paying for past deeds (a series of short stories).
|Angie wore her faded pink baggy pajama bottoms and her faded blue armless vest tucked into her bottoms. She had it on ever since she got up this morning, now, she puttered around the house with her battered diary tucked under her armpit, hair long and straggling, barefoot and it was already six o'clock evening time. An entire day spent from the bedroom, to the kitchen, to the bathroom puttering around a house that looked just as pale and worn as she did. She sat down gingerly on the edge of the old blue sofa, plate of frozen beef gravy and mashed potatoes, and watched the television. She watched the shadow pass in front the window and heard the key scraping in the lock.
"Hey Ange," Jane said wearily. She tossed her bag on the chair under the window, kicked off her black sneakers, and slumped down.
"Hey Jane," Angie waved her fork in her right hand, "How was work today?"
"Same stuff really," Jane yawned, "same stuff. I'm just doing what I got to do you know what I mean."
Jane yawned again and rubbed her eyes. She looked at Angie.
"You know banking is not my thing, Ange. It doesn't pay."
Angie's head bobbed up and down as she rolled her eyes behind her round glasses. The televsion echoed while they both just sat and listened until a commercial came on. Jane rested her head on the top of the chair and sighed,
"How do you feel today?"
Angie finished chewing her last beef gravy, swallowed, sipped on her soda, swallowed and said, "I feel much better. Not as much pain. I feel like I'm healing. The cancer must be gone." She paused and continued,
"Your Mom came by from next door. She dropped off a letter for you."
"Yeah. It's on the table by the sign out book." she gestured. Jane's eyes followed her hand and caught sight of the letter. The envelope was familiar even from a distance. Up close the writing was familiar too.
Johnny sat on his single mattress bed and stared out the cell window. Small, narrow glass panes hardly let the air in much less a full view of the sky. The gray England sky. One o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and it was time to head back to work. Officer Merrin had already announced it over the intercom. He thought about Jane as he unlocked his door, pulled down his sweater, checked his boots and headed for the stairs along with every other prisoner on his floor. He didn't speak much. Too many thoughts. A sea of green uniforms surrounded him. He just walked automatically down the steps, through the corridor, cross the courtyard and into the small warehouse. He thought of her and thought of what he wrote to her, his Jane.
She folded her legs beneath her and read..
I love you have I told you that Jane,
I know I did, I just want to say it again.
I miss your voice and the tenderness of your touch,
there's so many things girl that I miss so much.
Jane felt her chin sink as her heart swelled in her chest. She could smell him, feel him in every word..
Why did they send me here to be away from you,
I'm lost Jane, so lost, I don't know what to do.
I feel helpless, torn, sometimes I even cry at night,
I would give anything just to put things right,
Johnny saw the two Officers talking and laughing in a corner. He nodded, picked up his clipboard and said,
"Good afternoon sir."
"Is it?" the fat one, Hurley smirked. He looked at his partner and said, "These pissers bring their drugs in our country and tell us good afternoon." He looked back at Johnny, faced him and asked, "What's so good about it mate?" Johnny stopped, put a bland look on his face and answered politiely,
"Just good to be alive Officer Hurley, good to be alive." Hurley watched him and Johnny waited.
"So what you waiting for mate," Hurley put his pudgy hands on his belt and shifted his feet apart, "Get to work. Get out my face."
"Yes Sir,". Johnny moved on. He sighed silently, heavily. He bowed his head and thought of Jane again.
I never meant to hurt you Jane, you gotta believe me,
but no man escapes or hides from his destiny,
this was something from my past before you and I met,
it's just my turn has come, I must repay my debt.
I got your letter yesterday, you said you understand,
you said you'll wait for me; you said I am your only man
an' I really hope you mean it 'cause I'm counting on your strength,
the time we shared together are the best years I have spent.
Jane smiled and ran her hands through her hair. She inhaled deeply, God, her thoughts were so confused somtimes. She needed Johnny he kept her focused you know but he got himself in a mess, a deep one, far away and now all she felt was confused. She looked at the letter in her hand.
I'm not some santcified soul but you knew that when we met,
like I told you before I never lie to you yet
an' I don't plan to start; I put my cards on the table,
you can handle me girl 'cause I know that you're able.
Jane paused as her cell phone rang. She stopped reading and picked it up. It was Harry. She answered, "What's up Harry?"
"Hey, what's up with you? why you sound so down?"
"Ehh..just got a letter from Johnny."
"So what..is he alright?"
"I guess as alright as he can be in jail."
"Yeah," Harry paused, "tough break..look, you coming by the club later or what?"
"Don't push it Harry," Jane replied, "Gimme some time to think dude."
"Yeah, yeah," Harry said, "look don't take too long I got other girls right."
"Yeah, right." Jane hung up and kept on reading.
You say you got a day job, you workin' in a bank,
going to church on Sunday..I got God to thank.
I might not do much praying but Jane, I got your back,
I know your friends and family probably on attack
saying all kinds of stuff. They never liked me anyway,
we're not they're business Jane; it don't matter what they say,
keep the faith girl don't let them pull your spirit down,
when we carry this cross you'll get to still wear your crown.
Jane put down Johnny's letter then picked it up folded it and stuffed it back in the envelope. He didn't understand times were different. Rough. She was gonna have to do something about the bills. The bank wasn't cutting it. Jane closed her eyes.
Johnny walked to the shelf, pulled out his clipboard and started counting soda cans...one, two, three...