The real story of this village was crazy, far too crazy for anyone else to ever truly understand. He was sitting with one of the better writers from a local rag who wanted to try and attempt to get his story just right. Warts ‘n’ all, why not? He fingered the handle for his mug of coffee, wondering how on earth this fella might go about approaching the whole sorry thing. Two deceased parents and a brain-damaged daughter left alone, all of it occurring over a hellish three week period in the summer of ’06. This his family – at a time when the area was all about happy kids messing about on rusty bikes and staunch older folk pointing to the places where it was safest for them to be playing in the first place. He’d spent, or at least planned on spending these few weeks concentrating on getting his new film just right. He’d been okayed by the powers that be on the three-thousand dollar filming grant and wanted to put it to good use. He had all of the decent actors and actresses from near enough by signed on the amateur dotted lines, and had flown in all the way from his new set-up in New York with a couple of the more learned ones. They’d been rearing to go.
“How does this happen, I have to ask?
Straight in then with the hard-hitting question, and he had to respect the hack for that. Others were less prone to putting this kind of question to him.
“Just did, really. Unbelievable, huh?”
The fella started with his pen, a survivor of the shorthand era it seemed. He was dressed sharpish with a real professional look to him. Definitely not the norm attire for these types. Burnt out and desperate for a way back. Any way.
“Do you miss your parents?”
How could he not, they’d been awesome, always on his side. Willing to go that bit further for his particular needs, both on a creative level and besides. He sipped from his coffee.
“They were fantastic, all you could want in parents. They asked for none of it, NONE of it!”
He’d realised he would probably start sweating soon enough in the interview so had a handkerchief at hand, which the hack understood. He tried for a smile to say as much.
“Your amateur film, did this perhaps cause you to lose the ability to see all that might have been happening around you?”
He thought about that, reckoning really it had to have done. He and the actors had been on constant alert, never a silent moment. All about the angle to this and that possibly perfect shot.
“Yeah, probably. These guys came here to get a job done, for the most part they were taking part in their very first feature film and how could you blame us for wanting it to make the absolute difference. They certainly hadn’t prepared themselves for the shit storm that ensued. They may have been well-heeled individuals but put anyone in that situation and, well, the shit hits the fan.”
And that it did. How the hell does a village deal with a double murder and an horrendous abusive attack on a little girl? They simply do not. The writer looked pretty awkward. He twisted his pen ’til creating a bleak circle of black ink. Suits the moment that’s for sure, thought Miles.
“Miles, about the morning of the… Murder. Where were you?”
“Cutting my teeth, going over lines to a scene with Erika – she plays Maggie, in the film. We were at the house figuring how to make her improv. skills match my work. She was good, extremely so.”
He looked at a girl ordering her own coffee, deep in thought now. Pretty girl. The writer pushed his seat closer to his part of their table.
“And you heard what?”
“A loud scream, then two. I knew they were from my parents because they were older screams. And I could recall my mother’s scream from when my father, you know.”
They fought, then. Yet still fantastic parents.
“Your sister… Where would she have been?”
Miles took a deep inhale of air through his nose, as though he’d almost been practising some sort of relaxation techniques lately to adjust to the situation.
“Out on the swings, singing.”
If anything was going to creep this particular journalist then it was THAT sentence. Sentences. Out On The Swings. Singing. Jesus, this poor guy sitting shiftily across from him must’ve really been put through the runner. Looking at his face now as they opened up his ghastly story one sucker-punch to the gut per time, the marks it had opted upon leaving in the six months since the ordeal were turning out all the more obvious to him now: crows feet from the cigarettes which he was surprised actually that he hadn’t excused himself to go outside and smoke yet, and fret lines like a busy road map all the way over an otherwise charming face.
“And she heard these screams?”
Miles looked up, nodding. Shit, his hair by the top was starting to fall out too. All of the stuff literally playing on his mind by this stage had to be incredibly taxing.
“Can I call you by your name, to make it a little more comfortable, easier… please?”
“Course you can.”
Nothing was ever going to be easier for Miles Delevingne again but what works for him has to work.
“What is it?”
He picked at the cuticle of his thumb on his left hand. Red Raw. His go-to for sure.
“It’s Arnold.”
Arnold needed that to maybe relax himself too. To really give this guy his time, if anyone deserved it then it was absolutely him. They sat for a bit, soaking up the atmosphere of the place. The Cornstone Café had been Arnold’s favourite spot to meet interviewees for a few years by now. It calmed things down a tad because he personally needed a busier spot where other people’s hurried lives managed to cause his to unwind all the more for the fact he was simply sitting in complete comparison. His was a pretty hectic brain to be perfectly honest and that should help Miles somewhat. This event was all kinds of up in the air and needed a landing area of sorts. Arnold’s was a wide open space so, hopefully, his was that landing area.
“What have people been saying about this interview?”
Miles had to ask.
“Honestly, well my Editor had his teeth in immediately, really. He thinks it’s a helluva scoop for the paper, if I can get it right that is. We’re down on our knees with this economy.
Miles got that. All of it. Other people had their lives too, and they were looking at an incredible story of a tiny village from the outside peering on in. Deliberately on in. Excruciatingly on in.
“Of course he did, how could he not? I really cannot blame him.”
He touched the packet of cigarettes he’d placed on the small table between them, and was eyeing it up. Arnold shrugged.
“I’ll go with you, if you want. I haven’t smoked this past week so, why not?”
Miles gave him the thumb and handed him one of the two remaining. They headed outside together. The lunch break was gathering fair steed and a group of people in suits were outside smoking too, blabbering amongst themselves. They recognised him immediately. The pair of them simply took it for what it was.
“Bet that never gets old, the onlookers. Prying eyes with nothing better to entertain themselves.”
Arnold really felt for him. Miles lit their cigarettes and tried a smile, leaning against the window-sill. More eyes behind the glass. Sad, sad eyes.
“Know what, it’s quite normal, actually. These people know my face since I was a child. I can’t blame them. I’m sure I’d do the same if I was them. Screw it.”
Arnold got that but didn’t see it being any easier to deal with for that alone. He wasn’t from the village himself so knew nothing of the man’s past, his background. Fresh eyes had to be good though. The cigarette was good, he didn’t feel so bad about it either. Could put it down to nerves if his fiancée smelled the smoke off him later tonight.
“It’s unsettling but hardly the worst part.”
“What is the worst part, can I ask?”
“Ask anything you like. The worst part is the rumours that I might have had a small part in it all. Going through that trial was like a double-up of anguish. Having to wear a smarmy suit like these fuckers, while a judge who knew nothing at all really JUDGED me!”
Two of those fuckers stared a little harder on hearing his voice raise itself. Arnold thought about it.
“You were cleared, at least. I know that’s nothing great but it is an At Least… At least. Ha, sorry.”
Miles smirked.
“You seem like a decent guy, and I could do with a decent guy or two right now. You’re the ones who make it a little more bearable, believe it or not. The thought of those two bodies can tear you apart.”
He had a tear in his eye, couldn’t help it. Wiping it way, he went for a larger pull off his cigarette. Soothing.
To Be Continued…