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Authors: Paul Cleave

Tags: #Thriller, #Mystery & Crime

Trust No One (9 page)

BOOK: Trust No One
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“You’re reading my journal?”

“You asked me to.”

“Like hell I did.”

She paused for a moment, looking for the deception, but no, he wasn’t lying, he had woken with no memory of it. Is this how it was going to be from now on? Lost conversations where Jerry argues everything she says? “You asked me last night,” she says, wanting to get to the real issue here. “But what’s more important is that we have a gun in the house. How could you! And you think that what, one day you may use it on yourself?”

“You had no right to read any of it!”

“I have every right because you’re my husband and I love you, and I hate that this thing is happening to you, but it is, and I need to know what’s going on in here so I can help you,” she said, and she tapped the side of her head, but really she should have been tapping the side of his. It made her look like the crazy one. He looked distraught. He looked like a cornered animal. She needed to back down. “I’m worried about you.”

“Doesn’t sound like it,” he said. “Sounds more like you’re spying on me.”

“I’m not, and you asked me to read it,” she said.

“I would have remembered something like that. You’re using the disease against me. Is this what you’re always going to do now to get your way? Lie to me and tell me I said something when I didn’t?”

“I would never—”

“Get out,” he yelled, and threw the journal at her. It missed and hit the wall behind her. She had never seen him like that, and it frightened her. It worried her. She knew even before Jerry was diagnosed that no matter what the problem was, she would stay by his side. For always. That journal hitting the wall next to her—in that moment there was a flicker of doubt. She picked it up and ran out of the room.

By the time she got out to the deck, she was crying. Twenty seconds later Jerry was behind her. She turned towards him, but it wasn’t the Jerry from the bedroom, it was the Jerry she fell in love with, the one she met in university, the one who was in the Star Trek closet, the one whose side she would never leave. Beverly, the grief counselor, had warned them he could get like this. It was all part of the Alzheimer’s package. It was going to take time to adapt, but adapt she would. For him. For herself. For Eva.

“Jesus, I’m so sorry,” he said, and he put his arms out, and the one percent of her that wanted to push him away was drowned out by the ninety-nine percent that opened her arms to receive him. The flicker of doubt that had already disappeared was now well buried. “I’m just so . . . so messed up,” he said.

“It’s going to be okay,” she said, and they were words she’d heard herself using over the last few weeks, as if her saying them enough would make them come true.

“I want you to read the rest of the journal,” he said.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

He disappeared inside to make breakfast while she stayed on the deck. When she finished she went back inside and found him in the kitchen eating a piece of toast and staring out the window.

“I want you to get rid of the gun,” she said, staying calm.

He turned towards her. “I’m not going to kill myself.”

“Jerry, please, I would feel better if it was out of the house.”

He nodded. He didn’t look like he was going to argue. “It’s under the desk in my office.”

“I know. You mentioned it in the diary.”

“It’s a journal. Not a diary.”

They walked together to the office, and she stood aside as he pushed the desk towards the window. He took a screwdriver out of his desk drawer and used it to pry up a loose floorboard. When he reached into the cavity he went right to his shoulder. Then he started to move it around, searching.

“It’s gone,” he said, and he sounded confused.

“What do you mean
gone
?”

He pulled his arm back out. There was nothing in his hand. “It was here, and it’s always here, but now it isn’t.” He looked rattled. “I don’t . . . I don’t know where it is,” he said. It looked like Jerry from the bedroom might be on his way back.

“Well it has to be somewhere,” she said.

“I know, goddamn it, I know!”

“Well, check again.”

He checked again and got the same result.

“Where else would you hide it?”

“Nowhere. This is the place.”

“If this is the place then it would still be there,” she said, still sounding calm. At least calmer than she felt. “When did you last see it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why did you even have one?” she asked.

“For research. I wanted to know how it felt to fire one. I went to the range a few times.”

“Without telling me. Is there anything else you’re not telling me?”

“No.”

“Then when was the last time you used it at the range?”

“It was . . . I . . . I can’t remember.”

“When was the last time you saw it?”

“I don’t know.”

“And you’re sure that’s where you keep it?” she asked.

“Of course I’m sure.”

“So where is it, then? Where in the hell is the gun?”

And . . . scene.

Thanks, Henry, for the recap.

Needless to say, you feel ashamed for yelling at Sandra, and embarrassed because you have no idea where the gun is. It’s possible you never even bought one. Actually, you know what? There’s a character in one of the books—
he
bought a gun and hid it beneath a loose floorboard in
his
office. He was planning a murder, he was the one who wanted to know how it felt, how it sounded. Is it possible that’s what you’ve been thinking of? Yes. Absolutely. You found the loose floorboard when you moved into the house, and at the time thought it’d be a good place to hide a gun, so gave that to the character you were writing about at the time. You thought it was you, but it wasn’t—it was just one of those people living in your head!

Sandra will be relieved when you tell her. But you—you’re terrified. To have made a mistake like that . . . what does that mean for your future?

All that stuff—that was today. There’s no time now to update you on the other night when Eva came over, as it’s date night tonight and you’re heading out soon with Sandra. You’re off to dinner, then off to see a movie that one of your author buddies wrote. The blanks will be filled in soon, but basically Eva and Rick have set an earlier date for the wedding to make sure you’re able to participate.

Good news—Sandra has forgiven you for the fight and will forgive you even more when you’re at dinner and you tell her there’s no gun in the house. You and me, buddy, we have a lot to make up for after our fight with her, and a lot to make up for for the days that are coming. Also, her birthday is coming up next month—she’s going to be joining you at forty-nine. You’ll get her something special.

Good news—if you can’t remember how your books go, you can read them as if they’re new. For the first time you can read them and not know about the twist that’s coming. It would be great if you could tap the dementia patient market—they buy your books, forget they’ve read them, and buy them again.

Bad news—one of the puppet eyes glued to the journal got crushed against the wall when you threw it. It looks foggy now, like a cataract.

It’s been a couple of days since Jerry’s doctor came to see him, days which he hasn’t gone wandering, days which, as far as he’s aware, he has been mostly in control. The daffodils that were in full force in the spring gardens are now limp and wilted. Some rhododendrons are blossoming, others already so heavy with flowers they’re breaking off and landing with a thud on the lawn. Trees are budding in every direction. Jerry knows it’s that time of the year when things happen quickly, that back at his house he’d have gone from mowing the lawns once every two months during winter to once a week during summer. At the moment he’s sitting among it, sitting on a bench under a silk tree whose branches are still mostly bare, the sun touching his face. He’s reading a newspaper, on the front page of which is a woman he recognizes. The woman’s name is Laura Hunt, and Laura was murdered inside her house. The article says her body was found Monday. Today, according to the paper, is Thursday. The article says her body was found in the afternoon. He remembers hearing that on the radio, and thinking that while he was at the beach enjoying the crisp air this woman was being murdered. He realizes now that he was wrong—her body was found in the afternoon, but the article says she was killed in the morning. There is the mention of a stolen necklace, of the woman being stabbed to death, and that means something to Jerry, and he closes his eyes and tries to figure it out, and—

“Are you okay, Jerry?”

He looks up. Nurse Hamilton is standing in front of him. She has a big smile that becomes a small smile then completely disappears. She sits down and puts her hands on his arm. “Jerry?”

He shakes his head. He’s not okay. He folds the newspaper in half so he can no longer see the woman’s picture. He is starting to remember.

“I killed somebody,” he says, and there—the words are in the open for Nurse Hamilton to do with them what she shall. Call the police would be his bet. He hopes she does. In fact, they might even execute him. The death penalty was abolished over fifty years ago, but with all the violence that’s been happening in New Zealand these past few years people have been asking for its return. There was even a referendum. The public voted to bring it back. He remembers it was close, but can’t remember when that was. Last year? Two years ago? He also isn’t sure if it’s been put into effect yet, but perhaps he can be the first. If so, he doesn’t want Sandra or Eva there when they hang him. He would like Nurse Hamilton there. He can imagine her sad smile might make things feel a little less scary as the rope gets tightened.

“I know,” Nurse Hamilton says, a painful expression on her face, and he wonders how she knows, then comes to the conclusion he must have told her already. She carries on. “And I’m sorry, Jerry. I really am, but you do know it wasn’t your fault.”

“Of course it was my fault,” he says. “I chose Suzan because I had fallen in love with her. I snuck into her house and hurt her and later the police arrested the wrong man.”

Her sorrow melts away. Her concern turns to relief. He thinks maybe she didn’t like Suzan.

“It’s okay,” she says.

He shakes his head. It’s never going to be okay.

“Do you remember your name?” she asks.

“Of course I remember. It’s Henry Cutter,” he says, but that doesn’t feel quite right. Close but not close enough. Plus she called him Jerry.

“Henry is your pen name,” she says.

“Pen name?”

“Jerry Grey is your real name. You’re an author.”

He searches his memory, trying to form a connection. “I don’t think so.”

“You used to write crime novels,” she says. “Sometimes you get confused about what is real and what you made up. Do you know where you are?”

“A nursing home,” he tells her, and as he tells her he starts to look around the grounds, at the trees and flowers, and there are other people here too, people wandering around, some looking happy, some looking sad, some looking lost. He is, he remembers, and somewhat ironically too, he thinks, one of the lost. “I have dementia.”

“The dementia has an awful way of rewriting your past, Jerry. It’s making the stories from your novels feel like real life to you. Suzan doesn’t exist. She never existed.”

He thinks about that. Writing books . . . it does feel familiar. And of course his name is Jerry Grey. Not Henry Cutter. Henry Cutter is who he would become when he wrote, because that way he could be Henry for the bad times and Jerry for the good.

“So I didn’t kill anybody,” he says.

Nurse Hamilton gives him one of the saddest smiles he’s ever seen, the kind of smile that makes his chest tighten. This woman pities him. Even he pities him. “There was no Suzan,” she says. “She was just a figment of your imagination.”

“But she seems . . . seems so real.”

“I know. Come on, let’s get you inside. It’s almost dinnertime.”

She leads him inside and he tells her he wants to rest for a bit in his room. She walks him there, and tells him everything is going to be okay, then tells him not to be too long. It’s not until he’s in his room and alone and sitting by the window that he thinks back over the conversation and picks up on what he missed.

She said
I know.


So I didn’t kill anybody.
That’s what I asked you,” he says, the words going into an empty room—empty except for Forgetful Jerry, and Forgetful Jerry doesn’t seem to mind him talking to himself. In fact he encourages it and, come to think of it, it actually feels familiar. When he talks again, he looks at the empty chair opposite as if Nurse Hamilton was there. “Then you said I didn’t kill Suzan. You didn’t say I didn’t kill anybody.”

He replays the conversation over again.

He didn’t kill Suzan.

You killed somebody.
The words aren’t his, but he knows who they belong to. Henry Cutter, his pen name, wants to be heard.
You killed somebody, and Nurse Hamilton knew.

But if it wasn’t Suzan, then just who in the hell was it?

DAY TWENTY
BOOK: Trust No One
5.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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