The Stupid and the Sinners

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IV

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It was an equivocation. Though Vince hand’t talked to his father on the phone or in person since he left, they had been communicating telepathically. That was the best explanation for it. Of course, Artemis would never buy that. Vince’s father didn’t even buy it. Gerry thought he had been talking to God.

Now, however, driving this random man’s truck, he heard his son’s voice ask:

How am I supposed to make mom believe me?

He had been praying this whole time, praying this car ride wouldn’t end in his own violent death, praying to see his son’s face again. And then…

Dad?

Vinny?

I don’t know what to tell mom. Where are you?

“Hang a left,” the dark man ordered. “No, a left.”

“You mean right?”

A moment of silence, then: “Oh, yeah. Hang a right.”

Gerry obeyed, driving farther and farther out of city limits. Farther away from civilization. He asked once where they were going, but the man didn’t answer. His son called for him again.

Is that really you, Vinny?

Dad, where are you?

“Take a left up there on Sutton Road.”

“Want to tell me where we’re goin now?” he asked nervously, a tremor in his voice.

“You’re going to do a job for me.” It sounded like he had a mouthful of rocks.

Gerry’s hands were cold on the steering wheel in spite of every other part of his body sweating in this hot box. “What kind of job?”

The man didn’t answer.

Gerry didn’t know his name. He didn’t even know if this was a man. Three days ago he received a letter that had scrawled in terrible handwriting a time and place to be. Gerry would normally ignore such an anonymous letter, except also written on it was, “If you want to see your family again, be there.”

Although it wasn’t explicit on which family, Gerry knew it meant Artemis and Vince. The two people he cared about the most in this world––he was just now realizing that.

Suddenly the man said, “You’re going to atone for your sins.”

Vinny, he screamed in his head, you have to do whatever it takes to convince your mom. Lie if you have to.


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