My flashlight doesn’t have far to travel. On the floor propped against the bed, the man I’ve been surveilling sits with his legs splayed. His head is slumped down and his hands are pressing against his stomach, trying to keep his guts from spilling out and onto the floor. A bad scene indeed.
There must’ve been a tremendous struggle because the bedroom’s trashed. Furniture’s turned over. The TV, pictures, and lamps destroyed. Could’ve been when I noticed the lights turning off. Here I thought he was calling it a night, when in reality intruders were calling it a life.
“Eddie, can you hear me?”
He bobs his head without looking up, that would require too much strength. The pain must be excruciating…then again, he may be long past pain now. I realize he won’t be able to talk, so I need to keep my questions very specific.
“The men who did this….” There had to be more than one based on what I’ve seen so far, probably three. “Are they coming back?”
He shakes his head ever so slightly.
“I’m going to get revenge for you, I promise you that, but I need to know something first. There are human remains in your grandfather’s garden. Did you put them there?”
“You killed that person?”
With all he can muster, he shakes his head in protest. “Na-naah.”
“Okay, okay, I believe you. Save your strength.”
I take in a deep breath and slowly let it out, then squat before him, careful not to step in the growing body of crimson, Lake Snead.
“Now, Eddie … the people who killed that man, did they do this to you?”
“Ya-yah-yah.” His head continues to bob, long after it needed to.
“You’re going to die, Eddie. And I’m truly sorry about that. But if I’m going to get these guys, I need to know who they are first. Were they local competition?”
He shakes his head. Weakly, he lifts his right hand and points up.
“I see. They’re bigger than that.”
Eddie begins to grunt and moan, then dips his finger into his wound. Frantically, I search the room until I locate a piece of paper. I return to him and hold it under his hand. He writes two letters and stops. With all his strength he looks up at me and nods, then everything goes limp and he leaves this world.
I look at the two letters written in Eddie Snead’s own blood: “DC.”
I crumble the piece of paper and stuff it into my pocket. I don’t want to leave this for the authorities to find…not that they could do anything anyway.
D. C. Gibbons. Bigger than that, for sure. Much bigger.