RATING: R for language and themes (gen fic)
WARNINGS: Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers.
SUMMARY: Chapter two of three in the epilogue to Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
AUTHOR NOTES: Word count for this chapter is ~640 words.
Reelfoot Rift is a major seismic zone that covers parts of five U.S. states: Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The zone had four of the largest North American earthquakes in recorded history, with magnitude estimates of 7.0 to 7.9 on the Richter scale, all occurring within a 3 month period between 1811 and 1812. Hundreds of aftershocks followed, including nine events of magnitude greater than 5.0.
In 1974, instruments were installed in and around the area to closely monitor seismic activity. Since then, more than 4,000 earthquakes have been recorded. On average, one earthquake per year is large enough to be felt.
Scientists anticipate that more significant seismic events will occur in the future in Reelfoot Rift.
Reelfoot Rift: Nick
Tracy is so engrossed in her notes and her salad that she’s uncharacteristically distracted when she picks up the ringing phone. “Yes?”
“I’m not talking to you,” says the deep bass.
“You’re not?” she asks stupidly, as she pushes away her lunch and tries to clear her mind.
“I don’t know why the hell Tim thought I’d talk to you.”
She flips quickly through her notebook. “You’re – Nick, right?”
“No,” he replies. It’s obvious that he is.
Tracy taps a finger on the tabletop as she thinks. These people are repugnant, but they make for a fascinating story. There’s a way in here, a way to get more background, more material; she just has to find it. “So,” she begins, “you’re still in consulting?” That had been Tim’s codeword for his enforcement work.
“Yes. New company, same business.”
“Anyone who’s, um, retired who I might talk to?”
He clears his throat quickly. “Don got out of consulting to pursue other opportunities when the company we worked for last folded. He might have something to say. Or possibly Tommy. You might hear something from them in a couple of days.”
A surge of adrenaline shoots through her at this great news. More interviews mean richer details, possibly a broader scope. She feels energized enough to push her luck. “There are a couple of consultants whose expertise I’d really like to tap. There was, er –” She flips quickly, efficiently, to the right page. “Ray.”
The man snorts, his breath loud through the phone. “You got a travel budget for dogsleds? Ray retired to a little village in Alaska. No phone. Couldn’t answer it, anyway, because he’s gone deaf.”
“If I wrote him a letter, do you think he’d write me back?”
“No. He was never much for reading.”
She bites her lip. Damn. “How about Bobby, or –”
“Bobby got his stupid face blown off in D.C. Racist son-of-a-bitch.”
Tracy makes a quick note to check the archives at the Washington Post for any information on that. “How about Martin Grey? Any idea where he is?”
The pause stretches so long that she’s afraid the call’s been dropped. “Hello?”
“I’m here,” Nick says. If she isn’t imagining it, the bass has a bit of a quake in it now.
Eager, smelling a Pulitzer somewhere in there, she presses, “I really want to find him.”
“If I was my grandmother, I’d be making the sign of the cross now and spitting to keep away the spirits. You don’t want to find him. And you should pray to God he never wants to find you.”
The click and dial tone ends all discussion. Tracy hangs up the phone and sits back in her chair. Interesting. Tim hadn’t had much more to say about Mr. Grey than any of the other crew chiefs he’d worked with. Nick obviously has a different impression.
What kind of man would scare a mob enforcer? A dangerous man, of course. She grabs her notebook and flips through again.
I used to be friends with the guy who led you that day. Way back when, before I knew who Martin truly was. He liked to tell me this story – a joke, he called it, but it wasn’t funny – about two boys messing around with lighter fluid.
Dr. X knew Martin Grey, used to be friends with him. Hmm. Tracy hadn’t planned on tracking down Dr. X and Dr. Y before this. She doesn’t fully believe Tim’s story, for one, and if by some miracle it is true… she isn’t one-hundred percent certain she can be impartial about it.
After a few more minutes’ thought, she picks up her phone again. It can’t hurt to at least find Dr. X, verify he’s a real person. She can decide later whether to approach him for information on Mr. Grey.