(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.
Cassie put her things into the mahogany dresser against the wall. She stopped in the hallway just outside her bedroom door and placed her hand on her belly. Tears formed in her eyes as she started to walk towards the stairs.
Thomas will never know his child because of his selfish act. What had him feeling so helplessly lost to take his own life she thought as she walked downstairs to the table.
“Mom” Cassie paused, “Can we talk about Thomas and what has happened tonight?” she wiped the tears off her cheeks and took a seat at the table.
Cassie was staring at her reflection in the table while she waited for her mom to answer her question.
“I am here for you Cassie whenever you need me.” Her mom rested her hand on her shoulder looking down at her as Cassie gazed up into her eyes.
“Why do you think Thomas got so desperate mother? What would make him want to do something so extreme, selfish and permanent?”
“That is something we may never know dear. People never know what others think inside their minds unless they share it. Thomas was closed off so we may never have the answers you seek.” Her mother took a seat to Cassie’s left.
The house was silent as they sat at the table for a few moments pondering over the day’s events. Cassie lost in thought about Thomas and the baby she carried. Questions flooding her mind on what she was going to do. She needed to at least tell her mom.
“Mom…” she looked over at her mom with solemn eyes. “I’m pregnant.”
“That is wonderful news Cassie. Did Thomas get a chance to know?”
“No mom he didn’t. I’m not even sure I want to keep the child. How can I do this on my own? I didn’t tell Thomas because of the problems we were having. I knew he was with another woman even though he never came out and told me. I fell out of love with him and to have his baby is not something I’m sure I want to do mom…” she paused and placed her hand on her moms hand that rested on the dining table. “I really need some sound advice.”
“Well Cassie you just can’t erase something like this. You are carrying a life inside you. How could you live with yourself after you would allow someone to take the life away? You know the person you are inside, I know the person you are inside. You couldn’t live with it.” She squeezed Cassie’s hand. “I have raised a beautiful strong woman. There is no doubt in my mind that you could raise a wonderful child on your own, and who is to say you would do it all by yourself. You have me to lean on Cassie and you have friends to turn to in dark and troubling times.”
She stood and stepped over to Cassie’s side and lifted her up from the chair by her arm. Cassie stood and they hugged tightly for what seemed to be forever. Cassie whimpered on her mothers shoulder. Once again she felt like a child in her mothers arms.
The embrace broke. “Mom tomorrow I have to clean out the apartment. I think I want to do it alone. I think I need to do it alone.”
“I think someone should be with you Cassie.” Her mom had Cassie gripped by the arms firmly.
“No mom I want to do it myself. I’ll have my cell phone on and I’ll call if I need you. I promise. I want to go upstairs and go to bed now.” She pulled herself out of her mothers grip.
Cassie headed up the stairs looking solemn. Her mother stood and watched her with a stare of deep concern. She knew this would be something she needed to help Cassie through but wondered how she was going to be able to do it. She turned off the lights and headed upstairs herself off to bed.