The First Glimmerings of Dawn
Chris Boyd looked out the second floor window of his prison cell and saw the first glimmerings of dawn striking the barbed corrugated metal chain linked fence. New Haven could be beautiful, he thought to himself, but there was nothing beautiful about a man with so much life left in him, that he couldn’t explore the country as he cowered in a metal enclosure. He was to remain in a cell without free access, for the lack of a better word, a cage.
The trees, which loomed over the prison walls like giant broccoli, were honestly beautiful, but in his eyes they hold an unsettling mystery about them. They stood tall watching life draining slowly from the young men at The Connecticut State Correctional Center.
Perfect trees in perfect rows, all the same, but it didn’t look natural. Boyd remembered his last day of freedom. It was a cold day in January. He stepped out into the bracing frigid air of the early morning and gripped his winter jacket tightly around his shoulders. His breath came in steaming spurts, intermingled with the early morning frost. Boyd sensed rather than saw eyes peering at him from around the corner. He stood perfectly still to see if they would expose their position, but they did not.
Then suddenly someone shot by swinging a baseball bat at him and nearly clocked him in the back of the head. Then he heard more sounds of footfalls. Glancing over his shoulders, he saw two more young boys wielding baseball bats coming toward him. The first bat caught him in the shoulder and spun him around. The last thing Boyd remembered was twisting awkwardly in the air and wondering how much it would hurt when the cold numbness wore off. The second bat swept his leg out from under him and he fell hard to the ground. One of the boys stood over him with bat in hand almost looking apologetic, but Boyd wasn’t so lucky. The bat caught him on the bridge of the nose knocking him out cold. Freezing rain pelted the sidewalk and quickly covered him with a January frost.
When he came to, he felt his bruised head cradled on someone’s lap. He searched the ground around him with his left hand for something he could use as a weapon. Luck had finally turned his way he thought; one of the boys must have dropped a Phillip screw-driver. With all the strength he could muster, he swung the screw driver in an upward motion catching the person cradling his head in the neck. He felt the screw-driver ripping into skin and hitting a major artery.
The person cradling him sat as still as a silent tree trunk. The wind had died down, and the freezing rain had lessened to a misty drizzle at best. Boyd was drenched and tired, but he was determined to live. Everything around him turned quiet and peaceful. He watched the frost dissipate with the first rays of the morning sun.
The peaceful freezing morning was suddenly broken up by the sounds of emergency vehicles and sirens splitting the air. He blinked in amazement, as if he never expected to hear another human voice again. The words he understood permeated the first glimmerings of dawn like a dense fog.
“You have the right to remain silent…”
He had the right to remain silent kept replaying in his head over and over until he stopped it with a savage scream.
When he looked up again at the female cradling his head, he noticed that it was a nun from the church directly across the street. She had warmed him with her over coat and called the police for help with his cell phone, and as she waited she tried to keep him from freezing. Boyd took a deep breath to calm down…
Boyd ambled slowly around his prison cell thinking about that grimly cold morning. He looked at the tiny barred window and wondered how much of this he could take. He heard people walking on the floor above him in the stillness of his cell. Those hollow footsteps were the last things he heard when the noose around his neck finally tightened enough to drain his life.
“We got a hanger!” shouted a guard. “How the hell did he get a rope?”
The guard that sold Boyd the rope could imagine the many explanations the warden would have for an inmate to hang himself. The small, dark haired man strode toward Boyd’s body, looking as if he wanted to chew everyone’s head off.
“That damn ass,” the warden whispered. “They retrieved footage from a surveillance camera from one of the stores and proof of everything he said was factual, and the killing of that nun was accidental. He was going to be a free man…”
The guard that had sold Boyd the rope grimaced…
© 2013 Frank Atanacio
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