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Huda Orfali

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A Rose From Me
By Huda Orfali
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rated "R" by the Author.

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This is Justice

A Rose From Me

“He’s perfect. He fits the profile,” said Colonel MacPherson looking at a picture of a young man in his logbook. He lighted his cigar, puffed the smoke and murmured,
“He’s just perfect.”
“Colonel, I think it’s highly improbable for a person to blow up a place and return there to assist the injured.”
“We have a witness, detective, who saw him leave a briefcase in the ‘Blue Roses’. Two minutes later the place blew up. I think that’s enough for an indictment.”
“Colonel, I think we should wait before we make an indictment. Maybe some terrorist group would claim responsibility for the blast.”
“Detective Hayes, just arrest him,” said the Colonel, signing the arrest warrant for Michael Donovan.

Michael Donovan was having lunch at the Blue Roses on September 22nd when he was paged. The telephone was occupied as usual so he left the restaurant and called from a telephone booth nearby. Having realized that he had left his briefcase at the restaurant, he was about to return to the Blue Roses when he heard a big explosion. He rushed back to the restaurant and started helping the injured. Michael was a medical student in his senior year; he put all his training into practice that horrible day. He managed to help seven people. Twenty-three were instantly killed. Many others were wounded.

Michael used to have his lunch everyday at the Blue Roses. He considered it a strange stroke of luck to have been paged a few minutes before the blast. Because when he called the hospital, the operator told him that nobody paged him from the hospital. It puzzled him a great deal but he didn’t dwell on that. The experience was quite horrifying that he wanted to get it off his mind. Nevertheless, the sight of the mutilated bodies, the girl Kathleen whom he had rescued after losing her legs and the poor waiter who had been nearest to the bomb haunted him. He tried to stop thinking about it or even face it professionally as a doctor but that didn’t work either.

He woke up sweating; his body was shaking with fever. He washed his face and put on his clothes. He was suffocating and he went out for some fresh air. The memories of what happened sickened him. Why on earth, would anyone blow up a restaurant at a time when college students gather to have lunch?

Twenty-three killed, more injured, he alone had survived unscathed. He was thinking about Kathleen, how terrified and in pain she was. His eyes welled up with tears and he wiped them with his sleeve. As he opened the door of his car, someone shouted,
“Hold it right there. Put your hands where I can see them.”
He turned to see who it was; the lights of the police cars blinded him and he closed his eyes. A police officer pushed him against the car and placed handcuffs around his wrists. He couldn’t believe his ears when the officer read him his rights. “Under arrest… remain silent… court of law.” Michael could not believe that those words were addressed to him.

He tried to free himself and started kicking at the officer. The officer clubbed him hard on the head and the other punched him in the stomach. He fell to his knees and felt something hot and sticky flowing on his face. He showed no sign of resistance any more. The two police officers dragged him to the patrol car. The last thing he heard was a siren sounding.

Michael thought that the hit he had received had made him imagine things that were untrue . Maybe he didn’t understand them correctly when they read the charges, though they were repeated many times by different voices. He was blindfolded and bound to his seat. He tugged at the restraints that bound his wrists and ankles but he couldn’t free himself. The interrogation ran for hours on end and the blows he received to his stomach made him sick. Blood tasted frothy in his mouth and he longed for a drop of water. His head became muzzy and his mind started drifting. It was useless to talk to them, he thought, they were wrong. He had nothing to do with the blast. He thought about college times and his girlfriend, Felicia. She was supposed to have lunch with him tomorrow at the Blue Roses. The voices started to fade away. He remained silent and tried to keep his mind on Felicia but her image was also fading. Felicia and the Blue Roses, the place blew up in flames and Felicia…
“Untie him… this is useless. He is unconscious.”

He saw Kathleen walking toward him on two bloody stumps. He was suffocating and gasping for air. He heard someone calling his name and tried to open his eyes but they were bandaged; his hands chained behind his back. Someone kicked him in the stomach with his heavy boots saying get up. Michael tried to raise himself but he was very dizzy and could not stand unaided. Two men dragged him to another room, placed him on a chair and tied his arms to the armrests. He felt very cold because he barely had any clothes on. He heard footsteps in the room. A man stood behind him and gently said,
“Why don’t you save yourself the trouble, lad? Sign the confession.”
Michael shuddered and said in no more than a whisper, “No.”
As he said it someone hit him hard on the chest and he couldn’t breathe for a while. Another blow landed on his jaw.
“No,” said the man standing behind him. “Don’t touch his face.”
Two electrodes were placed on his temples.
“The fun is over, lad. Don’t make me do this to you. Sign the confession.”
“Never,” said Michael firmly as loud as he could.
His whole body convulsed as he said it. The higher voltage was applied; the more defiant he became. He felt a terrible pain in his head and he could hardly breathe. His muscles were still twitching even after the electricity was switched off.
“Enough,” said the Colonel and wiped the blood off his mouth with a wet piece of cloth. Michael was very thirsty and he appreciated this. Two guards dragged him back to his cell and threw him on the floor. It was very cold and he shivered.

The Colonel walked in. Michael heard his heavy steps on the floor and smelled his cigar. He kneeled before Michael and raised him a little offering him a glass of water. He raised it to his lips, “Drink.”
Michael sipped slowly because it was hard for him to swallow and the Colonel was very patient with him.
“You must be freezing in here, lad,” he said and softly laid his jacket on Michael’s trembling shoulders.
“Thank you,” said Michael feebly. The Colonel laid him back on the floor and walked away. Before leaving the cell he said, “Michael, sign the confession and spare yourself the pain.”
Michael gathered what’s left of his strength and said, “I owe it to them. I will not confess to something I didn’t do.”
“You owe it to who?”
“To the people who died in that blast, sir. To the girl who was maimed and the boy who was dismembered… I will not sign for their sake.”

A guard came rushing into the Colonel’s office. The Colonel was sitting there smoking his cigar and staring at a picture of a beautiful young woman with a bonny child in her arms.
“What’s the matter, sergeant?”
“He’s very ill, sir.”
“Donovan, sir. He’s spitting up blood.”
“Did the doctor see him?”
“Yes, sir. He said he should be transferred to hospital.”
“Not yet.”
“Sir, he’s been without food for three days.”
“All right, I’ll see him, the fool.”

The Colonel walked into the cell and Michael recognized his footsteps. He became dependent on his hearing because he was still blindfolded. The Colonel lighted his cigar and puffed in the air. Michael started coughing.
“Colonel,” he said and raised himself against the wall. The Colonel touched his face gently and ran his fingers on the parched lips. He raised a glass of water to his mouth; Michael refused.
“You’re a fool, lad. Do you want to die?”
“I have no choice, Colonel.”
“Your morale is pretty low this morning,” he said and wetted his fingers with water and ran them again on Michael’s lips.
“Sign the confession, lad, and all this will stop.”
“I will never sign it, Colonel. I thought you got the message by now.”
“It seems you’re enjoying our hospitality!”
“Yes, electroshocks are exactly what I need.”
“Michael, I have many ways to make you sign. Don’t make me resort to them. You’re a bright kid, Michael. I’m trying to help you. Don’t make me destroy you.”
“Whatever you do, Colonel, I’ll never sign. You can torture me, you can kill me but you’ll never break me.”
“All right, Michael. It’s your call,” said the Colonel angrily and kicked him repeatedly in the stomach, grabbed him by the throat and almost choked him.

Michael started kicking but the Colonel dragged him by the hair and hit his head against the iron bars. Blood was gushing from his nose and mouth. Then the Colonel started tearing Michael clothes, undressed him and threw him flat on his face. He loosened his zipper; it gave a squeaking noise.
“Please, don’t,” entreated Michael.

The Colonel kicked him in the groins then squatted on him. Michael tried to push him away but he hit him again. The Colonel stripped Michael of the last item of his clothing and then he was inside him.
“No,” Michael screamed in anguish and vomited but that didn’t stop the Colonel from pushing further. Michael kicked as hard as he could and managed to free himself, got the chains around the Colonel’s neck and started choking him. A guard dashed in, hit Michael on the head with the rifle and rendered him unconscious.
“Carry him to the interrogation room,” said the Colonel trying to put his clothes in order. “I’ll be right there.”

When Michael regained consciousness he was chained to the chair and the electrodes were placed on his temples.
“Kill me, Colonel,” shouted Michael, “If I make it out of here alive, I’ll kill you. I swear, I’ll kill you,” he was tugging at the restraints. “Kill me or die.”
The Colonel put a pen in Michael’s hand and said coldly, “Sign.”
As he switched the electricity on, Michael screamed in pain and dropped the pen. This procedure was repeated many times. The electrodes were removed and the Colonel put the pen back in Michael’s hand. He sprayed something on Michael’s hand; it felt hot as fire.
“Sign, Michael.”
“Never.” Michael was more defiant than ever. Suddenly, the Colonel spilt the hot liquid on Michael’s left shoulder; it trickled down his chest. He felt his flesh melting as the acid flowed on his skin. He felt an excruciating pain in his chest and gasped for breath. His hand unwillingly moved and he signed the paper.
“It’s over; untie him.”
The guards removed the handcuffs and helped him to his feet. He walked a few staggering steps and then collapsed as his heart had stopped beating.

Seventeen days later, he regained consciousness. His chest was bandaged but he felt it burning underneath the bandages. His vision was still blurred and he did not recognize his surroundings. Faces looked ugly and distorted; voices mumbled words that he could not understand. He thought it was only a nightmare. He felt his chest; it was covered with bandages. Maybe he was hurt in the blast! He tried to move his right hand; it was chained to the bed.

A man introduced himself as detective Malcolm Hayes asked him several questions but Michael only looked at him in contempt.
“Who did this to you, Mr. Donovan?” asked Hayes.
Michael was just staring at him.
“Don’t be afraid to tell me what really happened.”
“Don’t bother,” said the doctor. “He hasn’t spoken a word since he woke up!”
“His trial is scheduled for October 31st. Do you think he’ll be strong enough to attend trial?”
Michael thought it was a strange coincidence; October 31st was his birthday!

Michael was brought to the court chained and guarded by the police as a dangerous criminal. As he made his way into the courthouse, reporters gathered and asked him questions. He remained calm and didn’t let any of this bother him. A man spat at him and called him a murderer as he passed by.

He walked into the courtroom sweating and breathing with difficulty but he kept his head high. His face was placid until he saw Kathleen in her wheelchair. She gazed at him with hatred he never knew possible and it hurt him to the core. He had saved her life but now she hated him, despised him and wanted him dead. This was the most difficult journey he had to make as he passed by her seat. His heart was throbbing and his breathing became very painful; the heavy chains made it even more difficult for him to walk. A guard noticed that and supported him until he was seated.

The proceedings began. Evidence was presented; witnesses testified. He watched all this as if he were watching a movie. He thought about Felicia. She didn’t attend the trial. She doesn’t want to watch this nonsense, he thought. Could she think he was guilty? Impossible! She knew him better than to believe those lies. The defense lawyer, who was assigned by the government, pleaded guilty and the confession was read aloud to the jury. He saw the verdict in their eyes, crystal clear. He heard people shouting, “Murderer, hang him.” And he stopped listening. He was removed from the court in fear for his safety. The crowds were calling for his head. He was directed to a back door and responded automatically to orders. When he was locked up in his cell, he felt his throat tighten and tears rushed to his eyes. No, he wouldn’t cry. He was innocent; he had nothing to be ashamed of. Injustice was cruel but he was strong. He felt extremely exhausted and fell asleep on the floor.

Another session was held and another. He was found unanimously guilty and was sentenced to a hundred and thirty-two years in jail. He would be a hundred and fifty-four years old when he would be released. He couldn’t help laughing as the judge pronounced the sentence but after a while it ceased to be funny and it sickened him. He looked at Kathleen; he saw rapture in her face. The crowds were yelling and cheering. The judge called for order but in vain. The guards dragged him outside from a back door and put him in a heavy-armed van on his way to a maximum-security prison in the precinct.

Allan Pryce convicted of serial rape and murder; Kevin Mercer, armed robbery and a cop killer, those two were his cellmates. Michael was still stunned when the guards shoved him into the cell. His wrists were bloody and swollen. He rubbed them to ease the pain but the skin was severely abraded. He leaned against the wall trying to catch his breath; he was surprised at the way they looked at him.

“Well, well,” said Allan. “Look, what they’ve brought us here for Christmas.”
“Careful, Al. He’s dangerous,” exclaimed Mercer almost laughing. “He looks like a frightened schoolboy. Are you frightened, lad?”
Michael’s surprise changed into anger and pain as Mercer patted him on his left shoulder. He withdrew a bit away from Mercer and bumped into Pryce.

Michael was a very handsome young man with blond hair, blue eyes and a well-built body. Pryce started loosening his pants and murmuring, “Boy, I feel hot… Come boy, light my fire.” He put his hand on Michael’s face and said,
“Touching those lips makes your mouth water. How about a kiss, boy?”
Michael pushed him away and said, “If you touch me again I’ll kill you.”
“Well, the lad wants action! Al, Let us give him what he wants,” said Mercer laughing and tried to punch Michael. Michael parried the blow, held Mercer’s arm, jammed it between the iron bars and twisted it. Mercer screamed in pain; Pryce hit Michael in the back. Michael released Mercer and attacked Pryce with heavy blows that almost crushed his face. Their screams brought the guards.

Michael was placed in solitary confinement for two weeks. He was chained all the time like an animal and his cell was kept dark all the time but he wasn’t given a chance to sleep; guards barged in with flashlights and hit him many times with their nightsticks. He was given food that made him puke and his cell was very dank. He became seriously ill, coughing his guts out. Officer Eddie Kemp was in charge of all this torture.
The two weeks were over; Michael was supposed to go back to his cell. He didn’t touch his food but he drank the water. It tasted a bit funny, he thought, but he was very thirsty. When Kemp took him out, he was feeling very dizzy. He stumbled and fell down. Kemp kicked him in the groins and he got up wandering what really hit him. He had difficulty breathing and his vision was blurred. Kemp shoved him into the cell and locked up.
“He’s all your, Pryce. Enjoy the party.”
“What’s wrong with him?” asked Mercer.
“He’s a bit high.”

Michael had realized by that time that he was given drugs. He tried to stand leaning on the wall for support but he was very weak. He coughed up blood and his chest was hurting like hell.
“Looks like he’s not going to give us any trouble, Kev,” said Pryce.
Michael fell to his knees clutching his chest and gasping for breath.
“What do you say, Kev? I hold him for you, you hold him for me.”
Mercer stood petrified gazing at Michael. Pryce kicked him in the stomach and stripped his pants. Michael could not resist this savage attack by Pryce. He looked at Mercer imploring, “Please, don’t.”

Suddenly, Mercer held Pryce and pulled him back saying, “You’ll kill him, Allan. Stop it.”
“He deserves it. He broke my nose.”
“No, Allan. I won’t let you.” Mercer turned and threw a blanket on Michael’s trembling body. Michael was shivering on the floor and coughing up blood.
“That’s enough, Allan. You’ve hurt him enough.”
“Are you out of your mind? This is a chance to get back at him, for Kemp’s sake.”
“Can’t you see he’s dying?”
“He should have thought of that before blowing up a place full of kids.”
“You ain’t exactly a saint, Allan. Neither am I.”

Two hours passed. Michael was still lying on the floor motionless but his condition became more stable. Pryce grew tired and went to sleep; Mercer was still awake. He finally managed to get up and washed his face, took off his bloodstained shirt and washed it. He didn’t know that Mercer was watching. Michael did not have any clothes to change into so he was about to put on his wet shirt when Mercer offered him a shirt of his own. Michael turned towards Mercer; he gave a cry when he saw the scars on Michael’s chest and left shoulder.
“What on earth is that?”
“This is how they got me to sign the confession,” said Michael calmly and walked away. He was coughing and clutching his chest. Mercer helped him sit on the bed and cooled his forehead with a wet cloth.
“Mercer, why does Kemp hate me this much?”
“His daughter Kathleen was in the restaurant when it blew up. I think her legs were amputated or something.”
Michael covered his face with his hands and said, “I know what happened to her. I pulled her out…” He was sobbing and couldn’t say any more.
Pryce grumbled, “Shut up, I’m trying to sleep.”

Next morning, Pryce reported to Kemp that Mercer had protected Michael and nursed him all night. Kemp decided to get back at Mercer and waited for the proper chance. The chance came a few days later when Mercer was working in the workshop.

The prisoners were working with different types of machines; Mercer was working with an electric chainsaw. While Mercer was working he dropped a piece of wood and bent down to pick it up. Kemp passed by him and switched the electricity on. The saw was immediately released from its chain. Had it not been for Michael, Mercer would have had his head severed. Michael saw Kemp starting the machine and rushed in time to push Mercer away. The saw cut through his right shoulder to the bones. Blood was gushing profusely from the lacerated wound; it was all over Mercer’s clothes.
“Are you hurt, Kevin?” asked Michael panting.
“No… Michael, your arm!” screamed Mercer and steadied Michael who was staggering.
“Get a doctor. Call an ambulance,” shouted Mercer. “Don’t just stand there.”
He lashed at the guards.
“I’ll call an ambulance,” said Kemp and rushed out.

“Kevin, help me,” said Michael gasping.
“What should I do?”
“Apply some pressure over the wound. I’m losing too much blood.”
Mercer ripped his shirt and pressed it against Michael’s shoulder; he screamed in pain.
“I’m sorry, Michael.”
“Keep the pressure on, Kevin, just keep pressuring.”
The medics arrived and they put him in the ambulance. Michael lost a lot of blood but he remained conscious. Transfusion was essential to save his life.

After a few minutes, he had a burning feeling throughout his vein, a throbbing headache, and an excruciating pain in his chest and a severe lumber pain. His face flushed and his temperature was rising rapidly. Despite the pain and difficult breathing, Michael tried to keep his head clear and rely on his medical experience. This unbearable pain meant one thing: a hemolytic reaction to an incompatible blood group.
“What blood group are you giving me?” he asked with difficulty. The pain was getting worse by the minute. He felt an impending doom.
“B+. As it says on your medical card,” said the medic reassuringly.
“Mine is O, negative.” He said with difficulty and resignation. “My God, I’m going to die.” His throat closed and he started wheezing.

“Don’t give up, Michael. Hold on. You’re going to make it. We have everything under control. You’ll be all right.”
He heard them encouraging him to fight but he was very tired and in pain. He wanted the pain to stop. He wanted to scream but he had no voice.

Transfusion was stopped. The tube in the vein was kept open with saltwater solution. He watched the medics inject him with various types of medications. The pain in his chest was even worse than his shoulder. He remembered the injury but that didn’t matter any more. Then he remembered the Blue Roses and said faintly,
“God, I don’t want to die.”

“Was it a misprint or was he trying to kill me?” he thought throughout the two weeks he had spent in hospital. His door was heavily guarded and the nurses dreaded coming into his room alone.
“A hardy criminal indeed!” he laughed at this thought and tried to comfort himself. He thought of Felicia; he loved her more than anything in his life. In prison, he wasn’t even allowed calling her, but maybe here they would let him.
“Escape… I must escape, but how?”
He was very ill to attempt escape.
“Where would I go?”
He had no friends, no money. Then he thought about Colonel MacPherson and what he did to him. By far, it was the most horrible experience he underwent and he wanted revenge.
“MacPherson must pay for what he did; this is justice.”

Suddenly, he felt the hot sickening pain in his chest and left arm. It was burning and he couldn’t breathe. He heard the doctors rushing into his room.
“Pressure is dropping; we’re losing him.”
A tube was inserted into his trachea; pressor was injected into his vein to raise his blood pressure. Finally, the paddles were placed on his chest and electricity was applied. The countershock restored his heartbeat to normal.

He was discharged from hospital a week later and transferred back to prison. He made the journey fully chained. His injured shoulder was hurting him but the guards did not remove the chains. A welcoming party awaited him in prison. Kemp, being in charge, ordered a body search. He was stripped naked by two guards but they left the chains. Kemp winked at them and they left the room.

“How is Kathleen?” asked Michael.
“How dare you mention her name, you son of a bitch?”
“I saved her life, Kemp.”
“Get down on your knees.” Michael did not respond.
“Get down on your knees, you animal,” said Kemp and hit him hard in the chest with the nightstick. Michael felt his ribs breaking and writhed in pain.
“What’s the matter, boy? It hurts. This is nothing compared to what she’s been through. She tried to kill herself twice. And you’re going to pay.”
“I saved her life, Kemp.”
Kemp hit him again; he coughed up blood.
“You tried to kill Mercer; you tampered with my medical card.”
Kemp laughed, “Well, boy, a hundred and thirty-two years is a very long time indeed. Many things can happen, Michael. I’ll make you wish you were sent to the electric chair.”
“You’re right, that’s a long time indeed, but I’m willing to double it if you touch me or touch Mercer again.”
Michael’s look changed into a fierce defying look and Kemp knew that he meant it.

Michael was received in his cell like a hero. Most of the prisoners had heard by that time that Michael Donovan was innocent and he confessed under severe torture and abuse. He risked his life to save an inmate who had tried to rape him a few days earlier. The inmates sympathized with him and the plan was ready for his escape. Riot broke out the next morning and Mercer was leading the riot. He held Kemp and three guards hostages. By the time the swat team arrived, Michael had already escaped.

Derek Mercer, Kevin’s brother, helped him on the outside. He got him a new passport, a driving license and some money. He had made his investigations about Colonel MacPherson and was ready with the information.
“His name is James MacPherson and he lives…”
“Did you say James MacPherson, Derek?”
“Funny! You know, my father’s name is also James MacPherson.”
“It’s a very common name, Michael. I bet you can find a dozen James MacPherson in the phone directory. I got a car ready for you, I packed some clothes in a suitcase and a gun.”

He arrived at a small town in the countryside after a long drive; he made sure he wasn’t followed. He was tired, cold and very hungry so he went to the town pub and parked his car nearby. A stranger in this town was something uncommon.
He ordered a burger and coffee and sat by the fireplace to warm up. A sturdy man approached him and placed a beer on the table.
“How about a drink, lad?”
“I don’t drink.”
“You’ll drink with me,” said the man and placed his hand on Michael’s shoulder. Michael got up and he was face to face with a man twice his size.
“No one has ever said no to me and lived to tell about it.”
Michael looked carefully around him; the customers were watching attentively.
“I’m not in the habit of repeating myself twice, sir,” said Michael.
“Maybe you want more than a beer. How about sucking my…” he said laughing. The laugh did not last long; Michael landed his fist on the open mouth. The man raged like a bull and attacked Michael but he avoided the punch easily and boxed the man quite heavily. He staggered but charged again. Michael held his arm, twisted it behind his back so hard that he got him on his knees screaming. Michael restored his self-control and released him. The man rushed to a nearby table, grabbed a bottle, broke it and raved at Michael threatening. By that time, Michael started feeling a sharp pain in his chest. He was coughing, gasping and drenched in cold sweat.

“That’s enough, Duncan,” said a young man who was watching the whole scene quietly. He got up and went toward Duncan who started waving the broken bottle. Other men rose and joined this young man.
“It’s not over yet. I’ll get you another time, boy.” Duncan threw the bottle and walked out.

“Are you all right, sir?” asked the young man.
“I’m all right. Thank you.”
“Well, what can I say? You wiped the floor with him and he deserved it.”
Michael sat down. By the look on his face, he was obviously in pain. The young man brought him a glass of water and sat on the opposite side of the table.
“You look ill. Do you want me to call a doctor?”
Michael drank the water and said, “I’m fine, sir, I really should be going. I’ve caused enough trouble here already… Thanks again.”
Someone rushed from outside shouting, “Fire, fire.”
Duncan had set Michael’s car on fire.

“We should call the police. Duncan went too far this time.”
“No,” said Michael. “The damage is already done. I must have been very hard on him.”
“What are you going to do now?” asked the young man.
“I’ll probably hitch-hike to the train station.”
“I can give you a ride if that’s OK with you.”
“Thank you, sir.”

Michael got into the car with the young man.
“I’m William Mac… MacKay. What’s your name?”
“Marc… Marc Cameron.”
“Well, Mr. Cameron. Where are you heading from here?”
“To London.”
“The only train from here to London leaves at six o’clock in the morning. What are you going to do until then?”
“I’ll manage.”
“Why don’t you spend the night at my place?”
“Thank you. I’d rather spend it at the station.”
“You’re not afraid of me, are you?”
“No, I just don’t want to bother you. What’s that?”
A few cars had stopped at the bridge.
“It looks like there’s been an accident.”
William stopped and asked, “What happened?”
“A woman. She hit the rails and fell into the river. We’ve just called the rescue team.”

Michael got out, took his jacket off and jumped into the river. The people gathered to watch as he emerged a few minutes later with a woman in his arms. He laid her on the bank and administered CPR. William was watching with amazement.

The medics arrived but Michael was breathing life into a dead body. When the medics took over, he got into the car shivering. His clothes were soaking wet. Michael sat there and covered his face with his hands. A medic approached him and asked,
“Are you all right, sir?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” He said without removing his hand.
“You did all you could, son. She was dead. There was no way you could bring her back to life.”

William got back into the car and gave Michael his jacket.
“Are you all right, Marc?”
“I’m freezing,” he said with a trembling voice.
“I think you’d better come to my house.”
“Just get me out of here, William. Get me out of here.”
Police cars started coming to the scene of the accident.

William drove to his house. Michael was coughing badly and he was staggering. William helped him into the house.
“My God, you’re burning up.”
William helped him sit by the fire and went upstairs to fetch him dry clothes. Michael looked around him; a picture of a woman with a child in her arms attracted his attention. He walked over to the picture and looked at it closely; he stood petrified.
“What’s the matter, Marc?” asked William.
“Is this your mother?” he gasped.
“My step-mother. I really don’t understand while my father keeps her picture!”
“She ran away twenty years ago. She took my little brother, Marc, with her. I guess my father couldn’t get over it.”

Michael reeled dizzily; William rushed and held him.
“Marc, are you all right?”
“Yes, William… just dizzy.”
“Come sit down, kid. Could I get you something?”
“Could you get me some tea, please?”
“Sure, kid. Now change your clothes, Marc, you’ll freeze in these.”
“I will, William, I will.”

His hands were trembling and he spilt the tea.
“I should call a doctor!”
“No, William, I’m fine.”
“You need to rest, Marc. Why don’t you get some sleep?”
“I really must go.” He got up but he was still feeling dizzy; he sat down again. He shook his head, “I guess I need some sleep after all.”
William led him to the guestroom and prepared the bed. Michael was extremely exhausted and he fell fast asleep.

He saw Kathleen sitting in a wheelchair beside her father in the courtroom looking at him with hatred; he saw the mutilated dead bodies covered with blue roses. He saw Kathleen giving a blue rose to William. He woke up drenched in sweat; the hour was striking twelve. Michael was staring at William as if he had seen him for the first time.

“It’s me, William. What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“I’m sorry.”
“You had a bad dream, Marc. I’ve heard you groaning. Are you still in pain?”
“No, I’m fine. Why didn’t you wake me earlier? I mean to catch the train.”
“You were very ill, Marc, high fever, coughing and sweating all night. I thought you could use a bit more sleep. You’re not in a hurry, are you? Why don’t you spend a couple of days here? It’s warm, good food and good company. Anyway, my father won’t be home before Saturday.” Michael smiled.
“Do you want breakfast in bed?”
“No, I’d better take a shower.”
“Fine, you do that and I’ll fix you something to eat.”
Michael joined him later in the kitchen. He had shaved, dressed and though he was pale, he looked very handsome.
“Do you need help, William?”
“No, I’ve almost finished,” said William and looked at him. “My God, you look very handsome, kid. I think my clothes fit you, right?”
“The pants is a bit wide, though.” He showed him the big gap at the waist. They both laughed; Michael started to feel more relaxed. William was very nice to him. He felt a bond being established; he was panic-stricken.

“What’s the matter, Marc? You look worried?”
“I must get out of here.”
“It’s freezing outside.”
“Please, I feel I’m suffocating in here,” he said and gripped at his chest. “I’ve seen a stable outside. Do you have horses?”
“Let’s go for a ride.”
“Are you sure? You still look very ill.”

They mounted their horses and rode toward the meadows. The sun was setting down and it was bitter cold. He did not care about the wind blowing against his cheeks; he did not feel the cold. He just wanted to ride in the open, free. He felt an urge to keep a distance from William. He spurred his horse and raced the wind. William was calling him but he did not listen. He must have ridden toward a farm. He saw a shabby wooden house and a crumbling shed.

“Hold it right there, lad.”
He stopped his horse, looked behind him. A man with one arm was holding a rifle aimed at him. It looked rather weird the way he was holding the rifle but his finger was fixed on the trigger.
“You’re trespassing. Get off your horse.”
Michael dismounted; he was a bit shocked.
“What are you doing here?”
Michael stared at him speechless.
“Dollan, don’t shoot,” shouted William who was approaching them. “He’s with me.”
“What on earth is he doing in the safe house?”

William dismounted and led Dollan to a corner. Michael watched them exchange a few words but did not hear what they were saying. When they returned, Dollan had put his rifle away. He looked more like a soldier than a farmer. It was unusual how he handled the rifle considering that his left arm was amputated at the elbow.
“I’m sorry, lad. I must have frightened you.”
Michael looked at the shed and said, “Looks like you need a hand in there. Where do you keep the tools?”
William and Dollan were surprised.
“I keep them in the shed,” said Dollan.
Michael walked into the shed and emerged with the tools. He climbed to the roof and started working.
“He’s a bit strange, this friend of yours. At first, I thought he was a lawman. What’s he looking for?”
“Don’t worry, he doesn’t suspect a thing. I just don’t know what got to him.”

Michael worked for more than an hour. He needed more nails and started climbing down. Suddenly, he felt a sharp crushing pain in his chest. He stopped to catch his breath, lost his grip on the ladder and fell. William and Dollan rushed to him.

“What happened, kid? Are you hurt?” asked William anxiously.
“The work won’t be done today. I’ll have to finish it some other time.”
His breathing was labored; his face was extremely pallid. He tried to get up; he fell to his knees gripping hard at his chest.
“Marc, what’s wrong? What’s hurting you?”
“My chest… I can’t breathe.”
“Loosen his belt a bit so he could breathe more easily,” said Dollan.

William unbuckled the belt but once he started unbuttoning the shirt, Michael stopped him. They helped him inside the house and he lay on the couch for a while. Dollan served them tea; he sipped it slowly.
“It’s getting late. I’ll fetch the car,” said William.
“You could use my truck, Will.”
“Thanks, Paul.”
“No need,” said Michael. “I can ride.”

They rode slowly toward the house. Michael was still clutching his chest. He stopped the horse, slid down and lay on the grass. His face was deathly pale and he was coughing. William stopped his horse, dismounted and squatted beside him.

“I shouldn’t have let you ride, Marc. Obviously, you’re too ill…”
“William,” he interrupted. “Why are you helping me? Do you know who I am and why I am here?”
“Why don’t you tell me, Marc?”
“I came here to kill someone.”
“You don’t look like a murderer to me!”
“It’s not a joke.”
“A man who risks his life to save someone else’s is not capable of murder. Though, you’re very ill, you jumped into the freezing waters to save a woman you’ve never seen in your life. This is courage, brother, I admit that I lack.”
“He raped me, William. I’m going to kill him for it.”
“I don’t want you to get involved in this, William. I don’t want you to get hurt. You should let me go. Leave me here; forget that you even met me.”
“If I leave you, Marc, you will die. I won’t let that happen.”
“You know why, Marc Cameron, now let’s go home.”

He put him to bed and left the room. There was nothing else he could do. The pain woke him up in the middle of the night and he decided not to go back to sleep. He would leave early in the morning and turn himself in at the nearest police station. He was very tired but he was resolved not to hurt the only person who was nice to him.

It was almost four in the morning. He got up, got dressed. The gun was still in his bag, loaded. He walked downstairs. Cigar smoke filled the room. He bestowed a loving look on the woman in the picture and said goodbye. He heard voices arguing,
“Why didn’t call the police and turn him in?”
“I couldn’t father. He was very ill.”
“You’re a fool, lad. He is a Catholic!”

This voice was so familiar that he felt it ringing in his head. His heart started pounding as if it were about to explode in his chest. He flung the door open and walked in, the gun in his hand. Colonel James MacPherson was stunned.

“Marc, what are you doing?” asked William who stood between him and his father.
“Hello, Colonel, we’ve met again!” Michael’s hand was trembling as he raised the gun and took aim.
“Put that down, Michael. Please let’s talk.”
“Talk, Colonel! You didn’t talk to me; you tortured me; you raped me. Do you remember this?”

He ripped his shirt at the breast. William gave a cry when he saw the scars.
“This is how your father got me to sign the confession. He spilt the acid slowly on my chest; watched me writhe in pain and sign my death warrant. Three life-sentences for something I didn’t do. I heard him laughing. Did you enjoy it, Colonel? Enjoyed raping your own son?”
“What is he talking about, William? Is he crazy?”
“Before you die, Colonel, you should know the truth. Does the name Brooke Cameron mean anything to you? Does it ring a bell? You know, your wife… She ran away with her two-year-old boy Marc. Do you remember him, Colonel? You were beating her. She ran away on his second birthday while you were drinking in a pub. October 31st 1975, she took your son twenty one years ago, Colonel, or should I call you father?”
“William, did you tell him about Brooke?”
“I didn’t have to, father. I saw his face and it was enough. He looks very much like his mother.”

The Colonel stared wildly at Michael; it was the first time he had seen him closely without the blindfolds. He had his mother’s blue eyes.
“No, this can’t be true . She’s dead. I spent my life searching for her and the child.”
“She died two months after she ran away. Alex Donovan brought me up. He told me the truth two years ago. He was dying of cancer and he told me that he wasn’t my father; you were. Now you know everything you shall die.”
“No, Marc, don’t do it,” said William. “He is your father.”
“He ruined my life,” said Michael sobbing. William did not budge.
“I won’t let you do it, Marc.”

Michael was shaking; tears rushed to his eyes. Suddenly, he threw the gun to the floor and turned his back to them.
“You’re right, William. He’s not worth it.”
Michael dragged himself to the door. The Colonel grabbed the gun.
“Don’t move. William, call the police. He’s a liar. I don’t believe a word he says. Call the police.” The Colonel cocked the hammer.
“No,” screamed William. He caught his father’s arm and twisted it. A shot rang in the room and then there was complete silence.

“My God, I’ve killed him!” he screamed.
“Listen to me, William, you didn’t kill him. He pulled the trigger. Call the police.”
“No, Marc. You have to run away.”
“There is no point in both of us going to jail. I’m responsible for what happened.”
“No, Marc, I won’t let you.”

Michael picked up the telephone and called detective Hayes.
“Detective, this is Michael Donovan. I’ve just shot Colonel MacPherson in his house.” He hung up. Michael picked the gun, wiped all fingerprints with his shirt, held it in his palm and clasped his fingers to the trigger. He sat down beside the body toying with the gun.

The police arrived at the house. Michael had locked the office door from the inside. Two police officers broke the door and barged in with their weapons aimed. Michael was sitting in a chair still toying with the gun.
“Put down your weapon.”
Michael didn’t pay attention to them. Detective Hayes walked in.
“Michael, it’s over now. Put down your weapon.”
Michael got up, walked toward Hayes, the gun still in his hand.
“Don’t shoot,” said Hayes. “Michael, put it down. You don’t have to die.”
Michael reversed the barrel position and handed the gun to Hayes.
“I killed him, Hayes. Now I’m ready.” He turned and put his hand behind his back. “Arrest me, Hayes… It’s all over.”
Hayes placed the cuffs around his wrists and led him to the police car. Michael’s legs couldn’t hold him up any longer; he fell to his knees crying.

“I killed him. I shot him. What else do you want to know?” Michael was screaming hysterically at the three detectives interrogating him.
“Write down any confession you want, I’ll sign it. Please, stop tormenting me. I pulled the trigger. Nothing else matters.”
“I don’t know why I find it hard to believe you, Michael,” said Hayes. He had never seen anyone so determined of pleading guilty.
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. You have evidence, a witness, and a confession. That should be enough to indict me. Isn’t it obvious, Hayes? I ran away to kill him and I did.”

Michael spent the worst night of his life in a lonely cell. The fever was so high that he became delirious. His mind was so confused that he imagined he had really shot his father. He saw Kathleen giving blue roses to William. He had a fit and vomited all over the place. The guard called Detective Hayes,

“Michael, can you hear me? Wake up, Michael.”
Hayes started shaking him to revive him.
“Sir, he’s unconscious.”
“What happened?”
“He had a seizure, sir, jerking all over. I think he’s epileptic.”
“Go, get me some water.”

Hayes removed the dirty sheets then he undressed him.
“My God, what is that?” he screamed in shock when he saw the scars. The guard brought water and Hayes wiped his face with a wet cloth. Michael started coming around and he opened his eyes. Hayes tried to make him drink but he withdrew in terror.

“What’s the matter, Michael?”
“Please, don’t hurt me. I’ve signed the confession… my chest is burning… please, don’t touch me.”
Hayes was utterly surprised. Michael didn’t say a sentence that made sense.
“What are you talking about, Michael? I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to help you.”
“That was exactly what he said then he ruined my life.”
“MacPherson, Colonel MacPherson.”
“What are you saying?”
“He raped me… I tried so hard to stop him but he kept beating me… He burnt my chest with acid to make me sign. I had nothing to do with the blast… I saved her life and now she blames me for what happened to her. I didn’t blow up the Blue Roses. Someone set me up… I swear to God I had nothing to do with the blast.” Michael sobbed all that out in terrible agony. Hayes was stunned but somehow he believed him.
“Call the doctor, John. I’ll stay with him,” said Hayes.

There was no need for further investigations in MacPherson’s murder and Michael was supposed to be transferred back to prison. Two deputies arrived and chained him. Michael started kicking; Hayes interfered.
“You don’t have to chain him like this. He will not escape.”
“He’s done it before, sir. He’s dangerous.”
“Dangerous! My God, he’s just a boy. Listen, I’ll accompany you on the trip.”
Hayes removed the shackles and tied his wrist to Michael’s.
“See, we’re chained together. He can’t escape now, can he?”
Michael appreciated this and calmed down.
“Thank you, detective.”
“Don’t worry, kid. I won’t abandon you this time,” he said reassuringly.

They got into the van. Hayes presence made him relax and somehow enjoy the trip. Hayes talked to him like they were old friends. He even promised him to open the investigation again.
“I think we’re being followed, sir.”

Three cars closed in on them. Five men armed with rifles and machineguns, their leader signaled to the van driver to follow. He led them to a side road and signaled to the driver to stop. The driver unlocked the van; the two deputies, Hayes and Michael got out. The men were wearing ski masks but Michael noticed that one of them had his arm amputated at the elbow.

“Release him,” said the gang leader.
Hayes removed the handcuffs from Michael’s wrist.
“You won’t get away with this,” said the deputy reaching for his gun. He aimed it at Michael.
“Go ahead if you want to join him.”
The deputy dropped the gun; Michael picked it up.
“Now gentlemen, it’s time to say goodbye.”
The gang leader was about to gun them down when Michael stopped him.
“Move away, lad.”
“No, I won’t let you kill them.”
“You’re a fool, lad. I’ll shoot.”
“Then you have to shoot through me,” said Michael firmly and stood his ground.
“All right… I can’t believe I’m getting softhearted. Tie them up, lads, and lock them in the van.”

Each two men got into a different car and drove in different directions.
“Why did you do that?” asked Michael.
“I couldn’t let them send you to the slammer again, brother.”
“I can’t believe you wanted to shoot police officers. They…”
“Deserve to die.”
“That’s not true .”
“I can’t believe you’re defending them after all what they’ve done to you.”
“The person responsible for what happened to me is dead now.”
“Poor old father! He sacrificed a son to the save the other.”
“What? What are you saying? You had nothing to do with the Blue Roses, did you? Did you?”
“The Blue Roses and others, Marc. Now you’re one of us.”
“No, stop the car. I want to go back? I want to go back to prison.”
Michael put his hand on the handle and tried to open the door.
“Marc, are you crazy? You can’t go back. There’s a bomb about to go off in less than five minutes.”

Michael was stunned. Then he suddenly realized that the deputy’s gun was still in his pocket. He turned and pulled the gun.
“Forgive me, William. I have no other choice.”
He fired a bullet through William’s brain.

Michael pushed the dead body and drove the car to where the van was parked. He rushed and unlocked the van screaming, “Get out. There’s a bomb.”
The deputies, the driver and Hayes all rushed out in a second. Hayes was pushed and he fell to the ground. Michael covered him with his body as the bomb went off.

He woke up in hospital; Detective Hayes was sitting by his bed.
“How do you feel, Michael?”
“Is he dead?”
“Who, Michael?”
“William… I shot him.”
“Yes, he’s dead.”
“I had to do it, Hayes. I had to… Did anyone else get hurt?”
“No, just you. You saved my life, Michael, twice.”
“He saved my life and I shot him.”
“Why did you do it, Michael?”
“I had no choice. He had planted a bomb in your car. I couldn’t tolerate more killing. He had done enough.”
“More killing! Did he kill before?”
“He blew up the Blue Roses and other…”
“Nothing… Don’t listen to me. I’m raving mad. What a coward I am, blaming my crimes on a dead person!”
“Michael, you have to tell this…”
“If you say a word to anyone I’ll recant it all.”
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life in jail for a dead person?”
“He’s my…He was my only friend. I love him, Hayes.”
“I’m your friend, Michael. He’s not worth this sacrifice. You have your whole life ahead of you.”
“What life, Hayes? What life?”
“I’m not going to let you rot in jail, Michael. Whatever it takes.”
“I wish you’d just let me die.”

Detective Hayes went to see Judge Mitchell and told him the whole story.
“Do you believe him, detective?”
“Yes, your honor, I do.”
“It’s going to be his word against…”
“That’s the problem, sir. He’s not going to contradict the verdict.”
“Why not?”
“A kind of moral obligation to William MacPherson, he doesn’t want to defile his memory.”
“His memory is already defiled. He planted a bomb in a police car, almost killed four policemen.”
“He would have succeeded, sir, if Michael Donovan hadn’t risked his life twice to save us.”

“Michael, this is Judge Mitchell.”
“I know who he is. He sentenced me to a hundred and thirty-two years in prison. It’s hard to forget a person like that. God, you must be a great believer in longevity or how else am I supposed to serve such a sentence!”
“Michael, I want you to tell Judge Mitchell what you’ve told me yesterday.”
“I’ve been telling lots of stories lately, which one? Probably how I blew up a restaurant and helped people die, or the one about the Colonel and his son, I shot them both for fun. What story, Hayes? I’m tired of the whole thing. Why don’t you send me to the gas chamber, Judge? Would the electric chair be more fun? I’m willing to pay the electricity bill.”
“I’ve heard enough, detective. I think he should be sent to the nuthouse,” said Judge Mitchell and left the room.
“What the hell are you doing, Michael?”
“I told you I’d recant it all.”
“Michael, William MacPherson killed twenty-three people in that restaurant. You could have easily been one of them.”
“And I killed him for it, Hayes. He told me he blew up the Blue Roses and others… He told me he planted a bomb in your car. I couldn’t let him kill more people. It was either he or you, I chose you. What else do you want, Hayes?”
“I want the truth to be known. I want justice.”
“Justice! I didn’t give him a fair trial. I heard the confession, found him guilty and shot him. I was jury, judge and executioner. I didn’t give him a chance to defend himself. He saved my life, Hayes. He shot his father to save me and I killed him. Don’t you think I deserve the guilty verdict?”
“He shot the Colonel!”
“He was trying to stop him from killing me. He twisted his arm and the gun went off.”
“All right, you want to be tried for shooting him, fine. But you are not going to spend the rest of your life in jail for something you didn’t do. You don’t deserve that.”
“I deserve to die,” said Michael sobbing. “Please, stop it I can’t take it any more. If you want to do me a favor, give me a gun and let me shoot myself.”
“All that for a bastard, son of a bitch, murderer!”
“That bastard is my brother, Malcolm. He’s my brother.” Michael burst into hysterical crying.
“Are you all right, Michael? What’s happening to you?”
“God be merciful and let me die. Don’t you get it, Malcolm? Don’t you understand what’s been happening? Colonel MacPherson knew everything his son was doing and he wanted a scapegoat, a Catholic, the son of an Irish Republican. I was there. He set me up; raped me; tortured me to make me take the blame. He didn’t know… to save a son he ruined the other… That was justice.”
“MacPherson was your father!”
“Yes, Malcolm. He’s my real father. My real name is Marc John MacPherson.”
Judge Mitchell walked in.
“Stop tormenting him, detective. I’ve heard enough.”

The tape was replayed to the jury. Michael was sitting at the witness stand pale as death. He looked at the people and there he found her. Kathleen was sitting beside her father. He felt the same intense crushing pain in his chest. He was suffocating so he opened the shirt at the neck to breathe more easily. The jury gaped when they saw the scars.

“Mr. Donovan,” the prosecutor addressed him. “I know this is very hard for you so I won’t ask you to repeat what happened. We all heard the tape. I’m going to ask you, sir, a very simple question, and may I remind you you’re under oath. Is what we’ve heard true ? Is it the truth, Mr. Donovan?”
Michael was still looking at Kathleen; he remained silent.
“Is it, true , Mr. Donovan? Answer the question.”
Michael looked at him and said with difficulty, “Yes.”
“I didn’t hear you, sir, please raise your voice.”
Michael clutched his throat laboring to breathe.
“Mr. Donovan, are you all right?”
“Yes, everything you heard is true . William blew up the restaurant, shot his father and I killed him.” Michael gazed fiercely at the jury. “I didn’t punish him for what he did. I killed him to stop the killing. I just wanted him to stop killing innocent people. I don’t care if I have to spend the rest of my life in prison for it. It had to stop… no more victims, no more.” He looked at Kathleen and then at the jury. “I killed my brother because I love him.” He looked at the crowd and saw Dollan.

“You were with him. You were his partner. I didn’t want to believe my eyes when I saw the guns at your safe house. Why don’t you look at what you’ve done to that young woman and tell me was it worth it?” Michael ripped his shirt. “Look at me and tell me is it worth it?”
Paul Dollan stood up, stunned.
“You lost your arm; she lost her legs; I lost my life. I had to kill my own brother, for God’s sake. Now answer me, is it worth it?”
“No, Michael, it’s not. I’m sorry you had to go through all this for something MacPherson and I had done. If there is any way I could undo what had been done I’ll do it but it’s all over now. At least, I have the chance to tell the truth.”

“Did the jury reach a verdict?”
“We find the defendant not guilty.”
“Mr. Donovan, you’ve been acquitted of all charges. You’re free to go.”
Michael mustered his courage and walked over to Kathleen. “Miss Kemp, I hope you’ll find the courage to put all this behind you… I know I never could.”
He said with a catch in his voice and didn’t look at her.

Detective Hayes led him outside the courthouse and shouldered his way through reporters. When finally he drove away, Michael burst into tears like a little child.

“How is he, Sarah?”
“Still the same, Malcolm, he didn’t leave his room.”
“Did he eat anything?”
“He had an orange juice.”
“It’s been five days, Sarah. He must eat.”
“I tried, Malcolm. I even left the baby with him and went shopping.”
“He fed the baby all right, but didn’t touch his food.”
“My God, what am I going to do with him?”
“Maybe it’s time he sees a psychiatrist.”
“I think you’re right, Sarah. I’ll talk to him.”

Malcolm walked into the room. Michael was sitting in his bed, his hands clasped to his knees. The room was dark.
“How are you feeling, kid?” he said and turned on the lights.
“Turn off the lights, Malcolm. I want to sleep.”
“Do you want to have dinner with us?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“You’ve been saying that for the last five days. Do you want to starve yourself to death? If you don’t eat we’ll have to feed you intravenously.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Michael, it’s over. Please, get on with your life.”
“Malcolm, have you ever killed a man before?”
“I did.”
“How did it make you feel?”
“It’s not the issue here.”
“Answer me.”
“I felt sick. I didn’t want to carry a gun again. But I got over it.”
“Because the man you shot was not your brother.”
“I know what you’re trying to say and I know you’re right, but I can’t help it. It’s eating me inside. I close my eyes and see his brains scattered all over me. My hands tremble and I feel I’m suffocating. I just can’t get him off my mind.”
“I think you should see a doctor.”
“I am a doctor.”
“I mean a psychiatrist.”
“Do you think I’m going mad?”
“No, I think you’ve been through hell and you need help.”
“Believe me, Malcolm, you, Sarah and sweet little Meg are more than I could hope for.”
“Sarah told me she left Meg with you today.”
“We had wonderful time together. She is adorable.”
“I think we found the perfect job for you.”
Michael smiled.
“Listen, I received a letter from a law firm today, Baron & Parker, do you know them?”
“No, what does it say?”
“I didn’t open it. Here it is.”
Michael read the letter; he looked a bit stunned.
“What’s the matter, kid?”
“I can’t believe this. It says that now I’m the heir of MacPherson’s estate and all his money!”
“That’s good news.”
“Can we go there?”
“To Baron and Parker, of course.”
“I didn’t think you were so keen on money.”
“All right, kid.”
“I’ll get dressed.”

When they returned Michael was smiling; Malcolm was swearing.
“He’s a fool… I swear to God he’s gone nuts.”
“What did he do this time, Malcolm?” asked Sarah.
“Can you believe he’s given away all that money?”
“Given away?”
“To the people who were injured, to the families of those who were killed at the Blue Roses. He gave away all his money.”
“It’s not my money, Malcolm. It belongs to MacPherson.”
“He’s dead. Now you’re the heir.”
“Thanks to me he’s dead.”
“Oh, Michael, please don’t start again.”
“I wanted to make amends for what he had done. I know money can never bring back the dead but at least I did the best I could.”
“You did the right thing, dear,” said Sarah.
“So, what’s for dinner?”
“I’m starving.”

They sat down and had dinner together. Michael seemed cheerful that evening. He played a lot with Meg; he even washed the dishes.
“Sarah, could you wake me at eight tomorrow?”
“I’ll start looking for a job.”

When he returned, there was a visitor waiting for him.
“Mr. Kemp!” Michael was surprised to see the prison-guard waiting for him.
“I have something for you… from Kathy.” He handed him an envelope. Michael opened it slowly; there was the check and a rose. Michael turned pale as death.
“Sarah, take the baby and go to your room.”
“What’s the matter, Michael?”
“Just do it,” he said firmly.
She hurried into her room and locked the door. She called her husband.

“She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“The day you walked out she killed herself.”
“I’m truly sorry, Mr. Kemp,” said Michael sympathetically.
“She killed herself and you’re going to pay for that.”
He pulled out a gun and took aim. “You’re going to die.”
“Mr. Kemp, I’m not responsible for what happened to your daughter; I saved her life.”
“What’s the matter? Are you afraid to die?”
“I’m not afraid of you, Mr. Kemp. I could have had you locked up for what you’ve done to me in prison but believe me I understand what you’ve been going through. I don’t hold a grudge against you because I’ve acted in the same way. I killed the man who destroyed your daughter’s life. I killed my own brother!”

By this time Malcolm had arrived and opened the door. Kemp turned toward Malcolm; Michael bolted at him and seized the gun.
“What’s going on, Michael? Did this man try to kill you?” Malcolm pulled out the handcuffs.
“Please, Malcolm, nothing happened. Don’t arrest him.”
“This man walked into my house, threatened the lives of my wife and child and you’re telling me not to arrest him!”
“Malcolm, I saved your life twice and never asked a favor of you. His daughter had killed herself. He’s not in his right mind.”
“I’m sorry, Michael. I have to. How am I going to be sure that my family is safe if he’s loose?”
“I’ll make sure this never happens again. It’s my fault. I put your lives in danger when I walked in here. That’s why I must leave.”
Michael walked to the door, Kemp’s gun still in his hand. He stormed out and slammed the door behind him.

Michael wandered all night. He had no idea where to go and what to do. He felt lost, betrayed and in pain. He felt the gun in his pocket and almost pulled it out more than once. However, every time he touched it, he saw William laughing to his face. He stopped in front of a flower shop and bought twenty-five roses. He took a cab and went to his brother’s grave. He sat there, silent and in pain. Michael unwrapped the bunch and started placing the roses on William’s grave one by one.

“This one is from Kathleen Kemp,” he said. “And this one is from Keith Stewart, the waiter… this from Rhonda… John… Richard… Eric… Melissa… And this one is from me…”

Huda Orfali


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Reviewed by Peter Paton 5/12/2006
For my money, Marc is the perfect Anti-Hero, and I wouldn't change or alter a bit of his psyche..
He( you) is perfect in every way....
It's what I call controlled agression and emotional content
Love, Peace and Harmony
Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 5/3/2006
Poignant story, Huda! Captivating write - well written.

God bless,

Reviewed by Michael Wells 2/24/2006
What a twist of fate indeed. This is justice indeed
Wonderful work, Huda
Reviewed by Lee Garrett 2/24/2006
I like this story a lot and consider it your best work yet. It is very powerful. The characters are deep, the action absorbing. The writer's "voice" compelling.
There is one suggestion I'd like to make: there's a general rule in writing that a character needs to be very human so the readers can bond to him, good or evil. A villain shouldn't be perfectly evil. Yours wasn't. He did evil but was motivated by the desire to protect his son. We can hate and sympathise with Detective McPherson at the same time. But there is an imbalance with your hero, Marc. He comes off too perfect, a fallen angel that remains pure. Yes, he displays weakness, but there's not enough darkness to his character. It's like the fine shining core of him can never be touched by circumstances, even in his self-destructive moods. His mind is darkened but he isn't dark himself. His heart, his character is static, unchanged by his traumas that ravage his mind. This produces the feeling that he went through the plot, but not through a character arc.
I think if you pushed him closer to the edge of irrational violence, letting his demon out a little more, then pull him back from the brink, it would be a stronger story.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 2/24/2006
Ditto Karen!!

Well done sis!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 2/23/2006
Huda, this is horror writing at its best! BRAVA! Very well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D

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