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Author's Note:

In Risk We Trust opens with "excerpts" from the books of two different fictional characters; the first being a high school teacher who witnessed part of the tragedy, and the second the novel's "codenamed namesake". "Arnold Grodin" is a character we only meet here, through an excerpt from his book "Witness #49". Lee Hennessey (a.k.a "Risk"), meanwhile, is first introduced through one of his books, "Killer By Trade". Both pieces examine the state of mind of their respective "authors" after the fact (i.e. tragedy), with the distinction being that Grodin's account arrives close to the same timeframe in which the bulk of the novel takes place and Hennessey's book is being written a long time after the events in the novel, while he is serving time in prison for crimes committed in the course of the story. Neither "Witness #49" or "Killer By Trade" actually exists as a full book. 

 

 

Excerpt from Arnold Grodin's

Witness #49: An Eyewitness's Account of The Port Haven Tragedy

 

 

“In the wake of everything, I doubt I was the only one to find religion. Senseless was a term the media kept using, but because it holds no meaning, no one believed. Behind such an unspeakable tragedy, there had to be something more substantial. I propose it's not often that one comes to believe in God and the Devil over a single event. It was the Devil that changed our town, but it was God who put me in the window from which I watched it happen.

"Before those awful 15 seconds, all I wanted to be was the lowly English substitute with eyes on someday hijacking Shakespeare’s mantle, but then I was given an unfettered view of Anspach leaving through the back door of McGill’s, taking apart his rifle and stashing the pieces in different places as he went—barrel in the dumpster, stock in the backseat of a parked Suburban that belonged to McGill, himself. I can't believe it was merely chance that put me there. If I hadn't seen what I saw, Mr. McGill would've found himself explaining strange evidence with no answers.

"The reason I was there, for personal reasons, was cowardice—the Devil again. The fact that I happened to brave a look over the windowsill against all better judgment at that particular second: God, I’d say. Had I never done so, there would've been no eyewitness to the shooter, even if I only saw him from the back.

"So, to sum up: Devil, God, Devil, and God—all in the course of ten critical seconds Anspach needed to walk to the end of the alley where he disappeared to the left, finally empty-handed. What we’ve learned is that both have a purpose and a soft-spot for cowards, even if brave men don’t. I was a coward because I was hiding from bullets while my students couldn't. I've earned a place in Hell, perhaps, for taking money prior to completion of this book. In my defense, I can only say that books take money to write and publish, and I am not a rich man. I wrote down what I saw for the sole reason that I was there, and somebody had to record what happened. I suppose it helps that I taught English at the school where the thing happened, and my window afforded the best possible view of the shooter as he was leaving the place across the street, from which the shots were fired.

"At the meetings, I would often stay on after all the principles had gone. I know it was the single-most galvanizing moment of my life, but the difference between me and them was that, for them, it's the moment that will never die. It's easy to assume these people were still in it long after I'd learned how to laugh again. They're still out there, still in it even today, which brings me to the conspiracy theories. There's no way to avoid them, since so many exist like trees grown too close together. All I can say for certainty is that I personally never heard mention of plans to break Anspach out of prison, nor have I seen evidence of any so-called Guardian Syndicate that rose from the horrible ashes of that day..."

 

[End of Excerpt]

Read the second excerpt, from Lee Hennessey's Killer By Trade

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