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An Interesting Idea - Chapter 5


Kimberly Canyon

“Why do you have to kill me?” Will asked fearfully.

“I told you I don’t want anyone to know who I am,” his assailant said with an evil smile.

“Why don’t you want anybody to know who you are?”

“Because if they found out who I was, they would want to kill me.”

“Oh, well you could probably tell me,” Will replied slowly. “Since I’ll be dead soon anyway.”

“No, I can’t risk that,” the man said. “You might live; you did the last time I tried to kill you.”

“That’s true,” Will said thoughtfully. “How old are you?”

“What kind of question is that?” the man asked in surprise.

“I don’t know, just curious I guess,” Will said casually.

“Well, if you must know, I'm only twenty,” the man said hesitantly.

“Oh, you’re younger than I thought,” Will said, trying to act surprised. ‘If I can just keep him talking, then maybe I can stall him long enough for Jake to get home,’ Will thought quickly.

“Now then, where I was I?” the man said to himself. “Oh yes, I was going to kill you.”

“No, please, don’t do that!” Will cried, “I don’t want to die!”

“That’s too bad, because I really don’t care,” the man replied smugly.

“If you kill me, Jake will find you,” Will replied coldly.

“Ooh, I’m so scared,” the man said with a laugh.

“He’ll find you and then he’ll kill you,” Will said calmly. “I bet you wouldn’t like that, would you?”

“Well no,” the man said thoughtfully, “But it won’t matter, because after I kill you, I’m going to kill myself.”

“Oh, I see,” Will said, “That seems logical enough, at least for a cold-blooded killer.”

“As far I’m concerned it is,” the man said, “Now stop distracting me, I have a job to do.”

“Okay, fine,” Will said resignedly. “Since I can’t convince you not to kill me, then I might as well face the fact I’m going to die.”

“Exactly,” the man replied matter-of-factly.

* * *

He could barely believe he was about to kill someone.

Someone he knew, someone he once trusted. ‘What am I doing?’ he thought. For a split second he considered not killing Will. But he knew if he just killed himself right here, Will would tell someone. No, it was better this way, he would kill Will and then kill himself, therefore eliminating any need for evidence.

He smiled as he thought about the fact that finally he wouldn’t have to be in any pain. That all the torture he’d endured because of his best friend’s careless mistake, would end right now.

* * *

Jake pulled into the driveway. Something felt wrong, he just couldn’t put his finger on it. He opened the door and walked in the house. Then he saw a horrible sight in front of his eyes. “You, how could you do this to him?!” Jake cried as he finally faced the man he’d come to hate so much.

“You aren’t supposed to be here!” the man cried nervously.

“Well, too bad,” Jake growled. “I am, and I’m going to make sure you never hurt my son again.”

“Fine,” the man said raising his gun. “I’ll just have to shoot you.”

“No!” Will cried, “You can’t do that!”

“I can and I will,” the man said smiling, and with that he pulled the trigger. Jake crumpled onto the floor. Will stood staring n horror at his father’s limp body.

“Now it’s personal,” Will growled as he pulled out the gun he’d been hiding in his pocket.

“Ah, I see you’re prepared to fight,” the man said.

“Yes, and this time I will win,” Will said quietly. “Because no one hurts my dad!”

“Ooh, I’d like to see you try,” the man said pretending to be afraid. “You aren’t capable of killing someone.”

“Watch me,” Will said seriously. The man ran outside, and Will followed him. Will smiled as he thought of the phone call he’d made minutes earlier to the police. He knew that if this guy tried to kill him, he would be found, and he would  pay. One way or another, he would pay.

Will stood only a few feet from the man who had attacked him. The man heard a click as he suddenly realized Will was cocking the gun. “Now it’s payback time,” Will said calmly.

Suddenly the man started to panic. Things weren’t supposed to happen this way. Will was supposed to be dead by now. He was supposed to be dead, free from his pain. ‘No, I won’t let it end like this,’ he thought quickly. ‘I can’t.’

“Please don’t kill me,” he pleaded to Will. “You don’t want to do that.”

“Why not?” Will growled. “Give me one good reason.”

“Will, please, you know who I am,” the man said as he let his voice become normal again. “I’m your friend.”

“Yeah right,” Will said sarcastically. “What kind of friend would hurt my dad?”

“Please Will, don’t do this, Derek will kill you if you hurt me.”

“Derek?” Will asked in surprise. “How the heck do you know Derek?”

“Because I’m his son,” Justin said fearfully. “Please Will, don’t do this.”

“Oh my god,” Will said in shock. “This can’t be possible.”

“It is,” Justin replied, starting to cry. “Please don’t kill me Will, you wouldn’t want to kill a friend would you?”

“No,” Will replied slowly. “But I don’t understand, Justin. Why would you want to kill me?”

“I don’t know,” Justin replied. “But there’s something I need to tell you.”


“You know how I told you my friend died?” Justin said nervously.

“Yeah, what does that have to do with anything?” Will asked suspiciously.

“He killed himself, Joey put a gun to his head and shot himself,” Justin said shakily. “And I couldn’t stop him from doing it.”

“What are you talking about?” Will asked, confused. “You couldn’t have stopped him unless...” his voice trailed off as he realized what Justin was trying to say.

“Unless I was there,” Justin said quietly. “I was there, Will, and I couldn’t stop my best friend from ending his own life.”

“I’m sorry,” Will said sympathetically. “Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“I don’t know,” Justin said hesitantly. “I was afraid you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh, well I haven’t ever had a friend die because they killed themselves,” Will said thoughtfully. “But I know people who have come close to doing that.”


“You, and I’ve thought about it too,” Will said slowly. “But I knew it was stupid to think of doing such a thing. I have too much to live for, and so do you.”

“No I don’t,” Justin said sadly. “No one would miss me.”

“Yes they would,” Will insisted. “What about your parents?”

“Derek hates me,” Justin said. “I tried to kill him, Will. I shot him one night when I was mad at him.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No, I”m not,” Justin said quietly. “I can barely believe it myself.”

“But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t miss you,” Will said reassuringly. “He would feel responsible, and so would I.”

“You, I was going to kill you,” Justin said. “Why would you feel guilty?”

“Because you didn’t say anything. I’m your friend Justin, you can tell me if something’s bothering you, instead of going and pulling something stupid like this.”

“Well even if Jake isn’t dead, it’s too late for me go back to a normal life.”

“What are you talking about?” Will asked worriedly. “Don’t tell me you actually killed somebody Justin.”

“I did, I killed Mr. Johnson’s kid,” Justin said tearfully. “He came after me, and beat me up.”

“I take it you went to jail then.”

“Yes, and I don’t want to go back.”

“Then what the hell did you do this for?!” Will asked his friend angrily.

“I don’t know,” Justin replied. “I just wanted the pain I was feeling to end.”

“Okay, that explains why you want to kill yourself,” Will said. “But that doesn’t explain why you wanted to kill me.”

“I wanted you to know how I felt.”

“So you thought you’d kill me?!” Will cried. “Justin, no offense, but you’re crazy!”

“I know, I should just end everything right now,” Justin said solemnly, then he cocked the gun he was holding. He put the gun to his head. Will watched in horror as his friend started to pull the trigger.

“Justin don’t do this, you’ll regret it, you know I’m right,” Will said quickly.

“No I won’t,” Justin said calmly. “I don’t want to be in pain anymore.”

“There’s other ways of getting rid of pain.”

“Damn it Will, don’t you get it?!” Justin screamed, “I don’t want to live!”

“Why?” Will pleaded, “Why can’t you let me help you?”

“I don’t want your help, I don’t want anybody’s help, I just want to get rid of my pain.”

“There’s a better solution than this Justin,” Will said calmly. “And you know it.”

“I know that, but I don’t care,” Justin replied calmly, “I’ve made up my mind.”

“Justin please don’t do this, you aren’t okay, you’re angry, please, don’t do this to me!” Will cried fearfully.

“I’m sorry Will,” Justin said sympathetically, “But it’s the only way.”

“No, it’s not,” Will said. “I know how you feel, but I know you don’t want to do this, not really, deep down you just want someone to listen to you.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Justin replied, his voice breaking. “You don’t know how I feel Will, you never have, and you never will.”

“Justin please, don’t do this!”

“I’m sorry, I’ll miss you,” Justin said solemnly. “Tell my parents I love them.”

“Justin, no, don’t-“ Will stopped as he watched his friend pull the trigger. Will watched in horror as Justin fell on the ground in front of him. ‘Well Justin,’ Will thought bitterly. ‘Now I know how you feel.’

Suddenly Will heard sirens coming towards the house. They pierced the still night air. They came closer and closer, until the police were pulling up in the driveway.

“Are you all right, sir?” a police officer asked.

“Yes,” Will said quietly. “No.”

“Did the man who attacked you hurt you?”

“No,” Will said quietly. “You wouldn’t understand; my best friend just shot my dad, and then he killed himself.”

“I’m sorry,” the police officer said. “Is your father dead?”

“I’m not sure, I don’t think so,” Will replied quietly.

“What about your friend?”

“I don’t know,” Will replied tearfully. “It’s not fair, he shouldn’t have done this to me, to himself.”

Then Will began sobbing. How could his friend take his own life and kill his dad all in one night? ‘Why didn’t you listen to me Justin?’ Will thought sadly. ‘I could’ve helped you.’

* * *

Meanwhile Justin lay in the hospital. Suddenly he found he wasn’t dead. ‘Wait a minute,’ Justin thought, ‘How come I’m not dead?’ For a moment he panicked, thinking the gun hadn’t worked right. But then he realized he was wrong, and he remembered what happened.

‘I didn’t want the gun to work,’ Justin thought grimly. ‘I moved the gun, at the last minute, I moved it so the bullet wouldn’t hit me.’ He sighed; now he knew he’d have to face everyone. But he knew that despite that now his life wouldn’t be easy, at least Will wouldn’t go and do anything stupid. Justin knew that despite what he’d thought, Will had been able to stop him from ending his life.

‘Why didn’t I just end everything?’ Justin wondered as he remembered that he had shot Jake. ‘Maybe he’s not dead,’ Justin thought hopefully, ‘Which would make things a little easier for me, at least as far as jail time goes.’

The doctor walked in and seemed surprised. “Oh, you’re alive,” he said, trying to hide his surprise.

“Yes, I know. I can barely believe that I’m alive either,” Justin said with a weak laugh.

“Well, I’m glad you aren’t dead Justin,” Dr. James said with a smile. “Especially since I heard you tried to kill yourself.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry if I scared you,” Justin replied quietly. “But in the end I realized I didn’t really want to die.”

“That’s good,” Dr. James replied thoughtfully. “Just so you know, Jake is okay.”

“He is?” Justin asked anxiously “You mean he’s not going to die?”

“No,” Dr. James replied calmly. “Why are you so worried, it’s not like you shot him or anything, right?”

“Well, actually, I did,” Justin said slowly; he knew this wasn’t going to be good.

“Oh, Justin, why did you shoot Jake?” Dr. James asked suspiciously.

“It’s a long story,” Justin replied with a sigh.

“Well, I’ve got time,” Dr. James said quietly. “There are other doctors who can make some of my rounds.”

“You’re sure you want to hear this?” Justin asked nervously.

“Yes,” Dr. James replied, glaring. “I’m positive.”

“Okay,” Justin said, taking a deep breath. “Here goes nothing.”

“I suggest you start at the beginning.”

“It all started when my best friend Joey died,” Justin said slowly. “He killed himself, right in front of me.”

“Is that why you wanted to die?” Dr. James asked curiously.

“Yes,” Justin replied. “But that event started everything, I became really depressed, and got angry with myself.”

“Did you tell anyone what happened?”

“Yes, I called my parents later, and told them he died.” Justin said quietly, “They knew Joey was trying to kill himself, because I’d called them earlier to see if they could help me.”

“Help you with what?” Dr. James asked, somewhat confused.

“Help me convince Joey that his life was worth living,” Justin replied in a whisper. “But it didn’t work.”

“Okay, so what does this have to with Jake?”

“I’m getting to that,” Justin replied coldly.

“Oh, sorry.”

“That’s okay,” Justin replied quickly, “Anyway, I told my parents and some of my friends what happened, but I hid how I really felt about it.”

“That’s why you were so angry, I take it.”

“Yes! Hey, how did you know that?” Justin asked in surprise.

“I know you well enough to know that you tend to react to things with anger,” Dr. James said with a smile. “But keep going with your story.”

“I was angry, and I was sad too,” Justin said quietly, “I wanted to die because I felt so responsible for what happened to Joey.”

“I can see that,” Dr. James said thoughtfully, “Were you just mad at yourself, or were you mad at other people too?”

“A few; I was mad at my parents, because they couldn’t help me with what happened to Joey.”

“What do you mean?”

“They couldn’t convince him to live either,” Justin replied firmly. “And they knew they wanted to help me, but they didn’t know how to.”

“What did you do about it?”

“I got really angry, and pushed my parents away and even my friends,” Justin said sadly. “Including Will.”

“I see. Will told me that you were in jail once already.”

“Yes, because I felt so angry, I wanted people to know how I felt,” Justin said hesitantly. “I decided to lash out at people by hurting them.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well, I found a way to get a gun,” Justin said. “Then one night when my dad was making me mad, I decided to...” Justin’s voice trailed off he knew this would get him in trouble.

“What did you decide?” Dr. James asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I decided to use the gun on my own dad,” Justin said quietly. “I shot my own dad because I was mad at him.”

“Oh. Is he okay?”

“Yes, he’s fine, but I know Derek’s mad at me now.”

“What else happened?”

“I killed someone’s kid.”

“Why the heck did you do that?” Dr. James asked in shock.

“I wanted someone to know how I felt,” Justin said sadly. “I know it was the wrong thing to do, I really regret doing that now.”

“Is that why you ended up in jail?”

“Yes,” Justin said with a sigh. “Now I know how it feels to have someone in a rage beat you into the ground.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Dr. James asked, puzzled.

“The guy’s dad found me, and he beat me up,” Justin replied fiercely. “I didn’t even fight back, I wanted to die! I figured it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway, he was pretty strong.”

“I see,” Dr. James said. “Where does Jake fit into this?”

“Well, I wanted to tell Will what really happened,” Justin said, “But by that time I was in a complete rage. I couldn’t say anything to anybody without screaming or getting really upset.”

“But Will is your friend, so why were you afraid to tell him?”

“I knew he’d tell Jake,” Justin replied slowly. “Then Jake would try to convince me that it wasn’t my fault and try to make me feel better, and well...” Justin’s voice trailed off momentarily as he tried to figure out what to say next.

“Hmm, I see,” Dr. James said, nodding his head. “Now I understand why you didn’t want Jake to be part of the picture.”

“It’s not that I don’t like him,” Justin said hurriedly. “I just didn’t want Jake to be involved; I felt like he wouldn’t understand.”

“Yes, but why did you shoot him?”

“That is another story entirely,” Justin said with a slight smile. “Besides, you just wanted to know how he was involved, right?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“Then does that answer your question?” Justin asked nervously.

“What question?” Dr. James replied with a smile.

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“Yes, I do,” Dr. James said, his smile fading. “Justin, you know you can still go to jail, right?”

“Yes,” Justin said with a sigh, “I know.”

“But it won’t be because you killed someone.”

“It won’t?” Justin asked in surprise.

“No, it will be because you tried to,” Dr. James replied coldly as he left. “By the way, you’ll be fine, but I would suggest talking to your friends and family.”

“I already have.”

“Tell them the truth, Justin,” Dr. James said as he shut the door.

‘He’s right,’ Justin thought grimly. ‘I have to tell my parents what’s been going on,’ Justin thought worriedly.

What am I going to do?Justin said to himself. “Why did I have to go and be so stupid?” he said quietly. “If only I had just talked to someone, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.”

* * *

“What would make him do this?” Jenna asked Derek worriedly.

“I’m not sure,” Derek replied thoughtfully. “Do you have any ideas?”

“No,” Jenna replied quietly. “I’m glad Will called us though.”

“Jenna, does Will know Justin’s alive?”

“Um, no I guess not,” Jenna said hesitantly. “I guess we should tell him.”

“Why didn’t you tell him?” Derek asked angrily. “Will’s worried sick, he thinks Justin is dead!”

“I’m sorry,” Jenna replied. “But I wasn’t the one who picked up the phone, you were.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Derek said. “I guess I’ll tell him; give me the phone.”

“Do you know the number?” Jenna asked questioningly.

“Yes, don’t worry,” Derek said. “I’ll tell him somehow.”

“I’m guessing if you can’t then you want me to, right?”

“Yes,” Derek replied quickly. “He needs to know. You heard him earlier, he thinks it’s his fault, Jenna.”

“I know. No matter what anyone tells him, Will is convinced he could’ve stopped him.”

“Well, at least he’s not Justin,” Derek said. “He’s going to be in hell when he gets out of the hospital.”

“No kidding,” Jenna said with a sigh. “I just don’t understand why he would go after Will and Jake like that.”

“I think I might,” Derek said as he listened to the phone ring.

“What?” Jenna asked anxiously.

“Hold on,” Derek said. “Let me deal with Will first,”

“Oh right,” Jenna said with a smile. “I imagine he’ll be glad to hear Justin’s okay.”

“You bet he will,” Derek replied with a laugh.

“Hello?” Will asked.

“Hi Will, this is Derek.”

“Oh, what do you want?” Will asked suspiciously.

“Um, you’re probably going to be mad at me for not telling you this sooner, but Justin’s not dead.”

“He’s not?!” Will exclaimed in surprise. “But how can that be? I saw him pull the trigger, how can he possibly be alive?”

“Justin told me he moved the gun at the last second,” Derek said. “Don’t worry, I was surprised too.”

“Oh, well I’m glad he’s okay,” Will said. “Did he tell you what happened?”

“You mean about coming after you and Jake?” Derek asked. “Yeah, he did.”

“That’s good, um, he might want to talk you about something else though.”

“What do you mean?” Derek asked suspiciously.

“Look, I don’t want to tell you guys.  Besides, I think Justin would want to tell you guys himself.”

“Will, what are you talking about?” Derek asked worriedly.

“Look, just talk to Justin, okay?” Will replied nervously. “I have to go.”

“Will wait,” Derek said, but it was too late. He heard the phone click, and then silence.

“What is it?” Jenna asked when she saw Derek’s face.

“Will said Justin might want to talk to us about something.”


“I don’t know, he wouldn’t tell me,” Derek replied, puzzled.

“That’s odd,” Jenna said thoughtfully, “It must be important.”

“I wonder what it could be?”

“Hey, you said you thought you knew why Justin might do this. What were you thinking?” Jenna asked suddenly.

“I was thinking about the night Justin called us about Joey,” Derek said quietly. “Do you remember that?”

“Yes, I remember,” Jenna replied. “But what does that have to do with Justin trying to kill himself?”

“Think about it, Jenna. If your best friend just died, you’d be pretty depressed, right?”

“Right, and probably angry too,” Jenna added thoughtfully. “You don’t think Justin blamed himself for Joey’s death, do you?”

“That’s exactly what I’m thinking,” Derek said firmly.

“Hmm, maybe that’s what he wants to talk to us about,” Jenna said thoughtfully.

“Maybe,” Derek replied. “But we’ll never know if we just sit here.”

“You’re right.”

“Come on,” Derek said. “I’m driving, let’s go see what this thing is all about.”

“Okay,” Jenna said quickly. Then they left, driving towards the hospital, wondering what Justin would have to say. They had no idea that their own son had actually killed someone, or that their world was about to be turned upside down.

* * *

Meanwhile Justin was contemplating how he was going to tell his parents what happened. ‘They are going to kill me,’ Justin thought. But he knew his parents would be furious if he didn’t tell them. ‘Why did I have to be so stupid?’ Justin thought. ‘No wonder I wanted to die, my life didn’t look to good as it was, and now it’s going to get even worse.’ What was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to tell his parents he had killed someone? ‘I sure hope things get better soon,’ Justin thought sadly. ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take.’

Suddenly Justin saw the door open and even before they stepped in he knew his parents had come to talk him. ‘Here goes nothing,’ Justin thought grimly.

* * *

“I can’t believe this,” Derek said in a low voice.

“I’m sorry, I know I messed up,” Justin said, trying to apologize for everything he had done.

“How could you kill someone?” Jenna asked, “You barely knew this person, what could you possibly have against him?”

“That’s just it, I didn’t,” Justin replied slowly. “I was just so angry, I-

“You had to kill someone?!” Derek cried. “Why? I don’t understand it, Justin! You didn’t seem that upset.”

“I didn’t want you to know.”

“But you didn’t have go and kill somebody over it!” Derek exclaimed. “Why didn’t you just tell someone?!”

“Derek, calm down,” Jenna said quickly. “You’re not making things any easier.”

“You’re right,” Derek said apologetically. “I’m sorry, but why didn’t you tell us?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Justin said coldly.

“Why not?” Jenna asked gently.

“Have you ever watched your best friend die right in front of you?”

“No,” Jenna said quietly. “That doesn’t mean we can’t help you.”

“What could you have possibly done to help me?” Justin asked, his voice breaking. “I should have been able to stop him, but I couldn’t - it’s my fault Joey died!”

“No it’s not Justin,” Derek said gently. “You did everything you could.”

“Why the heck won’t you guys just admit that it’s my fault all this happened?!” Justin cried angrily. “I seem to be the only one who can accept that everything isn’t someone else’s fault!”

“Justin stop it, that’s not true,” Derek said reassuringly.

“Yes, it is!”

“Your dad’s right, it’s not your fault Joey died,” Jenna said.

“What is the matter with you?!” Justin screamed. “It’s all my fault, I knew Joey was depressed, I knew he had a problem, I should’ve been able to stop him, but instead I just let him die!”

“Justin, listen to me,” Derek said quietly. “It was your friend’s decision to die, and it was his decision to end his own life, despite that you tried to stop him.”

“I know that.”

“Do you?”

“Yes,” Justin replied solemnly. “I just can’t accept the fact that he...” Justin’s voice trailed off as he choked on the words.

“That he wanted to die?” Derek said gently.

“Yeah,” Justin replied. “I don’t understand why he would want to die; he could’ve asked me for help but he didn’t.”

“Just like you could have asked someone to help you,” Derek replied firmly. “But you didn’t.”

“I’m sorry,” Justin replied quietly. “You probably hate me, don’t you?”

“No, I’m just disappointed. You know better than to let your anger out on other people.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t know what to do,” Justin said. “I was in so much pain.”

“Don’t try to justify your actions,” Derek said coldly. Justin was silent. He knew his dad was right.

‘Why couldn’t I have been smart and died instead?’ he thought bitterly.

“I’m sorry for not telling you guys sooner,” Justin said. “I was an idiot.”

“That’s okay,” Jenna replied. “At least you told us.”

“Stop saying you’re sorry,” Derek said fiercely. “Have you even thought about what will happen when you get out of the hospital?”

“Yes, I’ll go to jail,” Justin replied bitterly. “I deserve it. Heck, I don’t even deserve that, I should just have someone shoot me.”

“Justin, don’t say that!” Jenna exclaimed worriedly.

“You’re right,” Derek said slowly. “You do deserve to go to jail, but you don’t deserve to die.”

“Yes I do,” Justin said tearfully.

“No you don’t,” Derek said soothingly as he noticed Justin was crying.

“I know you feel bad, but everything will be okay,” Jenna said reassuringly.

“How can you be so sure?” Justin asked in surprise.

“I just know,” Jenna replied vaguely.

“Don’t worry Justin, we’ll fight for you,” Derek said firmly. “But please, don’t do anything like this again.”

“I won’t, I swear,” Justin replied solemnly.

“Good,” Derek said with relief. “Otherwise I’d have to kill you.”

“You wouldn’t be able to, you love me too much.” Justin said with a laugh.

“You’re right,” Derek said, smiling. “But I’d still be mad.”

“I know,” Justin said thoughtfully. “Thanks for not hating me, for understanding.”

“No problem,” Derek said with a smile. “Besides, what kind of parents would we be if we didn’t let you make a few mistakes once in awhile?”

“Yeah, I guess I see your point.”

“Well we should get going,” Jenna said. “It’s getting late.”

“We’ll see tomorrow, okay?” Derek said as they left.

“Yeah, sure,” Justin replied absent-mindedly

* * *

A few days Justin found himself sitting in a cold dark jail cell. ‘Why am I so surprised to be here?’ Justin thought to himself. ‘I knew this would happen eventually.’

“Hey, what are you in here for?” a gruff voice asked him.

“I killed someone,” Justin replied quietly. “What about you?”

“Same thing, but it was someone I knew,” the man across from Justin replied.

Justin eyed his cell mate warily. He was big, and had lots of tattoos. He looked like he might try to kill Justin any minute.

“Did you know the person you killed?”

“Not real well,” Justin said, “I didn’t do it for revenge or anything; I just wanted him to know how I felt.”

“Hmm, how did you feel?”

“Angry, but mostly I was in pain,” Justin said slowly. “I can’t believe I’m telling you this stuff.”

“Hey, you’ve probably told just about everybody you know, what’s one more person?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Justin replied thoughtfully. “I was in pain because my best friend had just killed himself.”

“Oh, I'm sorry.”

“Yeah, that’s what everyone says,” Justin replied casually. “But I was there when it happened, and even I couldn’t stop him.”

“Gee, that must have sucked.”

“Yeah, it did,” Justin said quietly, “I still find it hard to accept that he really wanted to die.”

“Why do you think that?” the man asked, frowning.

“Because if Joey had wanted to live, he would’ve let me help him, or at least have been sorry to have pulled that damn trigger.”

“Oh, I see.”

“But it doesn’t matter, maybe it would’ve been better if I had died,” Justin said bitterly.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I tried to kill myself.”

“Oh, well you don’t deserve to die,” his cell mate said quickly. “How old are you anyway, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“About seventeen,” Justin replied. “Why?”

“You got a whole lot of life left to live,” his cell mate said. “You wouldn’t want to end it now.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s true,” Justin said thoughtfully. “I didn’t catch your name, what is it?”


“Well, Rick, guess I’ll be spending a few days with you,” Justin said with a smile.

“No kidding,” Rick said with a laugh. “You’ve got a sense of humor; that’s good, it will help you get through the rest of your life.”

“Thanks, I think.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t bite,” Rick said, noticing Justin’s nervous expression.

“So Rick, what about you, what’s your story?” Justin asked curiously.

“Well, the person I killed was my neighbor,” Rick said slowly. “I wanted to get revenge; he had hurt me by trying to take my wife, and accused me of being a bad father.”

“You have kids?”

“Yeah, two,” Rick said with a smile. “They were still pretty young, but I told my wife not to lie to them.”

“Why did you want them to know where you were?”

“I don’t know,” Rick replied thoughtfully. “I guess it’s because I didn’t want them to get older and get mad at their mom for not telling them.”

“I see,” Justin said thoughtfully. “I guess it’s good to be honest.”

“That’s what I figured.”

“Well, I’m getting tired; think I’ll turn in,” Rick said. “See you in the morning.”

“Yeah, sure,” Justin replied quietly.

Rick watched Justin sitting against the wall. ‘Something’s bothering him,’ Rick thought. ‘But maybe I shouldn’t ask, he might not tell me what it is.’

Suddenly Justin started crying.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Rick asked. “You probably won’t be here for long.”

“No, it’s not that,” Justin replied tearfully, “I just feel so stupid.”

“How come?”

“I could’ve just talked to somebody, but instead I took my anger out on someone else, and now I’m in jail again.”

“Hmm, so you’ve been here before?”

“I guess, I kind of lied when I said I killed someone,” Justin said quietly. “I tried to, but he didn’t die.”

“Oh, I see,” Rick said, “That’s good, I guess.”

“Yeah, except he’ll be mad at me when I get out.”

“Well, that’ll pass.”

“I suppose, but Jake is the kind of person who might try to beat me up, especially since I almost killed his son too.”

“That’s bad.”

“That’s what I thought,” Justin said; his voice was shaky. Suddenly his whole body started to shake, then he started to cry again.

“Hey don’t cry,” Rick said worriedly. “We all make mistakes sometimes.”

“I know that,” Justin said fiercely. “But how many people let their best friend kill themselves?”

“Do you realize that he made that decision, not you?” Rick asked gently.

“Yes, I guess so,” Justin said slowly. He wanted to stop crying, but he couldn’t. Justin buried his head in his arms. ‘Why do I have to be such a baby?’ he thought to himself.

“You’ll be okay. I know you don’t think so, but trust me, you will be,” Rick said, putting his hand on Justin’s shoulder.

“Thanks,” Justin mumbled. For a moment he lifted his head and stared at Rick.

“I'm going to go to bed; are you going to be okay?” Rick asked.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Justin replied quietly.

“Okay, see you in the morning,” Rick said.

Justin sat for a minute. He wondered why it was so hard for him to accept his friend’s death. Even though it had happened a few months ago, he still felt like it had happened yesterday. He still didn’t understand why anyone would want to die. It was then Justin began to wonder how he’d managed to survive all this time. He began to wonder what else life had to throw at him. If it was something like this, he wasn’t sure he could take it.

“Why did you have to die, Joey?” Justin asked quietly. “I could’ve helped you, why didn’t you let me help you?” A few minutes later Justin drifted into an uneasy sleep. One that he soon found was filled with terrible nightmares. Justin kept imagining himself dying. In one dream his dad came at him with a knife. Suddenly Justin could see his dad standing over him glaring.

“How could you do this?” Justin asked.

“The question is, how could you do what you did?” his dad said coldly. Then everything went black. Justin woke with a start. Why would he think his dad wanted to kill him? He knew Derek was mad at him, but he wouldn’t want to kill him, would he? ‘No, of course not,’ Justin thought. ‘I guess I’m just being a little paranoid.’

* * *

The next day Derek and Jenna came to visit Justin in jail.

“Are you okay?” Jenna asked worriedly.

“Yes mom I’m fine,” Justin replied quickly. “It’s not so bad.”

“Don’t worry Justin,” Derek said with determination. “We’re going to get you out of here.”

“Thanks,” Justin said, “But then what?”

“Life, it does go on, you know,” Derek said half jokingly.

“Yeah, I guess,” Justin said with a pained expression.

For a moment no one spoke. Then a sudden realization came into Justin’s mind. ‘What if he didn’t get out?’

“What if they convict me?” he asked worriedly.

“That won’t happen,” Derek replied firmly.

“But what if it does?” Justin pressed.

“If it does, you won’t spend the rest of your life in jail,” Jenna said quickly. “But you shouldn’t worry about that, they won’t convict you, they can’t.”

“Your mom’s right,” Derek said thoughtfully. “Even if they do convict you, you won’t spend the rest of your life in prison.”

“I know,” Justin said slowly. “But I’ll miss out on so much.”

“I know,” Derek said wearily. “That’s why we have to fight this.”

“No we don’t,” Justin said with a sigh, “I deserve it, I deserve to die.”

“Stop saying that!” Derek cried angrily. “You can’t give up, I won’t let you.”

“Why not?” Justin asked fiercely, “It doesn’t matter; I’ve already ruined my life, I let everyone down, I might as well die.”

“No, you didn’t let anyone down but yourself,” Derek replied calmly. “Stop focusing so much on the past; you can change things if you get the chance.”

“How?” Justin asked with a weak laugh, “I can’t tell Joey I’m sorry, he’s dead.”

“No,” Jenna said coldly. “But you can tell Jake you’re sorry, and tell Will that his best friend won’t try to end his own life again.”

“Oh, yeah, that,” Justin said. He’d almost forgotten about that awful night. “I guess you’re right.”

“Justin, you have people here who care about you,” Jenna said anxiously. “Isn’t that worth something?”

“Yes, it is,” Justin said with a smile. “I just didn’t realize that until now.”

“There’s the guy I remember,” Derek said with a smile. “Feel better now?”

“Yeah, I’ll do whatever it takes to get my life back,” Justin said with grim determination. “No matter what.”

“That’s the spirit,” Derek said with a laugh. “Well, we ought to get back to work.”

“We’ll see you later okay?” Jenna said.

“Yeah, sure,” Justin said quietly, “See you later.”

* * *

As Derek and Jenna drove back to the barn they were silent. For a long minute no one spoke, Derek just focused on driving, and Jenna stared quietly out the window.

“Derek, how are we going to get Justin out of jail?” Jenna asked suddenly.

“What do you mean? We’ll just have to get a lawyer,” Derek said quickly. “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this.”

“I know that, but what if Justin gets convicted for something?” Jenna asked worriedly. “He didn’t mean to shoot Jake, he wasn’t thinking straight - what if they convict him for a murder charge or something?”

“Jenna, you’re letting your mind get the best of you,” Derek replied coldly.

“Sorry, I guess I’m just worried he’ll have to spend some of the best years of his life in jail,” Jenna said quietly.

“I know, me too,” Derek replied wearily. “But don’t think about that, think about getting Justin out of jail.”

“Okay,” Jenna said hesitantly. “I think I can do that.”

“Good,” Derek replied with relief. “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together, I promise.” He looked at Jenna quickly.

“I know, that’s what you always say,” Jenna replied quickly. “And you haven’t been wrong yet.”

“Thanks, I think,” Derek said scratching his head. “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Yes,” Jenna replied with a smile. Then she turned away from Derek and stared out the window again. Derek smiled and shook his head, then turned his attention back to the long winding road leading back towards the barn.

* * *

Meanwhile Will was back at the barn, wondering why his friend had fooled him like that. ‘He must’ve moved the gun or something,’ he thought. ‘How else could he possibly be alive?’ Will thought with relief. But then he got angry. How could Justin have tried to kill Jake? And what the heck had he been thinking trying to terrorize them by trying to kill his dad and him?

‘Wait a minute, I know, it was Joey,’ Will thought suddenly. He remembered now, Justin had come to the barn looking rather down. When Will asked him what was wrong he had said Joey had killed himself the previous night. Will remembered saying he was sorry, and asked if there was anything he could do. “No, there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing anyone can do now,” Justin had said sadly. “I couldn’t even stop Joey from killing himself, and I was his best friend.”

Now Will knew why Justin had been so angry that night. He had kept all his emotions bottled inside.  Including his anger. And when he finally let his emotions show, he had become extremely violent, and wouldn’t let anyone help him. ‘Not even me,’ Will thought grimly. ‘But at least he’s not dead.’

“Hey Will, quit daydreaming and get back to work,” Mark, the barn owner and his boss, said as he poked his head out of the tack room.

“Sorry, just thinking about Justin, that’s all,” Will replied, hurriedly going back to sweeping the floor.

“Oh, is he okay?” Mark asked anxiously.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Will replied quickly. “He just has to get this whole mess cleaned up, you know bugging me and Jake.”

“I see. I would call it more then bugging you guys, though,” Mark replied sternly.

“Yeah, I guess the proper term would be stalking, but at least he’s not dead,” Will replied thoughtfully.

“Yes, that’s good,” Mark said slowly. “Well, I’d better get back to filling out this darn paperwork.”

“Paperwork, sounds fun,” Will replied sarcastically.

“Yeah, it’s great,” Mark said with a smile as he closed the door. Will shook his head and went back to work. Suddenly a car pulled up. Derek and Jenna pulled up and got of the car. Will knew they had gone to see Justin. ‘If only he had been smart,’ Will thought wearily. ‘Then Justin wouldn’t be in this stupid mess.’

‘How could I have been so damn stupid?’ Justin thought angrily thought to himself. If only he had been smart and had just talked to someone, instead of lashing out at everybody. But it was too late for regrets. It was too late to change the past now. Justin knew if he got of jail he had to fix things as they were, and forget what happened in the past. But the question was, what if Will and Jake didn’t want to forget the past? ‘What if Jake comes after me?’ Justin thought worriedly. ‘Well, I guess I’d have to be out of jail first, so I’m safe for now.’ But Justin knew if he ever got out of jail he would have to be very careful what he said to Jake.

‘All I have to do is apologize,’ Justin thought grimly. ‘But what if Jake thinks that isn’t enough?’ Justin knew what Jake’s temper was like. And he also knew one wrong word could send Jake into a rage.

* * *

Meanwhile Jake and Will were discussing how they were going to get Justin out of jail. “Why are you so worried about getting Justin out of jail?” Jake asked curiously. “I know he’s your friend, but shouldn’t we leave this up to Justin’s parents?”

“Well, yes,” Will said slowly. “But I don’t want Justin to think I’m not his friend or something.”

“Why would he think that?” Jake asked with a laugh.

“Because I didn’t support him,” Will said worriedly.

“Will, you practically saved his life, isn’t that enough?” Jake asked, eyeing his son with suspicion.

“No,” Will replied coldly. “At least I don’t think so.”

“Why not?” Jake asked anxiously. “I know you want to be supportive, but there’s other ways of doing that, you know.”

“There is?” Will asked in surprise.

“Yes, I thought you knew that,” Jake said deliberately.

“I guess I did,” Will replied thoughtfully. “I just forgot, that’s all.”

“Oh, well don’t worry,” Jake said reassuringly. “I’m sure Justin won’t get convicted.”

“What makes you so sure?” Will asked suspiciously.

“I just know. Justin’s a good person, Will, Jake said, his dark eyes flashing. “Like me.”

“What do you mean?” Will asked curiously. “How is Justin like you?”

“I mean, he’s generally a good person,” Jake said slowly. “But he makes mistakes, he messes up every once in awhile.”

“Oh, I see,” Will replied quietly, frowning. “But that’s okay, isn’t it?”

“Sure, as long the consequences aren’t serious,” Jake replied mysteriously.

“What do you mean by serious?” Will asked curiously.

“I mean as long it doesn’t put their life in danger or anything like that,” Jake replied quickly.

“What are you trying to say?” Will asked, eyeing his dad questioningly. “Are you saying what Justin did was wrong?”

“Of course it was wrong,” Jake replied defensively. “But he realized he made a mistake.”

“Justin didn’t know what he was doing, he was too blinded by anger,” Will replied firmly.

“Oh really?” Jake said sarcastically. “Then how do you explain how he picked you and me out of a million people he knew?”

“I don’t know why he chose us specifically,” Will replied icily. “He was angry, his best friend had just committed suicide for crying out loud!”

“I know that, but that was a few days before everything started to get bad,” Jake replied calmly. “He could’ve talked to someone, like his parents, or you.”

“You think I don’t know that?!” Will exclaimed suddenly. “You don’t think Justin regrets doing this do you?!”

“Whoa, Will, calm down,” Jake replied nervously, “I didn’t say that.”

“I know, I just jump to conclusions too quickly,” Will said quietly. “I”m sorry, it’s just...”

“Just what?” Jake muttered

“I was thinking you might think that Justin didn’t regret anything,” Will replied hesitantly. “I know I shouldn’t judge you like that.”

“No, you were right to be suspicious,” Jake said wearily. “I was thinking that, I didn’t want to say it though, because I know that’s not what you think.”

“No, it’s not,” Will replied fiercely. “What do you think happened?”

“I think... I don’t know what to think exactly,” Jake replied quietly. “What about you?”

“I think Justin just messed up, big time obviously, but...” Will’s voice trailed off momentarily as he struggled to find the right words.

“To tell you the truth,” Jake said slowly, “I do have an opinion about what happened.”

“Oh, what is it?” Will asked curiously.

“I think Justin made a big mistake by not talking to anyone about what happened to Joey.”

“What do you mean?” Will asked. Suddenly he was confused. “He told people what happened to Joey.”

“I know, but I mean about how he was feeling,” Jake said defensively. “You know what I mean?”

“Yeah, actually he did talk to me,” Will said quietly, “But he didn’t seem too rattled, at least at first.”

“What do you mean, at first?” Jake asked suspiciously, “Is there something I need to know?” Jake asked Will, his voice rising.

“Um, I’m not sure,” Will said, suddenly remembering what he had promised Justin, “It happened a long time ago.”

“How long ago?” Jake asked quickly.

“About a week after Joey died,” Will replied nervously.

“What did Justin tell you, Will?” Jake asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I, he told me that, I...” Will stumbled. He didn’t want to break Justin’s promise, but what was he supposed to do? Jake was asking him directly what Justin had said. ‘What will Jake say if I tell him I could’ve prevented this somehow?’ Will thought worriedly.

Chapter Six

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