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 What is the Lie?

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Anthony van

What is the Lie? Empty
PostSubject: What is the Lie?   What is the Lie? EmptyMon Nov 27, 2017 3:05 pm

Chapter 4

            Tom drove quietly back to the cabin. Once inside he unpacked the clothes. There were mostly casual clothes that he had kept in a small unit attached to his office and he found a good supply of food in the form of canned goods, dried meals, cartons of sterilised milk, bread and cereal and a few other niceties such as instant coffee and spreads. A small Bible had been placed in the bottom of the bag along with a large envelope containing the information he wanted and a smaller envelope with cash in it. Tom was fairly sure that Lori had a hand in the Bible’s inclusion to his ‘survival’ package as Ed was far more subtle with his faith. He would not begrudge her attempts to redeem him, but he was especially grateful for the cash. Using his credit card would be a sure giveaway.

In the notes Ed had written, Tom had his thoughts confirmed. Holly and he were the major beneficiaries of the estate. Allowance was made for Al if he continued his education toward a finite goal. Ed also mentioned the existence of a trust fund, but he didn’t elaborate and Tom was unaware who the money was held in trust for. Ed made some comments that the police investigation was not really going anywhere. At present their focus was trying to establish where he was and why he would kill three people out of the blue. One theory was that his desire to expand the business required an influx of money. Ed said that he explained to them that they were ‘barking up the wrong tree’, but they ignored him as a deluded friend. The idiom made Tom smile. He pictured little dogs with police hats on, barking at a tree.

            On the whole Tom’s spirits were elevated. He now realised that with careful planning and thoughtful precautions he might be able to evade his captors for a few days. And every day gave him opportunity to discover something new. The other boost to his morale was finding the toiletries bag at the bottom of the duffel bag. Not that he was keen to spruce his appearance up, given that the less he looked like a clean cut young businessman the better it would be. Rather, the inclusion of tooth paste caused him to savour the moment after eating when he could remove that disgusting furry sensation in his mouth. He smiled again as he supposed that Lori had included that as well, although it was not inconceivable that Ed’s eye for detail had seen to the provisions. Tom ran his tongue around his mouth. What an idiosyncrasy; that in this time of dire events he should relish the idea of fresh, pearly white teeth.

            Once he had bathed in the bone chilling waters of the river and was wearing some comfortable gear, he felt a lot more relaxed. He made a special effort to cook a good meal, even if most of the ingredients were either precooked or instant, freeze dried versions of ‘real food’. Following a reread of Ed’s notes, Tom sat down near the fire and reviewed his ‘to do’ list. Tonight he would visit home to check if his spare key was still there and confront Al regarding his whereabouts at the time of the murders. Ed had mentioned in a short letter that Al had returned to occupy the house. Tom felt a disdainful resentment that his pathetic step brother had the run of the huge house, while he was a fugitive. He considered how he would get in unobserved should the police still be monitoring the place. It would require locating them first and then finding a protected place to scale the front wall. He again went for a walk along the river to pass some time and think. Cutting a bit of firewood occupied the late afternoon and he took in the last of the sun’s rays, sitting on a stump, before consuming some instant soup for his evening meal.

            As the time drew near he changed clothes again, this time into dark clothing. He took time to enjoy a hot coffee and then, importantly for him, cleaned his teeth before he departed.

            Late that night, contemplating what he was about to do added an eerie feel to his passage along the dark track that exited Rick’s place. The drive to his home was uneventful but Tom was on edge nonetheless. His mind raced from the devastating scene of his home to the accusatory looks of the police and the hurt look on Lori’s face. It all depressed him. Tom considered that he was shallow for being like this, but he had always wanted people to like him and hated any negative opinions others had of him. That police thought he was the murderer depressed him and made him angry but that Lori could even consider that he was capable of it—that was shattering to Tom.

            He surfaced from his quagmire of self pity as he passed the clanging bell of a railway level crossing. The sound cleared his thoughts like an alarm clock wakens a sleeper. Tom concluded that he should be thinking about the steps ahead rather than dwelling on the past. He parked the car a block away from the entry to his house.

It was past midnight when he sauntered along the footpath toward the tall stone wall that surrounded his stately property. Surreptitiously, he examined the cars parked along the street verge. There were only three but it was more usual for no cars to be parked on the road at this time of night. This was mainly because of the amount of off road space in the sizeable estates. The presence of the three cars made him nervy. He stood behind one of the large English oak trees and tried to determine which, if any, of the cars had occupants. At this distance he could see very little but Tom was afraid that observers in a car would be able to see him more clearly.

            He inspected the wall carefully and identified one section, perhaps a metre wide, which was obscured from the two nearest cars by trees. The one at the far end was probably too far to bother about. Tom flitted from tree to tree to the spot he had selected. It would take only a few seconds to scale the wall, and although he feared that there was a police stake out on his place, he was fairly sure he could evade discovery. Without thinking too much about it, Tom launched himself at the wall. With his arms gripping over the top and his feet scrabbling to gain purchase on the stone face, he struggled to drag himself up. Bright headlights suddenly flooded the whole street and Tom felt like a stage performer under the spot light. He tried to lie horizontally flat on top and become part of the wall. The car drew away from the kerb and pulled alongside the other.

            “I’ll leave you to it Gabby. I don’t think anything’s going to happen. Waste of time if you ask me.”

“Well you know Burton, wants to cover all the angles.”

 “Yeah … Hey, I might check that car out when I go, get a rego; it’s been here since I arrived, see ya.” The policeman gave a little wave and then did a u-turn a small distance short of where Tom was still prostrate on the ridge of the stone barrier. The conversation had seemed interminable to Tom who was still clinging tightly as the revealing glare of lights swung past. Luckily for him the car in the distance chose that moment to also do a rapid u-turn and it sped off into the night with a squealing fish tail. The distraction saved Tom from being noticed as the police observer was now especially interested in the unknown driver.

            Tom dropped over into the darkness as he listened to both cars recede fast into the distance. Frozen to the spot for a moment he wondered what was going on. Who else was watching his place? “Friend of foe?” he said softly. “Whoever you are, you did me a favour tonight.”

Padding softly across the lawn, he warily skittered from tree to tree. Working his way around to the back door, he heard a whining from the back shed. Detouring, he released the wooden door and was overwhelmed by a slobbering affectionate Juno.

“Well, somebody loves me,” he remarked wryly. Looking inside the shed he noticed the food and water bowls were empty. The way the dog ravenously gulped the food he placed before it convinced Tom that he probably hadn’t been fed since the previous day. Scratching Juno vigorously under the neck he then let the dog loose in the yard while he snuck in the back door. There was a light on in the lounge and the TV was on. His spare key should be on a hook in his bedroom and he thought best to check that as a priority. Confronting Al first might set off a series of events that would preclude him the freedom to choose what he would do next. He had no idea how Al would react but their history hadn’t been particularly amicable. He was likely to call the police at the first opportunity.

            In the library area it dawned on him that all trace of the killings had been expertly removed. Tom climbed the stairs stealthily and entered his bedroom. It was just as he’d left it. There hanging on the back of his door were his keys. He took them and stared at them as if unravelling some deep mystery. He sat on the bed and pinched the top of his nose, affecting a physical headache that only existed cognitively.

“So it’s here, but did anyone take it?” he muttered. “What does this prove?” He knew his gun had been stolen but it could have been taken using either spare key or by an expert break-in. He headed downstairs caring little about concealing his presence.

            Inside the lounge his step brother was slumped in an arm chair. There was an empty bottle beside him and the strong smell of liquor. Intoxicated, Al was in a semi conscious state, half watching the television and slowly becoming aware that Tom was standing, staring at him. When it finally registered, Al strained to sit up.

“Whath are you doin here?” he slurred.

Tom walked out and came back a few minutes later with a strong coffee.

“Here, drink this. I want to get some sense out of you.”

Al had almost sunk into delirium again and Tom shook him before assisting him to sit upright.

After several minutes, when it appeared that he had revived sufficiently to be coherent, Tom tackled Al.

“What do you know about the murders?” he asked in deliberately accentuated syllables.

Al took a moment to take in the portent of the question before returning with an alcohol induced delayed reaction.

“Nothin … I mean it. I’m as ssh ... shocked as anyone,” he said defensively.

“So, where were you when it happened?”

“I was … I was at uni; I was … in the library.”

“The library?” There was disbelief in Tom’s reply.

“I’ve changed you know. I was trying to show Clarissa that I’ve changed so, so I was working in the library.” He was rambling a bit.

“I was trying to show her. Do you know what she called me?” He leaned forward and almost tipped the remnants from his coffee cup. Tom shook his head, but he had already started speaking again.

“She, she called me a ‘rep … reprobate’. I had to look it up.” He looked at Tom’s unsympathetic face and responded with a little more acuity. “Anyway, I was at the library. You can…you can check it up if you like. I was workin’ on…the computer. They have ways of checking that you know.”

“Did anyone see you?” Tom tried to sound casual, as if he believed what Al said.

Al was about to answer when he abruptly pulled up. “Hey … what are you sayin’? You’re the one who should be answering questions. The police are lookin’ for you, you know.” His voice became more threatening. “In fact I should probably give them a call now.” He moved to pick up the handset but Tom moved quickly to remove the wall plug.

“That won’t stop me callin’ them,” he scowled belligerently. He stood slightly unsteadily to retrieve his cell from the coffee table. With a gross overestimation of the force required to stop him, Tom tackled Al and brought him thudding to the floor. Using the connecting cord Tom tied Al’s hands behind his back while he wailed aggressive, “Get off me you silly idiot. You’re crazy!”

“I’m sorry Al,” Tom panted, “You don’t leave me any choice. I need to check a few things out and the police would make that a bit difficult.”

            Tom helped Al to his feet and led him to the back door. The phone and trailing handset attached to his hands added a touch of the ridiculous to the scene.

“Where are you taking me?” There was a concerned strain in his voice.

“Thought I might lock you in the shed so you understand how Juno feels.” He shoved his wobbly step brother in the direction of the shed. Al started a screaming racket, “Help, somebody help me!” Tom grabbed a handful of his loose shirt and tried to stuff it in Al’s mouth as he struggled violently. Worried that his initial outburst was heard, Tom rushed his unsteady form toward the garage, ignoring his muffled protests. Inside the shed, Tom tied a rag to secure the wad of shirt in Al’s mouth and then found another piece of rope to bind him to a wall support.

“Maybe this will remind you to feed Juno and give him some freedom,” Tom growled, frowning.

Al responded with a wide eyed fearful outburst of incomprehensible, gagged mumbling.

Tom grinned, “Don’t worry; I’ll call someone to rescue you.”

            Anxious now, that he might be discovered, Tom quickly vacated the premises. Taking the far corner route out of the property, he managed to drop down on the path and elude the less than watchful gaze of a couple of conversational cops.

Once back in his car, he travelled for ten minutes at a tangential direction to the one which would see him back at the cabin. Drawing to the side of the road he took out his own mobile, turned it on and called police, leaving a message for Burton.

“This is Tom Witney. Tell Detective Adrian Burton that I’m trying to find the killer. Someone took my spare keys and stole my gun. He needs to find out who else would gain from all this. Also, my step brother is locked in the shed at the back of the house. Those police at the front might let him out if they have nothing better to do.”

Tom chuckled at that, imagining how Burton would blast his ‘watchdogs’. Then driving a short distance with the device still on he muttered to himself, “This should give you something to do.” Afraid to give them too much time to locate him he then he switched the power off. Finding the next left turn, Tom followed a looping course that ultimately brought him back to the road he needed.



            Adrian Burton almost fell out of bed. The telephone rang loudly again and he snatched at it hoping to stop it before his wife woke. All he succeeded in doing was to send it plunging off the bedside table and caused it to land with a thud. In the process he lunged and tried to catch it but only managed to tear the bedding off his wife, Ally.

“Just answer the phone,” moaned Ally, accustomed to his sleep dulled antics.

“Sorry,” Burton slurred apologetically as he staggered out of bed. With one hand on the handset he used the other to replace the covers while answering.

“Burton here.”

“Detective Burton, we’ve got a location for Witney. He’s using his cell phone.”

Can’t you handle that? What do you want me to do?” The detective was irritable.

“He left a message for you.” The voice on the line sounded defensive.

“You mean he rang us?”

“Yes sir, he specifically mentioned you. I’ll play it for you.”

After listening to the message Tom left, Burton was curious. “Are you still tracking him?”

“No sir, he turned it off soon after ending the call.”

“Hmm,” he pulled a tight lipped, eye squeezing grimace, “Don’t bother trying to find him; he’s playing with us.”


“Goodnight,” Burton tersely concluded the conversation. He hung up, staring at the interfering instrument deep in thought.



            Fatigue, and the lateness of the hour, ensured that the journey to the cabin was a fight to maintain his senses. He tried to not succumb to his drowsiness by turning the radio up loud and keeping his window open. It was about three am when he stumbled into the one room hideaway, collapsing onto the bed. A restless sleep coiled about him like a hungry python as he buried himself between the mattresses. The bulk of the padding insulated him though he was becoming inured to the chill of the night anyway. In a fitful sleep he relived the tensions of the day till he awoke groggily, at about eight am, still weary. Tom was ill at ease. Clear in his mind were dreams of his total ineptitude. In his dreams he had clumsy car accidents, made mistakes with customers and reached foolish decisions he couldn’t explain. ‘Were those his repressed fears?’ he wondered. Failing to go back to sleep, he grumbled tiredly and then got up and attempted to start a fire.

            While he fiddled with insufficient paper and small twigs, his mind backtracked over the futile episode of the past night. He thought; ‘I have my spare keys, but they could have been taken and returned. The only fact I can be sure about is that my gun was stolen from my car. I still have to check Al’s story and find out who else was watching the house?’ He mused about his next course of action.

            It was now almost two days since the murders and he hadn’t established anything. Tom decided that he had to be more logical; more analytical and test every possibility. He would list everybody who could possibly be involved and then eliminate them once he had established they couldn’t possibly have committed the crime. He knew some of the names were so improbable as to be ludicrous but he wrote them anyway. The last reminder he recorded was the word ‘blankets’. Having put his digital diary away, he had a bite to eat and then raced the car back to the small township. Tom sent a text message. He was organising another meeting. When the negative answer came he considered his agenda. Tom studied the road map in the utility.
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