Innocence and Guilt

The University hadn’t changed considerably since Freddy had last been there, fifteen years earlier. After a couple of wrong turns he found the office he had been looking for

“Freddy, I didn’t know you were coming out today! Come in, come in!”

“You wouldn’t know, would you, Professor. When was the last time you visited me? Five years, more?”

“I wrote. It just got harder and harder to get away, you know how it is.”

“No, I don’t know how it is.”

“Anyway, you’re here now. Have you seen your probation officer? Got somewhere to live?”

“I want to talk, Noel. Do you have any students coming or anything?”

“No, I’m done for the day. You want to go eat or get a pint?”

“No, we’ll talk here.”

Freddy punched his half brother. Noel stumbled backwards, collapsing into his office chair.

Another couple of punches soon saw him semi conscious. Freddy tied his feet together and his hands to the arms of the chair.

***

 Noel knew that it was later, but he didn’t know how long he’d been semi conscious.

“All this because I didn’t visit you in prison?”

“No, it’s not for not visiting.”

“You killed my father, your stepfather. Frankly you should be pleased I bothered to visit you or write to you at all.”

“This is not about whether or not you visited.”

“Well if it’s about money, there’s some for you in my top desk drawer. Mum left it for you when she died, along with a letter that I’ve never opened.”

“It’s not about money.”

“So what it is about? For God’s sake Freddy, I’m your only family and you treat me like this. You’re out on licence, you’d go straight back if I so much as breathed a word of this to your parole officer or the police. What if campus security come by?”

“They won’t, these rooms are shag pads for you lecherous professors. They’ll leave you alone in case you’ve got a hot little under grad in here.”

“Freddy, what is this about, come on man, let me out and let’s get some food or a drink?”

“No. This is important.”

“What, Freddy, what’s important?”

“Innocence and guilt.”

“What?”

Freddy repeated himself, this time punctuating each word with a slap to Noel’s face; “Innocence,” slap, “and,” slap, “guilt!” slap.

Blood began to trickle from the corner of Noel’s mouth.

For a few minutes Freddy looked out over the university park. When he spoke his voice was calm, measured.

“So this is your life, Noel. The office, the undergrad girls, a view of the park, a nice home somewhere? You got a car? I bet you drive some smart sports car don’t you? Money in the bank, maybe a girlfriend?”

“It’s not my fault. What happened to you, what you did with your life, it’s not my fault.”

“Oh but it is, baby brother, it most definitely is.”

“Why? I never asked you to murder my father!”

Freddy walked back around the office to stand in front of Noel. He leant down, their faces only millimetres apart. He spoke, slowly.

“I didn’t murder your father. I didn’t murder anyone. But you know that.”

“Freddy, not this again. I couldn’t give you an alibi, it would have been a lie!”

“You didn’t have to give me an alibi, you had to tell the truth. And now you will.”

“I don’t have a clue what you are getting at!”

“Noel, you killed your father. You did it. I didn’t want you to give me an alibi, I wanted to set one up for you. But then Mum turned on me, protecting little Noel as always, and that was it. I did the time because even my own mother turned on me.”

“Freddy, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t kill my father. The police proved their case against you. For God’s sake let’s have that drink. There’s a bottle in the desk drawer.”

“No.”

“So, what now? You going to torture me until I admit to something I didn’t do…”

Freddy punched him, hard. Noel spat out fragments of broken tooth and a mouthful of blood. Then continued;

“Then what? turn me in to the police and claim some sort of pardon and compensation?”

“No. It’s too late for that. You’ve had your good life, I went away to give you that. I’m institutionalised. I’ll be back inside within months anyway, so I’m just going to collect my debt from you first.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean this.”

Freddy put his hands around Tony’s throat and strangled Noel. Afterwards he found the bottle in the desk drawer, opened it and took a long drink. Then he saw the envelope with his name on, an unopened letter addressed to him in his mother’s handwriting, just as Noel had said. He opened the letter.

Dearest Freddy,

I am so sorry. I could never bring myself to say this while I was alive, so I’ll say it now. Thank you. Thank you for taking the blame. Thank you for doing my time. I had to kill him before he killed me. I’m glad that you saw that. I’m glad that you saw that your brother needed at least one parent. I’m forever grateful to you for the second chance you gave to Noel and me. I hope you can now make the most of your second chance. Give this letter to the police, get your name cleared. There’s thousands in the bank for you, and the house is yours.

Clear your name, claim your inheritance and live well my dear, beautiful, dutiful, innocent son

Your mother.

Freddy looked at the corpse of his last relative. He opened the office window, tore up the letter and threw the pieces to the wind, took a long pull on the bottle and picked up the phone.

“Which service do you require?”

“Police please,” he replied, between sobs “There’s been a murder.”

(C) Chris Johnson 2013

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