Quiet Lost is a story of betrayal, murder, love and lost love. It will require several chapters to tell Neil’s story.
Saturday night, September 12
Neil slid under the covers trying to not wake Samantha. She snuggled close to him, breath quiet and steady.
Sleep would be elusive. He concentrated on slow breathing, hoping to bring his pulse down to a normal range. He was furious with Brad and furious with himself that he allowed Brad to disrupt his family’s life with his sordid habits.
But which was stronger: his anger or exhilaration? The bout had felt good. Too good; he was still in the grips of the adrenaline rush and the after glow. He’d forgotten how intoxicating a good round was; a knock-out tantamount to euphoria.
Staying in shape was routine, but he hadn’t fought in years. Maybe he should head back to Jimmy’s Gym, climb in the ring again.
His love for fighting had taken over his life a few years back – when Cassie was a toddler. Samantha had threatened to leave – the only time ever. He promised to cut down on the practice sessions and amateur fights, but the pull was like alcoholism; he either lived-and-breathed fighting or he had to become a teetotaler. Well, he’d fallen off the wagon tonight.
Despite every effort, he couldn’t remain still.
“You OK?” Samantha whispered.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
He could sense her smile in the dark, “Yeah. Right. What time is it?”
“What’s keeping you awake – you worried about Brad?”
“Did you realize I was gone for a while?”
Samantha pushed herself up onto her elbow, “Tonight? No. What’s going on? Is Cassie alright?”
“Cassie’s fine. I had to rescue Brad from the Old Boulder Bar.”
“Oh great. That sucks. Is he here now?”
“Bug in a rug. I put a bowl next to his head. If he makes a mess, don’t clean it up – I’ll make him do it.”
Samantha chuckled, “OK.”
“I don’t know who he was fighting with, but they’ll be a little sore for a day or two.”
Samantha rolled on to her back. The temperature of the room dropped ten degrees.
“Sam, hey, I had to help him. It was a one-time thing. It’s a good thing I know how to defend myself. He was going down, and I don’t think those guys cared how badly they roughed him up. He’s my brother…” He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Shit, listen to me. Now I’m defending him… I should have found a different way to handle it.”
Knock. Knock. Loud knocks on the front door. The doorbell rudely rang twice.
“What the…” Neil jumped out of bed pulling on the jeans and sweater he’d taken off earlier. Samantha slipped on a robe and followed Neil down the stairs.
Through the window in the staircase, two police cars were in view facing the house, pulled up on one side of the circle drive.
Neil opened the door. “May I help you?”
“Are you Neil Durham?”
“Neil Durham, we have a warrant for your arrest. Place your hands behind your back,” the officer commanded as he tried to swing Neil around.
“Wait,” he held his hands in front of his chest and backed up a step. “Wait a minute; what’s going on here?”
“You are under arrest for manslaughter.”
“What are you talking about?”
The officer lifted his brows, tilted his head, “You left the Old Boulder Bar an hour ago?” not expecting an answer.
Neil dropped his hands, his mouth open in a small O and stood perfectly still for a moment, stunned.
As he turned and held his arms back, he looked into Samantha’s blank face. His voice dropped to almost a whisper, “Call Charlie White, post bail. Tell him to do whatever it takes to get me out as soon as possible.” His voice dropped even more, words for her only, “I am sooo sorry, Sam.”
Cuffs tight on his wrists, head pushed down as he was shoved in the rear of a squad car, he visualized his own face as Samantha must be seeing it – her husband incarcerated in a mobile cage, porch lights illuminating him leaning into the glass, the yearning in his eyes as he’s stolen away in the quiet of the night, accused.
As the car drove around the top of the circle drive, he engraved the vision in his memory: white columns framing her still-as-stone figure; chiseled alabaster in the moonlight. His heart broke for her. Why did he raise his fists?
Click on Quiet Lost: Chapter 8 to the right.