by Niles Reddick

I zipped my pants, washed my hands, and heard someone yell “Help!” I looked around the restroom, and I heard the voice again: “Help me! They’re shooting at me.” I peeked out the window and noted a young man waving his arms.

“Help me,” he yelled. “They’re going to kill me.”

I didn’t see anyone chasing him, nor had I heard gun fire, and I wondered if he was one of the mentally ill homeless who wondered around town between meals and sleep at the shelter. Since I had been on the job with the insurance firm, there had been about three shootings in the neighborhood, and I was always on guard.

I sprinted out of my office and asked the administrative assistant to call the police, but someone already had. Sirens wailed and blue lights flashed in our parking lot and I raised my window to hear once the sirens were off.

I could discern the poor fellow was convinced someone was chasing, shooting at him, and he was looking for sanctuary.

When they asked for his ID, he pulled out his wallet and a plastic sandwich bag of crack cocaine fell out, and he was immediately handcuffed and moved to the backseat of the patrol car. I heard them read the Miranda rights and they asked why he had a bag of crack. He confessed he took it from the dealer and ran without paying and that’s why they were chasing and shooting at him. He cried out he didn’t want to be shot and die. 

Later in the afternoon, a woman who claimed to be the fellow’s mother came to our office to complain about us calling the police, as if her son’s arrest were somehow our fault. Said she’d change insurance companies. The security guard escorted her outside and they talked briefly, but I couldn’t hear.

I felt good the fellow found sanctuary, though not the type for which he’d hoped, and I wanted his circumstances to put him on a new path to conquer addiction and avoid homelessness, but I read in the newspaper later that week they found him hanging in his cell. While the investigation was reported to be ongoing, they suspected suicide, though rumor was the dealer who’d been caught later the same day might have done it for revenge. If it’s ruled suicide, since there were no witnesses, no camera, and no evidence, the mother will be back, because the insurance policy won’t pay.


A Note About the Author: Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, a collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured six anthologies and in over a hundred literary magazines all over the world including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Spelk, Cheap Pop, The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Miscreant, Slice of Life, Faircloth Review, among many others. His website is