If you’ve started reading To Risk, forgive me, but I’m changing things up, a luxury every writer should have afforded by not being published. The first intro I posted to Part One was a bit too pathetic in terms of introducing Ian’s character, so I’m posting this one instead.
If this is your first visit, thanks for dropping by and reading. There’s much to read on ImNoSaint, more than you’ve probably wanted to, and I’m about to add more. It’s a book I’ve written, a bit of a thriller, about a man who has lost everything and a man who is about to. Segments of To Risk will be posted weekly under the category on this blog by the same name, beginning with this week’s introduction. Please, feel free to comment.
THE RANGER WAS ON FUMES when Ian McDaniel turned into the 7-Eleven, pulling up parallel to an island of gas pumps, the little truck squeaking a bit to a stop. He swipes a credit card, punches the lowest octane button and picks up the nozzle while another vehicle pulls in adjacent on the other side of the island. A sign on top of the gas pump that separates the two vehicles says you get a free soda with a fill-up of more than ten gallons. The car is a Mercedes, an E-Class coupe, top of the line, and out of it stands its owner dressed in scrubs. His attire commands Ian’s attention rather than his car. Ian spies on the man from the space beneath the sign and he’s able to make out the embroidery on the left breast of the scrubs in blue and gold. South Highland Women’s Center, above which in white embroidery is the name, Doctor Gray Reagan. At a distance one might mistake Ian and Gray for brothers. They both had the same haircut (though Gray’s is more receded), the same head shape, a similar distance between the eyes. It is him.
That familiar flush of vitriol spikes Ian’s heart rate, holds his breath, grinds his teeth and surprises him. Here, filling his car with premium unleaded is a man he has not seen in fifteen years, the last time, in fact, was when Doctor Reagan exited the delivery suite after performing an emergency cesarean without saying a word. Ian had watched him carefully then and wanted to deny what registered on the obstetrician’s face, only having his nonverbal display to go by. It wasn’t concern or compassion. It was a manifestation of fear as he watched Doctor Reagan’s gaze shift from his wife, Linda, to the newborn under a heater on an exam table being attended to by a team.
It was a look of oh shit.
How easy it would be to induce that look again. Push the nozzle around the pump, point it at Doctor Reagan and squeeze the handle. Ian could do it without a second thought. Inducing labor, a calculated risk of the business of delivering babies turned into the peril of his little girl’s life and the depletion of the most inalienable right a parent could ever have. Hope.
All Ian really wanted was an apology and for Doctor Reagan to understand the impact of his negligence, to be seated across a table in some law office conference room and watch him look at the photographs and watch the videos and listen to the eulogy and say the words that might somehow hint to his contrition and promise it would never happen again. That’s how Ian imagined it would go. But this, to be showered in fossil fuel at such a force from this pump that would surely infiltrate the mucous membranes of his nose, his mouth as he opened it in the shock of the moment, his eyes searching for an escape, would be as bereft of mercy as the McDaniels were of justice. And in this retribution, Doctor Gray Reagan would have no idea as to why.
Perhaps it was that thought that got Ian to exhale and put the fuel nozzle into the fender of his truck rather than douse the doctor with 87 octane. That notwithstanding, the sight of Doctor Reagan leading the life he had, his nonchalance of filling his E-Class with 91 octane, his luxury of having no idea why the man watching him on the other side of the pump wanted him to suffer stoked an old burn that over the next few days, along with his wife’s suicide, would engulf Ian completely.
He should get that free soda, he thought.