I kicked a rock and listened to the clattering echo as it went down the street, shuffling my feet slowly. After splitting off from Gabe and Crystal, I'd found myself wandering, trying to put off going to see him as long as possible. I guess you could call it fear. That thought made me laugh. Natalie Wilhem, aka, She-Whom-You-Do-Not-Screw-With-Ever, was afraid to go see her own older brother. I loved Andre, I really did. We used to do everything together; he even let me tag along to his work from time to time, as long as it was nothing really dangerous. Then
I pushed the gate open, closing it behind me. The path was as foreboding as always. I didn't stop to look at the scenery, I never did. It had been six years since that day, and still I hated doing this. Andre had never been perfect, nobody is. But In my eyes, he was as close as you could get. He was everything a big brother should be, strong, nice, dependable, not willing to hold back if he thinks you're doing something incredibly stupid. While these days I never stayed when he became the subject of conversation, God help someone if they spoke badly about him, because I would beat the hell out of them.
I left the path, the soft grass folding under my feet. I don't know why, but I got sick of looking at the ground, so I slowed my pace and raised my head, looking around for once. Late November was the kind of time where it wasn't cold enough for snow, but just enough to be uncomfortable. Brown leaves littered the ground, making a bit of an eyesore. It was in between the white beauty of winter, and the red and yellow of fall.
I laughed to myself again. I wasn't the poetic type, so what was I doing thinking about something like this? Why else, it was an excuse to slow down. The only thing I ever really thought deeply about were my friends, and even that situation was getting a bit
different. A month ago it had just been the three of us, Me, Gabe, and Crystal, all just friends. Now, with Gabe and Crystal were dating
I mean, don't get me wrong, I saw it coming and wanted it to happen. But that didn't stop me from looking at them and feeling
jealous? I think that's the right word. Sure I'd felt it a little bit in the beginning, but it was negligible. But when that thing, went screwing with my head a few weeks ago, making me "want" Gabe, it had really started bringing things to the surface. I was lonely.
I mean, I wasn't going to say that to anyone, hell no! That's not who I was. And it wasn't like it was going to occupy my thoughts or anything. Still, though, it would be nice to have someone.
I found where he was lying. I kept my hands on my coat pocket as I approached. The letters had been worn after six years, but they were still clearly legible.
Here lies Andre Wilhelm, brother, son, and protector. He served his city dutifully and will ever be remembered as a hero.
The grave stone didn't answer, and I wasn't expecting it to. But it felt like I needed to say something. My brother had been on the police force for three years, I was only nine when it happened. I didn't really comprehend it for a while, but when I did, I stayed in my room for a week, and I barely ate. No one would believe it, but I had been a wimpy little girl who cried whenever she got picked on. Andre had always protected me from that. Without him, I didn't have anyone. The wind picked up for a second and the trees swayed, rustling loudly. For a moment I got paranoid and looked around to see if Gabe had followed me. No one was there, of course. I realized that Gabe was probably somewhere with Crystal meaning my worries were virtually impossible. The wind died quickly leaving only monotonous background noise in its place.
"Christ, calm the hell down." I told myself quietly. I tried to think of something to say. I would start to form a sentence, and then the background noise would distract me, and I would lose my train of thought. Finally I got fed up. For "background" noise, it didn't seem to be very far in the background. In fact it sounded like it was coming from inside the cemetery. I sighed annoyedly and left his grave to see what it was, silently promising myself that I'd come back before I left. I still had things I needed to get off my chest.
As I walked the noise got louder, but it wasn't until I got close that I was the aura of a flashlight. Now that I was closer, I recognized the sounds. They were the sounds of digging. I felt myself start to heat up. My pace quickened and I clenched my hands into fists furiously. I could see a single guy, waist deep in the grave, throwing a shovel-full of dirt back over his shoulder.
I cracked my knuckles and spoke up. "And what the hell, may I ask, do you think you're doing." The guy yelped and flinched before spinning around and staring at me in surprise.
"I, uh, I
" He flicked his eyes all around, trying to think of an answer.
"I'm waiting." I said, louder than before. Out of nowhere something smashed against the back of my head, giving me a red flash of pain that rippled throughout my skull. I dropped to my knees, forcing tears back. My head was ringing and I felt dizzy. I forced my breathing to settle down and turned my head to look at the other guy. I must've looked pretty damn scary, because he turned white and looked like he wet himself. He brought the shovel up to hit me again. I caught it this time, although the added pressure against any part of my body really didn't help the splitting headache. Without much effort I yanked it out of his hand, making him stumbled passed me and fall into the ground beside the grave. The first guy scrambled out and got his shovel ready and his partner pulled out a knife. I was about ready to kill these guys, but before I could do anything someone shouted.
"Alright, all three of you freeze!" We all looked where the voice was coming from and a flashlight was pointed at us. With the glare we couldn't see the guy holding it, but what I could clearly see his other hand, as well as the gun that he was holding in it. The way he talked, it sounded like a police officer. The two guys threw a quick look at each other and started to turn. Without hesitation, I broke the shovel over my knee and swept each half under their legs, tripping them into the grave behind me. "Hey!" He yelled at me.
"What was I supposed to do, let'em run?"
The police officer paused for a second, lowering the gun just a little. "Natalie?"
The use of my name took me by surprise. "How do you know who I am?" I asked. The police officer came forward and lowered his flashlight. It was Chief Carlyle. He was the officer my brother had been assigned to when he first became a policeman. He always worked my brother pretty hard, which, by the nature of a little sister, I found pretty funny. They had worked together until his death and we hadn't really talked since the funeral.
"Natalie Wilhelm, is that you?" I nodded slowly, not quite sure how I felt to see him. He walked passed me and toward the two guys, taking out two pairs of handcuffs. He tossed on pair to me. "Cuff the other guy, will you?"
"Sure." I walked over to the other guy, the one who had hit me in the head with the shovel, and pulled his arms behind his back as roughly as I could, locking his wrists tightly in the cuffs the way I'd seen my brother do so many times before. Chief Carlyle took out a cell phone.
"Kyle, it's Logan. I've got two grave robbers over by King's Chapel cemetery, send a few guys over. Thanks." We waited in silence until the police cars arrived and took away to two guys. They drove off and left me standing there feeling kind of awkward with Chief Carlyle next to me. "Now that that's taken care of," he turned to me, "what are you doing out this late, and near an open grave no less?"
"I was already in the area and I heard digging so I went to check it out. I found these guys here, one of them hit me in the back of the head-"
"With the shovel?!" He exclaimed. I nodded and he took his flashlight back out, making me stop. "Let me see." I lowered my head so he could take a look. After a few seconds he turned the flashlight back off. "We should get you to a doctor."
"No thanks. I'm fine." I started walking away.
"Natalie, you've been involved in a crime, you'll need to give me a statement, and you took a shovel to the back of the head so you may very well have a concussion, that's not something you can just walk off."
"You don't need my statement; you've got plenty of evidence. Their finger prints are on the shovel."
"Along with yours and your blood on one of them." He said sternly.
I couldn't do this, not now. Getting involved might've meant I wouldn't be able to be where I needed to tomorrow and that was not going to happen. "I'm fine, my head's fine, and you caught the guys red-handed." He continued to follow me.
"At least let me get your head checked. It won't take long. We'll go to a doctor, make sure everything's alright, and you'll be back home by ten."
I sighed. Much as I didn't want to admit it, he was right. I didn't need a concussion coming back to bite me in the fight the next day. "Fine, but not yet."
"Why not?" He asked frustratedly.
"Because I haven't gotten to say anything to him yet." I said, choking up a little and mentally kicking myself for it. Instantly his expression softened. He didn't need a name to know who I was talking about. He was probably here for the same reason. He had been there when Andre died. We walked back toward his grave together.
"The doctor will probably tell you this too, but nothing too strenuous for the next few days."
I ran what could very well be happening tomorrow through my head and came to a response that I decided not to voice: