False Rumours: Chapter Eleven

Michael, who has now been sectioned and placed in a mental health care unit, is not to blame for Tracy’s suicide after all. As for Paul, there is a shock update on him whilst he is serving time in prison for the vandalism on Tracy’s resting place. Even more shocking – the unlikely mystery culprit who played a part in driving Tracy into ending her own life is finally revealed!

 

One year later: My friends and I saw the launch of the Tracy Preston Memorial Foundation go as planned. It had been previously named the Faces of Suicide Foundation, but Vanessa had suggested we have it renamed in honour of Tracy’s memory.

Michael had since spiralled into a deep depression since Tracy died. At the moment He was currently in rehab, where he was being provided with professional help to cope with his grief.

Meanwhile, Christopher Preston and his parents were suing Paul for being the real culprit behind the vandalism of Tracy’s cremation plot headstone. He was also being sued a further £250,000 by Michael’s family and friends for instigating the cruel rumours surrounding Michael as well as driving him to attempted suicide. Paul was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

 

We were celebrating our success at a dinner party held at Time Out London Restaurant when someone burst in hysterically. ‘Paul’s dead!’ the young man cried. ‘He’s actually dead!’

‘He’s what?’ cried Anna. ‘Dead?’

‘Apparently, he hanged himself in prison. Took the easy way out. It happened just a few hours ago’

The news had yet to be confirmed. Paul’s body was being taken out in a black bag.

‘All I can say is good riddance,’ Nigel said vehemently. ‘I hope he’s rotting in Hell.’

Which is exactly where he happens to be at the very moment, I thought.

We all doubted Paul would be grieved for by that many people, as he had very little to no friends. How many people would be attending his funeral? Nobody knew or cared.

 

 

There was one person we did care about, and that was Michael. Which reminded me; my friends and I needed to pay him a visit as the medical care centre where he was being cared for as a mental health inpatient.

After having answered questions by the local detective about Paul, Vanessa hinted that she and the rest of us had a feeling that it was actually his wife Katherine – not Michael – who had been liable for Tracy’s suicide! She then showed them the documents from the Suicide Investigation Centre.

Even before she had been married to Paul, Katherine had made Tracy’s life a living hell for only God knew how long. She and Tracy had been sworn enemies since back in university when Katherine bullied her nonstop for her family’s history of mental disorders. They didn’t come face to face again until just a few years later when they – ironically enough – became neighbours.

After having drowned her sorrows over her breakup with Michael, Tracy had accidentally run over and killed Katherine’s pet dog because of being heavily drunk. Katherine had wanted Tracy to pay for what she had done to her dog, so she confronted her. Katherine had violently attacked Tracy with a crowbar and then tried to bludgeon her to death with a heavy brick, and that was when Tracy stabbed Katherine to death in self-defence. She then disposed of her car by letting it plunge into the River Thames, before jumping in and drowning herself. Tracy had had high levels of cocaine in her blood system – which would have caused immediate fatal cardiac arrest.

Now everybody knew the truth. Katherine had in actual fact turned out to be in actual fact an extremely nasty spiteful woman who had shown her true colours in the worst way possible. In reality, she was the one sole reason for Tracy’s disappearance and death as she had driven Tracy to suicide by telling her to kill herself. She had actually said to Tracy in a very cruelly spiteful manner:   ‘Do the rest of us a favour and remove yourself from this earth because you are nothing but damaged goods’.

On top of that, we learned that it was Paul who had been vandalizing Tracy’s resting place, that he had written all those hateful names on her memorial plaque as an act of revenge for Katherine’s death. He then started sending poison pen letters to Tracy’s bereaved parents containing genuinely vicious descriptions about the type of person their dead daughter really was.

To add even more insult to injury, Paul had turned almost everyone (especially Tracy’s brother Christopher) against Michael by letting us all think that Mike was the one who had killed Tracy by pushing her to the brink of self-destruction and suicide because of him having supplied her with cocaine and other drugs just before she had disappeared and been found dead. He had done so by placing a curse on Michael.

Now Paul himself was dead from an apparent suicide as a result of being in debt; the other tragic reason was because of his own drug and alcohol problem due to being overcome with grief for Katherine. Part of me was glad. Because at least he was no longer a danger to any of us, or our friends or families.

With the new charity organization opening, Vanessa announced to us that she was leaving the bookstore enterprise and moving to Rainford, as it was the only way she could land the role of advocate. We were all devastated by the unexpected news, but pleased for her nonetheless. Nigel came up with the plan for everyone to arrange a farewell party for her.

A few months after Vanessa had left to start her new life elsewhere, Rebecca and I sat on an embroidered bench in the Garden Of Remembrance. We both made a solemn promise to Tracy that we would stop by to visit her on a regular basis, sometimes to clean and polish her new marble plaque before redecorating it with fresh sets of flowers.

‘It sucks that Tracy took her own life the way she did,’ Rebecca lamented. ‘If we look at it this way, she wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been for that bastard.’ Paul had since been buried in an unmarked gravesite, at the local cemetery away from where the Garden Of Remembrance was and close to where Katherine was buried. Nobody had laid any flowers on his grave or even visited him. At least Katherine’s grave had received a few visitors and cards. One of those cards read: ‘No matter what you may think of our daughter, she never meant to take you away from your loved ones. May you and our Tracy both rest in peace.’ It had been from Tracy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Langton-Preston, who were still grieving themselves but managed to pluck up the strength and courage to pay their condolences to Katherine’s next of kin.

I read the cards beside Tracy’s plaque. ‘Tortured but kind-hearted angelic soul’, ‘Fun-loving girl’, and ‘Beloved daughter and sister’ were what they read.

It was true. Tracy had often been described as an innocent angelic young woman and a child of God with a heart of gold. She had also once been very lively and bubbly – at least before she had become shadow of her former self as a result of having committed manslaughter. Up till then, there had been no sign of any malice. Unlike Paul, or most of the other neighbours we knew of.

 

Speaking of Paul, someone had written an angry message on his grave. It simply said: ‘Burn in Hell!’

I already had a feeling of who that person was.

 

False Rumours: Chapter Ten

Natasha, her friends, and the other locals who participated in the successful search party travel back to Merseyside – only to witness someone they know very well being handcuffed and taken away!

 

My friends and I made our way back to Merseyside after the search ended. Nobody spoke to anybody else throughout the bus ride. Until Rebecca finally broke the silence. ‘What do you suppose is going to happen to Mike? Does anybody reckon he might have to undergo some psychiatric evaluation and start receiving therapy?’

Anna looked at Bex in disbelief. ‘Were you not listening to what the policeman just told us? Or maybe you weren’t present at the time? They were planning to take him to hospital and then have him transferred to a rehabilitation center.’

‘Natasha reckons that He intended to jump off the bridge in order to commit suicide. He wanted to die in the exact same way Tracy died so that they could be reunited,’ Rebecca said.

‘Is that the reason why he scattered Tracy’s ashes in in the river before preparing to jump?’ Anna cried in shock. ‘That is fucked up.’

‘Oi!’ the bus driver barked from the front. ‘Watch your language! Got it?’

My friends ignored the driver and continued their discussion about Mike’s mental health and wellbeing. ‘Apparently, he imagined seeing Tracy’s spirit in the water, calling out to him,’ Vanessa said sadly. ‘He thought that if he jumped in the river with Tracy’s ashes in there, his dead body would come into contact with her remains. Because it would be the only way for them to meet again in the afterlife.’

‘Wow,’ Anna said.

‘Wow indeed. There are too many screwed up people out there these days. And today’s society isn’t helping when it comes to handling those with psychological issues.’

‘But at least he’s now in good hands.’

I remained silent, but listened to what the others had to say.

Rebecca put her arm around me. ‘You okay, Tash?’ she asked.

I nodded. So much had happened in such short time. As a matter of fact, it had all happened too quickly.

 

The next day, somebody turned Paul Jacobs over to the police. The woman who turned him in had refused to give her name, but it didn’t take us all long to discover that she was another one of Tracy’s close relatives.

‘What has Paul been arrested for?’ one of his neighbours asked. ‘What does he have to do with any of it?’

The witnesses watched a policeman handcuff Paul before carting him off in the police car. And everybody – including myself and my friends – were shocked and horrified at the announcement the policeman made.

‘Paul Jacobs,’ he said sternly. ‘I’m arresting you for the destruction and vandalism of a local young woman’s resting place. And for also spreading false rumours.’

 

False Rumours: Chapter Nine

As his concerned loved one are still praying for his safe return, Michael is at a familiar location, where he contemplates suicide in order to reunite with Tracy…

 

Michael was at the River Thames where he stood at the bridge, tears welling up in his eyes. ‘Maybe they were right,’ he wept, grief-stricken. ‘Maybe I am to blame after all. I should have at least tried to talk you out of it, but I didn’t. I didn’t stand by you when I should have. I’m sorry, Tracy. If you can hear me, I’m so very sorry.’

The tears eventually started to fall, almost like a small fountain. He was unable to stop the tears from flowing. Tears of guilt, because even though he wasn’t the last person to see Tracy alive, he still felt partly responsible for her death. Tears of sadness, because they were both robbed of what could have been. And tears of anger and bitterness because of the cruelty and unfairness of it all.

He took out the rest of Tracy’s ashes which hadn’t been interred in her resting place within the Garden of Remembrance. He scattered her cremated remains over the riverbank and watched them float on the water before drifting away. Seeing the last bits of Tracy fade away was almost an indicator that she would vanish permanently for the final time. Tracy loved to swim at the seaside and enjoyed the water theme parks in Blackpool. She also regularly rode the canal to the River Thames; therefore it was only fitting that she was given a final send off by being allowed to be laid to rest at the river. Somehow or other, he know that this was where she wanted to be.

Mike had just finished releasing Tracy when he felt her presence. ‘Michael,’ Tracy’s voice said. ‘Michael, can you hear me?’

Mike tried to figure out where her voice was coming from. ‘Tracy?’

Tracy’s ghost then appeared before him. ‘Yes, it’s me. Please listen to me, Mike. I didn’t mean to hurt you or anybody else by killing myself. And you didn’t drive me to do so. None of this is your fault.

‘It was brave of you to release me. I need you to be strong for all our other friends. It’s very lonely on the other side. I wish we could be reunited soon. Maybe someday we will.’ Her spirit vanished into thin air.

Mike’s tears began pouring again as he tried to reach out and touch Tracy’s fading spirit. He then heard someone else call out his name. ‘Mike! Mike, it’s us.’

He turned around. ‘Leave me alone.’

Vanessa approached him, along with Anna and Nigel.

‘Listen, I totally understand what you’re going through,’ Vanessa said. ‘I lost one of my relatives to suicide also. And so did Rebecca. I know what it’s like.’

Michael still had tears in his eyes. ‘Do you? I don’t suppose you know what it feels like to be accused of causing the suicide of someone who was once close to you.’

‘You can’t believe what everyone says.’

‘The bloke that verbally attacked me the other night. He was one of Tracy’s family members. Her brother. He accused me of killing her. I didn’t kill her – but I may as well have done.

‘If one of us was going to die by suicide that night then why did it have to be Tracy? Someone tell me why her?’ Mike was sobbing uncontrollably by then. ‘I wish I could see her again and talk to her. I would do anything just to hold her in my arms, but I can’t because she’s dead. And all because I am one of the many people in her life who let her down. The night Tracy died was when my own life ended. And as far as I’m concerned, my life is over too.’

‘But Tracy was one of my friends as well,’ Anna said. ‘You’re not the only one who let her down.’

Sounded like something out of a soap opera such as EastEnders. Except that we weren’t in EastEnders. This was real life – even worse than some tragic episode plot in any soap opera.

Anna looked down below. That was when it suddenly dawned on her. ‘You’re thinking of jumping, aren’t you?’

‘What does it matter if I jump off the bridge?’

‘Michael, please don’t!’

‘He’s over here!’ Tracy’s brother Christopher – the same young man from earlier – arrived with the police. ‘That’s the bastard. Arrest him now.’

‘Arrest him for what?’ Vanessa cried. ‘He hasn’t done anything!’

‘You want to tell me he hasn’t done anything? He’s the reason Tracy is dead! He killed my sister!’

‘Tracy killed herself, actually,’ Anna said. ‘Because she was depressed and extremely tortured. She was seriously ill and in need of help. Just as Mike here is in need of help.’

‘Anna’s right,’ Vanessa said. ‘Besides, don’t you reckon Mike feels guilt enough? Why make him feel even guiltier than he already does?’

‘Who asked for your opinion, you stupid cow?’ Christopher spat.

‘Shut up, Christopher,’ Anna spat back. ‘Otherwise, I’ll shut you up.’

‘That is enough, you lot,’ the chief policeman shouted. ‘I won’t tell any of you again! Tom, get him to the medical center.’

The other policeman, whose name was Tom, came towards Michael. ‘Calm down, now, and get down from the bridge. Don’t do anything stupid. You don’t want to end doing something you’ll regret.’

Sobbing uncontrollably, Michael began to climb back down to safety, just as Bex and I arrived in the nick of time.

‘Good. Now don’t worry. We don’t mean any harm to you,’ Tom continued. ‘We’re just gonna take you to hospital.’

From a distance, Tracy’s ghost watched us. She, too, had tears in her eyes as she looked on.