Who Can I Turn To? - 1
I've been asked to make this record
of the encounter with a young man I met some months ago. I shall try and be as
accurate as I can, but I shall be seventy-five next birthday, and my powers of
recall are not what they once were. Anyway, to the young man. I had gone down
to the church as usual to lock up at six o'clock, although I believe I may have
stayed to hear the headlines and then went, so I'd have arrived at the gate about
six fifteen. I don't know if that is significant, but the lovely young police
detective who said I should write this down for him may find it so. I spotted
him right away of course. He was pacing around the gravestones; he was extremely
distressed and well, he looked very odd and out of place in Tigley church yard.
I considered going in and speaking to him, but to be honest, he looked very rough
- more like someone off one of my granddaughter's album covers than a local. I
went home and fetched my husband, and he came down with me to the church.
The young man was still there, and we approached him together. At first he shied away from us as if we had risen from one of the graves he was examining, which I thought a bit rich considering he was as pale as a corpse and so out of place himself. Eventually he stopped pacing and spoke to us. I fancy he saw my husband's sturdy umbrella and realised he wasn't going to be able to intimidate him! I told him I was about to lock up and could I help in any way. He said he was looking for his mother's grave - said her family had come from these parts - and gave me her name and asked if I knew where she was buried.
Now, I've lived in Tigley for over fifty years, been a warden of St Barnabas for thirty, and had never, to my knowledge, buried a woman of that name - although, to be truthful, even then the name did sound vaguely familiar.
I told him all this and he faltered, seemed even more agitated (as if that were possible) and corrected himself, saying he meant his great-grandmother and that she had died in 18__.
By this time, Henry was making motions at me to lock up and get away. The Test Match was on at seven, and he was afraid of missing it. I must say, I felt sorry for the young man, despite that awful hair, ghastly leather clothes and the odd body piercings - but I'm told those are fashionable these days. I suppose I should add that Henry is adamant they weren't piercings but regular jewellery: I find that equally abhorrent on a man, but I bow to his superior knowledge. He was, after all, thirty years in the Navy and there's not much he doesn't know.
I agreed to take the young man - who rather rudely refused to give his name, I might add - into the church to view the parish records. After some searching (I had to rely on his eyesight as I'm afraid I hadn't taken my glasses down with me) we found the entry. It was then I remembered where I'd seen the name. I'd been planting a small oak seedling and clearing some nettles some years ago and had found a small, insignificant plaque in the ground with her name. It seemed rather neglected and a little sad somehow and I'd cleared it off and placed some flowers. I took him to the spot. It had grown back somewhat, but the seedling was now a study small tree and she lay in the shade of its braches. The inscription on the plaque had particularly stuck in my mind, for the young woman had apparently died of pernicious anaemia, one of those euphemisms that they used in those days to cover up death in childbirth. I know, for my mother died giving birth to my youngest sister and that was what was put on her grave seventy years ago. Neither the inscription, nor the cause of death appeared to come as a shock to the man - more confirmation of something that was already making him so upset. He actually burst into tears, which only embarrassed poor Henry further. I tried to calm him. I told him about my mother, and how I knew how he felt, but then, well, it was then that he began the frightening behaviour that led to me calling the vicar and I suppose eventually led to the police getting involved.
Looking at the grave, running his finger over the inscription, as I told him about my mother, he stopped me and cried out that he had murdered her, and that he was sorry.
Henry, I'm sorry to say, got rather impatient at this point, looking at his watch and said I should come away and leave the fool to himself, but that's not the way I was brought up, it may be the way they treat people in the navy, but I was brought up a Christian and that would not be the way our Lord would have wanted any of his flock to be treated. I gently tried to persuade him to get up, the dew was forming on the grass and it was very damp, although he could not have been more that twenty five, I feared for his joints in later life and told him he should think more about himself and not some poor lady that he could not have known who died so many years ago and who was now at peace. But he wouldn't budge. He spread-eagled himself on the ground, over the stone and began rubbing his face into the earth in a frightening and rather excessive way, continuing with his assertion that he had murdered her and how could she be at peace knowing that.
We went home directly and telephoned the Reverend Mark and that's the last I saw of the strange blond man. My daughter reckons the shock of seeing his great grandmother's grave had sparked repressed memories about possibly killing his own mother and that we may unknowingly have confronted a killer in our churchyard that night, but she is far too imaginative for her own good and I often tell her she should be writing fiction. I hate to believe it. When I think back on him now, all I can really remember was that he was confused and he was lovely. His eyes were like the cornflowers you used to see in the meadows here, before the war and all the modern farming methods ruined the landscape. They looked so blue I thought I was looking into heaven. Henry says I'm a silly old women, and I know that, but I can't believe that lovely young man had ever done anything evil in his entire life.
Mrs Grace Vosey
12 Sep 20__
Mrs Vosey, a warden of St Barnabas the Martyr, called me at approximately six fifty on Saturday 12 September, to say that my help was needed for a young man she had discovered in the churchyard that evening. I should say, I suppose, that I am the Reverend Mark Milligan, and at that time I was vicar of St Barnabas. As I then had some considerable dealing with this man, I was asked by the detective to write my account of our dealings.
I found the man where Mrs Vosey said he might be. It was almost dark by the time I got to the Church - almost nine, I would say - as I'd had a confirmation class, followed by a rather lengthy call from the Bishop about the repairs to the roof. He was still there, lying on the grave - not crying when I found him, but there were streaks of earth all over his very pale face. He was so pale, I immediately suspected that he had either been at Her Majesty's pleasure for some time, or that he had been in hospital. Given his assertion that he had killed someone who had died over one hundred years ago, I feared the second of these, and not the sort of hospital one likes to mention.
When he saw me, he sat up. He seemed to eye me with horror - I must say, not the sort of reaction I'm used to except when collecting for the annual jumble sale - so I ignored this and knelt alongside him. We had some conversation, but it was fairly routine. I mentioned the weather. He said it was cold. I said it was actually mild for the time of year - you know, the sort of things you say. However, he suddenly brushed his face with the back of one hand, looked at the earth covering it and asked me if I thought she was in heaven. I inferred, by the direction of his look, that he meant the poor unfortunate in the ground beneath us. I replied that I was sure she was - that God's mercy was infinite and that all hearts were known to him. Tears actually pricked out at this and I felt I was in the presence of a soul in torment.
As you were, that was too melodramatic for what I actually felt at the time, and was probably coloured by what I was to discover later.
He began to sob and I had the distinct impression he was having some sort of personal crisis.
I put a hand on his and asked him if he would come back with me to the rectory. He recoiled as if I had burnt him, but did allow himself to be led to the car. I was increasingly worried, for he felt as cold as death, and I wondered if he was physically, as well as mentally ill, which may have also explained his strange pallor.
He went to get in the wrong side of the car - something I noted and assumed he'd been living in France for a long time. (And now I come to think about it, might also explain his predisposition to tears at the drop of a hat). When we got back to the Vicarage, I made him some tea and left him by the fire, hoping he would warm up a little and calm down. I gave him twenty minutes or so, made a few calls, answered a note or two, then went back in. He hadn't touched the tea or the biscuits, and was staring intently into the fire.
He suddenly asked me why hell was always shown as fiery when it wasn't. I began to explain about the beliefs and interpretations of the biblical writers when he asked me if I thought he would go to hell.
As with the answer I gave him about the woman in the churchyard, I repeated that if he had lived a good life, God would be merciful.
He laughed and said that he had killed over six thousand people - that he had been trying to work it out as he sat there, but couldn't, that his maths had never been very good, and was that evil enough.
I'm afraid I have to say that at first I laughed at this distasteful boast, but with recent events in America, his odd look, and his going to the wrong side of my car, I suddenly had the most dreadful suspicion that he may have been some sort of terrorist. I put this to him - warily as you might imagine - and he laughed and shook his head, but this seemed to only send him on another tack, for he then asked me if terrorists had souls.
Now, given I was the Chaplain to the Royal Worchester and Sherwood Foresters for thirty years and served with the Regiment during many tours in the Province, I didn't have a ready answer to this, but I surprised him with my very hesitation, for he then commented that all humans had souls, however evil they were, answering his own question. I made some mention of evil I had seen in the service and he nodded, but sunk again into his own thoughts.
I was about to offer him some supper when he said - so sadly that I was really quite affected - that God didn't want him. I went to him, knelt and put a hand on his hair and murmured some quiet words of blessing at which he turned to me and buried his face into my shoulder.
So. I have now come to the difficult part of my account and the part I assume I have been asked to write this for. As he was pressed to me, I heard an odd noise - rather the noise my iron used to make when my dear dead wife released the steam action. He pulled away and would not turn his face back to me. He became extremely agitated again and cried that I would turn him out if I looked at him - that he was the devil and I should not look him in the face.
Now, I have seen the face of the devil - I saw it in Rwanda; I saw it in Bosnia: men tortured by other men, women violated, their arms cut off so they could not pick up or help their violated babies, and I did not sense the devil in this young man - terrible confusion, yes - but no demonic influence at all. I told him this, but I allowed him his privacy and returned to my seat. With gentle persuasion - telling him my thoughts on all this and reminding him that God's mercies were infinite and beyond our understanding - I convinced him to turn and face me. All hearts are open to God, and he could not hide from the divine presence.
He turned, and it was then I saw him for what he truly was: a low, mean trickster. On his face was the impression of the cross on my epaulette. I gave him very short shrift after this, I can tell you. I've heard of this happening in other parishes - a young man, down on his luck, stirs up everyone's sympathy with tricks of the light and so-called miracles and then absconds - most likely with the church funds. I tested my theory and asked him if he had somewhere to stay. He replied that he did not (as I suspected) and that he had only been in the country for a few days, that he had come from Africa - a blatant lie given his extreme pallor - and that he was trying to get to Los Angeles. I asked him why he had to 'try', and he replied that he had no job and no money - that he had always taken what he wanted but that he had recently had to give that up.
I laughed inwardly at this attempt to lull me into a false sense of security but thought how clever he was to address so disingenuously the very things I had silently accused him of. I made an excuse to pop out for a few moments - a trip to the heads if I remember rightly, although that's a little immaterial in this narrative - then telephoned Sgt Mike Watkins, the local community policemen who I obviously know extremely well.
I explained my predicament - this young man had not as yet broken any law, but he was clearing perpetrating some sort of scheme with his tricks and, to his credit, Mike said he would be there as soon as possible.
I went back into the living room and found the chap standing looked at me furiously. He could not have heard me making the call, as I had done this extremely quietly, in the hall some distance away. But somehow, he had.
I faced him down - rather successfully and mentioned my thirty years in the army and the fact I had a stout stick. He smiled made some reference to Henry Vosey's umbrella that I did not understand. He made to push past me - put-on tears actually running down his face, the clever cad.
Dear Lord, this is very difficult to write now. I've been afraid to come to this part. I am not as strong as I thought and my faith has been tested.
He came level with me. I turned to let him past, just glad he was going. I glanced at my clock on the mantelpiece so I could tell the constable what time the man had left. I have a large Victorian mirror behind my mantel. I saw myself. I saw only myself. He saw the direction of my look and looked too. Neither of us moved for a while. I think he said something again about my God not liking him and then he laughed and said that maybe he would find another.
I'm afraid to say at that point my legs gave out on me, and I collapsed in a chair. I saw him no more. By the time the constable arrived, I was in no fit state to see him really, but felt I had to - dragging him out as I had.
I told him most of this account - but not all. God help me, I lied about the end. What could I say? Could I tell him that not only was my truth shattered in as small a pieces as the mirror I dashed off the wall? Could I tell him I was broken, that my trust in God was destroyed? What can prepare you for seeing what I saw? I saw in that absence of reflection, the absence of truth in the creeds I have relied upon my whole my life.
But now I think my faith was just being tested by the devil and that I failed that last, great test. I shall serve no more; God has lost a faithful warrior in that failure.
Reverend (Retired) Mark Milligan
I am Constable Michael Watkins of the Exeter Constabulary. I am currently detached to the substation at Totnes. I received a call from the Rev Milligan, who I know well, at about 2100 hours the evening of 12 Sep 2002. He had found a suspicious man in Tigley churchyard who was now at his house. He suspected this man of attempting some kind of fraud on the parish and said he was speaking wildly and acting irrationally.
Reverend Milligan is over eighty years old. I had some immediate concerns for his safety. He lives alone, the vicarage in Rattery being somewhat isolated.
I immediately proceeded to Rattery and arrived at 2120 hours. The Reverend was alone and extremely distressed. He initially refused to open the door to me. When he did, he was pale, agitated and extremely frail in his movements. I assisted him to the living room, expressing surprise and concern at a broken mirror that was smashed on the hearth. He did not account for its loss and told me the man had left. The rest of his story was not noteworthy and I left at 2145 hours. I drove around for ten minutes, looking for the suspect, but I did not see him.
This is a faithful record of the events that night as I saw them.
Constable M Watkins
Countess Wear Station
I don't know why I have to made another bleeding statement all over again. I told the policeman all this when it happened, why do I have to do it all again for that poncy git?
Anyway, I was comming out of Stickies (thats the nightclub on market street I can get into cus me cousins a bouncer there) on saturday night on 19 september it was me birthday, so I remember that and I was looking for a taxi in canal street as usual. I herd someone behind me sort of folowing me like and I guess as I said before, I got spooked. I tried to go to were it was better lit, outside Safeways, were I'd left me mate's. The person folowing me seemed to have gone but as I passed the bins at the back of Iceland, I was grabbed and dragged into the gap between two big wheelie bins. It was really smelly and sick in there.
I tried to scream, but the man who'd grabbed me was really, really strong and he was hurting me arms. He put a hand over me mouth and told me not to made no noise. When he took it off I told him I was only eleven ( I lied cus I was twelve that day, but I wanted to make meself sound young like) and that he'd be done for this - I know my rites.
He laughed and said the law could'nt touch him and then he put something dissgusting in me mouth - it was a Jcloth, one of the blue ones and I can't even bare to look at them now.
I've already given this gits description to the police, but I won't ever, ever forget it. He had a scar on his face and stupid hair and he smelt like he had'nt washed in weeks. I almost gagged but didn't cus of the thing stuffed in me mouth.
I don't like this bit, but mum says I should put it all down cus of the compensation case like.
He put his hand under my skirt and felt me and I'm not going to saw were. He was making horrible noises, like me dad does when he's eating. I heard a zip and knew what he was getting out and I'm not going to say that either.
He made me put my hands on it and it was horrible, horrible, horrible. I hated it and it moved when I touched it. He sort of rubbed it on me leg and pulled me knickers to one side.
And thats when the angel came for me. I don't care what anyone says, I don't care what the policeman said about this, or me mum who says I'm making this bit up, he was an angel and he saved me.
The horrible fat git holding me sort of flew away. It was really funny cus his, you know, his willy was dangeling out and it flopped about and I hoped he'd bang it or something or maybe it'd drop off. Anyway, he didn't fly, the angel had pulled him off me.
He was so beautiful, just like I think angels should look, he was all glowey, his skin was lit up and his hair was too.
So he throws the dickhead across the carpark and it was brilliant. I didn't get this next bit cus the angel laughed as the man screamed and said something about not having any chips. Now I know the chippy round the corner was still open so I don't see if he wanted chips why he could'nt get some their but I guess chips are treats for angels cus they probabley aren't allowed to eat them very often.
He kicked the fat man and then turned back to me. And this is the bit it gets stupid and I don't care if the police said I was lying, I was there, they were'nt and I'm not.
The angel asked me if I beleeved that evil people should be made to pay for their sins (and these were his words like, not mine, cus I don't really know what he was going on about). I just said fucking right I did (my mum said I should'nt put that bit I told her she said I should tell the truth and she can't have it both ways. She is so stupid sometimes and she swears like a trooper and so does me dad, so they can't tell me not to can they?). Can I swear in this by the way?
Anyway, I said I did and he seemed to smile and went back to the git and he bit him. He went all funny and he bit him. I think maybe, being an angel, he wanted to scare the man, you know, like on that brilliant programe about those angles in america that no one knows are angels and they go around helping people. So he was trying to scare the fat man into being better. He went really, really scarry, but I wasn't scarred cus he was an angel, and I'm not scarred of them. The man screemed and he bit him some more.
I get a bit confused here cus the man stopped screeming and the angel dropped him and started to cry. I was'nt sure what to do with a crying angel but I went up to him and thats when I first noticed that the greesy dickhead wasn't moving. I didn't know he was dead until me mum told me that the police had told her that later and me mum said to be sure to say I was trormatised by that he was dead and that should be taken into account for me payments.
The angel said he had to go and I asked him if he was going strait back to heaven or wether he had some more people to save and could he stop by me nans and give her a hug from me - she's always saying she sees angel's and I thought she'd like to see mine. He laughed and I was glad, cus seeing him cry was horrible.
He took the mans wallet and said it was for the orfan's - which only goes to proove what I've been saying about him.
He walked away and I waited for him to rise up or something, but he didn't. He crossed the road and just walked away and I didn't see him no more.
I've told this story a thousand million times now and I'm really fed up that no one beleeves me. He is not a murderer, he was an angel. God sent him to me to stop me being, you know, by that man. Who was fat.
I served the man food and drink on the flight from London to Los Angeles in late September 2002. I could find the exact date for you, I suppose, if you need it. He was quiet, didn't touch anything and slept most of the way; he looked really, really strung out. You asked me why I remember him particularly. He asked me once or twice how much further it was to LA, and when I replied, giving him the ETA, he seemed oddly distracted and told me it was much further than that, which even at the time I thought a very strange thing to say. Remembering this - even though the flight was very busy that night - as soon as we started to fly over LA, I went over to him. He was staring down out of his window and I asked him what he was looking for - as a little joke, you understand. He said he was looking for God, which surprised me, of course, he certainly didn't look like a religious type. I joked that, in that case, he should be looking up, not down, and he just gave me a funny look and said depends on who your creator was.
Why else do I remember him? Well, that's a bit of a dumb question really; he was just the sort of guy you remember. He had all of us drooling for him, even Kevin, who tried to pick him up I think, but he denies this and says he wouldn't do that while he was working. So, as I said, a model passenger and cute as a cute thing. He can fly me anytime.
BA Flight Attendant
Angel and Wesley sat in Caritas going through the witness statements one more time. They'd done them alphabetically, chronologically, read them at random, tried to categorise them into truthful (and therefore useful) and unhelpful (probably lied). No good. The trail had gone cold in LA.
Angel pushed the papers he was reading angrily away from him to join the growing pile from Wesley's briefcase. Wesley leant back, pursing his lips slightly. Lorne glided over and refilled their drinks, leaving as tactfully as he arrived.
'Did he kill her, Angel?'
Angel looked away, looked down as if seeking guidance, then met Wesley's eyes. 'He helped me kill her. He held her down for me, and he finished her off at the end - said he wanted at least a little taste.' He looked away to hide the omissions in this recitation.
Wesley shuddered and took a long drink. 'I'm sorry, Angel; I ask these questions with no idea sometimes of the pain they must cause you.'
Angel kept his gaze. 'Wesley, you're looking at me nearly ninety years of adjustment, a vocation and good friends later. He is out there somewhere, lost in the city of the lost.' He groaned, pulled the papers toward him once more and said raggedly, 'I have to find him.'
'I am sure that he will eventually turn up in Sunnydale. You know he's been sleeping with Buffy… sorry; there is no easy way to say that, is there? But he has, and I believe he will return to that familiar relationship.'
Angel suddenly looked up from the table. 'What did you just say?'
'I said he'll go to Buffy. He'll need love; he'll need understanding, and even if she ended their relationship, she's still the only one left alive he has ever loved. Although I suppose Drusilla may still be kicking around somewhere. He might be looking for her.'
Angel turned once again to the account by the flight attendant and read her comments. They'd both assumed that Spike coming to LA was coincidental with the airport and flight times - flights into Sunnydale from the UK only landing during the day. What if Spike had never intended going back to Sunnydale or Buffy, but had always intended coming to LA?
Angel glanced around, unable to help himself: had Spike come to LA to kill him or to seek his help? Angel did not doubt that Spike could kill him, regardless of now having … a soul. He shook his head for the thousandth time. He was no longer the vampire with a soul: he was just a souled vampire, for now there was another; his childe had followed in his footsteps.
Angel grimaced and began once more on the papers.
He was still reading them through the next morning at the Hyperion when Wesley and Cordelia arrived for work. Angel listened morosely to the chatter until Wesley joined him in the office and took his share of the pile on the desk. 'You did a good job collecting all these, Wes. I'm grateful.'
'You're welcome, Angel. A trip home was rather welcome, actually. I am just rather worried how much time and money you are willing to invest in finding him.'
Angel glanced away with an impenetrable look.
After a while, Cordelia came in carrying coffee. She regarded the lowered heads fondly, and then said breezily, 'Guess who I saw last night?'
Wesley turned to Angel. 'Maybe we should put these to one side and concentrate on contacts in LA.'
Angel looked up despairingly. 'There are ten million people in this city, Wes; the odds of finding one are… well, ten million to one.'
'Hello? Anyone listening? I saw…'
'Yes, but he's not exactly one of the ten million, is he, Angel? He'll have specific habits and needs we could exploit in the search.'
'Losing patience here guys… guess…'
'Maybe we could track police reports to some extent.'
'What about the blood link? Can't you…'
'It's been too long. We are too estranged. Spike…'
'Spike might be thinking of that estrangement too.'
'I know; he's been in the city for days and not tried to contact me.'
'Cordelia! Could you please stop saying Spike in that irritating manner, and why are you saying Spike in that irritating manner?'
'Hello? As I seem to be talking to myself, I'm answering myself too.'
Angel's head snapped up, 'What?'
Cordelia looked pleased and perched on the edge of the desk, arranging her limbs to maximum effect. 'I - saw - Spike - last - night.'
Angel and Wesley rose together. 'Where?'
'At the Lady of Our Sins.'
'Jees, Wes, what sort of religion do you practice? No, it's a porno flick pit down on Fifth.'
'Wesley, she's winding you up again. Just tell us what happened, Cordelia.'
'I was going in to see Father Douglas about his call - remember, Wes? He called and asked us about a possession spell…'
'Err… de-possession, Cordelia, as in exorcism?'
'Whatever - anyway, he was taking a wedding rehearsal, so I sat down to wait, and there he was - about two rows in front of me.'
'You recognised him?'
'Kinda. I saw the hair and the coat, and thought - woa - that looks like the evil one brood boy's looking for.'
'Thanks, Cordy, nice.'
Wesley ignored the continual sparring between them and continued. 'When were you sure it was him?'
'Hmm, hard to say. Oh! No! Must have been when he turned around and spoke to me!'
'He spoke to you?'
Angel's entire body suddenly shuddered, and it was such a strange sensation that he sat down, heavily.
Wesley put a hand on Angel's shoulder, reassuringly. 'What did he say, Cordelia?'
Cordelia looked at Angel. 'He wants to see you.'
Angel made a small sound in his throat, and Wesley's grip tightened. Angel tried to speak, failed, coughed and tried again. 'Why? Why doesn't he just come here?'
'Cus I didn't think I'd be welcome.'
Cordelia and Wesley parted, they all looked up as if players in some bad mime, and Spike looked back at them from where he was leaning in the doorway.
He bent his head and lit a cigarette then tipped his head back with closed eyes, drawing in a deep lungful, which he blew out slowly.