Friday, September 20, 2013

Not Guilty

Chapter 1: A Slip-up

   When I was wrongly convicted of homicide, I was sentenced to life with no chance of parole or early release, and taken to Red Canyon maximum security prison. Now you may think I'm lying and compare me to all the other guys in the prison, but I AM innocent. So you've heard this one before, right? Well you'd be wrong. It started when I uncovered some dirt on the company I was working for. It was by sheer accident too.
I was in the washrooms taking a leak when the deputy director came in through the door. A fat guy with greasy brown hair dressed in a pinstripe gray suit. He was carrying some documents under his arms. As he stepped up to the urinal he gave me a friendly nod. There was something not right though, and he had a look on his face that suggested he was pissed off about something. I suppose we all get that way though. Next thing was he started grimacing in pain and grabbing at his chest. I don't know if it was fear or confusion, but initially I just stood there and watched him. It wasn't till he fell to his knees I realized it was a heart attack. I ran for the door to call for help but just then it swung open, and in walked the boss himself.
He had taken me by surprise and I stumbled backward and slipped on a patch of wet floor and landed next to the poor deputy in the middle of having a heart attack. The boss' face turned from a look of anger to horror as he raced over to lend assistance.
"What are you doing man? He's having a heart attack," he said looking down at me.
I stood up and looked down at him as he writhed a few more times then stopped moving. The whole time the boss was knelt over him trying to do chest compressions. It was then it caught my eye, printed as plain as day on one of his documents, which were by that time scattered on the floor.
"Dear Mr. Gray I am writing to inform you that we have received your money and our man will be paying the guy and his family a visit. If he has indeed jeopardized your company’s arms deal with the New World Revolutionaries then removing of him will be necessary. What's more..."
"What the hell are you looking at, go get help for Christ sake!" The boss yelled. “Call 911 or something!”
He was a tall, well-built man, and not the sort of guy you wanted to mess with. Besides, in my head he now was guilty of supporting terrorism and possibly other acts of crime. This made him even more imposing, and I found myself instantly on the defensive.
"Uh, right sorry Sir. I'll get on to it right away."
Of course by that time it was too late and the guy was as dead as a doornail. His panicked eyes staring motionlessly at the ceiling of the washroom.
"Wait! What were you looking at a moment ago?"
"Me? Nothing just shocked that's all, staring into space."
"Nothing eh. You know he's dead because of you."
"Because of me, he had a heart attack Sir."
"You just stood there and did nothing," he balled, as he hurriedly picked up all the papers.
"Take the rest of the day off, I want you out of my sight."
"Sure, I'm..."
"Just get out!"  
I wasn't going to argue, and what's more I did not know if he clocked me looking at the letter. Surely if it was true I might end up having someone paying me and my family a visit. I wanted to get out as soon as I could so I left and headed back home. As I walked I could not help but think about all that had happened that morning. I mean our company was famous for the production of machinery and computer parts, but weapons? That was the first I'd heard. Right now, I feared for my life. It was like something out of one of those movies and I found myself nervously looking around for signs that I was being followed. I began to think about people I could talk to. I thought about the police, but just like in the movies, what if they had half if not all the force on their payroll. It would certainly not be unlikely given the size of the company I worked for. Talking to the police soon became a bad idea. I thought about other law enforcement agencies like the Feds, but how would I prove a thing? It was my word against theirs, a multimillion dollar company.
It wasn't till I got home and was pacing in worry that I remembered my sister's husband's brother. He was a lawyer in the biggest court in the city. Surely I could trust him, and perhaps he too had contacts that could fix things. I decided that I would go see him that very next morning.

Later that night I was sat on the sofa and my eyes had begun to get heavy and I started to drift off to sleep. Suddenly the phone rang and I stood up with a jolt. Do I answer it? I thought to myself. Well it might be my wife or anything. I really missed her and her business trip in England had lasted a lot longer than originally planned.
"Hello," I said through the handset, as I lifted it to my ear.
"Hello, Patrick. I wanted to talk to you about today."
"Oh, Mr. Gray hello,"
"I'm terribly sorry for shouting at you, it wasn't professional. You must have been shocked at what happened and I wanted to check you were alright."
"You did?"
I knew there was something else. For him to suddenly be so nice and call me at this time of the night all seemed too odd. Perhaps I was just paranoid, but I could not forget the letter I had seen. The question was, was did he know I'd seen it.
"Yes, you looked shocked to me and even on the verge of passing out. When we get like that sometimes we see things, strange things," he continued.
"You mean like, hallucinations?"
"Yes, something like that. I saw it on the discovery channel."
Now I'm a fan of the discovery channel and had seen all their episodes and I knew for a fact that this was not true. Perhaps he had his sources mixed up or perhaps my mind did concoct the letter from movies I've seen in the past.
"To tell you the truth Patrick I think you deserve some rest for a while. I'm sending a therapist to you. He will make sure you're alright to work."
"You are? What time is he coming?"
"Now, he's on his way now."
"But it's 12:40 am."
"He's a friend of mine, really it's no problem."
Alarm bells started ringing in my head. This was not right. No therapist came to your house at 12:40 am.
"Oh right, thank you Mr. Gray,"
I had to get out of the house fast. I'd seen things like this before and it never ended well.
"Yep, well thank you. I have to go now."
"Okay, take care Patrick."
The phone line went to the dial tone. For a few seconds it buzzed away in my ear as I stood there thinking. Eventually I dropped the receiver and ran to pack my rucksack I used for hill walking in the summer.
It had been a full year now since my wife Anna had gone to England we missed this summer’s trip to the hills together. Perhaps I could go and see her, I thought. Perhaps I could flee to England and get away from all this. I needed to get ready first. I needed to make sure I was safe, and then I would give her a call.
Suddenly there were sounds of screaming. Shivers ran up my spine and I froze on the spot. The screams had come from next door in my neighbor’s house. Jane and Adam, they had two kids. A boy and a girl both aged about five years old. Could it be connected to me? I thought. I shuddered, and wished that perhaps they were watching some horror on TV with the volume up too load, but deep in my mind I knew this was not true and something more sinister was happening.
Next there was a knock at my door.
"Hello, hello. Patrick, are you there? It's Michael. I'm the therapist that Mr. Gray sent. Are you still awake?" came a deep voice from down by the door.
I pulled the bedroom curtains aside and looked down. The guy standing at the door was about six foot and fairly slim built. He wore a brown trench coat, black beanie hat and round glasses. There was no sign of anything odd. He seemed to sense my gaze because he turned to look up at the window and smiled. Could I be going mad? Perhaps Mr. Gray was right. No, he wasn't right and I had to get out fast.
I finished stuffing a few more clothes into my rucksack and sprinted down the stairs. As I reached the bottom I noticed the door was wide open. He has somehow picked the lock as there was no sound or sign of him breaking in. I had realized too late however and I heard the cocking of a pistol right at the side of my head.
"So, Mr. Hunt. It seems that you have made some people very very unhappy. So here’s how it’s going to work. You will walk over and quietly sit on the couch. Try anything funny and I'll decorate your walls in red. Catch my meaning?"
"Perfectly, please don't kill me. I don't know what's going on. I did not see anything."
"Who said anything about seeing something?"
"I, I just…"
"You just assumed right. You know what they say about assumption? That it’s the mother of all fuckups and that Mr. Hunt is how I know you’re lying to me. Get over on the couch."
"Oh god, please!"
"Move!" he said harshly.
To tell you the truth, I was scared shitless. Don't let anyone tell you they're not scared to have a gun to their head. Naturally I obeyed and dropped my bag and slowly headed for the couch.
"Now sit down," he ordered with a wave of the handgun.
I sat on the couch and he sat opposite me on the coffee table.
"We know you saw something you were not supposed to. We don't know how much but it's enough. We also know you have no evidence against us, so there really is nothing you can do. We are concerned you blab about it to someone who may believe you and start some kind of investigation. So I'm here to stop that. Do you understand?"
"Does that mean you’re going to kill me?"
"No, killing you might look suspicious. We know how stressful your job is and we know your wife is in England and you miss her terribly. Who knows, maybe she’s really left you and gone off to start seeing another man. That would make you really angry wouldn't it? Also Mr. Gray has told the company psychiatrist he witnessed you acting irrationally. Quite frankly Pat, you’re going mad. You've losing your mind," he said as he removed the silencer from his gun and rubbed it down with a cloth. “The stress of life is all too much and you feel like you’re losing control.”
"But I'm not mad! I know my wife is working!"
"We'll see about that. For now I'd simply like you to leave your house. Go see your two timing wife, go jump of a bridge. Anything you want, just don't go back to work and don't do anything stupid, like trying to kill Mr. Gray or make him look bad, because if we meet again I will pull the trigger."
"You're letting me go?"
"You heard me, get out of here."
I felt it was probably too good to be true. Part of me wanted to stay in the house. I actually feared leaving. I only paused for a moment however, before I eventually ran and grabbed by bag and headed for the door. I sprinted up the street as fast as I could and didn't look back. I only stopped when I ran out of breath. In the rush I had forgotten my cell phone. Still it did not matter, I knew Anna's number by heart and there was a row of pay phones another three blocks away.
My luck was about to get worse however. Just when I neared the phone the sound of police sirens wailed up the streets. It was only seconds before I saw the flashing blue lights. A squad car pulled up right next to me on the street and the two troopers appeared, shielding themselves behind the car doors.
"Reach for the weapon slowly and place it on the ground before you. Then take twelve steps back!" they demanded with guns drawn.
"I'm not carrying a weapon," I called back, squinting through the light of the car's head beams.
"Then get on the floor and place your hands behind your back or we will open fire."
I really had no choice but to obey and slowly lowered myself to the floor. The nearest trooper ran for me and sticking his knee in my back and holding the gun to my head he cuffed me and dragged me to my feet.
"Mr. Hunt I am arresting you on suspicion of homicide. You have the right to remain silent, anything you do say may be used against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney and if you can't afford one then one will be appointed to you."
"I didn't do it!" I cried out.
It was no use. He ignored me and after searching me for a weapon and finding nothing, he dragged me off and threw me in the back of his squad car.  

To be continued...