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A Shot at Justice by Karla M. Jay is a Spring Break Bookapalooza pick #thriller #ku #giveaway
Title: A Shot at Justice
Author: Karla M. Jay
Wyatt Dardin is an artist and successful junkyard operator, with a girlfriend and two beautiful dogs. He believes his violent childhood is behind him until a child shows up with a broken arm and a story about his abusive father. Unable to stand idly by, he confronts the man and inadvertently kills him. He makes the body disappear on his property realizing whether it’s justified or wrong, it finally feels good to be doing something to stop abusers. As his childhood resurfaces, he sets out to find his mother, a woman who fled his father’s abuse all those years ago. Is she still alive? He briefly befriends a young man, who’s mentally broken due to his father’s abuse. Wyatt takes pity on him and helps him. This act of kindness sparks a series of events that puts everything and everyone Wyatt holds dear in grave danger. Has his shot at justice been worth it?
May 18, 1998
Each part of the weapon is in place, like a deadly table setting, but instead of crystal goblets, I see a thing that kills.
I blink away the memories and attach a brush head soaked in bore cleanser to the cleaning rod and run it through the barrel of my grandfather’s disassembled Winchester 30-30. Next, I run several cloth patches through, then a final one with oil.
I woke this morning feeling the need to pull out the old thing. Something in my dreams maybe, something itching at my past. I couldn’t shake it, so I skipped breakfast, instead filling the table with the stripped pieces of Gramps’s gun.
Why I chose this gun, I can’t say. I still have the Glock I used during my time in Intelligence in a locker under my bed, where I keep my old badge and Nicaraguan ID from when I started out as a bridge agent. While passing on a message to an undercover officer, my cover was blown. Damn Latin American language with the same pronunciation of votar and botar. My “vote for” a grenade instead of “throw” a grenade nearly got us killed.
I got promoted. The “guy in chair” life served me better. High-stress, fast moving, real impact. My brain’s need to organize and order information, people, and tasks kept me well suited to the office atmosphere. But the Glock came with the badge, something I strapped to myself the few times I went out into the field with an agent, a thing I never fired outside of my proficiency testing.
I finish wiping the rifle barrel and place it on the worn wooden table in the same kitchen my grandmother used when she’d scramble eggs and kiss me on the forehead. But instead of her homemade meals, this kitchen is filled with the rank aromas of metal and grease.
I’d forgotten how much I hated the scent of gun oil. It’s like a distasteful relative showing up, uninvited. The scent is suddenly too heavy, weighing me down with darker recollections. That day in the woods when I was eleven and everything went sideways.
A premonition of danger tickles at my neck like loose spiderwebs. My shitty upbringing has given me a skewed sixth sense that if all is well, soon the other shoe is going to kick me in the ass. Or maybe because life isn’t trying to completely screw me over, I believe some terrible event must be imminent, shaking itself into life just beyond the edge of tomorrow.
Probably the imminent danger idea.
I readjust the disassembled pieces, admiring the order of each. Barrel, slide, guide rod, frame, and magazine. In perfect order. One by one I wipe them down and replace each to its spot on the table.
I left the CIA after six years and, at age twenty-eight, returned to rural Ohio where I’d built a small community of friends, even more so after my grandparents died three years ago. They raised me here from age eleven until I left seven years later for college and then my “supply job” with the military. My life now is in direct contrast to the isolated childhood I had in Bitterroot National Forest with my father. If you pointed it out on a map, your finger would land on the bottom left corner of Montana.
So why can’t I shake away the ominous feeling? Maybe it’s the season, the end of spring warming into summer. The sweet bloom of fully green leaves, mixed with the pungent tang of iron filling the air. I shut my eyes at the memory of the barrel flash, the weight of the gun. The blood.
Again, I resist being pulled into the past and check the cleanliness of each part on the table.
My father and I never had many good moments. He’d been a forest ranger, often trailing the scents of pine needles and whiskey off him, especially during the deep folds of winter nights. But our last day in the woods, that day had been a life changer. For both of us.
I can’t reassemble the gun fast enough before I return it to the gun cabinet, a piece of locked furniture I’ve been able to ignore these past three years.
Three clucks of my tongue and my Dobermans, Florence and Rome, jump up from where they’re curled on the kitchen floor, their nails clicking on the linoleum as they approach me.
“Hey you two.” I rub their heads, relishing the sensation of their warm bodies under my hands. They lean against me on either side. “Daddy’s off to teach for a few hours.”
I acquired the dogs after my grandparents died, when the house echoed grief over their deaths. The pups were barely eight weeks old, and I got them in a trade. A local Doberman breeder, one of the world’s top producers of best-in-show winners, commissioned a Doberman sculpture from me for three thousand dollars. While they were both the smallest in the litter, I saw how tiny Rome propped up little Florence. As they cuddled in their box to keep each other warm, the tenderness I saw there was foreign to my own childhood. I asked for them in lieu of payment for the Doberman sculpture. The owner laughed at my choice, but now they’re massive, healthy, and beautiful. The breeder offered six thousand dollars to buy them back.
Florence and Rome follow at my heels, their stump tails wagging. Some things don’t have a price.
Yet, there’s no remedy for what happened to my first dog in Montana. Again, that memory tries to push into my mind. That smug face—dad’s face. Heat warms my neck. No. I can’t let that image back in.
Sick of these memories, I head outside and scan the property and massive junkyard I inherited when my grandparents died. Of course, it’s been my home too since I moved here after my dad’s death.
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If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I’d go to Ronda, Spain and stay in a mountaintop hotel and do the research for my novel.
Why is your featured book a must-read this spring?
Our pets have become our family members. Everyone will cheer the main character’s vigilante journey to stop pet abusers while seeking answers about his own childhood trauma.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs April 1 – 30, 2023.
Drawing will be held on May 1, 2023
Karla has written in a few genres from humor to neo-noir, but her adopted favorite is historical fiction. Honors include recognition from The Independent Press, the Jerusalem Post, Reader Views (the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award), Book Excellence, NYC Big Book Awards, the US Review of Books, Independent Book Publishers Association, Self-Publishing Review, Indies Today, the “Hoffer,” the Selfies, the Independent Author Network (Book of the Year Finalist), and readers around the world, all acknowledging and giving value to contributions by an ever-growing community of self-published authors.
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