“I wonder what’s bugging Brian?”, Nick said as he pushed open the door. AJ was sitting inside playing Tekken 3, quite impressively he might add himself.
“He’s got problems like the rest of us, but he’s gonna work them out by himself”, AJ replied.
Settling down to some Tacos, Nick sighed. “Never seen him that wigged before.”
He shuddered, thinking about the glazed look in Brian’s eyes whenever he spoke.He knew he was sick, but was that healthy?
Howie, who had been falling asleep until the screaming and kicking of Tekken had been forced upon him, yawned.
“Maybe he needs some time to think…and who are we to stop him?”
It could barely be understood due to the wideness of his mouth at the time of speaking, but the idea was there.
“We’re his friends. We’re his brothers…and I’m worried about him.”
Howie groaned outwardly, brushing his thick, dark hair away from his eyes, making him more than closely resemble Julio Inglesias.
“Guys, the reason you notice it more is because it is Brian. Happy-go-lucky little Brian who never complains and is always there with a smile on his face. Just give him a little bit of credit, will you? He can’t be perfect all of the time.”
Nick nodded his head. Maybe Howie was right…
“Dammit!” AJ yelled.
“He’ll be ok, Alex”, Howie said, his voice filled with concern. AJ always took these things pretty badly.
“No, I got my ass kicked….”, he said innocently. The other two merely stared at him.
“Come in, Kid. Don’t be afraid…”
Trembling, Brian took the shaky steps towards the guy behind the desk. Marcus, he could only assume. He looked as though he were a model, which Brian hadn’t been expecting. He was expecting the Godfather, and here he was faced with what could only be described as Ricky Martin.
“This’ll only take a minute.”
Brian took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. In out…..just like his sex-life. He felt violated; felt sick. Had he really seen him in that….position?
“First, I need you to sign for it.”
Brian froze. “What?”
If he signed for it, then there would be a record of his involvement.
“I can’t give you the money unless you sign for it, kid.”
He thought about it for a moment, and nodded his head. He could fake a signature. He was good at that. Nobody would ever know…
Brian took the pen and shakily forged an incorrect signature. It looked pretty good. Nobody would think that he’d just invented it on the spot.
“Thank you. Now, here is the money. Be sure to send my regards to William, won’t you?”
Brian nodded his head, putting the envelope into his coat pocket. He turned his back and hurriedly walked, almost ran, out.
“Shit, shit, shit”, he repeated to himself…
He hated to use such words, but this feeling he had warranted something a little bit stronger than ‘damn’. He was walking with stolen money…and he had another few minutes of walking to do before he arrived at the pick-up spot.
He felt as though everybody knew what he was doing, and was constantly looking over his shoulder. What kind of like would this be? What kind of existence would it be to have to watch your back all day, every day?
He was terrified, and his footsteps were somewhat shaky ones. What had he just done? He thought of his friends…
Were they worth it? Of course they were…
He thought of his brothers, who he loved more than life itself. He thought about their faces, and the tears began to fall heavily from his eyes. What was he doing? He wasn’t innocent any more. He wasn’t proud to be religious Brian anymore, because he was a criminal now.
One without a choice.
So immersed was he in his thoughts and his tears that he cut off the rest of the world. So immersed was he in his torment that he could think of nothing BUT the faces of his innocent brothers, smiling as though nothing were happening…
So immersed was he in his thoughts that he didn’t even notice the police car pulling up slowly behind him.
It was practically on his heels before he realised that it was there.
“Son, can we have a few words with you?”
Brian panicked. This was just too much…He looked around for something which would inspire him, but he was trapped. Oh God, he wasn’t really a bad person. He was just a puppet…
“Um…sure”, he stammered. How lame. Talk about SOUNDING guilty.
The two cops got out of their toned-down car and stepped around it to face him. He looked like a scared little boy. They noted his unease.
“It’s ok, son, we only want to talk to you.”
Brian placed his hands into his pockets to try to stem the shaking. He didn’t want to look conspicuous. He didn’t want to look like somebody who had something to hide.
It was almost as difficult to hide the shaking as it was to stop himself from crying.
“May I ask your name?”
Brian closed his eyes. “Uh, B-Brian. Brian Littrell.”
The taller cop took the name down into his notepad. “L-I-T-T-R-E-L-L, is that right?” he asked Brian, who nodded nervously. Here he was, stolen money in his coat pocket, in the middle of one of the worst areas he knew of. Oh dear Lord, what was he doing?
“Well, Mr Littrell. Would you be kind enough to accompany us to the station? We need to ask you a few questions.”
Brian’s heart stopped. “Why?”
The policeman took him by the arm. “Please, just come with us?”
Brian began breathing heavily. What the Hell was going on? Why were the police taking him in for questioning?
“Um, Sir? What is it about?”
Big cop sighed. “We’ve had a phonecall. One we thought we should follow up. It gave your name and description.”
Brian almost choked. “Are you arresting me?”
“No, son, we just need to ask you some questions, now if you will?”
He opened the back door of the police car, and Brian looked inside. It was ‘open’, and he would surely be seen being driven through town in this thing. What would people say? What if the media saw him?
“Um….”, he exhaled. He tried to breathe, but he found himself growing dizzy. He fought to regain his balance, but the feeling was just overwhelming…
“Are you alright, Mr Littrell?” the smaller cop asked, genuinely concerned.
Brian’s eyes rolled into the back of his head as he fell to the ground.
His eyes shot open, and he inhaled the deepest breath he possibly could. Shooting up from where he lay, he tried his best to focus his eyes away from the blinding light that was shining over his head.
He wondered where he was; confusion sweeping over his young mind, until he remembered…
He was going to die if this got out.
“Mr Littrell. Glad to see you’ve decided to join us. You’ve been out for a good half hour.”
Brian shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. “What?” he whispered, his throat dryer than a camel in a sandstorm. He coughed…pretty hard at that.
“Would you like a glass of water?” his companion asked him. Brian nodded his head. A glass of water would be nice.
“I….I want to call my Mom”, he said, tiny voiced and wide eyed. The cop who had been sitting with him looked at him as though he were crazy. He’d never heard such a childlike voice…
“All in good time, kid”, he said, handing Brian the glass of water.
“Thank you”, he said as he took the drink and gulped it down. It would help his head, which was aching. He got stress headaches quite a bit, and they seared. They cut into his forehead like shattered ice.
“We need to get started as quickly as possible, then you can make your calls if needs be”, the ginger haired, softly spoken cop told him.
Brian was a rabbit in headlights. Nowhere to run; nowhere to hide. No way out of his certain death situation. He wasn’t feeling well enough to contemplate his options just this minute…it could wait. It wasn’t as if he was going anywhere.
“I’ll send Larry down to speak to you in a few minutes, then we’ll see about getting an iterview room.”
Brian nodded his head, ignoring the pain the motion caused him. He was going to be in a lot worse pain than that if he didn’t get his brain in working order pretty soon.
He had the feeling that this was going to be a long night.
Kevin finished cleaning up around his coffee table, putting the playing cards back into their correct box and tidying up the papers Kristen had left before she had started on supper. Chicken soup…good for the soul. Good for the heart, too…
“Honey, I’m just going to give Brian a call, see how he’s fixed for tomorrow. I was thinking of inviting him and the guys over for dinner. Maybe I could whip up one of my famous Richardson specialities.”
Kristen smiled at her handsome husband, wrapping her arms around his waist. She loved it when he had the guys over.
“Sure, baby. Just make sure he doesn’t bring that damned guitar of his. It drives me mad listening to it until 4am.”
Kevin laughed. “I’ll tell him to leave Erin behind.”
Kristen looked shocked. “He actually named it? Jesus…”
Brian had a tendancy to get over-involved with his little ventures, hence the naming of the guitar, but it was part of what made him B-Rok. A little eccentric at times, but a good guy. A sweet guy.
If only Kevin knew…
He dialled Brian’s cellphone….
“Switch it off, Brian”, Police officer Larry McCain told him. He was a small, wiry man with a boxer’s nose. He looked like he’d done the rounds a few times. Not a man to mess with, but he seemed a decent enough guy.
Brian obediently reached into his pocket and switched off the cell.
“That’s odd. He switched off. I’m through to the answer-phone.”
Kristin frowned. “Hmm…” until her smile returned.
“Kevin, maybe he’s found someone and doesn’t want to be disturbed.”
Her husband laughed. That was a thought. Was that why he was acting so strangely?
“Could be, honey. Could be…”
Taking her in his arms, he led her upstairs. Before doing so, he made sure to switch off his own cellphone.
“So you mean to tell me that you don’t know what it was you were picking up?”
Brian trembled. “No, I….I just don’t know what it was for.”
He felt sick to the stomach. What was he to do? He couldn’t identify anyone else, didn’t know where the HQ was and had no idea where to find anybody. How was he going to get out of this?
“Well, the phonecall we received described a kid who looked just like you, had your exact name, and you were exactly where they said you would be. How can you explain that?”
He could feel his face beginning to tingle, redness appearing all over it. Along with a stress headache, he was developing a psychosomatic rash. He got that when he was terribly afraid.
“I..I don’t know. Please, I don’t know anything. I was just picking up. I swear, I don’t know anything about it.”
The police officer sighed. “Kid, I can see that you are way over your head. I know who you are, and it is a common occurance for guys like you to get caught up in this kind of thing.”
Brian looked to the floor, utterly ashamed.
“I will ask you one thing straight out. Were you involved in the despatch and retrieval of stolen goods?”
Brian sighed. He knew what he had to do until he thought of another option. He was not going to lie, even if the situation was more complicated than even these guys thought.
“Yes”. His voice was a whisper of anguish.
His brain didn’t allow him to register the reading of his rights. He just blanked it all away, safe in his little haven at the back of his mind where everything was peachy and everything was clean.
He’d be visiting that place a lot in the near future.