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Dementia

Stan was sat naked in the hot maisonette. He was in his late eighties, a big man with big hands. He had a large nose that was almost hook like and had become more hook like as he had gotten older. 

Hannah, his caregiver and nurse was late. She was a feisty little thing that didn’t take any shit from any of the residents in the apartment complex. She was the only one that would visit Stan. Often abusive and borderline aggressive, most of the other caregivers, including the men, wide berthed Big Stan and his wandering hands. 

Stan was a victim of the system as much as a victim of his disease. With the austerity cuts that reduced the care given, Hannah would only visit twice a day. She had been in the previous night and gotten Stan ready for bed, made sure that he had eaten and had changed his diaper.

Stan had been his usual self, he wanted to see Dawn his dead wife. Wondered if Hannah was Dawn, grabbed her ass and when Hannah told him to stop touching her, he then started throwing things. Soon after, he would want to take Dawn, aka Hannah out in his big blue Ford. This was when Hannah left him in his bed. Stan would stay in bed, sometime getting himself up in the morning and just sitting, watching the birds in the garden fight over the sunflower seeds. The cacophony of the ensuing battle always drew a smile across Stan’s face.

He was a shell of his normal self. Although still big, he was thin, almost emaciated. His clothes hung from him, the diaper often swinging freely between his legs, the contents sometimes plopping out onto the carpet. 

A council laborer, he was married to Dawn for fifty years. She had died and mercifully hadn’t been around for the slow murderous decline of Stan and his failing mind. In the early days, Stan would tell their only son Henry that he was relieved that his lovely Dawny wasn’t around to see. The sad thing about dementia is the people it leaves behind. Henry was testimony to this. He had a grandstand seat at the table, witnessing the ravages of the disease, with a piece of himself dying slowly with his father’s mind. Stan oblivious to the torment he was causing.

The one thing we can’t change is the degeneration of the brain. We can change everything in the body, take drugs to stop the spread of disease yet the brain remains the last frontier of medical science and Stan was one of its victims.

There was a knock at the door, the knock came again, Stan looked. His bottom lip quivered, he nervously looked to the door. His shaking finger brought up to his parched lips, waiting for his Dawny to come in from the shops, she was late he thought. 

The key grated into the lock and the Yale clicked. The door swung slowly open, “Hello” came the voice.

“Is that you, Dawny?” Stan asked, gripping the arm rests of his velour chair. The hope and anticipation of an iced bun and sweet hot tea with his Dawny would be just the ticket he thought. He looked to the floor the bun had to be buttered he thought fondly, the smile spreading across his face.

“Sorry Stan, its Collette, I’m a friend of Hannah, have you seen her?” she said as she walked in. Stan slumped in his chair. The disappointment was evident. 

“You’re not my Dawny.” he said flatly.

“No, sorry Stan my love.” she sat on the corner of the two seater sofa, both chairs facing the telly. She reached for his hand, the warmth of Colette made Stan smile, “Why have you not got any clothes on Stan, you must be freezing?” The only thing Stan was wearing was his adult diaper and that had leaked somewhat.

Collette got her phone out and hit dial. 

She clocked a blanket, folded neatly on the small dining table, one chair a framed photo that was cracked, of a beautiful woman, that must be Dawny she thought.

“We need to get you warm Stan, get you cleaned-up and get some clothes…” she stopped, the person she dialled answered the phone.

“Hi, yeah, its Collette, I’m with Stan in number eight, Hannah hasn’t been in here this morning, so I am not sure where she has got to. Once I am done here, I will swing by her house and see if she’s there.”

“I’ve spoken to her husband, she wasn’t home last night.”

“Oh” Colette said, smiling at Stan, he was muttering to himself, chewing a fingernail, he seemed anxious, but that wasn’t unusual for dementia patients.

“Did he not want to call last night to chase that up?” Collette asked.

“Well, that’s what I thought but they had had a row, so she had told him that she was going to stay with a friend.” the voice said matter of factly.

Collette and Hannah had been friends for many years, when Hannah had said friend, it would almost certainly had been at Colette’s house. Hannah had mentioned in passing the row, but Collette hadn’t thought anything of it.

“Okay, I’ll get Stan cleaned up.” He threw her a look, mumbling, she reached out again, and touched his hand. He was still freezing.

The bathroom was down stairs, she helped Stan up and walked with him to the bathroom, the smell of the diaper needed urgently changing. Not one of Collette’s favourite activities.

She ran the bath, making sure the water wasn’t too hot.Colette removed Stans diaper and the smell smashed into her nostrils like a steam train. She fought hard, but the bile was reaching into her mouth.

“There’s a burglar upstairs, Dawny,” Stan said standing in the middle of the bathroom, hands brought up to his chest, “I saw her last night, we spoke for a little bit.”

“Was that burglar Hannah, did she put you to bed?” Collette asked, trying to breathe through her mouth at the same time as talking.

“You sound funny,” Stan said “do you want to go out, I can take you, out in the big blue Ford I have.”

“I’ve heard about your big blue Ford,” Colette said. 

“Hannah’s told me everything about you, bit of a lady’s man by all accounts. You still into a bit of dancing?” she asked.

“Aye, she’s a beaut” he said,  “Are you my Dawn? why are you not my Dawn?”

“My name is Collette,” she said smiling. The dementia loop strong.

He was now clean, the waste all wiped away sealed in a plastic bag, she guided him over to the bath, she checked the temperature again, checking to the point of obsession. Just right she thought.

She guided Stan into the water, he screamed a blood curdling scream, “It’s too hot you fucking bitch.” Grabbing her hair and yanking her down, Collette had to use her free hand in the water to stop herself from being dragged under. 

“Stan,” she said calmly. 

“Fucking bitch.” He said yanking again. 

Collette desperately held onto her tongue, “Stan, let go of me lovely, there’s a good chap.”

He released and sat in the bath, “Ooo, this is lovely” he said. 

Colette sat back, her breath gasping, the pain still tearing through her scalp. Smoothing the hair away, she was thinking that there must be an easier way to make a living.

Smiling, she got on her knees and washed his back. He regaled her with stories from his youth. It was difficult to discern what was the truth and what was fantasy, made up through the fog of dementia. Though Collette could see the beauty in the man.

“I’m just going to go and get you some clean clothes” she said jumping to her feet. 

“Then can we go out in my big blue Ford, Dawny” he said cleaning under his armpits for the tenth time.

“We will see Stan, just wait two seconds, I’ll grab you some clothes from the bedroom and I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

“Watch out for the burglar, he’s on the floor in the bedroom.”

Collette smiled and left the bathroom, the door wide open. She walked the short distance to the bedroom at the end of the hallway, and walked in, she stopped suddenly. 

Frozen, she went to scream, but nothing came out. She went to walk forward, but no movement came. Her breathing became rapid and labored, 

“What the fuck, what the fuck?” she said grappling her phone. The splash of water came from the bathroom, Collette didn’t hear it, Stan appeared soaking at the top of the stairs, water cascading from his body, pooling on the carpet, he walked down the thin corridor, Collette still didn’t clock him, he peered around the door frame, and turned to look at Collette, frantically hitting the dials on her phone 

“Fuck fuck fuck,” she said over and over again.

The phone was answered, “Police, now flat eight hurry!” she gasped.

“I told you there was a burglar.”  he said and then punched Collette spark out, her nose spreading across her face, she slid down the wall of the hallway like a rag doll. Stan stepped over her, went back to sit in the living room and waited for Dawn.

……….

Voices came into Collette’s head. Her face was aching, she could feel fingers around her jaw, she was lying down, she could smell the rubberised smell of an oxygen mask and the gentle waft of air tickling her nose, the thin veil of her eyes were lifted and the bright piercing light of a torch caused her pupils to retract painfully, she moved, using her hands, she felt herself restrained. 

“She’s waking up,” came the voice.

Opening her eye, she was looking at the furrowed brow of a young man, she glanced over, there were police in the bedroom the reality of what Collette had seen was resurfacing in her memory again.

“Colette, you had a bit of bang, but you’re okay, all your vitals are normal.”

“What?” she said trying to sit up.

“Steady, just lay still for sec, lovely,” came the voice, it was gentle.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Stan?” Collette asked, trying to get up again.

“Lay still,” said the voice again, she looked down to her feet, causing her nose to smart. “Stan’s okay, he’s in the front room with my colleague having a cuppa.”

“Stan punched me.” Collette said. “Hannah?” she asked, looking into the bedroom.

“Police are with her, just lay still lovely, we’ll get you up in a tick.”

“Hannah, is she okay, I want to…”

“Hannah is with the police,” the voice said, Collette got up, she fought the protestations of the paramedic, she slid up the wall, her head banging. She pulled the mask off her face, the elastic stretching and then getting caught in her hair, the mask finally resting on the top of her head.

Things were coming back into focus, the paramedic was taking a manual blood pressure, the shuh, shuh, shuh of the air being squeezed into the arm cuff registering in Collette’s mind, tortoise shell round glasses perched his head. He had a wise face, younger than he looked Collette thought, she darted her attention to the bedroom, a sheet had been pulled over Hannah’s body, her feet protruding from the bottom, one at a weird angle, her right leg wide open. 

The memory came flooding back, when she got to the bedroom, she remembered seeing the body, Stan saying ‘that there was a burglar the bedroom.’  Hannah’s nurses uniform had been hitched up and torn open, the buttons littered the floor like empty bullet cases. Her tights had been torn off and around her left ankle lay the remains of her knickers. Bruises littered her body, grab marks, welts and whip marks. Clearly she had been raped. A deep red welt spread around her throat, the skin broken in parts, the leather belt lying on the floor next to her head,  her tongue swollen, blue and lopping lazily to the side, her eyes bulging, angrily red, with the unmistakable look of terror etched on her face. This was how she died. Her skin was a porridge colour, the extremities a horrible shade of blue.

She could hear the police and the forensic pathologist chatting. 

“Her left nipple had been bitten off, she was subjected to a horrendous ordeal and there was plenty of evidence at the scene…” the voices faded as the door closed, Collette noticed the jeans and Timberland boots stood in front of her, she glanced up wincing. Her neck was sore and her head pounding.

His face was soft and friendly. He crouched, legs athletic, his smile big and full of perfect teeth. Collette remembered that she must have been in a bit of mess. She stiffened and smoothed her hair, the oxygen mask getting tangled further in her hair. 

“She okay?” still looking at her, but the question was directed to the paramedic.

“Yeah, she’s fine, taking her to the hospital though, just to check her out.”

Collette’s eyes darted between the two men. 

“You okay to speak, Collette?” the policeman said, “My name is Steve.”

She nodded, she noticed a bottle of water, she placed her hand on it, the paramedic nodded, “It’s yours, you can have it.”

She took a swig, it opened the floodgates for the rest, she drained it like her life depended on it, blowing her cheeks out. 

“Hannah, is she okay?”

“I’m Steve Talbot, sergeant Steve Talbot,” he said smiling.

The policeman shook his head, “I’m afraid Hannah passed away.” He paused for a second, Collette was struggling to process the information.

“What do you mean that she is dead?”

“I’m not going to lie to you Collette, but it appears that she has been murdered.”

“How?” Collette asked, she was objective, matter of fact, even though her friend was dead on the other side of the thin door.

“Looks like she was sexually assaulted and from what we understand at this point, things got out of hand.”

“What’s your relationship with Stanley?” the officer took out his notebook and flicked through the pages, went to far and and flicked a few back, “this is his flat, correct?.”

Collette nodded.

“What was your business here?” he asked, it wasn’t confrontational but the question needed to be answered.

“I had noticed that Hannah hadn’t been into the office to take the job cards. I was scheduled as a floater, so I could take up the slack if anyone phones in sick or delayed with another service user. Stan was the first one on her round.” She used her hands to push herself up further against the wall, the paramedic tenderly squeezing her shoulder.

“She had had a row with her husband.”

Colette threw a face, “Yeah, I don’t know what about, what’s that got to do with things?” she asked irritated. 

The officer smiled, “just dotting the I’s, you know how it is.”

“So what happened to you?”

Collette looked to the floor, relived the morning. “I let myself in, Stan was in his chair just in his diaper, nothing else.” She pursed her lips to the side thinking. 

“He said that there was a burglar in the house, upstairs.”

“Upstairs?”

“Yeah, I know, you have to get in the head of the dementia patient, they often default back to the an old memory that hasn’t been affected by the disease. I guess he meant bedroom. He calls every one Dawn by the way, she was his wife of fifty years.” She clicked her tongue thinking, “Dementia is horrible.”

The officer smiled, “Then what happened?”

“I bathed him, left him in the bath to get some clean clothes and that’s when I saw her, in here. Stan got out of the bath and walked starkers up the stairs and down the corridor, poked his head around the corner and turned and knocked me out, the next thing I know, I am waking up to this lovely.”

The officer and Colette glance over to the paramedic packing his stuff away, he smiled and flushed slightly.

“Would you consider Stan dangerous?”

Collette thought for a moment, she looked at the officer gauging the question, “How do you mean?”

“I mean, is he safe to be around?”

Collette sighed heavily, “It’s the nature of our job, we are so few in numbers, there’s no money to look after these guys, we just have to make do. We complain and if there are enough of us about, we go about in pairs but the reality is, we are on our own. In answer to your question, Hannah was the only person that was prepared to care for Stan. He’s bigoted, racist and a complete misogynist with aggressive tendencies,” the officer was nodding as he was writing, “that has dementia, officer?” It was a question, it needed an answer.

“Understood.” said the officer “It’s in the notebook.”

“Can I take Collette to ED to get checked out.”

“Sure,” he said, he turned and looked at Collette, “thank you for your time, I know she was your friend, so sorry for your loss, we’ll be in touch.” tapping his notebook on his knee.

“Who’s looking after Stan?” Collette asked.

The officer and the paramedic exchanged glances at each other. 

His son, Henry, is here. He lives around the corner, but we will probably insist that we place Stan under arrest, he’s currently looking as the primary interest so far.”

“But he has dementia, how can he be responsible for Hannah’s murder?” she asked, she was confused. She knew that Stan could be an asshole, but murder, she didn’t buy it.

………..

A few weeks had passed, Hannah’s funeral was done. Standing room only. Friends, family, colleagues as well as patients. The media had descended, the story flowing that a dementia patient had killed his nurse was just too juicy to let go. 

Henry, Stan’s son went, on the request of Collette. Gladly, Henry agreed for Collette, he wanted to just be there for her.

Stan was still at his flat. Absurdly, guarded by a police officer 24 hours per day. There was no facility in which to keep Stan on remand. He wasn’t fit to travel to court, let alone plead his case.  The police still worked it, they needed to satisfy the Crown Prosecution Service that all avenues and loose ends connected to Hannah’s death had been tied up.

Stan had spent those weeks in his perpetual state of confusion, wanting to see Dawn, getting angry and wanting to take Collette out in his big Blue Ford. The upside was, Collette had got to know Henry really well. She was falling for him.

He was a quiet man. Single and clever, which was an even bigger positive. Older, by fifteen years which was a negative, but his fondness for Collette was growing as well.

It was lunch time, Collette had a spare thirty minutes. She popped around to Henry’s for a spot of lunch. Henry didn’t take long answering the door when she knocked, he had been crying.

“You okay, Henry?” she asked. She could hear voices in the front from out his apartment. Walking in, Steve, the police officer that had interviewed Collette briefly at Hannah’s murder scene, in Stan’s bedroom. Collette’s bag slid off her shoulder, she sat perched on the sofa, Henry sat next to her.

“Ah, Mrs. Patterson,” the officer said, the married name now grating on Collette. She had been officially divorced for nearly a year and still her maiden name hadn’t been formally registered. She glanced over to Henry. She took his hand. The officer clocked it. Paused, but decided to leave it.

“If you have any questions Henry, please give me a call.” He placed a card on the coffee table. He stopped to take Collette and Henry in, “I’ll let myself out if you don’t mind.”

He strode out, “Nice to see again Collette.” A few seconds later, the door closed. Henry started crying again. 

“What’s going on Henry, you can talk to me.” she said, pulling him in. He fought against her, leaned across the table and grabbed some files. 

“Sergeant Talbot gave me these.” He handed Collette the files. 

She took them, sifting through them, too much data for Collette to take in. “What is all this about?”

“My dad is implicated in the rape of twenty-two women. The DNA he left inside of Hannah has matched the DNA that has been saved since the 1970’s. My dad is a serial rapist, Colette. His last victim was in 2008, one year before my mother died.”

“Wow, what the…” Collette said, she started reading the files again. The match was conclusive. With the advent of DNA testing, all laboratory evidence had been archived digitally. His DNA flagged the samples of twenty-two women. 

“My whole life I have looked up to my father, he has been such a righteous, morally bound man. I have had this marred by this fucking disease, to which the police have completely ruined any last vestige of love and memory that I had of my father. I don’t think I can ever see him again.”

Astonished, Collette didn’t reply, she carried on reading. 

“The police think there are more, but there is no way to confirm this. They think he may have been at it prior to the archiving DNA evidence as well.”

“It says that from 1978 to 1988, there were four, followed by 1988 to 1998 even more victims and 1998 to 2008, even more. The death of your mum must have stopped him.”

Henry nodded, she sifted through some of the papers, “I think he had dementia much earlier than when he was diagnosed.”

“What do you mean?” Collette asked.

“He was forgetful way before he was formally diagnosed, it wasn’t until my mum frog marched him down to the GP’s, did he get the right diagnosis and even that took a few months. He was forgetful for a few years at least.”

“Gosh, well, you would never have thought it.”

“I’m glad your here,” Henry said, he touched her arm, Collette flushed, she placed her hand on his. 

“I like being here Henry, you make me smile,” she said.

“What’s the plan?”

“What do you mean?” Henry said, the moment passing, he started clearing up the papers. 

“With your dad, what are the police going to do?”

“They’re not sure.”

“I suppose at least victims get some closure, at least there’s something.”

“I guess, but how do you face him, will you still want to care for him?”

Colette stopped to think, Henry watched her, she was beautiful. He moved some strands of hair over her ear, clearing her face, she shivered to his touch, flushed again and smiled, coyly she looked to her feet.

“Guess so,” she touched where Henry had touched her, his touch lingering. She felt it and wanted more. “He doesn’t know what kind of person he is now and the police are there all the time so he won’t do anything untoward, so yeah. Also means I can see more of you, but I guess they will move him to a secure unit” she said shrugging.

Henry nodded, 

“Then what?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

He wasn’t the brightest tool in the box when it came to handing herself on a plate.  She leaned back, she nudged his leg with hers.

“I mean, where will that lead us?” she said.

Henry feasted on her, taking her all in, he leaned in, his arm smoothing up the length of her body, she gasped. Their lips met. She parted for him, his tongue entering her mouth, his hand cupped the side of her face, he brought her in closer, she tasted so sweet.

Seconds later, Henry had opened her up and made love to her right there on the sofa. Collette was so wet, it had been more than a year since she felt the love of a man, all time had disappeared as Henry drove home time and time again, deep inside her she moaned with delight. Pulling his shirt off, he was fit, lean and muscular. Collette’s phone rang as Henry climaxed inside her, the moment ruined.

“Fuck” she hissed as Henry fell on her, the phone still ringing. They kissed, her hand reaching for her bag while Henry was still inside her, “Don’t pull out” she said answering the call.

……….

Stan had been moved to the secure unit further up the country. It had been traumatic yet liberating. Both Henry and Collette’s courtship soared. Their love evolving and growing into  into something beautiful. Days spent lazing in the summer meadows enjoying long picnics, making love in the outdoors, making love on the sofa, kitchen and bedroom. Even a quick knee trembler in the front garden after a few to many drinks in the beer tent at the local agricultural show.

Saturday, the sun was streaming through the slatted blinds. Henry had come down to the smell of fresh coffee, Collette had been up a while, the smell of a freshly baked loaf was cooling on the wire rack on the draining board by the open window. 

“Lay the table honey.” she said cheerily. “Gosh, thought you were going to sleep for the rest of the day,” she added.

“How can I sleep through this smell, it’s just heavenly.” He grabbed her. She was wearing his Lakers tee-shirt, dwarfing her. His wandering hands slid underneath, she was naked, giggling she pulled away.

“Stop henry, fuck, do you ever tire?”

He pulled a face, “God no, how can I, look at you?” he said.

“Listen, after breakfast I want to go into town, there’s that new shop on the high street, then maybe a spot of lunch at Luigi’s.”

Henry blew his cheeks out carefully and laid out the cutlery, “That sounds like a plan.”

Collette sat, accidentally dropping a plate knocking the cutlery as the phone rang.

“It’s alright.” Henry said as he stood, he grabbed the receiver and took the seat next to her.

“…Speaking.”

“Oh, really, that’s incredible.” Henry picked up his fork and moved some of the food around on his plate, Collette tucked in, trying to gauge who he was talking to.

“Can we go and visit him then?” he put his hand over the mouthpiece, “We got nothing on tomorrow right?” she shook her head.

“Yeah, okay, about twelve noon, that would be awesome, many thanks, Cornell.”

Henry looked at the phone, found the button and clicked off. 

“That was the secure unit my dad was on, they have been trialing a new drug and my dad has forty percent of his brain function back, he’s asked to see me,” he said shovelling in some mushrooms. “Trouble is, he may now have to stand trial.”

“Wanna come?” he asked Collette.

……….

 The drive up north was long, grey and miserable. Inside the car both Collette and Henry sang to tunes of their childhood. A journey full of giggles, joking about and wind-ups. Henry was looking forward to seeing his dad, Collette was more pensive about it, avoiding the subject all together.

Coming off the highway, the sign for the secure unit lay partially hidden behind rampant ivy.  Looking at the sign and beyond the hedge, a grey institutionalised building had grown out of the forest it was nestled in. 

Henry parked the car in the visitor car park. No cars. The ground smattered with potholes filled with oily rainwater, the parking attendants faded yellow cabin that had probably never seen a parking attendant bordered the pathway to the main gate. Apart from their car, only two others had parked, like men in a public lavatory, as far from each other as possible.

“Gosh, full of laughter this place.” Collette said slinging her shoulder bag over her shoulder.

Henry stopped and took it in, “horrible, right.”

They walked, avoiding the potholes and the discarded paper coffee cups. “I wonder how he will be, if he even remembers what he has done?” Henry said. Collette squeezed his hand, she was freezing. 

“Why is it always freezing up north?” she said blowing her cheeks out. They arrived at the large double wooden gates, a small regular door had been cut into the left door, an even smaller hatch was cut into that, open with a mottled face, ruddied cheeks and piggy eyes. The peak cap at a jaunty angle. Not out of style, but more laziness.

Henry rang the bell as Collette yanked at his arm jutting her chin to the expectant face at the hatch. The bell rang for an unreasonable amount of time, the face turned to the bell on his side of the gate with a slow shake of the head. It stopped, echoing around the courtyard.

“Who you come to see, sir?” the voice said. More irritated than respectful.

Henry gave them their particulars, the face disappeared, moments later there was hiss of hydraulics, the small door swung open.

“In,” said the voice, “stand over there.”

Entering the place took on a more sinister feel. The courtyard was towered by the four sides of the prison. Small grated windows climbed six stories, streamers of toilet roll hung from some of the windows plastic supermarket bags filled every corner of the courtyard. Above the square space, the sky was obscured by an anti drone mesh, preventing outsiders using drones to send drugs and mobile phones to the prisoners. The mesh wasn’t what was obscuring the sky, the detritus whipped up by the winds outside the prison made a resting place for the numerous dead birds that fell to their deaths over the years.

“Fill out the log and leave your valuables and everything else in the office.”

The guard was nonchalant, to the point of dismissive and jaded. At what point did his life become meaningless Collette thought, the sadness on her face was caught by the guard. 

“You need to put your bag in the clear bag, so it can be sealed so you can’t accuse us of stealin,” he said.

“Busy day?” Colette asked, trying to be cheerful.

“Not really, this place isn’t visited much. Full of the undesirables of society. We have your pedos, rapists and murderers that can’t be locked up in a standard nick, we guard the walking dead in ‘ere,” he said.

Collette glanced at Henry, his face said how she felt. 

The checking process had ended, the guard told them to follow him, the metal door on the other side of the courtyard screeched open. It was a door that was not opened much. The smell wafted through Collette and Henry’s nose. Stagnant, unwashed and a putrification of something rotting. Collette’s mind was racing, the images flashing up in her conscious was making bile climb up into her throat like mercury in a temperature gauge.

“Look at the floor, don’t look at anyone, or into the windows, or in the faces of any of the inmates. The yellow line on the floor that runs throughout the visitor wing is for that purpose.” 

At the mouth of the door, the yellow line started, the guard pointed to the line, “This ain’t the road to the Wizard of Oz or an Elton John concert, you get me?” he said smiling at his own joke. Both Colette and Henry looked at him, his smile vanishing as the joke didn’t meet the humour of the visitors.

“Follow the yellow line, until you come to a door, someone will be waiting for you,” he sneered. They stepped into the cavernous building. The noise came with it. The voices of hundreds of people couped up in one building. The friction and anxiety it caused became palpable for Collette, her body was saying turn and leave, she went to, but Henry sensed it, he held her hand firmer and walked ahead.

“Don’t forget to look only at the yellow line” the voice said fading.

……….

Following the yellow line down the corridor, it was about thirty meters. It was dark. The lights low wattage and yellow. Recessed into the ceiling behind thick glass so they couldn’t be smashed.

The door at the end was half metal. Half security glass. Cracked of course. The big burly man in a grey uniform was waiting. As soon as he clocked them, the door opened silently.

“No touching, no kissing, no fucking and strictly no contraband.”

The room was filled with poly-prop moulded chairs in two’s separated by a grey covered table. There were twenty fitted to the floor.  Placed at random angles to give the room a homely un-intimidating feel. It had failed on all counts.

“Take a seat,” said the man. His greying features and five o’clock shadow along with some dribbled food down his prison jersey demonstrated his fuck-it attitude.

“When the alarm sounds, get to the floor, if your stood up, you’ll be tasered, the room will fill with suppressing fog so we won’t see you. You touch the inmate, you’ll be tasered, touching each other’s genitals you’ll be tasered, showing each of your genitals you’ll be tasered, pass contraband to the inmate, you’ll join the inmate.” He let it sink in. 

“Understand?” he asked finally.

Both Collette and Henry nodded. The anticipation of seeing Stan had now ebbed away to nothing but regret. How could anyone be in a place like this.

“Fucking hell.” Collette said. Henry raised his eyebrows.

As soon as they sat, the door on the opposite side opened. Stan walked in.

Gone was the tired shell of a man. He was upright. Still walking with a stick, but he was the proud man that Henry had talked about. Tears tumbled out of Henry’s eyes as he saw his father. The last few years since his mother had died and the decline of his father and now with the murder suspicion. He thought that the memory of his father would be tarnished forever. The only good thing that had come out of the whole affair was his growing love for Collette. Until now. Now he had renewed love for his father.

“Henry!” Stan bellowed, he stopped and did a bit of twirl. “What do you think?” he said, his carer looking worried as he spun.

Henry stood and went to walk, “Sit down!” barked the guard.

Collette glanced over her shoulder, the guard’s arms folded, looking dismissive.

Stan sat. There was a real effort in him. The sparkle in his eyes was there and he was cleanly shaven .

“This is a miracle, dad.” Henry said, “I can’t tell you how lovely it is to see you like this.” he gushed.

“I know.” There was a pause, he looked at Collette.

“So this must be your better half, young Henry, my gosh, you are a beautiful woman,” he said.

Collette flushed, looked down, she curled some flopping hair over her ear, Henry touched her hand. 

“She is that dad, a real beauty. She would never have come into my life if…” his voice trailing off. “You know, with what happend.”

Stan snorted, “Look, the curse of this new drug means that I will have to face the consequences of my actions, I wasn’t myself. My lawyer has said that there are strong mitigating circumstances to what happened. How can I face prosecution over something that I had no control over?”

Collette had mixed feelings. Her friend was brutally raped and murdered, by this man, and all those other rapes. He now seemed to be normal. Yet when she last saw him, he was shitting in a diaper, needing care and attention, feeding and washing. Now, the man in front of her seemed entirely normal. She was struggling.

“What’s with this drug?” Collette asked. The carer sat on the other nest of table and chairs piped up. “It’s a groundbreaking drug. The trial is on the inmates in this hospital. This is the first human trials.”

“What do you mean first human trials?” Collette asked.

“We regularly test drugs on this particular prison population because, how else do the drug companies pass muster with most of their drugs.” Collette was looking horrified.

“In Stan’s case, he was a prime candidate for the trial. Given the circumstances that he’s here. He’s opened up to a forty percent normal brain function, just look at him?”

Collette glanced at Stan. He was handsome and dapper, really pleased to see his son, she couldn’t ruin the thoughts Henry was now thinking.

“There’s a real chance that he will be released,” the carer had said smiling at Stan, we and the drug company are extremely pleased with the recovery.”

Stan was looking at Collette, she caught him. He held her in his look. 

“It’s not all bad, I know that Hannah was your friend, truly I had no idea or reason to do what I had done, although I have no memory of the day in question. In fact the days seemed to be just a blur to me.”

Collette smiled, let go of her pain, “Tell me about your Dawny, and your big blue Ford.”

Stan’s face lit up, the smile spread across his face, his yellow crooked teeth showing. 

“Let me tell you about my Dawny.” he said.

………..

It had been a few weeks since Collette and Henry had visited Stan. Collette’s thoughts were tumbling around her mind like a tornado. It didn’t make sense what was happening. Henry was buoyant. He had proposed to Collette, who gladly accepted. The motivation to marry was to make sure that Stan could attend the wedding with a working brain. There was no way of knowing if the dementia would come back. The brain must still follow a degenerative path. The drug can only be a short term fix.

The date was set for the wedding three days before Stan’s release back into the community. The CPS wasn’t going to chase the case. There was no way that the case would stand up in court, they had also came to the decision that charging him for the outstanding claims of rape wouldn’t stand up in court. Already the Lord Chief Justice had ruled that this whole case wouldn’t stand. There was no way that Stan could be responsible for his actions. The drug, however, had quadrupled the share price of the pharmaceutical company. Now being hailed as the new wonder drug for dementia sufferers. The press all over it like a tramp on a bag of chips. The drug company couldn’t make the stuff quick enough.

Henry had visited Stan’s unit every other day, enjoying a renewed vigour to their relationship. Collette, on the other hand, was worried. Not fully understanding her feelings, there was no one she could confide in.

Stan had come home. He was his usual effervescent self, gushing with gratitude and love for both Collette and Henry. He walked into the front room without the aid of a walking stick. It was his goal to do this. Both Collette and Henry waited while the giant of a man walked unsteadily into the lounge, he saw his favorite chair in the corner, facing a huge flat screen. 

“My, my,” he said. He turned and sank into the chair, relief evident on his face, “How about that cup of tea?” he beamed to the two smiling faces in the doorway.

“Come and sit and talk to me about this grand wedding on Saturday.” he said. Emotion catching in throat as he said it.

“I have to go to work.” Henry said, Stan pulled a face, disappointed, “I have to dad, been spending too much time on the road visiting you and the wedding to pay for.” 

Collette patted his chest, he turned and kissed her on the lips. “Collette will look after you, she’s really good at that.”

“I know,” said Stan grinning.

Henry had left, Stan had had a few cups of tea and cheese toastie. Collette was busy at the sink clanking dishes. She didn’t hear it. The shuffling behind her. Lost in her thoughts. Still mixed up about Stan and the last twelve months had been to much to process.

She felt something on her neck, goosebumps pricked up on her arms, her brow furrowed, she glanced back nonchalantly, not seeing the figure behind her. She rubbed the delicate bumps away with her wet hands, the suds sliming down her arms. She felt it again, this time she turned.

Stan was standing right behind her, too close to say was comfortable. Smiling.

“Oh, you made me jump Stan, did I wake you?” she said touching his shoulder trying to laugh it off, the concern ripping through her like fireworks. She suddenly didn’t feel safe.

His face was flushed, he grinned, grabbing her by the throat. He was old, but that made no account for his strength. The gnarled fingers grabbed fully around the neck, he was half thrashing her half using her as a means of support, He grabbed hold of her tee-shirt, tore it down, her bra coming with it, one of her breasts exposed. Stan grunted, he grabbed her. The pain shot through Collette, she screamed out, her punches and scratching did nothing to the old man. His face demonic and perverse, drool hung from his mouth like an icicle, Collette tried to avoid it. She couldn’t, he kissed her, his tongue like a snake trying to find its way into her mouth. The warm saliva instantly cooling on Collette’s face adding to this sickening feeling.

He pushed her over to the dining table, hitting her hard on the back of the head with his walking stick, he grabbed up her skirt and pulled at her knickers. Collette desperate to fight him off, she was screaming. He grabbed the tea towel resting on the back of the chair, threw it onto the table and forced her head into it. The screaming muffled.

He leaned over, his fingers tearing into her vagina and anus, “I like a struggling bitch, the more the struggle the worse I get you fucking bitch” he hissed. He was pumping his hand in and out of her, Collette’s left leg raised, she couldn’t fight any longer, she was getting wetter he thought, Stan glanced down, looked at his hand, it was now covered in blood. He licked his fingers as the door went.

Henry walked in, “DAD!” he screamed, “What the fuck are you doing?” he lunged. Stan saw it, grabbed his stick and swiped catching Henry of the jaw. He span with an arc of blood, crashing against the kitchen cupboard.

Collette sobbing, the agony inside her femininity was screaming. She felt the blood trickling down her legs. She glanced at Henry, he was moving. His hand was now on the draining board, the blood oozing from the tear in his chin. She glanced around, Stan was unbuttoning his flies.

“You can fuck her after I have,” Stan hissed, “like the old days.”

“Dad stop, not Collette,” please Henry said.

He stumbled and staggered, took a seat next to Collette. She was confused, Henry wiped the hair away from her face.

“What are you doing Henry, help me please?”

“He’s not going to help you.” Stan said.

“You’re not having her,” Henry said, “over my dead body.” he said.

“You think I don’t know what you did to my nurse.” It was hanging in the air. 

Henry went pale, “You don’t know what your saying dad, stop it.”

Stan laughed, Collette sank to the floor, she grabbed the tea towel a placed it between her legs. The pain was easing. It was ebbing a flowing with every heartbeat.

“What’s he saying Henry?” Collette said.

“Gibberish, he’s talking gibberish.” Henry said throwing a glance at Stan.

“I saw you clear as day, I watched you strangle that nurse in my room while you fucked her. I remember clearly you pawing after her pathetically and her refusing your advances. I wasn’t surprised, you’re useless, weak minded and gormless.”

“Dad, please.” Henry pleaded.

“I particularly enjoyed it when you took my belt off and strangled her, that was particularly clever, although a little queer. Wanking your old man off for my sperm. That was a new low even for you, you horrible little cretin.”

“Dad please.”

“Is this true?” Collette said, trying to get up.

“Funny that the police want to pin the rapes onto me, hey son?” Stan said.

Stan skirted around the table to get a better view of the two of them, Collette disturbed and horrified, the tinge of pain etched on her face as she tried to fathom the information.

“You were a busy boy from the 1990’s Henry. I last raped a woman in the late eighties. That means your DNA was in those women, that the police naturally thought I had, you can pay me back in kind. Let me fuck your bride, you can then get rid of the slut.”

Collette recoiled at the word slut. 

Henry was blubbering into his hands, “Enough,” he screamed “Enough!”

He stood, grabbed the butchers knife from the wooden block. 

“You haven’t got the guts to kill me boy” Stan said. 

Henry was standing there, the comments slicing through him like a knife. This was the last time this man would ever speak to him in this way, the line in the sand had been drawn. Not thinking clearly, he walked up to Stan, pushed the knife in slowly. The bladed sinking in up to the hilt, blood spurting out the sides as he sliced through the aorta. Stan made no sound, he was looking down at the blade sticking out of his guts, the blood splashing onto the floor like a broken drain. He looked up, face suddenly ghost white, the pink of his eyes giving his face a ghoulish look. He started to smile as he grabbed the blade, pulling it out. The blood flow increasing like pouring paint from a can, he stumbled. 

“Finally, the boy has become the man.”

 His legs buckled, Stan fell where he stood, the blood pooling around him. Henry turned to Collette. 

“Keep away from me,” she gasped, “you beast, you let me believe in you, you reeled me in.”

“Collette, babes, please?” Henry said, he walked to her, she held up her hand. 

“Stop Henry, please, keep away from me,” she said edging away from the kitchen.

Henry lunged, grabbed her and threw her to the ground. Landing on Stan, she tried to stand, her foot slipping on the growing puddle of blood on the floor. Her hand landing on Stan’s still warm body. Her hand touching the handle of the knife. She instinctively grabbed it, with a renewed spark, she stood. 

“Keep away from me Henry, you killed my friend. I trusted you. You have lied to me all along, how could you?”

“It wasn’t meant to happen like this, I swear babes, I swear. My dad was lying.”

“I don’t think so.” Collette said, “I just knew that something was up.”

“Please put the knife down, let’s talk about this.”

Collette looked around the room, “Talk about what? You murdered your fucking father after he tells us that he witnessed you raping my friend then killing her.” She wiped the snot dripping from her nose, “What do you actually want to talk about?”

“Tell me what you want, Collette, let us start there.” Henry said.

“First, you’re going to move out of my way, then I am leaving and calling the police.”

“I can’t let that happen, Collette.”

She stiffened, “Why, why won’t you?”

“Because you can’t leave here, you know that right?” the pretence over.

Collette was confused, “What do you mean?”

“Give me the knife he hissed!” his face had taken on the same disturbed face of his father. Henry circled her.

“Is it true?” Collette asked, “You know, what your dad said?”

Henry chuckled. “He was a bastard to me, I had no self confidence as a child. All my friends had girlfriends. I couldn’t even talk to a woman let alone look at them. He had asexualised me, you know beyond emasculating. It’s the worst kind of abuse right.”

Collette flanked to the door.

“So I took whatever I wanted, Hannah was an unfortunate accident. If she had just…” he trailed off.

“… let her fuck you!” Collette said still brandishing the knife.

He stopped and smiled, “Yeah, if she had just put out, we wouldn’t be here right now.” 

He lunged again and slipped, the outstretched arm of Collette holding the knife, she stiffened and thrust the knife into Henry’s chest. The knife scraped between the ribs protecting Henry’s heart, he let out a groan and instantly sank to his knees. Collette stumbled back, nausea rising in her. 

“Fuck!” henry said, “What have you done, we could have had such a beautiful life?” he said grabbing the knife.

“You’re deluded Henry, go fuck yourself!” she said. He grunted trying to pull the knife out, the suction of the blood and tissues stopped the knife from moving. Collette watched as he tried harder to pull the blade out. 

He looked up, “Help me” he said. His eyes filling with tears.

It took an instant, a thought drove Collette to do something that went against the grain with her foot, she stamped the blade in further. 

“Fuck you and rot in hell!” she stamped again, “and this one’s for Hannah you murdering motherfucker!”

Henry fell to the floor…