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Pleading Innocents

The white walls all around me caged me in. The lights above tried to mimic the outdoor open skies but they didn’t fool me. I used to be fooled into lots of things, trapped into their wicked ways. That’s how I ended up here.
Back home I remember my mom telling me that orange wasn’t my color. I’d ignore her, put on orange anyway. Now I wish that I could wear any other color. Any. Other. Color. That’s not allowed here, though. Not much of anything is.
When I was younger I was really into rules. I’d follow them to the ends of the Earth if I had to. That all changed when I met Milly Anderson. She never followed rules. “Rules are for breaking,” She told me. “They’re also for suckers.”
I know everyone says this when they are thrown into jail, but this time it’s true. I’m innocent. I didn’t do it. Milly did. It was her idea, her planning, and her handiwork. Like a lost puppy, I went right along with it. That doesn’t make me completely innocent; I’ve done lots of bad things. Things I’m not proud of, but I can say this: I’m more innocent than Milly will ever be.
Milly tricked me. I hate to admit this now, but I fell for her. Not even just a little, I had to fall for her hard. The moment I saw her, I fell in love. Her long black hair is probably what I remember the most about her. I remember it because that’s what she used to strangle me with. That’s how she brought me down to her level.
The room these people store me in has one door. It’s heavy, has a slot for food and can only be opened from the outside. There’s a giant red button that I’m not allowed to touch, because if I do, I’d get tackled and squirted with pepper spray.
The door has one 1ft by 1ft window. It’s smudged with my fingerprints from weeks before as I stood, trying so desperately to get out, but failing. Out that window I see the man. I see Mr. William Anderson.
His black eyes are prodding me, picking me apart. They ask questions I can’t understand and can never answer.
He smiled a toothy grin, looks to me like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse. His smooth hands slam the red button in, the heavy door to my insignificant cell swings open.
He’s still smiling as he sauntered into the room. Mr. Anderson almost laughs, but says instead,
“Well, well, Mr. Gregory Stealth.” He beamed a toothy grin, he was the cat and I was the mouse. “Look at you!” He exclaimed. In an instant he pulls me up, shoves me into the direction of the cracked and fading mirror.
I saw what he saw, and I was appalled. My thick blonde hair was shoved back into weird angles with its own grease and sweat. Glancing across my face, I realized it wasn’t any better.
He spat, “You’re a mess, Mr. Stealth.” He turned around; quickly showing what appeared to be a brand new suit, plus new, unscuffed shoes so shiny you could see yourself in them. “But look at me!” This time he did laugh. I brushed the hair away from my eyes and turned to look at him. His face was pushed into an exclaiming smirk. He moved his mouth slowly, “I’m simply gorgeous.” He hissed.
“I’m innocent!” I blurted. He nodded like he knew too. He probably did. As if smoking a pipe, he lifted his hands to his face, and when they didn’t find a pipe, they were left there, rubbing a graying beard.
“Of course you are, Greg.” He confirmed. Then he asked a question, a question I may never forget. And through it all I still remember the question he asked. “Isn’t everyone?” And that is the question his eyes were asking, but I still had no answer.
For awhile we stood like that, him straightening the death out of his tie while I stood pushing hair away from my eyes.
Finally he spoke, “I’ve arranged,” He changed the subject. “To have you testify in court.” He pretended it was no big deal, trying to look distracted he buttoned the cuffs of his sleeves and measured the length of each sleeve in comparison to the other, pulling them and pulling them.
His black eyes twinkled as he peered up at me still standing there near the cracked and fading forgotten mirror. The orange color I was wearing haunted me, so I had to turn away. “Will Milly-?” I couldn’t even finish. Milly was this man’s daughter. I wonder if he knows that I loved her. I thought.
Mr. Anderson’s face grew tense with every syllable of her name. His lips stretched awkwardly across his face. His black eyes were the starless, merciless black sky during a forest fire.
His lips formed the shapes of these words: “Milly will be testifying too…and with any hope you’ll be testifying against her.” He turned, his heels clicking together. The door chased after him as he left my cell.
One last time he looked in, and I was there, waiting. My hands made new fingerprints as our eyes mistakenly met. He gave a shy whimper, loud enough only I could hear. He then ran as quickly as he could away.
Milly’s hair was still long. I saw her sitting there and I waved from across the courtroom. She ignored me, I guess, because she didn’t wave back. Her lawyer wore a cheap suit, I could tell because it was tight in all the wrong places. He had a beard, but he didn’t stroke it like Mr. Anderson did. He just sat, looking uninterested at something in the corner.
Behind him and Milly sat an unforgiving Mr. Anderson. His face was pent up in a phony sense of pride and security. He had his arms crossed. He finds my eyes and smiles. I do not smile back. He waves one of his hands, mouthing the word “Go!” and I realize I have been called up to testify.
“Hopefully against Milly” I remember him saying. “Isn’t everyone?” I am disturbed by these phrases. They kept me up all night, and I recall thinking, “If I am innocent, then so is Milly.” “Hopefully against Milly”
Yet I still want Milly to be guilty, I want her to never be free. The lawyer in front of me tells me to raise my hand. Reciting the oath I’m only half paying attention. I know what the oath says. It says that I must tell the truth, I must be honest and I must recount all I can like my life depends on it. Which it does. This court case is for the death penalty. Whoever is convicted is, simply, going to die.
I know I want Milly to be convicted, and I know what her conviction should be. She hurt me, and although she doesn’t deserve to die, I don’t either. If the court knew what I knew, this would happen without a doubt.
If I tell them what I saw-
A bloody body sprawled on the splinted cement ground, blood like a puddle, raining from this ladies head. A ghastly expression left on her face. A cricked neck, snapped nearly off from tumbling and eventually dieing down those rows and rows of stairs. A crazed look in her killers eyes, a long haired wonder that’d just recently gone completely insane.
If I told them what I heard-
Screaming and shouting coming from the top of dozens of stairs. Sounds of adversity made by long worn-out rivalries. The voices of the two continue to escalate, and on top of that, sirens in the distant pierce the open skies. Then, a hard thump as two teenage hands shoves into another and after that…
Thump!…Thump!…Thump!…CRACK!…
Two screams escape, one from the lady as she makes her last journey on this Earth down a flight of stairs that never seem to end. Hers, scared and almost forgiving, and as for the crazed Milly Anderson, her scream was more like a laugh. High pitched, victorious, and nervous.
If I told them what I saw next-
Red and blue flashing lights coming for us. Milly’s eyes traced the path of her mother’s descent down those haunting stairs. The blood spatters looked like a giant had come to paint, dipped his huge paint brush in red, and had a spasm, flinging little drops of paint everywhere. There I was, holding the hand of a women I barely knew.
“MRS. ANDERSON!” I cried. I did not know this lady, and yet here I was. Sobbing for this lady as if she were my own mother.
If they knew what I knew, Milly would be found guilty for sure. She’d go to jail and die a guilty and unforgiving person.
At that moment Milly, the Milly I thought I loved…no, still did love-met my eyes with hers. Something in her eyes had changed. They were no longer crazed, or unforgiving, or just plain scary. Before they were a water pool of crazy, sloshing out onto me and contaminating my skin, my soul.
Now, though, they were sorry. For me, I think so. For her mother, there was no end nor a beginning
I looked the lawyer straight in the eye and I told-
I remember back to that day when Mr. Anderson sauntered into the room. He pulled me up and made me look into the mirror at myself. He was trying to show me how pathetic I’ve become. After telling the lawyer what happened I knew both my and Milly’s fate. Can’t say I’m proud of my decision, I lost either way. I had to send Milly back though, and I know the road ahead of her is hard.
I look in the mirror, see my grinning face, I realize something.
I don’t look that bad in orange after all.





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