The Testimony

A family of five invites their good neighbour over for dinner. Things get ugly as someone decides to teach them a lesson they will never forget.

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3. Chapter Three: The Testimony.

Minutes after Greg took Tiffany down the basement, he came back with more blood in his hand. The gun was still strapped to his pants. He walked right back to the cushion and sat down with his head down.
“Tiffany!”  Chloe sobbed. “Not today, why today? Why are you so heartless, Greg? Who are you?”
“I forgot to uh…charge the laptop.” He said as he sighed, “Battery down Twenty percent! We don’t have much time, guys. At least save the last one!” He turned and looked at Samantha where she laid.
“I have told you all that I did wrong today!” Jerome said. “What more do you want?”
Chloe continued to sob. She wrapped her hands around her head. “I didn’t!” She said.
“No, Chloe…” Jerome said, “He saw me at the store. Maybe she’s his…girlfriend, some amateur boys who think they’re men do not like seeing their precious jewels being tampered with.”
“I said I didn’t say what wrong I committed today!” She sobbed.
“What?” Jerome said.
“I um...” She remarked as she sighed. “I went to church, and well, I invited my best friend over ’cause we had a thanksgiving today and I wanted her to join us in celebrating how God saved our kids from an accident on Friday.”
“Honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.” Jerome said as he wrapped his left arm around her, “You did the right thing inviting Kim over to the church.”
“You don’t understand.” She said, “Kim and I, we um…Greg saw me when I was going to the restroom during service.”
“He followed you to the restroom?” Jerome asked.
“No, honey!” She replied as she turned to him, “I think he um….he saw when Kim followed me to the restroom.” She closed her eyes and bit her lower lip.
“What are you talking about, honey?” Jerome asked.
“Damn you!” Chloe yelled as she covered her face with her palm. “We kissed in the restroom, Kim and I. I am so sorry, Jerome. I know I’ve messed up; I promised to stop it after we got married, I am so sorry.” She sobbed, “Kim just couldn’t let go…She kept coming and asking for more, and I just…I just couldn’t resist! It’s the devil, baby. I am so sorry!”
Jerome gently withdrew his hand off of her shoulders. He gazed at Greg and heaved a heavy sigh. “It’s okay!” He said, “It is okay, honey. Let’s put the past behind us.”
“It’s not okay, okay?” She added, “We did it in the restroom. She can’t come over to the house because of the kids and I don’t want you to find out, the church was the only place we’d meet and…Kim carried some vibrators in her bag. Maybe he saw it?”  She sighed heavily, “Maybe he took some shots! But so freaking what?” She lifted her head up and stared at Greg, “It’s my life! It’s our lives! You have no right!”  She yelled, “You self-righteous bastard! You’ll rot in hell!”
“What are you saying, honey?” Jerome asked.
“We did it in the church restroom countless times!” She said, “All the times I’ve invited her over to the church. I am so sorry, honey. It’s not that you don’t satisfy me. It’s just that…I couldn’t resist it. I am sorry, baby!”
Jerome raised his left hand and wrapped it around Chloe once more. “It’s okay, darling!” He said, “Stop crying!”
“I promise it’ll never happen again, baby.” She said, “I am sorry!”
They held each other as she sobbed.
“Hmm!” Greg remarked, “Beautiful…Beautiful story,” he sighed, “Plus, what a coincidence; our battery here’s at fifteen percent and you’ve got only fifteen minutes left! You two wasted more than forty minutes talking trash!”
“What?” Chloe said in shock.
“What do you mean?” Jerome asked as he lowered his hand off Chloe’s shoulder.
“It means when the battery runs down, we all die!” He said, “And when your fifteen minutes elapses you’ll lose your last child.” He pulled out a bubble gum from his pocket again and threw it in his mouth without unwrapping it. “That’s if it elapses before our battery runs down, that is!”  He mumbled as he crossed his legs, “Then I’ll decide what to do with the two of you!”
“You’re sick!” Jerome yelled, “I’ll kill you!”
“I’ve been waiting for you to say that, Jerome!” He said, “The difference between us is I don’t talk, I act. When the thoughts come to me I just…get up and do it. When I moved in here I noticed that your family is different, you guys are not like the rest of them out there…At least that’s what I thought! You guys actually encouraged me to want to settle down, you know; have my own family and all. And when I grew fond of your kids I showed it in giving them whatever I felt they’d appreciate. They’re wonderful kids. But I think they deserve better guardians.”
“Greg, please!” Chloe said, “She’s just a little girl! Don’t take it out on her, whatever the beef is, not our little girl! I beg of you!” She sobbed, “Jerome, do something about it!”
“We told you all we did today, man!” Jerome said, “What more do you want?  What have we done to deserve this? Why do you hate us so much, Greg?”
“I don’t hate you!” He said, “I don’t hate your kids! You’re the…haters here, not me, guys! I am just a product of your words!” He paused and sighed. After a long thought he smiled, “Can I ask you a question?”
Chloe turned and looked at her husband, “Yes!” She answered reluctantly.
“I’ll need an answer from any of you,” he said. “Now, what do you think will happen if the neighbourhood wakes up tomorrow morning to discover that your house was invaded and everybody was killed?”
Jerome and Chloe looked at each other, she held his hand tight.
“I asked you a question!”  He added.
“They’ll call the police?”  Chloe said.
“Well,” Greg remarked, “Yes, that’s for sure but…how do you think they’ll react to the incident? Do you think they’ll rejoice and say, ‘Oh thank God, it’s not my house? It’s not my family?”
“Well uh…” Jerome said, “Unless if they despise us, I don’t think anyone in the neighbourhood would say that!”
“Alright!”  Greg said as he nodded, “I have another question.” He bit his lower lip, “Okay, let’s check out this scenario; let’s say you’re some leader or president of some sort or say, just an ordinary citizen. Now, let’s imagine this; say some crazy guy or some terrorist gets their hands on a nuclear bomb and then say they’d pick a country at random and fire their new found arsenal. And let’s say they launch it at a neighbouring country, killing almost everybody in that country. More than a million plus innocent lives, and say no harm gets to you and your loved ones, and the entire people of your beloved country…would you rejoice over that?”
“No.”  Chloe and Jerome said in unison.
“Oh come on, guys!” He said, “No harm gets to you and your children, your jobs, lives and property is secured. You know, family and friends? Won’t you dance to it when it appears on the news that the bomb hits the neighbouring country and not yours?”
Jerome and Chloe nodded.
“No,” she said, “We won’t.”
“But at least you’ve got to thank God, right?”  Greg added, “Besides, He saved you from total annihilation! So it’ll be wise to dance and rejoice and bless His name, eh?”
“Is it a trick question?”  Chloe asked as tears rolled down her cheek.
“Nope!”  Greg responded, “It’s no trick question, Chloe.” He stood to his feet and walked to where Samantha was laid. He stared at Samantha for a while in her sleep then leaned and picked her up. Greg held her close to his heart. Samantha stretched, yawned and continued sleeping. The couple were frightened.
“Please, not my little girl!” Chloe said, “She’s innocent! She hasn’t done anything wrong!”
“Are you sure?” Greg said as he giggled. “Has she been baptised yet?”
“She is just a kid, God damn it!” Jerome yelled. “Are you insane?”
“Maybe I am, Jerome!” He said, “Maybe I am.” He kissed Samantha on the forehead. “You can just stand up and blow us all to hell so I wouldn’t harm your little girl, guys. What are you waiting for, huh?”
“You bastard!”  Jerome yelled, “You’ll never get away with this! You’re a coward!”
“Are you yelling now, doc?” Greg said as he walked to the cushion and sat down. “We have a rule against yelling, remember?” He picked the remote.
“Uncle Grey?” Samantha whispered in a weak tone as she woke up from sleep. “Where-is-my-gift?” She mumbled.
“It’s around your wrist,” Greg said as he smiled, “See?”  He pointed it to her.
“I want it,” She mumbled, “I want my gift. Take it off.”
Greg gently managed to take it off and handed it to her. She clung to it with her left hand and laid her head back on his chest. Greg pulled out the gun from his pants with his right hand and kept it on the small glass table then picked the dagger and stood up.
“Please no. Greg, please, don’t!” Chloe said. “Please, can I hold my baby?”
“You can’t have her,” he said, “she’s not safe in your hands.”
“But we confessed our wrongs!” Chloe added. “I can’t hold this any longer!”  She wept. “I can’t let you do this!” She appeared restless on the chair as though she would stand up.
“You’ve confessed the wrongs you’ve done to one another.” He said, “Nothing you both said affected me in any way! This is about something you did today that pierced my heart. This isn’t about your infidelity to each other, guys. I don’t care what you do with your lives. Let’s face it, it’s your life!”
“Then what it is?” Chloe asked.
“Freeze!” Said a female voice. “I swear to God I won’t hesitate to shoot if you move an inch, Greg!”
 “Drop your weapon!” Said another male voice.
Jerome turned and saw the two officers that knocked on the door earlier. Chloe calmed herself on her chair. The Officers stood in the space between the dining area and the living room. As soon as Greg turned, the bracelet fell off of Samantha’s hand and ricocheted on the blade, Officer Helen fired a shot as her eyes picked the reflection from the blade before the bracelet landed on the floor; the bullet pierced through Greg’s throat. He held on to Samantha and managed to fall on the cushion as blood gushed from his neck wound. The little girl began to cry on sighting Greg trying to save his breath as he held his neck with his right hand.
“Uncle Grey?”  Samantha cried, “Mammy? Daddy!”
Officer David rushed and seized Samantha from Greg. “Call the paramedics!” He said.
Helen ran and checked his pulse, “Greg, can you hear me?”
His cold eyes gazed into the officer’s soul, he smiled.
“Where are the rest of your kids?” She asked as she turned to the couple.
“They’re…dead, in the basement!” Jerome said. “He killed them!”
The officer then ran towards Jerome and Chloe. After studying the device she said, “Help is already on the way, you guys should hold still. I know nothing about this stuff. We’ll get the experts, okay?” She pulled out her walkie-talkie and put a call through to dispatch and informed them on the current situation, she asked them to hurry up.
“All units have been dispatched to your location ten minutes ago!” Said the voice over the walkie-talkie.
Chloe sobbed and asked for Samantha be brought to her but the officers insisted that Samantha be kept far away from the house as possible. The two officers left the couple in the living room and by the time they got to the door, sirens were already wailing. The police surrounded the building with their vehicles. Ambulances and news trucks arrived the scene as a chopper hovered above the neighbourhood.
A bomb squad was quickly sent in to defuse the bomb but they discovered that the devices were all dummies. Jerome and Chloe were ordered to move out of the house immediately after being set free, and the officers searched throughout the house for any other hidden device or bomb.
While outside, Officer Helen handed Samantha over to her mother.
“Thank you, Officer!”  She said as she wiped her tears, “How did you know he was in the house?”
“Well,” Helen remarked, “When we came to your house earlier, your husband came out and demanded that my new partner provide his I.D, which was okay, but when he insisted that I provide my mine, I smelled something fishy because we’ve known each other for quite some time and he knows my husband, I mean; they work in the same hospital so I got a little suspicious. I explained it to my partner after we left the house and he advised that we sneak into your home. My partner helped break through your kitchen window and that’s when we heard the conversation.”  She snorted, “But before then, I had put a call through to dispatch about a possible hostile situation.”
“Thank you, Helen!”  Jerome said. “We can’t thank you enough!”
As the chopper hovered above the building, an officer ran out of the house to meet the couple outside with some news. “We’ve found two kids alive in the basement but heavily dosed and asleep,” said the Officer, “Injected with some kind of anaesthetic, I think. But they appear fine! There was a small bottle of chloroform found in the dead guy’s pocket.”
“Oh my God!” Chloe said. She and Jerome hugged each other joyfully.
“Alright, get the stretchers!”  Helen ordered, “How about Andy and his team?”
“They’ve skimmed the entire house,” the Officer added, “Found nothing”
“So it’s safe to go in?”  Helen asked.
“100!”  He nodded.
The officer along with some paramedics wheeled in three stretchers and a body bag into the house. Minutes later, Greg’s body was taken out of the house. Another officer called Helen aside and spoke to her, she then walked to Jerome and Chloe.
“The gun Greg held was fake!”  She said, “But the blood wasn’t. It’s his blood! There was a tube found strapped around his right arm under his shirt. It is discovered that he had a plastic tube sealed off with a cap, attached to a needle that’s inserted into his vein. It was held in place with tape and bandages!”
More paramedics came out with Jacob and Tiffany all strapped on stretchers and fed oxygen through a Venturi mask.
“My babies!” Chloe said as she rushed towards them, “Oh my babies!” She kissed Jacob then Tiffany. Who appeared to be heavily asleep.
“Ma’am!” Said one of the Officers. “Please allow the medics to do their job. Your kids are going to be fine. They are safe now!”
Jerome held Chloe and they both moved aside, the paramedics wheeled in the stretchers into the ambulances and zoomed off.
“It’s cold outside,” said Helen, “Maybe you need to take Samantha in.”
“Yeah, that will be a good idea.”  Officer David added.
The officers assured the couple that their kids were in good hands as they led them into their home. Some men in black suit later walked into the house and interviewed the two officers before approaching the couple.
“Hello Mr and Mrs Shortner.”  Said one of the men as he opened a booklet, “I’m Detective Hazer, I understand that this is rather a tough time for you but hope you don’t mind me asking you some important questions?”
“Not at all,” Jerome said, “It’s alright, Detective.” He held Chloe while she kissed Samantha on the forehead.
“Do you have any idea why the deceased, Greg Clark, would want to attack your home?” The Detective asked. “What exactly happened here? I am sorry but this is a normal procedure, it’s for your benefit!”
“Well,” Jerome said, “Not that I know of, however, he did mention that my wife and I did something earlier today that hurt him. He was bitter!”
“He used to be a nice man!”  Chloe said, “A perfect gentleman…Very kind, until this evening!”
“We don’t know what we’ve done wrong.” Jerome said, “He was a cool guy! Used to…buy nice things for the kids. Very calm and sweet fellow!”
“Remember what I said when I came to your house earlier?” Officer Helen said as she walked towards them.
“Yeah,” Jerome responded, “You said something about him having some issues or so?”
“Well,” she remarked, “did he tell you he had a seven year old son out of wedlock?”
“No,” Jerome said, “he was single, that we know, and all the while he never said anything about having a kid. Had only one girlfriend that we know of, Gina, yeah…that’s her name.”
“How often did he uh…come around the house?”  The detective asked.
“The kids loved him.” Chloe added, “He bought lots of gifts for Sam. He comes from time to time, and we loved having him around. He was…kind. A nice man.”
“Well,” the detective said, “The truth is he had a kid…”  He sighed, “…and the child was supposed to come stay with him for the first time in a long while. Because Greg was denied access to see his son since birth, recently he and the mother of his child reached an agreement in court and Greg was granted the opportunity to be with his son, but uh…I guess Greg never saw him, and didn’t hear from the child’s mother as well the day his son was to be brought over.”
“What does that has to do with us?” Chloe asked.
“Greg’s son and his mother were among the few people that died in an accident that took the lives of four other people last Friday. They were badly burnt.” Helen said, “And I think he found out this morning or so, and um…that’s why I came to tell him after their bodies were identified. So on sighting his vehicle parked in front of your house, I thought he was here.”
“This doesn’t make any sense!” Jerome said.
“Did he say why he attacked your family?” Helen asked.
“Not really,” Jerome said. “Like I said, he only stated that my wife and I did something wrong that hurt him today, and that if we confess…he’ll uh…let us go in peace…” he turned to his wife. “Oh shit!”
“What’s that?” Helen asked. “Why did you say that? Did you know anything that could aid in this investigation, Jerome? Talk to me!”
“He was there at the church this morning,” Chloe said, “When we gave the testimony about how God saved our kids from the crash.”
“Are you Christians?” The detective asked.
“Yes, sure!”  Jerome answered. “We are…”
“You said your children were involved in an accident,” Detective Hazer interjected. “Is that correct?”
“Yes!”  Jerome answered, “Two days ago, their school bus collided with another vehicle.”
“The one that happened last Friday?” The detective asked, “The one the driver was found to be drunk?”
Chloe and Jerome nodded.
“His son was in the other vehicle that collided with your children’s school bus that day.”  Helen said.
Chloe looked at Jerome, “Oh my God!” She said, “Maybe it’s…maybe it’s what we said when we gave the testimony!”
“You said he made mention of you guys doing something that hurt him today…” said the detective, “Can you clarify that, please?”
“What exactly did you say in church?” Helen asked.
“I uh…”  Jerome remarked, “I uh…we said that um…”
“We said, ‘thank God…’”  Chloe interjected.
“Thank God?”  The curious detective remarked with a lift of his eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Chloe responded in a sad tone, “We said, ‘Thank God our children were not among the ones that lost their lives in an accident that occurred two days ago. So we came to offer our praise and thanksgiving…to God!”
Jerome lowered his head. Helen and the detective looked at each other.
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