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Jan 06, 2021

Thriller

As John sat reading the morning paper he suddenly started shaking. The story was about local detectives going back into a fifty year old cold case, which involved a robbery of over a million dollars. The case was in the 1970’s and was never solved, although they had several suspects, they all had water-tight alibis, and nothing could be proven. John had no idea why the story had sent shivers up and down his spine, or why he felt de-ja-vu while reading about the circumstances. Now he began to worry, because he couldn’t remember anything about his long lost past. His life began on his 12th birthday. Anything before that was just a blur, but for some reason this story had reminded him about something. “Don’t be stupid!’ he told himself. “You could never have been involved in anything like that!” John’s Mother and Father had passed away several years ago, so he couldn’t ask them about the story. John decided to visit his brother in Adelaide, maybe he could shed some light on why this case interested him so much. John had never married, always preferring his own company and the quietness of nobody to disturb him. His brother had been married for thirty years and had grown-up children. Packing his travel bags he threw them into the back of his Honda and took off. He had arranged for a neighbour to look after his canary and also to keep an eye on the house and collect any mail. It was a long drive, maybe 5 or 6 hours straight but he would stop somewhere for lunch and a short break. Sitting in the café at the service station, he was enjoying a light Caesar salad and watching the news on the small television, high above the counter. A Melbourne detective came on and started talking about the million dollar cold case. “We have found quite a few new leads which we are working on, and we also have a new witness who has come forward, so things are going well, and we should be able to wrap this case up within the next few months.” John suddenly felt sick. The perspiration was running down his forehead and landing on his plate and he was shaking uncontrollably. The waitress noticed he was looking unwell and came over. “Are you feeling okay sir? You look a little pale.” “Yes I’m fine thank-you. Just a little bit of reflux. I have some tablets in the car. The salad was delicious, thanks.” John paid for his lunch, put twenty-dollars worth of petrol in his car and went on his way again. Several kilometres up the road he pulled into a Travellers Rest, behind a caravan. John got out of the car, locked it, and started walking. “What the hell is wrong with me! Why do I get upset every time I hear something about this cold case? I know it has nothing to do with me, even though I can’t remember back then. I know in my own mind I would never have been involved in something like that! So why does it upset me so much?” John looked around him, making sure no one was listening to him talking to himself. John got back in his car and started off again, determined to get to his Brother to sort this mystery out. Not being able to remember his past had never bothered him before, he was quite happy not knowing about his life before his 12th Birthday. He had decided that there was a very good reason why he couldn’t remember, and that was good enough for him not to want to. Three hours later John pulled into his Brother’s driveway. David and Mary came out to greet him. “John, great to see you, it’s been a long time!” David and Mary gave him a hug and ushered him inside. John sat down at the kitchen table. “Would you like a cuppa John? You must be thirsty after that long drive!” Mary said. “Yes, thank you, that would be great!” “I hope you are staying for a few days, we have a room ready for you and the girls are coming around to say hello tomorrow!” “I haven’t seen them for eighteen months, they will be all grown up by now, and I won’t recognise them!” John laughed. “Oh, they haven’t changed all that much, Janie is going to Uni studying for a law degree and Jennie has just got engaged to a very nice young fellow.” Mary smiled. “Well I have come up here for a special reason Mary, and I need to have a long talk to you and David. It would be great to be able to spend a few days and relax on your farm, thank-you!” “Ooh, that sounds mysterious John! After the girls have visited tomorrow you can have us all to yourself!” Mary said. David had been eavesdropping from the other room and knew exactly why John had come. He had made up a prepared story for John many years ago, but now worried if the story would work face to face. The next day went in a whirl of visits from the girls. Hugs and kisses, and stories about what has been happening over the last eighteen months, and then they were gone again and the house was quiet and peaceful. The next day Mary awoke early, put the kettle on and sat outside in the morning sun to read. John was out of bed next, made his cuppa and joined Mary sitting on the verandah in the sun. David awoke and immediately started to worry. “Why don’t I just tell him the truth? He’s an adult, surely he can bear to hear the truth, no matter how bad it seems.?” He thought. David threw on his dressing gown, made a cuppa and joined the others on the verandah. “Well here we are.” John said. “I need to ask you both a few questions about my past. As you both know I can’t remember before my 12th birthday. So I was hoping you could fill in a few spaces for me. If you can’t, well that’s okay too, I’ll just have to look elsewhere for some information.” “No you won’t have to do that.” David said. “We can tell you anything you want to know. If you are wondering why we haven’t told you before, we always thought you were better off not knowing, as you were under a therapist for quite a few years.” “Okay, first off, why does the new cold case on the news give me de-ja-vu whenever I hear about it? Why do I feel sick whenever they mention witnesses? Does this have anything to do with me, before my 12th birthday?” John asked. “Okay, one question at a time!” David said. “The new cold case is actually in your memories because - - our family were involved!” “What! How the hell could our family be involved in a million dollar robbery?” John asked, jumping up from his seat. “If you sit down and relax, I will explain.” David answered. “The reason you feel ill when they mention witnesses, is because you were the main witness. You were only ten years old, but your memory still has the sights and sounds of that time stored away. The person who robbed that bank was our Father.” John was in the middle of stirring his tea. He dropped the spoon with a clatter, knocking the cup onto the verandah and splashing tea all over his t-shirt. He stared at David with an open mouth, not knowing what to say, or how to say it. “How do you think we were able to buy a beautiful farm and you own a lovely modern flat in Melbourne? Where do you think the money came from? Dad was a law clerk on a good wage and Mum was a telephonist, but they were both big gamblers, so they never had any money left over. They wanted us to have the best education at the most elite Schools and Uni’s and they wanted us to have our own homes and not have to worry about paying rent! You can’t do that with the little money they had left over each week.!” David jumped up and walked to the end of the verandah. John was still struggling to find something to say, but he needed a bit more information. “Okay, now tell me what my role was in all of this, and also what the hell do we do if the Police come knocking on our door?” John said. David looked at his Brother, He wasn’t sure if this would be too much for him and put him back in therapy again. “You were the lookout. You sat in the car and waited for Dad, ready to sound the horn if there was any sign of trouble. I was only five, so he didn’t want me involved. Dad never hurt anyone, never shot anyone, he used tear gas as he left the building to keep anyone from following.” John sat listening to this weird story with his mouth open and his eyes as big as saucers. “What do we do if the Police come knocking? I guess all we can say is we know nothing about it. We have water-tight alibi’s, we were only kids and we were sound asleep at home. What would we know about a robbery? Our parents are gone, and they have left no records, no evidence. As far as they are concerned we are both highly regarded citizens, with high paying jobs and our own homes. There is nothing they can do about it now.” John was very quiet. He had a strange look on his face. “It’s all coming back to you, isn’t it? I am so sorry John, I would have liked it to have stayed a mystery for you. Then you wouldn’t have to ever worry about it.” David said. John looked at David and he had tears running down his face. “No David, I had to find out. There was a chunk of my life missing. Now I can remember it all clear as day. Sitting in that old jalopy ready to sound the horn, I was so scared I was shaking and perspiration was pouring down my cheeks. I was so on edge if someone had touched me I would have gone through the roof! It’s no wonder my mind erased it all, I was only a small boy and it was too much to cope with.” “Well it’s all over now john. Just remember if anyone, and I mean anyone, asks about that night, you and I were children, tucked up sound asleep in our beds. We have no idea what went on that night, and it was never mentioned by our parents.” “As far as the authorities are concerned I can’t remember before my 12th birthday anyway. My therapist will attest to that.” “Good, keep that story. You can’t remember, but you are sure you would have been asleep in bed at that time of the night, as we had strict parents.” David replied. John, David and Mary spent the rest of the day reminiscing. John stayed a few more days, exploring the organic farm and all it’s workings, then headed back to his flat in Melbourne. John’s life continued on as usual. He never heard from the Police. Apparently the leads they had went cold and the witness was just a kook looking for notoriety. He made sure to keep in touch with his Brother and their family and it wasn’t many years before his niece was married, with a family as well. John could still remember all that had happened that night, as vividly as if it were yesterday, but to everyone else, he couldn’t remember before his 12th birthday, and that was how it would stay.

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