“Please answer the question,” Mr. Sturgess said and shook the bag for emphasis.
“It looks to be my spare grappling gun,” Hank said quietly.
“How do you think it got there?”
Hank looked down.
“How, Mr. Wipple, did this get in Bobby’s hand? Did he take it from you? But you and I both know that didn’t happen. Why then, Mr. Wipple, was Bobby lying on the floor holding a grappling gun? Yourgrappling gun?”
Mr. Sturgess leaned forward onto his feet and stood to his full height. “Why, Mr. Wipple?”
Hank whispered an answer.
“Speak up, please, Mr. Wipple.”
“Because I gave it to him…”
“So you lied under oath?”
“I made the mistakes that night. I didn’t want Bobby to be remembered for his part in what happened, what he did. I wanted to give him some dignity.”
“Mr. Wipple, sitting on a boy’s death for thirty years is hardly dignity.”
Hank looked up at Mr. Sturgess, then turned his eyes back to the floor. He raked his thumb across his lips, then continued his story. “Like I said, I thought I could handle it. I thought I was good enough to protect him, save my wife, and stop Sparts. But he was a good kid; I wanted to help him feel like a part of the heroics. I figured if he held my spare for a few minutes in the car as my ‘backup,’ he’d have a great story to tell all the kids back at school. And since I left the safety on, I didn’t think he was in any danger.
“I never intended him to leave the car, but I was a kid once. I should have known he wouldn’t be able to wait, wouldn’t be able to sit in that car while all the action was happening just out of view. I should have known he was smart enough to undo the safety. I should have known he’d sneak in with the grappling gun on his own, no thug needed.
“As I was talking Sparts down, Bobby jumped from behind a box and shot the grappling gun. It caught Catherine right in the stomach…so much blood…”
Hank paused his story, forcing the tears back with all his might.
“Bobby wasn’t ready for the kickback,” Hank continued. “He slammed backwards into some crates, probably knocked him out. I took the opportunity and shot my own grappling gun at Sparts. With both he and Bobby lying on the ground, I picked up Catherine, I picked up my bleeding, pregnant wife, and got her out of there. And just like I said before, I made sure she was safe. Police were already arriving from my call. I had no idea the warehouse was rigged to explode. I wanted to go back for Bobby, but all I could think about was Catherine and Rachel, the little baby inside her.”
To Be Continued…