Destruction Aftermath, Book 1
Copyright© 2010 by radio_guy
Ed knew the shopping center that Janice's mother was going to visit. He gave directions and I moved out slowly. We had gone about half a mile and I saw a small body with a bright green top and dark blue pants at the side of the road. I slowed and said, "Janice, what was your mother wearing?"
"A green blouse and blue pants." She answered.
"Not good. Everyone stays in the truck. I will check." I pulled over to the side of the road close to the body. I opened the door and got out carefully and checked the body. It was a woman who looked much like Janice with a bullet wound in her forehead. There were no powder burns so it was a distant shot. She had bled very little so death had been almost instantaneous. "It's your mother, Janice. She's dead. It was quick. Now, why did it happen? Who thought she was a danger?" 1 looked around. I didn't see where the shot could have come from, really. I couldn't see what someone might have been protecting.
Ed said, "Do you see anything? I don't. It doesn't make sense."
"I agree." I said. "The body wasn't disturbed so it wasn't robbery. What gives?"
I could hear Janice sobbing as her mother's death was confirmed. Shirley was holding her. Ed said, "Let's get out here before something happens to us."
"Ed, help me lift her into the bed of the truck and take her somewhere to bury her."
"Okay. But let's be quick. Something strange happened here." Ed jumped out and we loaded her body into the back of the truck. We quickly got back in the truck. No shooting occurred which was good. We moved on toward the stores but it was quiet and we saw no one. Ed went into the grocery store and found it had been looted thoroughly. The only explanation I could figure is that Janice's mom was shot by a sentry. There was nothing disturbed about the body except the bullet hole.
When Janice quit crying, Shirley asked where to bury her. She wanted her mother buried just outside their apartment next to some flowers she had planted. We went back, found picks and shovels, dug a moderate grave, and buried her there.
There was nothing further for us here. I said, "Shirley, we'll go to your parents' house. When we stop, you and Ed swap places." Ed looked at me with a little anger but said nothing. He and I had learned in elementary school that I could handle him. The years hadn't changed that other than to make it more favorable to me.
We left Atlanta for the Macon area and Shirley's parents. The original plan didn't include that excursion but I knew Shirley really wanted to see them and she hadn't been in the equation when the original plans were made. We would check on them and then head home. We drove through Atlanta on the interstate at a moderate speed. We didn't want to go too slow as to present a target nor so fast as to endanger ourselves. We did not see any other vehicles being operated. South of Atlanta, we stayed on I-75 at Shirley's direction. We took I-475 and then got off the interstate to go to Shirley's parents' house. As we approached, I slowed to give people a chance to look us over. Finally, I had Shirley get out and shout to see if anyone would respond. No one did.
We went up to the house. Shirley shouted again. Still, no one responded. All four of us went inside. We found her parents lying in bed. From the note her father left, her mother must have had a heart attack and died in her sleep. He wrote that he loved his children but could not live without his wife. There was an empty bottle of sleeping pills and a water glass on the bedside table where we found the two of them.
Shirley read the note, nodded, and sobbed. She hugged me tightly as she cried. Ed and Janice left the room leaving us alone with her parents' bodies. "I knew the devotion that he had toward my mom." She said, "He always said that he would never be able to outlive her for long." She cried some more. Ed and I carried their bodies outside and buried them side by side close to some flowers her mother liked. I said a few words over their grave like I had for Janice's mom.
It was late afternoon. I called Dad to let him know where we were and what was happening. I said it would probably be late tomorrow as Shirley wanted to check on her siblings. Ed and Janice volunteered to prepare some supper for us so Shirley and I climbed in the truck and went out to her brothers' places.
Shirley said, "Thank you for saying a prayer for my parents. Thank you for picking me up. I think I was going crazy. I have been lonely going to school in Atlanta."
"With a major like Mechanical Engineering, there would be plenty of guys."
"That's true but none were outdoorsmen and I hunt and fish."
"What was your minor?"
"Electrical. I threw it in because of the animation that I was seeing in plants. I-I would have graduated June of 2012." She stopped and smiled a little. "If I got a good grade on my summer project."
"I'm sure your Prof would have liked your work." I grinned at her and then went serious. "I was to get my masters in August. I guess all that's gone now. Now, we'll find out if we really learned any useful skills."
"Yes, I think we will. Thank you for being here and for ... just being yourself." She leaned over the console and kissed my cheek softly. It sent a shiver up my back, a good shiver. She reached over and took my hand and held it as she directed me to her brother's house. We found them on their front porch together. They were face down in blood. I gently turned them over and could see that both of them had been shot. We checked inside and the house had been looted. I used her brother's tractor and scoop to dig a common grave for them and said a prayer at their grave. I was getting much too good at this burying stuff.
We left and headed twenty miles to the other brother's house. They weren't there. For me, that was a bit of a relief. We looked inside and their house had been looted also. On the refrigerator, I saw a note. It read, "Gone to Mom's. Sue." I handed it to Shirley. She nodded.
"Sue's parents live in South Carolina. We don't know if they were okay from the sickness or not, do we?"
"No and, if we can't get in touch, I don't know how we will ever find out."
"I know. Let's go back. I've seen enough, maybe too much." She took my hand and held it all the way through the house and back to the truck. She only released it long enough for me to go around the truck, get in, crank it, and put it in gear. She grabbed it again and held on tight all the way back to her parents' house.
We spent the night there. Ed was in her parents' room after changing the sheets. Shirley had her room. Janice had one of the brothers' old rooms. I had another. After supper, we were tired and all went to bed.
I had been asleep and it was around midnight when I heard a sound. I had brought my pistol into the room and placed it under the pillow. I thought that was a hokey idea until this moment. I got up on bare feet and, with pistol in hand, began to quietly go through the house. I noticed that the door to the room that Janice was in was now cracked open. I looked inside and saw Ed sitting on the bed talking to Janice. Okay, maybe Ed was getting "lucky." I kept going still being careful to be very quiet. Ed's door was open. On the way back, I heard their voices and then a rhythmic low noise from there. I kept going.
I looked out into the living room area and saw nothing suspicious and headed for the front door to look outside though I was pretty sure the sound I had heard was from Janice's room. I saw nothing outside. When I was passing Shirley's door, it was partly open. I stopped there and looked in. A hand pulled me inside by the arm. It was Shirley. She shut the door behind me. "I need for you to stay here tonight and hold me. I'm scared, lonely, and don't want to be alone tonight."
"Uh, okay." She pulled me by my arm to her bed. It, fortunately, was a double in size. She scrunched over and pulled me beside her. I lay down on top of the sheets and she snuggled in under my arm tightly. She put her arm over my chest and began to cry very softly.
"What will become of us? Jack, why are people so violent? Hasn't there been enough death and dying?"
I realized those questions did not really have answers and just pulled her tightly to me and we held and comforted each other through the night.
I woke at my usual early time and pulled my chest from under Shirley's arm and body which were sprawled over me. I went into a bathroom and showered quickly. After dressing, I went into the kitchen and found the coffee maker and started coffee after figuring out how it worked. I went outside as it brewed. Shirley's parents had a porch that faced east and I sat down in a double chair and watched the sun rise. I had been there maybe fifteen minutes when I heard a soft noise. Shirley came out bearing two cups and handed me one without saying a word. She sat next to me and we sipped our coffee and watched the sun.
After a bit, she said, "My parents used to sit on this chair together and watch the sun rise. There is an evening porch where they watched the sun go down, also."
I looked over at her and her eyes were glistening with tears. I put my arm around her and said nothing. She leaned into my side warming that part of my body nicely.
"You are a good person to sleep with, Jack. Thanks."
"You are very welcome, Shirl"
When I said that, she teared up and began to cry quietly. She said, "My dad used to call me that but no one else ever did."
"I'm sorry. I won't do it again."
"No, it's all right. Please call me that all the time. I like to hear you call me that."
I was not feeling very intelligent and just said, "Okay, Shirl." She just scrunched closer to me and the warm feeling increased. Maybe I wasn't so dumb. I didn't have a lot of experience with women. I preferred hunting and fishing to parties and casual dating. There had been a few girls but nothing that lasted beyond the beginning of the next hunting or fishing season because I would disappear into the woods or onto the water and they were never interested. I had to admit to myself that this girl interested me greatly.
It was a few minutes later that Ed and Janice came out together. No comments were made about the sleeping arrangements last night. After a few minutes, we all went inside to start breakfast and make plans for the day.
"Shirley, do you know Macon?"
"Yes, but why?"