“Okay,” Cole says warily, as the Police officers usher him into the kitchen to talk to him privately. I nod as he takes a seat at the kitchen table and they close the door over.
Mr Howard made it clear he didn’t want us hanging around his house, so Cole, Lenny, Lucy, Belle and I came back here. We’re each sitting in line to deliver statements to the cops in regards to what happened last night. I look to Lucy, who smiles at me. “It’s going to be okay. It was self defense, Tommy. If he had risen from that floor, he probably would have--”
“I know,” I say. “And I don’t regret it, Luc. He didn’t deserve to be spared.”
She nods in silent agreement. “If it comes to it,” she says. “I’ll fight your corner in court.”
“Thanks Luc,” I smile.
Someone’s rapping on the door. I rise from the sofa and head towards the door. I turn the handle and pull the door open. “Andrew?”
“Hey mate,” he says. He moves forward and I meet him halfway. We hug for a moment, until Lucy steps outside of the room.
“How are you?” I ask as we all enter the living room. “Fine,” he says. “How are you?”
He nods. “I can’t believe you took down the Reaper, Thomas. Everyone in town is talking about it. You’re now the local hero.”
I cringe slightly. “Okay,” I say.
He bows his head. “I want to apologize,” he says. “I underestimated you. And I’m sorry for that.”
I nod. “It’s okay, mate.”
We both take a seat on the sofa beside Lenny. “Lenny, this is Andrew. Andrew, Lenny.”
“Hi,” they both say to each other.
Cole emerges from the kitchen. “So, how’d it go?” I whisper, as one of the cops follow. “Thomas, we’re ready to take your statement now.”
I nod and follow them into the kitchen.
Dad leans against his crutch as he and Mum enter the hallway. Belle crashes into his side excitedly as she comes out of the living room. “Daddy,” she squeals. “You’re home.”
He ruffles her hair lightly. “Yeah, Belle,” he says. “I’m home.”
He limps into the living room and his eyes fix on Lenny. “Lenny, do you mind if we talk privately for a moment?”
I look to Lenny who studies Dad intently for a moment. The atmosphere in the room has turned uncomfortably tense and static. “Lenny,” I say. “You don’t have to if--”
“No,” he sighs. “Thomas, it’s okay.”
He rises from the floor and follows Dad into the kitchen.
As we sit in the kitchen over a hot drink, there’s another knock on the door. I look to the others and furrow my eyebrows. We’re not expecting anybody. It’s probably a neighbor checking into to see how we all are. I pull open the door and gasp at the sight of the person standing behind it.
“What are you doing here?” I demand. “I’m not going back.”
“No. Your dad has made that much clear for both you and Lenny. But, we’re here for Cole.”
I swallow. “He’s not here.”
“That’s not what the cops and your dad had to say, Thomas,” Marc states. “Now, please, step aside. We’re here to collect him. So, where is he?”
I sigh. “He’s in the living room, but--”
As he brushes against me and two men follow swiftly, I stride after them. “No, come on. You can’t do this,” I say.
Dad must’ve heard me because he and Mum are stepping into the living room. “No, come on,” I say, as they take Cole’s arm. “Dad, can’t you do something?”
He shakes his head ashamedly. “I’m sorry Thomas, but no.”
“Cole,” I say. He bows his head. “It’s okay, Thomas.” He turns to face them. “I’m not going to fight you, I’ll go. Just let me go.”
They nod and release their grasp on him. Tears welling in my eyes as they lead him out of the house, Dad places a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry Thomas,” he says. “If I could’ve stopped it, I would’ve.”
Dad stands behind the podium in the town centre. “People of Eventide. I’m here to deliver two main announcements. First of all, to clear up the rumors circulating around the town about what took place last night in my house, I’m going to start by publicly announcing that, yes, The Grim Reaper struck again last night. He attacked me and held my son, some of his friends and I captive in my home. But, he has been stopped. Last night, my son defended all of us and put an end to the terror that we have experienced as a community for years. He killed the Reaper. He saved us.”
Even being packed in the crowds of people like a sardine, I can feel many of the residents turning to look at me. I can feel heat rushing through my face. I bow my head.
“I also want to thank an extremely brave young woman, without whose intervention, I can also safely say, that the killer would still be roaming the streets. Lucy Howard courageously entered the home last night and distracted the Reaper for long enough for him to be taken down. So, I want to commend these two extremely brave, young people for their actions and proudly announce that because of them, our town has been rid of the serial killer known as the Grim Reaper and that from here on in, curfew on Halloween night can be lifted and we don’t have to live in fear anymore.”
“Who was the Reaper?” one of the residents shouts among the crowd. “And why were they doing what they were doing?”
Dad’s releases a deep breath. I bow my head. It’s all going to come out now. I know I wanted Dad to come clean, and I do, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to deal with the repercussions that are going to stem from this. Dad clears his throat. “I’m legally not allowed to disclose the identity just yet, but I can tell you that he was not a resident of this town. And as for his reason,” he says, locking eyes with mine. I bow my head. He’s going to do it. He’s going to tell them. My heart thumps as he angles his head to face the crowd. “As he revealed to my son and I, it turns out that my great grandfather, when he was mayor seventy years ago, did something to the Reaper’s family that made them hell bent on revenge. He murdered one of the reaper’s ancestors and the Reaper has taken it out on the town ever since. And this, leads me onto my second announcement.”
I whip my head upwards and watch him intently. “I can’t, in good conscience, continue in my position as Mayor, knowing what my great grandfather did. Which is why I’m declaring my resignation as Mayor. I want to wholeheartedly express my deepest apologies for what my family has done in the past--”
One of the residents stands up. “When did you find out about this, Mayor Burton?”
I swallow. It was going okay up to this point. He managed to confess the truth without implicating himself too much up to now, which I was actually glad of. As selfish as it is, now that it’s coming down to it, I hope he spins a lie right now. I don’t want people to hate my dad, not really.
Dad swallows. He’s going to finally tell the truth, I know he is. I can see it in his eyes. “I found out when--”
“He found out last night,” I interject. Everyone in the town fixes their gazes on me, Mum included. I stand up from my seat and address them. “My dad found out last night, just like me. And he’s just as shocked as any of you here are. This meeting wasn’t about my dad, it was for him to announce that the Grim Reaper is gone. And that he’s taking a stand to do the right thing, unlike most of my family have done in the past. It may take time. But we need to start moving forward and following his lead by also doing the right thing. We can’t turn on each other, not now. We need to support each other if we’re ever going to move forward.”
I take my seat and look to Mum, who stands up. “Mum,” I whisper. “What are you doing?”
She smiles at me and brings her hands together. She begins to clap. “Mum,” I hiss. She continues and Lucy follows her lead. Everybody in our row stands up and join in. I look around and people from random spots throughout the large room are rising to their feet and applauding. I sink further into my seat and bow my head. This is embarrassing. I glimpse to the crowd again and they’re all on their feet. The clapping is unbelievably loud at this stage. I can feel my face flushing pink. I slowly raise my head to face the podium. Dad is diverting his gaze between me and the applauding crowd. The corners of his mouth slowly turn upwards into a dazzling smile. He brings his hands together and joins in with the crowd.
“Thank you Thomas,” he says.
I feel like I’m going to die of embarrassment right now. I just wanted to make a point. I didn’t expect this.