Warning Includes violent scene:
Free at last...free at last that's what I kept hearing in my head as I walked through the doors of freedom, the ones located at Ossining Prison in upstate New York. I laughed to myself as I remembered how many times, I said those words when leaving a prison, a few prisons. Seems like half my life was spent behind bars which is not a new story for a criminal like me. I could never shake that devil guy for long, he seemed to just show up and get on my shoulder and we would do it all over again. I had never seen him clearly, but I knew he was there, just a shadow on my shoulder, and he was always whispering in my ear loud and clear "Only a sucker walks away from easy money only a sucker".
I know now that that was an actual voice and part of the devil's harassment. I can tell you that the worst thing I had ever done in the past was armed robbery, but I had never injured a soul even as that voice I heard kept yelling in my damn ear, telling me to kill. I ignored it but it was becoming unbearable, so I was hoping as always that I would never ever commit another crime. I feared the worse was coming, even as I knew in my heart that I was nothing more than a simple low level criminal but even so, like I said, It was just getting hard to ignore…the devils harassment.
As usual there was no one to meet me when I got out. It was the same old story. Everyone had given up and no one was left to care. But all the same, I always went through my routine. I would stand there outside a prison looking up and down the street for a few minutes even though I already knew the outcome. I guess I was thinking and hoping that maybe just maybe this was the day somebody would be there. The thought made me laugh to myself and found myself saying out loud again " Here we go again". Little did I know that this was going to be my shortest time on the street and my last.
It all really didn't matter because right now in my pocket was the two dollars I had when I went in and another hundred and fifty, I had picked up at the prison desk on my way out. Apparently, it was from some unknown person who had dropped it off for me , that’s right for me, just before I was released. Maybe somebody out there cared after all or maybe it was some sucker out there waiting for a thank you or a handshake. I didn't care, I got it and it was time for a drink but first I had to get a taxi. I walked down to the taxi stand down a block from the prison. It was there that I started believing that it must be my lucky day because I only had to wait about 15 minutes and a couple of not slowing down taxis passing me by. They knew that the only people that would be standing there were ex-cons just released because visitors went out on the other side of the prison. To me, a cab driver would have had to be mighty hungry or foolish to take my fare but like I said maybe it was my lucky day because one stopped.
I got in and I joyfully told the driver to take me to the nearest best bar he knew ...well the best cheapest bar he knew, I wanted to hold on to most of that money, after all it was like a rare commodity for my pockets.
The cab driver yelled out boisterously "The Den of The Isles". It turned out to be a little bar on a corner about twenty minutes from the prison in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere, in the middle of a bright sunny afternoon. It was almost empty, just a sailor, a loving pair in a corner who I immediately thought were probably both married to someone else , a couple of guys at a table, the bartender and me. I sat next to a sailor in a nice white uniform. Uniforms always made me think of what I could have been and what I should have done. The sailor looked at me once then turned back and then just sat there staring into the mirror behind the bartender.
I could tell he had already had a few drinks by the look in his eyes. Looking back now, I wish that I had left as soon as he had turned back to me and said something. Especially when that nasty chill hit me, but at first I didn't grasp what the sailor had actually said, at least not until he repeated it without me even asking. "You cons have a certain smell to you and it isn’t good, cowards, rats and thieves. All your souls will soon be in his hands, and you will have only yourself to blame"
I sat there for what had to be at least about 10 seconds staring at him and like I said before, I should have used that time to leave because no more than a another few seconds passed when his spit landed between my eyes and at that very second I heard a voice and it wasn't coming from that little guy that I used to think and imagine used to sit on my shoulder, I checked there first. It wasn't from the spitting fellow who was going to be wearing that nice white uniform for the last time. It was from the guy on my left who I never saw sit down and the voice was familiar, I knew it, it had to be the guy from my shoulder, he was back and this time he was as big as life.
He said “How did you like that spit" I remember looking at him and saying to myself that he looked very much like the image everybody has of the devil himself. Now his facial features were clear, much clearer than they were when I thought I was imaging him on my shoulders. This was no imagination.
When he spoke again, I swear I heard him tell me " Kill that uniform wearing poor excuse for a sailor". I was just staring at him when said that and I guess it was the last nudge to my fragile will needed along with him asking me, if I thought that the hundred and fifty, I picked up on the way out of my previous place of residence, was for nothing.
Then just like that and before I knew it, I turned back towards the sailor and swung the bottle in my hand striking and slicing the sailor’s neck. The blood splatter shot straight into my eyes. It came out like a laser beam or a squeezed bottle that was labeled BLOOD instead of ketchup, that had no choice but to come out with force. It only took a second for me to wipe the blood from my eyes but by then the sailor was already on the floor holding his neck and for some strange reason, I found myself thinking about what was going on in the background as I heard the screams of the people running around in all directions to get out, get somewhere anywhere. I had a thought that they sounded like a bunch of frightened children, but they were grown-ups, grown-ups that would never have lasted a day in any of prisons I’ve been in.
Then I asked myself, “What the hell had I done”. I turned back to look over my shoulder and saw that that devil guy was still sitting there, but now he was laughing and holding his glass up as if he was toasting what I had just done. I looked back on the ground and to my worst nightmare it wasn't a nightmare. That sailor was still laying there, and I found myself frozen, standing there almost at attention, the same way that sailor would have done on a base, during a morning muster.
I also found myself wishing that the sound of those police sirens was just really music coming from that old jukebox in the corner, but it wasn't. They were the sounds of impending imprisonment and believe me as you have probably already guessed, it wasn't music to my ears. I knew right then and there that the face I saw on that man that was sitting next to me and now holding up that glass, was really that of the devil’s.
As the police rushed in, I took a hard look around the bar and saw that he was gone. He had come after me so many damn times. Over and over, again and again, until now he finally got me for good. I could never and now would never overcome the devil's harassment, which is the reason I know that you would know, I wouldn't mean it, when and if you heard me say …. “Thank you, God. Thanks an awful lot.”