CONFABULATOR

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THE OLD MAN AND THE STATUE

silver-statue-male2     By Gabriel I. Pittman

     Gerald’s conscience was torn as he paced up and down the length of the crowded prison block. He didn’t agree with or like what was happening. He had his own legal problems to worry about, so he tried to pay no mind to the prison guard who stopped at the old man’s cell.

“Hurry it up you guys,” the guard said to the inmates inside
the cell. “The captain and lieutenant will be making their rounds soon.”

He looked at the pitiful old man disdainfully and couldn’t care less about what the inmates were doing to him. He couldn’t care less about his crimes or his victims. As a former star linebacker under the old man’s tutelage all he cared about was the shame that was brought upon his alma mater. The guard left and allowed the inmates to exact vengeance.

The tiny cell was full of commotion. Three inmates plundered the old man’s commissary and other belongings. Two prisoners restrained him in a chair and forced him to look at his personal television which was airing coverage of his crimes. A sixth convict beat him mercilessly with a lock-in-a-sock.

“Hold him still,” the young prisoner with the crude weapon told the other two. He swung the loaded sock violently and split the old man’s scalp. “You remember me? I used to be in your program. I always knew you were up to no good.

Several streams of blood matted the old man’s gray hair and leaked down his face. He knew this was the treatment he would be confronted with and he had become so accustomed to it that it didn’t hurt anymore. Every time the newscasts inundated the airwaves with coverage of his crimes the anger and hatred from the prisoners and guards flared up. The current ire was brought on by live coverage of the governor performing an asinine ceremony designed to bring closure to the travesties committed by the old man. He watched intently as the governor presided over the ceremony on a small yacht in the middle of the Suschanchy River.

The governor also couldn’t care less about the old man, his crimes or his victims. His main concern was his own political career. As state attorney general at the time the atrocities were first exposed he slyly stifled the investigation and made it disappear. If anyone outside of the tight-knit group of school administrators and powerful hoard members discovered the truth, not only would his political career be doomed but his personal freedom would meet the same fate as the old man’s. He just needed a little more time for the scandal to blow over and everyone ensnared in it, including the old man if he could survive the first year of his sentence and stay quiet, would be exonerated on legal technicalities. The community’s demand for the removal of the iconic statue of the school’s legendary coach gave the governor the breathing room he needed.

“The image of our great state and ever-faithful college has been tarnished by the misdeeds of one man.” The governor spoke in a low, solemn voice as he wiped away crocodile tears. “But our good deeds are stronger than the evil he has wrought. We are the sons and daughters of Shady Valley and we will see to it that all wrongs are made right. We will see to it that nothing like this ever happens again at this glorious institution. To the victims, we are truly sorry. Let us never forget.”

Having concluded his remarks, the governor gave the once-iconic statue a powerful heave and watched as it tipped over the boat’s bow, splashed into the murky Suschanchy and quickly sank to the depths. The loud roar that erupted from the crowd gathered on both banks of the river sent chills up and down the governor’s spine. To them the ceremony was a symbolic gesture washing away their sin of denial enabling them to now move forward. To the governor it was a necessity. He suppressed a smile.

An air of tension permeated the block as all the prisoners who were gathered together talking knew what was happening in the old man’s cell. It wasn’t the first time he had been attacked and it wouldn’t be the last. Fortunately for him times had changed. Years ago he would have already received the same treatment he gave his victims and then been killed. The prisoners that were now beating him were really cowards and only wanted to make a name for themselves and rob him for his commissary.

Gerald, despite knowing he should mind his own business, decided to stop at the cell and see what was happening.

“You’re laughing? You think it’s funny, old man?” The prisoner punched the old man in the eye. “You tried to do the same thing to me! And now you got the nerve to be laughing?”

“Hit him again,” one of his cohorts uttered excitedly. “Make him feel real pain!”

The old man actually was laughing. Not at being attacked but at the fake emotions the governor exuded. He knew all the things the governor knew and more. He knew he would be free soon. But suddenly he stopped laughing and gasped for a breath as a sharp pain exploded in his chest. The prisoner prepared to strike him again with the lock-in¬-a-sock.

“Y’all chill,” Gerald said, having walked into the cell. He grabbed the young prisoner’s arm. “That’s enough. Can’t you see what’s happening? Look at him. He’s having a heart attack.”

All six prisoners became so afraid that they forgot to take the commissary and nearly knocked Gerald into the toilet as they ran out the cell.

“You came … to,” he struggled to speak as he clutched at his chest, “save … me?”

Gerald didn’t respond. He figured it was the fate he deserved. Then his better angels chided his conscience.

“I’m going to go tell the guards to call medical for you, old man.”

“No,” he answered with bated breath. He motioned for Gerald to come closer. “Since you helped me I’ve got a secret … to tell you.”

“The world already knows enough of your secrets.”

“No, not that. You can …” he coughed a ghastly cough. “You can do a lot with this secret.”

“Get the hell out of here.”

“No, really. You know the rumor about the …” The coughing got worse and the old man fell out of the chair. But he kept talking through the pain. “… about the district attorney who investigated me?”

“The one who went missing?” Gerald’s interest was piqued and he took a step closer. “But that’s all it is. A rumor, right?”

“He’s in the …” the old man gasped for air.

“In what? Tell me.” Gerald knelt down and urged him to speak.

The old man pointed at his television.

“The TV.”

The old man shook his head no, staining the floor with more of his blood.

“The yacht?”

The old man shook his head in the negative once more.

“And there you have it ladies and gentlemen,” the anchorwoman spoke. The controversy over the coach’s once- iconic statue has literally been laid to rest. Only time will tell how long it takes for true healing to begin.”

“Oh shoot!” The light bulb lit up in Gerald’s head. “The statue?!?”

As if the weight of his sins were lifted from his soul, the old man smiled and responded, “The statue.”

A million ways to use this invaluable information instantly raced through Gerald’s thoughts as he watched the old man take his last breath.

“What is this,” the governor held up the envelope and asked his personal assistant. “You know I don’t accept mail from convicts.

“It was sent restricted delivery, sir. You have to sign for it.”

The governor opened envelope that was postmarked two days prior and read:

“Dear Mr. Governor: My name is Gerald Peterson. I am currently serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. I have recently discovered evidence pertinent to my case that the district attorney made disappear in order to send me up the river. I am certain you will agree that this evidence proves my innocence and that I deserve full exoneration and proper compensation for my wrongful conviction …”

The color flushed from the governor’s face as he finished reading Gerald’s proposition. He pounded the desk with a closed fist and shouted, “The fool couldn’t keep his mouth shut!”

“Excuse me, sir,” the assistant asked.

“Get me a certificate for a full pardon.”

“But sir, I thought your policy …”

“Get me the papers now! Call the warden of this prison and tell him to release inmate Gerald Peterson immediately!”

“But sir, you declared a state of emergency for Superstorm Sandy. You can’t release …”

“Now, I said!” The governor’s blood boiled as he held up the crumpled letter. “This is a state of emergency!”

Copyright@ Gabriel I, Pittman – All rights reserved and must obtain via written permission.

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Confabulator. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this any articles,poetry,poems,artworks, books and any other material without express and written permission from Confabulator, editor LC DeVine, unless written approval from the author/artist is strictly prohibited. Excerpts,exact reposes, and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Confabulator, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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