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CHAPTER THIRTY THREE
HILL, ONCE AGAIN, read the note that Gary had written. It was the confession that he had instinctively known would come. It did all tie together, the past to the present, and oddly enough it was premeditated. Although, as he read it for the fourth time, he knew that Alexis’ theory ‘catch me if you can’ was just wrong. At each word he felt Gary’s sorrow, agony and grief. He thought again about the clues that were so carefully written on the board and wondered again if there was some way that yet another tragedy could have been prevented. “Damned crazy, reckless, kids’ stuff,” he said angrily, looking again at the photo of Gary’s scar on his upper thigh. It matched perfectly with the one that David Mosher had. He now remembered, from the funeral, that Gary was David’s very best friend. The missing clue. ‘If only…if only,’ he kept saying over and over in his mind. If only he had listened more closely to Gerry Tole he may have realized, or at least suspected, that a pact had been made. Maybe he could have saved Gary Bowers’ life.
Hill suspected that the pact had been made, when both were too young even to realize the consequence of such an act. And the rope with its signature knot. Hill recalled the long length of rope and he could almost feel the bristles in his hand. Then recalled the words DEAD, DEAD, DEAD scrawled across the lines in the third act of the play. He now realized that it was out of remorse that Gary had written that word so angrily and had pressed the pen so hard on the paper. He turned the envelope in his hand. Unable to stop himself he read the letters again:
I followed through with our pact, just as we had agreed. I hope I managed to do it when you least expected it, just as we had promised so long ago. I sometimes wonder if we would have included that in our promise, had your Grandma not been suffering and dying back then. I love you and miss you buddy more than words can tell. I know that you would have done the same for me. Your trusting friend, Gary
When David told me that he was dying, I knew that the day had come for me to test my loyalty. I’m certain that you will never understand the why of what David and I had agreed upon when we were too young to know, or to consider the consequences. It was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do.
When we made that promise to each other twenty years ago I always hoped then that we would never be tested. And I had always expected that it would be me in trouble and not David. Every day after his death I was sickened by what I had done, even though it had speedily removed him from the pain. It has got to the point that I cannot face myself in the mirror, knowing that I am alive and that David is dead. Even knowing that the cancer would have taken him anyway.
I know that words are only words and that they cannot change what I have done. But maybe you can find in your heart a shadow of understanding, David would have wanted that.
He would also be so proud to know that he will live on through that little child that is stirring in your tummy. If there is such a thing as heaven I know that he is there, looking down upon you and watching to see his child grow. He is now without pain.
I love him as you do, Gary
Every day since David’s death I have wished that I could have picked up the phone to confess to all this stuff, to save everybody such trouble. But that would have gone against my promise to David. I’m sure that you respect our allegiance to each other, so please let both of us rest.
I suppose it was a childish thing to do, when we were much too young to imagine the consequences of it. I could have ignored our pact and let him die slowly and in agony. My only choice was to end his pain by fulfilling our promise. I’m not asking for forgiveness, I would never do that, because I cannot forgive myself. But I am asking for your understanding, not that it will be of much value to me by the time that you are reading this.
You may find it odd that you have found me at the old rail bridge. David and I used to stand up there and dare each other to jump into the river. David did jump but I never did. But afterwards I always felt a coward. But now I have jumped and I am no longer a coward.
True friends are forever and David was my true friend whom I cannot live without.
Hill folded the letter in exactly the same way that it had been when it was found and placed it on the desk. It made so much more sense now. They had been recruited as KORs, just like Glenda, the curator at the museum, had said. Maybe there were ghosts after all? Could there be? Now Hill felt a fool for disbelieving. Roger Perkins, played by Gary Bowers in the play, was actually the traitor in the play. “Yes, that and a true friend to David,” Hill said aloud. Tears streamed down his face. He now realized that it must have taken a great deal of courage for Gary to have done what he did.
Hill hoped that he would have the strength to do the same for such a friend.
Even as criminal as it was.