So, for long time readers, this won't matter too much. However, if you haven't read anything from me, I'm going to post a chapter of The Devil's Dream every week on here. So if you're bored at work, or your spouse is angry with you at dinner, pull the site up and start reading. Hope you enjoy!
The Devil's Dream
By Jeffrey Dillan
It was so hot you almost wished they had waited until winter to have the funeral. Everyone in the cemetery was sweating, some through their clothes. Women fanned themselves even as they cried. Men hung their heads low and continuously wiped their brow. The temperature had risen to one hundred degrees, but still the gravesite could hold little more. All of these people had come to watch a casket lower six feet into the ground, to bury Sergeant Michael Murray.
His wife was dressed in the appropriate black, her child's hand in hers. She didn't cry and I think that was mainly because of the seven year old next to her leg. An effort I know I couldn't have matched.
I didn't know Michael Murray but I stood and watched everyone sweating and crying. Perhaps it's morbid of me, but the entire time, I kept thinking that they need not have the funeral during the height of summer. That they could, because of the body's advanced decomposition, have the funeral on Christmas Eve if they wished. They didn't wish to though and I understood. Sergeant Michael Murray had been missing for a year, a horrible, horrible year for Mrs. Murray. Now, she had her husband's bones and she wanted them buried so that she and her son could finally begin to mourn.
"He didn't mean to," Sophia Murray told me after the funeral, finally letting the tears flow that she had locked up in her head for most of the day. "He cried at night about it to me. It was a legitimate accident and that's why he was found not guilty. He hated what happened." She paused to blot her eyes. "I even thought he might commit suicide over it."
A fresh bout of tears appeared and I told her we could do this later.
"No. No. We'll do it now. He didn't mean to kill that boy and that fucking psycho deserves a lot worse than what he's getting. My husband was a good man who made a mistake. That doesn't mean he deserves to die. It doesn't mean I should have to bury him."
Mrs. Murray broke down then and her crying didn't stop. I imagine, two years after our brief interaction, a part of her is still crying. Begging for her husband to return, begging to stop her husband from going to work on the day he shot a black boy on a street in Atlanta, Georgia. Gunned him down, because, in all honesty, he looked like a thug that the police were after. A thug that had allegedly raped two women the past week (both of them white, and did that play into any of the officers' decisions?). Four officers had been there that day, and all four had unloaded their weapons on the boy heading home.
Did the black kid, Hilman Brand, do everything he could to avoid dying? Certainly not. He didn't listen to the police. He continued walking, although he didn’t start running—but as many white, conservative commentators made known after the shooting: he was dressed like a 'thug'.
Hillman Brand wasn't a thug, though.
Does any of it matter now? Does Hillman Brand's death matter at all? Does Michael Murray's? Do the other three cops who opened fire matter? People die every day and police officers kill plenty each year. Trials are publicized weekly and crazies are born every day. This story, when compared with the thousands of others in the past decade, should float on as the rest have before it. Except it won't. Not even the government, who ailed for years trying to find Matthew Brand, will let this thing pass because they won't put him in an electric chair and be done with it.
This story isn't different because Hillman Brand was an adopted black boy, or that he was adopted by a very wealthy family. This story isn't different because the killer targeted only cops. This story, and thus this book, is a love story between a father and his son, and the depths that such love could take them. I didn't know that when I began writing. I thought Matthew Brand was insane and the cops were probably criminals.
Maybe Matthew Brand is insane, but if so, love brought him there.
I dedicate this book to the four cops that lost their lives.
I dedicate this book to the person who killed those cops, Matthew Brand, who lost his son.