by Morris J. Marshall
Chapter 18: Bill’s Dilemma
Haiyuan was dead.
In spite of the empty roof, Krista refused to believe it, unable to process what it meant. A wave of guilt swept over her, replacing denial. If she hadn’t confronted Carla, Haiyuan would still be alive. But how could she have known how Carla would respond? Her boss had fooled a lot of people.
Krista’s guilt melted into dread. She’d just told Bill that Carla had killed Gavin. Krista had always seen Bill as a kind, fatherly man who fed her chilli and gave her sound advice. Her own father had committed suicide when she was a young child. It never dawned on her that Bill might also have a breaking point, but even a soft twig can snap if bent back far enough.
In the ten minutes since she’d left the roof, Carla would have had enough time to get down to the street, leave the building and escape in her car. The airport was only twenty-five minutes away. Surely she’d be arrested once officials there realized she was wanted by the police, assuming they knew what she’d done. Right now, the alternative seemed worse, that she might still be somewhere in the building.
Krista wrenched herself away from the edge of the building and sprinted toward the entrance leading inside to the stairs. In less than a minute, she was back in the 30th floor hallway outside DBC Financial. Muffled voices filtered out from Carla’s office. One female, one male. Bantering back and forth. It was difficult to discern the conversation through the glass, so Krista pushed the door open. She heard Bill’s voice first.
“Don’t come in, lass. I’ve got everything under control. You’d best be going.”
Carla was sitting rigidly in her leather chair, eyes glazed, her face pallid. Her hands were raised in the air. Bill was standing about ten feet away, his revolver raised.
“You don’t have to do this,” Krista said softly.
Bill looked at her. “She took everything from me. Gavin was all I had left.” His eyes were vacant and seemed not to see her. His hands were trembling, but the revolver remained fixed on Carla.
“She’s not worth it,” Krista said. “She’s going to prison for life. But if you do this, I’m going to lose the best friend I’ve ever had.”
Bill made a choking sound. He blinked, seemed to regain his senses and lowered the gun slightly.
Krista stepped toward him. “This isn’t going to bring Gavin back.”
Bill glanced back at her. Tears trickled from the corner of his eyes.
Krista held out her hand, suddenly aware of the excruciating pain in her right shoulder. “Give me the gun, Bill. Let me help you.”
“It’s too late for that, lass.”
“No, it isn’t. You rescued me. Now let me return the favour.”
The revolver came down further.
“Gavin wouldn’t want you to spend the rest of your life in jail. Neither would Haiyuan.”
Bill looked at her, then back at Carla. His trigger hand dropped.
Krista smiled. “It’s okay,” she said. “I understand.” She moved toward him slowly, cautiously. She placed her fingers on the gun’s barrel, plucked the weapon safely away and put it in her purse.
Bill collapsed into her arms, buried his head into her chest and wept. The high-pitched sounds carried out into the hallway.
While Krista was still comforting him, two police officers came into the office, grabbed Carla and placed her hands behind her back. They handcuffed her and read her her rights. “I wish you’d never been hired,” she said to Krista as she was led away.
Bill reached into his pocket and removed some Kleenex. After wiping his eyes, he noticed a trail of blood drops on the floor leading from the door across the room. His blue suede coat was stained red around the left shoulder.
Bill caught her before she fell. Steadying her with one arm, he placed his cane on a nearby desk and guided her over to a chair. After easing her down gently, he held her hand and stroked her hair while waiting for the paramedics to come up from downstairs.
Copyright © 2017 by Morris J. Marshall