Damion Hamilton is from St. Louis MO. His poems have appeared in Chiron Review, Poesy Magazine, Zygote In My Coffee, Red Fez, The Camel Saloon and many others. He writes poetry, stories and novels. He has written several books.
Tommy had been down a long time. Thirty years. He had been a young man when he went away. Now he wasn't young anymore.
He looked in the mirror, there was more than a little grey. But coloring his hair was the furthest thing from his mind. He was happy, grateful more likely. To even be home. In those thirty years. There were days and nights he thought he was never coming back. He would die in prison.
People always said you were supposed to make mistakes when you were young. But there were some mistakes that you could never recover from. Never recover from it. No matter how sorry you were, they followed you around all of your days and haunted you through your nights.
He kept looking in the mirror. His face looked strangely young even child like. It was a stark contrast from his grey hair. People said that those who did a lot of time often aged well. Looked young for their age; a lot of them didn't have the same pressure most of their peers on the outside had. No job, children, constantly worried about bills.
Tommy was bothered by that. He wanted kids and family like everyone else.
He soon learned that he couldn't have a normal life, after what he had done or what the state said he did.
He was sorry those girls had died. He didn't want anyone to die. He was just with his friend Ted and things got outta hand. His mom warned him about guys like Ted, but who really knew. Ted was just a kid too. He didn't really think he could have been a rapist and a murderer.
Those poor girls. Never should have happened. We were just playing around with them and they were pretty and we were horny. We thought they were too. But they kept telling us to stop even though things went too far. It didn't seem like rape but it was. And kept doing it even though the girls were crying and trying to get away. But they kept holding, grabbing and hitting them.
And they just ran away. It happened so fast. So fast. You couldn’t really think about it.
But Tommy must have thought about it over and over again. A hundred times. A thousand times. Thousands of times. All that time locked up. All he could do was think about the situation. The moment of his life that changed things forever.
A stupid thing he it did when he was young would haunt him forever. How could this happen? Strange he couldn’t even remember all the details. Sometimes it seemed like it had all happened in a dream. None of it felt real. It seemed like it had all happened in a dream. Things were blurry.
He couldn’t remember if Ted pushed them or they fell. They had sex. But was it rape? Like everyone had said?
He had did all those years for rape and murder. He didn’t rape anyone. He was just with the wrong person. So, in the eyes of the law he was just as guilty.
It’s strange being in a place and you know that you can’t get out. Day after day and year after year.
He was home now. A place he hadn’t seen since he was a kid. Most of his peers had left. Alot of them were on Facebook or something. There were others he could not find. He found that strange. No. Practically none of them still lived in the neighborhood. Most of his neighbors had gone a long time ago.
It was just him and his mom in his old house. In his old childhood room. Him trying to put his life together after all these years. Get a job, meet someone and take care of his family. That’s all he could do.
That was the plan. He had to meet a girl and put his life back together. It couldn’t go one like this.
He was getting older. How could he get old like this. Time just went by blindingly fast.
Put the past behind you and move forward he thought.
You could think you could forget time, but it often seemed like it could not forget you.
The world just kept going. When he was locked up, it seemed to stop.
Mom was getting older. She was thirty seven when he went away. Now she was an older woman who needed many things. He always remembers her as being thirty seven.
Could you imagine the pain I put her through? Her baby boy was sent away. Life in prison. She told everyone that most already knew. Where did it go wrong? She might well have told them he was dead.
She's kinder and gentler in old age. Tommy is kinder and gentler. He was so pissed as a young man. He remembers the first few years and the fire that burned within. All the hatred he had for everyone. As if he could set the world on fire with his rage. He wanted to kick the guards and inmate's asses. Those fights he got into.
Strange how that all went away. It's supposed to all go away with time.
He still remembers the girls and that night though. He doesn't think he missed a day thinking about them. He hated that he might have been responsible for them not being there.
The family would never forgive him. For that he was sorry. He understood the anger. They were always at his parole hearings to make sure he never got out of there. They told the judge how angry they were and sad. And how they'll never forgive us for what we did.
And that was it. I couldn't expect mercy. Just could tell them how sorry I was. Many nights I wish I was taken and they were still here. And hopefully they would have grown up and made their families proud.
All families in this situation lost. I was never a bad kid. Mom knew. No calls from school. No getting in trouble with the laws. I just did kid stuff and hung with my friends.
So many nights hanging with the neighborhood kids and all the games we used to play. Summer after summer. All those warm nights. The things we did. Thinking we are going to do great things when we grow up. That's what the schools and parents taught us and maybe they were right for that. Who needed all that reality. Prolong that shit for a while.
He kept on thinking what he wanted to be. He had gotten another chance at life.
His mom had fallen asleep while watching something on television. He was tired too, the beer had worked on him.
He walked to his room and took off his clothes. He laid down on the bed and went to sleep immediately. He closed his eyes and could see the dead girl that he had raped.