A few months back
There it goes, slowly mixing, drowning within itself. Red color swirls circle in the water before they disappear down the sink. I stare at my hands and continue scrubbing the blood off them. My skin burns from the constant scouring but the stains remain stubborn, refusing to disappear. They smile at me, proof of our victory. I can practically taste the blood from the smell in the air. That was too easy.
I take another puff and exhale a slow long breath, smell of the cigarette smoke is a soothing relief. The guy facing me in the mirror smiles. Time for bed, the job is done.
The soft linen presses down with my weight. I touch my head to the pillow and feel myself drifting away. After a long time, I can finally sleep peacefully now that she is dead.
Back to Present
Ria where the hell are you? As my friend screeched from the other side of the phone, I was rushing from the bedroom to get dressed up, as habitually I was late for college. As soon as I reached for the doorknob, suddenly the landline rang and mom told to pick it up. Uncle Roy called me immediately to the police station, an unusual case has come up, and it instantly piqued up my interest.
When I reached the station, the air was condescending with a slight element of suppressed fear.
Father Matthews told that he knew the killer was coming, as it was only a matter of time. It was a huge paradox that someone so pious could kill and lie with impunity to save himself. Still, he was hardly a saint himself, despite his dog collar, he reflected. He had fought his urges for years, and the battle was ongoing. His guilt over those boys would never pass, but it failed to diminish the physical urges, like a scab desperate to be picked off.
Father Matthews came to us to surrender himself for the crimes he committed earlier, prior to becoming a Father.
I have seen Father Matthews ‘s picture in the papers of course, but he seemed smaller in person, less of an intimidating presence. Maybe all criminals seemed that way.
“May I help you?”, I asked Father Matthews.
Father Matthews was in his mid-thirties with a hard, angular face carved from too many violent incidents. The eyes were sharp, darting and full of menace. It was an expression that could strike fear into his adversaries and doubtless had done so many times. Yet there was a softness to his expression, the lost gaze of a small boy occasionally surfacing. He smiled hesitantly.
“Mr. Roy, I have sinned”, he said meekly.
Uncle asked him to lay out all the cards on the table.
“Mr. Roy I have done some terrible things”. A few years back there were several stories consisting of a person from church committing several murders throughout 6 months of time span but he was never convicted as he managed to escape every time. At that time I was studying in 11th grade and my mom would not let me carry out an investigation of my own so I simply waited for a better time to pursue it again and today I got the chance.
“Mr. Roy I killed a man.” The sentence hung in the air until the silence between them was like a suffocating mask.
“Who did you kill,?” the uncle asked eventually.
Now that the initial statement was out there, Father Matthews was less reticent. “I didn’t mean to kill him. Maybe I did in the moment of madness when it happened but I did not set out to kill him. I have been in a lot of scraps in my time but I felt I was finally on the right path. We were partners in a business venture that went sour. But I fell in with some old pals, the wrong type. They got me back into gambling. It was my fault. I used the money we invested at the casino. I took his investment with me and gambled it away
“Then what happened?”
“He came to remonstrate with me and we got into a fight. I pushed him and he fell.”
“Where did this happen?” I asked, trying not to sound too inquisitive.
“We were out at a bar till late and we took a walk. We walked along the concrete elevated walkway that runs along the bridge above the river. Then we got into a heated argument. He began pushing and yelling at me, and I gave him one big shove. He stumbled and fell over the railings. I knew it was bad as soon as I did it.” His voice faltered.
“He made absolutely no sound. I could barely look over the edge and when I did my worst fears were confirmed. My partner, a friend of mine for 15 years, was drowning. Father Matthews began sobbing, thick grievous wails.
Uncle waited, aware that he wanted to say more. Best he keeps talking. There was enough to implicate him already. It was all there. “What happened next?”
His voice hesitated, unsure what to say next. When he spoke, his voice was still cracked with remorse. “I kept a low profile but I knew the cops would come calling eventually. I knew it was naive to expect I had got away with it. Apparently, there had been a witness, just a homeless guy who failed to even identify me in a police lineup. Even so, they had enough to go to trial. Apparently, a hair on his jacket matched my DNA but they had little else. The homeless guy was their star witness, that’s how weak their case was. My defense barrister absolutely ripped him to shreds, got him to admit he had been drinking heavily and took hallucinogenic drugs on the night of the killing. His credibility was destroyed. I did not take the stand because I know that the prosecution would have found me out. I let proceedings take their course, all the while knowing I was as guilty as sin. The case collapsed. You might have seen it in the papers.”
Of course, I had seen it. Scandalous, some had called it. A travesty of justice. An indictment of the prosecution system. I heard it all. The fact is Father Matthews had walked free when no one truly believed he was innocent. Now he was in the confessional box, baring his soul.
The whole conversation was being taped by my uncle, respected pry, a Father convicted a heinous crime and didn’t get punished after all these years turned to cops for final redemption.
Without saying anything else to Father Matthews, I pulled uncle outside and asked what he will do now.
He said only one word- “Justice”.