Ben’s better now, he’s got some medication, he’s not a threat to anyone.
To The Nines Award: Part 1
“Nine days before the tragedy of Saturday night you were a resident of the locked ward at Queen Elizabeth hospital, is that accurate?” the inspector asks as she stares across the bare table at Ben.
“Yes inspector Rolander, ma’am.”
“You can relax, I’m just asking questions. You’re not under arrest.”
“But you think I did it. Don’t you? Everybody does. Everybody assumes the crazy guy did it, my neighbours painted terrible words on my car.”
“No, that’s not the case Ben and the issue with your neighbours has been dealt with.”
“Alright, but I don’t like being in the police station.” Ben finishes as he hunches over. The small room is silent except for the calm words of the inspector and Ben’s nervous breathing. There’s a two-way mirror on one wall and Ben glances over at it periodically, as if he expects some new, more pleasing image to stare back.
Inspector Rolander straightens in her chair and makes an effort to look at Ben with a comforting expression. She fakes a smile and says, “Why don’t you tell me about this year. Tell me what’s happened with you.”
“Fine.” Ben leans back and folds his arms; his tiny hands nestled in his armpits. “I was imprisoned in a hospital when my bipolar got out of control. They locked me away for few months and they altered my medication and they watched me and they decided I could go. They decided I’m not dangerous. I’m good now; I just need to be careful. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Alright, but you’ve been dangerous in the past and you weren’t careful this time. Were you Ben?”
Ben doesn’t reply, he points his soft young face to the floor and takes deep, trembling breaths.
“Ben, can you please answer me? Can you please tell me what happened when you left the locked ward?”
Ben crosses his ankles under the chair and rolls his shoulders forward so his body slumps into a whimpering ball.
“I couldn’t find my medication. It’s not my fault. I always leave it in the same place. I put it next to my bed and I put everything I need for the week into a little tray with the days written on it so I never forget. I don’t forget, I really don’t.”
“So you lost your pills? Is that what you’re saying? For how long?”
“I didn’t lose them. They disappeared.”
“For how long?”
“The whole week, the week before it happened. But then they were there again, they were beside my bed on Sunday and I’ve been taking them and I feel fine. I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong with me.” A few tears fall from Ben’s face, the droplets erupting and reaching back up like fingers before settling on the ground.
“So what did you do on Saturday night? Ben, we need to know.”
“I don’t remember.”
“What do you mean you don’t remember?”
“I don’t remember exactly what I did.”
“Because you had another episode? Is that right Ben? A manic episode?”
“No, that’s not it, I had an episode but that’s not why I don’t remember. I was drinking.”
“With who? Was anyone else home with you?”
“No, I was just having a beer and watching TV, that’s all.”
“So you were drinking alone during a manic episode and you don’t remember what happened? Is that correct? Please Ben, we need to get this straight.”
“Tell me what happened.”
“Wait, stop barking at me.” Ben unfolds his bunched up limbs and reaches out to lay his palms flat on the table, arms cocked at the elbows like a crab clinging to a rock. “Stop pushing me, I told you already, I had a beer while I watched the rugby on Saturday night. I had a lot of beer. There’s nothing wrong with that, everyone does it and you’re only hounding me because you think I’m crazy. You said we were just going to talk and you’re interrogating me. I have bipolar, I’m not stupid and I’m not under arrest. Now ask me something reasonable, speak to me in a reasonable way, or I’m leaving.”
“I don’t mean to push you Ben, we just need to know what you did on Saturday night.”
“I got drunk at home.”
“Alright. That’s a good start, but you were seen in town between the hours of nine pm and two am. The murders were at three, so you had plenty of time to break into her home.”