“How many times do I have to tell you?” Waylon asked his frustration evident as he looked across the small table at his interrogators. “I did not kill Dexter Gage. Hell I wanted to but I didn’t do it.”
“You don’t expect us to believe that do you?” the younger man snarled “Dexter Gage spent months stalking the man you love. Terrorizing him. You saw your chance and took it.”
“Unfortunately for you the river didn’t carry the body far enough” his partner continued “you should have weighed his body down so it would sink.”
“No doubt you lost your stomach by then or maybe Dexter had waded out into the river in an attempt to get away from you. The current carried his body down stream before you could do anything about it,” the younger detective concluded.
Bile rose from his upset stomach. Swallowing convulsively in an attempt to keep his stomach contents down Waylon leaned over vomiting on the floor. Watching dispassionately the older detective continued “we have an eyewitness that confirms you had blood all over your clothes the night of Dexter Gage’s disappearance. They quoted you as saying it wasn’t mine.”
Lifting his head as the smell of his own vomit assaulted his nostrils. His stomach rumbled uneasily. “I…” he shook his head trying to keep the men’s faces in focus “it wasn’t mine” he repeated “it was Zach’s.”
The men exchanged interested looks “you don’t expect us to believe that.”
“I don’t care if you believe me or not. Forensics will prove I’m telling the truth.”
“What about the trace amounts of Dexter’s DNA we found on your clothes? Care to explain that” the younger detective demanded.
“Transfer from Zach. He and Dexter had been in a fi….” Waylon slammed his mouth shut “I want my lawyer.”
The detectives got up and left the room “What do you think?” the older man asked his partner.
“I believe him” the man glanced over his shoulder towards the one way window “he didn’t do it.”
“Let’s have a talk with the boyfriend” the older man suggested leading the way to the next interrogation room. Opening hte door the young blond male jumped up startled. His blue eyes round with fear.
“Waylon wwwwouldn’t hurt any anyone ” he stammered.
“What about you?” the older man asked “would you hurt anyone?” His voice conspiratorial, almost gentle.
Zach shook his head vehemently “I didn’t mmmean to hurt hhim. We were frfriends once.”
Like a cate about to pounce on it’s prey the detective asked “how did you hurt Dexter?”
“I…I” Zach stammered picking at the cracks in the old table top “I ddddidn’t mmmean ttto hurt him.”
The detectives exchanged eager looks like a couple of bloodhounds picking up a scent. “What happened Zach? Did you snap after months of being stalked? Did you acquire a gun?”
“No” Zach hastily shook his head pushing away from the table his chair scrapping loudly across the bare floor. “Dex had the gun…”
“You fought over the guy” the older detective asserted “you wrestled the gun from Dexter and Bang” his fist slams down on the table.
His voice echoed in the small space. Zach yelped curling into a tight ball on the floor, hands covering his face and ears. “No” he wailed “I I hit him. I refused ttto dddo what hhhhe wanted. I kkkept hitting him.” Tremors make his hands shake as he brought them down. He stared at his hands as if he had never seen them before.
The older detective jerked his head towards the door. The men quietly left the room to the sounds of Zach’s sobs.
“I don’t know about you but that felt like I was kicking a wounded puppy” the younger man observed.
“Yeah” the older detective grunted “we should let the kid’s shrink in to see him. Maybe she can calm him.”
The younger officer gave his partner a sideways glance “You don’t think he did it do you?”
“No” the man sighed “I think somewhere inside him lurks the truth though.”
“His boyfriend?” the detective asked.
“Maybe” the older man rubbed his chin thoughtfully “if Dexter was the one who had the gun we need to figure out how he’s the one who wound up dead. Where did he get?”
“His roommate?” the younger man suggested “he has a record.”
“Let’s get him in here for questioning” the older man barked “that guy knows more than he’s letting on.”
“Should I have the kid’s therapist try to get the kid to remember that night?” his partner asked concern in his voice.
“Worth a try” the older man agreed “be sure to record it for review later. We may not be able to use it during the trial but it might point us in the direction.”
The younger man nodded “this Dexter Gage character got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned.”
“I might agree with you” the older detective said “but we’re not judge, jury and executioner. That’s what get’s me in cases like this. Instead of trusting the system someone took the law into their own hands.”
“Maybe” his partner grunted “it that’s what happened here. The system doesn’t always work.” He jerked his head towards the door they just came out of “you and I both know there’s very little we can do about stalkers until things escalate into violence. By that time it’s too late for one or both of the parties involved.”
“I know” the man grumbled “something about this case stinks.”
A couple of hours later Zach sat with his eyes closed shaking his head back and forth. “No Please don’t make do this…”
Ramsey put a reassuring arm around his son’s shoulder. Bruce had stayed home with the triplets as their youngest son was still in hospital after being in a car accident. “I now this is hard.” He added the one thing he knew might convince his son to commit to hypnosis “this is the only way to help Waylon.” He glanced over his shoulder towards his son’s therapist who nodded back confidently. “You want to help him don’t you?”
“Yyyes” his voice was small and low.
“Alright then” Ramsey plastered a fake smile on his face squeezing his son’s shoulder “then let the therapist help you remember.”
“Alright” Zach’s eyelids fluttered open. His light blue eyes filled with terror “don’t leave me.”
“I won’t” Ramsey assured him “I’m right here by your side.” Zach clutched his father’s hand fighting for breath. “Zach look at me” Ramsey commanded grabbing both sides of his son’s face “concentrate on me. Breathe. In. Out. Nothing else matters. Just me. Breathe. In. Out.”
Tears ran down Zach’s cheeks as he did as he was told. Concentrating on his dad’s voice. Matching his breathing to his words. In. Out. One breath at a time. “Ok. I’m ok” he gave his dad a lopsided smile that did little to reassure either of them.
“Zach” the therapists voice had them both jumping dazed and anxious. “We’re going to begin now.”
“Ok” Zach nodded clutching his dad’s hand like it was the only thing keeping him from drowning.
Once Zach was in a hypnotic state the therapist asked “Zach when was the last time you saw Dexter Gage?”
“On the bridge” his voice sounded confused.
“Are you sure it was on the bridge?” the therapist’s soothing voice asked.
“No…yes” his voice rose in panic “I was upset. I wanted to think. Waylon yyyelled at me. I…” he stuttered shaking his head his agitation rising. “I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Alright” she agreed marking it down to discuss later “what happened after you met Dexter on the bridge?”
“He…I…” he licked his lips “I tried to get away from him. Ran across the highway to the other side of the bridge.” He moaned as if he were in pain “I don’t…please don’t make me” his voice little more than a whimper.
Ramsey could feel his anger boiling inside him as he listened to his son recount what happened that night. If Dexter had walked into the room at that moment he knew he would wrap his own hands around his scrawny little neck. His troubling thoughts temporarily blotted out Zach’s voice.
“Alright Zach you’re doing fine” the therapist assured him “I want you to think about what happened in Dexter brought the gun out.”
“He he” his breathing becomes rapid gulps “the barrel is pointed at my heart. Dex says “if I can have you…..no one can have you.” He flinches as if expecting to be hit “I thought….I should be dead.”
“He missed” the therapist said her incredulity think in her voice.
Shaking his head “something…” his face screwed up remembering “someone knocked be down. Ssssave mmmy life.”
“Ramsey found himself wanting to thank whoever that faceless someone was for saving his son’s life.
“Think carefully” her voice broke through the stunned silence “who saved you Zach?”
He pinched his eyes shut “his voice. Someone I knew. Familiar.”
“Was it Waylon?” she asked probing his memories.
“No” he shook his head “not Waylon.”
Ramsey took a shakey breath glad it wasn’t Waylon. One less thing to worry about. His son’s life was already in shambles he didn’t need to think his boyfriend was a murderer too.
“Bull” Zach said “Bull knocked me down. Saved me.”
“Bull” she said the name a little confused.
“It’s a nickname he got playing football in high school,” Zach frowned “why would he save me?”
A look of consternation flitted across her face. “We’ll figure that out later. Right now tell us what Bull is doing after he knocks you down.”
“Yelling at Dexter” Zach said “he keeps demanding Dex give him his gun back.”
“Can you see them?”
“No” he shakes his head “I’m too scared to move. They’re so angry. Yelling at each other.”
“Are they still arguing about the gun?” she asks him.
“No” he sounds puzzled “it sounds like they’re struggling with each other. I doesn’t make sense. Why would Bull save me? He hated me….I don’t want to talk about this.”
“It’s alright Zach” she soothed “you’re doing fine. Just a few more questions.”
“Aright” sounding like a small child.
“They’re struggling over the gun, what happens next?”
“The gun goes off” he tries to cover his face with his hands “something splashes in the water. Someone screams. I…” He looks up eyes wild “I ran. Ran until I couldn’t breathe.” He gulped “Waylon….”
“What Waylon?” she asks
“He was looking for me” he frowns “I think he carried me back to the dorm.”
“Why would he do that?” she asked concerned.
“I think a fainted” he sounded confused “I’m tired. Can we stop now?”
“You doing great Zach” she assured him “when I count to three you’ll wake up. I want you remember everything we talked about ok?”
She started counting on three Zach blinked. Turning to his dad “I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for” Ramsey assured him “I’m going to take you to the house so you can rest.”
“Can Waylon come too?” he asked his blue eyes pleading.
Ramsey turned to look at the officer who gave him a curt nod “yeah Waylon too.”
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Zach mumbled about a month after Waylon had been arrested.
“Does it bother you he’s dead?” Waylon asked concerned peering into Zach’s eyes.
“It should” Zach said honestly “no one deserves to be killed least of all because of me.”
Waylon shook his head dismayed “he didn’t die because of you. He died because he was a sick SOB that couldn’t take no for answer. Plus he took another psycho’s gun who would have let us take the wrap for murder.”
“I know but…”
“No buts” Waylon smiled gently pulling Zach close “none of this was your fault.”
Zach snuggled into Waylon’s comforting arms. The sunlight glinted off his ring. He couldn’t believe Waylon had proposed to him. Once Bull had been apprehended and Zach was no longer confused over what happened that night things in their relationship had progressed rapidly. “I wish I could believe that” he sounded wistful like he thought it was an unattainable dream.
Waylon’s arms tightened around him like he was protecting something valuable, priceless. “It’s not your fault” he repeated “I’ll keep telling you that until you believe it.”
“Why?” Zach asked moving Waylon’s arms to peer into his fiance’s gentle eyes “why put yourself to so much trouble. I’m not worth it.”
“You are to me” he insisted leaning down to softly kiss Zach’s cheek.
Blushing under Waylon’s discerning eyes Zach moved away waddling a little. “It’s peaceful here” he said turning to smile at Waylon “I think I’m going to like it here.”
“You won’t miss the city?” Waylon asked concerned coming up behind Zach and slowly putting his arms around him “it’s not exactly exciting living out her in the middle of nowhere.”
“I’m tired of excitement” Zach turned leaning his cheek onto Waylon’s chest “this is where I want to raise our children.”
Our children Waylon thought with a smile. It sounded weird yet felt so right. “We’re going to be parents” squeezed Zach tight with a happy little smile forming on his lips.
“You believe me now?” Zach asked raising his head a little to look up.
“Do I believe you?” he asked confused.
“That they’re yours and not his” Zach whispered hoarsely looking away.
“Of course I do” Waylon moved so he could put a hand on Zach’s protruding stomach.
“They’re mine even if they aren’t blood related. There’s more ways to being a parent than sharing DNA.”
Zach gave him a quick smile despite the troubled look in his eyes. Reaching up he stroked Waylon’s face “I know you mean well, but I know these are your babies” he bit his bottom lip “there’s no need for you to doubt that. I know what happened now. There’s no doubt in my mind and there shouldn’t be any in yours.”
“There isn’t” Waylon assured him “I just wanted you to know that even if they weren’t mine I’d still love them like they were. I love you.”
“I love you too” Zach smiled and this time it reached his eyes giving him a peaceful rested look “I feel like I finally belong somewhere.”