Joined: 05 May 2012
|Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:21 pm Post subject: The Hidden Crime - Chapter 2 - Just another bloody day.
WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE.
The entire story (to date) in beautiful, readable HTML, courtesy of the wonderful Dropbox. Great for catching up, too. Link: The Hidden Crime
Chapter 2: Just another bloody day.
The nicely formatted version: In HTML
I felt like I was drowning. I couldn't focus. Every breath I took was a gasp for survival.
I wanted it to end. I should have just told Dan. I couldn't do this alone. I couldn't.
Even if he didn't trust me. Even if he went to the cops. At least I wouldn't be by myself.
I was vaguely aware of the shuffling behind the wall next to me. Drawers were being opened and slammed shut. It's in the 2nd drawer next to your coffee table, you dork. Maybe if he wasn't so swamped with his neurosurgical residency, he might actually know his own apartment better than I did.
Suddenly, the fog in my mind cleared up. It felt like I had snapped awake. It then dawned on me that if I did nothing, Dan was going to find me covered in blood. Blood that wasn't mine. As if in reaction to this new layer of horror, piled on top of everything else, my body responded on its own. It leapt up from where it fell next to the collapsed bookshelf. Then, it sprinted across the living room, into my bedroom.
That was his front door. Ten seconds. I grabbed my bedsheet and yanked it off frantically. The carpet---shit! I didn't have time to think, so I reached into my laundry basket, and tossed the first thing I could grab onto the bloody patch. Then, I dragged my bedsheet and my blanket into the living room.
The sound of rattling keys reached my ears as it was being inserted into my deadbolt lock.
I stuffed everything into my washing machine and tried to start it. Dammit machine, turn on! But I was too late. My front door clicked in satisfaction and was starting to swing open. My heart stopped in my chest. I dashed into my bathroom, but before I could close the bathroom door, I slipped over the wet tiles and fell on my side with a cuss.
"Seb?" I heard Dan's concerned voice, as he walked towards me.
I quickly reached over and pushed the door shut while I was still on my side. As I picked myself off the bathroom floor, I felt a numb aching sensation along my left ribs and thigh. I must have bruised it when I fell. I leaned against the door, afraid that Dan might try to enter. Fuck, did he see? He was looking right at me. Could he see the blood on my shirt or pants from that angle? What if he opened the washing machine, or kicked off my dirty laundry on the carpet stain?
"Holy cakes," I heard him exclaim softly.
Dread filled my already petrified heart. Suddenly aware of how guilty I must've looked, I tried to think of an explanation. One that my best friend would believe. Then, I was struck by a heavy dose of guilt. Why was I hiding from him? It was Dan. I could trust him. Just like he trusted me. It wasn't too late for me to come clean, explain it all to him. My wavering hand reached for the door handle. It was either that, or go through all this by myself. I wasn't strong enough, not for two years now.
"What did you---what happened to your bookshelf?"
I snatched my hand away from the handle. For the second time today, a fog cleared up in my mind. He saw nothing. He must have been distracted by the fallen furniture. "It, uh, fell."
He chuckled. "Really? I couldn't have figured that one out myself!" A pause. "You okay, man?"
"Yeah, of course. I'm just, you know, taking a shower now." It was only after I said it that I realised it was actually a good idea. I immediately turned on the shower and stripped off my blood-soaked clothes. I winced as I realised the bruises along my side was worse than I thought.
I heard Dan's muffled acknowledgement over the shower noise. Under the spray, I scrubbed myself as hard as I could, until my skin turned red and raw. It was then I became aware of the dull pain in my right hand. When did I hurt my hand?
After I was done, I grabbed my bloodied shirt and jeans and tried to drown them in soapy water. At first, it worked. But I quickly discovered that there were still large stains that wouldn't come off. Fuck! What do I do? It didn't occur to me that the blood stains might be permanent. There was no way I can leave the bathroom without Dan seeing this. My heart thumped violently in my chest. Think, think, think, think---yes, that's it.
I wrapped my incriminating shirt and jeans tightly around my waist. Then, I wrapped a large towel over them. If Dan didn't look too hard, he wouldn't notice anything strange. I took a deep breath, put on my best poker face, and stepped out of the bathroom. My friend was facing the fallen bookshelf, with his back at me. He turned towards me and looked at me, down at my towel, and back at me again. Without a word, I walked past him, into my bedroom and shut the door. I held my breath in anticipation.
Nothing. He didn't say anything. I breathed a sigh of temporary relief. Realising that he was still waiting for me, I hastily hid the bloodied clothes in my laundry basket and got dressed in plain shirt and pants. Then, I counted to three slowly in my head.
You can do this. I reentered my living room. My best friend was carrying a first aid kit---from my kitchen---in his right hand. At first I was perplexed. Then I saw it. My bookshelf was upright against the wall. Dan must have pushed it back up. I stared in horror at the bloody handprint on the lower shelf, out in the open.
"Alright, where's the cut?" Dan lifted the kit and grinned sympathetically.
I froze. There was no cut. Dan was going to find out the blood wasn't mine. Get your act together! "I…I already took care of it."
"So? Surgeon here, remember? I'm pretty sure I can do a better job."
"I said it's fine!"
My best friend looked dejected. "Alright, alright, no need to bite my head off, man." He went into the kitchen and put my first aid kit back on top of the fridge. "Bad hangover from last night?"
My heart skipped a beat. Did Dan know anything about last night? I swallowed. "I can't really remember."
He laughed at that. "I'm not surprised, you must have had three dozen shots by the end of the night. I thought I had to carry you home myself!"
I held my breath. Flashes from the night suddenly filled my head. Excruciatingly loud 90's disco music. Coloured spotlights were moving to the beat. Dan was by the bar, with an arm around a pretty blonde. He had a wide grin across his face as he looked at me. I was dancing with a brunette---a very drunk and grabby one.
"So, how was she?" he asked knowingly, yanking me back into the present. It then occurred to me what that question meant. I must have left the club with her.
"I…I don't remember." Oh god, no. The blood. Was it…
"Not even a bit? A girl that fine?" he made a squeezing gesture with both his hands.
I didn't say a word. He had no idea how much I had wished I could remember. But now, I wasn't so sure anymore. I had never been violent. Not that you remember...
He roared in laughter, surprising me out of my thoughts. "After two years, I finally got through to you, and you don't even remember!"
I stepped back and collapsed into my couch. "Dan, please…" I started, before realising I had no idea what I wanted. This was all too much.
My best friend stopped laughing and sighed sadly. He leaned over and grabbed my head affectionately. We locked our eyes. "Seb, you have to move on. It's been two years."
We didn't say anything to each other for a while. Everything that could have been said about two years ago, had already been said. But, for once, my mood today wasn't about that day. And I couldn't tell him that. He sighed in defeat and let me go.
"Anyway, I have to go back studying," he walked towards my front door. "By the way, aren't you late for work?"
"Oh, fuck!" I looked at the clock in my kitchen. My group was going to be royally pissed at me. "Dammit!"
"Whoa, calm down, man. Call in sick. Just don't tell them why," he winked at me.
I ran into my bedroom and packed up my laptop. "You don't understand," I yelled from my bedroom. "This research can't wait. We have too much competition!"
"Dude, you were bleeding, like, five seconds ago. I'm pretty sure they'll let you off this time," he reasoned as he stepped outside my apartment. He stuck his head back in. "Speaking of which, use salt---or peroxide if you have it---to wash off the stains before it dries. It becomes permanent if you leave it for too long," he finished as he shut the door.
The illusion shattered at his parting remarks. For a brief moment, everything was normal again. Why did he have to mention the blood? I closed my eyes and let myself think. My research group at the University will definitely notice if I skipped work today. No one was more motivated in this project than I was. I had always taken my experiments seriously, and everyone in my group knew that.
But, maybe I should get rid of the blood first, as Dan had suggested. I looked around my apartment. Of course, he had no idea how much blood I had to clean up. There were too many stains around, and I simply didn't have enough salt, or---what was it---peroxide, to do it all. I needed to get more.
My thoughts drifted to the brunette girl last night. I could almost remember her face. But no matter how hard I tried, her name wouldn't come to me. Maybe Dan knew her name? Dread filled my heart as I thought about turning on the news. There was a newsstand a few blocks from the apartment. If nothing was reported, then maybe everything was fine? But what if something was reported?
I shook my head. So many things I had to do. But I couldn't do it all, not in one day.
to be continued...