There by Robert Ragan

I was sitting on the couch playing a video game about to unlock a magical secret door when my own front door was kicked off the hinges.

Agents rushed inside and drew their weapons on me. My hands were clenched around the controller.
Two of them watched over me as the rest of the team proceeded to search my trailer. I sat there with a huge smile.
Lighting a cigarette, I exhaled smoke and said, “I’m sorry, but you guys are wasting your time, there’s nothing here hidden or out in the open.”

Throughout the trailer, I hear drawers being pulled out and mattresses being flipped over.

The two standing over me with their guns out were hotshot rookies. If they’d put down their pistols and nightsticks, I’d beat the fuck out of both of them.

The other agents all meet back up in the living room, the oldest one has a full beard, and I assume he’s in charge after saying, “We came at the wrong time but eventually we’ll catch you slipping.”

They all walked out.

Over the next few weeks, I set up shop away from home at a buddies house.
He didn’t care as long as I hooked him up.
The last thing I expected was for the law to show up there. But they did, rolling up four cars deep.
My buddy Dwight, freaked out, “Come on! Help me hide this shit.”

Knowing I was defeated, I told him there’s no way we can hide everything.

Then came that knock on the door.

Dwight looked at me.

“You might as well go ahead and answer it,” I said.

Once he did, I got up and walked to where they could see me with my hands up. They would have gladly shot me had I given them the slightest reason.

I knew it was over for me long before they put me in the back of the car. I knew I didn’t have a chance before the morning came when a CO transported me to court.

I didn’t even ask for a court-appointed attorney. The judge would give me what he would give me. I was fully prepared to sit it on down and do the time.
Vanessa, the woman I was seeing, and I were already arguing and taking a break at the time they got me. I’d have been a fool to believe she would be faithful.

It seems like we only got along whenever I had extra coke to give her along with a little spending money.

 

I called her on my second day in jail. I told her where I was, and she started to cry.

“When is visitation?” asked Vanessa. “I’m coming to see you.”

“Vanessa,” I said, “Don’t make any empty promises about being there for me and waiting out my sentence.”
She said, “Well, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”

“So you admit that you just made a promise you won’t keep.”

“No,” she said, “I’m gonna be here for you and wait it out till you come home.”

It felt good to hear it, but I knew better than to get my hopes up.

It’s hard for a straight-laced woman to remain faithful under circumstances like these. But when she does cocaine, drinks, and smokes cigarettes, then it just increases the odds that she’s gonna find another man out there.

If Vanessa was fucking around, she had me fooled. She came during every visitation making me sick to see how beautiful she was. Her light brown hair done differently every time.

Jokingly I say, “I told you to move on and live your life. But you’ve got my hopes up now, so I better not find out you’ve hooked up with someone else.”

Vanessa was in the courtroom and cried again when the judge gave me three years.

My first week in prison, she sent commissary money, and everything was fine.

 

It was hard to believe Vanessa was hanging on like this. Her efforts were much appreciated as I began to long for her.

At night, I was dreaming of her in my arms as some sad love song played in the background.

It all lasted about a year. Then one day I sat at the picnic table alone as the other inmates lifted weights and played softball.
I hadn’t been expecting a letter from Vanessa until the following week. But there I sat under the hot sun with this letter from her in my shaking hands.

Opening it up and unfolding the paper I started to read. Right away I wanted to cry but forced myself to laugh instead.

Now after all this time she was ready to give up. Said she had given her heart to someone else. He made the ultimate sacrifice for her, me, and every one by dying for all of our sins.

Basically, she wanted to change her life. Get off the powder stop drinking, and become a better person.

Vanessa wrote that she couldn’t do that while waiting on her convict boyfriend to get out of prison.

Me, I figured what probably happened was she went to church with family members and met some well to do guy with money he made while making an honest living.

Guess I’ll never know.

The next two years went by at a snail pace.
I never did hear from Vanessa again.
When I asked friends and family members none of them had seen her, except one who said she was moving away from NC.

When my time was up, I got out and borrowed my mom’s car. I was supposed to be looking for work, but instead, I drove all over town trying to find Vanessa’s relatives. Maybe an old friend, anyone who could tell me about her.

I didn’t have any luck at all.

If you’re out there Vanessa, I hope you’re doing well. Hopefully, you’re still in church and living the kind of life that makes you happy.

But if you’re not and just want to say to hell with it all, just come and find me.
It shouldn’t be too hard; I’m always hanging around the same town we grew up in.

Oh, and if you’d like to get geeked out say for old times sake, I can still get some really good coke.

 

Wherever you are, no matter what you’re doing, you were there for me as long as you absolutely could be and I thank you.

 

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

Robert Ragan

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