Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, who taught Political Science and Sociology. Her fiction, poetry, and photographs have been published in over a hundred and eighty print and online journals. She won the Eastern Kentucky English Department Award for Graduate Creative Non-fiction in 2011, and a Silver Pen Award in 2015 for her noir short story: Red’s Not Your Color. Her novels and collections can be found on Amazon and Lulu.com.
Connally Flees, by Jenean McBrearty
Had Ian McIntyre known that David Connally was going to show up at to opening day at the Del Mar races, he’d have gone to Catalina with his Aunt Madeline.
“You didn’t love Braxton Singleton, David. Stop playing the jilted Romeo.” He handed his school chum a gin and tonic and sat near the window of the McIntyre’s private box.
“Post time isn’t till two. Stop pretending interest in what’s happening on the track.”
Ian put down his binoculars. “Alright, what do you want?”
“A little courtesy from my attorney would be nice. Barring that, I need to know if I can commit murder without fear of State reprisal.”
“Whom do you want to dispatch?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Of course, it does. If it’s your Mother, you’re looking at life with no parole. Your Mexican gardener? Life plus ten for a hate crime. If it’s Ms. Singleton, you might be able to plan a crime of passion, and cop a plea of insanity.” Ian closed his eyes. “Knowing you, it’s believable. If it’s Singleton’s new beau, you can claim the bastard drove you mad by denying you enjoyment of the first day of racing.”
David stood, and finished his drink in two gulps. “Are you going to Hazel Chapman’s party?”
“Very well, good-bye.”
“David, if you kill someone after this conversation, I won’t be able to represent you.”
“You’ve always been disloyal.”
Purposely, and needing time and space to brood before going home, David went to La Jolla Cove. The ocean allegedly soothed the soul, and forced you to consider a new perspective on life. Metaphor for eternity and all that nonsense. He stayed in his Cadillac Seville, mulling over Ian’s depressing news, waiting for Professor JGM to arrive to eat his lunch, a habit David discovered by accident the day he came to perform the ‘banishing Braxton’ celebration his mother’s guru had composed. He’d went to the water’s edge, shoebox of photograph ashes under his arm, and was just about to recite the incantation, when JGM appeared.
Being tenured inexplicably gave him the right to a two-hour lunch, which David resented early on. JGM’s place was in the hallowed halls of academe menacing undergraduates the way
he’d menaced David. He watched the tome-toting lout, toothpick dangling from his lips, climb the stairs to the parking lot.
Better late than never. David had mumbled, “Universe, I release the Kracken,” removed the lid, and threw the ashes into a wind that had diabolically shifted on-shore. His eyes, nose, and mouth closed, but not before he got a face full of a humiliating hurricane of pagan failure.
“That’s it,” he whispered to himself as he wiped away the ash. “He’s a jinx.”
The ‘he’ came dashing towards him, waving his arms and panting an “Are you alright, Son? Why, it’s you young Connally. Having a go at emotional exorcism, are you? Looks like you’ve got another defeat on your hands.”
The Professor’s feigned concern, mixed with an acknowledgement of his recent defeat in the San Diego Regatta, was deliberate derision. With the five-year class reunion two weeks away, David knew Prof. Jason Grayson Mason would be including today’s unexpected reunion in his opening remarks. JGM loved anecdotes. “Some of my students still haven’t learned which way the wind blows, for example…” David could hear him say; the inevitable made him nauseous.
Without Ian’s cooperation, murder wasn’t an option, Less desirable was the less effective attempted suicide. JGM wouldn’t speak ill of the almost dead. He was a distant relative of the Virginian, George Mason who helped write the Bill of Rights, a damned champion of republican democracy, but, David assumed, capable of circumspection.
He removed his .38 from the glovebox and went to the beach, waiting for noon when JGM would find him bleeding and become a hero. Were gunshot wounds as painful as they were
dangerous, David wondered? Did he really need his big toe? He didn’t want to be a cripple. It was time like these when he wished he’d taken science classes. He removed the typed note from his pocket. Was there a chance Braxton would hear of this, and believe he meant his lament over their breakup? She might have tired of her working-class stud. The risk called for galactic courage.
He aimed the pistol at his right toe-nail and fired, amused, before the pain set in, that he’d actually hit his target and regretting he hadn’t filmed the large piece of flesh separating from its base. When the pain signals DID reach his brain, he saw sparklers and remembered nothing until he woke up in hospital. He saw three pairs of weepy eyes staring down at him. His mother’s, a man with a stethoscope, and JGM.
“We’d better let him get some rest,” the doctor said.
“I..I want to thank Professor Mason…”
They were alone now. “Professor, I…” The man handed him a crumpled piece of paper that David recognized as his suicide note.
“You’re damn lucky I got to this before the EMS people or you’d be locked up in a straight-jacket on suicide watch in the looney bin. Attempted self-murder is a crime, too.”
“Oh yes, my marksman friend. Although, in your case, they’d know a stunt when they see it. That bullet wasn’t anywhere near a vital organ.’
“It might as well have gone through my heart.” JGM now had two anecdotes to share.
“Get over her, Son. Those American gurus can’t plan a decent relationship exorcism to save their own souls, I say. Takes a good Caribe. Still, we have to let the Yanks save face. You’re not going to tell your story to anyone, I hope.”
“No! Of course not.”
His nemesis patted his hand. “Good man. No woman’s worth it. We’ll keep the whole episode between me and thee. But that was quite a feat of timing, Connally, there may be hope for you yet.”
Assured and medicated, David planned a Carribean recuperation cruise Mother would gladly underwrite.