Freeing Joshua

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Chapter 7: Dexter

From the very first time I saw her, I thought she was beautiful. She just happened to be at the bar I liked to frequent at the exact time I too was there. I knew I had to say something to her, but I knew who she was and she had no idea who I was or what I had to do with all of this. I didn’t want her to blame me, but looking back on it all now I know I went about it all completely wrong. Well there Katie was, radiantly beautiful dancing the night away with some friends. I watched her for some time before finally approaching her. I said the wrong things and she started to become angry with me. I made a mistake and called Joshua a murderer several times. I taunted her heartlessly. Why did I do that? I said the most idiotic things so I fled before anymore horribleness spewed from my mouth. I thought about that night for weeks afterwards. I wanted to help her, I really did, but at the same time I didn’t want to be involved. I mean to be frank, yes, I saw what happened. I was there that night. I saw the whole thing. Every gruesome second. I could tell you everything that happened at that gas station that night in vivid detail. I saw it all. I was the one who phoned the police. But I didn’t stick around. You must know, I feared for my life. I was a coward. Had I known that I was dying then, well I probably would’ve snitched right then and there. Joshua may have never been arrested. The weight of such a guilt is a hard one to shoulder.

I was on my way back home after a late-night drive by myself to clear my head. It was cold and I was tired so I guess you could say I was in kind of a hurry. I was at the number three pump while some man I couldn’t get a good enough look at was in front of me on the opposite side at the number five pump. I didn’t pay him much mind, he looked like a rather normal fellow who was bundled up to keep warm. As I was waiting for my tank to fill two other cars pulled up across from me, it was the victim and Joshua. I didn’t like the idea of so many people being at the gas station at that time of night. It was quite odd and I was starting to get uncomfortable. I could sense Joshua’s discomfort too for I kept glancing over at him. He appeared rather intoxicated which is why I kept watching him, I wasn’t sure how he managed to drive himself there in the first place. My pump clicked and I returned it to its holder and got into my car. I sat there for a minute or two, too tired to start driving so soon. I listened to some tunes and rested my eyes a little. I could hear a total of two engines start and then drive off, I knew I was almost alone. But the next time I would open my eyes, I’d see the victim being beaten by a strategically covered up man. I was in utter disbelief. I floored it out of that gas station and began calling the police department. I must’ve been going about 85mph in a 45mph zone all while on the phone with the cops. “911 what’s your emergency?” The dispatcher said to me.

“Yeah I was at the gas station on Tenth and Gross and some man just started wailing on this other guy who was just filling up his tank!” I said frantically as I drifted in and out of the two lanes. “Look I got out of there as fast as I could but someone has got to help him! He could be dead right now.”

“Sir please stay on the line while we send officers to that location.”

I hung up. I didn’t want to be involved any further. I sped the rest of the way home running on fear alone. My heart was beating out of my chest as I pulled into my driveway. I cut my headlights, turned off my car, and sat there for a moment trying to catch my breath. I thought about going back. I shouldn’t have ran I should have helped. My thoughts were racing. Ultimately, I opted to go inside and go to bed.

The next morning, I heard it on the news over and over and over again. “Gas station killing!” “Man killed at local gas station!” “Police find body of man at gas station after an anonymous call!” No matter what channel I turned it to it seemed that they were all talking about it. It got even worse when they tracked down Joshua and the breaking news came in that there had been an arrest in the case. When I saw his face appear on my screen I knew that they had apprehended the wrong guy. I regret not speaking up especially now that I know how the story ends.

I sat in my recliner drinking tea as I was bombarded by news story after news story covering the incident I had undoubtable witnessed. They covered every single second of it from when the body was found to when they arrested Joshua. They showed the victim’s family, the mother sorrowfully stated how her son was a “good man” and how it was such a “senseless killing.” The father held the mother as she broke out in tears. They wanted to show Joshua’s parents but they had opted for “no comment” and instead they interviewed Katie. Beneath her name, it described her as “suspect’s childhood friend.” She ranted about how there was no way that Joshua did this and how she hoped that “the real criminal [would] be brought to justice.” But this would never happen.

I loved the tenacity of that girl and I longed to help her set her best friend free and nab the real villain, but I was far too afraid. I thought that if I got involved, I would somehow end up to blame. Or far worse, I’d be next on the criminal’s hit list. After all, I had no idea what this guy’s motive was. I beat myself up about not coming forward, I drank about it too at my favorite bar. And as aforementioned, that’s where I first had the pleasure of meeting Katie.

After our first encounter, I’d see her again, and again I’d ruin all chances of befriending her. She had come looking for me and this time I actually offered up some information to her just to provide her with a little peace of mind. But it didn’t go as planned, she wanted more than I could give, so once again I ran instead of facing any aspect of the case.

That last time I saw her however, I had run but only to hide. I waited in the shadows for her to start heading home. She stood there for a moment looking around in dismay hoping I would return and give her what she wanted. I could hear her call for me a couple times before she gave up and started walking back home. I followed her. I walked about five steps behind her to see where she was going. I managed to follow her all the way to her home without her noticing. I remembered where she lived and I’d use this information later. Four years later to be exact.

Yes, it was four years later that I’d see Miss Katie again. It was right after I had my doctor’s appointment that I showed up at her door. I was in a lot of pain so I decided going to the emergency room was the best way to go. I regretted ever going as they told me that my kidneys were failing and I had six months at max to live. I experienced a whirlwind of emotions, but my initial thought was of Katie. I knew I had to do the right thing and come forward as a witness so Joshua would be set free. I knocked on her door, she answered, and we began discussing the case. I told her my name, my age, anything she wanted to know. She was extremely angry and I didn’t blame her. But even when she raged she was beautiful still. She was on about what my angle was. Why now? I confessed to her that I was dying and I was sincerely hoping that she would be the speaker of my memorial. I rather have a single person send me off than my ashes just sit and rot. I didn’t know where else to turn. I had nobody.

Eight years ago, I had everything going for me. I was less cowardly and evasive. I was confident and full of life. I was married to the most beautiful woman and soon, together, we’d be having a beautiful child. I was elated about becoming a father. First a husband then a father? Life could not possibly get any better than that. And I was right in a way. It couldn’t get any better, because it got worse. The following year tragedy struck us. At only two months old, our gorgeous daughter Eliza passed away in her sleep. She simply stopped breathing and there was nothing doctors could do. She was gone. My wife, Elaine, absolutely fell apart after the loss of our first child. She grieved herself ill and then when she finally started to get better she decided that she wanted nothing to do with me. I didn’t know what had happened. It was like a switch had been flipped and no longer was she my wife but a mere stranger.

“Elaine, please let’s just talk about this.” I pleaded, but her mind seemed to have already been made up.

She shook her head no. “I want a divorce.” Was the only thing she said. I didn’t understand.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked her. “I love you. How could you want a divorce?”

“It’s all just too much.” She responded not even looking at me. “It hurts too much to stay with you.”

I still didn’t understand. She exited the living room to retreat to our bedroom. When she came back in she was carrying a bag full of her things.

“This was your house, so I’ll leave. I’m so sorry Dexter.” She said to me as she walked out the door. That was the last time I saw her.

I fell apart after she left me. I broke every framed photo of us that we had around the house, all but one I couldn’t bear to destroy. I threw out the cards and the gifts and everything that screamed “married.” All of it had to go because it was all over now. The baby things, the wedding rings, all garbage. That’s how Cocoa’s became my favorite bar, because there the bartender always let me drink myself into a coma. All I did was tell him my story and he let me drink and drink and drink to forget any of it ever happened. But I never forgot. I drank myself broke and it all led to the kidney failure that would soon kill me. That’s why with my last stint of life I decided to make myself useful and help Katie.

After I set things right with her I felt better. I was ready to die. All I had to do then was prepare my statement in Joshua’s defense for the court and I’d be free to leave earth. I wrote out my statement and taped it that same night. I set up my camera in my living room to face my recliner. Once I got the lighting just right I hit record, sat in my chair and began my statement.

“Hello judge, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, and whomever else this may concern. My name is Dexter Allen Hollow and after years of contemplation, I have finally come forward to testify on Joshua Norte’s behalf.” I began. “I’m hoping this all isn’t ‘too little too late’ because I know for a fact that you have the wrong guy. I was at the gas station on the night of the incident, I saw the whole thing, I phoned the police and I know for certain that Joshua Norte is not guilty. Besides me, Joshua, and the victim, there was one other man at the gas station that night. He is the man that should be behind bars right now, not Joshua. To Josh, I would just like to say I am so very sorry it took me so long to speak up. I don’t know why I was so afraid, but I was. And to the jury and the judge, you can all compare my voice to the one from the anonymous call received by authorities that night if you think I’m lying. But I know and I’m sure you all know that I’m telling you the truth. Please, please let Joshua go. Thank you.” I shut off the camera and then watched it back. I was satisfied with the tape. I placed the tape along with my written statement on the nightstand in my room and went to bed. In about a week’s time Katie would come by to pick it up.

It wasn’t until she stopped by to pick up my statement that I realized how absolutely taken by her I was. I found her to be so captivating. Her long black hair that she usually had pinned or tied up, her bright brown eyes that were perfectly almond-shaped, her rounded nose, her full lips, her prominent collar bones. She only had one dimple when she smiled which added to her beauty, so did the tiny mole behind her left ear. The only problem was she was very much taken, but the pleasure of being her friend was all I was hoping for.

And my hope ended up coming true for after that night of bonding with Katie, she would come back again and again and again. She had even agreed to be the one to scatter my ashes. When she told me that, that was the first time I really felt sad about dying. All reality had finally set in. I was dying. Soon I’d be just a memory after only thirty-three years on Earth. I was devastated.

It wasn’t too long before I decided to take another trip to the hospital. They ran some more tests and the results stayed the same. It was just my luck, I hadn’t really bonded with anyone in years and the minute I finally did, I discovered that I was dying. Originally my doctor suggested I start dialysis, but upon further review she discovered my kidneys were failing at such a great rate that there was even a chance that dialysis may not work and instead cause me to get sicker. I decided against it and she consoled me by telling me that getting a kidney transplant was always an option, however a matching kidney would have to come in almost immediately. I had no family left so I imagined that it was hopeless.

That doctor visit was different though, my doctor was very cheery and peppy when I went to see her.

“Hello Dex how are you feeling?” She asked me.

“Not too bad I guess.” I answered honestly.

“Would you say you could use a little good news?” She inquired with a smirk.


“Well lucky for you, I have some!”

She was beaming, but I couldn’t understand what kind of good news she could possibly have when she had just informed me that there had been no change in my test results. Both of my kidneys were failing fast and at max I’d have six months to live. Where was the good news in that?

She sat down on her swivel stool as she continued to beam at me. “So, unfortunately there was a big accident that happened in the past few days and five people were killed.”

“And this is good news how?” I interrupted.

“Shh I’m getting to that.” She assured me. “Like I said, five people died. It’s all extremely sad and tragic. They were taken here and three of those five people turned out to be organ donors and long story short, we have found you a match!”

“What?!” I spat out in disbelief.

“Yeah!” She cheered as she rose to her feet. “We’ve found you a match Dexter! We can start your kidney transplant as soon as you’re ready.”

I was in complete and utter shock. All I could do was thank her and then I rushed home to tell Katie. She was the only one I had to tell good news to. That day was like the calm before the storm. Once everything starts looking up and it seems to all be going your way, it all comes crashing down again. And that’s how it happened. I told Katie the good news about me being able to get a kidney transplant and that I would no longer be dying and she told me that she was soon to get a phone call about Joshua’s impending release. I was excited for her, she was excited for me, and the day after we were both going to start our lives anew.

I thought I should be available the next day for Katie to call or come over with the good news so I decided to go into surgery the day after. When she rushed out of my home to wait for her phone call I assumed I would be notified as soon as she knew the verdict. But when the day came and she didn’t come by nor did she call I began to worry. I waited until the next morning, the morning of my surgery to give her a call. Her voicemail picked up so I figured I’d leave her one.

“Hey Katie it’s Dex. I was just calling to see if you had heard back about Joshua’s case yet. I was a little worried when you didn’t call yesterday, but I really hope all is well. I’m headed over to Saint Heart’s hospital for my kidney transplant right now so just give me a call whenever. Talk to you soon. Bye.” I hung up, got into my car, and started driving to the hospital.

The surgery took about three hours and then my doctor informed me that I’d have to stay hospitalized for two days at the very least. I told her it was no problem and just relaxed in my hospital bed for the remainder of the day. It was that next day that Katie stopped by with Joshua’s younger brother Justin. This was the first time I had ever meet him. Just by the sight of them I could tell that something was gravely wrong.

“Hey, how are you feeling?” She asked me as she sat down next to me on the edge of my bed.

I propped myself up a little so I could look at her. “I’m doing alright. But, how are you? What’s going on?”

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear before answering. “I need to talk to you about something.”

When she said this Justin exited the room in a huff.

“Sorry about that.” She said in response.

“Talk to me. What’s wrong?”

“He’s been staying with me ever since I got the call.” She rung her hands together. “When they called, it was to inform me that Joshua committed suicide.”

I sat up so I could hug her. “I’m so sorry to hear that.” I said to her. “That’s so awful, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes. “I guess now instead of scattering your ashes, I’ll be preparing a eulogy for my boyfriend’s funeral. I just couldn’t win huh?”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Katie. Anything you need I’m here for you okay? You don’t have to go through this alone.”

“Thank you Dex. That means a lot.”

“Of course.”

“Would you mind coming to Joshua’s funeral with me? I could really use your support on that day.” She asked me.

“It would be an honor to accompany you.”

She smiled at me and hugged me tight. It hurt a tremendous amount considering I had just had my kidneys replaced, but I toughed it out because I knew that was what she needed. She let go and smiled at me again.

“Thank you.” She spoke. “I better get Justin home now. I’ll see you when you get out of here okay?”

“Okay.” I replied.

She kissed me on the cheek and left the room. That was the most time we would spend together before the funeral.

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