He Said it Was Okay

They didn't tell me how hot the lights were going to be. I was schwitzing like a stuck pig. Real attractive, Len, real attractive.

"You're on in five... four..." And the cameraman stopped talking, started signaling, and pointed to me. That little red light flashed on and off, on and off.

For a few seconds, there was air silence, something feared on TV. But, no one was watching anyway, so I probably could have stared at the camera all night without a single tick on the ratings board.

You see, Ol' Lenny here had to come up with something juicy to save the station. There's a problem with that, though. I couldn't very well create a story without an ending, could I? If it turned out that my story, the one I fabricated on live-feed, didn't jibe, the station would only be labeled as unreliable and fluffy. So, I had to do it right. A good lie will take between four and eight weeks.

Four weeks ago, I contacted July Ennis, Warden July Ennis. She's a bit older than I usually like, but that just meant she was vulnerable. She and I spoke over the course of three weeks, at night, over wine and oil. I enjoyed it, sure.

I learned that when an inmate dies, they take his body to the morgue, put it on ice. There, the family is contacted to see what they want to with the body. If there is no family, the body is property of the state. The body could go to the colleges for dissections, go to art installations, medical schools, or be cremated. They don't do that stuff at the prison. Too messy, so they transport the bodies to the coroners. It doesn't sit long.

William Hanney was the staff doctor. He scared easily. The letter I sent him was just a letter. But, he still met with me at Mother Egan's Irish Pub.

"How do you know I won't go to July, or the cops, or someone?" His hand was shaking over the coffee cup, stirring the cream in erratic patterns.

"Because, I know that you value the lives of your children."

He dropped his spoon on to the table, which fell to the floor. "What you're proposing is insane."

"I know."

He told me who to speak with next.

I made the stop at Krieger-Pearl-Fontaine, the go-to for the prison. Dr Pearl was usually the one who drained the blood and replaced it with formaldehyde. He was also a fan of eugenics, something I didn't know until we met over coffee.

"Sometimes, you just have to let these people kill. It thins the herd. Makes the others stronger," he told me while the coffee swirled in his mug.

"So, you'd be okay with this?"

"Of course. Plus, that means I and my two partners get more business. It's a win-win."

Then, the bodies disappear. Funny thing that, when a person is alive, it's a person. When dead, it's a corpse. It's easy for them to disappear. Contrary to popular belief, the dead is dead and silent. It wouldn't be hard to convince Krieger.

I stared at that flashing red light. The cameraman cued me again and I spoke, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Uday Parnham, a name I don't think we've forgotten, nor ever will, has escaped from Faraday Correctional. As you may well know, Parnham was dubbed 'Mr Nice Guy' for the bodies he left scattered over this country all had smiles on their faces. Trust no one, he's back."

The lights went out on the stage.

"Good one, Lenny." My boss hobbled over to me. "It's a good thing that one's not true. The public is going to eat that one up."

I stifled a chuckle. "Glad I could help, Westy. Glad I could help." The public, hah. We'll see.

When I got home that night, the door was unlocked and ajar. He was here, I knew he was. He was probably sitting at my dining room table with a pot of coffee on.

“I saw the news.” His voice, gravel and soot, came from the kitchen.

“And?”

“When can we get started.”

I smiled again. Father and son.

-JR Simmang 

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