"I am here under lock and key and the world looks down on me, so why do I not feel the chains."
Jamie Wright was serving a ten year jail sentence. This was year number six. He looked around his cell. Just the bare necessities. He lay down on his bunk with fingers entwined behind his head.
Seven years ago my life had been so different. There were parties and girls any time of the week. Always noise. Always busy wheeling and dealing. Always on the move. Lilly would get so annoyed with me when I was late and didn't even get to kiss the kids goodnight but there was always something to do or someone to meet. Would I have done anything different at that time. I think not. I wanted to be part of the jet set and own the mansion with the sports cars on the drive.
The guard tapped on the door. "Lights out in five!"
Jamie closed his eyes and waited for the dark to wash over him. His thoughts led him back to a dreadful time.
Jamie had entered his office at about ten one morning and there were two men in uniform waiting for him. Somehow he knew he was in trouble.
"Mr. Wright, I am arresting you on suspicion of fraud and bribery. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions........" Jamie didn't hear much after that. "Please will you put your hands behind your back...…"
Jamie's mind was all over the place. He remembered asking his personal assistant to call his lawyer urgently, then he was marched off the the waiting police car.
The next year had been a living nightmare. The public prosecutor elaborating about business deals that were not always above board. Witnesses taking to the stand and giving testimony about bribery that took place. Jamie had the notion that the public and business world thought him the rouge of the century but the nightmare was far from over.
The morning Lilly stepped up to be questioned by the public prosecutor, Jamie's felt the life he had known drift away. She told of her loneliness as a wife. The absence of the father of her children. Keeping the home and family together rested entirely on her shoulders. "This is not the man I married fifteen years ago!" Jamie felt a stab in the chest.
While the jury was deliberating, James and his lawyer sat in a small office down the hallway. There was silence between the two. They both knew that the evidence was stacked against Jamie and that a prison sentence was inevitable.
The court clerk asked the jury foreman to stand, “Have you reached a verdict upon which you are all agreed Mr Foreman?"
The answer was 'Yes we have Your Honour!'
“What is your verdict?”
"We the jury, find the defendant, James Wright, guilty!"
The sentence was passed and Jamie drifted through the first year in prison. He remembered his lawyer bringing him documents to sign. Lilly was divorcing him. His life as he knew it was over.
Six years later Jamie found himself in a daily routine. He had to adhere to rules and regulation but what Jamie found was a quietening of the soul as he spent much of his time in the solitude of his cell and as he found himself again he found solace in the prison library. He found that documenting his days in prison in his journal was a healing mechanism for him. This was something new to him and each evening he could not wait to put his thoughts and feelings on paper.
Jamie was a model prisoner, didn't get into trouble, did his daily chores and found peace and quiet among the books. His parole hearing would be held next week which gave him both hope and dread.
How would he cope on the outside. I will wait for the verdict before I start to worry about things on the outside. Jamie had learned that to cope and have peace within him he had to take one day at a time.
The 'Juicy Burger Joint' sign flashed above Jamie's head as he locked up for the night.
Fortunately he found Fred in a good mood the morning he saw a sign in the window of the 'Juicy Burger Joint' wanting a burger flipper.
"Can you flip a burger, boy?" he had asked and Jamie had been totally honest with him.
"No Sir, I have been in prison, but if you show me once you can be sure I will be the right person for you and your business!"
That was two years ago and here was Jamie being in charge of the 'Joint'. He checked the lock again and turned off the gas bottles in the ally and then took a slow walk to the room he was renting.
Water still dripping from his hair after his shower, he sat in front of his second hand typewriter he had bought. A pile of his typed papers in a box on the kitchen table. Reading the last few paragraphs on the last page he then set to work. The words came freely and Jamie found himself in another world. He tapped away right through the night and soon the sun was up and he had to get ready to open the 'Joint', ready for another shift.
Each night Jamie worked diligently until his project was finished. Is this good enough? Will all this work have been in vain if they toss it out? Jamie had so many doubts but at the same time a sense of accomplishment washed over him.
Jamie took off his coat as he walked into the 'Joint', then sat down in one of the booths.
"Can I get you anything?" the new waiter asked him.
Fred came up to the waiter and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Mister, just take a look through that window there for a second," he said pointing at the billboard on the opposite building.
There was a giant size poster of Jamie advertising his debut book.
"I read your book! I am so pleased to meet you - a best selling author!" the waiter babbled on. "Fred why didn't you warn me he was coming in?"
The waiter went off to get Jamie's order and Fred slid into the booth. "You could be good for my business." he joked with Jamie.
"I have much to thank you for Fred. When I most needed someone to believe in me again, you were the one that gave me that break. I will never forget that. You and that second hand type writer is what did it for me."
"It was your being honest with me, that is why I gave you that job and look at you now. A famous author and I didn't even know you were pounding away at that typewriter each night."
"I had to search my soul, get my priorities right and putting it down on paper was the only way. Here's your copy. Enjoy."
Fred looked down at the dustcover.
'WHAT IS FREEDOM TO YOU?' by 'JAMIE WRIGHT'