emotionally drained and ready to abort the mission even though two of her
original targets were left. Reggie was
one, but the other person she didn’t know.
She was afraid of Reggie and she knew something had to be done about
him. The other man was a mystery and she
didn’t want him killed. Her anger had dissipated long before the judge had
In spite of her reluctance the coin had become
active and was willing her on again. Its
mission and her mission seemed to be going in different directions. Where was she heading now? She didn’t like having blind faith in a coin,
especially one she couldn’t control. She was glad when the coin directed her to
a bus going out of the city. Maybe the
killing was over.
stopped several times to pick up riders or let them off. When the bus stopped at a small mall in the
suburbs the coin began vibrating again.
Vanna was surprised because the location seemed so unlike the bustling downtown
office building or the court house.
disembarked in front of a small grocery store and looked around. The stores and businesses were mostly chain
stores and unpretentious. The parking lots were almost full and people were
arriving and leaving. Two security
police cars patrolled the lots while two security cops strolled through the
mall. With all the things that had taken
place Vanna felt safer knowing they were there.
men burst out of one of the stores, each carrying a bag and waving a gun. “Get out of our way!” one man yelled.
emerged from the store. “Stop them!” he
yelled. One of the gunmen turned and
fired but the clerk jumped back inside unscathed.
realized the men were running in her direction.
She wanted to dash into a store but she stood frozen. The one in the lead grabbed her arm and spun
her around. Vanna’s purse swung out and
up, catching the second gunman by surprise and throwing him off balance. His head hit the pavement and he lay still.
robber stood there, momentarily shocked by the turn of events. Without thinking, Vanna drove her knee into
his groin. He collapsed to his knees
next to his accomplice. Vanna stepped
back, watching the man, knowing he still clutched a gun.
quickly, he staggered to his feet and raised his gun. His eyes met hers. Her eyes widened in recognition as one
thought raced through her mind. “They’re
just boys and this one is my brother!”
are you doing?” she hissed through clenched teeth.
be here interfering, Vanna!” he snapped.
His eyes hardened and he pointed the gun at her. “Goodbye, sister,” he said slowly.
She heard two shots and closed her eyes. Expecting
pain, Vanna waited for the agony but nothing changed. Death must have been swift. She opened her eyes and realized that nothing
had happened to her. Karl stood there,
his eyes unfocused and his face pale. Vanna watched in horror as blood dripped
from his arm.
boy clambered to his feet and put his arm around Karl’s shoulder. “Come on,
Karl! Let’s get out of here!”
With a quick meaningful glance at Vanna, Karl warned
weakly, “Don’t say nothing!” Then he
followed his friend into one of the shops and out the back.
security coop ran towards her yelling excitedly, “I got him! I got him! I can
see drops of blood!” He was right. Spots
of blood marked a clear trail, one that the police could follow later.
later two squad cars and an unmarked car pulled up to the main entrance of the
mall. While policemen secured the area
and looked for any gunmen or victims, detectives began taking statements. “Lady,” a detective said, “You’re both a hero
and very lucky. You could have been
over what the detective said and realized he was right. During this whole time the coin had been
still. It had not protected her.
stirred and began vibrating. Her head ached
and her knee was throbbing. She knew she
couldn’t chase after Karl. He would only
become angrier. She would have to wait
until he calmed down. He might listen to
her then, if he went home, and if he could get home.
hobbled over and leaned against a wall.
She noticed the name “Sports Therapy” on a nearby door. A man came out and looked around
nervously. “Miss, are you all right?”
and I’ll check it out.” He extended his
hand. “I guess I should introduce myself
first. I’m Steve. I’m a physical therapist.”
followed him inside and sat on the edge of a bench. At his direction she flexed her knee forward
and backward. “You’ll probably have a
bruise but I see no swelling. Don’t get up yet.
I’ll get some ice.”
around the room. Various kinds of
equipment were spaced strategically.
There were weight machines, a stationary bicycle, other benches that
were fitted with sheets and pillows, large elastic bands, and other equipment
she couldn’t identify.
settled on a framed picture on a desk nearby. “Is that your family?” she asked
when he returned.
smiled. “Yes. My wife, my son, and my two daughters.”
As he placed
a towel filled with ice around her knee she noticed a small tattoo. Suddenly
she knew why she was there. Her thoughts raced. “He had helped her. He had a family. She didn’t need or want revenge anymore. She
needed to go and find her brother. How could she have forgotten him?”
The coin was
humming. “No!” Vanna stated emphatically. “No!” This
has gone far enough!” But already the coin was out of her control.
at her oddly. “Did you hit your head or
get bumped outside? Lady, I think your
knee will be fine. I think you should go
He took the
ice pack and hurried her towards the door.
The mall was quiet. Yellow tape
stretched around the crime scene and police swarmed everywhere.
Off to her
left a man stepped back into the shadows and she had the impression he was
avoiding her. Even so, he was vaguely
In front of
her a security cop twirled his gun as he told anyone within listening range the
story of his heroic act. One of the
detectives looked disgusted. “Put your
gun away, George, before you hurt someone.”
twirled it one more time. The gun
slipped from his hand, fell to the concrete, and fired.
Vanna to the door and as she stepped outside Steve unexpectedly gave her a
push. As she tumbled to the side the
bullet from George’s gun whizzed by and struck Steve in the chest.
stopped for an instant. Vanna watched
horrified as the police raced to the stricken man. There was little they could
do as his life ebbed away.
turned their attention to the security cop.
As they led him away he began crying, “It was an accident. Something knocked the gun out of my
hand. I didn’t mean to do it!”
he was right. The coin had killed Steve.
She shivered as other questions began popping up and nagging her. “Was Steve the real target? The bullet had barely missed her. Was the
coin working for her or against her? Was it a coincidence that Karl and the
coin picked this mall? And finally, was
that Reggie she saw step back into the shadows?” Vanna had much to think about and she had to
get answers quickly if she wanted to stop any more violence. Or if she wanted to survive.
I couldn’t believe my eyes,
Dad had brought home a surprise,
A black and white cocker spaniel,
Just a puppy, but she meant the world to me,
She was happy, playful, and made me smile,
Lady came when I called her, eager to please,
We were two friends, always at ease,
The two of us discovered the world anew,
Bonded by our hearts, our friendship grew,
Sniffing flowers, chasing birds,
I read stories and she listened to every word,
When she was two she followed me down,
We encountered few cars that hot summer day,
Crossing the two lane county road on our way,
Before I got groceries the owner and I had a debate,
But he said, “No dogs allowed. She’ll have to wait,”
When I looked for her, she had crossed the street,
Busily sniffing flowers, or looking for bugs to eat,
My first thought was, “She shouldn’t be over there.”
Without thinking, I whistled, loud and clear,
The shrill sound hanging expectantly in the air,
It was then that I saw a speeding car,
And realized that it wasn’t very far,
At the same time I saw Lady raise her head,
And obediently towards me she sped,
Smiling with every stride,
“Stop, Lady, stop!” I wish I’d cried,
But I was frozen, watching this nightmarish scene,
The car and Lady, the gap closing in between,
There was a loud “Whump!”
Time stopped and I had no need for air,
The car had hit Lady and the driver seemed unaware,
He slowed, then sped up, I knew he didn’t care,
I ran to her and dropped to my knees,
“Lady, get up! I’m sorry, please,”
But I held a lifeless form tight,
Wishing with all my might,
That this was just a bad dream in the night,
I walked home in a trance,
Angry at myself for what I had done,
“Why did I whistle without a glance?
Why had I done this to my friend?”
Blaming myself over and over again,
Tears streaming down my face,
Somehow managing to carry her to our place,
Where Mom took the groceries,
Telling me to hold Lady for a few minutes more,
Until I collapsed spiritless on the floor,
The next day a private ceremony with a prayer,
Only family was invited there,
My heart pounded and my head hurt,
And with each shovelful of dirt,
I thought I could hear a whistle blow,
Before I left, I leaned down and whispered softly,
“Run, Lady, run, where the flowers grow.”