Ball & Chain

Ball & Chain

By Tony Ortiz | March 1st, 2015

        They sat across from each other, on either side of the ballistic glass.  Rotary style phone receivers in hand.  He listened intently, as he usually does during these weekly visits, and she did most of the talking.  “Time’s up Inmate”, said C.O. McNeil, “Wrap it up”.  Sarah looked over her shoulder at him with a sarcastic acknowledging grin.

Charming guy, Charles said.

They pressed their hands up to the glass, as they traditionally did at the end of these sittings. 

We’ll be together soon enough, said Charles in an attempt to re-assure her that their next appeal attempt would pan out, and they said their goodbyes.

        C.O. McNeil re-shackled Sarah to lead her back to her cell.  After inside, with the steel door shut, she stuck her hands out of the opening that she receives her meals through and had those cold metal bracelets released.  Aside from Charles’ tri-monthly visits, a daily shower and an hour a day allowed for walking around in the prison yard…alone…this 6 by 8 foot cell was her world.  Accompanied only by one book per week that she could order from the prison library, and by the reoccurring nightmares she’d have about her sentencing.[1]  You’d think she’d be bat shit crazy by now.  Shouting, being irrational, acting out, like the other lifers in this Block, but she wasn’t.  She was actually a model inmate.  There was an eerie calm about her.  Like she was in on a joke that went over everyone else’s head.  It’s only been eight months since her sentencing, but that’s about seven and a half months more than other inmates take to lose their shit.

        On his way home, Charles ran a few errands as he routinely did after visiting his incarcerated wife.  Although the trips back home were shorter now after the move, it still seemed like a lot to leave behind; a house (which he inherited after the brain aneurysm induced seizure claimed his fathers life three years prior) the staff Accountant position at Wilton Capital and the neighborhood he grew up in.  He wasn’t passionate about his work, but his job was actually enjoyable at times.  Still, it was a bit much to give up for the sake of more frequent visitations.  But he was in there with her.  He was loyal to a fault (if there is such a thing).  Selfless.  Obedient, one might even say.  Plus, Sarah rarely ever didn’t get her way.  She wanted him to re-open her bakery, but closer to her.  All he needed to find was a storefront and she would teach him all her recipes during his visits.  Life revolved around her before, why should it not now?  Charles’ world was now scheduled to exist outside and around every other Wednesday and the final Friday of each month.  All days in-between were just fillers.  His days now consisted of submitting appeal requests to re-open Sarah’s case, consoling his estranged wife and carrying out her wishes to make her happy.

        Before this new reality, they led normal enough cookie-cutter lives.  Charles was an Accountant and Sarah ran a small, but thriving, bakery in town.  She was known for her complimentary raspberry-drop sugar cookies that she would indiscriminately give away to anyone who asked.  Even non-paying customers.  Many-a-day, frustrated parents came in to yank their freeloading eight year olds out of the bakery.  The kids would sneak away to get their sugar fix when the Elementary school across the street would let out for the day.

Ms. Sarah! Ms. Sarah! Can I have a cookie? They would ask excitedly. 

OK but just one more.  I wouldn’t want you to ruin your supper, she responded while giving them a playful wink.

        She was loved.  Even the aggravated parents would take one of these delicious bite sized sugar cookies to go when they came to get their kids.  Most of the parents, school staff and faculty were regular customers.  All birthday cakes and bunches of cupcakes to reward a class for good behavior, were purchased at Ms. Sarah’s Bakery.  Business was good and she was happy doing what she did.  She was much happier than when she worked at the hospital.  Charles on the other hand, didn’t hate his 9-5 but he didn’t love it either.  After work he would clock in a couple more hours per week taking care of the financials for Sarah’s Bakery – pro bono of course … but this, he did love.  Gave him a sense of purpose.  He was really good at it too.  Meticulous like no other.  Sarah was an amazingly artsy baker but the business wouldn’t have been ‘in the green’ without Charles’ oversight.

            In about two months’ time, with the savings they scraped together, the rental income from Charles’ fathers home and a part-time gig as an adjunct Accounting Professor over at the local Community College, PACC, he leased out a storefront!  Her determination and his tenacity were making the dream of Sarah’s Bakery II come to fruition.  It was about a quarter of the size of the original but meant the world to her.  Her happiness was his main priority so he shared in her elation.  On that Wednesday she gave him detailed instructions on how to set up the place. - What equipment to order, paint, decoration and just general organization.  It turned out to be a cozy little bakery.  A mini replica of its predecessor.  In just under three weeks, he brought pictures in to press up against the bullet proof glass.  She loved it!  She was very pleased.  Charles learned a couple of her muffin recipes (corn & blueberry) and a handful of recipes for assorted cookies that same day.

            After the grand opening, business wasn’t what you would call ‘booming’ but it was doing rather nicely in their new less densely populated location.  Charles estimated that they should be turning a profit inside of 6 months.  He had this strange quark about never tasting anything he baked but his baking wasn’t half bad.  Who would’ve thought? 

When are you going to teach me the sugar cookie recipe?  He asked.  I think they’ll be a hit again.   

In time, Hun.  And I know they’ll be, she responded.  I just don’t want that to be the primary reason customers are coming in, this time.  We need to win them over first … and we will.


        They were both right.  Midway through month four, Sarah’s Bakery II was in the green.  Barely covering all of its costs, but building up a loyal client base and turning a small profit nonetheless. 

It’s time to debut our Raspberry drop sugar cookies babe.  And I’m so proud of you by the way.  You’re doing a great job!  She told Charles. 

We’re doing a great job babe, he corrected her.  You know this doesn’t exist without you.  So tell me how to you make those delicious bites of bliss.

You can’t be upset with me, she told him.

Upset?  Why would I be upset? Charles asked.

Because I never told you about my secret stash, she said, but I couldn’t afford to let my recipes get out.  I never told a soul.

Okay, he said shortly and with a surprised look on his face, where is it?

        Sarah went on to explain that she locked away certain recipes, along with some rare ingredients (some spices & sugars that were imported from overseas) in a storage garage a few miles from their old home.  Charles was definitely surprised and upset.  This type of deception made him livid.  But given the circumstances, he let it go.

         Following her direction he was able to retrieve the key to this secret location from an unused old mailbox behind the shed of their old home.  He went to the 24-hour access storage place a few miles away and located her lot, #109.  It looked like those little garages you see on reality shows like Storage Wars.  He opened it up and went inside.

          It was pretty well organized.  You can tell she frequented fairly often.  There were a few shelves with color coded, unlabeled bottles and jars on them.  Some were filled with a sugary-like consistency, and others looked to have a flour-like texture.  There was a desk and a small filing cabinet where she apparently safeguarded her recipes.  He was taken-a-back by some of the medical supplies she had there.  Stethoscopes, scrubs, syringes, and boxes of latex gloves – he wrote it off as supplies she took from her hospital gig before she began to bake full time.  But how long has she been hiding this place then?  It’s been a long day filled with information he was still processing, so he decided to call it a night and get some rest.  He went home and to sleep.  Tomorrow would be another day.

            Charles was upset about Sarah’s secret place, but knew he could never stay mad at her.  Still, on his next visit (the final Friday of the month visit) he let her know he wasn’t going to make it to the next one.  She knew his passive-aggressiveness all too well, and without skipping a beat she told him what he needed to hear, in order to go through the motions of his little revolt a bit faster; she pouted and batted her ocean blue eyes at him and in an innocent little girl voice asked:

Why baby?

Because the Fall Semester starts in two weeks and orientation is a bit earlier than usual.  With most of my time dedicated to your Bakery –

Our Bakery, she interrupted in that same manipulative voice.

He continued; I haven’t been able to put a lesson plan together yet.

Sarah gave him a sad face through the double-pane glass, and Charles cut his eyes away in dissent.

I’m so proud of you baby, she told him.  You’re juggling so much.  I’d be lost without you.  I know you have other responsibilities and can’t just focus on keeping me happy.  I’ll miss you terribly, but I understand (Damn, she knew how to run that game so well).

I’ll definitely be here for the next Wednesday visit afterwards though, he assured her.

I knew you wouldn’t break my heart for too long baby, she responded; just remember that you’re mine.  These kids are lucky to borrow you.

I know Hun, he responded, and you’re all mine.

That’s right! She said smiling back.  I hate them for taking you away from me, but I do want you to make a good impression on your first day.  Let’s make them a batch of the Sugar Cookies.

Think I’m ready to make those? He asked.

I know you are.  My baby can do anything he sets his mind to (a little ego stroking never hurt anyone, right?)

Okay, I’ve always made two different types.  They taste similar enough but one uses more of the high-end imported ingredients and is only for special occasions.  The other is just as good but less costly to make.  Let’s make your new students, the special batch.

        She went on to meticulously explain the two different recipes.  Having him repeat it to her several times to make sure he knew the right combination of color coated jars. 

Okay I got it, he said frustrated.

I’m sowwy, she said.  You know how important these cookies are to me.

Yea I know, he responded.

Lastly, my filing cabinet has some paperwork I need you to mail in to the D.A. for me.  I told my public defendant about it, but you know how they all but ignore appeal requests for cases they feel they can’t win.

OK, sure, what’s in it?

Just some information I started to put together before my trial that I never had a chance to give the attorney.  But maybe it can help with the Appeal request.  There are two thick manila envelopes already sealed and ready to go.  One is a copy, and says copy on it, just so I could keep track of what was already submitted, so you just have to mail in the one.  

Times up inmate, chimed in C.O. McNeil. 

I’m on it Hun, I’ll make you proud.  Promise.  Charles responded.  And they said their goodbyes.

        C.O. McNeil put the cuffs on and led Sarah back to her cell as always.  She stopped in front of her cell and turned to face him before walking in, making sure her straight blond hair brushed his face as she spun around.

I see the way you look at me McNeil, she told him as she stared raptly into his eyes.

What are you talking about Inmate?  Go into your cell, he responded.

        He did check her out though.  All the guards did.  Visitors did too.  She was easily the most attractive woman in the Prison.  The type of woman that would own a room, just from walking into it.

Yes sir, she told him … I’ll do anything you say, she said salaciously as she moved half a step into his personal space.

        He cracked half a smile.  She reached down with both hands, still in handcuffs, and gently grabbed onto the, now obvious, bulge in his officer-blue pants.

Oooh, she said with a seductive rasp in her voice as she fondled him for a bit, you know … you could do whatever you wanted to me if it weren’t for all these cameras around.

        She licked and bit her bottom lip, then she let go and took a step backwards into her cell.  C.O. McNeil didn’t say a word as he slid the red steel door shut.  She poked her hands out through the doors’ opening and he removed the restraints … caressing her hands before letting go and closing the opening.

         On his way home, Charles passed by the storage unit to pick up what Sarah told him he needed for the cookies, and also grabbed the manila envelope to mail in.  The day before orientation he followed her instructions precisely and went on to make a large batch of Raspberry drop sugar cookies.  They were a hit at orientation.  Most of the students in the lecture-hall took one on the way in and another on the way out.  He thinks they may have even distracted some of them from taking part in the usual rumors – but he still overheard a few of the Students on their way out after class;

Did you know his wife is in jail?!  I heard she killed kids or something.

Yea I know, but I heard she was insanely jealous and she caught him cheating with a student and she killed her!

Hmm, I think I’ll flirt my way to an A then (they all giggled and laughed).

You’re both wrong, I looked up some old newspapers last semester in the library, from around the time it happened.  She was fired from being a Nurse at a local hospital where they used to live.  They said it was negligence or something.  Then months after, they investigated and found that 3 or 4 of the patients that died under her watch were actually poisoned.

Wholly shit, are you serious?

Yup, you can look it up too.

Wow, what a sick bitch.

        This was actually less commotion about his wife, than he was used to overhearing.  So all-in-all it was a good day.  He grabbed his messenger bag and noticed he never mailed Sarah’s evidence for the appeal.  On his way off campus, he passed by the main office and tossed it in with the outgoing mail batch.             

         In the days that followed a few flirty looks and winks were shared between the inmate and C.O., but aside from that it was business as usual at the Muncy D.O.C.  Charles missed the next Wednesday visit, as expected, but was (predictably) already on the visitors list for the third Wednesday of the month.

          Soon enough it was visiting Wednesday again and Charles approached the double-Pane glass eagerly waiting for Sarah to walk through the double doors that separated the visiting area from the housing units.  The room was filled with inmates, visitors and measured levels of mixed emotions.  She walked in and locked eyes with him instantly as she approached him with an ear to ear smile.  He lit up like HIDs with the phone already up to his ear.  She sat down and picked up the phone on her side:

                        Hey stranger, she said playfully.

   Hey you.  I’ve missed you, he responded.

   How’d your orientation go? She asked.

It went great!  And your cookies were a hit.  I did hear murmurs of the usual rumors though, he told her.

            It’s ok, she responded.

           After their visit, C.O. McNeil led Sarah back to her cell as he normally did.  This time, when they got to the front of her cell he grabbed her waist on either side and pressed himself up behind her.  She welcomed it with a flirty moan.  He took in a deep breath of her essence and then whispered into her ear right before he began to nibble on her neck:

I disabled that camera up there.  Put in a work order for it, which won’t be looked at until the Sunday after next … and C.O. Jenkins is on a 15-minute break.  What was it that you were saying about me doing anything I wanted with you?

        Sarah turned around to face him, with a mischievous smile on her face.  She used both hands (which were still cuffed) to grab McNeil by the belt and pull him into the cell with her.  They maximized that 15 minute window of privacy and quenched the pent-up sexual frustration they’d been flirting with for weeks.  By Saturday night there were at least half a dozen of these visits, mixed in with plotting and scheming.

Are you sure that the evidence you had him submit is enough? He asked her as he zipped up his pants and she wiped her mouth. 

I’m Positive.  There’s so much self-incriminating information in there that he should be arrested before next week is out, and I’ll be released pending his prosecution.

That could take weeks.  Months even, he responded.  What if I can’t wait that long?

Be patient baby, she told him, we’ll be together in increments longer than 15-minutes soon enough, she reassured.

I have a better idea.  We’ll stage an attack, of you on me, he explained.  My carelessness coupled with your cunningness would make for a good escape.

What about your job?  You can’t be on the run with me, she said. 

That wont be an issue.  The most that will happen is a fine and/or suspension.  Then by the time they arrest him, they’ll be so eager to sweep your escape under the rug, that they’ll acquit you of all charges and streamline his sentencing.

I love a man that can take charge the way you do, she agreed.

            They settled on Friday during her yard time.  He came back later that evening before his shift was over and they hammered out an outline.  By Thursday night they had every angle measured and every wrinkle of doubt ironed out.

            Friday morning routinely came and went.  When the Sun fell midway down the Sky, McNeil went over to Sarah’s cell to escort her outside.  As he loosely placed the bracelets around her wrists (without securing them in place) he tells her:

Remember what I told you.  Don’t crawl back into the car until after I go back in to ring the alarm.  It’s very important that I follow protocol.  Stay low to the ground then wedge yourself between the back seat and the trick trunk I told you about.  Just pull down that yellow strap to open it up.  They will search my vehicle so don’t make a sound or move around until I let you out.  This could take hours.

Sir, yes sir, she said playfully.

        They walked out to the yard as they normally did.  McNeil unlocked the gate that led to the employee parking lot to “get a pack of smokes” from his red ’02 Mustang.  On cue Sarah loosened her cuffs, wrapped it around her fist like brass knuckles and clocked C.O. McNeil twice (drawing blood from the back of his head which would later require 8 stitches) while his back was turned, and she ran towards and into the three-miles plus of forest opposite the parking lot, which surround the Muncy D.O.C.

        McNeil eventually sat up and stumbled through the mess hall with blood trickling down his ear and neck, into the C.O. control room to sound the alarm.  “Inmate escape, inmate escape”, he repeated out of breath in an Oscar-worthy performance.  The other C.O.s fell in line and followed the proper protocol to begin the search.

        There would be failed escape attempts at Muncy on a Quarterly basis.  Some stressed out inmate would try and climb the fence or get boosted over a wall.  But it would always end the same way.  The dogs would sniff them out of the bush and they’d spend a month in the hole.  Not this time though.  By the time Warden Glenn came down to give the search order and speak with McNeil about what happened, Sarah had safely crawled into the back of the Mustang, entering from the far side away from the camera and wedged herself into the concealed compartment which was scent proof (McNeil purchased the car at the PAPD Repo Auction.  The previous owner was an “importer/exporter”).  After an exhaustive search that yielded no results, including the thorough search of all the employee vehicles in the lot, Warden Glenn interrogated C.O. McNeil one last time, while the Prison Nurse finished stitching him up:

The media is going to have a field day with this!  How could you be so fucking careless?

            I was attacked Boss.  I didn’t even see it coming.

By a woman half your damn size, that you failed to properly inspect and secure.

I did inspect and secure the inmate.  I have no idea what she hit me with.  A rock maybe?

A rock wouldn’t cause a wound this narrow and deep, Nurse Kelly chimed in.

Regardless, this happened on your watch.  You can’t be trusted to do your Job properly right now, and we need to show a swift and precise response to this situation for when the media gets a hold of this.

I understand Boss, McNeil responded remorsefully.

You’re suspended for a month without pay effective immediately.  Upon your reinstatement you’ll go into two weeks of the inmate protocol refresher training, also without pay.  Understood?

Yes sir, and again I’m sorry.

        By the time he finished that sentence, Warden Glenn had already walked out of the room.

        After gathering a few of his things from his locker, he went out to his car.  Opened up the trunk and placed the box in it, got in, started it and went off as he normally did.  After clearing the guard at the Muncy entrance, he pulled over so that he could go back and speak to Sarah:


     I was beginning to think you forgot about me, Sarah             responded jokily.

Do you need anything?  I’m sure they’ll be a checkpoint further ahead, and we can’t risk a camera spotting you, so I can’t let you out until we get to my apartment.

No, I’m fine.

        He kissed her on the lips and closed the compartment back up.  There was a checkpoint about a quarter mile after the forestry surrounding the prison.  McNeil approached, slowed and lowered his window:


                        How’s it going Torres?                       

    McNeil…tough one today huh?                       

     Yea, you wont be seeing me around for a while.                    

     They finally get rid of you?  Torres said jokingly.

   Ha, not that easily man.  A month and a half, no pay, McNeil responded.

                       Ouch! Torres said.  Keep your head up buddy, shit happens.

                       Thanks man, good night.

        They made it to the apartment unnoticed and laid low for a few days.  Between their 50 Shades of Grey-ish sexcapades, they would watch television waiting on breaking news of the escape to materialize…but it never did.  The Muncy D.O.C. was under code-red lock down.  That meant no one in or out.  They had a skeleton staff that was housed on premises for a few days, and kept every inmate caged 24/7.

        They’d search for news online, and nothing.  Sarah also accessed Charles’ emails (he used the same password for everything) and read through some of the flirty emails he had going back and forth with a student (Amy Lessig) who was in search of some one-on-one tutoring.  She recognized the address Charles gave Amy from the return address on the Holiday cards he had sent her in the past.  Sarah, now a shorthaired brunette, took the Mustang and drove over to Charles’ apartment after stopping by the storage facility (she had another key stashed close by it).  It was right before dawn on the fourth day after her escape, and the day where her grand plan, years in the making, would finally come to fruition.

            Charles woke up and made his way into the kitchen to drink a glass of water from the tap.  His eyes look worried as he stares out of the window above the sink.  Like they haven’t gotten enough sleep and know they’re not going to.  Sarah has already made her way into the apartment at this point.  She slides up behind him and he feels the precise piercing pinch of a syringe on the right side of his neck, Dexter Style.  About 30 minutes later he comes to as his vision deglazes enough for him to evaluate his surroundings.  His arms and legs are tie-wrapped to one of his dining room chairs and his mouth is clichély duck-taped.  Next to him, Amy is similarly secured, but still not conscious.  Sarah is facing them, while sitting on top of the island in the kitchen.

So who’s this?  The student-of-the-month? Sarah said sarcastically.  You selfish son of a bitch.  Is this what you’ve been doing while I’ve been suffering alone?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  You told me you changed.  You told me Beth was the last one.[2]  What?  You want to explain?  Sarah hopped down off the counter, walked over to Charles and yanked the duct tape off his mouth in one fluid motion that almost took his lips.  He yelled.

    What the fuck did you do to her?  Amy!  Amy wake up!

    Oh I’m sorry.  Amy can’t come to the phone right now, Sarah says.

    What did you do Sarah?  Amy!

She can’t hear you, asshole.  What I injected you with was a nap.  What she got…well, lets just say it’s a bit more permanent than that.  That slutty cunt won’t ever hear you again.

I can’t fucking believe you.  You’re a monster.  The cops are going to find you.  I know everything.  I won’t keep my mouth shut, you crazy bitch.  What are you even fucking doing here?  How are you here right now?!  Said Charles.

News flash cheating Charlie, I’m out of prison, permanently.  Besides, they didn’t find out why a perfectly healthy Beth, suddenly had health problems, did they? 

        She smirked maniacally as Charles gasped silently in disbelief.  She walks around behind him, and slides her hands down the front of his chest.  She leans in and whispers into his ear:

    And your fathers’ aneurism … that was me too.  She duct      taped his mouth again as he squirmed and screamed and cried about what he had just heard.

I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen here.  Within the next few hours or so, you’ll wake up surrounded by cops that have a warrant for your arrest, based on an anonymous call from yours truly.  They’ll read you your rights and book you.  It will soon enough come to light via the manila envelope that you mailed in “for me”, that you are responsible for each of the deaths that I was convicted for.  You did meet me at the hospital for lunches within three days of each of the deaths of my patients…remember that?  You used me to finagle connections at the hospital behind my back to get the ricin and syringes that you use.  It was a shame about poor Beth too.  She was tired of being the other woman, and was going to expose you and your affair…there’s the motive for her unexplained death.  Should I continue?  Did you happen to notice your class size go down for a bit after cookie day?  That’s because you began experimenting on students by dosing them with non-fatal portions of ricin.  Oh wait, but there’s nothing here in the apartment linking you to any of this, right?  Oh yea…you also gave them the location of the storage facility you’ve been going to fairly often, which has syringes like these, and dozens of containers with different levels ricin doses.  And the best part? – Your fingerprints, and only your fingerprints, are all over the place.  And little Amy here, her death will be the cherry on top for them to build their case.  As for me, it won’t matter that I’ve slipped out of jail a bit sooner than expected.  It’ll all be swept under the Wardens’ rug.    

Over at Muncy, Warden Glenn was on the phone with the district Judge. 

I’m calling in that favor Terrence. 

Again? The Judge responded.  How much leverage do you think you have with me exactly?

Enough to call this in.  And trust me, the alternative would be worse for all of us. 

All I need is a signed arrest warrant and your word on a swift, no jury sentencing, said the Warden.

Even if I was willing to cut through the red tape and expedite this, you know I can’t give you an arrest warrant without PC.

I’m looking at all the PC you’ll ever need, in the form of a full confession letter along with corroborating evidence which my guy is already checking out, responded Glenn.

Ok, so why not go through the proper channels? The Judge asked.

It’s better you not know, responded the Warden. 

I’m not sure what you think I owe you for introducing me to your buddy with the underground casino and massage joints, but it’s definitely not enough to get you a blank check in the form of an arrest warrant.  So tell me, what’s the urgency about?   

Judge, there was an escape a few days ago.

           A successful one?  The Judge asked surprised.

Yes, Warden Glenn continued, remember the Nurse that killed a handful of patients last year?  Her.  But if this confession from the husband and evidence checks out, he’s taking the wrap for all of it, and more. 

And you buy this bullshit? The Judge asked.  Seems a bit convenient.

Belief isn’t a requisite of my job Judge, if it checks out, it checks out.  She’ll be released, he’ll be sentenced, and nobody will be the wiser.

Ok Glenn, you have a verbal arrest warrant granted.  If this blows up in your face, I won’t back up or document this though, said the Judge.

Don’t worry Judge, we’ll clean this up on our end.  Soon you can go back to your table games and happy endings, stress free.  Oh and, Terrance…


Give my best to Marie and the twins. [Hangs up the phone].

Back at the apartment, Sarah grabbed a fist full of Charles’ hair and yanked it back.  They lock eyes. 

You did this to us.  Don’t you forget that, she told him as she leaned in and kissed him on the lips, over the duct tape.

        She squoze out a few drops from the syringe as she flicked it, and then shot it into his neck.  Sleep tight baby, she whispered.  She tied Amy’s wrists to headboard in the bedroom, to make it look like an intense sex scene gone awry.  She made sure his fingerprints were on the ricin needle, and then she vanished.  He came to, as his apartment was being raided for his arrest.  He tried to explain but they saw it as resisting and clubbed the back of his knees.  Dropping him to the ground and they cuffed him.


8 Months Later


        Charles laid on a cot in a cell not dissimilar to the one Sarah was once in, reading The Count of Monte Cristo.  A prison Guard approaches. 

DeFranco, you have a visitor, said the Guard.  But Charles didn’t respond. 

DeFranco! He said as pulled out his club and banged it against the cell bars.

I heard you the first time Jimenez.  I’m trying to read here, he responded.

It’s not a request, you smug asshole, said Jimenez.  In ten minutes you’ll be escorted to the visitors room.

        Charles thought it was another reporter or attorney trying to make a name for himself with a high profile appeal case, albeit an un-winnable one but in the public eye nonetheless.  Boy was he wrong.

As he walked into the visitors’ room on his side of the ballistic glass, the C.O. on duty tells him;

                        Your visitor is hot as fuck, by the way.

                        Oh yea? Charles responds uninterested.

                        Yea, you miserable prick, the C.O. responded.

        Charles signed into the room and walked over to window #9, where a red headed woman with big sunglasses on sat on the opposite side.  He knew who it was in the depths of his soul before his brain finished processing.  As he sits down and picks up the phone, she removed her glasses.  Her piercing blue eyes unapologetically staring back at him. 

                        You heartless bitch!  I could kill.  Charles opened up strong.

Oh Charlie, so much aggression.  Haven’t you done enough killing already?  What would you father think if he saw you this way?  Sarah responded.

           You’re a sick and evil person.  How do you have the gall to              show your face?

            I just didn’t want you to worry about me darling.  I wanted                 to let you know that I sold the house and am moving to                     Florida. 

            What?!? My fathers’ house?  You didn’t.  You couldn’t,                       Charles responded in disbelief.

             My house actually.  Remember how ‘transferring the deed                into my name’ would benefit my appeal?  Well it did, she                  said mockingly.  I’m leaving tomorrow, just wanted to say                goodbye, Charlie.  Make sure you sit and think about what                you’ve done to me and if any of them were worth it, said                  Sarah.

        She hung the phone up, stood up, blew him a kiss, put on her glasses, and walked out of his life forever.  Charles was livid.  Yelling and screaming, slamming and breaking the phone against the glass. 

             You fucking bitch!  Come back here!  Come back here!

         The Guard runs over after calling it in on his walkie-talkie.  Charles nails him with a right hook to the jaw, which catches the Guard by surprise, but only stuns him.  The Guard pulls out his club and jams it into Charles’ stomach and then elbows him in the nose.  Two other guards rush in and help to wrestle Charles to the ground.  He’s still irate.

It was her!  She was here!  It wasn’t me goddamit, listen to me!  He yelled out as he cried from passionate rage and physical pain.   

        The Nurse was called and comes in with a syringe that they used to sedate him.  He wakes up in a slightly bigger room, restrained to an unfamiliar bed.  The time that has lapsed between is a mystery to him.  Has it been hours?  Weeks? Months?  He can’t recall a thing between then and now.  But he picks up where he left off;

It was her…She was here…it wasn’t me…let me out.  Let me out of here!

A Nurse turns to the Doctor in charge of this Psych-ward for instruction.

Continue to sedate him as long as these hallucinations continue.

                    Yes Doctor, she responded. 

As she approached Charles to sedate him, all that was said before things went dark again was

Don’t you stick me with that.  I need to go to Florida.  Let me out.  It was her, it was really her.  She needs to be stopped.  

        Hours later on Interstate 64, a redheaded woman could be seen alone at the wheel of a Red 2002 Mustang flowing through the traffic carefree, heading towards Florida.  With all that she needed in the trunk, and some of what she no longer had use for in a scent-proof compartment.




[1] Will the defendant please rise, said Judge Muhler.  Mrs. DeFranco you stand here before us seemingly remorseful.  But your endless stream of manipulative tears couldn’t drown the sorrow that these family members feel.  They have lost a loved one by your hand.  The fact of the matter is that four people lost their lives while another remains in a vegetative state.  We have reason to believe beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you poisoned your patients with the ricin that led to their eventual deaths.  You plead ignorance but I see deliberate malpractice.  You plead inexperience but I see malicious intent.  I hereby sentence you to Life in prison without the possibility of parole. – She’d relive this moment almost every night, expecting a more lenient outcome each time, and would wake up in a cold sweat when she didn’t get it. 

[2] Beth was a co-worker of Charles back at Wilton Capital.  After snooping through his credit card statements and emails, Sarah pieced together and pretty much caught him red handed.  He was having an affair with her.  After a brief separation, Sarah wound up forgiving and consoling Charles when she found out that Beth died suddenly of Liver and Lung failures.

Tony OrtizComment