24 HOURS

Constable Vaughn wandered around the premises, making sure he had photographed every nook and cranny of the house. Crouching on the floor, he picked up a single strand of blonde hair with his tweezers, and dropped it into his plastic evidentiary tube. He ran through the list of evidence he had in his possession. A bloodied Barbie doll, strands of hair, swabs of blood, the offending knife, and the girl's clothes. Now all he needed was Bing's soiled clothing, cheek swabs and fingerprints.


Chandler cringed, a communal shower with naked inmates. Well, anything was better than remaining in these putrid clothes. Averting his eyes from the other prisoners, Chandler stripped off, dropped his clothes into the evidentiary zip-lock bag, and turned the water on. He let it drum soothingly against his back, as it washed Emma off him.

Blood and vomit stained the water muddy brown, as it swilled down the drain. With his prison soap, Chandler furiously scoured every inch of his skin raw, desperately trying to scrub his guilt away. Squeezing out all of the toothpaste from his mini prison toothpaste tube, he scrubbed his teeth, his tongue, the insides of his cheeks. Turning his face to the shower, he gargled the shower water, purging away the rancid taste of spew.

Towelling himself dry and pulling on the clothes Monica had passed to him, he stepped out of the shower and handed his zip-locked evidence to the prison guard. The guard escorted him to a room, where Officer Healy sat waiting for him. Healy pressed Chandler's thumbs into a pad of black ink, and onto a sheet of paper. He swabbed the insides of Chandler's cheeks with a Q-tip, dropping it into a plastic tube.

A guard escorted Chandler to his cell. The guard opened the cell door, pushing Chandler inside, locking the door behind him. Chandler's eyes widened as he did a double-take of surprise at the familiar face before him.

"Gandalf?" Seated on the floor, with his back against the wall, Gandalf let out a low whistle.

"Wow, I haven't been called that in years. Chandler-Muriel-fucking-Bing. Been years since I saw you last! Never pegged you as the type to get your ass thrown in jail. Man, you look like shit." Chandler seated himself shoulder to shoulder, next to Gandalf.

"Right back at you, my friend," Chandler said, smiling sadly.

And Gandalf did look shit, really shit. His eyes were bloodshot, his pupils dilated so widely it almost wholly consumed his green irises. His body quivered uncontrollably, his paper-white face shimmered with sweat.

"Yeah, well, I'm kinda in a bad way, got the shakes. Police caught me high, and chucked me in here to sober up. It's killing me. Swear to God, I feel fucking crook, never gone this long without a line."

Seeing Gandalf this way saddened Chandler. The guy had always been a partier, but never in a million years did Chandler think he would descend into drug addiction. So this is what had become of them in the decade since university: a drug addict and a killer. Chandler watched his old friend sadly.

"I'm sorry Gandalf," Chandler whispered sadly.

Gandalf shrugged, "It is what it is. Let this be a lesson to you, Chanandler Bong. Stay away from the white powder." Gandalf closed his eyes, tilting his head back against the wall, his face tense with discomfort.

"So, what are you in for?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Suit yourself."

"Get help, Gandalf. Go to a clinic, go to rehab. Just go. Your problem's reversible," Chandler said softly.

Gandalf turned curiously to Chandler, "And yours isn't?" Chandler shook his head slightly.

Gandalf chuckled bitterly, "What the fuck did you do, Chandler Bing."

And that was the end of their conversation. The two men sat side by side, pensively silent, both consumed in their own private hell. Dead tired and emotionally spent, Chandler drifted off into a shallow restless sleep.

He saw Emma, ghostly pale with blue-tinged lips. She lay in a white wooden box, arms folded neatly across her chest. Ross and Rachel circled her, their sobs echoing across the cold empty church. A pool of blood blossomed at Emma's coffin. It travelled rapidly across the white marble floor like terminal cancer, flooding the entire church. From a distance, Chandler heard Emma scream for him, persistent, unrelenting, terrified, shrill.

"Uncle Chan; Uncle Chan; Uncle Chan; Uncle Chan; Uncle Chan; Chandler; Chandler; wake up; wake up; you're having a nightmare!"

Coming to, Chandler saw Gandalf's worried face inches from his, and felt Gandalf's iron grip on his shoulders, rattling him like a doll. Drenched in cold sweat, Chandler squinted at the strips of morning sunlight filtering through the barred window.