The Color OF Mercy
Darkness can be so cold sometimes. It wraps around my body, and tries to suffocate me. The shrink tells me it's 'guilt' choking me, but it ain't. It's the devil comin' to claim my soul for what I did.
Time: Yesterday, or a million years ago.
Toby's got such wonderful eyes, you know? No matter how crazy he acts, you can look into those eyes, and see the good man underneath. At least, I always can, but that's probably 'cause I love him.
When we were fighting one time, I told him that his capacity for forgiveness made him a better man than me, but it's so much more than that. He still has a soul untouched by evil. Even Vern Schillinger couldn't take that from him; his desire to be 'worthy.'
Sometimes I wonder, if Toby could see the 'me' that I know exists inside, would he still love me?
I'm sitting here, watching him, and I know he's troubled about what he did to Hank Schillinger. Oh, and Andy too. I've watched him for days, and I know somethin's brewing. I just hope he ain't thinking of doing anything stupid.
O'Reily's getting antsy about Toby spilling the beans over what we did, but Toby would never implicate me, I know that for sure. He'd die before he landed me on death row.
That Mick bitch, O'Reily's gonna get his fucking gut slit open if he touches Toby, and he knows it. But, he's right about one thing, Toby is on the edge of something. If he runs true to form, it's going to be something that will cause him even more pain than he's suffered so far.
He's walking over here, he's coming to talk to me, I can tell. He always does the same thing before he comes to me; he takes that deep breath, like he's steeling himself for something scary, then he comes right at me like a missile.
He ain't scared of me, so I wonder why he does that?
"Hey," he's smiling, but he's nervy.
"Hey." I wait for the bombshell, and I know it's coming, because I can almost taste the tension in the air.
"Chris, I've confessed to Mukada," he says, "Confessed to organizing the murder of Hank Schillinger, and having a hand in Andy's death too. Not to mention Metzger..." he's looking away now, "I'm just going to see McManus."
"What?" I snap at him, because I can't believe he's being such a jerk.
"Chris, I have to. I just can't live with the guilt any longer."
"Are you fucking insane. You'll end up on death row?"
"Maybe I deserve to?"
"Toby, that fucker Schillinger killed your boy, he deserved to die. Andy got whacked by his own father, and you fucking well know it. As for Metzger.."
I see that look in his eyes. Dear God....
"Yeah, what about Metzger? He set me up to get my arms, and legs broken, so he deserved to die?"
Fuck, I hate it when he does this. He says he's forgiven me for that, but he ain't, not really. "Just don't fucking say it, Beecher, okay?"
"Chris, I'm not pointing fingers, not anymore. That's all in the past, I moved on from that particular pain a long time ago. You have to understand, I just can't live with myself, knowing that I destroyed those lives, whether they deserved to live or not. It wasn't my decision to make, it was God's."
Oh fuck, why can't he see how crazy this is, and, how can I let him go through with this?
"Toby, you'll end up on death row, you know that? Do you really understand what that means?"
"Oz has almost destroyed you, how d'you think death row is gonna be?"
He's moving close, his hand has come to rest on my chest.
"It'll be cold and lonely...without you." He says with the saddest smile I've ever seen.
Oh my God, does he really know what he's doing to me?
"I can't bear the thought of you suffering there, alone, maybe for years," I want him to understand what he's letting himself in for. Toby can still be so damned nave, I wanna whack him sometimes. I don't think he truly comprehends how fucking bleak the years on death row can be. Not to mention the fact that, he'll be there as the killer of a hack, so he won't be getting no four star treatment, that's for damned sure.
"I need to pay for my crimes. If it means dying, then so be it," he shrugs. "I won't implicate you, or anyone else, you know that, don't you?"
"I don't give a fuck about that!" And at this moment, I really don't.
Dying is easy; living is hard.
All I can see in my mind, is Toby on death row; alone, brutalized, and suffering. Until one day, they decide to kill him all legal, maybe with an injection, or maybe they'll fry him, who knows?
It's at that moment, with that thought in my mind, I make my decision. This may be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but I know it's right.
I pull him into my arms; I just need to hold him.
"I love you," I whisper, "Please tell me you know that? More than anything I ever loved in my whole, miserable life."
He softly kisses my neck, the warmth of his lips against my skin makes me shiver.
"I know you do, I've always known. We're the Romeo and Juliet of Oz, huh?" his gentle, mocking laugh seems to vibrate through my body
"Well, I ain't being Juliet, okay?" I reply with a forced smile.
I'm shaking now, my whole body is pounding, and I can hear the blood hurtling through my veins, thudding in my brain.
I reach into the back of my pants; I always keep a back up weapon tucked into the waistband. I'm lucky because today it's a good, long, sharp shank. It'll do the job quickly and efficiently.
"I can't live with the thought of you on death row, Toby. I love you too much."
"There's no other way, Chris. I love you too, but we can't go on the way we're going. We're self destructing, and you know it."
It's the weirdest feeling I get, like he knows what's about to happen. I slide the blade in fast, so there's less pain. I know where to place it, so that it hits the heart, making it a quick death. I hear the breath rush from his body, and a tiny noise, almost like a sigh, but it's just Toby whispering my name one last time, as the life drains from him.
I go on holding him, until he goes limp, and slumps in my arms. I know he's dead because the light; the essence of the man I knew, is gone. It's strange, you instinctively know when life's over. Death reaches out to you on a physical level that can't be measured by fancy machines.
From some other reality, I hear a voice yelling. There's no one else in my world right now, so it must be coming from some other place. Someone grabs me, and Toby falls from my arms. He hits the floor so hard, I wince at the thud. "I'm sorry!" I whisper, I hope he hears me, knows that I didn't mean to drop him that way.
Someone is bending over him, I hear them say 'Oh shit, Beecher's dead. There's no pulse. Get the doctor, quick!"
No pulse. No life. No more pain. No death row.
So ya see, death row ain't so bad when the reason for you being here is a just one. I never gave a fuck about those men I killed outside. They were nothing to me. If I was here because of them, I'd feel cheated.
Toby? He was my world. He gave me the choice that day; him or me. They all think I'm a selfish fuck, that I chose me.
I didn't, I chose him.