As promised, here’s the very beginning of my novella-barely-in-progress, Chiggers.
“All you get to do is kill him.”
Mr. Simon nodded. “I understand.”
“I’m very serious about this. This is not going to turn into some sadistic torture session. You will press this gun against his forehead,” Neal said, sliding the pistol across the desk, “and you will pull the trigger. If you want to make a speech before you do it, be my guest, but keep it brief.”
Mr. Simon picked up the gun. “I’m ready.”
“If you back out, I will not finish the job for you. So if you think you might not be able to go through it with, I’d advise you not to walk into that room. We can still turn him over to the police, no problem.”
“And no refund.”
Neal smiled. “Correct.”
Mr. Simon pushed back his chair and stood up. “I won’t be backing out. I’m going to enjoy every minute of this.”
“Okay, now, see, I’m getting a torture vibe from that. I don’t care what he did to your daughter. This is a quick, painless kill. There’s only one bullet in that gun, and if it goes anywhere but his brain, you and I are going to have a problem. Are we clear?”
“One hundred percent.”
“All right, then. Avenge away.”
Mr. Simon walked out through the open door of Neal’s office. Neal took a sip of his coffee, leaned back in his chair, and sighed.
He knew exactly how this was going to play out. Mr. Simon would walk into the room, shut the door, lock it, and shoot nineteen-year-old Derrick Naylor in the gut. Screw the consequences. When Neal got in there and broke his nose, well, Mr. Simon would decide that it was worth it for Derrick’s extra couple minutes of agony.
Mr. Simon’s daughter, Vivian, had been beaten, raped, and left for dead. She had yet to emerge from her coma. Odds were, she never would. So Neal could understand why her dad might want the guy who’d done this to his sweet, beautiful, thirteen-year-old daughter to suffer.
He deserved much worse than a quick gunshot to the head.
He deserved to die slowly, screaming for hours. Days.
Whoever he was.
It sure as hell wasn’t Derrick. Poor kid just happened to match the age, build, and hair color of somebody who a witness claimed to have seen walking past the playground where Vivian was abducted. The case against Derrick wouldn’t hold up for thirty seconds with actual law enforcement, but the burden of proof was significantly less when dealing with a devastated father whose mind was poisoned with thoughts of revenge.
Neal had no criminal-tracking skills whatsoever, but he was pretty good at kidnapping, and excellent at using Photoshop to provide some damning evidence.
Eventually the real rapist might be brought to justice, but Neal would be long gone, and it wasn’t as if Mr. Simon would rush to the cops to confess that he’d murdered an innocent kid.
The gun fired.
Neal stood up and walked out of his office just as Mr. Simon emerged from the other room. He was in a daze and tears streamed down his face. He handed the gun back to Neal.
Neal glanced into the room. Derrick lay on his back on the plastic, still tied up, blood pooling under his skull, a nice little hole in the center of his forehead.
Okay, so he’d misjudged Mr. Simon. Good.