4 - Chris
My fingers tap out a nervous, erratic rhythm against the cold wood, the cool, white plastic of the phone sticking to the skin of my cheek.
"What did you say?" I ask incredulously, my eyes barely catching a glimpse of someone I used to know amongst the madness of his pupils.
"I said," Josh drawls as he lolls his head to the side, a disturbing smile on his cracked lips. The phone on his end almost slips out of his hand. "Bang bang Ashley."
My hand snaps into a fist. If it wasn't for the glass separating us, I would have slammed it straight into his face.
What stupidity had brought me here? Had some insanity seeped into my skin when I had been tugged by his pleading words on the other end of the phone? I should have listened to Ashley's anxious voice begging me not to go.
"What?" Josh blinks, innocence in his irises. I can't tell if it's real or if he's faking it. I don't want to know either way. "You're banging, Ashley." He says it like it's a fact, like he's proud of himself. "I just thought," his words slur as his lips twist into a grin, "That you'd want the chance to thank me."
I flinch. Anger itches at my limbs, my body shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I can feel my eyes darken, refusing to let remorse dilute them. Not now.
"Don't talk about her like that," I glare, slamming my palm against the counter top, alerting a nearby guard. I send the man a sheepish, apologetic look, stalling him in his tracks, before reverting my eyes back to the prisoner in front of me.
"Whoa," Josh flings his hands up into the air like he's surrendering, the phone receiver flying out of them. I narrow my eyes as I see him mouth an 'oops' and his shoulders shake as he chortles and his eyes twist with a kind of insane humour. He scrambles to pick it up before pressing it to his ear again. "Alright, Cochise."
The word sparks regret in my stomach, sizzling through my veins right to my fingertips. I wish I didn't feel so sorry for him. It hurts, seeing him like this, fighting with the memory I have of the old him; the him I was friends with. The one I still am friends with, somewhere buried deep inside my head. He had died with the pig corpse he had sliced in half inside that fake body.
The man in front of me is not Josh. Not anymore. He's been possessed by gnarled revenge. I wish I had been there to shield him.
I shake my head, my energy dissolving, my eyelids drooping. "I..." There's no point in arguing. No matter how many times I insist Ashley and I would have found our own words to confess to each other eventually, Josh is convinced in his sick plan. Had it all been a scheme, a deranged kind of blind date to set the two of them up? I almost choke on my saliva, horror and ruefulness tightening around my throat as I look up to the man I used to call my best friend.
What happened to you?
"Thanks, Josh," I say quietly, the tiniest sliver of sarcasm smearing the rim of my words.
The feet of my chair scrape against the floor as I weakly shove it back, replacing the receiver and pushing myself to my feet. My eyes avoid Josh's face as his words calling me back are muffled through the glass.
"You can't do this to me!"
I freeze, hearing the familiar high pitched voice echo against the walls of the narrow room.
"You're ruining everything!"
The voice wills my feet forward, curiosity tugging at me. I weave past other prison visitors, acutely aware of the eyes of the guards tracking my movement. I politely smile to one of them, my skin stretched unnaturally around my lips.
A flash of blonde hair yanks my gaze towards it, my eyes widening in quick succession.
Jessica huffs her handbag from beside her seat before snapping to her feet, jerking her cheek to face the unfortunate soul she was abandoning behind the glass.
"Have a nice life," she sneers to them, though I doubt he can hear her through the window. Her hands tug at the bottom of her suit jacket, pursing her lips as she straightens her pencil skirt. Her fingers rescue the few hairs that have been torn out of her neat ponytail by her frustration, before she places a constructed smile onto her face and saunters forward.
And it drops at the sight of me.
She breathes in sharply, for a second her eyes frozen on me, her pupils shivering.
"Jess," I say slowly, hopefully, feeling an overwhelming gratitude at seeing her. The last time I had set eyes on her, she looked like she had been mauled to pieces, barely a shrivel of herself left. A tentative smile tries itself on my lips.
"Just my luck," she scoffs suddenly, snapping her eyes away from mine, setting them on the door behind me. But her strong words contrast with the shaking, unsettled hands that clutch around the handle of her handbag.
Her words almost make me stumble backwards, just as she paces past me. "Here," she says suddenly, shoving a piece of paper into my hand. "You can take the dog." Then she flashes a look of shameless betrayal to the man she had been visiting before jerking her chin up and marching out of the room.
Well. It's an improvement.
I blink down in bewilderment as I unfold the paper in my hand, staring down at the letters spelling out an address and the name WOLFIE.
My eyes lift only to catch sight of Mike's watching me from the seat across from Jessica's, hopelessness in his eyes.
With a reluctant nod, I lift the paper to show him and mouth out, 'I got it'.