Chris Osborne is watching leaves fall in his dream. He is lying in the back of a pick up truck as it moves slowly down a forest road. The leaves are wide and shining green maples. They detach from high up in the forest canopy and descend, spinning and twisting through columns of sunlight and shadow. In his dream, the leaves shift and change, some becoming birds that soar back up beyond the tree tops and far beyond view. Others continue downward, their stems hardening, their green shifting through yellow to orange, then red, then brown, pinching in and wrinkling at the center as if being drained. They crack and give in, splitting and shattering and their pieces scatter downward. The tiny pieces scrape and tumble together with a hiss, a blizzard of tree ash swirling into clouds of dry death. The leaves that meet this fate begin to outnumber those that transform and fly away, and soon Chris's vision is a swirling cloud of brown and black dust that blots out the sun. The dark twister moves down over and around the truck, and though he knows he should close his eyes or jump from the truck and run, he can't. He is frozen. His eyes are open, unblinking, held by some force. As the leaves descend and begin hitting the metal sides of the truck bed, they strike with unexpected force and volume. What should be a gentle tapping, like rain on a roof, is more a series of heavy booms and the high shriek of metal grinding on metal. The sound grows and the swirl of leaves fills in the last of Chris's vision. In the end, before he wakes, his hands reach up into the shredding turbine of wind swept foliage and are gone, taken up in the same torrent and to the same fate as everything else. The last bangs against the truck's metal and the loss of his hands sets Chris screaming.
The last scream breaks through the dream into the present. The total darkness of the dream has been replaced by blinding light and the continued noise of something clanking against surfaces near to his head. His hands go up to block the burning light. He blurts out that he is awake, he is up, and tells the bright light to calm down. His hands reach out toward the light source and hit something flat and hard. His palms and fingers spread out across the surface and squeak slightly at the touch. It is glass.
“Sir!” a voice in the distance. There are other words being said but this is the only one Chris can make out with any certainty.
“What? Yes, what?” Chris says, sitting up and trying to find a direction to look where there isn't a blinding light and he can see something he recognizes. “Yes,” he says again, not knowing who he is saying it to or why.
“...the car, sir,” the voice says. Another series of booms and clanks shake the car.
I'm in a car, Chris thinks. But I don't own a car.
“Step out of the car, sir,” the voice repeats. Now Chris knows. In a wave of recall, his current state is revealed. He is in a car. He was at his foster parent's house and he left for some reason. Probably a fight, he admits to himself, and probably my fault. He left, stormed out again, and found a car. How did I find this car?
“Last chance, sir, please step out of the vehicle,” the voice says. Chris looks up from his seated position. He is in the driver's seat of the vehicle. He doesn't recognize the steering wheel or dashboard. The noise is coming from his left and when he looks, a man is shining a flashlight into the car and tapping on the window. There is a glint of metal. It is a badge. The man is a police officer.
The sky is dim, maybe dusk, maybe dawn. Which way is west? he wonders. Once they make eye contact, the officer waves Chris out onto the sidewalk with his flashlight. Chris looks down and is happy to note that he is wearing clothes.
“You can't sleep here, sir,” the officer says. He shines his flashlight over to a nearby parking pole. Sure enough, near the top of the sign, it says, “No overnight parking.”
Chris's mind is waking up. He wonders if he was making deliveries last night. He suddenly jerks upright in his seat and sucks in a long, frantic breath when the full plot of what is happening finally plays out: a cop is at his window asking him to exit a vehicle he doesn't recognize; he could have stolen this car last night. Chris wonders if he stole this car while out working the street and making deliveries. He wonders if he is still carrying. If he can't explain whose car this is, and he gets out of the car and the officer searches him, it could mean going back to jail. Depending on the amount he has on him, it could be prison, this time.
“Come on, buddy, I just need to ask you some questions. Please step out of the vehicle.”
He is parked on the street. He doesn't recognize the street, but it is a residential area. The sidewalk is lined with newly planted trees, saplings, which will help if he has to run. In front of the car, the sidewalk curves off to the right along with the street, disappearing around a corner a hundred yards down the road. Behind, there is a row of houses, each similar to the others, with open front yards and no fences. Across the street, an eight foot fence that stretches along the entire length of the street guards those houses from onlookers.
And people running from the police.
Chris looks down onto the seats and floor of the vehicle. He can't immediately see any drugs or signs of drugs. He doesn't see any cash. He would like to think that, even drunk or high, he would still know how to stash the important stuff. As he shifts in the seat and unlocks the door, he tries to notice any bulges in his pockets, or weight around his belt line. He can't feel anything. His shoes and socks seem clear, by the feel of them.
He unlocks the door and pushes it open.
“Come on out here, sir,” the officer says, stepping back.
“Sorry, man... officer,” Chris says, closing the door and leaning against it.
“You're not allowed to park here overnight, did you know that?”
“No, no sir. I didn't see the sign.”
“You've got to pay more attention to road signs when you're driving a vehicle, sir. It's why they are there. People that live around here don't want guys sleeping in their cars, coming and going at all hours of the day and night, a few feet from where their kids wait for the school bus, you know?”
The officer continues, lecturing about public safety and the growing homeless population and rises in crimes he says are associated with that sort of thing. Chris nods. Standing up, he realizes why he doesn't remember getting to this location with this vehicle. His head is pulsing, bigger, then smaller, then bigger, with each heart beat. His back is slightly hunched. There is a hollowness in his center, through his back and in his guts. Where he should feel his stomach, his hips, the weight of his core, he feels a pulsing pain. Whatever isn't in pain feels empty. It is a deep cavern only growing in breadth and depth under the continuous pressure of an unending river. He is being carved out.
He is coming down.
He fights to keep the right amount of engagement in the conversation. He runs the drill that used to work on his foster parents and his teachers and his counselor. He reminds himself to make eye contact, but not for too long, and to make sure his face is relaxed and casual. He tells himself not to talk unless he has to, and to not talk too quickly or too slowly. He is moving against the car, and he tries to play off the swaying as fatigue.
“I'm sorry, sir, I stopped here because I was too tired to keep driving. I stopped to get some sleep. I thought it would be dangerous for me to be out on the road.”
The explanation seems reasonable in his head and he thinks it came out smoothly and casually.
“Sure, kid. And how old are you?”
“Twenty years old, sir,” Chris lies, yawning. He doesn't know why he lied about his age, but the yawn is legitimate. He decides to play up the fatigue story, play innocent and good-hearted and hard-working and really, really tired.
“Do you have your license on you, by chance?” the officer asks.
Chris pats his sides, feeling for his wallet. In his left pocket there is a cylinder. It's a cash roll, he's almost certain. In his right pocket he feels the wallet, next to something else. He doesn't know for sure, but it feels like it might be a pipe. Based on his head and how he is feeling right now, there is a good chance it is a recently used pipe.
“Yeah, sure,” Chris says, pretending like he didn't feel his wallet, “I think it's in the car still.”
When he turns to open the door, the officer's right hand slides down to his service pistol.
“Sir, for my safety and yours, I need you to make sure you keep your hands where I can see them at all times, okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Chris says.
“I need to ask you, do you have any weapons or drugs on you that I need to know about?”
“No sir,” Chris says, but he hesitated. It's hard for him to tell how long he hesitated, or if the officer picked up on it.
“Good, good, just nice and easy then, don't make any sudden movements, okay? Let's stay safe, yeah? Don't make any sudden movements and we'll be all good.”
Chris nods. He doesn't know what all is in the car, but he is pretty sure there will be at least one thing that could send him back to jail. It isn't his car, and straining to think about it now, he has no idea whose car it is.
“Sure, sure, yes sir. Here,” Chris says, opening the driver's side door. “My wallet and license are in the center console.” Chris steps back and puts his hands up, offering for the officer to grab it for himself, for safety. He also hopes the gesture suggests a trust and a confidence in his own innocence. He tries to seem unaffected by the whole interaction. But not knowing what else is in the car, and not wanting to go back to jail, when the officer leans in to open the center console, Chris takes off. It takes the officer a few seconds to realize what is happening before he is on his radio for backup.
Chris runs back past the cruiser and up onto the sidewalk. He is running all out, but doesn't know, in his current state, how long he can keep that up. The officer is big, at least fifty pounds overweight, and will take a long time to catch him. It was one of the main factors that convinced him to attempt the escape.
The sound of the officer yelling and calling into his radio fades behind Chris. When he gets to the first side street, he makes a left and continues in front of the houses there. He is regaining his bearings. He knows roughly where he is now, and he knows where to go. He has his wallet so the police won't know who he is unless they find and run his fingerprints from the car. But he is wearing his gloves. He says a quick thank you to the universe for his gloves as he leaps over a kid's tricycle left out on the sidewalk. His mind races through other ways they could identify him. They wouldn't go so far as to try and find DNA, not for a stolen car they recovered in one piece. All they will have is the officer's physical description. The officer would have to look through thousands of mugshots of other white men aged fifteen to thirty.
Unless the cruiser's dashboard camera picked him up. Chris wonders if their software is good enough to run facial recognition from something like that. His lungs are on fire and his legs are getting heavy. Even with the capability, something like that would take time, time that could allow him to secure a place to stay quiet for a few days, maybe a few weeks. Right now, his heart slamming against his chest as his feet hit the pavement, all he has to do is outrun this one cop.
Two cops. Another cruiser hits its siren and turns onto the side street in pursuit. Chris looks back to see the cruiser closing distance as it passes the other officer. When Chris gets to the end of the street, the cruiser's tires screech to a halt on the asphalt a few yards behind, but it is enough of a gap. Chris makes his way through the last house's side yard and climbs onto their wooden fence. The fence is about eight feet tall, and gives him the height needed to scale the fourteen-foot wall behind the house that separates it from the train yard beyond.
The second officer in pursuit draws his pistol and yells for Chris to stop. Chris hears the officer yell for him to show his hands. When the officer yells a third time, Chris's head disappears behind the top of the wall.
A fourteen-foot fall would have made the chase very easy, as it would probably have broken one or both of Chris's legs. But there is a small stack of pallets on the other side of the wall that brings the drop height down by a few feet. The landing is still rough, and his legs give out and send him toppling off the pallets and onto the dirt below, on his back, with a dusty thud. The landing knocks the wind out of him, but he struggles back to his feet and pulls the top three pallets off of the stack, which he hopes will make the officer's pursuit impossible.
It does, and the officer screams at Chris from the top of the wall. He readies his pistol, but by the time he has considered shooting a fleeing teenager in the back without definitive proof of an actual crime having been committed, Chris slips between two parked train cars and disappears from view.
His lungs hold up better than he expected, and it is another nearly half a mile through the train yard and across an open field into a small grove of older trees before he has to stop. He falls to the ground and crawls up to the base of one of the trees and sits down, leaning against it and fighting to blow the fire from his lungs. His hands won't stop shaking, but he manages to fish through his pockets and come out with his wallet. The other object, which he thought felt like a meth pipe, is a small glass vial. When Chris holds it up, cloudy white crystals slide from one end of the vial to the other. It's decent, almost half a gram, maybe a hundred bucks worth if he shows it to the right people. If the cop had found it, Chris would be on his way to county.
He pockets the vial and looks east. He knows it is east because the sun is now coming up over the horizon. He stands and brushes the dirt off of his pants. The leaves on the ground around him remind him of the dream he was having when he woke up. These leaves are mostly brown and dried up, and they crunch under his feet as he heads north.
In twenty four minutes, he arrives at his destination. It is 7:38am and he will need to wait another fifteen to thirty minutes for his foster parents to leave. Henry, his foster dad, will be leaving for work at 7:50. Janet, foster mom, will hopefully be walking her dog, Siri, to the park just after 8:00.
Chris's head is still a little cloudy and his hands are shaking again. He can feel the vial in his pocket. It seems to be rubbing itself against his leg, asking to be opened. He knows he will need to move the product to get the money he needs. Last night is still cloudy in his mind, but he remembers the important part: yesterday was the deadline to bring back the money he was supposed to make selling the contents of the vial. He was given the vial and the amount to bring back at a short meeting. He remembers the meeting. Ax gave him the vial. Ax gets his money. When he doesn't get his money, guys get dealt with. Chris's decision is easy. He knows it will get tougher as the day goes on, but for now his shaking hands and the itch in his gums and the electrical jolts wriggling through his brain will have to wait. He will fight the craving and look to sell the crystal.
He checks his wrist. His watch is still there. He will kill some time by walking to McDonald's.
It is a ten minute walk. The seven dollars in his wallet get him the sausage biscuit and coffee he needs. He takes three creamers and takes a few ice cubes from the soda dispenser to cool the coffee more quickly. It is still hot when he gulps it down, but he likes the burn. The sausage biscuit sticks to his teeth and the roof of his mouth, but the coffee helps. His stomach protests initially against the sudden onslaught of hot fast food. Chris tries to remember when he last ate. Yesterday is fuzzy in his mind and he isn't sure. The sausage biscuit fights its way back up. Chris stops to breathe. He tries to relax, tries to get his heart rate down. He tries not to throw up. After a few minutes, his stomach settles and gives in, processing the food for use as energy.
On his way back to the house, Chris makes sure to stay on the far side of the street and avoid getting too close. He waits behind a tree, and after a few minutes the garage door whines and slowly opens. Henry backs his Toyota Prius slowly out across the sidewalk and onto the street. He stops and the back-up and brake lights stay lit. The car doesn't move. One second, three seconds, five. Chris wonders if Henry could have seen him somehow. He hopes the stop is due to changing CDs or cleaning up spilled coffee. The Prius backs up a little farther and stops again, this time shifting into drive. Henry heads to his accounting firm.
Chris's heart rate is up again. He shakes his head and takes four long, slow breaths to recover. He knows he can't keep doing this. If that was enough to jack up his heart rate, he needs to start living his life a little more simply. He sits down against the tree to wait for Janet. He presses his fingertips to his wrist. The blood is aggressively rippling through the artery. He closes his eyes and breathes in, holds it, breathes out.
It is only three minutes before Janet appears. Chris first hears the dog barking and growling, and then the two appear on the front porch and begin their walk to the nearby park. Janet has a small blue rubber ball, and even when she puts it in the front pocket of her coat, the dog yaps and jumps up on her, demanding the ball be handed over. Chris watches her scold the dog, and hopes for a moment that Siri will leap up and bite into her hand. He imagines her ripping the ball from the pocket and racing off to a better owner and a better life somewhere else.
Siri does not rebel today and they cross the street and make a left and are gone.
The house is clear. Chris knows he needs to change out of the recognizable white pants and bright blue jersey he is wearing. Police will be looking for someone wearing that combination and fitting his description for the next few days, maybe longer. He knows what he will wear before he gets into the house.
Janet locked the front door. Chris hoped she would forgot today, the way she used to every other day or so, but no such luck. He makes his way around the side of the house to the window into his room. It is still slightly open, the way he always left it, the way he will always leave it, and it slides open with a quiet woosh. Once inside, he grabs his go-bag. He packed it three months ago for quick emergency departures. There are a few sets of clothes, toiletries, and there would be money if he hadn't raided the emergency stash three days ago. He changes into new clothes: white sneakers, his red basketball pants, a white t-shirt and his orange Bengals hoodie, and his black and red TMT hat, “the money team” hat, his Floyd Mayweather hat.
With his go-bag and his new look, he is ready to work through the list of friends who might give him a place to stay for a few days. Before he leaves, he stops at the refrigerator. He finds what he is hoping for in one of the slide-out produce drawers. His foster parents felt it important to make Chris work for things. He would lose privileges for taking things without permission, including food. He was always subtle about the cash he took from Henry's wallet and Janet's purse. He never left them empty. If there was a ten and a twenty and some ones, he would take the ten and leave the rest. If there were multiple twenties, he would take only one. He paid attention to the earrings Janet wore and which ones she didn't. If he noticed a pair she hadn't worn in more than six months, that is the pair he would steal and pawn. He only once heard her ask Henry about a pair of earrings she couldn't find. She hadn't worn them in over a year, but they were a pair of gold hoops with diamonds at each end. Her mother had given them to her. Henry told her he hadn't seen them and she, at that point, didn't think to ask Chris about them. She moved on, quickly accepting that they were lost and simply hoping they would show up again at some point. It was the only time Chris ever felt guilty about taking something from Janet, and they were the last valuables he ever took from her.
But he did enjoy taking food. He knew the fruit in the basket on the kitchen counter and the fruit in the refrigerator's produce drawers was expensive. The fruit was always fresh, always organic, and Henry enjoyed some of the more exotic fruit selections from the organic grocery stores. Chris's favorites were always the Asian pears. He liked their color, the pale yellow skin and the brown speckles wrapping in crowded spirals up to the stem. He loved the smell, the weight of the juicy round fruit in his hand, all reminding him of how that first bite would feel, how it would sound, how it would taste. Growing up, his mother was too busy buying drugs to save money for fruit. The only fruit he got came in the form of occasional juices, the fruit cups served from the school cafeteria, and from the blackberry bushes he found on his walks to school and in the old creek behind their apartment building.
Here, in the produce drawer, there are four Asian pears stacked neatly against a row of cucumbers. There is no need to disguise his actions now. He stuffs all four into his bag. Zipping up the bag, knowing he has stolen from them again, and knowing he will get to bite into the pears soon, gives him a quick jolt in his chest and calms the throbbing behind his eyes.
A dog barks at the front walk. Janet is back already.
Chris straps his back pack on and tip-toe runs back down the hallway toward his old room. Siri is barking when Janet opens the door. Chris can hear the jangle of the leash as he opens the window. Siri can smell him and is pulling at the leash to be let free. Her barking intensifies and Chris can hear Janet's baby voice asking the dog what is wrong. She fumbles with the leash clamp, but once it clicks free, Siri races down the hallway toward Chris's room, barking as she runs, and then growling once inside the room. She smells her way to the wall by the window. She jumps up the wall, snapping her teeth and snarling, as Chris closes the window. In his hurry, the window slides shut too quickly and closes all the way, with a click. He won't be getting back in that way. He assures himself that is fine, that he won't need to get back in that way because he won't need to get back in at all because he doesn't need them. He never needed them. He tightens the back pack straps and ducks down to crawl under each of the side windows on his way back toward the sidewalk. He turns left when he gets to the sidewalk and he pulls his hood over his hat. He listens for Siri. He listens for Janet crying out after him.
When no calls come, his pace quickens. He tells himself he didn't expect any.
He tries to think of his list and the usual customers he would have gone to when looking to sell a few grams. He is late with his delivery. Ax doesn't like when people are late with their deliveries. To be late is to be disrespectful of someone's time, to see them as unimportant. This will have a cost. Chris knows he can't truly make up for the lost time and the disrespect. But if he can bring back a little extra, a little more money than normal, that might make up for the mistake. It might soften the punishment, at least.
His first thought is who is closest? Nate's place isn't that far. Nate is a little rough in the morning, and he runs for Ax, too. He decides against Nate. Carly might want it. Carly is living off of an insurance payout from the death of her father. She is nicer than most of the people Chris talks to and deals with. He can be at her house in less than fifteen minutes.
In twelve minutes, the pillars in front of her small craftsman style home appear. The lights are off in every window. There aren't any parents or grandparents to worry about, though, so he rings the doorbell. He hears something from the wood. It sounds like footsteps but then it stops. The house is quiet again. He rings the doorbell again. The rise and fall of the chime echoes briefly in the sparse open floor plan. He hears another sound, definitely footsteps. He steps to the window beside the front door and cups his hands over the glass to peer in.
“Carly?” he calls in a harsh, yelled whisper. The glass fogs up and he moves over, trying to catch sight of her or hear movement. “Carly I know you're home.”
He backs away from the glass. He walks back out onto the front grass and looks to the second story. He knows she is standing just off to the left or right of one of the windows, ready to slowly peak out and down at him. He knows she is home and he knows she heard the ringing of the doorbell. That means she doesn't want to let him in. Maybe she knows he didn't get his money back to Ax and doesn't want to be involved. Maybe she thought he was someone else and is hiding in some quiet, inner room.
Maybe she just doesn't want to talk to me, he thinks.
He wonders why she wouldn't let him in and then he wonders why she ever would. He turns and joins the sidewalk again.
His second thought is Adam Ramirez. He and Adam used to sell together. When he gets to Adam's apartment, Adam actually answers the door. He doesn't hide, he doesn't pretend not to be there, he answers the door and immediately tells Chris to go handle his business before coming back. When Chris starts to explain his situation, the door slams in his face. He is still trying to talk when he hears the lock click into place. He is still talking when he turns and walks back out across the parking lot and onto the sidewalk.
“You're talking to yourself, man,” he says out loud.
“I know,” he answers.
He does stop. He steps over the sidewalk lines. He tries not to step on them, and he tries to make sure each foot gets one step in each square of cement before the next. Don't step on a crack, he hums to himself, you'll break your momma's back.
“Stop!” he says again.
His third thought is Jesse Horton. Jesse lives with his grandmother. His father left years ago and his mother is in prison for armed robbery and attempted murder. In one of her wide-eyed lows of scab-picking desperation, she walked into a 7-eleven with a Glock 9mm she lifted from her pimp and fired nine shots into the cigarettes above the cashier's crouched, quivering body. She screamed for all the cash in the register. Jesse was almost seven years old at the time. She'd left him sitting in the car out front. He watched as one of the patrons slammed his mother to the floor and wrestled the gun from her hand. He watched as officers arrived and held their guns out toward the front door and slowly made their way inside. He watched them roll his mother onto her stomach and pull her hands behind her back and handcuff her. He watched as they dragged her out of the store and locked her in the back of one of the cruisers. She swore at the cops, at the man in the store, at the cashier. She cursed them and promised to kill them all. She threatened the cops' lives and then begged them not to take her to jail. She kept saying she was sorry, that she was so so sorry. She promised to get right, to never do it again and get herself right.
She never mentioned Jesse. She never mentioned having her son in the car out front, never looked over at him from her position in the back of the cruiser. Jesse watched her cry and bang her head into the seat's headrest and spit at the windows whenever the officers approached. She cried out for justice, then she cried out for mercy, then she cried and shouted nonsense.
She never cried out for him.
Twenty minutes later, an officer noticed the car parked near the front of the store. He ran the plates and found the car registered to a Mrs. Bernice Horton, Jesse's grandmother. It wasn't until the officer went to open the front door to check the registration and look for possible drug paraphernalia that he saw Mrs. Bernice Horton's grandson, Jesse, huddled on the floor in front of the passenger seat, hugging his knees and crying.
He went to live with his grandmother after that. As he grew up, his grandmother saw the same wild streaks, the same misbehavior she'd seen in her daughter. She took out her previous failures on him. When verbal abuse didn't work she moved to physical abuse. At a certain point, no amount of abuse affected Jesse. He dropped out of high school at fifteen and focused on his real passions: playing video games and using drugs.
When Chris gets to Jesse's house and sees the light on upstairs, he smiles. Jesse's gaming took place mostly at night and Chris was hoping for a session that carried on into the morning. The only reason Jesse would be awake before 2:00pm would be for video games. And one of his favorite methods for being able to play all night, or for multiple days in a row, was meth.
Chris looks in through a side window. The kitchen is dark, which used to mean grandma wasn't awake yet or wasn't home. He grips the front door's handle and smiles when the knob clicks and the door opens. He closes the door quietly and listens. He can hear noises from upstairs, faint and distant electronic dance music, EDM. He is careful around corners and as he makes his way up the stairs. There doesn't seem to be anyone else in the house and hopefully the music is playing because Jesse is in his room. At the top of the stairs, Chris recognizes the music, Pendulum. He shakes his head. He hates Pendulum. Hopefully, Pendulum means Jesse is at the tail end of an all-nighter and is itching. Maybe even if he isn't, the story will make him feel sorry for Chris and he will buy the meth simply to help him out, as a friend.
One-twenty, Chris decides. One hundred and twenty dollars should do it.
At the top of the stairs, all the lights are off in the upper hallway. Chris flinches as he passes the bathroom and the toilet suddenly begins to run. The other rooms are dark. All but the room at the end of the hall. The door is closed but light is crawling out from the sliver of space at the bottom. Once at the door, Chris can feel the music through the floor. It is thumping against the walls and shaking the door. He can feel the bass in his chest. He considers knocking but that seems weird, and if Jesse is gaming with the music this loud he probably wouldn't hear the knock anyway.
He taps on the door, so he can say he knocked. He opens the door slowly. Once cracked a few inches, the sound floods out. He can see the edge of a bed, covered in twisted blankets and an assortment of discarded shirts, jeans, socks. The quiet of the early morning sidewalk and the rest of the house make the sudden audio assault hard to manage. Chris squints and winces at the grinding spatter of electronic notes and steps through the heavy bass thump like he is wading through a thick bog.
As the door opens a little more, the edge of a desk appears. The desk holds Jesse's gaming setup. Chris was here when Jesse put it together: an ASRock NVIDIA motherboard, Intel 2 processor, one hundred and fifty megabyte Raptor hard drive. It was a thing of beauty. As the desktop comes into view, the tower is different than before. As Chris is thinking about that, he notices the chair in front of the monitor is empty just before the cold gun barrel touches the side of his head.
Chris stops. He wants to tell the gunman not to shoot. He wants to say who he is, to yell his own name and fall to the floor with his hands over his head, but he freezes. He says nothing.
“Hi, Ozzy,” Jesse says. He presses the gun against Chris's head. “How are you?”