Well, this certainly took a while. Sorry about that. :P
Chapter Twenty-Three: Closure
I wanted so badly to attend Caspian's funeral. But, when I'd arrived at the church Major Monogram had rented for the event - penciled in as "Dan Marsh's" funeral - I couldn't bring myself to enter. I'd arrived after everyone else, so thankfully no one noticed when I broke down on the church steps. I hated it. The weather was too nice, the church's structure looked too calming, and I wished that it was my funeral the agents were attending. I should have died. Patricia wanted me dead, not Caspian. Hell, she probably didn't even know the guy!
I've never been the type to dwell on things, but, to this day, Caspian's death still bothers me. It doesn't upset me as much it did back then, but time doesn't heal all wounds.
I don't know when I stopped crying, or how long I'd been doing it, but eventually I found myself just sitting on the steps, 'what-ifs' flowing through my mind. What if Caspian hadn't stuck around? What if Patricia hadn't appeared? What if I hadn't shot Caspian? What if I was the one killed?
What if I hadn't enjoyed the brutality of it all?
What if I didn't still get a little thrill when I thought about it?
"You okay, hun?"
I jumped a little at the voice. Fortunately, I knew who it was; I only knew one person - er, animal - with a Southern accent. Peaches sat down beside me, crossing one of her small legs over the other. The size difference between us was almost comical, as we sat in a comfortable silence.
A silence which was eventually broken by Peaches, who looked up at me and asked, "How ya holdin' up?" I simply shrugged, for there were no words for how I was "holdin' up." The hamster next to me seemed to understand and nodded. "Yeah. I reckon that's 'bout as well as ya can be. Y'all were pretty close."
I nodded. "Were you close to Caspian?"
She sighed and looked away sadly. "Yeah. We were good friends." Neither of us spoke for a while. "You know somethin'?" I looked at her expectantly. "Caspian was probably happy 'bout gettin' killed."
The statement came as a shock to me. What was she implying? That Caspian wanted to die?
Peaches seemed to realize what that sounded like. "What I mean is, he probably didn't mind dying the way he did. He once told me that his biggest fear was 'kicking the bucket from oldness.' He didn't wanna die just 'cause his body was done living. Nah, he wanted to die fighting. And, he did." She smiled sadly. "He's mighty proud of you, Perry. 'Cause of where you came from, how you were such a fighter when you were found, most agents - admittedly, myself included - took you as a STORM spy. But, Caspian, though he had his share of suspiscions, believed in you. But, I think you know that already." I nodded, blinking away fresh tears. "Speaking of STORM, how are your owners doin'?"
"They're home," I answered, smiling a bit at the thought. "They're still a little shaky on their feet, but they're getting better."
"That's good to hear."
Anger flared up in me. "I still don't understand why Patricia poisoned them."
Peaches sighed. "Who knows why STORM does anything?" She stood up suddenly, looking as though a light bulb just went off. "Wait here." She climbed back up the stairs - which looked pretty hard, seeing as though she was barely the height of one step - and later returned with a hardback journal and an envelope. She handed them both to me. "I was s'pose to give these to you. Caspian had been talking 'bout handing the book off to you - Lord knows why - and some white rabbit told me to pass on the envelope. Said you'd know him. His name was Dennis."
Dennis? I hadn't seen him in months. I'd been wondering what had become of him. I opened the envelope, hoping it would shed some light.
And, boy did it.
Sorry, man. I guess I really screwed up, huh? The truth is that I'm the one who drugged your owners. Okay, the whole truth is that I was in the Academy as a STORM spy, ended up actually liking you, and drugged five-year-olds anyway. In my defense, my boss is not a pleasant man, and I would have been in deep doo-doo if I hadn't done as I was asked.
I reported to him about the rumors circling around. You know, the ones about you being in STORM. That's why the OWCA Headquarters was attacked. I guess the Australian STORM's leader was pretty ticked about you going missing. She'd contacted the other STORM divisions and demanded that they report back to her if they found out anything about you. Why'd she care so much? I don't know. I'm clueless.
And, as for the kids, my boss had been keeping an eye on them for a while, now. He saw their over-sized IQs and imaginations as a threat, so he wanted them out of the way. Can you say "paranoid?"
Naturally, OWCA will eventually know about this, if they don't already, so there's a chance we won't be seeing each other again. That chance is made even bigger, since I'm leaving Danville. After what I've done, I just can't be in STORM anymore. You were smart, leaving before you could do anything too horrible. I wish I was like that. Maybe then, you never would have had to go through any of this.
Again, I can't apologize enough, though I know it won't do any good.
I had to reread the letter to make sure I hadn't become dyslexic. Dennis was my friend. I couldn't imagine him working with STORM or drugging little kids, even if he did regret it. I suddenly realized that Peaches was staring at me, as though waiting for me to say something. I shook my head, signalling that I wasn't comfortable telling her what the letter said. She nodded in acceptance.
I folded up the letter, tucked it into my fedora, and opened the burgundy journal. There were a few sticky notes - obviously so all the writing would fit - attached to the first page.
I come from a long line of secret agents. My grandfather recorded tales of all the shit he'd done in a journal. My ma did the same thing, then I decided to do it. Since I don't have a biological kid, I've decided to pass the tradition on to you. You're kind of the son I never wanted but got stuck with and grew to love, so I figured you could give it a shot.
Eyes watering, I chuckled a little at the Caspian-style sentiment. I thought of him as a family member, and it was nice to know that the feeling was mutual. I looked upward, wondering if Caspian was watching me right then.
Peaches excused herself, when Pinky and McKenzie rushed out to comfort me. They asked over and over if I was alright. It would take time, but I knew I'd eventually be okay.
At first, I was only writing all this because Caspian wanted me to. Now, after finishing my story, I understand the purpose of this journal. As a secret agent, a lot of bad things come your way. A lot of these things you just don't want others to know about, but you still need to get them off your chest. Maybe that's why girls write in diaries, not that I'll start doing that.
And, who knows? Maybe some day, after I've gone to join Caspian and all the other fallen agents, a young agent will find this journal and read it. Maybe, it'll inspire him/her to start his/her own journal. Whatever happens, I'm glad I wrote all this. You can't change the past, but that doesn't mean the past should affect how you live in the present. It's like Phineas always says: Carpe diem.
And, that's a wrap! This was a lot of fun for me to write. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Review!