Updated: Feb 5
you’ve been keeping up with the story at all, you’ve seen it’s been coming to a climax. For purposes of this blog this climax will be the story’s close.
Don’t worry; I will leave it off on a happy ending. I promise. :-)
I’m not posting the whole story because I’m trying to drum up some interest in the full novel, which includes sending it out to various agents and publishers, so I don’t want to give away the whole thing for free. (Cue conspiratorial whisper: Just most of it.)
I just wanted to show you how the Villalobos family begins.
I know I just told you a huge spoiler, but be honest, you knew where this was leading ;-)
Here’s a hint of how this chapter of the tale will end for my beloved characters, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…”- Joel 2:25 :)
After I’ve posted here to this certain point, I will be showing what happens to my principle characters through the use of, “One shots”: individual short stories and scenes that will showcase the various members of the Villalobos family, their relationship with each other and their progress as individuals. I will also be adding my own artwork to the older posts that never had a picture to go with them. So browse through those every once in a while for a glimpse of their world.
I’m currently working on several pictures of Siah to showcase her racial ambiguity. All she has to do is changer her hair and people think she’s a completely different race. (A fun little superpower she and I both enjoy.)
So here I give you, Chapter 17-
Stay engaged and stay awesome ;-P.
Chap 17: Comeuppance
Siah was still talking with Marshal Thompson when the rest of his men arrived and flowed past them, through the back door and into the clinic.
“What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. What’s going on here?” he barked.
A young man in the same beige uniform as Thompson stopped. “Sir, we’ve just heard reports that Brent Holsun was spotted in the area.” His eyes flicked from Thompson to Siah questioningly.
Thompson jerked his head to Siah.
“Dr. Villalobos, where is your daughter?”
Siah breathed a prayer of thanks for the boys. “She’s not here. She’s safe. I have her with a sitter.”
“Ma’am,” Marshal Thompson asked. “Where do you live? We should go pick her up in case-“
He was cut off by a loud crash through the front windows of the waiting room.
Siah drew her gun as she ran back into the clinic, Marshal Thompson close on her heels as an explosion rocked the ground under her feet.
It looked like a bomb had gone off in the waiting room. Glass and debris were everywhere, part of the ceiling had caved in. She stopped short as she saw Mr. Finney limp out from behind the counter, his barely set cast crunching the broken glass all over the floor, pick something up off the ground, and throw it back out the shattered front window. A split second later another explosion rocked the outside of the building.
Grenades? Someone was throwing grenades?
They all ducked for cover as another projectile flew through the window. Mr. Finney caught this one midair, throwing it back the same instant it hit his palm.
The driver’s eyes went wide as it hit the bed of a pickup truck out in the street being driven by a coward in a ski mask. He barely scrambled out in time before the truck exploded.
Marshal Thompson and several others were right next to her as she ran after the coward. His mask was on fire as he ran down the street; Siah knelt and fired, alongside the Marshalls. She didn’t know which of their aims were true but she saw him stagger as though hit. He tore the mask off as he ducked into another car.
Several Troopers kept firing as he peeled off. Siah was squeezing the trigger when an overwhelming sense of dread came over her.
Run home Siah. She lowered her gun.
Run! She reeled as adrenaline pumped through her.
Sharlie, the boys, she needed to get to them, right now!
Siah holstered her gun and broke into a run, ignoring Marshal Thompsons shouting after her.
Dear God, let me be overreacting!
Holsun sped across town, pounding the steering wheel as he screamed and cursed. How had the cops been there? He had staked out the clinic just that morning, no one but sheep had been there! It should have been an easy target!
What the… it must have been the Vicodin kicking in, because he suddenly calmed as it occurred to him, he never had seen the doc as he’d staked out the place that morning, he also hadn’t seen her now.
She must be home. He could still get out and get his revenge.
He sped to the complex. His vest had caught the bullet that had hit him; still his shoulder had to be broken. He chewed another pill. Just thinking about her face when she’d told him about, “having new child care”, made him want to rape the kid himself just to spite her. The second pill kicked in. He smiled to himself. Yes, yes that was exactly what he would do, and he’d make her watch.
He laughed out loud. That would be so much fun! He could use some fun. The kiddie-diddler had described some huge guy. He took his sawed off shotgun and his biggest handgun, a Magnum research revolver and stuck it into his belt.
So she had some big guy to babysit for her. No matter how well the doc was putting out to this guy, he was certain the idiot would give him what he wanted, if he didn’t he would die. He chewed another pill as he got out of the car.
Nathan was napping; Eric was in front of the fireplace showing Sharlie how to spell three letter words with the wooden blocks when a gunshot blasted through the never used front door. Nathan bolted up and winced as Sharlie yelped and dove under Eric’s arm, cringing into his chest. Two more shots blasted holes through the door, followed by several empty clicks and a slew of profanity.
Nathan wiped his face and peeked through a sliver between the boards over the window. He turned to him. “It’s Holsun!” he whispered.
That was faster than expected.
There was a sudden bashing on the front door, followed quickly by another and another. Eric scooped Sharlie into his arms and ran to the bedroom. Tucking her into the hiding hole in the closet he stopped and made sure she was really paying attention to him.
“Sharlie, I need you to stay here and hide until I come get you, understand?”
She nodded despite the tears in her eyes. Her tiny face was filled with fear. Looking around behind him, he spotted Fox and Wolf and stuffed them into the crevice along with her.
For just a moment, he really looked at the tiny girl- then he reached out and grabbed her in a fierce hug.
“I will protect you Sharlie. Never doubt that.”
The tiny girl held him with equal ferocity.
For just that moment, he let himself hug her back. Finally, he shoved her back inside. She clutched Fox and Wolf as he shut the false door over her.
No one made Sharlie afraid.
He calmly walked back into the living room as he drew the handgun Siah had given him.
Not bothering to stand, Nathan just sat up on his mats and was already taking aim like Siah had taught them; lifting his gun to shoulder height, he gripped it with both hands, head down, arms relaxed.
“I know you’re in there!” Holsun shouted through the bullet riddled wood.
He stayed standing as he drew his own gun to shoulder height, holding it with both hands- but then he thought better of it. He was standing right in front of the door. He lowered his arm to shoot from the hip like Siah had shown them. He wanted to try it. He would be close enough to the fool; he didn’t need to extend his arm.
Another crash against the door actually made the old thing splinter. Neither boy flinched.
“I heard the girl! You let me have her and you can go.”
The fool had no idea who he was dealing with. It wouldn’t take much more pressure for the old door to break. When it did, they were ready. Holsun was a desperate man. All his allies had either fled, been arrested or were dead. They had personally seen to the disappearance of his new second in command.
Another bash and thick shards of wood began sticking out at odd angles.
Eric cursed himself again for his stupidity at letting that pervert live after he’d knocked out Siah. He should’ve finished him off in that alley.
Another bash on the door and light was coming in.
Just a couple more bashes and that door was going to break. Or Holsun’s shoulder, Eric smiled at the thought. Nathan cocked his gun first. Chancing a glance at his little brother they both shared a predatory smile. Shafts of weak light began piercing their way through the door. They were doing this for Siah, for Sharlie, and - a thought brushed both of their minds- for that mama wolf.
Finally, the old door broke down. The second it splintered apart, Holsun stepped through, lifting his arm to aim at Eric.
He never finished the movement. Neither boy blinked as they shot Holsun in the head.
He’d never made it past the threshold.
Siah prayed desperately that the gunshots weren’t what she feared. Her heart pounded as she arrived to see the unused front door of her apartment swinging open on its hinges, the plywood planks that had been over it, splintered all over the sidewalk. She gasped when she saw the prone, bloody body on her threshold. It was all that was left of Holsun. He’d been shot in the head at least twice.
From where she was on the stoop, she had a full view of Eric still holding his gun at his hip just like she’d taught him.
When he looked up and saw her, he gasped and froze.
In a flash, an instant of revelation, Siah knew what she needed to do.
She calmly stepped over the body, avoiding the blood and brains, and grabbed the gun out of Eric’s hand before whirling to Nathan. He was using the gun she’d given him. Good.
She ignored Eric's shock as she shed her holster and threw it near the side door. She turned back to Eric. “Where is Sharlie?”
Eric’s brain finally turned back on. “In, in the back closet.”
She reached out and gripped his shoulder.
“Eric, go get a fresh gun out of the hole and hold onto Sharlie. Hold her in your arms. Have it ready, but no matter what happens, do not fire it.”
“Do as I say! Go!”
“Nathan, unbutton your shirt.” She barked.
“Do it quick.”
Nathan unbuttoned his flannel shirt, locking a confused gaze with Eric as he backed towards the hall.
“Do as I say!” She cut him off. “Stay on your cot, leave your gun out.”
She looked Eric straight in the eye as she drew the gun she’d taken from him. “DO. NOT. SHOOT. Act scared.”
He didn’t have time to react as he heard the foreign sound of a big SUV pulling up, followed by pounding footsteps as Siah readied herself into a shooting stance.
What was going on?
Siah’s breathing changed. She was no longer acting calmly, her breathing was rapid and shallow, her eyes wide. He’d never seen Siah like that. She never looked scared.
A second later a booming male voice exploded past the doorway, ordering her to put the weapon down.
She put the gun on the ground and followed orders to kneel and put her hands behind her head. He watched as her face crumbled and she started to cry.
He didn’t have time to process what he was seeing before a flurry of cops in beige uniforms flooded into the room, looming over him, guns drawn, ordering him to put his weapon down.
For the first time in his life, he put down his weapon. They ordered him to hold up his hands and sit up facing them.
He did as told, his unbuttoned shirt falling open. They all saw the patch on his chest. Then the scars seemed to get through to them and they both lowered their weapons. One of them put their gun away entirely, kneeling to check his chest. His eyes never left Siah as the cop held onto his good shoulder, leaning his head into his radio and calling for a medic.
He jolted and winced when someone down the hall shouted, “Clear!”
Eric was being led out by the shoulder, carrying a very scared Sharlie in his arms. He heard a sound that made him jolt again and turned to see Siah being handcuffed.
NO! He froze as his mind screamed. Was that what all that had been about? He turned to Eric, who was as shocked as he was.
She, Siah was covering for them?
Then a heavyset white guy who looked like a bulldog came in. He was in the same beige uniform as the rest of them but when he came in; he said something low to the one holding the cuffs on Siah. The younger guy looked embarrassed as he uncuffed her. Siah rubbed her wrists as she wiped her face and thanked the big guy.
What was going on?
Eric stayed in the hallway as he handed a very freaked out Sharlie to Siah who came next to him and at an angle so Sharlie wouldn’t see the blown off head- all over- the doorway.
She took Eric’s hand and led him over to just behind the medic who was still checking his bandage. He hadn’t even paid attention to the guy.
Suddenly he started asking him a bunch of questions about how he’d been shot and when. He looked to Siah; she only gave him the slightest nod, not giving him any hints as to how to answer. So at a loss, he was stuck with having to tell the truth.
The medic replaced the cloth bandages Siah had put on him with one made of some kind of thick tape that went like a patch over the front and back portions of the wound.
Siah was betting the boys’ lives on making them look sympathetic. “Please God, please…” she’d sobbed.
While the young deputy had cuffed her, she had seen the Marshals calm considerably when they saw how injured Nathan was. He may have just shot a man dead, but he was still a beaten, burned thirteen year old with a bullet wound in his chest.
Her desperate prayers turned to gratitude when she heard the police ordering Eric to put his gun down, then telling him to come out of the closet. No shots were fired.
Thank you Jesus! Her weeping turned to tears of relief.
When Marshal Thompson had the young officer uncuff her, she thanked him and took a terrified Sharlie from Eric, angling her so she wouldn’t see the bloody mess all over the living room. She took his hand and led him to where Nathan was still being tended to by a medic. When he finally left, Nathan stood and buttoned his shirt.
She lunged to grip him into a fierce hug.
“Say nothing unless directly asked.” She whispered into his ear.
“You and I shot him. Those are my guns you are using. Eric was with Sharlie the whole time, he never fired. Try to look scared. Tell Eric what I said.”
She pulled away from him. His eyes were wide.
“It’s okay sweetie.” She cupped his face. “You did what you had too.” She switched to Eric. “I’m proud of both of you.” She meant every word of it.
“Dr. Villalobos?” She turned to see Marshal Thompson jerk his head at her to join him at the side door. She gave Nathan a pointed look as she handed Sharlie to Eric, making sure to keep her head away from the gore on the carpet.
“What happened?” he asked bluntly.
“When I saw the bomber at the clinic was Holsun, I-” what should she say?
“I had a premonition,” that much was true. “That he would come here. I was right, he did.”
“Who shot him?”
“Nathan, the little one and I did.”
That information fit with what the first officers on scene had told him. Thompson kept his voice low as he spoke.
“How did you get here so fast?”
He quirked a brow.
“I ran the entire way nonstop.”
The way the Doc looked, he believed her.
She was still trying to catch her breath.
He took in the bloody corpse, the two stone faced boys glaring at him from the corner and the woman in front of him. The debris all over the floor was more than a broken down door should warrant. Something wasn’t adding up. He drew her aside into the tiny kitchen. Real estate being as cheap as it was, he couldn’t believe she had been living in this shabby little place this whole time.
“Who are those boys to you?”
“Eric brought Nathan to me here at home several weeks ago. Nathan’d been shot it the chest. I treated him and they’ve been staying with me ever since.”
“Where are their parents?”
“Out of the picture. They told me they’ve been on their own for several years.”
“So they’re street kids?”
“They are children Marshal Thompson.”
He didn’t miss the edge in her voice.
“I hope you understand Doc,” he fell back into the familiar term he’d been using for her. “There are certain questions I have to ask.”
She visibly relaxed. “I understand Marshal.”
He continued his questioning; the debris on the floor was from the front door Holsun had broken down. It had been boarded over since before she’d moved in here. She’d never used it. The guns used in the shooting were hers, as was the one the older boy had had on him. She had armed the boys and taught them how to shoot herself. They had been taking care of her girl here at the apartment while she was working at the clinic the last few weeks. She had run the entire way here, coming in through the side door only a minute before Holsun had arrived.
He nodded as he finished his questions.
Throughout the investigation into Holsun and his operation, Doctor Villalobos had been nothing but helpful; she had stuck her neck out for this investigation time and again, risking her and even her daughter’s safety. He had no reason to doubt her word. He still had to interview the kids, but as far as he was concerned, self-defense was how this would be written up.
“One last thing Doc, we found a body in the lake not far from here, it’s in bad shape from being underwater, but we wanted to know if you might recognize who it was. Think you can look at a picture for me?”
She nodded and visibly braced herself as he took the photo out of his coat pocket. The picture was gruesome; the man had been beaten around the head and strangled before he’d been put in the water but the face was still visible.
“No. It’s no one I recognize.”
“Hmm. Too bad. We had a tip that Holsun used that lake and those grounds to dump bodies and so far it seems to be true. We’ve found several, this one’s just the most recent. Must have been something personal for Holsun, guy had a millstone wrapped around his neck, looks like it was taken from the museum. Medical examiner says he died from drowning.”
The dryness of her mouth hit her just then.
“Hey do you mind, I’m really thirsty. You want a drink?
“No thank you, go ahead.”
Siah pulled a mug off the counter towel and moved to fill it from the little cistern, her back to the Marshal- then it occurred to her, she knew who that corpse was. Her hands shook, the cup fell as if in slow motion.
It was that monster! The one that had tried to take Sharlie! That bruising around the face- she had seen it before- in the faces of the men Eric had knocked out with a single punch. He had punched that thug in the alley the same way. Nathans marshy smell the other night… the millstone… what she’d read to them from the Bible… the boys... The cup shattered across the floor as all the pieces fell into place.
“Oh, oh my, I-”
The boys rushed in at the sound of the crash. “It’s, it’s okay boys, I just dropped a cup. Marshal Thompson, I’m sorry, it’s been a, a,” she took a deep breath, “It’s been a horrible day.”
“It’s alright ma’am, I understand. Here.” His face concerned, he took another cup, filled it from the cistern and handed it to her.
Trying to steady herself, she took the cup in both hands. She drained it. He refilled the cup without asking. “Better?”
A female officer poked her head in the door. “Sir, we’re all done here.”
“Well, we’ll be leaving now. I’m sure the judge will agree with my assessment that this was a clear case of self-defense.”
“Thanks Marshal Thompson. I mean that.”
She hesitated. Would voicing her thoughts be going too far?
“You should know, rumor was that Holsun sometimes killed his own men. That he liked to make examples of those didn’t perform. Maybe this man was one of those.”
Marshal Thompson took her information in stride as one of his deputies called him from the other room.
Siah took a deep breath as he left. She thanked God for his mercy. She had not been lying- at the moment Marshal Thompson had shown her the photo, God had kept her from recognizing the pervert. The boys were still in the doorway, looking lost. She put a finger to her lips. They just needed to stay quiet a little longer.
They could do that.