Their trim uniforms mix and mingle at the door:
Asheville city, state troopers, county deputies.
She gives thanks for their predictable, preset rounds,
which bring them to her at this time and place.
Laughing, eating, retelling tales of high-risk lives,
at last they rise, move, linger talking by the door.
Her mind stops its battering rounds,
turns quiet and alert. Her hand finds the weapon.
The first one out, young and straight, laughing at a joke,
she lets him pass by. Another and another.
A long pause, then the door is filled again. This one
whose eyes are dark reflecting wells of memories.
She moves. In front of her everything is blurred,
It’s cold in her hand, she thrusts it forward.
Noise in her head rushes like a wind.
Their shouts, Put down... put down...
She feels the bullets hit her one by one.
Her hand touches the blood. She stumbles, falls.
The concrete scrapes her arm, her leg.
Sensation, sight, all falling down, away.
He grabs her gun, a tinny piece, a toy
that crumples in his grasping hand.
He turns his shocked, human eyes to hers.
Ah, no, Lady. No. Why me, why me?
She thinks, but cannot speak:
Our dark life lines, descending, here converged.
Mine ends. Unjustly now the burden falls to you.
You have been injured, but can bring no charge.
See in my eyes a fugitive at large.
J.T. Ellison reads "The Escape":
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Margaret confesses: "A frequent group at a restaurant we like includes North Carolina State Troopers, Asheville City police, and multi-county deputies. I like to watch them. (I’m a writer. We stare and eavesdrop discreetly, right?) They seem to enjoy each other’s stories. I put that together with the idea of suicide-by-cop. For some reason, it played around in my mind and gave me a feeling for the vulnerability of a cop on duty. Not sure why. (He’s armed to the teeth, right?) But they are the definition of visible and available."
MARGARET ANDERSON's short story, "Added Incentive", won Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine's Mysterious Photograph contest, and was published in the June 2010 issue.