He Didn't Do It - A Short Story

Sean stood at a lit street corner, watching the rain fall on a couple’s umbrella. Drum-like sounds beat in his head as he looked at the couple standing nearby. They looked so happy. He’d been like that at one time. Happy, with a partner.

Now, seeing the couple smiling and happy, he despised it. Sean grimaced and clenched his fist, ignoring them and walking across the street. He walked into a nearby restaurant, a lunch and breakfast place that was called "News Breakfast Steak". Why the owner decided to call it “News”, he’ll never know.

Sean sat at one of the barstools and watched the workers make breakfast steaks. He ordered a cup of coffee and stared at the rising steam before taking a sip. He sighed and watched everyone eat. There were children, adults, older men and women. They were all happy. He scanned the restaurant until he saw a familiar face.

“Sean, hey buddy! Long time, no see. What’ve you been up too?” A man said as he walked up to Sean.

“Hey, Nick, why are you here?” he deadpanned. Nick rolled his eyes.

“And you’re as cold as ever. Nice to see ya, now, how’re you?” He started asking routine questions, and Sean answered them dutifully.

“So now that all of the formalities are done, we can get down to business.” Nick stated, looking Sean in the eyes. Sean avoided the eye contact and nodded.

“Sure.” he mumbled, taking a sip of his now lukewarm coffee.

While the two men were conversing, the night started to fade, but the rain was getting stronger. As the weather worsened, more cafe-goers started to go home. Sean and Nick stayed a while longer, right up until the restaurant owner closed up shop.

Now, they were walking side by side, Nick chatting about nothing and everything, while Sean nodded along. Sean observed the streets, seeing the side glares that people flashed at him every so often. He understood what those people were thinking. He shouldn’t be in a restaurant with someone, even if that someone was a licensed detective. Heck, he shouldn’t even be outside for what they think he’s done.

Nick looked at Sean and pulled him aside into a nearby alley. He knows something is wrong with Sean. He also knows that Sean will never talk about his problems or worries with anyone. He sees Sean take out his phone and start typing on the dimly lit touchscreen. Nick takes out his own phone and sees several texts from Sean already. Scrolling through the frantically sent texts, he smiles softly, enjoying the feeling of being important to someone.

Sean’s thumbs made quiet taps on his phone, expressing himself in the safest way he knew how, online with someone he trusts. Small grunts from the conflicted man alerted Nick’s attention. The detective leaned on the wall next to Sean and comforted him as he started to sob silently, the pressure of being a suspected killer pressing down on him and making him panicky. Sean puts his phone in his pocket and hugs Nick’s arm, feeling safer and calmer than he was a few minutes before.

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