Time.. precious time; I have less of that. 48 hours. Why does it seem that these last 48 hours are going slower than the last 48 months I have spent here? Nothing has changed in this hour. Nothing.. not the hazy light coming through the small barred window, or the guards who watch over us, looking into our little cells as they take their rounds in the corridor; nothing. Only time has slowed down. I look at the dust particles scattering through the rays of sunlight. They feel at home in this dark hell, just as I do now.
I get up from my bunk and walk to the wall. Memories.. unwanted, unforgettable memories; they stare back at me from sheets and newspaper clippings I’ve stuck with scotch tape to the wall, my diary on the floor, blood drops that are now dry, and my reflection in the cracked mirror. I look at my hands, scarred from the time I broke it in frustration, in hatred of that man I found myself to be. Maybe that’s one thing that has changed. I’m no longer frustrated. I no longer look at the future, for I’m a hanged man, awaiting the final string of my life to be cut.
I stand at the bars of my cell, listening to the silence; in the silence, heavy footsteps echo, and I see the guard across the corridor. He’s always there, at that cell, talking with the Brawler. No. Taking orders from him. If only I still had that kind of power. Life in this dark hell might have gone by smoother. There goes that goddamned siren again as it announces noon. Lunch to be slopped on to a teensy circle of ceramic, had in fifteen minutes and forgotten in fifteen seconds; nope, nothing has changed. I see the Brawler come out, stretch himself, and yawn. I mutter something about not feeling hungry as the guard comes to unlock my cell door. Here he comes, the big brute of a man. Billy – The Brawler, a banker’s nephew. He’s been here since I have. I heard he got tired of the easy life, and shot his uncle and five others, made away with much moolah, but the cops chased him down. I’m sick of the sight of him. I pray he goes away soon, stops bothering me.
“Sweetheart, not hungry?” he sniggers, stopping at my cell, as I turn my back to him. I’m not your sweetheart, you sick bastard. Don’t call me that. “You can sit on my lap. I’ll ask the guards to give you that chance. You won’t get it afterwards. Come on, I heard it’s not the usual slop. Special lunch today in your honor,” he says, laughing. Go away. I don’t want lunch. I am not hungry. I am not gay like you. I shake my head vehemently to underline my thoughts to him. He shakes his head too. I feel his hands on my ass, as he pinches it hard. Involuntarily, I shudder. Go away, please go away. Thankfully, that guard Riley calls him, and he leaves. I see the wall, and a headline boldly returns to my heart again.
“Motel Murder: Tracy convicted, sentenced to death row”, it says. “Bruce Tracy, 32, main accused in the Marty Motel double murder was sentenced to death row today. Tracy, under the influence of cocaine, is believed to have tortured and killed a woman who is yet to be identified, only known as Jane Doe, 29, as per the fake ID she was using. The owner of the hotel is the second victim. The extreme brutality involved has shocked the city, and the verdict of capital punishment comes as no surprise. Liam Tafferty, attorney to Mr. Tracy has however indicated that they would appeal against the judgment. With strong evidence and also the presence of Mr. Tracy at the murder scene confirmed, the prosecution is confident that there will not be any upturning of the verdict.”
Four years on that wall.. the letters have somewhat faded. I had had no hesitation to appeal. How could I have done that? No. Not to her. She was Jane Doe to the world, but to me, she was my Nita. My darling Nita.. a prostitute, whom I had fallen in love with; she was going to be Mrs. Tracy when she was cruelly taken from me. She was going to give it all up. She had promised that that one time with Marty would be her last time. But I couldn’t prove it. Marty was dead. The appeals went from court to court, but after yesterday, the last ray of hope has also vanished. The highest court has upheld the verdict, and set the execution date.
A visitor.. I know who it will be. I have no family, no friends outside. As I enter the visitors’ area, I know it can only be him; the only one who believed I was innocent. Or maybe that was his job as the state appointed defendant. Liam looks at me, and I can see he is truly sad. I give him a wan smile. At least he tried.
“Sorry Bruce. I tried. God knows I tried my hardest. At each step, he came in the way. Rincon.. I couldn’t overthrow his political hold,” he says into his receiver. I know it. I can’t fault Liam for it. Keeping me alive in this place would have been Rincon’s idea too. It was few more years of torture for me, and few more years of entertainment for him.
“Goodbye, Liam. Thanks for everything,” I reply and walk out.
I had read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in high school. In many ways, I was like Caesar, and Rincon like Brutus. He and I were best friends in the final year of college. He knew my addiction for power, power that I felt when I injected myself with cocaine. He had started it, tempting me to try it when I was mourning the loss of my father. I had never felt so exhilarated. Whatever little I earned playing good boy to the world, I would spend playing evil boy, hanging out with Rincon and his crowd. After college, I took my passion for music and turned it large, began a music company that brought in more dough than I had imagined, and that fueled my addiction further. It was on my thirtieth birthday that my life began to change. Rincon called up, and within twenty minutes, was at my doorstep with two hot looking chicks.
I had chosen the younger one, but she wasn’t very young, maybe a year or two younger than me. She wriggled, and fumbled through her performance, and losing patience, I had tossed her on the bed and stripped her myself. After I was done enjoying her body, I’d noticed tears in her eyes. Maybe it was her first, I thought, but she told me I wasn’t. That it was her husband who had used her body for many years, and treated her as good as a whore. It was he who pimped her out often, and getting bored of her, sold her to another just a month back. As she walked out, I had felt different. I wanted to know more about her, and I was hell bent to. I paid her pimp to send her to me often, twice a week, and sometimes thrice a week. She was an Indian, and she liked it when I took it slow and passionate with her. She had got pregnant twice, but her husband had got her to abort it each time. I got to know her favorite food, her favorite music, and her innermost secrets. With each day, I was falling in love with her, and I knew she was too. She was my Nita.
Looking back, I think the addiction to cocaine was my downfall. It was an unsterilized syringe that condemned me to HIV. When I told her, she cried, and I was ready to call it off, but she refused to. She was going to walk out on her pimp after the next day, and we would solemnize the marriage too. Everything was going fine till I refused Rincon the money to pay off some of his gambling debt. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Within the day, I got a call from him, and I heard Nita scream through the phone. My heart fell through the floor, and shaking, I dashed out and drove like a madman to Marty’s. She lay there, in her room, skin sliced everywhere, and eyes wide open in horror. Her fingers were stuffed in her mouth. I wept and held her in my hands, gave her a kiss goodbye. I heard the sirens outside, and at that moment, I knew I had been set up.
I was already fatally ill, and Liam had been sure that my HIV status would make it impossible for any death row conviction. Rincon had other ideas. His power bent the judges and I was convicted. The first couple of years in imprisonment as the appeals went about, I was hell bent on exacting revenge on Rincon. I convinced some friends outside to fund attempted murders. Whenever new inmates came, I would get news. He had escaped from accidents, defused a bomb, and fought off a maniac who had attacked him with a dagger. He had taken over my wealth. It was my mistake to have made him a silent partner in my business. His power outside grew further, while on death row, and with each botched attempt at ending his miserable life, my morale dropped. “What has happened is God’s will, my child,” I heard the pastor say to my neighbor once. I had never believed in God, so I continued my attempts. But after a while, I began to accept it.
It is fate that I am here, waiting to welcome Death, for a crime I didn’t do.
It is fate that the only girl who ever loved me was taken away from me.
And it is fate, that I cannot screw the son-of-a-bitch responsible for all of that.
Why is the door opening now? It’s nearly midnight, and I can’t see even the ceiling in this darkness. I hear footsteps, those heavy footsteps, and I know it’s Riley. What does he want? I don’t know. I feel him pull me up by the scruff of my shirt. “Don’t make a sound. You are in for a treat, Tracy,” I hear him say, as I am pushed out the door and towards the ground floor. I slip on the steps, but it’s not a long fall. He pulls me to my feet and guides me toward the showers, and pushes me inside. I hear the latch being put as I am subdued instantly and pushed onto my stomach. It’s all too familiar.
I look up and I see him there – The Brawler. He sits on a chair, looking down at me. He smiles, showing me all his yellowing teeth. He’s stripped, and I can see his dick, erect and large. I’m pulled up, and my jaws forced open as he bends down and thrusts it down my throat. God, make it end soon. I can’t stand much more. He goes behind me, and I feel my trousers and underwear being slid down to my knees. I begin to wriggle. “Relax, Broocy. You’ve been here before, remember?” he says, laughing as he sodomizes me.
How can I forget? Nothing changes within the four walls of this hellhole. With each thrust of his hips, I remember every time it has ever happened, as it happens now. Perhaps this is fate as well. If so, then it is of no use struggling against it. “So, you are enjoying it now, aren’t you, bitch?” he shouts, continuing to thrust in hard.
“Brawler, we’ve broken ground..”
I hear voices, but they are all a blur. Only Billy’s grunts echo inside my head. “Be quiet, you imbecile,” I hear Billy say as he continues to ravage me. In a moment, I am turned over, and his dick shoved again inside my mouth as he climaxes.
“Anything about tonight, anything at all, if it gets out, tomorrow I shall squeeze your balls so dry you’ll die before that syringe injects you for the final time,” he says, and I nod. I’m not stupid. I fall unconscious as he gets up, dresses and leaves. I’m picked up off the floor, and dragged to my cell, and hear the soft thump as I’m dumped on the mattress. I lie, drifting in and out of consciousness. Less than 36 hours to endure.
I cannot sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see myself on that bathroom floor, Billy straddling me as he threatens, as he takes away my dignity each time. I battle my thoughts, tossing and turning on the bunk.
“Take revenge. Use these last 36 hours wisely. Get him back for all the times he did that to you.”
But I cannot. It is fate. I am no one to challenge what is destined to happen. God has taken revenge for me though. Billy would now have HIV. I can take satisfaction from that. I’ll spend my last hours in peace.
“To hell with peace; where have you found peace in this torture chamber? The little you had, the bastard ruined that too.”
That’s right, absolutely right. But I could not avenge Nita’s murder. That was decided. This is too. I’ll not interfere. She waits for me in heaven. I’ll soon be by her side.
“Rincon roams free, you couldn’t avenge Nita. She’ll spit on your face if you don’t avenge what is happening to you, you coward.”
She’d know what happened to her was fate too. Yes, it is all fate. I can’t stop it. I’ll pray. Let the devilish thoughts be taken away in holy thoughts.
“But what have you got to lose? You’re a dead man walking either ways. You’ll either die in a gurney, unconscious and paralyzed after a lethal injection, with whatever peace you might find before then, while the gay guy who made your life all the more miserable would be walking out there free as a bird; or you’ll die outside, from a disease you cannot cure, and fighting a battle you cannot win against the devious sod who put you here in this position, and gave your girl a one-way ticket to Heaven. Why not die after taking revenge on the one you actually can?”
I have nothing against him, nothing. Who will believe me? The minute I try to do something, fate comes in my way. It’ll bring back the pain. Let me forget everything. But he’s molested me more times than I care to count. Why threaten me today?
“We’ve broken ground outside the compound.”
Where have I heard that? I recollect it vaguely. Maybe as I was being humiliated. Yes, I heard that. Billy seems upset to hear it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be heard by me. Yes. That’s it. Maybe I can use this. I’ll be clutching at strings, but I have nothing to lose. Nothing at all; for a guy on death row, and his only chance at escape, he has everything to lose. I sit up with the first light of the day, and can see my smile in the cracked mirror. A last chance… and I think of how to grab it with both hands.
I ask Riley to bring Billy to my cell when he’s brought out for breakfast. He looks at me like I’ve gone mad, but doesn’t question. Billy is the one that has all the cards. I am but a fly to him, harmless in front of the big, brute Brawler.
Revenge is a dish served cold, but I greet Billy with a warm hug as he enters my cell. He’s surprised, but I see his expression turn to shocked pain when I grab his nuts and squeeze, but Riley watching us doesn’t notice.
“Play with me and your tunnel will collapse just as quickly as it was built,” I tell him, and I know I’m right. He grimaces, pushes me off and lands a punch square on my jaw. It hurts, but Riley holds him back.
“Just you wait. I’ll bring your life spinning before your eyes so fast, you’ll wish you were dead,” I hear him say, as he tries to get away from Riley. I can hear Riley ask him to calm down; one of the other guards might come up any time. I get up in his face, and sneer at his bulbous eyes, red with anger.
“I’m on death row, Billy. Just one more day before my earthly hell ends. Lay a hand on me, and you’re in hot water,” I tell him.
He pushes me off again, lands another punch. Riley comes in front of him, stops him. I hear him say that I’m right. That’s a first. The fly has become a lion.
“What is it that you want?” Billy spits out, as I feel my jaw. I smile, and get up.
“Actually, I have no use for you right now. I want him in my power,” I say and point to Riley. “He does what I tell him to do today, and you get out scot-free tonight. If he doesn’t, you’ve dug yourself a grave rather than a tunnel.”
He laughs. “I’ve been put here for shooting anyone in my way. If I had a soul, I’d sell it to the Devil if I had to, to get out tonight. Selling Riley to you is nothing. But how do I know you won’t squeal anyway?”
I tell him I’m not leaving the cell unless it’s with Riley. He can see me from his cell across the corridor. My final wish is to be left alone today. So no one else will come. He looks for loopholes, but can’t see any.
“Riley, you’re his bitch for today. Do what he says, or else it’ll be you tonight in the showers,” he says, and under his enraged gaze, Billy has no option but to agree.
“What do you want?” Riley asks once we’re alone. His tone is even, not dominating like he usually is. I smile, and tell him.
“No way, buddy. You know him. He’ll vanquish me to kingdom come before you reach there. Ask something else,” he pleads, nearly in tears. I don’t budge, and he sinks to the floor, shocked.
“So you’ll do it?” I ask him, and he nods, and just leaves. I smile. So far, I’ve clutched the right strings. It is fate – no, destiny – that my idea is bearing fruit.
He has come. I knew he would. I look at Riley and he nods. I look at my reflection in the cracked mirror. I had only got it back recently; reward for my good behavior. I look tired, but I’m ready. As I enter the visitors’ area, I notice the security cameras are turned off. Expected that; I know he’d want to talk with me face to face, alone. He’s in the far booth, his feet put up on the bench, nonchalantly.
“Come to gloat, you bastard?” I ask, and Rincon laughs. Then he agrees.
“The expression on your face is the same one your bitch had when she saw me; though it did change when I slaughtered her mercilessly.”
That catches me off guard.
“She was doing Marty when I walked in on them. I tied her hands to the bed posts, stripped what clothes she had, and pleasured her one last time, hearing her squeal and moan as I kissed her, sucked her nipples, entered her hard. When I chopped her right fingers, her scream would’ve been heard a thousand miles away. But I took care of it, and stuffed her mouth with her fingers. I sliced her open, slowly, watching the soul go from her eyes,” he tells, putting the stress on just the right words, breaking me. I brace myself. I did not see that coming.
I muster courage, and raise my voice. “You’ll be surprised how many people want to screw you, Rincon. I found some in your own cronies. They’re just waiting for a chance to get back at you, and tonight, they have the chance to do it. You’re here, and I’ve arranged for your ill-earned wealth to go up in smoke. Big Mac has the bomb in the vault. I know you told him the combination.”
“No. You’re yanking my chain, Bruce,” he says, but I can feel the doubt in his voice. Big Mac was my manager when I was successful.
“Mark my words, Rincon… millions of dollars, burnt to the ground,” I shout and laugh like Satan himself.
Rincon gets to his feet, seething, and slams at the divide. Riley shoots him from behind me. I sit, waiting for him to find the revolver I had Riley place below the bench. He does, but Riley shoots him dead once he gets to his feet.
I hear other guards rush in, and they escort me back to my cell. I see Billy awake, and nod to him. After a while, Riley comes. He and another guard take me to a new cell. Precautionary measures, just in case.
I sit in my new cell, and laugh. It echoes through the silence.
I wake to the sound of heavy footsteps. I see Billy being dragged in, but he’s still putting up a fight. Seeing me, he forces himself free and jumps at me, but the door is solid and only a small window. He spits on my face.
“You son-of-a-bitch, this is your fault. I’ll get Riley for this. I’m still the Boss around here,” he screams at me.
I laugh heartily, and wipe my face. “Hey Billy, guess what? They say I’m HIV positive. Ain’t that a kicker?” I ask him. It’s fun to see his jaw hit the ground, all the energy drain from his face, and his spirit break instantly.
Riley watches the other guards drag a subdued Billy into another cell. “You are a hero, you sod. Saving me from a murder attempt, not giving a damn for your own life, etc etc. If he squeals also, no one would believe him. Go talk to Big Mac, he’ll give you the dough you need,” I tell him.
He nods, wishes me luck, and walks away.
I am strapped to a gurney. Two IV’s are there, put into each of my arms, and I’m ready. I have been for a while now. As I drift out of this world with the first drops of pentobarbital, I remember the last entry I made in my diary. The warden would have made the check on my articles last night.
“This is the last time my pen touches the paper of this diary. I know it and accept it. It is fate that has brought me here. It is fate that I got molested again today, under the very noses of the guards who have tried to keep me safe. I bear no grudge toward the Brawler. It’s not his fault. He’s been a good friend, and was kind enough to offer me an escape tunnel by the early hours of tomorrow morning. I know he’s trying to cheer me up, but I am not leaving to my darling’s side with a frown. I’m happy, and I shall be in Heaven when I meet her again, literally. Goodbye.”
Not long now. I’ll be in the arms of my darling Nita again.
(’12, Oct 24)