The Consequences of Pleading Guilty
Sighing, I scraped my hair up, and turned my attention back to the picture I was staring at. More like some kind of distorted x-ray of some alien...an invader of me. I still didn’t know what to think of it. A tear slipped away, and I rubbed my eyes furiously, desperate not to feel any more pain over him.
I let out a groan. I’d loved him! Loved him beyond anything I could ever imagine...
Then, he’d gone and fucked up. Of course he had.
Dex and I had meant the previous year. He was nineteen. I had barely just turned seventeen. I cursed him, then, cursed him, and his friends, his stupid, idiot bastard of a brother, and Dex’s mistakes. Mistakes? I laughed without humour. That hadn’t been a mistake. He had truly meant it. Why? Why did he have to go and do what he had done? Leaving me angry and hating me, leaving our-no not his, my- baby without a father.
What made him pick up that cursed gun? His brother, Drew, no doubt was urging him on. But why? I’d given him everything...everything. What had he given up? Nothing. Except his sperm of course, leaving me like this...
No. Resentment was no good. I could not loath my own baby, what had she ever done to me? I loved her, I did, I swore. I hugged my protruding tummy...so small; still an unborn, small bump.
It was his brother who made him do it, I was sure.
I glanced at the newspaper, which was spread out on the couch, announcing his results at court. I’d gone...given my account, swore on the bible, told them everything I’d known and hadn’t, even had my speech rehearsed. They showed no mercy. The court ripped me apart, making me believe that I had, in fact, picked up that fucking gun and killed the boy myself.
I hadn’t known the boy that died. Fifteen, Andrew Crows. Dead now, thanks to my dear beloved. The poor boy hadn’t even done anything, not really...just something to upset the gang...
I cursed Dex again. Why? Why had he done? Realizing that once again I was crying, I stared at the table where the open letter lay-a notice, from the prison, dates and times of visiting hours.
I’d not seen him since the court. The month before, I had not wanted to face the truth. Now, I need answers. I couldn’t go on without them. I just needed to know what had possessed him. Then, I was going to pack up my things and leave. I was going to make sure he never saw my baby. He didn’t deserve to. Not after what he’d done.
I ran upstairs, as quickly as possible with the added weight, and threw on my clothes. Grabbing my keys, I made my way out into the sweltering heat, and jumped into the car.
The drive there was the hardest part. I was constantly battling with myself. A few times, I almost turned around...it was just, I couldn’t rest without answers. I almost felt responsible for the young boy that had died. He should have had a life...years ahead him...a future he deserved, a future that Dex had destroyed. Dex had gotten off easy compared to the boy and his family. Twenty-five years in jail...and then what? He would still be young enough to get married and have kids. He was not yet ruined.
Entering the prison, I went through an uncomfortable process of being searched, before I could enter the room where Dex would be. Taking a deep breath, I entered the with the other visitors, passing through person after person...chair after chair...before I saw him. Dex
He’d changed. Not so handsome now. Black bags...Was that a grey hair?
He half stood when he saw me, trying to smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. I couldn’t bear to look at him...not after everything.
I sat across from him, and so did he. “You came,” he whispered.
Avoiding his eyes, I nodded. “Not for you, Dex. I came to put my mind to rest.”
He didn’t seem to understand what I wanted from him, due to the silence. “How’s the baby? How long now?”
“I’m six months along. And she’s fine.”
I forced my eyes to meet his. “I want answers, Dex. I swear if...”
But I trailed off, unable to finish. He swallowed, and I swear his dark eyes were filled with remorse, but I felt no sympathy. “What do you want to know?”
Now he was the one that couldn’t meet my eyes. “Look. At. Me,” I growled, anger setting in. I wanted to see his grief...wanted him to relive the evil he’d done.
He looked at me, his eyes heavy-lidded and sad. “I was accused of killing a boy, Allie. I killed an innocent boy.”
“But why?” Unable to contain myself, my voice broke. I was never going to understand really, not really, and I didn’t want to. I just wanted to hear what he thought was a good reason for destroying an innocent human being.
Darks eyes filled with grief stared back at me. Was it real remorse? Did he hate himself? Or was he bluffing, like he had been doing the whole way through our relationship?
“There will never be a good enough excuse to justify my actions, because there isn’t one.”
“Then don’t use an excuse!” I cried, tears streaming down my face. “Just tell me why you did it!”
“I didn’t do it, Allie!”
“Oh for fucks sake! People saw you, Dex! They found the gun, it had your fingers prints on it, and it was in your room!”
“No, Abbey, listen to me,” he almost begged desperately, gripping my hand.
I pulled it from his grasp in disgust.
“People saw me at the murder scene, Allie, no-one saw me shoot him! Think about it!”
I almost laughed. “Think about it?” My voice was rising, I realized. Quickly lowering my tone, I snapped, “I have been thinking about it, you bastard! It’s all I fucking think about! Everybody hates me, Dex. Most people seem to think I was in on it, everywhere I go I’m treated like shit! I can’t escape it!”
“I found my brother,” he breathed.
“Listen to me, Allie. You can’t tell anyone. You have to swear. I wasn’t going to tell you. Not anyone, but I can’t stand the thought of you thinking of me as some cold-blooded murderer.”
I didn’t say anything, instead cringing back against the seat.
“I came home on the night of the murder, straight after the boy had been shot. I’d heard the gun-shot. Look, it was pitch black, OK? I wasn’t looking for any trouble, I came straight home.”
Noticing my incredulous face, he plunged back in. “I came home to find Drew covered in sweat, wearing a mask, gloves, the whole lot. He told me, said the gang wanted him dead. He broke down, Allie. He was crying! He told me it was either him or Andrew. If Drew didn’t kill the boy, the gang would kill him.”
I gaped at him, tears noiselessly streaming down my face. Was this the truth? Or was he bluffing? I shook my head. “But...what about the fingerprints? And the eye witness, that girl, right? They saw you do it! You pleaded guilty, Dex!”
“Look, I know. But my brother couldn’t help it, Allie!”
I laughed, then. A cruel, humourless laugh. “Nobody forced that fucking gun into his hand!”
Dex’s eyes flared. “I told you-“
“There’s no excuse for killing an innocent boy,” I whispered angrily, cautious of being over heard. “He should have gone to the police!”
Dex rubbed his face, looking defeated. “I know, OK? But what could I have done? He’s my brother, Allie; I couldn’t have let him take the blame.”
“And what about us? About me? About the baby? You didn’t care about us! You left us, Dex!”
“I know, OK? But I didn’t know you were pregnant then, did I?”
“Yeah, but you still left me!” Now, I was crying.
His gaze softened. “Allie-“
“Don’t! Your story still doesn’t add-up.”
He shrugged. “What more was there to be done? I picked up the gun and stashed it in my room. Drew had been wearing gloves; it looked as if only I had touched it that night. “
“And the girl? That saw you?”
He looked guilty then. “The girl was called Maia. Someone Drew had been seeing. He paid her to say she’d seen it all. She’d found the body, after all. She just hadn’t seen who had done it. When they found the gun, I confessed, so why look deeper into it?”
I buried my face into my hands. “You did all that, left me, your daughter...all for your murdering brother?”
“I had to, Allie. I had to!”
Did I believe him? Yes. But that didn’t mean I’d forgiven him. The mess he had left me in...He was quick to defend his brother, but did he ever spare a thought of what this would do to me?
I stood up.
“Allie, please don’t leave.”
My tired, swollen eyes met his. “I’m moving. Out of the area, away from you. Whether you did-murderer or not-it’s too much. I need to protect myself and my baby.”
He groaned softly, reaching out towards me, to stop me from leaving him forever. “Please, Allie. I need you.”
“I needed you,” I whispered. “Did you ever think about that?”
I strode from that, leaving behind an innocent, fucked-up, defeated man whom I had once loved.
But he’d put himself before me, and I was going to do the same.
With once last glance around, my eyes met his.
And then, when I came to the exit of the prison, I didn’t even hesitate. I opened the door and left.