“I would like to ask you something.”
Zach inhaled suddenly, and shot up to meet the man’s eyes.
He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came. The secrets he’d learned were like a gag. He couldn’t talk about them, couldn’t act on them… all he could do was try to ignore the sick feeling which throbbed to life in his gut.
Although the picture was no longer in his dresser drawer, it still lingered in his mind. Stale as ashes and heavier than smoke; he hadn’t been able to look directly at it, and yet he couldn’t forget what he’d seen. The bony angles distracted him from faces. It was the starkness of it which drew his mind away from the dark eyes and to the stiff body, eating away at the signs of life. It was a crime frozen on paper, an indelicate rendering of something which no one talked about in public. Something which always happened to other people, and was left to linger the dark corners of newspapers and the back of peoples’ minds. Knowing it existed was nothing like seeing it. The crime had happened before he had witnessed it, and now it couldn’t be helped. The past was past, life had moved on.
And he was as powerless now as he felt then.
Johnson motioned for him to take a seat, which Zach silently did. The man opposite him took a deep breath and said,
“I noticed you seem fearful around me. Even now, you’re fidgeting.”
Zach immediately sat up a little straighter, and gave a simple nod to hide the fear in him. He reasoned he shouldn’t be scared, schoolishly reminding himself that pedophiles only targeted children, which he was not… He was not.