“I won’t regress,” he said. “My name is Andrew Laeddis. 1 murdered my wife, Dolores, in the spring of ‘fifty-two...”


THE SUN WAS in the room when he woke. :

He sat up and looked toward the bars, but the bars weren’t there.  Just a window, lower than it should have been until he realized he was up high, on the top bunk in the room he’d shared with Trey and Bibby.

It was empty. He hopped off the bunk and opened the closet and saw his clothes there, fresh from the laundry, and he put them on. He walked to the window and placed a foot up on the ledge to tie his shoe and looked out at the compound and saw patients and orderlies and guards in equal number, some milling in front of the hospital, others continuing the cleanup, some tending to what remained of the rosebushes along the foundation.

He considered his hands as he tied the second shoe. Rock Steady.  His vision was as clear as it had been when he was a child and his head as well.

He left the room and walked down the stairs and out into the compound and he passed Nurse Marino in the breezeway and she gave him a smile and said, “Morning.”

“Beautiful one,” he said.

“Gorgeous. I think that storm blew summer out for good.” He leaned on the rail and looked at a sky the color of baby blue eyes and he could smell a freshness in the air that had been missing since June.

“Enjoy the day,” Nurse Marino said, and he watched her as she walked down the breezeway, felt it was maybe a sign of health that he enjoyed the sway of her hips.

He walked into the compound and passed some orderlies on their day off tossing a ball back and forth and they waved and said, “Good morning,” and he waved and said “Good morning” back.  He heard the sound of the ferry horn as it neared the dock, and he saw Cawley and the warden talking in the center of the lawn in front of the hospital and they nodded in acknowledgment and he nodded back.

He sat down on the corner of the hospital steps and looked out at all of it and felt as good as he’d felt in a long time.


He took the cigarette and put it in his mouth, leaned in toward the flame and smelled that gasoline stench of the Zippo before it was snapped closed.

“How we doing this morning?”

“Good. You?” He sucked the smoke back into his lungs.

“Can’t complain.”

He noticed Cawley and the warden watching them.

“We ever figure out what that book of the warden’s is?”

“Nope. Might go to the grave without knowing.”

“That’s a helluva shame.”

“Maybe there are some things we were put on this earth not to know. Look at it that way.”

“Interesting perspective.”

“Well, I try.”

He took another pull on the cigarette, noticed how sweet the tobacco tasted. It was richer, and it clung to the back of his throat.  “So what’s our next move?” he said.

“You tell me, boss.”

He smiled at Chuck. The two of them sitting in the morning sunlight, taking their ease, acting as if all was just fine with the world.  “Gotta find a way off this rock,” Teddy said. “Get our asses home.”

Chuck nodded. “I figured you’d say something like that.”

“Any ideas?”

Chuck said, “Give me a minute.”

Teddy nodded and leaned back against the stairs. He had a mince.  Maybe even a few minutes. He watched Chuck raise his hand and shake his head at the same time and he saw Cawley nod in acknowledgment and then Cawley said something to the warden and they crossed the lawn toward Teddy with four orderlies falling into step behind them, one of the orderlies holding a white bundle, some sort of fabric, Teddy thinking he might have spied some metal on it as the orderly unrolled it and it caught the sun.

Teddy said, “I don’t know, Chuck. You think they’re onto us?” “Nah.” Chuck tilted his head back, squinting a bit in the sun, and he smiled at Teddy. “We’re too smart for that.”

“Yeah,” Teddy said. “We are, aren’t we?”

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