The Nights That Followed (Chapter 3)

Genre: Suspense


In the patrol car he was in, Michael was subjected to country music and bad humor all about his new home away from home in a jail cell. This he could stand but the true torture began when the two officers decided to stop for coffee and donuts. The sweet aroma the donuts gave off, he could almost taste the sugary frosting in the air. He had half a mind to ask them for one but he didn’t bother, he knew exactly how they would react. In his mind he thought to himself even if the roles were reversed, he wouldn’t feel pity for an accused murderer. 

The dreadful ride ended and as they were taken out of the car, they were met with a barrage of flashing camera lights. The arresting officers took their time parading Michael and Ryan to the reporters and on lookers outside the station. In between the flashing lights questions with an outright assumption of guilt were hurled at them. “Michael why did you do it?”                   “Was she your first kill?”                       “Have you killed other women before?” 

Michael thought of his family tuning in to tv, to see him being found guilty by public opinion. It saddened him and at a different time he would’ve broken down into tears, but this wasn’t a different time and he had to show strength. Any gesture of weakness would’ve been seen as remorse and remorse was only for the guilty.

Detectives Martin Phillips and Andre Rogers just stood back by the cars, hands folded with smug looks on their faces. It was another case done and dusted in just a week, they were bloated to near explosion with pride and self accomplishment. After reviewing the security tapes from the Blackout bar, in their minds the scenario of events that had taken place had been simple. Michael had caught his girlfriend cheating at the club, a confrontation had lead to a fight and when they got home, in a jealous rage he had killed her. 1+1 =2. It was a crime of passion. The motive for a third of all murders in the country. End of the story, they believed there was nothing else beyond that.

Entering the station door Michael recognized Paula’s family, her mom, older brother and little sister. Paula’s dad had passed away when she was still seven just a year after Taylor (Paula’s younger sister) had been born. This tragedy had been the cement that solidified their bond together because Michael himself had his fair bit of struggles when he was young. He had contracted a severe case of rickets when he was barely three and his childhood involved vigorous procedures to fix the damage. 

This feeling of being a survivor had tied together these wandering souls searching for a deeper meaning to their lives but yet not wanting to outright commit to anything.

So as Michael’s eyes wandered from one face to another, noticing the looks of disgust at him the guilt he had tried to suppress while he was alone in the abandoned building came back. That’s when he noticed a face he remembered from that fateful Saturday night. A couple of metres behind Paula’s family was Dylan. The other guy. The reason he was in this mess. He stood there speaking to a cop who was seated at a desk and jotting down notes. Dylan was giving a statement about what had happened that night at the bar between him, Michael and Paula.

Dylan glanced up and saw Michael, he snickered at him but didn’t break stare. It was a mixture of anxiety, anger and confusion that instantly ripped through Michael. He tried to read the look on Dylan’s face, trying to decipher what his side of the story sounded like. It tortured him to think Dylan had done such vile things to Paula’s carcass. “It was him,” he thought “it was all him.” 

Yet there was a large cloud of doubt in his mind because all he remembered was holding Paula’s lifeless hand while she lay motionless on the floor. He still couldn’t account from that moment till the Sunday morning when Paula’s now dismembered body was found in his car trunk. His love for Paula though was what he held onto, what made him be able to tell himself he didn’t do that to her body even if it was with little conviction.

With Michael’s attention still on Dylan, he felt knuckles hit the right side of his face as he lost balance and got knocked into the steel lockers face first. There was suddenly a lot of commotion and shouting, Michael couldn’t understand what was going on but his face stung with pain. Paula’s brother Brian had lunged at him with clenched fists and defenseless he had been given a beating. The cops seemed to more concerned with shouting for Brian to stop rather than actually stopping him. They took their sweat time reacting.

When Brian was finally removed from on top of him, Michael saw Dylan walking away from the officer he had been talking too. Dylan walked right towards Michael and as they brushed shoulders, he paused to say, “It’s a shame little brother our dad’s love couldn’t stop you from self destructing.” This was to be seed of further torture in Michael’s mind all through the night…

Michael and Ryan were moved on and tossed in different cells, to be left there overnight. What was known in the police circles as the stewing period. They left you there for your own thoughts to soften you up and make their job easier, they would just swoop in for the final kill. 

Their night seemed to continuously simmer just when they thought they saw light, they were plunged into further darkness. They sat against the wall separating their cells and indulged in meaningless small talk, even when the conversation ebbed out sleep was still far from them. When they finally did manage to close their eyes and drift off they were woken up by the banging of a baton stick against the metal bars of their cells. It was the two detectives holding styrofoam cups filled with boiling hot coffee and accompanied by a uniformed officer…

-To be continued 


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