Hard Times, Chapter 11

Chapter 11

“Hey, Grayson…”


We’re in the storage of the kitchen.  No guards around.  Grayson is just as handsome as he was before.  He smiles at me when I walk into the storage room.  It looks like he hasn’t decided if it’s right to try to give me a hug or not.  I can only tell because he takes a step toward me, stops and then just smiles as though his smile will make everything alright.

“I’m glad you wanted to talk to me,” Grayson explains, “Supposedly Smiley was shaken when you asked him.  Said you had a bit of gangster in you.  Think you scared the poor kid.”

“Who me?”

Grayson gives me a superficial laugh as though he can’t take it -serious that someone would be afraid of me.

“My tough little worm.  You know you still make me smile.”

“I’m not yours,” I state.

Grayson etches off his smile slightly, “Now let’s stop jumping to conclusions.   We’re still married.   We are just going through a dry spell.”

“A dry spell?” I ask, “A DRY SPELL!  You murdered my fuckin father.  You were smuggling drugs and drug money that got us in this position in the first place.  Do you still think this is a dry spell?   This is the fuckin’ desert.”

That hits Grayson a little hard.

“We’ll get through anything if we do it together.  I did this FOR us.  Now we don’t have to worry about Black Union wanting you dead.  How don’t you see that?”

“I can see clearly enough,” I respond, “And that’s why I want you to sign this.”

I put the paper in front of him on a counter where some canned goods are.  He looks at what I put on there.  He grabs the papers and he seems fuckin shocked by it.

“What’s this?”

“Divorce papers.  My lawyer Rochester offered to serve them to you but I told him I’d do it myself,” I state.

I wanted to do it myself for this moment.  I wanted this very moment.  This moment where his face disappears.  His face just fucking fades into anger.  He doesn’t understand what’s happening because he thought his ‘lil worm’ could never live without him.  He thought I needed him.  And for years he had been right.  The old worm would have let him do anything he wanted and get away with it.   But something had changed.

“This some sort of joke?  HE talked you into this?”

“Wisdom?” I ask, “Nah, he doesn’t know about it.  But he helped without knowing.  He gave me strength.  He made me feel good about myself.  And he gave me the strength to look you dead in the eye, Grayson and say: Fuck you.  FUCK YOU, sincerely.  I don’t love you no more.”

He gets quiet.  Real quiet looking down at the paper.  I can see his hand shaking.  I don’t think this is real for him at first and I watch him as he internalizes it.  For so long I thought that I needed him but seeing how he was reacting to this now it was clearly the other way around.  He needed me.

And his anger goes from 0-100 and that’s when he does it.  He backhands me, slapping me dead in my face.  I fall back unsure of what the hell just happened without me knowing.  I always thought he had an anger problem, but I had no idea that it would be like this.

“See what you made me do?” he says, “Talking that bullshit.  Fine.  I get it.  You trying to make a point.  Fine.  I get it.  What do you want, an apology?”

He’s trying to calm down after fucking striking me.

An apology.  An apology?  As if this would possibly make this any better.

“I want you to sign that paper and get out of my life forever.”

He lunges.  He lunges for me and tries to almost choke me but somehow stops himself.  That’s when I see his smiley forgiving nature turn into something else.   He’s tearing up.  The tears picking up in his eyes like a goddam fountain.  He holds them in and then looks at me a little bit trying to think what to do at this moment.

“Baby—-baby look at me,” he states, “Who’s going to love you like me?”

“I don’t know but I plan on finding out.”

That’s when he snaps.  He fucking snaps.  He comes at me, this time not stopping himself.  This time he goes for me all the way.  He strikes me in the face hard.  As hard as he can.  I turn away from him to protect my face and that’s when he grabs me from the back.  Without even thinking he puts me into a headlock!

He’s choking me!

I struggle and then I remember what Wisdom told me when in this position.  I turn my body toward him.   I lean in which allows me enough room and exposure for me to breathe.  That’s when I dig in my pocket.  I dig in my pocket and I stab him.

“Fuck!  Worm!”

“I’m not Worm.  Not anymore.  My name is Avonte.”

Those would be the last words he hears.  Those would be the last words before I killed him and spent the next hour and a half watching him slowly die…


I wake up.  It was just a dream.  Well not really a dream.  I’m daydreaming, remembering what happened that night.  It’s almost been two weeks since I killed him.  I’m in the cell when I wake up to see Wisdom standing over me.  He’s been trying to get my attention for a while now.

“Avonte,” I correct him.

He smiles, as though liking the name better, “Avonte.  You got this letter that came through for you?”


He nods, “Yeah, open it.”

They didn’t deliver letters directly to the cells.  Not ever.  This was really weird.   As I get the letter from Wisdom I open it but before I read it I remember what Rochester was interested in.  Could this be it?  Could this be the evidence?

I read the letter.

My heart stops through the letter.

“Ba—-baby!”  I state.

In the last two weeks, I’d let it slip out one time before calling Wisdom ‘baby’.  He didn’t say anything back then.  This time he does though.  He looks back at me and smiles.

“Yeah baby?” he responds.

It sounds so natural coming from him as though he’s been saying it the entire time we knew one another.  He hasn’t.  He hasn’t even come close.  He’s gotten softer. Right now he’s looking at me and I swear that he really gets how I’m feeling without even knowing what the letter said.

“I’m getting a pardon!” I yell.

I say it at the top of my lungs.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get why.  O’Ryan was willing to give me a pardon for getting my father’s evidence but that evidence never came through.  How was this possible.  I keep reading the letter over and over.  The governor signed it.   This was legit.  This was fucking real.

I jump in his arms and he’s just as happy as I am.  He grabs me.  He swings me around.  I don’t know who is more excited.  Him or me.  All I know is that we are holding onto each other.

“Yo—seeing you this happy—–this is the best feeling in the world,” he states.

He keeps looking at me hard.  Like real hard.  It’s as though my smile literally lingers into him.   The hooks grab onto him.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because I want to do this.”

He kisses me and its as though this is the best celebration in the world.  We kiss a lot and sometimes it gets deep but he always stops.  This time it’s different.  This time he lays me on the bed.  This time he gets in between my legs.  I wrap my legs around his waist taking this moment in as he kisses me with his eyes open.  It’s as though he wants to enjoy this moment forever.

I hold onto the back of his neck when I realize him reach down and grab my dick.  He doesn’t JUST grab it though.  He literally squeezes it.

“You want to…now?” I ask.

“Yeah.  I need you.  Now.”

“What about you wanting to deserve it?” I ask, “What happened to that?”

“I deserve it,” is all he says.

That’s when he takes my pants off.  He does it slowly.  One leg at a time all the while looking at me.  I look down at him into his eyes.  There is so much hurt in those eyes.  There is so much pain.  I want to take all that hurt and pain away just for a moment.  And I think I’m succeeding.  Right now at this moment he’s only focused on me.

He stands up after I’m naked and takes his own clothes off.  He does it slowly.  When he’s done he just stands there and looks at me.  All the while I look at him.  I can’t believe this is happening now.

My eyes study his muscular physique,  his small waist, his powerful thighs, and his long dick.  He is breathing steadily, his chest going slowly as his eyes settle on me.

“Come here.”

He comes closer to me.  I’m sitting on the bed.   He raises his arms and puts it on the top bunk.  I know what he wants me to do and I don’t hesitate.  I grab his dick—–with both hands—-put it in my mouth and begin to suck so hard.  My tongue lapping around his shaft and his head.  I taste the precum at the back of my throat.  He begins to thrust over and over, fucking my mouth.

“That’s my throat?” he asks me.

“Hell yeah.”

“What about that ass?” he asks.

“All of it is yours.”

He grabs me after a few more minutes twisting me around so that my asshole is puckering towards him.  I struggle when it happens.  When he enters me I breathe deeply.

In seconds he’s hit places that Grayson could never have dreamed of hitting.  I feel parts of myself explode and I struggle not to wake up the entire prison.  I bite down on to the sheets looking back and seeing his focused look as he begins to drill me.  His dick thrusts as though wanting to prove something.  He wants to show me how he feels about me without even telling me.

But it isn’t until he’s cumming that he truly tells me exactly what I’ve meaning to hear.   I push back just in time for him to squirt, pouring his hot cum inside of me and pushing it as deep as possible.   He lets it stay there as he collapses on my back.

Then he says slowly, “I love you.”

I never thought he’d be the one saying it first.  I’d been in love with him for a while now.  I’ve been scared to say it, always feeling as though I was going to be rejected or something.

But he says it to me first.

I look back at him and nod, “I love you too.”


I go to sleep in his arms and wake up the next day, but he isn’t there.   When I wake up I look over I expect for him to be sitting there smoking a blunt or something that one of the guys smuggled in for him.  When I look over though it looks like he has already smoked and left out.

I walk down to breakfast and sit at my normal table.  Richardson and West are both there.

“Congratulations,” West says.

“Yeah man…happy for you.”

They are acting weird.  They have been supportive.  I knew I wasn’t their friend or something but I figured if they had heard about me being released they would have been a lot happier.  It looks like they have something on their mind.

“Listen when I get out I can definitely talk to Rochester about looking at you guys’ cases as well,” I state wondering if this is possibly some sort of jealousy.

“Don’t worry about us man,” Richardson states, “You’re actually innocent.  We belong here.”

“Just…just don’t forget about him,” West states.

He says it in a weird way.

“Wisdom?  Did you just ask me not to forget about Wisdom?” I ask and before he can answer I’m already challenging it, “I’d never forgotten about him.  I’m going to come back and see him.  All the fucking time.”

“You’re going to do what?” West asks.

West seems confused when I say that.  I am about to repeat it but I feel an arm over my shoulder.  I turn and it’s Wisdom.  Wisdom puts his hand over me and sits right in time.

“He is going to come to see me all the time,” Wisdom states, “Right baby?”

“You know it.”

I don’t know what was up with West and Richardson right now but I was glad Wisdom wasn’t acting weird.

“I was just in the chaplain.  Sorry, I should have woke you up and told you I got a special allowance to leave before count,” he explains.

“Chaplain?  I didn’t know you were religious.”

“Just going to start getting into it more,” he states.

“Maybe we can do it together on our visits.  You know, read the Bible together,” I suggest.

That’s when I see West.  Richardson by now is looking away but West looks a little-pissed off.  He turns to the ground and mutters something.  He says, “This is fucked up.”

“What?” I ask.

I want to make sure I heard what West states but he doesn’t repeat it.  He looks upset.  Real upset.  Tears are rolling down my eyes.  Unless they were really upset about me getting a pardon I don’t get why they were all so fucking upset right now.

“Hey, why don’t you go chat with Destin.  You’re going to be released at the end of the day,” he states, “I want to make sure you tell him goodbye.”

“Is everything good over here?” I ask.

“Just got to holler at my boys real quick,” Wisdom states.


I go for a walk with Destin.  Destin actually has been the one person besides Wisdom that I could actually rely on.   He still acts really nervous around me, even when we get out on the track.   It doesn’t stop him from giving me a smile though.

“How are you feeling?”  Destin asks, “About your pardon.”

“I feel amazing,” I tell him, “Just wish everyone else was as happy for me as I am.”

“Lynch ain’t happy for you.”

“No, of course, he is,” I state, “It just seems like…I don’t know.  People acting weird.”

“I get it…”

We keep walking.   We walk around the track one full time before he says anything.  I get that feeling he’s going to say something.  It’s the lips smacking and the heavy breathing perhaps.   All I know is that this is something deep that he wants to talk about.  He’s acting more nervous than usual at this point.

Finally, out of nowhere, he pauses.

“Listen, I need you to know that I’m here for you,” he states, “Even when you get out.  I want to hang out and just be there for you.”

“Of course.  I was actually thinking about staying close to here.”

“You were?”


I want to be able to visit Wisdom as often as possible.

“You’re so brave,” he states, “Losing so many people and just being strong about it.  I thought this was going to be harder for you.  I’m so glad you’re taking it so strongly.”

“Listen you helped with Grayson.  It was sad what I had to do but I knew I had to do it.  With my father—I wouldn’t have been able to survive without you and Wisdom.”

“Yeah and to lose him too….man…”

“Excuse me?”

I think Destin is making a mistake.  Maybe he means lose him in the sense of him still being locked out while I was out.   I just told him that I was living close though.  I’d be able to see him often.   Officer Destin gives me a look.

It’s a kind of look that tells me that’s not exactly what he means.

My chest feels heavy at that moment.  It feels like I can understand all the weird behavior people have been giving me all day.  It felt like a funeral, not a celebration for me.

Officer Destin takes a deep breath, looks me in my eyes and then sighs, “You know…the execution.”


“The date of Lynch’s execution is tomorrow…”

I feel my legs go weak.  They go fucking weak at that point.  It’s as though I’ve forgotten how to walk.  If Destin wasn’t there to catch me I would have completely collapsed.  I think I faint slightly.  All I know is that I’m pushing past Destin.  He’s calling out to me.  Screaming out actually.  He doesn’t care about the job or anything like that.  Right now he’s trying to make me feel better, but nothing can make me feel better.

All I’m doing is running.  Running and trying to figure out what’s happening here.

“You got 10 minutes, Lynch,”  a voice states.

It’s Giovanni.  Officer Giovanni and another officer are outside of our cell.  I don’t get why.

“Move!”  I try to run past them.

I get pushed back.  I get pushed back really hard.

“What the fuck is that, bitch—-!”  he goes off on Giovanni for pushing me.

“They want you in solitary.  They want you in solitary now,” she states.

“You said I had 10 minutes.”

“You want to waste it on this kid, have at it,” Giovanni states.

We are left alone in the cell.  He isn’t crying.  I’m the one doing all the crying.  He lets me cry on his chest and I keep wondering when this sort of pain will stop.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I know you.  I know you wouldn’t have taken the pardon if I did.”

“What does this have to do with the pardon?”

“I was sent the evidence,” he states, “O’Ryan offered to trade it in to give me the pardon.  I said no.  I gave him his fuckin’ evidence but so that you could get out.”

I look up at him confused about what he’s telling me.  Was he really fucking telling me that he sacrificed his possible freedom and life for me?  I wondered if he tells me this because he wants me to feel even worse at this moment or perhaps it’s just because he doesn’t want to leave this Earth with any secrets between us.  I look up at him.

“I don’t want to live this life without you.”

“This isn’t life,” he tells me, “Clear?”

“Clear?  What the fuck is that supposed to mean?  Clear!”

I sounded upset.  I was upset.  I wish he would have told me.  He was right.  I wouldn’t have taken the pardon.  I would have made O’Ryan give it to him.  I would have served 5 years.  I would have served 20 if I knew that he had a chance at life.

And I guess he took it to the next level.  He was willing to take a lethal dosage for me.

“Clear means everything.   I haven’t been alive.  This is a cage.  This is a coffin.  For so long I have been nothing more than a corpse in a coffin.  And you want to know the worst part of it?”

“I don’t want to fuckin hear it, Wisdom.”

I can’t stop crying.  Every word he says makes me feel even worse.

He continues talking through my tears though, grabbing me and pulling me in no matter how much I beat on his chest to let me go or how much I try to push him off.  He doesn’t let me get off of him.  He keeps me close and he lets me cry until I calm down.

“The worst part of it is I didn’t know I wasn’t alive.  I didn’t know I wasn’t alive until you came into my life.  You are a resuscitator.  You brought me back to life.  You punched at my heart.  Your smile. Clear!  Your words.  CLEAR!  Your being.  CLEAR!  And then I started breathing again.  They can’t kill me, baby, because all the life that I have is in you.  And I’ll live through you.  Forever.  Every time you smile I’ll be there.  CLEAR.  Every time you’re happy I’ll be there.  CLEAR. Every time you breathe that fresh air outside of these walls, I’ll be there.  CLEAR.  Does that make sense?”

I hold him.

I hold him as tight as I can.

“Yes.  It’s clear.”


I wish I could tell say that Wisdom Lynch didn’t die that day.

I wish I could say that O’Ryan didn’t get away with what he got away with.  The deal was good and there was no extra evidence.

“You sure you want to come here?” the voice states.

I turn around and Destin is sitting there behind the wheel. We can’t turn back.  We’ve traveled this far, but I know he’s asking it for me because he knows that I might change my mind at any point coming back to this place.

“I couldn’t do this without you,” I tell him.

“You’re never alone,” he states.

I smile.  I remember what Lynch told me.  When I smiled he’d be there with me.  I imagine him looking back at me right now.  Smiling at me, telling me to stop being a pussy.  Maybe that’s why I have the strength to pull up to the house.  I didn’t want Lynch looking down at me thinking I’m a pussy.  The thought of him doing it makes me smile a little bit.

“Can you come with me, Destin?”

Destin looks up at me.  He’s always been so patient with me.   Even when he quit his job and he moved out with me to help me find one.  Even when I turned him down for a kiss after kiss.  Even when I told him that I’d never loved him the way I loved Lynch one night when I got drunk.   Destin never left me.  He never got angry.  He was always right there. Right there with me.

He reaches out and holds my hand, “For however long it takes.”

And I know he means more than he’s saying.  He’s saying however long it takes for me to deal with all the issues I have been dealing with.  However long it takes me to give him a shot.  I don’t know how long that will be.  Maybe never.  Maybe we are destined to be friends and I’m destined to keep remembering the love of my life who was taken away from me too fast.

It’s been 2 years since Lynch was executed.  It’s been 2 years since I’ve been released from jail.  I still keep in touch with West who is up for parole this year.  He jokingly says that Lynch would want me dating him when I get out.  I think that really pissed Destin off.   Richardson writes me telling me all about his road to recovery from drugs.

“I can’t believe I’m back here.”

It’s the place.  It’s my father’s cabin. The place that he died.

“What was it that you had to do back here again?” he asks.

“You’ll see.”

I get to the back yard.  The love tree was there.  I look at the love tree.  It’s standing there tall.  I walk over to it and sit there in front of the tree.  That’s when I start doing it.

As I work on the tree I think about something.  Boiled water.  Boiled water can harden eggs, but it can soften rice.  It’s the heat.  It’s the pressure that hardens the eggs.  You meet someone and they have an amazing effect on your life.   They get you through the worst part of your life.  They are hard people.  They are there for the Hard times.  Those hard times don’t last forever though.   Sometimes those hard people who got you through those hard times don’t last forever either.  They were there to harden you.  They were there to make sure you don’t break.

Cherish those people, even if they aren’t there in the good times.  Even if they were only there through the hard times.

I know that Wisdom hardened me.

But I also know that he wasn’t just with me through the hard times.  I know that he’ll be with me through the good times as well.

“Perfect,” Destin says, putting his hand on my shoulder.

I get up and hold his hand instead.  I smile at him and together we look down at my work.