A/N: This story contains references to character death and themes of mortality.
Two men are standing in the drizzling rain. One of them is tall, dark and handsome, but the cliché doesn't do him much justice. He's almost seven feet tall, without the lankiness of a basketball player. He's a wall of impossible muscle. More like a professional wrestler than any sort of athlete built for speed. He's swarthy in complexion, with black hair and coffee coloured eyes, and his face is almost feminine in its softness - like Valentino's or Orlando Bloom's.
The man next to him is a study in contrast. Pale and blond, and not exactly short himself at a little over six feet tall, but certainly looking slight and delicate of frame in present company. He has gentle cornflower blue eyes, a sharp square jaw, and an aquiline nose. He also has a loaded .38 Special, just in case.
They're standing at the edge of a cemetery, among young green trembling leaves and narrow tree trunks. Before them are the armies of tombstones, lined up in perfectly measured squares. In the distance, they can see black-clad mourners filing away towards their cars.
"I think that's the last of them." The taller and darker of the two men says. His voice is even and soft, a voice with purpose and pathos.
"We should leave as well." Dr. Cullen tells him, adjusting his scarf to better protect against the weather. The funeral has nothing to do with them, but it didn't seem like a good idea to disrupt the crowd or get too near to the major road.
"Jacob, we had an agreement. You said that you'd cooperate."
Jacob turns his head patiently and smiles at Dr. Cullen, who is a good man but doesn't understand. And of course he doesn't - even Jacob knows that none of it makes sense.
"I'm going to cooperate, Doc," He explains, "I'm not going give you any trouble. But I need to do something before we go."
Dr. Cullen places his hand in his jacket pocket and finds the handle of the revolver. Jacob is much bigger than he is. If there's a need for a physical altercation, he knows that he doesn't stand a chance.
"I need to go see her grave," Jacob says, noticing the other man's hesitation, "I'm not going to break down or anything stupid. It'll only take a minute."
"You won't get any sympathy points for it now," Dr. Cullen tells him, "It won't alter my professional opinion, and it won't do anything for your appeal."
"I told my lawyer not to make an appeal. I'm guilty."
"Then why do you want to go to her grave? Don't you have any remorse or decency?"
"Is it indecent of somebody to want to say a final goodbye to a friend?" Jacob asks sadly.
"It's indecent when he's been convicted of murdering that friend. When he's confessed to murdering her, and maintains that he has no regrets about his actions." Dr. Cullen shakes his head, wondering what possessed him to call in the favours and make the arrangements to bring Jacob out here the day before sentencing.
He's a good man, but he doesn't understand.
"I loved Bella, Doc."
"You killed her."
"I'm going. It'll only take a minute," Jacob says, scanning the distant tombstones to remind himself which direction to go in, "You can try to stop me, but I don't think you will."
He's right. The doctor nods his acquiescence and follows along on the concrete path that winds through the fresh spring grass. Jacob reads the stones they pass, glancing only at the newer ones for the name he wants to find. It's been awhile since he was at the cemetery.
When he sees it, he almost runs to it.
"Hey!" Dr. Cullen calls angrily, hurrying along behind him.
Jacob kneels at the grave, glancing idly at the name Isabella Masen and the date etched beneath it. He thinks of her fondly, and notices the small red flowers growing at the base of the tombstone. Young poppies.
"What are you doing?"
"Picking a flower," Jacob replies, one of the little blossoms in his hand, "We can go now."
Dr. Cullen glances at the flower, and makes no effort to hide his aversion to it. Not the thing itself, but the idea of a killer taking something like it from his victim. It doesn't help matters that it's such a vibrant shade of red.
"Put that back."
"I can't," Jacob shakes his head, "I need to take it with me."
"Why?" Dr. Cullen wants to know.
Jacob looks out at a patch of sky, grey and cold, and makes a decision that he didn't think he'd ever make. But it seems right, and he wants to talk about it. It won't do him any good, he knows, and he's made his peace with it all, but if somebody else knows the story, then maybe…
"Can I make another arrangement with you?" He asks.
"What kind?" Dr. Cullen has his hand on the revolver again.
"If we walk back, instead of taking the car, just you and me and none of the guards - I'll tell you the whole story. The whole true story."
It's not the kind of thing anybody sensible would agree to. But so much mystery has surrounded this case. So many complicated questions with simple answers, answers that probably have volumes of motive and half-truths behind them.
"Alright." Dr. Cullen nods to himself, and takes a deep and bracing breath.
If anything happens, he'll shoot.
But, for whatever reason, he doesn't think anything is going to happen.
Jacob watches as Dr. Cullen talks to the officers standing around the two police cruisers. A couple of guys in dark blue uniforms who didn't seem thrilled with the idea giving a convicted murderer a pretty good chance of escaping. But the doctor has a gift for convincing people of things, for explaining reasons and rationale. It's his job, after all.
Soon enough, Jacob and Dr. Cullen are walking down the side of a very old road, paved maybe eighty years ago, with no sidewalks. On one side are ranch houses, far back on their lots, with horses hushed inside barns to protect them from the wet and miserable day. On the other side are the trees. Almost a forest's worth it seems.
"Have you ever walked along this road before?" Jacob asks, and it's the first talking either of them has done since they left the cemetery.
"No," Dr. Cullen replies, "I haven't."
"I have. A lot," Jacob shrugs, "The first time was with Bella."
"Not really," He smiles, "It wasn't my choice. When her husband died, it took her awhile to get over it. I helped her through it because I was in love with her."
"She wasn't in love with you." Dr. Cullen remembers that part from the case file. But they hadn't really needed to establish too deep of a motive after the confession, so there was never a real investigation into that part of the story.
"She was always in love with Edward…"
"So that was it?"
"That was what? Why I did it?" Jacob looks at the delicate red flower in his hand, "No. That wasn't why I did it."
"It's going to start snowing soon." Bella said, trying to keep her voice conversational. But no matter how hard she tried, or what she talked about, she always sounded tired and sad and disinterested.
It had been four months since the accident. Four months since a drunk driver veered onto the sidewalk and her husband had never come home. The pain was still so raw - it seemed like it was never going to get better.
They walked along that old, country road that wound around the northern entrance to the cemetery. The sky above them really was threatening to snow, but that didn't bother Jacob in the slightest. He was more concerned with Bella, how thin she was getting, how exhausted she always looked, with pale lips and red-rimmed eyes. She was still beautiful to him, but it was a tragic beauty and he didn't like that.
He wanted her to smile again.
"What's that in your hand?" He asked, nodding at something he couldn't quite see.
"Huh?" She mumbled, "Just a flower."
"Where'd you get a flower?" Jacob chuckled, not being able to guess the answer.
Bella stopped and took a shuddering breath. She doubled forward as if somebody had punched her in the stomach. He thought that maybe she'd start crying again, if not the primal wailing sobs of the early days, then the silent rivers of tears that had come and gone more recently.
But she didn't cry.
"It's true," She said, "He really is gone. He's back there, in the ground, with nothing but the flowers to keep him company. And with the cold coming, they're going to die. All of them are going to die."
Jacob didn't know what to say. He wanted to hold her until she was past the sadness, he wanted her to forget all of the pain and loss and to love again. To love him as much as he loved her. It had seemed possible sometimes, in the quiet moments between the two of them, but not then. Then it seemed as unlikely as world peace.
"When they told me, I thought it was some sick joke," Bella said, "I thought everyone was lying for some horrible reason. I couldn't actually be… alone. And I think that it's just starting to be real. He's dead. Oh God, Jacob! He's dead!"
"Yeah," Jacob told her softly, "He's dead."
"I'm alone," She swallowed hard, like she was choking on her own sorrow, "I'm alone and Edward's dead, and all I've got is this flower."
It was a yellow moss flower, already looking brown around the very edges of the petals. It might not have even lasted until the frost. She twirled it between her fingers, the way a little girl twirls a daisy, but utterly bereft of the joy or whimsy that normally came with such things.
"You're not alone," He said, "I know I'm not Edward, but I… you're not alone, Bella."
She stared at the moss rose, not answering him. It seemed impossible that Edward had lived, had loved her, and now would never do anything again. What was she supposed to do with all of her knowledge of him? His favourite songs, his favourite foods, the movies he liked to quote, the colours he couldn't stand. She had an entire catalogue of things that revolved around him, things she could never look at the same way again, trivia that no longer had any value in the realm of the living.
He was rotting in the earth, beneath a bed of flowers.
"Throw that away." Jacob told her.
"What?" Bella ran a hand through her loose brown hair, shook her head, and wouldn't meet his eye, "No, I'm not going to throw it away. It's… his flower."
"No, it's not. It doesn't really have anything to do with him."
"I need something. To remind me."
"You need something to remind you of Edward?" Jacob scoffed, "I don't think so. Not something from that… place…"
"I want to remember." She still wouldn't look at him.
"Then remember Edward like he was," Jacob said, even though he didn't want to say anything about the other man. "Don't remember today, don't remember the mound of dirt you buried him under. If you keep that flower, all you'll have is a symbol of the end - a symbol that he died. Not the memories of him living. It'll always hurt you. It won't ever let you go…"
She looked at him then, noticed the compassion in his eyes, and the pleading in his voice.
"Throw it away." He told her again.
She remembered meeting Edward in high school and falling in love with him in biology class. The way his bronze hair moved when he tossed his head, the way he smiled with half of his mouth, his cold and distant melancholy that made him so attractive to her teenage self, and the way being in love warmed him up. She remembered driving around with him, in her truck or his Volvo. Remembered kissing him so long that they lost track of time. And she remembered going to a little meadow just outside of town, where wildflowers bloomed in the spring.
Those were the flowers she wanted to remember him by.
Not the sad, wilting thing in her hand.
"Here," She said, and handed it to Jacob, "You do it. I want to throw it away, but I'm afraid to let any part of him go."
"Are you sure?" He asked, taking it from her.
"Throw it away, Jake. Please."
Jacob is quiet, and they walk a little further along the road. There's an almost wistful expression on his face, a hint of a smile on his lips, but nothing more than remorse in his eyes. He twirls the little poppy, just like Bella had done with Edward's flower all those months ago.
"You certainly don't talk like you wanted to kill her." Dr. Cullen observes.
"That's wrong," Jacob sighs heavily, "I did want to do it."
"There's a tree up here, just a little further. You can't quite see it now," He points down the empty road, "It's a big elm tree. Huge. I'll show it to you when we get there."
"Did you shoot her because she couldn't let go of her husband's death?"
"Then why?" The doctor presses, wanting to know the answer. He can see all of the pieces, but none of them seem to fit where they're supposed to go. The mystery frustrates him.
"Because I loved her, and she loved Edward." Jacob shrugs.
"When I asked you if that's what it was, you denied it." Dr. Cullen reminds him.
"You had the basic facts, but your ideas about them were all wrong. You're thinking that I did it out of anger, because she would never love me as much as she loved Edward. That's wrong."
"Then tell me the truth about it," He replies, "That's why we came out here, isn't it? So you could tell me the whole story?"
Jacob tries not to laugh. Poor Dr. Cullen thinks everything is so simple and so ordinary. A man kills a woman out of passion, not out of love. A prisoner takes a walk with a state psychologist to tell his story and clear his conscience, and not for any other reason.
"I do want to tell you," He nods, "But you have to let me take my time. It's not an easy thing for me to talk about."
"Alright," Dr. Cullen nods, "Alright. Were you right? About the flower? Did throwing it away help her?"
"At first, I think it did," Jacob nods, "I really meant what I told her. About it being a memento of her husband's death, and not a celebration of his life."
He twirls the poppy again in his hand.
"But you took that. You insisted on taking it," Dr. Cullen says, sounding very much like a man of his profession, "Why?"
"Maybe I want all my memories of Bella to be of her grave on a rainy day." Jacob says quietly.
"Adding to your own punishment?"
"That's part of it, I guess. I know that I have to pay a price for what I did, and I'm at peace with that. And I mean that, it's not about redemption or forgiveness. I'm happy to go to jail for it, and I'll understand if they give me a death sentence. You probably don't believe me," Jacob glances at the doctor out of the corner of his eye, "It's fine. But I haven't finished what I'm doing, there's one last thing I need to do. It's the reason I brought you out here, it's the reason I picked this flower, and it's the reason I killed the only woman I've ever loved."
"I still don't understand."
"You will. You're a smart guy."
They round the gentle turn, and the elm tree Jacob mentioned comes into view. It's enormous, just as he has promised, with a burst of deep green and razor-edge leaves growing from the thousand branches that split away from the thick trunk like the bristles of a paintbrush. Beyond it, the street lamps of a crossroad are already lit. It's still the afternoon, but the heavy grey sky casts enough dimness that it's triggered the automatic switches.
"There's a bus stop up ahead, if you want to sit on the bench and rest." Jacob says.
Dr. Cullen turns his head to see the road better, and catches a glimpse of a man standing by the big tree. He doesn't want to sit on the bench if there's a civilian around, and his sense of responsibility tells him not to give Jacob the chance to board a city bus. Even though there's been no hint of an attempt at escape, all of that talk about needing to do one last thing…
He doesn't like it.
"I think I see it," Dr. Cullen says, "But we'd better walk straight on to the rendezvous point, if it's all the same to you."
"We're making good time, but you're the boss," Jacob shrugs, "Can I ask you something? It's kind of personal."
"You can ask, but I might not answer."
"Do you believe in any of that New Age stuff? Like crystals and aura colours and dolphins knowing the secrets of the universe?"
Dr. Cullen chuckles at how simple and unexpected the question. He doesn't mind answering at all:
"I can't say that I have much patience for it myself, but I've known some people who believe in it. Most of it's harmless enough."
"Harmless enough," Jacob repeats a little bitterly, "Bella's mom was into all of that stuff. Kept sending her books about grieving spiritually and how the power of Atlantis was going to ease her pain. Most of it was total crap. Some of it was interesting. Bella kept all of the books, didn't read them at first, just kept them in big piles around the house…"
To keep herself busy, she'd redecorated the house. Every room - from the downstairs lavatory to the master bedroom - was completely different. The paint, the furniture, the accent pillows. Bella had sold all of the old things and bought new ones. She'd changed everything.
Except the music room.
That was exactly as Edward had left it. Right down to the sheet music on the piano, and the sharpened pencils in an old-fashioned corrugated can. Even the crumpled up notes in the waste basket were exactly as they had been. Nothing was ever going to be moved or changed in there. It had always been Edward's room and not hers.
Jacob visited often. Sometimes he found her sitting in the music room, staring out the window. Most of the time he didn't, but he always found himself worrying about the times that he did.
"A journalist called me this morning," Bella said to him on one of his visits, bringing two cups of coffee into the living room, "He wanted to know about the composition Edward was working on."
"What did you tell him?"
"It's never going to be finished."
"Wasn't it pretty much done?" Jacob took a sip from his coffee, "I remember him saying something about only needing to figure out a couple of things, and then he'd…"
"It's not going to be finished." Bella repeated, more bitterly than she had meant to.
"Okay, Bella. Okay." He tried to sound soothing and supportive, but there was an edge to it now that hadn't been there in the months before. He was getting tired of this, of all of their conversations always coming back to the subject of Edward.
Silence passed between them. The only sound in the room was the ticking of the sleek new Ikea clock she'd hung up on the wall.
She looked down at a spot on the floor, and then she spoke:
"I'm getting better," She said with a catch in her throat, "I know I am. Even if it's taking a long time. It's easier when there are people around, you know? Somebody to talk to, just to remind me that I can keep going."
Bella took a shaky breath and finally looked up at Jacob.
"It's different at night," She went on, "When I know that I'm alone. I thought I'd be able to… feel his presence, but I never can. I just lie there in bed, and sometimes I don't even sleep. I'm like a zombie."
"Maybe," Jacob said carefully, "Maybe if you started trying to move on. I mean, I know you've been doing stuff to keep busy, but you don't really want to accept that your marriage is part of your past now. And you can have a future, maybe we could…"
"I love you, Bella."
"I know that."
"God!" Jacob cursed himself, "I'm such an idiot. I'm sorry. You've only been a widow for a year, and here I am…"
"Widow?" Bella recoiled at the word, and the rest of the conversation fell away, "I'm not a widow!"
Jacob was confused.
Somewhere, in all of the efforts of her friends and family to be delicate and understanding, nobody had used that term. Or, at least, nobody had said it in front of her. And it had finally been so long that people would start forgetting to be so delicate.
"I'm not a widow!" Bella seemed almost hysterical, "I'm Edward's wife! I'm his wife!"
"Don't you think it was a little soon to be propositioning her?" Dr. Cullen asks, "Maybe you should have waited a little longer before - how did they used to say it? Putting in a word with his widow?"
"His wife," Jacob corrects automatically, "And I wasn't really propositioning her. I always knew that she'd never love me as much as I loved her. She couldn't. But I couldn't help telling her, even if my timing was bad. Sometimes, an emotion gets so strong, you have to do something about it or it'll start to take up too much room in your head. You'll go crazy."
"Like rage?" Dr. Cullen raises an eyebrow at him.
"It could be rage for some people, it was love for me, and I think it was something else for Bella. Some emotion that was trying to burst her open, but I could never figure out exactly what it was. Sadness? Longing? Maybe it was love, too. Maybe that's the dark side of love," He gently traces the petals of the poppy with his finger, "You can never really let it go."
"She told you that she already knew how you felt."
"I've never been good at keeping secrets."
Dr. Cullen thinks about the implication of that statement as they walk along. He's starting to distrust Jacob's choice to tell the story so slowly, so carefully. He feels like he hasn't learned anything more about the man's motives than he knew that morning. He's learning quite a bit about the victim, but that isn't what he's interested in today.
"If you don't mind, I'd really like to stop and sit down." Jacob says, as they get nearer to the elm tree.
Dr. Cullen is pulled from his thoughts. He looks for the man who was standing by the bench, and he can't see him. He didn't notice a bus stopping, or anything at all driving down the road, but it could have been that he was too distracted by trying to piece together Jacob's motive.
There's nobody around, and his legs are tired.
"Fine," He says, "But don't get clever."
"I know, I know," Jacob grumbles, and plunks down on the little green bench, "Do you know what Bella did for a living? Was it in the files about the case?"
"It probably was, but I don't remember."
"She was a writer. Not novels or anything like that. She was an essayist, I think is what it was called. Kind of like David Sedaris, only serious instead of funny. She was pretty good."
Whenever Bella had writer's block, she'd ask Edward to play her a song on the piano. There was even a special little tune that he'd written just for her. He'd made a recording of it - he'd made recordings of most of his piano solos, but the lullaby was her favourite. She hadn't listened to it since he'd died, even though she also hadn't been able to write a single word.
Jacob hadn't heard that song in so long, he was surprised to hear it when he came to visit her one afternoon.
"Haven't heard that in a long time." He said when she opened the door, and the twinkling notes of the song spilled into the street.
She was wearing her pyjamas, a grey henley and a pair of plaid flannel bottoms. She looked like she'd been putting herself through the emotional ringer. Her hair was a mess.
"It's my anniversary." She said simply, and made her way back into the house. She left him standing at the front door, as if to say to him that she didn't care if he followed her inside or not.
He found her in the music room, of course. Sitting on Edward's piano bench, the little Bose stereo in the room blasting the gentle music at full volume. Jacob walked over and turned the dial down
"How are you?" He asked, because he didn't know where else to begin.
Bella just looked at him, waiting for him to figure out how stupid that question was.
"You shouldn't do this," Jacob sighed heavily, collapsing into an armchair by a little square window full of sunlight, "You told me you'd stop torturing yourself."
"I'm not torturing myself," She said, "I'm just living in torture. I can't help it. I keep dreaming about him, just vaguely. Like he's trying to tell me something, only he never can. He's lost, and trying to find his way back to something, and he needs me so much…"
"They're just dreams," Jacob tried to soothe her, "Forget about them."
"You're always telling me to forget everything!" She scoffed, "Like you want to erase Edward from my life. But you can't erase him, and I'm never going to get over this! He was my whole life, and now he's gone and I can't stand it."
"Don't talk like that."
"I need him, Jake," Her voice was weak and desperate, "I need Edward. Isn't there… isn't there some way we could be together again?"
Jacob shook his head.
"You're not being rational. This is a tough day for you," He said, "Maybe you need some coffee. Did you eat anything? I could fix you a sandwich, or some eggs if you want."
"I've been reading some of the books Renée sent me…"
"It's not all crap," Bella bit the corner of her lip and glanced at a stack of the glossy covered books on a hall table just outside the room, "There are some about spiritualism, and some about white witchcraft. It's interesting."
"Why are you even looking at them?" Jacob rolled his eyes.
"I'm trying to find an answer."
"An answer to what?"
She shook her head, like she was shaking all of the ideas out of it, and plastered on a sociable smile.
"Are you still in love with me?"
"Uh-huh." He nodded.
"I'm never going to be in love with you, no matter how good you are to me."
"That might change. Someday."
"No, Jake. It won't," She smiled sadly, "I'll always be Edward's wife. It's wrong to think that I could ever be something else. It's everything I am, and I can't be anything more. To anyone."
"It's all still so fresh…" Jacob started to tell her, but she wouldn't let him finish.
"I can't live without him," Bella said slowly, "I've been trying to tell you for weeks, but you won't listen. And I need your help. Some people say that to do it yourself is a sin, and I can't risk something - anything - going wrong. I can't be apart from him ever again."
"What are you saying?" Jacob could feel his whole body pulling away from her, in a mixture of disbelief and sudden hostility.
He didn't really have to ask.
He already knew the answer.
The rain is getting worse. It's falling in big teardrops, and splashing the mud and gravel around their shoes. Neither of them seems particularly concerned with the weather. They're on the little bus bench still, with its wobbly boards and it's sun-faded ad for a real estate agent, and they're quiet.
"You shot her because she asked you to." Dr. Cullen says, a little quietly. A little sadly.
"I didn't shoot her then," Jacob shakes his head, "I didn't shoot her because of that. I told her that I wasn't going to help her, and she told me to think about it. I stayed with her the rest of the day, and I slept that night on her couch. She kept saying that I didn't have to worry, she wasn't going to do anything if she had to do it herself, but I was trying to be a good friend.
"All I ever wanted to do was be there for her.
"At around three o'clock in the morning, she came downstairs for a glass of water or something. We talked for a little while, in the dark. She said she'd calmed down, and was sorry that she'd been so dramatic and stupid. And I felt better about things. I finally got some sleep."
"Was she lying?" Dr. Cullen asks.
"I don't think so. I think that if nothing had happened after that, she wouldn't have thought about it seriously again," Jacob closes his eyes softly, every detail of these memories are so vivid and raw, as if they had all happened to him the day before, and he tells the rest of the story, "A few days later, she called me up in a kind of panic. Her voice sounded really desperate and scared. I went over to her house as fast as I could - I told my boss that I had a sudden stomach virus, or something. I don't remember what I actually said too well. And I found her sitting on the living room floor, with some of those goddamn white witchcraft books all around her. She was trembling, and she looked like she'd been crying all day.
"She didn't say anything to me. She just pointed to a page in one of those books. One that was sitting open right in front of her. I picked it up, and I read it."
He stops, on the edge of his real and true confession. On the edge of explaining why he committed murder. Why he stood across the room from her, and shot the love of his life.
"What did the book say?" Dr. Cullen asks.
"Did you know that there are a lot of superstitions about flowers?" Jacob smiles at the poppy that's still in his hands, that he's carried all the way from the graveyard to this place, "I guess you'd know that there were lots, but I don't think you know the details of most of them."
"I can't say that I do."
"Well, there's one that was written in that book. And it went that if a flower was picked from a grave, and then thrown away, the place where it landed would be haunted."
He looks over his shoulder at the elm tree, remembering Bella. Remembering how she had screamed at him that he'd murdered Edward's soul on purpose, out of jealousy. How certain she was that he'd tried to trick her into trapping Edward at that tree, so that he could be with her.
She didn't listen to reason.
"Are you trying to tell me that you murdered a woman because the two of you believed something you read in a New Age spell-book?" Dr. Cullen shakes his head in complete repulsion.
"I… did what she asked me to," Jacob tries to explain, "Once we learned that it wasn't just some stupid thing in some stupid book. Once we learned that it was true."
"True? That couldn't possibly be true! My god!"
"You can see him sometimes. Edward. Standing by this tree, and looking lost. Like he's waiting for something. We must have come out here a hundred times to make sure it was him in the dim light, and it was difficult for me to accept at first. When you get too close, he disappears."
Dr. Cullen thinks of the man he saw waiting for a bus. Just a man, standing by this bench and this tree. He feels like a cold hand is touching his spine.
But the story isn't possible.
"I told you," Jacob smiles, "I killed her because I loved her, and because she loved Edward. And now I have my one last thing to do."
He stands up and walks a little ways.
And then he takes the poppy in his hand and gently, lovingly, tosses it at the base of the old elm tree.
When Jacob is dead, executed by the state for the crimes he has committed and his lack of remorse regarding them, Dr. Cullen will go back to that tree on the cemetery road. He will go early in the morning on the day after the execution, since he will not be able to sleep, and he will wonder if the light is dim enough and dark enough to see two figures by.
He will remember every piece of the story that Jacob told him, and he will wonder again - as he will wonder for many days - if any of it was true.
He will think of the psychological flaws and the things that don't add up. The pieces that can't support one answer or the other. And he will never be sure what he believes about the whole thing.
When he goes back, there will be no figures who might be waiting for a bus, no lovers holding hands beneath the canopy of autumn leaves. No gentle refrain of a lullaby on the wind.
He will not see them.
Dr. Cullen will always be a good man, but he will never understand.