January 17th, 2009

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Seven Days Ago

"Seven Days Ago"
By: Joseph A. Nagy, Jr.
Copyright under the CCD Copyright (http://ccd.apotheon.org), 06 June 2008

Seven days ago, I was accused of murdering old Mrs. Nelson, the widow who lived on the corner of our street. Now, nobody will talk to me. No one believes I'm innocent. No one, not even my family, believes that I had nothing to do with the tragedy that befell Mrs. Nelson. Now I'm on my own. I need to find out who did this and I need to find out quickly. The arraignment hearing is in two months and unless I can offer up a plausible alternative, I could very well spend the rest of my life in prison for a crime I didn't commit.

I had gone down to Mrs. Nelson's place, as was my custom, to sit with her and just chat. Sometimes we'd talk about her late husband, Edward, but mostly we'd talk about nothing in particular. Sometimes we wouldn't talk at all and instead we'd play Fish or Bridge if it happened that her Bridge group showed up on that particular day.

"Hi there, Mrs. Nelson," I greeted her as she opened the door and let me in, "a beautiful day out, isn't it?"

She just smiled and nodded, "Yes, it is," even if it was raining out or just a completely gloomy day she always had the same answer for me. "What brings you by today," she'd ask, "you know that you've paid me back for that window you broke back when you were sixteen a long time ago." It was our usual ritual banter.

"Well you know, I just thought you might need some help around the house and I was in the area, so I figured I'd stop by and see how you are doing," was always my reply.

"Well, OK, seeing as how you're already here why don't you step inside my parlor and I'll fix us some tea," and so would begin our day. We'd have a proper tea time, talking about the weather, local news, gossip about the neighbors or what not. When I was in high school she'd help me with what she could of my homework, and her insights into problems I was having were always welcome. After that first summer of working off a broken window during a game of stick ball, I kind of adopted her as my grandmother, never knowing either set of my own grandparents.

She seemed to cheerily accept that role, although I suspect she was much happier just having someone to talk with, someone who listened as much as they talked. I learned a lot about Mrs. Nelson, and even more about life, in those days we spent together. I actually never made it to Mrs. Nelson's on the day in question, but there was no one to back up my alibi. No one at all. No one believed that I was just driving around, trying to clear my head after a particularly nasty argument with my girlfriend.

Of course I couldn't turn to her, either, as she seems to have gone missing as well, although no one thinks anything of her disappearance. Granted, she's been prone to just pack up and leave for a few days to clear her head. Her family owned a cabin in a beautiful forest about 20 miles from town. It being outside city limits, of course, I was disallowed from going there to see if could find her.

Perhaps if I slept for a few hours, I could approach this with a fresh prospective, figure out something that could help prove my innocence, but what was there? I was the last one to see her a week before the murder, and I had planned on going up to see her on the day of the murder, but I never arrived. I wound up just driving around for several hours before returning home, where the police were waiting for me.
Now, no one will talk to me. They all seem to think I killed her, for whatever reason the police claim. I don't even remember why they think I did it. I liked Mrs. Nelson. She really was like a grandmother to me. I couldn't even hire a private detective to help me out in this matter. No one will take my money. No one will talk to me.

So I went back home, I went upstairs and I went to sleep. When I woke up, I was once again surprised. The police were again downstairs, waiting for me, "What's going on," I asked, "the arraignment isn't for another couple of weeks," I looked around. My parents as stoic as they had been throughout this whole ordeal. They didn't say anything. Finally one of the officers spoke up.

"Jeannette is dead," he deadpanned, looking straight at me, "they found her body last night up in her parents cabin."

Both officers approached me, "I'm sorry son, you're under arrest for the murder of Jeannette-Summers Lee," one of them took out their cuffs and I just stood there. I was done for now. First they accused me of Mrs. Nelson's murder, now that of my girlfriend. What is going on here? Why am I being punished like this. "I didn't do it," was the only thing I could say before they read my Miranda rights. Afterward I just asked for a lawyer to be appointed to me, seeing as how I was going to need one, and I didn't say one more word until my lawyer showed up.

"Listen James," I exclaimed, "I didn't do either one. I wasn't anywhere near them when they say I was." I sighed and sat down heavily in the chair provided. "I've told you everything about where I've been and what I was doing at the time of the murder, please tell me you can get me off," I was pleading with him.

He bit his lower lip and looked thoughtfully at me for a moment, "To be honest, I don't think God himself could get you off on either charge," he paused for a moment before continuing, "but I'll see what I can find to help us." He didn't sound too confident, though.

"Listen Robert," James spoke, suddenly nervous, "you know the facts of this case as well as I do. The prosecution has an airtight case. I will do my best to defend you, but at this point, it's an open and shut case for the prosecution."

I sighed, not even my lawyer believed I was innocent. Why couldn't I convince anyone that the prosecution's case wasn't as airtight as everyone wanted to believe? Now I couldn't even investigate the case myself.

I didn't have a chance in the world, it seemed. I was destined for the gas chamber. Another Jew gassed in the name of security. I doubt they'd want to take that route, though. Too many historical references to be made from that. "State uses gas chamber on convicted murder who was a Jew, news at 11," is how the report would probably go. Modern day Spentown hadn't changed much since it was founded nearly 200 years ago, at least it doesn't seem that way. It's like it was always a big town and never went through any of the transitional sizes. Now big city Spentown was about to try and execute another supposed criminal.

I was scheduled to see a psychiatrist in a few hours, due to the gruesome nature of the crime, the judge had ordered I undergo a full psychological work up. This just keeps on getting worse and worse, I'm not sure how much more abuse from these people I'll be able to take. I mean, everyone has their breaking point. The point at which they just can't take anymore and they snap. I just wondered when I'd reach mine. Well, the work up shouldn't be that bad. I know I haven't done anything and my lawyer will be present, although I won't be able to interact with him, fat lot of good it would do me right now. At least my civil liberties should remain intact. Should, being the operative word here.
I woke up to find myself in a straight jacket in a padded room. Apparently there had been some incident during the workup. I'm not sure how long I was out for, I don't even remember going to the work up, but that's what the orderly said when they realized I was awake enough to ask some questions, like why I was tied up like some crazy man. He just said he didn't know, other then the talk that something had went wrong doing my evaluation. I couldn't even remember going to the evaluation, much less what happened during it. What could have happened, I wonder, to get me trussed up like this.

Sometime later, it's hard to tell time in a padded room with no clock or way to tell the time, someone came to see me, said they were my new lawyer seeing as how I had killed my old. That was surprising news to me, I hadn't seen my lawyer for several hours before the scheduled time for the evaluation, not that I remembered the evaluation itself, mind you. She just shrugged and said her duty to me was perfunctory in nature. Not being a big shot lawyer such as herself, I asked what that big word meant. She handed me a dictionary and told me to look it up. I frowned when I read it meant 'characterized by routine or superficiality', and 'lacking in interest or enthusiasm'. "Oh," was all I was able to say in response. "So why do I even need a lawyer," I asked, "if you aren't going to do anything for me?"

"Well, I am going to try and keep you from death row," she offered, as if it were supposed to be some comfort to me, "but there won't be anything I can do about you never being eligible for parole and spending the rest of your natural life in prison."

I just sighed. There was nothing for me to do, I imagine, except to wait and accept the punishment that awaits me, even as I sit here innocent of any wrong doing. "You believe me, don't you," I asked her. When she looked up at me, slightly startled that I had asked, so I clarified my question, "You believe that I haven't murdered anyone, right?"

She frowned and went back to her work as the guard moved closer to me, as if to let me know that he'll put me down real quick if I try anything.

"I know you heard my question," I started rocking back in forth in my chair. The guard edged even closer, starting to get a nervous look on his face. Even though I was in a straight jacket they still feared me. They feared me, as if I had ever hurt anyone a day in my life.

"Please, you've got to believe me, I haven't done what they say I've done," I started sobbing. No one believed me. All those murders out there are going to be pinned on me, an innocent, and there isn't anything I can do about it. Why must the fates conspire against me like this? Why must I be the sacrificial lamb on the alter of justice? Why couldn't I make them believe me?

Soon it wouldn't matter, though. I'd be in prison and there would be no appeals, there would be no one to hear me out and believe that I was innocent. I was their lamb and they were determined to go through with the ritual. So like any good animal, I allowed myself to be led to the slaughter. I guess it didn't help that my newest lawyer and a guard had wound up dead. Not that I have any memory of the incident, but they claim it was me. Just like they claim everything else is my fault.
[tags]writing, fiction[/tags]

Originally published at Ameliorations 1.0.

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