23.A Chapter by Shiloh Black
Earlier that day, Rihard Bennett had received a memo in his inbox, stamped with the NSPD seal and marked as strictly confidential. It’s contents had been fairly straightforward: incinerate file #23478 along with the memo. It was almost lunch time, so Bennett quickly retrieved the file, double-checked the number, and tossed the whole affair into the incinerator without so much as glancing at its contents. Into the air floated the bits of ash belonging to all the information on the Vigilante Case, including every scrap of evidence held against Amphion Oswald. Though the NSPD attempted to push their officer through court, by virtue of his own forged memo Amphion’s case was thrown out. He was stripped of his uniform and badge and sent on his way.
When news reached the public about the file’s destruction and the case’s discontinuation two camps emerged, and neither held the NSPD in favour. The first, as Amphion had hoped, lashed out against the department for laying charges against him in the first place. These were the mothers, the lonely and the destitute -- those who feared the wicked and relied on a force beyond their means for shelter. Many he knew placated themselves with whispers in the night -- but there were some, a great number in fact, that took to the streets and howled for an end to sin’s tyranny. They were met by another force: those who accused the NSPD of covering up one of their own, and demanded a degree of transparency which made the decision on cameras in department vehicles seem a mild blow. He felt a grudge towards the latter -- they didn’t give a damn about an officer’s work; the only thing they wanted was to gloat over their propitiation of rights for the mean in spirit. Not a single one of them was anything more than a false saint in search of spectacle!
Eventually, the bleeding hearts won out : the NSPD would be brought to a criminal lawsuit, charged with not sharing information with the public. In response, the public relations officer with the force okayed a release on the potter’s field. Now, city hall too found itself treading water in the midst of a storm of outrage.
After Amphion was released from custody, he was astonished to find Rachel’s car idling in the parking lot. He slammed the door shut behind him, not bothering to glance at his fiancée until he heard a soft sniffling beside him.
Rachel was hunched over the wheel, sandy hair dishevelled and her eyes glistening pools pregnant with tears. Yet, she held her head high; a bitter resolve congealed beneath her skin kept her in check. He wanted to see her cry. He felt it would signal some weakness, some indication that she still needed him -- that, and he wanted an excuse to hold her.
“Where were you?” he snapped.
All color fled from Rachel’s face. “I can’t do it anymore, Phinny,” she said.
“Can’t do what?”
That one word pierced deep inside him, striking vulnerable parts of his soul he had forgotten existed. “You’re not really thinking of leaving me!” he cried. “After all this time -- damn it! -- if that’s how you felt, you ought to have said something earlier.”
“I’m just so scared …”
“-- Scared! Scared of what?! Am I some kind of monster Rachel? I’ve never laid a hand on you!”
Rachel flinched. “I know.”
“Well? Do you think I’m a horrific person?”
“Oh, I don’t -- I just don’t know, Phinny. I really don’t,” her voice cracked. “All I know is… I just can’t read you anymore. You used to be so sweet! We could talk for hours about nothing, nothing at all -- .”
“ -- You call that nothing?”
“ -- but you’ve changed. Ever since the accident, it seems you’re beginning to hate just about everyone. Or that’s how it seems. That’s the problem, I think. It’s -- it’s me. I shouldn’t be doubting you like this; it isn’t fair of me. I shouldn’t have said those things, I know! But that’s just how it appears. Listen to me. I’m nothing more than a complainer, that’s all I am. Amphion, you don’t deserve this.”
“Let’s just forget everything you’ve said here,” murmured Amphion. Speaking caused his insides to wrench, as if they were trying to split apart. “I don’t care one bit. I… I love you.”
“Who’re you trying to assure, exactly? There it is again! I can’t stand myself.” She took a deep breath. “It hurts knowing I’m too weak, but… I just can’t do it anymore, Amphion. You’re not the same man -- you’re just an icy shell of him.”
“This is ridiculous! You’re just going to throw the last eight years away?!”
“If that’s how you want to look at it.”
Rachel cleared her throat. From the wheel she unfurled one hand and prepared to put the car in gear.
“My bags are already at my mother’s house. I’ll drive you back to the apartment.”
The initial despair Amphion felt was replaced by a surge of chagrin. He flung the door open and hopped out, slamming it shut behind him.
“Phinny!” Rachel called out the window. “Where are you going?”
“I’m calling a cab,” he grunted.
Instead he ended up walking, not towards his apartment but in the direction of the Old Seattle district. On his way, he stopped at a firearms shop and purchased a new pistol.
© 2010 Shiloh Black
Added on July 9, 2010
Last Updated on July 14, 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..