***Note from the management: This is a work of Fiction***
My oldest sister was a walking example of the Dunning-Krugger Effect.
She watched 30 minutes of network news a day, an amount that she considered exactly the right amount to make her an expert.
Mom was watching TV when Ann burst into the kitchen.
I was preparing breakfast. It was the same thing every morning, oatmeal with lots of fruit.
“Have you seen the news?” she asked, breathlessly.
“No. You know Mom. Daily Mass on EWTN from 8:00-until-9:00, then the rosary until 9:30” I said.
In the background Father Wolf’s dry, papery voice expounding on the last few paragraphs of Luke 17. He deviated from the usual game-plan which was to tie the two scheduled readings together. Rather, he chose to speak about the Gospel reading and a reading from a completely different Gospel.
Father Wolf wove between Luke’s text* of people partying up to the time of Noah’s flood and 'Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it' and part of Matthew 10 where Jesus claims Christians will be persecuted and families will be split asunder.
It was an incredibly bleak homily for Father Wolf.
“A peaceful demonstrator was MURDERED a block from here!” Ann told me in a stage whisper.
I raised my eyebrows, mimicking surprise.
“It was a woman...a doctor. And somebody shot her in the head!” Ann said.
“But that is not the worst of it. Somebody shot a baby and it was right next to Vinnie’s house!” Ann said.
That is when I decided I better turn on my phone.
Right at the top was a text from Marie. “You need to talk to Vince.”
I asked Ann if she could cover for an hour or so.
Ann had her faults, but shirking duty was never one of them. “Absolutely. Take all the time you need.”
Before leaving, I rummaged around in Mom’s cupboard and found a sandwich sized ziplock baggie. I poured some lemon-juice from the fridge into it.
“What are you doing?” Ann asked.
“It is an experiment” I informed her.
That earned me an eye-roll.
While in the mud room, I transferred the spent brass from my back pocket into the ziplock. Then I stuffed the baggie into the side pocket of my work-jacket.
Somewhere between Mom’s and Vinnie’s, I slipped the baggie out of my pocket and dropped it down a random storm drain. Good-by evidence.
I was happy to have ditched it. There was crime-scene tape marking off an impressive stretch of scorched sidewalk and police combing the grass in neighboring yards.
It wasn’t exactly in front of Vince’s house...but it was mighty close to it.
I knocked on the door.
Vince opened the door. His face was a study in abject misery.
“Put on your coat. We need to go for a walk” I said.
He didn’t argue.
We walked briskly for about fifteen minutes.
Then I asked “What happened?”
“I shot the baby?” was all he could choke out.
“Give me the details” I demanded.
“They fire-bombed old man McCorkles” he said. “I saw them pulling quart beer bottles out of a baby stroller and turning them into Molotov Cocktails” he said.
“I have good binoculars” he said unnecessarily. Vince and Sharon didn’t have kids and the money just stacked up. A $1000 pair of binos was chump-change.
“Go on” I encouraged him.
“I was watching from the second story window” he started out.
That is why we were walking. Had we been in front of his house he might have pointed at it, even as the police were scouring the area for evidence.
“...then I saw one of the guys pull out a bottle, wick it and wind-up to throw it at MY house” he said, aghast.
“What happened next?” I asked.
“I shot him” Vince said.
Of course Vince shot him.
“Then, I shot the baby-carriage he pulled the bottle out of. I didn’t know there was a baby in it” Vince said.
Picturing the scorched ground in my head I said “But there were bottles of gasoline, right?”
Vince frowned at me. “Well, yeah. Pretty much packed all around the baby.”
“You didn’t kill that baby” I announced.
“Bullshit. I shot the baby-carriage” Vince said.
“That baby’s mother killed her own baby when she decided to take him to a riot” I told him.
“Trust me, I am a parent. I the only person who is responsible for where my child is. If I knowingly put my child in a dangerous situation then the sin is on me.”
Vince looked at me, dubiously.
“It says so in the Bible” I told him. “Remember the sequence about brothers fighting and the divorcing of women?”
Vince nodded his head. He remembered. “Isn’t that where he says divorcing a woman is the same as prostitution?”
“Back in the day, the only way a divorced woman could put food-on-the-table was to become a prostitute. So basically, Jesus was claiming that the man, the one with authority to make the decision, was responsible for the damages done to the woman” I said.
The argument was a bit convoluted but Vince could see how it applied to him.
“I still need to go to Confession” Vince said.
“Why? You did not commit a sin” I challenged. “One was clear case of self-defense and other time you pulled the trigger the death of the baby was on his mother’s head.”
Then I pushed a little bit. "What happened after you shot the baby stroller? Did you see a big ball of fire?"
"It was like was was looking through at the gates of Hell" Vince said.
"Then your shot didn't hit the baby. You blew up some beer bottles. You didn't kill the baby, the person who put the baby and the beer bottles in the stroller did" I said.
There is a time to talk and there is a time to shut-up. Yes, the death of the baby was regrettable but it was not on Vince.
We walked another fifteen minutes, then I cleared my throat. “We have some other things to talk about.”
“What?” Vince asked.
“A ton of bricks is going to fall on the neighborhood tonight. We have to get you, Ruth and Mom out of here” I said.
“How can you know that?” Vince asked.
“Because the Marxists got punched in the nose. They looked weak. The only way they can hold their true-believers is to look like they are invincible” I said. "They cannot let that stand."
“Vince, you are standing on the ‘X’!”
*I took the liberty of slipping the Friday readings a day. In all likelihood, Tim and Vince are taking this walk early Saturday morning.