Jake awoke with a jolt. The phone rang. He waited for his mother to get it. When she didn’t and the phone just kept ringing, Jake threw off the covers and ran to catch the phone. He answered just in time to get a notification that school had been canceled owing to a tragedy that befell a student the night before.
Jake went downstairs and turned on the local news. He had to wait through a few minutes of commercials before the news story broke that Stan had been killed. Early reports were suggesting that he had been killed in a robbery gone bad, as no wallet was found on the scene or in the victim’s home. Jake smiled at the news. Would a stroke of blind luck absolve him from this crime? He was transfixed by the news, but felt that he must be over tired because his face kept twitching. Sometimes painfully.
He’d just made the decision to go back up to bed, when the phone rang. It was Will calling to discuss Stan’s murder. Jake played innocent and the two talked for what felt like hours about Stan’s death. Will kept wanting to hang out, but Jake refused point blank.
After talking to Will, he went to hibernate in his room. He couldn’t help but feel elated. He broke open an old yearbook and found a picture of Stan.
“I killed you,” Jake said proudly. “What are you gonna do about it?”
Jake smiled to himself a bit before turning the page to find Angela’s picture. She looked so sweet and pretty in her picture. He was surprised how young she looked, even though the picture was only a little over a year old. He caressed her picture.
“I did it all for you, kiddo,” Jake said sweetly.
He could almost hear her say; “Thank you.”
He created visions in his head throughout the rest of the day of how he’d tell her, how it would lead to them hugging. Kissing. Making love. He looked at her yearbook picture for hours, until night fell and there was a knock at the door.
Jake looked out the window to see police standing in his doorway. Panic swept him. Jake hastily rushed to open the door.
“Hello there,” the officer said. “I’m Officer Cranz, and this is my partner Sterne. Can we come in and ask a few questions.”
“Yeah,” Jake said innocently.
“You Jake Slatter?” Sterne asked.
“Yes,” Jake said truthfully.
“This is just a formality,” Cranz said. “We are just following up on a few leads and your name came up.”
Jake felt uneasy. He could tell that both men were sizing him up.
“We understand that you and Stanly Harris had a few altercations this past week?” Cranz asked.
“Yeah,” Jake said. “I mean he and I exchanged words in class and in the school cafeteria.” Jake contemplated a moment about if he should talk about the beat down he received. He decided to be as truthful as he could without revealing his involvement. “But, that was only at school. Stan beat me pretty bad the other day.”
“Yeah,” Sterne said. “Your neighbor Julia from down the street mentioned that. Was that common?”
“You want to see the bruises?” Jake said a little angrier than he meant to. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s just. I don’t know what to feel right now.”
“How so?” Sterne asked.
“Stan has been nothing but a monster to me for years,” Jake explained. “He hurt me constantly. And now he can’t, and that makes me happy.”
Jake started to cry.
“I know I shouldn’t be happy,” Jake said through tears that were more genuine than he meant them to be when he started putting on the waterworks. “No one deserves to die. But, I wanted to kill myself every day because of him and now I feel like a weight is lifted.”
The officers looked at him a minute. Jake fell silent and drew in slow calming breaths.
“I understand how this might be difficult for you,” Cranz said. “We’ve got another question for you, then we’ll be out of your hair. Do you like to hunt?”
“Hunt?” Jake asked, wiping a stray tear from his cheek. “No. Why?”
“Anyone in the house hunt?” Cranz pressed.
“Do you own any hunting tools?”
“Just for our records,” Sterne said. “Oh, and one more question. Can you think of anything at all that might help us with our investigation? Anyone we should talk to?”
“No,” Jake said. “Not unless you want to talk to his friends. Ash Williams and Dave Eubanks are always close by him it seems.”
“Thank you,” Cranz said. “We’ve already spoken with them. You have a good night. We’ll leave our card if you think of anything else. Can we take down your number in case we want to do any follow up questions?”
Jake complied and then bid them ado. He watched them as they sat parked in front of his house for ages before they drove off. He walked back up to his room, grabbed the yearbook and continued to caress Angela’s picture.
“I think we’re gonna get through this ok,” Jake assured her.
He kissed her picture, and as he closed his eyes he could feel her lips on his own. He felt peace.