I was so amazed, staring at the message, that I nearly missed my metro, thus I had to run to get on time to attend one of the most important lectures of the semester for me. It was the end of a long and very important job that we had accomplished with Professor Almond ; when I said “we”, I meant a little team of six students including me that participated to solve a cold case as an application exercise suggested by the Professor. And, Professor Almond was a well-known forensic scientist for his exceptional analytical mind. So far, he had helped to solve about two hundred investigations ! That was quite impressive for us at the beginning but he hadn’t let it go to his head with us therefore we were not shy and speechless for a long time.
As a result, after all these months of hard-work I couldn’t miss it, even after a party like yesterday !
During the lecture, I tried to be as attentive as I could although it was quite difficult : I was trying to help myself thinking about why Logan was coming back, maybe something had happened… It was both disturbing and great !
As we finished with the meeting, I was responsible for the project : all the job done was under my own responsibility ! When I got home it was only 3.30 pm, therefore I decided to keep working on it since the day after would be The Day : we were going to tell the police everything we had found, consequently the culprit that we were suspecting would certainly be arrested.
4.00 pm, when I watched the clock ; bored with reading and re-reading the reports, I stopped working. As I was going to the station, I started imagining every possible scenario of reunion : the perfect one was Logan arriving, shaking each other’s hands and joking like when we were in high school, then we would talk for hours about what we had been doing during these five long years ! Telling each other what we had become, what we regretted, and what incredible things had happened to us, and so on…! Telling us roughly, our lives and experiences that we had lived through separated as if we were going to stay together for a while now…
Suddenly, I heard the ringing of the station. It was announcing the arrival of the 5 o’clock train, I began to get anxious and as anyone would do in my shoes I tried to imagine what he had become.
Logan had always been like a brother to me. Many of our common friends thought that we were brothers because of our short brown hair and because of our characters which were alike. We both dreamt to work for the police or to become some kind of private detectives, it was so exciting for us : after high school I had decided to study medicine to become a forensic scientist in order to somehow reach for my dream. That was the way we had been separated : he had left, no one ever knew where and what for… I was probably on the way to discover that ; he had completely vanished and today, as if nothing had happened, he was coming back.
I felt a hand patting on my shoulder, quickly I looked back : he was there ! I hardly had the time to realize that he started speaking :
“Five years and you’re not able to recognize me anymore, I’m very disappointed you know !” he joked.
“You look so old : that was quite impossible !” I replied laughing, then I asked him “How are you ? Not too tired by the journey, I hope !”
“Fine, Fine, thanks ! I had a long trip but it was very nice, you were not that easy to find you might know that, don’t you..?”
“I didn’t disappear without leaving any information, five years ago… in this connection, where were you all this time, what have you done ?” I questioned jumping at the chance to know.
“I was gone, first, I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve been to the United States and to South Africa. Then I had decided to settle in the most pleasant place I had ever visited : Australia, there I quickly met many new friends, people were so welcoming there ! I became a rancher, it was really unexpected, I know but when you go there you get changed, it was so fantastic !” he thoughtfully assured.
“Really good !” I answered completely astonished. I didn’t dare mentioning our dream anymore, it was obviously a part of his past life now, that seemed clear : a page of his life had been turned over. And yet, once again he stunned me when he asked such an unexpected and peculiar question :
“Well… what about you, did you manage to get your diploma, you wanted to become a forensic scientist, didn’t you ? You may have changed your mind, it could be such a dangerous job you know…” he questioned.
“Of course ! I’ve been studying medicine for the five past years, but I don’t get your point, how can this job be dangerous compared to the investigators’ and the special agents’ jobs !? You have really changed, do you remember what was our common dream ?!!” I insisted quite angry about what he had just said.
“Indeed, I remember and I hoped that you would have chosen another job, a quieter one…” he answered standing for his new opinion ! How could he have changed so much ? Incredible ! I thought. Our lives had turned opposed, he had seemed so determined to become a detective that it was impossible to hear him assuring that he was concerned about the danger of his job. Though, everyone changes, that is a fact !
While we were walking back home, telling about our lives and our records in Paris when we were younger, I noticed some odd things : first he didn’t have a lot of suitcases, actually, he just had a sports bag : that was quite something ! He certainly didn’t want to be overloaded for a rapid trip like this, I believed to reassure myself. Then, he had talked about my studies, he knew what I was becoming although when he left, I hadn’t decided yet if I would rather study medicine or if I would learn how to become a detective. How could he know that, no one that we both knew may have told him as he had disappeared. It was just puzzling!
We admitted he would stay at home. Four months before my flatmate had moved to Lyon and a room in the flat was empty. I suggested him to take it as long as he would need to.
It was getting late and I guessed he was too tired to have a party thus we decided to order some pizzas and to watch the match on TV. The same pizzas as five years before : mozzarella for me and pepperoni for him, supporting the same rugby teams, it was as if we were living a flash-back ! We both enjoyed this moment.
Before going to bed, I told him, I would have to get up rather early in the morning because of the project that I was supposed to bring back but, I would let him sleep and if he was alright, I would introduce him all my friends during the afternoon, then we would have a big party to celebrate his arrival.
Once in bed, I started wondering about him again, that was definitively too weird : an old friend coming from down under and knowing exactly what I had become after five years without any contact. It was another case to solve, I thought, but I quickly fell asleep : I was so exhausted !
I woke up with a jump ! 4.35 am on the alarm clock, what was this strange noise, was it someone knocking at the door ?...
No, it was a familiar sound, someone was typing on a keyboard. He didn’t have a computer when he arrived, and… where was mine ? I was beginning to panic : all the files about the project that I was supposed to keep secret were on my lap top and I wasn’t able to find it ! I followed the noise which led me to the room where Logan was sleeping, or more exactly typing, he was on my computer, what for !? Was he reading the reports, or was he just writing an email ?…
I would never know that ; when I entered the room, he had already closed all the windows and he was playing solitaire ! When I asked him why he was playing so late in the night, he replied that it was a habit : when he was insomniac he often played some games on the computer. He apologized for taking my computer without informing me but he didn’t want me to be woken up, I looked so tired to him. I went back to bed and fell immediately asleep, but it was nearly time for me to get up. Thus, not a very long time after, I quickly got out of my bed : it was yet time to wake up !
What a hard night, I was absent-minded this morning, I burnt my tongue with the hot coffee and I mistook milk for orange juice : awful ! I was too busy trying to remember what had exactly happened at night. I had doubts : was he playing or was he shutting off all the windows when I opened the door ? He had certainly rummaged in the project files ! Oh dear, how stupid I had been, I should have protected this project. I was responsible, I had put every member of the investigation team in danger, in view of the situation he may have deleted the files to avoid the suspect to be arrested. With our clues, the suspect would obviously be considered guilty and he would certainly be arrested even if this was an old case, and this must be the reason why he was on my computer. He was checking if we had enough clues to send him to prison for a while or if he would be cleared. That could be a possibility… and if it was true, I had to take care about him, but why would he do that, he couldn’t know the suspect as this case was six years old, he was probably paid by someone… That could explain his sudden venue.
I shouldn’t have bothered with that I thought, he was just playing solitaire to relax after a long trip, I should have done the same ! And yet, I couldn’t : I wasn’t able to be sure that he was playing solitaire, and I didn’t dare switching the computer on at the station. If I was suspecting my friend I could suspect everyone in this metro station !
It was getting very scaring !
I was crossing the street when a young man called me out, he was certainly a student… I was so deep in my thoughts that his words were like the ring of the alarm clock, I was waking up for a second time :
“Josh, Josh, are you going to the lecture given by Pr Almond ? May I come with you ?” he asked sharply. I didn’t answer immediately, I was wondering : where could I have met him, he was not one of the five people who worked with me, not a friend, not a familiar face… He was staring at me, waiting for me to reply…
“Yes, actually, I’m going to do so, are you attending this lecture too ?” I questioned, sure that his answer would be negative.
“Yes, shall we go together, it’s quite exciting, today we’re going to tell the police everything we have found, the criminal will be arrested, with all these clues that’s certain !” he assured satisfactorily.
We were now in the hall, I was walking towards the stairs when he broke silence, he added :
“We should take the lift, it’s on the 4th floor !” he ordered, he was definitively not a person that I knew, but I didn’t dare asking him who he was, that could have been offending if he was one of the Professor’s assistants or someone I hadn’t noticed.
Once in the lift, he suddenly asked :
“Are you sure of what you’re going to do Mr Smith ? Is this the real culprit that you’re going to send to prison for a while, maybe he will die there, but is he the only criminal in this case, have you checked twice !?” he nervously questioned.
“Well… if you don’t agree with our conclusions, why didn’t you tell us that before, we have been working on it for nearly six months, and during all this time you remained silent, why ?” I replied, starting dreading.
“Hahaha !” he laughed curtly, “You’re really naive, don’t you know how to count to six ? You were six on this case, and the supervisor was Professor Almond, you are the most important one today as you have here, in this satchel, all the files, all the project that I’m here to destroy !” he added.
“No you won’t ! This isn’t my own job, I have to protect it, we have been very busy and justice should be rendered ! Who are you to say that !?” I insisted.
Then, everything happened so fast : this raving mad man was armed. He took out a gun and threatened me. I backed away and discretely pushed the alert knob of the lift. He didn’t notice it. He looked very stressed. “Has he ever killed before ?” “Is he the suspect ?” “Is he really going to shoot me ?” All these questions were resounding in my head ! We hadn’t seen any photos of the culprit, just his name, fingerprints and DNA prints but the rest was kept secret by Professor Almond, we were not allowed to see all the private files which were reserved to the police.
I was begging him not to kill me, it was the longest minutes of my life, I was surely going to be killed, and that idea was too unbearable thus I was about to give him the satchel… the satchel !
It was empty, there were just papers and papers in it, incredible ! I had forgotten my lap top in Logan’s room this morning ! I was saved, I thought ! I gave him the satchel and took advantage of the thirty seconds that he would take before realising it was empty to push the knob to open the doors. As they opened, I immediately ran out.
And what I glimpsed at was the most astonishing thing so far ! Logan, was here, standing in front of the lift doors, holding a gun towards the young guy in the lift : he shouted “Put down this gun !”. He was wearing special agent clothes, hardly the time to wonder what he was coming here for, I heard the sound of a gun : oh dear ! Who shot who ?! I feared, I didn’t feel my hand anymore. If Logan had been killed, I would never get over it, it would surely be my own fault. I didn’t want to see what was happening. Then, I felt strange, as if my head was twice its size, I heard everything as if I were in a tunnel. A second shout… Logan was calling me, what was going on ! I fell down in a deep red sea, blood ! That was my blood. I had received the first bullet, and then it was like a blackout.
Waking up at the hospital, my little sister was there, it was clear that she was terribly worried about me. My parents were on the way, she said. I looked all around the room but no traces of Logan. Once again he had vanished ! What a strange man, his visit had been too timely to be a piece of luck…
One week after, I left the hospital, and when I got home, I searched every place, to find some trace, some letter, which could explain what had happened and in which he could say his farewells... in vain. I felt so downcast : he had saved me, he was a real hero, one of those heroes who appears in the dark to save you without a name, without a face ; refusing your gratitude.
I was so proud of him, but he was gone so far or maybe not : he might be here, in Paris, and I wouldn’t be able to meet him !
I stayed puzzling my mind with it for a while and I suddenly decided to switch on my computer, to get on Facebook and to take my mind off things ! Waiting for the connection on the Internet, I noticed a new file on the desk : a last hope, he had left something !
Upset, I started reading :
I’m not authorized to tell you all the truth, but I’m sure you have guessed who I am. It was very hard for me to come back here knowing that I would have to go soon and the way I did, therefore I’ve decided to let you this kind of letter. I was sure you would find it, I knew you would survive, that’s not a little bullet in the shoulder which might have killed you, isn’t it ! And yet, I feared when I saw you bathing in a pool of blood, I felt guilty : I should have avoided it, you were about to be killed, and I wasn’t able to do anything on time. Perhaps you will never forgive me for that but I just wanted you to know that I would never have let you down, and I am extremely sorry for what happened, it’s a fatal mistake for me !
You will never imagine how wonderful this short time spent with you was, it was just magic to share so many things even after so much time… I would like to thank you for that, when I sent you the message, yesterday, I was having doubts, “maybe he wouldn’t want to meet me anymore after I had disappeared” I thought ; and you proved me that our friendship was stronger than the distance and the separation, certainly stronger than anything else!
I beg you pardon to leave once more but I will be back someday, I swear ! We will watch matches together, eating pizza and we will travel all around the world… I promise you, one day we will stay together for a while. This is the fault of our stupid common dream, you remember ! We both realized it but it was too perfect to be true…
I don’t know how to say goodbye, maybe the perfect way would be not to say so, as I’m sure we’re going to meet again !
I will never forget you !
Take care of yourself,
Inès M.......... 2nde2