Borrowed Truths


Picture of Borrowed Truths


Jeremy knew he was innocent, the problem was, he was the only one who knew. He had done some things in his life, not all of them good, had spent a little time behind bars, just a couple of years, but only for small stuff, and nobody had ever gotten hurt. “How am I supposed to give you proof that I was at home sleeping, what do you want me to do, tell you what I dreamt that night?” He has refused the lie detector test, even though they had tried to tell him that they could get a court order to make him submit to it. “They are not admissible as evidence and you know it, if I fail it, you’ll think I’m guilty, if I pass it, you’ll just think I’m one of those guys that can do that, either way I lose.”

Stealing from cars, breaking into buildings and shops, but never had Jeremy ever killed anyone, he had never even owned a weapon. The evidence was all circumstantial, and he thought he was going to walk out of the courtroom a free man right up until the moment they declared him guilty. The only ones with the guilty looking faces were the people on the panel who had been his judges, even the prosecutor looked surprised when the verdict was read.

“Ten cigarettes or you can take a hike kid, I got plenty of time.” Ten years had passed, only thirty to go, sixty-seven years old when he would walk out of this place, you don’t count the days when you’ve still got thirty years to go. The beatings and groping had stopped after about two years, Jeremy had tried to kill himself twice in those first couple of years, earning him nothing but some solitary time in the infirmary. “I’ll give you eight smokes and this candy bar; I need what you got man.” Jeremy handed over the one small, white tablet, took his payment and sat back on his bunk, one of the few cells that had only one bunk, there were three other cell blocks that were crammed full, but this place kept the murderers separate.

When you’ve got nothing to lose, life looks a lot different, and even though Jeremy had tried to hold onto some form of humanity, he knew that before he got out of here he would lose all sense of compassion for others, he would have no personal integrity left long before the rest of his sentence was up. He actually was innocent, he actually had been at home sleeping the night of the murder that they said he committed, some guy he had never even heard of. It turned out the victim had been a high paid lawyer for a local mob group, had threatened to go to the law and tell them everything. Jeremy was a nobody, small time hoodlum, an easy mark to pin the hit on, a guy that nobody would miss. He had given up on his appeals four years ago, nobody was listening, nobody cared, this is where he would rot until he was almost seventy years old.

There were only a hundred men in the cell block, so a new face was noticed immediately. “I don’t know his name yet, but apparently he put three people in pine boxes, one of them a little kid.” Jeremy glanced at the guy a few rows down from him at dinner time, then went back to his food, if you wanted to call it that. “Ain’t good to kill kids, they got their whole life in front of them.”

“Nah, I’m guilty, but I’ve done worse, a lot worse, but I’ve been forgiven.” “Forgiven, what are you crazy man, if you had been forgiven you wouldn’t be in here.” Albert and the new guy, Harry something-or-other, Jeremy had not caught his last name, had been talking for about an hour now. Albert had taken it upon himself to be the cell block interrogator, but sometimes he moves a little too fast, like he had someplace to go besides his cell or the commons. “A lot worse guys, but Jesus has forgiven me for all of it, every last bit.” “To bad He wasn’t on the jury.” Jeremy didn’t talk much, but when he did he wanted it to count, and the look Harry had given him made him think he had hit the mark this time. “We need to talk Jeremy, but not right now, I’ve got some thinking to do first.”

Jeremy felt a cold lightning bolt go up his spine, this Harry guy wasn’t what he seemed to be, there was something way past spooky about the way he had looked at him, like death itself had just been sitting here talking with him. It was a cold, calculating look, not from some guy who had seen death before, but from one who had brought it to people, maybe a lot of people. “I’ll get it out of him, sooner or later, everybody’s got a story to tell.” “I wouldn’t Albert, you might want to leave this guy alone.”

It was almost six months later that Jeremy was called into the warden’s office, ten years, five months and sixteen says since he first stepped foot into this place, and the same exact time since he had last been in this wooden lined office with its massive desk. There were three other suits here, guys with expensive haircuts, two officers, and Harry. “Have a seat young man, we’ve got some things to discuss.”

Jeremy couldn’t read any of their faces, but if Harry had told them about his little white pill market that he ran, cold blooded stare or not, he would soon find trouble back in the cell block. “Mr. Jepson, Harry, the floor is yours.” Jeremy listened, and listened hard, he had been right, over the course of the next twenty minutes Harry spoke about the nearly thirty people he had violently killed over the last twenty-five years, spoke about them as matter of factly as if he were telling his friends about his last vacation. But it was the last one that Jeremy heard that changed the course of his life, the one story that had changed his life over ten years ago.

“These are pardon papers Jeremy, full pardon, along with a check for quite a substantial amount of money, all you have to do is sign them.” He heard the warden talking to him, he understood what he had just said, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Harry, there was something underneath those eyes he had to know. “Because of Jesus, Jeremy, because an innocent man went to that cross for me, and if I can show in even the smallest way my appreciation to Him for what He did for me by being one-hundred percent honest about everything I’ve done, then, well then, that’s what I’m going to do. You were in the wrong place at the right time ten years ago, now you’ve got the same chance I got, to be in the right place at the right time.”

Four hours later Jeremy was standing on the street corner, still shell-shocked, it had all happened so fast. He remembered what Harry had said to him just before he left the warden’s office, right after Jeremy had thanked him, “Don’t thank me, thank Jesus.” He thought maybe he would walk a ways down the street until he found a place he could do just that.

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