Justin folded the letter away slowly, bound back in the stack with the others using the rubber band and shakily put the stack of envelopes back into is inside coat pocket. This had not been what he was expecting.
He pulled out his phone and dialled James' number.
"God damn it James, don't you let this go to voicemail. You owe me some answers! What the hell is this, some kind of joke!? James! Pick up the damn phone! James!"
Click. You've reached the personal voicemail of James Horsham, please leave a message after the beep and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
"God damn it! James, when you get this call me straight away! I don't know what you think you're playing at but if these letters are some kind of sick joke, I'm sure as hell not laughing. Do you seriously expect me to believe this crap? My father wasn't crazy, did you really think fabricating this ridiculous story would make me feel better? Who the hell put you up to this? Mother, was this her idea? You better call me back with an explanation ASAP or so help me I'll see you disbarred for this, friend of the family or not."
He hung up and gritted his teeth, slamming himself back in his seat. An elderly lady sat in the adjacent set of seats was staring at him and he scowled and turned to look out the window. What the hell was this all about? Why would his father wait until now to pull this on him? Did he want to rub salt in the wound, mock his pain like that? He didn’t know, he felt helpless and that made him even more angry. He glowered all the way home.
When he arrived, he turned the key in the lock and was grated by the smell of something frying.
“Hey babe, how’d it go? You get what you wanted?”
Justin ignored the question and marched through to the bedroom.
“Fine, ignore me then.”
He threw the letters into the corner of the room, got undressed and clambered into bed. He just wanted to go to sleep and forget about it, he was too angry to think about anything right now.
“Are you okay?”
Justin turned around to see his girlfriend leaning in the doorway.
“No.” He huffed, propping himself up on his elbow and sitting up against the headboard. “No I’m bloody not.”
“You want to talk about it? We can talk about it over dinner if you want, I wasn’t sure when you’d get home so I only made enough for one, but we can split it.”
“I don’t, oh, I don’t know, Angie. No, I just want to go to sleep.”
“Okay, well I’ll join you in a bit, okay? I’m sorry things didn’t work out.”
“That, my dear, is the understatement of the year. Goodnight babe, don’t leave it too late, I really need you right now.”
Angela smiled a concerned smile and closed the door behind her as she returned to the living room.
There in the dark, Justin lay there thinking about what happened. Try as he might, he couldn't sleep. He turned on the bedside lamp and stared at the letters lying in the corner of the room. It couldn’t be real, it just couldn’t. He grabbed his mobile and dialled a number he hadn’t dialled in a very long time.
Come on, pick up.
“Do you have any idea what time it is? Who is it?”
“Steve, it’s Justin.”
“Mike’s son. I’m sorry for calling so late, it’s just that I needed to ask you something about dad.”
“Mike’s son? Oh that Justin! Jesus boy, what are you phoning an old fart like me up for in the middle of the night?”
“Hardly a boy now, Steve. It’s been twenty years. Look, you were the last person to see him before he disappeared. Was he acting strange, did he do anything weird?”
“Well, not that I can remember, ‘cept for turning up in the middle of the day, not like him to start so early but I figured he had a bad day, looked kinda shocked, like he’d seen a ghost. Figured he’d lost a patient and I know better than to ask the docs about that.”
“He didn't mention anything did he, a name perhaps, or something?”
“Look Justin, it was twenty years ago and I’m a tired old man. I don’t want to sound harsh, but when the kid of a friend calls me up after twenty years in the middle of the night I don’t exactly find it easy to remember things. I told the investigators everything I knew twenty years ago.”
“I’m sorry Steve, I really am but this is really important. He didn’t mention Blake Tilsdale at all did he?”
“Blake who? No, he didn’t mention anyone like that. The only thing that comes to mind is that he left in a hurry, didn’t say his usual goodbyes. Looked kinda scared, as I said, like he’d seen a ghost. Now Justin, I gotta go. You stay safe kid.”
“Thanks Steve. Sorry about the wake up call.”