A Helping Hand (Tell-Tale Heart sequel)

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“Not a chance.” After all my pleading—All my begging—that’s all Judge Lender had to say to me? Never have I witnessed such insensitivity—such a blatant disregard for human emotion! Yes, I must concede. I confessed to murdering the old man. But, you see, it was all a dream! A picturesque—realistic dream at that! Have not I mentioned that I suffer from acuteness of the senses? This curse that afflicts me, it blurs my perception of reality! For that night my neighbor was murdered, I had mistaken my vivid dream for actuality. I had convinced myself that I was the murderer! But, let me assure you, I am no such person. I beg of you, do not confuse me with the likes of a murderer, for I am anything but a murderer—just a normal man caught in the wrong place—the wrong place at the wrong time. In the midst of my thought, Judge Lender interjected— “Clearly you are mentally unstable, and undeniably guilty. If convicted of murder, I would consider sparing you of the death penalty if you give a proper confession.” My mouth gaped in awe—I was beyond furious—past livid—“I regret to inform you, Mrs. Lender, that I will not give you the satisfaction of a confession—I can fend for myself, without your patronizing charity. Of course, it is no surprise to anybody that this cruel—pathetic excuse for a judge sentenced me to two months in jail before my trial—without bail.
After the proceedings had run their course, I walked away—my wrists in cuffs and my freedom gone. I was innocent—an innocent civilian forced to swallow his pride and proceed down the courtroom through a mist of shame. What agony! Stripped of my dignity, for what reason? Something inside of me changed that day. If the almighty being Judge Lender deemed it appropriate not to help me in my time of need, then who was I to help myself?

Upon my first week in the penitentiary, I kept to myself, avoiding any major conflict with the rest of the prisoners. I rarely spoke to anybody—with the exception of my cell-mate. They called him the rat—for a disgusting rat is exactly what he was. He was filthy—a mongrel to say the least. I learned that just last week he informed the warden of an imminent brawl between two warring gangs within the penitentiary. Oh how this angered me so! To think that a person could stoop so low that they would interfere in the affairs of others, even when he had no business doing so—it makes me cringe with disgust. I had found myself an enemy—already.
I could scarcely look at a man whose priorities lied solely in promoting his own wellbeing. His face—it was repulsive. The mere sight of him inflicted a sharp pain deep within my eyes. For this reason, I spent the entirety of my free time staring out of my two by two bar window into the lives of two crows. One was grayish black, the other a much darker—more disturbing shade of black. The birds both perched their nests below the overhanging roof of the neighboring activity center. However, neither crow had enough straw to build a nest on its own—it was a perplexing sight indeed! Neither one would concede to the other that they needed a helping hand. What factors could be preventing the birds from working together?—from escaping their imminent deaths? I was mesmerized by these birds, and I watched them often; when I was not scheming against my new foe, I was watching the birds.
To my dismay, the tension between me and the rat had grown to an unbearable level. His selfishness—it taunted me so provokingly that I had no other choice than to make it my goal to kill him. “The warden’s lookin for anotha informah,” he blurted out one sunny, cloudless day. “The puzishin’s all yers if yer willin’ to do the jawb; there’r special privligis in it for yah.” I said nothing—for I had little patience when it came to scoundrels like him. Oh how I hated the rat! I wanted him dead, and that’s what I intended on making happen—and thus a plan was formed! The next few nights I spent very few hours sleeping. Rather, I spent my time plotting—searching my brain for ideas to murder the b****rd without drawing suspicion towards myself as the killer. This trend of sleeplessness—border line insomnia I encountered—it persisted for weeks on end. I grew weaker—almost frail during this period of scheming, but the prison doctor could wait to examine me until the rat was dead! I was doing the entire prison a favor. I often wept when thinking about a life without the rat—no self indulged b****rds to plot against—but that was besides the fact. If I needed to kill the rat, it would have to be soon—before my next court hearing.
To my surprise, it was only a matter of time before I would end up representing myself in court. My lawyer was missing the point. I think has been conspiring against me—and I know for a fact that he was determined to sabotaging my case. I thought he was supposed to help me—to exonerate me, but I was wrong; I couldn’t depend on this unreliable cretin. I walked down the hall of the courthouse and—terror! There he was, my lawyer—smiling and pleasantly exchanging conversation with the prosecutor—like it was nothing. Outrageous! I now knew that he had an agenda—a dastardly one at that—an agenda most likely aimed at making me suffer. I pulled him aside—aware that I was interrupting—“You have no business as my lawyer anymore. You are released from your duties. There is no position for a vindictive scheming cockroach like yourself on my legal team. “What?” he rattled. “I’m only here to help you help yourself. Can’t you understand that? Have some faith in me—in anyone besides yourself for a change.” I could smell his breath. I was right!—He was a cockroach! No real human being could muster such a foul—unbearable scent. “I’m not asking anymore—pray that I don’t have to ask again. Leave now.” My tone was daunting, and with that fear inspiring ultimatum, he was gone. I was left to represent myself.
Upon my return to the penitentiary, I noticed that the two crows had taken different paths in solving their nest dilemmas. The lighter one had enlisted the help of another crow—his nest was coming along and almost looked inhabitable at that point. On the contrary, the darker crow was having far more difficulty. I felt sorry for the bird—the poor sap was too stubborn—too absorbed in his own self pity to admit defeat and seek help. His nest looked worse than before; it was slowly deteriorating—gradually unraveling and blowing away in the wind. It would get no better, but continually worsen until there was nothing left for the crow to nest in.
Meanwhile, my plan for murder was slowly but surely coming together—piece by piece. It was nearly perfect—I was going to provoke a conflict in the dining hall and pounce, where nobody would see me break the miserable rat’s neck. Unfortunately, my scheme did not come to fruition after all—I couldn’t bear to wait that long before ridding myself of the scoundrel! He asked me to inform on a close friend that I had made since arriving at prison. By then it was just too much! The voices in my head—the constant shouts telling me to end his life right there and then just overtook me—I couldn’t help myself! I slit his throat with a razor I had borrowed the previous morning. The torture was over—I laughed. I knew they were going to cancel my trial for this and just kill me instead. Death by electric chair was my only option. Before the prison guards managed to open my cell and violent grab me, I managed to sneak one last glimpse out of my little window. It appeared that the lighter crow’s nest was fully developed, and for the time being—safe. The darker crow’s nest was nonexistent. The crow had succumbed to the harsh weather, and it only had itself to blame—I started to cry.





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