Not all of the procedures outlined in this story are official in the real world. Some are changed or added for dramatic purposes.
Closure, by Terrance Riverdarb (pseudonym)
"It's your brother. You won't ever see him again."
"I don't care," said Wes. He continued to stare at the floor as he felt his aunt's eyes scrutinizing him.
"Wes," she paused. "I know you're angry at him; you have every right to be. But you need some closure. If you don't do this, then you'll regret it for the rest of your life."
Wes scoffed. Just how much "closure" did she expect him to get in fifteen minutes anyway? Did she expect him to go in there and weep and sob, telling Ben how much he would miss him? Did she expect him to just ignore how much he hated him? Did she expect him to just forgive him? Did she really expect him to just forget what Ben did?
He didn't think he could.
So why did he go then? It was really simple; deep down he wanted to. He wanted to tell Ben how much he would miss him; he really would. He wanted to forget that he hated him...and just forgive him. He wanted that the whole thing never even happened in the first place...and then Ben wouldn't have to die.
He sank his head as he was led into dim room, staring at the tips of his shoes like they suddenly were fascinating works of art. The truth was, he was really just too afraid to look anywhere else.
"Honestly thought you wouldn't come."
The voice chilled him. It was full of pain, fear, remorse, and every other dark emotion that Wes could think of. It didn't sound like Ben at all. Wes was forced to abandon perusing his shoes just to be sure...something he instantly regretted.
Ben was sitting at just a couple feet away from him at a chrome table. He was much thinner than Wes remembered, and Wes found himself wondering if he had been eating. His skin was pale, as far down to his hands which trembled in their cuffs. Around his eyes were red rings that suggested he hadn't been sleeping either; how could he?
Ben broke the silence with a sarcastic laugh. "You just gonna stand there?" He muttered something that Wes didn't hear and tilted his head to his side, trying to hide the swelling eyes that Wes had already seen.
"Why did you call me here, Ben?" Wes asked, surprised by how broken his voice sounded.
"I want to ask you a few questions," said Ben. His head turned back straight ahead, but was pointed at his lap. "Sit down."
Wes wasn't sure if he wanted to obey, but then decided that he shouldn't waste away his anybody's last minutes with such trivial things. He stepped forward and sat at the chrome table, his head mimicking his brother's own.
"Wes," Ben paused, his eyes shaking indecisively as he considered his phrasing. "Can you forgive me?"
The question caused Wes' heart to accelerate. Even though he knew the notion would be implied, he never expected it to be so blunt…nor did he expect to have to answer to it. He couldn't answer to it. There were just too many things to consider…
Ben must have figured what was going through his brother's mind, because he chuckled softly and asked another. "Why did you try to kill yourself last year, Wes? Nobody ever told me."
Another surprise. Why was Ben suddenly interrogating him? Treating him like he was the convicted murderer? "I don't know," he muttered.
"You must know."
For the first time, Wes looked up. He met his brother's beady eyes staring intently at his own, throbbing in anxiety.
"I was confused," Wes said, but his brother's expression suggested that it wasn't enough. He looked away. "I didn't understand why you did it. I thought it was me."
Wes heard Ben make a small gasp.
"You tried to kill me!" Wes said bitterly, "that's why!"
Even Wes found his own words haunting. He never imagined himself ever having to say that to Ben. He always thought it would be okay to not say it…that it would be implied. But as he saw Ben's face shift into further remorse, he knew that it was necessary.
"Oh…" Ben said softly. "Do you understand why I did it?"
Wes shook his head vigorously. "I don't want to."
"You need to."
Ben glanced at the clock above the door and sighed. It was ten to eleven. Just ten more minutes…
"I have to tell you, Wes."
"No." Wes pushed back his chair and got to his feet, turning his back on Ben as he headed for the door.
"Wes," Ben pleaded. "Wes please."
Wes was at the door, his deformed hand on the doorknob, when he turned around with a bitter scowl.
"You expect me to sit there and listen to some sorry explanation why you killed mom and dad, Ben? Do you really think that would make me feel any better after you're gone?"
"It'll make me feel better, Wes," said Ben. His eyes were on his lap again, this time with tears rolling down his cheeks.
"I don't care," Wes muttered. "I don't want you to be happy when they kill you. I want nothing but guilt in that room. I want you to feel what you did."
Ben started to sob. They were the same small, contained sobs that Wes was used to from years before. But even though Ben didn't make a big deal and wail or carry on, Wes knew that he was truly hurt; because Ben rarely ever cried.
He couldn't take it any more.
With his thumb and two fingers, he opened the door, pausing one more time as Ben's heavy voice filled the room behind him.
"Don't go, Wesley."
Wes shut the door…but he was on the inside.
"Tell me then," he said. "Tell me why."
He deliberately kept his back turned. He didn't want to have to look into his brother's eyes, so much like his own, as he had to listen to him.
"I was depressed," said Ben from the back of his throat. "…and angry…and spiteful. Everything was so screwed up. After I lost my job, and then my home, and then Cheryl, I really thought the world turned its back on me; and every second of living was another second it mocked me.
"In those last few weeks I seriously considered suicide. You were the only thing that stopped me, Wes. You were always trying to cheer me up. It made me think what it would do to you if I killed myself, Wes. But mom and dad…
"They made it worse. They kept telling me that I couldn't stay there and wallow forever. That I had to go out and get back on my feet. God, I know now that they were only trying to help me, Wes. I only cared that my life was in the slums, and as far as I figured they were making it worse.
"So my suicidal thoughts slowly became murderous. At first it was sorta just for my musing, but then I began to make plans, Wes. I got a machete, and sharpened it–don't cry, Wes. I had a simple plan; when you went to school I would off them…and then myself–Wesley."
Wes couldn't take anymore. He was already sobbing, much in the way that his brother did. "Stop."
Ben nodded. "I never wanted you to see."
"But I did," said Wes through his tears.
"I know," Ben said. "And I know it sounds pretty stupid but that's why I came after you."
"You didn't want me to feel it anymore," Wes said. There words came out almost naturally, because at that moment went he saw Ben murder his parents, he felt more pain than he thought his heart could bear. Part of him did want Ben to turn on him; he just wanted the pain to stop.
"Why didn't you…finish me off?" Wes asked. It was a question that had been on his mind for a whole year. He knew the answer; he just longed for confirmation. He had seen it in his brother's eyes after he made the first swing of the blade at him. It had been regret, and it had been instant.
"That," Ben said, his eyes fixed on Wes' right hand.
"This?" Ben held it up. It was missing the top halves of his last two fingers and the tip of the third.
"If you didn't block me with it, I might have done it." Ben said. "But after I hit you the first time, Wes, and I saw your blood…then I realized what I'd done. Everything."
Wes' feet trembled as he stood there silently, gazing into those beady eyes. He realized that he wasn't angry at Ben anymore; Ben knew what he had done; he felt it…it was right there in his eyes.
"I love you, Ben." The words came out by surprise. It was what came to his mind at that very moment, and he just said it.
And he was glad he did…
At the very moment Ben parted his lips to return the sentiment, the door opened. A burly guard stood there, holding it open. "It's time."
Wes felt his breath shorten as Ben sunk his head and got to his feet, trembling. He walked slowly across the room, stopping at his brother's side.
He leaned and kissed him on the forehead, before moving to the door and into the guard's custody, leaving Wes alone in the dim room.
- - -
The large letters were printed on a sheet of paper and stuck to the door. Wes could hear his aunt sobbing behind him, and found it hard not to sob himself. He pushed open the two-way metal door and entered small room filled with chairs. They were all pointed to window at the front, which was blocked by dark green curtains on the other side. He lingered at the door for a while as it dawned on him that this was really it…
The curtains were drawn just a few minutes later. Ben was lying inside the pale chamber, strapped to a gurney, with IVs connected to him. He was whispering something to a hooded man leaning over him, when he noticed his brother sitting on the front row. He flashed a nervous smile; but he couldn't hold it for more than just a second.
Wes flashed a smile back. And something else came to his mind. Something he just had to let Ben know.
"I forgive you," he mouthed.
This time Ben held his smile. Even as the IVs filled with anesthetic, and his eyes slowly drooped shut.
Ben died just a few minutes later. Wes wasn't sure, because the machine kept pumping different fluids into the IV even after he closed his eyes. But afterwards, an official came through the door and informed them that Ben's heart had stopped, asking them to calmly leave the room.
Wes was the last. He lingered in his seat and stared at his brother's lifeless body with a sense of loss. As he got from his set and made his way outside, he was stopped at the door.
"He said to tell you that he loves you too," it was the same official that had asked them to leave. "And he hopes someday you'll forgive him."
Wes smiled. "I already did."
And there was closure.
Author Note: Funny Business is still valid and being written.
Sept 11, 2007 -- Two corrections made...