Dangerous in Charge

By: Sidney Bristol
Aegis Group Alpha Team 5


WEDNESDAY. KYLE MARTIN’S Home, Seattle, Washington.

Kyle Martin swept the basket of condolence cards into the metal garbage bin. A week was long enough to put on this show. He didn’t owe that bastard he’d called Dad anything else. Not a moment of grief, anger, nothing.

The people who wrote the cards, they were the same ones who’d looked at a little boy with a broken arm and accepted whatever lie Dad told them. They were the same ones who averted their eyes when Dad put his cigarette out using Kyle’s shirt, or whatever was closest. And worst of all they’d smiled when Dad called Mom names or belittled her because of her disability.

“Want me to take that out back?” Grant Anderson hauled another bag of garbage toward the door.

“I’ve got this.” Kyle stared at the glittering heart on a card at the top of the pile.

Their sympathy was fake just like the smiles and empty words they’d offered when Mom died. Funny, back then Kyle had thought her death meant his ties to the family were cut. Dad wanted nothing to do with him, which was mutual.

Kyle turned and followed in Grant’s wake out through the garage apartment door and into the backyard.

A third man, Shane Yates, sat by the flames, keeping an eye on them.

Grant hauled the bags to the overflowing garbage bins while Kyle went straight for the fire. He sat in one of the Adirondack chairs and flicked a card into the flames. He knew better than to dump the whole basket into the pit.

“How goes?” Shane asked.

“We’re down to furniture and carpet.” Grant pulled the mask up off his face. “I don’t know what you’ll do about the smell.”

Kyle tossed a few more cards on the pile then turned to look at the converted garage apartment Dad had called home until the very end.

What was he going to do with that place?

“You could always turn it back into a garage, I guess?” Grant sat in the third chair, elbows on his knees.

He’d been smart and brought gloves to help with the clean out. Kyle was fairly certain he’d never get the stench of cigarettes out of his hair and skin. He examined his hands and blackened nails. He’d foolishly tried to clean the tar off the walls in the beginning with a scrub brush.

“Is it against city ordinance to just burn it down?” He glanced at Grant, the more likely of the two to answer.

“That’s arson.” Grant leaned back in his chair.

“Fuck.” Kyle tossed more cards onto the flames.

“How long has the boss sidelined you?” Grant asked.

“Four weeks.” Kyle grimaced.

“Shit. Better watch out. Shane here might give you wedding duties.” Grant thumbed at Shane who merely rolled his eyes.

“If I can do anything, let me know.” Kyle shrugged.

Dealing with Dad’s death was bad enough. Now that the funeral was over, Kyle wanted nothing more than to get to work. Returning to his routine would help more than time off. Work had always been the thing that helped him deal with the rest of his life. Without that, he needed something to keep him busy for the next three weeks.

Kyle could take a trip, but where would he go? And how pathetic would the life of a solo tourist be?

No, he needed to get back to work somehow.

“We hauling the furniture out front?” Grant asked.

“Yeah. I figure we put it out front with a sign and it’ll be gone before the rain rolls in this weekend.” Kyle glanced up at the still clear skies.

“I’ll help.” Shane stood and nodded at Grant.

“Looks like you’re on fire duty. Don’t burn the place down?” Grant gave him a pointed look.

Kyle presented his middle finger to Grant.

He hadn’t had the best things to say about Grant before the last two weeks. They’d done an op together that very nearly came to blows, but after the fact Kyle had come to realize Grant was right about a lot of it. Kyle hadn’t been at his best and Grant’s criticism wasn’t personal. They both wanted to do the job right and bring everyone home. Most shocking of all was that Grant was one of the first guy’s to show up and help. It changed Kyle’s opinion of the guy.

He stared at the flames eating through the broken bits of a wooden chair and a light smattering of cards.

Dad had never cared for anything or anyone. Given the state of the garage apartment, maybe Kyle should have the whole thing torn down and hauled off. All those memories, the smell—just wipe it off the planet. He wished he could do that mind. Bleach the whole thing clean and keep going.

He grabbed another handful of cards.

A blue one in the middle caught his eye.

The inside was covered in black ink, the writer chastising Kyle for not being present during his father’s final moments. That particular busybody always had something to say back in the day and now was no different.

Kyle had chosen not to be there during the final days. He’d known that Dad wouldn’t last much longer, and he’d taken every extra job he could. It was that, or smother the old man to death. What would Kyle have said if he were there, anyway?

Hurry up and die faster?

It wasn’t like Dad would suddenly change and beg forgiveness for a lifetime of wrongdoing.

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