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Closet Secrets part 3 (conclusion)

October 30, 2012

John opened his eyes slowly and found himself looking at a ceiling he did not recognize. He turned his head and was greeted with a dizzy spell and a sharp pain in his head. He waited for this to pass, then slowly looked around the room. He was in a hospital room. He tried to sit up, but his chest hurt too much and he lowered himself back onto the bed. What was going on? Why was he in the hospital? He wasn’t even involved in the actual fight, so how could he have been hurt? The last thing he remembered was his mom being sick, and his horror at realizing she had witnessed the murder. After that, nothing until he woke up here and in pain. Had his mom attacked him? She was the only other person in the room.

Then, John had a horrible thought. He remembered the disappearance of Josh after the fight. He also remembered Josh telling him that he wouldn’t tell him everything that would happen; that he was better off not knowing some of it. Maybe, Josh had attacked him to make it look believable! He had wanted it to look as if someone broke in and it would make sense that he would have to knock John out, too. That would explain it. Josh had knocked him out to make it look real.

Suddenly, he had a horrible thought. If that was so, what had Josh done to his mom? His mom was right there in the room! If he wanted to make it look real, wouldn’t he have to do something about her, too? He was too terrified to breathe for a minute. He had to find out where his mom was.

He slowly got out of bed and stood still waiting for the light headed feeling to pass. He noticed his chest was wrapped tightly and it was painful to breathe. He must have fallen on something when Josh knocked him out. No matter, he would live. He had been through worse. He found his clothes, and was almost completely dressed when a nurse walked into the room. She stopped in the doorway, looking very surprised to find him up and dressed. She said nothing, just stared at him.

“Where’s my mom?” John asked while finishing tying his shoe. “I need to see that she is okay.”

The nurse gave him a fake smile. It looked too nervous to be sincere. “I don’t know your mother, but I will ask about her. Where are you going? I don’t think you’re supposed to be up just yet.”

“I’m fine but I need to see my mom.” John started feeling very agitated. He only wanted to make sure his mom was fine. He had a horrible feeling she was dead, too.

“Wait right here, I will see what I can find out. Promise to stay right here.” The nurse was edging out the door as she talked. She looked very nervous.

John felt suspicious, but he wasn’t sure why. Maybe he should wait for her to check before he panicked. “Okay, I will wait. I just really need to know about my mom. I’m afraid she might be hurt.”

Saying it out loud made it seem worse, and he started quietly sobbing. The whole thing was just too much. What had he been thinking? When you do horrible things, you have horrible things happen to you. Of course things would go wrong. His mom shouldn’t have to pay for his bad decision! She had to be okay.

The nurse handed him a box of tissue. “I will be right back.”

John sat where he was while he waited. Once in a while, he would wipe his face with a tissue, but other than that he sat very still. It seemed she was gone forever, but the door finally did open. He was expecting the nurse to enter the room with his mom, or maybe a doctor. Instead, a policeman walked in. After surveying the room, he motioned for someone else to enter. Another man in a suit came in. John assumed he must be another policeman or a detective, or something like that. The man in the suit approached him.

“How are you feeling?” He asked.

John just looked up at him, not sure what to say. He didn’t know who he was and didn’t trust him.

“Sorry, maybe I should introduce myself. I’m Detective Mason. How are you feeling?” The man picked up a chair and placed it near John. He sat and looked calmly at John, waiting for him to respond.

“I’m okay.” John finally managed to say. “Where is my mom?”

“What do you remember?” Detective Mason asked. “Tell me what happened.”

John swallowed hard. He had to be very careful. He hadn’t been smart enough to come up with a story ahead of time, so he had to make it up as he went.

“I was in the living room with my dad. I don’t know, it happened pretty fast. Some guy came in and started hitting him.” John paused, trying to remember the sequence of the fight. “I think my dad got in a few hits, but I’m not sure. It happened so fast. Then, I was looking at my dad on the floor, and my mom was getting sick, and that’s all I know until now.” John was shaking all over. “Where is she? Where is my mom?”

“Anything else you want to add?” Detective Mason asked.

The way he was looking at John was making him mad. He almost had a smirk on his face, as if he was just putting up with the story of a young kid trying to get out of trouble.

“Why won’t you answer my question?” John raised his voice. “Is she dead? Is that why you won’t answer me?”

Detective Mason held up his hands. “Calm down, there’s no need to yell. Your mother is fine. Well, as fine as she can be after what she witnessed. She isn’t hurt, though.”

John felt a huge amount of relief, followed by some real fear. That was why this guy was looking at him like that. He knew he was lying. His mom had seen the whole thing and told a different story. He closed his eyes and tried to calm down. Maybe, just maybe, she hadn’t seen the whole thing. After all, by the time he had noticed her standing there, Josh was gone. Maybe she hadn’t seen him.

“My dad, is he dead? He looked dead.” John still had his eyes closed. He didn’t want to see the man’s face when he answered.

“Yes, he is. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you.”

John’s eyes snapped open. The detective’s voice had changed. It held a tone of contempt. His expression told John what he feared most. He did know what happened. His mom had seen the whole thing.

John tried to keep his voice calm. “I guess I did.”

“Why did you do it?” The detective asked. “Tell me what really happened.”

John tried to look surprised. “What? You think I did this? You think I killed him? I suppose I then beat myself up. I was attacked right after my dad was!”

Detective Mason sat calmly and looked John right in the eye. “You said yourself that your dad got in a few hits. Who do you think he hit?”

“The guy that attacked us! I saw him hit him. I heard the sound as his fist hit his face. I do remember that, now. It wasn’t me he hit. Not this time, at least.”

“So, you’re saying he hits you? Is that what happened? I just need to know what started the fight. By making up a ridiculous story, you are giving me no choice but to assume you intended to kill him. You planned this.” Detective Mason tried to put on a look that said I just care about you so tell me the truth. “I can’t help you if you won’t help me.”

“If you think I did it on purpose, why am I not under arrest?” John asked.

“Listen, there is some confusion about what happened. I need to make sure your story is the same as your mother’s. Tell me the truth about what happened, then it will be decided if you are under arrest or not. Keep messing with me, and there will be no doubt. Do you understand?”

John knew he was in real trouble. There was no doubt in his mind that his mom had seen enough to know this was a planned event. He wished he knew if she had seen Josh. Even through his fear, he knew he only had two choices. He could take the blame, or he could confess that he and a friend planned this. The question was, did he want to drag Josh into this? What kind of a friend would he be? But then, what kind of friend was Josh? He must have seen his mom and ran away, leaving John to handle it from there. What had he been thinking? How could he have just left like that? Anger started to burn inside him. Josh deserved to go down with him.

Detective Mason sighed. “Okay, listen. I will tell you what I know.”

“No, it’s okay, I will tell you.” John said. He took a deep breath and told his story. “Yeah, my dad hit me. He hit my mom, too, and she has cancer! What kind of demon does that? I’ve put up with his death threats, beating and ridicule for as long as I can. We were supposed to move in with my aunt, but I knew that things wouldn’t change for long. He would find a way to get me. He would get my mom, too. Something had to be done. It was actually my friend’s idea, but I went along with it. I just didn’t want him to hurt her anymore.” John paused, trying to decide if he should say more.

“A friend?” Who is this friend?” The detective produced a notebook and pen.

John ran his hand through his hair and took a deep breath. “Josh, his name is Josh. He killed him, then I guess he hit me a couple of times or something. My dad never touched me this time.”

“Does Josh have a last name, or an address?” Detective Mason asked. “And you said he killed him? You didn’t touch your father?”

John tried to think of Josh’s last name, but was drawing a blank. For the first time, he realized he had never heard a last name. He only knew him as Josh. Then, he thought of Greg. What was his last name? Where did they live? He couldn’t remember.

“Josh and Greg. That’s all I can think of.” John was talking out loud, but he didn’t realize it. He was deep in thought, trying to remember more details about his friends. “ I’ve known them as long as I can remember.” Then, he had a thought. “Mom will know. She might remember the names. I just can’t think straight right now.”

Detective Mason closed his notebook and nodded. “Okay, I will ask her.”

They sat in silence for a minute, then the detective stood up.

“Tell you what, I will talk to your mom and we will try this again tomorrow. You should rest. Maybe you will remember more in the morning.” He motioned for the police officer to leave and walked to the door. Before leaving he looked at Josh and said, “Officer Ross will just stay outside your door for now. Get yourself back to bed.”

John undressed, put on the hospital gown, and returned to bed. He was so tired; he felt he could sleep forever. He pulled the covers over his head and closed his eyes.



Marie Campbell sat in the waiting room of the hospital, trying hard to keep herself together. She wished someone would tell her what was happening. It had been several hours since she and John had come to the hospital. She had been questioned until she thought she would scream, but nobody would tell her how her son was.

Finally, she saw the detective approaching her. Maybe she would get some answers this time. She stood when he neared and waited for him to speak.

“Please, sit down.” He motioned to the chair. “I need to ask you some questions.”

“Again? How is my son?” She said.

“There seems to be some discrepancies in your stories. I need you to tell me one more time what happened.” He got his notebook out again and flipped through some pages.

“I can’t keep saying it!” She said, trying hard not to cry.

“I know, but one more time. I need to make sure.” He said.

Marie sighed. “Okay. I heard raised voices and knew there would be trouble if I didn’t stop it. I was in bed at the time. When I found them, they were in the living room, already fighting. John had blood on his face, and my husband was slugging him in the stomach. I yelled for them to stop, but I don’t think either one heard me. It was then I saw the bat. John swung it and hit Dan on the head. Then he just went nuts with it and hit him three or four more times. Dan fell and I knew he was dead. I was so scared that I did nothing! John dropped the bat and looked up. I just clamped my hand over my mouth and stood there, terrified. He looked around and called to someone. Then he ran through the house calling for this person. I think the name was Josh. Then, he saw me, and I thought he would come for me next. I was sick and threw up. When I was done, I looked up and John was on the floor, next to Dan. I called 911. That’s how I remember it.” She started crying and buried her face in her hands.

Detective Mason gave her a minute, and then asked, “Do you know Josh? John claims he is a friend and they planned this. He mumbled something about someone named Greg, too. Do you know his friends?”

Marie dabbed her eyes and nose, and shook her head. “He doesn’t have friends. As far as I know, he’s never had any. He rarely leaves his room. We started home teaching because he just had so many problems at school. He hasn’t left the house for months. He never has anyone over, either. I don’t know who he was calling.”

“So, he’s had issues with anger before?” Detective Mason asked.

“Yes. He used to be a sweet boy, but very moody, too. I think all fifteen year-olds are moody, but he was getting worse and worse. He made things up, terrible things, and would be very angry for no reason. He would attack his dad and act like it was self defense. I wanted to take him to the doctor, but my husband said it was ridiculous. He thought if we got strict with him, he would straighten out.”

“He said his father hit him, and you, too. Is that true? Is that what you mean by getting strict with him?” Detective Mason asked. “He expressed a lot of anger at you being abused, especially since you have cancer. Did he hit you, Mrs. Campbell?”

“No!” Maria said. “Never! I did have cancer, but I’ve been in remission for a long time now. I know it really upset John. My husband and I had arguments, but he never hit me. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle and we were working it out. Yes, Dan and John fought sometimes, and yes Dan hit him, but mostly in self-defense! John was getting very aggressive. He hated it when we argued. I knew we should have taken him to a doctor! Are we almost done? I don’t know how much more I can take.”

Detective Mason put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m very sorry, I know this has to be hard. You are handling yourself very well under the circumstances. We are almost done for now. Just to be sure, you are certain there was nobody else there tonight? He had no help in this? He claims his friend used the bat, not him. You didn’t see anyone?”

Marie shook her head. “No. It was just the three of us in the house. Can I see him now, do you think?”

Detective Mason sighed. “Maybe in the morning. His injuries aren’t bad, but I think he should sleep and so should you. I hope the doctor gave you something to help you rest, and make sure you have someplace to go tonight. I will meet you here in the morning and we can talk to John together.”

Marie nodded. “Okay, that sounds good. I’m so tired. Yes, I am staying with my sister tonight. Thank you for letting me know he is okay. “

They both stood up, getting ready to leave. Marie suddenly put her hand on the detective’s arm, stopping him.

“I just thought of something.” She said. “I often wondered at this, but it was another thing Dan said to ignore for now.”

“What’s that?” He asked.

“A few times, John would be in his closet, talking to himself. It was like he was trying to work through some problems. I thought it odd.” She said.

“Was anyone with him?” The detective asked.

Marie shook her head. “No, I’m sure he was alone.”



John lay very still under the blankets with his eyes closed. He just wanted to sleep. He wanted to pretend nothing had happened and sleep. How could Josh have betrayed him like that? Where was he? He wished he could talk to his mom. He would see her in the morning, and everything would be fine. He had to believe it would be fine. He was drifting off to sleep when he was startled awake by something jabbing his shoulder. He didn’t move and listened very carefully. Again, there came a jabbing feeling on his arm.

“Hey, sleepy head.”

It was Josh’s voice! John threw the covers off and sat up. There stood both Josh and Greg, right beside his bed.

“Where the hell did you go?” John hissed, trying to keep his voice down.

“Relax.” Josh laughed. “We didn’t go anywhere. We’re friends, right? We stick together.”

Greg was nodding his agreement. “Yeah. Sorry I bailed before all of this happened. I was wrong to do it, and it won’t happen again. Friends?”

“Yeah, friends?” Josh was still grinning.

“I’m in real trouble here. I can’t believe you’re just standing there, smiling.” John said. He did feel a little better seeing his friends here, though.

“Come on, get up. Put some clothes on for God’s sake.” Greg said. He, too, was smiling.

John got up and put on his jeans and shirt. Josh draped his arm around his shoulders.

“I know you’re in trouble, but the good news is, we are here. So far, we’ve always been able to work out whatever comes up, right? The three of us together.”

John nodded and smiled. “Yeah, we have.”

“Well, come on then. The closet here isn’t very big, but I bet we can make it work. Greg and I are here and we won’t leave you again. Let’s go talk and think of a way out of this.”

The three friends stepped into the small hospital room closet, and John very quietly shut the door.





From → Short Story

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