Knight Watchman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A college senior has trouble making ends meet.

Submitted: April 01, 2015

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Submitted: April 01, 2015

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They (whoever the hell they are) say that time flies. They're right, and it passes a lot faster for old folks than it does for the young. For instance, I just realized this morning that it has been 45 years since I graduated from college. That also means it has been 25 years since we said our last good-byes to J. Clyde Thompson, Jr. Where have the years gone?

I knew that senior year in college was going to be tough financially speaking. I was living on a shoestring. The GI Bill wasn't covering all the expenses. I was sharing the rent on a one bedroom apartment with two other guys and a gal. I was living on kids meals at the fast food joint because that's all I could afford. Therefore, it was out of sheer desperation and against my better judgement that I accepted a job offer from Knight Watchman Security Services.

It was Clyde Thompson who got me the job, and that fact alone should have set off alarm bells in my head. Clyde had been a classmate during my entire college career. I hated the guy's guts. He was a hustler, a cheat and a back stabber. Typically, he had gotten his job, a supervisory position with Knight Watchman, by marrying the boss' daughter, and he was going use his position to make my senior year a walk through Hell.

I can't remember all the times and ways that Clyde gave me the shaft, but he started off by screwing me out of my first two weeks of wages by making me pay for my company uniforms. Then, I lost my second two weeks of wages when he made me pay the range and instructor charges for my firearms certification. The company did provide me with a sidearm free of charge, but as one might expect, Clyde docked my pay once more for the ammunition. Just one month into my senior year, even though I had a job, I was losing money rather than making it.

Knight Watchman Security had been a small and insignificant family business until Clyde joined the firm. Then, due to the Thompson fortune and political connections, it blossomed into a major player on the local scene. It soon found itself inking million dollar contracts with the city, and it was the sudden jump in size that prompted Clyde to offer me the job. He didn't like me any more than I did him. Bluntly, he considered me to be a naïve asshole because I actually studied the material in order to pass my tests. Nevertheless, he was in need of warm bodies to meet the company's obligations, so he held his nose and hired me.

The downside of doing business with city hall is the fact that it draws unwanted scrutiny. In the case of Knight Watchman, the thorn in the side was one Josh Lemon, an obnoxious investigative reporter for a local television station. He was new to the scene, and the man was out to make a name for himself by exposing government corruption. Although the evidence implying impropriety in city contracts was scant, Lemon made it his crusade to tear down Knight and its political cronies. True to form, he excelled at ambush journalism.

One must realize that I was just a lonely and bored college senior worried about mid-term exams in the dead of night. I was working the late shift, watching over a bunch of city-owned vehicles in a muddy field when I had to pee. Since the place was deserted, I just whipped it out and began leaking between a bulldozer and a dump truck.

A voice in the dark boomed, "Public urination is a crime!"

I spun around in shock. To my utter terror, I was facing a man who was pointing a gun directly at my chest. Instinct took over. It was the same instinct that had saved my life more than once on patrols through Viet Cong territory. I dropped to one knee, weapon already in hand, and fired. My assailant went down like a sack of potatoes. The whole incident took place in less than a second.

Regaining my composure, I surveyed the scene with a flashlight. The guy on the ground was none other than the nosy reporter Josh Lemon, and the 'gun' he was carrying was actually a microphone wired to a cassette tape recorder hanging from his belt. Worst of all, the man was as dead as a doornail. "Holy shit!" I thought, "Holy motherfucking shit!!!"

Fortunately, the city vehicle compound was out in the boonies. Nobody heard the shot. At least, nobody responded to it. That gave me time to think, time to hatch a plan. I knew it had to be good, I knew that my life probably depended upon it. At a minimum, my future freedom depended upon it.

I phoned Clyde. He flew into a pluperfect rage when he arrived on the scene. "Idiot!" he screamed. "You have ruined everything. We'll never get another government contract ever. Give me your gun and badge, asshole. You're fired. Now, get rid of the body while I figure out how I'm going to get us out of this fuckin' mess you've made."

Up to that point, my plan was working perfectly. I phoned the police. They arrived in five minutes. I told them I was punching the time clock across the lot when I heard the shot. I gave them a description of the man and his getaway vehicle. Within the hour, they had pulled over Clyde Thompson. They found the murder weapon in his car with his fingerprints all over it. Later, they matched footprints in the muddy field to Clyde's fancy, imported Italian boots. Then, Clyde sealed his fate. Being the kind of person he was, he tried to lie his way out of the situation, giving a story that quickly broke down under interrogation. By the time he finally got around to telling the truth, his words had no veracity.

Clyde may have been right about my being naïve in thinking a person ought to study to pass tests without cheating, but I wasn't born yesterday. When I was on duty, I carried my own pistol, an unregistered one that I had bought at a gun show. It was a cheap throw down that I could dispose of if I ever had to shoot it. I kept the company gun in my car. I could quickly switch to the unfired weapon before the authorities would have time to arrive. A little forethought goes a long way in the security business.

The last time I saw Clyde Thompson was when I testified at his trial. It took the jury only two hours to convict him of murder in the first degree. A couple weeks later, the same jury voted for the death penalty.

Given the Thompson money and political clout forcing protracted legal appeals, he languished on death row almost exactly 20 years. It was so long that I essentially forgot about it. I graduated from college on time, if only by the skin of my teeth. I got a decent job, paid off my student debts, got married, had  kids and made a comfortable life for myself. Therefore, I was surprised and shocked one morning when I read in the newspaper that J. Clyde Thompson, Jr. had been executed. He died in the electric chair. According to the report, they threw the switch at 12:01 a.m. I was sound asleep at the time.

Copyright © 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.


© Copyright 2017 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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