Who is Tyler?
Joseph sat patiently at the desk of the interrogation room, calm and reticent. He should’ve been feeling nervous about the upcoming inquiry into the troubles around the town, but he was quite the contrary, in fact he gave the impression that this whole predicament bored him. To the normal eye, he would have looked completely emotionless, an empty stoic shell, a mask that hid the darkest of intentions.
He turned to his left, holding a long stretch of opaque glass. Even though he could not see or hear them, he had a suspicion that people were standing there, watching him, surveying him, observing his every move to get an understanding of what kind of person he was. He smiled at this reflection, even though he knew that he looked worse than he ever had before. His brown eyes were bloodshot, though he didn’t remember crying or doing drugs, so it must have been from sleeplessness, which would also explain the deep sunken bags underneath his eyelids. His hair had become wild and out of control, his face and lips ridden with scars, his chin had hairs sticking out, seemingly at random. He rubbed his chin and thought of what Laura would have said if she was there. She wasn’t. She couldn’t.
He turned towards the door and leaned into the desk, placing his head upon his reaching hands for balance, like a giant grasping the sun, shadowing the world in darkness. He was starting to become very impatient and bored, yet his face still showed nothing. It was unknown if that was intentional or not.
Finally, the metal door opened and in came a medium-sized man. Joseph observed everything about him. He was middle-aged, around 30-40. His eyes were pale blue, hair tightly cut and well maintained. His nose was short, but his face was handsome. He supposed if he was friends, this man would be quite charming, but they were not, and the image of a smiling man changed to the reality of a stern, judging expression.
“Joseph Menellie” The man spoke, breaking an eerie silence in the room. The man didn’t move, he just stood in front of the now-closed door, eyeing Joseph. Joseph raised hi,s eyes slightly at the man, inside Joseph was in the turmoil of who this man could have been. He didn’t look like a suite officer, or at least he wasn’t wearing the normal clothes of one. Instead, he wore a brown suit that seemed designed for cold weather and a long red tie that didn’t match his outfit at all.
“Well good evening officer!” Joseph replied, his mouth turned into a mocking smirk. “Though I suppose it wouldn’t be evening anymore, my drowsiness tells me that. I also suppose it isn’t a very good one, either” Joseph chuckled and smiled, revealing his yellow teeth.
The man didn’t respond, he just stares disapprovingly at the teenager in front of him. For a short, while they were both silent, staring each other down, almost having a speechless conversation to each other.
Finally, Joseph had decided the silence was becoming tiresome, so he leaned back into his chair, breaking eye contact before saying “You should take a seat. I’d imagine you’d suffer a lot of leg pains if you stood through this whole procedure, wouldn’t want to get arthritis and disappoint your Mrs back home” He made eye contact again and smirked, though his eyes portrayed no amusement.
For a second, anger flashed in the man’s eyes but quickly dissipated as he managed to compose himself again. ‘That is none of your concern, Menellie.’ the man said sternly.
‘Of course, it isn’t, I was just being considerate.’ Joseph responded with a fake smile.
With one last judging glare at Joseph, the man pulled out the opposite chair and sat stiffly. The desk itself was quite large, so it wasn’t like the man had to worry about Joseph having easy access to him, but to most, they would still be on edge. It was his hollow eyes that bore into you that would put you off ease. It made you feel like he knew so much about you but it didn’t even matter anyway, because he didn’t need to know you. The man, however, seemed unphased by Joseph’s presence and instead pulled out a device from his pocket, and with a tiny stylus started writing notes down onto it.
Joseph smirked mischievously towards the man and mockingly said: “well that wasn’t so hard now, was it?” He smiled, but again his eyes showed no emotion.
“I am not here to witness your half-wit mocks, boy.” The man responded matter of factly, not even looking up from his device to respond directly, just writing down note after note. Joseph didn’t like how swarved this man was and felt a little threatened by his demeanour, but he also had a slight tingle in his stomach, a feeling that excited him.
Joseph turned towards the glass to his left and smirked. “Am I embarrassing you in front of your friends?” He didn’t expect an answer as he turned back to the man, intrigue plastered all over his face. “How many are watching us? Four? Five?” he stared at the man, waiting for a response.
“Enough to witness your slip-ups, that’s all.” The man responded, sounding uninterested in Joseph’s question.
Joseph swore at the man’s response and was silent for a little while before taking the initiative again. “Well I don’t mean to be rude sir, but you seem to know my name, yet I do not know to mean” Joseph stated a matter of factly.
“Why does that matter?” The officer questioned through a raised eyebrow, for the first time in a while looking at Joseph straight on.
Joseph smiled and leaned further back into his chair. “It honestly doesn’t matter to me officer, but from a moralistic standpoint and a gentlemen’s view, it is only polite to refer to each other’s names, it would just make this event go easier and” he paused and his smile grew wicked “Help break the ice.”
The man laughed in response and shook his head. ‘Cut the crap Menellie, this act isn’t going to help you. You’re acting weird to creep me out but I know a lot more about you than you know, let me tell you, for one thing, I am not looking to become your friend.’ The Man responded, going back to his notes.
“Well that’s some good news, I don’t seem to make friends easily and keeping them is just as hard.” His smile faded in a split second but quickly reappeared. “I’m sure it comes as a relief to you officer, but I’m not looking for a friendship, I’m looking for a name. After all, for all that we’ve got to talk about, saying officer every time may become exhausting and the less information you will gain.”
The man sat back and thought for a moment. He knew that Joseph was trying to trick him, to prove he had the upper hand, but he also knew that if he didn’t cooperate with the boy, the chances of getting what he wanted would become slimmer.
Finally, with a heavy sigh, he looked at Joseph right in the eye and said “Palmer”.
“PC Palmer? Or should I just refer t you as Palmer” Joseph mocked?
‘Palmer. I’m not a cop Menellie.’ Palmer responded, rolling his eyes.
Joseph’s mouth opened to respond but quickly closed. Little did Palmer know that Joseph had expected a different response, and was taken off guard by Palmer’s confession.
‘You’re not a cop? Then who the hell are you?’ Joseph asked, his eyebrows furrowing into a little glare.
‘There we are, now you’re acting more like you’re described. If you must know I’m a private investigator and have been assigned by someone to investigate you and what has been going on these last few months.’ Palmer responded, putting his device down.
‘What do you mean investigate me? What the hell is this all about?’ Joseph seemed to get agitated by all of this.
‘That’s none of your concern Menellie, all you need to know is that you either play nice with me and have a higher chance of not getting turned over to the police, or you don’t and I send you down to the station back at town... I heard a certain Carter is very interested in you.’ Palmer threatened, looking at Joseph with unblinking eyes.
The comment seemed to stir something inside of Joseph, but he quickly regained control and went back into his stoic mask.
For a while both sat in complacent silence, both staring at each other. Palmer was looking at the boy in a way that seemed to be a mixture of interest and apprehension, whereas Joseph was glaring back at Palmer in a way that made it clear that Joseph was not happy to be in his response.
After a while, Palmer cleared his throat before going back to his device, which angered Joseph even more. ‘Are you actually going to ask me something or are you just going to sit there on your fucking device!’ Joseph spat at Palmer.
Palmer smirked at Joseph before turning the device over to Joseph. On the screen were the images of five different people, all students. ‘Recognise these people?’ Palmer asked Joseph, observing him carefully.
Joseph stared at each of their faces for quite some time before looking up at Palmer. ‘Of course, they went to my old school.’ Joseph responded.
‘Which school was that?’ Palmer asked him,
Joseph rolled his eyes at this question. ‘Clearly you already know, so why do you need me to tell you?’ Joseph argued.
‘To make sure you’re going to be working with us and not against.’ Palmer responded, not taking his eyes off of him.
Joseph’s eyes narrowed before answering his question. ‘H.A.T.S Sheriford Private Institution.’
‘And can you confirm that you were well acquainted with these people?’ Palmer asked.
‘No. I wasn’t “well acquainted” with these people’ Joseph responded mockingly.
‘Ah, now you see why I’m doing this, as that was a lie Menellie. We have plenty of footage and pictures of you with each and every one of the people on this device here.’ Palmer accused, which caused Joseph to go slightly red.
‘Don’t you dare call me a liar for telling the truth. Yes, I knew them, Yes I hung out with them sometimes, but I didn’t know the ins and outs of their lives, I wasn’t deeply connected to them in any way, they were people I met at school and hung around so I wasn’t alone. Besides, one of them almost got me killed, so you cannot dare to sit there and tell me I was well acquainted with them all when I wasn’t!’ Joseph fumed.
Palmer sat for a moment, observing Joseph’s expression, he noted in his mind that Joseph seemed to be genuinely annoyed by this statement. Palmer shook his head before picking up his device and going through it again.
‘I heard that there were witnesses on, the day of the fire that they saw a boy matching your description leaving out the back, clutching your right arm and running down along the river... was that you?’ Palmer asked, folding his arms.
Joseph didn’t answer straight away, but eventually, he gave in and nodded.
‘Where did you go?’ Palmer asked him.
‘Wouldn’t you like to know.’ Joseph responded coldly.
Palmer smirked. ‘As a matter of fact, I would... though it’s not too important, I’ll find out eventually. Anyway, I have some other events here I’d like to talk to you about. Like a police report of a death of a homeless man on the 24th of November, or your disappearance between April and June, and many other events that I could elaborate on.’ Palmer said, giving Joseph a hard stare.
Joseph looked around the room, getting more and more agitated. ‘What the fuck do you want with me. If you know all this shit, why are you questioning me, what do you want me to do?’ Joseph snapped.
Palmer rubbed his clean chin in thought before answering. ‘I want to know everything. Everything from the beginning, no lies and no bullshit, just the truth from the beginning to the end.’ Palmer stated.
Joseph looked confused before laughing at him. ‘And why the hell should I cooperate with you?’ Joseph responded, rolling his eyes.
‘As I said, I’m the only thing that’s stopping you from being thrown into jail. Think about it Joseph, you’re a smart lad and there’s no point denying that, so think about this very carefully. If we wanted to arrest you and get you thrown in jail, then you would already be there, we clearly have enough evidence to do so.’ Palmer responded.
Joseph considered this, before asking yet another question. ‘What do you get out of this? Why are you trying to protect me if you already know everything.’ Joseph looked at Palmer with a mixture of annoyance and curiosity.
‘My reasons are mine alone, that’s all for you to know.’ Palmer responded. ‘I won’t ask again, are you going to cooperate or are you going to go back to the policemen?’ Palmer emphasised.
For a moment they sat in silence, Joseph looking down at the table deep in thought and Palmer staring intently at him. Palmer waited for as long as he thought he could, before giving a defeated sigh and getting up. He turned to leave, but just as soon as he put his hands upon the metallic handle, he heard a loud “WAIT!” from behind.
He turned around and saw Joseph, leaning into the desk, desperation plastered across his face. It was the first time he had shown true emotion since he’d arrived at the station and it took Palmer by surprise. The strange melancholy look in his eyes made Palmer freeze in shock and all he could do was stare back.
“I...” His face screwed up into a sudden thought before he carried on. “I didn’t do all of it”. When he gasped it out he sat back down onto his chair.
“What?” Palmer responded thickly.
“I didn’t do... all of it” Joseph said again, looking back up at him.
“Wha- What does that even mean?” Palmer said, confused.
For a moment Joseph looked like he didn’t understand it himself, and a blinding pain exploded in his head, causing him to grab his forehead fiercely in a vain attempt to stop the pain. Palmer waited patiently for Joseph to remove his hand from his forehead and compose himself again.
“It means I’m willing to cooperate. On certain conditions.” Joseph said, his hands interlocking themselves, his face showing nothing but inside he was pondering deeply.
Palmer thought for a second, before giving in and sitting back down. “Okay, what are these conditions?” Palmer asked, doubting he’d follow them.
Joseph stayed silent for a while, before looking into Palmer’s eyes. “I want three rules. Number One: You listen to everything I have to say, no skipping of the story, no butting in, just listen to the events the whole way through and don’t interrupt. Secondly: I want to be treated kindly as if I was a victim or a witness. By the end of this, I’m sure you’ll find I am all a witness, victim and criminal. Finally: I want to take as long as I need to make sure I get everything across, this means I will need sleeping accommodations, food, water and bathroom privileges.”
PC Palmer took a while to think all of this through, before getting up leaving. Joseph sincerely hoped that he’d get the terms he’d asked for, he had no idea how he was going to get out of this so he might as well make it seem like he was in control as it may be the last time he was able to control his fate.
After a short while, Palmer came back in, with an unreadable look upon his face, one that looked both angry and pleased at the same time, making such a strange blend that it was sore to the eyes.
‘My boss has confirmed that you can have these terms, as long as you follow three of ours’. He said it in a careful tone that made Joseph suspicious, but he knew he shouldn’t try to push his luck so he simply smiled and told him to carry on.
‘We will listen to everything you have to say, but it must be recorded the whole way through and can be listened to later to put things together. Any questions asked will only be if...’ he paused for a second, pondering for the next line. ′ If we don’t understand.′ He paused and looked at Joseph, waiting for a reaction. He didn’t get one.
‘Your second demand.’ He continued, disgruntled by the lack of emotion from the boy. ‘We will treat you, civilly. This means we will treat you nicely as long as you treat us nicely, but if you try anything on us then this agreement will go.’ He put on a stern voice to emphasise this fact, but again, Joseph showed no emotion.
Palmer cleared his throat. ‘Finally, you can take your time as long as you don’t waste it. The moment you feel like you’re stalling for time, we cut off the food, sleeping accommodations and bathroom privileges’.
Joseph sat silently, thinking it over. His face seemed to contort in ways that looked like he was having an inner fight. One side of his face looked pleased while the other side looked unimpressed. Seemingly the pleasing side won as he smiled at Palmer and answered: ‘We have a deal.’
My name is Joseph Menellie, I’m 17 and currently reside in the little town of Sheriford. Th,e only reason I’m saying this is because the man in front of me has told me that this is a requirement for the recording. I’m also guessing from the glare he’s giving me, he does not approve of me pointing this out. Well buckle up sir, this isn’t a short story and I’m not going to go lightly on it. You want to know what happened in the past few months, why the small town, created as the beautiful example of the future, suddenly plunged into a scene of chaos and misery? Well, I’m going to tell you, from the start to the end. But every story has a start. This one starts with a name. Tyler.
To be quite frank with you, I can’t remember when I first met Tyler. As far as I’m concerned he was just always present, always a part of me. It’s as if he randomly manifested into my life and attached himself to me like a forbidding shadow, unable to shake it off. Now thinking of this analogy, I can finally understand the saying of “being scared by your own shadow”.
I realise now bg he was my shadow, was painting him in a picture of weakness as if he was constantly following me around and someone who aspired to me. Honestly, it was quite the opposite. I absolutely idolised him, he was everything that I wasn’t. Believe it or not, there was a time where I was weak, scared and, quite honestly, pathetic. Tyler was completely different, a juxtaposing character next to me. He didn’t take shit from anybody, yes he may have looked weak like me, but he had a fierce temper. Once the beast inside him was released, you’d never want to unleash it again. He never acted scared and often revelled in the idea of getting into danger, especially if it involved me falling with him.
A part of me hated it when he would get us into trouble by starting a fight, or breaking into an abandoned house or doing any other detestable task that has conveniently slipped my mind at this moment. The other part of me loved it, relishing in the thrill and giddy terror that often comes when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to. He was an awful influence on me, but just like an alcoholic, they adore their indulgences and Tyler was my substance...
‘You know what I’m saying? Joseph? JOSEPH!’ Tyler screamed, making me jump and almost fall off of the neighbour’s roof we were sitting on. Luckily the neighbours were still on vacation for another couple of days, so it wasn’t likely they’d see or hear us at the late hours of the night.
‘Sorry, I wasn’t listening’ I blabbered, trying to slow my breathing from the sudden adrenaline rush from almost toppling off the building.
‘No shit, I hate it when you do that! Constantly fading out and going into your own world, what are you, twelve?’ Tyler rambled, angrily passing on the rafter. I knew not to stop him or else he would go on and on until the sun rose, so I just sat in silence, waiting for him to get it all out.
Eventually, he calmed down and returned to sitting next to me, legs dangling down the side of the house. For a while we sat in silence, him looking out at the empty streets and me staring up at the stars, admiring their beauty.
Tyler made a loud sigh and put his arms behind him, leaning back on them for support. Most people who saw Tyler would admit he was good looking, and admittedly I would too. His hair was untidy, coal-black and slicked back to show his face. He was lucky as he never got acne or blemishes, the only inconvenience he had was a scar going down the side of his face. He didn’t tell me exactly how he got it and honestly, I was too afraid to ask. All I knew was that it intimidated me, made him seem like a warrior or a soldier who had gotten a battle scar. He always wore a black zip-up hoodie. His jeans were always torn and were ridden with holes and his shoes were always dirty, with the soles damaged.
He was the complete opposite of me. At the time I had curly brown hair which was impossible to maintain. I had tried many times to style it back like Tyler, but it always looked horrendous and Tyler always told me it made me look “queer”. I was scrawny, my skin too pale, teeth too crooked. I always wore formal clothes, even when I was out with friends. Correction, friend.
‘Hey Joseph, are you still with me?’ Tyler said, the anger gone from his voice. From spending practically all my life with him, I’ve come to know that his outbursts shouldn’t be taken to heart, he had serious anger management issues, but you should never point that out to him.
‘Yeah, I’m still here.’ I responded, giving him a sheepish smile.
Tyler didn’t smile back, but his eyes showed that he was glad to have my attention. He broke eye contact and sighed at the ground below.
‘I’m sorry I’m being a bit of a jerk, I just. I can’t believe you’re going.’ he said, refusing to look back up or to show any emotion.
I shuffled awkwardly, I was never good at these situations. ‘Don’t worry about it man, we’ll see each other again, we can meet up on the holidays or visit on the weekends.’ I tried to reassure him.
He chuckled bitterly in response. ‘You do realise how far away you’re going? It’s like 6 hours away by car and I can’t even take my drivers license until next year. Stupid laws.’ Tyler spat.
‘You’re legal to drive a moped, why don’t you get one of them?’ I offered.
He laughed, but not in malice. ‘Dude, mopeds are lame. Besides, I think they cap at like 30 miles, maybe 50. Unless you want me to get there for your 30th birthday, I don’t think it’d get me very far; besides I don’t even think I could take it on the motorway.’ Tyler replied, a smirk across his face.
‘What about the bus or the train? I’m sure they have a station where I’m going.’ I said, looking at him pleadingly.
He seemed to hear the desperation in my voice as he looked up at me, his eyebrows raised questioningly. 'You sound like you need me to visit you.′ He smirked.
‘Of course, I do!’ I exclaimed. ‘I am so anxious about going there. I don’t think I’d be able to find a friend like you. I mean, the place is brand new, it was only built like 10 years ago, I don’t even think the school I’m going to is finished. What if they are all jerks and I never make friends and the bullies are bad and...’ Luckily before I could spiral any further Tyler but his hand on my shoulder to calm me down.
‘Jesus christ dude, you need to get laid.’ He smirked at me. ‘I’m sure you’ll be fine. I’m sure most of them will be just as new to the place as you are.’
‘Yes, but you won’t be there to help me anymore.’ I responded, I sounded so pathetic but at that moment I didn’t care.
‘Hey, hey! Listen to me.’ He now had both of his hands on my shoulders and forced me to make eye contact with him. ‘I wouldn’t be around to save your ass forever, even if you were staying. It’s time you make your own choices and stand up for yourself. This is a new beginning, Joey, you need to grab this opportunity by its head and make it your bitch. You can no longer be the beta, you gotta take the role as the alpha, okay?’ He said this with such intensity that I just had to believe him.
I sighed in defeat and gulped my anxiety down. ‘Yeah. You’re, Uhm, you’re right.’ I said, my head feeling slightly dizzy from the small panic attack.
Tyler held onto my shoulders a little while longer until I calmed before he removed them and went back to looking down at the streets. We sat in comfortable silence for a while, taking in the last moments together.
After a while, Tyler sighed again and leant back. ‘So, I guess this is truly it.’ he stated, refusing to make eye contact again.
‘Yep, I guess it is.’ I said awkwardly.
Another moment of silence filled the air.
‘Hey, Joseph.’ Tyler said. ‘If this is the last time that we see each other, I just want you to know that I’m glad I had you as a friend through these years. Also, I want you to remember that if you ever want to talk, you can ring.’
After saying this he turned and smiled at me. A genuine smile, not a forced one he normally made when he directed to his family or other people at school. I wouldn’t know it then, but now I realise how much it stuck with me. It felt like a blessing, one of the only things he gave me that nobody else could.
‘Thanks.’ I replied stupidly.
He snickered and shook his head down at the streets below, the smile not fading from his face. After a while, he finally looked back up at me and did something that surprised both of us.
He took off his hoodie and put it over me. That hoodie that he’s worn for practically his whole life, I can’t even remember a time that I didn’t see him wearing it. Underneath he wore a simple short-sleeved black shirt, nothing on it.
‘I want you to take it. You know, as a way to remember me.’ He explained, rubbing the back of his neck from this awkward exchange.
I managed a light laugh. ‘Thanks, man, it means a lot, but are you sure you want me to take it? I’ve never seen you without it.’ I asked, looking at him expectantly.
‘Yeah, I’m sure. Hoodies can be replaced, friends can’t.’ He said proudly, before realising how corny it was and looked embarrassed.
I laughed again, a little louder this time and after a while, I noticed Tyler relax into a light chuckle with me.
‘I’m gonna miss you man.’ Tyler said.
‘I’ll miss you too.’