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Prescription for Murder
The TV was on again. The Outdoor Life Network. An old guy in wading boots stood in a river, a fishing pole in his hands. He smiled at the camera, blabbering about the fish he was about to catch. Two minutes passed. Suddenly his pole jerked and a fish emerged, struggling to free itself. Another minute later and the old guy was on shore, the fish - a bass - clasped in his hands. He held the fish out, his prize trophy. He winked and then he was gone, the stupid green Geico lizard taking his place.
I yawned, staring at my watch. 10:00 pm. Another day over. Only 10, 600 to go until I was free. Free. The words seemed foreign, no matter how many times I said them.
I leaned my head against the cement wall, fanning myself with my hand. It was hot. Summer in South Carolina always was. It was hot that night, too: burning, scorching hot. I remember sitting in bed, Pop-Pop’s old .410 grasped in my sweaty hands.
The terrifying command reverberated through my head. I stood, cocking the gun and then began walking down the dark hall. I tried to stop, I really did. Except I couldn’t. I wasn’t in charge. It was. It was the dictator.
I remember stopping for a moment in that eerie hall, my eyes fixed on a picture. Me, Pop-Pop and Grammy. It was their 50th anniversary party. We were all dressed in our best clothes, arms entwined, smiles illuminating our faces.
I was forced on by the word. I crept down the hall. My heart felt ready to explode; sweat soaked my red and blue Spiderman pajamas. I don’t want to do this! I screamed to the word. It didn’t listen.
Click! The oak door swung open. I tiptoed inside Pop-Pop and Grammy’s room. It was dark, except for a sliver of moonlight creeping through the closed shutters. Snores sounded sporadically from the bed in the middle of the room. I started to turn around, started to go back to my room, tried forget-
But the word would not let me.
I pointed the gun toward Pop-Pop’s bald head, closing my eyes. No, no! I screamed inside. No!
I pulled the trigger. BOOM! I cocked the shotgun and aimed again, this time at Grammy. I stood, frozen, tears running down my cheeks.
Get out before they catch you!
Once again the word ordered and I obeyed. I grabbed a candle, a match, Grammy’s purse and the car keys.
I lit the candle and threw it inside the living room. I ran out of the house into the hot South Carolina air. I stood for a moment, looking at the house that held so many childhood memories. Angry orange flames lapped at the windowpanes. Thick, smoldering smoke filled the night air. Those memories were gone and the house with them.
I ran to the black Suburban. They found me a few hours later in a ditch on the side of a country road. I was calm. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t feel - anything. I was a living corpse. George Dowdy, the twelve year-old child, was gone.
I snapped back to reality. Life in prison. That was the verdict. I stared at my surroundings: the cement walls, the neon orange prison uniforms, the bars of the cells that lined the never-ending corridors. It had sent me here. The drug. The drug was the word - the drug made me do it.
I told them about the drug. I told the doctor. He ignored my story, insisting I was crazy. I wasn’t. The drug was making me crazy.
The doctor upped the dosage. I told him about the word. I told him what it said to do. He didn’t listen.
“The drug is fine,” he said. “There is nothing out of the ordinary. No risk. No side effects. You will be just fine.”
Being in jail isn’t fine. People in jail have problems. I didn’t have a problem. I was just a normal kid, a normal twelve-year-old whose hero was Spiderman and wanted to be just like his Pop-Pop when he grew up. A kid, who until the drug came, was completely normal. Normal. Sane.
But that kid changed. He became manic. He was forced to do something that destroyed
his future. He was forced to end the lives of his beloved Pop-Pop and Grammy. Why? A drug
and a doctor who wouldn’t listen.