With that gorgeous picture below to tease you, I thought I’d let you in on how the story starts. Here’s an excerpt from All in the Details.
He found the aisle and was looking at some of the toys they had for kids. He’d just seen the bags of balloons and was reaching for the three bags of white ones when he heard children’s voices from the next aisle over. He didn’t think anything about it until one of the little boys said,
“Pick it up.”
Another child said, “You pick it up. I’m not gonna pick it up. You think it’s real?” The first one replied, “It looks real. Wonder what it’s doing under there? I’m gonna pick it up.”
“No. What if it goes off and shoots you in the foot? Or what if you drop it and it hits both of us? I’m tellin’ Mom.” The second one was getting a little louder. “Don’t you dare, chicken. I’m gonna get it.” The first one grunted like he was bending down to the floor.
Beau was stunned for a second and then the whole thing made sense and he hurried around the end of the aisle. He saw two little boys, maybe four and five. The bigger one was bending and reaching for a gun that was just under the bottom shelf on the floor.
“Hey. Leave that alone.”
He couldn’t let the boy pick up the gun and take the chance that it was indeed real. They gasped and froze, looking at him. Beau moved closer and bent to pick the gun up before the young boy could reach any farther under the shelf for it. He picked it up and was surprised at how heavy it felt to him. He had no doubt this was a real gun.
All hell broke loose. Both boys screamed at the top of their impressive lungs. Beau nearly dropped the gun himself at the cacophony. Both boys were now standing right there, looking at him like he was going to shoot them when a woman came around the corner, sliding to a stop when she saw the tableau in front of her. Her screams added to theirs and Beau was now as frozen as the boys.
Of course, the only thing that would add to the idiocy of the moment was the lady behind the counter. She held a shotgun in her hands and yelled over the others, “Y’all shut up! Now, Marie, bring those boys over here to me and put them behind the counter. You join them and all of you sit on the floor. Now, stop screaming, you hear? My gun’s bigger than his.”
Beau spoke for the first time. “Ma’am, this is not my gun. I heard the boys talking and they were going to pick it up and I was afraid one of them might get hurt.”
“Uh-huh. But you’re holding it and the police are on their way, so just you stand there, nice and easy until they get here.” Mabel was calm and steady. Beau was shaking like a leaf.
“Really? Do I look like someone who would own a gun?” he asked.
From behind the counter a small voice jumped in with, “You look like a fag.” Beau was so shocked he nearly dropped the gun. His hand was shaking. He heard the mother, Marie, say, “John David, you hush right now. I’m sorry, mister, he’s only five. Please don’t, uh, do anything you might regret.”
Beau was simply stupefied. “The only thing I regret is that I’m going to be late to Shana Wainwright’s sixteenth birthday party. They’re not going to have the white balloons we need. Damn, try to do a good deed and oh, yes, I hear the sirens. What fresh hell is waiting for me now?”
“Could you not cuss so much in front of the boys, please?” Marie was full of requests from the floor behind the counter.
A Tanner Police Department cruiser pulled up out front, lights and sirens stopping abruptly. Beau sighed in relief, though it was short-lived. Two officers came bursting through the door, guns drawn, and the younger one yelled, “Put the gun down, lie down on the floor, hands clasped behind your head.” From behind the counter, Beau swore he heard one of the boys say, “Cool.”