When you find out something like that it's... strange to say the least. You find out everything they've done, all the hurt they've caused but it doesn't seem real and even as you watch them walk away for the last time or see their face all over the news as they broadcast what happened down to the last second it's hard to believe that it actually happened almost like it's someone else.
Let me explain properly. For the first 15 years of my life I genuinely didn't know, for the next 2 maybe 3 years I suspected the truth. After that... well... I simply didn't want to know the truth. But eventually you can't escape it, the truth will find you and eventually you have to simply accept it. On May 5th 1998 my brother turned up at my house asking for somewhere to stay for a few nights, now I was never particularly fond of him after all he'd always kind-off creeped me out and I didn't particularly want him around me which was partially my reasoning for turning him down and telling him he couldn't stay. But it didn't stop him. Instead of leaving me, my house and my life, he decided to get angry and stood on the front door step for a good twenty minutes screaming every profanity he knew at me before he finally stormed off once I threatened to call the police.
Two days later, he was back again apologising for his behaviour and asking once again if he could stay over for just a few days. Once again I turned him down and after another screaming match he stormed off. Then came the moment which has haunted me to this day because for a second just... one second. He stopped, his tense shoulders fall back down and his back straightening and during that second I saw him pull something out of his pocket. I never saw it properly but the way he was holding it and the gleam of the sun reflecting off the metal gives me a pretty good idea. He looked set to turn around and head back towards the house, right towards me and my family. But nothing came of it, instead he put the object away and walked off.
On May 9th 1998 he was shot dead by police after he opened fire at police as they raided his home. After his death they found a woman in his basement and enough evidence to tie him to several other murders. But it didn't seem to matter any more, he was dead.
It was strange because my first reaction was disbelief because it was... well wrong. I mean surely people like that they'd been abused or hurt as children but... nothing. I never mourned for him, I never spoke to what little friends he had, I didn't even turn up to the funeral. Because... I don't know why but... it was wrong, just do wrong. My brother had been mostly a normal kid, a bit strange but nothing spectacular with none of the average "warning signs", he was never abused and wasn't a big target for bullying necessarily. So what could have caused this? It was... wrong, just... wrong. I'd read it all, every news article, every document, the police reports and psychiatric evaluations of my brother as the so-called experts talked about how he had clearly been hurt by our mother or father and how he was probably a target for bullying. But it was all wrong, everything. Every last detail. It couldn't have happened, he couldn't have done it. He wasn't a killer, he was just strange you meet people who are just strange my brother was not a killer. So... therefore he never did it, it didn't happen it was just someone else who had killed them, who had been gunned down by police. T-the person just looked like him but it-it wasn't him.
That was me for two months, I just gave up and rarely left the house. Occasionally I would leave to go buy some food or go to my therapist. But the rest of the time I would simply sit in my dark, cool room for hours on end doing... nothing. People called occasionally but I chose not to pick up the phone, after all they didn't understand they-they all though my brother had killed those women. They all thought my brother was dead but I knew he couldn't have been because after all it was just so wrong. He didn't fit what serial killers were, he had never grown up like that! So my reasoning had to be right and everyone else had to be wrong, he was still alive and one day he would turn up at my house and it would all go back to normal. He was still alive and I could prove it by calling him.
So why didn't I call him? I was so convinced that he wasn't dead and that I could call him and prove that. So why didn't I? Once I started thinking about these questions they wouldn't let go, they burnt in my head day after day tearing apart my mental walls and barriers and finally opening my mind up to the truth. My brother was dead. That's why I'd never called, because he was dead and I'd known that all along. Once I was open to this truth it only got worse because that was when I got angry. I became short tempered, screaming at my therapist on multiple occasions and anyone else who would listen. My life started to fall apart, I lost my job after shouting at my boss over the phone, my friends gave up on calling me and I started to hide away more and more. I had no control over it, any of it. Even after his death- No, especially after his death my brother continued to tear my life away. I was being punished, HE was the one who killed those women! HE was the one who broke the law! So why was I the one being punished!?
Because maybe- just maybe, it WAS my fault and I deserved to be punished. I knew he was strange and had a temper so... maybe if I had just-just been there for him more. Maybe if I had helped him or recommended a psychiatrist or... or.... SOMETHING! It was my fault, how didn't I see it!? After all in hindsight it was obvious, t-the way he held that object the last time I saw him! That surely wasn't the first time was it? I began to construct memories of times when he had threatened me or my friends or someone like that and it soon spiralled out of control as I ended up reconstructing his life in my head. I began to make memories of hi, being abused and bullied. It all made sense now! The warning signs were there all along, like-like that time he tortured and killed our puppy when I was just little. My grief then had obviously erased the puppy from my mind which is why I never remembered having a puppy before this. It was so obvious if- if only I had told someone. Then maybe he would never have killed them and maybe he would still be here. It was so obvious, all this time! It was clearly my fault! How didn't I see it! Why was I so stupid! If only I had seen it... If only I had realised... If only I had... If only.... If only...
Exactly 3 months after my brother's death I was sat at my computer, mindlessly staring at the screen in front of me. It was sitting on my desktop and I didn't pay much attention to it, because the same thoughts were circling around in my head like a broken record: "If only... If only... If only...". Leaning back in my chair I sighed and continued to sit there aimlessly until I saw something beneath my desk, tucked in right away at the back. It was a plain white box which I had never noticed before. Frowning, I reached down and pulled out the box and read what was on the box.
Pushing my computer to the back of my desk I placed the box down and gently lifted off the lid to explore the contents. There wasn't much inside, a few pictures of me, my brother and my parents from when I was a child as we grinned at the camera somewhere in the distance. Instants of happiness frozen in time forever, a strange feeling washed over me as I looked through them. Finally, heart pounding, I picked up the last one and stared at the image. It was a picture of me and my brother from not that long ago, only about a year or two ago. I felt strange staring at him with his broad smile knowing that at this point he had already started killing young women. For the first time I felt something which I hadn't felt in a long time. A tear. Streaming down my face came a single tear as I watched myself in an instant of time with my arm around my brother. The flood soon followed afterwards as I broke down into tears, sitting there crying for a good half an hour.
When I finally dried the tears from my face, I reached down into the box and pulled out the last item within. It was an old birthday card he had given me from shortly after the picture was taken. Inside it said:
I hope you have a great day and manage to avoid another incident with the Birthday Cake. I can still remember Dad wiping the icing off our faces for ages afterwards which we found hilarious for some reason. But seriously, hope you have a great day because I love you.
I quickly pulled open my draw and began rummaging through until I found one of my many empty cards hanging around in my drawer and inside I wrote:
Thank you for the Birthday card! It was a great Birthday and even better because you and everyone else was there. I know now what you did but even so, you're still my brother and no matter what happens nothing will change that and no matter what... I love you too.