"Red Flag," by Gregory Fallis, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2022.
This is the second appearance in this column by Gregory Fallis.
There are many ways to tell a story. First things first is not always the best approach. Fallis starts in the middle of the action and then fills in the backstory; a very common method these days.
But it leaves the critic in an awkward position, doesn't it? I have to explain some of the backstory so you know what's going on.
Porter moved from Michigan to Los Angeles and had a relatively successful acting career, which was interrupted when he was injured during a mass shooting.
Back in Lansing he leads a quiet life until one day his financial advisor asks him to talk to a client's son. Seems the son has expressed an interest in committing mass murder. Maybe Porter can talk him out of it?
Porter talks to the young man, a terrifying and depressing encounter. Then he talks to the cops who explain that there is basically nothing they can do until the man buys a gun and starts shooting.
Which leaves Porter holding the bag.
A fascinating story. The ending is not a surprise, but it is a satisfactory one.