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Pepper Herman

Chapter Six

            It was after midnight and Janet Greyburn was asleep.  Don put on his robe and went into the sitting room so he wouldn’t disturb her.  His mind was racing as he mixed a Grey Goose on-the-rocks for himself and sat in the chaise by the

floor-to-ceiling picture window.   He closed his eyes and his mind wandered to his


It was inevitable that he would someday become a doctor.   He was the only  

child of a father who was a respected physician in the community and a mother who  

was the head librarian at the county library.

 As early as Junior High school he was fighting injustices and evil doings. 

A shining example of a student who was destined to make waves in the community,

he could always be counted on for advice or help.  He had a charismatic quality about him -- tall, slim, dedicated to good health and working out, his star status on the basketball court garnered him much affection among his peers who easily elected him valedictorian of his senior class.  

He was also known for his particular obsession with a wayward student, Nicholas

Meany -- an apt name for an obnoxious troublemaker -- who delighted in

torturing animals by throwing stones at them.  The more they howled in pain, the

greater was his pleasure.

By the time he’d reached high school, Meany probably spent more time out of school than in it.  He was constantly getting expelled for some infraction of the rules.

Greyburn was so besieged by Meany’s sociopathic behavior and the fact that no one

was doing anything really constructive to stop him, that he finally decided to secretly take the law into his own hands. 

He first printed “this school sucks”, a term commonly used by Meany,  on the boy’s

first floor bathroom mirror, planted evidence he’d stolen from Meany’s personal

effects in his gym locker that would clearly implicate him, and started a small,

self-contained fire that  he knew would be discovered before much damage could be

done.  Despite Meany’s violent protestations, he was expelled from school without

prosecution, when his own father acknowledged the fact  that the crime likely fit

appropriately as the boy had set similar fires at home on numerous occasions as well.

No one ever found out the real truth, and Donald Greyburn became an unsung hero at Arden High.

            Sipping his drink, he reflected on the boardroom meeting that afternoon and their discussion on morality.

            He totally believed that it was necessary to free the world of the filth and vermin that stood in the way of well-being and safety.  He felt too, that as a doctor, he had a responsibility to help better society.  If someone had stood up and acted fifteen years ago, his parents’ lives wouldn’t have been cut short by some druggie who was never caught.  He’d never get that scene out of his mind.  It still pained him to picture the fright his mother must have felt at opening her eyes and seeing a stranger in their bedroom.  And of her despair when his father, apparently attempting to confront the burglar, wound up slain instead.  And of her sudden collapsing with chest pains when they came to take his body away.  He envisioned with grief, her lifeless body lying on a litter in the hospital morgue -- both still too young and much too soon for their lives to have been snuffed out in such an abrupt way. 

A feeling of extreme sadness welled up in his throat and he took a deep swallow from his glass.

            His mind drifted to Tom Dadero, who nine years ago lost his teenage son, Ralph, to some drunken bum who was driving the wrong way on the highway and smashed, head-on, into the kid’s car.  Tom used to tell about how the police came to his door at 9 pm and how Tom and his wife kept repeating to the officers that there was some kind of terrible mistake.  It couldn’t possibly be their son.  But it was their son. You don’t get over a thing like that.  Ever.  That son-of-a-bitch is alive and well, done his time, and is probably boozing it up right now.  Where is the justice?

            And what about Joe Rossigian, who, at sixty-nine, was about to retire?  What tragic memories haunt him!  His grandfather, an Armenian surgeon born in Turkey, was murdered by the Turks when they discovered that he was sneaking medication to the English soldiers behind the Turkish soldiers’ backs.  The English soldiers were so touched at the man’s courage  that they helped smuggle his wife and four children to the United States where his mother, Araxi, eventually met and married Diran Rossigian.  They ran a small Armenian restaurant in Philadelphia which kept them away from home more often than they wished, leaving Joe in charge of the house in the evenings till the restaurant closed.  Don recalled Joe’s pained expression when he revealed the time he was eleven years old, baby-sitting for his little sister Rebecca, and an intruder entered his home and raped his sister while he stood by helpless and watched in horror.  Joe still hears her screams echo in his mind.  Talk about trauma.  Christ!

            He thought about how Joe had expressed his worry about getting caught.  He worried about that too.  Was it a mistake to include him in their plans? 

And what of any errors on their part -- had they covered all corners?  They took strict precautions not to directly involve themselves with any of the Doomsdayers, who handled all their plans completely on their own.  There were no records to speak of, except for the falsified ones they concocted on Rob for Craig Aspel’s files.  The odds were slim to none that anyone would ever make that connection.  All X-rays made to convince the Doomsdayers of their fate had been destroyed.  Appointments had been made directly with the patients themselves, by-passing any office personnel.

            He contemplated on the revolutionary changes that had taken place over time by people sacrificing themselves for one cause or another.  It was nothing new.  It had to be the right thing -- what they were doing.

            The ice had melted in his glass.  Time to try to get some sleep.

Chapter 7


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