St. Raphael’s church was five-minutes away and Kevin parked amidst the many cars in the rear lot. The meetings were always in church basements and the basements were almost always at the rear of a church like this one. He never went to meetings other than at St. Raphael’s after a heist. Several people saw him as he approached the smokers who were puffing away until the last second before the meeting would begin. They produced glowing red embers at the end of their cigarettes.
“Hello Kevin, good to see you again.” An elderly bald man extended his hand in greeting.
Several other regulars waved an acknowledgement to him as they entered the rear church entrance.
He sat two rows in back of the speaker’s table. This meeting, like most he went to, had a large folding table in front of many rows of folding chairs. The long sign resting in front of the chairperson had the standard declaration, “You Are Not Alone”. The 30-something pleasant woman began the meeting and before the topic for discussion was announced she asked if there were any announcements.
Without hesitation he raised his hand. He had to be noticed and remembered as being here. The chairwoman acknowledged him.
“Yes. Thank you for calling on me. My name is Kevin and I’m an alcoholic. I would like to announce that today marks two-years and six-months that I have been clean and sober.” He looked around the room giving the attendees full view of his now hatless appearance. Everyone applauded.
“You’re going to be okay, sir.” The EMT attendant closed his cell phone. “I have the okay to give you something for your pain.”
“Just a minute. I have to finish my questions before you snocker him.” The police detective repositioned her dangling scarf over her shoulder to drape down the back of her winter coat. “I know your shoulder hurts like hell but you said there was someone else in the store besides the dead holdup man.”
“Yes. Yes. Yes it was the customer. Was he shot too?”
“No sir. There was no one else in the store. Did you see who shot the holdup man?”
“Yes. Yes. There was one customer with a bottle of wine. My shoulder…the pain… It is terrible, terrible. It is terrible.”
“We’ve got to get moving and get him to the hospital.” The EMT urged and poised his syringe of morphine at the fallen liquor store clerk’s intact shoulder.
“Hold your horses.” Detective Sgt. Doreen Pousant held up her hand. “Can you tell me what the man looked like? Was he tall, short, young, old, white or black?”
“I only remember a dark hat. Yes, yes, yes he wore a dark wrinkled hat. Oh, please… it is hurting so much.” The clerk moved his head rapidly from side-to-side on the ambulance gurney.
“Can you remember anything else about the man? What kind of hat?” Pousant scribbled some notes on her small 3 x 5 notepad.
“It was winter hat–dark winter hat. A dark hat for skiing. Please… I cannot stand the hurting.”
Pousant stood up and gave the EMT a nod to administer the morphine. “I'll talk to you some more at the hospital.” Her cell phone rang. “No Lieutenant I didn't get much. The clerk was in too much pain. I'll get more at the hospital. Forensics is sealing the crime scene now.” She paused. “Apparently there was someone else in the store, a customer, who may have been the one who shot and killed the holdup man and ran away from the scene.” She paused again to listen to the words of her superior officer. “No… So far the clerk only remembers a hat.” Another short pause. “Yes. We only got a hat.”
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