Friday, March 19, 2010

Wrong again

She held the gun in her hand, polished to a mirror sheen. The man, of course, could stare at nothing else but the reflection of his teeth and nostrils all along the barrel. It poked at his tonsils, making him gag and choke- a poor choice, even on reflex. Tears and snot streamed down his face, muddying the cold metal.
"Eat it, you fucking monster. Choke it down and burn in hell." She felt she was crying too. Only her upper lip trembled. She pulled the trigger.
Her head shot up from the pillow, shouting hoarsely. Allan came running into the room, bathrobe and slippers.
"Brenda! Are you alright?"
He knelt down onto the bed beside her, and she melted into his arms, bursting into tears.
"Oh Allan, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I got you into all of this."
He held her tightly, desperately feeling her warmth. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."
"We did the right thing, didn't we?" She asked, turning up to look at him. He didn't respond. Another burst of tears. "I'm so sorry, God."
Allan rose, helping her into a sitting position. "Brenda, I--"
"I really got you in deep, didn't I? You're a true friend, Allan." She tried to smile, but her face sagged all at once. "Oh, Christ. Oh God."
"You collapsed just outside the warehouse, Brenda. I left him there. But his effects--"
"Things? You mean it's still--" her eyes popped open again. Not Allan's apartment. Hers. Not Allan's bed. Hers. Not her leather jacket lying on the end of the bed. Not Allan's, either. She withdrew her feet underneath the sheets, moaning, "Oh, goddammit, get that monster's things away from me."
"That's what I'm trying to say, Brenda. I went through them. We... we got the wrong one."
"What?! No! That was him! That was the man that killed my son! That fucking monster, that bastard!"
Allan pulled a white envelope from his bathrobe pocket, mournful eyes apparent even through the thick glasses. "It's a credit card statement for that night. He was over 250 miles away, Brenda. In a hotel, paying for escort services."
"It... no..." she said, meekly. "It fit. You said it yourself. When the police gave up, and you offered to help, you found the pieces that fit. You did. You."
"We did, Brenda. And we were wrong."
"No, no, no, no..." She fell forward, clutching her temples. "Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa! Three boys, all the same age, all with single mothers. We got him before there could be a fifth. It has to be him."
"We didn't check the evidence over again."
"WE TRIPLE-CHECKED IT!" She roared, smacking the glass of water from the bedside table.
"Brenda, please." He handed her the paper. "There's something else. I made some calls while you were sleeping. I did some searching. Ajax and Whitby both killed themselves. Oshawa's serving a first-degree murder charge."
"They... they may have made the same mistake we did. In fact, I'm positive they did." He burbled, pushing his thick spectacles up his slippery nose. There was silence for unbearable minutes before Brenda spoke again.
"It's not possible."
"Brenda- look at the statements. It's airt--"
He looked helplessly down at her.
"I'm sorry, Allan. I need some rest. I'm so tired."
Allan fidgeted for a moment. "I still have my Halcion in the drawer to your right. It should help."
"Yes," she nodded, "Halcion will help."
"I'll sleep on the couch, then." He said, and headed for the bedroom door.
"Allan?" She called. He stopped, hand on the doorknob.
"Yes, Brenda?"
"Thank-you. Whatever happens, thank-you. I know we did the right thing. I know it was him."
Allan looked over. She looked like a pale gelatin mould of herself, with dark and streaky eyes where the tears had run out the mascara. He sighed, and shook his head. It wasn't. It just wasn't.

He came in again in the morning, wordlessly sitting down at the end of the bed. Brenda's hand was still firmly wrapped around the now-empty pill bottle. She wasn't breathing. She wasn't even warm. Of course, she hadn't checked the label to see the prescription wasn't in Allan's name. She hadn't even bothered to look at the statement to see that it wasn't the man's name on the visa statement. Allan pulled on his coat, leaving the dead man's at the end of the bed. He walked out into the apartment he'd spent all night cleaning. The train ticket to Brampton nudged him from inside his breast pocket, along with the stubs for Whitby and Oshawa. "Nobody ever checks," he muttered.
Walking down the street, he began to whistle.

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