CHAPTER FORTY FOUR
“Look at me, Brian” Rage filled the already belligerent voice.
Jimmy slowly made his way through the bushes, careful not to disturb any of the woodland beneath his feet. Didn’t want to give himself away before he even had a chance to end this situation.
“Fucking look at me! Down here in the fucking open grave.” More anger, emphasised by the shouting.
From where he stood, it looked as though the situation had changed considerably. A man was down and another was shouting his mouth off. It wasn’t how he’d expected. He’d expected to talk the pop star kid down. That would’ve been easy…but this situation looked volatile.
“That’s a good boy”.
Moans came from the man on the ground as he tried to manoeuvre himself up. He had a wound to his shoulder…probably a gunshot. The guy in the ‘hole’ had a pistol aimed right at him. Jimmy saw that negotiation wasn’t going to work. He’d have to disarm him blindly.
“Please Billy…”, the kid begged.“Just stop this all now”.
The voice was frail. Weary. As though he had no fight left in him. He sounded as though he’d suffered intolerably…
“Jimmy, he doesn’t sound good. We’ve got to move fast.”
Jimmy nodded his head, taking in what his partner had suggested. He had dealt with this kind of situation before. The guy has the gun aimed, and in the time it takes the cops to ready themselves, the hostage is shot dead. He didn’t want that to happen…
“Stop this? I’m not going back to jail, Brian. They can kill me now before that happens, and I’m not afraid to fucking take you with me.”
Bearded cop looked to his left and saw his back-up. Knowing it was risky to maintain eye contact with them, he turned his attention back to the criminal.
Brian winced as another shot of pain ran up his arm and into his chest. It felt tight. He felt as though he were going to die.
“Does it hurt? Well that’s a relief.” Billy had no empathy. No pity at all.
Brian merely clutched at his bleeding shoulder, trying to stem the pain that was coming with every heartbeat. Pulsating, rhythmic pain that you could almost dance to. Beating, dreadfully alive pain that you could count the seconds with. Advancing and diminishing pain that just did not relent.
“You son of a…”Brian started, before another wave of hurt hit him and he was unable to complete his insult.
“Not good with words, are you baby? Never mind. I’m getting tired of this crap. I want some action. I want a fucking outcome.”
“I’m going to count to three, Fernandez, and you’re going to end this charade.”
Bearded cop had do give him something to work on, and this was what he’d been taught. Place a time on them, see how they grasp it.
Billy closed his eyes, as though he had known it had to end sooner. He looked serene, almost pitiful, as though he were praying to God for an escape which would never come. Hopeless dreams and prayers were worthless…
He gritted his teeth, then relaxed them, exhaling as though exhausted.
“Ok”, he whispered.
Chico double-took. Had his determination just ebbed away with the seconds? What the Hell was that?
Brian held his breath. Could it really end so abruptly? Could this pain really end on the count of three?
“I’m done. Stick a fork in me”, Billy said, his voice shaking with emotion. He almost genuinely felt it…
“I mean it, Fernandez”, the cop said, and Billy nodded.
Fernandez knew it was coming, and he knew that it had to end sooner or later. He was just glad he had fought so long and so hard. He’d be pleased with the outcome, he knew he would.
“One”, Bearded began.
Jimmy was confused. He had to read the situation as he saw fit. At the moment, Fernandez was raising his gun slowly with his hands, as though surrendering. His eyes remained closed, deep in thought, and the words came as though in slow motion. It was like a scene from a poorly acted gangster movie…
There was something strange about this. SO desperate to avoid prison; so determined to bruise and maim the kid before him, so eager to cause him any kind of pain that he possibly could, clutching at straws as to what that pain may be, acting upon chance if it arose…which it had…what was going through his mind here? Chico was completely in the dark…
In the split second before the final number was uttered, his serenity had diminished and what Jimmy noticed to be a slight smile appearedat the corners of his lips…
….and then Jimmy knew.
He had known only as the shot was fired. He didn’t know if it had been instinctual or not, but he had known.
CHAPTER FORTY FIVE
Brian fell backwards, landing on his back, the blood still pumping from his shoulder. The gunshot had shocked him, sent him reeling, and he breathed in staccato as he tried his best to stop his heart from bursting.
The gun flew into the air as the shot was fired, landing somewhere behind its owner in the bushes that surrounded him. Instinctively, he reached for his bicep, where the burning sensation was coming from, in complete and utter shock. His face showed his surprise, eyes wide, teeth exposed.
Jimmy kept his aim. If he'd have been milliseconds later, Brian would be lying in the same position he was in now, only he'd be lying dead. He'd hit the target square in the upper arm, causing him to reflexively release the gun and teeter backwards with the force of the blow.
"You fucking bastard, you shot me", he yelled, his voice filled with surprise, making it almost high pitched. He shook with rage, feeling his heart race as he felt the same kind of pain as what he had caused in Brian.
"Come out, Billy. It's all over. You didn't win."
Brian covered his ears, the slight movement making his shoulder cry out in anguish and his voice catch in his throat. He didn't want to listen to this any more. He wanted out.
"The fuck I didn't."
He was determined, but injured. He was positive, yet stained with his own blood. Brian merely sobbed into the ground, ignoring the dirt that coloured his lips or the grit that caught in his teeth.
Chico got the handcuffs from his belt, and unclicked them. He'd be needing them shortly.
"Who are you, anyway? Do you enjoy sneakin' around the bushes like a fucking wolf? Is that what you are?" He winced as he spoke.
Jimmy shook his head, refusing to take it.
"Come on, son. Let's sort this out like mature human beings. Come down to the station with us, and we'll.."
"Fuck, no! I'm not going in no cell. You can kill me before you do that."
Billy assessed the situation. He was caught. He had no escape. He didn't even have the gun so he could shoot himself in the fucking head. The only thing he had was Brian.lying on the floor, broken and shivering as he had been in that cell all those weeks ago. Now he knew how it felt to be shattered.
Even Jimmy wasn't expecting the next action, but he was prepared for anything.
Brian spoke softly to himself, as though trying to calm his rampant thoughts. "Shh..", he whispered, ".don't scream. Don't scream." His actions were repetitive, also, and bearded cop wondered whether the kid had snapped. He'd seen them snap over less.
Billy seized his chance. He lunged at Brian, grasping at his legs and revelling in the screams he brought forth. The kid didn't even fight back. He just lay still, taking the blows as they rained on him. It wasn't bravery, it was helpless defeat.
Chico grasped his handcuffs, desperately trying to remove the leech from the terror ridden boy, but he managed only to receive a sharp kick to the abdomen. Bearded radioed for assistance, whilst Jimmy made a move behind him. The unexpected was his best bet. He couldn't shoot and run the risk of hitting Brian.
"You fucking pussy, fight back."
Brian merely cried, clutching his head against the blows that were coming, fighting the pain away.
"Get him off him", Chico yelled, catching his breath back. Bearded threw himself at Billy, wrestling him over the stricken boy. He was strong, his last effort being his strongest. It was almost as if that was what he had been building towards.
"Please.I can't breathe". Brian gathered his strength. His words were so pitiful.
Upon bringing Billy into sitting position, bearded cop tried to calm him. He reached for his neck, squeezing as hard as he could with the last gasp efforts. Jimmy saw his chance, and took shot.
Billy's arms slumped at his sides as the shot went through his head. He was endangering lives.it had been a warranted shot.
"Fucking Hell", Chico yelled, running to Brian and pulling him gently into sitting position. "You're all right, now".
Brian was shaking, panicky eyes searching for escape. His mind was somewhere else.
"I hope the damned ambulance gets here, soon."
Jimmy and his partner emerged from the bushes, looking at the dead man lying on his back, eyes wide open, staring at the sky. Brian couldn't take his eyes off Billy's open mouth and shocked expression.
"Cover him up", Jimmy whispered, sensing the kid's fear. "He's already done enough to him. Don't let him do any more."
Brian stared intently at the men as they covered his tormentor's face. The words rang out in his brain. 'We all have a face that we hide away forever.' Billy's was a face that he would be living with for the rest of his life.
He could allow himself to fall, now. There was nobody to watch him drown.
CHAPTER FORTY SIX
“Oh My God, they found him.”
Jackie held the phone in shaking hands, her face filled with joy. Her smile plastered her face, wide eyed and beautiful, at least for a few moments.
And then it was gone.
AJ looked at Kevin, who’s eyes defeated him. He seemed cool, but in his blue orbs there was panic, fear. He had waited for hours for news, and now it didn’t look good. Maybe his aunt’s feeling had been right. Maybe a mother’s instinct was never wrong.
She sounded filled with angst and confusion. Harold stroked her back, willing her to be strong for the few seconds left of the conversation.
“Was there a struggle?” she asked, nodding her head as if in unison with the reply. They were all getting the story in dribs and drabs, judging on what she was saying.
“Thank you, Officer.. Thank you again.”
She replaced the receiver, and burst into tears. Holding it in for those extra seconds had been agony.
“What is it? What is it, honey? Is he…?”
“NO! He’s not dead, Harold. I’d have known…no, he’s not dead.”
The guys felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from their hearts, the dark shadow that had loomed over them melting away and leaving hope. AJ released a tear down his cheek for his suffering friend, and Kevin rubbed his leg in comfort. Nothing was in it, only friendship.
“Is he ok?” Nick asked, braving the silence and breaking the ice. Jackie dried her eyes.
“He’s being airlifted to hospital right now. They said they’d call when he got there, but for us not to arrive early. Security protocol.”
“I understand”, Howie offered, knowing full well what the ‘security protocol’ was. It was all to do with them being celebrities…
“What about Billy?”
The words seemed so final; so horrifically final. Billy was dead, and Brian was badly hurt. They were blank on the rest of the events, but it killed them to think that the situation involved their brother, their baby brother. Even AJ and Nick saw him as their baby brother, despite the fact that he was older than both of them.
“Are they gonna call?” Kevin asked, and she nodded.
“As soon as they get him there.”
And so they waited again…waited for news of their brother. Waited for news which would save them.
He didn’t feel a thing. Was that normal?
His eyes were closed, vision taking in only blackness. He felt warm, but cold. He felt heavy, but light as a feather. He felt distant, and the voices were like echoes in a tunnel.
He’d felt like this once before, only that time he was dead.
Was he dead now? Was he dying?
He felt the pressure in his shoulder, but it didn’t hurt. It just felt like a thousand hands holding him down, like a thousand tiny stones upon him, keeping him still, holding him firm. It wasn’t pain, like it had been before.
He tried to open his eyes to focus on the sound, but he had no control of himself. No feeling. No pain. No anything.
Why did he not feel a thing?