The Writers Voice
An Interesting Idea - Chapter 8
A few days had passed since Will visited Justin in jail. Now it was the day of Justin’s trial. Everything would be decided on this day. The responsibility for what would happen to Justin fell squarely on the judge’s shoulders. Whether Will would lose his best friend, whether his parents would lose their son, the decision to send Justin to jail, lay in the outcome of this one day.
in his cell, pacing back and forth, wondering what
happen to him. He wasn’t very old, but he knew that
he could spend his best years in jail if the
decision didn’t fall in his favor. Suddenly a guard
came towards him. “It’s time,” he said solemnly,
nothing else, then he led Justin towards the court
He could see the judge sitting in his chair, tall and straight, waiting, he seemed to be watching Justin’s every move. Suddenly Justin was filled with fear. He didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in jail, he didn’t want his parents to be heartbroken, or lose his best friend. What was going to happen to him? It all seemed like a bad dream, but it was real.
He heard the judge say his name, but Justin didn’t see him. He could only focus on what was in his head. The incident came crashing back to him, the look on Jake’s face, his friend’s fear, the way the backyard looked on that fateful night. He remembered how neat it had looked. Everything had been in it’s place, the moon had been high above his head, and Will had been pleading for him not to end his life. Why was this all coming back to him now? Why was it that he couldn’t hear what the judge was saying, yet he could remember every single detail from his crime scene?
knew that his parents were there, yet he couldn’t
stand to look at them, all he could remember was
frightened they had been when they heard he was in
the hospital. Justin knew his best friend Will and his
dad Jake would probably have to testify. All he
think about was how scared Will had been when he
had tried to end his own life. Nothing about this day
seemed real. The only thing that did seem real was
what had happened on that fateful night. It kept
replaying in Justin’s head, and there was nothing
could do to stop it.
Will spied his friend from across the room. ‘How did I ever end up here?’ Will thought in amazement. It seemed like just yesterday that he had been living an ordinary life. One free of worries, filled with fun and laughter. But those days were behind him.
Now it seemed like all Will could think about was what would happen to Justin. The judge’s voice brought Will back to reality. The judge was saying what the charges were against Justin, and that Justin was the defendant and that Will and his dad were the plaintiffs.
“How did it come to this?” Will said
softly to himself. How had he ended up fighting
As the trial began Jake was surprised to find that he was nervous. ‘Why am I so nervous?’ Jake thought worriedly. ‘It’s just a trial.’ But in his heart Jake knew why it was more than just a trial. He sighed heavily.
“Why am I doing this?” Jake asked himself. “Justin is Will’s friend, I should be trying to help him, not hurt him.” But it was too late for that. Jake had made his decision. Someone had tried to hurt his son, and now they were going to pay the price for it. “I don’t care who it is,” Jake muttered angrily. “Anyone who hurts my family deserves to die.”
“What did you say?” Will asked his dad suddenly.
“Nothing,” Jake replied quickly.
“No, you said something,” Will said suspiciously. “What was it?”
“I didn’t say anything,” Jake retorted. “I was just thinking out loud.”
“Oh,” Will said quietly. “What’s the difference?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” Jake replied hesitantly. “Why do you want to know?”
“I was just curious,” Will replied innocently.
“Oh, well I guess there really isn’t any difference,” Jake said slowly.
“Oh, okay thanks,” Will said coolly.
“No problem,” Jake said, making a mental note to be more careful with his thoughts.
Will wondered why
dad had lied to him. ‘It’s not like him to lie like
that,’ Will thought suspiciously, ‘Unless... unless
didn’t want me to know what he was thinking.’ This
wouldn’t have bothered him except for the fact that
Will felt as if it would’ve mattered. But why? Why
would it matter? Will sat there, trying to figure
what his dad had said. But he couldn’t. ‘Well,
it wasn’t that important,’ Will thought with a
But something told him it had been important. He
next his dad, wondering why.
“Are you okay?” Jake asked quietly. “You look like something’s on your mind.”
“I’m okay,” Will replied quickly.
“Are you sure?” Jake asked again, worry piercing his voice.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Will replied slowly. “Don’t worry about me.”
“Okay, if you’re sure,” Jake replied hesitantly.
“I’m sure,” Will said solemnly. Now it was more important than ever for him to figure out what Jake had said. Will didn’t want Jake to notice he was thinking about that. If what Jake had said was bad, he wouldn’t want Will to know about it.
‘Now, where was I?’ Will thought somewhat
‘Oh yeah, the trial.’ He reviewed his facts over
over in his head. ‘I know who’s here,’ he thought,
‘Now I need to know why.’ Suddenly Will didn’t feel
like he was part of the trial. He felt like he was
the outside looking in. ‘Okay, everyone is here
because of what Justin did,’ Will thought, trying to
concentrate. ‘But what difference does that make?’
looked around the room. Every person here was
connected to Justin in some way. But no one had the
same connection. ‘Hmm,’ Will thought with wonder.
think I’m on to something here.’
“Huh?” Will said in surprise. “Did you say something?”
“Yes, I asked what you were thinking,” Jake replied, somewhat irritated.
“Oh, sorry,” Will said quietly. “I’m just thinking about the trial.”
“That’s the judge’s job.” Jake replied with a laugh.
“I know,” Will replied irritably. “I just want things to fall in Justin’s favor.”
“Yeah, I could see that,” Jake replied slowly. “But aren’t you mad at him?”
“No, not really,” Will replied calmly.
“Oh, why not?” Jake said, trying not to explode. “I thought you would be.”
“Well, to tell you the truth,” Will replied slowly, “I was, but I’m not anymore.”
“Why?” Jake asked, trying to stay calm.
“I guess I realized what really happened,” Will said calmly. “Justin just made a big mistake.”
“Well that’s one way to look as it,” Jake replied slowly.
“What do you mean?” Will asked, somewhat suspicious. “What’s your take on it?”
“Oh, you mean how do I feel about it?”
“Yes, that’s what I meant,” Will replied crossly. “Is that a crime?”
“No, of course not,” Jake replied with a nervous laugh. “I can tell you how I feel.”
“Then go ahead,” Will said calmly. “I’m listening.”
“Okay, well, I guess I feel like Justin did do something wrong.”
“So do I,” Will said quietly. “But that doesn’t exactly answer my question.”
“I know, I’m getting to that,” Jake said, gritting his teeth.
“Sorry, go ahead,” Will said apologetically.
“Anyway, I am kind of mad at Justin because he did do something wrong.”
“I see,” Will said slowly. “I can’t really blame you, he did go kind of ballistic.”
“Kind of?!” Jake exclaimed. “He went completely nuts!”
“Keep your voice down,” Will whispered fiercely. “You don’t want the judge to hear us do you?!”
“No,” Jake said quietly. “Sorry.”
“That’s okay,” Will said calmly. “You just got a little emotional, that’s all.”
“Why shouldn’t I be?” Jake asked coldly. “This guy tried to murder you, and you’re treating him like he’s your friend, not your enemy!”
“What did you say?” Will asked carefully.
“I said,” Jake began, but then stopped, realizing what he had just said. “I said that you should think about what this guy did to you before you go jumping to conclusions about his personality.”
“Oh,” Will replied, somewhat taken aback. “Okay, I thought you said something else.”
“No, that’s what I said,” Jake replied coolly.
“Sure,” Will said distantly. Then he looked at Jake’s face. Something about his expression told Will his dad was lying to him again. ‘I know that’s not what he said,’ Will thought, ‘I know that Jake doesn’t like what Justin did, and why.’ He knew exactly what Jake had said. But why had he lied to Will about it? Suddenly it hit him. ‘He doesn’t want me to know what he said, because he doesn’t want to make me mad.’
‘Hang on, there’s a connection here,’ Will thought
surprise, ‘There’s a connection between what my dad
said earlier and what he just said a couple of
ago.’ Will knew now that the connection had to do
with Jake’s feelings. And the way Jake felt about
Justin and his actions. ‘Hmm, I think I’m getting
closer now,’ Will thought excitedly, ‘I’m so close,
but no cigar.’ If only he could figure out that last
piece. Then he would have all the pieces of the
“Why, is that a bad thing?” Will asked somewhat teasingly.
“No, it’s just...” Jake stopped, trying to find the right words. “I don’t know,” he replied lamely.
“Oh, you can tell me,” Will said quietly. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”
“Promise?” Jake asked hesitantly, trying to keep the fear out of his voice.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Will replied slowly.
“Okay,” Jake said taking a deep breath. “I want to tell you how I really feel about Justin.”
“Oh?” Will said, raising his eyebrows. “I thought you already did?”
“Yes, but there’s something I kind of left out.”
“What would that be?” Will asked quizzically. But
something told him he already knew. Jake took
deep breath. He looked Will straight in the eye,
“Sorry for what?” Will asked, puzzled, trying to smile. “You didn’t do anything.”
“Yes, I did,” Jake replied slowly. “I... I betrayed you.”
“What are you talking about, Dad?!” Will exclaimed worriedly. “You haven’t betrayed me!”
“Will please,” Jake said fearfully. “Be quiet, I don’t want people to hear this.”
“Sorry,” Will said quietly. “I forgot we were in a courtroom.”
“I know; just listen to me, okay?”
“Yeah sure,” Will said, trying not to smile.
“This isn’t funny,” Jake said irritably. “It’s serious, now listen up.”
“Okay, okay,” Will replied, trying to keep a straight face. “It’s just that, well I...”
“Stop interrupting, and just listen for Christ’s sake would you?!” Jake whispered fiercely.
“Sorry!” Will whispered irritably. “I didn’t know it was so important!”
“Well it is,” Jake replied crossly. “If you’re not going to listen then maybe I won’t tell you.”
“No, don’t do that,” Will pleaded. “I’ll shut up and listen, honest.”
“Okay then,” Jake said quietly. “Here’s what I was going to say.”
“About Justin?” Will whispered softly, almost fearfully.
“Yes, about Justin,” Jake replied hesitantly. “I don’t quite know how to put this, but I don’t like him.”
“I know that,” Will said nonchalantly.
“You do?!” Jake asked in surprise.
“Yeah, now what was so hard about that?”
“Nothing,” Jake said, somewhat flustered. “But that wasn’t the hard part.”
“It wasn’t?” Will asked. Now it was his turn to be surprised.
“No,” Jake said firmly.
“What’s going on here?” Will asked, suddenly fearful.
“Why did you say that then, what does all this have to do with betraying me?”
“Will, don’t worry,” Jake replied somewhat calmly. “It’s not as bad as you think.”
“Then why did you wait so long to tell me?” Will asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.
“I didn’t want to upset you.”
“Stop beating around the bush and tell me already then!” Will demanded, trying to keep his voice down.
“Okay, I will,” Jake said with a heavy sigh. “I don’t like Justin because of what he did to you, to us, and his own family.”
“You mean you don’t like him because he tried to hurt us, right?” Will asked fearfully “Jake, it wasn’t his fault, he couldn’t control his actions.”
“Will, you know as well as I do that Justin is to blame for all of this.” Jake said quietly.
“I know but...” Will replied, trying to keep his composure.
“But what?!” Jake exclaimed. “You know he’s your best friend?!”
“Yes!” Will cried. “That’s what I know!”
“Well let me tell you something Will, best friends don't do this to each other,” Jake growled.
“Jake please,” Will said trying not show his fear. “Stop being so intent on getting your revenge for once.”
“How do you know that’s what I was after?!” Jake asked in shock.
“That’s what I was really thinking about,” Will said quietly. “I was trying to figure out why you had lied to me like you did.”
“Oh,” Jake replied somewhat stunned. “You knew and you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t want to make you mad,” Will said, his voice breaking. “I’m sorry.”
“Uh, yeah,” Jake replied, somewhat bewildered. “Me too.”
“Do you forgive me then?” Will asked anxiously.
“Of course I do,” Jake said reassuringly. “Besides I should’ve told you in the first place.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Will said slowly. “Maybe I should’ve told you what I was thinking.”
“Well, it’s all over now,” Jake said quietly. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
“No, it’s not,” Will replied gravely.
“Why not?” Jake asked half-jokingly.
“Because we still have to testify in Justin’s trial today, remember?”
“Oh, right,” Jake said quietly. “Well, we’ll pull through okay, we always do.”
“But what if we don’t this time?” Will asked fearfully.
“Trust me, we will,” Jake replied confidently.
“I sure hope so,” Will said grimly.
“I know so,” Jake said firmly, taking Will’s hand. “No matter what happens we’re going to get through this together, okay?”
“Okay,” Will said with a smile.
“Only a year or two,” the judge had said. Now he could finally stop worrying. Now he knew his life wasn’t going to end, he could still see his parents, and he would still have a best friend. As Justin sat in his cell he began to realize just how grateful he really was. The trial had also made him realize something else; there were consequences for his actions. It made Justin realize what a big mistake he had made.
It made him realize that no matter how
much pain he was
nothing was worth hurting someone you loved, or
ending your own life. Then he began to wonder what
Will would think of all of this. Sure, he would
be in jail for about a year, but for Will it might
one year too many.
“Will calm down,” Justin replied slowly. “It’s only for a year or two.”
“I don’t care!” Will exclaimed angrily, “It won’t be the same!”
“Will, it could be worse,” Justin replied calmly. “I could have ended up with ten years or more.”
“It’s still not fair,” Will growled. “I don’t want to have to visit my best friend in jail.”
“I know,” Justin said quietly. “But it’s only for a little while; I’ll be out before you know it.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?!” Will cried angrily. “I won’t be able to talk to you anymore.”
“Sure you will, what are you doing now?” Justin asked somewhat jokingly.
“How could you let them do this to you?!” Will yelled.
“I didn’t have a choice,” Justin replied calmly.
“Yes you did!” Will cried. “You could’ve told the judge you made a mistake!”
“Will, it doesn’t work that way,” Justin replied gently.
“You could have said if they sent you to jail you would’ve been betraying your best friend!” Will screamed into the phone then he hung up.
“Will, wait!” Justin cried, but it was too late, his
friend was gone. ‘He’s probably just upset, he’ll
over it,’ Justin thought. But he couldn’t shake the
nagging feeling that something had gone very wrong.
“I know, neither can I,” Jenna replied quietly. “Yet, it’s not over.”
“What do you mean?” Derek asked suspiciously.
“I mean, the trial is over, but my son is still in jail,” Jenna replied sadly.
“Oh, well it’s not for very long,” Derek said quickly. “The judge said Justin only had a year, it could have been worse.”
“I know but...” Jenna replied, then stopped, not knowing what to say.
“But what?” Derek asked gently.
“It’s just that he’s my son, and he’s in jail,” Jenna said her voice breaking.
“Hey, he’s my kid too you know,” Derek said reassuringly. “I don’t feel any better about this than you do.”
“I know you don’t,” Jenna said with a heavy sigh. “But he’s still my son.”
“I know that Jenna,” Derek replied somewhat angrily. “What are you trying to say?”
“He’s my son, he’s kind and sweet and caring,” Jenna said defensively.
“Yes, and what does this have to do with anything?” Derek asked, somewhat puzzled.
“Justin wouldn’t hurt anybody, he’s not like that, he cares about his friends,” Jenna said quickly, her voice rising. “It’s not fair!”
“Jenna what’s your point?!” Derek exclaimed angrily.
“Justin wouldn’t hurt anybody, let alone try to kill them,” Jenna replied quietly.
“But he did,” Derek said calmly.
“How could they do this?!” Jenna exclaimed suddenly. “How could they put my son in jail?!”
“Jenna, calm down,” Derek said quietly. “They had no choice.”
“What do you mean they had no choice?!” Jenna cried angrily. “He said he was sorry, Justin knew he made a mistake!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Derek said with a sigh. “He still tried to kill someone.”
“But he said he was sorry!” Jenna cried.
“I told you it doesn’t work that way!” Derek suddenly exclaimed angrily. “If he tried to kill someone they have to consider the fact he could be a dangerous criminal, they had to put him in jail!”
“But he’s my son, Derek,” Jenna replied coldly. “He wouldn’t hurt anybody.” Suddenly she started to cry.
“I know,” Derek said quietly. “He’s my son too, and
wish it didn’t have to end this way.”
“Everyone has a life, no matter who they are,” Will whispered to himself. He sighed heavily, ‘I should probably apologize to Justin,’ he thought wearily. But something inside held him back. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Will thought suddenly. ‘All I have to do is pick up the phone and call the jail.’ The jail, his friend was in jail, not forever, just a year. ‘But a year can seem like a long time when you’re just waiting,’ Will thought quietly.
Maybe it was because he wasn’t quite used to this yet, he couldn’t quite fathom the fact that his friend was in jail. In fact, he wished with all his heart that Justin wasn’t in jail. But he knew that wouldn’t help him. ‘I shouldn’t stand here feeling sorry for myself,’ Will thought scolding himself for acting so down. ‘I should find something to keep my mind off of what happened to Justin.’ But what? Will stood quietly in the hallway for a minute, his brow furrowing in concentration. After a minute or so he gave up, thinking of something was starting to hurt his head too much.
Instead he looked around the house he had grown up in. He wondered if he was just being weird when the wooden-paneled walls seemed brighter. The carpeted staircase seemed less imposing and the locked front door seemed less menacing. ‘This is ridiculous,’ Will thought to himself. ‘I’m standing here analyzing my house, I’ve got to be bored out of mind to do that.’ He looked around trying to find something to do. Suddenly he spied the yellow notepad Jake used to write down phone numbers.
write about this,’ Will thought slowly. ‘But I
write, I hate writing.’ He tried to shake the
from his head, but it didn’t go away. Before he
stop himself Will found that he was holding the
notepad and pen trying to find a place to think, so
could write clearly. He sat down on the stairs and
started writing. At first it was just simple stuff,
then Will started to write down everything that
happened recently. From the day he and Jake had
realized they were being stalked, to the end of the
trial when the judge said, “I find the defendant
guilty.” He wasn’t sure why, but for some strange
reason it made him feel better.
Justin sat quietly in his cell. A big burly man with black hair glared at him from the corner of the cell. ‘Great, just what I need,’ Justin thought with a slight groan. ‘A roommate.’
“Hey kid,” a gruff voice startled Justin. He whirled around, only to find it had come from his gruff looking roommate in the corner.
“Are you talking to me?” Justin asked, knowing it was a stupid question as he said it.
“Yeah, who else is in here?” the man replied sarcastically.
“Sorry,” Justin mumbled. “Why do you want to talk to me anyway?”
“I don’t know, bored I guess,” the man replied casually. “I'm Jim.”
“Hi, I'm Justin,” Justin said hesitantly. “What are you in jail for?”
“Me?” Jim asked as if the question didn’t matter at all. “I’m not so sure you want to know.”
“Why, because I’m so young?” Justin asked coldly.
“Yeah, you’re only what seventeen or something, you shouldn’t be in here.”
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” Justin replied sullenly.
“Oh right, that,” Jim said absent-mindedly. “Well... I killed somebody.”
“Who?” Justin asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
“Do you really want to know?” Jim asked uncertainly.
“Yeah, how bad can it be?” Justin replied casually.
“What?!” Justin cried. “You killed your wife?!”
“Yes, that’s what I said,” Jim replied calmly. “She was going to leave me, so I stopped her before she could do that.”
“But that’s crazy!” Justin exclaimed. “That’s the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard!”
“Oh really?” Jim said in surprise. “I’m guessing your reason for being here isn’t much better.”
“Well no,” Justin said quietly. “But at least I didn’t actually kill anybody.”
“Are you implying you tried to?” Jim asked curiously.
“No, of course not!” Justin cried defensively.
“That’s it isn’t it?” Jim said with a slight smirk. “You tried to kill somebody and you got caught.”
“Okay, so you’re right,” Justin said with a sigh. “But I didn’t exactly get caught.”
“What do you mean - how else would you end up in jail?” Jim asked suspiciously.
“I mean I revealed myself to my victim,” Justin said slowly. “I couldn’t take it anymore, the guilt was killing me inside.”
“You’re not a very good criminal then,” Jim said with a laugh.
“It’s not funny,” Justin replied icily. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this.”
“Hold on, this your first offense?” Jim asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Justin replied quietly.
“Oh, no wonder you’re so young,” Jim said in wonder as if Justin was some sort of collectible item.
“You’re only uh... and you tried to kill someone?”
“I’m seventeen,” Justin replied calmly.
“Seventeen?!” Jim cried. “But you’re a minor; you shouldn’t even be in jail!”
“I know that,” Justin snapped. “It’s not my fault the judge decided to put me in jail here.”
“Well, you’ll probably get moved,” Jim said reassuringly.
“Yeah, to some juvenile hall place where all the kids are street punks and crack addicts,” Justin replied bitterly.
“Gee, you sound pretty bitter,” Jim said with a smile.
“I have the right to be,” Justin replied quietly. “I said I was sorry, that I made a mistake, and now my best friend hates me.”
“No wonder you’re so bitter,” Jim teased. “You know the system doesn’t work like that.”
“Sure, I know that,” Justin replied quickly. “But Will doesn’t.”
“You’re friends I take it?”
“Yeah, but he just wants me to come home,” Justin replied with a sigh. “I can’t really blame him, that’s what I would rather do then be stuck in this hell hole.”
“You never know, things could get better,” Jim said, trying to sound optimistic.
“Yeah, that’s what you think,” Justin replied frowning, trying to keep the tears from spilling onto the floor.
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