The chopper took off. The three musketeers watched it lift up and then roar away over the forest tops in the direction of Melbourne. They had raced to get here, had spent a mere five minutes with their friends and now had to go all the way home again. They felt a bit deflated. Somehow they’d wanted to do more than just comfort Luigi and Cody. They knew in their hearts that that was silly, so had difficulty admitting it to themselves.
Jason went over to Colin. “I’m Jason Armstrong-Beaufort. We spoke on the phone earlier.” They shook hands. “I wanted to thank you for taking this seriously. You saved Lou’s and Cody’s lives. We’ll be forever in your debt. I won’t forget it.”
Colin looked extremely discomforted. “It’s my job.”
“Yes. A job where you can risk your life for a stranger. A gay stranger.”
“Gay or straight doesn’t matter. It’s what I swore to do when I became a constable.”
“Yes, but whether you swore it or not, you did it. Again, thank you.”
Jason grinned. “I’m embarrassing you. Sorry.” He sobered. “All the same, I won’t forget it. Luigi is my friend. I love him.”
Colin shook his head again. Abruptly, he said, remembering, “I asked you not to get involved! You promised me you wouldn’t.”
“We didn’t! By the time we got here it was all over!”
“But you came. What if it hadn’t been over?”
Now it was Jason’s turn to redden. “We couldn’t just wait. We couldn’t. Sorry.” He looked away, embarrassed.
“Hmph!” replied Colin, feeling much less embarrassed, and liking the other man much better for having caught him out.
“Do you—the police I mean—really need Lou’s car? Unless …. Did he shoot Cody in the car?”
“No, he didn’t. I don’t think we need it, to be honest. We’ll take statements from Luigi and Cody. There’s not going to be a trial. There’ll be reports, oh my head, the reports, but I can’t see that we’ll need any forensic evidence from the car.” He was silent for a moment, his face thoughtful and sad. Jason waited. At last, Colin said, “I wish I’d saved him.”
“Why? He was horrible!”
“Everybody deserves a second chance. Or a chance, anyway, to repent and regret.” He paused again, before adding, “To kill yourself—it’s the ultimate act of despair.”
Jason’s eyes filled with tears. Colin couldn’t have known how apposite this was to Jason. Brent had killed himself because Jason had been an arrogant heartless idiot. And Jason had yet to forgive himself for his failure to save the love of his life.
Unable to speak, Jason just shook his head.