The final countdown

Closing my eyes, I see the room. The closed curtains. When they opened they exposed me to the harshest fluorescent lights I had seen in a decade. Just three hours ago, I was a marked man. Tomorrow, I will be able to see my folks. I cannot imagine what they went through.

At 3pm, they were ushered into one of the witness rooms. Those rooms look like empty class rooms. Linoleum floors, washed walls, marks left by tape ripped off the walls, peeling paint, and cheap drop-down ceilings. Cheap stacking chairs are the only furniture provided.

There they were seated and made to wait for three hours. I know what happened during those hours. They were quiet, relived their lives, remembered how I entered theirs, and how I forever screwed it all up.

There they sat hungry, checking pockets for forgotten snacks, gum, or sports bars.

There they felt guilty as soon as their minds drifted away from that room and me.

There tears flowed with soft cursing of me for having put them in this situation.

After about two hours of waiting, they were joined by members of the press. Carefully selected journalists who wrote in the most supportive sense so they would not rekindle the heated debate. They looked at my folks wondering whether to approach them, extend a hand, or offer sympathy.

In the last hour, the curtains were opened.  They saw me strapped to the gurney with an IV in my left foot. My arm veins are too thin for the IV. I messed them up shooting drug after drug up in there. They saw my orange prison jumpsuit and the tattoos I tried to hide during visits.

I saw their eyes going from a squinting cry to wide-open disbelief only to flicker with bitterness and anger. I saw it. But it is ok now.

Ten minutes before the final push of the needle the red phone rang. The warden grabbed the phone and just one second in he hit a huge button on the wall. The draining of all kinds of fluids stopped. The humming of machines ceased. The only sound left came from the air-conditioning unit.

I will try to sleep now. Just a few more hours till daybreak. Then a few more till visiting time. And then I will be begging your forgiveness once again.

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