Of Innocence and Guilt (part 14 of 14)
Of Innocence and Guilt (part 14 of 14) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Two annoying loose ends are finally tidied up.

Of Innocence and Guilt (part 14 of 14)

It was an hour later when the chief and the others got back from the funeral.

Phineas could see on their faces that they had all been affected by what he guessed had been a solemn and moving occasion. The Chief Constable headed straight for his office.

His angry stride matched the glare in his eyes. Phineas changed his mind about talking to him. Instead, he touched the arm of Sergeant Alana.

"Sarge?"

She looked up at him, irritation flashed across her face for a moment but was gone just as soon.

"What is it, constable?"

"Can I have a word with you?"

Amid the general kicking off of shoes and the sighs of relief; high heels not being best suited for long walks on the compacted dirt roads of Hope Springs, Hyle,

Kirsten and Tuki took their places leaning against the table and worktops in Hyle's kitchen as the room filled with the smell of brewing coffee.

"Now you see why I don't wear shoes?" Tuki let a slight smugness into her voice as she helped her mother arrange the cups and set out some pastries on the tabletop.

"So, what did the chief constable tell you?" Kirsten asked as all three women settled into the chairs around the table.

"Not much, only that Arthur Stanton confessed to the murder. Besides that, Shad already had evidence that Evan had nothing to do with it all." Hyle took a sip of coffee.

Tuki put her cup down and leaned forward. "Which leaves Arch Stanton in a mess. One of his sons charged with murder, and he still has to care for the toddler.

On top of that, he still has to work hard to keep the roof over their heads." She slumped in her chair.

"And then, on top of all that, Evan must be devastated that not only his older brother is charged with murder but also that the victim was the very girl he had developed feelings for."

Hyle nodded. Tuki had only voiced the concerns that had filled the back of her mind as the funeral had continued to its conclusion. What was to happen to the Stanton family?

Tuki went on, verbalising her thoughts. "My biggest concern is for Dudley. Arthur was the main carer and he is locked up.

Evan will be traumatised, so will Arch, and Arch is going to have his hands full as Arthur goes to trial. So, amid all this, who cares for Dudley?"

"Does Hope even have the facility for a trial?

" Kirsten added, clearly, she had her own train of thought which was delivering more firewood for the bonfire of challenges Hyle would have to face in the next few days.

Hyle realised that silence had settled around the table and that her daughter and best friend were looking directly at her as if she was about to deliver an elegant solution to all

these questions in that moment. She could not, she had no idea, that was the plain truth.

As the look of hopelessness flashed across Hyle's face, Tuki and Kirsten felt pangs of guilt and exchanged glances with each other. Kirsten offered the apology on behalf of both of them.

"Sorry. The last few days must have been tough for you."

"For all of us." Hyle gave a caring look at Tuki. "Most of us have had an awful few days. It's just something I'm going to have to work on."

Tuki cast a semi-professional eye over her mother, noting the tiredness all too apparent in her eyes and general posture even as she sat half relaxed at the kitchen table.

"You should get some sleep, Mor. All this can wait until tomorrow."

That statement managed to elicit a tired groan from Hyle "Huyy, yeah. I suppose. But...."

Hyle felt Tuki's hand close over hers "But nothing." The hard stare she gave Hyle hit the spot. Tuki hid the smile, her mother was actually going to do what she, Tuki, had told her. For once.

Kirsten added her own leverage as she stood and cleared the dishes from the table announcing, "I better be getting back to Joe and Anneka anyway. You do as you have been told, hmm?"

"And Taiyoko will be overwhelmed by Itchy by now. The nanny finished work an hour since." Tuki added.

Fifteen minutes later, Tuki and Kirsten were gone. Hyle found herself pacing the lounge floor as myriad problems, ideas and solutions fought for supremacy inside her aching head.

She had no idea when Shad would be back from work, she badly needed to be moulding herself to his frame with his hands finding all those places on her body that would comfort her.

But she sort of knew that was a long shot too, he still would be bristling from the day's events.

The fact was that ever since the first constable knocked on their door heralding Magrat's murder,

Shadwell had been consumed with work overlaid with the anger that a girl had been killed on his watch. Consequently, any form of intimacy or comfort seemed marooned on another planet.

And Hyle knew herself and her needs only too well. She craved comfort often and without a doubt, and this was one of those times that she needed Him so much.

"Fand! Dette er umuligt..." she growled to herself, forcing her feet toward the stairs.

Much later, Hyle lay in bed, alone in the dark trying to snatch sleep out of the turmoil in her mind. It was impossible.

Trying to compartmentalise the issues at hand, to separate the components into manageable portions at times worked,

but then the individual issues would break out of their different boxes and combine with the others to run riot in her mind.

Eventually, Shadwell did come home.

She lay awake as he 'considerately' undressed in the dark before sliding into the bed next to her, presenting his back to her,

thoughtfully pushing his elbow into her ribs as she tried to slide nearer to him.

Hyle sighed deeply, accepting the message and turned to lie on her other side, to wait for elusive sleep to come.

It was two minutes to six in the morning. The Chief constable stood on the still damp pavement with Constable Sweetly by his side.

His thoughts about possible promotion for the man next to him were interrupted by the activity across the street as several constables, led by Sergeant Alana,

took up positions at the front and rear doors of the home of Jonas Barret. Shadwell checked his watch. Outside Jonas' front door, Alana was looking over her shoulder, waiting for the signal.

He checked his watch again, then gave an exaggerated nod of his head.

Jonas Barret's front door crashed inwards in a shower of splinters and shouted commands, and the gathered constables disappeared inside.

Shadwell and Sweetly set off across the road at a leisurely pace.

They made their way past the shattered front door and then past the rigid, wary constables who lined the passageway and guarded the flung open doors to various downstairs rooms.

The final "Clear!

" was shouted from somewhere upstairs just as a shocked and sleep-addled Jonas was roughly escorted from the bottom of the stairs and then bundled into the untidy waiting mess that was

the living room. Sweetly quietly made his way upstairs while Alana joined her boss.

Moments later and Shadwell indicated with a twitch of his head that the two constables who had helped Jonas down the stairs could now leave. Alana closed the door behind them.

Shadwell stood in the middle of the room.

"Sit down Mr Barret."

Jonas, still in his boxers and, for some reason, a pair of socks. Remained defiantly standing, even if he was shaking like a leaf.

"What the hell! You can't just come barging into a guy's..."

But that was as far as he got before Alana stepped forward and, with a firm push of her hand in the centre of Jonas' chest, sent him staggering backwards onto his cluttered couch.

Shadwell sighed and folded his arms.

"Obviously, we can. Now then. Where were you at the time that young lady was being murdered?"

Jonas rubbed his chest.

"I don't remember."

"Witnesses put you in the Black Beer."

Jonas looked up sullenly.

"Maybe. Probably. There's isn't much else to do since I lost my job."

"So, you had been drinking?"

"Yes."

"Those witnesses also said you'd been there most of the afternoon too, drinking heavily."

"I ain't denying it."

Just then, the door opened, and constable Sweetly came in carrying a bundle of clothes.

Shadwell nodded to Alana, who pulled out a pair of handcuffs.

"Jonas Barret." He said, turning back to the half-dressed man on the couch. "I'm arresting you for tampering with a crime scene, removing evidence, and defilement of a corpse."

Jonas went white, his jaw-dropping open.

Sweetly stepped forward.

"Get dressed." He passed the man a pair of trousers. "These your pants?"

Jonas recovered and snatched them from the constable.

"Of course, they damn well are." He started to pull them on.

"And are these your boots?" Sweetly asked, holding out a pair of polished, new military issue boots.

Jonas stood up, pulling up his pants.

"Yes, dammit! Those are my boots. These are my pants and this is my damned house! Not that that seems to matter a shit!"

Sweetly and Shadwell shared a glance.

Once Jonas was dressed, Alana put the handcuffs on him and took him by the arm. Jonas turned to the Chief Constable.

"You just wait 'till Hana hears about this. You'll see."

Shadwell grinned.

"Oh, I can't wait. In fact, I'm going over there right now."

Speechless, Jonas Barret was led out of his house to a waiting car.

At nine-thirty, Shadwell called in at the mayor's office with the Barret siblings' damning statements... And a request for funds to build more cells due to overcrowding.

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