Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Voice of Reason: Part II

The second, and concluding, part of a short story by George Neame


We reached the chippy on Swanville Road. As expected, the boys had their backs to the grimy, graffiti-ridden wall, with a cigarette in one hand and alcohol in the other. They saw us approaching and a grin spread across JP’s face as he puffed out a huge stream of smoke.
    ‘Well look who it is,’ he said as we walked closer, ‘Mister ‘you’ll never get a job’. He looked Jonathan in the eye. ‘How’s mum and dad?’ he asked with a sly wink.
    Jonathan exploded. He raced forward unveiling the glimmering knife and plunged it unforgiving into JP’s chest. My knees weakened as blood flowed from the wound, the teenager screaming in agony and collapsing as more and more red swamped the ground. Jonathan turned to Scary Joe, who in a state of shock had failed to escape, and leapt on him, once again sinking the knife into his torso and giving it a sharp twist for full measure. Jonathan retreated to where I stood, watching as the teenagers writhed on the ground clutching their wounds, screams reverberating off the buildings. I knelt on the floor and began to cry. Watching the boys slowly bleed to death before me forced tears from my eyes and my whole body began to tremble. Jonathan tried to comfort and reassure me, he was shouting at me to run, but it was all too much. I collapsed onto the ground and my mind went blank, the sight of blood flowing down the road like a biblical flood still spinning inside my head.

    When I came to, we were in the back of a police car. Our wrists were bound tight in handcuffs. Once the car had stopped, they dragged us inside. The lights inside the police station were blinding, my head still recovering from my faint earlier. Two large, tough policemen grabbed Jonathan by the shoulders and started forcing him down a long corridor. My head was still filled with a torrent of blood as if Jonathan’s murder had been permanently burned onto my eyes; the corridor he was being dragged down was all red to me, and we were swimming in a sea of scarlet.
    ‘Please don’t hurt him!’ I shouted
    ‘Hurt who?’ the taller of the policemen growled. ‘You’re delirious.’
    ‘Seriously, he’s mad. They had him tested, he’s mentally unstable,’ I called.
    ‘He’s right,’ Jonathan cried, ‘I am! Honestly!’
    The policemen shared a perplexed look. ‘Maybe he is mad,’ one said.
    After the policemen had talked with some more senior policemen, we were led into a small room that was brightly lit, with a kind but severe-looking woman at a desk. She introduced herself as Dot, the prison’s psychiatrist. She was middle-aged, with long brown hair that flowed down her shoulders, her eyes were deep blue and her lips were swathed in red lipstick. I blinked, and when I opened my eyes her flowing hair was the blood rippling down the pavement and the lipstick on her lips was the blood seeping from Alex’s chest. The clock on the wall behind her seemed to tick slower and slower, until it appeared to stop moving altogether.
    ‘What’s your name?’
    I was sceptical about telling this woman my name. Did I have the right to remain silent? I looked at Jonathan. ‘My name is Jonathan,’ he said, so I told her my name. She gave us a quizzical stare.
    Why did you kill the two boys?’ she asked next.
    ‘Because they murdered my parents,’ Jonathan replied.
    ‘I didn’t.’ I responded, defending myself. ‘Jonathan did, because they killed his parents.’

    An hour or two later, we were at yet another table, in yet another brightly-lit room. Jonathan sat in the single chair, whilst I peered over his shoulder at the paper in front of him. He seemed unfazed by the experience; where I saw blood, pain and death, he saw only vengeance. We were the only ones in the room, but the walls were paper-thin and we could hear snippets of the conversation outside.
    ‘He’s insane,’ said the woman, Dot, who had been asking us questions earlier. I could tell from the harsh way the consonants left her mouth, but the smooth way she elongated the vowels. I presumed she was talking to a policeman.
    ‘I got his records from the general hospital. They have had him examined before.’
    ‘And?’ asked the policeman.
    ‘He suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. He has a split personality. That’s why he talks to himself, that’s why he both admits and denies the murders.’
    Poor Jonathan. I knew he was mad, but I never knew he was that mad. Talking to himself? Thinking he was two people? I peered over his shoulder again; he had been asked to write a statement, about why he killed the two boys.
    He put his pen to the paper, and began to write. He had always been a good writer, interested in books and school. He even had a corner of his room dedicated to all his work. I read what he wrote as the first line of his statement poured from his pen.

    ‘I should start by telling you about my best friend, Jonathan,’ it said. ‘He is a murderer.’

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