Jackie Littrell was in shock as she spoke to her youngest son over the telephone. This was a call she had never expected to get, but here she was, trying to calm him down.
"Honey, have you been interviewed?"
Muffled, he replied. "Yes."
"And did you make any comment?"
Jackie closed her eyes, feeling as though her whole world were falling down around her. She could hear that he had been crying, and was obviously extremely distressed, but even she, in her law-abiding innocence, knew that he shouldn't have spoken without a lawyer being present.
"Oh honey, why didn't you call your lawyer? DIdn't you think?"
"No...I don't know. This has never happened to me before." SHe could hear his panic.
"Shh, it's ok honey. Everything will be ok. I'll call the guy who's dealt with you before and have him go see you. I'll call Kevin and tell him whats going on, also. I'm sure he'll want to know..."
Brian felt a burning sensation behind his eyes. It was in his head, but had now moved to his vision. It was becoming blurred and shaky. He knew how bad these headaches could get...and he wasn't looking forward to feeling that kind of pain aswell as this guilt.
"Thanks, Mom", he whispered. He didn't have much change left, so he decided to cut it short. He didn't want his mother to worry too much; didn't want her to hear him cry.
"I have to go, Mommy. I love you..."
"I love you too, baby, but keep your chin up. We'll be with you soon.
Brian choked up. He loved his family so much, and he had let them all down.
"I'm sorry..." he managed, before hanging up and letting himself go.
He felt like a complete idiot. They had told him he could have a lawyer present, so why hadn't he gone ahead and called? Was he that out of it? He'd probably made the worst mistake of his life, but he had told the truth. He wasn't going to lie to the police...that was so much worse.
Apparently, Mr Perkins was on his way to talk to him right now. Perkins had represented Brian in his case against his management not so long back, and he was a good lawyer. A fair lawyer. If anyone could help him in this situation, it was Perkins.
He'd been taken to a holding cell until he arrived, and it scared him to death. It was so small; so cold looking. He lay down on the bed and shivered. So cold. He felt awful, as though he needed to sleep for a week, but he knew that he wouldn't be getting much of that for awhile.
Billy was probably laughing right now. Laughing at him. Was this his revenge? He has promised it, but Brian never thought it would come in this form. He thought he would have just beaten the crap out of him like he had done before. That would've been a damned site better than turning him into what he was now. Was he a criminal? He didn't know...He hoped that he wasn't.
Brian wondered if Kevin was coming. He needed him right now. He felt as though Kevin would tell him that everything was going to be alright. He felt that he would bring him back down to Earth from wherever he was right now. He certainly wasn't with it.
And he was so cold.....
He hoped Mr Perkins wouldn't be much longer, because he didn't know how much longer he could take this for.
"Don't worry, Jackie. We'll make sure he finds out. You say his cell has been off all night?"
AJ held the phone to his ear, lighting a cigarette with his free hands. He was a chain smoker in times of need, and this certainly could be classified as one of those. Brian arrested? What the Hell was that all about? He hadn't even so much as stolen a library book, and now this? Couldn't be....
"Thanks for calling, and try not to panic. Im sure it will all be alright."
He hung up the phone after saying his goodbyes, and his face was a mask of confusion.
"Are you going to tell us what's up, or do we have to drag it out of you, AJ", Nick commented, his voice worried and somewhat shaky.
AJ took a deep breath, not quite knowing how to say it.
"Brian has been arrested. He's admitted to dealing in stolen goods..."
Howie brought his hands to his mouth in shock. "Oh God.."
"WITHOUT a lawyer present. He's possibly just shot himself in the foot. Poor, naive little Brian. I got to call Kevin."
Howie stammered. "Wait, wait, he admitted it? SO he did actually do it?" That couldn't be.
"Brian, can you tell me what's going on? I don't understand it."
Brian's eyes brimmed with tears. He was a child. He was a little child, and he couldn't stop crying. At least that's how it felt...How could he tell the truth? It could put his friends' lives at risk. They could be anywhere...
"I, um, I....I took the stuff down....in a car yesterday, and today, um, today I got the money for it."
Mr Perkins looked at his client, who was nervously darting around the room with his blue eyes, as though desperate for a way out. He didn't look good, and he'd only been here a few hours.
"What was it that you sold?"
Brian regained composure. "What?"
Mr Perkins repeated the question. "What was it that you sold?"
He didn't know. That was the whole problem. He'd just driven the car. He hadn't looked at what he was carrying because he honestly didn't want to know.
"Just some...stuff. I don't know what it was. Just...stuff."
Mr Perkins could see that his client was hiding something, but he wasn't sure that he was ready to spit it out just yet. Thankfully, he had been given permission to leave, in the understanding that he would return five days from now for a hearing. He wasnt a danger to anybody, so he didn't need to be kept in a cell. Frankly, that was a blessing, because Perkins didnt' think his client could withstand a night in this place. He was, after all, just an innocent kid....or so he thought.
"OK, Brian. I can see that you're not going to open up to me at the time being, but I want you to think about what you have said. You have already admitted that you are guilty, which is something I would not have reccommended, but seen as it is already done, we can't take that back. I want you to get some sleep tonight. See a doctor if you have to, but I want to have a long and formal chat with you tomorrow morning."
Brian nodded his head thoughtfully. He understood that.
"Now I understand that you are being collected from here shortly, so I will leave you to it for now."
Mr Perkins gathered his belongings and stood up. Brian refused to meet his gaze.
"Think about it, Brian", he said, his tone soft. "You must be honest with me, whatever the consequences. If you lie to me, I can't do anything for you."
Brian nodded, the tears spilling down his cheeks and onto the table before him.
"I'll see you in the morning", Perkins said finally, and left the room. The cop who had been waiting outside led Brian back to the holding cell to await his collection.
He looked around at the white walls and the simple grey blanket on the hard, cold bed, and captivated the image in his mind. He might be seeing more of a place like this very shortly.
Billy was a genious....
"Fucking retard. He won't last five minutes. FIVE minutes..."
Billy exhaled a large amount of smoke that he had been holding in his mouth for a little while, and chuckled gleefully. He had done it....and it had been perfect. Just perfect. How easy was it?
"I'll bet his crying his little ass off in some Holding cell right this minute, thinking about what he's done and how he's gonna pay for it. Sissy- Fuck. He won't last five minutes..."
"You said that already, Billy", the small, Puerto Rican kid commented, and was replied with a face full of smoke.
"It's important, you asswipe. Can you imagine it? Little Brian, angel-face, shacking up with his fellow thieves? Hey, he might even be thrown in with a few rapists. Can you imagine what they'll do to him?"
Billy was really enjoying the scenarios his imagination conjured up for him,
Brian,lying bleeding in the shower, crying to the bastard who had just stolen his innocence from him.
Brian, on the front of all the newspapers, with the title Criminal looming over his head.
Brian, danging from prison cell, because it had all became too much for him.
He leaned back and finished off his joint, putting it out on the floor, pretending that the floor was Brian's tender little chest. He imagined him crying out, and it made him feel relieved.
"What if he gets bail?" Puerto Rican kid asked?
Billy smiled. "Even better. We can play with him a little more, then. He likes to play. He's a bad, bad boy.."
The two laughed as they thought about it. It was something that BIlly had been thinking about for so long he didn't remember a time when this WASNT his main priority in life.
Billy had just became engulfed by it all....
AJ entered the small room as the cop opened the door for him. The image was surreal. Brian, lying on the bed, fully dressed and unable to look at him. This wasn’t right. How could this be their B-Rok, looking all tiny and lost in this prison holding cell? The idea in itself was preposterous. Who would Brian need holding from?
“Brian, you ready to roll?” His voice was gentle. He didn’t want to upset his friend more than he already was.
Blue eyes crossed the room to meet with his gentle browns. They were red rimmed and moist with tears. Tears shed in secret. Tears shed for a tearful secret.
Without replying, he stood up from the bed and proceeded to get himself out of that prison of the mind; that white room full of guilt and breaking time.
It didn’t cross his mind to ask about Kevin. He just figured that he didn’t deserve to see any of his family right now. He’d let them all down.
If only they could see the whole picture; if only they could see behind the scenes and not just what appeared on the surface. Maybe then they’d understand…but maybe then, they would be dead.
He rubbed his temple as he went, trying to ease the agony of his throbbing head. Only sleep could do that, and sleep was something which wasn’t going to come easy for him. He hoped he could get his hands on something that would help…
AJ rubbed his back tenderly as he signed for his belongings; his watch and his keys. Of course, they didn’t give him back his envelope filled with money.
The car journey home was silent. AJ wasn’t going to step into Brian’s territory unless he invited him in, and so far, he was a vampire to it. This was too heavy to joke about, so the best course of action was to let him be. He’d speak when he was ready.
Pulling up to the driveway of his house, where the other guys were waiting, Brian finally spoke. He was frightened of the reply his question would be met with.
“Why didn’t Kevin come?”
AJ felt his chest expand, crushing his already overacting heart. The voice wasn’t arrogant, like you see on the movies. It wasn’t filled with contemp, or oozing with conceit, it was only Brian. It was Brian, and it was a scared, vulnerable Brian, and he was about to break his fragile heart.
“He didn’t want to see you.”
He didn’t have to look to his right to see Brian’s beautiful eyes close, and remain closed until he had his tears under control. He didn’t have to ask what Brian was feeling, because he knew. He’d felt it too, once, the abandonment of a brother, and it felt as though life were nothing any more. He hoped that Kevin would see this, too, but he was a tough one to crack when he had strong feelings about something.
“OK”, was his short but pain-filled answer.
“I’ve made up the guest room for ya, Rok, so you can crash here tonight. Your lawyer said that you shouldn’t be left alone tonight, is that ok with you?”
He nodded his head, wincing slightly at the pain this movement caused him. AJ noted it, however, and this was something he wasn’t going to let go.
“I got some painkillers inside. Don’t worry, Dr Aje will fix you up.”
He didn’t expect a reaction from his little joke, which was a good thing because he didn’t get one. Brian was in a deep, dark place, and at the moment, there was only him inhabiting it. Who knows what would happen? Maybe one of them would join him there sometime…
“Brian, we’ve been worried about you”, Nick said as his friend came through the front door. He looked awful. As though he’d been really ill for the past couple of days or something.
“You want to come sit down for a few minutes? We all think that, uh, we should talk…”
Brian shook his head. He didn’t want to talk right now.
“Come on, Brian, we want to know what your story is.”
Howie sounded a little more firm than Nick, but the concerned note was still there. He didn’t want to frighten Brian into a shell where he would be unreachable. He wanted to keep him in the open; away from any walls to hide behind.
“If it’s all the same to you guys, I just want to go to bed.”
Monotone voice, completely devoid of emotion. He’d already shed enough emotive tears to last him a lifetime. He was now officially exhausted from it.
“Brian, we all want to….” Howie started, but Kevin interrupted.
“Let him go to bed, if that’s what he wants. Let him run and hide like the fucking coward he is. “
The harshness was unmistakable, and it hit Brian like a lead balloon, right in his mid-section. It almost winded him, the air catching just above his stomach and twisting around and around, making him feel as though he couldn’t breathe for the sickness that was welling up inside of him. Never, in all of his life, had he heard that tone coming from his beloved cousin
“Kevin, I don’t think…”AJ tried, but he interrupted again.
“I don’t care what you think. Go to bed, Brian. I don’t even want to look at you. “
Brian ran upstairs without so much as breathing. He couldn’t stand to be in that room with him for one more second. He had been beaten and twisted and ground into a tiny speck of what he was, all by a few words from Kevin.
He lay on the bed that AJ had made up for him, and he found more tears. He had thought that they had ended, but he realised that tears did not end. They just continued to flow, taking away energy as they spread around your face and caused your nose to block, and your throat to hurt…
This feeling was something he deserved. Kevin hated him; was ashamed of him, and it was all his own doing. Weak little Brian who couldn’t even stand up to the person who threatened his family.
He was a shell of what he used to be. Days had taken away the things about him he prided himself on, and now he was left with a heap.
He hoped that he would curl up and die that night.