Erin, I've send you the wrong fic, I'm sorry. I've only noticed when I got your mail and I was "huh?! this ain't mine!" But I realized I sent a fic I've written a long time ago, I think my second ever written story. It was stored in my "throw away" folder and the fact that it actually got to you only shows what a messy, disorganized slob I am, even when it comes to my computer. Anyway, I found a fic I wrote a while ago and that you've beta'd, but which it was never posted simply because I abandoned it completely. So I thought I should post it here, since I don't really have anything intelligent to say anyway. At the end it says "to be continued" but to be honest, I don't really know if there's gonna be more of this. When I get bored of something, It's really difficult for me to get back on track.
"It's been two weeks since he last came to see me," Keller mutters, looking down.
Pete doesn't even try to answer back; she knows there really isn't anything she can say to make him feel better.
"Do you know how low a man can get locked up in here? No fucking letter, nobody coming to visit, nothing. I get up, I eat, I read, I fucking stare at myself in the mirror for hours... I look at Cyril...what the hell is he doing in a place like this, in the first place? Why did God put him in here, Sister, huh? What the fuck is someone like that doing in here... What does God get out of it?"
"I know Cyril shouldn't be on Death Row," she whispers slowly.
"That doesn't answer my question. Why is God doin' this?"
"God is not the one that got him in Oz, Chris. People make their own decisions..."
"Yeah, I made my own decisions, fucking idiot Hoyt over there made his own decisions, but that doesn't apply to him, and you know it. His brother did that for him, and now Cyril's the one paying for it, ain't he?"
"Ryan's suffering. He's paying for his choices, too."
Keller knows she's right. After all, he did see tears in Ryan's green eyes; he did hear the strain and the ache in his voice, trying all the time to hide it away from his brother. He did see the older brother shed his mask, revealing his real self, not giving a damn about who was around to see it.
(--'And, talking about *real self*...what's yours, Chris? The one you show to Beecher? The one you show to Sister Pete? Or the one Mondo Browne, or Ronnie Barlog, or fucking Bryce Tibbetts got to see?...'--)
"But he's not the one on fucking Death Row..." Keller replies.
"Everyday I have to look at him, or listen to that shithead Hoyt whining like a baby. And then there's fucking Lopresti...and I guess that says it all. I don't even know whether I'm slowly going numb, turning into a vegetable, or losing my mind altogether. And Beecher...can't he spare a fucking hour to just drop by or something? Am I asking too fucking much?"
He feels so helpless, so impotent. Everything's happening too fast or too goddamn slow, he can't really say.
Coming back to Oz, thinking all the time he'll get to go back to Toby, thinking of how things would be the way they used to be...(--for ever.)
Back with the man he loves, the man he needs; the man he can't, he won't get rid of.
The man that won't get rid of him. That doesn't want to...
Discarding his past attempt to free himself of Beecher, to free the other man...'cause *he* is the only thing he's got, and he'll be damned to fucking hell if he's gonna let him slip through his fingers.
"He told me he'll come in a couple of days," Sister Peter Marie says, leaning against the cold, iron bars of his cell: "He's working hard on your appeal, Chris. He...wants to help you, you know that."
"Yeah...I guess I should be grateful, right?" -- sitting down on his cot, moving his head a little to the left, staring at the wall: "You know, when I did time in Lardner, I didn't have anyone coming to see me."-- looking back at her, banging his head aimlessly against the wall: "It never really bothered me, back then. I mean, I didn't owe nobody a goddamn thing,"-- his voice losing that monotonous rhythm for a couple of moments, suddenly turning ragged and sharp: "...and nobody owed me shit. I didn't care about anybody... Hell! I didn't have anybody to care about in the first place, so...it didn't mean dick to me. But Toby..."
"He's someone you care about."
"Yep," he replies, nodding like a child, giving her a small, awkward smile: "And I know he cares about me."
(--'He's got to, right? Otherwise...why the hell would he bother? Unless...he feels he has to... For all the things I did for him, for all the things I didn't do to him... For the things he THINKS I could do to him, *against* him... Yep, he might well be just covering all his angles as far as any rational being could tell. Thank God I'm not exactly rational.'--)
"Yes, he does... You *do* know that, don't you?"
Keller shakes his head, looking at his hands. A long moment of silence passes.
"I'm gonna die."
"Don't say that."
His voice is so quiet, Pete doesn't know what else to say.
"I know it, I can feel it. One way or the other...I can't do this. It's too fucking exhausting."
"You are not going to die, Chris."
"What, you got some special phoneline with God, or something?" Keller says, smiling bitterly: "And even if Beecher gets me off..."-- standing up and walking towards her, making Pete instinctively back away a little: "What the hell am I gonna do in here, without him?"
"He is not going to forget you."
A small, shaky laugh, making Pete's skin crawl at the sound of the sheer nervousness ravaging his body:
"Come on, Sister, you don't believe that yourself. Everything he has, everything that matters to him is on the outside... He'll never... Who would choose this, who would choose me" (--'a fucking dead end'--) "over everything else, over himself?"
Peter Marie seems suddenly annoyed by his spurt of sincerity.
Or...narrow-mindedness, she can't really say.
But, then again...(--'maybe the only time Keller's ever flexible is when he's lying.'--)
"That's not what you want, Chris, and you know it. You can't possibly want him to choose you over everything else; you know he can't, he'd never do that. You're asking too much there."
Oh, you don't have the smallest idea of just how much I'm asking, Sister, Keller thinks.
He wants it all, or he'd rather have nothing. And if Beecher's not gonna give it to him (and he most definitely is not going to)...well, Beecher shouldn't have it either.
(--'Til death do us part and all that shit... More accurate than ever, this time around.'--)
As horrible as it is for him to think this way about a guy he says he's *happy* for...
He does say it, he wants to believe it; he truly feels it on some level, but...
That's just the surface.
Deep down, he knows he hates Beecher for it. And for making him - once again - painfully aware of just how selfish and self-centered he really is.
He hates Toby because he loves him too fucking much.
(--'Yeah, THAT makes a lot of sense, Chris-to-pher!...'--)
"I'm either a part of himself, of his life, or I'm nothing. I sometimes think it would spare us both of a lot of misery if 'nothing' were his choice. I wish I could just...let go. Just tell him to stop coming."
"You tried that..." she says, remembering Chris' voice, that day on the phone, asking Beecher to just forget about him and move on.
(--'*Turn your back on all this and run for your life*, I think those were your exact words... You must have known something about yourself that neither Tobias, nor even I know. You probably know yourself, what you're capable of - the horrible things you can't control - a whole lot better than you think. Than you allow us all to think...'--)
"Yeah, I did, didn't I? I tried to be a good man, a better man. But now...I can't even remember where that came from. The strength to say those things. I wish I could say it again, but...I need him."-- his voice breaks up a little, sensing his hands shaking: "I can't, I just can't."-- clearing his throat with such violence it seems like he's trying to shake off something unbearable: "I want to, I know it's the right thing, the only thing left for both of us, but I just can't."
"You'll have to, Chris," she whispers slowly, curling her fingers around one of the bars of his cell: "Or it will destroy both of you."
"Don't you think I fucking know that?!" he lets out, and - although his tone is sharp and nasty - his annoying, lazy, shit-eating grin slowly settling on his face somehow cools off the anger in his words.
Pete doesn't quite know what to make of the expression on his face, as he lazily leans against the bars of his cell, like a big, bored-beyond-comprehension alley cat. The words coming out of her mouth point to not only a reality Keller is all too aware of, but also to her sudden nervousness:
"And it's not just you making the choices here, Chris. Tobias will make his own, you do realize that, don't you? This isn't just about you, your feelings. Your future."
(--'Like trying to slap me down, huh, Mrs. Reimondo?...'--)
"Yeah...but you see, Sister, the thing is... I know shit Beecher has no fucking clue about," he lets out with a small, slightly amused sigh, breathing out so close over the left side of her face and down her neck, Pete just has to move away from him. A lot.
He senses her uneasiness and, for a second, seems to ponder whether or not to...
But, strangely enough, he backs away, giving her the space she needs.
"I don't wanna die..." he slowly whispers, turning his back on her, slowly dragging his feet as he moves around in an imaginary circle: "...not now."-- gazing right at her, blue eyes slipping into opaque, fuel oil-like weariness: "I don't wanna die now."
Those *couple of days* Sister Pete was talking about have passed, and...Toby's nowhere to be seen.
Actually, almost a week has passed, but who's counting, right?
Days and nights on Death Row have a slow, creeping motion, nothing's the way it should be.
Time seems to have been ripped off, broken into pieces and rearranged by some demented watchmaker, who doesn't have a clue about the other reality, the one in which Beecher and Bonnie and Sister Pete - fucking *everybody* - move and breathe and love (fall in love).
*This* reality, the one captured behind these walls, has its own rhythm, its own pace, completely separate from the other one.
It's no wonder people stop coming to visit someone who's in jail for fucking eternity...it probably feels like crossing into another universe - rusted, cold, corrupted by inertia, devoid of feeling...
Any kind of feeling.
Therefore, why would anyone wanna come visit...(--the dead?)
Keller senses the weary, soulless dim light spreading throughout Death Row crawling underneath his skin, gradually poisoning his body, making him slowly lose his mind.
His *flesh* itches, his feet seem made of lead; he constantly feels like spitting - a sour, persistent taste rubbing against his throat, swimming inside his mouth.
He can't even say what it fucking tastes like.
Thoughts come and go, and come...and sometimes they don't wanna go.
He can't make them go.
And...(--'thinking too much doesn't do anybody any good.'--)
All the bad memories, all the mistakes, all the moments when his life could have taken a different turn.
All the horrible things he's done, all the people he's hurt.
All the hurt he's had throughout his entire life.
All the regrets...
Shit, he's 40, and what does he have?
No family, no kids, no friends.
Nothing that he could be proud of, nothing that could show he is a good man, someone that deserves a second chance.
A glance from fate, from...(--God.)
Everything he's done has been nothing but shit.
Random, meaningless, aimless shit.
A string of bad fucking choices and missed opportunities: changing Juvie for Lardner, jail for marriage, Bonnie for crack, crack for meth, meth for fucking Bryce Tibbetts, for some convenience store idiot who didn't know better, for his broken arm...and for 88 years, up for parole in half a century.
And Schillinger. And Beecher. And Schillinger, and Beecher, and...making the only *nice* thing, the only thing that has ever made him feel like a GOOD man: saving Toby's life.
Saving the life of his little girl.
Probably the one thing that has gotten them so close, it sometimes seems to Chris they're like one person.
More than fucking, or fighting, or busting each other's balls on a regular basis.
Beecher's arms around his shoulders, holding him like there was no tomorrow, his furrowed brow buried above Chris' collarbone - *that* is what he has.
His only certainty.
That moment, right there...
It means EVERYTHING to Chris.
Having so much love, so much trust placed in him - that is what makes his entire existence meaningful.
It had been his moment of grace, and, for a second, he had actually thought it was enough to make up for all his mistakes.
For all the hurt he had caused.
But of course, it *wasn't*...
So here he is, waiting to die.
Every moment he's awake and conscious seems an eternity.
Trapped in a cage, within a larger cage, inside an even larger cage.
His cell, Oz, his fucking wasted life.
A box inside a box, inside a box...
He slowly starts feeling it; closing in on him, breathing on the back of his neck, sending cold shivers down his spine, making his whole body tremble uncontrollably: death.
He's noticed the fact that his hands shake, now and then, out of the blue; he's noticed how easy it is for his mind to aimlessly drift away.
How he sometimes STOPS thinking.
He wonders if this is how all those who have been on Death Row felt at one point.
If this is the last thing a man's body experiences before it finally stops breathing.
Before life is abruptly, deliberately snatched from it, when a man's heart is crushed (or better said, *burned*, since that's what happens to someone who's electrocuted, right?).
If this is...what *Bryce Tibbetts* felt, right before dying. Fear.
(--'Jesus, where the fuck is Toby?...'--)
He's got to stop this. It ain't doing anybody any good...right?