The Best Help You Can Get

May 13, 2010
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
The bench obviously wasn’t meant for long term usage. It was hard. It was cold. His butt was starting to turn numb.
"Good thing I don’t plan on hanging around for much longer," thought Johnny. He smirked to himself. But then he started to shiver.
G*dd**n it’s cold.
He rubbed his palms together rapidly. He clucked his tongue to the beat of a clock on some unseen wall. It seemed to be going obnoxiously slow. A drawn out groan echoed throughout the silent hallway.
“Rich sure is taking his sweet time, now isn’t he?” Johnny said to the wall. Just then he heard the distinctive echo of footsteps. He peered through the bars to see if it was the officer making his rounds again. No squinty-eyed man with a jiggling muffin top could be found. Instead, a tall lanky guy with a self-assured whistle came walking down . Out of joy, Johnny leaped to clutch the metal bars of his holding cell and pressed his face in the space between. They stretched his smile into a comic grin.
“Ricchheeyy.” said Johnny, “Come to bail your old buddy ‘outta the clink?” The other boy chuckled, and his scraggly brown hair fell in front of his face as he shook his head at him. The whistling resumed. Rich started to tap on the bars of the other empty cells, and stopped at one of them.
“Who says I’m bailing you out?” He said while inspecting a particular bar. “Maybe I just came to point and laugh.” At this he smirked deviously to the boy in the cell, giving him a sideways look. His stretched grin fell.
“This is no time for joking.” said Johnny, “My a** is numb. As in, I can feel nothing down there.
”God. Didn’t want to know that.” The detained shrugged.
“S’whatcha get for dawdling around like that.” When Rich finally reached the cell, he sighed.
“Seriously though, how many times am I going to have to do this?”
Johnny looked him in the eye, and said (with finger pointed for emphasis),
“Hey, this time, I didn’t do anything.” Suddenly they heard the boom of a laugh from down the hall. Both boys jumped at the sound.
“Woah! Thought there wasn’t anyone down here but you?”
“Same here.” The laughter continued into hysterics. Both boys gave each other a look of confirmation. Johnny shouted down the hall.
“Hey! What the hell?!”
Signs of someone struggling to silence themselves could be heard: gasps, clipped bursts of laughter, and close-lipped sighs. And finally, it was silent again. They gave each other another look.
“What was that about?” said Rich. Johnny shook his head.
“Think I should check it out?”
“Do whatever you want. I’m stuck in here.” said Johnny. And he slumped back onto his bench, as if to prove his point.
“Friggen cold in here.” he said to himself as he shivered.
Rich had ignored the comment and walked over to where the laughter had come from. Cell after cell came up empty, but then he beheld an interesting sight in the tenth one down from Johnny’s. A woman was lying on her back on the floor, smiling up at him. The white fluorescent lights gave her pale skin a sickly tinge. Her body was engulfed by a grungy sweatshirt, her legs encased with black tights. Both the thick eyeliner of her eyes and the scarlet of her lips fought for domination of her face. She motioned for him to come down to her level. He found himself following the instruction. Struggling to suppress her giggles, she whispered conspiratorially to him
“You don’t actually believe him do you?” She couldn’t stop herself from giggling at his furrowed brows. “Could you possibly, quiet down, or something?.” he mumbled. It’s high pitch made it hard to concentrate. “What do you mean, ‘actually believe him’?” he said.
“There were eye witnesses hun. They saw the whole thing go down.” Her Cheshire cat smile started to annoy him.
“He‘s always filching from the dollar stores. So someone saw him this time. Whatever. He doesn’t give a- What the-?! What are you laughing at?!” Truth be told, the woman was losing the ongoing war with her laughter. She rolled over on her stomach and laughed right in his face.
“HAHA! You, you think he just stole something? You think they put him in here, with me, for swiping some kid‘s candy?! Honey, you’re a HOOT!” She actually started to pound her fists on the cement floor. The look on his face should have told her that she was the weirdest thing he had ever seen. Either she didn’t realize or she didn’t care what he thought. He tried as hard as he could to look composed before asking,
“With you? What do you mean? What did you do?” A cough and a sighed out laugh later she answered, “They caught me with my stash and a needle halfway up my arm. Can’t really wiggle,” she physically wiggled, “my way outta that one can I?” The giggles struggled to escape her clenched teeth.
“Are, are you high right now?” he said incredulously.
“HELL YEAH I’M HIGH!” But then she silenced abruptly. A curious look on her face, she got into sitting position with her wobbly limbs. His breath caught in his throat at this impulsive change. He had on (what he thought/hoped to be) an expression of bewilderment as she inched towards him. Her fingers delicately gripped the bars of the cell. She looked straight at him and cocked her head.
“You have really pretty blue eyes,” she said. His throat went dry. He almost did something very rash. But he caught himself. With a shake to clear his head, and the thought She’s in that jail cell for a reason. And she probably shared her needles, he rose up to leave. Her pout couldn’t be seen, he’d already brisk-walked a few feet down the hall. But he could hear it when she shouted,
“Hey! Where’re you going?” He kept walking. The only sounds in the hall were his footsteps and steady breathing.
“You know the kind of crowd he’s been running with lately,” Scientifically, the jail wasn’t conducive to echoes. Yet he heard the words reverberating with absolute clarity. Her laugh soon joined her voice to ring in his mind. There was no delirium or emptiness to either one of them. The complete lucidity chilled his veins.
“There’s a little old man with a bullet in his shoulder,” she sang to him, “And you can guess whose fingerprints are on the gun.” He bolted as fast as he could down the hall.

The recent flurry of action had piqued Johnny’s attention. He had his head halfway through the bars when Rich appeared right in front of his face.
“S**t, man. Could warn a-”
“What are you in here for?” said Rich.
“I said, what are you in here for?”
“I think you should calm down man, you look like you’re gonna-”
“G**d*mn it, answer the question Johnny!” Rich gripped the cell bars with white knuckles, while Johnny had gone as far back as his bench would allow. He kept silent.
“You were with those junkies again weren’t you?”
“I already told you, I didn’t do anything this time.”
“Didn’t do anything?! Johnny, you shot someone!”
“Who the hell said I shot someone?” said Johnny with indignation. This made Rich pause.
“The girl down the hall.”
“The girl down the hall? The crazy-maniac one? So you’d take the psycho’s word over mine?”
There was a pause. Rich let go of the bars.
“Thanks. Thanks for trusting me.” said Johnny. The other boy sighed.
“Don’t be like that.” Johnny crossed his arms across his chest and rubbed them.
“I’m sorry.” Johnny stared at the wall.
“I freaked out, alright? C’mon, do you want to get out of there or not?” The detained adjusted himself and appeared to contemplate the thought.
“Well, I do have a hankering for a Big Mac right about now.” he admitted. That got a laugh out of Rich.
“This is the last time I‘m doing this though, ‘kay? Leave the stupid stunts to the professionals.” To that, Johnny stuck his arm out through the bars, and Rich went to shake his hand. But Johnny’s shirt didn’t cover his entire arm. The sleeve stopped a little after his shoulder. That meant anyone could see the tiny red hills that populated the inside of his elbow. “S**t,” thought Johnny. He pulled his arm away as fast as he could. Rich stared at the spot, his hand left to drop to his side.
“You need help.” When the other boy flung himself against the cell bars, Rich didn’t flinch. Johnny looked straight at him.
“It’s not what you think.”
“Then what are those things on your arm Johnny? Bee stings?” But he couldn’t laugh at his own joke.
“I’m going to get help. I promise.”
“You’re an addict. You’ll say anything.” Rich seemed to be talking to himself.
“You, you can’t leave me here. Richy you got to bail me out.” Johnny had those classic puppy dog eyes. They let him get away with everything.
“I have a problem. I know. And you’re my best friend. We went to freaking kindergarten together.” Richy turned to sit against the wall opposite the cell. He slumped against its side. His eyes slowly rose to meet the puppy eyes. They demanded to know.
“Did you shoot that old man?” The question of the hour hung lingering in the air, until each word dropped heavy on their ears.
“You’re my best friend.” said Johnny. His breaths were starting to come in gasps.
“Why would you leave your best friend in a jail cell?!” Johnny pleaded. Rich thought about the girl down the hall from them. She must have had friends, best friends even. They left her there. And now, she’s staring blankly through the bars of a jail cell. When her head clears up, she’ll find herself all alone. She’ll hit rock bottom.
“I’ll get help I promise.” said Johnny. The other boy got up.
“This is the best help you can get” said Rich. Johnny heard his footsteps down the hall, steadily getting quieter. Soon enough, there was no sound at all. Johnny drooped to the floor of his cell.
“Cold.” he said to himself.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

CarolynQ said...
May 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm
Wow! That was AMAZING! This definately kept all my attention focused on this story until every last word was finished. You have a lot of talent keep it up!!!!
Kandyz said...
May 18, 2010 at 8:21 pm
great job. i liked how you kept me wanting to read more, never giving me all the information so i had to figure it out. (Y)
Site Feedback