Finally A “Free” Man
20-years. Two decades of my life were dedicated to spending twenty-three hours a day in a single cell with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company; two decades were what it took to pay my debt to society, my dead best friend’s family, and my dead best friend. I remember the day I got released: February 27th 2029. AKA: Calab’s birthday… Coincidence? I think not.. It was just a reminder of why I spent all my youth behind bars.
I’ve been out for almost two years, and the first three months of my freedom I spent outside on a park bench staring at the pond. It’s strange how something I used to see everyday growing up and didn’t think much about, held an entirely different meaning to me now. When I never felt so alive as I just watched the water fall from the fountain and into the pond; it was as if it was reviving me, giving me a second chance at life. There would be days I would sit and write to Calab- I wrote to him if not every day, every other day while I was in prison.
It’s weird, because whenever I visited the fountain after work-I managed to get a position at my old highschool as the Football Coach which was a remarkable blessing from God himself- that was when I felt closest to Calab. I knew he blamed me at least 30% for what happened to him, that was evident when he came back from the grave and made all our lives a living hell not even a month of me getting out and restarting my life. I can’t be mad though because we deserved it- I deserved it. I was more of a bystander if anything.
I couldn have stopped Brody and Daisy, but I didn’t. I watched as they tied and bound helpless, frail, and scared Calab and then yelled at me to get them something to knock him out with before thrusting him in the coffin. My eyes welled with tears and my heart felt heavy in my chest just thinking about it. It felt like it just happened yesterday, when really it was a year and a half ago.
The conversation that went down when Daisy said Calab was back from the dead, gave me chills every time I thought about it.
Randy:You really believe Daisy? You know, about Calab being back from the dead?
Brody:You know Randy, you’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but you’re as dumb as a doormat. Not to mention very very annoying. Calab is dead. We killed him, remember?
Randy:There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about him. I’ve lived with the guilt for over twenty years and it hasn’t gotten any easier.
Brody:We were young and dumb and were pawns to a very wicked scheme. I miss Calab too, believe me. I knew him a lot longer than you so it hurts more than you will ever know, but he’s at peace now and I’m sure he’s forgiven us.
Randy:I wouldn’t forgive us if I were him. We buried him alive Brody. Left him there to suffocate and die. I could only imagine how scared he was.
Brody just blew me off like I was a piece of dirt, like we hadn’t been friends for over ten years prior to Calab’s death. Like he said though, we were growing apart when we got to high school but we were still friends, if not acquaintances at that point. Sometimes I couldn’t help but think if we would have rekindled our friendship if we hadn’t murdered Calab, after all he was the glue that held us together. The image of that picture he had of the three of us from middle school crept into my mind and I felt a single tear trail down my cheek.
On the nights when I couldn’t sleep when I was in prison, I would revert to that conversation and Calab’s muffled cry for help rang so loud in my ears it felt like they were bleeding. I was so immersed in my emotions I would end up crying myself to sleep. Even after having been out for two years I still had nights where I laid in bed staring up at the ceiling in the pitch black darkness of my quaint, quiet apartment my sister was generous enough to lease under her name for me so I had a place to live when I got out.
A lot of my family were shocked when they found out I was being charged with murder of my best friend, especially my sister and mom. My mom has been best friends with Calab and Brody’s moms since like the third grade. I could only imagine the betrayal Calab’s mom felt when my mom took her guilty son’s side over her best friend’s. Although my mom sided with me though, it didn’t mean she didn’t hide her disappointment in me. Every day for the first six months I was out, she would come to visit me before work, she would hardly say a word to me, then leave a note of things she expects me to do like I was five, before walking out and shutting the door behind her.
I had many nights like that the first year I was there. I would get bullied by other inmates because of it and even get beat up for it a few times to “toughen me up”, when really it petrified me and left me with PTSD. Nobody would ever know though because I suppressed those feelings when triggers would arise and put on this persona like nothing was wrong. Maybe if Brody knew just how triggering his crude comments were maybe he’d make an effort to be a little nicer to me… Or it could be a repeat of prison. The odds of that happening were too high to even risk it.
It had been a couple weeks since I visited the fountain. I’d been so weighed down by my obligations at work, the constant flashbacks of Calab’s death, Brody’s sarcastic, snide remarks every time we passed each other in the halls, I was in desperate need of some reprieve. After grading my last paper for the day, I retrieved my secret journal I brought to prison with me all those years ago- the spine was so worn that it was on the verge of falling off, and the front was covered in years of dust and stains from hiding under my pillow- then headed for the parking lot to my Red Honda Civic. I’d gotten it as a surprise welcome home present from my parents when they picked me up.
I shoved my journal in my work bag and threw it in the passenger seat as I slumped into the driver’s seat and started the car. I was just about to back out when I saw a familiar face in my rearview mirror. I hit my head on the steering wheel and groaned. Seriously, eight hours of verbal abuse wasn’t enough for him? He had to follow me to my car to get one last jab in? As he got closer I tried to conjure up something to get him off my back, but I came up empty. I heard a light tap on my window and saw a tall, bulky Brody leaning on the rim of my window. With no other choice but to face the music, I sighed in defeat and rolled down the window..