Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Innocent Or Guilty?
I sat at the table looking at the people opposite me and stared. The didn't flinch they just kept staring back. I had been here for over 22 hours now, and I still had no idea when I was going to be allowed to go home. The atmosphere was tense it hung in the air like a thick cloud, ready to choke you the first chance it got.
"Mr Johnson we know you did it, so why don't you just tell us and we can end this all very quickly" The man opposite me said.
He leaned back in his chair, a cheap red plastic one that was as uncomfortable as it looked and folded his arms as he did so. The grey suit he was wearing was creased and cheap, his dark blue tie hanging loosely from his neck, where he had unbuttoned the top button of his white shirt. He was in his forty's I would guess and he looked every day of it. His black hair, parted to the right as I looked at it, with flecks of white on the temples, stood out against the rest of the ruffled hair where he had run his hands through it in exasperation at my unwillingness to cooperate with him. His face puffy, his eyes reddening from tiredness. Wrinkles spread across his forehead, his skin an off white colour.
"My client has nothing further to add" My solicitor said abruptly.
He was a young Asian man, in an expensive tailored black pin striped suit. His red tie still done up, tight against his neck. The white colour and cuffs contrasted against the blue shirt that they adorned. Not a hair of his jet black hair out of place on his impeccably combed head. His eyes a grey colour, steely and concentrating hard on what the officers in front of him were saying. The skin on his face tight, not loose like the mans opposite. He had youth fullness on his side but also the style of a man confident in his role.
Apparently the charges against me were that I had killed a local drug dealer.I had no clue what they were talking about but it seemed that they were convinced I had done it. I knew and they knew that they had 24hrs to charge me and arrest me, ask for more time to question me, or let me go. It had been a very long day. First arrested at dawn as I slept. My wife and daughter screaming as I was dragged out into the early morning cold.
They had kicked the door in and charged up the stairs, making as much noise as possible, bursting into my bedroom where I lay asleep with my wife turning the light on as they did so. Disorientated from the intrusion I had sat up and looked at the swarm of men that now held court in front of me. Given minutes too get dressed I had grabbed a pair of jeans and a jumper, telling my wife to call a solicitor as I was forced into the car that waited outside my house. The neighbours woken by the lights and the noise looking from behind their curtains, their curiosity getting the better of them, as my wife and daughter stood crying in the street holding onto each other for comfort.
On our arrival at the station I had been told I would be questioned about the murder of a drug dealer from my local area. My possessions taken from me and then left in a cell for over 6 hours before they had appeared and decided to question me.The two of them standing in the doorway of the cramped cell I was being held in. A flat black mattress that I had sat on and a toilet that stank in the corner. Now here I was nearly two hours away from being charged or let go. The frustration surrounded them like a thick fog, choking them, I could feel it, it was eating away at them as I had continued to answer no comment on the advice of my solicitor. They had no evidence at all, I knew it, they knew it and my solicitor knew it. Why would I confess to something that I didn't do?.
"Mr Johnson, you were seen leaving your house two nights ago and travelling along the canal path where the victim was found. It is well known you had been arguing with him as recently as three days ago. We will find the murder weapon Mr Johnson so why don't you just make it easier on yourself and tell us what happened?"
I looked to my right and saw the younger officer sitting there addressing me with his question. A black suit that fitted his lean body well, a little more expensive I thought than the other one, newly promoted as well by the look of him. Hair gelled into place, a freshness about his brown eyes, that the other officer didn't have, smooth skin and freshly shaved as well, the smell of expensive cologne wafted from him. His tie was done up to his neck and his light green shirt looked like it had been freshly ironed. A man not weathered by what he had seen I thought to myself. I'm sure that wouldn't take long though to change. After all some of the things that these gentleman went through I knew I couldn't do myself.
The stories you read about in the paper of the beaten wives, the abused children, having to tell parents that their children were dead. The things they saw and dealt with on a regular basis made them cold inside, they had to be to get through the day and onto the next one. To show emotion and allow themselves compassion for a victim of crime or an act of revenge would do them more harm than good. It would make them appear weak and thus unable to do the job they were paid for.
"My client has answered that question already officer" My solicitor leaned forward on the cheap wooden desk and picked up his papers that lay there.
"In all fairness he hasn't answered a question properly in nearly 20 hours" Came the reply. Frustration oozed out of him as the older officer slammed his hands down on the desk. "If you have nothing to hide why don't you just tell us why you were down by the canal two days ago?"
"Ive told you already, I went for a run" I replied looking straight into those red tired eyes of his. I looked deep into his eyes and saw a man hardened by what he had been through. There was no emotion in those eyes, no hope anymore it had left them many years ago.
I knew what they wanted me to say but I wasn't going to. Why should I? Where had the Police been when I needed them?. Nowhere that's where. I lived on a quiet street, the home I had built with my wife and kids had been our dream home. We worked hard for what we had. We had holidays once a year, like most people did, we did things together because we wanted to do. That was until the day I had found my son dead from an overdose.
I hadn't known he was on drugs, I suppose the signs were there we just choose too ignore them. The staying out late, the money that went missing, the secretiveness of the phone calls he was receiving. He had gone from a happy child to one sullen and unresponsive. We had put it down to him being a teenager, we just didn't choose to see the signs. Other peoples kids did drugs, not ours, they were bought up in way that meant they knew not to do them so why had our son?.
I had come home early from work one day and saw his coat hanging on the banisters in the hallway. I had called his name but he didn't answer me. I went upstairs and there he was on the bathroom floor. His body bent over, his face on the floor and the syringe, that damn syringe laying beside him. One of his school ties wrapped around his arm so as he could get a vein to pop up enough for him to inject the dark brown liquid into himself. I grabbed him and laid him onto his side but it was too late he was gone from me, from us. I had felt it as soon as I had seen him. Our beautiful little boy taken from us because some dealer decided he was going to be the his next victim. Someone who he could make more moeny out of by pedling his poision.
My son the one I had loved with all my heart, the boy I had seen start to grow into a man. The boy I had taken too football and shared my love of music with. Dancing around the kitchen with him as a child whilst the LP's I had blared from the stereo. The boy I had read stories to of a night and tucked up in bed. The head I kissed a thousand times, the arms I had felt wrap around me when he needed a cuddle as a child. The hands that had grasped tightly around my neck as he was piggy backed to school when he was too tired in the morning to walk. Those same hands and arms that had used a syringe to inject himself with the drugs that had killed him.
The questions I asked myself over and over again were always the same. Why hadnt I seen the signs? They were there but had I looked past them? Had I not taken enough time as he got older to make sure there wasnt anything troubling him? Had I been to engrossed with work to spend the time with him like I had as a young child?. They built up inside of me and I blamed myself again and again for letting him die on his own. Had he called my name when he realised what was happening? Had my child needed me and I wasnt there for him? I would never know the answer to these questions but what I did know was that someone was to blame and justice would prevail through the courts I was sure of it.
I knew who had sold him the drugs, we all knew where we lived who was the dealer. Fathers in the area I later found out, had warned him off but he didn't care he just carried on doing what he was doing. I had asked around my sons friends and they all gave me the same name. He had only been doing the drugs for a few months. Apparently the dealer had been at a party that my son had been at and had given him the first one free. He had smoked it with others at first, but then started to inject as the hit got into his system quicker. That is the way they get them hooked. The first one is free then they crave more and the dealer has a new client. It didnt matter to me how long he had been doing the drugs for, it could have been a day, a week, a month, a year. He was my son and he was dead. I had gone to the police told them what I knew but they didn't care. Without evidence there was nothing they could do them not because we thought we had too.
The Sergeant had been sythampetic, he had taken time out too talk to me to tell me that they wnated to help but the evidence hadnt been there to suggest that he had bought it from him. No one had seen him sell it to my son and because there was no direct link there was nothing they could do. I had told him what I knew, what my sons friends had told me but he said it wasnt enough. Unless one of them admitted to buying drugs from him they couldnt arrest him.
"Can I suggest" My solicitor speaking bought me back to the present with a jolt. "That you either charge my client or let him go?"
The two officers looked at each other for a moment not saying anything but their faces said it all. They couldn't charge me because they had no murder weapon. They had dredged the canal looking for it, searched my home but there was nothing there. I wasnt suprised by this as I told them I hadnt done it. It was just a shame they didnt believe me.
"Mr Johnson, at this time we need to look into further lines of inquiries" The older detective started too stand up and picked the beige cardboard folder up from the table that contained the pictures of the victim with the stab wound in his neck. "If you would care to follow me to the front office I shall make sure you are bailed until we have conducted these enquires"
"Thank you officer" I said standing up from the chair I had been sitting in for hours. I felt a sense of relief rise inside of me. I was tired, so tired, but perhaps this would all come too an end now. That they would know it wasnt me.
I followed the officers through the door into the main office, it was quiet in there tonight, the room lit by the harsh strip lighting that hung from the ceiling.There was a Sergeant standing behind the desk. It was the same Sergeant that had spent all those hours with me when I first came here to report the dealer. He looked at me as I approached with the other officers, his face said it all. That look that says we know you did it but we aren't sure how. I stared back at him, a blank exspression on my face as he read through the conditions of my bail. My belongings were placed in front of me in a grey tray and I took them quickly shoving them into my pockets. All I wanted to do now was get out of here. I didnt look at any of them as I followed my solictor out the door.
We stood on the steps of the station as the snow continued to fall. He shook my hand and reassured me that we wouldn't be hearing anything further from them. I thanked him for his support and turned the collors of my coat up against the biting wind. I walked through the snow which had been ankle deep for a week almost now. It crunched quielty under my feet as I dragged them along the pathway leaving deep trails behind me, in the freshly fallen snow. The bottom of my jeans getting wet from the snow that touched them. My solicitor had offered me a lift but I felt I wanted to walk for a while, to clear my head.
I made my way towards the canal. The water hadn't frozen but the path was covered in snow. The night time sky had an orange tint to, the reflecton of the snow against the darkness of the night had this affect and it was beautiful too look at. I remembered making snowmen in the garden with my son as a child and the photos we had taken. How he and his sister had laid on the ground and made snow angels. The snow bought back happy memories of a child I loved.
There were no footprints where I was going, the path was slippy and people had avoided it since the body had been discovered. I walked under the bridge and stopped for a moment. Reflecting on the night I had been here, when I came to see him. The drug dealer who had sold the drugs to my son. I reached up and touched the icicles that hung from the lower part of the bridge.
There was one missing and I was the only one that knew why. It had made an excellent murder weapon.