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Oct 27, 2004 | Behind Bars

He waited. It had been 18 long and interminable years he had spent within the enclave he had come to call home. The room in the Penitentiary was gray, humid and squalid , the walls undecorated except for the lone poster that hung on the wall. There was no lightbulb. The endless hours he had he spent reading, mostly the trashy novels that could be found within the very walls that housed several hundred other inmates like him. He had nearly pulled off an escape 5 years ago, like the men who managed to get out of Alcatraz in the yellowed books he read. Except he had fallen off the ledge on the wrong foot, and he could only hobble so far before they came with their blinding searchlights. Had he not tried, he would have been a free man 3 years ago, but he tried not to think of that, because it annoyed him.

Tomorrow, all this would be left behind, and he would be able to say hello to his daughter, who grew up not knowing what her father was like, save for the few photographs he sent in reply to the letters that trickled few and far between. Sandy. If only her mother knew how much it would mean to him to be able to start life anew, to be able to put the past behind and look forward to a new beginning.

He tossed and turned. The coarse blanket did little to keep him warm, but it was better than to have it taken away like what had happened to Bailey, who had attempted suicide. He would be able to see Bailey too, because he had gotten out a few years back and now apparently had an honest job at some shoe factory. To be able to see him face to face, shake his hand, and slap each other on the back as the buddies they became in the lonely hours of the night, that was something he would definitely set about doing as soon as he got some new crisp and ironed shirts and a nice blue pair of jeans, the ones with the two buttons on the back pocket.

His eyes could not close, and it wasn’t because of the dimmed yet bright light that streamed through the bars and into his room. It wasn’t because of the distant blaring of the radio, punctuated from time to time with loud barrages of ‘Keep it down’ and ‘Go to sleep you deaf fool’. It was the thought that in a few hours he would be able to soar, tasting the meaning of liberty like a tiger out its cage. Eventually, his body could take it no longer and he fell into a deep snore.

Never before had he cherished the morning sun as he did on that day. When 10 o’clock came, he peered anxiously towards the warden’s desk, but it was empty. At 11 o’clock, barely able to contain his joy that he was a free man within the confines of a jail, he danced a jig and playfully tugged at the bars, singing a free man’s song. At 12, no longer sane, he kicked at the steel and durable bars, his shoes making a distinct drumming rhythm. Only when the bars clattered to the floor and a piercing siren shattered the hall did he realise what he had done. For years earlier, as he now remembered it, he had planned another escape through these very bars, but had ditched it when his daughter had written to him to plead not to.

But the warden wouldn’t believe that, would he.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2004 at 7:43 pm, EST under the category of Writings. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.