The mood in the barn shifts dramatically. At the sight of Len Brockman, the tension in my mother’s face morphs from defensiveness and guilt to fear and trepidation. Brockman crosses his arms. “Well, Vikki? Where’s the gun?”
A muscle ticks in my mother’s jaw as she squares off against him. “Now isn’t the time or the place to discuss this,” she says stiffly.
He smiles, slowly. Yellow teeth flash beneath too-fleshy lips. “Oh, I think it’s exactly the time.”
There’s a moment of silence and then my mom half turns. “Macy, honey, you should go.”
Her voice brooks no argument. She wants me out of this barn and away from Len Brockman. Which would be the smart thing to do. But I can’t leave her to face him alone. This isn’t just about her anymore. This involves me now, too.
The recorder in my pocket is still running and I consider trying to get Brockman to confess, or at least seriously implicate himself. But it’s too much of a risk. I’m not stupid. Brockman is a dirty ex-cop whose job it is to clean up the Carlisles’ messes. And right now, my mother and I are part of a pretty huge mess. I don’t know how far he’s willing to go to clean all of this up, but I’m also pretty sure I don’t want to find out.
“Fine.” I spit the word like a spoiled teenager, and spin in my best huff. As I turn, though, I slide my phone from my back pocket and shield it from view against my hip.
No bars. But there’s Wi-Fi and I’m automatically connected, thanks to my first visit. I can still get help. My thumb’s hovering over the Messenger app when Brockman calls, “Hold on.”
No time to type something out. Even if I could, what if the recipient didn’t check their phone for a few hours? Instead, I flick open the Facebook app. In two clicks a blue button appears on the screen: Start Live Video.
“Turn around,” Brockman barks. “And drop the phone.”
I click the blue button and lower the phone to my hip as I face him. “There’s no reception anyway,” I tell him. “Even if I wanted to call 9-1-1, I couldn’t.”
Please, whoever is tuning into my broadcast get the hint and call the cops.
“Drop it,” he says, indicating the phone.
“And risk cracking the screen?” I crouch, setting it carefully on the ground, screen down. It means no video, but it also means he won’t see the broadcast running. I halfheartedly push it toward him, as though kicking it out of reach. But really I just want to make sure the mic picks up everything he says.
Someone out there will be listening. And hopefully that someone will send help.
“Let Macy leave,” my mother says tightly. “This doesn’t concern her.”
Brockman frowns. “It has everything to do with her. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her ridiculous podcast.”
My cheeks burn with indignation. The old Macy would have swallowed the emotion and kept quiet, but that’s not who I am anymore. “My ‘ridiculous podcast’ uncovered the truth.”
An exasperated sigh slips through my mother’s clenched teeth.
Brockman smirks and takes a step toward me. “Then maybe you can tell me where the gun is?”
Rather than answer, I cross my arms. “Why do you care?”
“Macy,” my mother cautions.
Brockman ignores her. “Call it a professional interest.”
I think of Facebook Live running, capturing everything. Transmitting the truth to the world. “Is it because you were involved in covering up Peg’s murder?”
“Macy!” my mother hisses. “You’re not helping.”
“What, Mom? Brockman’s been doing the Carlisles’ dirty work for decades.” I glare at the man. “Haven’t you.”
I realize that perhaps I’ve pushed him too far. Any amusement in his expression hardens into annoyance. “You’re a pain in the ass, you know that? Do you even think before you talk? Stirring up this old shit? What did you think would happen? You’d get famous by destroying a good man’s life?”
“I thought I’d find justice for Peg,” I tell him.
He rolls his eyes. “Grow up. You don’t care about justice. You’re just looking for your fifteen minutes of fame and are capitalizing on someone else’s tragedy to get it.”
“That’s not true,” I protest. But my rapidly heating cheeks betray that his barb struck uncomfortably close. “Because of me the world knows that Brandon McDonal is innocent.”
“You mean the Irish lad who’s dead because of your podcast?”
I suck in a breath, familiar guilt washing through me. “He’s dead because of you!” I shout, fisting my hands. “You...