Mason’s cigarette burned idly away in the ashtray on his normally well-ordered desk. There wouldn’t be much left of the smoke before it was gone, and the same was true for Mason. His pulse slowed as blood seeped out from under him. He didn’t panic even as he felt the sticky mess pooling about his midriff. He knew the truth of things. No, it wouldn’t be very long at all.
The man he now knew to be Alan Maynard stepped over his waning body to rifle through the case files on his desk. Of course, what he was looking for was on top and open. Alan had no trouble collecting the photo hard-copies, confirming what he already suspected. Mason had caught him on camera. Both men had been tailing the same witness, an unassuming woman named Edie Parker. Mason’s motives were pure. John had called in a favour as he thought her to be in danger. Clearly she was. Mason and John had met with her last week when John was up. They told her of their plan to watch and protect her. They promised her she’d be safe. Who was going to do that now?
Edie was at the park yesterday afternoon with her daughter. It was a perfect sunny day. As he snapped pictures of the other parents in the park, Mason remembered thinking how special and vibrant a four-year-old can be. He was estranged from his own children after his marriage collapsed. It wasn’t likely that there would be any reconciliation at this point. Damn.
Alan was busy collecting the files, pictures, camera and flash drives. He tossed them into a wastepaper basket at the center of the room. He then put on an aspirator, took several cans of lighter fluid from his messenger bag and started dousing everything flammable in the small office. Mason regretted being a packrat as the smell of butane filled the room. His clothing received more than its fair share of the accelerant.
His assailant took a device out of the bag, a simple assemblage of blasting caps and a cheap cellphone. He carefully balanced it on a folded newspaper across the wastebasket. Alan turned to survey his handiwork and walked through his mental checklist. He nodded and smiled. Alan turned to the dying man and said, “so long, fucker.” Alan Maynard, heir-apparent to the empire, locked the door and left.
Mason was alone and helpless. While he was quite used to taking care of himself, being unable to do so was not something to which he was accustomed. All that could be done was hope that John got his voicemail in time to save Edie and Sarah. He was in the middle of emailing the evidence package when Alan burst through the door. For the life of him, whatever was left anyway, he couldn’t recall whether or not he hit ‘send’.
It no longer mattered for Mason. He was finished. Amid the blood loss and the excruciating pain, tempered only by shock’s mercy, he forced his eyes closed and waited. The dreaded contraption made one chirp before Mason’s world went white hot, sending him to oblivion.
© 2016, Doug Langille. All rights reserved.
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