2 Miles

by Stephen Mabe

2 Miles

And so it began. The two mile trek to my end. That long, antagonizing walk that so many have journeyed upon. All either to their end, or to their freedom. From the main gate of the prison block it's a two mile walk to either the building where the chair is, or to the bus of freedom. Freedom is not mine, however. I killed a man. I stabbed him twenty-three times in loving revenge. Then I took the knife and cut my own arm the same amount of times, just to share a glimpse of his pain. And I smiled in sweet bliss, but now...I smile no more. No, now I sit, after the walk. Barefoot and naked (they made me, a dirty prison). My hands were chained together and four guards walked along. Two in front, two behind. Each had their rifles, so eager for me to make a run for it just to gun me down. A dirty prison. The same prison I had spent my last sentence in. That's why I had killed that man. He had me sent there the first time. And now, I'm here again on his freaking account; but this time I feel so different. I feel alive despite the thought that I've walked my last two miles, and now wait for the moment of finality, even in my state of delirium. Despitethe Chair!

Most men cry on their way to the chair. Some beg the whole way to be released. Some make a dash for it while others spill their breakfast upon the ground. I've even heard men pray the entire way, confessing their every sin to God, and asking for a cleansing. Every time I've watched another take that walk, a lump has formed in my throat. A lump of fear, pity, and even a little sick pleasure. I guess most would call me insane, or more preferably...psycho. And I suppose I am in a way, but a man has his limits. Mine have led me here.

The gravel and glass chips cut my feet as I dragged them along the hard earth. And just as those shards of glass, my thoughts and memories cut my mind. I began to slow and even almost stop completely when I felt the butt of a rifle whollop the back of my head. My memory flooded, unconsciously.

Twenty years earlier,

The enormous hand knuckled my jaw, sending me directly to the burning asphalt. Blood bubbled from the scrapes caused by my sliding. A tear formed in my right eye and dropped to the ground. He struck me in the back of the head. My nose smashed into the ground sending blood streaking across the pavement. My cheeks burned from their scrapes, along with my nose, forehead, and chin. I whaled out in pain and spat more blood from my mouth. Apparently a few teeth were loose also. Maybe even missing completely.

I tried to push myself to my feet, but a size thirteen boot landed in my ribcage. I heard a snap and the pain was too much. I cried, sobbed, and begged him to stop. At first I tried to be tough and just take it, but it was just too much. I was ten and he was a huge forty-two. A drunk forty-two.

Again I asked him to stop, and he poured his beer in my face. It burned my eyes terribly.

"Look at that!" he screamed, "You wasted my beer you little"

And that's all I remember after he struck me with the empty bottle. When I came to I was in a hospital bed. No one was in there with me except for my father. He was leaned back in the obviously uncomfortable chair with his head down and his arms crossed. He slept. Fear overcame me. I started to get up and make a run for the door when his head lifted. His sneaky, evil grin glared back at me as I sat on the edge of the bed. His grin suddenly turned to a sickening face of excitement.

"You're finally awake, Son. We were gettin' worried about ya. I don't think you should be trying to move around any, that old drunk hobo really did a number on ya. Lucky you're alive, and lucky I was there to fix him." He said as the nurse walked in.

"Yeah, you're a very lucky boy. Lucky your dad showed up to rescue you."

"Rescue Me!?"

"Well sure! You don't remember what happened? You were in that old grimy alley when the drunk jumped you. It was a blessing your dad was looking for you. When he saw the hobo hit you with the beer bottle, even though a little lit himself, he quickly came to your aid and beat the ever-living crap out of him. Too bad you don't remember seeing your dad become a hero, huh?"

"Yeah. Too bad!" I said under my breath.

Apparently after beating me he found some poor homeless guy(who was drunk also), beat him near-lifeless, and got himself off the hook. And who would believe a homeless man over a well-respected car dealer? No one, and I would have to go home with him once again.

Present,

I felt a tug on my hair and was on my feet again. Staggering. The guard who hit me with his gun stood ready for another lick. The two guards in front both helped me to my feet.

"Don't slow down, Fag!" One of them shouted as they all laughed.

My head pounded as I slowly started again. I could hear laughter all around from the other inmates. Some watched from their cell windows, arms through the bars. Some leaned against the prison walls, sat on bleachers, played ball, boxed, or whatever else they found amusing. A few sat while playing either Poker or Black Jack; and even Jacks. The Jacks weren't actually the authentic brands, but instead the barbs from barbed wire. The loser had to place all of his Jacks(or barbs) beneath his hand while the winner smashed it down. A foolish game, but what else is there in prison if not fools. And what else is there to do really? If you lose at Poker you get a full house, which was two black eyes, a busted nose, and two busted lips. If you lose at Black Jack you get smacked across the back twenty-one times with a black jack that the guards carried around. So eventually you get tired of losing at one or the other and try your odds at something else. And If you don't do any of them at least twice, the Gals get to have a little fun. And their fun wasn't what a straight man would consider fun. Every one who ever came to this prison knew that. It was kind of a welcome to your new home type gesture for the Gals to have their way with you on the first day of your sentence. And yes, they even had their way with me, but definitely not by my choice.

As I lowered my head, I thought back to that day when I got home from the hospital.

My father didn't say anything to me the entire way home or the rest of that evening. He just went to the fridge, grabbed a case of beers, and went downstairs to the den, slamming the door behind. I went to my room and pulled out a photo album. There were all sorts of pictures in that old thing. But the pictures I wanted to see were of my mother.

I never knew her, I never even remember seeing her, too young. She left us when I was only three months old I think. My father had drank ever since they had been married and didn't care to stop just because a baby was on the way. And when I came he actually got worse. On top of that, I was born with colic. I cried constantly. All of that wore on her and she finally caved.

Dad had heard me crying for some time and knew that I should have at least stopped some time in between if I was being cared for. So he went upstairs and found me lying in the baby bed with a note on the side of it. She said she was tired of all of thewellall of the crap she had had to put up with in the last five years of being married to him and she needed a new life. She said I was nothing but his evil spawn and that I would turn out the same. She failed to mention in the letter that half of her problems had to do with the prescription pills she had became addicted to within the last year or so. She also failed to mention that she had been talking to her ex-husband and decided that the life he offered was better. Despite all of that she turned out to be right. I would become nothing but an evil spawn of my drunk father. But who wouldn't go that direction if they had no correction. It was inevitable.

As I looked at the pictures of their wedding day and of them holding me at the hospital, I began to cry. The tears streamed down my face. I couldn't control it anymore. I was supposed to be tough for my age, but not that night. Me, the guy who was leader of the pack in my middle school, was weeping as I had when I had colic.

Suddenly the door swung open, slamming against the wall. I nearly jumped off of the bed it scared me so bad. And then what I saw next would scare me even more.

Present, while thinking my thoughts turned to low whispered words,"You're mumbling! Cut it out Maggot!" Shouted the guard to the right side of my back.

Only about a quarter of the first mile! I thought to myself, I see now why some people go crazy on this little journey. I guess that's why they have the little shack so far away. To make you think about what you've done. To make sure you regret it plenty. And to make sure you die with nothing but the stain of guilt on your very soul.

Not only was I mumbling, but I had also started crying. Not frantically, but crying just the same. Once again, I was supposed to be tough. I heard some of the inmates in the background jarring at me and pretended to be crying. Some even asked for mommy. I must have said something of that sort in my mumbling. Who knows?

All of the ridiculing words were quickly broken up by a single voice.

"Can I have just one more little taste of him before he gets fried?" It was Jay, the leader of the Gals. He walked toward us as he spoke. "Just one more lick." He reached for my genitals as I flinched backwards.

"Get back, Queer!" The guard in front shouted as he hit him across the face with the butt of the rifle. He folded like a dishrag and was knocked out cold. The other four Gals made a dash for the guards. Hollering with fists raised. It was an all out brawl. Your classic guard/inmate rumble. There was shouting all around. Rocks and b-balls were flying into the eight man pileup. I don't know who they were trying to hit, either would have been fine with me. I backed against the wall. The cold stone sent chills down my naked body.

One of the rock missiles cracked a guard in the temple. Blood squirted out in single, quick sprays as he fell to the dirt. Blood began to pour from his mouth, nose, eyes, and even his ears. He went into a state of shock and had a seizure. Lying flat on his back he strangled on his own blood, mixed with vomit. He died within minutes. One of the Gals picked up his rifle and shot dead another guard and somehow managed to send another toward a guard who was running to assist. He rolled headlong on the dusty hardpan and died instantly from the head shot. Another shot rang out about the same time sirens and alarm bells started going off. The shot was not from his rifle though. It was from another of the guards in the brawl. They were so close in the pack that the high-powered lead seared through two of the Gals. Both fell to the ground. One died within seconds, the other wiggled around and screamed bloody murder, gripping his shoulder. They were still too close though, and neither stopped the bullet. It continued on until it hit the arm of another inmate about fifty yards away.

A gate opened on the wall that I leaned upon. Five guards seemed to pounce out as panthers. Each had their guns ready and didn't hesitate to fire on sight. Now every Gal was dead. Even the one who had been squirming. One of the fresh guards walked up to him and shot him point blank in the face. All went dead calm. The five guards held their aim, moving quickly, but perfectly, from inmate to inmate. They searched for any others who were involved. They spotted the bystander who had been shot in the arm. A guard shoved him against the wall and all five opened fire without any chance for explanation.

Jay aroused and stood to his feet, finally conscious. He looked around at his friends, or whatever they were, and tears formed in his eyes. One of the guards turned quick as lightening ready to fire.

"Wait!" Jay pleaded. The sharpshooter did. He sat Indian style in between one of the guards and Francis, his pick of the Gals so to speak. He took a pistol from the guards holster, placed the barrel on his temple, and pulled back the hammer. Before he could pull the trigger the guard shot him in the testicles. He sort of yelped and I suppose in reflex, pulled the trigger. Half of his head disappeared in a gory mess. His limp body remained upright for some odd reason. It was a rather disturbing scene to see a dead man with half a head still sitting upright. Apparently I wasn't the only one it bothered either, cause the guard who had shot his testicles shot him in the chest just so he would fall over. He fell with a thud.

I waited grimly for mine to come, and then it dawned on me, I would get mine in the next one and a half miles or so. The two remaining guards who were bloodied and beaten pretty badly, were relieved of their duties. The other five took over. One of them grabbed my chains and pulled as hard as he possible could. The braces tightened on my wrists and my veins bulged out, as if thirsting to death. I fell face forward, skinning my knee caps.

Just as he jerked me away something sharp sliced my ear. Blood streamed down the right side of my neck. I hadn't noticed before, but I was leaning in front of another inmate's cell window. An inmate who didn't care much for me. Blades. That's what everyone called him cause no matter what he always managed to wind up with a blade. He had gashed my ear wide open. A shot rang out. The hand that was holding the blade splattered. He screamed.

I flashed back again.

Suddenly the door swung open, slamming against the wall. I nearly jumped off of the bed it scared me so bad. And then what I saw next would scare me even more.

My dad stood in the dark doorway with his shirt off. His chin and neck were drenched in beer and it bubbled from his mouth as he spoke.

"Itit was yerfault ya lilittle demon!" He slurred as he raised the .45. Crack! The bullet nicked my right ear just barely. I winced in pain and fear and grabbed for my ear. He didn't even take the time to see if he had done the job right or not. Crack! Blood splattered against the hallway wall. He crumpled before my eyes. All that was there now was a dead, drunken nobody and a blood-stained wall with a bullet hole in it.

I didn't move a muscle. I just sat and stared at his broken body. A neighbor heard the shot and called the police. They swarmed in, same as the five sharpshooters just had during the brawl. Only difference, when they saw me they holstered the pistols. Unlike the guards who wouldn't take down their aim for the remainder of the walk.

The police did their thing, investigators did theirs, photographers did theirs. It took a good three hours. I still sat their and just stared. They tried to get me to talk, or merely look at them, but my eyes stayed locked on his body. My stone face over that period of time gradually formed a slight smile.

I could hear the officers talking amongst themselves about what they should do with me. Whenever they had tried to move me I swung or kicked violently. So they had decided to get everything else out of the way first, then worry it. Everything was wrapping up now, they carried his body off and cleaned up pretty good. One of the officers walked toward me and crouched down. He looked me directly in the eyes and for the first time I stared back at him. I took my right arm and rubbed my neck. It was sticky. I had forgotten all about my ear and the blood was all over me.

"Son, were gonna have to take you downtown for the night. There are some empty quarters there and a nice cozy cot. Don't sweat it all right. You're not in a bit of trouble. We just have to find a place for you. But in order to do that we need you to talk. Do you have any relatives, and where is your mother?"

I just stared at him, still with that slight grin.

"At least say something, Little Buddy!" He pleaded.

Then I said as my slight grin turned to an uncontrollable smile, "Thank God!"

Present,

Blades was still screaming, and soon his screaming turned to horrible weeping. He had lowered to his knees, out of sight of the window, while he grasped his wrist tightly.

"You took away my hand!" He screamed in a high-pitch voice. I forgot to mention that not only could he sneak a blade in, but he was a great shot with throwing knives. If you took away his hands it was like taking a piece of his soul. He'd killed ten inmates with those knife-throwing hands in his twenty years of being there. And he was proud of it.

His scarred face reappeared in the barred window. He raised his good hand to where his razor could be seen. In an instant he flicked wrist. The blade sunk into the guards forehead. Right between the eyes. The guard turned slowly around. Blood trickled down his nose. He looked dazed and then buckled, falling to his knees. His upper half soon followed. Blades spat out the window and as soon as it made landfall his forehead was met by a bullet.

It was a sickening mess. There were dead men lying everywhere and an enormous pool of blood forming beneath them. Four guards and seven inmates were killed that day, and all because one homosexual couldn't keep to himself.

"Lets go!" A guard shouted.

They jerked me up to my feet, pulling those braces tight once again. The same thing happened. My veins bulged out and I thought then that if it happened one more time, my wrists would gash open.

Two of the guards stayed in front and two in back just like before. Only this time the two in back kept a constant aim. As they walked they turned circles and raised and lowered their weapons, glancing all around. It looked like something a SWAT team would have done. Every now and then one of them would send the tip of their barrel through my hair just briskly. I guess to let me know they were still there, still ready to fire.

We still had a ways to walk before we would be past the actual prison. I could see the old shack that long mile away. People were running in and out of it, getting it ready I suppose. Where it was so far away it was hard to tell what was going on really, but once through the windows I saw a bright flashing. Then it stopped as soon as it started.

"Well it works. Good for you, huh?" A guard said as they all chuckled.

All of the inmates had went back to whatever they were doing. None of them offered to even go over to the pile of men. They knew they would be shot down in a heartbeat. I glanced off to my left and dazed. There were two men sitting with their backs against the gigantic stone wall(the wall that closed us of from the outside world). They were just smoking and talking.

Flashback,

I didn't have any relatives that I knew of, and if I did they probably wouldn't have taken me. So I was placed in an orphanage. It was terrible. There were babies crying constantly, people coming in and out all day long, bullies, and bad food. None of the people that came to view kids were going to even take a glance at a child my age. All they wanted was babies and toddlers. They had a set time to eat, go outside, piss, sleep, and everything else. I started to even wish that my father hadn't shot himself. At least then I would be able to do what I wanted. He never cared what I did. Most of the time I would have half of his beers gone by the time he got home from work and he wouldn't say a word. I would ask him for a smoke and he'd toss me a pack. The only thing he ever came down on me over was drugs. He'd found some weed in my room about two weeks before he had beaten me. He went off. I'll just say that I never touched drugs again.

We didn't have our own rooms like I had hoped, but instead, one enormous living quarter for the boys, and another for the girls. The babies and toddlers had a nursery upstairs separate from the girls quarters. I suppose they did that so they could have the girls come in every now and then and teach them motherly lessons. There were three rows of bunk-beds, seven to a row. In a separate room were lockers for our belongings. The bathroom had five showers, three commodes, four urinals and five sinks. On the few occasions that I was able to sneak into the girls bathrooms I noticed that they had only six commodes and no urinals. At first I thought that strange, until I learned a little more later on. Cindy taught me the most.

The kitchen was separated from the dining hall by a wall that had an open window all way across it. Directly below the window was the tray rails where we would walk along as they placed the food on our trays. To the front of the dining hall was a stage where certain kids would put on plays for other orphans or for visiting soon-to-be-parents. Every orphan had to be in a play sometime or another. It was all up to the music and arts director, Miss Rachel. No one liked her. She was hateful and had big, nasty looking moles all over her neck and face. And these weren't cute little moles like Cindy had on her shoulders, oh no, they were disgusting.

Cindy and I met about a week after I first came. I didn't have any friends yet and no one had even came to say hi. So I figured I would learn the ropes myself. I decided to check out the girls bathroom. No one was in there except for one girl about nine years old. She was in the third stall. I crouched down to peak under the door and she saw me.

"Hey! You're not supposed to be in here! I'll scream ya know!?" She chirped.

"No don't scream, I'm just lookin' around. Sorry if I've scared you! I'll leave now."

"No, you don't have to go. You're that new kid aren't you? The one who keeps to himself?"

"Yup."

"You can come in if you'd like."

"Okay!"

And then she showed me why they didn't need urinals and I showed her why we did. Nothing past that. We became instant, inseparable friends. We stuck together like white on rice. I think, even being so young, that we were in love. Even if it was just puppy love, it was great.

Three months went by, and with mine and Cindy's friendship, it was looking as if everything would be fine. Then the unthinkable happened. She was adopted. So someone actually wanted an adolescent. Of all the other kids there, they had to pick her. The worst part of it was I didn't even know it until that afternoon. It had been my turn to be in a play and we were having practice. Cindy was standing in the back of the dining hall. She waved slightly and then walked away. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would ever see her(or so I thought). I just figured she was giving one of the waves as she usually did, a wave of 'hey boyfriend'. And she was too far away for me to see the tears in her eyes.

When practice was over I went looking for her. I couldn't find her anywhere. One of the aids stopped me just before I was about to go into the girls bathroom. This time I didn't care about sneaking. I wanted to find my girl.

"Hey hey! Where do you think you're going?"

"Cindy? Where's Cindy?"

And then she told me all about it. I couldn't help it but I broke into tears. In my sobbing I kept asking why someone hadn't came and got me from practice so I could tell her bye. They didn't even give me that chance. I had to watch her wave at me, with no thought that she was leaving me forever. Everybody knew she was mine, they should have told me.

From then on I hated everyone. When Cindy was around I didn't care that I couldn't smoke, I didn't care that I couldn't curse, I didn't care about any of the rules. She helped me obey them as much as ten-year-olds would. After that day, rules went out the window. I was pissed about everything. I wanted a Camel so bad it nearly drove me nuts. I did anything and everything that they told me not to. I ran away several times, but the police always picked me up and carried me back. I became a problem child, and then that's when I met the best friend I would ever have(putting Cindy in a different category, she was special).

James showed up a month after Cindy was adopted. He got the bunk beneath me. He was twelve and tough as nails. He became my partner in crime so to speak. We would sneak in the kitchen late at night and either eat whatever we wanted or vandalize the place. We would run away to the mall and stay in the arcades for hours before someone spotted us and realized where we were from. We would sneak in the girls bathrooms and peak under the stalls. We did everything they didn't want us to do. And then one day we decided to run away for good. Far away. And we did. We picked the lock to the administration office and took whatever money we could find. It wasn't much because the real stash was in a safe under the main desk. What we wound up with was the money from the cash tray in one of the drawers. Five hundred and fifty-two dollars and seventy-eight cents in all. We headed as far away as we could. And we made it.

Present,

When I snapped out of my daydream we had already passed the prison. It was a good quarter of a mile behind us. The guards were at ease now. Up ahead was the chain link fence that separated the yard where the inmates hung out from the mile long plain that stretched to the chair. The fence was about fifteen feet high with curled electric wire at the top. That kept everyone from climbing over. I don't really know why though, the plain still had the gigantic stone wall all the way around same as the actual prison.

We had to cross through a gate that was protected by four guards. Two on each side. The two on the prison side carried rifles while the other two held leashes. On the ends of those leashes were two Dobermans. The holsters to their pistols were unlatched, ready for the gun to be drawn quickly.

As we passed the Dobermans they growled and snapped. Sitting the whole time. The guard to my left dropped his leash and the dog was on my arm in an instant. Blood was draining from the holes he had already caused. He went for another taste. I pounded his head with my fists clamped together in an attempt to maybe knock him to the ground. I failed. He winced a little and came again. The guard yelled "Enough!" and the beast came to a halt. He pranced back to his master and sat obediently. The guard who had let him go smirked at the rest of them. They all gave a quick grin back to him. I held my arm as it throbbed. My mind was numb from the heat and the pain combined. I was a walking zombie. They pushed me onward. I glanced down at my arms and realized that not only were they bleeding form the bites, but from the braces also. I suppose hitting the dog was just too much for my skin to take. Blood oozed from beneath the two inch braces.

One more mile. I thought as I slipped off again,

Two years had passed and me and James were on the streets. Things hadn't worked out quite like we'd planned. We were homeless. We lived in an abandoned building that seemed as if it were going to collapse at any time. Despite that, we were still free. And we loved it. We always managed to get what we needed. When we had first set out on our on we bought some hunk of junk revolver from a pawn shop. That's what we used to rob convenience stores. It was actually never even loaded, but it was a great bluff. Never once did we get busted. Pocketbooks were a good trade also, and James made it real good by selling drugs. I stayed away from that department. We always managed to have enough food, booze, and smokes to keep us fat and happy.

And happy we were. Every evening after a hard days work of stealing, we would sit against the brick wall of our heap. It was a rough neighborhood and all sorts of stuff went on all the time, but it never bothered us. We would just sit and smoke.

One evening as we sat there dragging on our cigs, a rickety old truck drove by. Two men were in the cab and three sat on back. Crack, crack, crack! Bullets flew in every direction without ceasing. I was frozen stiff, and I figured James was too. Neither of us moved or tried to run away. The truck was gone as soon as it came, but even in the distance I could still hear gunfire.

"C'mon, let's get man!" I said as I tugged at his sleeve and jumped to my feet. But James didn't move. I crouched back down. His eyes were open wide and his shirt had a blood-stained whole. They'd caught him in the heart. I'd lost another friend. I felt the same way I had when Cindy had been taken from me. I felt empty, lost, and a pain that would never go away. That was it, I would lone it from then on. I learned that day that to love was only to hurt. I gave up on trying to love anyone. I turned cold and hard and gave no one a second look. The world had turned its back on me too many times, now it was my turn.

Present,

My state of delirium had passed, but the sun still beat down. And this time harder than before. I noticed something stunk terribly, and then I realized, it was me. From all of the dried blood and pouring sweat I smelt like a mixture of a wet dog and battle ground. Out there on the plain the wind blew in tiny cyclones every now and then, blowing my stench right back into my face. It was enough to make me dry heave a couple of times. The guards noticed it too. One said, "You stink, Dog!" and spat on me.

Laughing, one of the others called out "Cold shower!" and repeated the action. Then the rest joined in. The two in front of me would spit high into the air and wait for it to land on me. Only twice did they actually hit me, but the ones behind never missed.

It didn't take much and I had had enough. I took a sledgehammer swing at one of the guards in front of me, making sure that he felt the steel braces come down on his skull. He jolted and fell to his knees as he cursed under his breath. A guard behind me started to ram the butt of the rifle into the back of my head, but I ducked. I quickly came back up and swiped the chains connecting my hands around the neck of the other guard in front. I twisted around as lightening, using his body as a shield and still strangling him. His fingers fumbled along the chain as he tried to loosen my hold, but I wasn't letting go. He elbowed me in the ribs, snapping at least two, but I still held firm.

Crack! The bullet went through my shield's leg straight into mine. We both fell to one knee, but I still didn't let go. He grabbed at the chain more frantically now, and my grip only tightened. Finally he gave up, but that wasn't what I wanted. I hadn't intended on killing him. I only wanted him as some what of a ransom. Maybe him for a gun or something. I loosened and pulled the chain over his head. He fell flat, face forward. The same guard who had shot us in the leg took a baseball player's swing with his rifle.

I went out cold.

The years went on and I remained homeless, doing the same thing James and I had always done. Eventually through those years I went from not only pocketbooks and convenience stores, to boosting cars. That was my real payoff. It came to a point where I had to. I just wasn't making enough to get by on those little things and with James gone I didn't have the drug money coming in. It became harder and harder every passing day.

Then one day I walked by an appliance store and something on one of the televisions caught my eye. It was a news broadcast talking about a new breakthrough star.

"Cindy Newfield has topped the charts at Number one with her hit single"

It was her! It was the only girl I had ever loved. She had made something of herself. She went from being an orphan just as me to a beautiful pop-singer. What had I done? Absolutely nothing. I'd become a bum, a worthless low-life. What would Cindy think of me? She probably wouldn't give me the time of day anymore.

That was it. I decided that day to change my lifestyle. I disposed of the liquor, stopped stealing, and tried to stop smoking. Get that? Tried! Some things are a little harder to give up than others. And plus I figured considering everything else I had to give up, smoking wasn't really that bad.

The next morning I filled out ten different applications for many different professions. One was a store clerk, another a barber, and even a street sweeper. The one that accepted was a grocery store. I became a bag boy. The cashiers would ring everything up and I would fill the bags. I also had to do odd and end jobs like bring the carts in from the parking lot, stock shelves, and clean up messes. And actually, I enjoyed it. Making an honest living, I mean.

I worked that way from age eighteen to twenty-three. That's when I saw what I thought I would never see. I had kept up with Cindy's career obsessively. My apartment walls(with the money I was making at the grocery store, I was able to get an apartment and other necessities) were covered with posters of her and I had every one of her CDs. She was still my girl in my mind.

Somewhere along the way, though, Cindy had fallen off. She hadn't put out any knew CDs or even any new songs in over two years. The world had lost Cindy somewhere in the madness of stardom. I was the one who found her.

One night I was walking home from work after pulling second shift. It was about eleven-thirty and it was just barely misting. I passed row of three dumpsters. Behind the dumpsters was enough room to park a stolen car or pretty much get away with anything. Only the right people knew about it and the police didn't. I had even used it on more then one occasion.

I heard a scream from back there and started to just brush it off and keep on walking. But something told me to make sure whoever it was was all right. I went through the alley to the left and circled around the building. That was the only way to get in. A woman laid there motionless. Her body was ravaged and bleeding. She had been raped, but was still alive. No one else was around. I picked her up and carried her back to my apartment. It was too dark for me to see her face and even then she had been beaten so badly that she barely looked like a living person.

When I got her under the light of my old night stand lamp I nearly burst into tears. Somehow she had found her way back to me, even if not by her own will. The lost love of my life was lying in my bed, bleeding from all angles. Even behind the cuts and bruises I could still see how beautiful she was. I was overwhelmed with joy and fear all at the same time. So many questions raced through my mind. What if she doesn't make it through the night? What if she's already dead and just hanging on momentarily? What if she does come to and doesn't want anything to do with me? I wonder if things will go back to the way they were?

I cared for her wounds and looked after her the whole night. The next morning she still hadn't come around. I decided to take off of work. Sometime around noon she finally woke up. I was in my cramped kitchen fixing some coffee when I heard her more defined, but weak voice. She was asking if anyone was there. The last time I had heard her voice it was much softer, much sweeter. Now she sounded as a grown woman, what she was. So many years we'd missed. So many years to get back.

I went in to her just as she was asking again, "Is anyon"

Our eyes met. Neither of us moved or said a word for a solid minute. We just looked at each other. Then I ran to her side and we hugged for another minute or so. We both started crying. So she did miss me?! I thought to myself as the tears streamed.

When we finally stopped hugging and crying and all of that good stuff, she told me her whole story. She told me of what great people the Newfields were and how she loved growing up in their home. She told me of how she had went on to become a singer and then how she messed up. One of her bookies had introduced her to drugs and from then on went down hill. Then we talked about that day that she had to leave and how horrible it was. The tears came again for a while and then we talked about where I had been and what I had done. After our history she told me what had happened the night before.

After she got heavy into drugs she lost her album contract. As a result, she went to the streets for her living. She had a killer body and knew how to use it, but on that night she had decided she'd had enough. Unfortunately her pimp didn't think so. He slapped her around quite a bit and then raped her. She said that the only problem with quitting would be him. I decided that it would be best if we went to the station and reported what had happened. That way at least they could be on the lookout for him. They wouldn't find him fast enough.

The next day I stayed out again to watch over her. We talked about everything we could possibly think of. For a time it seemed like everything was going to be all right, and then there was a knock on the door. It was an officer. He told us that they still hadn't found him but had a pretty good lead from some other resources. He also told us that every squad car had a mugshot of him and were definitely on his trail. Then, just as he was telling us to be sure and report anything unusual he took a bullet to the chest. Then another, and another. I reached for his pistol as he was falling and quickly slammed the door. Cindy ran into the bedroom, slamming the door behind.

The door kicked in. I fired twice, hitting him in the stomach both times, but he didn't stop. He shot me in the right side of my chest and then went a little lower for my side. I fell onto the couch as he kicked the bedroom door in. I passed out.

When I came to, all was dead silent. I stumbled into the bedroom only to find Cindy dead. He had unloaded on her. The last shot was to the forehead. I had lost her again. This time it was permanent. I knelt down beside her and just cried.

Present,

The sun was still blazing. Sweet was rolling off of my forehead. My vision was blurry and I barely remembered where I was. Something was happening to me, but what? I wasn't walking. Then I remembered the guards spitting on me, and then the fight, and then the baseball player's swing. I had a concussion, and I was being dragged. He had knocked me out with his rifle and it backfired on them. They were having to drag me by my feet. In this blazing heat. The gravel hurt my skin, along with the burn from the scorching ground, but I didn't care. At least I didn't have to walk it. Suddenly a pain sharpened in my leg. Then I remembered being shot. Me and the other guard, as I killed him.

I raised my head a bit and saw that the shack was still about a quarter of a mile away. Lifting my head, though, was a bad idea. The sky rushed for me, as did the ground. It was just too much to take. I fainted.

I went back to my past,

After Cindy's death I practically gave up. I never went back to work and I started doing all the things I had quit. I was back to my old ways and would remain that way until my end. Stealing and the bottom of a bottle were all I thought about, and then finally it caught up to me.

One day I tried to steal a pocketbook but someone saw me so I backed off. Not thinking, a few months later I went back to that spot and stole a car from a little old lady who owned a coffee shop. That same person figured out it was me and went to the police. The little old lady was his friend or something. The police picked me up a couple of nights later and I was sent to prison. It was hell! A terrible, terrible hell! And I hated him for it.

Seven years later I was released. The memory of those years in prison haunted my dreams and one day I decided to do something about it. I decided to kill that man, and I did. He was the man I stabbed twenty-three times. And then I was arrested and taken to the same prison. Only this time with the death penalty.

Present,

When I came to again I was sitting. My feet were in an aluminum pan filled with water. The chair I sat in was metal and cold. My wrists were strapped to it with steal braces and there was something on my head. My whole body ached and my skull felt like it had been in a vice for days. I was naked and bloodied. And then I remembered everything.

I glanced around my little room. It was nothing but a small glass chamber. There were several people outside of my box watching me. Three I recognized to be the guards who had escorted me, the rest I knew not.

There was a constant flickering from a fluorescent bulb above me. I stared at it. It hurt my head horribly. Then there was sudden buzzing all around and thenall went black.

The End

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