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Carmen had worked at Tony’s Pizza for two years. In that time, she became very close to the other employees. While Tony had not been a great boss, he was a good friend. Keith had worked there during the summer and left a few weeks before Tony died. Tony was 45 when he died of a heart attack. It was an unexpected death as nobody, including Tony or his doctors, were concerned about his health. Tony had no family except his brother Jake, who took over after he died. In a way, Tony’s workers were his family. If he had known Carmen when she was younger, he would have adopted her. Carmen’s parents had died in a car accident while she was at school. Carmen had been ten at the time. It took her a long time to get over the loss. She had been very shy and was close with her parents. She had no siblings, or any close relations that could take her in. She spent some time in a mental health hospital getting through the depression and emotional pain. After she left the hospital, she went to an orphanage.
Most people who adopt look for young children and babies. Once children reach school age, potential adopting parents are worried there is too much emotional damage. While adopted children do have an extra emotional challenge, it is actually rare that children ready to be adopted are not emotionally healthy.
Nobody ever considered adopting Carmen once they found out her parents died when she was ten. While Carmen’s progress in school was stalled by her parents’ death she was able to catch up and now was very close to the top of the class. In fact, there was a chance she would become the salutatorian of her high school.
Tony’s Pizza was always in need of pizza deliverers. As soon as Carmen got her driver’s license, they started her as a deliverer. She worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. While most students often engaged in social activities on those nights, she preferred to work. With the exception of the occasional ska concert, she was not very outgoing. Carmen would rather spend a night studying science or literature than be out partying.
Tony’s Pizza was located in a small building. There was only room for seven tables in the dining area. The kitchen was separated from the dining area by a red counter. They had a retro Crazy Taxi arcade game. A small TV was in the corner over one of the tables. It had the sports channel on. Jake was a big soccer fan and had the game on. Jake was working on a pizza and Carmen was on the phone taking down an order. Also on duty was Melissa, Jake’s present girlfriend. Just as Carmen finished on the phone with the order, the game was interrupted for a news report.
An announcer came on the screen, “We’re sorry to interrupt the game but we have more news about suspects Jared and Michelle Miller, who allegedly shot and killed three CTF members early this morning. We have obtained these photos of Jared and Michelle.” Two pictures appeared beside the announcer. “Although little more information has been given about the killings, we have exclusive live footage of the house where the incident happened with anchorwoman Paula Jones. Paula, are you there?” The pictures were replaced with the live feed from the Miller’s residence. In the foreground was a young, short, and sickly thin woman.
The woman replied after a pause, “Yes, this is the house where it all happened. I have the neighbors here, Mr. and Mrs. McConnell.” The screen changed again to show the interview with the entire screen except for a scoreboard for the game that was added at the bottom.
Jake shouted at the TV, “Blasted CTF. I missed a goal!”
Mrs. McConnell said, “I don’t know what could have happened. The Millers are truly good people and I think CTF isn’t telling the whole truth.”
Paula asked, “Where do you think they are?”
Mr. McConnell replied, “They have some
Paula went on, “Did you know the Millers had weapons?”
Mr. McConnell snorted, “Ha, the Millers! I think Jared is a pacifist. He’s always complaining about the death penalty and the military.” Mrs. McConnell added, “I don’t think they had any weapons.”
Paula asked, “Did you hear or see anything this morning?”
Mrs. McConnell replied, “Around 2 am, I was woken by some trucks on the road. They may have been CTF’s. A little later, there was a gunshot. Then the trucks passed by again, and that was it. I didn’t think the truck noise was connected. I guessed that the shot was to scare off a bear. The bears come down sometimes and bother our pets. They also eat from Michelle’s garden.”
Paula continued, “So you only heard one shot?”
“There was only one shot, Miss,” Mr. McConnell answered.
Paula said to the camera, “Back to you, Martin.”
The man in the studio reappeared in
full-screen. “Thanks, Paula. That’s the latest from
“Blasted CTF,” Jake repeated.
Melissa said, “Aren’t you worried?
Jake replied, “Honey, there haven’t been
terrorists in the
Melissa said, “Nonsense, that’s such a bunch of conspiracy theory rhetoric.”
Jake shook his head and went back to work. “What do you think, Carmen?”
Carmen had recognized the Millers immediately. She knew Keith’s parents had been in the FBI before starting their security business, and she was sure they would never help real terrorists. While Carmen was very smart and knowledgeable, she never paid much attention to the government. Carmen leaned towards Jake’s opinion, but really had too little first hand experience to put much thought into it. Carmen thought to herself that she should talk to Keith as soon as she could, without drawing attention to herself. Carmen finally replied, “I don’t believe everything I see on TV, that’s for sure. It was interesting that there was only one gunshot heard.”
Melissa contradicted, “The other two shots could have been muffled. Maybe the Millers had silencers and the one shot was from the CTF team.”
“Patrol,” Jake said. Team was the official name but most people called them patrols as they felt team was too dignified for CTF.
“Why would two people in a small town have silencers?”
“Good point,” said Jake. “You should ask your friend Keith. His parents used to be in the FBI, you know.”
Carmen’s face flushed. She hadn’t wanted to bring Keith up and now urgently hoped to change the subject. “Is the pizza for the Thomas order ready?”
Jake said, “No, still needs another minute or two.”
Melissa noticed Carmen seemed anxious. “Is something wrong, Honey? Aren’t you friends with Keith?”
“Yes, of course. We all are, aren’t we?”
“No doubt,” said Melissa.
Jake opened the oven and pulled out a pizza. “Actually Carmen, you were right. It’s all set.”
He pulled the pizza out, then quickly cut and boxed it. Carmen got a pizza bag and put the pizza into it, took the order, and headed out. As soon as she got in her car, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford