At Last.

Release

The day he longed for had at last come. The taste of freedom just within his touch. As he packed up his meager belongings in his prison cell. The bible, that had seen him through the very darkest of days when life seem pointless. Where no light at the end of the tunnel seemed visible at all. When all seemed lost, it was the bible and the weekly visitors from the members religious group, who told him to keep the faith. That God would help. That one day his pleas of innocence of the crime he was accused of would be believed by those in power. Those on the outside who believed in his innocence, told him to be strong, be patient. As they campaigned tirelessly on his behalf.
He stared at the pictures of the scantily clad women on the cell wall, and admired them. A reminder to himself at least he was still a man, with the desires of a man. As he continued to clear his belongings from the prison cell, he thought of her. He had tried to forgive her. To forget and move on, as he had being advised by many. They could see his anger and bitterness were destroying him. Eroding his peace of mind. His rampant desire for revenge, burned deep within his soul.

Seventeen years incarceration because of her lies and deceit. Seventeen wasted years. He had attended the group sessions in prison, and shared his anger, and bitterness, and he had to admit it helped somewhat. But he did not share his plans of revenge he had in store for her. Night after night when he was initially imprisoned , he took delight in imagining the chaos he was going to bring into her life. She was going to suffer, no doubt of that. Even if it led to a further term of imprisonment, he had decided it would be worth it. Trying out different plans and ideas in the inner landscape of his imagination.
He had never liked his cell mate, even though they had shared the same small claustrophobic space for many years. He like most of the inmates of the prison could not be trusted. He was a big man, with the grillezed face of hard living. A wild beard, small dead angry eyes, devoid of life. He was quiet sure the warden had put them together purposely, to make doing time, even harder and more unpalatable than it already was. He had spoken to one or two, that he trusted in the religious group, who visited from the outside on a weekly basis, of his plans for revenge. They had listened with patience and understanding. But were also shocked and taken aback by the strenght of his resolve to inflict pain, and bring chaos and mayhem into the life of his ex-wife.
They had gently pointed out the possible consequences of such a course of action. The possibility of never having the opportunity to renew and reignite the relationship with the young daughter who had turned her back on him. The futility of holding onto such anger and bitterness, for situations from the past. They had counselled forgiveness. The more he spoke with those from the religious group, the more at peace he felt. The burning , fervent desire for revenge easing somewhat. He had taken to reading the Bible on a nightly basis, helped him not he did not feel so alone.
He had taken a particular shine to her. The softness of her voice. The kindness and gentleness she exuded. Her willingness to listen to his angry ranting and raving, with great patience. Never would he have believed he could ever trust or even like a woman again in his life. But she was different. Perhaps being a long time member of the visiting religious group, was the reason. Or maybe her sense of peace and contentment came from turning to God. He was unsure. Those wide soft, kind and innocent eyes. The sense of peace and contentment that was wrapped around herself like some sort of comfortable overcoat. She also had become enamoured by him . By his seething masculinity. But she sensed beneath the hard exterior. Beneath the gruffness, and palatable sense of explosive violence, lay a decent man, dealt a bad deal, by life.
He began to look to the future, perhaps their future together, with a sense of hope, and anticipation. Maybe life was going to be okay, after all.

The brutal rattling of the cell door, roused him from his imaging. His size filled the frame. On either side, stood his two protectors, permanent attachments, it seemed like.
He glanced at his cell mate, who smiled callously, and slowly removed himself out of the cell, and onto the prison cell landing, and into the recreation area. Here was the man, who actually ruled the prison. The governor and prison guards may have believed they ruled the prison, but not so. His large black frame, toned and muscular from many months training in the prison gym. The bald, shaven head, and pristine white teeth. Not snarling, surprisingly, but smiling. The acne scarred face.

He strood into the small prison cell as if he owned it. His reputation for violence and nastiness preceded him. He wished to demonstrate his power to the remaining prison population, and remind them, he could do anything to anybody, at any time.

‘I believe your leaving us today. Aint that sweet for you’. His voice soft, but with an edgy undertone of menace.

I’m innocent, I should never have being in here, and I wont be coming back’.

‘In that case, I’d like to give you a gift, before you leave.’ He reached down and undid his belt and began to lower his prison issue jeans.

‘Grab him , and hold him face down on the bed, while I have some fun’, he commanded.

He could see what was coming, and without much thought to the consequences, smashed the shaving mirror close to him, and quickly picked up a sliver of the glass. He knew that he could not live with himself, if he allowed such emasculation to take place. After a brief violent struggle he implanted the sharp shard of glass into the neck of the prison king, who quickly fell to the ground, holding his neck. The sucking, gurgling sounds his jerking, shaking body made on its final journey, sickening.  The violent retribution he received from the two protectors and prison guards was swift and brutal. Thrown with force into the isolation cell, he asked for the Bible that had given him such sustenance. It was thrown in, and landed at his feet. He began to read, and again he thought of her. That softness and kindness, and wide innocent eyes

Advertisements

Substandard.

Substandard

The work he completed was below par. Not up to what it should have being. He knew it. They knew it. Everybody on the site knew. But nobody really cared. It was after all, more money for all of them. Even when the lowly paid government inspectors came to check out the work, many were open to the large brown envelopes which everyone knew would help smooth the way of the project. Help to avoid any awkward questions or very close inspections of the work completed.
‘Get it done, and get it done fast, and get it done cheap’. That was the order from the top. Another rushed job, another contract completed at speed. Everybody making money, everybody happy. In the Arabian peninsula, the heat sapping, draining weather was always the same. No let up. Life was good here in these foreign lands, with good money to be made in quick time. The only few drawbacks as he saw it were the the lack of available alcohol, unless smuggled in surreptitiously, and the lack of a pretty woman to catch a man’s eye.
The Arabs, as determined by their governments, were forbidden to drink alcohol, which to him seemed a nonsensical and cruel law. Secondly the women were forced to cover up everything except for their eyes. Another crazy law in his view. He had being in the country for close to six months , and was looking forward to his return to normality, back to America. Looking forward to seeing his wife and newly born child whom he had yet to meet.
He didn’t want to leave them, but with the lack of employment in ‘The States’, and the subsequent continual arguments that the lack of money, and boredom were causing with his long term sweetheart, and now wife. It just seemed like the best solution to a bad situation, at the time.
In Arabia, it was good to be working once again. His happiness and joy for the occupation, replacing the depression, that had dogged him for many months, in the past. The feelings of worthlessness and failure he felt as a man. Unable to provide for his wife, and family. The thoughts of ending it all. How different it was now. Those bad times behind him, a happily distant memory. But money making was very high on his agenda, after so many, many months of being without. He had a lot of catching up to do, financially, and he was determined to catch up, in whichever way he could. Regardless of the consequences.
The management back home in America, were well impressed how he was able to move the job along with such speed. While keeping costs way down. Congratulating themselves on choosing some a competent man to oversee the work. It was of course his decision to purchases supplies and materials from the unlisted, unlicensed companies. His choice not to question the low cost of such purchases. Again his choice to pay the immigrant workers just slightly above the national rate they were paid. An incentive to work harder, and faster, which they happily adhered to. Of course, the wage they received, a pittance, in comparison to the wage paid to the workers from the west.

He didn’t like him, when he first met him. Something about him. That upright posture, and purposeful stride. The dark business suit. The tanned face, and the neatly trimmed black hair. He exuded an inner strength, an inner belief in his own abilities, in his own worth, for such a young man. No more than early thirties, Jim guessed. A man not easily pushed around, or persuaded. Jim tried the friendly route first. When that was having little impact. He went for the brutish, loud, angry path. But the schools building inspector, remained quietly solid, strong and unmoved. He demanded to see the schedule of work. Demanded to know how the work was progressing at such speed. He further demanded free access to inspect any of the materials used, and see the records and details of the current suppliers to the school building project. Of course he could not be allowed to have his demands met. So as the young inspector was leaving the building project, Jim approached him.
As he was stepping into his shiny black cadillac, he placed a hand on the inspectors arm. The inspector looked down at the hand, and then at Jim , with a look of disdain.

‘Here, take this package. You’ll enjoy it. Will make life easier ‘, offering him the stout envelope.
‘My life is fine, I don’t need nor want anything from you’, and he pushed the envelope away.

Early the following morning just as the sun broke the horizon, and work began again on the construction project, the young inspector returned accompanied by two further car loads, of similarly diligent civil servants. They enforced an immediate cessation of the work, and went about examining the materials used, and the contracts signed. It did not take them long to come across anomalies. Materials not up to standards, and regulations. Works completed in a haphazard and unsafe manner. It was enough evidence to enforce immediate cessation of the project.
Jim watched from the portacabin office, where he liked to oversee the progress on the site. With his favourite coffee cup in hand, he watched the young inspector accompanied by two policemen approach his office.

Bursting through the door in the blazing mid day heat, disturbing the dust and paperwork in the office.

‘ I am closing down this project’, with immediate effect’. He spoke slowly, with much assurance and calm authority. ‘You, as the project co-ordinator here, bearing full responsibility for all that goes on in this project, are to be prosecuted for using substandard and dangerous materials, and engaging in unsafe  and haphazard working practices. Endangering the lives the the employees currently working here, and the further employees and children who would have attended this school in the future. Also you are further to be prosecuted for attempting to bribe a government official’.

With that the two policeman stood either side of Jim, and escorted him down from his office. The next few weeks passed quickly, and before he knew it, he was enduring the sweltering heat and blazing sunshine from the confines of an overcrowded Arabian prison cell. He was slowly coming to terms with the violent prison guards, who delighted in tormenting and torturing their prisoners, especially foreign prisoners. Coming to terms with his violent prison cell mates, none of whom he could dare to trust. Forced to stand for up to twelve hours a day, it was an impossible torture. The stench of urine, of continual perspiration. The sense of claustrophobia, of being unable to move freely, of being trapped, with no space of his own. With unfriendly people he did not know, using a language he could not understand. The continual pushing and shoving. The sense of violence waiting to explode at any moment. His very real fear of homosexual rape. The lack of sleep, his anxiety. Wishing now, had he being given his time over, perhaps he may have being a more honourable, honest man. Not racing headlong chasing money and wealth at any cost.

His only contact with another english speaker, was the weekly visit from the middle aged man from the American council. His job to keep Jim informed of the likely date of his court case. It could take years, he had being informed. Arabia was in no rush to release the inmates of their prisons. Jim in a strange way looked forward to these weekly visits. At least it was some human contact, without the fear of violence. A short sense of freedom. A brief thirty minutes out of the stinking , overcrowded cell, that had being his home for the last three months. With someone he felt he could trust.
He walked into the light grey plastered room, with the open windows, accompanied as ever by two severe looking prison guards. He noted the brightly colored  bird sitting on the tree branch outside the window, chirping away  happily. Jim looked at the bird, and smiled, envied his freedom. The ability to do what he wanted, when he wanted. To have his own space. To fly away and be free, anytime he choose. The man from the American council entered the room. Jim immediately noted his more than usual serious demeanor. His grey and  drawn face. The deadness in his eyes. He sat at the table, slowly, and opened his black briefcase. Hids movements were slow, as was his speech.
Quietly he began. ‘Jim, I have some news from home, and I’ll come straight to it. I’m very sorry, but there has being a fire  back home, and their have been fatalities. Jim held his breath, and began to perspire slightly. The veins tightened in his arms and shoulders, and he clenched his fists. ‘It’s your wife’, then he stopped, to steady himself,and catch his breath, and after a moment, ‘and your newborn child. I’m so sorry’. Jim listened, but didn’t really hear, and asked for him to repeat what he had said. He sat back in the soft chair trying to comprehend what had being said, his body feeling weak. ‘ The initial outcome of the investigation are, the fire was the result of the substandard materials been used, when the house was first built’. ‘If there’s anything I can do’, his voice trailed off.
Jim sat back in the chair, and quietly muttered to himself, ‘Substandard materials, substandard materials’, over and over. Precisely when the thirty minutes were up, the two prion severe, angry prison guards , roughy lifted Jim from the chair. Pulled and dragged him back towards the overcrowded, sweltering, stinking, violent prison cell. The man from The American council watched for a moment, as he stood underneath the ceiling fan, enjoying its cooling air, before taking his briefcase, and making his way towards the exit.

Change….

‘ Why oh why cant you be the way I want you to be. Why cant you be different. You are not what I want in a woman, in a love partner ‘. That was it, he had said it out. All those thoughts that for weeks on end had been going round and round his head. She sat back on the couch devastated. He couldn’t look at her now. They both stared at the Television replaying some old black and white gangster movie from the ’50’s. Watching but not really seeing.

She began to weep, as he had expected. But reminded himself to stay strong, as he had seen it all before. The free flowing tears would soon subside, to be replaced, he guessed by silence, then anger. Possibly the begging and pleading would follow. Asking for another chance, an opportunity to change. To turn into the woman he wanted her to be. But enough was enough, he had decided. Never again would he get caught up with an unsuitable, incompatible partner. Next time, were their a next time, he would listen to what his intuition was screaming at him, ‘She’s the wrong choice’, was the message that was coming through loud and clear,but it was the message,out of loneliness and isolation
that he choose to ignore.
He had enough of the arguments, the disagreements. The throwing of dishes, the screaming, shouting and tears. The beginnings of her increasing physical violence towards him. Borne out of her frustration with a relationship between two incompatible people. The mis-matched sexual appetites, and attitudes. The different views of what was important and what mattered in a relationship.

‘ Enough is enough, and I want out, and that’s what’s happening here, I’m gone ‘.

Her tears, and wailing increased. Then the anger and accusations of using her just for sex. Untrue of course. He reached down and picked up the few belongings he had thrown into the small travel bag, took one last glance at the TV and at her weeping on the couch, and made his break for freedom, determined never to step back into such a wasteful relationship again.

Written in response to a photo / writing prompt seen here :  http://creativewriting.ie/writing-prompts/

Radiate.

Radiate

Radiant

           She used to be radiant,effervescent,bubbly,call it what you will. That was before. Her self esteem was high,she was enjoying life. Happy just to be alive.
                                         It was a lot more serious here,behind the barbed wire,the uniformed guards,the high walls,the vicious attack dogs. One day slowly dragging into another. Bored beyond belief. Nothing to do,and all day to do it in. Sitting alone in her prison cell,staring at the freshly painted white walls,knowing full well it would not take long for them to become covered in less than polite graffiti once again.

She looked about her cell,that had been her home for quite some time,and may be for quite some time to come. The stainless steel open toilet,no privacy,of course. Two bunks and a sink. The two foot square window,with the toughened glass,high up the rear wall. Too high and out of reach to see out of. This was home,for the time being.
                  She lay on the top bunk,grateful at least that her prison cell mate and she got along,reasonably well,at least most of the time. But she like everyone here,who wasn’t in for life was just counting down the days,to freedom. Whether she may end up back in a place such as this again,was certainly up for question. What would life hold for her on the outside.would it be any better,she often wondered. She often contemplated the crimes the other inmates she came across had committed to have landed them in such a place. But she had learned the hard way,and had the scars to prove it.
                                    Best not to ask inquisitive questions,here,of others. If they wish to share aspects of their lives they will,and if not,well……..Grateful at least the battleship grey heavy cell doors were left open throughout the day,so the guards could keep an eye on the inmates. Prisons are surprisingly busy places throughout the day. With inmates coming and going,new arrivals and departures. Some attending court,a chance of freedom. Others attending hospital for illness,or as a result of an overdose,or a violent assault. Mealtimes. A lot of movement. Prison guards rushing at times to various incidents to be dealt with. But come night time,eight pm,in prison terms,the doors were banged shut with a resounding clank. Half an hour later,lights out. This was human brutality to her. No television,no internet. No privacy. Then the screaming,of the many others trapped,the mentally unstable,the swearing begins. A nightly ritual. The feelings of being trapped,unable to escape. Her freedom in the hands of others. These were the times when her breathing became rapid,fast. Her fists clenched as she twisted and turned on the top bunk. Trapped like an animal,she so wanted to break free.

Not surprising so many others had turned to illicit drugs and medications to escape,at least in their minds. A relief for some,for sure. She had turned to religion,at least it was a chance to interact with people from outside the prison population. It was a change from the ongoing boredom to attend the weekly meetings of the Jehovah Witnesses who came every Sunday. They seemed quiet pleasant,decent people,and she certainly did enjoy asking them the hard questions,on God,on life,injustice,redemption and retribution,which they at times struggled to answer.
                       At times,in the semi darkness of her cell,out of fear,loneliness and fragility,she had softly approached her cell mates bunk,and sat and watched her as she slept. She had a deep beauty,it was evident beneath the brutal harsh exterior she wore like a mask throughout the day. A mask of protection,as was needed in such a place. Signs of weakness,jumped upon instantly,and for the duration of the prison term,making prison life a lot more uncomfortable than it had to be.

It was the fear,it was the seeking of human comfort. It was that emptiness in the soul,that finally brought them together. That first soft touch,so welcoming,so soothing,for both. She did not fully trust her,as she knew little of the reasons she was in this place,so she was always weary of her. But the desire,the need for human comfort. To be held,to be loved,had over ridden such concerns.
                Together they planned his downfall,as they held each other softly,in the darkness of that brutal locked cell. They laughed as they imagined how it would play out. He had stolen her effervesce,her radiance,the brightness that once shone within her.
                           But slowly she could feel her radiance,her joy,at living life,even in a place such at this,returning. She had from time to time found herself actually laughing,and smiling. Gestures which had long being absent from her life,when she was involved with him. Maybe she had concluded,life has a funny way of working out in the end. Out of some chaotic situations,some good can come. She had found,if not love,at least comfort with another. There joint plans of revenge,and his proposed forthcoming glorious downfall,giving a reason for living,to continue to press on for freedom.
                       Whether their future plans would lead to be imprisoned again,was yet to be seen. What was needed for now was much patience. Some say revenge is a fool’s game,but to her,nothing tasted sweeter.

 

Written in response to : Daily Prompt.

Courtroom…….

courts-gavel

Courtroom…..

Why did you take that man’s life
The judge he asked of I
Was cause it he looked at you the wrong way
It that enough for him to die
Did he bump into you in the street
Nearly knock you off your feet
Why did you take that man’s life,on a cold Saturday night


What the hell is wrong with you
The judge he asked of I
Is some imagined slight,enough for a man to die
The prison guards surrounded me,as I stood in the dock
Not interested to catch my eye,just watching the courtroom clock
Looking forward to when soon they would be free
I reckon it’ll be a long time,before the same can be said of me

The judge held his head in his hands,then looked my way in despair
It’s not incarceration you need ,he said,but mental health care
It’s a mental institution that I am sending you to
In there you will share with others the contents of your soul
With the other inmates,or should I say patients,and the psychiatrists too
We cannot have unstable murderers such as you walking the streets
We have to make it safe,for the elderly,the children and the weak

I looked at my family,across the courtroom hall
His family looked at I,their anger,rage sadness
Written upon their faces
But did I glimpse,for a brief moment, some compassion and understanding too
For a fellow member of the human race
I took that man’s life,on a cold Saturday night
Now I am to be imprisoned and treated for the rest of my life
Goodbye freedom,Goodbye wife

The judge looked my way,as I was taken down
His face contorted in an angry, philosophical,questioning frown
What the hell is wrong with you,is the question I read in his mind
It’s the very same question,on many nights, I ask of myself too.

 

Escape.

ChainlinkJust the chainlink fence to get past and she would be free.Trying to stay focused and not
allow her mind to get ahead of her.There would be plenty of time for fantasizing and actually enjoying the freedom for real.Just a few more seconds to cut through the wire,and to freedom.

It burned in her shoulder,she never heard the sound,and she found it hard to catch her breath.The sucking ,gurgling sound was unpleasant. Her knees gave way,as her body weakened by the impact,fell to the ground.
The guard in the tower lowered his rifle,and smiled to himself.None had escaped while he was on duty,a record he was determined to keep.Floating in and out of consciousness,she dreamt of him,and the adventures they would soon be enjoying.The freedom of the open road,the roar of the motorcycles,the warm air on her face.
She was brought back to reality by the foul tobacco breath of the Warden his face close to hers.’There’s no escape Missy from this place,you will be with us for a long time to come,and get that straight inside your tiny mind.Take her back to the infirmary,get her patched up,and bring her to my office’,he ordered the watching prison officers.They smiled because they knew what was on the agenda for her now.