Jessica finished doing her make-up whilst looking into the mirror and walked to a closed bedroom door. “Come on, Craig! We can't be late to the celebration!” Jessica shouted to Craig.
“Alright, alright.” Craig replied from inside the bedroom, as he buttoned up his shirt, covering the pink t-shirt hiding underneath. “I still don't see why you want me there. You’ll just end up going off to have a romantic evening with your girlfriend anyway.”
Jessica opened up the door and walked in. “I won’t bullshit you; that’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a good time! If you spent as much time socialising as you did complaining about how hard it is being single, you might just find someone you love.”
“That’s wishful thinking for Goldlake. The whole bloody town’s homophobic, it’s not the easiest job in the world finding another gay man, let alone one that’s public about it.” Craig replied, sighing as he turned round and looked at Jessica.
“How do I look?” She asked. She was wearing a glamourous red dress, with a fancy necklace round her neck. She gestured towatds her chest. “Too much… or not enough?”
“I don’t know or care.” He replied, looking as far away from her breasts as possible and began walking to the door. He stood at the door for a few seconds. “Are we going, then?”
Once they arrived at the festival, it was magnificent. The lights were colourful, everyone was happy and the atmosphere was friendly. It was the kind of place that you could go to feeling horrible, but once you arrived, you would definitely grow a grin across your face, no matter what.
“I’m sorry for being rude, Jessica.” Craig said with a smile. “You were right to drag me here, everything’s great here.”
“Glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself, but just wait until the fireworks at midnight. You’ll really have fun then.” Jessica replied, copying Craig's smile.
“JESSICA!” A female voice shouted from the distance. They got closer, revealing it to be Samantha, Jessica’s girlfriend. “Hey!” she shouted as she grabbed Jessica and pulled her in for a hug. The hug lasted a long time, which resulted in a few stares from the Goldlake residents. Samantha kissed Jessica on the cheek and held her close.
“We'll just be 25 minutes.” Jessica said to Craig, with Samantha still holding her.
“50 minutes.” Samantha whispered into Jessica’s ear.
“Make that 50 minutes.”
“Leaving already...” Craig said after a sigh, as the girls walked away. "Make sure to have fun then! See you in 50 minutes!" He shouted into the distance.
A man in dark clothing who was blending into the shadows walked past Craig, looking at him with his piercing eyes. Time seemed to slow as their eyes met. Craig blinked and once his eyes reopened, the man had disappeared. Craig hated being alone. It was scary.
-2 and a half hours pass-
Craig looked at his phone to see the time. “50 minutes… It’s almost midnight!” Craig muttered to himself. He relaxed in the crowd as he waited for the fireworks to go off at midnight. He checked the time again, noticing that it was now only a minute until midnight. It was cold, as in the rush to leave the house, he completely forgot to put on a coat. He focused on his surroundings, seeing all the happy couples around him, whereas he was all alone. His only two friends were nowhere to be found. He turned to the left, and suddenly a slightly younger man tripped over, and grabbed onto Craig for support. The longer the young man held onto Craig, the more that it became less of a grab and more of a hug. Their body heat transferred, keeping them both warm on such a freezing night. As the young man got up, Craig noticed how beautiful he was. His cute face, perfect hair, innocent smile and adorable red scarf aroused Craig. They had eye contact for a few seconds, before it hit midnight, and the New Year arrived. Craig grabbed the young man’s face and pulled it towards him and kissed him passionately, as fireworks went off in the background. Their kiss lasted around 10 seconds, before Craig let go. The young man looked at him, looking both shocked and confused.
“I’m sorry…” Craig awkwardly apologised. “It’s just… you looked cute, and I just thought that maybe…” Craig’s sentence was cut off when the young man pulled Craig towards him and they resumed kissing again.
“That felt so good.” The young man said. “Hi, my name’s Chris. What’s yours?”
-The next day-
Craig was woken up by Jessica and Samantha, who loudly entered the house. He yawned and began walking downstairs to confront them.
“I'd prefer if you were more honest with your timing." He said “Fifty minutes?”
“We spent a little longer” Samantha rudely replied. “I’ve got to go work now.” She left and slammed the door.
“Work? Drunk? On new year’s day?” Craig asked.
“Must just be a detective thing.” Jessica answered.
“Forget it. Why weren’t you there with me last night?”
“We were going to come over, but you had your hands down a blond boy’s pants.”
“I did not have my hands down his pants!” Craig replied with embarrassment as he realised he was caught.
“But you wish you did though, right?” Silence lasted a few seconds, and Craig nodded. “Then fuck him!”
“What?” He said, overcome with embarassment.
“Fuck him!” Jessica shouted. “You’re still a virgin after all these years, why not just get it over with?”
“I don't think I'm comfortable with you saying these kinds of things.” Craig replied. “But yes I will fuck him, thank you very much.”
Chris knocked on the door, and waited patiently for a response. After not too long, Craig opened the door wearing a nice apron. The two hugged, and Craig invited Chris into the house.
“I was just cooking.” Craig said with a smile. “I made us both some pasta primavera. You’ve come at just the right time, it’s almost finished.” He began dishing the meal onto two plates. Chris sat down at the table, which Craig had spent the whole day making sure was perfect. Craig placed one plate in front of Chris, and another where he sat. He opened a bottle of Champagne and poured it into two glasses.
“Thank you.” Chris said, before eating a fork-full of the meal.
“It’s fine.” Craig answered. “I like the meal anyway.”
“No, not just for the meal” Chris said as he gazed deeply into Craig's eyes. “Thank you for being with me. I was so scared that I’d never find another gay man in this horrible town; not only have I now found one, but I’ve found one who’s very handsome.”
“It’s ok. We have each other now, and we always will.”
“You’re so hot.” Chris said, before playfully giggling.
They both finished their dinner, so Craig took their plates out to the kitchen. A few seconds later, he came out with strawberries dipped in chocolate. They started eating them themselves, but ended up feeding them to each other.
“How did you know?” Chris asked. Craig stared at Chris with a confused expression on his face. “How did you know how much I loved pasta and strawberries?”
“I didn’t.” Craig wiped his hands on a napkin to clean up. “I’m going to have a quick shower.”
-Not long later-
Chris was in Craig’s bedroom, looking around at what was there. He opened a draw and quickly closed it in shock. He heard the shower turn off and turned round to see Craig, wearing nothing but his glasses and a towel. His chest was fully shaven and attractive. Chris admired the view of his body, he lust over every inch of his body, a few in particular, which lead to the two’s eyes meeting before Craig dropped his towel revealing himself. Chris copied him, by undressing.
“You're a virgin, like me, right?” Craig asked, to which Chris responded with a nod. “We won’t be for much longer...”
Once they finished making love, the two collapsed onto the bed and relaxed there for a while, before kissing again.
“That was amazing.” Craig said as he wrapped his arms round Chris. “We need to do this more.”
“Why would we ever stop?” Chris asked, smiling. Craig looked back and smiled too, before leaning in and kissing him again.
As they relaxed, Craig’s phone rang. He got out of bed and walked across the room to answer it, as Chris watched, still smiling over what just happened.
“Hello?” Craig said into his phone.
“Hey, it’s me.” The voice answered. It was Jessica. Chris also got out of bed and put his arms round Craig. “Could you help me? It’s pretty late and I don’t know the way home.”
“You’re a smart girl, Jessica.” Craig said. “I’m sure you can figure it out yourself.” Chris and Craig pressed their lips together and kissed.
“Did I just hear a kiss?” Jessica aggressively asked. “Oh, you’re with him... That’s why you won’t help out your friend.”
“Fine, I’ll come get you. Where are you.” Craig sighed.
“No it’s fine... I’ll call Samantha.” Jessica said, before hanging up. “FUCK!” She exclaimed, before throwing her phone to the ground.
Chris and Craig got back into bed. “Same time tomorrow?” Craig asked. Chris nodded and the two fell to sleep in each other’s arms.
-The next day-
Chris woke up, yawned and turned over to Craig, putting his hand on Craig’s chest and kissing his cheek. This woke him up. Craig wiped his eyes and looked at Chris. “Good morning.” Chris happily said.
“Morning...” Craig said, still partially asleep.
Chris got out of bed and began dressing, as Craig watched. “I’ve got to take care of something.” Chris said, before opening the bedroom door.
“Wait.” Craig said, before quickly jumping out of bed and walking towards Chris, still undressed. “Is there anything you want us to do on future dates? It’s probably unconventional to ask, I just thought I’d like to arrange something to make you happy.”
“Well,” Chris replied. “I’ll see if I can get here early tomorrow so I can watch you cook, and after we’re done eating, why don’t we do the same thing again? I’ll be there by 5pm. There is one other thing I’d like to do one day though.”
“We can’t do it right now, but eventually I’d like to play in the snow together. After it snows, of course.”
“The moment it snows, I’ll call you.” Chris smiled, before walking to the door and leaving, while Craig stayed in the doorway to his room with the door open. Craig then heard a noise, as Samantha walked out of Jessica’s bedroom towards the bathroom. She stopped as she reached Craig.
“Nice cock.” She joked, before continuing walking and closing the door.
Craig finished doing his hair and sat down to wait for Chris’ arrival. He looked at the time.17:00. He took a deep breath and adjusted his shirt. 17:01. Craig walked to the kitchen to get out the ingredients for their dinner. Once it was ready to start cooking, he checked the time again. 17:02. Craig unlocked his phone and viewed his contacts. He pressed Chris and the phone started to ring. There was no answer. 17:03. He started washing up to pass the time. He felt tears that were beginning to form, so he took his glasses off and wiped his eyes. He continued washing up with his glasses off and looked out the kitchen window. He looked at a bush across the road with his blurry vision. He tried to focus his vision and the figure of the man from new years eve appeared in the bush. He jumped and looked down to find his glasses. He quickly put them on and looked back at the bush. Nobody was there. Craig went back to sit down and dropped his head into his palms, nervously awaiting Chris’ arrival.
When he opened his eyes again and focused on his surroundings, he checked to see the time again. 17:30. He decided to start cooking anyway. Time passed and Craig took his food out the oven and served for two. He finished his meal, while Chris’ plate remained untouched, as he had not turned up. “Where are you? I miss you already...” Craig texted Chris. He went upstairs and opened the door to his bedroom. His focus moved around the room, remembering the events of last night. He lay down to rest in bed, worried about what had happened to Chris before closing his eyes.
-The next morning-
Craig was woken up by Jessica knocking on his door and entering his room. She was wearing her cute pink pyjamas, as she hadn’t been awake long either. Jessica walked towards his bed and kneeled down so that she was at eye level with Craig, who was still in bed.
“How have you been?” She asked. “We haven’t had a real conversation this year. Not that it’s been that long, but I’m your best friend, we should be hanging out more. You can tell me anything.”
“I’m fine, really.” He answered.
“Ok...” She said as she began walking back to the door. “But I am here for you whenever you need me.”
After Jessica closed the door, tears began to form in Craig's eyes. He reached for his phone and called the police.
“Hello?” A friendly female voice said through the phone. “999, how can we help?”
“Police, please” Craig said.
“Ok, please hold while I put you through to one of our officers.”
Craig rubbed his face with his hands, trying to reject the tears.
“’Ello.” A deep voice said “Officer Truslow speaking, how can I help?”
“I’m Craig Hamel. I’d like to report a missing person.”
“And who might that be?” Officer Truslow rudely asked.
“Chris... Chris Pearlman.”
“How long has it been since you last saw him?
“Just over 24 hours. He was meant to come round my house last night for a date, but he didn’t show up and he won’t answer his phone.”
“What did you just say? Date?”
“Yes, date. He is my boyfriend.”
Officer Truslow exclaimed an obscenity before hanging up the call.
Craig sat alone, watching the snow fall outside his window. He jumped as his phone rang.
“Hello?” Craig said into his phone.
“Hello. Is this Craig Hamel?”
“This is Officer Truslow. You called this morning about a missing person.”
“Yes, that was me.” A smile grew across Craig’s face as he assumed Chris had been found.
“Chris Pearlman was found dead earlier this evening.”
Craig looked at the snow outside and began crying. Tears forced their way out of his eyes, dripping down his face and onto the floor. Chris was dead. His hands weakened and his phone started to slip out of his grip. The phone dropped, and hit the floor, smashing. He ran his hands through his hair as his body shook in fear. He began breathing heavily and moved his body back and forth like a rocking chair. He cried out in emotional pain, crying endlessly.
Truslow heard a beeping sound, signalling that Craig had ended the call. He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and spat into the bin, before standing up and looking around the police station. “ALRIGHT, LISTEN UP!” He shouted, as everyone in the police station’s heads swung up. “I’ve found myself involved with a case investigating the murder of Chris Pearlman, local poofter. If we don’t solve this quickly, his boyfriend will be up my arse for weeks. If we can work together, we can find the killer, and we can go back to our lives.”
Every detective in the room other than Samantha stood up and clapped for his speech. Samantha stood up and stormed out of the station.
When she reached Craig and Jessica’s house, she ran upstairs to Craig’s room. She knocked on his door and asked if she could come in. She opened the door to find Craig in bed, crying. Craig sat up, and looked at her with his big, sad eyes.
“I heard.” Samantha said, as she held his hands. Craig pulled her in for a hug and held tight as he cried over her shoulder. After a minute, she pulled away. “I’ll leave while you weep on your own, and I’ll come back in a while so we can talk. Would you like that?”
Craig nodded and wiped his eyes before Samantha left the room and closed the door. She opened the door to Jessica’s room and entered, where Jessica was sitting in bed in her phone. Samantha paced across the room, quickly unbuttoned her jeans, pulling them down and climbed into bed with Jessica. She pulled the covers high up and closed her eyes.
Jessica looked at Samantha, and monitored her movements. “Are you ok?” She asked
“Yeah…” Samantha mumbled. She then sat up in bed next to Jessica. “I just want to relax.”
“Tough day at work?”
“Will be tomorrow.”
Jessica put her phone down and lied down next to Samantha. She placed her arm across Samantha’s body and held her close. “If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know” she whispered into her ear.
-The next morning-
Samantha woke up and felt Jessica’s arms around her. Samantha stayed there for a short amount of time, enjoying the feeling of their bodies so close together. Jessica then woke up, pulling her arms away and yawning.
“Good morning” Samantha said joyfully as she turned round to face Jessica. She held Jessica’s shoulder temporarily, before moving her hand down her body. “Do you remember how last night you said I should let you know if I wanted anything?” Her hand reached Jessica’s butt, where her hand stopped. “I think I have an idea of what I want to do.”
Jessica giggled playfully and pushed Samantha to the side and climbed on top of her.
“I love you.” Jessica said.
“I know.” Samantha replied.
-A short while after-
Craig’s eyes opened, waking from a short sleep. He had not rested well after hearing the news. After wiping his dead eyes, Craig cried out in emotional pain and struggled to get out of bed. He slowly and sadly walked towards a messy heap of clothes on the floor. As his eyes adjusted, he noticed something red. Craig was confused, as he did not own any red clothing, as he prefers wearing clothes coloured pink, white and blue. He reached for his glasses and put them on to see what it was. After picking it up, his heart sank as he realised what it was. It was Chris’ red scarf that he loved so much. He held it for a few seconds before dropping it and collapsing to the floor, sobbing.
Downstairs, Samantha and Jessica were talking to each other. Samantha heard Craig, and ran upstairs to comfort him. She knocked on the door, and opened it a second later to see Craig on the floor in the corner of his room, sniffing and continually touching his eyes to try to prevent tears from forming.
“I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to help you.” Samantha told Craig. He looked up at her, tears now becoming much more apparent. “But I will tell you this.” She crouched down to be on an even level to him. “The fragility of life is tragic, and you’re probably going to feel like this for a really long time but one day you’ll be able to think about him and it’ll be a happy feeling, thinking about the happiness you shared together instead of feeling so painfully sad. And that’s when you’ll start feeling alright.”
“Thank you.” Craig managed to say through his tears.
“No.” Samantha said. “Thank you for listening to me. I hope this will be over soon.”
“I’ve got to talk to the police.” Craig told her. “I don’t know if I can do it.”
“You can.” She assured him. “You just need to put a brave face on and act tough. Maybe you’ll end up fooling yourself.”
“Everyone’s going to know I’m gay.”
Samantha was silent for a few seconds. She knew that all the policemen at the station were all homophobic, and they both knew that so was the rest of the town. “Well, maybe you’ll set an example. Maybe there are others in the closet, like us, who might hear of you being brave and coming out, and could be inspired by you. Craig, you could have the answer to Goldlake’s problems!”
Craig stood up. “I see. I know what I have to do.”
“I’m proud of you.” Samantha said, before grabbing and hugging Craig.
-Later that day-
Craig was alone in a police interrogation room. He was sitting on a chair by a table which he was handcuffed to, with an empty chair opposite him. There was a mirror on the wall facing the table. He was very scared. What was happening? Didn’t Samantha say this would be easy? Why was he in an interrogation room? Did they suspect him? Why did he have so many unanswered questions? Do the police really think people will believe that the mirror is really just a mirror?
Craig heard the door open behind him, followed a deafening slam. Officer Truslow walked towards the table and sat down opposite Craig. He lit a cigarette and put it in his mouth.
“Excuse me.” Craig said. “Isn’t smoking indoors against the law?”
“Fuck off.” Officer Truslow exclaimed. “I am the law.”
Officer Truslow turned on an audio recorder and began saying the date and standard procedure whilst remaining threatening eye contact with Craig.
“So Craig.” Officer Truslow said. “Bloody corpse of Chris Pearlman was found in the park yesterday morning by a family. A mother, father and their two children. Y’know, a normal family. We’d like to know what happened to him.”
Craig was shocked at what Truslow had said. “Well… officer.” Craig stuttered. “So would I.”
“Can you tell us your whereabouts between midday and night two days ago?”
“I was at home.”
“Is there anyone who can confirm this?”
“My best friend, Jessica. She lives in the same house as me.” Craig replied. “Wait shit, she was out late that night. No. Nobody can confirm this, other than me.”
“And how would you describe your relationship with Chris?”
“Amazing.” Craig answered. “We’d only known each other for two days but we really connected. It hurts a lot to know he’s gone.”
“Sure.” Truslow said. “And you claim you were in a homosexual relationship with Chris Pearlman, is this correct?”
“I think you did it.”
“What?” Craig exclaimed in shock.
“I think you killed him. You have no alibi. You have no evidence to support your case, you have an obsession with the victim and there are no other suspects.”
“Craig Hamel, we’re taking you to court. You will be given a temporary jail cell which you will stay in whilst police search your home and until you are proven guilty or innocent.”
Craig’s head dropped to the table in shock and pain. His eyes were beginning to hurt with how much he’d cried over the past 24 hours. He thought everything was going to get better, but it had just become much worse. Samantha watched Craig cry through the one-way mirror and began to tear up herself.
“Court will take place in about a month from now.”
-About a month from then-
Craig was in Goldlake court, nervous for what could happen. He was still distraught over Chris’ death, and was now frightened about his own safety. He knew he was not responsible for the murder, but would the court know that? Even if they knew he was innocent, what would happen? Would the sick fuck responsible get caught, or would they stay out there freely, ruining the lives of many more?
“I received an allegation on the 4th of January from officers at the Goldlake police department that you are responsible for the killing of Chris Pearlman. To that allegation do you plead guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty.” Craig answered.
“Care to let the jury in on your side of the story?” The judge asked, turning and pointing to the jury. The jury was made of 12 people, all staring at Craig.
“Well…” Craig began to explain. “…I met Chris Pearlman on New Year’s Eve, at the annual new year celebration, where he fell over and landed on top of me. It was at this point that we realised we loved each other so we went on a date the next day. We arranged another for the day after, but he did not arrive. At that point I was worried, and my fears were confirmed when the next night I heard that Chris had been murdered.”
“How can you say you two were in love when you’re both men?”
“Because we’re gay.” The jury scoffed in disgust at this, which hurt Craig. Craig fought back his emotions and stopped himself from crying, but it still felt like they had all hit him directly in the heart. He was a victim here, but they were treating him like the murderer. He covered his eyes with his hands.
Craig moved the hands from his eyes. He was now in jail after being found guilty. Time had passed and he was now a mess. He mad been in jail for six months, for a crime he didn't commit. To make it worse, whoever did it was still out there, walking free, unpunished for his crime.
A police officer walked up to the door to Craig's cell. He unlocked the door and looked at Craig. "One of your neighbours has CCTV."
"Huh?" Craig mumbled.
"It shows that you were at home at the time Chris was murdered."
"Get out of here."
As Craig walked home, almost everyone he walked past stared at him, avoiding him. They all knew he was gay and thought he was a murderer. Everyone was judging him. He reached his road and saw crowds of news reporters outside his house. He turned back and dashed away. He knew he would never escape this. He ran and ran as far as he could and reached an empty forest that nobody went in. He walked in and hid from the world. He cried as he got out his phone and tried to call his parents for support, who wouldn't answer. He looked at his short list of contacts where he found Jessica's number. He called her, and just as he was about to give up she answered.
"Craig?" She asked, confused.
"Hello Jessica." He said.
"I thought you were in jail?"
"There was evidence that it wasn't me so they let me go."
"But everyone hates me, and I can't escape it. I've had to hide in the forest near our house to get away from it all. Please come. I need you."
It was now dark, but Craig was still hiding in the forest. He saw someone approaching. At first he was silent and worried, but relaxed as he realised it was Jessica. Jessica ran up to Craig and gave him a big, long hug.
"I missed you." She admitted.
"Well I'm out now."
"No." She said. "Since before then."
"Before?" He asked.
"You stopped caring about me once you met that blond boy." She said, still hugging him tight. "I might have had Samantha, but in truth... I also loved you. I loved you Craig, but you only cared for him and not me." Craig was shocked. "That's why I had to kill him."
"Y-you" He said, struggling to escape her tight grip.
"I killed him. He was getting in the way of us, so I had to kill him so we could be together."
"Well... I'm not really into girls... especially those that kill my boyfriends."
"I see." She said, as she grabbed a knife that she was hiding. "Then I'll have to kill you too."
"No wa-" She stabbed him in the back of the head.
"This is the end." She said, feeling his blood drip onto her hand. She kissed him and walked away.