From Letting Go

Chapter 1
Ray Willis

“Right. Extra banana peppers… one Large Supreme with extra banana peppers… 81 Main Street… yes, the police department.”
Officer Ray Willis hung up with a huff. He had worked Friday nights for more years than he could count, and for the same amount of time, he had ordered the same thing to eat for dinner, and from the same restaurant no less. Before Joe’s Pizza had become Jeff’s Pizza, all he had to say was “the usual, Joe,” and he’d have his dinner before he could get the TV turned on. Now though, every Friday he had to hold some hormone-ridden teenager’s hand and walk him through the ins and outs of his order. 

How hard is it to understand the necessity of extra banana peppers anyway? I’ll be lucky if it gets here in two hours. It could take that long to get a good picture on the TV.

Cedar Crest, population 3,986, was a sleepy little town filled with sleepy little people, who, for the most part, assembled parts for Sierra Labs in Albuquerque.  The equally small police department and the TV were about the same age, and worked about as well. The department consisted of a single story building with five rooms. The main front room had three desks that all the officers and one secretary shared, and a lobby area for people to wait their turn. The other four rooms consisted of two jail cells, a storage room, and a common bathroom. There were six officers on the force, Cedar Crest’s finest. There was no chief. Everyone just reported to the mayor if something important came up. Ray was the eldest of the bunch, by virtue of which, he was the group’s leader. As such, Ray made out the work schedules. He had taken the crappiest shift for himself. But even the crappiest shift had its advantages, Ray could watch all the TV he wanted with very little interruption--if he could just get the TV to work.

Ray smacked the television set as if he were trying to rouse a drunkard. Surprisingly, the third whack produced a picture on the set that was clear enough to watch.  “Blast it!” 

It was one of those political things. There was some yahoo up on stage preaching about his vision for the country. Ray changed the channel and found that all three channels were playing the same thing. “Ugh!” He just wanted to watch Law and Order.
Surprisingly, the pizza he had ordered arrived in just under 30 minutes. Ray paid the driver and went back inside. It was going to be a long night. He was stuck watching the Republican National Convention. 

The Republicans had selected John Maynard to represent their party in the 2012 election. Thousands of screaming supporters rallied as he delivered his acceptance speech: "It is an incontrovertible fact that when taxes are lowered, revenue increases. All the data of the GAO supports this. My domestic policy includes lowering taxes wherever possible. This will increase revenues into the government coffers, relieve the burden off of companies and employers, and stimulate the economy.” 
Ray heard the words, but was not listening to them.

"The United States is such a great country. We are capable of doing so much. However, we burden ourselves with too many outside influences. One such influence is oil imp—”

When John Maynard abruptly stopped speaking, Ray looked up from his pizza. Maynard was on the ground, blood everywhere. The rallying cries from the audience hushed momentarily until the people assessed what had just happened. Then their cries sounded more like hysteria. Thousands screamed and trampled through the exit doors leaving a floor littered with Maynard ’12 signs and confetti. The cameras continued to roll as journalists eagerly jumped into their “breaking news” personas. 

Ray stared in disbelief. It reminded him of watching the news the morning of September 11, 2001, and wondering whether what he'd seen was real. The phone rang and gave Ray a start, then he answered it. “Cedar Crest Police Department; Officer Willis speaking.”

“Ray, this is Ben over at Cattleman’s Crossing. I think you'd better get over here. There’s been a shooting!