may seem simple on the surface, sure. He's seen as a murderer, a cheat, and the younger brother of the infamous Gabriel Macon, the drug lord of their California area. He was the man who went to jail for eight years after supposedly killing a man responsible for some drug competition in the area.
Except he was innocent. Framed by his own brother who had the power and resources to see he was found guilty. And so James went to jail for a crime he never committed. His once happy life was turned upside down. He had never taken part in his brother's illegal activities. In fact, he was in the SWAT for several years and actually tried to track his brother down on several occasions. But when he was found guilty... every one of his friends turned their backs on him. He would never be able to serve in the force again. And his wife left him even after proclaiming she was pregnant with his child.
He spent eight years locked up and fuming. He had eight years to think about the injustice that had been done to him. And eight years to think on how incredibly alone he was. No wife, no child, no friends. Only his father came to see him. He knew James was innocent, simply because he knew his own children that well. But even he stopped coming to visit when his illness got worse and he became bedridden.
Eight years is a long time for an innocent man to be prisoner. And eight years is enough time to turn that man into a raging beast. Prison had worn James down, rubbed him raw, and by the time he got out, all he knew was anger and all he desired was vengeance. Never again would his brother use someone like he used him.
________ was your average woman. She lived a normal life for the most part. She had friends and family, but perhaps she was a bit lonely. She was a therapist and dealt with those who were plagued with anger and rage and sought to bring them back to the happy people they once were. She often times dealt with people who were recently let out of prison, since sometimes it was required for them to go.
And that was the case with her newest client, James Macon. He seemed normal, like the rest, except his odd confessions insisting that he was innocent. Most give up that act when they were brought to prison, so this intrigued her, wondering if he truly thought himself innocent.
That is until her life took an unexpected turn one night when a few masked men forced her into their car. They told her that they worked for an important man who wanted to know everything about James. They wanted recent pictures and every report she wrote about him. And they told her if she didn't, they could frame her for anything. They could make her rue the day she defied them. And before they let her leave the car they told her that the cops could not help her. That the cops were in their boss's pocket. That they
And what was she to do but go along with the plan. Every few weeks she would run into another one of the masked men. She would hand over any and all information regarding James that she had recently obtained. And she battled with herself whether to tell James of the plot going on behind his back. Telling him could provide her safety. But it could also result in James feeling betrayed, spiking his anger and forcing him to do something he'd regret.
So she kept quiet for as long as she could. But the longer she did, the more guilty she felt. And the more she got to know James, the more she seemed to understand him. In fact she ended up feeling so strongly for him that she decided that he would move out of the hotel he was staying at and she offered him the couch in her apartment, free of rent, until he found a stable place to live. That night is also the night when she told him the truth. She made sure to tell him that everything she had done for him all came from her heart. But she had no other choice than to hand the information over to them. She asked him who they were. And then she heard his whole story for the first time...
Then suddenly they were in it together, making plans to keep her safe and even going so far as to wondering how to get to Gabriel himself. All while feelings bubbled up between them like neither had ever felt before.
be able to post everyday. I'm a busy person and my real life always comes before roleplays. If you want to post every single day, this probably isn't for you.
if you want to quit after we start. We never know exactly how a roleplay will go until we start it. One of us just might not be feeling it and
Seriously, I won't bite your head off if you find out this isn't for you.
+ Literacy, please. To me, this means simply: grammar, capitalization, punctuation, multiple paragraphs. I'm asking for
3,000 characters per post. My personal average in a busy roleplay is anywhere between 4,000- 10,000+ characters. I've been known to go below this or over this depending on the scene.
This plot with deal with gore, sex , drugs, etc.
+ I can be quite picky when it comes to pictures, but don't let that scare you.
Just make sure she's a grown woman.
+ Please supply me with an example post of your writing. [You don't have to write anything new.]
+ Tell me what your favorite movie is in your request to join.
Surroundings were becoming much blurrier, and Amelia had to strain her eyes to see straight, so when James offered to take her home, she didn't have enough strength to protest. At first, she wanted to argue and tell him that she was perfectly fine, but if he was beginning to get to know her that well, then he would definitely know she was lying. Being able to hide how she was feeling was never a problem for her. Especially not with her parents. Sadly, they didn't know their daughter well enough to tell when she was sick, upset, furious, sad, just plain pissed off, or even depressed. They loved her dearly. Oh yes, they did. They were just the "silent" and "strict" parents, never having those deep, meaningful conversations with their children.
"You gonna be okay now?" His face showed concern. A look that she'd only seen from Phoebe in such a long time. With a half-smile, she backed up from the doorway, "Would you like to come in? I'm sorry for part of it being a mess. I have a roommate." She drug her feet inside, kicking her heels off as soon as she hit the living room. Before James could get entirely in the apartment, she turned to him. "Oh, and James, you're not just a nobody client." She referred to his much earlier comment, and smiled at him once again, slightly showing her teeth.
Amelia mentioned her roommate, but forgot to mention who her roommate was, or how this person acted. Not expecting her to come out of her room at all, Phoebe's auburn hair ended up right in Amelia's eyes when she popped up out of nowhere. She was almost nose to nose with Amelia, which wasn't strange for her, but extremely awkward with their unintroduced guest.
"MIA, YOU LITTLE SKANK!"
Backing up and stumbling, Amelia's eyes extended to their limit and she scrunched her nose.
"You didn't take your medicine again!"
Sighing, she nodded to her friend. "Yeah, I know. I keep forgetting lately."
"No excuses!" Phoebe turned to James, her own eyes bugging out of her head. "AND WHEN DID YOU GET A BOYFRIEND?!"
Blushing, literally as red as the most ripe tomato, Amelia blinked in surprise. "He's not my boyfriend. He's a patient, and a friend."
Phoebe stormed over to the kitchen counter, picked up Amelia's pills, and tossed the bottle to James. "Thanks for bringing her home. She doesn't always listen to me when I remind her to take them. You're a big, strong man. Make sure she takes them." She glared at him, then. "Or I will make you suck down your own teeth."
For a petite, short girl, Phoebe could be intimidating. That glare with her feisty, green eyes would cut through your heart. After scowling at him, she returned the smile to her face. "She's Anemic, and if she doesn't take her medicine, she gets really sick. Please and thank you. By the way, I'm Phoebe."
"Phoebe, he can't keep my pills. I don't see him every day." Putting her hand on the back of her head, trying to calm down the ache, she rolled her eyes. Her friend was going to do something. She didn't know what, but there was this welling up in her chest that gave her the feeling Phoebe would be outrageous. Of course, when wasn't she?
Phoebe, standing at five foot two, went over to James, lifted his shirt, and gawked at his abs. "Damn, son, you look good." Amelia became alert all of a sudden, ran over to her, and pulled her away from him. She was sure James probably felt uncomfortable with how....open Phoebe was. "Okay, James. Do you want to go? I mean, you can stay, I just don't want you to feel weird, or awkward. Then again..." Now Amelia was just rambling on and on, losing her words, stuttering and didn't know how to catch her breath. "Excuse me. James, do you want to go home? Or would you like to stay here for dinner?"
Amelia put the clipboard on her desk, and suddenly James felt half of the tension in the room disappear. All that was left was his own anger.
"I'm glad you told me that,” she said and actually smiled at him, a sight he had not yet seen. "There is one thing that I don't understand. Why would your own brother want to do that to you? I know you said you two were into different things, and he just happened to be on the bad side. But, it doesn't make sense to me. He asked you for help, then framed you for murder when you got there." Amelia had seemed to be growing paler in the last minutes of his story, but he only just now took notice. Even talking seemed to be taking a toll on her by the end of her questions, but she kept on. "Did he have any motives to do that to you? Think of something that could have possibly happened to make him that mad. Unless he just did it for the hell of it."
James looked at her, worried, but decided to answer. “We may be siblings, but he had I share no brotherly love or compassion,” James told her. “Or at least not anymore. I always wanted to mend our relationship. And he knew that. He took advantage of that. Whatever situation he was in, he knew I was the perfect man to frame for it. If it was a different time and place, I might never have been involved. He didn’t choose me because I’m his brother. He chose me because I was easy prey.” He looked at her for second longer and her sudden lethargy seemed obvious enough to him at that point. “Look, we can continue if you want, but you look horrible. Are you sure you’re alright?” As he spoke she seemed to lower in her chair, which was an obvious answer to him. “You went downhill so fast just now and I’m not sure I’m comfortable laying my burdens on you when you’re like this,” he confessed.
She looked like she was about to protest, but he shook his head and stood up. “You shouldn’t even be here right now,” he said before she had time to say anything. “I know I’m just a nobody client, but I seriously think you should take the day off. I know you well enough to know when you’re not yourself. Now, it doesn’t have to be me, but someone should drive you home.”
It took only a bit of coaxing before Amelia had finally agreed that it would be better if she cancelled the rest of her day’s appointments. And though it was probably extremely unprofessional, it worked best for James to take her home as opposed to one of her coworkers. He was free and carless, whereas they all probably had their own jobs to tend to and cars to come back to. This way Amelia could wake up tomorrow with her car in her driveway.
It had been a while since James had driven, but he was as responsible as ever with Amelia in the car. He looked over to her, her head pressed against the window, her eyes shut. They were silent for most of the ride, but it wasn’t awkward, something James was thankful for. He just wanted her to rest, and he was sure she didn’t have much energy or want to talk much in her position. The only times they exchanged words was when he needed to ask for directions.
When they finally pulled up outside of Amelia’s apartment building, James got out and put her keys in his the pocket of his hoody. He heard her open the passenger door and he came around the front of her blue car only to catch her arm as she almost tripped on the curb.
“Careful,” he said softly, after which he followed her to the door. Once inside, he looked back to the busy street, debating if he should leave her here or help her all the way to her apartment. When he looked back to her the answer was obvious. She had a hand to her head and her coordination was obviously not with her. He had half expected her symptoms to calm down by that point. She had explained to him as they were leaving the office that she had anemia and that this was all because she had forgotten to take her iron that morning. She must have been going through a rough patch, because she didn’t seem well at all.
James decided to direct her toward the elevator, and once they arrived on her floor, she directed him to the door on the left. He unlocked the door for her, trying to keep her from swaying too much with his free arm. Then in they went.
He stood in the doorway awkwardly, trying not to look around too much. But he couldn’t help but notice how homey the place looked. Some places were as tidy as Amelia’s office, and other places were messy with clutter. He stuck his hands in his pockets and asked, “You gonna be okay now?”
"Are you okay?" Three small words were so distant as Amelia's eyes were transfixed on the leg of the chair James sat in. She was in a trance, dazing into the nothingness of the air. The words eventually reached her brain, and her eyes darted to his when he suddenly changed his mind. "No, never mind. Not my place." What confusded her was that he said it wasn't his place to ask such things. Well, she was pretty damn glad he did change his mind, because she had no idea what to tell him. Still, though, she wanted him to ask those things. She wanted him to feel comfortable asking her about things, just as she had to ask him.
Getting him to tell her his story was the only part that she figured would be terrifyingly hard. Nervously tapping her pen on her clipboard, she listened as he actually decided to share with her about the one thing she could see that he hated. She waited until he was completely finished with his story to write anything down. The men that captured her for that short time would most likely wish to know that he told her this. Bulleting her notes, she wrote : brother named Gabriel, drug dealer, top notch, possible murderer, framed James, left him in prison. Not to make it too obvious that something greater was going on, she put the clipboard behind her on her desk, then leaned forward with her hand clasped together.
"I'm glad you told me that." She smiled, honestly smiled. To say the least, it made her heart warmer to know that he could open up another part of him that she couldn't reach so easily. Yet she knew that there was much more to know of him. "There is one thing that I don't understand." Scratching her head, she gave him her most puzzled gaze. "Why would your own brother want to do that to you? I know you said you two were into different things, and he just happened to be on the bad side. But, it doesn't make sense to me. He asked you for help, then framed you for murder when you got there." Without the pen and paper, the atmosphere felt less stressful, and much more natural.
Amelia knew plenty of brothers that hated each other's guts, but they would never try to send one another to prison. Overthinking the situation for a minute gave her a headache. She remembered that she forgot to take her iron pills that morning. It could have been because of Phoebe's babbling on and on about nothing, or because her nerves hit her the events of the previous night. Anemia was different for every person that had it. For her, stress made it much worse than it truly was, giving her headaches and occasionally making her faint. After her brother's death, she fainted multiple times at work, at home, and just out in public. Doctors say it makes your skin pale. Yeah, well she was the palest one in her family. Her father was from Spain, so his skin was, as well as her siblings', rather tan.
Attempting to avoid worse head pains, and fainting, she lowered her tone and relaxed her body in the chair. Scratch that, now she was basically laying back in the chair. "Did he have any motives to do that to you? Think of something that could have possibly happened to make him that mad. Unless he just did it for the hell of it." She said lazily, but still concerned about why Gabriel would do that to James. No more writing today. No more.
Night was the worst time for James. He would lie awake for hours and the shadows on the walls taunted him. And he woke every morning feeling as if he had been through a rough fight.
He would see his brother in his dream, often times down the barrel of a gun. Gabriel had never been blessed with good looks, but his complete confidence always made up for that. He was James’s complete opposite. He was thin and lanky and looked good in a suit. He was sure about everything that came out of his mouth and he made sure to never regret a thing. When they were younger, James was jealous of him. Gabriel didn’t need any physical power, whereas that was just about all James relied on. James didn’t have the wits to spit words at someone he hated. He much preferred to have a conversation with fists. Gabriel caught on to that early on. He would taunt his little brother, saying things he knew he hated to hear. And James would finally crack and attack with everything he had. Of course their parents were always there to break up the fight, but James had always been sure Gabriel was doing it to look like the innocent one.
It was ironic how Gabriel still used that tactic to this day. He was still a boy playing a man’s game.
James reached over to silence his alarm clock, but the anger of his dreams still seemed to be inside him and he hit it too hard. The front of the cheap, plastic machine came popping off, and the music slowly drowned out into white noise, then ended all together. James sat up and looked at it before running a hand down his face. Nothing was going to go his way that day, he already sensed it.
As he pulled on some jeans, James decided that he wouldn’t tell the hotel staff about breaking their alarm clock. Perhaps he could fix it, because the last thing he wanted to do was pay them. He was having enough bad luck finding a job as it was. At the rate he was going, he might as well settle for construction work, which is something he had done early on, and he could very well go back to. But the thought of leaving his criminal justice life behind him was aggravating. Though it made sense that he wouldn’t be getting that kind of job with his record. Not to mention, he wasn’t allowed any guns. He made a mental note to research the construction idea.
When James stepped outside he let out a slow yawn. It was Thursday and he was off to his regular therapist appointment. It had been several weeks, five he believed, and he had kept him promise. It was hard though, to not feel as if he could not show up. But he knew better than anyone that they would come looking for him. He was lucky enough to get out without probation. It was the last thing he wanted, and he wanted to keep away from it. But it wasn’t just the idea of probation that kept making him return to Amelia’s little office. It was the strange comfort he felt there. He had actually started to enjoy the trips. Lately she had started making him coffee since his appointment was usually early in the morning. Then he would actually talk to her about things. Small things. Things that happened in prison. But he hadn’t spoken of why he was there. He hadn’t even told her that he had a wife before.
When James entered her room, though, something seemed off. There was no coffee, no small talk, and as soon as he had sat down she had pulled out her notepad and set pen to paper. It was as if she were ready to write down anything that came out of his mouth. James felt uneasy. Almost like a nervous child. Was she tired of waiting for him to explain himself? That didn’t seem right…
"Okay, James," she said as she placed herself before him. “Now, tell me more about your brother. What is he like? And how do you know it was him that framed you?"
James’s eyebrows knitted together and he looked at her, confusion in his eyes. What was this? He wanted to ask why now? Why did she decide to become authoritative on this day? But for some reason what he asked instead was, “Are you okay?” But he realized how inappropriate that might be, so he put his hands up and shook his head. “No, never mind… Not my place.” He studied her once more before nodding several times to himself. He guessed there was no getting out of this one. Perhaps she had planned this. Perhaps this was her way of prying. Perhaps James only needed to go along to figure out what this was all about. But he couldn’t help feeling the pressure around him. He realized that he was performing now.
Games actually stood for this. He couldn’t sit still. Not while talking about is brother. He turned his back to her and started to examine the paintings on the walls. They were classics like Monet. Serene images. But James didn’t feel serene. “I’m not,” he started, putting his hands in his pockets. “I’m not good at talking so you’ll have to bear with me. Gabriel is three years older than me. We were like any siblings I suppose up until our mom left us. We started to direct our anger at each other. Him with his wits, me with my hands.” James scratched awkwardly behind his ear as he turned back to face Amelia. “By then we were in our early teens. Gabe started to getting into some really fucked up- sorry. He just got into some really bad things from there on out. I’d say it was just drugs but no, this was… hardcore stuff. He moved out and we hardly ever spoke unless there was some family occasion of sorts. Then he just… stopped coming. Last I heard of him he was some top notch drug dealer. I’m guessing it had been about three or four years since he and I spoke last when he framed me. I got this strange call from him, telling me he was in some deep shit, that I had to come help him out. I was always stronger than him and these guys wouldn’t listen to reason. Said he had nowhere else to turn.” James shook his head and an angered expression took over his face. “He prayed on my desire to be a family once more… So the story was that he was meeting these guys some competition in his part of town. And stupid as I am, I went to meet him there. I wasn’t planning on killing anyone. I’d dealt with a lot of thugs before. But I found him with his own buddies, standing over an already dead man. I knew this kid from high school, too. Someone I always got in fights with. I didn’t doubt he was competition for Gabe, though. Long story short, Gabe managed to make it look like I had done the killing and that it was a rough fight. Shot me so I couldn’t get too far. Got my prints on a gun. He had it all planned out. He must have been working on the plan for months.” James hadn’t realized until then that he had been clenching one of his fists. “I guess by that point Gabe had everyone in his pocket because no matter how much the lawyers debated and found proof of my innocence, I still wound up in prison.”
James let out a deep sigh, unclenched his fist, and returned to his chair. He was fuming inside and he wondered if she could see.
"Okay," He nodded at her. Shaking his hand, she flashed him a brief smile and let go. Having this agreement made her feel reassured that he might actually show up each and every time. As he exited the room, her phone buzzed against the small table next to her desk, which made her jump. "Hello?" Phoebe's voice blared through the phone, and Amelia jumped up again. What bothered her at times is that Phoebe would call her without any regard for her career. She could be in the middle of a session with a customer, or filing their paperwork.
"GET YOUR ASS HOME!" She screamed loudly at Mia, causing her to wince, but she rolled her eyes.
"Why would I do that? I'm at work."
"Your mom called. She and your dad want to meet up with you today."
For a few seconds, Amelia was speechless. Her parents refused to speak with her since the funeral. Since they found out that she knew about Gabriel. A piece of her thought that they would be so outraged that they wouldn't want to speak to her for years. That would be very understandable. If someone kept her son's whereabouts from her, Amelia would most likely attack them on the spot.
"I need a minute to think. I haven't even been at work for half the day. Uh, I don't know, Phoebe. Should I go? They might be angry, and what if they tell me they never want to see me again?"
"Boo, I know your parents. They're nothing like that. Take the rest of the day off!You haven't seen them since your brother died. I know you want to. I'm going to let you go. Text me and tell me how it goes. I luh you!"
Phoebe spoke in her own little language, made kissy noises over the phone, then dropped the call. Amelia struggled to decided if she wanted to see them, or if she wanted to avoid them. Avoiding them wouldn't work forever, she realized, so it was a good idea to see how angry they really were.
Having her boss snap at her, but still leaving work early, Amelia took the bus to a smalle cafe that she went to with them on the day her brother passed. Why her mom didn't just call her cell phone, she didn't know, but she still called. Reaching for her phone, she keyed in her mother's number. Her heart beat ever-so quickly, nervousness building up as it rang. Ring. Bthump. Ring. Bthump.
"Hello?" Her mother's raspy voice, obviously from the chain-smoking, answered.
"Mama?" Amelia's nerves lightened. All because she answered the phone.
"Mia, is that you?"
"Yes, yes, it's me."
"Your father and I, we're at the-"
"Cafe? I thought you would be."
"We'll discuss everything when you get here."
"Okay. I'm on the bus. I should be there soon."
"Mia, we love you."
The words rang in the deepest part of her mind. "Yeah, I love you, too." A smile tugged at the corners of her lips, a real smile. When she went to meet them, her mother broke down in tears. Neither of them were mad at her, not anymore at least. Her father teared up as well, and he held her for the longest time to make sure she knew that they understood why she did what she did. Perhaps it the was lack of connection between each other, but she felt such a relief off of her shoulders after that. Amelia was able to go home and sleep. This sleep was comforting, relaxing, and a piece of that numbness she felt - it broke off.
Things with James were becoming like a routine to her. It was, what, almost a month or so? They were already about to have their sixth session together. James wasn't opening up to her as fast as she hoped he would. But he did keep his promise. He showed up for every session. On the night after their fifth meeting, Amelia regrettably did something that she should have refused to. To protect her family, Phoebe, and her own life, though, she went along with it.....
Walking to her magestic, blue Tacoma that she loved so dearly, Amelia went out the back door of her office and trudged to the side of the building where she was parked. In an unusually good mood, she hummed to herself. She threw her purse in the passenger's side of the truck, then remembered that she didn't lock her office. With a sigh, she turned to go back, when the hole of a gun glanced straight at her forehead. Holding the gun was a man, sporting a dirty hockey mask, along with three other men behind him.
"Okay, what is going-"
"Shut up if you want to live." She zipped her mouth shut, and watched and he snapped his fingers. One of the other men went around her, and grabbed her hands so she couldn't do anything. Without saying anything, they "escorted" her to a van a few corners away. The man with the gun put his weapon away, so she thought that meant that maybe they wouldn't hurt her afterall.
"I'm going to say this clearly and only one time. I know you're James Macon's therapist, and I know you have things documented about him. Those papers - I want them. I want to know everything that man says and does during your meetings. Whatever you have, I want you to give it to me. I will have men come for you every few weeks. If you don't cooperate, you, your parents, your sister Italy, and your little friend Phoebe will all die."
"So you understand, then? And I also hope you know that you're not to tell anyone of this."
"Wait, why do you want his papers?"
"Is that any of your damn business?"
"It is as long as he is my patient."
"Well, baby, he isn't your patient anymore. He's ours."
Literally kicking her out of the van, they took off without another word. Not only was that quick, but it was brutal. Just when things started looking up, and when she felt like she was slowly having a breakthrough with James, this happened. Was this year just not her year? No, wait, was her life plagued by a series of unfortunate events? I can't tell James anything. This was just as hard as saying goodbye to her brother. James was becoming a part of her life, and this was only going to make her heart shatter.
The day os their sixth meeting came into play, and Amelia surely didn't want it to. She already wanted to tell James to back away, not to tell her anything anymore, and never return to her office. But she had people to protect. Seeing him walk into that room again made her insides shutter. Truthfully, she hadn't been taking any notes or documenting anything since James began coming to her. Now she had to. Now, if she didn't, peoples lives would be taken. Thinking about it, it sounded utterly ridiculous. It was reality, though.
"Okay, James," Her voice slightly broke, but she ignored it. Pulling out a pen and paper, she dragged a chair out in front of him, sat down, and prepared to write. "Now, tell me more about your brother. What is he like? And how do you know it was him that framed you?" Now it really did sound like an interrogation. She felt as if she being a computer, something without any emotions.
After telling her the short version of his story, another long pause pushed its way between them. James wondered if she believed his innocence or not, but he was sure it wouldn’t matter. It never had before.
"Okay, James. I'm going to take a leap,” she said hesitantly. He looked up to her. "I'm going to believe you, and I'm going to do what I can to help you." She reached her hand out to him once more and he noticed for the first time just how fragile it looked. Spending eight years with mostly men had taken a toll on his expectations of people. "I'll do what I can to help you,” she said, “for as long as it takes.”
“There’s a catch,” he said quietl. He could hear it in her voice. He refused to shake her hand just yet.
She nodded and added, "But, I need you to promise that you'll come to every appointment. No. Skipping. Out. I also need your full cooperation. You don't have to tell me everything immediately, but I need your word that you will put in just as much as I am."
James thought about this, but the buzzer on her desk interrupted. He sighed out and stood, placing a hand on his chest and scratching with a finger or two.
"It looks like we're out of time. But, James, before you go, promise me." She thrust out her hand again, and James licked the bottom of his lip where it had been split once. He let out another sigh and finally took her hand in his own and shook it. This time he was much more sure about the action.
“Okay,” he said with a nod. “Okay…”
James didn’t wait to be escorted out, but he did look at Amelia once more before pulling on his hoodie and leaving the room. He wondered if this was really going to work. He knew he needed the help. It was hard to admit, but he knew deep down. But what could one young woman do about a man like him. What could she do about the demons that haunted his mind, that turned him into a raging animal.
The door let out a ding as he exited the office, then he turned to make his way back to the hotel. He realized that this was a path he would be getting very familiar with.
When he got back to his room, he headed straight for the phone and called up his father’s room in the old folk’s home. He picked up after three rings. “Hello?”
“James,” he heard him say. He could hear the smile in his voice.
“Sorry I haven’t come around again yet,” he said, running a hand through his hair as he sat on the bed. “I’ve been trying to figure out... everything.”
“No, no,” Charles said. “I figured as much. I hope you went shopping. Because if you normally wear such small clothes, I’m going to be worried I raised you poorly.”
James let out a low laugh and traced the design on the comforter with a finger. “Naw, I just thought that was the style these days,” he joked. He heard his dad laugh and he said, “I’ll come by tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll be waitin’. And James? You’re my boy.”
James smiled to himself. That’s what he always said. James just took it to be his way of saying “I love you”, since in reality there were two sons. But James was always his boy. And Gabriel had never deserved the title. At least not after they had been out on their own.
The next few weeks flew by for James. Even the meetings with Amelia passed almost too quickly. It wasn’t that he had been exposing himself much. In fact, he had hardly even told her much more than he had the first day. But there was something about that room, that chair, and Amelia herself, that he grew to be used to. It was as if every time he stepped into that room, he felt a comfort wash over him.
But the next time he walked in to her office, something seemed off. It didn’t feel the same at first. Amelia didn’t seem the same…
And again Amelia was left baffled by this man's words. "Wait, innocent?" It was just like the day her brother left - she had no clue how to respond to what was just told to her. Never had any of her criminal clients claimed to be innocent. In fact, they were all pretty damn shameless about their crimes. She was sure that if anyone attempted to mess with them, they would immediately murder them on the spot. And if they did tell her they were innocent, she probably wouldn't have believed them. But James seemed entirely too stern and unwavering. The tone in his voice erected a seriousness about his claim, and she was almost unable to doubt him.
His brother's name was Gabriel... That explained the rage that flashed through his eyes for a brief moment when she first said her own brother's name. Oh, the irony. This Gabriel, however, sounded nothing like her brother. What kind of person would frame their own family for murder and let them be sent off to prison? That is, if his brother truly did frame him. Just because he sounded innocent, and she so strongly wanted to believe him, she still wasn't positive that he was telling the truth.
Standing from the desk, she crossed her arms and blinked a few times. There was a short silence that felt like eons. Then she made a decision. She decided that she would put all of her effort into understanding him, believing him, and helping him if she was able to.
"Okay, James. I'm going to take a leap." Amelia bit her lip in hesitation, then let it go. Laying all of the cards on the table was the only opportunity she had to help him. Not only was it her obligation as a therapist and required for his release, but part of her was actually yearning to reach out to him. "I'm going to believe you, and I'm going to do what I can to help you." Just as before, she put her hand forward to shake his again. It was time to make a deal, if he would be willing to. "I'll do what I can to help you, for as long as it takes. But, I need you to promise that you'll come to every appointment. No. Skipping. Out. I also need your full cooperation. You don't have to tell me everything immediately, but I need your word that you will put in just as much as I am."
Suddenly the timer on her desk rang, indicating that their session was over. Time moved by quicker than she had hoped. his new client of hers was the most interesting she'd encountered so far. "It looks like we're out of time. But, James, before you go, promise me." She felt like a schoolgirl, making her best friend promise that they would always be friends. Yet she felt like she needed his word to go on.
“His name was Gabriel,” she confessed. "You have his eyes."
James couldn’t hear that name without some part of him becoming ready to strike out. But this was not his story. It was hers.
"He was my brother and my best friend. As for what makes me who I am, it was definitely him."
James watched as she fought with herself and the memories of whatever plagued her. And James could tell it was recent.
"I'm not good at telling people about myself. I suppose now is a good time to start." As she said this she picked up the photo once more and looked to her brother’s face. "He was the only person who knew me, I guess you could say. I became a therapist because of him." James simply nodded. "He didn't talk to me about much, then he went to prison. Now, he's dead."
That was the killer blow, James could see. Admitting these things out loud always broke people. A tear fell from her eye and he could tell she was uncomfortable. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea after all.
"It was my fault, really. He jumped in front of a bullet for me.” When she was done with her story, she turned back to James and said, "I'm sorry. This is unprofessional. Extremely unprofessional."
James said nothing. There were two sides to him. The side that was calm and collected and took his time to think of what to say. And then there was the angry side. The side that acted on impulse. The side that frightened even himself when he wasn’t living it. So he sat there, collecting his thoughts, and he looked away politely as he did so.
A good long minute passed before he said something. “Brave man,” he said simply. “Taking a bullet willingly isn’t an easy thing to do.” He looked back up to her. He should have said that that must have meant he loved her a lot. But he wasn’t good with words so he let the silence grow.
Then after a short bit of staring at his new boots, James decided to change the subject again. He was good at that. Just coming right out and saying things. “I’m innocent,” he said. “I didn’t kill anybody.” That seemed to catch her attention for one reason or another. “I had a brother named Gabriel, too. But I wouldn’t call him that anymore. He set me up. Blamed me for his crimes.” It felt good to say that without anyone cutting him off or yelling at him to stop lying.
He looked at Amelia for a short moment. He was sure she was expecting him to say more. But that’s not how he worked. Just because she opened up to him, didn’t mean he could do the same in full. He would have to work at this, he realized. He had spent eight years being told he was a liar. And perhaps part of him actually believed it now. If she really wanted to help him, she would have to pry him open, bit by bit. And it might be painful for the both of them.
Amelia gasped, with her hand that was still pressed on the back of picture twitching. She didn't think that he would have noticed that. And if he did, she was hoping he wouldn't have brought it up. She did say she would answer anything, though. The many tears that she was holding back were trying to resurface, but she refused to let them make their way through. “You said I could ask you anything. And you turned that photo over at the same time it became hard for you to look at me.” She was hesitant, trying to think of the words to gather together to describe her brother, what happened. Should she even tell him what happened? Did she have to go that deep?
“I want to know what makes you, you… before I tell you what makes me… me.”
His name was Gabriel," She started calmly. Her eyes were watery and puffy. To make him feel comfortable, she would have to make herself uncomfortable at first. The immense love she felt for her brother made her want to tell James everything about him. Yet it was so hard for her to mention anything to do with him. "You have his eyes."
Staring back at him was the most complicated thing to do. They only had an hour and a half together, but the way time was fabricated it felt like two dozen years. If this is what had to happen to get him used to her and opening up, then she would do it. Looking back at him once more, she saw that he looked slightly dazed about what she just said. Ignoring it, she began to tell him more.
"He was my brother and my best friend. As for what makes me who I am, it was definitely him."
Sure, she tried this with other clients, but the sad thing? Amelia was never much of a talker. She never wanted to tell anyone much about who she was, what she went through, or her problems. It wasn't that she thought it was none of their business - she didn't want to burden anyone. Her family and friends always knew her as the listener. People would come to her with their issues when she was younger and she would listen to them openly, then give any advice she could. When it came to her own problems, the only person she did talk to was her brother. No one knew her better than Gabriel, and no one could give her better advice than he could.
There were plenty of times that their parents would try to get Amelia to talk to them about things. She could never do it without keeping something inside, though. That's probably why Gabriel trusted her with where he was going. She could always keep a secret from anyone.
"I'm not good at telling people about myself. I suppose now is a good time to start." Amelia lifted the picture, gazing into it, memories flooding back like the flow of a quickened stream. "He was the only person who knew me, I guess you could say. I became a therapist because of him." The intensity of her stare grew, then she she moved her dark eyes back to James.
"He didn't talk to me about much, then he went to prison. Now, he's dead." A tear let its way out, and she didn't even bother to wipe it away. If she had to share about herself, she might as well express her emotions while talking about it. It was only fair that she let him see her for who she was. For the past two months, she had been a big bundle of water that was being held back. She didn't talk to Phoebe about it because the girl was filled with life. The last thing she wanted to do was to bring her down with her. She loved her too much for that.
"It was my fault, really. He jumped in front of a bullet for me."
Amelia couldn't control her water flow much longer, and it was pathetic just how much she wanted and needed to cry. Gabriel always told her that if she didn't feel pain for herself, then she would become cold. He was probably right, but when did she ever listen? "I'm sorry. This is unprofessional. Extremely unprofessional." She laughed through her tears.
James watched Amelia circle her desk to stand in front of him. She crossed her arms and her legs and stood with conviction as she looked down at him in that chair.
"Look, James,” she said, and her tone already had him believing she was going to try to reason with him. “I'm not asking you to tell me your life story, or to be my best friend. I don't know anything about you, and you don't know anything about me. I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger, either. But, this is required for you."
James kept silent, sure there was more to follow. But there was a short moment of silence as his eyes scanned the room, met her gaze, then left again. His eyes moved about almost nervously, but he wasn’t nervous, he was just awkward. He wasn’t sure if it was the fact that she was, indeed, a stranger, or if he was still getting used to the fact that he was out of prison. He couldn’t say.
Back before he was framed, he would have been pleasant and even charming. His ex-wife used to say that he had one of the most spectacular smiles. But in that moment, James couldn’t even remember the last time he smiled. He felt like a completely different person. Perhaps that was something he should say…?
“By law, I don't have to tell anyone anything that you say to me as long as I don't think it's life-threatening,” she informed him. And he wondered what she meant by “life threatening”. Life threatening for who? Someone he may plan to murder? Perhaps to himself. Or her. “I promise everything is confidential. If it helps, I'll let you ask me some questions. Whatever you want."
That piqued his interest. He had imagined this meeting as being more of an interrogation than anything. And he never wanted to go through one of those again. But the fact that she was offering to open herself up to him was something he never thought would happen. It was strangely comforting, but he had absolutely no idea what to ask.
He looked to his hands, then back up to her, then to the painting on the wall. His attention was brought back to her when she moved to place a frame face down. If James weren’t so observant, he wouldn’t have had any idea what the picture was. But he saw it when he came in. She was standing next to a man, and the lack of romantic intimacy probably meant that they were family.
"Whatever you went through," she said, avoiding his eyes, "we can work through it. It may not be right away that it gets solved, but we can do something to make it better. That's what I'm here for. And I promise you, I cannot judge you for anything. I won't judge you - for whatever you did."
James sat back in his chair as she spoke. But he was still focused on the picture. He spoke, truly spoke, for the first time then, completely changing the subject.
“What do I have in common with that man in the photo?” he asked bluntly. When she stared at him, dumbfounded, he added, “You said I could ask you anything. And you turned that photo over at the same time it became hard for you to look at me.” As for his own wandering eyes, he had them focused on her now. He had a reason to look at her. And his gaze had grown intense since prison. Since his anger rose and his hatred for his brother grew. It wasn’t a threatening look he gave her, though. It was curious, but almost crazed. “I want to know what makes you, you… before I tell you what makes me… me,” he said in his slow way of talking before pushing his lips together in a tight line.
He could hardly believe it himself that he would be willing to talk to this woman. But something about her felt right to him.
"I'm sorry, I-" She heard him say. Fumbling with his papers, she finally decided that she wouldn't take notes during this session. Her boss preferred that each of them take notes on every session, especially those with the stamp convicted across their documents. Normally all of the criminals that came in didn't say anything. Hell, they would sit there and stare at her the entire time. She was hoping that James wouldn't be the same. She just wanted him to talk. Circling the desk, she sat on the edge of the front of it, right before James.
"Look, James, I'm not asking you to tell me your life story, or to be my best friend. I don't know anything about you, and you don't know anything about me. I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger, either. But, this is required for you."
Amelia crossed her arms and folded her legs as she stared him down. Being trained for this helped somewhat, but she wasn't sure that it would work on him. This man seemed so disconnected from life - abandoned, upset, and almost seemed like he didn't want to be there. That was the most obvious part - none of them ever wanted to be there. Her brown eyes gazed down at him because he never seemed to look at her, actually look at her.
By law, I don't have to tell anyone anything that you say to me as long as I don't think it's life-threatening. I promise everything is confidential. If it helps, I'll let you ask me some questions. Whatever you want."
The unresponsive clients of hers were the ones that didn't want her to judge them. So when she realized they wouldn't open up, she let them know that they could ask her to open up first. James had the same aura of her brother, she noticed. His eyes were innocent like Gabe's, the same color blue, actually.
Thinking back to the last eight hours she spent with him, she saw those deep ocean hues again. That day, they spent three hours alone together, talking about what happened and why he didn't tell her before he left. "You were so innocent," He told her. "I didn't want you to think terribly of your big brother. I just wanted you to know that I wouldn't be back for a long time." She still couldn't comprehend what made him think she could ever think so badly of him. He was her brother, and she saw him for who he was, not what he did.
"But, why did you kill those people, Gabe?"
"They were going to come after you and Italy, if I didn't."
"Why would th-"
"Mia, I'm involved with some really bad people. No matter what you guys saw, I never let any of you know that. I took something that didn't belong to me, and they threatened to kill my family, so I handled it."
"Damn it, Gabriel, what did you take?"
"Money, I took money for us, for Mom and Dad."
All she could think of the happened after that is slapping him, not talking to him for the next five hours, then bang. T
Tears were starting to form, but she held them back, then looked slightly away from him. Trying to make eye contact wasn't always the best idea after all. A picture of the two of them sat next to her, and she flipped it face-down. Don't look at him. She mentally told herself. If looking at him brought that back, then who knows what other memories it would bring up.
"Whatever you went through," She started, still trying to avoid his eyes now, "we can work through it. It may not be right away that it gets solved, but we can do something to make it better. That's what I'm here for. And I promise you, I can not judge you for anything. I won't judge you - for whatever you did."
Her hands were now pressed against the desk. She figured she would eyeball him, and try to be hardcore, but it's clear that approach ended quickly.
James looked up from his lap to see a woman standing to the right of the receptionist’s desk. As he did he saw a woman walking out, pulling her jacket tighter around her. She caught Jame’s eye, but looked away nervously. She did the same to the man across the waiting room. She obviously did not feel comfortable around men. “Your therapist will see you now?” asked the assistant.
James stood awkwardly and straightened his shirt out as he followed the woman down a hall or two. The place was very homey. The walls were a pale, old-fashioned yellow. The kind of color you might find your grandmother wearing. It wasn’t the stark white of most doctor’s offices. Or the inner walls of a prison…
The woman tapped on a door to her right. Three taps. Then she opened it with a friendly smile. “A James Macon here to see you,” she said. She stepped out of the way so he could enter, which was needed because he took up just about the whole width of the doorframe. He really had nothing better to do in prison other than take advantage of their gym and he realized it showed.
Once inside, the assistant shut the door behind him. He turned back to look at the door just as it clicked. Then he surveyed the room. Being in SWAT had its lasting affects. He scanned the room, noticing just about everything. The photos on the desk, the artwork on the walls, the old, but comfortable looking chair he guessed was for him to sit in.
The woman sitting at the desk seemed busy with some papers for a moment, but she said, "Hello, Mister Macon. I'm Miss Vascez, but you may call Amelia if you like.” With that said, she turned to face him with a smile as she held her hand out to him.
“Uh,” he said. “James.” He took her hand in his own and didn’t quite meet her brown eyes with his own blue. It was his first handshake in a long, long while. He had almost forgotten the rules of the gesture. When they let go, he let out a quiet sigh.
He wondered if she was afraid of him. She had to know he was recently let out of jail. But he knew on her fancy sheets it didn’t say that he was innocent. She though him to be a killer.
James cleared his throat and took the few steps it took to get to the chair before sitting slowly. He heard the ticking on the wall and looked at the clock. He didn’t know what he expected, but he was preparing himself for a long, drawn out, stereotypical therapy session. He scratched his arm, just over his tattoo. This would seem longer than it actually was, he knew, with the clock ticking away behind his head. Tick, tick, tick…
Tick. James felt the blow to his face and it sent his body twisting clear around. He hit the wall behind him and gripped it. His felt the blood drip down from his eyebrow. He turned back to his competition and launched his whole body at the man. He tackled him to the ground, but not without upsetting one of the tables, sending food flying and angering prisoners.
“You fuck,” he yelled, sitting on top of the man, taking his collar in tight fists and shaking him. He rammed his head into the ground over and over. “Don’t talk about things you know nothing about!” The man was bleeding by this point, but he laughed, exposing his bloody teeth. They heard whistles and the sound of running boots on the tile. James felt a guard try to pull him off, but James was larger and stronger and he shoved him off, getting in another few punches before the backup came. In the end it took four security guards to pull him off of Samuel.
“You know the rules,” the head of security said to him when they managed to get him back into his cell. “Yet you keep picking fights.”
“I didn’t pick it,” he replied.
The other man shook his head. “Shut up. You’re nothing, alright? You have anger problems and I heard they’re gonna do something about that when you get out of here. If you ever get out of here. I don’t know how many more months this is going to add on to your time.”
James didn’t reply. He rarely ever replied. His words were empty to them.
The door closed behind the head of security and James was left alone with his thoughts and the ticking of the clock on the wall. Tick, tick, tick. He wanted his own bed, though he knew he didn’t have one to return to. Tick, tick, tick. He wanted his wife, though he knew he didn’t have one to return to. Tick, tick, tick. He wanted his child, his freedom, his life… though he knew he didn’t have one to return to. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
Tick. James was pulled from his mind suddenly when he realized he was being asked a question. He looked up at his new therapist, Amelia, and raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry, I…” he started, but didn’t finish. He had a habit of leaving his sentences half finished. If only he had the sense to do such with his actions…
Her body shuttered at the once pleasant voice of her brother that had now become a menace to her ears. "Okay - what did you just say?" His chestnut eyes bored into her own identical orbs, but with a much more stern aura about them. Something about this situation didn't make any sense because he refused to explain himself. "You heard me. I'm going to prison."
"Gabriel, I'm afraid I don't follow."
He slid onto his knees, and took his sister's hands in his, trying to get her to fathom how he could possibly be going to such a hell-hole. Gabriel never did anything wrong, nor could she believe that he would do something to jeopordize his future. He was always the good child - their parents favorite. He did everything by the book and to the T. How could such a perfect man commit any sort of crime?
"Mia, I'm not the good guy you think I am, okay? I've done some bad things that I don't want to tell you. Mom and Dad don't even know, and I prefer to keep it that way."
"You can't just leave and not tell me why!" Tears were beginning to force their way through. Gabriel wiped the first that fell, then pushed her dark hair away from her eyes.
"I promise I'll be back, but it won't be for a long time."
He stood back up and planted a light kiss on the sixteen year old's head. As he was about to head for the door, little footsteps shrugged across the kitchen floor. A six year old girl with raven hair, evenly matched with the color of a crow, made her way over to Gabriel's leg.
"Momma will be mad."
"Come here, Italy," Amelia grabbed her younger sister's hand, pulling her away from him. The last thing little Italy needed to know was that her big brother was leaving and not returning for who-knows how many years. He never informed her of how long they intended to keep him away from his family. She didn't know whether to be furious, distressed, or entirely numb. In truth, she felt a mixture of every single horrible emotion ever thought of at the moment.
"I love you both. Tell Mom and Dad the same. But, Mia, please, please don't tell them where I've gone. If they find out, they'll hate me. I'll tell them when I come back. I promise."
Walking out, he left them standing there - wordless, breathless, loveless. Mia felt so much hatred for him, and so much guilt because of that hatred that she fell to her knees, pouring her tears into her sister's shoulder. Maybe she shouldn't have done that. Maybe she should have remained strong in front of Italy, but facades are hard to keep up, especially when the "All American Family" had just been broken.
********* Twelve Years *******
"Gabriel Vascez stood with great honor two days ago, which was the day he was released from prison. He had this gleaming smile on his face as he walked out of those doors. As a matter of fact, he had that smile every day, I was told. No matter what type of situation he was in, he would always smirk and tell everyone things always get better...."
The speech given at Gabriel's funeral faded in the background for Amelia. To her, words couldn't describe how amazing her brother was, and neither could her non-stop tears. It took twelve years for her to be able to see him again, and eight hours after his release, he jumped in front of a bullet....for her. Within those eight hours, he explained everything to her, her parents, and even their little sister. He was involved in four murders, and he didn't lie about any of it. When he was arrested, he was only twenty, so the part of his life meant for college, starting a career and a family was all wasted away. Is that why he didn't care if he died for his sister? Because he had no chance of doing what he really wanted to do? Amelia held her head, trying to understand why he would give his life up so easily, then they called her name to give a few words herself. She stood elegantly, taking her time to get to the podium, when she knew she really didn't want to talk in front of these people. Cousins, uncles, and aunts that say they were their family - they all criticized Gabriel.
"Mama, Papa, don't be angry with me. I have known for twelve years where Gabriel has been. I did not know he would be retained for this long; however, I should have told the both of you, and I regret that I didn't."
The pain from their eyes was a painful reality that hit her liks bricks tumbling down on her head. In no way did she want to hurt them. Because of her, they didn't see their son for twelve years, and now he was dead.
"All that I am, is because of my brother. Two days ago, he saved my life. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him, but he would still be here if I would have died that day. I became a therapist specifically because I knew where he was headed, and wouldn't talk to anyone about it. I wanted to give all of those people that didn't have anyone to speak to, somewhere to go. And maybe I was hoping that when Gabriel was released, that he would come straight to me. How selfish was that?"
Covering her mouth with her hand, the sobbing commenced once again as she scurried off of the stage. She could only hope that her parents were not beyond outraged. Then again, how could they not be? Forgive me.
****** Two Months *****
Eyes like shiny brown marbles, skin like a perfectly browned pancake, and hair long, wispy, and chocolate, Mia stood before the mirror in her bathroom, located next to her bedroom in her ever-so tiny apartment that she shared with her friend that had a not-so tiny personality. She was twenty-eight, still sharing a place with her best friend, and had no boyfriend. That wasn't always a bad thing; however, she hadn't had a boyfriend in years. Phoebe was always getting onto her about that. Only because she was dating a douche, and her relationship was moments away from plummeting, so she wanted to hook Mia up. Amelia thought it was rather humorous, and she just played along. Phoebe was the only person that made her smile since her brother's passing.
Adding a final touch of eyeliner and mascara, Mia shut the light off and slugged out to the kitchen. It was 6:30, and the world was still asleep - other than the two of them and everyone else that had to be at work early that morning. Her usual day began around six when she first hit the floor. She only had twenty more minutes until she had to leave. The office was across town, it took twenty-five minutes to get there, and she had to be at work at 7:45.
"Hey, Boo, what do you want for breakfast?"
"More sleeeep," She drew out the word, and plopped down into the seat at their bar.
"Babe, we all want more sleep."
Phoebe was two years younger than Amelia, and had a lot less life experience than any person she's ever met. She was one of those girls that looked at everything and said "Hey, whatever." How the two of them clicked was beyond inexplicable and what was even more baffling was how they managed to lived together. Amelia was neat and very put together, while Phoebe was messy and couldn't give a damn about what she was wearing the next day as long as she had somewhere soft to sleep.
"I think I'm just going to skip out on breakfast today. I don't feel like eating."
"You've got to eat something! You haven't been eating a lot since the funeral. You're losing a lot of weight, and you're already skinny enough, Mia."
"I'm okay, Phoebs. I'm going to go to work now."
Patting her concerned friend's head, she snatched her purse up and headed out. Lately she had to take the bus for transportation because her shiny, metallic blue Tacoma was in the shop. She didn't mind, though, because she loved her job. Helping people satisfied her. Giving them someone to talk to, and actually being able to give advice back made her feel alive inside. There was only one time that she had not been able to help someone. His name was Alex. He was a teenage boy that was distraught to the point that he felt nothing. Anyone could see that in his eyes, the nothingness, the emptiness. Finally he took his life one day, but he left a not for Amelia. He thanked her for trying to help, for being the only one who attempted to save him, but there wasn't anything she could have done anyway. At times it haunted her.
Amelia entered the back door of the office when she arrived, then made her way straight to the kitchen to make some coffee. Although she had plenty of other co-workers around her, she didn't fraternize. Mr. Brady was the office pervert, so she never dared to even get close to him and all of the others were concerned with their own little groups of people. With a sigh and a last sip of her drink, she threw the cup in the garbage, then went to her own office. Her first client was already waiting. She was a regular that was coping with the loss of her mother, along with abuse from her father - formerly being abused, that is. Each and every time she came, she spoke of the nightmares she received and the fear she had that he would come back to take her life, too. Amelia felt for the girl, promising her that she would always be there for her. She put her hand on the young adult's knee.
"Your father is locked away, Rebecca. He's been sentenced to life in prison, and I'm psotive they won't let him out. They didn't give him bail, or leave any room for to get out even if he did have good behavior. When you have those dreams, force yourself to wake up. After you wake up, think about your aunt and uncle and how much they love you. Realize that they won't let him touch you ever again."
Prescribing her sleep medication and giving her a hug, she sent Rebecca on her way. Pulling out a new file for the next person, she read up on his history. A criminal.. She thought, writing a few notes to herself. His name is James Macon. Before he came in, she removed her beige coat, revealing her black dress that went right above her knees. Hearing the door open behind her, she didn't look right away, but grabbed the papers once more.
"Hello, Mister Macon. I'm Miss Vascez, but you may call Amelia if you like," She turned around to hold her hand out. That was never advised, and she didn't know what to expect, but she wanted to make him feel as welcome as possible.
“I need you to sign these,” she said, sliding a manila folder with a pen over to him from across the table.
James frowned and worked the papers out with his large, calloused hands. “Lainie, these are divorce papers,” he said, almost breathless. He looked up to her and she nodded.
“Yes,” was all she said as she moved the hair from her face.
James clenched a fist and swallowed and looked up from the papers to glance around the room. The whole place was full of prisoners talking to their loved ones. They almost seemed happy. “Why?” he asked, his voice rough.
“Lots of reasons, James.”
“Like what?” he asked, his voice raising.
She looked around, insecure. “Well that for one. You’ve been so angry lately. And-“
“Well you’ve been in here for two months now and I still don’t even know the truth about what happened.”
“I told you the truth!”
“I know! Alright, I know. But I just- look, James. I met someone.” Her confession was replied to with silence. James had to look away. “Say something. Please.”
James scratched his temple and shook his head. “What do you want me to say?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Just tell me how you feel-“
“How I feel? My wife has been cheating on me!” he yelled. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t aware that going to prison meant you got to see other men. You’re still my wife! You’re still my wife!” He hit the table hard with a fist. His yelling had captured everyone’s attention. “Is there anything else you’ve been hiding from me!?”
Lainie looked to her lap and together they ignored the stares. “I’m pregnant,” she said. “I know it’s yours because I was one month along before he and I… James, I’m so sorry.” She started to cry. But James was all out of pity.
“No,” he said. “You don’t get to be sorry. You don’t get to do this shit and apologize to me for it. If you were really sorry, you’d wait for me to get out of here. You’d wait!”
“And what about the child, James!? Should he grow up eight years without a father, only to have a man he doesn’t know come home to him?”
James shook his head, “You could bring him in to see me!”
“I’m not raising a child with a criminal for a father.”
“I’m not- I’m not a criminal, Lainie! Have they poisoned your mind as well!? God dammit, Lainie, that child is mine! We had everything planned out!”
She shook her head slowly. “Not anymore… Not since… Just please, sign the papers.” She stood up and gathered her purse. “I’ll come by to retrieve them later.”
“No,” he said, looking from a security guard that was eying him back to Lainie. “No, you want them that bad? You want to be rid of me that bad? Then just take them now. I’ll save you a trip.” He took the pen and signed the papers, one after another, not even bothering to read anything. “Save you from having to see me again, right?” He shoved the papers back into the folder clumsily before thrusting it out to her. “Have a good life,” he said. “I hope he doesn’t get falsely accused of a murder, too. Then you might just have to find yourself another new man.”
Lainie took the folder slowly. She eyed him, as if afraid. The James she knew was always sweet, always smiling. And even when they fought, she had never seen him like this… She turned away and walked out of the visiting center. She never did walk back in again.
~8 Years Later~
James pulled on the neck of his too-tight t-shirt. He had always kept a muscular build, but he had buffed up even more while in prison. He looked back over his shoulder at the God forsaken place. The brick walls, the high fence surrounding it. Then he looked back across the street. He stood there for a moment, knowing that no one was going to be there to pick him up.
James looked at the business card once more. On the front was typed a woman’s name and an address. And on the back was the time he was supposed to be there. Required therapy for his anger. He couldn’t believe it. At least he didn’t have to start that day. He shoved the stocky paper into his pocket and draped his hoodie over one arm before finally starting his way down the street. He tried to thumb for a ride, but no one wanted to pick up a man so close to prison. So he just walked. He was thankful that the spring air was enough to keep him cool.
It didn’t take too long to find a bus stop, and when he boarded, it was the first time he really realized he was free. The closeness of the people reminded him that he truly was out. And in observing a group of teenage passengers, he noticed that the phones they held were different. And the outfits wore were strange to him. Not to mention, they had several new words in their vocabulary that he couldn’t even guess the meaning to. At a stop, they pushed by him to get out. One looked at him and said “watch it” as if it were his own fault. That’s when he truly knew that times had changed.
James took two more buses to get to where he needed to be. He looked at the building with distaste before walking into the old-folks home.
“Hi, can I help you?” asked a woman at a desk wearing a pink scrub. James looked at her like the words that came out of her mouth were foreign. He was half expecting her to instantly know his story, to shout for him to get out in fear.
“Uh… Yeah, I’m looking for a Charles Macon.”
She looked at him curiously. “You must be his son, James. He always speaks so highly of you. He said you’ve been away for a while.”
James cleared his throat. “Yeah. Yeah, you could say that.”
“Right this way,” she said with a smile.
He followed her down a hallway and tapped on a door to her right before walking in. The placed smelled of bleach and James scrunched his nose as he walked into the room. His father was laying propped up on his bed, watching the TV. He looked over and their eyes locked.
“James?” he asked and reached out with his arms.
“Yeah. It’s me…” he replied and went to his father. He let his dad hug him for as long as he wished.
“When did you…?”
“Just a few hours ago,” he answered. He heard the nurse leave them.
“I think I almost had a heart attack when I saw your face. You look good, James.”
James nodded and scratched his head. He couldn’t say the same for his father. He was pale, and his once dark hair was all grey. His whiskers were long and unkempt. James decided to change the subject. “What’s on the television these days?” he asked, pulling up a chair.
“Crap. Just crap. Every once in a while I’ll catch an old movie, but most of the time it’s a whole bunch of crap shows that are all alike. And I can’t get used to these new fancy menus. You know you can pause the actual TV program these days? And you can rewind and fast forward! Heh!”
James let a small smile come to his face. “No, I didn’t know that,” he confessed.
Charles was the only one who ever seemed to give a lick about James in the long run. The only reason he stopped coming to visit him was because of his illness. James stayed with his dad for most of the day. He only got up the gumption to leave when his old man had taken his meds and conked out. The nurses told him to come by again and he simply nodded. Of course he would. He wouldn’t abandon his father like Gabriel had. Like their mother had…
James checked in to the nearest hotel. He had no home to return to. Lainie had taken the house. All he had left were the clothes on his back and his own money. And there was no way he was going to go to Lainie, expecting her to give him any shelter. They hadn’t spoken in eight years, and he didn’t intend to start then.
That nigth was rough. He was so used to the bed in his own cell. And public noises were all wrong, too. He only managed to sleep for a few, short hours. Then he rose at his usual time and started his morning routine of push ups. That day, he was most concerned about practicality. He bought several pairs of jeans and sweats to work out in as well as shirts to accommodate them. He thought about buying a phone, but decided against it for the time being. It was a hectic ride for him to try to sort out his new life. And that took the whole of that day.
The next, he was scheduled to see his new therapist. It was the last place James wanted to go, but he knew if he didn’t show up, that he would be facing even more consequences. He pulled on his new clothes, tearing the tags off with his hands. The t-shirt exposed one of his many tattoos and he realized that if he were to find a new job, he would have to keep them covered. Back in SWAT, no one even cared. In fact, everyone on his team had gotten a matching ink. And it taunted James every time he saw it…
The office was closer than he thought it would be to his hotel, so he arrived early. He stepped inside to the sound of faint music that he had never heard before.
“Hello,” said the receptionist. He stepped up to the counter without replying and signed his name. He had to dig out the business card to know how to spell the therapist’s name. “Amelia Vascez” he wrote down in his messy scroll. Then he turned and took a seat in one of the wooden chairs. He looked about awkwardly at the people around him, then down at the table beside him littered with magazines. He picked up the one on top. It was one of those zines that focused on intruding into the lives of the famous. He flipped through a couple pages and only recognized a few faces like Brad Pitt. But most of them were unknown to him. And young. He put the magazine back down and laced his hands together, bowing his head. He only lifted it when he heard his name being called.
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