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Small stars twinkled above in the night sky, almost dancing around the full moon as it shone dim light through a thin layer of clouds. A light breeze brushed the tree tops, tugging away loose leaves and making them dance down to the ground. One leaf, well chewed by small insects, let go of it’s hold on the branch and danced in the air, landing ever so slightly on the cool pavement, just in time for a black shoe to step down and crush the leaf against the cement.
A slight breeze caused goose bumps to crawl up the arms of Elizabeth Scott as she walked down the slightly eroded path. Her short, blond hair was held stiff with hair products. A long, black leather jacket held snug against her slim figure, and a black leather purse hung on her left shoulder. Black high-heeled boots reached just below her knees over top dark jeans. Her cheeks were red against the cold, and were brushed by long eyelashes when she blinked away the drowsiness.
She always walked through the park when heading home from work at the office, and tonight she had been working late. It was dark out, and the street lamps were just turning on. The soft buzz from the street lamps almost drowned out the sound of rustling leaves scattered on the ground.
Nothing ever particularly exciting usually happened on her late walks home through the park. Sometimes there would be a young couple, over flowing with imbalanced hormones, kissing on one of the many park benches, with flowers and weeds twisting around it’s legs. Occasionally there would be a kindly old man, Mr.Robertson, sitting on a bench feeding a flock of pigeons. And most of the time, always on the same bench, there would be a man in ragged, filthy clothes, sleeping. Next to him would be an old, squeaky shopping cart filled with things Elizabeth thought to be just trash, but to him probably much more. She would sometimes sit with him, maybe buy him a meal, and she expected to do the same thing tonight. But sometimes plans unexpectedly change.
There was a faint sound coming from up ahead that caught Elizabeth’s attention, but she couldn’t make out what it was. As she got closer, she realized it was two voices, both male. One voice, the louder of the two, was drenched in anger. The other voice sounded pleading, but she couldn’t make out any words. What was going on? She picked up her pace, curious to find out. She walked along the wall of the small public restroom building, which had been decorated with graffiti and stains Elizabeth couldn’t identify.
The first voice boomed “You were trying to steal my wallet, quit denying it!” The second voice cried “No, I swear it! You got it all wrong, officer!”
Officer? Stealing? Elizabeth began pondering the different possibilities of scenarios that could be going on. She was just rounding the corner when she saw the two men.
Jack, the homeless man, was on his knees, almost in tears. His expression was frantic, scared. His hands were being held up in surrender. An officer towered over him, a gun in his hand. Elizabeth clamped a cool hand to her mouth to hold back a yelp and quickly reeled back, pressing her back against the cool wall. Confused at the situation happening on the other side of the brick wall, Elizabeth relied on her ears.
“Please, don’t!” said Jack, his tone desperate for mercy.
Just then, there was a thunderous bang. The gun had been fired. Her breath caught and her eyes widened as she heard Jack’s body collapse with a soft thud. Her breath was hard and shaky, her heart threatening to leap out of her chest. What was going on?
She heard the officer spit, than slow footsteps began approaching. Elizabeth held her breath, trying to stay quiet. He staggered around the corner, stopping when he saw Elizabeth pressed against the wall. He looked her up and down with droopy, bloodshot eyes that she could see in the light of a street lamp just a few feet away from where they stood.
He turned so his whole body was facing her and took awkward, unbalanced steps toward her. His hand still held onto the gun, which he now pointed at her unsteadily. “What are you doing here?” he slurred.
Elizabeth opened her mouth, searching for something to say. “I-I-I’m headed home from work. This is a short cut to my house.” Her voice was shaky.
He now stood inches away, the strong smell of alcohol clinging to his warm breath. “Oh, yeah? And what did you just see?”
“Nothing,” she said, instantly regretting how quickly she had answered.
He stretched a hand over her head, leaning over her on the wall. He looked her hard in the eyes. “You’re a liar.” Elizabeth didn’t know what to say.
Obviously, this man was drunk and easily aggravated, and as sorry as she felt for Jack, she didn’t want to end up with the same fate. But what is a police officer doing out here, and drunk?
“I’m not a liar, I saw nothing, I swear.”
He gave her a drunken smirk. He had a five O’clock shadow against tan skin. “You saw everything, I saw you just about to walk around.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again without saying a word. What is she supposed to do now? A sunken feeling bubbled in the pit of her stomach, making her feel nauseous. The officer lifted the colt model 1908 pocket and pressed it on the bare of her chest. The metal chilled her skin and caused terrified shivers to shutter through her spine.
“I can’t have word of this getting around to my buddies, or I’m gonna get my a** fired and sent to jail,” he said.
“But I’m not going to tell anyone. What good would it do me if I did?” She said, trying to stall.
“I don’t know what good it’ll do you personally, but I’m smart enough to know you won’t keep your pretty little mouth shut about something like this.”
Fear coursed through her body. What does she do now? Her whole body was tense. One half of her mind was screaming to run, while the other half was saying you’re a dead woman, there is nothing you can do at this point.
“So, how do I know you’ll keep your word?”
His words startled her, but filled her with hope. “Uh…” Great, now what do I say? Think, Elizabeth, think! She raked through her brain for anything that could extend her life span. “You could… Keep tabs on me. You know, call every now and then. And If I do tell, you’ll eventually get out of jail and would probably come after me, I don’t want that happening.”
He leaned his head back a little, pondering the idea. Mean while, her heart pounded in her chest, hoping he would agree. Then he looked back at her, his eyebrows raised quizzically. “But if I go to jail, you’d have plenty of time to catch a plane and change your name.”
Elizabeth had thought of that, but was hoping he wouldn’t. “Uh…”
“I really don’t see any other way around this. I might as well kill you now, get it over with instead of all this small talk, it’s starting to annoy me.”
Her heart dropped. Was she really about to die, just like Jack? Her wedding is two weeks away, and just last night she discovered she’s pregnant. She was about to get everything she’s always wanted, and now she’s going to be ripped away from it all?
Elizabeth looked up at him, her blue eyes pleading. “Please…” a sob held in the back of her throat as tears began to fill her eyes. The gun’s touch on her skin softened, and she felt the tiniest spark of hope.
“Sorry,” he said, a teasing note slithering in his tone.
He pulled the trigger.