Gus looked out through bloodshot eyes between the bars of his prison cell. The beckoning calls of the vibrant scarlet and golden magic of fluttering leaves, seen through his window beyond the barbed wire, reminded him that he would never see the outside world again unless it was a furtive glimpse in the distance. He felt severed from life as the bones of leaves portrayed the dust of autumn’s flesh. Already, the fading amber lights in ashy yellows signified autumn’s end. Soon, it would be winter again and he would pass one more year in his cold, dank cell. Snowdrifts sporting jaunty winter clothes would be beyond his reach. It would once again feel as if spiky icicles were stabbing his heart in frozen shadows of sprinkled regret He dreamed of inhaling the brisk air and feeling human once again.
Sluggishly in his numb stupor, Gus watched two muscular death row inmates dance around each other like sweat-soaked ballerinas. Hen-scratched tattoos marked their time spent swinging their mallet fists into each other’s faces, turning noses into bloody pudding and teeth into smoothies. Inmates clustered around, shouting out bets while guards ignored them.
Gus remembered being the victim of this cruelty many times when several inmates ganged up on him but there were other pointless savageries as well. Often guards messed with him for their own amusement. One of their favorite ploys was the old “fake visit from Mom” when they would tell him that he had a surprise visitor. Even though he realized it was probably untrue, he still felt like this was the bright spot of his whole month and fell for it every time. He would do his best to clean himself up and wait patiently at his cell doors for the guards to escort him to the visitor’s room. “Oh wait,” they laughed, “we got the wrong Johnson!” And they would laugh and laugh.
Gus sighed as he struggled to remember what normalcy had been in the past but it was becoming only a vague memory. He was ashamed as he realized that vulgarity and meanness was becoming a part of his personality because he felt he was becoming ice bound, trapped in glacial recesses of his body. Anger festered as he began to formulate a plan to kill one of the other prisoners who tormented him. Secreting a magazine in his cell, he pulled out its center staple and then removed the waistband from an old pair of underwear, making it into a catapult. Next, he removed threads from his underwear and wrapped them around the staple to make a dart. Removing one of the advertising cards from the magazine, he reinforced the dart and then dipped it into a noxious mixture of human feces and urine which he heated in the light from his window concentrating it to transform it into a dangerous poison. Then, he rolled up the magazine until it was about 2 inches in circumference and attached it to the bars of his cell. As the hated inmate walked by, he retracted the catapult, inserted the deadly dart and shot it into his neck. Although the prisoner yanked the dart from his neck and said nothing, sepsis took over in the next few days and the inmate died a lingering, painful death.
Hate in chills of cold sweat began to take over Gus’ persona as he felt himself becoming a different person. Knowing he would be in this prison for many years before his death penalty would become instituted; he began to devise other methods to kill both prisoners and the treacherous guards. There was nothing to lose!
Gus closed his eyes as he remembered why he was here. He had been the cherished only son of parents who had finally given up on him and never visited. He wistfully remembered making snowmen with his Dad as he watched flurries of snowflakes outside his window.
Depressing him the most was the knowledge that he was innocent, having been wrongly convicted. He cupped his agony (like fallen leaves) in his chapped hands, wiping drops of perspiration from his forehead, knowing he was ready to take control and destroy all those who had damaged him. The future was of his own making as he felt the wickedness of his transformation take hold like the changing of the seasons. He would shape a feared reputation, like frigid snowballs, that would never be forgotten. No longer would he be burdened by memories of his former life! Smiling in anticipation, he was ready to face his world as he wrapped the thoughts of a springtime of retribution around himself in hues of a new beginning.