A man should always keep his promises
|This writing has not yet been rated and therefore this information is not yet available.|
A Tale from the House of Ashimbabbar
“Stu, are you absolutely positive this will work?” Damon hissed, watching carefully to be sure no other guards were within earshot.
“Damn right it’ll work,” Stewart hissed back, equally alert for any eavesdroppers, “Remember I don’t get paid until you’re out. Everything will go just like I said; I promise you ain’t gonna die in that chamber. And… Shut up! Carter’s coming.” Then in a normal tone, “Hey, Carter, you wanna walk the prisoner?”
“Naw, you got the short straw today, Stu,” the burly guard replied, “And remember: you escort prisoners, not walk them. You only walk animals – well, come to think of it, you do walk this one. You make sure it walks the whole time, now: just like any animal, you gotta keep it healthy for the slaughterhouse.”
Stewart quickly stepped sideways between the other guard and Damon’s insolent finger, knowing Carter had no scruples about striking a prisoner, shackled or not “Come on, man! Ain’t no need for that.
“You know what this animal did,” Carter replied, “Ain’t nothing too bad for him.”
“Yeah, we all know, and he’s gonna pay: but that ain’t your job”
“Right, it’s yours. Hey, pervert, how’s it feel to be walking with the guy who’s gonna pump you full of poison day after tomorrow?”
“Better than walking with you,” the prisoner taunted, “At least with him I don’t have to worry about protecting my asshole today!”
Stewart stepped between them again. Carter stared belligerently for a few seconds, then waved his hand in disgusted dismissal and turned away. With speed unexpected from a man his size, he spun and stepped on the chain an inch from Damon’s foot, causing the shackle to bite painfully into the prisoner’s ankle. Carter grinned cruelly into Damon’s impassive face, then turned and walked away whistling.
Once the vicious guard was out of sight, the prisoner winced and lifted his bruised foot, then walked on with a noticeable limp. “Sorry about that, man, but you know better than to cross him,” Stewart admonished, “You’re lucky he didn’t club you or knee you in the nuts.”
“That’s all right; it was worth it,” Damon replied, then lowered his voice and continued, “And once I get out of here, that bastard’s way up near the top of my list – I’ve got ten years of his crap to repay!”
“Now that just ain’t smart!” Stewart whispered, “You need to get as far away from here as you can. Change your name, get a little plastic surgery in Mexico or somewhere, and stay so far under the radar you’re damn near underground. Remember, you get picked up for anything, anywhere, they take fingerprints or DNA and you’re right back on death row. Damn databases are everywhere!”
“So, what do you care? You’ll have been paid by then.”
“Hey, anyone ever finds out you’re still alive, don’t you think they’re gonna look for whoever helped you? I don’t need that kind’a heat.”
“So, just get some plastic surgery and a new ID yourself,” Damon retorted, “I’m sure paying you enough.”
“You know most’a that’s going for my daughter’s operation. She didn’t need that so bad,…”
“Oh, please! Spare me the sob story rerun. We both know that with what I’m paying you she could have two transplants, with enough left over for the both of you to live on for the rest of your lives – and live pretty damn well, too!”
“There’s a lot of other expenses, too – like medicines and rehab…” Stewart’s voice broke and he paused a moment before continuing, “OK, OK, but no matter what you believe, my daughter’s the only reason I’m doing this.”
“I’m really not concerned with your reasons. Just make sure everything goes as planned. Remember: I don’t get out, you don’t get paid, your daughter dies. A whole lot more painfully that I will.”
“Don’t talk like that! I told you everything’s gonna go fine, and it will. Just don’t talk about my daughter no more, OK?”
“All right. You just make sure that stuff keeps me asleep until I’m out of that damned coffin.” Damon shuddered involuntarily, “Even the thought of being inside that box makes my skin crawl! It’s worse than being in an elevator.”
“Hey, man, it ain’t like you set a timer: twelve hours exactly and the stuff wears off. Doc says for a man your weight, it’ll keep you under for ten to sixteen hours. That should be plenty of time for the coffin to get to the undertaker’s. And when you wake up you won’t be able to move for a while, but that’s normal.”
“You’re sure about him?” Damon asked, “There’s too many people involved in this.”
“Just Doc and the undertaker. And me, of course. The undertaker’s cool – he already got a body, some old guy was supposed to get cremated. And Doc substituted the medicines yesterday. Long as they get paid they ain’t gonna say nothing ‘cause they’re both up to their noses in shit if anybody ever finds out. Just like me.”
“Don’t worry about the money. I put away an emergency stash a long time ago in case something like this ever happened.” Damon glanced around, then added, “I plan for everything.”
Stewart said, “You didn’t plan for that janitor to be painting the stairs that night; you didn’t plan on that.”
“That idiot! Who paints stairs in the middle of the night? The big oaf absolutely refused to let me use them and I had left my knife at the scene. By the time I got to the back stairs the police had sealed the building.”
“The papers said that was because you called the cops yourself – is that true?” Stewart asked incredulously.
“Yes. I always called as soon as I was done; I wanted them to appreciate my work before it spoiled.”
The guard shook his head, then continued, “There was four elevators right there – papers said you’re so scared of ‘em you wouldn’t ride down three floors even to get away?”
“I am not scared of them! I simply do not like being shut in, especially in something as unsafe as an elevator. They’re always getting stuck: people are trapped in them for hours!” and he shuddered once again.
“Yeah, that’s for sure. I got stuck in one once. There was five of us – it was a little one at the apartment where I use’ta live. Got real hot in there, not hardly no air to breathe. After a while seemed like the walls was closing in, …”
“Enough! Let’s talk about anything else, anything except elevators!” Damon barely controlled his rising voice only with obvious effort.
“OK, OK,” the guard agreed, “Something I always wanted to ask. You had everything: big mansion, beautiful wife, sweet cars, more money than God – so why’d you wanna go killing all those folks, folks you didn’t even know?”
“You couldn’t possibly understand, so let’s just say because I could,” the prisoner answered, a faraway expression on his face.
“Was it ‘cause’a what your lawyer said at the trial, about you being abused by your mom after your dad died, being beat and locked in a closet all’a time? And all that sex stuff?”
“Don’t ever talk about my Mother!” Damon exclaimed, then looked around to verify they were still alone in the exercise yard. “OK. look: I won’t talk about your daughter; you don’t talk about my Mother, understand? Besides that abuse nonsense was all a bunch of lies my attorney invented. Without me even knowing, he bribed a couple of the old servants to testify they’d witnessed that stuff: thought it might keep me from getting the death penalty.”
“Huh,” Stewart remarked, “Lucky it didn’t work.”
“What? What do you mean, lucky? Lucky for you, maybe.”
“Lucky for you, too. I mean, if you wasn’t supposed to get executed, there wouldn’t be no way to get you out. Only way a convicted serial killer ever leaves here is in a box.”
“Oh, yes, I see what you mean,” the prisoner replied, “I guess it was fortunate after all.”
* * *