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Chapter 17 – Coming back

‘I missed you, Ma’. Michael looked at Ethel as she fed him some homemade soup. Ethel shed tears as she heard those words, she hadn’t heard Michael say anything since the accident. ‘I missed you too, Michael’. Michael shed tears of his own as he continued to look at his mother. ‘Michael you need to get better, and come back home’. Michael wiped his mouth as he lay back in the bed, he was used to this hard bed and its uncomfortable springs. He had hardly walked since being in here, he was taken on a wheelchair to the bathroom by the night nurse and felt too weak even when trying to make his way across to the door. ‘The doctors say as soon as you are fit enough to walk on your own, then you can come back home’. Michael wasn’t really listening as going home seemed nothing to look forward to. He forgot what that was and whether he really wanted to be back ‘home’. ‘Becky asks about you alot, she hasn’t seen you in months. I never told her about what happened, if I did then she would think you were dead. So when you are better then you can go visit her and tell her yourself’. Michael looked up into a void, still not listening to his Ma, he tried to remember why he was here. He got used to being here but didn’t really know why he was here. ‘Ma, how’s Gabriel’? Ethel looked at Michael, ‘What’? Michael looked slowly at Ethel, ‘Is he here’? Ethel put the soup plate down, ‘I will get you some water’. Ethel walked out of the room, and sat down on the chair outside.

‘His brother has been dead for seventeen years, Michael never knew him’. Doctor Rogers listened attentively but didn’t seem to be moved by what Ethel was saying, ‘Mrs Martyn, he has gone through tremendous trauma. He is very weak, and very fragile. Sometimes patients suffer from post-traumatic stress and they say things and even see things that are not true. We will monitor his mental condition but please at this stage do not panic’. ‘How can I not panic, he is my son and he is not well. He has been through alot in his life from a young age and I don’t want him to lose his mental stability’. Ethel felt herself breaking down, she had been so happy when Michael survived. When he began talking and eating again but now she felt time was once again playing a cruel joke on her. ‘Please Mrs Martyn, I don’t want you to jump to conclusions. We will give him some medication and that will help him to relax and accept what has happened. If he mentions anything about his brother or father, just go along with it until we monitor if he needs counselling. Okay’. It wasn’t okay but Ethel nodded her head.

Kay and Ethel sat in the room as the phone rang, Ethel picked it up but said nothing. ‘Ethel is that you, is that really you’? Ethel heard Jake’s voice as he sounded broken, not like the man he was. ‘It is me’.

‘I can’t believe this, after all these years Ethel you talk to me’.

‘I wouldn’t have Jake, not even today but….’. Ethel stopped as Jake waited for Ethel to finish what she was going to say. ‘I don’t blame you, I don’t. I haven’t got long to live, you’re talking to a dead man. I … I heard about Mike’. Ethel stayed silent as she passed the phone to Kay.

‘Hello, Mr Martyn. My name is Kay Winters’.

‘Who are you, I wanna speak to Ethel’. Ethel shook her head, ‘Mr Martyn that isn’t possible right now’.

‘Are you a cop, who the fuck are you’? Kay sensed fury in Jake’s voice, he may be a dying man but he was defiant as hell. He had that same contempt in his voice for society that was probably one of the reasons he was in prison. ‘I am not a cop, I am an investigative journalist. I have been asked by Mrs Martyn to investigate who shot her son, do you know he got shot’? ‘Yeah, I know that, he’s my nephew. I wanna speak to my sister in law’. ‘Well that isn’t going to happen right now. But I need to see you and ask you some questions’. Kay raised her voice as she tried to stamp her authority on this conversation.

‘I don’t need to see you,’

‘Well if you do then I may just convince your sister in law to come with me’. Jake went quiet for a moment, ‘What was your name again’?

Vincent walked slowly up the corridor as he reached Michael’s room. He stepped inside and his stare met Michael’s. Michael was staring ahead, almost expectant of an unexpected visitor. ‘I came to ask you some questions, the doctor told me you are well enough to help us with our enquiries’. Michael said nothing, as Vincent sat on the chair next to Michael. ‘This can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. If you fail to co-operate then we will have a serious problem’. Michael looked away,

‘Look at me’! Michael looked back at Vincent, ‘You look at me when I talk to you. The department across the bridge found a body, she was a young woman who don’t look so great anymore. Her name was Mrs Jennifer Charles’. Michael’s eyes were blank, ‘Jennifer Charles’, that name hit home, clicked a switch deep inside his mind. ‘As of right now, this is the picture. Hugh Charles shot you and tried to kill you but someone murdered him, and his wife. Why did he try to kill you’? Is it something to do with his wife’? ‘Get out’.

Vincent turned around and saw Ethel standing there, ‘I don’t want to see you or your father near my son’. Vincent stood up, ‘I am doing my job and your son is a suspect’. Ethel walked over to Vincent, ‘If I didn’t have my principles, I would have slapped your face so hard that you would have remembered your mama. I won’t do that because I see you’re scared’. Vincent frowned, ‘Scared of you, an old woman’?

‘No, of whoever it is who’s out there shooting people. It’s not a Cunningham and that has put the fear of God into you’. Vincent looked back at Michael as he passed Ethel. Ethel came and sat down next to Michael, as he kept staring at the door, ‘Don’t worry about him, Michael. They have nothing on you’. Michael looked at Ethel, ‘Hugh’s dead and Jenny too’.

‘I thought you knew that Hugh was killed. I didn’t know about Jenny’. Michael sat up, ‘Hugh’s gone, I can’t believe that. I met Jenny, she was gonna move to the big city. What’s happened’? Ethel looked at Michael, realizing that he was talking about Hugh for the first time, he was mentioning Jenny but she didn’t know he had met her. ‘When did you meet Jenny’? Michael looked at Ethel as he tried to remember, had he met her’? He remembered something, meeting her in that small flat. ‘Yes, I found her, she was living across the bridge’. Ethel had no idea that Michael knew where Jenny had gone, why didn’t he tell Hugh? Ethel thought about what the doctor had said but she needed to know, she knew her son was innocent but how about if he had lied to Hugh and to everyone else. Maybe he was lying now, ‘Michael, do you remember who shot you, you were there with Hugh that night, do you remember that’?

I wanted to remember, to piece together the fragments from that night. Some of it was there but others was just what I was being told, like Kay saving my life. I don’t know if she was there but it wasn’t her who saved me. Ma, left the room maybe because she didn’t want to know the answers to her own questions but I wanted to know, more and more. I had to get out of this hospital and find out what happened to my friends and search for the man in the forest.

Emily had sunk deep into depression, she could hardly leave the house and wouldn’t even answer anyone’s calls. It happened to her often and most of the time it was out of the blue. This state of grief just crept up on her like an attacker who would catch you in a dark alley, pounce on you and take you down. Emily missed Michael, even though she didn’t meet him that much but she needed him and seeing him made her happy. Now he was hurt and she couldn’t even bring herself to go and see him. Vincent had been away most of the time with his father so it left her on her own. She needed someone for the first time, she could feel it, she was lonely. Emily rang the number and heard a voice on the other end, it was a man. It wasn’t her mother, it was someone else. Emily spoke for the first time, ‘Hello’.

‘Yes can I help you’?

‘I’m Emily, can I speak to Mrs Lombard’?

‘Emily, I’m her husband. I tried to contact you, sent you letters but never heard from you’.

‘Is my mum there’?

‘Emily I’m sorry, she died six months ago’.

Emily froze, ‘No, no’. She could hear a voice from the other end before she disconnected. Emily cried, wept ‘No, no, no, Mum’. She had lost all her family, even though her mum had moved away she still knew she had a mum. Even during those silent phone calls when Emily said nothing but would listen to her mum’s voice, she still knew her mum was there. ‘Mum, I want to speak to you, just once, p..l..e..a..s..e’, Emily cried uncontrollably, falling to her knees. She got up maybe after an hour or even longer than that. She walked over to her friend, opening the cabinet and feeling it in her hand. She didn’t want to go out like this, but she didn’t want to be here anymore.

‘Emily, Emily. I’m here’.

‘No, you’re not. YOU ARE GONE, EVERYONE IS’.

‘I am here and I promise no-one will hurt you’.

‘YOU’RE A LIAR, you deserted me, left me here alone, FOR WHAT’?

‘I never left you, I came back, I came back’.

Emily dropped the gun, she sat on the floor and no longer cried. Her tears were gone, just like the rain gets consumed by the blazing sun that follows a stormy night. Maybe it had rained heavily, the storm had taken some houses with it but you know the sun always comes back, and when it does everything is bright again.

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