Although he did not want to, he just kept glancing towards the body in the distance. As the gulls descended he realised that they were aiming for the lifeless young boy. He jumped up to get a clearer look. It took him a couple of seconds to realise he was right. He ran over as quick as he could, stumbling over the sand hills. He frightened the gulls away when he approached the scene. He bent over slightly and put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. When he did he looked at Owen. He wondered if what he did was wrong- robbing a young boy of his life. He fell on his knees beside the boy. Owens expression was one he had never seen on his face before. Peace; tranquillity; contentment. This soon reassured him that he had done the right thing.
A cigarette butt caught his eye. Owens last one -the one that he smoked straight after he finished his food. Michael grabbed the stub sticking out of the sand and put it in his mouth, then pulled it away spitting the sand off his lips, and wiping it off the tip. He franticly took the packet of matches out of Owens pocket and promptly took one out. He repeatedly tried to light it, then realised that they were wet from the sea. He was quite relieved about this as he felt he would have embarrassed himself by coughing by inhaling his first smoke from a cigarette.
He lay down beside the boy, gazing into the sky. He remained motionless for a while, alone with his thoughts. He took in a deep breath and said
“I really hope you understand why I did this. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt you. I did it out of love. I know you don’t know what love feels like. Love means you’ll do anything for someone, no matter what it takes, or what the consequences are. And believe me boy…” he took a brief pause, while he burst into tears for a few seconds. He temporarily calmed himself down, took in a deep breath and continued in a shaky voice, “…I love you. More than I’ve ever loved anyone.” He was now crying hysterically, reassuring himself he did everything he could do to help the boy, but he couldn’t help feeling at fault. He tried to free his guilt, but he couldn’t, no matter how much he tried. He knew he just had to accept it.
Before long, it grew dark. The sun seemed to set, and the clouds seemed to disappear in a matter of moments. Michael didn’t notice that it was night. He was in a trance, going over the last few weeks: the time they shared with each other. To him it seemed to get dark in the blink of an eye. When his mind was nudged back into reality he knew he had to do something with the body. He also knew he had to leave. Go somewhere. Anywhere. He just couldn’t stay there any longer.
He threw some sand over the body, not enough to completely burry it though, but just enough so it wasn’t too conspicuous, until he returned in the morning. He decided he would come back at the dawn, and by then he would have a plan. He ran up to the car, started it and drove.
After about a mile he started singing ‘Hail, Glorious St Patrick,’ one of the hymns he and Owen sang a matter of hours ago, reminding him of when Owen was still alive. Just as he reached the end of the tune a pay phone caught his eye. He immediately slammed on the breaks and the car screeched to a halt. He got out of the car, slowly walked over to it, and paused just before he reached for the receiver. He didn’t know who he was going to call; and what he could say to them. He shook his head and said to himself, “Just do it.” He picked up the phone, put some money in, and started dialling. It rang for a few seconds, and he was about to put the phone down, convinced he wouldn’t get an answer, but just as he moved it from his hear, he heard a cough and a tired voice croaked the words,
“Hello? Benedict speaking.”
“Did I wake you?” Michael responded.
“Yes you did. Wait” Benedict took a long pause, “Michael? Is that you?” Michael realised he couldn’t turn back now; he had already made the phone call. He answered Benedict’s question by saying,
“Meet me?” Benedict didn’t think twice about accepting his offer. They arranged to start driving to each other and meet half way.
Michael had been driving for a while and saw the first pair of headlights he had seen on this night. He knew who it was and pulled over at the side of the road. The other car did the same. He turned the car off, but turned the radio on. He wanted to have some background noise to make the approaching conversation less tense. He saw a body walk towards the passenger door. When he got inside he sat there for a moment. Michael was glad he turned the radio on, because otherwise he knew they would be sitting in complete silence. Benedict turned to him and said,
“Michael. What have you done?” There was no answer, “Where have you been? Where’s the boy? What have you done with him?”
“The boy- as you call him- is in a better place now” Michael replied, staring out of the windscreen, at the same spot he’d been looking at since he turned the radio on.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He then realised what it meant. “Oh Michael you didn’t? Are you trying to say that you killed him?” Michael broke his gaze, slowly turned around to look at him and confessed,
“Yes. Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say. I saved his life, by killing him.” He told Benedict everything: where they had been; the things they did; how he killed him why he killed him; where the body was- everything. Benedict didn’t say a thing. He laid his head into the head rest and looked around him with his mouth wide open. He had no idea what to say. No one said anything. Then they heard an announcement on the radio. A female voice revealed,
“The body of a young boy, aged between eight and eleven, has been found on a beach on the North coast of Donegal. The identification of this boy is not yet known, but one police officer on the scene says, ‘We think it may be the kidnapped boy, Owen Kane. Although it has not been proven, it is definitely a possibility.’ The body was found by an unidentified fisherman, who saw his leg sticking out of the sand, and then rang the police. The body will be moved from the beach shortly to do some tests and…” Michael turned the radio off, started the car and drove ferociously to the scene despite Benedict’s desire to stop the car and think about what he was doing, which is what he kept shouting on the journey.
When they got there Michael got out of the car as fast as he could and ran towards where he had left the boy. He stopped sprinting when he saw a big crowd of people on the sand. There was police; journalists; photographers; forensics. They were everywhere. Then one journalist, shouting questions and writing them in her notepad pointed in his direction and yelled,
“There he is! There’s Michael Lamb!” She- along with the other journalists and photographers raced over to him yelling all these questions at him. He was stunned with all the people surrounding him, and all the flashes from the cameras. He just looked around at everyone. Then out of nowhere came this police officer, who put Michael’s hands behind his back and handcuffed them, while he explained,
“Mr Lamb you have been arrested on suspicion on murder, you do not have to say anything, but anything you do say can and will be held against you in court…” Michael co-operated and walked to the car with the officer as he continued his speech. The press followed, taking pictures and surrounding the car. He was forcefully pushed into the back seat and the door slammed. He gazed out the window, looking at all the people running after the car, as it drove away from the body of the young boy he had murdered.