Wake Up Maggie(12)By: Beth Yarnall
We stood before the Puckett family vault in a half-walled courtyard lightly landscaped with shrubs and bushes. Elaborate wreaths flanked Chuck Puckett’s temporary grave marker. He rested beside a cousin, an aunt, four uncles, three out of four of his grandparents and his sister. His parents would have been at his funeral along with his remaining brother. The Puckett family had known more than its share of heartache.
I traced a finger over his name and dates of birth and death. He wouldn’t see his thirty-sixth birthday next month. I’d already started to plan a party for him when the whole thing had gone down. He liked German chocolate cake. Funny I should think of that now.
Super Agent stood off to the side, scanning the flat rows of graves dotted with mementoes and flowers. I wished I’d thought to bring something. Flowers or some kind of token to show that I’d been here, that he’d mattered to me. And then I remembered the keychain he’d gotten me on our trip to New York. It was a cheap thing from a souvenir shop with a picture of the Statue of Liberty. I pulled my keys out of my purse and worked on freeing it from the tangle.
With one last slide around, it finally popped free and flew out of my grasp. I shot forward to grab at it. Above my head, a chuck of stone exploded into pieces, pelting me. Suddenly, I was flat on the ground, a two-ton Super Agent on top of me.
“Stay down!” he ordered.
Like I had a choice with him crushing me. He barked out instructions to someone somewhere about a shooter. Our harsh breathing filled the silence that followed. I could feel the pounding of his heart on my back. It matched my own erratic rhythm. Shooter. Someone had tried to take a shot at me.
No more shots came. Super Agent asked for a status update. He must have gotten good news because he blew out a breath of relief.
“Jesus, God. Are you hit?”
I tried to take mental stock of my state, but my mind got stuck on Shooter. Gun. Kill.
“No. I don’t think so.”
He eased off and rolled me over, pushing at my clothes to check for bullet holes. He stopped and stared at the top of my head. “Your forehead.”
I reached up to feel and my hand came away red. “I’m bleeding.”
He examined the wound. “Do you have a tissue or something?”
“In my purse.” I looked around and spied it up against the mausoleum. “Over there.”
He got up to retrieve it and that’s when I saw the keychain in the dirt next to me. Broken. I sat up and picked up the pieces.
“Here.” He crouched down next to me and handed me my purse. “What’s that?”
“What’s left of my tribute.”
“Your…are you sure you didn’t hit your head?”
“I’m fine.” Sort of. I glanced up at the chunk of stone missing from where Chuck Puckett’s permanent nameplate would eventually go. “That could have been me.”
Super Agent’s mouth flattened into a bleak frown. “Yeah.”
“You can say his name?”
“Not saying his name would be running from what happened. I can’t do that anymore.”
He gave me a small smile and lifted a lock of hair away from my face. “Good for you.”
“Did they catch him?”
“You’re the freakin’ FBI, for crying out loud. You know what brand of tampons I buy, but you let a murderer get away from you twice?”
“We’ll get him.” He was all defensive about it, as though I’d questioned his manhood or something.
I shoved what was left of the keychain in my pocket and got to my feet. A little shaky and lightheaded, I swayed, catching myself on the half wall.
Super Agent was at my side faster than you could say “murder attempt”. “I think you should get checked out.” He started to call for an ambulance.
“Don’t. I’m fine. It’s just the adrenaline.” Mostly.
I spotted a figure jogging toward us and ducked back behind the wall.
“Come on up. It’s just one of my guys.”
He walked over and met the man. I could tell something was up by the way Super Agent kept looking back at me, his expression growing darker as the other man spoke. By the time he returned to me, he looked downright dangerous.