“Debbie doesn't need to know a damn thing!” Bea screamed at Detective Morelli after Franky, Bridget and Liz had taken Debbie out for pizza, no one was in the mood to cook and Bea and Allie weren't even hungry. “Don't you get it, she doesn't even remember Harry and that's the way it needs to stay, what good will it do to tell her that after ten years her father reappeared and wanted to kill me?”
“I ummm…but…it's going to be all over the news.” He reasoned, couldn't she see that there was no way this would stay out of the newspapers or off the tv for long. “We can keep his real name out of it in the short term but eventually it will come out, you must know what journalists are like, they dig until they get to the truth, or what they want to see as the truth.”
“He had help…you can't hide for ten years without help, Harry couldn't pull that off alone he's not that smart.”
“Please…sit down, getting worked up isn't helping the situation.” Detective Morelli was slowly losing his patience with Bea and the longer she kept screaming at him the harder it was not to snap back at her. “There are things that you both need to hear and it would make things much easier if we sat down.”
Allie knew he was right but Bea would always react like this if it was about anything even remotely connected to Harry. Taking a seat on the sofa she looked at Bea hoping that she might just take the hint and follow suite but of course that was going to be way too much, sitting still wasn't easy when Bea had so much anger and pent up rage that needed to be released somehow and all Allie could do for the next few minutes was sit quietly watching her pace the floor wishing there was some way she could take her pain and rage away even if it were only for a few minutes.
Bea suddenly stopped pacing turned and walked to the kitchen, her inner rage held all the power of a wildfire as it tore through the bush and she really didn't want Allie to witness anymore, she knew Allie wouldn't leave her even when she could practically see the fire burning in her eyes ready to ignite anything she came into close contact with and she hated that, didn't want her to really see what Harry could do to her, right now she needed space to breath, to get her thoughts in order not be spoken to like a teenager that just didn't see the bigger picture, someone who didn't already know that you can't go back to a safe place and wish everything away just because you didn't like what you saw or heard. Getting herself a glass of water Bea opened the backdoor and stepped outside the air felt cool and damp, the faint smell of car exhaust fumes hung in the air, the trees stood like black statues silhouetted against the ever darkening sky as she sat down on the low wall that separated the patio from the large grassy area where Debbie spent most of the summer lazing around when she wasn't at home doing the exact same thing.
Taking a sip of the cool water she knew nothing had really changed, he'd been alive for the last ten years and right now, right this very second he was possibly still alive, the last thing the detective actually told her was that he was being taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest. There is was, red, everything turned red…red mist Franky had always called it whenever Bea got really angry but it wasn't a mist, her vision blurred as the flames of her anger curled in the pit of her stomach and wound their way up to the back of her eyes once again. Her brain was in overdrive when she wondered why they were even trying to save the waste of perfectly good space that was Harry Smith. Her thoughts returned to everything he had done to her, picked at every second she'd spent curled up in a corner crying or trying to make herself so small that he wouldn't even notice that she was there. Every thought, every returning memory broke her a little more and she felt her heart turn ice cold and sink down to her stomach as everything she had fought so hard to forget took complete control of her brain. Her fingers tightened their grip on the glass in her hand, crushing it before she even realised what she was doing lucky that none of the broken glass pierced her skin before she dropped it to the ground. Waves of fury pulsed through her entire body as she got back to her feet, anger was only the tip of the iceberg and it was exhausting.
Allie started to get a little more worried after ten minutes and excused herself leaving detective Morelli alone as she went in search of Bea, seeing the back door wide open she walked outside spotting Bea stood with her back to the house. Not sure if she should approach her or speak first she stood watching her for a while before deciding that she shouldn't waste more time as she walked up to her and wrapped her up in her arms feeling her start to relax in seconds.
“Sorry…I just…” Bea mumbled.
“I know you don't have to explain anything to me…it's getting chilly out here though you really should come back inside.”
Allie slowly removed her arms as Bea turned around and took her by the hand.
“I still shouldn't have reacted like that but Deb doesn't even know who he is…how do I explain to her that he wasn't dead? What if she blames me for all this?” Bea looked away from Allie not wanting her to really see just how vulnerable she was feeling.
“Hey…look at me…” Bea turned her head but couldn't quite look Allie in the eye. “You've always been as honest with her as you can be, I doubt she'll blame you…why would she?”
“She doesn't know everything…she doesn't even ask anymore, at least she doesn't ask me…”
“Come on your shivering, we'll face whatever we have to together.”
Harry had been loaded into the back of a waiting ambulance, not that any of the police officers cared much if he arrived at the hospital alive or dead, he'd been left laying on the cold ground, bleeding, for over five minutes before the paramedics finally moved him. No one was going to have any sympathy for him, word had read like wildfire who they were going to be transporting, a dead man, a coward who left his wife for dead and ran, not that everyone knew the whole story but the bits and pieces that were passed around left everyone at the scene sure of one thing, this was a man who didn't deserve to still be alive and after shooting one police officer that day he was not going to be treated like anyone else who had been shot, it was a miracle that he was still breathing anyway.
Through the already cleared lane that the first ambulance had sped down the ambulance containing Harry sped at breathtaking speed that the motorists in the neighbouring lane took a collective sharp intake of breath. A news helicopter flew over head, at least no news crews knew who was in the back of that ambulance yet. The paramedic riding in the back with Harry looked at him, he'd heard everything about this man that anyone knew and he looked harmless enough but he knew from past experience that it was usually the ones who looked harmless that were the most dangerous individuals. Harry groaned and mumbled something.
“What was that mate?” The paramedic asked not really interested if he answered again.
“B…Bea…D…D…Deb…” Harry stuttered before losing consciousness again
The paramedic shook his head, he knew who they were and if he hadn't have lost consciousness again he might just have punched him in the face, why would he even be asking for the wife he left for dead, asking for his daughter he understood, although he was certain that neither of them would want to see him unless he were dead, dead is permanent, dead is forever and something he'd pretended to be for the last ten years but here he was, the spark in his eyes wasn't quite extinguished yet.
Harry never made it to surgery, didn't even make it through the doors of the emergency department before the light in his eyes was finally extinguished. Every nurse and doctor breathed a collective sight of relief, none of them wanted to be the ones to treat him after the police officer arrived a full fifteen minutes before him in a critical condition.
Detective Morelli removed himself from the living room and wandered into the hall when his phone rang.
“And that's confirmed?” He mumbled into his phone.
“No need for an identification then?….What? I can't ask her to do that!…And you're sure there's no one else?” He shook his head. “We already know it's him, fucks sake give them a break there are other ways…fingerprints give a positive identification…” He argued not wanting to put Bea through actually seeing him. “The fucker did what?…Fine!” He grunted, “But she has every right to refuse.” He ended the call and slowly returned to the living room.
Allie had heard every word the detective had said and she was already prepared for what he was going to say.
“I'm sorry I have to inform you that Harry died an hour ago.” Detective Morelli slouched his shoulders before continuing, “I…I don't really know how to say this…” He sighed as his eyes darted in Allies direction, the look in her eyes telling him that she already knew what he was about to say and almost pleading with him not to. “I've been told to ask you if you'd consider identifying the body…I know someone's idea of a sick fucking joke and you can refuse Bea, it's not something I'm comfortable asking or something I think you should do just say no and it's done with.”
Bea sat stunned, her grip on Allies hand tightening to the point of it being painful but Allie wasn't going to say anything, it was a shock, she wasn't sure if was a shock that he was actually dead or a shock that she would be asked to do that either way it was a shock.
“How the hell can you even ask her to do that? She doesn't need to see him.” Allie growled, half because she was angry that the question had been asked and half because Bea was almost crushing her fingers.
“That's why I said she can say no…actually I'd prefer it if she does…it appears that he was prepared for this we can't lift his prints because there are none to lift.”
“What?…You have to be mistaken, how can he not have fingerprints?” Allie asked confused as she heard the front door open and heard Debbie chatting ten to the dozen to Liz who was struggling to get a word in edgewise.
Bea suddenly let go of Allies hand and turned her attention to the living room door, she heard what she was asked and was struggling in her own head weather she should, she wanted to but didn't want to at the same time. She needed to see his lifeless body finally, to see that now, this time he really was gone and she didn't need to always worry that he would come after her again.
“Mum…you should have come with us.” Debbie happily sat on the arm of the sofa.
“You had a good time? Did you break Franky's bank yet?” Bea smiled.
“No…what does that even mean? You can be so silly you know?” Debbie yawned.
“You young lady sound like you're ready for bed.” Liz tapped Debbie on the shoulder.
“Yeah I guess.” Debbie said after yawning again before slipping off the arm of the sofa and saying goodnight to everyone.
As soon as Franky heard the bedroom door slam she crossed her arms tightly across her chest, “So…gonna tell everyone what the fuck is happenin?” She stared at detective Morelli as she sat on the arm of the sofa that Debbie had recently vacated.
Looking around at everyone in the room he cleared his throat, “As I was just explaining to Bea and Allie Harry didn't make it and…”
“Yeah, yeah…I'm sure we all knew the fucker would end up worm food…what I wanna know is why Red looks so upset, ya better spill it.”
“I understand this is difficult and as I was just trying to explain…if you'll let me finish…” Franky raised an eyebrow and nodded not sure she was going to like anything she was about to hear. “Harry was apparently prepared for anything, and it's now anyone's guess exactly what he's been doing all this time…after trying to get his fingerprints it's clear that he's had them removed, one of the doctors has checked his body and the conclusion is that he's almost certainly had skin from his back grafted onto his fingertips, the skins smooth.”
“So ya saying that ya need Red to identify him? Fuck that…fuck you, no fucking way is she doing that!” Franky raised her voice.
“Franky it's fine…” Bea said softly, “I think I need to do this…I need to see him, finally know that he's gone and he can't come back for us.”
“I don't like it…come on Al ya can't say ya agree with this…”
Allie looked at Bea and then back at Franky, “I don't like it I can't lie about that but I can't stop her from doing what she needs to do…whatever Bea decides then I support her and you should too.”
“Yeah.” Franky sighed because everything Allie had said made sense, Franky didn't have to like it but she would always support her. “Ya should both come and stay with me tonight, can't go home can they detective?”
He shook his head, “Crime scene officers will be all over the place at least tonight, I should be able to get you in to get anything you need since nothing happened in the house.”
Franky waited outside the house watching everything that was going on as she waited for Bea and Allie trying to figure out where Harry had been hiding for ten years, nothing made sense, Harry wasn't known for being very smart noway would he ever know where to start with the fingerprint removal and why he would even need to do that was beyond her, whatever he'd got himself into wasn't good that was obvious. When they finally arrived at Franky's Bea just wanted to go to bed and curl up next to Allie not that she expected to sleep, somehow she just couldn't believe that Harry was actually dead, ten years was too long to hope that one day she'd find out that he was, it was going to be a long night at least she knew she didn't have to face it completely alone.
Franky had been up for an hour before Bea and Allie made their way downstairs.
“I won't ask how ya slept cos I doubt that either of ya did…so anyway, I called the director personally, wasn't fuckin around with Vera this mornin, he said to take all the time ya need, both of ya and I've got the morning off no way am I lettin ya see that fucker even if he is dead so I'm coming with ya. Now sit down, ya need to eat.”
Bea refused to identify Harry just by looking at a photograph, Detective Morelli had expected that would be the case and had already told the morgue attendant who had prepared the viewing room. Franky tagging along wasn't a surprise, he'd have been surprised if she hadn't after the way she'd spoken to him the night before. As they waited Bea felt apprehensive but it was the jolt she needed to get through this, it felt like walking into a storm but nothing good in life ever comes easy and being finally free of Harry was good. Allie was scared, she'd never seen a dead body and the only time she'd ever seen what Harry actually looked like as he'd aged was the picture Franky had shown her, not that she even remembered what he looked like when they were younger, she'd erased his face from her memory a long time ago. She wondered why she was even there until she turned to look at Bea and Franky and then every scary thought was erased from her head and she felt better, she wasn't doing this for herself and Bea was going to have a harder time, for ten years she'd expected him to show up, to come face to face with him and have to go through every emotion he'd ever invoked in her again only now it was different, this time he couldn't hurt her. Franky, even though in her head she knew he was dead, still somehow thought that they had made a mistake and this wouldn't be him, she'd convinced herself so long ago that he wasn't alive that this felt unreal and now she couldn't help but wonder if it would really be him.
A few minutes later, with detective Morelli hovering close behind them they saw him, Bea felt suddenly like she couldn't breath, it was real, he was gone. She closed her eyes for a few seconds that felt like they would last for eternity because she felt his presence, as if any second she would be on the receiving end of a punch or kick that he would be aim at her and there would be nothing she could do to stop it. Her brain struggled to stay in the moment until she felt Allie squeezing her hand and the feeling left her. Opening her eyes she took one last look at him before confirming that it was Harry. As they walked away the clock on the wall ticked the seconds forwards in time, she was finally free of him, he was gone.
Franky had questions and none she wanted to ask with Bea or Allie standing close to her, after they both got in her car she walked over to the detective.
“Now what?” Franky glared at him.
“There will be an investigation into his shooting, shouldn't take too long since all the officers involved wore body cams, pretty much cut and dry…we will continue to investigate Harry, we have some evidence of how he spent the last ten years already and that's where the investigation gets tricky.”
“Tricky!…Bea was told he was dead ten years ago, not that she ever believed it, tricky is the fact that the case went cold in the first place.” Franky sneered.
“I know…missing persons were never a top priority then even when they were wanted for attempted murder, that isn't what's tricky he's linked to an open case…you're very familiar with Sonia Stevens and Joan Ferguson?”
“What the fuck do they have to do with this?”
Detective Morelli moved uncomfortably on his feet not sure this was the time or place to divulge what he knew but Franky was like a dog with a bone and would not let this go until he at least told her something. “He worked for Joan…we don't have all the details yet.”
“Ya gotta be fuckin kiddin me…how?”
“That we aren't sure about yet, when Ferguson is returned to Melbourne we hope to find out more if we can get her talking…you have to keep that to yourself.”
Franky was stunned, Harry working for Ferguson, a hundred questions bombarded her brain as she kept silent, this was the craziest thing she had ever heard in her life. “Have his parents been informed?” She blurted out.
“You didn't know?…They both died in a car accident about four years ago, he was an only child and as far as I'm aware has no other family except Bea and Debbie.”
“So ya sayin that after all this shit Beas gotta be the one to take care of the fuckers funeral?”
“I'm not saying that, as he was estranged from his family through his own actions she doesn't have to claim the body, I'm sure if he hadn't have disappeared in the manner he did and ended up in prison where he belonged Bea would have divorced him, just because they have a daughter doesn't mean she owes him anything…if it makes you feel any better and it was legal I'd personally just dump his sorry ass someplace he'd never be found, I've read up on the original case file…makes me sick.”
Franky worried, the whole ride back to her house she just worried, Bea was never the kind of person to not do things properly and that meant that she'd probably take care of the funeral regardless of what anyone said to her. Franky watched Bea through the rear view mirror, there was more than one type of death, she'd seemed dead for so long even though her heart was still beating, the spark she'd had before Harry had been extinguished, everything about her and around her was icy and she worried that even with Allie there with her she could end up right back there. She remembered how Bea had described it, everyone else around her moved, cars filled the streets, the street lamps lit up the night but everything always seemed pixilated and unreal. Happiness seemed like a distant memory with everyday feeling more like it was slipping out of reach.
Franky had to go to work after lunch without even managing to speak to Bea about what was going to happen next. Walking into her office she wasn't surprised to find Maxine waiting for her.
“How are they? I'm assuming that it was Harry who got shot?”
“Yeah…as for how they are ya asking the wrong person, Bea ain't sayin much, not much of a surprise there I guess and Allie, who knows? Gotta be a shock findin out that her ex is Ferguson's niece, even worse still she knew Harry…all I know is that she's as good as superglued to Beas side.”
“As far as I know she's still completely oblivious, how long it'll stay like that I have no idea….Hey I reckon they'll be staying at mine for a couple of days why don't ya come over later, maybe Bea will talk to you she sure ain't tryin to talk to me and that ain't normal.”
Five minutes later Maxine was on her way back to her desk after agreeing to stop by Franky's house when she got through with her day although she had planned on staying later than usual she was concerned about Bea and checking on her and Allie was more important than trying to shuffle Beas workload around assuming that she would be back at work the following week, if not she had no idea who would be taking on the pile of work that had already accumulated in just two days.
Franky sat with her feet up on her desk trying to work out what was best way to approach the subject of Harry's funeral, Detective Morelli’s suggestion about not claiming the body made more sense than anything, after all Bea owed him nothing, if Allie hadn't taken the first offer she received on the house and then been curious enough to want to find out who they buyer was Harry could have got away with his plan, Bea could be the one laying in the morgue right now and he would be gone again probably never to be seen again.