Another old one.

           Hey Diddle Diddle

          By Ronald Cypress

 

Alvin Manning was a man whose nature seemed to be innately violent, and the law eventually put him away for four murders, two attempted murders and several vicious assaults. Many people said that he should have been locked up long before the police finally apprehended him. Alvin was thirty-three when he was sentenced to four life sentences. Some of the family members of his victims and others in society had called for him to be put to death, but a deal was made and Alvin Manning was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

He had confessed to the murders, and there didn’t seem to be any chance of him ever being released back into the free world. A few months into his prison sentence, Alvin assaulted another man, leaving him with permanent damage to his right eye. The assault had seemed to be unprovoked, and when he was asked for an explanation all Alvin could say was the man had been coughing too much; it was something that bothered him.

They began sending him to a psychologist. Alvin didn’t want to see the man, but the warden had come to him one evening and informed him that a group of people had taken an interest in his case. Alvin refused to go at first, but the warden told him that he could go willingly, or they could drag him to meet with the man. Alvin began to see the psychologist. Starting with their initial meeting, the man asked Alvin numerous questions about his crimes and what had driven him to commit such acts. Alvin didn’t want to answer the questions, grunting and giving nearly inarticulate responses to the questions. They could force him to see the man, but he didn’t have to talk. Alvin was going to remain uncooperative until the psychologist told him something that caught his interest.

“Some very special people are interested in you, Alvin,” the man told him. “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but there is a chance that these people could be responsible for you one day being free again.”

“Oh yeah.” Alvin smirked.

“That’s right.” the psychologist smiled at him. “They have close ties with the government, and they are looking for people like you. This is wrong to say, but you’re a very lucky to be as violent as you are. Now there’s a chance that these people will take more interest in you and help you get out of here. But first you must talk to me. Tell me about your crimes.”

Alvin didn’t believe the man, but he figured that it was a good opportunity to brag about the things he had done.

Alvin committed his first murder at the age of thirty, and he had come close to killing a few others prior to that.

“I ran a guy over once,” Alvin said. “Got into an argument with him at the grocery store. Asshole accused me of cutting in line. I had done that, but he should have kept his mouth shut. I followed him to another store, and when he got out the car I ran him over. They never caught me. This was when I was about twenty-six. I was sure they were going to get me, but all they got was the stolen car I had been driving at the time.”

The doctor took notes while Alvin talked.

“That first murder happened because I needed money, and I just felt like killing the guy. Met him at a bar. I gave him a ride back to his place, and he invited me in. He was in the bathroom when I grabbed the knife from the drawer. I waited several minutes after he came back into the kitchen. He was going on about how he couldn’t wait to see his daughter. He was pretty drunk. Looked like he was about to go to sleep before I just stabbed him.”

The psychologist tried to get Alvin to explain more about what had motivated him to commit the murder.

“I wanted money,” Alvin explained. “And I got some. I also just wanted the guy dead. I think I wanted him dead from the moment he sat down and started talking to me at the bar when I didn’t want to be talked to.”

Alvin had a supercilious look on his face when he spoke about his first victim. His second murder had taken place not long after the first one.

“I realized that the woman was living alone,” Alvin said. “I knew she was at least in her eighties. The hag was just set to be murdered, living alone like that. No one really checked on her. I just went in through a window and found her in the bedroom. I surprised her. She didn’t scream. She didn’t say anything until I started to act. Then she started begging, telling me about how there was little money in the house. I had brought the knife with me. I kept stabbing until I realized that my hand was cut. I had told myself not to do that like other idiot murderers do, but the damn thing slipped.”

Alvin laughed.

The psychologist asked if there was a reason for killing the old woman.

“I just saw her.” Alvin shook his head. “I saw her and I just wanted her dead.”

The third victim was a man Alvin claimed had been running his mouth at a bar.

“He was just talking loud and being annoying,” Alvin said. “I sat there looking at him, knowing that I was going to kill him. I followed home and shot him in the back of the head. I didn’t think there was anyone around, but that’s what got me put here. Someone had seen my car leaving the scene.”

Alvin had managed to murder one more person before the police arrested him.

“She was walking alone at night,” Alvin said. “And I happened to drive by and see her. I just got out of the car and attacked her. She screamed before I slit her throat. I don’t think anyone heard her. It was pretty random, and they wouldn’t have caught me if I hadn’t confessed.”

Alvin talked about other crimes he had committed. Most of them were assaults on random people and robbery. After several weeks of seeing the psychologist, Alvin was asked if he regretted any of his crimes.

“Not at all,” Alvin said, smoking a cigarette that he had been allowed to have. “They’re probably innocent in your eyes, but I think everyone of those people deserved to die.”

The psychologist understood. “I have to say you are one of the coldest people that I’ve ever met. The people who sent me will have my full respect if they can improve you.”

Despite all the time he had spent with the psychologist, Alvin still didn’t know about the people he was referring to.

 

 

 

The name of the company was Tyycron, and the first representative for them that Alvin met was Dr. Kathy Peg. Sitting in the same room that he met with the psychologist, Dr. Peg talked about the program they had going and why they were interested in him.

“We’ve only worked on a few other humans up to this point,” Dr. Kathy told him. “Some haven’t been able to cope with the surgery. One made it halfway through before health issues arose and he had to be removed. We have lost one person, a man who died from issues that are still unknown.”

Alvin smoked as he listened to the doctor talk. What they were offering him sounded absurd and unreal to him. The doctor claimed that Tyycron had found a way to cure people like him. They were going to do something to his brain that would completely cure him from his violent impulses. They wanted to work on him and turn him into someone that would be idyllic for society. Alvin listened, though he understood very little about the overall goal of the doctor’s program.

“We would really like to work with you,” Dr. Peg said. We think you would be a very good fit for our program. There are risks, but I think we have developed the technique far enough that there is at least a ninety-five percent chance of success.”

The doctor talked about the risks and what might happen, but Alvin wasn’t interested in that part. She eventually brought up the fact that there was a chance that he could be released from prison if the surgery was successful.

“It would ultimately be up to the government,” Dr. Peg said. “You wouldn’t be completely free. There would be heavy restrictions on you. But if we can prove that you are cured, then that will be a huge step for not only you but the entire prison system.”

Alvin didn’t care about the others; all he was concerned with was that there was a chance to be free again.

He signed all the papers that were put in front of him before being removed from the prison and taken to the Tyycron facility. Alvin called his mother, a woman who refused to believe her son was guilty of any crime, and told her that about where he was going.

“I don’t like,” she said after he explained what they were going to do to him at Tyycron. “It sounds very dangerous.”

Alvin didn’t try to assure his mom that he would be alright.

He had very little faith in what they were planning, but just being at the facility was better than being in prison. Alvin was heavily guarded, but the food and boarding was an upgrade from prison life; Alvin imagined that people in mental hospitals lived in similar settings. There was one window in his room, and from that window Alvin could see the facility yard and the woods. A few times, Alvin would stare out of the window and imagine coming up with some kind of escape plan. He would break free and run into the woods. The idea seemed somewhat romantic and adventurous to him, but Alvin knew that going through with the operation and treatment was the best option for him.

Along with Dr. Peg, a man named Dr. Harris Reed was in charge of his treatment. Dr. Reed would be the one who would actually perform surgery on Alvin’s brain.

“Gonna cut my brain up?” Alvin asked Dr. Reed before he was sent to get his head shaved.

“Not exactly.” Dr. Reed said. “We’re just going to make some adjustments. You see, my partner and I made a great discovery a few years ago. All that violence you committed. All those foul impulses you had.” Dr. Reed tapped on the side of his own head. “They’re all up here. Right here.”

Alvin felt like killing the doctor.

The surgery last for several hours, and Alvin would remain asleep for the rest of the day. When he woke up, he felt around on his head. His head had been bandaged up, but there was very little pain. Alvin noticed that he had a very strange feeling. He felt like himself, but he knew that something was very different. Alvin called out to see if anyone could hear him. The room was dark, and looking out of his window he saw that it was night. Since he had arrived at the facility, a guard had been placed right outside his room. Alvin pulled open the small hatch on the door and looked out. He didn’t see anyone.

He went back over to the window and looked out at the trees. Alvin could feel his thought process was different. The idea of running into the woods to escape was gone. Instead, he looked out at the trees, standing high the night. They didn’t look completely real to him. The trees almost looked like cartoons. Alvin smiled as he thought about cartoons. He wanted to watch them.

“Can’t I just do that?” Alvin quietly asked himself.

 

The next day, the doctors began working on him. They ran test on him. The changes could be seen right away. One of the big changes was in the way that Alvin spoke. His voice was a bit higher, and it sounded more like a child speaking rather than a man. Dr. Peg and Dr. Reed told him that he was doing well after giving him different tests; there were a variety of tests. Alvin’s favorite were the ones were he got to look at drawings and name what he saw. His least favorite was when the doctors showed him horrible pictures of dead bodies and people being hurt. It was during one of those tests that Alvin broke down and began to cry, asking if he could see his mother.

The worked with Alvin for nearly a month before they decided that he was ready to released back into society. Once the decision was made to turn him over to his mother, the media picked up on the story, causing an instant reaction from the general public. Most of the outcry was negative towards the convicted murderer being set free.

“He should be dead,” a man said. “They should have given him the death penalty.”

“He needs to stay in prison,” a woman said. “They’re telling us that he’s been cured, but we don’t know what that means. How can we trust their word?”

The doctors and other businessmen who worked for Tyycron were prepared for the backlash. In a few interviews with the press, Dr. Peg and Dr. Reed tried to assure the public that Alvin Manning was a man cured of any impulses that would drive him to commit murder.

“Look at him as a man-child,” Dr. Reed said. “One who has had any violent impulses removed from them. Alvin is much better now. We will be monitoring his behavior closely. We are not just setting him free, but rather keeping tight surveillance on him. Believe me, you are all safe.”

“Alvin is almost like a different person,” Dr. Peg said. “He is much better. And if time proves that our procedures were successful then I feel like this can be a new age of reformation for violent criminals. Perhaps all criminals.”

The public didn’t know what to make of the doctors words. They were still doubtful about Alvin’s reformation and just how much had changed. Due to privacy reason, the press was not allowed to talk to Alvin after he was released. They set him free, releasing him into his mother’s custody. She would take care of him while he was being watched by Tyycron.

 

Hagith Manning was confused about what had been done to her son. The people at Tyycron had tried to explain it to her, but she was unable to truly comprehend the procedures. All she knew was that her son was going to be living with her again. When she went to pick him up, a group of law officials and Tyycron workers sat down with her and talked about the restrictions that were going to put on Alvin. He would have to wear a monitor around his ankle. For the first nine months of his release, Alvin would not be allowed to step more than ten feet from his mother’s property without an alarm being set off. In order for him to go farther, his mom would have to receive permission from the person acting as his probation officer.

Hagith was worried about her son going anywhere. Given the reaction to the people living around her, she figured that it would be best if her son just remained in the house. On the day that he came home, Alvin gave her a strong hug before rushing to his bedroom. Hagith had spoken with her son on the phone while he was still being detained at the Tyycron facility. He had asked for certain things when they talked. The way he spoke made Hagith slightly uncomfortable. Whatever they had done to her son, it made him sound more like a ten-year-boy rather than a grown man. Hagith had never felt that there was anything wrong with her son. When he was convicted of the crimes, she didn’t belief there was enough evidence to prove guilt, and she thought that the incompetent attorney he had forced him into pleading guilty. Alvin had his problems in the past, but he was still her son. She was glad to have him back, but there was something off about him.

It was more than just the fact that he was childlike.

“Train!” Alvin screamed from his room. A train set was something that he had asked for while at the facility.

Hagith had purchased an expensive one online; her neighbor, Willie, set it up so that it would be ready when Alvin came home.

Hagith went to check on Alvin and found him sitting on the floor, watching the toy train go around the tracks; it circumnavigated around a small, toy town.

“Train, the train.” Alvin began to sing as he watched the train. He looked up at his mother with a wide smile on his face. Looking back at the train, Alvin began to clap. “Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon.”

Alvin clapped some more as he laughed.

He would play in his room for a few hours before growing tired and falling asleep on the floor. While he was sleeping Hagith quietly entered the room and stared at him. She remembered how he used to fall asleep on the floor when he was a boy. Even back then he hadn’t been so childlike. Tyycron had done something to her boy. Alvin didn’t feel like Alvin anymore. She stared at the monitor on his ankle. A part of her felt like Tyycron had crossed the line, but she knew that they were responsible for giving him back to her.

 

People protested outside of Hagith’s home for the first couple of weeks that Alvin was home. There were people with signs and chants. Hagith could understand how they were upset over someone they believed to be a killer being released, but she knew that her son wasn’t a killer and never had been. She called the police after she first noticed a crowd building. They sent a few police cars out to the home, and the officers would stay nearby to make sure that none of the protestors actually broke the law. After one of them threw an egg at her house, one of the officers cuffed the perpetrator and took the man away.

Hagith wanted to go outside and yell at them all for victimizing her and her son, but she knew that it wouldn’t resolve anything. All she could do was wait for them to go away. A few weeks would pass before the protestors began to dwindle. A few times, Alvin pulled back the closed curtains to look out the living room window. He saw the signs and angry faces. In a little boy’s voice, he asked his mother about what was happening.

“They’re just upset about something they don’t understand,” Hagith told her son. She coaxed him away from the window, telling him to go play with the train set in his room. Walking him back to his room, Hagith sang his favorite song for him:

 

Hey, Diddle, Diddle,

Cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed;

To see such sport,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.

 

Alvin sang the last line along with her.

Hagith had noticed that her son frequently sang the song at random times. She questioned him about one night, as she was helping him take a shower; he had asked to take a bath but she refused to let him do so.

“They sang it to me at the place,” Alvin said. “Dr. Peg played it for me. It became my favorite song, and sometimes she would sing it to me. I love the song.”

Alvin began to hum the tune.

When the protestors began to fade away, Hagith was left only with neighbors who were still on edge about her son being in her home. She knew that eventually they would be won over once they saw how well Alvin was getting along. The first people she introduced her reformed son to were Willie and Ebony, the married couple that lived next door to her.

“Alvin put up your train set,” Hagith told her son when she was introducing him.

“How ya, Mr. Willie?” Alvin gleefully shook Willie’s hand. “It’s really nice meeting you, mister. I really like my train set.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Willie smiled at Alvin.

“And this is Ebony.” Hagith guided her son over to Willie’s wife.

“How ya do, Mrs. Ebony?” Alvin shook her hand.

“I’m doing all right,” Ebony said, also smiling at him.

Hagith hoped that the meeting would go well. She wanted her neighbors to see that her son wasn’t a violent criminal. He wasn’t who he used to be, or what people had claimed him to be. Alvin was basically a little boy; one with odd tastes and mannerisms. But he could be trusted in their neighborhood.

During their first meetings, Willie and Alvin began to talk various topics while Ebony and Hagith talked amongst themselves. Occasionally, Hagith would look over at her son and Willie, relieved to see that they were getting along so well. At one point, Alvin brought Willie over to the living room window.

“I keep looking out here,” Alvin said. “And I keep thinking about how nice it would be to go play outside. But my mommy says I can’t, and so does the guy who comes to see me every week. They say I have to wait a little bit longer before I can travel. I bet it’s real nice out there, Mr. Willie.”

“It is,” Willie said. “And don’t worry about it. You’ll be out there soon enough.”

“I sure will.”

Alvin began to whistle a tune that Hagith instantly recognized.

As time went on, some of the other neighbors began to acknowledge Hagith and her son with smiles, nods, and waves. She could tell that they were still nervous about Alvin being in their neighborhood even though months had passed without there being any incidents. Most of the time, Alvin stayed in his room playing with toys or watching television. Cartoons were just about the only thing that Alvin would watch. Hagith tried to talk him into watching more adult shows, but Alvin seemed to find them disturbing.

When he was watching a Western and saw two men get shot, Alvin looked at his mom and told her that the show was too violent for him.

“I don’t like this.” he sounded as if he were close to crying. “That was horrible. Those guys didn’t do anything wrong.”

Hagith changed the channel. She turned the news on; the news was something she tried to avoid after Alvin was released. Hagith figured that enough time had gone by since his release and that it was safe to watch it. On the news there were stories of murders and other crimes.

“Turn this off,” Alvin cried. “Turn it off. This is terrible. Terrible, terrible stuff people are doing.”

Alvin picked up a stuffed raccoon his mom had recently bought and squeezed it close to his chest. He sang his song with some distress in his voice:

 

Hey, diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

 

Hagith changed the channel for him.

Close to the end of the nine months that Alvin had to spend with a monitor around his ankle, a teenage girl named Jessica who lived in the neighborhood came over to speak with Hagith. That was the first time that Alvin would meet her.

“It’s nice to meet you,” the sixteen-year-old girl greeted Alvin.

“Nice to meet you too, Miss Jessica,” Alvin smiled at her. “I’ve see you outside from the window. I’ve seen you at your friends. It must be nice to have friends and to play outside.”

“I guess so.” Jessica laughed.

“Alvin.” Hagith moved her son away from Jessica. “Jessica used to help me with things around the house. I told you about her before. I don’t know if you remember. While you were gone, she was very helpful.”

“That’s very nice of you, Mrs. Jessica. ” Alvin smiled.

“I just came over to check on you,” Jessica said to Hagith. “Things were pretty crazy for awhile, and we weren’t sure about what was going to happen. I was going to come over sooner, but I’ve been pretty busy. I also figured I’d give you guys time to be together.”

“Everything is fine now.” Hagith said She looked at her son. “Alvin has been helping me out a lot now. And pretty soon they’re going to let him do even more than he can do now.”

“That’s right,” Alvin said. He threw his arms into the air. “Pretty soon I’ll be able to play.”

All three of them began to laugh.

 

 

Alvin was set free from most of his restrictions. The person who had been checking in on him would continue to do so for another six months. The day after his monitor was taking off, Alvin saw Dr. Peg for the first time since leaving the facility. He gave her a big hug when he saw her.

“Dr. Peg!” Alvin said. “It’s been such a long time. I hope you’re doing well.”

“Alvin.” Hagith hissed at her son. “We’re inside. Lower your voice.”

“It’s fine,” Dr. Peg laughed. “I’m glad to see you, Alvin. You appear to be doing very well.”

“I am.” Alvin quietly clapped his hands. “And they’re letting me go outside now. See these clothes I’m wearing. I picked them out especially for this day. Dr. Peg, I’m going to the park!”

“That’s right,” Hagith said. “I told Alvin that I would take him to the park today.”

“That’s good.” Dr. Peg smiled at Alvin. “I just wanted to check on make sure that everything was going alright. I brought some papers here. This is just a quick checkup. It really shouldn’t take that long.”

The three eventually sat down in Hagith’s living room. Dr. Peg asked questions about Alvin’s physical health. Hagith told her that everything appeared to be fine.

“Is there something I should be looking out for?” Hagith asked.

“No.” the doctor answered. “Everything should be fine. He should be following normal health protocols.”

Dr. Peg asked Alvin questions about his emotions and responses to things around him. Alvin spoke about how happy he was at home. He talked about all the toys he had, expressing a childish elation when speaking of them. When he was done talking about the toys, Alvin sang his song:

 

Hey, diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed,

To see such sport,

And…

 

Alvin appeared to have forgotten the lyrics.

“The dish ran away with the spoon.” Hagith finished for her son.

“Yeah.” Alvin looked a bit disconcerted. He turned to Dr. Peg. “That’s one of my favorite songs. Remember how you sang it to me?”

“I do.” Dr. Peg said.

The doctor asked more questions about Alvin’s behavior. She asked Hagith if she had noticed anything odd about her son’s behavior.

“Aside from him behaving like child?” Hagith said, the bitterness obvious in her voice. “Everything is fine.”

“He really is doing well,” Dr. Peg said. “I know he’s different, but I would say he is now free in more ways than one.”

The meeting ended and Dr. Peg went on her way. She assured Hagith and Alvin that she would check on Alvin in a couple of months. She gave Alvin a hug before leaving. After the doctor left, Hagith took her son to the park as planned. She thought about the visit and how she hadn’t been completely honest with the doctor. There were things that were a bit off with her son; it was more than just the childish behavior. Hagith understood that was what the new normal was supposed to be for Alvin, and she had seen things that didn’t agree with the new regular.

There were things like the strange writings that Alvin did sometimes. Hagith had stocked up on paper once she found that her son loved to draw and scribble. Most of his drawings were of animals and people engaging in some type of cheerful activity. Hagith threw many of the drawings away, only keeping them if Alvin asked her to hang on to it. She had been picking up a pile of Alvin’s drawings when she saw that some of the papers had something odd scribbled on them. The papers were filled with what appeared to be a mixture of numbers, letters, and strange symbols. They appeared to be written out in an erratic manner. The only thing she could understand was Hey Diddle Diddle written at the bottom of each page.

Hagith looked the papers over for a few minutes before throwing them out. The next day, she would find more papers with similar writings on them. Like the papers from the previous day, they had the words Hey Diddle Diddle written on them. Hagith asked her son about the drawings.

“Hmm.” Alvin stared at the paper. “I don’t know what those are. I was just drawing.”

“They’re not like the others.”

“I know. I guess I was really just scribbling on those.”

Hagith didn’t ask any more questions.

The writings were strange. So were the random bouts of memory loss. Hagith noticed that her son had begun to have issues with remembering simple things. One time he forgot which room was his. Another time, he urinated on the floor after he forgot where he was supposed to go to the bathroom.

“I’m really sorry.” Alvin was contrite once he realized what he had done. “I don’t know why I couldn’t think of it. I just couldn’t hold it any longer and I didn’t know.”

There was a list of things that begun to change with her son as time went on. Hagith noticed that her son’s voice began to regularly fluctuate, going from a childish high to a deep, weary voice. She began to hear Alvin moving around the house during the night. He would sometimes sit and stare at a blank television screen, his eyes showing no emotions. Hagith worried about the changes that were happening, and she briefly considered calling Dr. Peg to talk about what was happening. Then, Hagith realized that there was a possibility that her son was returning to normal. Maybe there was hope that he could heal from what they had done to him.

 

Hagith worried some more when she heard her son leave the house was night. She listened from her bed as Alvin moved around the house and eventually towards the front door. The door closed lightly, but she was still able to hear it. Hagith got up from and checked to see if she hadn’t jumped to conclusions. She looked around the house until she was certain that her son wasn’t there. As she looked out the window and into the night, Hagith wondered about where her boy could have gone. She went back to bed, uncertain about what Alvin was doing.

The next morning, while they were eating breakfast, she questioned him about where he had gone.

“I don’t remember leaving the house,” Alvin said. “Are you sure I wasn’t in the bed? I hope I wasn’t sleepwalking.”

“”That could be it,” Hagith said. “I guess you could have been sleepwalking.”

“That must be what was going on, because I don’t remember leaving my bed last night.”

Alvin stuff pancakes into his mouth and began to hum. The tune wasn’t the one Hagith was used to hearing. She didn’t recognize the tune; it almost sounded like classical music.

Hagith tried not to think too much about what was happening with Alvin. For the most part, he was still the man-child that had been turned over to her. He spent hours in his room drawing and watching cartoons. Hagith examined his drawings, and aside from the strange scribbles, she was unable to find anything that was disturbing. Alvin was such a good boy, and he was becoming more helpful around the house. When the kitchen sink clogged up, Alvin didn’t waste anytime going to work, hastily fixing the clog. Hagith didn’t know what he had done, but the problem was fixed.

He was also picking up new hobbies. After seeing a cartoon character playing the violin on a television show, Alvin begged his mother to get him a violin. Hagith knew that the instrument could be costly, but in the end decided that it would be a nice gift for her son. She purchased him a violin and told him that if he were interested she would set him up with an instructor.

Alvin smiled at her and took the violin to his room. Several minutes later, Hagith heard a sound coming from down the hall. It was a wonderful sound, and she knew that it couldn’t be her boy. Hagith was certain, but when she reached his room she saw Alvin sitting on his bed, delicately playing the violin as if he had been playing for years.

“How can you do that?” Hagith asked after Alvin quit playing and put the violin away.

“I don’t know,” Alvin said. “I just can.”

He sang the song as he placed the violin in its usual place:

 

Hey, diddle, diddle,

Tell me a little riddle.

Can a cow jump over the moon?

 

Hagith remained slightly puzzled, but she knew that there was no reason to be concerned. Her son was clearly doing much better. She hoped that one day Alvin would be able to go out and show people just how successful the Tyycron operation had been for him. He would show them that they had all be wrong about him.

Alvin continued to wander out of the house during the night. Hagith didn’t try to find out what he was doing or where he was going. Going back to sleep, she decided that her son was probably just restless and needed to walk. The night was a good time, because there probably wouldn’t be any people to stare at him as he moved through the neighborhood.

Alvin’s nightly walks were the first things that came to mind when Hagith received the shocking news about Jessica; the teenage girl had been found stabbed to death in her bedroom.

A police officer was the one who told her about what had happened.

“No!” Hagith cried out.

The officer had stopped by to ask her questions about her and her son’s whereabouts during the night.

“I was right here,” Hagith said. “And so was my son.”

Hagith felt confident in her words because she knew that it was the truth. She hadn’t heard Alvin leave his room the night before, though she had heard noises coming from the room. Her son was innocent.

“Could I speak to him?” the police officer asked.

“Yes. He’s back in his room. Do you hear that? That’s him playing the violin, right now.”

Hagith lead the officer back to Alvin’s room.

“Alvin.” Hagith stopped her son from playing. “Something terrible has happened.”

The police officer shook Alvin’s hand before telling him about Jessica’s murder.

“Oh my!” Alvin seemed shocked. “That really is something horrible. I can’t believe anyone would ever do that to her.”

The officer asked Alvin about what he had been doing during the night.

“I’ve been right here,” Alvin said. “I was in my room watching TV until I fell asleep.”

The police officer had no choice but to take Alvin’s word for it. He thanked the two for their time and left.

Hagith already knew what was going to happen amongst her neighbors. They were going to start looking at her and Alvin more suspiciously. Alvin was the most likely suspect in their eyes, though there was no evidence to prove that he had killed Jessica. Hagith decided to not address their suspicions, figuring that they would eventually see that Alvin was not guilty.

Making an arrest in the murder took longer than Hagith expected. Weeks passed by, with the neighbors saying very little to her, before a teenage boy was arrested; the boy turned out to be someone Jessica dated regularly.

“I know that guy,” Alvin said. “Jessica introduced him to me before she died. He doesn’t live that far from here. I thought he was a pretty good chap. Sad, if what they say is true.”

The boy denied everything, but the police had found the murder weapon on his property. Plus, there were rumors that the boy and Jessica had an argument a few days before she was murdered. They arrested him and charged him with murder.

Once they had the teenager in custody, Hagith noticed that her neighbors began to have friendlier faces when looking at her and her son. She hoped that they felt guilty for even considering Alvin to be responsible for what had happened to Jessica. Hagith thought about it when she was alone and she couldn’t help but laugh. She knew that she had some suspicions herself, especially when she found brown gloves tucked away under Alvin’s bed. She had seen them before, and when she picked them up to exam them, she noticed that there was a substance on them. To Hagith, the substance appeared to be blood, but she couldn’t be sure.

Staring at the gloves, Hagith heard her son singing in the living room.

 

Hey, diddle, diddle

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed,

He laughed and laughed and laughed.

 

Hagith heard her son laughing in a boisterous and deep voice.

Hagith picked up other clothes that were on the floor and took them to the laundry bag that was in her room. She would give them all a good washing, and she would try not to think about what had happened to Jessica. It was a sad thing, but the killer had been caught; the neighborhood was safe again. The main thing that mattered to Hagith was that she had her son back, and he was still such a good boy.

 

 

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