The Campaign

A former chief of police is running for mayor, but his attempt will not go unopposed.

“I’d say that went really well,” Frank said as he settled into the driver’s seat of his recently purchased four-door Hybrid sedan. He was much more of a truck kind of guy, but it was just another sacrifice Dan, his young campaign manager, had insisted upon.

“It was great to see so many of the boys come out to support you tonight,” Helen, his twenty-two year old girlfriend, also recently acquired, replied with a fond smile.

“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of loyal cops working with and beneath me through the years.” Frank loosened his tie, pulled it over his head, and tossed it on the back seat. “I’m glad they’re sticking with me now that I’m gunning for the mayor’s office.”

“It’s more than just loyalty,” Helen told him as he eased them out of the parking lot and onto the busy avenue that ran in front of the conference center. “It’s a smart bet. Mayor Phillips has fallen out of favour thanks to his soft stance on drugs and crime, and who better to pick up his slack than the former chief of police?”

“Is that you talking, or is one of my ads on the radio?”

“Shut up and drive, wise guy.” Helen backhanded him gently on his upper arm. “Oh, I was talking to Dan while you were getting your coat - he said he should have the final dollar figure for tonight’s fundraiser by lunch tomorrow.”

“Then I’ll hear it at dinner. I’m taking Jake fishing tomorrow and I promised to leave my phone behind this time.”

“I’m glad you’re doing that - it’ll be good father-son time. Maybe you can get him to open up about that new girlfriend of his.”

Frank made a non-committal sound and took the turn onto their street. He wasn’t sure he liked this Melissa girl, but Jake, at nearly seventeen, was old enough to make his own mistakes. Besides, it was early days yet; if he started talking about proposing then a proper sit down would be required.

“Join me for a nightcap?” he asked as they pulled into the driveway of his two storey home.

“I’ll pass this time. I’m exhausted after all that small talk and forced smiles. I don’t… what is it?”

“Open the glove box and pass me my gun.” Frank held his hand out, not bothering to look at his girlfriend. He kept his eyes locked on the front door of the house, which had been left open by half an inch.

Helen did as she was told, realizing they were now firmly in her boyfriend’s territory. She chewed her bottom lip as she watched him check the clip before thumbing off the safety.

“Stay in the car and keep the doors locked. Call the station and get them to send a couple cars over. Call Jake and make sure he’s okay. Don’t move until I come to get you.”

With that he stepped out of the car, eased his door shut, and approached the house with his gun held in front of him in a two-handed grip. For the first time since he’d acquired it, he was grateful for the Hybrid’s silent engine.

Frank paused at the doorway and listened for movement from within. Hearing nothing, he used the barrel of the gun to inch the door open and stepped inside. In the light from the streetlamps he saw that the entrance hallway desk had been tipped over, scattering pens, bills, and notepaper across the carpet. Swearing under his breath he moved toward the kitchen, the only source of light on the first floor.

The silence was oppressive. No music on the den’s radio. No video game sound effects floating down the stairs from Jake’s room. No forced laughter emanating from the TV in the living room. No signs of life.

Ruthlessly shoving that final thought aside, Frank locked his focus on the open doorway leading to the kitchen. Through it he could see one of the dining chairs resting on its side in the midst shards of the serving bowl Helen had bought him on a whim the previous week. Pausing again with his back against the wall, he listened for a ten count before bursting into the room.

“Police!” he bellowed, moving his gun in a steady arc as he sought a target. Finding none, he lowered his weapon and scowled at the destruction strewn around the kitchen. It didn’t feel real yet. Like he was having a bad dream and would wake up any moment.

Outside he heard the approaching sirens of his former colleagues. A part of him was disappointed not to find the perpetrator himself, to catch the scumbag red-handed and dish out some personal justice. He was quite certain his campaign manager would not appreciate that line of thinking. Knowing better than to touch any of the evidence, he turned to go meet the responding officers at the door.

That was when he finally saw the note taped to the fridge, its four words making his heart lurch painfully.

The End

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