The second I arrived home from Rome, I was arrested for Kenton’s murder. Her father, Ben Motorize, had many friends in the justice department, and he had strong-armed them into ignoring juvenile laws and charging me as an adult at age 16. With first degree murder. My mother and Penelope came to see me in jail. Penelope burst into tears the moment she laid eyes on me.
“Jorge! Poor thing…I promise I’ll get you out of here, Jorge! Oh, Jorge…!”
She was in such a state it rather rattled me.
“But I’m fine, Penelope. Calm down. We can’t have you losing control of your emotions, now.”
I did NOT need a locked room clown showing up here. Both of them seemed rather surprised I wasn’t more upset.
Penelope said, dubiously.
“This doesn’t bother you?”
“I’ve grown up a lot, you know. I got to keep it together.”
My mother seemed equally concerned, but she said,
“Well, I’m glad to hear it, Jorge. Still, we’ll do everything we can to get you home soon. Don’t you worry.”
“Mm. Don’t worry about me. I’m actually pretty comfortable here. Eh heh heh.”
“……………? You really do seem like you’re OK.”
Still not quite believing it, mother and Penelope went on their way, but on the way back to my solitary cell – they were keeping me separated from the adult criminals – it was all I could do to stop myself from skipping. The guards hated it when I did that, so I forced myself to walk. I supposed this was what they meant by happy feet. I wanted to get back to my cell. The tiny cell at the very back. Where Lisa Lisa was. As we reached the cell the guard went bzzt and fell asleep on his feet. She’d paralyzed the thought centers of his brain, and he fell back to his normal routine, doing only things he didn’t have to think about. Put the suspect in the cell, turn the key…just like he did every day. His eyes saw Lisa Lisa and saw the state of our cell – we even had a refrigerator – but his mind failed to comprehend it. My mind remained unaffected because Lisa Lisa had given me socks that blocked the Hamon she was sending rippling through the floor. They were made from special thread from the uh… Smrtipologian Beetle, I think. Anyway, this weird bug’s thread disperses Hamon.
“Welcome back, Jorge.”
“Good to be back!”
“Mama Erina looked so worried at first. Thank goodness you were able to reassure her.”
“Eh? You were watching?”
“Mm. I thought I might have to say I was with you if she looked too upset.”
If mother found out about this she might very well say that jail was no place for a young lady and forbid her from staying.
“But reassure her you did,”
Lisa Lisa chuckled.
“So I didn’t say anything. Mama Erina and old man Speedwagon will take care of things, and the Hamon Warriors are helping too. I’m sure you’ll be free in no time.”
I didn’t really want to leave. With Lisa Lisa being nice enough to bring me food and snacks and clean the place and teaching me things this place was paradise. I didn’t have to go to school, either. But I knew better than to tell her that. Since Lisa Lisa had been with me almost since the moment I was arrested I had escaped all anxiety and fear. I knew I could rely on her utterly and completely. Watching her walk right into the jail with all the guards going bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt I completely forgot to be depressed.
“I’ll get yelled at for using Hamon like this,”
she laughed. She was the best. She left at night, though.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate,”
she said. I wouldn’t do anything! ← ? So alone at night I thought about Kenton Motorize. The girl
who got me to dream. Like a fairy riding on the back of a bird. Always smiling, prone to startling me with her sharp tongue, but she never once lied or hid her feelings. She was fun to be around. But now she was dead. On the morning of my sixth day in jail, Steven came to see me. Ehh? I thought. Maybe he thought I was the killer. I was scared to see him. But I wanted to see him. He’d lost his sister, and I wanted to give him my condolences. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to do anything, maybe the words wouldn’t form. But I should at least show myself, I thought. Kenton had been brutally stabbed 23 times in the gut and chest and face with a knife from my house and my plane had been with her. Even if it wasn’t actually my fault I felt as if there should have been something I could have done to stop her from dying. But I was scared. Scared to face my friend’s death head on, and scared to face a brother after his sister was murdered.
“Go, Jorge. Be with your friend the way I’m here with you.”
Lisa Lisa promised to watch the visiting room from close by, so I gathered my nerve and went to see Steven. Steven looked beside himself, and had lost so much weight I barely recognized him. I was almost at a loss for words, but I managed to say,
“Kenton…it’s too sad. Too horrible. I don’t know what to say. The police suspect me but…obviously, I didn’t do it.”
“I believe you,”
“You would never kill Kenton. But…I came to apologize. My father is convinced you did it, and is hell bent on taking all his rage out on you. I keep telling him you would never do something like that, but he needs to avenge her, and won’t hear a word of it.”
That was depressing. But I didn’t let it show.
“That’s OK. Don’t worry about me. Don’t worry about anything else. Just mourn Kenton. I’m praying for you every night. Praying that she can find peace in heaven.”
“….thank you. But Kenton was cut to pieces. I can’t picture heaven or hell right now. I just don’t understand why a girl like her would get murdered.”
I had no answer.
“I hope we can fly together some day,”
“I saw your plane. It was balanced well. You were almost ready to fly it.”
I thought about the old Motorizing 5, reborn as the Star Shooter. If my weight was around 100 grams I’d have been able to fly it. It had made for a good kite. My plane had not just been left lying at the cliff where Kenton had been murdered. It had been tied to a rope, and flown, with Kenton’s body and a rock as anchors. There was a strong wind off the sea and heavy rainfall weighing the plane down, but it had flown high anyway. That was why they’d found Kenton’s body so quickly. Steven had seen the kite, and it led him to the horrible discovery of his sister’s remains. I couldn’t imagine how that must have felt.
“Doesn’t seem like they’re gonna let me fly,”
“Don’t let yourself think like that, Jorge,”
Steven said, smiling.
“If the two of us abandon planes…it’ll feel like there’s no proof Kenton even existed.”
I remembered that at night, and cried in my cell. Kenton loved planes. She loved flying. She was good at it, and never more beautiful. Even now I wasn’t sure if I really liked planes, or just been entranced by the sight of her flying off that cliff.
Despite my mother’s best efforts, I remained in jail, but it seemed like the police were having trouble building a case against me. To take the case to trial, they needed to get all their facts in order, but there were too many mysteries about Kenton’s death. First, nobody could figure out a timeline for my actions that allowed for the murder. After speaking to Darlington at the Motorize home, Faraday had led me to another room, and then I’d called from Rome two hours later. The only time unaccounted for was that two hours, and getting from Westwood, England to Rome, Italy in two hours was impossible to begin with. It was a four day
trip by rail or by sea, and even if we took the maximum flight distance of American planes and placed that end to end it would still take two days. When the police questioned this, I answered,
“Faraday took me to see a friend who should be dead, and when I took his hand I found myself in total darkness. I figured out that I was in a cave and climbed out of it and found myself in an underground ruin in Rome.”
That was mostly true, so I could explain it comfortably even though the police were trained to see through lies. I left Lisa Lisa out of it, and named a different underground ruin she’d suggested instead of the temple with the treasure room in it, but that underground ruin had not yet been officially discovered, so when the Italian police went to check it out it became a huge deal and if I hadn’t gotten lost in there they’d never have known the ruin was even there, so it seemed like I was going to get away with lying about that part. In fact, if proven innocent there was talk of the Italian government giving me an award. I’d turned it down already, though. Lisa Lisa and the other Hamon Masters apparently knew everything that lay underground. I could tell the police had no idea what to make of my nonsensical statement. They clearly couldn’t write that down in their reports as is. They had Faraday’s testimony, and proof from Rome, so despite what I was saying they couldn’t doubt the fact of it. They had me undergo a psychological evaluation but whatever the result of it was, they still had to write a detailed account of how I could have killed Kenton Motorize in Westwood, England before traveling to Rome, Italy. And that was hardly the end of the mess they had to make sense of. I had no motive to kill Kenton. At all. She was one of the few friends I had in England; she and her brother were the only friends I had. I had liked her cheery disposition, the open way she spoke, and she’d taught me everything I knew about planes. This was the truth. But in their report, they said that I was in love with
Kenton, had said I would show her my plane to get her alone and ask her out, and had killed her when she turned me down. I had brought the knife with me planning to threaten her with it, and had tied the plane to her body and flown it to make her grave.
“That isn’t true,”
I said, over and over and over again. And learned it was useless to say anything to someone intent on bending the truth or outright lying to make things fit their needs. Based purely on the estimated time of Kenton’s death, it should have been difficult to believe I killed her. I arrived at the Motorize home at 3:30 PM, and Faraday led me to the other room around 4:00. But Steven had just arrived home when he saw the kite flying above the cliffs from the gate of the Motorize manor, around 4:10 PM. It was a twenty five minute trip by wagon from the Motorize manor to the scene of the crime. Two hours walking, and even if one were to run the whole way, it was a steady incline so it would take at least an hour. Kenton had been seen leaving school with an umbrella at around 3:30 PM, and if she had headed straight for the cliffs it would have taken her thirty minutes. When her body was found…Steven had seen the kite flying in the rain from his home, and afraid something had happened, had run his horse straight to the cliffs. According to his testimony, Kenton’s body had still been warm, so the murderer must have killed Kenton on her way home, tied her body to my Star Shooter, and let it fly – all in the ten minute period between 4:00 and 4:10. Just transporting the plane was a huge challenge. I’d been bringing Star Shooter back from the dead in my tent, and it was fully assembled; normally, transporting it would have meant taking it apart, carrying it to the cliffs, and then putting it together again. But from what Steven had seen, there weren’t any new marks made on the body, so it would have been impossible for anyone without my knowledge of the plane’s construction to take it apart and put it back together again. After all, I’d designed and built it myself. It was a mess of cobbled together bits and oddball parts. Which meant the killer must have transported it to the scene of the crime intact. It
was a glider with a ten meter wingspan; the cliffs were five kilometers from where the plane was kept, and the town center was right in the middle, so the killer would have had to take the long way around to avoid being seen. Could they have flow it as a kite while moving it? If anyone saw a rope leading into the sky they’d wonder what was on the end of it. And the weight of one person would not have been enough to control Star Shooter once the wind caught it. The fastest way to get it there would be to climb aboard and fly it, and the winds were strong enough enough that the winds passing through the tent had it almost at a hover. But like Steven said, the balance wasn’t yet right, and it was impossible for it to carry anyone. Yet in the report, that was how I’d got the plane to the cliffs. I’d left school, came home, picked up a knife, flown Star Shooter to the Motorize manor, spoken to Darlington, snuck out of the house unseen, and then flown the plane to the cliffs. Kenton was waiting for me there, and when she rejected me, I stabbed her to death… I denied everything, but the report was finished, and I was allowed to return home. I’d rather have stayed in jail, but I couldn’t make Lisa Lisa dote on me forever, so I reluctantly went home. The Westwood jail guards were starting to have fits brought on by overexposure to Lisa Lisa’s Hamon anyway; their eyes would roll back in their heads, and they’d stop moving entirely, as if lost in a day dream. Lisa Lisa had a fiery temper, so I privately suspected she’d used Hamon that was a bit too strong. Lisa Lisa accompanied me from the cell to the front door without anyone noticing, but once we reached the door she said,
“OK, I’d better be off, then.”
“Eh? You aren’t coming home with me?”
“I’ve got work for Straits. I’d been playing hooky.”
“What? I’ll miss you.”
“Don’t do that, Jorge. You’ve got to find the strength within you. They’re going to take you to trial. It’s only going to get worse
I knew that but…
“Come on, Jorge. Your friend was murdered, and they think you did it. ‘Depressing’ is hardly strong enough, it is?”
I had to agree. I’d lost Kenton, and was probably losing Steven as well.
And depending on how this trial went I could well lose everything that mattered to me. I had to fight this.
“Thank you for everything, Lisa Lisa.”
She peered intently into my eyes.
“I need to be stronger,”
“I need to be strong enough to do this on my own.”
“You don’t need to be strong,”
Lisa Lisa said.
“You just need to be a grown man.”
“Then I’ll aim for that. And be stronger that way.”
“Mm. Don’t think you need to do this on your own, Jorge. I’ll come to help you again.”
“But if I’m not strong like you…”
“Jorge, it’s not like I can do everything on my own. I’m not strong at all. You’re helping me just as much as I’m helping you.”
My mind was filled with warm, fuzzy memories of our time together in jail, so I genuinely didn’t know what she was talking about.
“When I was underground in Rome and terrified? You came to save me, Jorge. You helped me more than you can know. You might even have saved my life. There was that thing in the dark, remember? You noticed it too, right, Jorge?”
The gorilla spider. Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffft……….ffffbbbbbbbbtttt.
“Yeah, I did.”
“I still have no idea what that thing was, but I know it was after me. Just as it was about to attack me, you showed up and protected me, Jorge.”
“Yeah, but it’s not like I was brave or anything…”
“My point is, Jorge, finding people you can rely on gives you strength. Whether or not they can actually be relied upon is beside the question.”
I went home. Mother and Penelope welcomed me, we ate dinner, and I went to my room. At last I could think, not about Kenton, but about Tsukumojuku. When I’d seen him floating just off the ground in the Motorize manor, it was definitely Tsukumojoku, alive, but not in any way normal. I’m currently in Japan, in the year 2012. I’m there with a different you – a Japanese boy completely unlike you, but also named Jorge Joestar. I’ve been transported to a place called the Arrow Cross House, and I’ve gotten caught up in another case. That meant Tsukumojuku didn’t die on the boat; instead he time traveled to Japan 107 years into the future. I thought this was a good thing. Japan was at war with Russia, and while the Japanese forces were on the offensive, Russia’s Baltic fleet would probably annihilate them soon. Once they’d turned the tables and Japan had surrendered, and Korea was securely under Russian control, they’d clearly attempt to conquer Japan as well, which might have spelled trouble for Tsukumojuku. He was once again my only friend, so I was glad to hear he was in a world without war. And with another me. Was that Jorge Joestar descended from me? Then why was he in Japan? Would the Joestars move to Japan some day? How would something like that happen? Did something happen in England? Would England go to war with Russia? Would they annex Japan as a protectorate? I didn’t know anything about war. Everything I knew about time travel came from the novel by H.G. Wells. I couldn’t imagine what the world 107 years in the future was like. But at least I knew one thing for sure. Tsukumojuku had not
drowned to death. The thought made me want to go look for him, made me feel like I had to find out what had happened to him. As his former partner. But what could I do? The boat Tsukumojuku was on sank off the coast of Florida. I couldn’t travel to America to look into it, not now that’d been charged with first degree murder. If I left the country they’d think I was running for it. And would there even be any evidence of time travel? Even if there was, would I be able to recognize it? Even if there was some clear and amazing proof that time travel had happened here what could I do with that? Did I really think I could chase after Tsukumojuku to the world 107 years in the future? Tsukumojuku was a genuinely special person. I was normal. There were many, many things I couldn’t do, and I was still only sixteen. And I had to deal with these murder charges first. …he’d said he would probably meet me again someday. I would just have to wait for that. What was it he’d said, exactly? The nature of my name suggests that we’ll meet again, one more time. His name? What did that mean? He’d said something about the kanji. I remembered the Japanese dictionary he’d given me. I looked it up, but there wasn’t any special meaning. 九and 十were just 9 and 10.
I’d been charged, but since I was pleading innocent we had to have a jury trial. In the opening statements the prosecutor spouted nonsense, and the supposedly amazing lawyer mother hired made a counter argument to the jury, dismantling the prosecutor’s theory. Witnesses were called, questioned, cross-examined, and questioned again, and this seemed to be taking a while. Since I couldn’t go to school while the trial was going on I had to study at
home, so once again Penelope became my tutor. She explained everything very well, so my studies went quickly, and I had more free time. I was bored, and I didn’t feel like mucking around with planes. But if I went into town I’d run into classmates or maybe even members of the Motorize family. What was happening to me was so freaky I couldn’t concentrate on reading. I’d liked messing around with planes and I had a lot of tools lying around, so I was wondering what else could keep my hands busy when mother came home and stepped out of the automobile she was using at work and I found my new toy. Motor cars! Vroooom! Hell yeah! I immediately asked to get a license. However, you couldn’t get a driver’s license until you were seventeen. The world definitely seemed to think cars were for grown ups, but my mother was never one to care about such things, and let me do as I pleased. I got the man who drove her to work and back to teach me how to drive, and I had the hang of it in no time. They were much easier to control than airplanes. They were built to be easy to drive. I bought a car. A Rover 8. A two-seater that I immediately took apart and considered trying to customize, but all the parts were hand made and replacements weren’t easily available and unlike when I’d been messing around with planes with Steven Motorize I didn’t have a teacher and was doing everything by myself so I took a few parts off and looked and then put them back and looked, trying to figure out how engines worked, but of course it broke. Wha ha ha. I was never actually that good at this stuff. No reason I would be. So I took it to an automotive garage in London and then I met a college student named John Moore-Brabazon. One glance at John told you he was someone. He wore an expensive suit poorly and stumped around the garage floor scowling at every car like a particularly bold thief but as I watched he suddenly took the engine out of one car and started switching the
wheels on another, doing whatever he liked without any of the other mechanics saying anything so I asked and it turned out he actually owned all seven cars in the place and I thought wow, even the aristocrats don’t have that many how rich is this dude? Apparently he was private mechanic to a man named Charles Rolls who owned an automotive company. So four of the seven cars in here he owned for work-related research and the remaining three were test designs given to him by his boss, and nobody but him was allowed to touch any of them. Gosh, that sounded fun. When I heard he was still a student I knew there were incredible people in this world. I stood watching him poke at this and that walking from car to car as the whim or idea struck him, taking pieces out, changing them, taking things apart, putting them back together. I was having so much fun watching him I forgot my original plan to learn something about how cars actually work and just watched in sheer admiration of his handiwork. A shockwave was running slowly through me. It seeped to my core much like my first meeting with Kenton Motorize, but not just that; it also reminded me of when I first met Tsukumojuku, and I was beginning to get the hazy idea that was I on the verge of another life change. So when John noticed me and spoke, I just thought it was happening again. And then he yelled,
“Quit staring at my ass, motherfucker!”
Eh? What did he just say?
“I wasn’t fucking looking!”
“Who the fuck is this brat?”
“Who you calling brat! You’re just sponging off your rich friend!”
“I earned that shit with my own two hands! I bet your parents just bought you that car, didn’t they? Shitbird.”
Clang! He’d thrown a wrench at my Rover 8 so I totally lost it.
“What the fuck are you doing!?”
I yelled and considered fucking up his cars but it seemed like a waste so I didn’t and instead shoved John out of the way and opened up the Rover 8’s engine room and started fixing the broken part and was so mad I could see how to fix the part I couldn’t figure out how to fix early so I fixed it myself and then banged the dent John’s wrench had made out from
the inside until you couldn’t tell it had ever been there jumped into the driver’s seat, looked over at John who was staring at me with his mouth open and yelled,
“I’m gonna run you over, so stand still!”
Bang! Brrrrrrrrr the engine started up and I hit the accelerator and really tried to run him over and wound up chasing after John but he yelled,
and run out of the shop and jumped into an working eighth car he had parked out front and drove away and we ended up in a car chase through the industrial district. But it wasn’t a contest at all. John’s car was twice as fast as mine and it just went shoop shoop away from me and ran circles around me and he shouted insults as my eyes filled with tears. Lots of childish shit like sticking his tongue out and nananabooboo and I got even more pissed off but couldn’t catch him. John laughed his ass off,
“Let’s play tag through all of London!”
he yelled, and in a corner of my mind I thought shit, if I get arrested it’ll fuck up the trial but I couldn’t stop myself.
“Fuck you! Just die!”
and we shot out of the factory startling horses and pedestrians and I followed as he dodged everything perfectly and was impressed despite myself. By the time the mounted police started chasing us I was laughing. Even though it would be really bad if they caught me. I was having fun. I’d been bullied my whole life and never been much of a fighter and while I’d let it bottle up inside me until I exploded and took a swing at someone a few times, John had pulled the rage out of me so easily the curses just spilled off my tongue. It felt amazing. Liberating. To think I could talk like this! That I could trade blows instead of snapping! Later, John and I went back to the garage and the worried mechanics shook their heads at us but soon we were all laughing and John and I were friends. It wasn’t the way I’d imagined but my life had, indeed, changed again. John was a member of the Royal Automobile Club, and its star. To me, he was a magician. I mean, everything he turned his hands to not only got fixed, it worked better than he had before. If he sat in the driver’s seat, that car would run and turn like never
before. If he drove off in it and came back, when he stepped out of it the entire vehicle would look polished to a new level of beauty. When he raced, he was less interested in winning than in enjoying himself to the fullest; the results were too inconsistent for gamblers, but as a spectator his performance was full of gasp-inspiring moves and previously unheard of strategic maneuvers. The other drivers considered him one of the best. As the only one of his friends younger than him, John quite liked me, but that often got me in trouble. John was very good at making fun of people, and every time I saw him he’d come after me so tenaciously that I’d wind up fighting back tears. But I put up with it, and kept chasing after him and my own race results gradually improved, and people started to notice me, but the more people knew me the more they knew about him. Most people avoided me after finding out I was on trial for murder.
“Who cares if you killed her or not?”
John said. No, no, no, no, no.
I said, but I knew what he meant. The truth didn’t change our relationship. I was almost touched by this, but then he added,
“Besides, if war starts most men’ll wind up killers. But we’ll all go on living as if that’s normal.”
What was he talking about?
“Then just don’t go to war,”
I said. John laughed.
“You’re a fool, Jorge. The next war’s gonna be way bigger than any before. Battlefields, soldiers, and weapons.”
I didn’t know what he meant, but he was right. I had never really had a knack for politics or international intrigue. When Japan utterly destroyed the Baltic Fleet, sinking damn near every ship in it and emerging victorious over Russia I thought,
but I just wasn’t that interested in Japan as long as Tsukumojuku wasn’t there.
I was sick to death of trials.
I mean, the police had a bullshit report and the trial was based on that bullshit and nobody involved believed a word of it so there was no way they’d ever be able to convince anyone to believe a word of it. Not once had they managed to get all twelve jurors to buy into the bullshit so they kept returning hung juries and starting over, and the third time they finally got a not guilty verdict and before I could even breathe a sigh of relief the attorney general declared there were grounds to overturn the not guilty verdict and the trial continued in the appellate court. And so I turned seventeen and eighteen still under suspicion, graduated Hugh Hudson High without ever going back, and refused to go to college despite mother and Penelope’s pleas. After all, not one good thing had ever happened to me in school. And I was finally starting to give John a run for his money in RAC races, and automobile technology was advancing like you wouldn’t believe, and a year before John’s boss Rolls had put out the Silver Ghost, which could do 80 kph without any noise and a guy named Ford in America had started mass producing his T series and this was the age of cars, baby! And here I was, right at the side of the center of the heart of that fire and John went off to a circuit race in the Ardennes in Belgium and hopped in a Minerva and drove 600 kilometers in six hours fourteen minutes and five seconds and won. Trapped back in England I got a call from John afterward.
“Hey! We’re doing planes next.”
John and John’s boss, Charles Rolls, were basically all about adventure. Rolls had decided his company was gonna start making airplane engines, and John was super into it, too. I’d mentioned playing around with airplanes before Kenton’s murder, and John said,
“Maybe you’re better at airplanes than you are cars.”
Which irritated the shit out of me but I ended up getting back into planes
too, and that made me want to talk to Steven Motorize again.
I couldn’t exactly just go ring the doorbell at the Motorize manor, but Steven had never really come to school that much and didn’t seem to have any friends to speak of, and since I had stopped going to school entirely I wouldn’t have known who to ask anyway, so for lack of any other options I asked my mother, who said,
“He left home and is working in France somewhere.”
She didn’t seem to know anything more. I could have looked into it further but if he was out of the country then I couldn’t exactly go see him and this wasn’t really the sort of thing you talked about over the phone so I was starting to give up when Penelope asked,
“What do you want with Steven Motorize?”
She sounded weirdly pissed.
“Uh, John and everyone are starting to get into planes now,”
“Hunh? Planes? ……Jorge, don’t do that. I can’t see anything good coming from planes.”
“Eh? But John’s already made up his mind.”
“Jeez! John, John, John! You let your friends control every action you take? Every time you meet someone you stop thinking about anything else. It’s creepy!”
Oh dear. Creepy, hunh?
I could kinda see how it might be. I’d done the same thing with Tsukumojuku. I was pretty bad at making friends, so wound up being super devoted to the ones I did make.
“…I mean, I guess you did that with me, too. But I worry, you know?”
Penelope said, and now I was a little worried two, and then a couple of days later Darlington Motorize came to the Joestar mansion. I hadn’t seen her since the day her sister Kenton was killed.
The last two years had aged Darlington out of her old sweet
and gentle disposition. That had been replaced with an intimidating formidability.
“Hello. I apologize for the sudden visit,”
she said, politely.
“Uh, sure…it’s been a while,”
I said, at a loss for words.
“We need to talk. Do you have a minute?”
“Yeah, I guess. …should we step outside?”
It was the weekend, and Penelope was here. If the two of them saw each other it would lead to trouble, I thought.
“It’s high time the two of us spoke. We haven’t even seen each other all this time.”
We stepped into the beech woods out back, but Darlington didn’t actually say anything. Finally, I broke the silence.
“I know it’s a bit late now, but I was very sad to hear about Kenton.”
Darlington’s expression didn’t change. She didn’t respond at all. She just kept walking, so I said nothing else. We walked away through the dappled light of the woods. At last, Darlington said,
“You remember William Cardinal?”
? Where’d that come from?
“Oh…the athlete who was very smart and going to be a doctor but really wanted to be writer?”
Darlington seemed surprised that I’d remembered all of that, but she was no more surprised than I was.
“Quite the memory you have there,”
“I guess it came as quite a shock,”
I said, intending it to cover the awkwardness but it felt uncomfortably close to the truth.
“Eh? To you?”
Darlington said. I didn’t blame her.
“Well…like I said then, it felt like you were suddenly attacking me. I was scared.”
“Sorry. I was just a confused little girl back then. Still am.”
She seemed to have grown up a lot to me.
“No, I had no reason to react like I did, either. Anyone has the right to their opinion of any novel, or any person.”
“But it was bad form on my part to tell you something mean someone said about you.”
I didn’t disagree with that.
“It doesn’t matter now. I never imagined I’d speak to you again. Even without what happened to Kenton. But I’m glad to see you. Thanks for coming.”
“So what about Mr. Cardinal?”
“He’s saying he’s going to enlist before becoming a doctor. Wants to be a commissioned officer. He’s good at motivating people. He might be a better commander than a doctor.”
“Hunh. No more novels?”
“He hasn’t spoken about that lately.”
“But you’re still seeing him.”
“That disappointed look on your face suggests I’ve given you the impression he isn’t a good man.”
“So…I don’t want this to seem like another sudden attack, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Do you mind?”
“Eh? ….go ahead.”
“William is hardly a perfect man. He can be shallow and boring, and tactless but I think he’s far better than you.”
“Eh….I mean, I’m not gonna argue that he’s not a better or more normal person than I am, but…”
“Listen. You have a way of getting all the girls around you to look at you.”
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“Don’t deny it.”
“I really don’t know what you mean.”
“Then think about it.”
“That’s what I wanted to point out. For two years now.”
“You’re too quick to apologize. You don’t even understand what I’m talking about.”
“What’s worst about you is that you don’t even realize what you’re doing, and that you aren’t actually looking for romance with any of the girls you lead on. You’ve already got someone for that. You always have.”
Oh. I knew what that meant. It meant I was pathetic.
We walked through the woods in silence a while. Then we went back to the house, and Penelope’s voice came down from the stairs over the entrance hall like thunder.
“What is that woman doing here!?
“Hello, Miss de la Roza,”
Darlington said calmly. They clearly already knew each other.
“Your family is trying to frame Jorge for murder! How dare you come here!”
“That’s what I came to talk about.”
“Even if you drop the charges now, it won’t get Jorge these two years back!”
Eh!? I thought. Oh, I guess that was also a possibility! But before the thought could cheer me up Darlington shook her head.
“I’m afraid there’s no chance of that happening. Truth is, the reason I came here is because my father has found new evidence that seems like it will dislodge the trial from this quagmire. Jorge, I think you had better look into the possibility of a plea bargain. Unofficially, of course.”
A plea bargain? What?
Penelope roared. I could hear a faint rustle, as if the furniture on the porch and the trees outside and the ground itself were all advancing on Darlington.
Shit. Penelope was summoning her locked room clown.
“What!? You’re telling Jorge to plead guilty!? In exchange for a reduced sentence?”
“Calm down and think about it, Miss de la Roza. This new evidence will shift things in favor of a guilty verdict. This trial… everyone knows it’s only happening because Ben Motorize wants revenge. The case is a mess. Everyone involved is just willing it into whatever shape they can. And once my father makes up his mind about something he sees it through to the end. He always gets his way. And he just found a major puzzle piece that’ll make that happen this time. The judge…look, this is super off the record and all, but it’s almost public knowledge he’s absolutely over the moon about this new evidence. If they find Jorge guilty, the story they have about him preparing a weapon and asking her out only to be rejected? The sheer selfishness of that motive, followed by the elaborate steps he supposedly went to to obscure the truth…he’ll be given the maximum sentence allowed. You’ll be in prison for a long, long time, Jorge.”
But then I could live in prison with Lisa Lisa. That was my first thought, but a moment later I realized how pathetic that was, and felt dizzy. I was certain Lisa Lisa would come with me to prison; it’s not like I wanted that to happen but if it did it wouldn’t be that bad, and knowing that made me willing to accept it. That’s how fucked up my mind was. I was prepared to waste Lisa Lisa’s life just to ease my loneliness, lessen my fear, and calm my anxiety. I wasn’t just pathetic; I wasn’t even a man. I was scum. I couldn’t allow myself to go to prison, I thought. Lisa Lisa would absolutely come there with me, and if nothing changed I would be unable to tell her not to. As time passed trapped in that tiny world I was sure I would convince myself it wasn’t that bad. Don’t make girls protect you. Darlington had just told me that. I had to tattoo those words on my very bones. I had to win my innocence.
“What is this new evidence?”
“Please. You don’t really believe I actually killed Kenton, do you?”
I’d never asked her that before, and when she didn’t answer I started getting nervous. She’d met me that day at the Motorize house…did their timeline actually seem believable to her? Or was this new evidence that decisive? At last she spoke.
“…they found two witnesses. They’ll testify that they saw a plane fly out of your garden, and that they saw a plane hidden in our garden. These aren’t false witnesses my father hired, Jorge.”
For a moment, my legs went wobbly. Their timeline had been nothing but a guess. Now they had evidence to proved part of it. That would definitely have an impact on the trial.
“How do you know they aren’t false witnesses?”
From the top of the stairs Penelope yelled,
“Stop it, Jorge! Get away from that woman!”
The entrance hall shattered around Darlington, and dirt rose up around her, forming new walls around Darlington. I took a step closer to her, placing myself inside the walls. The moment the locked room was done the clown would appear to hang Darlington and me.
“Jorge! Get out of there!”
I ignored Penelope, and kept my eyes on Darlington.
“Because the witnesses are me,”
“And the woman on the stairs.”
“That crazy lady’s been keeping quiet about what she saw, because she thought it would be bad for you. So have I. Jorge, your plane flew away from here at 3:00 PM, and landed at my house at 3:30 PM. I…and the lady building dirt walls around us with some mysterious power… We’ll be called to the witness stand. She might deny everything. But they’ve already found alternative proof.”
“Proof? What is it?”
“She stopped by the house on her way home from work, and
saw the plane you could never get to fly flying away. What do you think she did?”
“She wrote a note congratulating you. ‘Congrats on Star Shooter’s first flight, Jorge! Won’t the rain be a problem? Make sure you show me next time, P.’ On memo paper from work. With Star Mark Trading’s logo printed at the top.”
I turned around, saw a mix of anger and panic on Penelope’s face, and knew what Darlington said was all true, that Penelope really had seen Star Shooter fly away, and that the plane really had not been taken apart, but that someone had climbed aboard and flown it out of here.
“Jorge, you idiot!”
Fed up with trying to get me to leave the locked room, Penelope left the top of the stairs, ran down the hall, and we could hear the door to her room slam. With her gone, the dirt room stopped growing just before it sealed itself off.
“This is amazing,”
Darlington said. I looked, and there was a clown made of bits of our porch standing there, a rope made from grass from our yard in its hands, looking like it was about to slip that garrote around Darlington’s neck. There was another rope slung over its shoulder for me.
I said. But Darlington did not seem upset.
“You weren’t scared?”
“She wouldn’t really try to kill me. And I’m not the type to give in to a threat. And I know someone else with a sad power like hers.”
The wound wings. But Darlington ignored the question.
“Well, I’d better go. Jorge, think about the plea bargain. Seriously, thank about it.”
She turned to the walls.
“Should I just break it?”
she said, and gave it a push. It crumbled away around the hole she’d made, all four walls falling to pieces until there was nothing but a giant hole in the entrance hall.
And with that, Darlington was gone, and I went upstairs to Penelope. She was lying on her bed, crying. I didn’t know what to say. Thinking of what she’d hidden the last two years, and how it must have weighed on her, I could never begin to express my gratitude in words. And now that it had all been in vain, and the truth had come out, and she was crying, I knew I could never comfort her. I could never her cheer her up with empty words like ‘It’ll be OK’. I would be found guilty. Penelope knew that, and that’s why she was crying, and that fact was starting to sink into my thick head as well. The weight of it stole the power of speech from me. I didn’t know how plea bargains worked, but perhaps we should think about it. Perhaps we should focus on getting a reduced sentence. But I hadn’t killed Kenton Motorize. Was this really accepting reality? As I stood there silently, I heard a voice behind me.
“Heavens, what is going on here?”
I turned around, and found my mother standing at the doorway.
“Jorge, have you given up already?”
“…you can drive cars and you may soon fly planes, but are you actually still a child? Think.”
“Um…but the situation’s hopeless.”
“So? You’ve given up?”
“…what else can I do?”
“It’s your life. Think for yourself.”
Wouldn’t it all be settled if I just accepted it? As the lamest thought to ever be thought ran through my head, mother said,
“When you give up, it won’t just be your reputation that’s damaged. The Joestar family name, the Pendleton family name, the Star Mark Trading company name, the name of the Royal Automobile Club you joined, and the name of anyone who befriended and introduced you, like John Moore-Brabazon. And that’s not all. You’d be betraying Penelope and my feelings,
betraying Lisa Lisa’s faith in you, and betraying that detective you were friends with, Tsukumojuku. You’d hurt Steven and Darlington Motorize as well. But above all you’d insult poor dead Kenton Motorize. Does none of that matter to you?”
“It matters! All of it does!”
I blurted. She was right. Giving up meant ignoring the consequences. How could I ever consider that not worth it? Penelope had stopped crying, and sat up. She was staring at me, tears drying on her cheeks.
I said, again. But what could I do about it? I didn’t voice that thought. I had to think. Shit! I’d spent too much of my life relying on everyone else. My brain wouldn’t budge. But that was just another way of giving up. Think!
“So…I have to prove my own innocence,”
but I couldn’t just say that and have it be true. It didn’t matter what the hell I felt I wanted to do. How could I go about proving I was innocent? It was patently obvious I could never have killed her. I was in fucking Rome! But that was just another dead end. If I let myself get stuck here I’d just chase my own tail around for hours. I had proven I was in Rome, and clinging to that fact was just being defensive. I had to go on the attack. Bring the fight back to them. But how? The police report was a complete fake. They were trying to make everyone believe a lie. We’d already made all the points we had to make. They’d managed to get everyone to ignore what we had to say. Repeating the same thing would get us nowhere. If they had new evidence, then we had to bring something new to the table as well. But what? There was only one true version of my actions that day. But that argument wasn’t getting us anywhere. So I had to think of something else. Something not about me. I couldn’t think of anything…but the reason I thought that was because I was thinking about what I could do. What I thought I could do what less than what I could actually do. Because I was
pathetic like that. I could do more than that, but it was easier not to. Did I really believe I couldn’t do anything? I wasn’t sure, so I’d better think about what I should do, figure out what was needed to get me out of this mess. I had to prove that I hadn’t done it. But how?
“Find the real killer,”
I said. No sooner had the words left my mouth than I started shaking like a leaf. Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I could feel a hot flash riding up the inside of my thighs. I had spent all that time with the great detective Tsukumojuku. When I was with him I had never once tried to solve anything myself but I would have to imitate what he’d done. I had seen first hand how he went about it, how he thought his way through all those mysteries. I could do this. Could I? No. I had to. Everything around me was depending on it.
“That’s also what Darlington wanted to say. Didn’t you realize?”
Oh. That was why she had come all this way to tell me. Of course Darlington would never believe I’d done it. And it was totally out of character for her to suggest pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.
I’m not the type to give in to a threat.
She’d said that because I seemed like I was about to give in
“Worst comes to worst, I’ll tell everyone I did it, so you just do the best you can,”
Penelope said, and I gaped at her.
“You can’t, Penelope,”
mother said, angrily. Penelope just stared back at her.
“I mean it.”
Jesus, I thought. How pathetic was it that I was making a girl say something like that? My whole life I’d been saved by girls. I had to do this.
“I swear I’ll find the real killer.”
Penelope said, jumping excitedly to her feet. I hesitated a bit, remembering Darlington’s line, Don’t make girls protect you. But I also remembered what Lisa Lisa said, and let her help. Finding people you can rely on gives you strength. Whether or not they can actually be relied upon is beside the question. Behaving properly meant people trusted you, tried to help you. The more people like that you had, the more you could accomplish. Instead of letting them do everything for you, you just had to do the best you could and people would naturally step up to help you out. Penelope got mother to give her leave from work so she could focus on assisting me. Since I was finally interested, she told me she’d actually been investigating the murder of Kenton Motorize for the last two years. Not only solidifying details that would be needed for the trial, but also chasing the killer’s actions. Since Darlington had leaked us info (admittedly, disguised as a threat) she now knew that Star Shooter had gone to the Motorize manor after leaving our place. It had not been taken apart for transport. Flying it like a kite would have attracted attention, and the winds were too strong. So someone must have been inside Star Shooter as it flew. But who could possibly do that? I saw your plane. It was balanced well. You were almost ready to fly it, Steven had said, when he came to visit me. It could fly, just not support the weight of an adult. So a child? I thought, and remember how Faraday had described Tsukumojuku. He looked like a young boy, primary or middle school. Come to think of it, I’d noticed that Tsukumojuku was floating. What if he’d been flying Star Shooter? He was a detective, and anything he tried his hand at he
quickly mastered as if he’d been doing it for years. He could have learned to fly a glider in no time. Yeah. He’d come to see me. Or… wait. He’d said he’d come there for me, and he’d come to where I was, but he’d come from 107 years in the future…if he was coming to see me from that far away would he be able to arrive exactly where I was, at the Motorize manor? Wouldn’t he have stopped by the Joestar mansion first? Then once he discovered I was out, he would have been able to use his detective skills to quickly ascertain my location, and borrowed my airplane…because he was in a hurry. He had to join my hand with Lisa Lisa’s. That was how Darlington had come to see Star Shooter abandoned at the Motorize Manor! But of course Tsukumojuku would never have murdered Kenton Motorize. But the airplane had been found on the cliffs. So perhaps… Perhaps after moving me to Rome and Lisa Lisa, he had not vanished immediately, but climbed aboard Star Shooter once again. And flown to the cliffs. Where he found Kenton’s corpse. In the rain on a deserted cliff. Unable to report his discovery in person, he had flown my plane as a kite to ensure she was discovered quickly. Which Steven did. Hmm, it made a certain kind of sense. In other words, the one who murdered Kenton and the one who moved the plane were different people. Forget the plane. My target had to be the murder itself. Once again we started at the Joestar mansion. Following the movements of the knife with the Joestar crest on it. This had been assumed to travel with the airplane, causing confusion, but for now I was assuming it had moved separately.
“Do we believe our knife was stolen the day of the crime?”
I asked. Penelope nodded.
“That’s been verified. It was stolen while the Joestar mansion housekeeper was on her afternoon break. The police checked into it, but it was an old knife, sharpened regularly over the years, and the sheen of the blade and a few small marks on it proved it was ours.”
Tch. If there was any chance it had been missing earlier and simply not noticed that would mean it and the plane didn’t share start and end points. But if that was the truth, then oh well. That meant that Tsukumojuku and the killer trying to frame me for Kenton’s murder must have been on our property at the same time. That thought reminded me of something. Are you in some sort of danger right now? Tsukumojuku had asked me that. Turned out he was right. I was. His mysterious power had sensed it, and brought him to me, and transported me to Rome. And thanks to that the killer’s plan had been thwarted for at least the last two years. If I had simply gone home after speaking to Darlington I’d have been trapped completely in his web, and thrown in jail without a second thought. Someone was out to get me. Crap. That was a scary thought. I had to find them quick. How had the knife been moved? It was an hour and a half by foot from my house to the scene of the crime. If he’d planned to kill Kenton, then he would have started by making sure Kenton left the gates of the school, but there wasn’t enough time. She left school at 3:30 PM. She was killed, at the latest, at 4:10 PM. In that forty minutes the murder happened, and Tsukumojuku found the body, tied the glider to it like a kite, and then Steven saw it and came running. Hmm. Something about that seemed wrong. Had it been pure coincidence that Tsukumojuku found her body? He was a detective. He might have had a reason to head up the cliff. Was he already thinking about it when he met me in the Motorize manor? Or did he discover it after sending me to Rome? If he had known something, why hadn’t he mentioned it to me? And he wouldn’t have asked if I was in danger! He’d have been more specific. Something had happened after I vanished. Something was hidden in the Motorize home that led him to suspect Kenton was murdered. …however, that had been my first and last time entering the main building, so I had no idea what that could be. On the other
hand, that would go for Tsukumojuku as well, I thought. Keep thinking. Get back to the knife. Once Kenton had left school it was too late, so they must have come to get the knife first, and then gone to kill Kenton on the cliff, which meant they already knew where Kenton was going that day. Who could possibly have guessed that Kenton would have gone to the cliff in that downpour? Kenton had told Steven she was going to meet me, apparently, but who had lied to her about me wanting to meet there? They must be the killer, but they had to be someone I’d pick to give her the message. There were very few people who knew that Kenton and I were close, and would think it was normal for the two of us to meet on the cliff. All of those people were very close to Kenton, too. Or, I thought, perhaps meeting me was a lie Kenton herself invented. I didn’t think Kenton had a boyfriend or anything, but would I have known if she had? No, I couldn’t imagine any secret boyfriend would have called her to the cliff. Kenton would have seen that cliff as a place for the three of us. I was stuck again, so I went back to the knife. I still couldn’t explain it at all. Were there any other clues?
“Penelope, about the knife…did they find anything else belonging to the killer?”
As I asked, I had an idea.
“Footprints, for example?”
It had been raining that day, so it seemed likely there were tracks left when he entered the house. But Penelope shook her head.
“None. The police and I both looked…but there was something strange. We found drops of rain water from an open window down the hall into the kitchen. But no footprints. Like he’d been floating in the air.”
Well, that just made me think of Tsukumojuku again, but no, no, he had nothing to do with Kenton’s murder.
“Which reminds me, there were no footprints but yours in or around your tent, Jorge. That’s one reason why they suspected you.”
Ah, that’s because Tsukumojuku was floating…him again.
He could have done it, and that would avoid the absurd coincidence of two people with different motives in the same place at the same time. Was there no chance that Tsukumojuku had taken the knife? I couldn’t imagine he’d actually murdered Kenton, but given that he’d traveled through time to see me was it really out of the question that he’d taken a knife from my house? To protect himself? No, that didn’t work. Tsukumojuku had guessed that I was in danger. Perhaps he had taken the weapon to help him protect me. Then what happened? He flew Star Shooter to the Motorize manor. I seemed fine. He left the house without using the knife, got on Star Shooter, and found Kenton while he was flying. She was dead. He couldn’t report the discovery himself, so he turned Star Shooter into a kite to call people to her, and left the knife there knowing full well it would be mistaken for the murder weapon? It just didn’t make any sense. I decided to force the hypothetical a step farther. Was there really no chance that Tsukumojuku had murdered Kenton? What if Kenton had been the threat to me he had mentioned? No, no, that didn’t work. Kenton was my friend. Even if she wasn’t, she wasn’t the kind of girl to do anything horrible to anybody. Ever. But that meant Tsukumojuku didn’t take the knife, either. Which meant the knife’s movements were a mystery again. Since I was just sitting there thinking in silence, Penelope asked,
“Jorge, are we done with the footprints?”
“Ah, yeah. Sorry, I was just thinking about why Kenton Motorize would have gone to the cliff.”
“Oh, I did look into that, but nothing really stood out. I’ve questioned the students at her school. But her classmates all say there was nothing out of the ordinary that day. They all thought Kenton Motorize was a little odd to begin with; she never really talked to anybody else, and even though she was attractive and well-known the boys had pretty much given up on asking her out.
They didn’t notice anything different that day…although the kids I spoke to were a little surprised about one thing. The school was asking about her plans for the future, and she’d said she was hoping to get a job after school ended. Like, she’s got a title, why would she need a job?”
Hunh, I thought. I’d sort of assumed she would go on living in the Motorize manor, flying planes with Steven. But the times were changing, and maybe Kenton had more ambitious ideas.
“At any rate, it’s much too deserted a spot for someone to call her too, and it’s too far away. Would any girl really go to a place like that alone? She ended up getting killed, but I can’t imagine she’d agree to meet someone she thought might kill her in a place like that,”
I said. Penelope agreed with me vehemently.
“Arghhhhhh, I dunno! I can’t think of any reason why Kenton would have gone there!”
“Then why not go?”
“To the cliff. We’re just sitting here thinking, but perhaps we should start by visiting the scene of the crime?”
I felt sure Tsukumojuku had often said the same thing, but it had slipped my mind entirely.
Two years since I’d been to these cliffs. A lot of memories here. This hill wasn’t actually Motorize property or anything, but I found myself glancing over my shoulder as if Steven might show up at any minute. The slope down from the cliff top was gentle; there was a little forest at the bottom, and beyond that I could see the roof of the Motorize manor. Steven wasn’t there, I knew. He left home and is working in France somewhere.
“This is where Kenton’s body was found,”
Penelope said, pointing at a large rock. Star Shooter’s rope had been tethered to that rock and to Kenton’s body. I knew that rock; it was hard to
believe anything so grisly had happened here. But that’s where Steven found her body. Kenton had been stabbed twenty-three times in the face and body, and tied to this rock, positioned so she was looking down at the Motorize home. When Steven found her, she was still warm; she’d been killed not long before. Running that through my mind, something tugged at my mind again. Just like it had back at the house, when I was sitting with Penelope, thinking. Something wasn’t right. Something was bugging me. What? When? Where? Tsukumojuku had flown Star Shooter up here, seen Kenton, and tied the glider to her as a signal. Steven had seen it, and ridden his horse up here. Somewhere in there. But what was it that was bothering me about that? Steven’s horse. Steven had ridden a horse to find his sister’s dead body? He might have started out on horseback…I looked back down the hill. On his way up the hill from the house, Steven would have been able to see the top of the cliff, see her body long before he got here. It was a gentle slope all the way to their house. With the plane as a guide, even in the rain, he’d have seen her the second he left the woods. But if he saw Kenton lying there, why wouldn’t he have sprouted wings? He would have. He always grew those wings when he was in a hurry to save someone. He wouldn’t have wasted five or ten minutes riding up the slope when he could be at his sister’s side in a single swoop. Of course not. He would have grown them if he needed to. Steven didn’t mention that specifically, but it was a minor detail. Not important. Or was it? He’d spoken to me face to face but didn’t mention his wings. Wasn’t that odd? I thought about it some more. Then a thought struck me. Tsukumojuku wasn’t the only one who could float above the ground. Steven Motorize could also have flown my plane.
What was I thinking? Kenton was Steven’s sister. They were
very close. And they were my friends. But the wheels in my brain kept spinning. If Steven had killed Kenton, and was trying to frame me for it, suddenly everything fell into place. I’d told him where I was going, and with his wings he could get to my house and back in minutes. Flown to my house, and stolen a knife. He could have murdered Kenton anywhere. Then placed her back on the clifftop, parked the plane outside the Motorize manor to match my movements, then taken it to the cliff top and tied it to her, flying it high to explain how he’d come to find her first. Finally, he called the police. Once he got home again he would find out I had vanished into thin air without ever leaving the Motorize manor. Despite carefully murdering Kenton at a time I’d have trouble establishing an alibi, he played the tragic role of a brother with a dead sister, coming to visit me in jail six days after I’d been put there, ten days after her death, not because he was grieving, but because he had to wait for his back to heal and the wings to fall off. I believe you. You would never kill Kenton. Had he been lying to my face? No way. I actually shook my head, even though Penelope was looking at me. I couldn’t tell her about this yet. Steven would never do a thing like that. I kept repeating that until I remembered something else. I know someone else with a sad power like hers. When Darlington said that to me, was it a hint? A sad power? That made sense, I thought. That’s why Ben Motorize was so hell bent on sticking the crime on me. He was protecting his son. Or at least protecting the reputation of his family name. The reason he’d let a son of noble birth go work in France was because he wanted to get him away from all this till it settled down. This also explained why the last two years had managed to make Darlington so intimidating and formidable. That was the formidability of a girl suddenly thrust into the
center of her family affairs, and the honed intensity of someone who’d been grappling with her family’s secret all this time. Ohhh, Steven Motorize! Was it true? What happened!? Why would you ever kill Kenton? You were so close! Until I met them, they’d flown planes together, laughing and happy! I looked up at the sky, and remembered. The kids I spoke to were a little surprised about one thing. The school was asking about her plans for the future, and she’d said she was hoping to get a job after school ended. Like, she’s got a title, why would she need a job?”
That was it. Kenton’s father would never have allowed her to do that. She wanted freedom, would have done anything to get away from him. But leaving her father meant leaving home. And that meant leaving Steven. That was motive enough for murder. But, I thought… What need was there to frame me for the murder? Did he have reason to resent me!? I don’t get it! I just don’t get it! I took a few unsteady steps towards the edge of the cliff, and Penelope threw her arms around me.
Three steps further and I’d have fallen. And Steven wasn’t here to catch me any more.
“That reminds me,”
“Harriet Motorize, their mother, threw herself off these very cliffs.”
“Steven would never have let Kenton go. But Kenton said it was better to die than to be trapped in a cage her whole life. She threw herself off there to torture Steven,”
Darlington said. Three days after my first visit to the cliffs in three years, neither Darlington nor I mentioned plea bargains.
“I wasn’t there myself, but I know what happened. Steven first grew those wings the day he couldn’t save our mother. Kenton
knew that as well as I did. And she told him she’d throw herself off those cliffs over and over until she died, too. Steven couldn’t stand it. Not the sadness of seeing her try to kill herself over and over again. The pain of having his wings rip out of his back every time she did. You’ve seen them, right, Jorge? Steven’s wings. Those huge, painful looking wounds. The pain he felt every time they came out must have been unimaginable. But Steven always smiled and acted like it was nothing. But it wasn’t nothing. Wings made of flesh and bone tearing their way out of his back. Kenton knew just how much they hurt, but she kept pushing him until he exploded. All the anger he’d bottled up over the years. He realized that she knew how he suffered, and kept placing herself in danger, taking advantage of him, doing whatever she liked, torturing him. Both of them taking their stress out on each other. Kenton was angry all the time. Steven was bottling up his pain, pretending not to be angry. They could never have kept that up forever. And they both understood each other perfectly. Kenton may have been murdered, but it might as well have been suicide. I’m sure she did throw herself off the cliff, so it began and ended as a suicide. But I think this way they’re both free. Freed by the clash of their emotions.”
“But you have no proof,”
Darlington said, placing her tea cup on its saucer. I didn’t.
“And you won’t testify in my favor.”
“Of course not. I am Darlington Motorize. I have too much I need to protect. You’re a Joestar. You understand.”
Did I? When I didn’t answer Darlington smiled.
“You were friends with Kenton and Steven, but you were always happier than them. You’re the only heir the Joestars have. How can you be so carefree? Were you born that way?”
“Or is because you were brought up in a Spanish territory?”
That might be part of it, but…
“Or because you know someone else will carry the Joestar family for you?”
That seemed closest to the mark. We’d moved Jonathan Joestar from La Palma Island to the basement here in England. He wasn’t dead, and that might be part of what I felt the way I did. Like someday it would be his day again, and I was just a temporary replacement. This was the first time I’d ever consciously thought that.
“If you’re going to keep trying to frame me, I’ll go find Steven, and make him confess,”
“Tell your father that. I may not be able to leave the country, but I can do that much.”
Darlington looked me right in the eye.
“You’ve got more spine than I thought.”
Yeah. I wasn’t just the crap son of the Joestars. I was the boy driver gunning for the second rank seat in the RAC.
“I’ll tell him,”
“But there’s a lot of people in on this now, and it won’t be that easy to stop. The hardest thing for people to do is to know how to lower a fist once they’ve raised it.”
I didn’t care how long it took. If we were doing planes next I had a lot to do, and a lot to learn.
As I left the Motorize manor for the first time in two years, for the second time ever, I thanked Faraday for the tea. I have no idea what he thought of me, or just how much he knew, but he fixed me with a gentle expression that stopped just short of being a smile and said,
“I believe it will rain this evening, so do hurry home, Master Joestar.”
That reminded me.
“Um, two years ago, that boy who came asking for me…did you happen to look at his feet?”
He was silent for a moment, then said,
“…no. To tell the
truth, I have done my best not to think about that visitor.”
“I found him quite sinister.”
“…I guess I can see that, but…”
“What did he look like to you, Master Joestar?”
“Eh? He was my friend, a Japanese kid. Nothing unusual.”
Other than the fact that he was floating.
“To me he appeared to be a Spaniard. A terrifying Spaniard with no eyes.”
“Hmm? He had eyes…wait, a Spaniard? Not a Japanese kid who spoke Spanish?”
“Yes. He wore his hat low, hiding his face, but there were dark pits where his eyes should be. His skin was browned, like any Spanish child. He was maybe twelve or thirteen. I have never seen anyone Japanese, but he was decidedly not Asian. Thinking back on it now I believe that was something evil in the shape of a child. When I heard you vanished and were discovered underground in Rome, I knew that devil had done something to you, and it made absolute sense to me. I have never spoken to anyone about this. I’ve been too terrified. Much too terrified.”
What was he talking about? He was getting up there, but hardly seemed senile. What could he have seen that rainy evening?
A year later, I was cleared of all suspicion in Kenton’s murder, and joined the Royal Aero Club with head held high. The year after that John was the first Englishman to officially fly a plane on the Island of Sheppey, and a year after that, in 1910, Charles Rolls died in an airplane crash and John never again flew a plane, but there were plenty of us still flying, so I kept flying too. And an ill wind began to blow.
You’re a fool, Jorge. The next war’s gonna be way bigger
than any before, in fields, soldiers, and weapons. Like John Moore-Brazabon had said, the Great War came, and with it…came other evils.