Of Innocence and Guilt (part 7 of 14)
Of Innocence and Guilt (part 7 of 14) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Sergeant Alana's 'chat' with Evan Stanton.

Of Innocence and Guilt (part 7 of 14)

It was the following day.

After much discussion between Chief Constable Bartosiewicz and Sergeant Alana,

with the sergeant gently reminding her boss about Hyle's 'guidance' on dealing with people; it was reluctantly agreed that, rather than making a twelve-year-old boy come to the station,

it would be better if Alana went to his house to interview him.

Evan Stanton

"Go and see who's at the effin' door!"

"I'm going! I'm going!"

Alana waited.

The door opened, but just a few inches and a face appeared in the crack.

Because she had to look down, and because there was the faintest of scars on the side of the boy's face Alana figured she had her man... Well, boy.

"Evan Stanton?"

Evan's eyes widened, and his chin dropped. An annoyed voice came from behind him.

"Who is it? If it's that old bitch from across the way, tell her to..."

"It's a constable!"

There were a few moments of silence, during which Alana looked through into the house to take in what the five inches of opened door allowed her to see.

What she saw was clutter, an untidy mess of discarded clothes, piled high dishes and laundry hanging from a suspended rack in front of the chimney breast.

The owner of the other voice, however, was out of sight but it sounded too young to be the father, Arch Stanton, so Alana deduced the voice must be Arthur, the older brother.

"Tell 'im to fuck off."

Evan's face flushed, making the two small scars stand out.

"It's a girl one!"

"Well, tell 'er to... What does she want?"

"I dunno! Me, I think."

"Tell 'er to come back when Dad's in."

Alana bestowed her best smile on Evan.

"It's about Magrat. I just want to ask you a few questions about what you can remember about that day. We could just go for a little walk while we chat."

Evan looked behind him into the gloom. Then seemed to make his mind up about either being inside with his brothers or outside with the lady constable.

He slipped through the door and closed it behind him.

Alana set off on a route that circled the outskirts of town, along the south side.

"Is he always like that?"

Evan sighed.

"Yeah." He looked up at Alana as they walked. "Am I in trouble?"

She smiled at him.

"Nope. In fact, I just came to make sure you're all right. Sometimes us adults can be so busy we forget about lots of important things."

He returned to looking at the ground.

"'K... Have you caught who done it yet?"

"Not yet...but we will. I know Magrat meant a lot to you."

Evan looked up sharply, his cheeks flushing. His first breath was to deny it, but then he looked away again, kicking a corn husk a few yards along the ground.

"She was nice."

"Mhm...pretty little thing. She made a lot of friends, but I keep hearing your name more than anyone else's. You must have meant a lot to her too."

The smile Evan beamed at her in response was the first she had seen on the boy, but it was short-lived.

"Nah. Arthur ses she was just teasing me. He ses she just saw me as a little kid." The vicious kick Evan swung sent the next dried out husk sailing into the air.

"Oh? And does Arthur have a girlfriend?"

This actually got a real laugh from Evan.

"Arthur?! No way. He's an as... a butthole. Besides, he has to look after Dudders most of the time."

Alana giggled.

"Then I think you're smart enough to know it doesn't take a constable to figure out he wouldn't know anything about girls. Do you look after your little brother too?"

"Yeah, course I do." He stopped to think about it for a moment. "Not as much as Arthur, though, coz he's older. But Dad ses I have to help when I'm not at school."

"Your dad works a lot, doesn't he? Chief Bartosiewicz says he's one of the hardest workers he's ever seen."

"Um, I guess. Dad pulls a lot of overtime. He gets in late most nights." Evan turned to Alana with a quizzical expression. "Why are you asking about my dad?" He becomes defensive.

"He works real hard. It's not his fault. Mom left..."

"She left?"

"Um yeah. Months ago. Dad's been working really hard to pay the bills and stuff ever since."

"That's awful, I'm sorry. Does your mom stay in contact with you?"

Evan's face returned to looking gloomy at the question.

"No. She's never sent a letter or anything."

Alana offered him a comforting little smile.

"Well...maybe we can help with that, but first I need your help..."

But Alana was interrupted.

"Huh? How? What do I hafta do?" Evan's eyes betrayed growing excitement. "Can you bring her back?"

"Well, we can certainly have someone go and find her, but all of our constables are very busy right now trying to get justice for Magrat. That's why we need your help."

"Mmmmm I dunno..." Evan glanced back in the direction they had come as if looking for his house, before replying in an almost whisper. "Ok, then."

Alana looked back too, then down at Evan. What was he thinking? She moved the conversation away from the boy's mother.

"I hear you and Magrat would meet every night at the wafflehouse, is that right?"

Evan's face went red.

"Umm, yeah. Well, most night's I'd be there when she came in and sometimes, we'd, umm, you know, talk about stuff. Um, why?"

"You were waiting for her on Wednesday night too, weren't you?"

Suddenly, Evan looked nervous, and Alana watched him closely

"Yeah. So?"

Alana stayed calm, but concerned, not wanting to alarm him.

"Evan? Can you remember what happened that night? Before you got there, and after you waited."

Evan squinted up into the blue sky as if trying to find his memories in the ether.

"Um, well there was the party. I got to give Magrat her stethy thing, so I stayed there for a bit.

And then, well I knew she would go to the wafflehouse cos she usually does cos she buys some weird foreign cake to take back to the camp."

He turned to Alana. "I don't understand. Why didn't she just run away and stay here forever?"

But the sad, sympathetic look the constable gave him, that all the grown-ups had given him was a long way from the answer he wanted. He let out his frustration in a sigh.

"Anyway. I waited and talked to Theis, he's funny, and I had a soda..." He struggled to remember and his face screwed up tight trying to force the memories to come.

"An' then she didn't come, so I went home."

"Do you remember walking past the bar? Did you see anyone you'd recognise?"

"Um yeah." Evan reeled of three names unfamiliar to Alana which she made a note of. "Oh, and Mr Johnson was peeing over the porch railing.

And then Mr Barret came out of the bar to tell him to stop. Then they went back in together.

Alana made sure of the names. Johnson and Barret were common names in Hope

"Are you sure that's everyone you saw? You didn't notice anyone else there?"

Evan, sensing he might be in trouble for not remembering, started to panic.

"Er, I dunno. Maybe. Um... There was a man rode up an' looked through the old spyglass thing, then he rode off. I can't remember... Sorry. Who did you want me to see?"

Alana backed off; she had pushed too hard. He was a kid, just a kid.

"Don't worry, just what you can remember is good enough, but if you remember anything else you come find me, okay?"

"Okay. And you're gonna get Mom to write, aren't you? Like you promised?"

"Tell you what. Why don't you write your mom a letter, and we'll give it to her when we go find her for you?"

"Ok, cool! I'll help Dudders write one too."

Alana watched him run off in the direction of home.

Then, as she was walking back to the constabulary and trying to assimilate everything the youngster had told her, she noticed that there were gaps in the story.

Maybe just memory lapses, she thought, but there was definitely something else. She couldn't put her finger on it. Perhaps the chief could fathom it out, but there was definitely something...


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