For Everything You Were
A Life Unravelled
Another warm day beat through the window of my bedroom as I stood carefully packing clothes into 2 cases I'd recently got down from the attic. Cody had gone out after revealing he could not stand here and watch me get ready to leave. Dad had taken the day off work after promising to run me to the airport and mum? Well she was downstairs cleaning. Not because things needed cleaning but because she was trying to keep busy. I knew her well enough to realise this day was going to be hardest for her more than anyone else.
Ethen had called 6 times yesterday evening and left me a series of nervous texts. Going out of his mind with worry and anticipation, he had said to me that we would have to meet separately at the airport in case something went wrong. That detail in itself had made me nervous and so this morning I had just tried to take a leaf out of mum's book and keep busy. I was due to leave at eleven a.m. and Cody had promised he would be back to say goodbye. He'd been quiet; distant… some might even say reflective during the early hours of today. I knew he was hurting, I knew he was thinking about ways to keep me here. I couldn't blame him, I'd do the same. But I also think he was battling his conscience to let me go and I hoped that part of him would win over because I didn't want any dramas.
"Come down and do your sugars and have some breakfast."
"I'm almost done here, give me two minutes."
With the second case almost filled to bursting I placed my entire weight on it before attempting to pull the zip round to secure the contents.
Downstairs, dad was reading the paper, occasionally looking up and telling mum to slow down as she furiously scrubbed the cooker. I got a glass of juice from the fridge and sat opposite him at the table.
"Looks like a nice day to fly," I remarked, trying to make conversation.
Dad looked at me and shook his head, glancing over at mum. I grimaced and mouthed I was sorry.
"These stains are stubborn; I should have done this a while ago."
I swivelled round on my chair. "Mum would you stop doing that and come over here please?" She continued on as if not hearing me. "Mum? Please?"
"Just gotta get these…" She started to say but stopped before bursting into tears. Dad put his paper down and sighed while I got to my feet and approached her. I pulled her into a tight hug, the act making me tear up myself.
"I'm gonna be fine you know, it's gonna be an adventure, and I can come and visit any time."
"My baby boy is going far away," was all she said. I gripped her tight.
"Ethen will look after me, you know he will and once we get settled, you and dad can come over and see us too. It will be a nice holiday for you."
"I'm sorry Jake, I should be excited for you, I mean I am, but I am going to miss you so much, and your dad will too."
"I know you both will and I'm gonna miss you guys as well… hell, I'll even miss Cody!" I said, looking at her and chuckling through my tears.
"Have you packed son?" dad asked.
"Yeah all done, I'll get it all down soon," I replied looking at the clock. It was eight thirty.
Mum pulled out of my grasp and went and sat down. She proceeded to stare at me in a way that made me feel self-conscious for a moment.
"What?" I asked, wiping my eyes.
"I think I just realised something," she replied. "I think I just realised that my baby boy is all grown up. You've grown up into a very handsome young man and I realise I can't smother you anymore."
"I have mum, but I'll always need you."
"You know I remember when you were about thirteen and I asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, do you remember what you said?"
"Uh, no… no I don't recall."
"You said, and very proudly I might add, you said mum, I don't care what I do as long as I'm happy doing it. I think what you are about to do is going to make you very happy in the end so it looks like you were right Jake."
I pursed my lips and nodded. "I just wish I could one hundred per cent say this is all gonna work out fine."
I looked at dad. He was just about to say something when there was a pounding on the front door.
"Jesus, sound like they are about to come through that," mum said, jumping.
"I'll go," dad said getting up.
"OPEN UP, POLICE!" came a muffled scream.
I suddenly felt all faint while I watched dad quicken his pace to the door. I looked down the hall with mum towards the front door and watched dad open it. As he did 3 men in black suits burst in and hauled my dad back to the kitchen.
"What the hell is this?" My dad shouted. "Let me see your warrant!"
One of the men thrust a white piece of paper in my dad's face and let it drop to the floor while one of the others came towards me.
"We have reliable information that you are holding an American fugitive here, a man called Ethen Jones?"
"Fugitive? What the hell are you on about," my dad retorted. I just stood frozen to the spot, scared out of my mind. As was mum.
"Don't make me ask you again sir, where is he."
"He's not here," I said, before dad could.
The plain clothed officer addressing me turned round and looked at his counterparts. "Search the place. Nobody move."
"Excuse me but I must protest, how dare you come into my house, do you even know who I am?" my dad once again berated the officer remaining.
"I am well aware of who you are Mr Stevens." He turned round and looked at me again. "You are Jake Stevens?"
I swallowed hard. "Yes sir."
The 2 officers that had left to search our home came back through to the kitchen and one shook his head at the officer that looked to be in charge.
"Where is he Jake?"
"I'm sorry but I can't tell you that," I replied, starting to shake.
"Jake, you got to tell the officers," mum cried at me.
"Jake, tell us where he is and this all goes away." One of the men said.
I looked at dad who tilted his head at me, his eyes widening.
"I don't know, ok!"
"Very well, Jake Stevens I am arresting you for hindering a prosecution, you do not have to say anything but anything you do say may be held against you."
"WHAT?! You're arresting my son… for what?"
No one seemed to reply to my mum and I was swiftly placed in handcuffs and pulled backwards. I felt too numb to saying anything at that moment as I thought about what was going to happen to me. All my dreams with Ethen were fading fast and I knew this was bad, I just didn't know how bad.
"Where are you taking him," mum screamed, trying to wrestle me from the officers. Dad tried to keep her held back as I was led out to a waiting back Range Rover and bundled inside. One officer patted me down once inside while the other two got into the front and I was driven away at speed to god knows where.
I had been taken down a series of roads to an area of town I didn't recognise before we got onto a motorway. That when I had enough panic in me to start talking.
"Where are you taking me?"
"Croyden," the man next to me replied.
"You will be questioned there, now be quiet please."
"Have you told my parents where I will be?"
"They will be informed, like I said, keep quiet."
I did as I was told not wanting to anger the man. Truth was I had a million questions but knew it was futile asking them through fear revealing something I shouldn't.
About an hour later we pulled into a large parking area at the rear of a grey building. I looked up to see POLICE clamped to the side of the structure in big black letters. The 4x4 came to a stop sharply and I was helped out by the officer next to me and led through a side door into a hollow corridor.
At the end was some kind of reception area where a nod was given to the man holding me and I was then taken further into the building finally ending up at a room with a brown door. On the frosted glass was a sign that said 'Interview Room 6' on it and I was led in.
"Sit," barked the man. The he turned round and was about to leave.
"Hey, I know how this works, I'm supposed to get a lawyer aren't I?"
"One is being assigned to you now," the man grunted before walking out and leaving me in silence. I placed my head in my hands and felt the world closing in and the chain on the handcuffs cold against my forehead.
I'd been sitting alone in the room for around 20 minutes when finally I saw some activity outside the door. I looked like two men were talking to each other before the door handle came down and one of the men walked in.
He was a weathered man, around mid-fifties, grey hair, tired eyes and a suit that looked like it needed replacing. His shirt was lose and his tie done up casually. Smartness was not in this man's ethos I felt.
"Why do you think you are here Jake?" he said, coming round to the side of me. I followed him with my eyes.
"I don't think I should say anything to you until my lawyer person is in here, that's what I see on TV," I said politely.
"You're right Jake, you know what I asked was just a casual question, we'll get down to the nitty gritty when you are accompanied. I was just asking if you knew why you were here?"
"Sort of," I replied, trying hard not to make eye contact with the man. I'd seen his type on TV, they were subtle and before you knew where you were you were telling them stuff and not even knowing it. Yeah, he looked the type. Or maybe I'd just watched too many bad TV shows.
"My Name is Detective Bruce Roberts, and you know what Jake. I don't blame you for wanting to protect someone you obviously have a lot of feelings for, but-"
The man was cut off when the door opened and another man walked in.
"Has the detective been asking you questions?" he immediately said, sitting next to me. I just shrugged. "Well the detective should know better. I'm Jimmy Ardent, your assigned Lawyer. Your parents are on their way just in case you were worried."
"I was wondering, so why am I here?"
"Why don't we let the detective ask some questions and that should become clear. Now remember… Jake right?"
"Remember Jake that anything you are asked will be on that recording device so if you are not sure you can ask me, or you can say no comment."
"Good, now detective, may I have five minutes with my client please?"
"Denied, I want to get this show on the road."
The man sighed and nodded. The detective then took a seat and pulled it in before staring at me, his eyes cold looking.
"I'm gonna begin the interview now Jake and start the recording."
"Ok." I said, sounding nervous. The man clicked a button on a deck and leant back in his chair.
"Jake, do you know a man called Ethen Jones?"
I looked at my lawyer and he nodded at me. "Yes."
"Tell me Jake, where is Ethen now?"
I shrugged. "Dunno."
The detective sighed and leaned forward. "Jake, this is very serious, Ethen's father is very concerned for the welfare of his son and-"
"Bullshit!" I spat in a moment of rage. "His father's concerns stretch to covering his own career and himself, nothing else, nothing about Ethen."
"Then why don't you tell me where he is and I can protect him."
"From the American secret service? I doubt it!"
"Look Jake, let me level with you. I think its commendable that you wanna protect your friend but we have to get a resolution to this… Ethen must be found. He has stolen money for a start and that needs to be answered for."
"Detective, I don't know what you know, or how much, but I know what I know and I would appreciate you not insulting my intelligence about what is going on here. If Ethen is found I have a pretty good idea of his fate because I know how far people in his dad's organisation will go to keep things a secret."
"So by withholding information you are willing to go to prison is that it?"
"If needs be," I replied, matter of fact. The answer looked to have taken the detective by surprise judging by the act of clearing his throat.
"Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence Jake."
"Who said I was perverting the course of justice. You asked me if I knew where Ethen was, I don't at this exact moment."
"Ok well maybe you can help me with the question of where he has been, maybe we can start there."
"He was staying at some hostel, I don't recall the name."
"Did you visit this place to see him?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"What is the current situation with you and Ethen right now Jake?"
"Sorry I don't know what you mean."
"Well we have information to suggest you were in a relationship, is that correct?"
"We were, until his father faked his death and took him away from me."
"Yes, Colin Jones… but I guess he doesn't exist if I recall," I replied sarcastically, my confidence building.
The detective smiled. "My priority is to find Ethen, Jake. I have no interest in the past."
"Then why ask me about something in the past then?"
"Quite the clever one aren't you, very well Jake, I can see we are not going to get very far, you are free to go."
"You are free to go, we'll get what information we need from your friend Cody Dukes, after all he is the one who told us about Ethen being in contact with you and your family."
"You're lying!" I said, as my knees started to feel like jelly.
"Thank you for coming in Jake, you may go now, your parents should be here shortly to pick you up."
I got up out of my seat and frowned before opening the door and stepping out into the corridor. I wondered if Cody was here now. I wondered more the fact that he would actually do this to me… to Ethen.
My Assigned lawyer stepped out behind me and closed the door. "Is he lying, I mean, they do that right, they use that tactic to make you talk."
"It can be used as a tactic yes Jake, but I am surprised he let you go so quickly. It is my judgement that because he did, it may be the case their resources may well be better spent on your friend which would lead me to believe this Cody may well be here and willing to talk. I must go now Jake, I wish you well for the future, and well played in there."
We shook hands and the man left me, walking down the corridor towards the main entrance. I slowly took the same walk myself, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I reached into my pocket suddenly having the urge to try and contact Ethen, but found my phone was not there.
I had been sitting in the waiting room for about 50 minutes when I saw my mum come rushing though the main entrance door, immediately seeing me. My dad was behind and they both came over to me and we got into a group hug. All emotion seemed to pour out of my opened up body as I started to weep uncontrollably in that moment. Mum guided me towards the door and we stepped out into the fresh air, with me suddenly noticing dad was not with us.
I looked all around me. "Where did dad go?"
"Look, there's a bench over there, why don't we go and sit down."
"Cody has been taken in for questioning as well Jake. He was picked up walking back home, I swear to you we didn't know."
"Didn't know what?"
"Have you noticed Cody has been going out a lot lately?"
"Not especially, I mean sure, when things have been tough between us he goes out, or when he says he can't handle… Oh my god! That detective was right."
"I think he was just desperate Jake, I don't think he meant for it to come to this."
"The fucking… I can't believe it's actually true, he's been informing the police about Ethen being here."
"Jake, sit down, it's a little more than that."
"What do you mean?" I said as I followed mum over to the bench she had suggested,
"Do you remember in America there was that old house near our plot?"
"Yeah, that's where Callum White lived with his mean Dad. The skinny ill looking kid with the black eyes right?"
"What about him?"
"That is Ethen Brother, Jake."
"WHAT?! Impossible, Old Mr White, that grumpy man, that was Callum's dad, and Colin was Ethen's."
"Jake, we just found out that Cody has been in contact with Luke."
"Mum you are speaking in one liners and I am struggling to work all this out, if you think you know something then please just tell me!"
"You really want to hear this?"
"It will change things forever, Jake, make no mistake."
"It will not change the fact that when I catch up with Cody I and he are finished as friends, as EVERYTHING! That much I know, so just tell me."
"Go easy on Cody, he's been protecting you for a long time so we have found out."
"What? Protecting me, from who?"
"After you were taken by the police another car turned up, these guys were American and said they were working with the police here to try and apprehend Ethen."
"Right, so what?"
"So it turns out that they have been monitoring calls that Cody had been making to Luke. When they heard Ethen being mentioned they got in touch with Cody and asked him questions."
"But why didn't Cody tell me he was making calls to Luke?" I asked, baffled.
"The same reason why you went going to tell him why you were seeing Ethen, probably."
"Ok, so this is where it will not be easy to take, but you need to know, and I know you would want to."
"Mum, will you just get on with it!"
"Callum White, the boy who lives in the old beat up house with his grumpy dad is Ethen's brother. Mr White Cullum's father is Ethen's real dad. Colin Jones was working with Ethen to-"
"Hang on… Hang ON! What do you mean working with him."
"Jake honey, Ethen was a spy, recruited by Colin to assist him in whatever his assignments were. At the time it was us, that's why Ethen got so close to you. The part where Ethen's mother died is true, she did. After she passed away Ethen's real dad, Mr White hit the booze, Ethen got angry and they both fell out. Mr White kicked Ethen out and told his brother Callum not to talk to him. Colin, then living alone, took him in before training him to be who he became."
I just sat there shaking my head slowly, my mouth wide open. "It's not true."
"After the assignment was done… in other words, once Colin and Ethen had finished spying on us, they hatched a plan to leave for Arizona. But there was a problem."
"Ethen had fallen for me," I said slowly.
"Correct, Ethen and Colin got into a fight about it until Ethen accepted he had to not see you. They had a plan to make Ethen's car hit a deer in the road when you all went to that rock, but apparently it didn't work."
"Wait, I remember that deer, and yeah it didn't cos Ethen stopped."
"I don't know why he stopped but that deer was put there on purpose by Colin and you were supposed to hit it. Maybe Ethen lost his nerve, perhaps we will never know."
"So the rock face fall?"
"That part was all real, Ethen was hurt, but Colin thought it was a good way to blend it into their plan."
"This is not real… why would Ethen come here, Why?"
"From what we were told, Colin had started to use Ethen, get him to do things that were not right in Arizona. Ethen loved you, that part was also real, and it was also real he felt a lot of guilt, but Ethen is not who you think he is."
"Cody has been meeting the police as an informer to try and help the police find him and get him back to America."
"You knew about this?"
"Jake, we did not, I swear. What I am telling you, your dad and I found out today."
"So Cody contacts Luke, the police in America tap into their conversation, contact our police and get them to contact Cody. Cody tells them everything and then what?"
"Cody has been relaying messages to the police about when you meet him and what your conversations are in an effort to quietly help then capture Ethen."
"I feel betrayed by everyone you know that?"
"I know how you must feel about Cody, but it's as I said, Cody was trying to protect you and he kept this a secret I imagine so as not to embarrass you."
I sighed. "Mum, please tell me I have not been played for the ultimate fool."
"Jake, I happen to think that Ethen did, and does, genuinely love you but his choices and destiny were already decided the minute he got involved with Colin Jones, or whoever that guy really is. I don't doubt that he has genuine motives towards you NOW! But no matter how you look at it, he lied to you and lies on that scale? Well, I know I could never trust someone like that."
"Do you hate him?"
"I hate the situation Jake, but do I hate Ethen? No, I don't think I ever could. Like said, he chose his path and he tried to steer it towards you, but once he was on that path with Colin nothing was ever going to be normal for him and I think he thought it could be."
Dad had finally come out with Cody nearly an hour after mum and I had. He couldn't bring himself to look at me as we walked back to the car. The journey home was equally silent. Each trying to work out what the other was thinking. I felt numb, like the past few weeks had been a wicked dream. I wondered where Ethen was as I looked out of the window, watching the landscape rush by me.
As I sat there daydreaming and thinking about the past I felt a hand place itself in mine. I looked down before looking up at Cody. He ever so gently smiled at me as if to tell me that he knew how I was feeling. There was none of the told you so speech I had half expected and equally I realised he had in fact been the ultimate friend all along despite how bad I had treated him and how much my decisions had hurt him.
I managed a smile back and squeezed his hand.
Back home I told mum, dad and Cody that I wanted to be alone for a little while. I expected them to talk while I was out of the picture but I didn't mind. Right now whatever they discussed didn't make a difference to me. All I wanted was to get myself together and try to put my shattered life back together. I had mixed feelings as I closed the door to my room and sat on the bed. Part of me thought my life had just ended and my dream of being with the guy I thought I was in love with was over, and the other part was relieved that I hadn't gone through with the trip with him to face an uncertain future, especially knowing what I did now. Cody had expertly helped pull me back from the edge of a building with the space between that building and the concrete below signifying my undoing.
I glanced over to my bed side table and opened the top draw. Inside was the phone that had been Ethen's life line to me. I fished it out and pressed a button bringing the screen to life and saw there was a message waiting to be read. I closed my eyes and swallowed before opening it.
I'm Sorry, was all it read. It was clear to me that those two words meant that everything mum had told me on that bench outside the police station was true but strangely, I felt no malice, no hate or any negative feelings towards Ethen. In fact, as I sat there staring at the screen, looking at the message I was struggling to put my finger on what exactly it was I did feel. I should have felt something seeing as everything had fallen apart, but no, nothing. Then, in a brief moment of clarity, I pulled the back from the phone, removed the battery and took out the SIM card before breaking it in two. Just as I tossed the contents back into the drawer there was a knock at the door and Cody walked in.
He leant on the door frame, looking at me. "You ok?"
"It's funny, I can't tell whether I have been deceived by him or whether he loved me so much he risked everything to be with me."
"Maybe both, at different times… maybe the two cross over at some point, who knows."
"I feel like a huge fire has gone out within me Cody, but I feel like the fire was irrelevant, do you know what I mean?"
Cody sniggered. "Not really."
"No, nor do I."
"He did love you, I believe that."
"Yeah, and I loved him. I loved him for everything he was. But he wasn't real was he?"
"Real?" Cody asked, raising a brow at me.
"No one is that perfect are they, they can't be. No one can be that perfect without some baggage being secretly locked away that always finds its way out."
"I dunno, I happen to think you are, and nothing feels hidden away with you."
"You're sweet you know that?"
"Maybe. So what do ya wanna do now?"
I blew air through my lips, before looking at him and smiling. "I wanna have a nice hot shower, not bother getting dressed, then I wanna snuggle up with you and watch one of your really lame horror movies."
Cody beamed a smile at me. "What one?"
"Something tells me I need to watch that one called Humble Pie."
"Pfft, nothing, why don't you turn the shower on." I said before winking watching as Cody pushed off the wall and did just that.
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