256 Words

Free Man Now

M. Stanley Bubien

Year's passed since'n his try, but I's recallin', specially with this'm headline readin' "Jailbreak Plan" right afronta me. Them's suckers, they's never knowed him, never done moment-one'n his cell. 'Tweren't no jailbreak, says me---not like them's ameanin' anyways.

"Somebitch," he be'd mumblin', breathless like, starin' on that there wall---or past it---I's not so sure. "I'm going over."

"You can't!" I's blatherin', but keepin' to quiet too. "'Tain't been done."

My cellmate's anoddin' now, without turnin', "nobodys's climbed that wall, but I'm gonna be the first."

"You ain't!" I says, afeared for's life.

"I'm breathing prison air seventeen years," he's scowlin' on me. "It's grown as stale as life. And if they have their way, I'm never tasting freedom again."

Before I's answers, here's the warden, outta nowheres! "Son," says he. "Don't even think about trying." And I's all stiff when he's agrabbin' my pal's shoulder. "I would hate to see you fall. Because if you ever touch that wall"---he squeezed then, hard like---"they'll carry you out."

Then they's lookin' into the other's eyes till a guard's nervous and grunts, "sir, problem?"

"No, I don't think so."

And he's aleavin' and hasty-like I'm kickin' dust over my cellmate's spit.

"I'll have freedom," he's sayin'. "One way or another."

I throwed that paper down, and ahundredth time, it smacks floor, recallin' to me that gunfire. Yep, they's acallin' it "Jailbreak Plan" but I knows---better'n them, I knows. I's callin' it suicide.

But 'chever way you's alookin't it, he's a free man now.

Inspired by, and partially excerpted from, "The Wall" by H. Howard. Thanks also to Johnny Cash.

Copyright ©1999 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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January, 1999
Issue #33

256 Words