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Chapter 6

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Stalling to answer her question, Jake stood up with his empty glass. "I'm going to get another Coke first."

She nodded. "I'll wait."

"Do you need anything?" he called over his shoulder as he retreated to the kitchen.

"No. I'm good."

At the fridge, he got ice from the freezer and found the stash of pop cans that they kept on hand for him. He moved slowly as he considered his options. He decided to come clean about his conversation with Bobby. Who better than Mary to understand his reaction.

When he returned to the dining room, the setting sun cast its orange glow through the large bay window. The room felt warm, and his shirt clung to his back. Mary sat at the head of the table with a half glass of whiskey. One leg was propped on the chair next to her. The leg of her yoga pants had crept up to her knee, and her calf glowed in the sunlight.

Jake took the seat to her immediate left. The pain hiding underneath her tough veneer was obvious to him. "Are you doing okay?"

"I'm a long fucking way from okay. You?"

He opened the can and poured its contents into his glass. "Sorry, kind of a stupid question."

"Yes. It was."

"Look. What I meant to say was –"

"I know what you're trying to say, Jake, but stop avoiding my question. Just tell me what stupid thing you're planning."

It was the right call to tell her. As usual, she saw right through him. He set his glass down and opened his mouth. Without preamble, his monologue spilled out like a river of emotion.

"Bobby and I were talking about Tom's killer. We want vengeance. Tom doesn't deserve to be dead while some piece of shit is out there walking around. Living. Laughing. Eating. Doing whatever the fuck he wants. And then what? He gets caught, and you and the kids have to sit through a trial, hearing every gory detail? And then what, a long eventful life behind bars where he can find religion and claim he's a changed man. Or worse, the prosecutor pleads it down to manslaughter and the asshole is out in ten years."

She frowned. "That wouldn't happen."

"You don't know that. It happens all the time. It would be the killer's word against a dead man."

Her frown deepened. "I didn't think about that."

"Well, I have, and I can't stop thinking about killing the bastard."

She reached out and laid her hand on top of his. He turned his hand over, and she intertwined his fingers in his. "Don't think like that Jake. It isn't healthy. Besides, Tom wouldn't want that. It wouldn't change anything."

He shook his head. "I disagree. I think Tom would want it. He deserved more life than he got. He deserves revenge."

"Tom did deserve more. I deserved more. The kids deserved more, but we aren't going to get it. And that really sucks."

Squeezing her hand, he said, "But, what if -."

"Stop. The killer will eventually be caught. I believe that. And when it happens, Tom will get justice."

"Justice would be if he had an unfortunate accident on the way to the court house."

She pulled her hand from his. "You need to knock this off. I understand you're upset. I am too, but you have a daughter to think about. How can you be a father from inside a prison cell?"

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