Later that night, just before midnight, Atticus took two full trash bags outside to the dumpsters which were in the back of the business. He tossed them into the dumpster and wiped his hands on his apron. Suddenly, a voice yelled.
“What’s up, motherfucker!”
Before Atticus had time to react. Several brutal blows landed, and he was knocked to the ground. Next, a hail of kicks bore into his ribs, stomach, and face.
“Bigtime war hero! You think you’re tough! What, motherfucker? You think you’re tough! You think you can be a hero! Huh! You wanna run your fucking mouth, shit for brains!” shouted several male voices as a group of mystery men continued raining brutal kicks to his body.
The mayhem seemed to last for hours until everything in Atticus’ field of vision faded to black. The mystery men continued talking mad smack as they dealt the beat down.
Jo happened to come outside with a few full trash bags of her own when she heard the commotion. She dropped the trash and began running toward the noise. When she got there, a pair of hands reached out and grabbed her from behind.
“Atticus! Nooooo!” She screamed to the top of her lungs, “Somebody help! Please, hellllllp!”
A Vicious Attack
“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” Another male voice screamed back as Jo felt a punch to her face. The person restraining her then threw her to the ground and the mystery men ran off.
Jo crawled over to her unconscious brother and took him in her arms. She sobbed as she rocked back and forth holding on to her injured brother.
Atticus’ eyes were swollen shut and his forehead had a huge knot forming. Jo looked at Atticus and could practically see the knot growing bigger and bigger. Blood ran down his face from two huge gashes- one in his forehead and another next to his left temple.
“I’ve got you, Atticus! I’ve got you!” she sobbed with tears running down her face.
“Brielle! Somebody help! Heeelllllp!” She shrieked to the top of her lungs.
The back door to the restaurant flew open. Brielle came running up and knelt beside them both. She took out her smartphone, dialed, and pressed a button before pausing.
“9-1-1,” a female voice sounded on the other end.
“We need an ambulance! A man has been attacked behind the Double Nickel on Hwy 72! Please hurry!” She cried.
Two more younger waitresses ran up to them and knelt.
Later, at the hospital, Brielle went outside and called Grandma Bennett. Grandma picked up on the third ring.
“Grandma, it’s Brielle. I’m at the hospital. They beat Atticus within an inch of his life tonight! And they punched Jo in the face when she ran out to help him. Can you spend the night with the kids tonight? They’ve got the Mills town police here and Jo and I are witnesses,” Brielle told her in a shaky voice.
Grandma Bennett gasped in horror and shot up in her lounge chair.
A Trip to the Hospital
“Oh, my goodness, Brielle! How bad is Atticus?” she asked in a terrified voice.
“He’s bad, Grandma! Real bad! They’ve got an air-evac on the way! They’re going to airlift him to Memphis! The doctor just did a CT scan on his brain, and they spotted a hematoma behind his right eye! Oh, God, Grandma! Pray for him! Just pray!” Brielle cried as her eyes flooded with tears.
“Now, listen, Brielle. If you get to talk to Atticus, you tell him that I’ll be coming to Memphis to see him either tomorrow or sometime during the weekend. And you tell him that a lot of people are praying for him. You hear?” Grandma told her.
“I will. But Grandma, he’s still unconscious. If he doesn’t wake up before the helicopter gets here and takes him…” Brielle sobbed.
“I understand, honey.”
Brielle looked around cautiously, as if to see if she was being watched.
“Just a minute, Grandma. Hang on for a minute or two.”
She quickly walked across the parking lot, then she broke into a sprint before she got to her vehicle, jumped into the driver’s seat, then closed and locked the door.
“Are you still there?”
“Yes, I am, honey.” Grandma answered.
“Listen Grandma, I have a feeling that Sheriff Bobby Crabtree had something to do with this. I just can’t prove it. Bobby and Ashton came into the restaurant tonight, just to needle Atticus and tried to tell him to fire me. But Atticus stood up to them. Someone even overheard them give Atticus a veiled threat to burn his business to the ground. Oh, Grandma! They’re out to get him. And not only because of the deal with his wife and daughter. I was under the impression that all the drama surrounding the DUI accident that happened years ago had died down. But now, they’re pissed at him again and I think it’s because they found out that he hired me. I know it sounds paranoid, but…” Brielle went on.
“Now, listen, Brielle. You can’t blame yourself, honey. And I’ve known Atticus for years. I can tell you right now that he doesn’t blame you and neither does Jo,” Grandma assured.
“I’m not worried about that, Grandma. I’m worried about Atticus right now,” Brielle told her, “I’m going to be here a while and then I’ll be home as soon as things calm down.”
“Alright, sugar. I love you.”
“I love you too, Grandma. You be careful too, okay?”
“Sweetheart, Bobby knows better than to mess with me.”