· Suspicious Person: Billy Brassfield ·
Writing Prompt by Sean McArdle
Sean McArdle, Kansas Authors Club member from Winchester, England, recently added to a conversation that began with a question: “Where do stories come from?” He commented about a dispute he witnessed in a store. Sean set the scene:
“Recently I was in a large department store looking at clothes and heard an argument between an assistant and a customer. The customer was aggressive and security was called. It’s impossible not to wonder what had happened. Why was the man angry and aggressive? Upbringing? Recent tragedy? How did it make the assistant feel? Annoyed? Frightened? Abused? What were they arguing about anyway? Trivia? A bad day?”
Suspicious Person: Billy Brassfield
By Jim Potter
Billy pressed the tips of his fingers from both hands against his forehead and grimaced. His headache was spreading and the store’s elevator music made it worse.
At least he was shopping. That usually helped.
“Our story must be told,” shouted Billy, attempting to drown out the music and refocus his energy.
Standing beside a nearby clothing rack, a sales clerk observed the prospective customer but hesitated before approaching him. Why was the man yelling? Was he wearing ear buds, possibly listening to music or a ball game?
“Our colors are black and gold,” continued the loud-voiced man.
The customer was African American, mid-forties, about 6’ 4”, with a slim build. He was wearing a Wichita State University ball cap pulled down low, partially covering his eyes, a Shocker sweatshirt, and black sweatpants.
“Stand up and cheer; never fear,” yelled the WSU fan.
The sales associate cautiously approached the customer and asked, “How may I help you?”
“I’m here for the latest WuShock jersey, #14.”
“We may be out of that number; it’s in heavy demand, but I’ll check,” said the sales associate.
“I was here almost a week ago and I was told a new order would be in Monday. That’s today. You said you’d hold it for me, Billy Brassfield.”
“I don’t remember holding that number but please, have a look around at our new merchandise while I check on your item.”
“Shockers on to vic-to-ry. Go Shocks!” shouted Billy.
Billy continued shopping. He told the strong-perfumed shoe sales woman, “I’m shopping for my son.” Pointing at a shoe display, Billy told her, “I’d like to look at this shoe in size 13 of the Shocker Collection.”
“Is that your size?” asked the clerk as she studied his shoes.
“I said I’m buying these for my son, Junior. Is there a problem with that?” he asked, confused.
“No problem, sir. Let me check on that size.”
“Our story must be told,” sang Billy while discovering a potential pair of shoes in his size.
Deserted by the clerk, he tried them on. After tightening the laces, he was pleased with the fit.
Billy smelled her perfume before looking up. “Sir,” said the clerk, “I’m sorry but we’re out of that size, would you like to try a size 12?”
“What’s the deal with your store? You don’t keep an inventory of jerseys or shoes anymore? Let me try these out,” said Billy as he started walking away from the clerk, out of the shoe department.
Taking a small step forward, the clerk said, “Sir.”
Shaking his head, Billy ignored her, and continued walking.
Seconds later, recognizing he had left his wallet in the car, he considered his options. Return to the shoe department first or go outside and retrieve his wallet. Recalling a childhood memory, his father’s cautionary advice about “shopping while black,” he returned to the shoe department.
“Ma’am, so far these shoes feel good. I’ll be right back. My wallet’s in the car.”
“But sir,” said the sales lady. “What’s your name?”
“Billy Brassfield, be right back.”
The sales lady watched as the customer walked towards the exit. She started to follow him in case he was a shoplifter, to be able to give a description to security or to the police if they asked. She didn’t want to get chewed out by management but she didn’t want another customer complaint, either.
Instead, she returned to her sales counter, searched on the store’s computer for a Billy Brassfield, and called store security, just in case.
While unzipping his black gym bag, Billy was singing, “Our colors are black and gold,” when a white security officer interrupted him. “Store security! You need to return to the store right now with me.”
“No problem. That’s what I’m getting ready to do, as soon as I get my wallet and debit card,” explained Billy.
“Sir, put your hands up, now!”
“I don’t have a gun or anything,” said Billy. “I’m just getting my wallet.”
“Hands up, now!” repeated the security officer as he grabbed Billy who was standing next to the open front door of his vehicle.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Billy.
“Just cooperate and there won’t be no problem,” warned the security officer.
When Billy pulled his arm away from the officer, the man shoved the door hard into Billy, painfully pinning Billy, and knocking Billy’s cap to the ground, revealing a long curved scar on his scalp.
“Help!” shouted Billy. “Someone, help me! Call the police!”
Detectives Monroe and Coleman—the partners had just finished their lunch at the Purple Mouse Trap Pizza Joint—responded to the call for assistance from the nearby parking lot.
After advising dispatch of the disturbance, assessing the two-man struggle, and handcuffing the suspect, they started sorting out the chaotic situation.
There were two driver licenses in Billy’s wallet. One identified the 43-year-old suspect as William C. Brassfield. The other photo ID, expired, showed a 21-year-old William C. Brassfield, Jr.
“Officers,” said Billy, “thank goodness you were nearby. This robocop attacked me and I want to file a report.”
“We’ll get to the bottom of this, but first let’s be sure who we’re talking to,” said Detective Coleman.
“I’m Billy Brassfield; I was just getting my wallet so I could pay for these shoes. I told the clerk I’d be right back. You can ask her. I’m a regular customer.”
“You may not remember me,” said Detective Coleman.”
“Sister Rosie, how could I forget you? I wasn’t dead.”
Gently, Rosie touched Billy’s shoulder and said, “Let me tell you again how sorry I am that your son died in that car accident.”
“It wasn’t an accident,” replied Billy. “The driver voluntarily got himself high, drugged, and drove into us. I only wish that god had spared Junior and taken me.”
“Well, the driver was convicted,” said Coleman, “but I imagine that doesn’t help you much.”
“You’re right about that,” agreed Billy, “I’d do anything to have Junior back with me right now.”
“Let’s figure this situation out first,” said Coleman, “then we can talk about how much WSU misses B.B. He was a rising basketball star.”
“No, he was already a shining star, on and off the court,” said Billy.
Coleman asked, “You still donating basketball shoes to the poor kids?”
“Yep, I was trying to find a pair before this shopping trip turned ugly.”
“Size 13, right?” asked Coleman.
Billy smiled. “It’s good to know someone besides me, remembers him.”
Note: For fun, fictional character Detective Rosie Coleman was borrowed from Author Rock Neelly’s just released novel, River of Tears. Her guest appearance in this writing exercise was approved by Neelly. If you want to meet the real fictional Detective Coleman, check out River of Tears.
If you live anywhere near Hutchinson, KS, please consider purchasing Rock’s novel at Bluebird Books & Cafe, 2 South Main, Hutchinson, KS, phone 620-259-6868.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!
The Kansas Authors Club www.kansasauthors.org is a statewide organization that encourages and supports great writing. It’s divided into seven districts. In Hutchinson, Reno County (part of District 6), we have monthly meetings at Hutchinson Community College. http://www.hutchcc.edu You’re invited. Questions? Contact Jim Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org