Habit of A Lifetime Ch. 04bySadieRose©
Chapter 4: Destination Nowhere
© Sadie Rose 1999
(Gore Warning: The culmination of this story is 'still' [apologies to Laurel and Manu] a tad violent, so anyone with a nervous disposition and/or weak stomach should cut away before the last page. Sorry :I )
"Why didn't you fucking wake me?" Simon yelled at his boyfriend, and not for the first time, as they skidded to a halt in the drop-off point at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. They blocked all entrances and exits, whilst Thom fumbled for the ignition key to restart the stalled engine of his unfortunate Toyota.
"You said you needed to sleep. There was nothing anyone could do!" the lad wailed hopelessly back at him.
Simon let himself out of the car and slammed the door furiously. Behind him Thom wound down the passenger window and yelled; "How are you getting back?"
"Like you care!" his partner growled and stormed off through the double doors into the antiseptic-smelling corridors of the hospital.
Ciaran Hart was still waiting outside the casualty department when Simon finally located it. Whipsnade's lanky, long-haired, Irish bassist looked up at him, blank-eyed and weary, chewing on his knuckles, as Simon demanded to know what in seventeen hells was going on. Charley Collister came to the rescue of both of them. Their big, burly driver had been to the coffee machine. Now he deposited a polystyrene cup in Simon's hand and said; "He's through the worst, Hathaway. Mind, he needed a transfusion; he'll be on the easy list for a few days, doctors reckon."
"What the fuck happened?" Simon protested, frantic by this time.
Ciaran looked pale and shaken as he muttered; "Si, they reckon Ray did it. He's down the cop shop at Woodfield Road."
When the door to his cell opened again, the grim, grey, bristle-faced man who had questioned him previously was standing in the doorway. Rayne looked up at him blank-faced, waiting.
"On your feet, mate. It's ShowTime!"
He turned away without another word. The singer waited a moment for two burly PCs to come and cuff him. When nothing of that kind happened, he scrambled numbly to his feet and followed the Detective back down the faceless corridor to the depressing room where he had been interviewed earlier in the morning.
Charley ran Simon to Woodfield Road Nick in the Mercedes and promised to wait there for him, which was reassuring on a personal level he could not quite connect with. Ciaran stayed at St. Mary's in case there was any news.
The station was a small but austere, modern building. Its staff seemed well suited to the premises. A tall, bulky man with a thinning copse of grey hair on his head and considerably more steely bristles under his nose ushered Si into a tiny, featureless, grey room that was not much bigger than a toilet cubicle. Wordlessly he indicated a seat behind the plain, teak desk. He sat down opposite in a creaking chair and switched on a tape recorder, speaking his details into it without embellishment. A younger woman with straight, ash-blond hair that fell to her waist entered the room and sat beside him, setting a folder on the desktop between them and Simon.
She did not smile, although her features would probably have benefited from the attempt.
"Mr... Hathaway?" the man queried, glancing at his notes to confirm Simon's name although it had only recently been given to him at the front desk and he had just spoken it into the tape recorder. "I am DS Parker and this is WDC Berensson. We've already had a word with your - erm - colleague, Mr. Wylde, this morning but we'd like to clarify a few small points if that's okay with you?"
Simon nodded his head mutely and Parker confirmed his response for the tape.
"Am I under arrest?"
The Detective Sergeant shook his head at that.
"No, no, Mr. Hathaway. Nothing like that, I assure you. We just needed some more background information before a decision can be made about your colleague's bail conditions."
He rubbed his iron-grey moustache with a nicotine-stained finger and Simon itched immediately for a cigarette. He had left his at home in the rush to get to the hospital.
"Has Rayne been charged?" he wanted to know now.
"Not formally, no." It was the woman that answered him. She spoke with a husky, controlled alto voice and Simon found himself wondering, a touch irrationally, whether she could sing.
"Mr - um- Greening..." Parker took another glance at the file to confirm Matty's existence. "...has not laid any direct charges against your colleague. However, the doctors at St. Mary's have already stated that he was hardly capable of doing so when they brought him into the A&E. In view of the nature of the attack on Mr. Greening, and the fact that Mr. Wylde has confessed to the assault under questioning, we are still deliberating the wisdom of detaining or releasing him."
Simon stared blankly at him. Rayne had 'confessed'? He could not get his head around that information. What could Rayne have possibly done that he needed to confess to the police?
"We have a gig at the Roundhouse in just over seven hours," he heard himself saying distractedly.
"I don't think so, Mr. Hathaway."
That was the woman again. She fixed him coldly with blue-grey eyes, like cloudy skies reflected in twin puddles. Simon felt his scalp prickle as though she pulled fine claws through his hair, raiding his head for hard evidence of his guilt. He shifted awkwardly in the hard, plastic seat.
"I don't understand. The doctors wouldn't tell us.... I mean, what's Ray supposed to have done?"
DS Parker exchanged a speculative glance with his fellow officer which set Simon's nerves on edge some more. Then he filled Whipsnade's drummer in on the gory details of the attack that had drained Matt Greening of over a third of his natural body fluids. Before he was half done, Simon began to feel very sick.
"How long have you known Raymonde James Wylde, Mr. Hathaway?" WDC Berensson asked him neutrally, without giving him a moment's respite.
Simon rubbed his forehead, conscious that he was sweating under the glare of the strip light overhead and wishing that he had thought to bring his medication. He was still struggling to stay rational whilst a part of his brain teetered on the edge of hysteria. This simply could not be happening.
"I met him at infant school, we were about five years old," he volunteered automatically, his brain showing him a moon-faced, cherubic kid in green and yellow dungarees, which almost brought a smile to his face. From the expression on WDC Berensson's immobile face, he figured that this was hardly the sort of detail she required and added quickly; "Uh... about twenty four... twenty five years, I guess. God almighty! Twenty five years!"
DS Parker smiled a little at that beneath his heavy moustache. The young WDC barely registered the remark. Simon wondered if she had even been born twenty five years ago.
"And Matthew Greening?" she prompted, without looking up from her notes. "How long have you known 'him'?"
Simon chewed on his lower lip. He would have to be damned careful here. He had not missed the look of disgust on WDC Berensson's face at Parker's revelation of how Matt had been injured and the circumstances surrounding the assault. Now she was sizing him up, trying to decide what kind of pervert he was.
"Maybe six... seven years," he hazarded with a shrug.
"And what is your relationship to Mr. Greening?"
Simon smiled unfeelingly.
"He's my manager... I mean, the Band's manager. Look... If he's stuck in hospital I really ought to ring the venue and let them know what's going on..."
"All in good time, Mr. Hathaway," said Parker tolerantly. "Were you aware of any - uh - amorous relationship between Matthew Greening and Raymonde Wylde?"
Simon blinked once.
"Is that relevant?" he wanted to know.
Privately he had already begun to suspect DS Parker of some closet voyeurism. He could not explain it. Perhaps it was the moustache! This, however, was not an issue he was at ease discussing with the man.
"I wish to establish the depth of feeling between Mr. Greening and Mr. Wylde in order to rule out possible conflicts which may... however inadvertently... have led to the incident in question," Parker told him, almost too casually.
WDC Berensson was more direct.
"Was there a sexual relationship between Matthew Greening and Raymonde Wylde?" she wanted to know.
Simon looked at his hands uncomfortably.
"Yes," he said at last, in a very small voice. "Not for quite a while though. They were together for a few years, but that was some time ago. They've been friends ever since. I wasn't aware that they were still close, physically."
"When you say together, what exactly do you mean by that?"
Simon glanced up and caught Parker's eye. There was a definite gleam of interest there now. Simply, he responded; "They shared a flat in Kilburn, up near the top of the High Road. I presumed Rayne was fucking him. I never asked!"
"How long ago, exactly?" asked Berensson.
The younger man's expression remained guarded as he looked back at her. Curiosity glittered in his blue eyes. She was fishing for sure; looking for something, anything at all, to pin on Rayne. Matty was five years their junior - they presumably had his medical files, they would know that. When Matt and Rayne first became lovers, Ray was twenty-one. Matt had barely turned sixteen. Simon was no fool. He could see what she wanted out of this.
"I don't recall," he lied vaguely now. "Maybe a couple of years. It was a pretty mad time, what with the band taking off and everything. I don't remember."
"Were you aware of Raymonde Wylde's sexual inclinations? You claim to know him well, after all." Berensson persisted, undaunted by his sudden evasiveness.
"I went to school with him. We've been in bands together. I didn't say I lived in his pocket!" Simon responded in brittle tones. "He was a mate. I knew he got off with boys as well as girls. He had a reputation for it, even at school. And no... before you ask... I've 'never' slept with him!"
'Frigid Bitch!' he amended silently. 'Suck on that!'
"But you are 'homosexual', Mr. Hathaway?" the woman retaliated without flinching. She pronounced the five offending syllables very cleanly and precisely like separate words, as though the very speaking of them could infect her with his perversion. Simon suddenly hated her for it.
"Yes, damn you!" he hissed softly, almost under his breath. "Yes, I'm fucking queer! And I'm also a damned good drummer, a half-way competent kick-boxer and some mother's fucking son!"
That finally raised a smile from the woman although it was not a facial expression that encouraged familiarity, even presuming Simon 'had' been interested! He glared back at her vehemently.
"I'm sure you're capable of taking care of yourself, Mr. Hathaway," she remarked acerbically. "The question remains though; are you up to keeping an eye on your... friend?"
He did not miss the deliberate pause. Convinced by now that she was out to ruffle his feathers, he purposefully controlled his reactions. If she wanted to prove to him that all gay men were hysterical queens, she would have to try harder than this.
"I'll do whatever is necessary to get him out of here," he said quietly now.
"You're convinced that this whole messy business was an accident, are you?" DS Parker queried, frowning slightly.
"I don't think Rayne Wylde is a killer," Simon responded levelly, shaking his head. "Okay, he's not the most stable firework in the box but I can't believe that he meant to hurt Matt. There's no way he'd 'deliberately' do such a thing. This has got to be a mistake."
Berensson flipped through some papers on the desk in front of her. Coolly, she said; "The paramedics report stated that there was drug-taking paraphernalia at the apartment where they picked up Mr. Greening. Toxicology reports have not come back to us yet but their initial suspicion was Heroin. Do you have anything to say about 'that', Mr. Hathaway?"
Simon looked from her impassive face to Parker's inquiring one. He felt his heart sink. On top of the latest bout of press activity, this was all they needed.
"I... I thought Ray was clean," he faltered, conscious that they were waiting on his response. "As far as I knew... he wasn't... he didn't, um, he didn't take that stuff any more."
WDC Berensson glanced at her colleague briefly and shuffled her papers. Parker shrugged his meaty shoulders once, then leaned across to the tape recorder.
"Interview suspended at..." a glance at his chunky Rolex told him; "...fourteen hundred hours and seven minutes." Now he looked up at Simon shrewdly as he switched off the machine. "I hope you're right, Mr. Hathaway."
Rayne blinked myopically at the big man, not quite grasping what he had been told.
"I'm free to go?"
"Your colleagues have arranged bail for you," Parker told him gruffly. "That will do for me, for now. Be warned, you're not to leave the country. I'd appreciate it if you checked in here tomorrow and handed over your passport, just to be on the safe side."
"But I'm free?" Rayne persisted, still perplexed. "I can go home?"
"Sure," the detective replied amiably. "Unless your boyfriend changes his mind and decides he wants to press charges - or the worst happens and he snuffs it!"
Rayne experienced a sickening jolt somewhere beneath his ribs and fought the urge to retch. He had not quite managed to put the memories of Matty's pale, fragile body out of his head during the last hour or so in solitary confinement, but DS Parker's casual words brought the whole grim scenario sharply back to the front of his mind. Not for the first time he silently asked himself what he had done - and what he had become?
Simon watched in rueful silence as Rayne flaked out on the back seat of the car just as he had after so many of their binges together. He wondered grimly if it would have been better to hear him protest his innocence. Nothing could have been worse for Simon after his interrogation at the hands of the Woodfield Road CID than to see his friend tacitly accept all that they had accused him of. Miserably he slumped in his seat, wishing that Rayne would at least try to deny it. To know that what Parker had told him today was true tore him to pieces more certainly than if he had been the victim of Rayne's malice. What sickened him was that Rayne did not appear to be the slightest bit repentant.
An ice-green eye opened behind the tangled screen of his forelock and Rayne Wylde asked; "What's going to happen about tonight?"
"I've been trying to get hold of Court all day," Simon replied, pushing emotion to the back of his mind and business to the fore, which he usually did as a means of coping. "I called the Roundhouse about fifteen minutes ago, before I tried the hospital again. They're putting out radio bulletins advising people that the shows are being postponed. I didn't tell them all of what happened, just that you were indisposed and Matty was in hospital. I guess the press will work it out sooner rather than later."
Rayne sat forward abruptly, glaring at Simon through his matted fringe.
"You put off the gigs?"
"What else was I to do? I thought you were in prison, Ray! This morning we all believed Matty would die!"
For a moment, they bristled at one another like hostile tomcats contesting a hunting patch. Then, to Simon's amazement, Rayne backed down, looking away.
"It's over, isn't it?" he said, in such a small voice that the other man could almost have forgiven him – 'almost', but not quite. "Whipsnade is over. And it's my fault."
He wept then. Not for Matt or for himself but for the dream he had always cherished of the band; 'his' band. Simon understood his sorrow. They had been together in this venture since the beginning - he and Rayne and Matty. Whipsnade was their baby and it had come so close to the ultimate success.
Simon could virtually hear Matt telling Rayne and Kris Spedding at the last SOLD Board meeting that another six months would make or break them. 'Drowning Fields' was the album they had always wanted to make. The tour had vindicated all the belief he and Rayne had in Whipsnade and the Party Faithful were swelling in ranks still. To end like this...
Moonlight shimmered on the surface of the water as Rayne prowled between the trees, careful not to step on anything that might break and betray his presence. Up ahead, the pale shadow always danced, just out of reach, long silver-gilt hair hanging down between slim shoulders in a heavy tail, swaying from side to side as his quarry moved among the swaying palm trunks. Overhead the wind rustled in the long, heavy leaves and he shivered, feeling out of place and out of time here. Stumbling down a small, sandy defile, he found himself in a clearing, totally alone. It was dry and gritty underfoot and the edges of an infinite-seeming river lapped softly at the shore just a few strides away.
There was not another living soul to see in either direction, up or down the banks. Only the chuckle of the water and the shushing of the leaves disturbed the perfect silence. His elusive prey had evaded him.
Wearily, he rubbed the back of his neck and sat down on a boulder by the river's edge, lost and helpless. He was a child of the city; this gilded wilderness seemed alien and dangerous to him. As he watched the tiny undulating waves twinkling in the darkness like a billion earthbound stars, he felt the touch of cool, moist lips on the nape of his neck and turned his head sharply to look up.
Behind him stood a tall, broad-shouldered man who blocked out the starlight. His long, pale hair shimmered in the silver shafts of moon glow and his nude body was as sleek and smooth as a statue worked in bronze. As Rayne met and held his unblinking gaze, he smiled like a tiger scenting prey and held out his hand in an open invitation...
16th August 1999 - St. Katherine's Dock, LONDON.
"I had Ciar' on the phone the other day wanting know when the Roundhouse gigs were going to be re-scheduled."
Simon looked over his shoulder from the kitchen counter where he was cutting chilli peppers for a salad. Just lately, Rayne had developed a real craving for green salads. They were about all that he could stomach. Since Matt went into hospital, he had spent an inordinate amount of time at Simon's flat.
Additionally, Thom had spent an increasing amount of time away from home. It was getting very wearing, to say the least. Simon would not have minded if it had just been the sex, (after all, he was getting used to doing without that) but he missed the younger man's company too. For a while, after they came back from Mauritius, he had hoped that they were actually beginning to work together as a couple.
Of course, events since Oxford had knocked all of that into touch.
To everyone's relief, Matty was out of Intensive Care now and the Doctors even said that he might be allowed home this weekend. The Police had spoken to him a few days ago and he quite adamantly stated that he would not press charges for assault. Si had been to see him a couple of times but Rayne stayed away.
Currently, Rayne was sitting by the deep, floor-to-ceiling bay window, staring out over the river. He gave no visible indication that he had been listening. However he surprised Simon by finally responding; "There won't be any Roundhouse gigs. He knows that!"
"Matt's gonna come round. Give it time," Simon reassured him gently, resuming his preparation whilst Rayne watched the Thames flow sluggishly by below.
The most irritating part of all this was that Ray had not been home since his release from custody. He could not bring himself to enter the flat, so Simon was in the process of arranging its sale for him. He spent much of his time here, or with his father back in Dymchurch. Normally the filial visits only lasted a day or so, at most. Longer than that, Ray was unable to stomach, but when Rayne was here in London, Thom stayed as far out of the picture as possible.