TITLE: Trust Me
GENRE: Women's fiction
Even though my brain registers recognition of his voice, I'm startled all the same. The ring of keys I'm twirling flies off my index finger, clattering in a jumble of metal on concrete at his feet, and he bends to retrieve them. When he straightens and lifts his gaze to mine, I get my third surprise of the morning.
It's Gabe Armstrong, and he's wearing a red handyman apron.
"Do you need some help?" he asks.
I recognize him, of course, from all the clips and news reports I've devoured this past week, but especially from his highly televised appearance at his brother's funeral. It's been almost a year, but the image of a drunken Gabe, clutching a bottle of Budweiser and glowering as uniformed Honor Guards fired a series of shots over his brother's grave, has been seared into the collective American memory courtesy of a media who cannot get enough of his family's story, and a public all too eager to consume it.
But I wasn't expecting to run into him here, in the pest-control aisle at Handyman Market. Not before I've figured out my story's angle, and certainly not looking like I do, hot and sweaty and smelling like the Potomac.
As I pluck my keys from his outstretched palm, Gabe repeats his question, this time a little louder. Like he thinks I might be deaf.