Droogan McPhee is the son of a wealthy entrepreneur who owns several liquor stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. His step-mother is roughly Droogan's same age. Together they plot to kill his wealthy father for the inheritance money, until Droogan shoots his step-mother instead by mistake. What follows is an odyssey along the New York Thruway, as the police will stop everything to make sure that the fleeing Droogan is captured and brought to justice. Harvey Havel is a freelance writer and novelist. His first novel, Noble McCloud, was published in November of 1999. His second novel, The Imam, was published in 2000. In 2006, Havel published his third novel, Freedom of Association. He has just published his eighth novel, Charlie Zero's Last-Ditch Attempt, and his ninth, The Orphan of Mecca, Book One, which has just been released. He is formerly a writing instructor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. He also taught writing at the University of Albany (SUNY) and at the College of St. Rose, both in Albany, New York. He has a cat named Marty.
Droogan couldn’t deny that at times he felt a strong connection to his father, though most of the time it hid under the surface of their lives. Murdering him would forever negate this, and at the moment, the idea seemed preposterous to him, like some ages-old B-movie plot that had been recycled to look a bit a differently, but would end in a similar fashion. Perhaps, Droogan thought, when a man was born, when he first entered the light of this world, perhaps he came equipped to one day kill his father and marry his mother. It became clear that every son desired this, at least on a subconscious level, in the early stages of development. Fathers became angrier and more stubborn as they aged, while mothers cried for their sons wanting to save their lives before the father could murder the son. Such a psychology seemed very real to Droogan, and so maybe God would let him off the hook for killing his father, considering that such a murder lay at the heart of every young man’s desire anyway. Killing his father, at least in Droogan’s mind became a compassionate act. Perhaps God, he thought, would overlook this unpardonable sin, after all, since mice were able to eat their young when hungry, then sons deserved the right to defend against their fathers and fight back with a murder plot as well. It was only natural, or so Droogan’s thinking and justifications for the murder went.
His first order of business, involved finding a pawn shop. Felix, his driver happened to know of a pawn shop in Danbury, and confirmed that guns could be found there. The following afternoon they drove to the poorer part of the city in the limousine. Droogan made Felix promise that he would keep all of this gun-shopping a closely guarded secret – especially from his father’s curiosities. Felix agreed, although did so after much badgering and lobbying by Droogan who now saw divine purpose in his plan.
The pawn shop stood on a busy Route that led in and out of the inner-city, all-too eerily close to where Angela’s family lived. When Droogan opened the entrance door to the shop, small bells tethered to a rope rang, which alerted the store’s manager to the presence of a customer. Just a glance at the glass cases filled with every odd antique and artifact confirmed that the pawn shop had a few guns for sale and that a thorough background check would be used to clear Droogan for the purchase. Quite strangely, the pawn shop also sold a couple of silencers and even ammunition for the gun. Perhaps several murderers had passed through these doors before, but Droogan couldn’t think about that now. He only saw guns, the silencers, and the ammunition. He made a bee-line to the store’s manager who took these items out from under the bright glass counter-tops and shelves and showed them to him one-by-one.
Droogan didn’t know how to use a gun, and so the store’s manager showed him how to fire it and also referred him to the National Rifle Association for further guidance. The gun fit easily in Droogan’s right hand, as though it were an extension of his hand or at least an appendage that continued where his fingers left off. The gun was cool to the touch, a bit heavy, but definitely comfortable to hold. Thinking about murdering his father made sense and would be easier than he had originally thought.
The manager wrapped the firearm, the silencer, and the ammunition in a small box with bubble wrap. Droogan took the package home with him and hid the box under his jacket in case his father saw him walking into the mansion. When Droogan went to unlock the door to his attic apartment, he noticed it was already unlocked. He cautiously turned the knob and opened the door. Droogan was startled to see Sabrina sitting on his bed waiting for him.
“Hi,” said Droogan. “How long have you been waiting here?”
“Just for a few minutes. I noticed that you and Felix had gone somewhere.”
“Yes. We went into Danbury. I bought the gun.”
“Good,” she said, “so everything is going as planned?”
“Yes. I will do it tonight, so we better be prepared.”
“The question is, are you prepared?”
“I definitely am ready for this.”
“Come, sit by me for a second.”
Droogan sat next to her on the bed a bit nervously. Sabrina wrapped her arm around his shoulder and kissed him on the lips.
“I want to give you a little going away present – from your mother, of course.”
“I can see how you are my mother, but let’s not bring my real mother into this.”
“I just want to express my gratitude and wish you good luck, Droogan. Is that so wrong? You’ll be gone right after you do the deed, so I wanted to thank you now.”
“I would accept your gift under normal circumstances, but I have a girlfriend, as you know, and I don’t want to cheat on her.”
“Don’t you find me attractive?”
“Definitely I find you attractive, but I shouldn’t, considering that I’m now engaged to Angela.”
“You mean, that black maid?”
“Well, if you’re in love with her, I can understand why you don’t want me to comfort you. Let’s forget it. I still want to wish you good luck, though. You are leading this family out of so much bullshit, that I can’t help but admire what you’re doing.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“I better go,” she said. “You do remember what side of the bed he sleeps on. Right?”
“I may be stupid, but I’m not that stupid.”
She kissed him on the cheek before leaving, and as she left, the closing of the door sucked the blinds out of the open window. She left as some sort of dark angel would, and even though he wanted to make love to her, he was glad and lucky enough to have avoided doing so. He didn’t want to cheat on Angela, even though he wanted to make love to Sabrina. He had always found her too attractive to be in the same league as he, but he felt strong and powerful for resisting her. His love for Angela had never been as strong as it was just then.
He curled up on his mattress, turned on the cable television, and gently fell asleep to awkward talk shows until afternoon lunch. He didn’t eat much. He had too much on his mind to eat as he usually ate. Yet he had both confidence and faith that Arthur would die that night. He whispered a small thank-you to God for this new sense of added confidence, especially since Sabrina wanted to make love to a slob like him. What an odd pair they made – conspirators exercising the same, simple plan, and drawn towards each other by that plan. He felt heroic by the gesture she had made. Everything was set to roll, the automatic hand gun and the box that also included the silencer and the ammunition hidden underneath his bed. From that point on, it was simply a waiting game.
After committing the murder, he planned to go directly to Angela’s family home in Danbury, grab her, and drive as far away from Connecticut’s cities and villages as possible. He would head south towards Mexico with a stop over at Hilton Head Island where he used to go with his mother before she died. Yes, Arthur had a stately home there as well, but he wound up selling the place and making a hundred-thousand dollar profit from the sale. Only men who were financially invincible could obtain this kind of wealth. Arthur was a money making machine, and money brought power, which is why he had to be killed.
He did not have dinner that night in the dining room with Arthur and Sabrina. Instead, he made a sandwich with some of the leftover turkey in his small fridge beside the bed. With every revolution of the wall clock, Droogan became increasingly nervous. He tried watching a movie on television, but the commercials interrupted the movie so many times that he couldn’t for the life of him watch another frame of the film. He sat in the darkness and eyed the clock. After a couple of hours it was late into the night – nearly one am. He took out the box from underneath his bed. He also wore panty-hose over his face and dressed completely in black – black jeans and a black tee shirt. If someone saw him, no one would ever know it was he behind the mask and the clothing. He thought himself safer for wearing these clothes.
After praying for roughly ten minutes, Droogan oozed away from the comforts of his bed and carried the loaded handgun downstairs and then attached the silencer. He quietly entered his father’s bedroom where Sabrina also slept. They slept side-by-side, and just when he was about to call the whole thing off, he fired five shots into the body on the right side of the bed. He could make out a figure beneath the sheets moaning in pain, but the moaning was so quiet that no one could hear it. It was a primal moan that skirted the level of an all-out scream, but in sleep the body that he plugged just gave up and died a few minutes later on the spot.
He quickly moved out of the bedroom, picked up a bag of clothes that he had left in the living room, jumped in his Chevy Monza, and sped towards a cheap motel in Danbury. He would be able to see Angela at first light, and then he would ask her to run away with him, now that Arthur had been killed and posed no threat to their mutual happiness.
When Angela opened the door, she looked better than she ever looked before. His eyes were bloodshot, and he wept on her shoulder, which she allowed him to do.
“I’m here to take you away from all of this," He blubbered.”
“Have you lost your mind? It’s six in the morning. What have you been doing all night?”
“I’ll explain everything on the car ride. For now, though, I need you get all of your clothes and toss them in the back of the car. Quickly, Angela. We can’t waste any time.”
“But you’re not telling me what happened.”
“I’ll explain everything once we’re on a highway away from this terrible city.”
After some more coaxing, she did eventually pack up her belongings. They headed out on the open road with Droogan driving the Chevy Monza – a gift from his father for his twenty-first birthday. He didn’t feel good about killing his father anymore. Instead, it seemed as though only God above had witnessed the shooting and would hold him accountable by weighing on his conscience. Droogan wept a bit after they took an exit for the Merritt Parkway. It was inevitable, given the circumstances. He didn’t tell Angela about the shooting until well over an hour into the drive. In response, Angela just remained perplexed by the entire plan that both Sabrina and Droogan had hatched. In a way, the killing of Arthur came as quite a relief to all of the parties concerned.
Angela couldn’t tell if his tears were from his eyes or from the gusts of wind that blew into his face while driving. Either way, she understood that there’d be no turning back. They were fugitives on the run, and yes, the authorities would know why Droogan left that morning in such a hurry.
Arthur awoke just before the alarm clock blared. He made sure to turn it off before waking Sabrina, as she seemed to be sound asleep. He wanted to surprise her that morning with what he had wanted to give her: his undivided attention and his undivided passion. Sabrina usually found love-making with Arthur to be fulfilling and intensely pleasurable, or at least that’s what she often told him during and directly after they made love. Arthur rolled over to be closer to Sabrina, and spooned her as he usually had the habit of doing. Her body, however, wasn’t as warm as it normally was. Actually, her body was quite cold to the touch.
He centered the blanket over her body so to warm her. He massaged her back and then slid even closer to her. He penetrated her from behind. She was still warm on the inside, but cool to the touch - a medium rare steak, and she didn’t respond with her usual moans and groans. Arthur leaned over to kiss her lips, and that's when he saw that her entire head had been soaking in blood that had dried into extensive, crusty scabs. He quickly moved his hands further down her body and found the more tacky pools of drying blood over her body. Arthur impulsively yanked back the covers and saw that she had bled profusely through the night. Sabrina was as still as a snowbird on a branch in winter, and she was dead, maybe for hours now, even though her insides were still warm as though blood had still flowed through them. Arthur gave a terrified scream realizing that his wife had been brutally murdered in the night, without him knowing anything about it. He quickly phoned the police.
Harvey Havel is a freelance writer and novelist. His first novel, Noble McCloud, A Novel, was published in November of 1999. His second novel, The Imam, A Novel, was published in 2000.
In 2006, Havel published his third novel, Freedom of Association. He has just published his eighth novel, Charlie Zero’s Last-Ditch Attempt, and his ninth, The Orphan of Mecca, which has just been released. His new novel, The Thruway Killers is his latest work.
He is formerly a writing instructor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. He also taught writing at the College of St. Rose. Currently, he teaches literature at the University of Albany (SUNY).
If you can’t buy one of his books here, copies of his books and short stories, both new and used, may be purchased at www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com, and by special order at other fine bookstores.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-thruway-killers-harvey-havel/1121992916;jsessionid=B03794F9C1D6BB094F5856C9DC0B99DC.prodny_store02-atgap10?ean=9781635080384