Mothers Last Hour
I’m riddled with pain in my back
The sweat drips between my breasts
They yell, “Push, you can do this!”
I’m overcome with fear
Fear like seeing a spider crawl slowly up your arm
How can I do this? How can I protect another life?
I am not even sure what I’m doing with my own.
You will be my first child.
Dozing off in between each contraction in bed,
Family and friends siphoning the energy from me,
It is all out of love and concern for us both.
My modesty stripped a little bit more,
with nurses and doctors, they come and go,
So many white jackets and blue nurse uniforms come and go, strangers.
Visiting my vagina exposed to the world inside this pale room in this white bed
With splashes of red hues and pink
Beeping and buzzing from room instruments.
The room is fading to black
The noises are muffled but I hear what the doctor says,
“Hold on, almost there, things are going to be fine.”
The wind whistles in my ears and a cool wind strokes my face.
Your dad is full of panic as I am rolled to another room.
The bright lights are blinding.
My legs tremble and my heart races.
Can I finish this? Can we both make it through?
A shrieking cry echoes the room of lights. I’m exhausted yet excited.
Tears of joy stream down from my eyes as I lay on the bed
Tears drip into my ears as the room turns black one last time.
I hope you know that I loved you from conception.
(DISCLAIMER: This story is fictional though the towns and prison do exist.This is the final draft of the fiction story I wrote for my Creative Writing class previously published under a different title, Redemption at Mansfield Reformatory. The word limit was 2,000, the protagonist had to be different from me in at least two ways, I had to have at least one example of flashback, I could only have a maximum of 3 characters, it had to be set in modern time (no Victorian age, or futuristic), and the story had to be believable that it could happen in real life.)
I can see it now printed in major newspapers across the nation, “Sarah Wesley inside the head of psychopath killer Fredrick Peters!” Chicago Tribune may pick me up after this story. Butler is a town full of evangelicals, and Christian tradition. I am one of the few in town who openly lives gay in our small community.
This was a story of a lifetime for a reporter like me. Being bisexual my editor assigned me to cover those stories because he thought being gay made me an expert on the matter. My editor could be a total ass. He actually told me several times over the years that I should find the Lord or be damned to hell for my sin. Maybe hell is where he is sending me today to interview a psychopath.
Mansfield Reformatory is a maximum security prison built in Romanesque architectural style about thirty minutes north of Butler, Ohio. From the outside an onlooker could mistake this prison for a castle. On the inside, this prison is hell for inmates. Mansfield reformatory is one of the toughest prisons that houses murderers serving life sentences or waiting on death row. It sits on one hundred and forty acres. It’s the Alcatraz of Ohio.
The stench of disinfectant, urine mixed with sweat was almost too much to bear as I followed the guard down the dark corridor towards the area set up for the interview. Anticipation and angst gripped me as I tried to focus on questions I was going to ask instead of the stench and spine-chilling appearance of the run down prison. The guard escorting me was of enormous physique. His muscles protruded his short sleeve shirt and he was over six feet tall. He had the typical military cut where his hair did not pass the nape of his neck. He never spoke as he led me towards the prisons center west wing where things were set up for my interview with the notorious Butler man Fredrick Peters, the local bus driver who kidnapped and murdered Charlene Lewis, a female coworker.
Charlene, the victim, was in her early twenties, and a graduate from Ohio State University. The bus driving job was a temporary one while she waited to get into her field of expertise. She had resumes all over the country. She wanted to be a meteorologist in a big city like New York. She could have had a job at the local station where she did her internship but she never wanted to be a small town girl. The bus depot gave her the opportunity to pay for college and the flexibility with the schedule while waiting for the answer from New York. She was brutally murdered two years ago and my editor is sending me to cover the story.
The sound of the keys clanking together echoed through the corridor as the guard took them from his belt to unlock the barred door to the visitor’s room. The crime scene images rushed through my mind. You could see footprints made out of blood next to her lifeless body. There was a pentagram drawn in blood just about her slightly exposed cleavage. Items are seen disheveled around the room. There was a black cloth placed over her with another pentagram smeared in blood covering her waist line. There was blood spatter along the walls. It was evident that Charlene struggled for her life fiercely. The streak of blood that ran across the wall leading to the door appeared to represent a woman crawling along the wall trying to get to the exit. A final hand print next to the door frame smeared towards the floor must have been Charlene falling to her death from the final blow to the back of the head.
Fredrick Peters was a bus driver for ten years, accused and found guilty of first degree murder. He waits on death row in Mansfield Reformatory where I will interview him. Fredrick stood 5’6, light brown hair with a receding hairline and a five o’clock shadow. He lived in his mother’s basement at the time of the crime. He never had luck with women or maintaining friendships according to all the information I gathered from my research, interviews, and news articles. Looking at him through the barred door, chained to the seat he doesn’t seem threatening, until you look into his eyes. The door echoed with a loud creaking as the guard opens it.
“Here you go ma’am. You have one hour with the prisoner. I’ll be right outside if you need anything. I want to advise you that this session is being recorded and will be archived with the prison.” He stepped to the side and I entered. The loud clank of the door closing startled me and I dropped my briefcase. I scurry to pick up the photographs that fell from the briefcase. I pause at the final photograph needing put back into the briefcase. This photo always catches my eye to review. I stand and look over it for a moment.
Charlene’s body was sprawled out on her back in the photo. She is soaked in blood. Charlene was a blonde but you couldn’t tell from the crime scene photo. Her hair was saturated with blood. It was dark, and most of it dried on her arms, legs, hair and face. Some of her wounds according to the coroner show she was tortured for days before a final blow to her head from a blunt object killed her.
One of the most memorable things that stick out about this photo is the way Charlene has her arm resting across her forehead with her palm turned out. It haunted me because she looked like she was begging for the torture to stop. I wanted to ask Fredrick about this particular photo. I wanted to know if she was begging for him to stop. I didn’t want the usual answer that he is a psychopath and that is what they do. I wanted to hear him tell me in details as to what was going through his mind at this moment in this photograph.
Charlene was missing for a week before her body was found. The authorities were called to a home that sat vacant and was on the market for months. An anonymous caller told 9-1-1 dispatcher that a woman was lying dead inside the house. The police report claims that Charlene was held captive in this empty home for a week tortured before being brutally murdered by Fredrick Peters.
“I’m Sarah Wesley, with the Butler Gazette.” He was chained wearing a dark gray jumper with numbers 74666 printed on the right breast area in black print. The irony of the number he was assigned ending with 666 didn’t surpass me. The concrete floor had iron loops that came out of the floor where the thick chain was connected. The iron wrist cuffs connected to that thick chain that held him to a chair that also was bolted to the cement floor. His ankles were locked in shackles that were bolted to the chair that left his legs immobile. The stench of cigarettes filled the room as he lit one for himself. The smoke bellowed from his mouth as he sat there staring me down. Every time he reached up to his face to take a drag the chains clatter echoed the room we sat in. Death row inmates were allowed to smoke.
“Look at you…such a pretty thang.” His head was tilted and his eyes were sizing me up. I stayed focus on the task at hand being careful not to show him any anxiety.
“I was expecting a blond.” He took a drag from his cigarette and blew the smoke in my direction.
“Sorry to disappoint you Fredrick.” The voice recorder was going but I held my pen above the tablet of paper ready to write down his every word as back up.
He licked his lips and his voice became deeper. “Yes…blonds are entertaining.”
“Charlene was blonde but you couldn’t tell from this picture.” I slid the crime scene photo across the table and placed it in front of him.
He placed one finger on the photo and just sat there for a moment looking at it. His demeanor changed yet again. He seemed happy to have a chance to see her again. He took a long drag from his cigarette and as he exhaled, “She was a piece of art.”
His hands were aged and scarred. He sat there with his finger on her image of the picture.
“So tell me why you killed her Fredrick.” I leaned forward placing my arms in front of me on the table being sure to make eye contact.
“I didn’t kill this beauty…I saved her…I set her free…she is with my master now…” He shoved the picture towards me. He threw his cigarette butt on the floor and leaned back in his chair. “I set her free! She is where she belongs now.”
I glanced over at the cigarette butt he threw on the floor and looked back at Fredrick.
“She’s dead Fredrick. What do you mean you set her free?” I picked up the pen with my left hand while staring at him waiting for an answer.
“She was an abomination! She was called by my master. I do what I’m told. He’s here now…my master. He wants me to save you too. You’re an abomination aren’t you Sarah?” His eyes fell on me and a chill came across my entire body. I kept focus on what this interview meant for me to keep my anxiety under control as it grew. “So your master wants you to kill women?”
“Not just any women…women who live sinful lives…like you do.” A smirk crossed his face.
“You mean gay?” I said with contempt.
“Yes!” He answered with an emphasis.
“We have limited time Fredrick, how about you tell me how you killed Charlene…since we know now why you chose her.” I pulled out some news articles from my briefcase. My anxiety now anger.
Fredrick lunged forward toward me. I could see the violent lust in his eyes. I could tell he wanted to cut me from navel to neck.
“These news articles…” I slammed them down on the table with force. I pushed them towards him not taking my eyes off of him. “…clearly state you were a devoted religious man.” This angered him more. His voice morphed into a very deep scratchy one.
“My master goes by the name Lucifer. Sinners…he is preparing for war….” He retrieved another cigarette from his pack of Camel blacks and placed it in his lips.
“I went to church looking for sinners….sinners…all of them…” He lit his cigarette and took a long drag. “I knew Charlene from driving bus…but I knew she had to be next when I saw her at church that Sunday. She even brought her girlfriend to put on a show.” Smoke again was bellowing out of his mouth.
“So rumors are Fredrick that you actually worship Satan? Were the pentagrams to throw off inspectors or your signature? Do you belong to some cult locally?” I continued to try to get information out of him about the crime for my story.
He started laughing like a madman. His laughter then turned into mumbling. He began to rock back and forth slowly. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as he lunged backwards.
“It is time for me to go now…my master wants me.” I heard a sizzling and wasn’t sure where it came from but it echoed out into the room before he started to convulse. Foam began falling from his mouth. I yelled for the guard with a screech, “GUARD!” Fredrick somehow was able to get a vial of cyanide to commit suicide. What a story this will be I thought to myself.
Looking back on that event today it still gives me chills. What my editor thought would be a prod towards my gay lifestyle ended up being the break I worked hard for. I published an article on that event and it ended up turning me into a world renowned news reporter sought after for employment.
(DISCLAIMER: This story is fiction, though names and places may seem familiar or real they are not, this is a fiction story I wrote a while back and this is the final draft of this short version which I submitted to The Paper Latern of my community college. The submission guidelines were that it had to be fiction, it had to be less than 2500 words, and it had to be suitable for adults not children. I came under the word limit at 2000. I will not find out if they are going to publish it until probably late October. I will post an update either way when I find out. I hope you enjoy this final short version. Please feel free to leave feedback.)
He came in from work late. It was the first time Thomas had ever been late coming home. Cassie was in the kitchen of their small one bedroom apartment warming up his plate. The meal wasn’t anything special. It was takeout that she had picked up for dinner. They have only been together for two years and they both worked jobs.
“You’re home later than usual tonight.” She said as she slid the plate across the counter to him as he sat down at the bar where they were forced to eat since a kitchen table wouldn’t fit properly in their tiny apartment.
“Yeah, Nate had some tire problem I helped him out with.” He said as he removed the plastic wrap from his plate.
This is how it started for the newlywed couple that eventually fell into secrecy, silence and misery. He ended up coming home late more nights with more excuses. She became more unsure of his excuses and insecure in the relationship. Many nights ended in arguments that left her crying on her pillow. Six months have passed.
“Why are you late tonight? Let me guess! Brad ran out of gas, and you needed to run him to the station, and then back to his car to fill it up? How is that for a fucking excuse tonight?” Cassie yelled as he entered the door two hours past the time he was meant to be home.
“Oh and if you expect dinner you can look in the trashcan for it because that is where it is!” she stormed by him going into the bedroom slamming the door.
He placed his coat on the rack. He glanced at the bedroom. He was tempted to go in there and try to make things better. Tonight however he didn’t give a damn what she thought. He walked into the kitchen to grab a bite to eat. He wasn’t in there for any more than five minutes and Cassie storms in.
“Just come out and tell me what whore you are fucking behind my back Thomas! Be a man! Don’t insult me this way. I’m not a moron. I smell the bitch on your shirts when I wash them. I just want you to be straight with me so we can move on however we should move on.” Tears were streaming from her eyes.
“I don’t know what else to say to you Cassie. I’m not with any other woman. You are just paranoid and this shit about smelling another woman is in your head! I am however getting tired of getting this type of treatment when I come home from you night after night.” He slammed the plate down on the counter and stormed off into the bathroom.
“Hey don’t walk away from me! I am not just going to go cry into my pillow again and just pretend nothing is going on. I won’t play stupid any longer. I want you to tell me the truth!” She yelled outside the bathroom door crying.
She thought to herself about what would she do if he actually did tell her the truth. She convinced herself that if he didn’t admit it then there was always that chance he wasn’t having an affair. That justified her staying. She needed to stay now she thought. How would she raise a baby by herself she thought.
Deep down she had hoped he’d deny it once more. She knew it was stupid. She knew she looked like a clown. What else could she do though she thought? She was going to have a baby in nine months to care for. Do that alone? She wasn’t so sure she could.
She slid down the door with her back to land softly seated on the carpet. “Thomas you need to be honest with me. All I ask is for some respect. Respect includes honesty….” She wiped her cheeks but the tears still fell from her eyes. She refused to tell him about the child she carried.
Suddenly you heard Pocket Full of Sunshine ringing from her cell phone.
“Hi mom, no, it’s OK, you didn’t interrupt anything here. Sure, I’ll be right over.” Closing her phone and placing it back in its holder she ran her hands through her hair.
She tilted her head back to rest it on the bathroom door. “I’m going over to moms. She needs me over there. You want to come with me?” she asked hoping he’d say no.
It was silent. She sat for a moment waiting for an answer but the silence lingered.
“Thomas! You could at least acknowledge me!” she yelled as she rose to her feet.
She attempted to open the door but it was locked. That was unusual she thought to herself as she attempted once more to open the door. Sweat began to break out on her skin between her breasts.
“Thomas! Open up in there! What are you hiding?” she said as she pounded the door demanding that he either answer or open the door. Still there was no sound. There was no flush from the toilet. The water wasn’t running. She began to panic.
She grabbed her cell phone from its holder and opened it frantically. She was trying anxiously to dial 911 with tears streaming from her eyes. The numbers were blurry.
“911 Operator, what’s the emergency?”
“Oh my God! My husband has locked himself in our bathroom and he won’t respond. I can’t get in. He’s been in there for almost an hour now.” Cassie said hysterically. “I need help! I can’t get in!” She screamed into the phone as she was trying to budge the door open with all her body weight. “Thomas! Answer me!”
“Ma’am I need you to stay calm and tell me what your location is.” The operator said sternly.
“213 Fraternity Lane. Send someone quick.” Her voice quivered.
“Ma’am I need you to stay on the phone with me until help arrives.”
“Oh my God….” Cassie’s voice was weakened and her mind raced with thoughts.
What has he done? I know what he’s done! What have you done Thomas? She slid down the door once more and rested her head on her knees with the phone to her right ear. Her other hand held her hair back out of her face.
Suddenly there was knocking at the door. “Whitewater Fire Department, someone call for help?”
She closed her cell phone and ran to the door to let them in. She pointed to the bathroom door as she explained what was going on, “My husband locked himself in there an hour ago. We were arguing and he went in and I can’t get in. He won’t answer” she was crying and shaking while she was telling the men the situation.
“Ma’am my name is Eddie let me take you down to the lobby while my two partners work to get your husband out of the bathroom.” The man took her gently by the arm. Eddie knew all too well what this call was going to end with. He knew it was best to get her to the lobby.
“I want to be here with my husband when they get in. I want to know what is going on.” She said defiantly to the gentleman.
“Ma’am we have communication open with our radios so you’ll know what is going on. It will be better for my partners if you are down in the lobby out of the way while they work.” He said still holding her arm.
She nodded and they went to the lobby. She pulled her cell phone out and called her mom. They had a very close relationship. Her mom was her best friend.
“Mom, I need you right now. Thomas locked himself in the bathroom and the firemen are here to get him out. I don’t know what he’s done mom. Please come…” she said in a low tone standing in the lobby looking at the floor.
She hadn’t told her mom about the baby yet. She planned to tell her soon before this all happened with Thomas.
Cassie was watching out the glass windows waiting to see her mom. Every minute felt like a lifetime to her standing there. She loved Thomas but was not in love with him anymore and now she was even more confused than she was before. Why would he do such a thing? She knew what he had done upstairs in that cold small bathroom. The relationship had problems but she wanted to figure out what to do about those problems with Thomas. She knew though that with what Thomas had done upstairs he had solved the problems on his own. He has created a new set of problems that Cassie would have to solve on her own.
Her mom was walking up the sidewalk towards the entrance. Cassie rushed to open the door for her. They embraced each other tight. An ambulance suddenly pulled up to the entrance and a group of EMT’s rushed past them. Cassie and her mom moved inside holding hands watched them go upstairs.
Her mom, Carla, glanced over to Cassie with a sorrowful look in her eyes. She tightened her grip holding her daughters’ hand.
“What exactly is going on here?” her mom asked as she took her other hand in hers and faced her.
Crying, Cassie tried to explain it to her, “Mom, Thomas and I were arguing again about my mistrust. I was demanding he tell me the truth about his affair because I know he’s cheating.” She sighed, “After I talked to you on the phone I told him I was coming to see you and that is when I realized he had locked himself in the bathroom. When I didn’t get any reply or heard no noise I called 911” She fell into her mother’s arms and whimpered like she had done so many times as a child.
The thing is she felt like a child. She wasn’t sure what to do about the baby and Thomas. She was scared on both accounts. She wanted her mom to make the decisions and solve the problems for her like she had done throughout her childhood years. She needed to find strength.
Carla pulled Cassie off her shoulder and pulled her chin up making eye contact.
“You need to see what is going on from the EMT’s. Get a hold of yourself now. Go upstairs and demand they tell you what is going on. I’ll stay right here I promise.” She kissed Cassie on the cheek and released her.
Cassie wiped her face and straightened her shirt out. She went upstairs to the apartment on the second floor. The apartment was crawling with firemen and ambulance workers. She saw Thomas lying on the bathroom floor with a couple EMT’s over top him. Obviously they were trying to revive him she thought. He had committed suicide. She felt her heart in her throat when a fireman gently grabbed her by the arm.
Turning to face him she said with an unyielding voice, “I want to know how my husband is! I have a right to know what is going on here in my home!” She pulled her arm out of his grip forcefully.
She took a few steps toward the bathroom and they covered Thomas with a white sheet and took him from the apartment. Cassie fell to her knees and screeched. She tilted her head to the ceiling holding her hands out.
“Oh God…” her face fell into her palms and she wept there on the floor of their small one bedroom apartment. She glanced over and noticed a note lying on the floor. She picked it up and began to read it to herself, “Cassie, I never wanted to hurt you but having a child with any other woman other than you isn’t something I can bare. I hope you can forgive me and find happiness you’ve always deserved. Love, Thomas.”