A Town Without Mercy
By: Joanne Simon Tailele
Is it nature or nurture that drives Adele Baxter Warren’s teenage daughter, Mercedes, to become a mass murderer? Town Without Mercy, a complete novella,is contemporary women’s fiction dealing with current event drama of mass shootings and gay marriage. Told through the eyes of the mother, a TV news correspondent, Adele must find the answer, even as it takes her away from Mercedes’ deathbed where she lays in a coma from the police bullet that stopped the carnage. If Adele follows the leads, the cost could be her seventeen-year-old marriage to same-sex partner, Jodi Warren. The townspeople of Concord Park wants revenge. They blame Adele and Jodi’s lifestyle as the cause of their daughter’s actions, but are they innocent of all blame?
Everytime a mass shooting happens I think we all wonder what it would be like to be the parents of the shooter. Well this book is basically told from the Parents point of view.
The story is based on a 16 year old girl who opens fire at a fireworks display in town. The two mothers can’t come to terms with this. They don’t understand why their daughter would do something like this. While the daughter lays in a coma they try to bring together pieces so that they can have answers.
Along the way the town turns against them claiming it’s because they are lesbians and that is why their daughter did this. It’s a disaster. It’s absolutely heart wrenching for both the parents and the victims families.
Author Joanne Simon Tailele has written it so you can feel the distress and emotions going on in this book. It’s a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. But it draws you in because you feel so bad for them. You find yourself wanting answers along with them.
You wonder why a 16 year old girl would do this? How did she get a gun? How did she learn to shoot? You will find out these answer for this story in the book. But it leaves you questioning real life shootings.
Looking back on this book I have to say it made you feel like this event was really going on. The Author wrote it very well to make you fit into the picture. The characters were well written and described to the point they were easily visualiszed in my mind while reading.
I would almost give this book a five star rating, but I think the story
was a little drawn out so I have to stick with a 4.
The Concord Park Memorial Fairgrounds was bursting with energy. The parade route ended at the park where colorful floats and antique cars circled the grounds like covered wagons. Perched on the portable bleachers, the high school band trumpeted Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American.” Adults and teenagers joined in song, while little children ran about twirling sparklers into the night sky. Old Glory proudly waved atop the small white gazebo where the mayor and the city councilmen fanned themselves in the July heat. Everyone anxiously checked their watches for the fireworks display to start promptly at 10:00 PM.
10:57 p.m., Thursday July 4, 2013
“We interrupt this program to bring you a special report.”
The announcement jerked me from my slumber the minute the staged laughter from the sitcom ended. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I tried to focus on the screen. Melanie Myers, my co-worker from WJLA-7, professionally coiffed with a deep, grave voice stared back at me through the flat screen.
“At 10:15 PM, in a small bedroom community outside of Chevy Chase, Maryland, an unidentified shooter opened fire into the crowd at the 4th of July fireworks celebration at Concord Park Memorial Fairgrounds.”
I screamed for Jodi. “Mercedes is at the fireworks. Oh God!”
Jodi appeared in the doorway from the kitchen, barefoot, with a dishtowel flung over her shoulder. “Adele, what is it?”
It had been a long time since Jodi and I had any alone time. This was the first weekend in four months that I had not been away on assignment as a TV news correspondent with WJLA-7. Lately, Jodi had been doing the job of two parents —plus her own career as head chef at Clive’s Restaurant, in the Adams Morgan district of D.C.
“The park— there has been a shooting at the park.”
Melanie continued on the screen. “We are trying to obtain all the facts. From what we can understand, an unidentified shooter opened fire into the crowd as the fireworks commenced. Many people where unaware when they mistook the gunshots for fireworks. It is undetermined at this time how many shots were fired and the extent of the injuries or fatalities. The suspect was shot and apprehended by a local police officer.”
My foggy brain instantly cleared. I sat up straight and untangled the afghan twisted around my feet.
Behind me I heard a gasp. I turned to see Jodi, hands pressed tightly over her mouth, staring at the screen. We were holding our breath as we watched live footage of people streaming out of the park. I strained to find Mercedes safely leaving the grounds among the crowd.
“Mon Dieu! What if she’s shot?” Jodi shrieked as she slid down the wall to the floor.
The sound of screaming sirens startled me from my trance. The room was suddenly ablaze with red flashing lights appearing through the window of our sixth-floor condo. In my heart I knew the sirens and lights were about Mercedes.
The buzzer on the wall announced we had a visitor at the main door of the building.
“Yes?” I managed to squeak into the intercom.
“Chevy Chase police, ma’am. Please let us in.”
I pressed the button to allow access to the lobby and elevator, and ran my fingers through my short, dark hair, fluffing the bed-head on one side caused by falling asleep on the sofa. Jodi pulled herself up from the floor on long, wobbly legs and gripped my arm.
Two uniformed Chevy Chase police officers stepped off the elevator into the hall. My hands began to shake, and I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck. This was not good. I tasted bile in the back of my throat and reached for Jodi’s hand.
The older of the two officers, Sergeant Potter, flipped open his badge and produced his identification. I detected Old Spice. A tire-like belly puddled over his belt. “Ma’am . . . um . . . ma’am,” he nodded between us. “Which of you is Mercedes Warren’s mother?”
“I am. I’m Adele Warren. Where is Mercedes?” My heart pulsed through my thin cotton gown and robe.
Across the hall, Margaret Gillespie’s condo door opened a crack, most likely so she could hear what was happening.
Sergeant Potter cleared his throat, rocked on his heels, and looked at his shiny patent-leather shoes. “There has been a shooting at the fairgrounds in the park. May we come in? We would prefer not to do this in the hallway.”
“Of course.” I stepped away from the threshold, allowing them to enter the hardwood foyer. “Tell us, please, he shot her, didn’t he?” I told myself not to freak out—to stay calm.
Officer Andrew Thames, taller and younger than Potter, appeared to be holding back anger that flashed behind dark gray eyes. “It wasn’t a he. Your daughter was the shooter. Another policeman took her down. She has been transported to Sibley Memorial Hospital.”
“The shooter?” I whispered. I shook my head. “Mercedes? No, no, that can’t be right.” My knees went weak beneath me. Jodi and Sergeant Potter lunged forward, catching me before I hit the floor. They maneuvered me to the white leather sofa under the bay window.
Jodi pulled me toward her, straddling the arm of the sofa. Her fingers dug into my clavicle as she clenched my shoulder. “Is she okay? You said she was shot? We need to get to the hospital right away and see our daughter.”
The two officers exchanged a glance. I’d seen that “Oh great—lesbians.” look hundreds of times over the last seventeen years, but we didn’t have time to worry about their political views on gay marriage.
“We’ll drive you. We have some questions to ask you on the way.”
I don’t remember changing clothes, but we made it into the squad car fully dressed. Jodi was quiet. I babbled incessantly.
Officer Thames got behind the wheel, while Potter sank into the passenger seat. We stared at them through wire crossbars. “Do you keep weapons in your home, Mrs. Warren?”
“No, we don’t have guns in our house. That’s absurd.”
“Where would Mercedes get a gun? What about her father?”
Jodi gave me a sideways glance. I shook my head at her. “Mercedes doesn’t have a father. Tell us about Mercedes. Are you sure she’s okay?”
Sergeant Potter nodded at the radio that was flooded with voices calling locations and codes I didn’t understand. I felt myself coming unglued. “Please, is she okay? You are not answering me.” The octave rose with each syllable.
“Ma’am, we know you’re upset but yelling at us is not going to help. We don’t know the condition of your daughter. She was alive when they put her in the transport.”
Jodi reached across the seat and took my hand. I squeezed it until she winced. We reached the hospital and rushed into the emergency waiting room, calling Mercedes’ name. It was a mass of confusion. People crowded the area, rushing in and out of the swinging doors marked “Emergency.” Dozens of people were crying, and young people hugged one another as we rushed by. A stout nurse pointed us in the direction of the ICU, to the right of Emergency.
“Where is she? Where is our daughter?” I cried as I dragged Jodi by the hand down the hallway. A tiny man in surgical scrubs with a stethoscope around his brown neck approached us with a clipboard in hand.
“Are you Mercedes Warren’s mother?” He looked between us with the same level of confusion the police officers had at our apartment.
“I am . . . well, we both are. I am Adele Warren. This is my wife, Jodi Warren. Where is Mercedes?”
“I’m Dr. Pachi. We have prepped her for surgery. She has a gunshot wound to the chest that punctured her lung and we need your permission to operate. She is in serious condition but if we can get the bullet out and repair her lung . . .”
“Of course. Please, save our daughter.” I scribbled my name on a form that was a blur of words, and returned the clipboard. Dr. Pachi disappeared behind a curtain. Seconds later, we watched them wheel Mercedes down the hall. I ran after the gurney, trying to get a glimpse of her. Her already pale complexion was ghostly white; an oxygen mask covered her face, and plastic drip bags of blood and saline hung from the rack attached to the gurney. I barely brushed my hand over hers before she was gone.
Jodi stood planted in the same spot as when the doctor first arrived. A line of mascara trailed down her right cheek, her left smeared in black where she wiped tears into her blond hair.
There was nothing to do but wait. An old man sat hunched in the corner of the waiting room, snoring, his mouth gaped open, and saliva dripped from his chin onto his faded work shirt with Ben stenciled on the pocket. On the faded leather sofa, a distraught woman with a prayer shawl over her shoulders clutched the hands of a bearded man, a yarmulke pinned to his gray head.
“Our baby. Why would someone shoot him?”
He patted her hand and shook his head. “He’ll make it. Be strong, Sarah.”
“What is your son’s name?” Jodi asked the couple.
“Levi. Levi Jarrett.”
“I am so sorry. Was he one of the people shot at the fairgrounds?” My heart broke for this woman. I prayed she did not ask if my child was also a victim. Is she? Isn’t she also a victim in some way?
“He is a good boy, a straight-A student. He sings like an angel. He recently made cantor at the synagogue.” The woman broke down and sobbed, covering her face with the shawl.
On the TV in the upper corner of the room, Melanie Myers was updating the public on the most recent news.
“We are now receiving information that the shooter was a female student. Yes, it is confirmed. The shooter is a teenage girl. Nine shots were fired. The unconfirmed number is five fatalities and four injured: five adults, three teenagers, and one child. It is still pandemonium at the fairgrounds and we are trying to obtain accurate details. It appears she was the lone shooter. Please stand by.”
The screen switched to the taped footage of the park taken from a news helicopter. Thousands of people were streaming out of the area, bottlenecked by the circle of floats and cars. The grassy area was swarming with police and emergency personnel. Some of the students from the high school marching band had dropped their instruments and run, leaving trombones and trumpets dangling off the bleachers and piled on the trampled grass. The camera zoomed in on a dozen police searching the grounds, weapons drawn. To the left of the bleachers someone was administering CPR to a young girl with light brown hair. I recognized the jean jacket and cobalt-blue skinny jeans. I gasped and had to look away.
Shaking his head, Dr. Masters, the ER resident doctor, approached the couple on the sofa. “I am sorry.” He patted the woman’s arm.
She wailed in anguish, and the man rocked in his seat, clutching his stomach and reciting what I assumed to be prayers in Yiddish.
I could not stay in that room with those mourning parents. We quietly slipped into the hallway to give them privacy. Later, we saw them follow the doctor down the hall to say goodbye to their son.
I was born a mid-west girl in Youngstown Ohio and wrote my first short story at the age of ten in blue colored pencil. It was a mystery called “The Mystery of the Missing Marble.” For most of my life, my writing was private, for my own enjoyment and therapy. In 2010, I discovered NANOWRIMO and I challenged myself to write a 50K novel in 30 days. I finished it, but it was awful. After joining an online writer’s group through Writer’s Village University, I picked away at my story for a full year with the help of the other girls in my group from all over the globe. It took me another year of edits and rewrites when I joined a local writer’s group before I felt it was ready for the public eye. ACCIDENT is my first novel and is the reincarnated version of the original Accident through NANOWRIMO. It is now available as an e-reader on Kindle Amazon and will be out in print copy through Outskirts Press in the fall of 2013.
A second novel, got pushed to the “later file” and I am currently working on my 3rd novel. To coin a phrase from Jodi Picoult, my writing idol, my stories are “moral fiction, not because I plan to change anyone’s mind on a subject but because I hope to cause you to think about modern day issues that most people would prefer to shove under the rug.”
I currently reside on Marco Island on the SW Gulf coast of Florida with my husband. Proudly the parents of 8 his and hers kids and 9 grandkids, we spend out time boating and enjoying the white sandy beach of Marco when I am not writing or selling real estate.