Daily Prompt, No, Thanks
Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?
It was Christmas Eve 2035 and a light snow was falling when I watched the gate roll open and stepped out to my first taste of freedom since 2017, after 18 years in the federal lockup in Lee County.
My sentence had been 25 to life but good behavior bought me at least seven years back. For that I was grateful.
There was no bus, no taxi, no friends or relatives there to pick me up so I waved goodbye to the guard and started walking south on the highway. I figured it was at least four miles to Lincoln and I had thirty dollars cash and a condom in the pockets of the clothes I had been wearing when I was locked up. They had given my driver’s license and credit cards back, but those had been expired for over fifteen years so I tossed them in the trash on my way out of the property room.
I had been instructed to make my way to a halfway house back in Steubenville, back in Huisache County. I had three days to get there and check in before a warrant would be issued. I pulled my sweater a little closer and picked up my pace. I didn’t want to freeze before I could get to town and catch a bus back home. I made it to Lincoln and found the bus depot in a little less than two hours. A ticket to Steubenville on the Greyhound cost me twenty four dollars – that left me six to my name. Not enough to stick around here so I got a cup of hot coffee, to warm up with, and boarded the first thing smoking.
The first bus was a milk run, stopping at every wide spot in the road. It took more than three hours to make the 85 mile trip.
When I got to Steubenville I checked the address of the halfway house and started to walk. The snow was a little heavier here and drifts were starting to accumulate as I made my way across town. I slowed when I realized that my route was taking me past the Women’s Club.
There was a light on in one of the downstairs casement windows. I stopped on the sidewalk and stared at the one light in the darkened building. I thought about Jo Ann Philomen and how easy it had been to nudge her over the edge of the cliff. I thought about the other two women as well. I wondered what they had done to incur the wrath of the HCWC and why I had never asked. I really wanted to look in that window.
I evaluated the situation. In the snow, my tracks would be visible to anyone passing by or looking out. I decided I didn’t care so I cut across the lawn, on a diagonal, towards the lit window and peered in through a corner of the glass. Myra Beckensall was seated at the desk, the only occupant of the room. She was studying a display directly in front of her and speaking into a microphone. I assumed she was dictating a letter, or a message or something of that sort to her computer. It pissed me off that she had not suffered any consequences of our actions.
Myra had not aged well. Her face was heavily lined and her grey hair was wispy and thin. She looked weary. She looked bone tired. I could kill her, I thought. I should kill her, she owes me. I looked at my feet as I thought about what I was getting ready to do. A softball sized rock sat waiting by my left boot. Picking it up I tested the weight, it would make a good weapon if I wanted to crush her skull, and it felt good in my hand. It felt right.
A better idea might be to use the rock to break the window. Then I could choke her to death while I looked into her eyes. I wanted to see the spark of recognition when she realized that I was her past – and I was catching up to her after all these years. I was a convicted killer, after all. No one would be surprised if I killed her, revenge, served cold. I could almost taste it.
I thought about the Corps and I thought about prison. I set the rock back down at my feet and muttered, “Semper fi, bitch.” I don’t remember the rest of the walk to the halfway house but I remember Evangelista, my assigned case worker, welcoming me home. I sat there listening to her cheerful ramblings about work programs and duties at the house and I remembered the people I had killed. I remembered prison in Lincoln.
I knew that was one place I never wanted to visit again.
“Oh yes, please,” I answered when she offered, for the second time, to heat water for tea.
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