Powder Burn Flash #370 - Jim Winter
By Jim Winter
My wife found our daughter in the garage one afternoon. She hung from the ceiling by a noose she fashioned from a belt. That was the beginning of the end for me.
At first, it baffled us. Sarah had a doting boyfriend, plenty of friends, and terrific grades. She’d just gotten her license, and Karen and I were in the process of buying her a car. She had just taken her SAT’s, and we’d scheduled a visit to Ohio State in a month.
All that ended that afternoon in the garage.
Once we cut her down and turned her over to the paramedics, we became numb. We stayed that way until after the funeral. And then…
Then the questions started. We asked her boyfriend, her friends, her teachers. What set our daughter off? Why would this beautiful young lady with everything ahead of her kill herself? No one seemed to know. Or if they did, they weren’t saying.
Finally, my nephew Brandon came over to get into her laptop for us. He hacked her Facebook account. That’s when it became apparent.
“Whoever these guys are,” he said, “they’re vicious.”
They were. Among the more polite terms they used included “slut” and “whore.” I knew some of the boys, and a couple of girls, who posted. Most were followers.
Not Kyle Harmon. He led the attacks. It seemed to start when Sarah began seeing her boyfriend, a nice kid from another school named Keith. Apparently, Harmon didn’t approve of my daughter dating Keith.
“Do you want to print this out?” Brandon asked me.
He looked up at me like I’d just asked him why I’d want an umbrella during a thunderstorm. “This is bullying.”
“My daughter’s dead, Brandon,” I said. “It’s bad enough I have to see this.”
“But the school hasn’t seen this. Schools go after bullies these days. If someone commits suicide, there might be criminal charges.”
I thought about that for a moment. Karen might not want to face the scrutiny of a trial, but our daughter deserved justice.
“Print it out. Print it all out.”
* * *
We took the hardcopies to Sarah’s principal the next day. She pulled up their Facebook pages using a dummy account she had created for just such an occasion. The boys had taken down their offending posts.
“I’m sorry,” said the principal. “I have to have actual proof.”
“The printouts are documented evidence,” I said. “What more proof do you need?”
“I sympathize, but the boys’ lawyers could simply say your printouts were Photoshopped.”
My wife broke down right there in the office.
She still sobbed as we sat in the car. I started the engine but could not drive. My knuckles whitened as I clenched the steering wheel. I just sat there with the car in drive, my foot on the brake, unaware I was even sitting there idling.
At least until I spotted Kyle Harmon walking across the parking lot.
They say he died the first time I ran him over.
BIO: Jim Winter is a computer programmer, middle-aged college student, and writer. He is the author of Road Rules and Northcoast Shakedown, both available on Amazon and Nook. His short stories have appeared in Spinetingler, Thug Lit, and West Coast Crime Wave. Jim lives in Cincinnati with his wife Nita and stepson AJ. Visit him at http://www.jamesrwinter.net