One Small Victory
Life can change in just an instant. That’s the harsh reality
that Jenny Jasik faces when her son, Michael, is killed in an automobile accident. She is a single mother with two other children, Scott and Alicia. Ralph, her ex-husband, left her six years ago for a younger woman. He moved to California and has all but abandoned them. He does send child support, which, coupled with the profits from the florist shop Jenny owns, keeps them fed and sheltered in an old frame house.
When Jenny sees an item in the newspaper about a special task force forming at the local police department, she goes to the station and demands to be part of that team. She stands firm in the face of objections from Chief Gonzales. He finally agrees to let her work with them as a Confidential Informant if she passes a physical fitness test and a psychological screening. He also tells her that if she works with them it will be in the strictest confidence. She is to tell no one. Not her kids. Not her mother. Not her best friend. No even her dog.
As the weeks pass and Jenny gets deeper into the drug scene, hiding what she’s doing from everyone becomes harder and harder. How many more lies can she tell to explain why she stays out half the night? Then there’s the problem of Ralph. Scott has been dumping his frustration on his father, and Ralph threatens to start action to get the kids if Jenny doesn’t stop whatever it is she’s doing.
Further complications arise when Chico, the dealer Jenny has been buying from, disappears. The DEA agents report that unusual things are happening at the ranch where the Main Man does his business. There is concern for the safety of all involved in this sting. Jenny is offered a chance to get out, but she stays.
A plan develops to take down the Main Man, and for Jenny, that moment can’t come soon enough. All she has to do is get the details of the big buy recorded and the police can arrest the Man. That scene unravels quickly, and Jenny is forced to shoot a man who is turning a gun on her. This was not part of the plan and definitely not something that Jenny wants to tell her children or her ex-husband.
Maybe Michael will understand.
The car hurtled through the darkness as the wind whipped through the open windows; a cold lash against his warm skin. Mike braced his feet on the floor and fought a rising sense of panic.
How fast are we going? He snuck a look at the speedometer. Holy shit! The needle inched toward a hundred and Brad showed no sign of slowing. Do I dare ask him to stop acting like Mario Fucking Andretti?
Mike took a deep breath. “Aren’t you afraid of getting stopped?”
Brad glanced over with a cocky grin. “Are you?”
“No big deal, man. Just thought you might want to hang on to your license.” Mike wished he had the guts to say aloud the thoughts that whirled through his head. He was scared. And he wished Brad would slow down.
“You need to chill out.” Brad took the joint out of his mouth and offered it to Mike. “This is excellent shit.”
Mike pushed his friend’s arm away.
“Hey, what’s the deal?” Brad took an angry toke. “You weren’t passing it up last year.”
“I only did it so you’d get off my ass.” Mike paused to gauge Brad’s reaction. “Besides, the thrill escaped me.”
“That’s ‘cause you never gave it a chance.” Brad took another long drag. “You got to build yourself wings before you can fly.”
“Just remember this isn’t a fucking airplane.”
Brad laughed, and Mike couldn’t resist the urge to join him. That was the deal with Brad. Life was just one big joke—his reasoning for doing dope in the first place. Why shouldn’t they have a little harmless fun before they settled down to serious living? So Mike had let Brad talk him into trying the grass at Dempsy’s party last summer.
After the first hit, Mike had waited for some effect, but nothing happened. So Brad told him to take another. Deeper. Hold it longer. That time, Mike thought he’d cough a lung out before he got around to enjoying any benefits of the grass.
Mike didn’t care that Brad used dope. It was his life and his business. But now, as Brad’s red Trans Am screamed along the narrow country highway with Mike clinging white-knuckled to the ‘aw-shit’ handle, it wasn’t just Brad’s business.
The tires screeched as the car careened around a tight corner. The stench of burnt rubber blew in the open windows, and icy fingers of fear crawled up Mike’s spine. “Why don’t you ease up,” he said.
“The gas and the goods.” Maybe if it sounded like a joke Brad would take it better.
“I got it under control.”
Mike wanted to believe him. They were friends. Brad wouldn’t do anything to hurt him. And there was hardly any traffic way out here in nothing-land. What could happen?
“Hey, what’s the record on that?”
Mike looked out the front window to see a tight curve looming at the farthest reach of the headlights. “I don’t know.” Brad had slowed, but not enough in Mike’s estimation.
“Didn’t Butcher do it at fifty?”
“Something like that.”
“Bet I can beat it.”
Panic stabbed Mike’s stomach and he glanced quickly at his friend. “Come on Brad. Don’t even try it.”
“What? You scared?”
Mike gripped the door handle as the car barreled into the curve. Even without his hands on the wheel, he felt the car slide as the rear tires lost traction. He didn’t know whether to pray or to scream.
At the precise moment Mike thought they’d careen off the edge of the road, the front wheels grabbed the asphalt. The car blasted out of the curve like a cannonball. Brad looked over with a triumphant grin. “See. I told you. Fifty-five.”
Before Mike had a chance to let out a breath of relief, a violent thump threw the car out of control. The vehicle slewed back and forth, and his head banged against the window with a painful thud. A sense of dread buffeted him like a blast of frigid air.
“What was that?” Brad asked.
It wasn’t a question that needed an answer. He watched the muscles in Brad’s arms strain to gain control of the steering wheel. What the hell had they hit? He braced one hand on the dash and the other on the seat and twisted to look out the back window. Darkness swallowed the world.
Then he heard his friend shout, “Oh, shit!”
That’s when the car went airborne.
It seemed to float, and for a fraction of a second Mike found it almost a pleasant feeling. Brad was right. They were flying, and it was fuckin’ awesome.
The thrill ended in a powerful impact amid a deafening explosion. A cacophony of screams surrounded Mike as glass shattered and metal ground against metal. He barely recognized one of the screams as his own. A terrible weight pushed into his chest . . . harder . . . and harder . . . and harder.
God it hurts!
The weight closed in on him. He couldn’t breathe. He tried to reach over to Brad but his arm wouldn’t move.
Nothing moved, except the pieces of metal twisting and gouging at him.
Make it stop!
Suddenly everything was still. Blessedly still, and Mike was glad it was over. Then a great wall of blackness rose up before him.
It moved slowly at first, then gained momentum as it enveloped the twisted interior of the car. It reached up to dissolve the shattered windshield and snuff out the pale moonlight.
In the dark void Mike felt the liquid blackness crawl up his mangled body until it covered him like a heavy blanket.
Oh, my God!
To find out more about Maryann Miller’s new book, One Small Victory, visit her website here or follow her virtual book tour here. If you would like to pick up a copy of Maryann’s book at Amazon, click on the book cover above.