22.A Chapter by Shiloh Black
One evening, Amphion arrived home from work to find the apartment unusually quiet. Shrugging off his trench coat, he decided to ignore the eerie silence, pouring his attention into an ear-worn copy of Crime and Punishment and lighting up his thirteenth cigarette of the day. Around six o’clock, he peeked into the kitchen to see if Rachel had supper on. No one was there.
Restraining his puzzlement, he strolled through the apartment, and found not a soul. In Rachel’s room, her bed was neatly made and those large, decorative pillows of hers meticulously arranged. All her clothing was missing from the armoire.
Letting loose a howl of rage, he grabbed hold of Rachel’s vanity -- some dusty thing that had been her grandmother’s -- and toppled it to the floor. It landed with a crash and splintered into several pieces. At his feet, shards of broken mirror showed Amphion his reflection; panic had crept into his features -- panic, and an ugly anger which left him in frightened awe of himself
There was a knock at the door. Two officers, one of them Buck Minty, were waiting patiently at the threshold. He expected it, but in the shock of Rachel’s absence the men’ presence provoked him.
“What do you want?” he snapped.
“Mr. Oswald,” said Minty, “you’re under arrest.”
When the NSPD had arrived at the scene of Dustin Hobbins’s death, they concluded suicide was behind it. Standard investigations had been followed, though, and a tape was uncovered from the convenient store across the road which showed a man of Amphion’s description entering the building. Interviews with family members lead police to discover that Hobbins was never in possession of a riffle. They couldn’t ID the weapon either -- Amphion had made sure of it by melting the serial number off.
They thought they had him -- they really did. The very idea of it made him grin. It was foolish of them to think the course of justice could be diverted. Even if they were to throw him in prison -- or even put him to death! -- the NSPD would be stained with blood, and he would be the martyr. Let them bring down the axe! It would be the initiation of their own funeral.
After having been read his rights and made to withstand five hours of interrogation, he’d led the police nowhere. He knew all the tricks -- they weren’t going to catch him with his guard down. In fact, the only thing on his mind now was Rachel. The NSPD had probably warned her the he would be arrested today, and she had chosen not to stay around. She had an awfully weak heart, after all.
“Why were you at Hobbins’s residence on the night he died?” asked Cossack. He and Amphion were deadlocked in an interrogation room. This time, it was the real deal.
“I was not at Hobbins’s residence.”
“Do you have an alibi?”
“Yes. I was out for a walk in the city park.”
“Can anyone corroborate your story?”
“Not likely. The park was empty.”
A gauze of smoke and the scent -- nicotine from Amphion’s cigarette and Rosewood from Cossack’s pipe -- hung ripe in the air.
“We have,” said Cossack, “an account from your fiancé describing certain nocturnal romps on your part.”
“You bagged Rachel?” Amphion asked, voice tinged with indignation. It wasn’t like Rachel to say a words against him. Even if she suspected something… no, she would have faith in him. She would know he had nothing in mind but her best interest.
“Don’t be so rough-mouthed, kid,” said Cossack. “Where did you go when you left your room on those nights?”
“Well, a man can use the bathroom when he feels like it, can’t he?”
Cossack sighed. “Look, Oswald. I know there’s bad blood with you and that Hobbins renegade. Can’t say I feel bad for him -- he had every inch of what he got coming to him. He let you bleed, no better than a jackal, and they let him run free behind your back. While he has his dog’s day, you’re a scarred and bitter man. You knew he was going to keep doing it, keep ripping up innocent lives from their roots the way he did with yours -- and you had to put and end to it. You weren’t trying to cause a stir -- you just wanted to fix what none of us could. Ever read Crime and Punishment?”
“Well? Do some men have the God-given right to murder for good reasons? Come on! Tell me what you’re thinking.”
He felt Cossack’s eyes on him, searching for any sign of weakness. It was strange, how he expected him to break down like a child. Why should he? He wasn’t a guilt-stricken criminal, after all.
“Fine. Have it your way,“ grumbled Cossack, clearly disappointed. His voice grew lower. “Maybe it’s not about that at all. I know Minty and I stuck this one to you at our last chat, but I’m putting it to you again. Maybe you’ve got a grudge over your head, Amphion.”
“No such grudge exists, sir.”
“To hell with you! I bet you offed that sorry b*****d because you’re just another angry man looking to put the blame on someone else. It probably felt awfully good to watch him blow his brains out.”
“You think -- .”
“I don’t think anything, Oswald. I’m just human -- how about you?”
“I’m not some man with petty hate for the world!” cried Amphion. “Do you think I’m a common criminal?”
“So what is it: a crusade for justice, or a splinter in the old foot?”
“I did not kill Dustin Hobbins.”
Just then an officer burst into the room, waiving a report in his hand. “Sir! It’s all gone!”
An ugly look crossed Cossack’s face. “What’s wrong with you?! Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?”
“It’s all gone,” panted the officer. “Amphion’s file. It’s been destroyed.”
Cossack leapt from his chair. “Damn you, Oswald!”
When the men rushed out, Amphion remained seated. His eyes pierced the vacant wall opposed to him, but they perceived nothing.
© 2010 Shiloh Black
Added on July 9, 2010
Last Updated on July 9, 2010
A Stone to Kill
Saint John, Canada
AboutI presently reside in Atlantic Canada. My interests, aside from writing include drawing, reading, and indulging in my love of all things British. I'm currently attending the University of Dalhousie, w.. more..