- A Serialized Novel -

Sorting out Carson's legacy only leads to more questions.

Author’s Note: So, this is a very long part. It’s part of wrapping things up, and those scenes usually get long. This is not an exception. There’s only one bit more after this.

A Few More Answers

“No money.”

“I know. There isn’t any money.”

“Mackenna?” Carson opened his eyes to frown at the room, not sure how he’d managed to end up here. The white and the clean said hospital, but that had to be wrong. Last thing he remembered was being with the cars… and his father’s killer. The gun had gone off, and he should be dead. He didn’t understand. “Um… Where am I?”

“Hospital. You were so out of it when you got shot that they figured the wound was a lot worse than it was. Once they got that all taken care of, they knew it was the trauma, so they decided to monitor you overnight just in case.”

“He… They… I didn’t kill him.”

“I know.”

“I thought I did. He put my hand on the trigger, and he forced it back, and he told me I had. He made me think I’d killed him so that I wouldn’t tell anyone, and it worked. It all worked.”

She frowned, taking his hand and wrapping hers around it. He had to figure she’d been there all night—she was still wearing the dress from the run, and it had gotten rumpled in addition to stained. Was that his blood, then? He supposed he owed her a new costume. “What all worked?”

“After… after he shot Dad the second time, he… he ripped off my clothes so that when my family found me, they’d assume that my father had…”

“Oh, hell.”

“That’s why Grandpa covered it up, why he hid the Maxwell and Dad’s body. It looked like our worst case scenario, and even though I knew that man had been there, I couldn’t—I was so screwed up by it that I wanted to do what they kept telling me to do—forget. He said it, Grandpa said it… Mom, I think she couldn’t handle it, couldn’t accept that Dad had done that, but then she couldn’t accept that I had done it, either, and that’s why she was a wreck for the rest of her life. She couldn’t believe it, but she knew what she saw, and it messed her up good, too.”

Mackenna nodded. “I bet it would. That’s not something anyone would want to believe. We certainly didn’t. We tried to prepare you for it if that was what happened, but neither of us wanted it to be that. Your mom… Well, she was stuck trying to believe the man she loved had done a terrible thing to her child, and that… That’s not something many people can accept. It happens all the time in child abuse cases. The other parent just can’t accept what’s being done.”

“Like your aunt not believing you about what was happening to you?”

“Well, my situation was probably more exaggeration than anything, but she didn’t want to believe that the guy had been in our apartment, that was for sure. She said I had to have imagined him walking around there hunting me, that I was giving myself nightmares and huddling in the closet for no reason. To a point, maybe, I was, but if I hadn’t been hiding, I don’t know what he would have done to me.”

“He won’t ever get you now.”

Mackenna smiled. “I’m not sure how we got stuck talking about me again. You’re the one that got shot and who had all those memories locked away in his head, not me.”

Carson grunted. He didn’t want to think about that. If he’d been stronger, he wouldn’t have buried those memories, and it wouldn’t have destroyed his mom or let that bastard get away with his father’s murder. He didn’t like knowing how many lives got ruined because he couldn’t face what had happened. His brothers deserved to know the truth, too, and what his grandpa had done for him… That should never have happened.

“Hey, don’t start down that road now. You didn’t kill your father, so don’t start looking like that.”

“I knew someone else did. I should have said something.”

“Carson, that man made you shoot your father. Even if you weren’t afraid of him killing you, too, you were probably still afraid of him doing more after he took your clothes. You might not have known what that meant, but that just made it that much worse for you. Plus you had people telling you to forget. You were a kid. You were desperate. You did. That’s not a crime.”

He closed his eyes. “I just feel like… I think I should have been able to tell them the truth. That I should have said something rather than let that man get away with murder. I still don’t even know who he is, and that’s after he shot me.”


Carson shook his head. He didn’t want to admit this, but he didn’t have a choice. He cleared his throat, looking at her. “Um… Actually, the first time was my dad’s fault. He was trying to stop the guy from getting me, but he had me and used me as a shield. Then he shot my dad while I was still trying to understand what had just happened to me.”

Mackenna winced. She reached up and brushed back his hair. “I am not surprised at all that you had to block that out. How well could you have understood your father shooting you by accident and all the rest of it when you were eight?”

He sighed. “I don’t know. It’s just that—”

“Mr. Koslow?”

Mackenna glared back at the doorway as the cop entered. At least, Carson assumed he was a cop. He couldn’t see the badge in the suit, but he thought part of the way that awful gray plaid hung on the guy was because of a gun. “Does he really have to give his statement now? He just woke up.”

“I’m fine, Mackenna. Or as close to that as I’ll ever be now,” Carson told her. He took a deep breath. “I can give a statement, even though I don’t know much. I mean… He did kill my father. I know that. He… He thought my dad had money, and I guess he still thought that when he came after me because he thought I’d gotten it somehow.”

“The money was a part of a bank robbery that took place about thirty years ago. The man we arrested today was involved—by all accounts, he is the one that killed the security guard and one of the tellers as well.”

Carson felt sick. “My father was a part of that? The guy said he was the driver, and Dad said he served his time—”

“Your father was indeed the man who drove the getaway car. He turned himself in after the reports, swore he had no idea that there would be any killing, and in exchange for his cooperation, he got a reduced sentence and was allowed to serve his time under another name. Apparently, that was his stipulation—he didn’t want any of this getting back to his family and hurting his kids.”

Mackenna snorted. Carson almost smiled. That sounded like the father his mother had always told them they had. Except, of course, that he was a criminal. She’d never said that part.

“The agent I talked to about it said he figured that the guy was in over his head—three kids, one of them just born, he’d wanted a way to make a quick buck and didn’t figure anyone would get hurt. When they did, he faced up to what he’d done and never expected them to let him go free. He accepted his sentence and served it without complaints.”

Carson let out a breath. “Well, it’s good to know he wasn’t all bad. Mom would have been proud of him. Grandpa and Uncle Tim would still have hated him, but maybe my brothers can forgive him, right? I never really knew him until just before he died, and I didn’t trust him, but it’s… It’s not the same for me. He was never my father in the way he was theirs or her husband or anything.”

The cop grunted, pulling over the other chair. “The trouble is, they never found the money after the bank robbery.”

“That’s why the guy came after me today, but I swear Dad never told me where it was. He died insisting that he didn’t have it. If he had known where it was… I don’t think that he would have risked coming back to us. He said he wanted to start over. He said he’d worked a bunch of odd jobs trying to get some money before he came back to us, and I guess… That’s the part I want to believe. That he meant it when he said he was trying to make it right with us.”

Mackenna looked at the cop. “I suppose you know that Carson inherited what was in the barn from his grandfather and that the car was a part of that.”

“Dad swore he bought that free and clear, and if there was anything hidden in it, you would have found it when you went through and took all those pictures.”

She nodded. “I know. That was my point. The car will be worth something when it’s working. It’s worth a bit now, but we are not talking bank robbery sums here. Maybe when she was first purchased, but not now.”

“Dad said he got a good deal because it needed an overhaul.”

“Maybe we can find the person who sold it to your father and confirm the price. That is, though, all Carson got that was of value, and it’s not that much.”

“Did your father give you any hint as to where the money was?”

Carson shook his head. “No. He never mentioned the money. The other guy was the only one that did. None of what my father said suggested anything about him having a lot of money to spend. Once he told me he was getting me something very special—it was a toy car. A Ford Model T. It was not like he was buying me the earth and the moon. If he had the money, he didn’t spend like he did, and he never said anything about it to me.”

“All right. We’ll get someone over to take your official statement.”

Mackenna drew in a breath. “Are you going to be able to put the guy away for the murder? I suppose you have him for the ones in the bank, but if you don’t, then he’d just be going down for assault or attempted murder and could get out again, couldn’t he? He could come after Carson again.”

“I think he’d know better than to mess with a woman who can hurl suitcases like you can.”

She blushed. “Um, well, I have a lot more upper arm strength than people realize, but even still, that’s not necessarily going to be an option every time. Can we get this guy for Carson’s dad’s murder or not? Is it enough that Carson remembers him killing him?”

“We need a bit more than that.”

“We have a car with a bullet hole in it.”

“That probably came from when Dad’s shot went wide,” Carson said, shaking his head. “Although… My mom and my grandfather are both dead now, and they know the most about what was done after they found me and Dad and thought I’d killed him, but… My uncle might know more of it. He might know where Grandpa buried the body. Or it’s in Mom’s journals. I’m assuming that would be a big help, wouldn’t it?”

“I’ll see what I can get from your uncle, then. We’ll be in touch.”

The cop rose, and Carson winced, closing his eyes again. Mackenna’s lips brushed his forehead. “It’s almost over. We survived, and you have your memories back. You can finally move on with your life. This is a good thing, Carson. It is. Your dad will have justice after all these years, and you can stop being tormented by nightmares.”

He nodded. “I hope so.”

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