Monday, July 29, 2013

Spotlight Shattered Illusions By Leigh Hershkovich

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One murder. Four eyewitnesses. An unknown assailant...A victim with a mysterious secret. Bystanders beleaguered by life’s losses. A killer at large...

When Sam, a proprietor of a local cafe is shot dead on the street, four strangers become the unwitting witnesses to a seemingly accidental crime. As the investigation progresses, this quartest of accidental onlookers find themselves not only haunted by the homicide, but pursued by their own pasts.
The deeper into the death they plunge, each is forced to face to face that the loss of Sam is far from their most devastating. Inner anguish reaches a climax point for Ella, Marco, Sarah and Danny as the answers they want continue to elude them, and the evidence they want to escape refuses to retreat.


Excerpt:
    MY HEART IS ON fire; I feel now only the numbness of the pen be- tween my fingers. This isn’t real. This is a dream. I will awake in the morning with Aaron in the bed next to me, snoring, as I would have by now learned that he does. I see now nothing more than the complete disappointment I am to my entire family, and to his. What have I done?
     Now more than ever, I pray to see his face. Here, among the witnesses, the convicted killers, drunk drivers, and confused teenagers, I close my eyes and pray for his face to appear before me. Please, do not hide it from me; I want to cringe with the sight of every detail of him. Yesterday would have been the last day of Sheva Brochos. We would have concluded our first week as hus- band and wife, both in joy and possibly in confusion. Today, we would be ready to begin our true lives together, with the density of reality, and not with the heavenly spirit of our first week together. According to tradition, the first week of marriage, called Seven Blessings, is a time when the newlywed couple is treated like royalty, the way a king and queen would be, with honor, respect and love. They are escorted everywhere by a guardian, either a relative or a friend, and take part in seven days of lavish meals prepared by all to take part in.
      I can see it now; the morning after the last Sheva Brocho may have been like 
the glass of perfection shattering around us. Reality begins to set in, and life becomes real, not fairytale or fantasy. I want now nothing more than to see his face—not to speak to him or to have him hold me in his arms while I cry endlessly, simply to see his face. It is the demon within me that I wish to con- quer most of all. I want it to grant me peace, although I know that such a thing cannot come from simply viewing his face.
I wish I were invisible. With a click of a button, a wave of my hand, I could disappear, and no one would ever know of my existence. I could eliminate myself, and it wouldn’t make a difference.
      The rooftop seems so far away now. As I fill in this report, it seems as though the events that I had only recently witnessed happened days ago. The time is short, and there seem to be too many details to share. The work is long, the workers are lazy, and the master is pressing. I feel the eyes of police officers boring holes into my back as I bend over the file to fill in the blanks. My mind is blank. I have nothing to say. Sam is dead. I watched him die, from my corner of the world on high. I am nothing. Why am I even here?
     My name should be Ella Harris. Right now, I should be basking in the glow of my newly married life, not filing a report for such a horrendous crime. I look down at my bony, unpolished finger. There should be a big, sparkling diamond ring on it. A French manicure, too. I was ready to be a wife, to be settled in the life that I wanted to lead. I have been left to wander, to question my existence and the mere fact of life. Here I am, filing a report.
     You want to know what happened, so I will tell you, although it pains me to do so.
I should have been there to help him. I was so engaged in my own madness that I couldn’t rush to his aid. What good would it have done? Would I really have taken a bullet for someone that I hardly know? It pains me to say no, for I know in my heart that I value my life too much. I feel guilt over it. I would have wanted to save him; maybe that’s why I’m stuck in this mess.
       I had just come home from seeing my mother. I felt as though my entire world had ended. Her “confession” should not have shocked me; I realized long ago that my mother was ill and there was no way to save her. However, I did not realize how much of a toll it would take on me to hear the words come from her lips.
      I felt sorry for myself and for the discovery I had pushed for. I should have left it alone and allowed everything to continue as it always had. Why did Ineed to bring her back into my life? My only sanctuary was the rooftop. I climbed the steps in a haze of frustration and exhaustion. I felt my body caving in beneath me as I raced towards the top, as if my life depended on the speed of my climb. When I got there, I did not stop to catch my breath but ran for the edge of the roof as if preparing to leap off and fall to my death. Not that I hadn’t considered that option—I had, several times. That is a confession that I am not sure I should be making to you or anyone else. Religion, as I am coming to learn, does not put a bubble around the fact that I am a human being. In my naive youth, I had always be- lieved that the fact that I was religious would prevent me from feeling human, save me from addiction, rebellion, anger, hate. I was wrong. Though my con- nection to, and depth of, religion have never been stronger than they are today, at this very moment, as I sign the papers claiming responsibility for what I wit- nessed, delusional or not, I know that I am not pardoned from human will and the mistakes it makes.
       I leaned over the edge, waiting for a breeze to caress my face or bolt of lightning to strike me. I wanted to feel something real, something beyond the pain I was feeling. I wanted to be happy.

      What I saw next did not help. There was Sam, in the street, standing next to a woman I have come to know as Sarah Grigg, his next door neighbor. From so far above, I could not hear them, let alone understand what was going on. My eyes wandered for only a moment, and upon their return, I recognized the shadow of another figure, a man I did not know. I watched Sam’s body tighten and Sarah’s face drop, her skin turning sickly pale. Only then did I realize that the man was pointing a gun at them.

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