Halloween is the perfect time to enjoy this amusing ghost story from Three Bridges: An Anthology (2014, Word Portrait Writing Services, 168 pages). The book’s title is also its theme: all 11 short stories reference one or more of downtown Knoxville’s three bridges. From the Inside Out is reprinted with permission from the author, Nancy Wahler, and the anthology’s co-editor, Candance W. Reaves. Three Bridges cover photograph by: Cynthia Markert.
From the Inside Out
By: Nancy Wahler
Not just anyone could have the darned luck to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time AND in the wrong body. That’s what happened the day I died, well, just after I died, right there in the middle of Ike Jones’ Pool Hall. The part everybody knows got reported in the December 16, 1901 Knoxville Sentinel, it reported the capture of Harvey Logan, aka Kid Curry. What it don’t report is that me and my buddy Jim was in there. And I don’t mean just in the pool hall. You’ll see. We were the two fellas he shot.
Jim had set the guy up after we noticed he had some expensive clothes and a deep wallet by telling him how bad I was at pool. The stranger introduced himself as William Wilson and said he worked as a railway man. So we made some bets and I lost. I mean I banked those babies so they would barely miss, again and again. I’d upped the stakes after losing three games in a row and then sunk four beautiful shots. Hello corner pocket and hello to free drinks for the night.
I could tell the railroad man knew we’d hustled him by the rising of color in his face but I’d still make him pay up. He stalked over to the bar, ordered a shot of apricot brandy and threw it down in one swallow. Then he turned around and came straight for me. Blocking for a punch, I wasn’t expecting his hands to wrap around my throat and then start squeezing. Dadburnit, he was actually choking me. My heart started pounding and I grabbed at his hands but his fingers felt like bands of steel. My eyes began to burn.
So we’d hustled him a little. I tried to tell him he could forget the bet but couldn’t even get out a squeak. Men kept hollering at the guy to let me alone. My buddy Jim took a run at him. The guy removed one hand from my neck. Sweet air, colored by the scent of the apricot brandy on his breath, trickled into my lungs.
A gun fired just as Jim’s body kinda folded back from the middle and then slumped down. The fella must have shot from inside his pocket. No one can draw a pistol that fast. Just as quick, both hands returned to my neck, a cough that couldn’t escape seemed to push its way into my brain, making me fuzzy. Then, right before the screams and noises of the pool hall faded off, an image of Rosemary’s face floated in front of me. I sure hated that I’d never know her feelings for me. I also hated she’d find out I was in this section of town. Red washed over her face, like when you close your eyes against a bright sun, then nothing.
What could have only been an instant later, I jolted awake into total blackness. My surroundings were so dark I couldn’t get my bearings. I tried my voice.
“Hello?” I said.
It sorta surprised me that it didn’t hurt to talk at all after the abuse my throat had taken at the hands of that railroad man. Ha, ‘At the hands of’ Get it? Because he was strangling me- funny, I’d have to remember that one for when Rosemary came to visit me. She’d rest that soft hand on my arm and say something like, ‘Oh, Luther, you are so silly.’ But she’d smile and dazzle me so I’d know she really liked it. Then, that fast, I realized I might not have visitors. Could I be dead? I tried to move my hands but couldn’t feel them. Oh, I sure hoped I wasn’t blind or paralyzed.
Somebody called my name, “Luther, is that you?”
“Jesus?” I asked, swallowing hard. I hated to meet my Lord and Savior after dying in a pool hall hustling some railroad worker.
“No, you idjit. It’s me, Jim.”
“Jim,” I said, relieved he had survived that gun shot. “How come it’s so dark in here?”
“It’ll get better in a sec,” he said.
And just like that, it started getting lighter.
Things got really confusing after that. You see, right in front of me, lay my body, dead. Off to the side Jim’s body lay, kinda grizzly looking with blood pooling around the gunshot wound and floor. “Oh, Mama help me,” I whispered. “Jim? Am I dead?”
“I’m dead? How can I be dead?”
“I’m guessing the stranglin’,” Jim said, all smart alecky.
I drew in one deep breath, trying to wrap my mind around it. “I’m dead.” My eyes seemed unable to move away from what had been the face I’d shaved in the mirror every day that now lay in front of me, mouth partially open, dead, on a pool table.
Wait a minute, Jim’s body too. “I’m dead and you’re dead too?”
“You’re one regular genius,” Jim said.
I wanted to shake the tar outa him. “I don’t think you understand the seriousness of this here situation.” I said. “We’re dead and this ain’t heaven.”
“Far from it, Luther,” said Jim. “We’re inside that railroad guy.”
“You just shut up, Jim. That don’t make a bit of sense. You live, you die, and then you go to heaven or hell. Nowhere in the Good Book does it say nothing about hanging out inside a murderer.”
But, Good Book aside, I could be as mad as I wanted to be at Jim for saying it but that didn’t make it less true. Somehow the two of us, or at least the thinking-feeling part of us, had ended up inside the guy that strangled me and shot Jim. He seemed so practiced at it too. I began to wonder if we weren’t the first ones to die at his hands.
“Anybody else in here?” I asked.
“Yeah, Luther, Abe Lincoln, he killed him too.”
For a second I got excited about meeting the former president and then felt stupid, same old Jim. At that moment, Wilson’s gaze swung over to the door. A bunch of the men had brought two of our local police in to settle him down. A bit too late if you ask me. They had their guns out but I remembered how fast he’d been when Jim got shot. I sensed that hand going to the pistol. “He’s gonna shoot them too.”
“Mr. Wilson, no!” I shouted. I’m not sure exactly how we accomplished it, or how it gave me a headache when I didn’t have a head, but we shook that hand of his. He emptied his six shooter with some godawful loud noises and the bullets went right into the officers but nowhere vital. If they’d been deer, they’d have still been able to creep off into the woods. Then he wheeled around, looking for an escape.
“Take him through the back,” I suggested. “Where they cut out for the railway to come through. I bet he don’t know there’s a twenty foot drop.”
“What will happen to us when he falls twenty feet?” Jim asked.
“I don’t know. Just try concentrating on the back door,” I tried hard to push the mental picture I had of the back door into the guy’s mind. Seemed to me, we must have been operating somewhere behind his thinking parts since he didn’t react to our conversations. Well, whatever we did, it worked.
“Ah, hell no,” Jim said as our murderer rushed out the back and dropped the twenty feet to the railbed. To me, it felt something like when my horse took a jump over a fence, my stomach dropped just a bit and then when we landed I didn’t feel a thing but some shifting around. That Mr. Wilson fell and grunted something painful though.
“Hey, that hurt you, Jim?” I asked.
“Nope, not a twinge, but I worried for a bit it might,” he said.
Waving his gun wildly, our host struggled to his feet, his vision all cockeyed.
“I think he hurt himself.”
“You think?” Jim said.
Some of the guys fired off shots from the back door. They were not nearly as accurate as this fellow since none of them hit him. Still, I flinched each time I heard a bullet whiz by. He returned fire but I didn’t see nobody fall. The guy hobbled off backward, sneaking his way across the town. He was headed to Friendly Town, or more correctly, Florida street. I’d been there once before on a bet. The ladies hardly wore any clothes and smiled awful familiar at you.
“Hey Jim, member that time you and me came down here?”
“When you chickened out and ran off?”
“So did you.”
“I’s just following you, Luther.”
“Since when you ever followed me anywhere?”
“Aw, are we going to talk about that again?”
“Well, you even had to die first, didn’t you?”
“I’d have been happy to give you that honor, Luther.” I wasn’t sure by his tone of voice that he was taking me seriously. But before I could pursue it I got distracted.
Two pretty ladies met him at the door of one of them kind of establishments, one of them with bright red hair and the other blonde.
“Hey Kid,” the blonde said, all breathy sounding. She clung soft to his side. This dead thing took some getting used to. I could feel stuff but it was like everything was wrapped in cotton so it didn’t really feel like it ought to feel or sound like it ought to sound. I also only saw or heard anything when I really focused in. Otherwise, it was kinda like lying in bed with your eyes closed, not really asleep but not really awake either.
“What happened to you, Harvey?” The red-haired one said and they pulled him inside and shut the door. They had a real nice place, lots of couches with what looked like soft, red, cushions and candles lit all around. They pushed him down clucking over him like they was his mother instead of well… Wait just a minute, who the heck was Harvey?
“Jim, did you hear that? She called him Harvey.”
I could have done without his blandly stated reply. “Yeah, I just can’t believe a murderer would lie to us about his name. I am so surprised.”
“Well, I think it is only fair that we ought to at least know the identity of the fellow who is carrying us around.”
Jim just said, “We’ll be lucky if Harvey is really his name.”
“Annie,” Harvey said to the closest one, she had the red hair. “The cops will be coming after me soon and I’ve twisted my ankle.”
She moved right up under his arm and the other woman moved in on his other side.
“Thanks,” Harvey, aka Kid, aka William said.
Annie smiled at him, “Them cops don’t bother us none.” Then she winked, “They like us too well.” The other woman laughed at that and they helped him up the back stairs. He sure did some moaning and groaning in the next hour. Nothing too exciting, they just set his ankle and wrapped it up. To tell the truth, I was getting a little bored. I always figured if I actually made it into a brothel it would be way more exciting than this.
He passed out while they were setting his ankle and I hoped the law would show up but no such luck. The women covered him up, turned off the light, and shut the door. Turns out not only is Harvey a lying, cheating murderer, but he also snores like steam engine.
“Hey Jim, did you see the way I protected those guys at the pool hall? He didn’t hit a one of them.”
“You? Luther, you couldn’t shuck an ear a corn without my help.”
“Now that just ain’t right, Jim. You’re plumb mean. You always have been. I member that time you took at little girl’s doll and threw it up into the air and then it dropped right down cracking open its head. Who takes a little girls doll, Jim? Who?”
“Luther, I was eight. You was supposed to catch it anyways. So, your fault. Hey, someone’s coming.”
I turned my attention outward so to speak. Annie came back in and snuggled in next to us. She smelled like lavender. The snoring didn’t seem to bother her.
“Hey Jim, I can smell her.”
“Yeah, me too, like some kind of flowers. It must have been bath day.”
“How do you think this is going to work, us being in here?”
“I don’t know Luther. I’m getting plum consternated about it.”
Harvey woke up slow with a groan sometime in the middle of the night. “I’d better not stay here,” Harvey said. He took a swig of some whiskey and a memory of the taste passed over my tongue but I’m not sure it was more than that. “They’re going to come looking for me and I don’t want to cause you ladies no trouble.”
“You can’t leave now, Harvey,” said Anne.
“I shot two of the police, that’ll get up their dander.”
The ladies tried to argue him out of leaving but he insisted. So they helped him gather his stuff, he must have been living there, before flinging themselves into his arms. Yeah, both of them grabbed ahold started crying and wishing him well. Then Annie went and got him a leather bag. Harvey reached into it and pulled out a whole wad of cash, way more than he could have paid me off with.
“You girls buy yourselves something to remember me by,” Harvey said. Then he left by the back door and hobbled down the darkened street to into the woods carrying the two of us with him.
The next two days rolled by pretty miserable. In fact, if he hadn’t a killed me and Jim, we mighta felt sorry for him. Even though I couldn’t feel it, being a constant snug 98.6, Jim and I agreed it had to be below freezing because of the way Harvey’s, if that was his real name, feet crunched on the frozen leaves on the ground. Plus, he shuddered around quite a bit in his sleep.
“Hey Luther,” Jim said.
“Who you think got more folks at their funeral? Me or you?”
“Well, I guess it would be me,” I said. “I got all those hunting buddies.”
“They’re my buddies, too.”
“Maybe they buried us at the same time. You know, a double funeral.”
“Well, I sure hope not.”
Now, that hurt my feelings so I hoped not, too. In fact, I hoped that I’d had way more people at my funeral than he had. I sure wished this guy’d get back to town so I could see who attended my services.
Jim and I argued quite a bit in those two days about who would have more people attending their service. We ended up agreeing that if the funerals had been separate, I might have more, being that Sister Lorraine would likely sing for mine but that he would probably have more crying since his mama was still alive and he courted more than I did. All I really wondered about was Rosemary. I thought we’d had an understanding but nothing ever got said aloud. I sure wish I’d said something.
Every once in a while we’d hear the bloodhounds baying as they hunted for us, err, him. He’d get all still and then change his direction. I wished many a time I could tell what he was thinking. There had to be at least a hundred deputies in on the search too. Those police don’t like it when you shoot one of theirs.
Jim and I got to play around a bit during that time. I can’t tell you how many times we got him to scratch his nose. Jim kept trying to make him think he had to pee. He got it down after a few hours trying too. We howled when the guy would keep whipping it out and then letting out a stream of profanities when he only got a trickle. It didn’t take long for all that to get pretty old though.
He left the wood cover and got to the road a couple a days later, still limping. I could hardly believe it but I recognized where we were. “Jim,” I said. “Ain’t this the road A.B. Carey lives on?”
“Well, I’ll be a turtle snout if it ain’t,” Jim said.
“A.B.’s the nosiest man I ever met. He’s even got one of them newfangled telephones.”
“We gotta get him to go by A.B.’s,” I said.
“You think that’ll get him caught?” Jim asked.
“It can’t hurt,” I noticed William headed in the wrong direction. “We gotta make him turn around,” I told Jim.
Still not quite sure how to explain it, kinda like changing the direction of a river, it’s all water but the new water pushes the other water the way it thinks it should go. Anyhow, we did get him turned around. He limped right by the house but he wasn’t looking the right way for me to tell if A.B. sat at the window like he does sometimes when he cleans his guns.
Harvey kept waving his arms around like he saw gnats or something but it was the wrong season. I wondered if he could feel us buzzing around inside. He moved back into the woods and sat down. His ankle must have been hurting him. He used a long stick to move about and gather up some dried leaves and sticks. It weren’t long before he had a blazing fire going. I sure missed feeling the heat of that fire on my hands. There are things about missing a body that one doesn’t think of while they’re still living.
Just as Harvey sat down next to that fire I heard a stick crack in the woods.
“You hear that?” I asked Jim.
He didn’t have to answer because just then A.B. and a bunch of his friends showed up with rifles aimed right at us. It don’t matter if you know you’re dead or not. It makes a feller pause when he’s staring down a barrel.
A.B. hitched up his pants with one hand and said to Harvey, “I recognized you from the papers,” he said. “You the one that shot my buddies, Luther and Jim.”
“Luth, you ever think of A.B as one of your buddies?”
Harvey stood up, “I could make it worth your while to just keep moving,” he offered.
I think A.B. might have been interested but one of his buddies muscled through and said, “Nothing doing, you’re going to jail.”
I could feel Harvey’s hand itching to go to the gun but, in the end, he felt tired, cold, and just plum worn out. He was good and caught.
“This is it Jim, we’ll meet our maker now.” If I coulda reached out and clasped his hand I would have. So I waited for the fade and float. And waited while they hustled Harvey through town. And waited while they searched him, pulling $2,000 out of his pocket and a baggage check for the checkroom at the Southern Railway station in Nashville. Plus, in that bag he’d pulled out the money for the ladies-$3,130 stolen banknotes. I waited to move away while they put him in the jail, and waited as that key turned in the lock.
“Luther, I don’t think we’re meeting our maker,” Jim said.
I had a sick feeling that he might be right. The next day dawned bright and sunny. I’d been thinking all night.
“Hey Jim, you know how we can make him do stuff?”
“What if we have to use that same kind of push to get out of here?”
“Now, that ain’t a bad thought, Luther. It’s worth trying anyway.” So we tried. All day long I tried to force myself out of that body. A couple of times I thought I felt something but nothing happened.
Then Harvey got a visitor and things got a bit more interesting. Superintendent Lowell Spence of the Pinkerton Detective Agency strolled in and took one look at him and said, “This is Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry. I’ve been tracking this guy for months.”
Kid Curry? Now this was something. Notorious train robber didn’t even begin to describe him. He rode with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they called them The Wild Bunch. Turns out those stolen banknotes were from the holdup of the Great Northern Express Train at Wagner, Montana.
Harvey said, “Hi, Spence,” like they was buddies or something.
Mr. Spence spent a little while just looking at Harvey making some notes in that notebook of his. He made one remark before he turned and left.
“You know what my boss William Pinkerton says about you?” he asked the Kid. Harvey didn’t say anything, just looked at him.
“He says,” and Mr. Spence read off a paper, “you are the most vicious outlaw in America. That you have not even a single redeeming feature.” When Harvey didn’t respond, Mr. Spence left.
Harvey said, “Someday, I’ll have to kill that man. He’s very troublesome.” For a moment, I thought he was talking to me and then I realized he had directed that to one of the guards.
“Can you believe this is Kid Curry? He’s supposed to have killed a whole bunch of people. Course they always say them numbers are exaggerated,” Jim said.
“Well, I can vouch for two of ‘em. What do you think it is gonna take for us to get out of here?”
“I don’t know,” Jim said. “The rest of them aren’t in here so they got out somehow. Getting him caught didn’t do it. Maybe we gotta help him break out.”
“That don’t make no sense at all,” I said, but admittedly I didn’t have another plan. So day turned to another night as I worried on the problem. It’s wearying not needing sleep when you can’t be busy either. I’d have liked to shut down for a few hours. We had to break an outlaw out of jail but I had no idea how.
“I been thinking about when we tried to push ourselves out of him.”
“Yeah, that didn’t work too well.”
“You think maybe we gotta work together to make it happen? Like both of us have to concentrate to get one of us out?”
“We could try it, but Jim, if that happens, somebody is going to be stuck in here by themselves. I guess until this guy dies.”
“So who are we going to focus on?”
Neither one of us wanted to claim it. On my part for a few reasons, one, me and Jim had been fishing buddies since we wore short pants. I didn’t like the idea of leaving him behind for nothing. Two—the scary feeling of not knowing what was next. I kept thinking maybe I’d see Rosemary one more time. Also, the longer I’d been sitting in here, the more I got to thinking that I hadn’t really done much with my life. Maybe I still could.
“Jim, I think you oughta be the one to go.”
“Well, I could just go and check it out.”
I could tell he wanted to get out. So did I, but maybe this time I could be the tougher one.
“I think you should. Be the leader again. You can check it out for me. You been a good friend, Jim. I – well I-, ”
“Now don’t go getting all sentimental, Luther. We don’t even know if it’s gonna work.”
“You’re right.” Besides I knew he knew. Sometimes, words really ain’t needed. “Let’s get to trying then.” So I closed my eyes to that outside world and just focused, focused entirely on Jim, pushing him out. I pressed so hard that I thought my brain might explode but nothing felt any different.
“Jim, I think I gotta rest,” I said.
Nobody answered. “Jim, are you foolin with me?”
Nothing. In that moment, I felt more alone than I ever had. It worked. I’m not sure I really thought it would. I was glad that Jim got out.
But a little of me felt gypped sitting there in the jail. After all, if I was going to be stuck in here for eternity, then I’d rather be out wandering the wilds. Instead of staring out the window at the bridge over Gay Street hoping for a sighting of Rosemary’s swinging skirt. This confinement chafed like a saddle on a bare butt, yet it didn’t seem rough enough to qualify for hell.
The next morning people started showing up just as the sun crossed the bridge. Word had spread across town that they had Kid Curry in the local jail. By the end of the day, I think about four thousand people came to get a look at the outlaw. They brought him cigars and laughed with him, good law abiding citizens, too. Kid Curry joked and laughed right along with them like he stood at a party instead of in a jail.
I heard the guards talking about turning about 2,000 of them away. A bunch of mountain people who had brought their guns because they wanted to test their skills against Kid Curry’s.
One of the guards, Irwin, said, “At least we only have to worry about the ghosts of the folks he’s killed coming from one direction.”
“Nah,” I yelled at him even though he couldn’t hear me. “He just carries us around with him.” Jim woulda thought that was funny. Nobody here to share a laugh with me now.
“What?” the other guard said.
“Since we got water under the bridge on that side. We don’t have to worry about that.”
“Yeah, Irwin. I was real worried before.” He scoffed and then went out into the other room. I’d heard that old wives’ tale about ghosts not been able to cross over water but never thought it made much sense. Why wouldn’t they be able to cross water? Still, it might be worth trying. I’d gotten pretty good at making this guy’s body do whatever I wanted.
So next time they gave him some water, I gave his hand enough of a tremor that water spilled across the floor. I pushed him into stepping over it. Nothing happened except then he slipped and banged his head right into the bars causing him to cuss a blanket of profanity over our head. I’m not sure what I thought would happen, stupid old wives’ tale. It mighta been funny, if I’d been able to see if from the other side.
Those women from the brothel came too. That Annie brought him a cake. She leaned in giving him a view down her dress and she wasn’t wearing no underwear neither. She said, “Harvey, this cake is made real special. I baked it special just for you.” Guard Irwin walked in and snatched that cake right out of her hands.
“I’ll have to search that.” I heard him and the other one in there cutting it up. Nobody even offered us a piece.
Harvey leaned in close to Annie and said,” I got some money hidden. If you girls need it. Just get a little at a time so nobody gets suspicious.” He told her where he’d hidden some of those bank notes. They was still talking when a commotion came from the outer office.
“Hey, my tooth,” somebody said. There’d been a file baked right into that cake.
“Better luck next time, sweetie,” Annie said. She reached in and ran her hand across his cheek. Then she took her leave. She must have been right about police leaving her alone because not a cop there said a word to the women about trying to give a prisoner a metal file.
The parade of people for this outlaw left me stewing. I bet I didn’t have this many people at my funeral. How am I gonna get him out of here if he keeps entertaining everyone like this? It ain’t even like he’s all that clever.
Then it finally happened. No, I didn’t get out. I glanced at that line of visitors and saw the sweetest face in the whole world, Rosemary. She wore a dark dress and bonnet like she was in mourning for someone. Her dark curls all tucked away under her hat. I wondered if her pa had died. He’d never really recovered after that influenza ran through the town a few years back. I sure wished I was out there to take care of her. She held a cake in her sweet, dimpled arms.
I won’t lie. That cut me, cut me bad. Worse than even Jim being gone. Maybe even worse than dying in the first place. She waited in line patiently as one person after another came up to see the Kid. Then, finally, she stood right in front of us. I wondered if she was starstruck like all the rest. Her blue eyes stared into ours. She said, “I’m not gonna lie, Mr. Curry. I have wished you were dead for killing my Luther.”
‘Her Luther? She called me her Luther. At that moment, I felt like I oughta be able to float right out of the guy. Rosemary had loved me too. Still, there was the matter of the cake. She set it down and said. “However, I am a Christian and as a Christian I am called to forgive. So consider this my token to you. You can never give me back what I have lost but you can at least do me the honor of eating a piece of my forgiveness cake.”
She stepped back and called for the guard. “Could you please make sure he gets a piece of this cake? And don’t go trying to eat any of it either.” She said. Then she turned back to us. “Goodbye, Mr. Curry. I hope you never know the kind of pain you have put me through.” She made a graceful exit. I almost felt sorry for him. I really did feel sorry for him a few hours later. Apparently Rosemary’s forgiveness cake had a little extra something in it that had him up with stomach cramps the whole night. I prayed for her though. I think in this case the Lord might just understand.
Kid Curry wrote some letters to folks. One night, I had him write out a letter to Rosemary. In it, he apologized and told her where some of his legal money was. That marked my biggest accomplishment in this body. Only I couldn’t do much from this jail. From the tone of his unadjusted letters, he seemed pretty confident he’d get out before trial. I think it surprised him mightily when they came to get him for the courts.
It seemed difficult to reconcile the coldblooded killer with the guy that just did his daily business. He even seemed polite to the guards and his guests. In court, a messenger boy named C.H. Smith told a story that made me concede he must have some good points despite that Pinkerton man’s opinion.
He said that Kid Curry had held a gun to his head but had whispered to him, “All I want from you is Jim Hill’s money.” Jim Hill is the man who owned the train.
Then, after the robbery, that same Smith asked for the Kid’s gun.
The Kid had asked him, “What do you want it for?”
He said, “To remember this day.”
So the Kid emptied his 44 Colt into the air and threw it to the boy. But the trial became wearying for him. One late afternoon, when we got back one of the other prisoners was out of his cell too. Not sure why.
He walked up to the Kid and said, “How’s it going for you now? Cowboy?” I tell you the truth, I thought I was gonna get a replacement for Jim. Because the Kid wrapped those hands of his around the other prisoner’s skinny throat and began squeezing. I couldn’t stop him neither. It reminded me too much of my demise. I had to shut it down. It took three of the guards to pull him off. Not too many of the prisoners bothered him after that.
He got sentenced finally and it wasn’t a light one, twenty years of hard labor at the federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. That Kid slammed his way back to jail. He stopped entertaining the parade of people too. Next morning, he threw a blanket over his head and said he didn’t want to be a zoo animal. The rain started that day.
Not much worse than sitting inside a prisoner who’s depressed while it is raining outside. The rain kept most of the visitors away. All he did is just fiddle with this broomstick that one of the ladies had brought and sweep his cell. He sure does like to be clean.
On our second to last day in jail, Harvey was messing with that broom again. But this time he carefully unwound the wire from the broom handle and stowed it under the pillow. My throat tightened just thinking about what he might have planned. It didn’t take too long to find out either. It happened the next day.
Harvey walked over to the edge of his cell to look out the window at the Gay street bridge. Guard Irwin strolled by. The sun streaked through the clouds breaking up the rain.
“I wonder if that water is going to go right over that Gay Street bridge?” said Harvey.
Guard Irwin turned to see and while his back was turned Harvey slung that wire around his neck faster than my grandma could wring a chicken’s neck. I tried concentrating hard but I’m not sure Harvey wanted to kill the guard anyway.
Harvey whispered, “give me your keys and gun and you’ll live.”
Guard Irwin wasted no time handing them up. Then Harvey wrapped the wire around the prison bars and walked right on out. So I didn’t have to do much. He took off on walking toward the bridge across Gay Street. Soon as his footfalls sounded on that bridge I felt myself expanding. I whooshed right out of that criminal and felt so much cleaner. Goodbye, Rosemary. As I rose, I looked to my left and saw Jim floating on up beside me.
“Let’s go, Luther,” he said, and go we did. That Kid kept on going too.