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The Convict and His Humanity

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  • Zugzwang


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Posted 23 June 2013 - 08:47 AM

"I loved my father... I was the only one who did." Ward paused. "It'll make a person cynical... Seeing everyone just drop a relationship like that... I don't believe in abandoning people who've always been nice to me"

"Do you see why they did?" the psychologist asked

"Anyone could see why. Criminals are treated like sh*t... Literal sh*t- feces. Not human"

"Why do you think that's the case?"

"I don't know... But I know it is the case. I saw lots of people- time and time again- look at a five year sentence with disgust. 'Little f*ck got off easy' or 'look what the courts have come to'. I always hate those people. I always want to say 'hey f*ckface remember where you were five years ago? It was a pretty long time ago wasn't it?' it's like they just see a number not all those long, bleak days behind it"

The psychologist looked with her dull, mechanic eyes at him for just a brief second

"I'd like to get back to your life story now... So your fathers jailed for domestic violence, you can't speak with him, stuck in the house with your mom- what was that like?"

"f*cking horrible. I hate her. I really, really hate her. She put me away in psych ward after psych ward so she could bitch to her friends about how hard it was to raise me and have her five minutes of sympathy at my expense"

"Right... right, but at the time, how was it?"

With a grimace, "f*cking horrible."

"What would you describe as some of the happier moments of your life?" She asked, scribbling along on her clipboard as he replied

"Probably my time with girls... I had a lot of female friends.. A few girlfriends... Not even f*cking them, I mean that's enjoyable, no doubt, but I think there's a much more profound set of experiences to be had just holding a girl close and whispering whatever romantic thoughts you can into her ear"

For the first time in the assessment the psychologist seemed genuinely intrigued

"So I guess you were quite sociable then?"

"Definitely... I guess it's that splitting phenomenon you guys are always talking about" The psychologist gave him a condescending smirk "I hate some people with great vehemence, but there are others who I love more than any thing in the world"


"Throughout my life, yeah.. There have been a lot of long periods where the only thing that got me through the day was knowing Emily, or Kailey, or Caitlin were waiting for me to come home and spend some time with them"

The psychologist, remarkably charmed, took a glance at her watch and proceeded more quickly

"Go to college, Ward?"

"Yea I did... Got into UMBC down near my sister in Glen Burnie. I spent a lot of time there.." He chuckled "You know, I was hoping my sister and Dane would have a kid before I was done getting my bachelors but I guess even Catholics can game the reproductive system if they try hard enough"

"Never got that nephew or niece you were hoping for?"

"Never did."

"So what did you major in?"

"Communications. I wanted to get into PR after I was done.. You know, I had to make use of my speaking skills... f*cking hated lawyers... Still do.. So that was just about the only career path I was looking at"

A few more scribbles and possibly a couple of check marks on the notorious clipboard of hers

"How were your grades?"

"I knew my sh*t but I didn't do my work... I put just enough effort in and managed to get through with a 2.6. Nothing too impressive, but at the time I thought I was in a good spot, a lot of people in the workforce with just a high school diploma... I was in a better spot then some people... Shame I got myself here"

She nodded, looked over the sheet but didn't make any marks

"Alright Ward... Here's the big question, as I'm sure you know" She chuckled loudly and nervously, Ward gave a nervous smirk "Do you feel any remorse for your crimes?"

"I'm going to be honest.." He sighed, looked at the sleek metal table in between them "Life in prison and this seem about equal to me. And it's really a shame I have to choose... So I won't choose" He looked her in the eyes "You'll choose. I'll tell you the truth, you decide my fate. I wish I never committed that crime. Not because my mother's dead, but because her son is in here and people who love him are out there, missing him. I'm not sorry for my crime because it hurt her, I'm sorry for that crime because it hurt a lot of people besides her. I don't want my friends seeing that needle in my arm but I don't want them chatting with me through a plastic barrier every week either. So I'm just going to say that bitch had it coming, but the people I love- and who love me- certainly didn't. And to them I apologize"

"Thank you Ward. I'll send this to the judge.. You were very compliant, I'll make sure to note that in the report." Ward smiled slightly, and nodded in thanks.

She walked towards the door, tapping his shoulder on the way

"Good luck."

  • Vercetti21


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Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:31 AM Edited by Vercetti21, 25 June 2013 - 11:35 PM.

I enjoyed the minimalism in this piece. Lots of dialog with few moments of third person narration really draws me in as a reader; it's a good tactic I think writers should use more often as exposition via dialog tends to be more interesting than exposition via the narrator. Also makes for a nice easy read with a naturally good "flow" to the writing.

I also liked the themes the piece touches on - albeit briefly. A defective criminal justice system, what I understood to be a primary antagonist for the character, could have been explored and explained more. Personally, I kept imagining this guy deeply conflicted by his experiences and wanting to spill his guts to his psychiatrist, Sopranos style. I was actually expecting a plot twist or something pointing to the end result of a prison system gone wrong that takes in individuals who need rehab and churns out criminals worse off than they came in. I really started to feel sorry for the guy and his need for redemption, but when he finally stumbled into his confession I felt like the themes were taken into all sorts of new directions and the plot kind of lost its energy. I liked the revelation that the woman is his parole/probation officer, but on the flip side of the coin it confused me because it gave me the sense that I had seen a very superficial and "walled up" protagonist while the story was also trying to drive the point home that the character has reached the end of himself and has finally come to terms with his guilt (or has he?).

All in all it's good stuff and the title mostly delivers on its promise of a "humane" criminal. I felt I had more questions than answers, but when it comes to topics of philosophy and psychology that can sometimes can be a good thing. Keep writing!

Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 09:43 PM

Ill add to that; I found the dialogue convincing. I was sold by the character
A few punctuation errors - missing full stop here and there,

As vercetti said about the themes - seeing internal conflict isn't too common here - action takes centre stage. Feels to me like a different approach to things which is refreshing
Exposition via dialogue is something I'm trying a lot lately and finding it easy but on the flip side is: something needs to happen, there needs to be direction. There was a hint of this but being honest it felt very long winded to get there. I did enjoy the situation the character was in
Makes me think of the shawshank redemption, when parole is discussed.
I do love the remorseful criminal - the depth of character it offers and the internal reflection - if you've read city of lies/justice in flames(sig) then your know I like that.

Needs a little touching up but if this goes somewhere, I'm curious as to where

  • Zugzwang


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Posted 26 June 2013 - 08:19 AM

"I gotta take a f*ckin piss!" there was a little kid in blue shouting through the door
"There's someone out already," The guard started calmly, coldly "You wait your turn, when he comes back, you're next in line"
"I gotta f*ckin wait to piss in here... To f*ckin piss!" The kid shook off his frustration and took a few steps back to the wall of the bullpen.

As bluntly as he phrased it, he had a point. Ward pondered the dynamic that had just transpired. "You put a bunch of people who've just gone through the legal machine and put their unwashed, stress infused bodies next to each other in a place dubbed 'the bullpen' and you're going to have some issues."

A few obscenity laced discussions interrupted his thoughts

"If they're going to make me do my time I'd rather not be thought of as an animal while I do it"

"Ward Shof?" A guards muffled voice emerged from outside the doors window

Ward slowly stood up. He'd been sitting against the concrete wall for seven hours with nothing but the loose threads on his shirt to keep him occupied, his back ached tremendously and he found it difficult to amble just ten feet to the door.

"no cruel or unusual punishment my ass" he mumbled. No one seemed to notice.

He stood in front of the door.

"Ward?" The officer asked.

"Yes." He replied.

Without a word, the officer opened the door just a crack, allowing Ward to be assured out without much incident.

"Tell that bitch to hurry up in the restroom on your way up!" The boy in blue cackled

Ward was meeting with his attorney today. He found it interesting how in one day an attorney can tell someone if they're destined to die by the needle, or suffer until they die some other way, like it was nothing, while he had to endure what any free citizen would find to be tremendous suffering.

"Ward, hope you're doing well..." his attorney started, his tone indicated that Ward may not have much to look forward to
Ward just laughed. He knew he was one of the more pleasant subjects of his attorneys occupation, and sometimes even pondered if his counsel looked forward to seeing him, or at least if he was like a break in their work day.
"There wasn't much I could do," his attorney sighed "It's not happening any time soon- I made sure of that- but it is happening."
A short pause
"Alright. Guess that's that." Ward maintained his usual casual demeanor, knowing he was going to die was unsettling, but in these situations he never truly managed to look at the truly horrific future he was facing.

Ward always wanted to be something. Not a household name; not a Washington or Napoleon. But one of those people, that some day, someone researching something- from mainstream to fringe- would come across his name, and just read a sentence or two about something he did, or who he was. With the prospect of death assured, the only way for this goal to be attained, he reasoned, was to make his last words ones that would have impact. And as he was being transferred, on a dark bus chained against a cool wall, he knew that as his execution came closer and closer, day by day, he would think of words that someone, somewhere, would think about while they were reading, and while he was a corpse.

  • Zugzwang


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Posted 26 June 2013 - 08:25 AM

I greatly appreciate the feedback from everybody, it is a significant motivator to continue my writing. I hope you all continue reading. Thanks again.

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