The hole in the revolver barrel pressed into his thick black hair—hair that made him look younger than forty and was his political trademark. Were he to pull the gun away from his temple, a small, round O would be matted just in front of his ear. The gun metal no longer felt cool to his sweaty palm and long fingers, instead felt warm and sticky.
Thunder cracked, but not as loud as before.
Mommy’s pearls had broken in a downtown Baltimore department store, and he—four or five?—had crawled around on hands and knees searching for them while Mommy’s high-heels and the high-heels of a salesgirl and another woman had kept him company on the glossy floor.
At his desk with the gun to his head he heard his name spoken softly, imploringly, in Buddy’s voice coming from the stairway behind him, beyond the open rolling doors of his den. “Mac…Mac.” Buddy said his name a little louder each time. “Mac.” The thunderstorm had gotten Buddy out of bed, he figured.
He imagined a Newsweek or Time cover with the Kennedyesque photo that had been used so much during his campaign, he and his wife in sweaters, pants, tennis shoes, walking hand-in-hand on the beach near the Bay Bridge, their hair wind-blown; below the picture he envisioned the caption, “Once a VP hopeful, Maryland Governor Roren’s life of crime catches up with him.”
“Mac, you’re like an older brother to me, or like a young father,” Buddy pleaded.
Buddy, his cousin’s son, had grown into such a man, such an adult Boy Scout, so at home in his own skin. He would never understand what a privileged, sweet punk he was.
“You’re not gonna do this to me, are you, Mac?”
If mommy had lived, he’d remember more than her high heels and himself crawling around on that department store floor. His whole life would be different. But God gave Mommy cancer. God, who must be credited for all the bad He does if He’s to be credited for the good. Pray for Mommy. “God, don’t kill Mommy with cancer.” But God did.
He’d found all the pearls but one, and Mommy’d said that one didn’t matter. He was her hero, her little man.
* * *
In my crime thriller The Man Who Asked to Be Killed Mac is the governor seen through the eyes of his young cousin and confidant, Buddy.
[Above, Carl Fredrik Reutersward’s sculpture “Non-Violence,” Malmo, Sweden, photographed by Francois Polito, from Wikimedia Commons.]