A man's journey from prison to freedom.
“I’m getting out. It’s so hard to believe. It feels more like just yesterday rather than thirty years ago that my feet came to know what concrete really felt like. The handcuffs clanged and banged behind me as I was lead to the search area. The cop pulling me to the stall looked like a very tired old soul. His mustache pointed downwards; his eyes never left the floor; probably feared me and everyone else in the prison. I learned later he quit his job after one of the inmates went through with his promise of having a hit on the man’s wife; gunshot though through the stomach. She barely survived. Didn’t he know that dude was part of a gang? …Guess not.
I wonder what will happen. What will the furniture guys do without me? I’ll miss those sons of bitches! Every day we work together. From 6 P.M. to 8 P.M. we are compressed in the basement of the prison; the wood workshop. We know each other’s likes, wants, and dreams. We act like idiots any chance we get in there. To feel human. I remember Ruby, poor poor Ruby. He loved to make an ass out of himself. Remember when he danced on the work table to LADY GAGA! Of all things! Poor redhead, he wiggled and waved to “Pokerface”, his hair whipping back and forth, his grin covering half of his face, his blue eyes sparkling in the florescent sun light. Poor kid was only here for petty robbery, held a middle aged Arab up at a Seven-Eleven, on New England. If I were him, I would’ve used the fake black gun he was holding and bashed the old man’s head open, until blood streamed out of his head, creating a pool. But he was only suppose to be here for five years-- a very short sentence. He was dancing up there in the light, only listening to himself and the music. He danced and danced, the officer’s screamed;
“Get down off the table Ruby! Get off the table Ruby! Listen Ruby! Ruby! Taze him!”
They all shot their tazers at once. All of them missed.
“Get down Ruby! You have till the count of three till we shoot….ONE…TWO……Three!
He fell off the table, his shirt beginning to match the color of his hair. His screams were heard throughout the prison. That gunshot, which hit him in the back, was all it took to paralyze poor Ruby. The last time I saw him they were moving to a prison for handicaps. He didn’t talk or smile. Too bad he doesn’t get to dance anymore.”
Joe comes in, his baton swishing in a clockwise motion loosely on his belt.
“You’re going home today, Red.”
“Can’t wait to feel the ground of free men.”
“How long has it been? Thirty years you came here for murder. Good behavior is the only thing getting your ass out today. Ha Ha Ha!”
…I remember that day like I remember my mam’s face the day she died giving birth to Marie. Tamms wanted to get more money. My money. We were at the corner of Pulaski and 153rd Street. His blood- shot eyes told me he was high on a cocaine. Should’ve been a distributor like me. He looked at me and smiled a stupid dumb looking smile.
“Give me the money, Rick.”
“Go to hell, Tamms!”
I owe him nothing! He’s the one who took my wife, kids, even dog away when he married my Lorie! I hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him and hit him with my fists; blood started to pour out of him. It became a big bloody mess. When no more blood came out, I knew I killed the poor bastard. I ran with blood stains all down my arms clothes and face. The police caught me an hour after I killed him…
“It’s been thirty long years, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah... The guards and prisoners are starting to place bets on how long you will be out. I personally, give you three days. Don’t look at me. That is a generous amount of time. Some are only giving you an hour.”
My face is hot and red. How dare he tell me I will not last as a free man! I want to take him by the tiny hairs left on his head on his head and ram his face into the cell wall over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over- until his face glistens with blood and he can make no sound. I will just sit here and be quiet; he will have to let me out. Yes just sit here and be quiet.
“Well Red, pack up all you stuff, we needs to get a goin’.”
I pick up the little things in my cell: dirty toothbrush, little toothpaste, jumpsuits, underwear, and socks; my crappy belongings. It all goes in the bag Joe’s a carrying; I know he can’t see the angry purring inside of me. Don’t worry my pet, you’ll be let out soon. He handcuffs my hands. Click. And we begin our journey down the long blue paint chipping corridor; to outside; inmates shout to me from their cells.
“Don’t get caught!”
“You’re gonna get laid tonight!”
I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time; happiness. I am getting out. I’ll decide what I eat. I’ll decide what I drink. I’ll decide what I wear. I’ll decide who I love. The corridor ends; I stand in a blue blank room, my eyes blinded by the light. Joe stands dominatingly over me.
I do as they say, for soon they can’t stop me. I stand naked as they touch my arms, under my belly between my ass checks; groping by nut sack. Everywhere, everywhere I am being touched… Don’t want to hurt them…not yet. They don’t want me to bring notes to the outside for gangs which haunt the streets. I’ve never been a part of no gang. This strip search is just to make me feel more like an animal.
I put my jumpsuit back on slowly, letting my bare ass sink into their memories. It smells of sweaty soap. Joe brings a bag out; somehow I remember it after all these years; my stuff I came to prison with. I open the bag; it smells of decay, skin, and blood. My bloodstained shirt, red splattered pants are in there, my wallet and car key. The picture of my girlfriend at the time, Brooke, is still in my wallet. The credit cards long expired. When was the last time she wrote to me? Tears on everything.
…Damn…I really am getting out today…
“Red, normally we have our prisoners leave with their original clothes on, but since you would scare the public more than just being you in them clothes, you can wear the jumpsuit.”
Joe takes the clothes of my past and throws them into the trash bin next to me. He’ll burn it. The monster purrs. A new beginning. Nay, just a new chapter of horrors.
I walk with Joe to the door. The door inmates dream about seeing. The one always one inch away when you wake up in the morning. The door that separates the outside from you. Joe creaks the door open, the light blinds my eyes.
Free sun. Free sun. Free sun... I can’t believe I got out. I’ve dreamed of sun not tinged with bars. What am I going to do when I get out? The lawn I’ve walked on for years, feels like a cloud as I step on it. Once that gate opens I’m considered a free man. A sinister free man. What will I do once those gates close behind me? A beer. Thirty years without one causes you to appreciate being drunk. I will drink a nice cold Sam Adams. I know there is a bar about a mile from here. I’ll take my first walk as a free man, and drinks a murder’s drink. Joe stops me in front of the gate. I can smell and see freedom; and Joe’s homeless odor. Just open the damn gate!
“Don’t get too overwhelmed out there Red. Just kidding aside, I want to see you back in here. I like bullying you.”
I was so focused on Joe, I didn’t see the gate open. I run out of that hell whole, like a blood coming out of a cut. No one can stop me! I’m free! So, so, so free! No one can tell me what to do anymore. No one can tell me what I can’t or can’t say! No one can tell me how to dress! No one can tell me to keep the monster dormant! No one can tell me not to murder!
“I’m free! I’m free! I’m free! Give me a high five old homeless man! I’m free! Prostitutes on the corner, I’m free! Old fag give me your purse, I’m free!
I made a fool of myself so easily! I don’t want to be easily remembered. I fast walk to the bar. Funny, the last time I was in there was when I got caught…
…Metallica on the jukebox, frothy beer everywhere, everyone was in a jolly mood. The cute little waitress, Cathy said her nametag, was filling me up a Sam Adams. I could tell she looked petrified in front of me; she couldn’t pour the beer without shaking and getting the beer all over the bar. She called the police on me, I just know it. Everyone else in the bar avoided me, probably thought I got in a fight gone bad; for the other person that is. Five minutes. Five minutes I sat there, sippin’ my beer, knowing I be gone soon…
Then, the flashing lights came through the window.
“Come out with your hands up.”
I casually walked to the door, surprised they came so late. I walked to the bar with blood stained hands. Someone must’ve saw me walking. I swung open the door, took a last slug of my beer, and laid on the dirty pavement as they handcuffed me…
Wonder if Cathy is still there. There’s the bar, old Rick Rack. I open the door, which chimes as the bell on top goes off. I hate those dam things. I haven’t heard something like that for years. I sit in the same seat I was in before. The one thirty years ago caused my demise. A new Cathy waits on me, giving me attention I haven’t gotten in years. Attention from the opposite sex. Maybe she’ll fuck me. She gives me a nice cold Adams, and I watch the Bears game on the T.V. The T.V. is flatter than I remember, and the Bears suck more than I remember. I sip my beer, hoping she won’t notice when I bolt without paying.
Joe walks into the door. Why the hell can’t he just leave me the fuck alone! Oh well, I can just kill him sooner. I’m not his friend, I’m his prisoner. Without his blue uniform, he looks so petty, the stubble on his face hardly noticeable in the dim light. He takes the seat next to me. What a bastard.
“You really should get farther away from the prison. They can catch you faster the closer you are. Also, people can easily recognize you from seeing your face from behind the prison walls.”
Why the hell is he telling me what to do? I have no master now. The new Kathy comes up, and Joe pays my tab. I feel so helpless, like he is helping me. I don’t want help. I am my helper. He’ll pay soon
“Hey Joe, why can’t you leave me the fuck alone!?”
“Yeah! We have to smoke it in the alleyway, that all.”
“That doesn’t answer my question. But I”ll go with you.”
I get up and walk to the door with towards the alley, Joe in front of me. Always in front of me. He holds the door for me, like I’m a fuckn’ lady. Asshole…Blood will spill soon. We both walk out of the bar together like a slave and his master. Turning right, we reach the ever dim lit alleyway, throw up on the ground and walls. He pulls out a cigarette. A camel. Those would go for three soap bars in the prison. He lights his first, then mine; we puff out the deadly smoke, a cloud of poison in the air, mixing with the tension.
“Red can I tell you something I couldn’t tell you in the prison?’
“You are a fuck’n rat bastard!”
Joe rushes towards me, hands clenched ready to spill blood. He knows I wanted to kill him since he gave me an anal exam in my first week.
“How long were you in jail ,Red, before you got out?
“THIRTY YEARS! I SPENT THIRTY YEARS IN THAT HELL HOLE!!!”
He lunges again at me; I dodge his blows very easily. He hasn’t fought in a while, so I can overpower him rather easily. The monster already in control.
He goes down without much of a fight. Blood spills from his mouth, making him look like a little punk- ass who just got his ass kicked by his other friends. I taste the blood on my hands—licking one drip at a time.
His whispers are hard to hear in the wind. I bend down, and put my ear to his cheek. I want to know what he has to say, but at the same time I don’t. Let his last thought be known.
“The waitress didn’t call you in Red…I did… I saw you kill Tamms… He was my wife’s brother… You’ll go to hell for what you have done…”
“YOU CALLED! YOU’RE THE REASON I WAS IN JAIL FOR THIRTY FUCK’N YEARS! TAMMS WAS A BASTARD DRUG ADDICT WHO COULDN’T EVEN SPELL HIS OWN NAME! LET’S SEE IF I GO TO PRISON FOR WHAT I DO TO YOU!
Endless sleepless night, dozens of fights, no one to trust, no one to lust, no comfort, just your mind and imagination to pass the slow going time. Time to get this bastard, I sit on top of him, his eyes full of sparkles. I think there tears. Pitiful fool. I take his own belt off, and whack and whack and whack and whack and whack and whack and whack and whack and whack him.
“You… could never kill me Red… You are too much … of ...a…pussy.”
SPLAT! ON THE WALL!
SPLAT! ON THE CONCREATE!
SPLAT! ON ME!
The blood bath feels good on my skin. Very cleansing. Blood splatters on the brick buildings surrounding us. He still isn’t dead. There is no satisfaction in killing him this way. I fling the belt towards the brick building on my left, and I begin his petty demise. I wrap my hands around his neck.
The light leaves his eyes as his stare never leaves my face. I grab out one of his eyes; more blood spreads, and I will keep it as a souvenir for this day. Blood pours like a geyser out of his mouth. He is dead I killed him! I am proud of what I did. Happiness again fills me at once. The monster goes back to sleep. Good job my pet. He deserved to die.
Someone saw me kill him! I run to the other end of the alleyway. Oh God! Cops are blocking the end. I guess the drug dealer their investigating isn’t enough for one cop...or three. I run to the other end of the alley, my footsteps clanging on the cement. I’m not going back. I’d die rather than go back. I see a cop car at the other end of the alley…