Loneliness - Moving On
by Andrew Foote
Over the next couple of days Jus had a series of conversations with his Dad over the phone and almost as many with Sir George up at the house. He wanted to involve me but I thought it better he worked things through by himself but with me in the background to support him. I wasn't the one who'd been on the receiving end of a brutal attack so I thought it wrong to get too involved as I still felt I was capable of killing all of them in cold blood!
Day four, the Thursday morning following the conversation with Detective Chief Inspector Locksbrook, I took a phone call.
"Hello. Any possibility I could speak with Justin Armstrong please?"
"I'll go and find him. May I ask whose calling?"
"DCI Locksbrook from Thames Valley Police in Newbury."
"Oh hello Sir! Alexis Greening here. Hang on and I'll go and get him."
"Wait, wait Alexis! How is he?"
"Yeah pretty good I'd say. Why do you ask?"
"It's just we're not going to go with attempted murder. The injuries he sustained weren't life-threatening in their own right whereas exhaustion, dehydration and hypothermia were. Will he understand that do you think?"
"Fully. He never wanted that murder charge, he isn't vindictive so I think he'll be cool with it."
"Good! Thanks! Are you boys, okay? I mean like after our talk on Monday?"
"Relieved! We know that how we are isn't acceptable but we love each other and to be in denial is wrong."
"I have heard a whisper that the law will soon be amended. Age of consent for same-sex relationships will be reduced to eighteen and there is much pressure for it to be lowered even further, probably sixteen in a few years so be comfortable about yourselves and your relationship. Let me have a word with Justin if I may."
I found Jus working with Matt in the packing department.
"Phone call for you Jus. DCI Locksbrook."
Once in the office Jus clicked the telephone to speaker but this time he didn't ask Gill to leave.
"Hello. Justin speaking Sir."
"Hi Justin. Has Alexis told you my news?"
"No. He just told me you needed to talk to me."
"Fine. We're not going to press charges relating to attempted murder as your injuries weren't in themselves a threat to your life but we do have a strong case for GBH. Have you had an opportunity to talk with your family yet?"
"I have but I still have questions."
"Okay? Go ahead and ask them."
"Have you interviewed these boys yet?"
"Yes we have. They were left in no doubt that they might well serve a long period of time in a Young Offender's Institution if they went to court and were subsequently found guilty."
"How did they take it?"
"Terrified. Very tearful, very upset, contrite to the point of begging for mercy."
"Then here's my answer. I am not a nasty person. I'm not seeking revenge. I have what I have always been hoping to find and by that of course, I mean Alexis. I need to cut loose from this now but those boys have to receive a cautionary warning. Is it at all possible that it could happen? No prosecution but a serious slap across the wrist?"
"We could arrange that."
"I'd want Alexis and I to witness it though."
"I'll talk with my DCS and see what we can do. It's somewhat unorthodox but it might just be possible but I have to say, your attitude is very humanitarian and I applaud you! Those boys are scared witless and in my estimation their lesson has already been learned so now they can go on and lead their lives without a criminal conviction hanging over their heads I'll phone you later today."
"Thanks Sir. I …… no we appreciate all your help. Bye."
The telephone back on the hook, I turned to Jus.
"Did you mean that Jus? You'd be happy to let them just say sorry and walk away?"
"I went out this morning. I took the dogs out for a walk when you were still asleep. We went back up to the family tree and that's where I made up my mind. How could I possibly be vindictive or seek revenge? Love is all about forgiveness and toleration, not hatred and suffering? I need closure and this is the right way, the only way to get it done. I need them to understand what they did to me was wrong but they're sixteen for fuck sake, far too young to be saddled with a criminal record. You said it was my decision and my mind is made up. Do you think I'm wrong?"
"No Jus. Actually I was rather hoping you'd do this. I'm my parent's son. We believe in turning the other cheek being hippies but then it isn't my place to preach to you. I love you. I'm ultimately proud of you!"
"Thanks. You know something? It was a very odd sensation up at the tree. I had this nagging doubt in my mind about whether prosecution was the right thing to do but once I was there, I was in complete control of my thoughts and it just occurred to me that I would spend the rest of my life riddled with guilt and anxiety about wrecking those boys lives. To have a criminal record for whatever is bad enough but one for a violent offence might mean an inability to find a decent job, a close personal relationship, so many areas of their lives would be effected and all because I couldn't find it in my heart to forgive. I don't care if they see it as a sign of weakness because I know it isn't. That was the single most difficult decision I've ever had to make but I know it was the right one."
Gillian, wiping tears from her eyes, spoke up.
"From all I've heard about this terrible episode, and people do talk about it you know, I think most reasonable people would see your decision as a sign of great strength, not weakness. Had I been in your situation, I'm not at all sure I'd be able to forgive. That's a beautiful thing you've done Justin."
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