The Journal

January 6, 2012
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It was just another Saturday morning for Jimmy Branston. He was going to his 9 a.m. travel basketball team practice and like always, arrived ten minutes early. He got out his mom’s big black SUV and started a short walk to the gymnasium entrance. Jimmy loved basketball almost as much as the basketball court in his town Bristol, Connecticut. Jimmy loved the old court even though it was outdated because he grew up playing on the court ever since he was four years old and it felt like a second-home to him. Just as Jimmy went to open the door that led to the old gym lobby, he heard a gunshot!

Bang, Bang, Bang! Jimmy sprinted into the gym lobby as three loud gunshots were rapidly fired. Jimmy tried to yank open the gym door but it was locked. He then came out of the gym and sprinted around the building to the back door that, Mr. Rickson, his coach had always unlocked if some of the players came from the back entrance of the huge parking lot. Jimmy, a freshman cross-country runner, pulled with all his 5’7 120 pound muscular body’s might and opened the door.

Jimmy ran as fast as he could inside and there was his coach, Mr. Rickson, dead on the ground with one bullet in his leg, another lodged into his chest, and one more on the ground that had went through his temple which spewed blood everywhere. Jimmy then saw a person shutting the gym window that was eight feet off the ground. The man quickly escaped and then Jimmy called 911.
“My basketball coach Phil Rickson is dead. I showed up for my basketball practice and he had three bullets in has been shot three times. He was shot once in the leg, once in the chest, and the other in his head. I saw a man climb out the window as ran I was running in. It was too late. He got away,” Jimmy said.
“What is your name and what is your location? We will send paramedics and cops right away,” said a small voiced lady who sounded like it was her first day on the job.
“My name is Jimmy Branston. I am fifteen years old and I am on coach Rickson’s basketball team.” Jimmy paused and was totally out of breath from all the talking and running. He took a deep breath, and said, “I am at 125 West Hill Road,”
“Okay, thank you. The paramedics and cops are on their way and will be soon. Stay where you are and don’t touch anything. This is a crime scene and your fingerprints could ruin any evidence that could be there,” the lady said.
“Okay, thank you very much. Bye,” Jimmy said.
“You’re welcome,” the lady said as she hung up the phone.

With the paramedics and cops on their way, Jimmy could finally take a rest until they arrived. Before he did, he sent out a massive-never-ending text message to all of his teammates and his mom explaining what had happened and saying to come to the gym ASAP.

Jimmy was extremely sad that his coach was gone, but also very proud of himself. Ever since he was young, his parents had always taught him what to do in case of an emergency. He, unlike most teenagers, did not shake off the information just saying things like “I know what to do” or “This will never happen to me.” He even went to a class back in the sixth grade for a whole week that was on first aid and emergency situation. He was glad he did the class now. Jimmy was proud he knew what to do instead of freezing up like a person outside in shorts in
-10? weather. Just when Jimmy thought he could rest for a few more minutes, he heard a siren. The cops and the paramedics had showed up.

The paramedics rushed in and soon began to work on the body. A tall cop about six foot three inches and two hundred pounds walked into the gym with all of his men. He walked about to Jimmy and began to talk to him.
“My name is Lieutenant Sergio Johnson Connecticut Police Department. Are you the boy who called?” the lieutenant said.
“Yes, I called. My name is Jimmy Branston and I came to the gym for my basketball practice we have every week at nine. When I got here, my coach was dead,” he said.
“Okay. I will need to take down an official statement from you since you are the only person who was here. I am sorry about your coach we will do the best we can to find the killer,” said the lieutenant, in a voice that was the deepest he had ever heard anyone talk.
Parents and players walked into the scene and then Jimmy’s mom came in soon. The assistant coach, Mr. Roberts, walked in and called the team together to address the matter. Mr. Roberts was a shorts man. He must have been less than six feet tall but was very kind, compassionate, and very well spoken. Mr. Rickson and Mr. Roberts many interests, including basketball, fishing, and they were both lawyers.
“I know this must be a shock for all of you because it is for me as well. This is going to be a hard time for all of us, especially with the playoffs right around the corner,” said Mr. Roberts. With all the commotion, Jimmy forgot the playoffs were a week from Sunday. He felt that a clock went off and blew up like a bomb, right in his face at the worst possible time. He now felt time was laughing at his team because they would have a short time to regroup before the game coming up and with a perfect season on the line as well. “We will take the next four days off and start to practice on Thursday. I just spoke to Mr. Rickson’s family and they said the funeral will be on Tuesday and the wake on Monday. You can go home and I will see you all at the wake if you are able to attend.”

Over the next few days, Jimmy considered quitting the team. He felt like his own life was in danger but he did not want to let his teammates or his coaches down, especially Mr. Rickson. Jimmy did not like to talk about his feelings and was a shy person to begin with. He figured he would know if he wanted to quit the team on Thursday once the funeral had passed.

The funeral had passed and Jimmy did not know what to do. He decided to tell his parents he was not feeling well and asked them to call his coach to tell them he could not make practice. He figured this would by him some time to think about the decision.

That night, Jimmy knew what he had to do. He called up Mr. Roberts to ask for his opinion because he was very close to the situation just as Jimmy was.
“Hello Mr. Roberts its Jimmy.”
“Hi Jimmy. Are you feeling better?” Mr. Roberts asked.
“I am kind of feeling better. Listen, I was thinking about quitting the team because I am scared that the killer will come after one of us next since he is not caught and we don’t know what he wants from our team,” Jimmy said.
“Jimmy, you can do what you want. We won’t force you to play but just remember we wouldn’t put you guys in danger if things weren’t being handled well. Just remember what Mr. Rickson would want from you guys.”
Jimmy knew this meant to go out there and give 110% no matter the circumstance. That is what his coach always said. Jimmy knew he could quit know.
“Thanks coach. I am not quitting I will see you at practice on Saturday,” Jimmy happily exclaimed.
He then hung up the phone. Jimmy then found out the next problem. Bill, one of Jimmy’s best friends on the team, texted him saying that the police were putting the case on hold due to lack of evidence. He said the bullets had no fingerprints and there were no suspects. When all hope was lost, Jimmy remembered the locker room at school. He texted Mr. Robert and asked if Mr. Rickson’s locker had been checked in the gym. Five minutes later, he said no and someone would get right on it. The next day he had good news.

When Jimmy showed up for practice the next day, the killer had been caught. Mr. Roberts explained that in Mr. Rickson’s locker, he kept a journal about all of the game the team played he wrote how they had performed. He had on the back page that he was receiving calls from a man who Mr. Rickson faced in court. Mr. Rickson had beat the man in court whose restaurant was shut down due to health code violations. The man argued that he did not break any of the codes, but was found guilty. He wanted Mr. Rickson to pay him $10,000 or else he would kill him. Mr. Rickson didn’t believe the threat. The killer had no alibi, he had a motive, and the phone records checked out, so the man was arrested.

The past week had been an awful rollercoaster that Jimmy never wanted to go on again. He knew that he helped catch the murderer and his teammates were happy. They also knew that they had another task to face. They would be fireless and give the task 110% and they knew the task was a little bit smaller but to Coach Rickson; the playoff game on Sunday would have mattered just as much.

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