This story is by Anna Savastano and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
The shrill of police sirens come to a stop outside my Commander, Carter Doyle’s home. At my feet lies his lifeless body. A pool of blood surrounds the dead man’s skull. On the floor, next to him, is my service pistol splattered with my prints. No matter how incriminating the surrounding evidence may look, I confess, I did not pull the trigger. The more I investigate the scene, the more I question my innocence. Hell! I would make a great witness for the prosecution.
At zero seven hundred hours this morning, my Commander, Carter Doyle summoned me into his office.
“Come in son. Let’s talk.”
My Commander never wants to talk. He’s a busy man. I take a seat in front of his large Mahogany hardwood desk.
“John,” he begins. His words come slow. A sheen of discomfort mars his wrinkle creased eyes. “The decision from the disciplinary committee has come in, and it’s not good. I’m afraid I must take your badge and gun.”
My fingers dig into the soft leather armrests at my sides.
“The review board’s theory is,” My Commander continues, “someone tipped off the cartel of our operation. In Addition, John, they believe your blunder might have been intentional since every member of the cartel escaped.”
“You’re kidding they think I tipped off the cartel? John Rathbone is no snitch. NCIS has been my home for the past ten years. What would be my motive?”
“Let’s hope they can never prove you had one or else you’ll be facing a prison term, instead.”
At twenty-hundred hours, after a day filled with anguish and amber liquids, I go looking for my Commander. I want him to appeal the board’s decision. As I reach the door to his home, I notice it stands half opened. I call out to him. But, no one answers. I reach for my nonexistent revolver, a habit I must break. With an astute prudence, I scour every room. It is in the kitchen, on the linoleum floor, I find the gruesome discovery of my Commander’s inanimate corpse. Shock sizzles through me. Smoking next to the dead man’s body, is the familiar gun that sports the evident chip on its backside. It should be locked up at NCIS headquarters.
The heavy thud of boots ascending the steps prompts me to react. Someone has set me up. My presence here is a bonus. I could stay. However, the way my luck has run, I’d be safer on the streets. The closed window appears to be my only escape route.
The police officers bust in. I grab my gun and burst through the windowpane, no sense giving them my head on a silver platter straight away. Broken shards of glass fly alongside me. Gravity thrusts me to the ground like a bug caught on the underside of a flyswatter. My hands and knees are the first to suffer the impact of my drop. Pain sears through me like the blade of a sharp knife slicing into my skin. I tuck myself in a ball and barrel down the hill rolling towards the forest. This must be an inside job. Who else has access to a gun at NCIS headquarters? I need to find the culprit and quick before this gets personal.
As of twenty-one hundred hours, I am a wanted man, running for my life, searching for a way to clear my name.
The sounds of footfalls pursue me into the forest. I swivel from side to side whirling around trees that get in my path. Thank fuck, I took basic training in the Navy. Shallow breaths escape me. I need to stop soon. Pain writhes through every part of my body. I duck into a shrub and immediately feel the barrel of a gun settle into my back. I guess I am not the only one who finds this spot perfect for hiding.
“Don’t move,” A familiar voice said, “let them go by.” I’ve found my commander’s killer. I spy two officers rush past us.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“What are you doing out here, buddy?”
“We both know the answer to that.”
“You killed our Commander and set me up to take the blame.”
“He wouldn’t let go of your case. He couldn’t believe you messed up so bad. You were his favorite. I was the thorn in his side.”
“So you killed him for that?”
“No, I shot him because he found out this afternoon who tipped off the cartel.”
“Damn it! You‘re the one? Why would you do that to your partner?” I ask turning in his direction.
“I never thought the review board would’ve come down on you so hard. If anyone had enough stars to wriggle out of that mess, it was you. I guess justice is equal for all.” An astound snicker escapes him.
“So, what happens now?”
“I kill you, and accompany your body with a suicide note stating all your crimes.”
“You would do that?”
“I have no choice, buddy.”
He even has the audacity to use the B word.
“I’m in too deep with the cartel.”
“Come on. The coast seems clear. Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?” I ask Brady as I follow his lead and get up from my crouched position.
“To your final resting place,” Brady answers, urging me forward with his revolver.
The rat-tat-tat of gunfire zips past us as we exit the forest. I jump for cover onto the dirt-floor leaving Brady to fight off the deluge of bullets. The sight is not pretty when I crawl over to him. His body lies on the ground with more holes in it than you would find in a sponge.
A commotion surrounds the cartel members, bringing them to their knees. Behind them are the faces of my NCIS team members. I sure hope someone had the brains to stick a wire around here tonight. I’d hate to have to reiterate this story to another review board.