AJ glared at KevinAJ glared at Kevin.
"A little hard, don’t you think?"
Kevin looked in disbelief at AJ, trying to look beyond the eccentricity, appealing to the reasonable guy that lay behind the cool exterior.
"Alex, he admitted it. It isn’t even as if he didn’t do it. He did do it, and I’m not gonna fucking praise him for it."
Howie placed a hand to his head, trying his best to make sense of the whole situation. They had to work through this together, not make it worse by bickering. He understood that Kevin would react badly, being Brian’s family and all.
"Look Kevin, I understand what you’re feeling right now, but did you see him? He looks as though someone spat on him, dragged him emotionally through Hell, dropped him and then started over again. We know him, Kev."
Kevin shook his head.
"No, we don’t know him. He made that very clear tonight.
You know what Kristin said?" he said, laughing silently to himself.
"She said that he probably had a lover tucked away somewhere, and that’s why he’d been acting so strangely. Well how far from the truth was she? Huh?"
He was so angry right now that he felt as though he could go up those stairs and shake some sense into his little cousin. By God, he wished he could do that, even if it only relieved his anger and his tension. How could he have been so stupid?
"Do you guys not see what he’s done? He’s finished us...completely. We may aswell call it quits right now, because nobody is going to want to know us after this. Nobody."
"That’s a little unfair. You haven’t even given him a chance to defend himself", Nick said quietly.
"Oh that’s right, Nick. Jump to his defence as fucking usual."
Nick wasn’t impressed by this tone of voice coming from someone other than his mother or his father. He certainly wasn’t going to take it from Kevin.
"Wait just a damned second, Kevin. You’re the one whos out of line here, and if I choose to defend my best friend, God dammit I will."
AJ double-took. He was impressed. But he did see Kevin’s point.
"Can I make a suggestion?" he asked, and all eyes turned to him.
"May I suggest that we reserve judgement until Brian has the chance to defend himself, because I don’t know about you guys, but Brian aint the type of guy who’d deal in stolen shit just for the damned Hell of it."
He was right, and they knew it. It couldn’t be as simple as that.
"He’s admitted it, for Christ’s sake, what more do you need?"
There was no point even reasoning with Kevin when he got himself into this mood. He was headstrong and opinionated when it came to his family, and he thought that Brian had shamed them all. That wasn’t something he was going to overlook, not even for him.
"I think we need to be a little more understanding. If we all turn our backs on him, he’ll just fail. He’ll sink deeper and deeper into things that who knows what he could do? I’ve seen it before, believe me."
Howie was referring to a guy he knew at school, Eddie Langstaff, who’d hanged himself in his garage after being caught stealing money from his dad’s store. He’d been shunned so badly that he didn’t think life was worth living any more. Howie wasn’t going to let that happen to Brian.
"We’ll talk to him in the morning after Mr Perkins has been. Maybe he’ll be able to talk to us then", Nick sighed, hopefully.
Long night? It certainly looked like it.
"He got bail", the voice on the telephone said calmly. "He’s staying at the freak’s house."
Billy tapped his long fingers on the table in front of him, smiling to himself pleasantly.
"Excellent", he whispered. "As soon as he sets foot into that house of his", he began, but he didn’t complete the sentence.
The thought was too good to be put into words.
Backed into a corner, no place further to retreat. The walls were dank and dirty, scratching at his back like needles, tearing at his skin as he tried his best to vanish through them, as though a phantom with no form.
“Please don’t”, he begged, but his tormentor merely looked at him, eyes wide with intent, hand caressing himself roughly…
He looked into that big, crazy face of the greying haired, tattooed man, and he felt the vomit rise in his prone body, felt the bile burning the back of his throat, only to feel it set back again when this thing was on top of him….
Crushing him. Killing him. Violating him.
He yelled it so loudly that the whole house heard him, but he was still asleep. He was screaming and yelling from his dreams.
“Kevin please, Help me…”
Anguished wails, frantic gasps between words, as though he were suffocating. As though he were slowly losing oxygen…
He bolted upright as he heard the door open, sweat soaked and breathing erratically. The darkness of the room was daunting, making him feel as though wrapped up in the evil of his dream.
“Brian? Who’s there? What’s wrong?” Kevin’s voice was filled with concern, baseball bat clenched between white knuckles.
Brian could only manage a sob, and Kevin slowly realised. He’d had a nightmare. Guilty thoughts from a guilty man? His concern fell.
“Go back to sleep, Brian”, he whispered, before closing the door.
Brian felt orphaned. He felt desperate for some kind of comfort that just didn’t seem to be coming. That look on Kevin’s face just then. It had gone from genuine concern to mere disgust. Was he that bad?
Did he do something that was THAT wrong?
Pulling the covers up around his head, he hid himself from the world, not quite ready to face his fear again.
“I’m sorry”, he said pathetically, before closing his eyes to block out the world.
Kevin sobbed in his bedroom. How had he just been so cold towards Brian? He had been terrified, and he’d just turned his back on him.
The last time he’d seen Brian so weak looking and so tragic was when he’d had surgery. He remembered it like it was yesterday. So pale; so tiny. So desperately in need of care. Just like he had been then.
But what could he do? Brian had to know that he had done wrong. Kevin wasn’t going to roll over and give his paw just because Brian was unhappy. How did he think HE was feeling?
Had he even considered his mother?
He turned out his light and tried his best to dream. Maybe things would be clearer to him in the morning.
Mr Perkins sat in the big old leather armchair, his papers scattered across the table in front of him in a messy heap. There was so much to be talked about today, and he didn't want to miss anything out. They had four days to get the story straight.
The other boys had gone to rehearsal, so as not to disturb the two whilst they spoke. They needed some time alone, and Howie had commented that Brian would not want to speak in their presence. He would be afraid of how they would react, so all had been agreed. Whilst they were going through the dance routine for Larger than Life, Brian was going through the most painful thing he'd ever had to explain.
"Brian, what if I told you that you could end up doing 3-5 for this? Would that help you to talk to me?"
Brian looked into his cup of coffee, watching the swirls of milk as they made patterns. Around and around, spiralling into the brown. It was really quite pretty.
"I need you to speak to me, Brian, otherwise you might aswell kiss your freedom AND your respect goodbye right now."
He looked up with defiant eyes. "It's already gone, sir."
Perkins put his file down onto the table. "Brian, you have never been in trouble with the law before. You've never so much as had a parking ticket. And now this?"
"I had to do it."
Perkins frowned. "What do you mean, you had to do it?"
Brian shrugged his shoulders. "There's no point in me going into it, sir,because I can't prove any of it. Is there any point if there is no evidence?"
Now they were getting somewhere.
"What happened, Brian? You tell me, and I will decide whether there is a point in it or not."
Brian panicked. "No, I can't..I can't tell anyone. If I do, then.."
He couldn't bear to complete the sentence.
"Then what, Brian? What will happen?"
Tears streamed now, amazingly quickly. His voice broke. "Please, don't make me endanger my family's life."
Oh dear, thought Perkins. This was going to be interesting.