In the Wake of Night

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Chapter 23

My heels dig into the station’s floor with the sound of every footstep and slammed door. To be here, again. My head slumps in shame. I focus on the thump of my heart, beating with the velocity of a hummingbird.

Sophia’s gone.

The room’s door flings open, startling me from my stupor.

“You’re bloody lucky to have me, boy,” Mr Mathews asserts.

He grinds a chair out from under the table and sits to face me. A peculiar laugh erupts from his smiling mouth.

“What’s going on?”

“Surprisingly, Fred has dropped all charges against you and revised his statement,” he muses.

My brows wrinkle with uncertainty.

“What, how?”

“Like I said, you are lucky to have me. Turns out Fred is easy to shake when confronted with the truth. He’s a clever man, knows what’s good for him. Knows he has no leverage. Especially when I said that all we needed to do was find the burial site to disprove his claims.”

So Mathews spoke to Fred. Revealed our ace card. If only I could have been there to see the colour drain from his skin.

“You told him about Ali’s statement?” I clarify.

“I told him that we had witnesses of our own but thought best to leave names out of it. We’ve muddied the waters enough the cast suspicion, but the police don’t have enough to convict Fred, without Sophia.”

My eyes settle on the plastic table in front of me. If only she’d have waited before running away. Fred could be behind bars by now.

“No sign of her then?”

“Nothing,” he says while shaking his head. “I’m sorry.”

She is out there somewhere, still believing that she killed someone, still afraid of her father. A man I now owe my freedom to. The thought leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

“So… what’s next for me?”

“Given your age and lack of witnesses and testimony, you’re being let off with a fine – mainly for breaking your bail terms.” The way he says the latter end of his sentence indicates that he’s still pretty pissed at me for doing that. I best alter the course of this conversation.

“Thanks for everything,” I applaud. “Really. It wouldn’t have panned out like this without you.”

I stretch out my hand to shake Mr Mathews. Although the prospect of prison is behind me, no one is better off than when we first started. You could argue things are worse. A sordid thought crosses my mind. Would life be better if I’d have just left the secrets undisturbed, in the dark?

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