“Mr. Orlove, we’ve checked with the place where you used to work and you weren’t at the plant at 6:00.”
“Where exactly were you at that time?”
“We have witnesses who testify that you were on Avenue A. You witnessed Bertrand being beaten and stood by and did nothing. This does not seem like the actions of a caring father of his son. Would you care to offer an explanation?”
Orlove was furious, and he hammered his hands on the table with a loud ‘thud’: “What do you mean? Do you suspect me of being involved in Bertrand’s death again? You suspect me?”
Steven did not raise his eyelids: “Please answer our questions.”
Orlove’s eyes popped out: “I didn’t kill Bertrand!”
Steven was unmoved: “Please answer our questions.”
“I’d rather die myself than him!” Orlove’s gentleman side suddenly came to life like a flashback, as if a dead wood suddenly caught fire. “He is my only child, my whole life!”
Steven did not give an inch: “Then why didn’t you save him? Why did you stand by and watch him get beaten! Is that your fatherly love? Or are you actually a coward who can’t even protect your own child?”
Old Orlove was provoked by him and blurted out, “Because I don’t want to see him go down the wrong path! I’m educating him! He won’t listen to me! I’ve told him countless times that it’s wrong to like men, and he just won’t listen, just won’t listen! I can protect him once, but can I protect him every time? He needs to know that society is like that! Everyone in society is just like his group of classmates who hate him to death!”
“He’s already lost his guaranteed spot because of this incident. What about afterwards? I can’t stand by and watch him ruin himself!” His cloudy, red-blooded eyes were filled with tears. “He doesn’t know how cruel this is!”
“I was supposed to go home with him.”
“Clarence came to our house that afternoon, and they think I don’t know what they were up to! Bertrand packed up and took out all the money he had saved. He was mad, he wanted to run away with that little bastard!”
“You think I’m not heartbroken? I haven’t lifted a finger of his since he was a kid, I only slapped him when he talked back to me and said he loved men. But I just couldn’t wake him up!”
“It’s not like I didn’t go to his school to see the teachers, but they told me politely that Bertrand had done that kind of ugly thing. They couldn’t protect Bertrand either.”
“No one could wake him up. I went to go help him up after he was beaten, and I told him, ‘Now you know the cruelty of the world,’ and I asked him to come home with me, and he actually hit me for that Clarence ……”
“So, I went away.”
“That kind of young master is not likely to leave everything behind and go with him. Otherwise they wouldn’t have quarreled that afternoon. Bertrand was all stabbed by him, and yet he still wanted to stay with him. I thought Bertrand learned his lesson and knew that the man was only toying with him, and when he understood, he would naturally go home.”
“I didn’t sleep all night, and then the police found me and told me my son was dead.”
“My only son is dead, he jumped to his death!!!”
“Who else could it be but Clarence? If it weren’t for him, Bertrand wouldn’t be dead!”
The case raced around and came back to Clarence Hall. The person who escaped from Bertrand’s house that afternoon and injured Bertrand turned out to be Clarence?
They again approached Clarence Hall for questioning.
Clarence, with solid evidence, did not weasel, and this time simply admitted: “Yes, Bertrand and I are lovers.”
As if he had finally given up the struggle, he said with a hundred complications, “I was the one who confessed my love to Bertrand first.”
His eyes were numb and not the least bit of emotion could be shown: “…… I often wonder if I hadn’t confessed my love to him, if all that followed would never have happened.”
“His father was right, without me, Bertrand would not have died.”
“I deserve to die.”
Arthur looked down at a file in his hand. After his investigation, Clarence had committed suicide in the hospital four times in the first ten years of these twenty years, and he was wearing a watch with a scar underneath where he should have slit his wrist. Did he kill himself because he loved Bertrand? Could this kind of person be a murderer who killed Bertrand?
Arthur asked, “What happened that afternoon when you went to see Bertrand?”
Clarence said, “Bertrand called for me, and I went to see him.”
“I made him angry.”
“Because it was reported that two of our boys were in love and it was a scandal. The principal questioned us. I knew that if I admitted it, then Bertrand’s guaranteed spot would definitely be revoked, so I said no, it was just a rumor.”
“Bertrand was angry, he was very angry. He admitted it. He didn’t think he did anything wrong.”
Arthur let out a long sigh, closed his eyes sorrowfully. Clarence said feebly, “I always remember his angry face when he said to me, ‘Is it so shameful to you that we love each other? I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but when people ask, don’t you even have the courage to admit it? I didn’t commit a crime, so why should I lie? Why don’t you dare to admit it? I’m not wrong, what’s wrong is those who are prejudiced and discriminate.’”
“He was too …… pure. He’s not wrong, it was my fault.”
“We had a fight, and in the heat of the moment, he took a knife and tried to hurt himself, and I stopped him, but he still got a cut. I bandaged it for him. I said I would take him with me to beg the principal again to get the guaranteed spot back, and he slapped me and told me to leave, and I did.”
“Later …… I went home and Bertrand called me and said he would meet me at school at 11 p.m. He wanted to leave and asked me to go with him.”
“I felt then that his mental state was not right, and I naturally intended to go to him.”
“But Casey told my parents about our love affair, and they locked me up, and I was so distraught that I escaped from the third floor at night after secretly prying the window open to go to him.”
“That night there were no stars and no moon, and the road was especially dark.”
“I should have stolen a bicycle from the roadside instead of running. If I had been faster, I might have been able to save him.”
“It’s all my fault.”
“I’m the one who killed him.”
Multiple testimonies were checked, as well as many eyewitnesses.
There was forensically examined photographs of Bertrand at the corner, and there were no signs from the body spots that he had been pushed off the building.
The case initially started with Congressman Allen’s campaign, and in the end it was confirmed that he was indeed innocent of the murder, that no one was directly responsible for pushing Bertrand down the stairs, and that legally all those involved were innocent of the crime.
What appeared to be a murder, after a closer look around, was actually really just a suicide.
It was the withdrawal of lovers, the betrayal of friends, the bullying of classmates, the hatred of his father and the disgust of his teachers and other people in the world. So, he finally chose to jump from the building and end his short eighteen years of young life.
No matter how knowledgeable and precocious he was, he was only eighteen. He was still a child who had not grown up, he was not wrong, just too stubborn.
Arthur could not imagine the dark night when Bertrand was actually desperate. He probably felt that there was no place in the world to let him live, in addition to death, there was no other choice.
The case was closed again, still ending in suicide.
The newspapers reported on Congressman Allen’s role in this case, that he had bullied poor classmates and discriminated against homosexuals, only to turn around and pretend to be a good guy who couldn’t respond to the hard facts. His trust value in the minds of the masses dropped considerably, his approval rating much lower than before and, unsurprisingly, he was definitely going to lose the election.
Of course, Clarence Hall couldn’t be executed as he had hoped.
He was let go, even though he felt guilty, in the law, he just should not be arrested.
Clarence asked Arthur, “I know you have the watch that Bertrand was wearing when he died, and since the case is now closed and his father is not expected to come and claim the relics, can I claim this watch?”
This was in line with the process. Clarence was Bertrand’s lover.He was entitled to take Bertrand’s relics.
Clarence took off the old watch and replaced it with Bertrand’s watch.
He returned to school after this twist and turned and continued his quiet and ordinary life of teaching. When he was young, he remembered that Bertrand once told himself that his dream was to become a professor of literature in the future.
That’s why he chose to enter the literature department. Bertrand looked sunny and strong, but was actually a boy with a very sensitive and pure mind.
A month later.
After class, Clarence heard what seemed to be some kind of movement outside, and he went to the railing and looked down.
He saw a group of boys holding signs and staging an event.
Two years ago, AIDS broke out in the U.S. gay and lesbian community deepening the society’s prejudice against homosexuals. The government didn’t do anything about it. So, a group of men set up a gay rights organization to fight for their rights, and slowly more and more people came forward.
Clarence saw the young glowing faces at a glance. They were really like the 18-year-old Bertrand. He thought ‘if Bertrand is still there, will go to join the group of children.’
At that moment, a student passed by, he saw the watch in Clarence’s hand, and kindly mentioned: “Professor, your watch is broken. Don’t you want it to be fixed?”
Clarence looked down at the watch. It was broken so badly that the hour, minute and seconds hands did not move, it stopped at 0.6 minutes and 27 seconds, and the glass outside also had a spider web of cracks, at first glance, it looked rather like a rose.
Clarence smiled faintly at the student and said gently, “Thanks, I know.”
It was the only thing Bertrand had left him.
What were they considered? They said they were lovers, but after Bertrand’s death, he was not even eligible to go to Bertrand’s funeral, and he was kicked out by Bertrand’s father.
It was raining that day, and he stood at a distance, without an umbrella, watching the burial of Bertrand’s coffin, until all the people had left, he went home in a state of distress.
He had a fever for three days.
Clarence looked at the brave boys downstairs, gently stroking his watch, fingertips rubbing the cracks.
He smiled, as if he saw himself and Bertrand back then.
That summer’s science competition, he finally won by one point over Bertrand, who was not convinced and said he would win back next time.
He bought the watch with all the winnings from the competition, and then went to the coffee shop where Bertrand worked during the holidays to look for him. “I’m busy.”
Clarence took out the small box containing the watch, tied with a ribbon bow, which he had tied by hand, he blushed, felt his heart beating fast, and suddenly stammered: “I, I …… this, this is what I bought with the money I won in the last competition. “
Bertrand glared at him and said with a sigh: “You just deliberately came to show off!” Said to leave.
Clarence hurriedly pulled him back, almost biting his tongue: “No, no, you don’t go yet. I want to give you this watch.”
Bertrand looked at him suspiciously: “You don’t need to give it to me, I will win it back by myself next time, I don’t need you to let me!”
Clarence was so anxious that he hurriedly said, “I mean …… I like you, that’s why I want to give you this watch.”
Bertrand froze for a moment, they looked at each other. Bertrand’s face was whole red instantly.
Clarence was a little afraid, afraid that Bertrand would find him disgusting and say something to refuse, but even so, he wanted to tell Bertrand how he felt, and he couldn’t hold it down.
Bertrand was at a loss for words and blushed and said, “You, you don’t fool me ……”
Clarence remembered the eyes of Bertrand looking at himself at that time, more beautiful than the world’s most expensive stones, like Liang Zheguang. He suddenly became bold, kissed Bertrand, shoved the small box into Bertrand’s hand, and said quickly, “If you don’t refuse, then I’ll take that as a yes!”
After saying that, he strode on his legs and ran.
Bertrand couldn’t catch up with him, so he got angry and scolded after him: “You’re such a person! You’re a scoundrel!”
But when they went to school the next day, Clarence quietly looked at Bertrand’s wrist and noticed that Bertrand was wearing the watch he had given him.
He smiled and said to Bertrand, “That’s a nice watch you’re wearing.”
Berlant blushed, glared at him, and for the first time did not retort him fiercely.
In fact, after twenty years and having seen so many things and people change, Clarence sometimes thought that even if Bertrand was still alive, they might have broken up over other things. He thought he was not a good lover, otherwise Bertrand would not have died.
Even so, he still wanted to keep Bertrand alive, even if Bertrand might fall in love with someone else and no longer love him.
Bertrand was dead.
They would all forget about Bertrand.
He was not afraid of anything else, he was only afraid that he would one day forget Bertrand, so he kept wearing this broken watch and would not fix this watch.
Let the hands stay here forever.
At the moment when the teenager he loved most died.
“Professor Hall.” Someone called out to him.
Clarence turned around and saw the young FBI detective: “Detective Arthur, what brings you here? Did you figure it out and are you ready to arrest me for the crime?”
Arthur shook his head: “I’m on leave today and came to see you as an individual.”
Clarence nodded and said, “I haven’t thanked you for finally letting me know everything that happened the day Bertrand died. Thanks.”
Arthur walked up to him and together they looked at the boys downstairs who were staging a parade-walk protest, and he said, “The case is closed. But there were some episodes that struck me as a little fishy, so I went and did a little digging.”
“Congressman Allen’s juvenile record was covered up so well but the media knew too many details, they said they received an anonymous submission, and I think probably only the people involved back then would know.”
Clarence turned his head and looked at him without saying a word.
Arthur continued: “The other two people involved in the assault at the time, Jared, had been drinking with you before the car accident, and then he had a drinking and driving accident. Matt didn’t even do drugs in college, he started doing drugs after he worked, and I found out that there was a time when you met with him a few times, and then he started getting into drugs.”
“ Casey and his family broke up completely ten years ago, immediately as a result of your last suicide. And very coincidentally, the person who introduced him to the business seems to have known you.”
“You visited the principal the day before he died, and then his condition became unstable and he died the next day.”
Clarence listened quietly, unmoved, and he smiled slightly, “Oh, that’s a coincidence.”
Arthur asked, “Is that what motivated you to stop messing around with suicide ten years ago and continue to live?”
He had no evidence to send Clarence to prison, just as Clarence had no evidence to send those people to prison.
Clarence said calmly, “Inspector, you have a really rich imagination, what do I have to do with their self-destruction.”
“I can’t understand what you’re saying. I’m just an ordinary college professor.”
“Excuse me, my students are still waiting for me to go to class.”