Chapter Forty Three

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From the diary of Leo Harwood

Dear Diary,

All I could think when I was at Farley’s bedside in the hospital – I have to find Amber. The thought of her finding Marilyn, out there, somewhere in New York. Alone.

Farley lay in deep unconsciousness. There was nothing more I could do for him. He had opened his eyes, he had spoken to me; all I could do was hope he would see the next twenty-four hours through. The doctor had said this time was crucial for him.

I wasn’t sure where to start in my hunt for Amber, I figured she’d be miles away by that time. I had no idea where she could’ve gone. I stood up from the bedside, tucking in my bloodstained shirt before heading to the door, realising I needed to make a phone call.

I broke out into a run as soon as I got out from the white corridor outside Farley’s room eventually finding a payphone hanging on the wall near the reception. I dug into my pocket and found a couple of dollars then slotted them in and dialed the only number I could think of. Tony. If anyone knew where those guys would be, it would be him.

I tapped my foot on the ground waiting as the phone rang and rang until eventually there was a pause and then:


‘Hi! Tony! Is that you?’ I said.

‘Yes, it’s me,’ he said, sounding like he was half asleep.

‘Ah, Tony, God – sorry – I just realised it’s nine o’clock in the morning,’ I said, looking at the clock on the wall.

‘Uh, yup,’ he said. ‘What do you want, kid? Let me guess. You want to know where your sister is?’

‘Yeah, I do, how did you know that?’

‘She called me a while ago, asking where your Marilyn would be,’ he said.

‘She’s not my Marilyn but yeah, do you know?’ I said.

‘What’s going on? Do you need my help?’ he said.

‘Ah, Tony, I can’t talk now. I just need to find them. But thanks,’ I said.

‘Well, I hope you’re alright. There’s something funny going on, I know that much,’ he said.

‘Where is she?’ I said.

‘The last I heard those crazy friends of yours – Cheryl and those two gangly boys, they were all intent on going to the New York Aquarium. Please don’t ask me why,’ he said.

‘And what? Marilyn went with them?’ I said.

‘Well, as far as I know. You never can tell though. I was still with them up until a few hours ago. They were all hyper and said they wanted to see the fishes and seals.’

‘What? Well, alright. If that’s where they are, that’s where they are,’ I said. ‘Thanks Tony.’

‘No problemo,’ he said. ‘Anything for my Northern star.’

‘Ta. Got to go,’ I said, hanging up the phone.

I ran out the hospital and jumped in the nearest taxi. I swear the taxi driver thought I was a nutter, asking to go to the aquarium with a shirt pasted in blood. I caught a view of myself in the rearview mirror – the bags under my eyes were beginning to look harrowing – I rubbed my eyelids as if that would help.

As the taxi raced along the morning streets, the sun peeping out between the towering buildings I knew I had to do everything in my power to turn things around. There was no other option. Talk about blood on my hands. I kept thinking of Marilyn and our conversations over the last few months. I watched the sun rising higher in the sky. I realised more and more what had truly been happening these last few months.

All that ‘comfort’, all that ‘caring’. All that being there whenever Amber wasn’t. It was a sickening thing but I had to admit that Marilyn had never intended either Amber or myself any good.

Amber never intended to leave; she wasn’t going anywhere. The more I thought about it, the stranger it became that I could’ve ever fallen for it. Amber had a boyfriend, that’s all. She had found someone to be with. There was nothing more to it than that. I would've got used to it.

I could see that it was nothing but love from the way her face looked when he was laid out there on the ground outside the club. The thought that I had fractured that love stabbed me hard. I vowed I would do all that I could to restore what I had destroyed.

It took ages to get to the aquarium; we had to pass over the bridge again to get to Brooklyn. As soon as we got there I flung the door so wide it almost came off its hinges. I paid the taxi driver and ran straight into the aquarium. It looked like the place was just opening, hardly anyone around, just the odd family wandering along.

As I paid my entry fee the girl at the ticket booth looked me up and down.

‘I’m meeting someone,’ I mumbled as I crossed my arms in a weak attempt to hide the bloodstains.

‘Whatever,’ she said, raising her eyebrows.

I took my ticket and headed straight in with zero idea where to start so I just plunged forward, passing huge glass fronts filled with fish.

I couldn’t see anyone but children and adults – no loudmouth British youths in sight. I kept my eyes peeled. I ran along tank after tank coming across a bunch of penguins bobbing around in a rocky outside area. Baby ones with black feet and furry heads.

I searched and searched with no sign of Marilyn, Cheryl or Amber – no one. I moved inside and out, passing seals, a walrus, turtles. After a while I got to a dark corridor that looked empty. It was lined with small tanks filled with bright fish. I heard a slight noise coming from the other end. I followed the sound and eventually saw the outline of Amber, sat alone in the darkness.

‘Sis,’ I said, crouching down.

‘Huh,’ she said, lifting her hands from her head, her hair falling around her face.

‘Ambs, sweetheart. Are you ok?’

‘Um,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t find her.’

‘That’s ok, we’ll find her later. Let’s get you out of here,’ I said.

‘No, I want to find Marilyn,’ she said, blinking out at me with deer eyes.

‘I will help you,’ I said. ‘We’ll do it together.’

The corners of her mouth raised ever so slightly.

‘I’ve got good news,’ I said.

‘Huh? Farley?’ she said, putting her hands on the ground and pulling herself upright.

‘Yes, he woke up. It was just for a minute but he was there, he knew what was going on,’ I said.

‘Thank you, God,’ she said, looking upwards.

‘The doctor says the next twenty-four hours are crucial so we need to get back to him as soon as we can,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ said Amber.

A little spark of life lit up in her eyes. She held onto me as she raised herself up from the ground.

‘Uh,’ she said. ‘Wait a minute.’

‘Yeah?’ I said.

‘It’s you, Leo, God, I mean, you still….’ she said.

She took her hands away from my arms.

‘I did what I did,’ I said.

I could see her thoughts, almost hear them. Betrayal.

‘Yeah,’ she said, looking at me then turning her head slightly as though she were asking me a question with her eyes.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said. ‘So sorry.’

The words dotted about in the air for a while.

‘Just help me find Marilyn, ok?’ she said.

‘I will,’ I said. 'Come on.'

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