I Carry Your Heart - Chapter 3

~ Counterparts


“Ready to go over?”

“Yeah, I'm set. Are you?”

“It should be a simple statement, Joe. It was clearly a good shoot.”

“Not exactly a shoot, but I know O’Carroll did the right thing. You know it too.” Joe snorted. “Those reporters want to twist it. If he hadn’t done what he did ... who knows what might have happened to those kids.”

She nodded, smoothing the strap of her shoulder bag. “What he did was ... necessary.”

Outside the conference room, the hallway teemed with suits and uniforms and reporters and when Sgt. O’Carroll and his wife emerged from the elevator, the press surged with a barrage of questions. Cameras flashed and clicked and whirred.

“How does it feel to kill a man barehanded?”
“How hard was it to snap a neck? Did you look him in the eye?”
“How do you sleep at night, O’Carroll?”

“Get these people away from the door!” Joe shouted to the officers, adding to the din. “Get them back!” He elbowed his way through the crowd to stand guard at the open door. The anteroom was cool and dark and empty and, once inside, the four of them stood together in the welcome silence.

“Don’t worry, Sergeant,” Catherine said. “We just need your statement.”

“I’m ready,” the officer replied. He took a single step forward, then stopped. “This is my wife,” he said, turning to the woman close at his side, “Eimear.”

The pair was a study in contrasts. Flynn O’Carroll was black-haired, sturdy and defined and his eyes were a piercing blue that Catherine found startling and familiar. Eimear was tall, almost as tall as her husband, but with wild, amber-colored hair and sooty circles under dark eyes.

“That’s an unusual name.” Joe took out his notebook. “How do you spell that, Mrs. O'Carroll? 'E-m-u-r'?”

“It’s 'E-i-m-e-a-r', but you’ve sounded it right. I want to come in with you.” Her gaze never left her husband’s solemn face.

“Just the officials, I’m afraid, but you can sit out here, away from those …” Joe muttered under his breath. “We’re waiting on the Union rep and the stenographer. You want something to drink? I’ll get it for you.”

Before she could answer, the attorney threw open the door and the stenographer scuttled in under his arm. “Let’s get this done,” he growled. Without introducing himself, he slammed through the inner door.

_______________

“Sgt. O’Carroll,” Catherine began. “We need you to walk us through the events of this incident. Just tell us what happened as you remember it, beginning with why you were at the Yeshiva that morning.”

“I wasn’t at the Yeshiva,” he said. “I was buying a pretzel off a cart. It was about 8:30 in the morning, my day off, and I was meeting some guys for volleyball at the gym across the street. I thought I’d– I was hungry. I was just waiting for my buddies and I heard gunfire and kids screaming …"

He told his story – of three men, believing a rumor of cash in the school, who terrorized twelve children and a young teacher with threats and pain and guns; of a man, who just wanted a pretzel for breakfast, who charged into the unknown to help strangers; of lives that were ended and saved and changed that day.

“Were you armed, Sergeant? Did you carry your off-duty weapon?” asked Joe.

“No. I don’t like to leave it in a locker with kids around.”

“How long were you inside the school?”

Sgt. O’Carroll was silent as he flexed his fingers ... stared at them spread against the table. “It seemed like ... a lifetime ... but I think it must have been nine, maybe ten minutes."

“What made you decide to go in without assistance?”

Decide?" He stared hard at Joe. "There wasn't anyone else. There was only me. I had to do something.”

There was only me

The echo of words was a hum in her throat. Catherine’s hands shook as she paged through her folder. "Just a few more questions."

---
---

“I think we’re finished here, Sergeant.” Joe stood, nodding to the Union attorney and the stenographer. He grumbled as he left the room. "I'm clearing that hallway if I have to yell Fire."

Catherine leaned over the table and touched the officer's gripped, white-knuckled hands.

“It’s over now. It's all right.”

Flynn O'Carroll shook his head. “No. It isn't."

"Let me get Eimear," she pleaded. "You can wait here while we get rid of whatever's still outside."

"I don’t want her in here. Not now. I need a few minutes. Alone. Tell her to go on downstairs and wait for me.” Flynn was adamant.

“Are you sure that’s what you want?”

“Yes.” He crossed his arms and looked away. His lips were pressed thin, unyielding in their downward curve.

She pushed away from the table, easing the door open and closed again. Eimear sat in a far corner, her hands stilled in her lap but her eyes wide and trained on the door.

“Are you finished with us, Ms. Chandler?”

“Please. It's Catherine. Flynn wants you to wait for him in the lobby. He says he needs some time. Everything went fine. There’s nothing to worry about, but he's bothered by having to relive it.” She hesitated, then sat down in the closest chair. “This isn’t the first time Flynn has had to use lethal force.”

“No,” Eimear replied. “There have been four other times, all good shoots and there was no other choice. He's a rifleman, you know. Special Weapons. He didn’t make those calls, his unit leader did, but he had to ... do it.”

“How long have you been married?

“Closing on four years. His name … in Gaelic? It means victorious warrior. He is that – a warrior, a soldier. He protects what he loves.” She’d drawn tall in her chair, but her bearing flagged. “Though after ... after any sort of ... incident, he ... withdraws.”

“Can you help him, can you ... find him ... after? I mean ... when he asks you to leave him alone, do you?”

Eimear’s dark eyes welled with tears but her voice was steady. “He says that. Maybe ... maybe he even means that. But I won’t let him be alone in this. Ever. No matter what.”

Something wordless passed between the two women, a worn-smooth stone of opal passed hand to hand. Catherine nodded, stood to leave. At the door, her hand on the lever, she turned back. "What does your name mean? In Gaelic?”

“Eimear was the wife of the hero, Cu Chulainn."

When Catherine left the anteroom, Eimear was kneeling beside her husband’s chair. His head was bent to hers and his hands were caught in her wild hair.

It was a somber march back to her office, but Joe had managed to clear the hallway and so Catherine walked slowly. Minutes ... an hour ... passed before she spoke a word to anyone. Seated at her desk, she swiveled toward the window and in the clouds that scuttled past she found an answer.




Click Here for Chapter 4

6 comments:

Vicky said...

We meet Flynn and Eimiar, two of my favourite new characters. I wish I'd figured out a way to leave comments before...

Sonia Who? said...

Ch. 2 & 3

Your words conjure up the story so vividly in my head. As I read I could really feel what Catherine was feeling. And you've capture the essence of the characters so well. I feel as if I'm watching the events as I read them.

I didn't remember reading Eimear's description, so was surprised that she has amber colored hair. For some reason I imagined her with black hair. I hope the sooty circles under her eyes are not a permanent feature.

Wow, I'm surprised at how much Flynn is like Vincent, how he protects what he loves, and how after an incident he withdraws. I like the Gaelic meaning of his name. I like how Eimear won't let Flynn deal with his pain alone, even when he request to be left alone. I think that's how it should be. It's sad that they're dealing with such a tragic event in their lives during a time they should still be honeymooning.

Carole W said...

It's interesting for me to look back now that I'm so far into the 'universe' this first story opened. I think the entire arc jumped into my head fully formed - though you'd remind me rightly it's taking forever to make it to paper or screen. I had ideas for Eimear and Flynn and Catherine and Vincent from the beginning.

By chapter 31 or I/V, it's Flynn with the sooty circles!

Krista said...

I remember when I first read this getting the sense that there was a chain being formed between Eimear and Catherine and VIncent and Flynn. I have never been more thrilled to be right. ;)

Great job, Carole. I love what you write :)

-Krista

Carole W said...

You're so kind, Krista. Your support is very encouraging. Thank you.

I'm pleased that Flynn and Eimear have taken 'hold'. I had the flash of the direction for the arc here, but it was the muse, holding out a sheet of paper with something written on it that only she could see at the time. I've been trotting after her for a while now, trying to steal a look.

I've grown fond or E and F and I'm glad they are real enough, acceptable enough for C & V's story.

Anonymous said...

I've come back to the beginning while I wait for more Iron/Velvet, what was that Pascal said about starting stories again, revisiting old friends! Cathy S