This week, it’s time for the big plot twist!
No tip of the week this week, so let’s get into our reading, all super quick-like:
“Right after I started the truck and looked up, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. It was Jimmy.”
“Who’s Jimmy?” Theo said.
“Jimmy,” Miguel said, “was Brian’s little brother. He was there, at the bridge. He was back on the far end, hiding behind one of the columns. I saw him when I lifted my head up over the dash, because he stepped out from behind the column. I could see the look on his face, and his eyes met mine, for just a second. He was scared. But Ray and them must have seen him too, because a couple of them turned around and pointed their guns at him. I didn’t really have time to think about it, right at that second, so I threw the truck in reverse and backed out, and as I was driving off, they were shooting at him. I didn’t realize right then who he was, not until later.”
“Ray shot up your friend’s brother. I mean, that makes a lot of sense now, why we been doing the things we been doing. I’m sorry, Miguel. I don’t really know Brian all that well, but still, that’s fucked up.”
Miguel gritted his teeth. “That’s why this all happened. I don’t know if they shot him there, took him away and did it, or what. I just don’t know. But I do know that’s there’s no question about what happened to that poor kid and who did it. Some of those bastards had been like brothers to me. Like Thomas, I don’t know how I was supposed to forgive him for something like that. How they could do all that after knowing me for so long… I just don’t know.”
“Why you never told Brian what happened to his brother? Seems like he’d want to know.”
Miguel had kept this all inside for so long, and Theo’s question brought the pain to the surface. “I couldn’t,” he said, massaging the lids of his reddening eyes. “All this stuff happened because of me. It’s all my fault.”
Theo drained his beer, and then picked up the bong and loaded a nugget from the tray on the table. He tilted the end of the bong towards Miguel, but he waved it off. “I need a clear head for what I have to do tonight.”
“What don’t make sense,” Theo said, “is what the kid was even doing there. And if you was driving away when you saw him, how so sure that he died that night?”
“That’s the part I haven’t told you yet.”
The prospect of graduation in less than two months began to excite him. While watching the sunset, for the first time since he received the news, he allowed himself to visualize it: walking across Folsom Field, shaking hands with the Dean. Until the words had come from Mr. Goode’s lips, Brian himself had been doubtful it would ever happen. Although they never came out and said so, Brian always thought that his parents wanted his graduation more than he did. Brian reminded himself to call them later tonight.
After the sun slipped behind the Flatiron mountains and the apartment’s parking lot lampposts came to life, Brian rose and trudged back towards the apartment. There would not be too many more sunsets from the stairs, as the roof was complete and the exterior largely finished, which meant the interior would be off-limits. Soon there would be security systems, locked doors, and other barriers to entry.
He feared he had set his recovery back several days by coming out here as each step sent another jolt of pain to his midsection, but something compelled him to watch the sunset tonight. After achieving some perspective, he realized the dangers of staying in Boulder. Obviously, Wiles had orchestrated the attack last night, which meant Wiles knew about Megan. Little else would explain it. Brian cursed himself for succumbing to Wiles’ trick of the one last deal. Just like Wiles to dangle an irresistible carrot.
Kevin Werner crossed Brian’s mind, and Brian wondered if Alex would pry the truth from Wiles. He never knew for certain, but Wile’s vague hints and threats had implied that he had put Kevin in that wheelchair. Brian decided he should call Miguel to see if he could help him leave town, but then Brian then changed his mind and instead resolved to call the police first.
Should have told the cops a long time ago.
He would tell them everything he knew about Wiles and Kevin. Maybe he could give them enough to connect Wiles to the attack, and then his escape plan would not even matter anymore. With Wiles in jail, he would have no reason to leave Boulder, and could use his savings to get a start after graduation. He reached in his pocket, then realized he had left the phone in the apartment. He would have to wait.
He took the short route through the courtyard, bypassing the parking lot. Each advance along the stairs twisted the vice grip in his abdomen and he paused often to catch his breath. He had not taken a Vicodin in about four hours, but would fix that soon. When Brian opened the apartment door, he moved fully inside before noticing Wiles sitting on his couch. Brian’s jaw dropped. He immediately turned back towards the door, as fast as his battered body would allow. Alex came rushing out of the kitchen, his gun drawn. “Stay right there. Shut the door,” Alex shouted at his roommate.
Brian shut the door. Alex, beer in one hand, pistol in the other, moved towards the couch. He was trembling. “What do I do?” he asked Wiles.
“Damn it, Britton, just shut up,” Wiles said, taking the beer. “Didn’t I tell you to be cool?” Alex took a deep breath, and it came back out in rapid hiccups. Wiles turned his attention to Brian. “We need to talk. I guess you knew that. I’m gonna try to be calm about this.” Wiles pointed the beer at the door. “Step away from the door.”
Brian did as Wiles commanded.
“We’re a family. That’s supposed to mean something. Maybe I should have set some ground rules, but I did expect you to have some motherfucking common sense.”
No other options. Brian decided to come clean because Wiles obviously knew everything. “I know what this is about. Look, I had no idea she was married. I didn’t even know she was related to–”
“Shut up!” Wiles said as he smashed his beer against the fireplace, creating a starburst of foam on the wall. Tendons on Wiles’ neck strained. The look in his eyes grew inhuman, like some kind of animal. Brian had never seen such a thing. “Do you think I care about what you know or didn’t know? You… fucked… my brother’s… wife!”
Brian watched a stream of beer cascade down the side of the fireplace. Some of it dripped onto the metal fire poker, which sat in its cradle, only five feet from Brian.