Short Stories, Tale Africa

Redemption (Part 9)

Prison Redemption
By Fungai Chigumbura, Zimbabwe:

I knew I had messed up the moment Patrick opened the door and gave me that look. It was the same show of disappointment and mild disgust he had given me all seven times that he had bailed me out. That look cut through me every time; realising I had let down the one person who had always been there for me was worse than the sharpest knife through me. I loved Patrick, but for all he meant to me, I could never stop disappointing him.

My life had never been easy. Not my father's drunken nightly stumbles into my room; not my mother's willful enabling; not the hunger or the tattered clothes. The only redemption I had ever found was my friendship with Patrick.

“Kaz,” he used to say, “One day we'll leave here, and it will all be a memory.  We'll give thanks for every moment we spend away from these monsters.”

And I believed it, too. After all, Patrick was my brother in all but blood, and brothers never lie to each other. As time passed by, though, I came to find that leaving would be a truth for him more than it would ever be for me. There was just too much that I needed to forget before I could live a life of anything besides perpetual misery. And like a fool I fell for the same vices that had corrupted my father and ruined his family. It was in my blood, after all.

Patrick went on with his life—star student and shining example of pulling yourself by the bootstraps. He had left for university on a full scholarship, and he and I fallen out of contact for years. As I think on it, I realise a part of me did it deliberately. I was never getting out of this abject life, so if my brother made it, that would be my solace.

I had not planned on calling him when I got into that stupid drunken fight, but I had nowhere and no one else to turn to. I don’t think I’d used his number once in the intervening years since he left for school. I knew it by heart, of course. It was my only connection to him. The years had been kind to him, and I tried to focus on how well he was doing to hide my shame and look over the disappointment he had to be feeling. I promised us both that this would never happen again…but the bottle and the needle are demons that never exorcise themselves.

What Patrick asked me to do was no light thing, but who was I to say no to the only person who had ever given a solitary damn about me? I did not even want to ask or show hesitation, so afraid was I of letting him down once more. I would do this for him. If he had asked me, I knew it needed doing. Even then, taking lives is no easy thing.

I drank too much on the night, even for me. I still had my wits about me, but the poison in my veins dulled most everything else. I stalked her as she walked to Patrick's house, braced myself for what needed doing. The steel pipe was cold and hard in my hand, and it felt as if I was holding death itself when I brought it down on her head. My strength may have failed me, or maybe my will did. Whatever it was, one of them kept her alive. I had disappointed Patrick again.


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