Harsh Consequences

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Chapter 20

Mitch squirted some tomato sauce over his scrambled eggs, followed by a healthy sprinkle of pepper.

As he sliced off a corner of eggs on toast he said to Fitzy, ‘so, tomorrow’s the big day. You must be excited…Are you all prepared?’ He fed his mouth with a sizeable portion.

‘As well as I can be…’ Fitzy said as he sliced through his own scrambled eggs on toast. He forked some into his mouth. He leaned onto his forearms as he chewed. ‘I’m actually glad you brought that up. There’s something I need to ask you…’ he said through a full mouth of food.

‘Sure. What’s up…?’

‘I’ve been told that before they will consider my parole tomorrow, I have to be able to demonstrate that I have a place to live. Apparently they won’t parole you if you have to live rough on the streets.’

‘That’s fair enough. What can I do?’

Fitzy took a sip of his coffee. He replaced his cup. His face had tightened through contemplation. ‘I’m after a really big favour. What do you think the chances would be of me staying at your place until I can find somewhere more permanent?’

Mitch held Fitzy’s hopeful gaze. ‘My place…? You mean...stay with Alison in our home in Torquay?’

Fitzy nodded. ‘Yeah. Look, I know it is a big ask, but until I get out I can’t find anywhere to live and they won’t let me out until I do…’

‘You’ve got a catch-22 thing happening there, don’t you?’

‘Exactly,’ Fitzy said. ‘Alison won’t have to do anything for me, like cook or washing etc…I look after myself. I really only need an address to give them. It’s just that they will confirm it with her as well...’

Mitch had no idea how Alison would react if he asked her. He personally had no problem with the request. He trusted Fitzy with his life. Alison, on the other hand did not know Fitzy. He suspected she would probably struggle to get passed the fact Fitzy is an ex-con.

‘Look…I can ask her, mate. I don’t have an issue with it…But I’m not so sure about Al though.’

‘I understand. Ex-prisoner she doesn’t know asking to stay with her for a while.’

Mitch shrugged. ‘Exactly. Look, I’ll call her straight after brekky and see what she says. It’ll be completely up to her.’

’Thanks Mitch. I appreciate it.


Mitch was on his third, twelve minute call to Alison before he asked her about Fitzy. During the first two calls the time expired before he could work up the guts to ask the question. With no one waiting, he called straight back each time.

During his calls he fidgeted. He continually rubbed a hand over his mouth and chin. He shuffled the distribution of weight on his feet, often not hearing what Alison said while he rehearsed asking the question over and over in his mind. It was a question that asked a lot of Alison.

A queue had formed behind him for the telephones, so this would be his last call, at least for a while. Mitch waited until a moment of extended silence before he asked. The time had come.

He took a breath, held it, then slowly released it. Here goes... ‘You’ve heard me talk about Fitzy, my mate in here…?’

‘Yeah. The Special Forces guy…Is he alright? Nothing has happened to him, has it?’

‘No. No. He’s good. He has a parole hearing tomorrow, actually.’

‘Good for him…So, if he gets parole…you’ll be on your own in there…?’ Alison said as a question.

‘I will. You’re right…He’s asked me for a favour…Well…it’s more like he’s asking you for a favour.’

’Me…? Ok… what can I do?’

‘Before he can qualify for parole he has to be able to provide an address where he will live when he is released…’

Silence.

Mitch continued. ‘He wants to know if he can stay at our house until he finds somewhere more permanent…’ Mitch cringed when the word left his mouth.

A period of extended silence followed before Alison spoke. ‘Are you asking me if your prison friend can come and live with me…?’

‘I am…’

Extended silence.

‘I don’ even know him Mitch.’ Alison’s tone was firm. ‘I wouldn’t feel comfortable having an ex-prisoner in my house with you not here.’

‘I understand, Al. Really I do. But Fitzy’s case is a lot like mine. He was defending himself from three guys who attacked him and one of them fell back and hit his head on the ground. He later died. So Fitzy got sentenced for manslaughter…like me…for defending himself. He’s not the typical criminal type you see in prison. He is a genuine bloke. I trust him with my life.’

The time on the telephone LCD counter display was running out. He had to talk quickly.

‘I haven’t told you this before because I didn’t want you to worry….but Fitzy has saved my arse in here more than once from someone trying to attack me. And he was actually the one who found me on the toilet floor when I was assaulted and put in hospital. He called the Guards to arrange for medical assistance.’

Silence.

Mitch continued with his hard sell. ‘If I had any doubts over his character, I would never ask. I would never put you in a position of risk…with a stranger. But I trust him with my life Al…I truly do.’

‘And if I say no…will he still get parole…?’

‘I don’t believe so. He doesn’t have anyone else to contact, Al...’

Silence.

Mitch checked the time. ’Al, I’ve got about two minutes left before it cuts out. ‘Do you want to take some time to think about it…? I can call back later today, but it will be a quick call because I’m almost out of my fifty bucks phone allowance...’

Alison sighed heavily. ‘This is difficult Mitch.’

‘No it isn’t.’ Mitch’s shoulders slumped slightly. ‘You just gave me your answer. And that’s OK. I’ll tell Fitzy that it is not an option. He’ll understand. I don’t want you to do it if you are uncomfortable about it.’

‘I am uncomfortable about it. But I also know that you would not ask me to do this if he couldn’t be trusted.’ A lengthy pause followed. ‘Tell him it’s OK. Tell him he can stay with me until he finds somewhere to live.’

‘Are you sure…?’

‘You said he is your friend…right?’

‘He is...’

‘Then I’m sure.’

‘The call is going to cut out Hun. I love you and thank you so much. I’ll call you later to—’

The phone cut out. Mitch rolled his eyes as he hung up the phone.


Mitch located Fitzy watching a game of pool in the recreation area. He approached and moved in beside him.

‘How’d ya go…?’ Fitzy said.

‘It went about as well as I expected...’

Fitzy nodded. ‘Fair enough. I understand, mate. Thanks for trying any way.’ He flicked a finger at the pool table. ‘Do you want a game after these blokes…?’

‘Ah, OK. Yeah, sure,’ Mitch said. ‘Getting back to the phone call with Alison though…She wasn’t happy about the idea when I asked her…but she said if I consider you a friend of mine, then she said you can stay until you find somewhere to live.’

Fitzy’s eyebrows arched. His face illuminated into a beaming smile. ‘Really? That’s fantastic.’ He held his hand out to Mitch. They shook hands. ‘I really appreciate it, Mitch. I know it was a big ask.’

‘It’s all good, mate. I’ll feel a little happier knowing there will be someone there to look after Al while these three African blokes are on the loose.’

The men playing pool finished their game. Fitzy stepped forward and accepted the cues. Mitch and Fitzy emptied all the balls back onto the table and Fitzy racked them up.

‘You know what you should do…’ Fitzy began. ‘Put me on your call list so we can keep in touch.’

‘Can I do that? Can I have an ex-con on my list?’

Fitzy shrugged. ‘I’m not sure, to be honest.’ Fitzy lifted his chin towards two Guards ambling through the rec area. ‘I’ll ask them.’ Fitzy moved towards the Guards. ‘Excuse me Boss…’ He held up a hand to the Guards.

The Guards turned to Fitzy and watched him approach. ‘Sorry to bother you Boss, but I am due for parole tomorrow and I—’

‘Good for you…’ One of the Guards said.

‘Thanks. But, I was wondering if my mate there…’ Fitzy jabbed a thumb towards Mitch at the pool table. ‘Can put me on his telephone call list when I leave. Can I go on his list if I have served time…?’

The older Guard nodded. ‘You can. But your friend there will have to apply in writing to the GM for approval.’

‘That’s all?’

The Guard shrugged. ‘That’s all...’

‘Ok. Thanks I’ll let him know.’

The Guard nodded once and they continued on their way.

The crack of scattered pool balls echoed through the rec room when Mitch split open the balls on the break. He stood back and watched Fitzy return from chatting with the guards.

Fitzy grabbed his cue and sized up his shot. ‘Any down off the break…?’ Fitzy said.

‘Nuh…’

‘OK. They said it can be done…but you have to apply in writing to the GM for approval…’ Fitzy said, then took his shot.

‘Too easy. I’ll write it up tonight after lock down.’


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