Now that I reflect back on what had occurred, I realize I could never quite recall how this unimaginable, ghastly journey began. Nay, I can tell exactly how it happened, yet I am unable to diagnose the exact moment that my entire existence became my own customized hell. Was it when I discovered my legitimate identity? When I discovered my own disgusting actions? Or can the origins be pursued back to when I was a lonely child? Or perhaps it was when he pushed his way into my life- pushed as much as I begged him to enter.
I first encountered him at my favorite bookshop; I was seated in the centre of an aisle slowly digesting a marvelous compilation of theology essays. I was so captivated by the text that I barely noticed him until he was sprawled across my feet; my immediate reaction was to spring to my feet, helping the poor soul that had tripped over me, apologizes already gushing from my tongue.
The gentleman stood with an elegance that I was instantly envious of, discarding my apologizes with a confident air. Once he had regained his balance, the man's golden eyes studied me curiously, lingering especially on the crumpled essays still clutched within my fingers.
"Are you a fan of theology sir?" the man enquired in a soft voice.
"Oh, I suppose you could say that," I replied, "I'm more interested in what tales they come up with."
The gentleman's grin was luminous.
"I'm Lawson Milam." He thrust out a hand.
"William Mason." I received his hand firmly.
And so began our friendship, our first conversation on the floor of my favorite bookstore, about the various gods of the ancient Incas. It was quite a vigorous discussion if I do say so myself.
The following two years were the finest of my life, I can declare this with absolutely, no doubt in my mind, and I recognize that my bliss had everything to do with meeting Mr Lawson Milam.
In a minute space of time Lawson transformed into the twin I never had- and I really do mean twin. Lawson conceived me in a way I had never experienced, our relationship intimate like one could ever envision. He would know, truly, what I was thinking and I for him. It was one of God's greatest marvels our relationship was, genuinely astounding. He was my ‘true friend’, my friend that I would keep forever- I’d never beheld such a vision as this; never thought I’d acquire something so beautiful.
Albeit, over time my 'true friend' slowly disintegrated; it was slow, so slow that I almost didn't note the difference. Yet it was definitely present, he would be a bit harsher to the waitress, more judging towards a new acquaintance, impatient with children.
I remember the Lawson I first welcomed, and compared him with the Lawson of the present- there was an unbearably harsh contrast. Yet, curiously Lawson was just sweet and caring as he always was around me, but me alone. It was on the morn of a Wednesday however, that I genuinely comprehended how much my friend had transformed.
Let it be known that I am a righteous man, a god-fearing man, I place justice deep in my heart and know it shall be delivered, either now or on the eve of the lamb's return. It is because I hold on to this so strongly that the Wednesday morn disturbed me to the core.
Lawson had brought me to our customary cafe; we took our usual seats- situated in the back corner, next to the window with an engaging panorama of the aged street.
I was staring into the tiny lane-way when I heard a sound akin to that of disgust emerge from Lawson's throat, my gaze translated to my dear friend.
"Is something the matter Lawson?" I enquired; he didn't lift his stare from the man seated on the opposite wall, a regular at the cafe I recognized.
"Lawson?" I hedged, as he did not answer me the first time.
He lifted his gaze to look at me, "yes William?"
"What ever is the matter?" I questioned him for the third time, "Your staring is giving the poor man the shakes."
In truth, the gentleman opposite us had yet to observe my friend's stare- but I’m sure if he did the intensity of it would give him night-horrors for evenings to come.
The only acknowledgment from Lawson was the shaking of his head, and him saying that he had no wish to discuss the matter, so I should just leave it well alone.
I frowned but shut my lips, knowing that Lawson would eventually expose his secret to me, so I sipped my drink turning to examine the street once again. I was correct in my assumption, as a few minutes later Lawson called for my attention.
"William, if you uncovered an abominable act, and you knew who was responsible- what would you do?" He started cautiously, his eyes subject to the swirls decorating his teacup.
The question caught me off guard, I pondered for a minute before replying to him, that I would try to uncover all that I could before reporting it to the law.
"I can't do that." I almost cut him off before he continued, "They already know- they don't care."
Again I was caught off guard, "They don't care? Lawson, what deed did you uncover?" I demanded.
Lawson tore at his lips before a word slipped almost silently past them, "Murder."
All forms of speech had left me, I could almost not comprehend it, murder- and the law didn't care. At the time my mind was incapable of the thought of a man getting away with his evil deed.
Lawson knuckled his eyes, "And the murderer is sitting right over there, sipping his tea like nothing ever occurred!" He pointed discretely to the man against the wall. "He murdered his entire family with absolutely no reason! He's a psychopath!"
When I’d heard of his deed my blood rushed, roaring in my ears, my hands shook, spilling tea over the table- trying to contain my anger. How dare he? How dare he have a family and repay them with death? He was the unadulterated being of scum! Worse then the bottom of my shoe- and he had to be punished.
"He has to be punished," Lawson leaned across the wooden table, "And he has to be punished now- by us." He paused before continuing, "we have to kill him."
I stopped short, kill him? No! Then we would be more atrocious then him- there had to be an alternate way!
"He’s forced us Will- we must!" Lawson was quick to read me, "there is no alternative - he has to be punished!"
I shook my head viciously, "No! Murder is not an option! we'd be even worse then him! I dissent!"
Darkness overtook Lawson's features - it perturbed me.
"Will you need to understand- he needs to accept justice, and there is simply no other way. I will kill him, even if you are despicable enough not to help me."
The look in his eye terrified me, I’d never seen him that way, my blood froze. However the only thing I said was, "I will have no part in this."
I quickly fled the cafe, not twisting back to check if Lawson was pursuing me.
I remember being utterly horrified after that conversation, how could Lawson even perceive such a thought? I trusted him- thought I knew him, obviously I was mistaken.
I was still vertiginous from the shock a few mornings later when I noticed something out of place. I was sitting in the cafe when I realized the murderer-man was missing.
I felt nauseous, and escaped the cafe immediately.
Needless to state that day was the most horrible of my life- I knew, in my heart of hearts that Lawson was responsible, so when I found the murderer's face on the front page of the newspapers I was anything but surprised, besides myself- but not surprised.
It would have been more then a week before I saw Lawson again. He appeared on my doorstep, sad faced and apologetic. I asked his business with the door still between us, my face a blank sheet. Lawson fell on his knees begging me to let him inside, to forgive him because he was so very sorry. I folded instantly against my will and opened the door wide, letting him into my life once again.
When he was seated in one of the armchairs- his favorite I remember, I asked him stiffly if he wanted a beverage, he refused softly, looking more and more like a kicked dog. I remember that fact annoyed me greatly- he was the one that had done me wrong.
I said this to him, he winced slightly in his chair, relentlessly I plowed forward inquiring again why he had come to me.
"I've come to apologize, I'm so, so sorry." Lawson looked defeated, "I'll never again do anything of the sort- I miss you Will. I hate it that you can't bear the sight of me."
"Lawson, you killed someone! That can't go away so quickly!" I was almost shouting.
"But it can go away? Will I love you, you're my best friend I would be nothing without you, please forgive me, I have repented, I have done my penance!"
Our conversation went like so for quite a while, the sun was shining high when I let Lawson back in, it was low when I finally forgave him- however dull-witted the act may have been. That day was full of crying and shouting, harsh words and hugs- but in the end I realized that I had missed Lawson, I didn't really want to continue to live without him, to enjoy my life without him.
That was when I saw it- blood. It was smudged on his handkerchief peaking out of his pocket. I ripped at the cloth, I began shouting again.
"What is this?! You said you'd repented! This is definitely not "repented!"
Betrayal burned deep in my stomach, he hadn't stopped, the realization came to me so suddenly I almost swooned, he had done this to other people. I could feel the nausea rising in my throat.
"Get out." I told Lawson quietly, "Get out- and I never want to see your face again."
It pained me to say these words greatly. So when Lawson refused I started screaming again, my emotions fueling me; I slapped him square in the face before he finally edged towards the door. I wanted nothing more then to kill him at that very instant- I thought I knew him, I thought he loved me, I thought he was my true friend.
Lawson was at the door but before he stepped through I asked him "How many more?"
He turned to look back at me but only the back faced him, “I'll leave that you for to find out."
They were his final words to me before he slammed the door. I collapsed into a sobbing heap across my bed trying to bury myself in the covers as they turned dark, wet and salty.
I must have fallen asleep on my bed because the next thing I remember was be forcefully ripped from it. It was dark and but I could feel hands grabbing at my arms and legs, I struggled, screamed and shouted before a small colourful explosion went off behind my eyes and I remembered no more.
The next time I awoke it was to a throbbing headache, a metal desk and cold dark room. Naturally it scared me to wits end. Someone cleared their throat behind me, in my speed to twist around my neck cracked, the pain blinding me for a few moments. A man stepped into my view, his heels clicking crisply on the varnished floors. He was a tall man, dressed smartly in a waist coat and a blinding white shirt, and he was obviously police.
His eyes were amazing I remember, almond shaped but had the most vivid blue buried within them, it felt like he could see straight through me. He continued walking around me, his heels clicking at the same intervals until it had the desired effect, my nerves frayed and me feeling like some kind of animal, he then took his seat at the other end of the table. The only light in the room was a drop light, situated directly above the table, it only gave off the bare minimum of light, and the man used this to his advantage, eerie shadows hollowing his face.
On the table he slapped a file then asked me a simple question, "Do you know why you're here?"
The only answer I could give him truthfully was, "No."
My answer seemed to aggravate him, "Yes you do. You sir, have been charged with the murder of over 5 different people- tell me, did you know that?"
His voice was menacing as his hands threw down five photos from the file on the metal table, each making a resounding slap.
I frowned, "Murder? Five people?"
At the time I was in shock, I was in a strange room, being interrogated and being accused of murder- my mind had yet to comprehend the entire situation.
My gaze flicked down to the pictures.
“Oh God" I gasped, one of them was the man from the cafe, and I'd seen the other four in the recent news, I remember being utterly scared at the way they'd been murdered, only their teeth could identify them as they'd been so disgustingly mutilated.
The man was talking again, I strained to listen past the blood in my ears. He pulled out a handkerchief, smudged with blood- Lawson's handkerchief.
I jumped up, "That's not mine!" I shouted, "And I didn't do any of this! - but I know who did." The words came tumbling out of my mouth too quickly for me to change them- I was about to turn Lawson in, the thought made me cold.
The inspector raised one cool eyebrow, "Do you really?" he questioned, "Who did it then if not you? We have witnesses and evidence all pointing to you sir."
I shook my head, "No- I didn't do anything it was someone else, I knew him." I paused, was I really about to condemn Lawson, the best friend I'd ever had; yes- I knew I had to. "The person you’re looking for is Lawson Milam, he owns that handkerchief- and I know for a fact that he killed that man." I picked up the picture of the man from the cafe.
The inspector froze at my words, looking at me questionably, "Lawson Milam did this?" he asked.
"Yes! I had nothing to do with it- I tried to persuade him otherwise but he didn't listen to me." I said to the inspector.
"What’s your name?" the inspector asked suddenly, the question caught me off guard.
"William Mason, I thought you knew that already."
"Tell me, do you know what Lawson Milam looks like?" Again, this question also surprised me.
"Yes of course I've know him for years." I knew he was leading this somewhere but I just had no inkling where to.
"Turn around for me, Mr Mason."
Confused I did as he said looking into a mirror- but I wasn't in the picture. I wasn't anywhere on the mirror- I reeled back smashing into the table, shock coursing through my body. The only people in that mirror were Lawson Milam and the inspector.