RoYds Part 12 - Help Yourself

1940

Billy found himself face to face with the solicitor who had been appointed to represent him at his trial. He looked on absently as Stanley Birch brushed an invisible fleck from his immaculately pressed grey flannel trousers and then pushed a packet of cigarettes and a box of matches across the wooden table between them.

“Help yourself.”

Billy, taking a cigarette from the packet and placing it between his dry lips, shook out a match from the box and struck it; as much as he hated accepting charity he accepted that beggars couldn't be choosers.

“I know about the Lancastria,” Stanley announced.

Billy glanced up at Stanley and made eye contact with him for the first time.

“It must have been a terrible thing to have lived through. I can't say I've ever experienced anything quite like it myself. I can only relate to my experiences of the Somme during the Great War.”

Billy remained silent.

Stanley continued , “There is no doubt that you fired that shot, no doubt whatsoever. What is arguable is whether that shot was intended for someone else.”

Billy started coughing violently. Retching and spluttering, he tried to stand up but tripped over the legs of his chair and fell to the floor.

Stanley rushed forward, helped him up and took him back to his chair. Retrieving the lighted cigarette from the floor where it had fallen, Stanley stubbed it out in the ashtray and offered Billy a pristine white handkerchief to clean up the blood trickling from the corner of his mouth.

“I suspect that you’ll be suffering from the damage you sustained that day for the rest of your life.”

Billy took the handkerchief and wiped his mouth. "Thanks," he muttered begrudgingly.

Stanley smiled. “We need to prepare for the trial. Even if you don't want to save your own neck, there is still your family to consider.”

“I didn't mean it for her!”

“I understand." Stanley seemed to be trying to sound reassuring.

Billy bowed his head. “I’ll never forgive myself for killing Peg! Never!”

***

Five years’ hard labour! He had thought he would hang for sure. Part of him felt the death penalty would have been an easier sentence. Still, he had done well getting away with murder -– crying shame he had shot Peg instead of Michael.

“Never fret, Lawrence. We’ll get you one way or the other,” sneered the police officer guarding him. “You get five minutes with your Brief and then five with the lovely Mrs Lawrence. I’d lay money on her not going without for the rest of the war!” he grinned lewdly.

Billy clenched his fist and his stomach snapped tight. “Bastard! If it wasn’t for these bloody handcuffs I’d kill you,” he raged.

“No doubt you’d love to, Lawrence. But then I’d just be another one to add to your list now wouldn’t I?”

Billy kicked out violently with his foot and toppled the chair in front of him.

Stanley Birch entered and discovered Billy and the middle-aged police constable glaring at one another. He could have cut the tension in the atmosphere with a knife.

“Five minutes, sir,” stated the constable to Stanley as he prepared to leave the lawyer alone with his client.

“Constable Allen, isn’t it?” enquired Stanley.

“Yes, sir. Have we met before? I thought you were from out of town?”

“I’m sure one day I’ll have the pleasure, Constable,” replied Stanley sarcastically. Constable Allen stared back quizzically and then left the room.

Stanley turned to face Billy and gestured towards the wooden table and chairs in the middle of the room. Both men sat down across the table from one another.

“Thank you, sir,” said Billy sincerely.

“I was only too willing to help, Corporal Lawrence,” replied Stanley. “When the jury returned the manslaughter verdict I had hoped that the judge would have been merciful.”

Billy seemed to be avoiding Stanley's gaze and kept his eyes aimed down at the table’s rough surface. “I don’t deserve to go free, Mr Birch. I'll never be able to forgive myself for what I've done. It'll haunt me for the rest of my life!”

“Only if you let it,” replied Stanley. “Imagine that Peg is here in this room with us now. What would she say? Do you think that she would forgive you?”

“Yes,” answered Billy, wiping away an escaped tear. “She was a good woman was Peg. The best I ever met. She did not deserve to die like that.”

“Then you need to learn to forgive yourself,” declared Stanley, standing up and offering his hand. “Goodbye and good luck, Corporal Lawrence. Perhaps we’ll meet again one day under more fortunate circumstances.”

Billy came to his feet quickly and clasped Stanley’s extended hand with both his own. “I owe you a great debt, Mr Birch. I am very grateful to the Army for sending you to help me.”

Stanley walked towards the door then halted and turned to face Billy with a twinkle in his eye. “It wasn't the Army who sent me, Corporal Lawrence.”

“Well if it wasn’t the Army that sent you, Mr Birch, who did?”

“Peg!” replied Stanley over his shoulder as he left the room.

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6 Comments:
  • At 14 October 2009 at 12:32, Blogger Melissa said…

    Squeal!! That ending had me covered with goosebumps! Another great scene -- you describe it so well through the characters that I could see it clearly. Love these parts the best:
    The detail of the borrowed cigarette.
    "Billy glanced up at Stanley and made eye contact with him for the first time."
    How reassuring and calm Stanley is throughout (knowing things others don't without saying it).
    Billy's inner torment.
    And when Stanley says to imagine Peg in the room!! You know she's there!

    I could just imagine Kevin McKidd in this scene! What do you think of Colin Farrell as our Billy? Can't wait for the next post!!

     
  • At 14 October 2009 at 17:07, Blogger Vesper said…

    What a scene! And the ending, indeed, gave me goosebumps too. Very well done!

     
  • At 14 October 2009 at 18:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very good MiLady. XXX

     
  • At 15 October 2009 at 10:00, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Melissa - *squeal* I just *LOVE* your comments :)

    I've been thinking about Colin and I remain undecided. I can't remember seeing him in a film where he was really edgy - can you? I'm going to add him to the casting however as well as Jude Law... whatdayathink?


    Vesper - Really? WOW! That is a result :)


    Sir H - Thank ye kindly x


    Can you imagine what our screams are going to sound like when we get together? I think Eli might be walking around with red cheeks all week :)

     
  • At 15 October 2009 at 12:42, Blogger Melissa said…

    Jude Law! (faints dead away)

    What were we saying? Oh, yes ... he would make a *great* Billy! A friend of mine ran into him in NYC. She went into a bar with her mom and he was sitting there with some things on the stool next to him. He very politely moved them away and offered the seat to her or her mom. When she realized who it was she couldn't believe it!

    Poor Eli! :D He'll have to report back to Sir H, so he knows what he's in for when I come to the UK!

     
  • At 15 October 2009 at 14:42, Blogger Miladysa said…

    LOL @ Melissa :)

    One of our lurkers just suggested the wonderful Tim Roth as Billy! Now, whatdaya think of that!

     

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Whituth's living can't see the dead but psychic Elizabeth Whyte can see everyone: living humans, delayed souls, fallen angels, vampires and fae. She helps maintain the fragile peace between light and darkness in her work with RoYds, an unworldly refuge. But that peace has suddenly become fragile. Whituth's carefully maintained balance is tipping toward darkness. Now Elizabeth and her angelic allies must discover who or what is threatening both town and refuge before balance is lost forever

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