Read Edward's Dilemma Online

Authors: Paul Adan

Edward's Dilemma

 

 

EDWARD’S

DILEMMA

 

A MYSTERY-THRILLER

 

 

 

 

 

PAUL ADAN

 

 

 

To t
he men and women who work in

America’s jails and prisons

 

 

 

This book is fictional.

 

All of the characters, places,

names, and events portrayed

herein are either imaginary

or used in a fictitious manner.

 

 

Cover image and design by Paul
Adan

Edited by Paul
Adan

All rights reserved by the author

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

 

 

ISBN-10: 1494842483

ISBN-13: 978-1494842482

 

 

 

“Bad company will corrupt

good morals.”

 

The Book of Proverbs

 

 

PRELUDE

 

EDWARD BRYANT grew up in Turnbuckle, Colorado; a town of 35,681 people and 5,752 dogs.  He had lived in an average-size home, shared a small bedroom with his brother, and was the youngest of three children.  When he was in elementary school he was obsessed with baseball, but as he grew older he had acquired an interest in soccer.  Edward also liked video games, and watching TV.  He had especially liked watching re-runs of “Daniel Boone and the Wild Frontier,” and also “Gilligan’s Island.”  Often, he had fought with his two siblings over which show to watch.  In many ways, Edward had been no different than the boy who lived in the house next door to him, or in the house next to that one ; he was just a bit more naïve.

Church attendance had been a significant part of Edward’s life.  On Sundays, whenever his father wasn’t out of town, the Bryant family had gone to the morning service.  Although Edward would have preferred to stay home watching TV, or kicking a ball around in the backyard, his parents were sticklers; they seldom skipped a service.  Sometimes, they had even gone to a second service later that same day.  During Christmas and Easter, Edward and his siblings had sometimes taken part in a theatrical production; several times, Edward had been a shepherd; once, he was an angel.

Edward’s parents were good, honest people.  His father was a businessman, his mother a school teacher.  Throughout Edward’s childhood years, they had taught him the importance of hard work, diligence, and never telling a lie.  They had also stressed the value of charity, and the “blessing” of giving help to those who were less fortunate than they were.  Edward admired his parents, and always tried to please them.

Happiness embraced Edward during much of his childhood, but dark clouds were on his horizon.  As he grew older, he became more and more rebellious.  Before long, a blustery storm blew into his tranquil, perfect life...

 

THE
TEMPEST arrived on a soggy summer night in 1995 when Edward, and two of his friends, went to Lucky’s – a local Sports Bar – to celebrate his twenty-first birthday.  Through no fault of their own, as they would later claim, the three friends had gotten into an argument with two men who were already there at the bar when they arrived.  At first, the altercation was nothing more than a war of words.  But soon it had spiraled out of control to the point where fists were flying, and feet were kicking.  Suddenly, to their overwhelming horror and astonishment, a man lay dying on the floor before them; and they were blamed for the crime.  After undergoing several hours of questioning at police HQ, the three friends were individually taken to their new home – the Stuart County jail.

 

 

Stuart Co. Jail, Booking

5 August, 3:32 AM

 

EDWARD WAS respectful and compliant when he arrived at the jail.  Sheepishly, without protest, he obeyed every command and instruction he was given; when the officer told him to get out of the squad car, he did so without hesitation; and when he was told to walk into a little holding area, he walked as fast as he could.  He didn’t want to create waves – he never did – and he certainly didn’t want to offend the “Authorities.”

He had been in the jail for less than a minute, when he was told to sit down on a cement bench between two dirty, smelly men.  One of them had vomit on the front of his shirt, and the other had blood on his lip and eyebrow.  Although Edward did as he was told, there was a smirk on his face and a tinge of disdain in his heart. 
Criminals,
he thought. 
These dirtbags are noth’n but a drain on society.

A
few minutes later, he was escorted into Booking where he was told to spread his legs, lean forward, and put his hands on a cold metal bar.  And then he was searched – thoroughly.

Nearby, a forlorn soul sat on a shiny metal stool.  The man’s jail uniform was clearly too big for him, and
the top two inches of his butt-crack was visible for all to see.  Edward was amused by this, and in his mind he ridiculed the man severely. 
What an idiot

I wish I had a quarter for that slot machine
.
  Sleeze-bag.
  For a brief moment he smirked, but then the Booking Officer began asking HIM a slew of questions.

“Have you ever had crabs, scabies, or lice?

“Huh? Yikes. No.”

“Have you ever had TB?”

“Nooo?  TB?  What’s that?”

“It’s a respiratory disease that can be fatal,” the officer replied.  “Have you ever had it?”

“No.”

“Do you have any medical issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes?”

“No.”

“Do you take any medications?”

“No.”

The questions droned on and on, and Edward barely listened.

“Have you ever had thoughts of suicide?”

“Uh, no – not recently.
  Not really.  No.”

“Well, have you, or haven’t you?”  The questions suddenly became
focused and personal, and Edward was dumbfounded.  With a blank look on his face, he stared into the Booking-Officer’s eyes searching for a clue as to how he should answer.

“Well, maybe.  I guess so,” he replied.

“When did you have thoughts of suicide?  Did you ever act out on your thoughts?”

The questions continued for some time, and soon a Booking-Nurse appeared as if from nowhere.  By now, Edward’s stoic veneer had begun to crack; his thoughts were catching up with events and he was becoming an emotional wreck.  Shiny tears
appeared on his cheeks, and his lower lip began to tremble.  The booking process was temporarily suspended, and he was escorted into a changing-room and told to put on a jade-green padded blanket, with a hole on top for his neck and head.  This “dress,” he later learned, was a suicide smock.  Though he’d never actually had any significant inclination towards suicide, Edward belatedly realized that he had answered a little too quickly and a little too rashly.

Edward remained in a holding-cell, downstairs in Booking, for quite some time because of his vague threat about suicide.  In the afternoon, after he regained his composure, a Mental Health Professional (MHP) came by and visited with him.  After about ten minutes of talking with the MHP, Edward was reassured that he’d be “housed per classification” – which meant that he would be put in with the general population.
 
Finally, shortly before dinner time, Edward completed the booking process.  Somewhere along the line he learned why he was there, in the jail.

His charge:
Second Degree Assault.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Stuart Co. Jail,
Intake Unit

5 August, 4:15PM

 

NERVOUSLY, EDWARD stood in the sally-port holding a cloth sack containing his bed roll and blanket.  “Oh,
Gawd, I have to pee,” he said to himself.  His mind raced a mile a minute, and scarcely could he remember the events of the last twenty-four hours.  It had all been a blur, a bad dream, and now he was stuck waiting – waiting for some nice person to have pity on him and notice that he needed a bathroom.
 
He started to dance up and down a little, but this was no party. 
What the heck am I gonna do
? he thought. 
I’ll look like an idiot if I pee my pants. 
Instinctively, he grabbed his crouch; but only for a second or two.  Moments later he let go when the door finally began to open.  He let out an audible sigh of relief.  “AAHHH...”

As he entered through the doorway, a loud bellowing voice – like the voice of God – filled the room.  “BRINGGG MEEE THE YOUNG ONE!”  Edward froze.  He was, after all, the young one in this group of strangers who were filing through the door.  His face flushed as the sound of laughter filled the room.  He was embarrassed and terrified all at the same time.  Behind him, the steel door slammed shut with the sound of a
metallic thunderclap.

“SLAM!”

In a haze, he looked around at the inhabitants of this scary new world.  They appeared angry, menacing, and almost ready to tear him to shreds.  Some of them were still laughing, while others were pointing – at him, it seemed.  In his mind, they were all huge and powerful.  Sweat began to drip down the side of one cheek, and his misery amplified.

Edward observed the room to be large, yet uncomfortably confining.  The air reeked of wet towels and body odor.  It invaded his senses, and caused him to gag.  Everywhere he looked there were thick walls made of cold concrete.  The
doors, also, were thick and unyielding.  Edward longed for his home, his TV, and his familiar couch.

A strange man began to give him directions, telling him where to go, and when to do things.  Although he seemed nice, his voice was stern and uncompromising.  Edward struggled to hear what the man was saying.  His words were almost drowned out by all the other background sounds.  More thoughts flooded Edward’s brain: 
Concentrate – concentrate.  Be strong.  Don’t let them see your weaknesses.  Don’t let them know you’re afraid.  What did he say?

“Listen up,” the stranger said.  “Grab a toothbrush and some toothpaste, and head to your bunk.  When you get there, make your bed right away.  No
dink’n around!”

Edward grabbed for the toothbrush, but his fingers did not respond properly.  They felt stiff, clumsy, like five hotdogs attached to a meatloaf hand.  Several times he grabbed for the brush, but he couldn’t pick it up. 
People are watching,
he thought. 
PICK UP THE TOOTHBRUSH.  Pick it up.
  But he couldn’t; it was just too small – or something.  He knocked it onto the floor, accidentally, and then bent down to pick it up.  Another newcomer observed Edward’s distress, reached down, grabbed the brush, and handed it to him.

“Thanks,” Edward said.

The newcomers trudged to their respective bunks.  All around, inmates were watching and staring, some even glaring.  Edward could almost feel their eyes boring down on the back of his neck.  He didn’t like it, and he wanted to run – yet there was nowhere to run to.  So, instead, his mind cried out to God for help. 
Oh God, help me!  I can’t take this.  I can’t take this.
  He kept walking, step by step carried forward by his seemingly mechanical legs.  When he finally arrived at his bunk, he plopped his blanket roll down on the steel-framed bed.  This was his new couch, his new place of safety.

As he settled into bed later that night, Edward reflected back on the last twenty-four hours.  His thoughts were jumbled.  A series of questions popped into his head in sporadic, popcorn fashion. 
Do I deserve THIS?  Where are my friends?  How on earth did I end up becoming an inmate at the county jail?

 

 

Stuart Co. General Hospital

5 August, 8:17 PM

 

TWO BLOCKS down the road from the jail, a heroin addict lay dying in a bed.  His name was Joey Jones.  He had been admitted to the hospital minutes before Edward and his friends had arrived at police HQ earlier that morning.  When he’d first come through the doors of the ER, doctors had thought he was history.  In fact, they’d given him a one in five chance of survival.

Now, nineteen hours after arriving at the hospital, his chances had improved only slightly.  After undergoing several surgeries and numerous tests, Joey was resting uncomfortably in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  As he lay there, with tubes sticking out of his injured body, his mind was the only part of him that remained active.  Even his kidneys were beginning to shut down.  Life, it seemed to him, was all too fragile – and short. 
I’m too young to die
, he thought.

 

 

Stuart Co. Jail,
Intake Unit

6 August, 1:32 AM

 

EDWARD AWOKE from his slumber.  Off in the distance he could see the glow o
f a small light illuminating the Correction Officer’s (“C” – “O”) desk.  But that wasn’t the reason he’d woken up.  Neither was his problem that there was some psychopath hovering over him with a shank, or some pervert trying to get it on with him.  It was a simpler than that.  Edward started thinking.

In the past, he’d always been able to sleep in the same room as his older brother – but his brother didn’t snore like these criminals.  Now, it seemed like half of the people in this eighty
-man room were snoring like maniacs!
 
For several minutes Edward just lay there, listening to the cacophonous snores.  Several bunks down, he noticed there was some guy who made a wheezing sound whenever he breathed in or out.  It kind of reminded him of the whirring noises he’d heard from a jet engine on those occasions when he’d visited an airport.  Further down the row of bunk-beds, there was some guy who REALLY snored.  His was the classic snore, the kind you hear on a TV show like “The Three Stooges.”  Finally, here and there and everywhere, there was a sprinkling of mild “snorers” just going to town and snoring like it was nobody else’s business.

Edward looked up at the underside of the top bunk.
 
He was wide awake now, once again thinking of his two friends: Jerry McDonald, and Josh Tyler.

 

 

JERRY
WAS a gregarious guy who seemed to have it all.  He was confident, funny, and good looking.  His hair was blond, his teeth pearly white, and he seemed to have the aura of a movie star.  In fact, he had once been propositioned by a talent recruiter from Hollywood who asked him if he’d like to audition for a new TV show.  But Jerry had turned him down.

When he was younger, before his mother had divorced his dad, Jerry was a
first rate student.  Not only was he a track star who’d been to State several times, he was also on the honor roll.  Although he liked the humanities, his forte was physics.  His goal in life was to become an engineer, but he was torn between electrical and chemical engineering.  During his junior year he’d been elected vice-president to the Student Council.  He was also a photographer, two years in a row, for the school yearbook.

Nothing bad ever seemed to happen to Jerry.  As a teenager, he had an unusual ability to sort through his problems, and eventually find a solution.  In part, this was a product of his exceptional self-confidence.  But it was also due to parental support, and the strong sense of cohesiveness enjoyed by his family.

Unfortunately for Jerry, everything changed when his parents had gotten divorced.  It had happened after his junior year, early in the summer.  With his confidence momentarily shot to pieces, and his family’s finances severely impacted, Jerry’s plan to go to Yale was sadly downgraded.  That’s how he had ended up at the local community college.

Like anybody, Jerry had his own character flaws and defects.  One of these was girls; though he always had a girlfriend, he was never able to maintain a relationship.  Invariably, there would be a split, followed by a brief period of inconsolable grief, followed by another girlfriend.  Another of Jerry’s character defects was that he was a little arrogant – and this sometimes resulted in him opening his big mouth, and making non-judicious remarks.

 

 

JOSH WAS a courageous individual.  During middle school, and even into high school, he had frequently defended those who were being bullied.  Remarkably, this was the case in spite of the fact that he was a scrawny kid, barely tipping the scales when wet.  When questioned about his motivation for doing this, Josh’s answer was simply that he’d once seen his younger sister being bullied.  And this had made him extremely angry.  He had responded to the injustice instinctively, without thinking of the possible consequences; and though the other guy had been much larger than him, Josh had not hesitated to punch the jerk in the face.  Ever since that day, he’d never thought of himself as a “hero” – just somebody who was looking out for his kid sister.

Keenly intelligent, Josh had always done well in school with minimal effort.  He routinely got “A’s” on his report car
d, even though most of his free time was spent outdoors rather than in the library.  Whenever he WAS spotted in the library, he was frequently helping others do their homework assignments or prepare for tests.  In many respects, he was the “go-to” guy when it came to questions about physics or calculus.  He was also a favorite of many teachers.

Most people fully expected him to go on to college after
high school, but Josh wasn’t so sure.  He had his mind set on the military.  As a precaution, however, he still went ahead and took the SAT test.  Amazingly, his score was 1575 – twenty-five points shy of a perfect score.

 

 

EDWARD
AND his two buddies were students at Turnbuckle Community College, or TCC.  For over a year they had roomed together in a two bedroom apartment, located a short walk away from the school.  The place wasn’t anything great; in fact, it was a bit of a dump.  But it did serve their needs.  Since none of them was rich, rooming together and going to a community college seemed like a cheap way to finance their higher education.

The Bar where they’d gotten into trouble was located only a few miles away from where they lived.  Besides celebrating Edward’s birthday, and getting a buzz, the three amigos had gone to
Lucky’s because they had hoped to pick up chicks.  They had reasoned that they would have no problem meeting the first two objectives, but picking up chicks would likely be a trickier endeavor.  Although Jerry was supremely self-confident and had no problem around women, Edward and Josh were less experienced.

Edward was tormented by thi
s reality, and presently stared off into the dark room. 
Dang, what the heck’s wrong with me?
he thought.
  Why couldn’t I have grown up in a normal family?
  His thoughts devolved into a series of endless questions.  He tried to will himself to sleep: 
Sleeeeep – relaaax – calm down – be tough – it’ll all be ok.
  Eventually, he succumbed to exhaustion, and his tormented mind blindly leaped into the bizarre world of his dreams...

 

♦   ♦   ♦

 

BOTH HE and Jerry had already gotten out of the car, and were waiting for Josh.  Behind them, coming from the Bar, the colorful glow of neon lights lit up the parking lot.  The pavement underfoot was still slippery from the recent rain, and the oily spots here and there made it even slipperier.  Looking around, he noticed that there weren’t too many other cars; and the cars that were there were mostly newer models. 
Probably belong to some rich daddy’s girl,
he thought. 
That’s good.
  Off in the corner, there was an old piece of junk – a “beater” – and it looked vaguely familiar.  Edward was impatient, and his thoughts turned elsewhere.

“Hey, Jerry, why’s Josh taking
so long to get out of the car?” Edward said, as he fumbled with the zipper on his jacket.  “I’ll be twenty-two by the time the turd gets out.”

Jerry was more forgiving than Edward, and spoke up in Josh’s defense. “Give the guy a break.  He’s still
freak’n out about going to a Bar.  The church did a number on him...and on you, too, for that matter.  Both of you guys are choir boys.”

“At least I’m not a SINNER like you.  SINNER – SINNER,” Edward joked.  He punched the air with both fists, mimicking a toy nun he’d seen that had little arms that could be manipulated to punch like a boxer.

“Edward, you’ve got your head so twisted up, you wouldn’t know the difference between Mother Teresa and the devil.”

“Hey, I may be a church-boy, but that’s not such a bad thing.  At least I’ve got some morals,” Edward said as he tripped on the curb in front of an empty parking spot.  “
Whoaa!” he blurted out.  When he regained his balance he glanced over towards the car.  Josh had finally gotten out, and was motioning for him and Jerry to wait.

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