Chapter 20:

Aftermath

Max Caliber


“It’s in the past. At least most of them surrender after you went berserk. Also, we sustained minimal losses. I guess we’ll take tonight as a win,” said Yusuke after he consoled me. He was still shocked but seemed to look at the bigger picture always.Bookmark here

“Yeah, besides. After tonight it’s all over at least,” I said with a sigh and got back up to my feet. It felt uplifting knowing this was the last time that I had to completely lose myself like that.Bookmark here

“Sir we found no one matching that description but we did find the items you were looking for,” announced another officer as he handed a blood-stained coat to Yusuke.Bookmark here

“Dismissed and well done,” said Yusuke as he felt inside my coat with a hint of disgust smeared over his face.Bookmark here

“You got my coat for me?” I asked, far more surprised than what it was meant to come out as.Bookmark here

“Yes, to find this for you,” he said and pulled out it. Strange. It looked larger than it was before, maybe because someone else was holding it.Bookmark here

“Who were you looking for?” I asked, curious about the first part that the young police officer spoke about.Bookmark here

“Your friend Yohan. I was afraid you killed him in your rage,” he said as he handed me the gun back. My eyes darted to the ground, and I wanted to smack myself. How could I forget about Yohan? Thankfully it seemed he wasn’t here tonight. I wanted to wonder why, but to be entirely honest. I was far too embarrassed about the whole situation.Bookmark here

“For the better he was absent. I might just have killed him tonight,” I said. It was a vain attempt, but an attempt nonetheless at changing the subject.Bookmark here

“Yes certainly. Listen bring the two you’re looking to get pardoned tomorrow otherwise I can’t guarantee it,” he said and three the bloodied coat one side. “But enough of that. Come on, follow me.”Bookmark here

“To where?” I asked puzzled but still did as he said. We walked back towards his car. Past all the gang members getting their rights read to them. Past those who were loaded into transports. Past the spent casing on the floor.Bookmark here

“To get your payment of course for a job well done,” he said as if it was obvious. But I didn’t really pay him much attention. I was holding the piece of accursed steal in my hand and inspected the empty magazine slot. It was finally over. No more rounds to fire. No more enemies to fight.Bookmark here

“Ah, yes payment,” was all I could say in acknowledgement. I needed to get a hold of myself quick. I was acting like a lost kid. Was this because I completely lost it? Never mind that. Snap out of it.Bookmark here

“Here you go. The money, the pardon and something on top,” he said as he handed me a parchment stuffed to the brim.Bookmark here

“Something extra?” I asked as I pulled the envelope out that was filled with bills.Bookmark here

“Yeah. I asked my little watcher to give me his detailed report of everything. That way you got a little piece of mind that your little lady at home was well protected just as I promised,” he said and gave a soft grin. Strange that he could smile so easily after what had just happened. Perhaps it came with the territory?Bookmark here

“Did you read it?” I asked as I fished out the pardon.Bookmark here

“No, felt that whatever was written in there would be best seen only by those of the house. Invasion of privacy and all that,” he dismissed my skepticism.Bookmark here

“Ha, wish Yohan could learn a thing or two from you. In anyway. Mind dropping me off at home?” I asked as if everything that happened was just another day at the office was just.Bookmark here

“Sure thing. It’s the least I could do,” he said and nudged his head towards the car.Bookmark here

The trip back was strangely comfortable. We joked about and talked more natural than we ever had before. Perhaps it was the post assignment bliss, or maybe something else. But this feeling was one I could get used to.Bookmark here

But eventually, I made it back home and it was comforting to see all the lights were off. Well, all except for the bedroom light. Judy most likely was sitting and waiting for me. What a gem.Bookmark here

“Anyways Yusuke. Thank you for everything, but I’ve got to sneak into the shower without my wife realizing where I was,” I said with a chuckle and climbed out of the car.Bookmark here

“I agree. You smell like an abattoir. But please, consider my offer,” he added right before I closed the door. Making me pause for a second.Bookmark here

“Will do Yusuke, take care,” I greet and closed the door. I heard him roll the window down as he was reversing back out into the road.Bookmark here

“You too Reinhard,” he greeted. Then just like that. My life was quiet again. No pieces that needed moving. Now all I needed to do was collect my just rewards and then my peaceful life can finally start.Bookmark here

I crept into my house, making sure to make as little noise as possible. I was halfway up the stairs when I realized I was walking with an absolute monster of a firearm in my hand. In a panic, I made my way back down and into the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Just need to hide this somewhere I know she won’t look until I can throw it out tomorrow,” I whispered to myself as I looked around. I opened the fridge and pulled out an apple. I decided upon the cabinet I used to put all of my tools in.Bookmark here

With the gun hidden, I enjoyed the apple in complete silence and stared at my reflection in the big kitchen window. No, no. This boredom won’t do. There needs to be something to keep me busy with. As I looked around, I realized I held the report in my hand.Bookmark here

“Ah, just what the doctored ordered,” I said and shifted the report out. It was surprisingly only a few pages with a few images kept together with a paper clip. The person that wrote the report had quite the neat handwriting.Bookmark here

Report one summary: At first it seemed to be a completely normal situation. Housewife keeping herself busy by either maintaining the house. Or she would simply learn some other skills, like knitting. But I quickly realized that the visiting man was in fact a friend of the homeowner. He would regularly drop by and disappear in the house for a few hours. Before either disappearing before the husband returned or acting as if he was looking for him. Further investigation is needed.Bookmark here

Report two, summary: It is as I expected. The man, called Yohan, is indeed having an affair with his wife. It seems he brings a friend, George, along with to either stand lookout or take photos. The wife might be blackmailed into doing this. Further investigation is needed.Bookmark here

Report three, summary: The wife it seems from my investigation is the one who initiated this relationship. Apparently, a few days after Yohan returned, she received the news that her husband was going to be delayed for an undisclosed time. From the loneliness she felt, she turned to Yohan and began the relationship.Bookmark here

Report final summary: This is my final time watching the house. There was a massive commotion in the house. Further inspection revealed that the wife had fallen pregnant with her lover’s child. After they debated coming clean and killing the child. They settled on letting the husband believe the kid is his. Bookmark here

Notes: Sir, I don’t know why you assigned me to investigate this house, but it wasn’t a pleasant assignment. In future, I would like to be given an assignment more directly linked with serious crimes. Bookmark here

My hands were shaking. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. “Could this be a lie? No, why would a police officer lie on an official report? How could I have missed this? It was right in front of my eyes. She wasn’t happy anymore, she just pretended to be, for my sake. Oh, God. How did this happen?” I muttered to myself as my legs collapsed underneath me. I sat there and went through the pictures that came with it. I wish it was possible to burn images from memory. In fact, I prayed for it as I couldn’t stop going through the pictures. It was the hard proof I couldn’t ignore.Bookmark here

“No, this wasn’t my fault,” I felt falling from my mouth. My body was numb, yet it got up by itself. Like a kindling taking flame, I felt something burning in my chest. It continued to grow and consume me. The painful plucking of my heartstrings was replaced. Replaced by rage. Hatred. Malice.Bookmark here

“I did all this for us and our friends. This is who I tried to save? This is who was my resolve?” I continued to question everything. But with every question, my wrath grew. I wanted to act. I needed to act. I will act.Bookmark here

“You’ll both pay dearly,” I whispered clutching the image of those two wrapped together so tight as I could. I stumbled to the nearest drawer and slowly opened it up. Underneath the glistening of the kitchen light, it sat. The stainless steel tempting me. The other me urging my hand forwards. I gripped the handle of the knife tight.Bookmark here

I trudged forwards, with no tears in my eyes. Only raw emotions, swirling in circles. Feeding each other and fanning the flames I felt inside of me. I gave everything to this woman and yet this is how she repaid me. My friend whom I risked my life for countless times. The one I killed George for. The one I had to stain my soul. Bookmark here

As I made my way up the stairs, I feared I clenched the knife so tightly that it would be crushed. Then there before our and Yohan’s bedroom door. I remembered that night I came home. Lost, but this time was different. Her spell over me had been broken. Bookmark here

I had never seen someone quite be jolt like Judy did when I broke the door open. She shrieked and her panicked looked softened for a split second. Then she saw the blood smears, the knife, and my eyes. The murderous intent flooding forth.Bookmark here

“Honey, what’s going on,” she said as she stumbled back into the corner of the room from the fear.Bookmark here

“Say my name,” I ordered as I inched closer. Bookmark here

“Angel you’re scaring me,” she said on the verge of tears.Bookmark here

“Say my name. Not angel or honey. My name,” I shouted as spit sprayed from my mouth.Bookmark here

“Ludlow Reinhard stop this now,” she barked back. Probably thinking if she stood up to me know I would back down.Bookmark here

“That’s better. Now Judy. Tell me what this is?” I asked as I dropped the crumpled-up photos in front of her. The moment of bravery she showed was replaced by a childish fear. With hands quacking, she took the picture.Bookmark here

“Reinhard, this isn’t what it looks like I swear. He forced himself on me,” she pleaded. I don’t know what made me angrier. The fact that she was still trying to lie to me or the fact that she thought she could fix this with a lie.Bookmark here

“Stop lying to me, Judy. I know everything. Like the kid inside you right now isn’t mine,” I barked. She was so consumed by fear, she was brought to tears. She was trembling. I’m certain she thought this was the moment she would die.Bookmark here

“I’m so sorry Ludlow. Please don’t kill me,” she pleaded in the most pathetic voice I had ever heard from her. Snot and tears were streaming down from her face. It was this sight that brought tears to my eyes.Bookmark here

“Three minutes. Pack what you can and leave. Don’t call anyone, don’t tell anyone. Because if I so much as hear your name mentioned again. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself,” I said and softened the grip on the knife. I no longer towered over her. With that said I stepped back.Bookmark here

“You’re not going to kill me?” she asked, completely stunned and honest. Her face was a mess. I had never seen her this ugly before. But still, this was the most honest she had been before since I came back. And that broke my heart far more than anything else.Bookmark here

“I can’t kill the woman I love. Or at least not now,” I mumbled and left the room. I remained downstairs and waited for her. It was a little bit over three minutes but at this point, I didn’t even care. I just wanted it to be over with. Bookmark here

She came down, semi-dressed for going out. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs when she saw me sitting against the door. Emotionlessly watching her.Bookmark here

“Ludlow,” she began before my tempered flared again. I raised myself from the door and she fell silent. I opened it. Pointing my knife right at her.Bookmark here

“Don’t you dare let that child turn out as heartless as you are, now leave,” I said and stepped away from the door. She didn’t say a word but her shaking knees was enough for me. With tears streaming down her face, she dashed out the door. Down the street, her wailing continued. Me on the other hand. I walked over to the house phone. I picked it up and dialed a number.Bookmark here

The number rang for a good while. Then finally as I expected, it was picked up. Typical.Bookmark here

“Yohan, come over. We need to talk.”
Taylor Victoria
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