Friday, December 2, 2011

Crab Mentality (Part 18)

                “No bodies were found,” a fireman interrupted Callon’s thoughts. None of the policemen said anything. Callon quietly left his companions to go back to the police car.
                Outside, some of the fire trucks had left, and most of the onlookers had gone to their homes. The smell of smoke and burnt wood still lingered in the air as the police tried to place the police line around the property as quickly as they could.
                Holding his flashlight, Chalano leaned down on the front corner of the property to examine the soil.
                Callon spotted the boy. The teenage boy was stepping on a crime scene, but he didn’t know it because the police line wasn’t placed over that part of the property yet. Callon quickly walked to Chalano. “Looking for something, eh?”
                The boy turned to him, looking frightened about how Callon had approached him so quietly. Callon had said the question as sarcasm, and as a hint that Chalano should get out of the crime scene. In his fright, the boy didn’t figure out exactly what Callon meant, and answered, “I’m just researching for my school project, sir.”
                Chalano kept standing on the soil. Callon thought, Maybe it’s time to tell him about the obvious. “A school project that’s about crime scenes? Cool! Will you step out of this property, kid?”
                Realizing what Callon had meant to tell him, Chalano abruptly left that spot, and walked to the sidewalk that was just beside the property. Callon figured out that he must befriend the kid a bit in order to get some information out of him, so Callon walked to Chalano. “I can’t believe that you talk about crime scenes in high school these days,” he said, looking away.
                “No, actually, it’s not about crime scenes. It’s an annual writing competition for all the students of 4th Project Town and Citrus Town. I won in the elementary division on 2004. This is the first time that I will be joining again after that win, and I chose these serial fires as a topic for my entry.”
                Callon was not looking at Chalano. He was watching some onlookers on the other side of the street. He didn’t even look like he was listening. But he asked, “So what will your story be about?”
                “It’s going to be fiction. It’s going to be about a normal town in which abnormal things happen. Houses burn for no reason, and the victims just disappear,” Chalano described. “I just need a story that is realistic, and basing my story on these fires will make a strong impression on the readers. These fires will always be a mystery.”
                What makes him so certain that we are dealing with “serial” fires? Why does he seem to be too familiar with the idea that the victims just disappear? The police have never issued a clear statement to the public about these arsons yet, and they never will. This kid knows more than the average resident should know. Callon thoughts were racing as he tried to keep looking away from Chalano. “That sounds great! Why don’t you add your work with Coal into this story?”
                Chalano felt like he had swallowed a gigantic stone, even though he didn’t. How did Callon know? Aside from the members of Coal (who were all sent to prison), nobody else knew about Chalano’s association with Coal. When he was a member, Coal was like a top secret. The members of Coal were supposed to maintain the secrecy of the gang’s existence, and Chalano was faithful to that policy. Frightened, he stared up at Callon in disbelief.
                Callon noticed that the boy suddenly became very quiet. He patted Chalano’s shoulder, saying, “Are you alright?”
                “How did you know about Coal?”
                Realizing that he had just broken a good conversation without intending to do so, Callon replied, “Oh, that? People like me have a way of knowing.”
                Callon grinned at Chalano, and walked toward the police car. “Good luck on your story. I have to go.”

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