This is an excerpt from a volume in my series, “The Good Doctors.”
Dr. Samuel Moore is a mortician and a doctor—as well as a uniquely talented and creative assassin. In this passage, he prepares Mr. Cogswell to pay the ultimate price for his crimes.
Cogswell opened his eyes, unsure of his surroundings through his blurry vision. He could feel the cold air against his cheeks, so he knew he was outside. He remembered flashes of what happened: Virgil throwing him into the back of a car, Dr. Moore injecting him with some kind of drug.
He saw a fading blue sky with tops of pine trees silhouetted against the setting sun. As he managed to lower his gaze, he felt more disoriented. His head was upright, but he was too close to the ground to be standing. There was dirt, weeds, bushes nearby—and tombstones that towered over him. He tried to move, but his hands were bound tightly behind his back.
He licked his dry lips, tasted dirt, and coughed.
Something was keeping him from escaping.
Finally, as he regained his senses, he looked down and realized that he was buried up to his chest in the ground, trapped by tightly packed dirt.
“What’s going on here? Where am I?”
No one answered.
He realized he was in his family graveyard, where his parents and grandparents were buried.
“Help!” he tried to yell, though his voice was rough and weak, “Help!”
He struggled, but it was hopeless. Had he been left here to die?
He heard a car approaching somewhere behind him.
He broke into a coughing fit as the car pulled up nearby.
Finally, the doors opened, and footsteps approached across dry leaves.
“Help!” He tried again, desperate to draw their attention.
Two figures approached, one in old blue jeans and the other in a finely tailored suit that he recognized immediately: Dr. Moore and his brutish helper, Virgil.
Cogswell suddenly filled with rage, “Let me out of here! What have you done?”
Moore stood a dozen feet away and stared at him.
“Let me out of here!” Cogswell demanded.
Moore squatted down. “Mr. Cogswell, do you believe there is a heaven?”
“Are you insane?”
“Have you made arrangements in the event of your death?”
“Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? What family you’re dealing with?”
Moore smiled, unconcerned.
“My brother is the mayor,” Cogswell told him, “You’ll hang if you do anything to me!”
Moore stood up, lit a cigar, and took a nice leisurely puff. He blew smoke rings in the air.
“Would you like to kill me, Cogswell? Like you killed Mr. and Mrs. Jackson?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Cogswell shouted.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Moore flicked his cigar ashes on the ground. “Do you read the bible, Cogswell?”
“That’s none of your damn business.”
Moore was amused at Cogswell’s impertinence. “Perhaps you can’t read, or you’re simply an asinine, so I’ll help you out. In Deuteronomy 19:10, there’s a passage reading, ‘innocent blood be not shed in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.’”
Cogswell was baffled, “Are you some kind of preacher? Get me the hell out of here!”
“No, I’m not a preacher; I’m Dr. Samuel Moore, mortician, and owner of the Samuel Moore Funeral Home.” He looked around the dilapidated graveyard and turned to Virgil, “Wouldn’t you agree that this place requires maintenance? It’s really quite a shame.”
Virgil strolled over to Moore. “Yes, sir. It needs work,” Virgil answered calmly.
“My brother will skin you both alive if you don’t dig me out of here.”
Moore sighed, “You’re certainly not in a position to make demands.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter, “If you’ll indulge me, I have a letter from Mrs. Caroline Jackson Johnson. Charlie Jackson’s sister. You remember Charlie—you killed him and his wife.”
Cogswell glared up at Moore, “They tried to kill me!” Spit flew from his mouth.
“My time is valuable, Cogswell, so let’s make this short and to the point.”
“You’re going to hang,” Cogswell grumbled.
Moore opened the letter and read, “Mr. Cogswell, my name is Caroline. I’m Charlie Jackson’s sister. You murdered my brother and sister-in-law Barbara over a very small debt. You killed two parents in front of their children, and in doing so, you killed a little of the children’s innocence as well. Perhaps you’re used to getting away with murder in your horrible little town, but no more. Dr. Moore has volunteered his services to correct your sin and make it right. To place justice on the injustice of my brother and his wife’s death, and perhaps teach you the final lesson of your life: May God have mercy on your soul.”
Dr. Moore folded the letter and placed it back into his jacket. “I would say that was one of the most elegant letters I’ve read to those in your…predicament.”
“Are you going to kill me?”
Moore repeated, “I hope your final arrangements are in order.”
“You’ll hang,” Cogswell said.
“Before we continue, however,” Moore told him, “I’d like you to meet a special guest.”
“Special guest?” Cogswell asked wearily.
Moore stood up and waved at someone behind Cogswell. The car door opened and another pair of footsteps approached dragging something heavy through the dirt behind Cogswell.
Cogswell heard the person stop just behind him, but he couldn’t yet see who it was.
“Hello, Mr. Cogswell.” The voice of the special guest was tight with restraint.
The special guest walked around into Cogswell’s line of sight. It was a boy—a young man of perhaps seventeen or eighteen years old. His eyes were solemn and dark as he dragged a baseball bat through the dirt as if taunting Cogswell.
“What is this?” Cogswell demanded.
“Do you recognize him?” Moore asked.
Cogswell looked at the boy’s face.
“I’ve never seen him before in my life.”
“Oh, but you have, Cogswell,” Moore informed him, “This is Jimmy Jackson. You killed his parents while he watched.”
Cogswell whipped his gaze to Moore, “They tried to kill me.”
“That’s a lie!” Jimmy shouted.
Moore remained calm, “Jimmy asked to be here today. To contribute.”
Jimmy stepped forward towards Cogswell. “My father loved baseball. The Yankees. That’s his- was his team, not that you cared about any part of them.”
Cogswell glared at Jimmy.
“He taught me everything he knew.” Jimmy smiled; I really know how to swing a bat.
“You’re a kid! What are you gonna do?” Cogswell strained against his earthly prison.
“As I said,” Moore explained, “Jimmy’s contributing to the day’s festivities the best way he knows how.” He nodded at Jimmy and took a long puff of his cigar. “He won’t be doing the deed, of course,” he explained. “He wanted to make sure—”
“—to make sure that you suffer as my parents suffered,” Jimmy interrupted.
Cogswell looked at the bat, suddenly understanding. “They-they tried to kill me,” he insisted, finally realizing his fate.
Jimmy stepped back, pulled the bat over his shoulder in a practiced batter’s stance, and took a deep breath.
“NO!” Cogswell begged as he desperately struggled against the death sentence holding him in place. “DON’T DO THIS!”
“I really do hope you’ve made the proper arrangements,” Moore said again.
“DON’T DO THIS!” Cogswell pleaded again.
Moore nodded at Jimmy encouraging him forward.
“Burn in hell, Mr. Cogswell.” With defiance and vengeance ablaze in his eyes Jimmy swung aiming for a home run.