a meeting, two days away. Thomas wanted to get the deal signed as soon as possible but he wanted Richard to be there. He figured that he could wait two days but not anymore. Thomas called Richard to tell him. Detective Oliver Wenhom was still at the station by the time night rolled around. He ate dinner at his desk and was looking over all of the notes he took with the time frames lined out. His methods for solving crimes were pretty meticulous. He drew out timelines. He liked being able to see where everything sat in a big picture sort of way. He didn’t tell William, Roger, Thomas, Clint or anyone involved with the mystery shot that there was a killer wandering around that liked to visit places, shoot a warning shot near their victim, then kill them later. He had a few leads and a few suspects but he still had a long way to go and didn’t want them to panic or alert the public. He made sure all the necessary precautions were taken without revealing anything. The leaves were gently drifting down from the trees outside the station. The biggest tree had stunning dark red leaves that were waxy and large. They released themselves from the tree slowly and smoothly floated back and forth cutting through the air while moving towards the ground. The leaves and strands of grass were wet. Each blade of grass fluttered under the peeking son. The droplets glistened under the oddly bright fall sky.

The air was not as cold as it was on most October days. The wind felt like a cupped hand scooping through a tepid bath rather than haunting icy daggers.

William tossed on a wool scarf that did not match his wool sweater at all. His sweater was dark green with a hint of brown, and the scarf was blue with red stripes.

He walked outside, grabbed a rake that was by standing up against the wall near the door and started raking the leaves away from the sidewalk. He didn’t think raking leaves off the grass was necessary but he did think getting them away from the sidewalk was important in preventing slipping accidents. The slick sidewalk wouldn’t have been a problem if everything wasn’t wet, the leaves would have been crunchy rather than waxy. The water was prolonging the leaves' lives.

The phone rang and William looked through the front window to see if Thomas was going to answer it. He didn’t see him at first but by the third ring he popped into the room and picked up the receiver. William went back to raking.

Looking down at the ground caused his hair to flop in front of his eyes, to get it out of the way he lifted his head up and brushed it out of the way. While he was looking away from the leaves something caught his eye.

There was a black car sitting in front of the empty house at the edge of the cul de sac. He froze and watched it discreetly for a few minutes. He was interrupted by Thomas who opened the front door and told William to join him inside. Thomas brought a tea kettle from the kitchen into the sitting room. “Tea?” “Yes.” The tea was full-bodied English, which was brewed in the pot.

“Who was on the phone?” William asked, breaking the silence. “Oh, yeah... that’s what I was doing.” He laughed. “It was Detective Oliver Wenhom, he said he is coming over later today to talk about the incident yesterday.” “It must be serious or he would have told us over the phone.” “Maybe.”


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