"Have you ever killed a person?"
His eyes were on the clipboard at his lap. His pen stopped, ready for my answer. Should I tell him the truth? What did it matter? The truth does not set you free. Believe that.
"Define killing a person."
He tapped his pen twice and then looked directly at me. "Doing harm to another human being and ending their life."
I took my time answering his question. I was always playing for time; I had nothing better to do, after all. The room was quiet, aside from his loud, heavy breathing. I ran my fingers through my hair, checking the clock that hung on the wall, shaking my leg up and down. I was getting quite board and so I decided to get up and walk about the room. I was just waiting for him to repeat the question, but he did not feel inclined to, or so I figured. I walked to his desk and picked up a picture of a little kid holding a red ball. I smiled and put it back down.
"I might have killed a guy or two."
He readjusted his position in the chair. "You might have killed a few men Theodore?"
"Please, call me Theo; I'm not five years old."
"Very well, Theo. Why did you kill these men?"
I shrugged, "I knew their type, the kind that only hurt people. I figured it was their time to feel the hurt."
He jotted down a few notes on his clipboard and looked at his watch. I looked at the clock at the wall, we had been sitting for only fifteen minutes, and I had another ten to go. I went over to the door and looked at the guard who stood parallel to me. I smiled and waved, but he did not smile and wave back.
"Why do you believe they were the kind to hurt people? Please clarify."
"It's exactly what I meant. They had a bad look about them, the kind that take advantage of other people. They use them for their own benefits. I ended all their lives, which might have saved a few others."
"Do you believe you should be here, Theo? Do you view yourself as a hero or a savior?"
I had to laugh, if only a little chuckle. "Say what you want doc, but that's my story. I think a lot of things about myself, but I'm no hero, or savior for that matter."
He checked his watch once more and got up from the chair.
"That's all for today then, thank you Theo." He said and extended his hand. I took it in both of mine, since the handcuffs were still present.
"No, thank you Dr. Roberts."
He gave a half smile and then pushed a button on his desk that signaled to the guards outside the door. They came in and swarmed around me, putting me in the middle of them. They walked me outside to the cold and dreary hallway.
"When is dinner around here?" I asked as we walked back to my cell.
"Later tonight for you." A guard on my right said.
"What will it be? Canned green beans and a side of guilt?"
"Whatever makes you happy." He said in a sarcastic tone.
"There is a lot that makes me happy, but those things aren't any of them. Now, if it were corn with a side of homemade mashed potatoes, then we'd be talking. Doesn't that sound good? On the other hand, you could even add a steak, or a tri-top. Now, that would make me happy."
No one answered me. No one was very talkative around here, or so I noticed. They stopped in front of my cell door, which had a small cutout right in the middle, where they normally handed me a food tray. The door read 623 in faded blue.
"See you in the morning guys."
They shut the door behind me with a loud bang, followed by a series of locks. I was alone for a few minutes until my cellmate, Drew, came in accompanied by two guards. He walked in and attempted to stretch his arms, which was difficult with the cuffs, and then climbed into the top bunk bed.
"How did the mind reading go?"
"Just swell, they don't know a damn thing. Their always trying to get inside your mind like they can read it, but all their text book knowledge is guess work."
"Have you ever thought that maybe they know a thing or two, and you're just full of it?"
"Eh, I've thought about that, but I seriously doubt it."
I could hear him laugh. "Isn't your court date tomorrow? What are you going to tell them?"
"Whatever I feel like I guess. No one ever believes the truth."
"They might, some people aren't as dumb as you may think."
"Drew, please, if I laugh to hard I'll have a brain hemorrhage. No one believes the truth, believe that."
"Then I hope you like prison, because you won't be leaving it alive."
"I figured as much."
I could tell you my last name, where I grew up, how I had been raised. I can even tell you who my first girlfriend was, who my last girlfriend was, and even my brothers ex-wife's name. I could tell you everything insignificant about my life, but that is not what you want to know, now, is it? To be honest, I'd like to tell you. I'd like to tell you the story of why I was in prison. I'd like to tell you how everything got out of hand, because now I actually know the answer. However, I can't tell you everything. I can only tell you certain facts, the ones I know to be true anyway. Not everything in my life has been easy, but how I got here was. It was easy as breathing, and it started first with a simple hello.
I was sitting at Big Joe's Diner when she and my best friend, Michael, walked in. I sat with a cigarette in my mouth, a cup of coffee in one hand and a dumbfounded expression on my face. The girl beside him was stunning, much more beautiful than the last girl Mike had. Mike considered himself a Don Juan, a seducer of beautiful women, but most of the time he was full of himself. His last girlfriend looked more like a mix between a German Shepard and Sarah Jessica Parker than Pamela Anderson did in her best shape since Bay Watch. This girl was different from the ones he usually dated, she was very soft and light skinned. Her black hair complimented her gray eyes. She totally blew me away. Mike waved at me and ushered for her to follow him. They took a seat in front of me at my lone booth.
"You actually showed!" He said surprised as he took a menu from the server. She refilled my cup and departed for the time being.
"You always sound so surprised."
"Well, you have the tendency to forget things sometimes."
"Only the things that involve you."
He put his hand to his heart and faked a hurt expression. I ignored him and extended my hand to the woman beside him.
"Hello, I'm Theo; it's nice to meet you."
She took my hand and shook it; I was surprised at how warm it was.
"I'm Lyla; it's a pleasure to finally meet you. Michael has said a lot of things about you."
"All of them true, I'm sure."
She laughed quietly. I liked it; it fit the calm expression on her face.
"So what brings you here, and with this guy of all people?"
The server came back and took everyone's orders, then left quickly.
"My uncle was getting married when I met Mike at the reception. They had worked together in the past, right Mike?"
"Yeah, remember that construction company I worked for? Her uncle is Rick Thomas, one of the guys I worked with."
"I remember Rick, must have been a hell of a woman to get him to settle down."
I took a long sip of my coffee, savoring the cheap taste. They both smiled to one another. To me, it was obvious of their affection for one another, even though they didn't say anything aloud. Mike cleared his throat and took a sip of the iced tea that the server put in front of him. We chatted for a while until our food came, and then once it came out and we ate, the server took our check and disappeared into the back. The diner was empty except for the three of us, although it was mid afternoon.
"Well, we should be going. Would you want to see a movie with us this weekend, we haven't talked much lately."
"We can't do a lot of talking in the theater Mike; they might kick us out for being loud and obnoxious."
"You know what I meant. I worry about you, you're always so reclusive. Its time you got out once and a while."
"Fine, I'll go."
We all got out from the booth and headed to the door. I waited by Mikes car while he opened the door for Lyla to get it.
"You really have something there Mike, don't lose her."
"I know I won't let her get away if I can help it. She's been real good to me; I think I'm really falling for her."
"I can tell. Now, this movie had better not be some romantic crap, if it is, I'm not coming."
"No, it won't, I promise. We'll figure out what we want to see later. Be careful out there Theo, don't get too lost in your own world."
"You say it like being a writer is a bad thing. Maybe I like the reality I can create. At least in that world I'm rich, have a hot wife and my novels actually sell."
We gave a short hug and he waved goodbye. I left for my car that was around the corner.
"So, what movie do you want to see?" Mike asked early Saturday morning. I looked at the clock on my bedside table and clicked the off button on the phone. I knew he would call right back, but I was not one to wake up early on a weekend. It was nine o'clock, but to me it was more like six. I always stayed up until the sunrise and slept in through the day. I found the night more appealing than the day, for different reasons. The light always bothered my eyes in the day, even with sunglasses on. Everything was always too crisp and clear. I was not surprised when the phone rang again. I pushed the "talk" button and held it to my ear, giving a sigh.
"I take it that I woke you up."
"And you didn't take the hint to call back later on?"
"You need a good dose of sunlight, get up. We can have breakfast or something, I'm starving! I was thinking about seeing that new horror movie, The Widows Daughter. I wouldn't mind Lyla grabbing me all night, if you know what I mean."
"I don't care. I'll meet you at the theater for the last showing. Bye."
I hung up the phone and went immediately back to sleep, not to awaken again until three in the afternoon. That was my favorite part of day, right after two and creeping into four. The light was always just right, not to bright or anything. Just perfect for a good mood. I went into my kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee, got the newspaper from my front porch and then sat on the couch. The headlines didn't catch my interest so I kicked it aside, to lazy to do anything else with it. The time passed slowly, I checked the listing for the movie and found that it started at 9:45. I left the house about 9:20.
When I look back at the last day that everything was "normal," I always look at all the small details. Like the time for instance, when I left for the movies and what time I got there. I even remember what I was wearing. It was nothing elaborate, after all, whom was I impressing? However, it was cold. I wore my long raincoat, tan pants and a black, long sleeved polo. I grabbed my keys from my coffee table and was out the door. The last time I would ever see my house again. The drive there didn't take long, and I found good parking to my surprise. I met Mike and Lyla at the front box office.
"Hey about time man, we've been waiting a while." Mike said and waited as I paid for a ticket. I glared at him from over my shoulder and began to walk into the theater. He took Lyla by the waist and led her in beside him, I did feel like the odd man out. I hadn't dated in a while and I found that when you don't date for a while, everyone else gets with someone and then you are left all alone. It always happens, wither you notice it or not. The usher took my ticket, ripped it in half, handed it back ad mumbled where the movie was located. I jumped in line for some popcorn, and waited for Mike and Lyla to gather their snacks and drinks. The movie was already dark by the time we found seats and sat down.
It seemed to drag on, with screaming and blood everywhere. The acting wasn't anything special and even the special effects were drab and generic. I couldn't help but wonder if this was how it would be in the future, how we all would just get tired of the same old horror crap and expect something beyond what we are capable. I guessed that's what was going to happen. By the time the movie was actually over, I had gotten up about five times to go take a smoke and make a short phone call or two. Mike didn't look thrilled with it either, but Lyla just seemed to be having a good time, regardless of the bad movie. I joked around with her on the way out, she was an easy person to talk with. She didn't fill the air with pointless chitchat either, like I was doing.
We were all walking back to the car when it happened. It was fast, it was hot, and it was painful. I was talking with Mike when we rounded a dark corner and suddenly, I was stuck in the face with an object. It wasn't anything soft, but sold and thick. It hit me directly in the forehead, and I went down as soon as it collided with me. I couldn't see a thing and could barley keep conscious, I tried to grab for anything near me, yell for help, but all I could do was gasp in shear pain. I heard two distinct, loud gunshots. They were so loud that when they were done being fired, the silence was so thick, I wondered if I had gone deaf. I reached out with my right hand and felt something warm and sticky. I didn't need to see to know what it was. I wasn't even sure if I had been the one shot yet.
After a few minutes, I could hear people mumbling and fast movements. I was kicked twice in the stomach and once in the nose, to add to the pain that was already killing my head. In moments, I was passed out. That was the very last thing I remembered, the pain, and the blood.
"Get him cleaned up. Take the bodies to First Street and see the cause of death, and if the woman had been raped or not."
There were quick movements and muffled voices near me. Hands took me hastily and put my body on a stretcher, also placing a brace around my neck. I could hear the sounds of ambulances nearby and the sound of faint walkie-talkies talking back and forth to one another. I was only semi-conscious, I could not have talked even if I wanted to. I wasn't in any pain by that point, it was only a dull numbness sweeping through my body.
"He looks fucking awful," Someone to my left said. I could not feel if there was blood on me or not, but I guessed from the sound of his voice that I had looked better. It only took me a few seconds to fall back into blissful unconsciousness.
I was laid out on a soft bed. My hands were placed at my sides and my head was rested on a number of pillows. I could feel pain throbbing from my skull, and my ribs felt as though they were on fire. I wanted to ask for more pain medication, to tell them that what they were giving me now did nothing at all, but there was no one to yell at. I moved my right hand and found that wires were coming from it, attached to a machine by my head. I could hear the machine peep up and down as it monitored my heart rate. The smell of ammonia and alcohol hit my nose strongly, causing myself to sneeze, and hold my body as a wave of pain hit me. After a few minutes, a nurse knocked on the door.
"Oh, you're awake." She said and came to my side to checked the monitors. She also checked the bandage on my head that I had not even noticed until she started to unravel it. She smiled oddly, as she looked at my face next. I didn't know how to respond so I gave a half smile. I couldn't even remember what happened to me.
"Excuse me, but what happened to me?" I asked. She didn't seem surprised by my question, but her body stiffened and an odd, frightened expression played upon her face.
"I'll answer that. Thank you Rose, I would like to talk with him."
The nurse left, and a man came into the room, pulling up a chair to my bedside. His voice sounded vaguely familiar, but I could not place it in my memory. He was a tall man, with short blond hair that was seen under his dark brown hat. He had on a raincoat and his pale blue eyes looked at me with tense curiosity, and a hint of malice.
"Do you know who you are?"
I did not answer right away. I was sifting through all my memories, and was glad I did know who I was.
"Good, then you must know why you killed your supposed best friend, and his girlfriend."
I could only look at him. I, for one, had no idea what he was talking about, and two, I was in utter shock at what I just heard. My body began to tremble slightly.
"Mike Andrew Thompson and Lyla Abigail Brown were found in the back of the Main Street Theater. According to autopsy reports, they were both shot once in the head and twice in the chest, each. The woman, Lyla, was raped and has other signs of physical abuse. You, Theodore Justin Webster, were found beaten, with a gun in hand. Fingerprints were found on both the victims bodies that link back to you. Your semen was found on the body of Ms. Brown. Does any of this ring a bell to you?"
"I didn't kill anyone."
"I had a feeling you would say that."
"I didn't kill them, I swear it!"
"Then who did, Theodore? You are the only person alive who was at the scene of the crime. Your finger prints are everywhere, all evidence leads back to you. Good luck winning your case."
He left and I laid there in utter shock. I looked at both my hands, but they were so clean. I couldn't imagine the blood of their bodies on them. I clenched my hands into fists and began to cry. Not only for my lost friends, but for myself. I was in trouble, the kind that was impossible to get out of, alive.