"Lost and found"
‘’I have a 187 at Woodways plot, house number 13. Suspect secured. On my way to the station, over.’’ He gave a backward glance at the youngster. He could see the overwhelmed look on his face. ‘’Fella, are you okay?’’ the police officer asked the young boy. The boy remained silent.
He was fidgeting with his wrist shackles and looked restlessly out the car’s window. He was focussing on the bright stars and the winter-white satellite floating in the inked night sky. It reminded him of his mother and the glow in the dark stars she used to put on his ceiling so he wouldn’t fear the dark. The officer knew not to get too involved, but what if the boy was freezing? He had nothing to keep him warm. What if he was thirsty? He felt compelled to inquire once again. ‘’Are you sure you’re fine? Do you need some water or maybe my jacket or something?’’ ‘’You are not my dad’’, the boy yelled. The kid’s abrupt outburst surprised the officer. He could tell by the hoarse voice that he was through quite a lot that night. ‘’Just leave me alone!’’ The officer did not respond. He thought it would only make matters worse and instead focused on getting to the police station. The child curled up into a ball with his tear-stained cheeks against the window.
They arrived at the police station. It was an enormous building but looked like the typical police stations you see in the movies. There were colonies of armed goliaths that walked around the premises. When you looked at their deadly faces, it felt like they ripped your heart right out of your chest, slingshotted hot magma through it at the speed of light, and placed it back into your chest. ‘’May I ask what your name is?’’ the officer asked while helping the boy out of the car. ‘’Arthur’’, he said, looking everywhere but at the officer. ‘’What is your name?’’ Arthur’s sweet voice touched the officer.
How could such a kind, innocent young boy be responsible for something like that? With the officer not having children, he couldn’t help but see Arthur as his own.
’’My name is John’’. A distinct whistle suddenly filled their ears. ‘’Get the boy inside’’, another officer said. ‘‘Chief will not like if you are talking to the suspects again.’’ He was leaning against the wall with a hot beverage in his hand. John took Arthur by his cuffs and guided him to the entrance door. There he saw the officer that warned John. He looked at the gold-plated badges he was wearing.
South Weber Police
His reddish eyes and evil-looking face made Arthur feel afraid. It wasn’t the first time someone made Arthur feel this way. The three of them walked through the corridors. They first stopped at a medical room and did a few tests on Arthur. Blood, urine, saliva, DNA.
They then reached the confrontation room. ‘’Sit and keep your mouth shut’’, Buck instructed. Though, this wasn’t hard for Arthur, for he was used to keeping his mouth shut. He had triggered lots of unpleasant memories for poor Arthur. The kind of memories to be forgotten. John and Buck could see him through the one-way mirror, but all he saw was his lonely reflection.
Buck entered the room to ask Arthur some questions. Both of them sat in silence, staring into each other’s eyes. It stunned Arthur how similar Buck looked to his old man. He started questioning Arthur. Where were you?... what happened?... why did you? His voice faded the more Arthur got lost in his dark, empty eyes. He could see everything that happened that night as if the man’s eyes were a giant television screen and he was watching a horror movie alone at midnight.’’Speak Child!’’ Buck said when he slammed the metal table. The horror quickly ended when Arthur heard him almost break the table. It sounded just like the gunshot that happened that night. ‘‘Kid, I’m warning you’’.
‘‘I want to talk to John’’, Arthur said, pointing at the mirror. It was like he knew John was looking at them from the other room. Buck stormed out. Ire was coursing through his veins. He could always get his suspects to talk and prove that they were guilty, but for the first time, he failed. ‘‘He’s all yours’’, he said, en stomped off, barrelling through the cops in the hallway, elbowing every single one of them. John has never liked Buck, so he found his struggle with Arthur quite entertaining. John now had to get Arthur to admit what happened that night. He had a feeling that there was much more to it.
Both of them sat at the table. Arthur laid on his arms like a sad, abandoned newborn puppy while John was completely zoned-out with his stoned face looking at him. John was thinking about the fact that Arthur trusted him. Why else did he ask John to question him instead? He didn’t want to jump right into asking Arthur about what happened that night. He could see that a truck ran over the poor pup and thought he needed to be put at ease.’’So, Arthur, do you own a dog?’’ he asked. Arthur peaked over his arms. ‘‘No. He died.’’ ‘‘I’m so sorry to hear that’’, John replied uncomfortably.’’ It’s fine. It wasn’t the only thing my dad killed.’’ John was speechless. He didn’t expect an answer like that at all. John had no experience with situations like this and thought that a nervous bark might just break the awkwardness. Arthur’s face quivered. It flushed and blushed -as red as a freshly stabbed, bloody wound. He wanted to cry, but his face was a deserted desert. Drained. It felt like wanting to take a tinkle but not having any fluid.
‘‘Hey buddy, calm down, okay? I know this is difficult for you. No one expects it to be easy as pie.’’ John looked at him and held both of his hands tightly.’’I trust you and I hope you trust me? I’m here to help you and won’t let anything happen to you. That may have been the first time Arthur smiled in a few years. John picked up the list of the questions he had to ask him. After a quick scan, he ripped the paper into pieces. ‘‘We don’t need this. Arthur, start from the beginning. Tell me everything, and I mean, everything.
‘‘I am Arthur Fraser, a 10-year-old man with a heart larger than Ur-anus.’’
‘‘Sorry, Mom. As I was saying, I’m pretty much every girl’s dream husband. I have blonde hair. Even more blonde than goldilocks herself. People have no choice but to wear their best sunglasses when they come within a five-metre radius of my expensive, sapphire blue eyes. I would’ve been a finalist for Hitler’s perfect race. I’m literally so hot I have The Carolina Reaper for blood cells coursing through my veins, and don’t you forget it!
‘‘ Arthur, remember who bought you this voice recording doohickey for your birthday? May your mommy have a go?’’
‘‘My name is Helen and I’m the mother of the house. I’m also known as the housemaid, the hideous witch, and the yellow snakelike spitting monster. My kids also say I’m a superb cook, but it’s not like I have a choice. My favourite holiday is mother’s day which is the only day where I don’t have to lift a finger. Even though my boys drive me totally insane, I could’ve never wished for better. Honey, it’s your turn.’’
‘‘Greetings person, alien or robot listening to this. I am Elton, the family’s personal bank. I was a war veteran but now spend my time working as a clinical pharmacologist. Some say I am pretty good looking. People have confused me with Tom Cruise a few times, but I must admit, there is a striking resemblance. Fun fact, Arthur is my favourite son. Just kidding! Okay, firstborn, I had enough. It’s your turn!’’
‘’ I am the firstborn child. My name is Mike. I am 19 years old and still haven’t tasted a drop of alcohol. I see myself as a decent guy, a gentleman. To this day, I still wonder why I haven’t got a girlfriend. I’m not a blondie, so I don’t understand what the problem is. Anyway, I see my role in this household as the most important. The glue that keeps our family together.’’
‘‘Your family sounds wonderful, Arthur’’ He looked at John, gave a deep sigh, and continued.
It was my birthday. We were on our way to go ice skating. I was playing with the digital voice recorder my parents bought me and wore my brand new red hat my brother gave me. We told stories, sang songs and played exciting games. It was an unforgettable day.
When we finally got there, we almost instantly put our skates on. The ice looked smooth and we could see the swirling of the rainbow scales through the ice. The best thing was that we were the first people there. It felt like getting a new, expensive car and smelling its new car smell. I loved the cold, peaceful breeze that blew against my face and the rhythmical left and right swaying. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I learned from the best. My big brother never left my side, not even when a bunch of hot girls showed up. We all fell so many times on the icy floor and never stopped laughing. There wasn’t much snow because the season was changing and the snow and ice were slowly melting, but the guy said the ice was still sturdy enough to skate on.
How I wish we didn’t listen to that guy.
As I was skating, I found a side of the lake that had strange patterned ice. I went closer to investigate this textured ice. My mother could see me from the other side. She warned me that the ice could be unstable and that I had to get away. I remembered I didn’t listen to her and went even closer. She tried to warn me for the last time with the words ‘‘You’re on thin ice Arther.’’
The ice started cracking. All I could do was freeze. I felt so cold like winter had come once more. It felt like standing on one of those popular glass bridges that were always so high up where you could see your own grave waiting for you. I couldn’t speak. All I could do was turn my head and look terrified in my brother’s direction. He quickly realised that I was in trouble and hurried to come to save me. By slowly walking over the cracking ice, he reached me and quickly grabbed me. I was so relieved and remember just squeezing him so tight. It was a big fright to us all, but at least we were safe. I tried to reach for my hat that my brother had bought me, but realised that I had dropped it where the ice was cracking. I told my brother that it fell when he saved me and that it wasn’t necessary or safe to go fetch it. What was I thinking? I know my brother. I should’ve known he was going to fetch it for me, anyway. He skated all the way back to the other side of the lake. He stood there and waved at me with my hat. The second I looked away to show my mother and father, he disappeared. They pushed me out of the way screaming ‘‘Mike!’’ I was so overwhelmed and didn’t know what had happened. Once again, I stood there frozen. When I heard a woman dialling 911, the shock kicked in and I cried as I hurried to go help him. When I got near, I saw my parents cry in each other’s arms. From a safe distance, I looked in the hole. I saw the last few bubbles escape from the bottom of the lake and my red hat floating on the surface. I lost my brother, my friend, our superglue that day.
‘‘Arthur, I don’t know what to say,’’ John said, holding back the tears. This must have been so hard on you all. I have also lost a son. It was a case eleven years ago about a baby that was stolen out of the hospital. My baby was a few days old when he somehow got kidnapped. I never stopped looking for him. I was obsessive, which caused lots of problems between me and my wife.’’
‘‘Why did you stop looking for him?’’
‘‘The doctors diagnosed my wife with lung cancer. I tried to forget about everything else and only focus on her. Unfortunately, the cancer spread too fast and she passed away after her first year of treatment. It took me years to accept her death and thought that focussing on my job might help me cope, but…’’ There was a moment of silence before the waterworks begun. ‘‘I’m sorry. It’s insensitive and unprofessional of me to be acting like a real crybaby. I feel so ashamed.’’ ‘‘It is nothing to be ashamed of, mister John. My dad always said whenever I cried about my brother, ’’Crying is for wimps’’. Be a man. Big boys don’t cry.’’ He never cried, not even at the funeral, but mommy used to tell me that crying is healthy for our body, soul and spirit. She said that it is like putting a Band-aid on a wound so it can heal. If you pick the scab, you interrupt the healing process. You feel the pain all over again and have to wait for another scab to form. If you keep on picking, you will have a permanent mark that will never go away. Holding back the tears will stop you from healing.
‘‘Thank you, Arthur, I feel much better. You are a wise young man. Your mother was as well.’’ Arthur gave a big, nearly toothless, appreciative smile. ‘‘It sounds like the family didn’t take your brother’s death too well. Do you mind telling me what happened after his death?’’
After the funeral, everything changed. My parents didn’t speak to me or to each other. They stayed in their rooms locked up for weeks. My dad didn’t go to work and my mom never made food. I had to whip up peanut butter sandwiches and take it to their rooms just to ensure that they got something to eat. I cleaned the house, mowed the lawn and walked Alex, my dog, every day. No one could drive me to school, so I had to walk 6 miles to get there and always got in trouble for being late.
I remember coming home from school one day. It was a tough day because my teacher spoke to the class about the exhilarating weekend she had with her brother. We all could tell she really enjoyed it, but after a while, it felt like there was an immortal fly in the classroom. After nearly falling off the table laughing, she popped the question that ruined the whole day for me.
‘‘Those of you who have siblings raise your hands!’’
This was awkward, for I was the only one in my class who didn’t raise their hands immediately. I thought she would just ask more questions if I said I didn’t have any siblings and later raised my hand as well. She was a new teacher and only knew our names. I understand she was excited about the weekend she had and being a new teacher, but that didn’t make it hurt less.
‘‘Who would like to share something about their siblings? No one? How about you, Arthur? I love the hat you are wearing. Red goes perfectly with almost anything.’’
Well played Universe, well played. Wherever I go, you are there, trying to ruin my life.
‘‘I… I have an older brother’’
Suddenly, the owls turned their heads,270 degrees, locked onto me like I was their next meal. They never talk to me or really know me. Why now so interested?
‘‘Well, isn’t that nice? Does he go to this school?’’
‘‘He’s not here.’’
‘‘Oh, let me guess.’’ He is in college?’’
‘‘A father with a happy family?’’
‘‘Then where is he?’’
‘‘Heaven. He fell through the ice when we went ice skating. He went to fetch the hat I had dropped, which he had bought for my birthday. Mike passed away in 2015 on the 13th of February. He passed on my birthday.
In a flash, everyone turned around with their heads now in their books while my teacher stuttered trying to apologise and eventually changed the subject to something based on academics.
For the rest of the day, I tried not to drown in the deep, icy stares and repeated whispering.
Standing in front of our house door, I comforted myself, knowing it would be a quiet afternoon. I made some lunch and went to my room. On my way there, I saw both of my parents out of their rooms arguing in the office. I couldn’t exactly make out what they were arguing about, but I heard my dad tell my mom ‘‘ If it wasn’t for him and his dumb hat, Mike wouldn’t have died.’’ I didn’t bother listening to the rest and went to my room.
‘‘He was right. It was my fault.’’ ‘‘Boy, don’t blame yourself John said.
‘‘I am responsible for his death, and my parents’!’’
‘‘Arthur, what do you mean? John asked fearfully. Tell me what happened.’’This whole time, he truly believed that Arthur didn’t murder his parents and that there was another reason for their death. He listens to what Arthur has to say.
I Thought that their fighting was only a one-time thing and even tried to be on my best behaviour so they wouldn’t argue over me again, but after their first fight, everything escalated. The fighting continued and got worse every time.
One morning, my dad stormed out of the house. I had a feeling that they weren’t fighting about me anymore. He went to quit his job working as a clinical pharmacologist at Noble Pharmaceuticals. For being the house’s only source of income, his resignation had a drastic effect on the way we were living. My parents couldn’t afford my school fees anymore and had to withdraw me from public school. Mom had to homeschool me and had to work as a housemaid after unsuccessfully convincing my dad to find another job. We couldn’t afford our rent and got evicted. My dad was furious.
He had the same villainous look as Buck. I have never seen a side of my dad filled with so much hatred.
We found a tiny, old, nearly dilapidated home to move into further away from the city. There were a few houses around where none were really decent to live in. They all looked like the birthplace of the Daulatpur–Saturia tornado. Worst of all, our house was next to the city’s main sewerage pipe, which was broken for almost a year, spilling you know what, all around our small, miserable yard. We barely had flowing water and electricity. Alex actually liked the home. He always ran around crazy barking with excitement. We also had very peculiar neighbours. They would just come into our house and take our food, then my dad would go over there and argue with them. One time, the parents send their children, armed with knives, to threaten us. They had malicious, cannibalistic grins and looked like they did killing as a sport.
There was at least one cool thing about the location we stayed in. At the back of the house, there was a beautiful, deep forest with enormous trees and a hillock covered with blood-red flowers in front of it. My mother used to call them mums. I spend long hours looking at the gorgeous view from our kitchen window especially when they were fighting.
Dad never really spoke to me again, but my mom didn’t seem to blame me like dad did and tried everything to make me feel happy. She tucked me in at night and even made me my favourite sandwich for lunch.
A few months later, I stumbled upon a jar half-filled with money that I saw in my mother’s closet when I went to go put her shoes away. I was trying to show a bit of gratitude towards my mom.
The jar read…
Job savings: Arthur’s public school.
I then checked my mum’s bedside cabinet, curious about what she might leave in there. The items that were held inside were quite unsuspected. Why would she need a knife and a gun was hidden in there? I assumed it was for protecting her whenever someone might break-in. Probably from the crazy, man-eating neighbours.
Late that night, the sound of my father’s screaming voice woke me, followed by whale-like lady shrieks. ‘‘Give me the jar, woman!’’ I flew out of my bed thinking it was thieves and went to the kitchen. Mom was on the ground, covering her left eye with her hand while my father massaged his fist with an ice pack.
‘‘What's going on? Are you two fighting again?’’
I was still drowsy and unsure of what I saw.
‘‘It’s ok Arthur. Mommy and daddy were just having a talk. You can go back to bed’’
I knew they were telling lies, but I decided that my sleep was much more worth it and went back to bed.
That whole week, my parents acted strangely. Every day mom’s skin had more tattooed marks and bruises while my father smelled more like cigarettes and the bar Mike and I used to walk past to go to the ice cream shop.
I don’t know how he paid for all the alcohol, but he always came home wasted.
He was also very mad at Alex the entire week. He Kicked Alex whenever he got hold of dad’s shoes and refused that we feed him anymore. Later that week, Alex disappeared. My dad said he saw a wolf carry Alex away in its jaws. Alex’s death hit me quite hard, but I didn’t believe that a wolf really killed him. Dad started staying home for a change, but he locked himself in the room where he kept all of his work-related items.
Today was probably the most normal day we had in a long time. Everyone ate breakfast at the same table. My father was gardening and mom was cleaning the house. The crazy neighbours weren’t home and not once did my parents fight. I was in my room reading comics and playing with my LEGO set. It felt like it was my birthday. A real one. One not involving death. My mom also spent a lot of time with me that day. It felt like she wanted to make up for something, but I didn’t care. All that mattered was having her with me.
Later, my father came in just before sundown. He asked me to walk to the first house near the main gate to retrieve a package someone sent him. I thought it would be fun and interesting to see all the other houses for a change. Mom tried to stop me. She said there were a lot of dangerous animals out there. When I agreed to go, she became anxious. She even offered to go with me, but my dad said that I was becoming older and braver and that I could do it by myself.
As I was walking, I saw all the other houses. These neighbours were very different. They were friendly people and waved as I passed. When I reached the gate, it was already nightfall. It was so dark I couldn’t see the package. It felt like there wasn’t a package at all. I started getting scared and went back home. When I was about 100 metres away from the house, I heard my mom scream in terror.
When I rushed into the house, I saw her, motionless on the cold, hard tiles in a puddle of emerald-green blood covered with stab wounds. The knife from her bedside cabinet and a syringe were next to her. I yelled for help, hoping my dad would come and save her, but it didn’t look like she was breathing anymore.
The colour of her blood was the least of my worries. I wanted the murderer to pay and remembered that a gun was also in mom’s bedside cabinet. When I went to check, it wasn’t there anymore. The murderer took the gun. I have never felt this scared before in my life and needed to find my dad.
When I got to the kitchen, I saw him standing on the hillock directly under the moon’s spotlight. He stood there with the gun against his head. I screamed for him to put the gun down but all He could do was to turn around and look at me with his guilty eyes before pulling the trigger. Instantly dead lost between all the flowers.
At that moment, I wished I was dead as well. On the ground, I lay and sobbed. I couldn’t stop and didn’t want to. I lost everything. My mom, my dad and Mike. It was my fault mike drowned. I never should’ve left mom alone with him. The signs were there, but I ignored them. The stupid, idiot I am! She always had bruises and marks after she fought with him. What kind of son Am I?
After a while, I heard sirens, and I saw you.
‘‘That is pretty much my entire life. We lost the glue and are now broken into pieces.’’ He looked at John’s startled face. ‘‘You don’t have to believe me. I can see in your face you think I’m making everything up.’’
‘‘No Arthur, I believe you. You are a brave young man that had a miserable life. You lost everything and everyone that meant the most to you.
Suddenly, one of the forensic scientists came in. He called John to the one-way mirror room to talk about the evidence they found.
‘‘There appears to be no sign of Arthur’s DNA on any of the murder weapons. The wife died from a severe overdose of a drug, related to sulphonamides, which caused the mother’s blood to look green. The Husband synthesised the drug himself at home but it was completely modified. We’ve seen nothing quite like it. We found his DNA on the syringe used to inject the wife with the drug, as well as DNA on the gun. The husband committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after killing his wife.
‘‘So Arthur’s chances are good?’’
‘‘Yes. We will just have to wait for the preliminary inquiry and the court appearance, but none of the evidence points at him or any of the neighbours.
‘‘There is one more thing. When we took DNA tests of the father, mother and Arthur, it showed that they weren’t his real biological parents.
‘‘That’s awful. He has been living a lie his whole life. He grew up in a loving family, built a relationship with them, lost them all, and will now find out they weren’t his actual parents. I don’t think we should tell him right away.’’
‘‘Yeah, sure. I understand. Thanks to previous police cases, medical records from the hospital down the street and a gut feeling, I found Arthur’s biological parents.’’
‘‘No, you didn’t. Really?’’
‘‘Yes, I did.’’
‘‘Then who is it?’’
‘‘John, it’s you. You are Arthur’s biological father.
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