Chapter ten – Finale
The day was nearing its end. Ashley Hemmington kept herself busy taking care of her garden, but her mind wasn’t thinking of gardening at all. With trembling hands she remembered the happenings a few hours earlier.
‘Miss Hemmington! Ashley Hemmington!’
Footsteps came running from the road and approached the fenced garden fast. When Ashley turned around, she saw an unknown, tanned man in a leather jacket standing in front of her. His face was red and sweaty and he looked like he had been running for quite some time.
‘Qui… quick, miss Hemmington!’ he gasped. ‘My name is Julian Marquet. Is Cathy here? I need to talk to her, right away!’
‘Cathy is… not here…’ Ashley muttered shyly. ‘She got… arrested.’
‘Two agents came and… took her away this afternoon. Excuse me, but… why do you need to talk to…?’
But he was gone again already. Ashley turned around just quickly enough to watch his backside disappear into the distance, where a single cab was parked.
The two agents from the arrest were in the only office in the whole police station, talking to each other as Julian forcefully came running through the door.
They sprung up in surprise when the door was kicked open, but went back to being calm and collected right away.
‘Can we help you, sir?’ the pink-haired officer asked.
‘I need to talk to Catherine right away! You’re keeping her here, right?!’
‘I’m afraid that that isn’t possible right now.’
‘What do you mean it’s not possible?!’ Julian raged, targeting the male officer. ‘You will grant me access to her cell immediately!’
‘Sir, there is such a thing as protocol-‘
‘I DON’T CARE ABOUT PROTOCOL!’
‘Calm down!’ the male officer said. Julian took a few deep breaths, but still stood with clenched fists.
‘Listen, chap. You can’t just barge in like that and demand to see anything. And even if you could, you’re too late. She’s not here.’
‘What? Then where is she?!’
‘What’s it to you, son?’ the officer asked.
‘Listen, you’ve got the wrong person. Cathy didn’t do it! She’s being set up!’
‘Do you have any proof of that?’ the officer asked curiously. ‘Anyway, they drove her away in a dark VFN compensator, northward, I think, but just stay here and they’ll be back before you- hey, where are you going?!’
‘You! With the bike!’
‘Need somethin’, dude?’
‘Lend me that! I’ll pay your for it!’
Julian threw a handful of green papers on the ground, pushed the man out of the way and started the motorcycle.
‘HEY! THIEF! Give my bike back- no, don’t go so fast! You’re going to wreck it!’
The sun was starting to set. I glanced at it emotionlessly while following my sister outside of the building. Her bodyguard was there already, waiting for us to get inside of the car. The usual buzzing of Bridgeport didn’t even reach my ears. I was numb from shock, and barely had the strength to think anymore. There was just a single word echoing around in my mind, screaming at me.
As if she could hear the words in my head, Melody turned around and faced me with a smile.
‘You’re doing the right thing, sis. This is how it’s supposed to go. You know that, too.’
‘Yes,’ I muttered, barely hearing what she was saying at all.
‘Let’s get into the car.’
While Melody and Malcom took the front seats, I placed myself in the back. Memories stalked the back of my mind and no matter how hard I tried to block them, some forced their way through.
‘Oh no! It’s the claw!’
Just as I felt tears building up in my eyes, there was that single scream that brought me back into the real world. That voice… I recognised that voice!
I tilted my head and looked through the window behind me. There he was, on a giant motorcycle which he obviously didn’t know how to handle. He was swaying from one side of the road to the other, barely evading cars and buses.
‘Cathy, listen to me! Stop the car!’
He sped up and drove next to the car, looking at me with a desperate expression in his eyes.
I opened the window a centimetre to hear what he said better.
‘Listen, I need to talk to you! Pull over!’
‘It’s too late, Julian,’ I muttered with the same emotionless face. ‘You were right. I’m guilty. I’m going to confess right now-‘
‘It wasn’t you!’ he screamed, so loudly that the whole block would have heard. ‘You didn’t do it! Listen, I found out what really happened! You have to believe me!’
He was serious. I could see it in his eyes. And desperate. What did he find out that was so important it couldn’t wait until after I confessed?
… was I maybe innocent after all?
‘Stop the car.’
There was an icy silence in the front seats. I repeated my sentence, thinking they might not have heard me the first time, but again there was no reaction.
‘Melody. Pull over. I want to talk to Julian.’
Instead of pulling over, my cousin pushed his foot hard against the accelerator and bolted away from the motorcycle, leaving Julian behind. I could hear him yelling words in anger.
‘Hey! What are you doing? You’re going way too fast! Pull over!’
A bunch of cars, a traffic light, and Julian and the bike were out of sight.
And then he was right in front of us.
‘STOOOOOOOP!’ I screamed. The two people in front of me were also screaming, something big slammed right into the side of the car, and then there was nothing.
It felt only a few second later when I woke up, but the sun had set already and I could hear the faint noise of traffic in the background. People hadn’t noticed our crash yet… but they must have heard the noise and I was sure there would be ambulances on the way in a matter of minutes.
‘Ugh… what happened…’ I muttered. There was a crash… A bike crashing into us-
‘Julian? Julian, where are you?!’
I got up and twirled around in panic to see where he was. The motorcycle and the car were permanently stuck together, and a few feet away from me my cousin was helping Melody get up.
And then I saw him.
‘JULIAN!’ I screamed, running towards him as fast as my body, still shaken up from the crash, would allow me. Reaching where he was, I sunk down next to him and put my hands on his chest.
He wasn’t breathing.
‘Oh my plumbob, Julian! Wake up! Wake up!’
I had to do something! Fast! Mouth-to mouth. No, I had to get his heart beating! But how did you do that?!
Then I noticed the vein in his neck. There was blood flowing through, I could see it. I hesitantly put my finger on his skin to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.
There was a pulse.
Looks like he just passed out.
Oh, thank goodness.
Just as I removed my hand from his neck, Julian started to groan.
‘You’re a worthless doctor, you know that?’ he mumbled, getting up slowly. ‘As if anyone could see if I was breathing by putting his hands on my chest for a second.’
‘Stay down,’ I said, ignoring his remark. ‘You could have broken bones.’
‘I’m fine. I knew what I was doing so I jumped away in time…’
‘You crashed into us on purpose?!’
‘Had to get you to pull over somehow,’ he joked.
Julian became serious right after that. ‘No, really. Crashing into you wasn’t part of the plan. I’m glad you’re okay.’
‘Don’t. Ever. Do that again. You hear me?’ I said, pulling him close into a hug.
‘I won’t. I promise. But you were about to make a very big mistake, so I had to.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You’re innocent, Cathy. I wasn’t you who killed the Moon family.’
‘How do you know that?’ I asked. ‘I have to be the one who did it! I even have memories of the fire!’
‘That’s because you were there, Cathy, but not for the reason you think! You didn’t set fire, you were in service of Bryce Moon! You were their babysitter!’
Babysitter… the word sounded so familiar.
‘Listen, you were there on the night of the fire, but you didn’t start it! I searched through the records of their phone company and found a call from Bryce’s phone, asking you to come over to watch over their children that evening.’
Another memory. The same one as before, but this time it felt natural… like a piece of a puzzle I’ve been trying to put together for months. I was there… I was late because of the traffic. I saw their house from the base of the hill, the flames in the living room and the smothering smoke tainting the rooms I knew the children slept in… I abandoned my car on the spot and made my way towards the house…
‘But… but what about the video-camera?’ I said, confused. ‘Does that mean the fire was already there before I came in?’
‘That wasn’t you, Cathy! I looked it up. The times of the person on the video-camera and the time when you abandoned your car don’t match.’
‘But then who-‘
‘Don’t you see?’ Julian said breathlessly. ‘It wasn’t you! But there’s someone right there that has a face identical to yours!’
The sentence hit me like a tidal wave. That’s right. She did have the same face as me. Plus it was dark when that tape was recorded, and the image was in black and white. She could have easily cut off her hair after that! Why didn’t I realise that before?
‘Do you remember the hacker I asked to look for your name?’ Julian continued. ‘It looked as if he pulled the camera image from the file, but he didn’t! He was working for those two, Cathy. I never realised. When strange files about my family suddenly started appearing after I broke into the crime computer with you, I just assumed you were trying to frame me.’
‘So you’re saying… I’m innocent?’
I was so scared to utter those words that they were barely understandable, but Julian nodded at me with a look in his eyes that filled me with so much hope… it allowed a small smile to appear on my face again.
‘That’s exactly what I’m saying. They’ve been hunting the wrong person all this time.’
The small feeling of happiness disappeared right away when I realised what almost happened. I turned away from facing Julian and looked at Melody, anger slowly building up inside of me.
‘You were trying to frame me for your crime, weren’t you?!’
‘Of course not! You’ve seen the facts-‘
‘Don’t lie to me! All of those so-called facts were handed to me by you! You’re the murderer here!’
Her innocent expression disappeared. The look full of hatred scared me and almost made me take a step backwards, but then I remembered Julian standing right behind me.
‘Just a few more miles and you wouldn’t even have found out before it was too late,’ she sneered. ‘But you only have yourself to blame for this. We had everything planned for you, you know. From the application form to the Moons to your escape after taking him out. But you just had to back away at the last second, saying your morals didn’t allow you to kill anyone.’
‘Apparently my morals were right!’ I yelled back. ‘How were you even thinking of getting away with this?’
‘After you saw the fire, you threatened to go to the police and tell everything. We had to stop you, but you left town already before we could pick you up. Malcom and I chased you all the way to Bridgeport.’
‘You gave me that wound on your head, didn’t you?’ I asked suspiciously. Suddenly all the puzzle pieces of the last few weeks were starting to fit together… and I didn’t like what I saw.
‘That was Malcom. But that stupid church folk came by before we could take you back. When we saw you near the Town Hall that day, we thought you were going to rat us out.’
That explains why he chased me all around town, I thought.
‘It didn’t take long for us to figure out that blow to your head gave you memory loss,’ Melody said, and suddenly began to giggle. ‘How convenient it was that you met up with mister Marquet. A Marquet, of all the people in Bridgeport! All we had to do was make it look like he and you were trying to destroy evidence together… which worked out perfectly when you both went to the storage files.’
‘You’re a monster,’ I said, disgusted with her. ‘They were just little kids. How could you?’
‘No, how could you,’ she sneered back. ‘I killed all five of them because you didn’t have the heart to do it. And this is how you repay me? I’m going to make you regret this, Melinda. They’ll never believe you in court, not with all the evidence they have against you already. It will be my word against yours… Ha, and to think you’re going to jail for a murder I committed!’
She started to laugh, but quickly stopped when she saw the two people walking towards us from the other side of the street.
‘Say, partner… that pretty much sounded like a confession, did it not?’
‘It sure did,’ the female officer said. ‘Did you get all that on tape?’
‘I sure did.’
He put his hand in his pocket and showed a single sound recorder hidden in his uniform. Melody turned grey, then purple, and then normal again.
‘Malcom. Get it.’
It all happened within five seconds. Melody tried to turn around and run, Julian shoved me behind his back and Malcom stormed forwards, heading for the male officer. The officer lashed out with his fist, hitting him against the jaw so hard that Malcom fell to the ground. At the same time, the female police officer grabbed hold of Melody.
‘And Melody Foxworth. You’re both under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say may be used against you in court… and I’d suggest you get yourself one hell of a lawyer.’
It was over.
I let out my breath in a deep sigh when I came to that conclusion. All these months… I finally found out what had happened. What my past was. I still had many questions… but seeing Melody being taken away by the police like that made most of my curiosity fade away. I was innocent. My name would be cleared. That was all that mattered.
After putting the both of them in the police car, the male officer turned around and came back to us. He was looking surprisingly strict at Julian.
‘I thought we told you to wait until they came back. How am I going to explain all this to my superiors?’
‘I have to compliment you on your guts, though,’ he then smiled. ‘Jumping in front of a car isn’t something a lot of guys do for the girl they like.’
Julian blushed a bright shade of red that made me smile as well. All of a sudden, the police officer faced me.
‘Strictly hypothetically speaking- if they call you as miss Foxworth to court and you are registered somewhere else as miss Adams, the chance of facing any charges will be low to zero… if the officer on the case doesn’t know you’re not miss Adams. Only hypothetically, of course.’
‘Thank you,’ I smiled. ‘And thank you so much for being here at the right time.’
‘You have your boyfriend to thank for that,’ he laughed. ‘Goodbye, miss Adams.’
‘You know… I don’t mind that title at all,’ Julian said, as the officer walked back to the car. He came closer and put his hand on my waist.
‘I don’t understand, Julian,’ I muttered.
‘Do you think we should take it slower? I can do slow,’ he grinned.
‘No, that’s not it. I… like you too. But it’s just…’
‘It’s just what?’
Come away with me, in the night
I looked up at him with an apologetic smile on my face.
‘You hated me yesterday morning. I know you did, I could see It in your eyes. And yet here you are, crashing in front of my car and risking your life to help me figure out my past… again. You came back… but why? I don’t deserve someone like you, even if I was innocent.’
Come away with me, and I will write
‘You just answered your own question,’ Julian muttered. ‘Just look at you. You’re so different from the women in this town. They’d use me for their own gain, and never look back if I’d leave them like that. But you waited, didn’t you?’
‘I like you, Cathy. I really do. You’re not a Foxworth to me, like I’ve never been a Marquet to you. I want to take you away from this town, to bring you somewhere we can start all over again.’
I gazed into his big, dark eyes and knew he was thinking the exact same thing I was thinking.
‘Would you come away with me, Cathy?’
Come away with me, on a bus
‘You need to promise,’ I whispered in his ear.
‘Don’t ever… leave me again.’
‘Wouldn’t dream of it, sweetheart.’
Come away with me, where they can’t tempt us
With their lies
And I want to walk with you, on a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
‘Are you really ready to say goodbye, Julian? This is your home after all.’
‘It hasn’t been my home for a long time, you know,’ Julian smiled.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Do you know the saying “Home is where the heart is”?’
‘It’s true. And my heart has moved in the last couple of months. It lies with you now.’
I smiled as he gently caressed my cheek.
‘I’m not ever going to give it back, you know.’
‘I know. Can I have yours in return?’
So won’t you try to come?
Come away with me, and we’ll kiss on a mountain top
He wrapped his arms around me and before I knew it, we were entwined in a deep, passionate kiss that shot chills through my entire body. My heart almost seemed to jump out of my chest with a feeling I could only describe with love. I loved this man.
‘You have it already.’
Come away with me, and I’ll never stop…
Come away with me – Norah jones