The Chief, Chapter 3

(Chapter 1 Chapter 2)

“Hello?” William was getting tired of answering the phone.

“William, oh, thank goodness you’re alive. I saw the news on Fox and saw how it was so close to where you live so I just had to call and see if you were alright and if you heard anything or saw anything or -” For not the first time in his life, William wanted to hang up on his mother. She had a tendency to run on and not give an opportunity to respond to her many questions, which meant he found himself interrupting her quite often.

He had already fielded calls from most of his family and wanted to hang up on her, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew she loved him, and just wanted to make sure he was alright, but the temptation was strong, so he chose the diplomatic way out. “Mom, I have to go. I’m alright, but I saw the whole thing and have to talk to the police. I love you,” and before she could respond he tapped the end call button. Immediately he turned the ringer off and looked over at the police officer taking statements.

Somehow he had found himself on the inside of the police tape, which meant that he was constantly being asked what he was doing, then told to stay where he was. It was as if the police didn’t know who he was or what to do with him until they got to the box on their checklist that said “talk to witnesses and take statements”. He felt like just another cog in the machine, waiting to be turned.

He turned his attention to the crowd, who was pointing at and photographing the outline where the Chief Justice had drawn his last breath. The regular press was there too, snapping away, and one of their photos had made it onto the Drudge Report half an hour earlier. You could see William’s foot in the lower right corner, easily identified by the Converse sneaker.

William’s gaze went back and forth over the crowd, taking it all in. Most were staring in some combination of shock, horror, disbelief, or incredulity. He stopped and watched one man in particular, dressed in a business suit, staring at the outline and the bloodstain. He could be anybody, but it occurred to William that he had been there for some time. He pulled up the photo on Drudge, and sure enough, the man hadn’t moved for at least half an hour. He even wore the same expression on his face as in the photo, shock at the spectacle before him.

He’s connected, William thought. Then he noticed the odd things – his hair was the same color as the Chief Justice, and had the same hairline, halfway back along the dome of the skull. He was about the same build and height. The eyes were deeper set, and the nose was sharper, but at a glance he could be mistaken for the deceased. William noted that his tie and lapels had been dampened, as if he had spilled something on them.

Like tears.

“Okay, bud, I’m Officer Maddox, and this is Special Agent Atkinson of the Secret Service. You saw all this?”

William decided to keep an eye on the man in the suit, just in case the police didn’t get to him. He watched the weeping man as he answered the questions from the two government investigators, keeping him in sight as much as possible.