The Second Mind
I grimaced at the handcuffs locked around my wrists and then turned my attention to the cold metal table. If I stared hard enough I could see my reflection in the shiny metal. The purple was set beneath my eyes as usual, my eyebrows as bushy as ever. My now greasy hair was strewn across my forehead and over my tired eyes.
The interrogation room door opened to reveal yet another man wearing a black iron creased suit. He was quiet as he made his way to the chair opposite from me, the silence continued as he shuffled papers and got comfortable in his chair.
I fidgeted in my seat, causing the cuffs to clang against the table. He looked up finally and smiled.
“Mr. Hartley,” he began, “my name is Dean Hawthorne and I am-”
“A private investigator.” I finished for him.
He nodded, his interest clearly peaked as he leaned forward. “It has come to my attention that you were unable to provide valid detail of last night's incident.”
My eye twitched automatically. “How was my take on the situation invalid? I was there wasn’t I?”
His smile had vanished replaced with pursed lips. “Yes, well it seems as if your side of the story does not add up with our obtained evidence.”
I shrugged and looked back down at the table, the numbness in my fingers growing more uncomfortable.
“Do you think you could repeat the events? In more specific detail?” He asked.
I raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t I allowed a lawyer? I refuse to answer questions without my lawyer present.”
“Well then, you’ll be pleased to know that your attorney has already called in and should be here very soon.” He replied rather hastily.
As if on cue, the door opened again. My lawyer, James Bennett shuffled his way into the room, briefcase in hand.
“Now,” said Dean, “are you able to answer my question?”
I watched my lawyer, James, as he pulled up a chair and yanked open his briefcase. Without looking up he said, “please repeat the question.”
Dean looked at him irritably, then back to me. “Mr. Hartley, can you, to the best of your ability recall the events of yesterday’s incident.”
I looked to James, he had already begun to document the conversation when he nodded at me to continue.
I cleared my throat, “well, it’s really hard to remember…”
Dean stared at me quizzically. “What do you mean Mr. Hartley?”
“Isn’t there a psychological name for situations like these? Where it becomes hard to recall certain traumatizing situations?” I asked hopefully.
When Dean gave me a look of skepticism I turned to look at James.
“Psychogenic amnesia.” He said, and Dean chewed his cheek but nodded for me to continue.
“Well, I was at my mate’s house-”
“Kenny.” He nodded. “Anyway, I was at Kenny’s… I’ve been staying there since my apartment building caught fire a couple of weeks ago.” I licked my lips and continued nervously, “I told him I’d go down the street and pick up the pizza because neither of us have a car I told him I would go pick it up, it’s not far from his apartment.”
My throat closed slightly and I winced as I readied myself to repeat what happened last night.
“I just rounded the corner past the apartment and suddenly I was looking down at her…” I swallow. “There was… a lot of blood. She was just laying there, I couldn’t see anyone nearby. I tried to help her, I wanted to help her but when I tried to see if she could still be alive I panicked. I couldn’t handle all the blood… Not to mention the state of her body,” I grimaced, “her head… it was sunken in, I’d never seen anything like it. It was horrible.”
“And then?” Dean questioned.
“And then… And then…” I fidgeted uncomfortably. I don’t remember.
Dean raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t remember…” I admit. “I just remember the lights and the sirens. I don’t remember calling the police…”
I twitch as Dean shuffles some papers around then without looking up at me, he said, “that’s because you didn’t.”
My head snapped up to meet his gaze.
“Kenny called in, he claims he found you hovering over Miss Delavigne’s body in a very distressed demeanour.” He tapped his finger on the table. “Kenny was not present when we arrived, do you know where we might find your friend?”
“His apartment room number is 237, in the Harlington building.” I stated hesitantly.
Awkward silence filled the air as Dean scribbled down the room number. I squirmed in my chair as my legs become numb.
“Could I uh, use the washroom?” I asked tentatively.
He nodded and I turned away, not surprised when I heard the feet of another officer escorting me to the toilets. Before I could exit Dean spoke, “We will be out to find and bring Kenny in. I won’t be in the room when you get back. But I’m sure your attorney here will want a word with you.”
I exited without a nod.
The bathroom smelled of stale paint when I entered. The officer was waiting outside and although I thought I’d be alone I could hear the shuffling of feet around the corner. I rounded it and stopped abruptly when I see Kenny leaning over the sink, his hands were under the fawcett. He didn’t notice me at first and I couldn’t move.
“Kenny,” I breathed. He spun around, water sprayed everywhere as it flew off of his sodden hands. I raised an eyebrow, “are your hands clean yet?” I asked, half amused.
He breathed in deeply. “Mason,” he turned back around to look into the sink. “Yeah, I was just uh… yenno, kinda hard to wash it off I think.”
“What?” I watched him carefully, his eyes were squinting at the sink. “What is?”
He turned around and smiled at me. “Never mind, how was your night in solitary?” He mused.
I gaped at him. Why does he think this is funny?
“I mean, I’ve never had to sit in a metal chair over night but I can’t imagine it’d be sleep worthy.” He chuckled. “I mean, if you were even allowed to sleep.”
My mouth was now wide open. “Kenny, are you serious? You find this funny?” I started to shake, and I could practically feel the unmanly tears threatening to escape. “They want to charge me for murder!”
He stepped forward, and grasped both of my arms. “Hey Mason, relax. It’s not as bad as you think.” He slides his hands down my arms and plays with the chains of my handcuffs teasingly. “Just don’t be a loser and end up tell them anything that could give it away.” And with that he turned to leave.
“Give it away?” I gawked. “Give what away?!” I stomped my foot. “Kenny you were upstairs! I didn’t do anything!” The door shut behind him.
I shuffled over to the mirror, panic emitted from my gut. “I didn’t do anything.” I whispered to the pale reflection.
“You shouldn’t have touched the body.” James said to me when I stepped back into the now officer-less room.
“What? Why-” I started, but he cut me off.
“You left your fingerprints all over her. Jesus Christ what were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I needed to try and save her.” I bit back.
“The bloodied and bashed head wasn’t enough evidence of her death?” He nearly shouted.
I grimaced noticeably at the memory of her body.
He sighed, the wrinkles around his eyes were more evident. “Listen kid…” He ran his fingers through his greying hair exasperatedly. “You know I’ve been working with you since you were a young adult, and i’ve been able to get you out of every little legal situation you found yourself in… but-”
I stepped forward, “but what? James please, I didn’t kill her, it wasn’t me. You were able to get me out of the property damage charges and even attempted murder charges!”
He looked up at me then pulled out a few documents from his briefcase. “About that, Mason. That fire in your apartment building isn’t going to help your case.” He sighed again. “Everyone has reason to blame you for it. All evidence pointed to you. We barely scraped by that and now we’ll be lucky if they don’t use that against you.”
“But, but,” I stuttered. “But I didn’t do it! Some maniac tries to kill all of the residents and suddenly I’m the bad guy! I didn’t do it, Kenny was at my house before it happened. He knows I would never do anything like that. Call him!”
“Kenny can’t prove otherwise.” He added pointedly.
“And what have we got now? What can you do?”
He rubbed his eyes tiredly. “We don’t have anything. You found her body only minutes after she died. It doesn’t look good.”
I slumped forward, allowing my head to hit the metal table harshly.
“Mason, when’s the last time you’ve seen your therapist?” James rested his hand on my shoulder. It was quiet for a moment then I turned to face him.
“You know I’ve stopped seeing him,” I turned back around and breathed into the table. “Not since he tried to tell me I could have multiple issues.” I grimaced. “It’s not true. None of it is.”
James was quiet. I took the moment to ponder about the fire. I hadn’t started it, I know I didn’t. Although that incident was just as blurry as yesterday’s, I know I didn’t do it. Kenny told me I didn’t, he was there.
“Mason there might be something we can do.”
I whipped around to face James. “What? Anything!”
“Now here me out,” he sighed. “Is there any chance Kenny could’ve done this stuff? You only just started hanging around him, you barely know him. I haven’t even met him.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, “what are you talking about?”
“You said Kenny has been present for both incidents, and I haven’t forgotten about you telling me Kenny was the one who talked you out of seeing your therapist…” I could hear the blood pumping in my ears. “What are you saying? Kenny is a good person!” My only friend.
“Maybe we can turn this around on Kenny.” He said hesitantly. My fists clenched and I could feel the heat in my body rising.
And suddenly I was on my feet, but it wasn’t me anymore. Everything blurred.
Officers were holding me back. The interrogation room was quiet.
“Don’t you dare move!” An officer yelled from behind me.
James was on the ground, his face bloodied as he kneeled before me.
“What…” I looked down at the chair that was strewn across the floor. “What happened?”
James stared at my hand in horror, I looked to my right and saw it raised and holding the leg of the chair. I dropped it in horror and turned back to James.
His nose was gushing blood. I tried to step forward to help him, but he scooted away fearfully.
“I- James I-”
He cut me off with a mumble.
“Huh?” I asked.
“You called yourself Kenny…” He whispered.
“What do you mean?” I tried to step forward again but officers pulled me back and dragged me out of the room. And I let them.
As they dragged me to another room I saw Dean waiting at the door to let me in. I watched him quizzically as he stared me down. The officers shoved me down into the chair and handcuffed me to the chair as Dean made himself comfortable.
When the officers were finally pleased with the handcuffs they left the room.
I shook violently in my chair, the hairs on my neck were standing. What just happened?
Dean shuffled papers once more. “It seems that the room number you gave to me is not actually in use by anyone named Kenny,” he scoffed, “rather, by you Mason.”
I jerked forward, “What-”
“What is this? A game? You trying to throw us off?” Dean leaned forward.
I shook my head, my voice quivered as I shouted, “I don’t know what’s going on. That’s Kenny’s place, he’s letting me stay there!”
Dean shook his head. “The bills are written out to your bank account.”
I stared at him. What the hell?
“Where’s Kenny? Huh, Mason? Why did you send us to an imaginary person?”
“I didn’t! Kenny has to be there! He lives there, he’s letting me stay because of the building fire I-”
“Don’t play the damn innocent act with me!” He bellows. “Why did you kill that woman Mason?”
I kicked back my chair from the table, “I didn’t kill her!” Dean glared at me. My whole body was shaking, I could feel my eyes becoming blurry with tears. I looked down at my reflection in the metal table. “I didn’t… I didn’t kill her… I didn’t…”
I gasped as my features in the reflection began to shift. The nose shrunk slightly and the hair became cleaner. My tears were spilling over as Dean watched me, but I didn’t care.
Kenny looked up at me from the table. “But you did.” He whispered tauntingly.
And just like that I remembered.
Kenny was sitting in front of the window, opposite of me. “They all think you’re weak,” he said. “They think you’ll never amount to anything because you’ve got… problems.” He quoted with his fingers. “That therapist is no good, she’ll never be able to help you.”
I look deeper. The memory shifts. I’m sitting in front of the window. Kenny is no longer there. I’m speaking. “I’m not crazy Kenny.” I say to my reflection.
The memory changes.
“Don’t you want to do something fun?” Kenny says to me as I wait for the laundry.
I shake my head. “Not much to do.”
He shakes his head. “You were always the boring one. Aren’t crazy people the secretly boring ones?” I whip around from the laundry machine, but he’s gone.
“No. I’m not crazy.” I whisper as reach for the lighter in my pocket.
The memory changes.
Aria Delavigne is heading back to the apartment, it’s quiet and the air is dull. I’m going to get pizza for myself when I suddenly see Kenny. He’s behind Aria, laughing. “It would be fun Mason.” I shake my head at him. “Mason just do it. Or you’ll officially be the boring wimp everyone always thought you were.” And just like that Kenny is gone. I approach Aria angrily and slam her against the wall then against the ground over and over and over again. So much blood trickles from her head I can’t tell which part anymore. Kenny is laughing. My phone is in my hand now. The memory shifts. Kenny’s gone, I’m laughing.
I shook my head violently until my vision blurred and I stared back at my own reflection.
Dean raised an eyebrow. “Mason?”
I didn’t respond, my eyes dart around the room. My panting grew heavier as the anxiety built up in me. I… I…
“Year 2002. Graduation day, your classmates decide to pull a last minute prank.” Dean said from the background.
I squeezed my eyes closed. I couldn’t have… no...
Dean was still talking. “They made a video of you Mason. It was titled, ‘the student who won’t amount to much’,” he paused, “quite traumatizing I’d say, but that’s not what caught my attention. However, I noticed back then you were under the name of, ‘Kenneth Badry’... It’s understandable why you’d might change your name though, can’t imagine how many times your name came up on the internet.”
I looked up at him. He glared down at me, his voice was raspy, “so Kenny, I’m going to ask you one more time.” I cringed. “Why did you kill Aria Delavigne?”
Snot dribbled from my nose as I cried. I looked down at the table once more to see my reflection and bit down on my teeth until I heard a crack.
Kenny smiled up at me. I stare down at my younger self horrorstruck. “Careful Mason,” he laughed. “We never liked the dentist.”