“Look…” I start, “I really need to speak to him. This case is consuming me. I feel like I’m going insane. The situation is dire and I’m desperate. It’s urgent. Please.”
The officer looks into my eyes and sighs. He thinks over my request before nodding. “I’ll ask him again.”
I breathe out a sigh of relief.
“But if he says ‘no’, then there’s nothing more I can do for you. It’s his right to refuse visits,” the officer tells me.
I nod at him, grateful that he’s willing to ask a second time on my behalf.
“Thank you,” I reply.
He nods at me and then walks away. It’s not long before he returns with the final answer.
“I persuaded him,” he tells me. “He’ll see you.”
I’m tempted to hug the officer but I manage to contain myself. I look at him again and nod. “Thank you.” I hope he understands how much this means to me.
I’m led to the visiting area where I see Bryan waiting. I swallow the lump in my throat and hold back tears at the sight of him. He looks terrible. His black hair is not styled in its usual way. Instead, it’s messy and unkempt, hanging over his eyes. His stubble is growing wild and there’s a five o’clock shadow forming. His skin is pale and his gaze has hardened. All in all, he looks defeated.
How did we get here?
Bryan happens to look up and our eyes lock. His green eyes have lost their sparkle. His expression is stony and his aloof body language suggests he’s become numb to everything and everyone around him.
I feel the officer place a hand on my arm lightly. “Are you okay?”
It feels as if someone has moved the ground right from under me. Bryan’s gaze is suffocating and I’m having a difficult time keeping balance. My surroundings seem to dim until it’s just me and Bryan – my friend, my best friend. I recognize the look on his face but I really wish I didn’t; it’s the same look he wore in my nightmare.
“Just give me a minute,” I breathe out shakily.
The officer steadies me with his grip. “Whenever you’re ready.”
I barely hear him speak because I’m engulfed by all things Bryan. I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t think that when I saw Bryan, I’d see the man from my nightmare, a stone-cold killer.
I suck in a deep breath and ignore the lightheaded feeling threatening to take over me. Choosing to be bold, I take a step forward before taking another and another until I’m standing before Bryan.
“Mary,” he greets me stoically before sitting down.
His voice is filled with melancholy, almost as if he’s lost all hope. I’m tempted to embrace him but remember the ‘no contact’ rule.
“Why did you say ‘no’?” I immediately ask and take a seat across from him. “Why didn’t you want to see me?”
He has no problem answering me.
“Because, Mary, you shouldn’t be here,” he says simply. “You shouldn’t be involved in all of this. It’s not your problem. You need to stay away. I don’t want you suffering because of your name being attached to mine.”
“But I know you didn’t do it,” I argue.
Bryan shifts in unease, avoiding my gaze.
“How are you so sure?” he asks quietly.
“Because I know you and I can see the desperation flickering in your eyes – you need someone to believe you,” I reply without a second’s hesitance.
“Well, it shouldn’t be you,” he protests. He then crosses his arms and leans forward. “Look, Mary, whatever you think you know…it’s wrong.”
I decide to be blunt and take on a more forceful approach. Nonetheless, I lower my tone so that no officer hears me. “Did you kill her or not, Bryan?”
“I’m tired, Mary,” he suddenly says. “You should go.”
I flinch, taking offense. I’m confused as to why he keeps deflecting my questions. “I’m not leaving until you tell me something.”
Looking grim, Bryan sighs in frustration before slowly nodding at me, finally giving me my answer. But I’m not convinced; his body language says otherwise.
I watch Bryan carefully, remembering what I’ve learned in my criminology and forensics classes. He’s fidgeting and avoiding eye contact. Every now and again, a tremor passes through him and the octave of his voice changes ever so slightly. He’s also making a futile attempt to hide his leg while he uncontrollably taps his foot against the tiles.
“You’re lying,” I point out.
Is someone blackmailing him?
He answers in a quiet yet strained voice, “I’m not. I did it. I took the knife and…and I stabbed her. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.”
I shake my head. “You looked to the right while saying that. You’re leaning on your creative side, the right side of your brain, rather than your memories, your left side of the brain. It’s a sign of deception.”
Bryan turns sideways in his chair, pensive about his next move.
I take the gap and speak first. “You can say it all you like but I know that you didn’t do it, Bryan. I’m going to make sure you get justice. I’m going to do whatever the hell I can to prove your innocence.”
I mean it.
Bryan immediately begins to shake his head in protest, furious. “No, Mary! This is exactly what I didn’t want! Stay out of it.”
“I will not let you go to jail for something I know that you didn’t do,” I tell him firmly.
“And I will not let you bear the onslaught of gossip. I will say and do whatever it takes to prevent your name from being slandered and dragged through the mud with mine,” he says, going against me.
Before I can stop him, he’s gesturing for an officer to come over.
“Bryan, no!” I raise my voice. “Don’t do this.”
“Is everything okay here?” one of the officers asks us, looking over at me for confirmation.
I’m about to say yes but Bryan beats me to it with his next words:
“No. Not really. I want to make a confession.”
Feeling sullen, I reluctantly drive home. If anything, I feel worse than before. By the time I get to the front door, I’m ready to sleep it all away. But I’ve forgotten about one very important thing, or person – Jane.
At seeing Jane patiently waiting for me, I begin to ramble out an excuse, “Listen, Jane, I can explain. I—"
Jane cuts me off before I can finish, “You need to see something.” She steps over to me, uninterested in my story, and hands me her phone.
I read the first line aloud. “Bryan Parr confesses to killing Liz Montgomery.”