Try Again

Chapter 1

I was sitting in Biology—that subject that doesn't quite holds your attention, even if you don't dislike pants and animals—when the office calls me over the intercom to come to the principle's office. I glanced at the teacher who nods, her glasses that cover half her face and make her eyes look huge were sliding down her nose as she did. I looked at my friend, Robby, who just shrugged, unable to think of a reason I'd be in trouble, just like I was. I sighed and got up, grabbing my bag and binder, before heading out off the classroom to the office.

My converse scuffed along the floor because I was in no rush to get there. I paused to push my black hair out of my face. When I finally reached the office, I went to the desk where a large, elderly woman sat, typing on the computer with a pen pushed behind her ear. "Um, I was told to come to the office?"

She looked up at me and scowled, something I wouldn't have expected from her grandmotherly face. "Yes, right in their Mr. Bell."

"Thanks." I opened the principle's door and walk in slowly, confused when I see two strangers standing there.

The principle, an aging man that could always keep the students in order and ran a decent public school, was sitting behind his desk. The other two, a tall women with blonde hair and a man just a few inches taller than her with brown hair, rose from their seats when I walked in. The women pulled a badge out and said, "Mr. Bell, were from the Chicago police department; we have a few questions for you. You'll need to come with us."

And then they were leading me out of the school to their black car. Confused, I stopped and said, "What is this about?"

They glanced at each other and the man said, "Do you really want to do this here?"

I looked over my shoulder at the school and shook my head, climbing into the car. They drove a good twenty minutes and then we were at a police department. I wondered what had happened to make them need to bring me here, but didn't say anything as they led me inside and past the front desk, past all the people in suits with guns, and past what I assumed was their captain, as he asked if I was the guy. When they both nodded, I felt like screaming the guy for what!?

They showed me to a plain room with a table and chair. Then they came in and sat down across from me, papers in a folder in front of them. "Mr. Bell, I'm Amanda and this is my partner Greg. Do you know Natalie Greene?"

I thought for a second to see if the name would be familiarly with any of the faces I saw at school, but then I finally decided that I'd never heard the name and most likely never met the girl. "I don't think so, no."

They glanced at each other, then me. "Mr. Bell, where were you yesterday afternoon between three and six?"

"I left school and went home."

"Can anyone verify that?"

"My little sister was there…"

"How old is she?"

"Five." They looked at their papers, each other, then me.

"So you left school and went directly home?" Amanda asked, her eyes staring at me untrustingly.

I didn't get why they kept asking me this; I'd already given them an answer! But I simply nodded and said, "Yeah, I take the bus and I have to watch Beckie while my mom works."

Greg leaned over the table, almost glaring at me. "And you don't know Natalie Greene?"

"No, I don't think so. I've never heard the name. Why are you asking me all these questions? What's happened?" I needed answers—now. Like what I was doing at the police station, who was Natalie Greene, and why was it important where I was.

The woman, Amanda, said shortly, "A girl's been raped." My eyes grew large and I looked from one to the other. "And—and you think I did it?!"

"She said you did. This is her picture; have you ever seen her before?" I looked at the photo and studied the brown haired, brown eyed girl. She was pretty and looked about my age. I looked up at them and said, "I've never seen her before; she must not go to my school." They didn't say anything. Desperately, I cried, "Look, I didn't do it! I was home yesterday! I've never seen her before! How can I prove it?" I was frantic by this point and would have done anything, and I think they knew that.

"You could give us a DNA sample," Greg suggested.

"Yes, sure, anything." The man got up and took me get a DNA sample. Afterwards, I was back in that room with the cops. I couldn't believe they were accusing me of raping some girl. I'd never rape anyone! It was wrong, it was dirty, it was evil—pure and simple—and I'd never do it. I tried to think of anything I could say, anything I could do, that would prove my innocence. I couldn't come up with much. I thought back over the police movies and shows I'd seen, but they didn't seem anything like this—this intense.

I wondered why this girl chose me to blame; I'd never met her before, surely I hadn't offended her. Maybe she just thought it was me, but how would she even know my name?

They came back in and my heart started beating faster. "Mr. Bell, you're free to go—for now. We'll need to bring you in for more questioning later on."

I sighed with relief and stood up. "Um, could I have a ride? I'm not close to my house and I've missed the bus by now."

They looked at each other and nodded. The Greg, I think it was, motioned for me to follow him. I got in the car and he drove me down the street, heading towards my house. "Have you ever had a girlfriend?"

I was surprised by the question, but shook my head. "No, I haven't."

"And you're sixteen?"

"Uh, yeah." He nodded to himself and was quiet for a minute.

"Is there anything you want to tell me? Are you sure you don't know Miss Greene?"

I sighed, suddenly exhausted. "Look, I've seen her, heard her name, talked to her; I didn't even know she existed until today. And I promise I didn't rape her."

We were in front of my house. "Don't forget we'll need more answers later on," Greg added as I stepped out of the car and closed it behind me. I nodded as he drove away and then headed inside. Rebecca, or Beckie as I called her, was sitting on the sofa looking cute with her black piggy tails and pink hair bows. The lady who watched her during the afternoons before I got home from school, Mrs. Evans, walked in from the kitchen and said, "Hey, Ty. I made dinner for ya'll, since I knew your mom was busy and you have that test tomorrow."

"Oh, thanks, Mrs. Evans." I wasn't really paying attention, too distracted by what had just happened with the police. I was sure they had called my mother; weren't they obligated to? And I could only hope she would believe me when I claimed I didn't do it. My mom worked late five days out of the week, getting home early Saturday and not working on Sunday. She'd been married when she'd had me and Beckie. Unfortunately, my father left soon after Beckie was two, so I'd known him for twelve years, not that we were in any way close.

Mrs. Evans left and I walked into the living room, checking on Beckie. She was watching some little kid's show, the ones they play over and over in the afternoons. I headed upstairs and sighed, dropping my bag on the floor and turning on a CD for background music. I flopped onto my bed and groaned, closing my eyes. It's not everyday you're accused of raping a girl.

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That night, my mom got home and came directly upstairs to my room, trying to be quiet since Beckie was asleep. I was waiting for her, sitting in my desk chair facing the bed. She walked in and sat down, sighing. "Ty…"

I quickly said, "Mom, I didn't do it."

She looked at me and I could see how exhausted she was, how weighed down. I felt terrible for causing some of that, by not even doing anything. She spoke quietly, "I know, Tyler, I know. I trust you and believe you. Plus I know you were home all day yesterday, since Mrs. Evans told me she saw you and Beckie obviously had someone here."

I nodded, appreciating her trust, although it stung a little that she'd evidently had to find reassurances throughout the day. "Thanks mom." She sighed and got up, setting a hand on my shoulder briefly before heading downstairs to eat supper. She went to bed shortly after and I turned off my own light. Lying under the blankets in the dark, I couldn't fall asleep, thoughts of what had happened keeping me awake. I could only hope that they wouldn't bring me back in.

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Two days later, the two detectives showed up again and I was called to the principle's office. I had refrained from telling Robby and Mitch, my two best friends, about what had happened, since I didn't want them to doubt me. Though really, if they were good friends they wouldn't.

I walked into the office and sighed when I saw them, standing there in their suits and sunglasses. Amanda stepped forward and said, "Tyler Bell you're under arrest for the rape of Natalie Greene. You have the right to remain silent; if you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, we will provide one for you…"

And so I was arrested. I rode to the station, in handcuffs. I got out and walked inside and sat in one of the plain rooms, again, waiting for my mother and my lawyer, whoever that would be, to show up.

They left me alone, not questioning me or anything, just letting me sit in there by myself. When my mom showed up, she was crying and overwhelmed. She still believed I hadn't done it, though I could tell she was doubting a little. My lawyer, Mr. Garrison, strode into the room with a grim expression and sat down next to me. Quietly, he started asking me questions. He asked where I was when it happened, who I knew, what I knew; finally, he sighed and asked, in a grim and quiet voice, "Mr. Bell, did you commit this crime? Did you rape her?"

I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Sir, I swear to God I didn't do it; I didn't rape her."

He sighed and sat back in his chair. "Look, Mr. Bell, unfortunately you won't be sent to juvenile; you'll be tried as an adult."

"Are you serious?" He nodded. I shook my head and jumped up; I was starting to hyperventilate and couldn't breathe. I got up and walked around the room, gasping. My thoughts were going wild, but finally focused in on one thing: how long would I be in jail if I was convicted? I turned sharply to face them and my mom came over and laid a hand on my shoulder. "Sweetie?"

"Mom," I gasped, "how many years would I have to go to jail?"

She was quiet, her eyes wide. I realized she had been expecting something—anything—but that. Mr. Garrison stood and said, "You're looking at about eight years, Mr. Bell."

"Twenty-four?!" I squeaked. "I would be twenty-four when I got out?" He nodded grimly. "Oh my god…" I sank into a chair and put my head in my hands. I couldn't believe I might be going to jail for eight years for something I didn't do.

I turned to my mom and said, "Oh, God, mom, I didn't do this! Please, help me…"

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I was sitting in court listening to everything going on: Mr. Garrison fighting for me, trying to win the hearts of the jury to my side, while at the same time, some lady named Missy Fletcher fought against me, trying to convince the jury I had committed a crime I hadn't. I sat in a suit and tie, watching all the witnesses, including my friends, until finally, I was called. I swore in and took my seat, waiting.

"Mr. Bell," Ms. Fletcher said. "Is it true that evidence was found in your locker proving you committed the rape?"

"I—I don't use my locker at school." Keep it together, Tyler, I told myself. I couldn't mess this up by stuttering.

"But didn't your friends claim that you did store some things in your locker? Important things?"

"Well, yes, but it was only—"

"And isn't true that you could have stashed the evidence there when your friends weren't around, which they are through the course of the day?" She asked hurriedly, cutting me off.

"Well, yes, but—"

"And isn't it true that the day after the rape you could have easily stashed it before the detectives showed up?"

"Yes, but—"

"That's all." She had cut me off three times! I sat there, fuming and confused, as she walked back to her seat and the jury nodded, taking notes. I couldn't believe I hadn't been able to get in a word to defend myself!

Mr. Garrison walked over, clearing his throat. "Mr. Bell, is it true that you, in fact, have no clue who Natalie Greene is?"

"Yes, sir." Finally, I could answer and defend myself.

"And isn't it true that you've no reason to hurt her?"

"Yes."

"And can you think of any possible reason she'd want to hurt you?"

I was quiet for a second. "No, sir, I can't."

"Thank you, that's all." He turned and walked back to his seat. Before the jury left to make their decision, Ms. Fletcher called a lady from the forensics lab to tell the results of the DNA tests, we had a recess, and then my lawyer called two more witness to try and help me out. Finally, the jury was excused and I had to wait, anxious and worried.

Soon, they filed back in and the verdict was given. "People of the jury, on the count of rape in the second degree, how do you find the defendant?"

A man stood, tall and solemn. "We find the defendant…guilty."

"Then by order of this court, Tyler Bell is sentenced to serve seven years. Case dismissed." And just like that, with a resounding bang, I was sent to jail, for seven years, for a crime I didn't commit, against a girl I'd never met.

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A/N: This is my first shot at slash, so please be patient! And I promise it is actually slash, just not for a couple of chapters. Please review and tell me what you think!