I’m not big on reflecting, so let’s get into it, shall we? I don’t know if this is standard procedure, making a witness write down everything in relation to a case before she speaks to the police, but I guess that this isn’t a standard situation. In any case, writing all of this out might help me remember all the details, or at least get some of my thoughts into some kind of order. I don’t know how specific they want me to make this. As good as my memory is, I can’t recall each and every word from all the conversations I’ve had with the killer (I can’t think of him by his real name. My mind refuses to process his identity as anything other than ‘the killer’. I suppose that I’ll have to refer to him by name in this, but some part of my mind can’t associate the name Ryan Deuce to everything he did). I don’t know if anyone but me will ever read this, so I don’t know whether I should fudge certain details, because I’d rather the police didn’t know about some of the more questionably legal activities I’ve gotten up to. I don’t think it was very smart, writing that sentence, but I’ll change it if I think the police will be reading this. I don’t think they will. As long as I tell them everything, they’ll be happy.
I did hand them in a serial killer, after all.
I don’t know how long they’re giving me to write this out, so I’m going to quit stalling and write it all out from the beginning. And I guess that the beginning would be when I met Percy, because I’m not sure whether I would be here without him.
I guess it’s as good a place to start as any.
I’d been at Westford Grammar for six months when Percy came to the school from Casterwick Secondary. He never said anything, but I think it was a bit of a shock for him, switching from his old, crowded public school with its dodgy gates and lax uniform policy twenty-five minutes down the road to Westford, which wasn’t super posh, but if your tie was even the slightest bit askew it was in your best interests to fix it. Reading back what I just wrote about Casterwick Secondary, I sound like a snob, and while some public schools are totally fine, Percy’s old school isn’t one of them.
Anyway, Percy started at Westford about half way through the first term. He was smart enough and poor enough to get a scholarship, but he was from the rougher side of Casterwick, so he wasn’t one of the usual Westford mob. He got along with everyone easily, but the fact that they were rich and he wasn’t caused a division between him and a lot of others that was so wide even I could see it. It wasn’t a case that people didn’t like him, it was just that they couldn’t relate. He wore cheap Target school shoes and a second hand uniform, and even though he had gotten his learner’s he was learning to drive in his mum’s car, not one that belonged to him. He lived in a house that was barely big enough for his family, unlike the double-storey places with pools and surplus rooms that everyone else lived in. Percy was simply from a different world to everyone at Westford, who were all well-off, if not wealthy.
None of this is really necessary to say, except that I wasn’t rich either. I didn’t have any friends there, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t rich. In my case, it was because I pushed everyone away. I didn’t treat people well – I didn’t see the point. I won’t go into detail about that at the moment. I know about how I treated people, and this is supposed to be about Percy.
I’m not entirely sure what set Percy apart from anyone else. By all rights, our paths should never have crossed. We didn’t share any classes, because I had been put up a year level in the hope that I would find it more challenging, and therefore less of a bad influence on those around me (which, by the way, did not work). Someone else might call it fate that we happened to run into each other on Percy’s very first day, but Westford isn’t a very big school. We were bound to run into each other eventually. I suppose the fact that he stuck around-
Damn. I’m not sure why I’m giving all this background. I know all of this. Maybe I’m trying to go back to then, the time just before I met Percy, before everything happened, because my life was easier back then. Okay. I’m actually going to write.
I was running though the corridors of the science block, not really paying any attention to where I was going. I don’t remember why exactly I was running, and it doesn’t matter, except I was running fast enough to be sent sprawling when I ran into an obstacle as I rounded a corner: Percy Havoc. I landed hands first, so even though the lino floors meant that there was no blood, I could barely move my thumbs for the next few days. As far as falls went, it wasn’t especially spectacular, so even though my palms and knees instantly began to throb from the impact, and my pride was slightly bruised, I scrambled to my feet moments after hitting the ground.
“I’m sorry,” a voice from behind me gasped. I turned around and looked down. A boy with messy hair the exact colour of sand and wide eyes that should have looked absurd but somehow didn’t, was looking at me intently. He looked more concerned for my well-being than his own, and as tempted as I was to sprint off again, I stuck out my hand, and pulled him to his feet.
“Thanks,” he said, letting go of my hand, and running a sheepish hand through his hair. I wasn’t sure if this action made his hair look neater or messier. Something about him piqued my interest, as if even then, I was subconsciously aware of our future. “I’m Percy Havoc.”
“Nice name,” I replied, noting that he was one of the few people I’d met who had introduced themself by their full name. His introduction was both formal and unceremonious. His tone gave the impression of a young suitor greeting his date, but the hint of shyness in his voice meant that he didn’t sound at all pretentious. In the early days of our friendship, I had often cynically wondered if Percy practised this, but I eventually came to understand that this was just how he spoke; softly spoken but totally polite. “Sounds like the name of a superhero.”
He smiled at my joke, slightly reluctantly, with a slight inclination of his head, “Thank you.”
“Do you realise that you’ve just thanked me twice in less than a minute?” I asked, raising an eyebrow, and edging backward so that I could meet his eye. He wasn’t especially tall, and I wasn’t short, but I still barely reached the bottoms of his earlobes.
He shrugged, “I’d apologise, but then I’d be saying sorry twice in about the same amount of time.”
I felt a smile tug at the sides of my mouth at his quick comment, and I instantly found myself trying to detect an edge to his tone. Either sarcasm or irony or annoyance, but none seemed to be present. He sounded genuine, but I was reluctant to accept that possibility.
“I haven’t seen you before, Percy Havoc,” I said, trying to steer the conversation. Where to, I don’t think I was quite certain of. “What brings you here?”
Percy returned my stare, “Wanted something more serious going into the last couple of years of school. Westford was the nearest option.”
“Okay.” I knew he was lying, or at least, telling a partial truth. I didn’t really care, at the time, because some new kid at school wasn’t especially significant.
He remained silent for a long moment. “You didn’t hurt yourself when you fell, did you? I, um, didn’t mean to run into you, it’s just, you were running, and I don’t really know my way around.”
“I’ve had worse,” My hands were beginning to throb with a steady thomp-thomp-thomp in time with my heartbeat, but what I said was true. I have had far worse. “You?”
“I’ll live,” he grimaced, “But I hope you aren’t late for whatever you were running to.”
I think the reason that I didn’t run off on Percy then never speak to him again was because of that question. In our entire, though short, conversation, I hadn’t sensed the slightest hint of insincerity, and it intrigued me. I was sceptical that anyone could be genuinely concerned about the person who had literally knocked them down on their first day at a new school, and yet all the evidence was showing that Percy was. I wanted to uncover the pretence that I was so sure he had concocted, but equally, even though I never would have admitted this, I wanted to be proven wrong. I think I needed to have faith in another person.
“I wasn’t running to anywhere,” I said as an answer, after giving him a pointed glance, “From, maybe.”
“Well, it looks like you got away from the bad guys.”
I laughed despite myself, “I like you, Havoc.” I stepped back and started to turn away, “I like you a lot.”
It took a moment for him to yell out after me, “You didn’t tell me your name. What is it?”
I stopped walking, and turn on my heels to face him.
“I’ll find it out either way,” he added, “You can’t keep a secret at a high school.”
“That’s true,” I began to turn back, intending to walk around, and leave him puzzling over the enigma for at least a few more hours, but something made me reconsider. I turned back around to face him and said, “My name is Dawn Augustus.”