Revolver Road - Christi Daugherty
Holding a police scanner in one hand, Harper McClain stepped out onto the porch of the wood-framed bungalow.
It was unseasonably warm for late February, but the winds were picking up—a storm was moving in. Clouds swept across the moon, sending shifting shadows across the landscape.
The low, steady rumble of ocean waves hitting the shore three blocks away sounded like wind through a forest. Even after months of living out on Tybee Island, she wasn’t used to it. It was loud enough to disguise other sounds. A car approaching. Footsteps on the dirt drive.
The sounds she’d hear if someone was coming to kill her.
Muttering under her breath, she held the scanner above her head. Through the crackle and fuzz, she could make out fragments of voices but not enough to understand what was happening. “Two … Street … Three … Sig…”
Swearing, she pulled her phone from her pocket and scrolled to a familiar number. It rang twice.
“You’ve only been home an hour.” Photographer Miles Jackson’s tone was accusing.
“I can hear something on my scanner but I can’t make it out,” she told him. “What’s going on?”
“A whole lot of nothing’s going on. Come on, Harper. You know I’d call you if anything important happened. There’s no need for you to keep calling me.”
“Something’s happening,” she insisted, stubbornly. “It’s on Broad Street, I think. I couldn’t make it out.”
“It’s a fender bender. Driver appears to be intoxicated. Nothing to get out of bed for.” Miles drew a breath, summoning patience. “Harper, I have promised and I will promise again to call you if anything breaks when you are out of signal range. Now, you can call me every ten minutes or you can trust me. It’s up to you.”
In the background, jazz smoldered from the speakers in his Savannah apartment. She could hear the crackle of his scanner, working just fine.
She was so envious of his normal life it hurt.
Sinking onto the whitewashed wooden armchair next to the door, she gave a small sigh. “I’m sorry. I just hate not knowing what’s happening.”
“I know.” His voice softened. “I get why you’re anxious. I would be too, if I were you.” He paused. “There’s nothing new on that, is there?”
Miles was one of only a handful of people in the world who knew exactly why she’d been forced to move out of Savannah.
Nearly six months ago, she’d decided to leave the city after a single phone call from a man who knew far too much about her mother’s murder, sixteen years ago. In that brief conversation, he’d told her someone wanted her dead. Someone who could get the job done. And he’d told her to run.
Since then she’d lived a stranger’s life in a house she didn’t like, miles from the city that would always be home. Isolated and cut off.
And her damn scanner didn’t work.
“There’s nothing new,” she told Miles, her tone glum.
“I guess that’s good news.”
Was it, though? She lived like this because of one phone call. One warning. A man she’d never even met telling her that her mother’s murderer was coming for her. And she’d had to take it seriously. But after months of silence, she’d started to doubt.
“Miles,” she said, voicing a thought she rarely let herself consider, “what if all this was for nothing? What if he lied?”
“But that’s the dream, Harper,” he reminded her. “If the worst thing that happens is you spend one winter living by the ocean, pretending to be someone else, that sure beats the hell out of dying.”
She knew he was trying to help. But there was a cost he didn’t know about. She imagined telling him what it was like to live in constant fear. Of explaining that she drove with her eyes fixed on the rearview mirror. That every sudden noise made her twitch. Or how she’d spent every night lying awake, waiting for a killer, for months.
Still, it wasn’t his fault. He’d done so much to try it make it easier for her.
“You’re good people, Miles,” she said, instead. “You know that?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” She could hear his smile. “Get some sleep.”
John Coltrane disappeared as he hung up, and she was left with only the sound of the ocean for company.
Picking up the scanner, she turned the dial on top, switching it from the channel used by the Savannah police to the one used by the local police department. It was silent, too. Not because of distance. Because nothing ever happened out here.
Tybee Island is a dot on the map