I divided this short story of just under sixty-seven hundred words into 3 parts. I plan to post the following 2 parts on following days. It was originally written over 6 years ago. If you’re ever wished for a ‘do over,’ perhaps you’ll relate to this story with a twist.
The Buick’s front bumper impacted Billy Frye’s bike at the tire. Momentum carried Billy forward. Contact with the Buick thrust his body violently to the right. Although his body changed in direction – his head continued forward. Billy’s top vertebra pulled away from his skull, ripping his medulla from the brain. It that micro-second, young Billy Frye ceased to exist as a viable being. He was dead before he hit the ground. Surprisingly, he appeared not to have a scratch on him.
“Gracious! Where is that woman?” muttered Sylvie Turner quite aloud but to herself. Sylvie was the only person in the office, although it was nearly 10 AM. “But why should I worry? They don’t pay me enough around here to worry about everything.” The fact was – they did pay Sylvie rather handsomely. And she knew it.
‘They’ were her personal friends and employers, Paul and Amilee Wilson, Attorneys at Law. ‘Serving the good people of Vernon Crossing since 1999.’ But the red and gold sign out front would soon be changing. Paul Wilson and Amilee Allen Wilson were in the midst of an amicable divorce. Paul Wilson would relocate. There’d never been enough room in this small office for the two. With a little luck, Amilee herself might soon no longer need this office herself. Next year she could very well be The Honorable Amilee Allen -Governor!
“Come onnnn Amilee,”whined Silvie to the walls. “The press conference is at 10:30 and we still gotta get a few more ducks in a row.” Silvie had a habit of talking to herself. Billy Frye wasn’t the only one who was habitually late. But Amilee was not up all night building model airplanes. She was up trying to juggle a successful law firm, a quiet and friendly divorce, and her difficult candidacy for governor.
Sylvie was one of the main reasons Amilee was in the running for the governor’s mansion. Amilee and Sylvia went way back, to high school days. Both had been cheerleaders. Sylvie was the first black cheerleader for South/West Central High. Had Sylvie been white as Amilee, the two would probably never have become friends. They were polar opposites, sharing few common interest – not music, men, food or after-work fun – what little of that there was! But they’d become friends early on, and had remained friends, beginning that horrible night their senior year – when Sylvie was brutally raped.
Amilee had found her. The football game was long over, with only a smattering of kids remained around the field. Amilee was waiting for her dad to pick her up. Sylvie was waiting for a ride home also. Amilee hung around the concession booth until it closed. Then she heard faint sobs off in the distance. Under the bleachers, Sylvie lay bruised and bloodied. “Chad Brister and Joey Hudson did it,” said Sylvie.
Chad’s father, along with Joey’s step father, and with the assistance of the coach and the local Sheriff – soon swept it under the carpet as just so much adolescent fun – boys will be boys stuff. “Girls ‘like that’ live for screwing,” snarled the red-neck sheriff, “You could no more drown a fish than rape one of ‘em!” It made Amilee sick. It made Amilee mad. Amilee determine that night to do something about it – even if it took her (and Sylvie) 20 years to do it. They HAD done something about it – together. It took them 12 years – but they did it. ‘Adolescent fun’ had finally reaped the reward of lengthy prison sentences. Now Sylvie herself was but two semesters from becoming an attorney – and Amilee was running for governor. She was running with a head-strong determination to lead her beloved but backward state farther out of the dark ages. But running late for a press conference wouldn’t set too well with a room full of news-hungry reporters and video cameras.
AMILEE ALAN WILSON
Buzzzpt. Buzzzpt. Buzzzpt. Her sleepy arm groped across the nightstand, desperately trying to silence the most horrid sound devise by man. The third slap finally brought blessed peace. Every morning she vowed that this day she’d replace that demon-machine. Somewhere in this world, she mused, there’s an electronics engineer still chuckling over his evil handiwork. Get up, she willed herself.
Amilee shuffled to the small bathroom. By the time she reached the linen cabinet her nightgown was off and neatly folded. She placed the nightgown on the middle shelf, to the left. 3 nights for a nightgown was her standard practice. Last night was the second, it being Tuesday. Living alone, there was none to please or impress but herself, and none to interfere with her silly little habits. She turned on the shower, 75% hot, 25% cold… and stepped into the frigid spray long before the warm had kicked in. Such was her daily ritual, shocked awake by the cold morning spray.
An extravagantly thick towel hung in easy reach by the shower, her one small concession toward luxury. It was insane what she’d paid for the set, a month’s income for most in the world. While toweling dry she caught a glance of her image in the mirror. Not bad she thought, not bad at all for a woman of 36. Some day, she mused, someday when her harried life has slowed a bit. Perhaps then she will finally allow herself to respond to the admiring looks from men… but not now. She towel-dried her hair and ran a brush through it in half a dozen rapid strokes. Her hair was done, just like that. Not that it was short. No. It was simply the way she wore it. Amilee was blessed with easy to manage hair. Few MEN were so blessed.
Reaching around the doorway for her skirt and blouse, she cursed herself, then cursed herself again for cursing. She was vainly trying to stop what was for many a very “un-lady-like” habit. The skirt and blouse were not behind the door this morning – they were still in the dryer. Now thoroughly dry, they were also thoroughly wrinkled. She forgot to take them out last night. This latest miss-adventure was not in Amilee’s busy schedule. Now she was paying for her accidental omission. She’d have to take time she didn’t have to look for something else to wear. Or iron. She ironed. And she cursed.
Amilee Allen Wilson was this Southern states’ first woman to stand a real chance of winning the governorship. She was fortunate in that as both a trial attorney and as assistant district attorney, she’d participated in several high profile cases. Not the least of which was the conviction of Chad Brister and Joey Hudson. In every instance she’d not only won, but had come across as a brilliant, fair, and compassionate attorney… indeed a rare opinion of attorneys. She’d become the golden-girl savior of both rich and poor… all things to all people, of all races, and all social standing. It was nothing short of miraculous.
In a press conference scheduled for 10:30 this morning she would lay before the media the undeniable proof that the muck and mud her two male opponents were throwing was nothing short of outright lies. One small sheet a paper, in the public record, and carefully hidden up until now, would expose her tormentors as nothing less than bald-faced liars and fools. She had it planned as if grand opera. Someone, probably Sylvie, would call the conference to order. Then Amilee would calmly walk to the podium. While waving a recent newspaper clipping in the air, she’d briefly refer to the remarks made by her two opponents. Then she’d produce a small stack of papers, explaining that they were photo-copies of a certified court document. She had copies for each one present. Then she’d announce that the press conference was concluded. Here are your copies… turn and walk away. It would be classic Amilee.
She usually ran late for everything. But being late this morning was not an option. A good 5 minutes behind schedule, she rushed out the door.
“Bye Mom… I’m gone…” Billy threw the words over his shoulder as he bounded out the door and toward his bike.
“Did ya remember ya homework?” she hollered back. She’d not heard his last words. Little did she realize that she’d missed his last words… his very last words.
Billy had started that last day of his short life much like all of his twelve years – sleeping as late as possible. Not that he was lazy. No. Billy was a night-owl – and night owls sleep late. “That boy,” muttered his mother as she surveyed the night’s fresh pile of model airplane debris. She fussed and complained, yet deep inside was eternally thankful. At least he was home at night – working on a harmless hobby. Two boys from his school already had police records. But Billy was a good kid – a really good kid.
By the time Molly Frye had Billy’s bed made and his morning’s towel in the hamper, he was two blocks away and peddling hard. A few more minutes and he’d be late for school. It seemed he was always almost late. He lived but 4 blocks from the school and yet he habitually flew in just in the nick of time – even when taking the off-limits shortcut through old Mrs. Simms’s side alley. His book bag, dangling from the handlebars by frayed straps, swung to and fro with the fast and steady rhythm of his peddling. Billy detested wearing the bag over his shoulder. His body seemed to radiate heat. It was a family trait. Strapped to his back, the bag would have trapped heat. The exertion of the short trip to school would have soaked his shirt. Billy flew down old Mrs. Simm’s side alley and into Elm street. Suddenly a strap broke. He grabbed for the falling bag just as he was entering Elm Street, his final street to cross on the way to school. He never saw the blue Buick.
THE BIG DAY
Amilee hated being late. She really did. But – she usually was. There were simply not enough hours in a day or days in a week. It had always been this way and probably always would be. Day in, day out, Amilee simply had far too much on her plate. This was perhaps the main reason she was becoming the ex-Mrs. Paul Wilson. No man wants to play second fiddle – and especially not third, fourth and fifth. “Ok Amilee,” she said to herself as she climbed into her car, “Relax. The cameras are only machinery.” Amilee was more worried about her appearance than her answers to the media. With a thousand thoughts running through her hyperactive brain, she pulled into the street. Another Amilee quirk: coming home she always backed into her drive, knowing full well that she’d no doubt be late again the next morning.
30… 35… 40… 45. Her eyes were on the road ahead although she hardly saw what lay ahead. Even if she’d seen the climbing numbers on the speedometer, chances are it wouldn’t have registered… or mattered. She was late. And she was focused. Today was a big day. Today was a big day indeed. Just as Billy never saw the blue Buick, Amilee never saw the bright red bike.
There was a horrible horrible crash. Amilee screeched to a stop. Running back to the small crumpled form in the street she knew at once it was too late. Although not a drop of blood could be seen, his young body, twisted at impossible angles, told the tragic story – this young boy was dead. That was Amilee’s last thought before blackness overtook her. She collapsed in the street beside him.
She was only vaguely aware of the gathering crowd. Time ground to a halt. The next few minutes seemed as hours – as days. It was all a dream, a very bad, ugly dream. It had to be. But – it was not. As the EMTs lifted her to her feet she saw the small form covered with a sheet. “Strange,” she thought, “That’s the whitest sheet I’ve ever seen.”
The questions that followed (and there were many) ran together in a confusing haze. “Were you speeding?” asked the officer. She knew him, this officer. She knew him well. His mother had been her third grade teacher. But for the life of her, she couldn’t remember his name. But his name is on his lapel badge, she thought. But she couldn’t read it through her tears. “Amilee?” He asked again. “How fast were you going?”
“I don’t know,” She heard herself reply. “I don’t know.”
SYLVIE AND AMILEE
“Amilee, we need to talk.” What a loaded question. It had been perhaps six hours since the accident. Amilee sank farther and farther into despair. Like a caged animal, she’d paced the office in pained desperation. Then she collapsed onto the office sofa in a wilted heap, sobbing her eyes out, sobbing, “Oh Billy – I’m sorry Billy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” She was a basket case.
Soon it would be on the 6 o’clock news, thought Sylvie, and tomorrow in all the morning papers. By Noon those twin vultures, Dale Brister and Dr. Robert Hudson, would have Amilee tarred, feathered, and run out of town – her hopes and dreams of the governor’s mansion as shattered as the body of poor Billy Frye. That would be the immediate repercussions. Just give those two vengeful good-ole-boy fathers a few days, and the law practice would be history, and Amilee would be receiving mail at the state penitentiary for women.
But Amilee was not thinking about politics, or ugly news accounts, or the vengeful parents of past defendants. Amilee was not thinking about herself. Amilee could not get her mind off that small crumpled child in the street – and the grieving mother who’d never again know the joy of seeing him off to school.
“Amilee. Amilee,” said Sylvie, kneeling beside her. Amilee slowly lifted herself. Her face was a mess. Her hair disheveled, her eyes blood-shot, her cheeks stained with tears. Sylvie had never seen this virtual tower of strength in such a pitiful mess. Sylvie hardly knew where to begin. “I know someone who can help.”
With that, Amilee flopped back down on the sofa, “No one can help! It’s too late for help! I killed that boy today Sylvie. I killed him! I killed him! I didn’t mean to – believe me. You do believe me, don’t you Sylvie?”
“Of course I do!” “But I killed him – just as sure as if I’d put a gun to his head.” She burst into uncontrollable sobs again.
“Amilee. Amilee. Listen to me. I – I -” she stammered, “I know someone – someone who I KNOW can help – someone who can work – well – almost MIRACLES. I’ve seen it happen before – for others. I know it sounds crazy, but I have seen it happen!”
But Amilee would hear none of it. “Poor Billy – I’m sorry. I’m sorry Billy,” was all she’d say, over and over.
A sudden strength overcame Sylvie, a sudden act of tough love. Sylvie grabbed Amilee’s head with both hands, forcing her face inches from her own. “AMILEE!” she shouted, The Dark Mamma can help!”
Continued in Part Two –