On The Outside Series 1-6

by Rifka


Notes: This series picks up where The Interaction Series left off. This chapter tries to explain a few things about what it's like for Chris now that he's out of Oz and in the halfway house. It sort of lays the groundwork for what's up ahead.

He could hear the steps getting closer no matter how fast he ran. The pebbles were turning into rocks and his boots were old, the soles were too smooth and thin to offer much in the way of traction. He glanced over his right shoulder and could see and sense him getting nearer, the glint of the knife reflecting off the steel blade. 'Fuck,' he said as he pumped his arms while he continued running, trying to get away. The sweat was running down his face and his shirt was soaked with perspiration. Even though he was younger he knew this time Schillinger would catch him.

He suddenly woke up and realized it was the third time he had this same terrifying dream. 'That fuck deserved to die,' he thought as he caught his breath and reached for a cigarette feeling lucky they were allowed to smoke inside even though he only started up again after the dreams began. He knew some of the other men had occasional nightmares; it came with the territory but he wasn't going to analyze it because it was just a fuckin' dream. And after all Sister Pete wasn't here to help him find the "meaning" of it. Shit happens, plain and simple; he was the poster boy, wasn't he?

Chris's sleeping roommate was oblivious to him as he removed his wifebeater and dried his face, chest, and back. Remembering someone else having nightmares and waking up in a cold sweat made him sigh, and then he took another drag off his cigarette and stubbed it out. He tried to get that mental picture out of his head but it just wouldn't go way thus preventing him from falling back to sleep so he went outside and found another parolee who couldn't sleep, just like last night.

"Hey," he said to the other man.
"Hey," was the reply. "Have that dream again?" "Yeah, but it's only a dream. Just can't get back to sleep right now." "Did you have bad dreams while you were in?" "Me? Nah, not me but my roommate did. Had some bad ones." "Ya miss him?"
"My roommate in prison?"
"Yeah," the other man said.
"Yeah, I do," he said nodding his head. 'More than you'll ever know,' he thought to himself recalling a time when he was in the hospital listening to some tunes and just knowing Toby was standing there looking at him. He had this... well it was the most beautiful grin Chris had ever seen. That's how he liked to remember his prison lover.

This was now the second week that he was in the halfway house and it was getting somewhat easier. The ankle bracelet was becoming tolerable, he would have to wear it until his parole officer thought he was trustworthy enough not to. The food was a nice change, there were never any chicken nuggets to eat but something that was called chicken fingers and the food wasn't as bland as what he'd been eating for the past few years. Three hots and a cot was still the bottom line, it should have been plastered on a blinking neon sign stuck in the ground in the front yard. He shared a room with one other man, Jim Solomon who worked at the Silky Clean Laundromat. This was his last week here; it was deemed safe for him to return to the loving bosom of his family since he was on his way towards rehabilitation and was adjusting to 'civilian' life instead of a life in major crimes.

The halfway house had a capacity for ten men and it was always full. It was a two- story house with a finished basement sitting on two acres of land, it wasn't a bustling neighborhood but there were some local businesses around. The sleeping areas were upstairs and the kitchen, computer room and living room were on the main floor. The basement had washing machines, dryers, ironing boards, etc. and a pool table. There was a fairly large sitting area outside in the back off the living room, more like a patio. The place was really quite homey, the furniture in the living room was Early American and had oval braided rugs on the hardwood floors. One wall had cranberry red and two shades of blue plaid wallpaper that looked very masculine. There was a large screen TV that the occupants had chipped in to buy when the old TV had died. They were able to purchase it with a "loan" that didn't accrue interest for 18 months and they would have it paid long before the interest started mounting up. Everyone chipped in what they could afford and those that weren't working yet knew they would add to the "kitty" for the next purchase. The computer room had Mission style chairs, desks and lamps. There were three computers but only one had games on it, the other two were strictly for study. In the dining room there was a very old oak table that had been well cared for with wooden chairs that didn't match but they were still comfortable and served a purpose. Upstairs the bedrooms had two twin beds, two small dressers and nightstands. Every bedroom had a window that could be opened up to let fresh air in.

Outside there was a large garage that could hold six cars and looked like a typical garage with locked storage cabinets that contained each mans personal belongings. There were tools of all sorts and working areas that could be utilized at night because they had installed good lighting. There was a volleyball net in the backyard, some grass and a small garden.

Chris was taking part in a program to help acclimate him into society again. He spent five or six hrs a day reading and taking tests on the computer after studying different modules. These exercises were designed to help return the men to productive lives, assisting them to deal with situations that might occur in the real world; like filling out applications and dealing with customer service issues. Once they passed a test they received a certificate of completion. And if they didn't pass it they could retake the test until they did. After they "graduated" they would be able to look for a real job and start earning some money, even though most of them started at minimum wage.

He had settled into a routine even though sleeping was a little difficult for him. Jim snored very loudly and there were a few times Chris actually walked over to his bed and shook him so he would roll on to his side to stop the racket. Let the man's wife put up with that, he wasn't used to a snoring roommate. A few of the men took turns cooking; it was part of their responsibilities around the house. Your main goal at the beginning was to complete the computer work then worry about the other things.

That's not to say that things at the house were peaches and cream. There was jockeying for the alpha male spot. Certain behaviors were not tolerated and could land you back in prison as quick as a blink of the eye. The no fucking no fighting rule held true and rape was out of the picture. They tried to put men here that they knew might have a few problems but it was part of the game plan to get them used to what the 'real world' had to offer, just in case they forgot. There was sort of an honor system, see abuse of any sort and report it, yeah, like this rule was followed. Every society had their own rules for governing and this place was no different. They had civilians hired by the state to manage the place, men working 12-hour shifts so someone could always be held accountable.

Three days a week a psychologist came in for a generic 12-step program. All the addictions were lumped into one group and you were encouraged to go to at least one meeting a week. Surprisingly the men were pretty open about their fears and feelings but the group didn't let them get away with anything. They could spot a liar or a poser easily for they had played the same game at one time or another. That wasn't to say you were pretty open the first time you sat in on one of these group therapy sessions. There was a certain amount of trust involved and learning how to play the game.

One afternoon Keller had been summoned to Mike McCollum's office. He was the parole officer in charge of the men in this house. He seemed like a decent sort, considering what his job was, he just asked that he not be lied to. Jim Solomon his roommate was already sitting in one of the chairs when Chris arrived. The parole officer motioned for Chris to sit down and then looked at Jim waiting for him to speak.

"Chris I want to give you this." He said handing him a pair of pruning shears. "It's sort of a tradition around here, when someone leaves they pick another guy to take his house job."

"What is it, something for yard work?" Chris said as he held the implement. " What do I know about gardening?"

"You'll learn just like I did," Jim said smiling as he saw the confusion on Keller's face. "I'll explain a few things to you later but then you're on your own. See ya later, pal." He said and left the office.

"Responsibility Keller. You're part of this little community here. Remember I told you that. We don't hire any people to care for this place, we fix and maintain everything ourselves. And if we don't know how to do something, we learn." The parole officer said.

"So what am I responsible for?"

"First of all the computer lessons. You're almost done with them right? You have what two more left to complete?"

"Yeah, two more and then I'm done."

"Well then by the time Jim leaves your responsibility around here starts and that's the flowers, Keller."

"The flowers?"

"Yeah, the flowers. You haven't noticed them have you? Well, take a look around outside and you'll see them. They need to be nurtured."


"Yeah, think of them as your babies. Here's a book to get you started." He said as he handed 'The Sunset Gardening with Color' book to Chris. The book was well worn and part of the front cover was falling off.

Chris grunted but took the book anyway and went to look for Jim outside. He found him in the backyard sitting on a glider. The sun was starting to set but there was still enough light to see the colors of the flowers, the dark brown dirt and the occasional weed poking through the colorful display.

"Sit down, Keller, I saved a seat for you," he said as he patted the seat next to him. "You won't agree with me now, but this is the best job you could get around here."

"Yeah? And why's that?" Chris asked as he sat down.

"Look around you, what do ya see?"

"Fuckin' flowers."

"There's more than flowers here my friend. It's teeming with life. When you get your hands in the dirt you'll find a few earthworms and in the morning you'll see some butterflies and then when the times right the bees stop by so they can make some honey. But then again you'll see the occasional caterpillar that'll eat the leaves and spoil it if you don't keep it in check. You're the judge and jury here, you decide if these beauties live or die. But the best part is you get to be outside."

"And what if I don't get the hang of it?" Chris asked seriously as his head dropped to the side.

"Then some of them will die, but don't give up on it, pal. Start reading that book and hopefully you WILL get the hang of it. These flower gardens have been going for a long time and you don't want to be remembered as the one that killed it." They both stood up and he slapped Chris on the back, smiled and they shook hands.

The day after Chris left Oz Sister Pete had given Toby the letter Chris had written. Beecher read the letter in her office then he put the St Dismas medal over his neck, folded the letter and put it in his back pocket. He got right back into his routine of doing his computer work.

"Don't you want to talk about it Tobias?" she asked him when it seemed that he was ignoring the situation.

"There's nothing to talk about, Sister. He's gone. I didn't get to say goodbye and I can't call him, I mean he can't associate with convicted felons... that will land him back in here... won't it?" he asked sounding a little sarcastic and making eye contact with her.

"Tobias! You're not thinking of ruining this for him are you as some sort of retaliation?"

"No, Sister. I've thought about it, but I'm not sure I could do it and then live with my guilt. That's one of the ways Chris and I differ," he said squaring his shoulders back and lifting his chin.

"Well, I would hope not. Tit for tat isn't your game, at least I don't think it is. Do you want me to contact him for you? I mean I'm not restricted and now that he's out I really do want him to stay out." She said to him.

"You mean stay away from me?"

"Tobias, you always try to twist things around. It's not worth having a disagreement about it. This isn't about me. I don't know why the two of you always turn the tables on me! Come on, we've got work to do." She told him and then asked, "Don't you see Holly today?"

"Yes, Angus is bringing her. I should just call him and tell him not to come. I'm not in a very good mood right now."

"But think of what your daughter needs right now. Have you heard from Harry?"

"Harry's doing ok, he's back in San Diego you know, with his grandparents. He wrote me a letter trying to explain his feelings about meeting me. I think I've lost him again but I'll keep in touch with him, he's still my son but he's so angry."

"He'll come around you'll see," she tried reassuring him.

Later that evening Chris was reading some information in the gardening book realizing there was so much to learn. There was information on insecticides, fertilizers, amounts of water needed, what flowers go together and which ones don't. Put the taller flowers in the back, the shorter ones in the front, when to plant bulbs and how deep each bulb goes, when and how to plant seeds. Fungus, bugs, and it just went on and on.

"Keller? You got a phone call."

He got up from the sofa to get the phone actually feeling relieved for the break. He thought it might be Kitty; she had called a couple of times and brought him some new clothes, a couple of pair of jeans, some denim shirts, and new socks. It felt good not to wear the utility gray pants anymore. He enjoyed seeing her again and although he hugged and kissed her it didn't feel the same. It felt...platonic. He only had thoughts of someone else.

He walked into the hallway and picked up the phone, "Hello."

"Chris Keller?"

"Yeah, who's this?"

"Chris, this is Gus Beecher.... Hello, are you still there?"

'Your brother's cute, does he fool around?' Wasn't that what he had said to Toby? Yes, he remembered that day when they were still playing head games and fucking with each other.

"Yes, I'm here, you caught me by surprise. You're Toby's brother right?"

"Yeah, that's me. Toby asked me to call you. He wants you to know that he hasn't forgotten you."

"He..." Chris held his breath a minute and said a silent prayer.

"Chris are you still on the line? We seem to have a bad connection, I can't hear you."

"I'm just surprised Gus. I was hoping to hear from him but I guess I thought... I mean I know how he gets and I started giving up."

"Toby can be very bull headed Chris, believe me I know that from first hand experience. Anyway I don't know what his game plan is but just in case there's something you need I'm going to give you my cell number. Do you have any message that you want me to give him?" Gus asked hoping there wasn't but knowing better.

"Yeah. Tell him I've learned the lay of the land and that I'm doing ok."

"Ok. Oh, he wanted to know if you were still having headaches," remembering that his brother specifically wanted to know that.

"I'm ok, just tell him that I'm ok now. Gus, you can do me a favor though, tell him I love him and miss him."

"I have to tell you Keller, I'm a little uncomfortable being put in the middle of delivering love notes but at this point I don't know what else to do."

"The last thing I want to do is make any more trouble for the Beecher's so I'll do whatever you tell me." Chris knew he had to say that so Gus would continue being the middleman; he'd play this brother if he had to.

"Ok, just so we're clear on that."

"We're cool, Gus. I understand."

"OK, then, I'll be in touch," he said and hung up the phone.

Chris looked at the number he had written down, didn't think twice about it and quickly dialed.

Gus answered his cell on the second ring and Chris asked him, "Gus this is Chris Keller. Can you do me one big favor? Can you try to get me a picture of Toby?"



Two days later Chris was working in the garden and he had noticed that a few of the petunias had flowers that were smaller than the other plants and its leaves were looking a yellowish green color. He looked it up and decided to try some plant food, his other choice was iron but it said that it could stain your hands.

"Keller's there's mail for you."

"For me?"

"Yeah, there's an envelope on the oak table."

He finished his project then walked inside and on the table he found a thick padded manila envelope. It was addressed to Mr. Christopher Keller, like he was someone important. The upper left hand corner read A. Beecher with no return address. He took the envelope upstairs to his bedroom, sat on the bed, and opened it and what he saw surprised him, there was a note enclosed that read,


I'm giving you a prepaid cell phone; throw it out when you've used all the minutes up. Use it wisely. Hope the picture's ok and it meets your needs. It was taken while Toby was home for that brief period.


'Do I sense a little hostility there Gussie? Does the picture meet my needs? Can I jerk off while looking at it? Hell yeah, it sure as fuck meets my needs!' He thought to himself. He was going to really have to watch what he said and did around Gus. He'd have to be his most charming self without pouring it on too thick, no seduction voice, no little touches. Make sure it was all business, like he acted with his parole officer.

He placed the 4x6 in the top drawer of the nightstand; Toby was smiling in the picture with his wind blown hair and Chris could only imagine how the sun would bleach it out seeing what it had done to his cheeks. Toby looked flushed just like after they had some hot and heavy sex in between rounds of the CO's with their beaming flashlights. Keller loved looking at Toby when he was like that, when his breathing was still coming out in pants and his heart rate hadn't slowed down yet. Chris didn't realize how pale Toby was but he still looked relaxed and happy. He was holding a pair of sunglasses and wearing a short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants. Chris couldn't see his feet but figured he'd be wearing a pair of loafers not his boots.

The photo was next to the journal he'd started after the counselor had made the suggestion to the group. He said to pretend you were talking to a friend or a loved one since those types of bonds more than likely wouldn't be made during a stay at this house. Chris knew he would burn it before he'd let anyone see what he had written. He didn't want to spill his guts, be that vulnerable again. He didn't write in it all the time but tonight he made an entry.

Dear Toby,

Had a pretty good day today. Got a job, how do like that? It's only at a car wash but it's a start, right? I get to vacuum the cars, you know when you first pull up. The owner has hired guys from this place before so it was really pretty easy filling out the application but I had to apply for a new social security card. Seems I couldn't locate my other one. Now don't worry, at first glance there doesn't look like there's anyone at the car wash to flirt with and the girl at the cash register reminds me of Claire Howell. And since I don't have a driver's license, I had to go down to the Motor vehicle department and get a picture ID. Took a pretty good picture too if I say so myself! I told you about the flowers I have to take care of? Well, so far I haven't killed any of them. Almost did though, I didn't give them enough water. It's not too bad. You can let your mind wander while doing it but I have to make sure I stretch my back out afterwards.

At dinner we have to discuss something that's on the front page of the paper. They think that this way we can learn to express our opinions and not get emotional and fight. Well, it doesn't always work out that way. There's one guy-Frank. Man it' so easy to push his buttons. He ain't going to make it, the douche bag. You'd be good at the head games you can play with him. Tonight we were discussing this article that came out in some British medical journal. They said that cannabis wasn't as harmful as first though. No shit! When's the last time you heard of someone committing a crime while they were loaded? What are they going to do, hit someone over the head with a bag of chips during a robbery? Been a while since I did some but I believe there's truth to that story. Anyway Frank almost went ballistic and started spewing some religious stuff. He needs one of those time outs, isn't that what you call it?

Well I'm getting tired and tomorrow's my first day on the job so I'm going to brush my teeth and go to bed. Talk to you later-Chris

That next morning Chris took the bus to the car wash. He had to stop in the manager's office to have his ankle bracelet 'read'. He could tell some of the other men were ex-cons, it seemed this place employed a few other parolees, some that didn't live where Chris did but that didn't make any difference. He was going to do his job and not get involved in anything that went on. Oh, he'd be friendly but he'd mind his own business and try to stay out of trouble.

It was Friday one of the busiest days, the others being Saturday and Sunday. Chris went to the vacuum cleaner waiting for the business to open and for his day to begin. The metal gates to the car wash opened and the first vehicle through was a Chevy Silverado pickup. He went to work cleaning the floor mats when he noticed three quarters and a dime on the passenger's side of the floor. He laughed to himself knowing this had to be some kind of test; picking the money up, he placed it on top of the dashboard just like he was told to do. Like he was going to risk his freedom for a measly eighty-five cents?

Before he knew it, it was almost time for his lunch break the time had gone by quickly, not that he was having fun but it had been a busy morning, vacuuming car after car, they didn't seem to stop coming. Out of the blue he felt the hairs bristle on the back of his neck and he honed in on that instinct which made him turn around and look. He had no one to watch his back; he didn't have to remind himself that he was on the outside now. He didn't see anyone as he turned back around maybe he was just spooking himself. The next car pulled up, it was the last one Chris was doing before lunch. He opened the passenger door of a black Crown Victoria and leaned down just as the driver exited. The driver caught part of Keller's profile while he was telling the attendant what kind of wash he wanted then walked into the waiting room where chairs were lined up so the customers could sit and watch their cars slowly moving by on the conveyor belt being sudsed and rinsed and almost catapulted out to be dried.

Instead of eating during his lunch break, Keller had other plans as he took the cell phone out of his pocket and laughed to himself because the last time he had used one of these phones it had been much larger. Damn, these things were tiny now and disposable to boot. He dialed the number he had memorized and it rang once, twice, three times.

"Sister Pete's office, can I help you?" Beecher answered the phone in her office.

"Are you alone?" Chris asked.

"Chris, is that you? Yes, I'm alone for a little bit. She's in a lunch meeting although I'm not sure when she'll be back." Toby answered excitedly.

"Good then." Chris was pleased that she wasn't in the room.

"How... how are you?"

"It's lonely... I'm lonely but hey I got a job!" Chris tried not to sound 'down' like he was feeling at this moment.

"No shit, where?"

"At a fuckin' car wash but it beats jerking off all day." Then in a low voice he asked, "What are you wearing baby?"

"Wh... what? What am I wearing?" Beecher caught on quickly and answered slowly. "I'm wearing a light blue polo shirt and I haven't cut my hair since you left."

"Good boy. What are you wearing under your pants?"


"Are you wearing a belt?"


"Unbuckle it and unzip your pants."

"I can't do that, she'll be back here at any time."

"For me babe."

Toby did as he was instructed.

"Did you do it?"

"Yes," he answered sheepishly.

"Now touch yourself."

"Chris, I can't. I feel like I'm... I don't know."

"Toby do it."

Toby snorted, "Ok, I am."

"Can you feel me, Toby?"

Chris got nothing but heavy breathing on the line then Toby said, "Shit, I hear her coming. I gotta go."

"Don't go yet. I just want to hear your voice," he asked knowing they'd have to end this soon.

"Fuck... I do miss you, Keller. Take care of yourself and please don't do anything stupid." He heard her opening the door as he finished buckling his belt. "No, she's not here," informing Chris that she had walked back into the room, "but you can call back in about an hour, I'm sure she'll be back by then."

"I'll be calling again. That's a promise." Chris said and hung up the phone.

Toby hoped she didn't see his hands as he quickly put himself back together. He knew his face was red so he didn't turn around to look at her.

That afternoon Toby waited for a visit with his brother who was running late, again. Toby was beginning to think he wasn't going to show up today. He sat at one of the tables in the visiting room leaning over with his elbows on his knees and his right leg nervously shaking.

"Toby, I'm so sorry I'm late, it's a long story but we got the memory cards mixed up and then we had to find the right one. It took longer than I expected," Gus said when he finally settled into a chair.

"Well, did you find the right one? Did you bring any of them with you?" Toby anxiously asked.

"Yeah, remember I told you that I put Swanee on it and got one of his best men doing it. It's not cheap doing it this way, there are other ways to do it for less money," Gus said wanting to make his brother happy showing him that he was doing what he could for him.

"Gus, I told you, just do it. I'll pay the guy myself." Toby was impatient and put his hand out wiggling his fingers until Gus handed him the small package that contained a set of glossy color photographs.

"Man look at this one. He looks good. Yeah, he looks ok." Toby said as he sighed in relief now that he actually had them. One picture was of Chris on the outside patio, just him and one other man talking, another showed him working in a garden with his ass up in the air as he leaned over some flowers. And there was one of Chris looking out an upstairs window when it was very dark outside. And then there were a couple of him working at the car wash.

"This one reminds me of Chris from a few years ago when we weren't getting along so well," Toby said as he showed Gus the picture of Chris staring out the window.

"Which means what?" Gus didn't really want to know the details of his brother's obsession with Keller.

"We were in different pods and used to stare at each other at night, sometimes for hours at a time until one of the CO's would pound on one of the windows. We were so intent on staring each other down it would scare the shit out of us." He put his head down slightly as he remembered how lonely he was at that time.

"This relationship is really fucked up Toby. If Mother knew I was helping you with this stuff she'd have a stroke."

Toby smiled slowly and said, "O'Reily always said it was fucked up too but it's my relationship and as far as Mother is concerned ... well there's no reason for her find out and it's really none of her business anyway. How did he sound when you talked to him?"

"Ok, I guess but I don't have anything to compare it to, Toby. Boy you sure have a one track mind, don't you?"

"Yeah, sometimes I do but thanks to you I've now got more than a mental picture of him," he said wiggling his eyebrows at his brother. Angus hadn't told him about the picture he gave to Chris.

After work Chris took a bus back to the halfway house. The first thing he did was swipe his ankle bracelet so the time he got back could be documented, then he went upstairs and found a message taped to his door:


Kitty Keller's background check has been completed and has now been added to your support list. This gives her approval to take you to dinner tonight, per her request. She'll pick you up between 6:30 and 7pm. Your curfew is 11pm.

The Mgtment

'Thank you Kitty', he said to himself and then happily took a shower. He wasn't sure what time she would pick him up but he hoped it was soon because he was ready. He had washed a new pair of his jeans a few times trying to soften them and she had guessed his size pretty good. His weight had fluctuated a little while he was in prison but in the past few days he had dropped a few pounds. His wait wasn't long and at 6:30 pm she drove up in a silver Lexus SC 430. Keller walked out to the car leaned his head in to the driver side window and gave Kitty a little kiss on the lips.

"What's that for?" She asked.

"It's my way of thanking you babe." Chris said smiling at her. "Nice car, must have set you back a bit, what's this thing go for?" He asked as he got in the front seat riding shotgun.

"A little over 60 big ones" she said as she pressed a button next to the climate control system to put the top down, turning it instantly into a convertible. "You don't have to thank me yet, Chris. You've got some paraphernalia that used to belong to me, and I want it back."

"So that's what you call it?" He said as he looked around the interior of the car admiring the glossy wood in a light maple color. He liked the look of the gauges, crisp white on black graphics with red needles. There was a video screen for the navigation system, he had read about them but this was the first one he saw. Then he checked out his ex-wife. She was sporting a nice tan giving her a healthy glow. A black strapless tube dress that barely covered the tops of her thighs let Chris know she didn't have any panties on or if she did they were crotch less but he didn't see any panty lines. She wore a pair of 3-inch mules not his favorites but it showed off her legs nicely.

"Think you can do it with me again? I mean I know how you feel about Toby but... for old times sake? I'll make it worth your while." She lightly touched his hand before putting it back on the steering wheel.

"Oh yeah, and just how do you think you're going to do that? What's in the bag on the back seat?" He asked turning his head.

"Oh, I got you some colored sheets and a bedspread so your room wouldn't look so institutionalized. That's ok isn't it?" Now it was her turn to smile at him as she drove off.

'I'm just having dinner, that's all I'm doing,' he reminded himself.

As he walked into Kitty's loft, Keller whistled and said, "Where did you come up with the money for this place?"

"Honey, you're not the only one with a rich boyfriend and I've done pretty good for myself in real estate." She moved into the kitchen area and said, "I've got steaks, salad, beer and weed," she smiled and winked at him.

"Hey, Kitty cat, you know I can't do any drugs but I can have a beer. They do random drug checks at that place." He wasn't quite sure what she was going for; he was getting different signals from her.

"They always allow a minimum of drugs on those tests. It's never a completely clean drug screen they're after. You know, it's been a long time since anyone's called me 'Kitty cat', Chris." She said trying to change the subject and flirting with him just a bit.

"Your rich boyfriend doesn't call you that? Then he certainly doesn't know the lioness in you, does he or maybe he can't bring it out is that it?" He challenged her while crossing his arms across his chest.

"Oh, he does just fine in that department trust me, but he's not here right now, you are! So... why don't you and I... play a little?" She took a couple of steps closer to him. "Remember the fun we used to have? You won't need more than one hit of this, it's good stuff, Chris. When's the last time you got high? Didn't you do any stuff while you were in Oz?" She continued flirting with him but he was aware of what she was doing.

"I did a lot of things in Oz that you don't want to know about baby, but drugs wasn't one of them."

"Come on Chris, let's get high, baby."

"You were always a bad influence on me babe." It would be nice to get high and just escape for a while remembering that Toby didn't say anything about love over the phone. Maybe he was afraid of Sr Pete walking in and overhearing the conversation, but still... "Ok, one hit." Chris tried to sound good-humored.

"I was a bad influence on you? Maybe, but that's not quite how your ex mother-in-law remembers it." She said as she lit the joint, took a hit and handed it to Chris. He then did the same and held his breath before exhaling, and then she stepped even closer to him.

'No, I'm not going to do this!' he lied to himself.

Her mouth skimmed his jaw then crushed onto his in the fierce feral way he remembered. His own body stiffened, his own needs flashed back to the phone call to Toby earlier today. She eased back, "Unless you'd rather not."

"Too late, baby. I want sex," he growled.

Grinning, he let her shove him into the living room then on to the couch. She had him on his back and then she straddled him, planting her hands on his chest. He reached up and began to unbutton her blouse. He freed one of her breasts and she leaned over and bit his shoulder. "I want it rough and fast," she gasped.

Her mouth captured his taking it greedily. She clawed at him ripping at his clothes as they wrestled on the couch, hands grappling, thirsty for each other. Frantic groans and shudders came from both of them as erotic points were sought out as they remembered each other's bodies so well.

All their frustrated energy peaked into a hunger, a need to take it quickly. His mouth was on her neck marking her, as was his way, his hands bruising her flesh in their need to possess each other once again.

"Now, damn it!" Desire was in her eyes and she saw it mirrored back in Chris's. She rose over him and lowered herself onto him as she arched her back and moaned. He moved quickly and rolled her onto her back pulling her hips and thrust into her driving deeper until they were both pushed over the edge.



Later that night Christopher Keller and the ex Mrs. Katherine (Kitty) Keller, ate their dinner, the steaks being medium rare just the way she remembered he liked it and he seemed to enjoy the meal, although she had planned on being desert not the appetizer. They talked about everything except what happened on the couch earlier that evening. Conversation drifted to the weather and Chris's garden, his job at the car wash and they even had a few laughs recalling some of their past together. While this was happening she quietly put some music on more to help her get through the little periods of moodiness that were suddenly emerging from him.

Soon after dinner Kitty and Chris drove in silence to his 'home'. She noticed that he'd been staring straight ahead clenching his jaw each time she glanced at him. The silence was beginning to give her a tension headache and while sitting in her luxury car he continued to look uneasy on the supple leather seat occasionally running his left hand through his hair then scratching his right shoulder at an itch that was too deep to fix, she knew something was up with him.

After she parked the car she couldn't stand the silence any longer and had to get it out in the open clearing the air. "I'm not going to say I'm sorry it happened Chris. In fact I rather enjoyed myself and if I'm not mistaken you did too. You wanted it as much as I did. You needed to feel some human contact, a little warmth you know? And I'm not some stranger you picked up in some bar. Sex between us was always good, that was never our problem, was it?"

"No Kitty, sex between us wasn't the problem." He lied. "And yeah, it felt damn good a couple of hours ago but right now I feel a little..." he shrugged and gave her a half smile. "I don't know how I feel. I could say you used me because your boyfriend was out of town and mine's locked up. I betrayed someone I love." His chest tightened and it felt like a cold fist was beginning to close over his heart.

"Used? I didn't use you. Darling, keep this in mind, I've got a lover available to me at all times and right now you don't have that luxury. And I recall asking you if you wanted to stop and I don't remember hearing any "no" coming out of your mouth," she said tapping the side of her head with her fingers. "You're acting like some 16-year-old girl whose boyfriend popped her cherry. If you're looking to start a fight do it with someone else I'm not going to fight with you even though we were pretty good at that. You need me more than you know you do!" She said digging her nails into her palms while trying to figure out where his head was. Chris Keller being pissed off because he had sex? What happened to the Keller she was once knew?

She continued ranting, not giving him a chance to contradict her... yet. "I think you wished it was Tobias Beecher you were making love to on that couch. Instead you fucked me," she was taunting him now. "Because that's what you and I did, right? We fucked... each... other," she raised her voice in frustration. What was it about this man, this Toby? What did he possess that she didn't? How come he grabbed her ex's heart and she couldn't hang on to it? "Do you plan on living a celibate life or just becoming best friends with your right hand?" She spoke with brutal detachment.

"My hand's been there for me for most of my life but I think you know that I'd rather have sex with a human any day. As far as being celibate well... " He shrugged making a helpless gesture. "You don't have the whole picture, what went on in there. I'm not the same man I was when we were married. Haven't you changed too? We all do or at least that's what I've been told."

Chris stepped out of the car but didn't see her graphic gesture as she drove off. It wasn't quite eleven o'clock his mandated curfew time and he certainly didn't feel like going back inside if he didn't have to, so instead he started walking and skulked off like a kicked dog.

How callous he felt knowing he had just done the same thing Toby did to him. The circumstances were a little different but still he fucked someone the first opportunity that came his way. He couldn't tell Toby what happened; no, it wouldn't do any good to hurt him like that. He remembered the feeling only too well. He fucked a woman, would it have been any better had it been a man? Yes? No? What difference did it make? Fuck, fuck, fuck. But still it was his ex-wife; lots of people fucked their exes didn't they? Doesn't always have to mean something, does it? Can't it just be sex and that's all? Can't it just be for that brief moment of pleasure? Wasn't it allowed? Maybe if he hadn't talked to Toby today he wouldn't have been so damn horny and lonely but once again he let his dick rule his life. Maybe if Toby had said that he loved him. Don't do this to yourself, Keller... Sister Pete has gotten into your head again... Ok, deal with it. It's over, it happened, done, finished and I fucked up. I didn't think things all the way through.

Calling Kitty from a pay phone he asked her to come back for a drink; he wanted to make things right between them and he had taken a bus to a bar not far from the half way house. After a few drinks he coaxed her outside into the alley. It smelled of old cigarettes and cat piss but he wanted to fuck her right there against the brick wall however he wanted her on her knees first.

"That's it, Baby. Do me..." Entwining his fingers in her long hair, he pulled her to him. Not that he had to force her to suck him. They both knew she wanted it as much as he did...

He looked at the head bobbing up and down giving him immense pleasure, opening his eyes and focusing he was suddenly staring in to a set of misty blue eyes... Ronnie! No, he shook his head back and forth then looked up towards the night sky. When he looked down again his hands were pressed tight against the venomous head of Vern Schillinger. Vern stopped sucking his cock and looked him straight in the eye and said, "I never loved you either" then contemptuously laughed. Chris closed his eyes tightening his grip on Vern's head. He had to kill this motherfucker once and for all. He was right at the point of snapping his neck, finally ending it when he looked down again and stared right into Toby's reddened face his eyes bulging from their sockets the veins on his forehead pulsating and swelling dangerously.

He abruptly woke up, his heart pounding. Taking a few deep breaths he ripped off his wet t-shirt. 'Fuck!' he thought reaching for a cigarette. Bunching up his pillow he lay there smoking waiting for the nicotine to course through his body and help get his mind and heart rate to settle down. 'Damn that felt real... Like it really ... Nah! It was just a fuckin' nightmare.'

But then why did his hands hurt, he wondered idly. 'Must have clenched them tight in my sleep...'

On the 6 o'clock newscast the following evening, the local anchorwoman's expression changed, as her face grew tight and pinched while she read from the teleprompter even though she had the script in her hands.

"A body was found early this morning in the North Woods area of town. The partially clothed body was found by joggers not far off the path. The identity of the man has not been determined yet but one of the joggers said he looked like he was in his late twenties and from his position on the ground it appeared that his neck had been broken. The Medical Examiner has determined that he probably died somewhere between 9pm and midnight last night. We'll be giving you further updates as we receive them."

Turning to another camera she flipped her red straight hair and smiled and babbled on about a traffic jam on the local interstate.

Across town early Sunday morning a few people had gathered in an office. After the fiscal year ended and the new budget had kicked in, the squad room had been given a makeover. The walls had been painted cornflower blue and the desks had been replaced with new ones that had drawers that actually opened without getting stick. The computers had been upgraded and each came with a 15-inch flat screen monitor. A few detectives stood before an easel with pictures of the dead man, the scene where he was found, and some items belonging to the victim that were tagged and bagged. A blank area was left in the upper right hand corner where mug shots would appear later, once they figured out the M.O. and had suspects in mind.

Charlotte Thurston was the lead homicide detective on this case. She addressed her assembled team, "Ok, we know he was killed by someone snapping his neck and he was sexually assaulted and sodomized. At least it looks that way right now, but he might have been into rough stuff... we just don't have enough information at this point in the investigation. We're waiting for his fingerprints and dental records to ID him." She then introduced the squad to a man who stood apart from the assembled group.

Stepping forward he said, "We do know there was seminal fluid found on the Vic and it was deposited post mortem. Our perp did not use a condom, obviously. The man's genitals were left exposed and there weren't any fingerprints left at the scene." Pierce Taylor was tall and slim---though no one would mistake him for being 'buff'. He had sparrow brown hair that was receding, but he was still a few years away from a "comb over". If not for his lifeless shark eyes and his too-thin lips, he could be considered quite good-looking.

Detective Thurston said, "Agent Taylor might have some leads for us because he's investigated similar murders in the past for the FBI." Instantly the squad picked up on his patronizing attitude, as Taylor assumed a position of superiority.

In Emerald City they had been in lockdown due to a melee in the cafeteria that started when one of the homeboys tried to steal some fruit from a member of the 'Gays'. Fiona might have dressed in a gender bending outfit but the right hook she threw left no doubt in anyone's mind that she was still a man. That's all it took for the cafeteria to erupt. There were only a few injuries because there was more food thrown than punches.

All this meant was that the inmates were oblivious to what was going on in the outside world. No TV, no magazines and no radio. McManus decided that by Monday morning the inmates would be sufficiently cooled down and the lockdown would end.

Chris had a shit-eating grin on his face as he locked the door to his bedroom. Monday was his day off which never ever happened in prison. Even when you weren't occupied... that was when your real job started. Always watching your back, spotting potential threats... scheming and assessing potential allies---the usual shit.

It seemed... unproductive not to take advantage of his free time. He should be more constructive, make the most of it...you know, see if he could somehow help someone with... a plan was starting to form in Chris' mind. He removed his t-shirt, then slowly unbuttoned his jeans and slipped them down one leg at a time. Next came the white boxers. Walking over to the bed he opened the top drawer of the nightstand, took out Toby's picture and laid it on the bed where he could see it as he picked up the cell phone and started dialing, then he got on the bed and laid on top of the new bedspread, the one that Kitty bought.

"Sister Pete's office, can I help you?" Beecher asked like it was an inconvenience for him, which it was.


"Chris?" Toby chuckled. "I was hoping you'd remember that she had staff meetings on Monday mornings. We have a little more time to talk than we did on Friday. How are you? Did you have a good weekend?"

"Weekend? I worked; days don't make any difference just like inside. I'm off today."

"And what do you have planned for your day off?"

"Ah..." he laughed. "I've got big plans for today," he seductively said and then added, "Toby?"

"I'm here, Chris. I'm listening," Toby's voice cracked.

Chris' voice became lower, and with a sexy little growl he started a mostly one sided conversation, "You and me Toby. We're together. All by ourselves. We're laying here on my bed. We don't have any clothes on. We're hugging. We start kissing, softly. Then you put your tongue in my mouth. I start sucking it like you're fucking my mouth." Chris slowly rimmed his lips with his index finger while he spoke.

"Uh, huh..." Toby licked his suddenly dry lips.

"Then you reach over and play with my nipple. Slowly... you slide your hand down my chest... then over my stomach. You're making circles around my belly button and that makes me sort of laugh..." Chris had a 100- watt smile on his face.

"I remember..." Toby said as his pulse quickened.

"Then you very lightly run your finger along my cock. You know where. On that big vein until it starts jerking. You gently move your hand down to my sack. You're closing your hand around my balls. You're moving them around in your hand." Chris said as he was mimicking his descriptions, pretending it was Toby's hands caressing him. "Then you feel the head with your thumb. It's wet. You rub your finger all around and it starts sending these lightening bolts into my nerves. Then these bolts shoot up my back. Oh man... I'm rocking... I can't help it. You're making me so hard, baby," Chris breathed heavily.

Chris could hear Toby's breath coming in short bursts then Toby swallowed hard and whispered, "And what are doing to me?"

"You baby? I'm sucking on your neck now. Slowly moving down to your collarbone, licking all... the... way. My tongue finds that little nub. I lick it and then flick it with my tongue. I make circles all around it. Then I bite it. Not real hard but you know it's a love bite. I do that for a while and it makes you squirm. I like it when you do that."

Toby had already been squirming in his chair for a while now and he glanced at the clock; it was still going to be awhile until she got back. He got some tissues off her desk. Sitting back down, he unzipped his pants freeing his swollen cock. "More..." he groaned as he struggled to catch his breath.

"You're already hard aren't you? You've been listening to me and doing yourself haven't you? Toby...you've heard the phrase 'feverish with desire'? I've got a fever Toby. A bad fever.

"Fuck, don't stop now, Chris, please... talk to me, make me..."

"Shhhhh, Toby. I want this to last too... "

"I put two fingers in your mouth and you suck them--- making them real, real wet. You spread your legs for me. My finger finds the crack of your ass. I make more circles. Small circles until my finger slips in and you're so tight and warm. I start moving my finger. In. And out. Slowly. Then I add another finger. You clamp down around it. Feel it Toby?"

Breathlessly as he's moving his hand up and down on own cock Toby says, "Yeah..."

"Then you grab the lube. You're rubbing it all over me." Chris was having trouble speaking. "And it makes me so fuckin' hard... I can't take much more... I've got to be inside you..." Chris wet his lips. "I want so bad to be inside you... I want my dick in your ass. Do you want that Toby?"

"Yeah... give it to me now... right... now." Toby was hanging on to the desk with his left hand and his head was rolling back.

"I've got both hands on your ass, baby.... I've got my big cock right there... I'm ready to fuck you. Now Toby..."

"Chris, Chris.... Oh fuck, oh fuck," Toby gasped as his body shuddered with his orgasm.

That was all Chris needed to push him over the edge. He was there. His back arched, the muscles in his thighs contracted, his toes curled in pleasure and his mind tingled as he spurted over his hand. There was heavy breathing on both ends of the phone.

Toby spoke first, "Chris, I love you. Christ I miss you. Oh man... that was..." He finished zipping up his pants. He didn't get any response. "Chris you still there?

"Toby... he sighed as his breathing returned to normal. "Listen, ah...I, no matter what happens remember that I love you." Chris wiped his hand on the bedspread, then picked up Toby's picture and stared at it.

"What does that mean...no matter what happens?" Toby was at a complete loss as to what he meant.

"It doesn't mean anything. Just remember that, ok?" Chris said softly.

"Sure, yeah ok. I know you love me, Chris. When will you call me again?"

"When I can. I gotta go Toby." Chris couldn't speak anymore. This was harder on him than he thought it ever would be.

Chris put the phone down and put his arm up covering his eyes. He wanted to savor this moment and store it forever.



Apology: I just realized today that there was a fic written by Jacki (kbfan) named "On The Outside" in 2001. I didn't remember that when I wrote this but at least the stories are different. With so many Oz stories to be told I guess it's inevitable that a title gets repeated.

Chris had drifted off to sleep after the "special" phone call. He hadn't felt this relaxed since the night before his release from Oz. He only napped for fifteen minutes and knowing he'd remember the experience forever he wanted to jot down a few thoughts in his journal.

Hey Toby,

We finally christened Sr Pete's office didn't we? Too bad I wasn't there to see it. You know it was hard for me to keep talking afterwards, know what I mean? I needed to be with you, to hold you like we used to do. But know what? Your scent was in the room with me. Sounds like I flipped our right? But it's true baby I could smell you. So that's why I had to hang up so fast.

It made me happy though sort of filled me up. I've done that before but it's never been like that for me. I hope it was good for you. Fuck! I can't believe I wrote that. Hope it was good for you, that's bad, really bad in fact it sucks like one of your old rhymes!

You know, I told Sr. Pete that I wanted a life. It was after you were paroled. I remember that day in her office just like it was yesterday. Well, I didn't tell her, I yelled it at her. Fuck...tell, yell... I screamed it at her and she jumped. I know she only put up with my shit because of you. You're really lucky to have her. You've got so many people to care about you and I've only got you. I'm not complaining I'm really glad I've got you in my corner, except this isn't the life I was talking about. I want you with me. I miss you so damn much.

Gotta go, someone's yelling my name. Maybe the flowers need me or someone made something to eat.



Monday evening Toby was in the common area of Oz watching TV with some of the other inmates when they all heard the newscast. He could feel Ryan staring at him and he knew what Ryan had to be thinking. The halfway house, The Crown & Shield, was in the North Woods area. Ryan knew about Chris, the reason he'd been on death row and the other murders he was suspected of, it had been on the news the day Chris Keller had been sentenced to death.

"It's not him, Chris didn't do this. He couldn't have." Toby said as he turned in his chair to face O'Reily.

"You so sure of that?" Ryan just turned his head a little bit towards Toby. He still had his earphones in for the TV and was trying to pay attention to Toby and the TV at the same time.

"Yeah, I'm sure." Toby said crossing his arms across his chest and shaking his head yes.

"Where was he Friday night?" Ryan asked peering out of the corner of his eye.

"At the halfway house," Toby told him while giving him a level stare.

"All night?"

"I assume so. Where else would he be? Where would he go? I talked to him this morning. There was nothing wrong with him, nothing. What the fuck are you getting at?" Toby remembered what Keller had said before he hung up. 'Just remember I love you and something about no matter what happens.' "Oh, great! Fuck! Thanks a whole fuckin' lot, O'Reily!" Toby yelled at him, his voice rising an octave as he stormed off towards the phones.

Ryan shrugged his shoulders as he watched him stomped off and continued watching whatever was on the TV.

Toby was pacing back and forth in the telephone room-well at least as far as the cord would allow him to go. His brother's cell phone rang a few times until the message started, "This is Gus Beecher, I can't get to you at the moment but I will call you back as soon as I am able to. Leave your message now..."

"Gus, it's me! I need to talk to you right away. Call McManus so I can talk to you." Toby was very frustrated and he furrowed his brows when he didn't answer the phone.

He then dialed Gus's home number. "Hi, you've reached the Beecher's. We're obviously busy or we would have answered the phone. You know what to do."

"Gus, it's me again. I just left a message on your cell. Where the f..." Toby caught himself just as he was going to leave a word that young children didn't need to hear. "I've got to talk to you or see you as soon as possible, please."

Shifting and reshifting his feet Toby dialed one more number and tried to keep his voice calm then said, "Hi Mother. I'm ok. By any chance do you know where Gus is?"

"You ok in there, Beecher?" asked one of the C.O.'s, as he just happened to pass by the room while Toby was banging the receiver against the wall. Apparently Gus had gone on a mini-vacation with his family and wouldn't be returning until a few days later.


Earlier in the day there had been action of a different nature in the squad room across town. Agent Taylor had been on the phone with Oz's Tim McManus and his suspicions had been confirmed, Christopher Keller was free on a legal technicality. He was sure he had seen Keller at the car wash last Friday while having his black Crown Victoria washed. He'd only caught a slight glimpse of him but he'd recognized that face and profile like it was a part of him. This homicide was Keller's style, his MO, sex, sodomy, and a broken neck-a Keller specialty. The FBI man now had two choices. The homicide detectives could pick him up for questioning or he could wait until some of the forensic evidence came in.

He knew Christopher Keller was as guilty as hell and he was going to nail his ass to the cross this time, just as sure as the sun set in the west. Taylor scheduled a meeting with Detective Thurston and updated her on the information he'd received but insisted on talking with the rest of the detectives. That's why he was there after all... to give his expert opinion about suspects. He wanted to be the one to tell them about Keller. A crucial part of Keller's makeup was he ego. He remembered Tobias Beecher asking him "What is it about Keller that obsesses you?" And as he was one who retained information his reply was, "I want justice for those murdered men." He still wanted justice. The Agent also recalled Beecher saying, "You cover every angle don't you?" and he replied, "I try." Well, he knew he had to try harder this time. The one question he wasn't fully able to answer was the obsession. He'd hunted down murderers, kidnappers, and other sorts of fugitives who had blatantly broken the law but none had eluded him like this con man; he was a slick one. Yes, Keller was one cagey son of a bitch who was going to fry this time and Taylor would insist on witnessing it.

Pierce Taylor stopped in the men's room before addressing the detectives. During the overhaul of the squad room the bathrooms had been neglected, it would have to wait for the next budget go-around. This restroom had a fairly large mirror with a small crack on the upper right hand corner that was splintering down like a bolt of lightening. It was positioned above two old sinks with rust stains and one of the faucets had a slow drip... drip... drip. The room also had three stalls and only one had a lock that worked but both urinals were still fully functional. Years ago some master planner had installed grey ceramic floor tile interspersed with white grout but after years of use the grout had turned brown. The walls were checkered with chipped glossy white and black tile that extended two-thirds up the wall and the rest of the wall and ceiling were painted white which was now a dingy yellow. Taylor checked his appearance in the bathroom mirror; he was wearing a gray pinstriped suit with a white shirt and a grey tie with black stripes. His shirt had been starched properly and his collar held the stiffness he liked. This outfit was not much different than any of the others he wore, as he preferred dark suits with white shirts but he did vary the ties. As he slicked his hair back with the inside of his palm he noticed he was getting a little grayer especially around his temples; maybe it was just the lighting in the room because one of the bulbs had burned out. He stood there, with his hands in his pant pockets and moved his head side to side, lifted his chin up, and winked at his reflection...he wasn't vain but he knew the importance of first impressions.

The squad room was a beehive of activity as phones were ringing and answered. Notes were taken from tipsters and confidential informants were contacted. Some of the detectives were already following up on leads and interviewing witnesses.

"Agent Taylor, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the other unsolved homicide victims and this one. What's the connection between them?" One of the detectives asked as he looked through the files that Taylor had handed out to each detective.

"The deceased have all been loners and college or graduate students who frequented gay bars although not all of them were gay." Taylor said as he walked around the room touching the backs of some of the chairs. "At least that's what some of the families said but they were either gay or bisexual, just like the killer."

"So the killer's gay?" a baldheaded detective asked.

"He's bisexual but he doesn't define himself that way. He says he just likes sex." Taylor said.

"So... you've interviewed this guy by... yourself?"

"Yes, on a few memorable occasions while he was incarcerated at Ozwald. He's got a pretty colorful history with another inmate who's still there. Keller broke almost every bone in his body and then they became... lovers."

A young detective with just a week on the job and a brand new gold shield in his pocket asked, "You're kidding, right?"

"No, as sick as it seems, it's real. Read the file I just handed out. It's all in there along with information on the other brutal homicides I believe he's responsible for. This other inmate, Tobias Beecher, has money and his father and his law firm got him off death row after I put him there but not before the father was fatally stabbed while visiting his a... client."

"Maybe he kills because he's afraid to really love, maybe he doesn't hate men." Detective Thurston theorized. "Maybe he hates women because he's been brutalized by men in the past and he hasn't been..."

Taylor slammed his fist on the table interrupting her, "No! It is about the men. He hates men because he hates himself! He's been married three times!" 'Why can't other people see Keller the way I do?' he asked himself.

Taylor continued, "It's been three days since the murder and VICAP's spit his name out and he's on top of the list. He still fits the profile of a serial killer. Do I have to review the FBI's definition of a serial killer for any of you? Because I will, it's no trouble. I want him brought in for questioning."

"Do you want an arrest warrant issued?"

"No. Just bring him in for questioning and if he doesn't do so voluntarily read him his Miranda. I want him to sweat it out in that interrogation room He thinks he's such a cool customer, well... we'll see how cool he is this time around."

Detective Thurston regained control of the investigation from Taylor, who seemed to enjoy making people feel uncomfortable and intimidating them. "There's a bar within a mile's distance from that house Keller stays in," she said as she tried to refocus the group. " His drug tests were negative and he stayed clean while he was in prison. The fact that he takes the bus to and from work, and has to walk to the bus stop... that makes the bar even closer to him. I want the area canvassed again for witnesses; anyone and I mean anyone who thinks they saw the victim or Keller, bring them in for questioning. Carlos and Chico go talk to our numero uno suspect."


On the Outside Series 5/?
Q & A

The detectives arrived pretty quickly at the Crown & Shield and asked if 'a Christopher Keller lived there'. The man answering the door, Andy, said he did and proceeded to call out for Keller, but he didn't invite them in... knowing they were cops even though they didn't identify themselves... their clothes and car gave them away.

Keller came down sauntering to the front door. Seeing Andy's facial expression he felt a sudden spurt of adrenalin coursing throughout his body; it's not that he was afraid of the police- he just didn't like them.

"Mr. Keller? I'm Detective Mendoza and this is my partner Detective Santiago.

"Yeah..." Chris said in a very nonchalant manner.

"We'd like you to come downtown to our precinct so we can ask you a few questions," Santiago said while scrutinizing Keller's face for any clues.

"I'd rather not. I'm kinda tired and it's my day off. Am I under arrest for something?" He asked while holding the door and bracing it with his foot.

"Not at this time," Detective Santiago said with a patronizing smile.

"Then bye-bye," he said boldly while he started closing the door.

The detectives were quicker throwing him against the wall making him spread his legs, patting him down then handcuffing him. "Christopher Keller, we're placing you under arrest for the murder of Perry Jordan. You have the right to remain silent..." as they recited the rest of the Miranda then asking him if he understood his rights.

Keller stared at the detectives and smiled in defiance, "Yeah, I understand my rights like I've ever had any to begin with."

Forensics hadn't been able to lift any fingerprints from the scene. There was the obvious neck bruising on the dead man, Perry Jordan, giving them an approximate size the of the killer's handprint; also the experienced examiner could see the petechiae present in his eyes. The DNA wasn't back yet and the fingernail scrapings hadn't revealed anything, there were no defensive wounds leading them to believe maybe the guy hadn't put up much of a struggle because he knew his attacker. Agent Taylor did not have anything---yet---on which to pin this murder on Keller but maybe his girlfriend knew something.

A short time later Beecher was brought to an empty office and the C.O. had him sit in a metal chair next to a conference table. He didn't explain why he was there and Beecher didn't ask. He figured it was just another day in Oz. Suddenly the door opened.

"Mr. Beecher, how are you?"

"Well, well. Agent Taylor, what a surprise to see you."

" I'm surprised to hear you say that."

"Yeah, why's that?"

"You see, we got a search warrant and found something in your boyfriend's room," he said while sitting down across the table from him.

"Is that right?" Toby said icily. "What did you find?"

"A journal. And you know what's curious about it?"

"No but I'm sure you'll tell me."

"Every entry started with 'Dear Toby'. Are you Dear Toby?

"How would I know since I've never seen it? You see, Agent Taylor, they have a little thing here in Oz about us wandering around free it's called incarceration," he said as his voice was filled with tension. "So if you don't mind I think I can say I'm done here." Beecher stood and headed for the door.

"I don't think so." Agent Taylor stopped him by blocking his exit and getting into his personal space.

"You see there's one entry and it says, "No matter what happens remember I love you." Now, Mr. Beecher, what do you think Keller meant by that?"

"You'd have to ask him."

"Well I'm asking you because you talked to him the day of that entry."

"I did? When?" Toby asked vaguely.

"Maybe you were here in the office, and you were alone. See, I know Sr. Pete was in a meeting at the same time you used the phone. We checked the LUGS and he must have called you because we can't find any indication you made the call, maybe he had an untraceable cell phone and the both of you talked for 18 minutes. What did you talk about, 'Dear Toby'?"

"You still have a hard on for Keller, don't you Taylor? Not that I can blame you. It was the jeans and wifebeaters that got you hot, wasn't it?" Beecher asked sarcastically.

"You watch that mouth of yours Mr. Beecher or I can charge you with obstruction."

This was one of the few times Toby didn't think, he acted on instinct and he just nailed Taylor with a clean right hook to his jaw momentarily stunning the FBI man.

"Obstruct that!" Beecher said pounding on the door for Murphy to get him the hell out of there. "And this is from Keller!" Toby gave the Agent a one-fingered salute... "If I hear from him I'll make sure I tell him I passed his message on!"

Sean Murphy heard the pounding on the door and thinking one of them had to be in trouble he quickly opened it. What he found was Beecher rubbing his right hand, his face flushed and the vein in his forehead throbbing as fast as his heartbeat. Agent Taylor, standing ramrod straight was still rubbing his jaw now very reddened. Murphy smirked as he looked aback and forth and said "Every thing ok in here?"

No one said anything. "Then I'd say this meeting is over," Sean said, fighting to keep from smiling as he pulled Beecher through the doorway.

Escorting him back to his pod, Sean spoke in a low voice over Toby's shoulder, "Never liked that guy myself. Your best defense? Tell them his jaw slammed into your hand."

Toby chuckled despite the pain he was feeling in his hand.

Detective Thornton assigned two additional detectives to team up and start interviewing witnesses. They walked into to the bar and sat on the stools wanting to start the interview off in sort of a friendly way.

"What can I get for you guys?" asked the attractive bartender then she tossed her ID in front of them.

"Why are you giving us that?" one of the detectives asked.

"You people are always in here harassing me and my clients. What have we done this time?"

The ID belonged to a Maggie Baily who was a 56-year-old woman, divorced, 5'6'', 130 pounds, brown hair and eyes. (My ass, women always lie on their ID's, thought the detective)

"How did you know we were cops?"

"You all wear the same after shave!" Maggie answered with a smile.

"Have you ever seen this guy?" they asked as they flashed a picture of the dead man.

"Yeah I've seen him in here a few times. Seemed like a nice guy outgoing cute, appeared to get along with everyone. "

"Did he ever come in with anyone or did he ever pick up anybody?"

"Honey", she said to the taller detective. "All the men in here come for one purpose, to hook with someone for the night.

"So Maggie who was this guy with Friday night? Did you see him leave with anyone?"

"He left with a looker."

"And can you describe this looker?"

"About 6' or so, dark short hair, not sure of his eyes."

"Do your remember what he was wearing?"

"Jeans! I remember because the way he filled them out. I'd take him home with me if he wasn't gay!"

"Any thing else like jewelry, watch? What color was his shirt: did he have any distinguishing marks?"

"He had on a black sleeveless T-shirt and I'm pretty sure he had a tattoo high up on his left arm."

"Could you recognize the tattoo?"

"No, I didn't see it that good."

"But you know it was a tattoo."

"I'm sure of it, even though it was dark," she told them.

"Did you see him with anyone else"

"As a matter of fact I did. Middle aged man, not bad, but sort of quiet"

"Do you know his name?"

The credit card receipts were checked and he wad found to be one John Weaver.

John Weaver turned out to be Dr. John Weaver, a 48 yr old pediatrician. The detectives went to his office and waited one and 1/2 hours to briefly interview him.

The detectives showed their ID's and asked, "Where were you Friday night?"

"Where I was is none of your business. I know some very influential people including the mayor."

"Look Doc, why do you want to make this hard? Now we either talk here or in our office, which is it?"

"I was...out. You have to understand, no one knows...that I'm..."

"You're still in the closet and you're afraid for your reputation, etc, etc. One more time, Doc. Where..."

"I was at a bar by myself. I had 2 beers, stayed a while and left... alone. What is this all about? Do I need my lawyer?"

"Are you guilty of something?"

Looking at the picture of the dead man he said, "I've seen him, his name is Perry something."

"Who was he with?"

"Some guy named Blake Farmer or Farner, he was young, early 20's I guess. I was looking at the other side of the room for a while and that's when I saw Perry again. He seemed to catch the eye of a pretty handsome guy... don't know who he was."

"Can you describe him for our sketch artist?"

"It was dark in there. I only caught a glimpse of him. He had on a dark sleeveless T-shirt, short brown or black hair, and a killer smile."

"A killer smile?"

"You know, he lit up the room!"

"Anything else?"

"He had a tattoo on his left arm, the deltoid area."

"What kind?"

"Couldn't see it, just the way the light hit it, you could tell it was one. Is that all? I've got a room full of sick kids to see?"

The detectives had no choice but to go back to the bar and speak to the bartender again. During the drive one of the detectives said, "I wish one of them would have seen that tattoo."

"Yeah, probably would help us out," grunted the other.

By the time they got back the bar was a little busier than earlier in the day, seemed like "Happy Hour" had started.

Maggie saw them walk in and indicated that she'd be with them as soon as she could. After awhile she was finally able to stop for a minute and talked to the detectives.

"So you're back. What can I do for you this time?" she asked.

"Maggie, have you heard of a guy named Blake Farmer or Blake Farver?" one of he detectives asked.

"Hmm... Blake Farver, yeah. Another guy that comes in here. I think he's a student." She answered as she crinkled her forehead while she was thinking.

"Do you know where he goes to school?"

"I think I overheard something about Hadrian College."

"Do you have any idea what he was studying?"

"I'm pretty sure I heard him mention photography because he took some pictures one night, he said he liked the lighting and I think most of the men agreed to let him do it. In fact I'm pretty sure he took some one day last week and come to think of it-- one guy kept putting his arm across his face. Same thing I do; the camera adds weight, you know."!"

"How recent was that?" he asked, trying to keep the excitement out of his voice.

"I'm pretty sure he took some last Friday night. Yes, I'm sure it was Friday night! The guy's a little weird though; I mean he's got this nervous tick over his left eye and he keeps blinking. I don't know how he sees through the camera lens but from what I hear the pictures come out pretty good."

It was a thirty-minute drive to Hadrian College. It was a cloudy afternoon but there was no rain in the forecast, and one could always trust the meteorologist. Traffic had increased as people were coming home from work. They hoped they would get there before the office closed for the day.

When they pulled up to the college they couldn't find a space so they pulled into a no parking zone; the security guards were sure to know it was a cop car. Next they asked for directions from the first person they came across and after that they were able to find the student admissions office speaking to a woman at the desk.

"Is there a Blake Farner that attends this college? He's studying photography."

"I can't give out that information."

They showed their ID's and the secretary asked if it was legal, didn't they need a search warrant?

"You can save us all a lot of trouble by giving us the information now or we can drive back, bother some DA who will have to bother some judge who's probably having his dinner. So ma'am please help us out here."

"Hmmm. ok then let me check and pull his file, that's if he's a student here."

It seemed to take an eternity but she returned with a manila folder, placed it on the ledge separating them then she walked away allowing them full access to it.

Blake Farver was not found at the address in his file. Oh, it was the right apartment but he was out. In fact he was across the street taking photographs of some trees, squirrels and the setting sun. He didn't notice the detectives he was busy with his camera.

The detectives went through the same routine of asking him the same questions and showing him the same picture of the dead man except this time there was something different. Mr. Farver actually had a conversation with the mysterious man who wore the sleeveless t-shirt and had a tattoo. And this time the detectives brought him down to the station house to speak to the sketch artist.



After Chris Keller was arrested he found himself in the Madison Street police station alone... the cops unceremoniously dumped him in interview room number 2 and not that he was a finicky person but the room sucked...the walls and floor were tiled in a drab taxicab yellow. Chris sat in front of the standard police issued conference table surprised they hadn't cuffed him; a set dangled from the middle and after all every one knew he was one badass con... just look at his record. The room felt chilly but not cold, maybe it was just a little anxiety on his part. He acted nonchalant he'd been through this before he could do it again. He knew detectives on the other side of the one-way mirror watched him as he leaned back in the chair and tried to disassociate himself from the whole situation but try as he might he couldn't. 'Fuck, I can't stop thinking about Toby.'

'Hey Toby,

'I don't know if anyone told you that I was arrested on some trumped up murder charge. I don't even remember what they said the guy's name was. I didn't do it Toby; I swear to you I didn't do it. Hell, I haven't been out of Oz long enough to even miss that place. I've been in this room for over an hour already and no one's even come in yet. I guess the trashcan can be used as a piss pot if I have to take a leak. And if someone offered me a cigarette right now I wouldn't say no to the offer. I haven't even had an opportunity to make a phone call. I thought I was entitled to make one call even though it never seemed to help me out much before. Let's see...who would I call? I'd call you first, you'd know what to do I know you would. Or I could call Sister Pete but the last time she said she'd find me an attorney it was Katherine and if it's all the same to you I still think she deserted me so we just won't tell your boss that I'm here but you probably will any way.

I'm pretty sure I can still remember your brother's phone number. You didn't know I had it did you? He also gave me a nice picture of you and it's come in real handy on a few occasions. Do you think Gus would help me? I can't pay him but I could work out some payment plan even if it takes me the rest of my life, which it probably would. I don't think I'll ever have a job that'll pay much. I don't know... I don't think Gus really likes me... sort of like your dad didn't but not as bad. You're dad didn't like me at all he said I was "despicable". So the only other thing to do is take my chances with a public defender which is what I'm gonna have to do; I have no other choice. But I'm trying to think positive here and I know I'll get out of this mess one way or the other. Fuck Toby, I really need you right now.'

So far it had been one action-packed day. Chris yawned, stretched his arms, then cracked his neck; it was a familiar feeling... him being tired and the back spasms. Sometimes they went hand in hand. He had to stand up and walk so he could get the kinks out. He walked over to the window and even though the glass was barred and dirty he could still see the activity outside. He continued yawning... wondered what floor he was on... not sure, maybe the third. He rubbed his stubbled face made a decision... it was nap time. He made himself comfortable... well as comfortable as he could on the hard table and placed his palms underneath his lower back and kneaded and rubbed up and down his spine... The effort helped a little bit.

'How long can they fucking hold me in here? I haven't posed for my picture and I certainly haven't seen the judge yet... nothing! Do you think it'll be that cunt Lima again? Maybe they just forgot about me. Can't you see the headlines? The wrecking ball demolished the old jail today. Inside they found the skeletal remains of some man. Officials said, 'That interrogation room hadn't been used in years.' Phone sex! That's it... they can let me have my call and we get down and dirty!! Legally, could they stop us? I mean it's my constitutional right, right? What do you think the cops are thinking? I don't mind having an audience but it's probably not a good idea to jerk off in front of them... my hand was this close. Shit, I wish they'd just come in and let's get this show on the road. Hey, what happens if I made my call and the lines busy or no one answers it? How many tries do I get before the buzzer goes ENHHHHH and someone says, 'Time's up asshole, you lost your chance.'

'Ok, ok... I've got another question. How many hours can they keep me in this room without food or water? Do I have to wait until I'm locked up in a cell to eat? When I was arrested before, everything happened... real fast like... but not this time. So I was thinking if I sit here real cool like... do I look guilty without remorse or if I act real nervous do I look guilty and ready to spill my guts? It's a lot easier when there's a cop in your face. That way you can feel that... I don't know what you call it but there's something different in the air; you know what they know. You know like how animals smell fear in people? That's how I feel when a cop's interrogating me. I can smell something different. And I love it when they play good cop bad cop, you have to be one sorry assed motherfucker if you can't see through that bullshit.'

'It's funny the things you think of when you've got nothing but time on your hands. It's not like the time you spend in Oz. You know what to expect there and you can see things happening all around you but I have no fuckin' idea what's going on out there. I hate this fucking feeling. All my life I've hated someone controlling my life. Enough of that shit... too depressing. Shit... where was I? Oh yeah... things you think of when your mind trips out and wanders all over the universe. I know you'll think I've totally lost it and you'll make me sit down with Sister Pete and have one of those talks she likes so much but... what am I going to wear tomorrow? I didn't have time to pack my overnight bag! Ya know, some of us were talking one night about how some jails make the slugs wear those old prison stripe uniforms... like the chain gangs used to wear remember those? So whatcha think? Will I look good in horizontals? Or verticals? And there's one jail in Arizona where this crazy assed sheriff makes them wear pink underwear. I kid you not, saw it in the paper myself. Briefs or Boxers you ask? I don't know, but I'll wear pink for you, baby, then you can slowly strip them off me and...'

Keller was right; the detectives watched the scene unfold at the same time the surveillance camera recorded Keller's actions in the room; on the table, hands behind his head propped up like a pillow, watched his facial expressions change, was he deep in thought? Later when the cops reviewed it, one of them would ask 'Is that a smile?' It became debatable; a smile, a leer, a smirk, a grin? Depended on who you asked.

Three detectives and Blake Farner sat around a table in a different room on a different floor; not at all like the rooms where people like Keller waited. The decorator used powder blue and set the floor tiles on a diagonal angle and bordered the walls with white tiled chair rails. There were framed flower pictures on the walls. On the whole you could call the room "comfortable." A detective was creating a composite of the suspect using Farver's description and was only one mouse click away, ready to alter anything he said didn't look right. The program he used was one of the latest versions available; in some respects the department spent their new budgetary money wisely.

"Mr. Farvner tell me again... the conversation you had with this guy, the night when you took the pictures... "

"It's Farner. F-A-R-N-E-R!" Blake huffed as he tightened his arms around his chest his right leg closely crossed over his left knee, "Like I said before, I asked a few of the guys if they'd let me take their pictures, individually and in groups. I like to take pictures of men's faces and then play with them in the computer," he said as he bit the nail on his left index finger. "It's just so... well fascinating the things you can do, the effects can just take your breath away but it just depends on the program you use, some are better than others." As he talked the tic in his left eye became more pronounced. "I knew some of the guys and their names but I didn't get his."

"What do you do with the pictures like that, the ones you play with? Fantasize over them? No harm intended of course, I'm just curious," the detective was sorry he said it but it was too late to take it back; they needed this witness. "But you still talked to him, right?"

"Well, yes detective, I talked with him just long enough for him to tell me that he didn't want his picture taken. So I told him he could cover his face with his arm if he wanted to, but to please stay with the group, it would still make for a great picture, much different in fact. The lighting that night was just so... so... fantastic," he said with a theatrical gesture. "And no detective, I 'm not in the habit of fantasizing over the pictures I take."

Meanwhile the other detective stared at Farner who sat across the table. The kid wore khaki colored cargo pants, brown loafers that seemed to be made of some high quality leather, and a green striped polo shirt. He appeared to be well groomed; hair cut short, close to his head but he wore black eyeliner and his nails looked... manicured, something the detective would never get used to seeing on men no matter how en vogue it was, like earrings or other body piercings. Otherwise he seemed pretty normal, like a typical college student. Except for one other thing. The tic around his eye was driving the detective nuts; he wanted to smack him like you'd hit a machine that was on the fritz.

"Hot damn, I think I've got it! Blake, take a look at it and tell me if I need to change anything?" He said showing the composite picture to Farner.

"Of course I'll look at it, that's why I'm here isn't it? My oh my... Will you just look at that!" He said then clasped his hand over his mouth for a second. "You did the hair real nice though and most of the face, but his nose was a little different, more like that one," he said pointing to an example on the computer screen." He sighed and smiled. . "But it doesn't amount to anything if you don't include one other body part."

The detectives all looked at each other and the sketch artist asked. "And what would that be?"

"You don't have any examples of tushies on that computer. I'd recognize his in a line up any day," he said as he fidgeted in his seat. "Why don't you include them?"

The detectives ignored the last question. "Where are the pictures you took that night in the bar? What did you do with them? "

"Oh those. I just developed them this morning and haven't had a chance to scan them into the computer yet. That was on my to do list today," he said as he got his day planner out.

"We'd like those pictures, that is... you would be willing to give them to us, right? They could be important."

"Give them to you?" He was suddenly loaded with questions. "Just like that...just hand them over? Well I just can't do that." He thought a moment. " Would you pay me for them? What about the negatives?"

"Well, why don't you sit here and think about it for a day or two while we get a warrant to search your apartment. Come on," he motioned to his partner, "let's go get something to eat while he makes up his mind."

It didn't take long, "No, wait. If one of you will take me home, I'll get them for you. But I get to keep the negatives, right?

"Of course you can keep them. Let's go find those suckers," the detective said and thought 'with the new evidence they might be able to crack this case after all'.

FBI Agent Pierce Taylor arrived back at the Madison Street Jail after his little "encounter" with Tobias Beecher, 'the ex lawyer thought he was so smart, thought he could outwit me?' He easily dropped the thought, focused on the business at hand and immediately walked into Detective Charlotte Thurston's office.

"Don't you ever knock? Did you get the info you were after?" she asked really annoyed with his audaciousness.

Arrogantly impassive he answered, "Not quite all of it but Beecher knows more than he's letting on. He's always covered up and lied for his boyfriend. On the other hand he's a well educated man, he knows the score," he continued while rubbing small circles on his sore jaw.

She winced at him silently; his jaw was reddened and a black and blue mark was beginning to form. Her vast experience told her it was from someone's fist; let someone else ask him about it, she really didn't care.

"How's his attitude been since you arrested him? Which box is he in?" Taylor asked.

"He's in 2 and he's as cool as a cucumber. He knows we're watching him," she shrugged.

"That's because he's been through this a number of times. He's really cunning, once you get to know him. You ready?" He asked giving her forewarning.

She stood up and even though he was much taller she looked him in the eye. "I do the interview. You're forgetting you were sent here as a consultant not to head the investigation. You assist me!" She thought, what a prick he is! "The way I see it, he'll be confused, disoriented and maybe he'll trip himself up, he'll be hungry and sleep deprived. Even though he's been through the system a few times, he's not as smart as you think he is if he keeps getting caught now is he?

Taylor was taken aback; hadn't she read Keller's file? The notes he made for her? "No, he's guilty and I want justice for the man he killed this time! You can't make any mistakes with the evidence or questions, nothing... he's not going to get off on some technicality this time! "

"Are you really after justice this time?" she asked

Taylor narrowed his eyes as he looked at her." And what does that mean?"

"Have you ever asked yourself whether he's really guilty or have you already decided on his guilt; become his personal judge, jury, and executioner? For crissakes, you've been trying to nail him for years and you haven't been able to succeed. Watch how it's done in real life not what they teach at the Academy."

Taylor just gave her an insolent smile. She was walking into the lion's den and she didn't even know it.

Outside interrogation room 2, Detective Thurston and Agent Taylor were ready to grill their suspect but the other officers put a stop to that.

"Let's wait until the ME calls us with some results, Keller's not going anywhere besides we still have hours to hold him."

Taylor peered into the interrogation room window and fished around for a mint; earlier this morning he placed several in his jacket... it was a habit he'd gotten into.

"How long's he been in there?" he asked.

"Just a little over two hours now. But look at him... he's sleeping."

"He's not asleep... he's trying to tell you he's in control here, not you... not me...not the law. He lives by his own laws. Whatever gets in his way... he mows them down."

"He might live that way but listen," the officer said as he turned the intercom on. And sure as shit you could hear Keller's slow steady breathing interspersed with an occasional snore. The officer adjusted the sound and grinned at Taylor, "Told you so. Why don't we meet the others for lunch... we don't want to disturb his beauty sleep now do we?" He said while elbowing his partner in his ribs.

At the prison Sr Peter was in her office... paper work was her agenda. A very agitated inmate stood in front of her desk shifting his weight from one leg to the other and used his hands to emphasize his speech.

"How do you know all of this? Are you sure it's true, Tobias?" She asked after listening to his interpretation of the events.

"How?" He said incredulously, "It was on the news!" He tried hard not to pepper his sentences with adjectives that would only upset her.

Peter Marie, unaware she played with her cross, asked him, "But did they specifically say Chris was a suspect?"

"No but..."

"Tobias, you're all worked up, probably over nothing. Chris can take care of himself."

"Sister! Are you even listening to me? Everything that was said on the news sounds like Chris' MO. It happened close to where he lives. I have no way to call him. I can't even find out if he's been arrested and if he has, which jail is he in? My instinct tells me he's in trouble and besides that Agent Taylor was here, asked me questions about him."

"Yes, I heard about that. But didn't you say you thought Chris had changed? You sound like you doubt that now."

"Chris is Chris, Sister, but I don't doubt him, I know him. I think he has changed in just this short time he's been out. He sounds different ... "

"You've spoken with him? That goes against his parole. Tobias, just what are you doing?"

"My talking with Chris is not the issue, it's not important. What is important is for you to get off you high horse and help me."

Sr. Pete removed her glasses while glaring at him. Pointing and shaking her right index finger at him she sternly said, "Do not; I repeat do not speak to me in that tone of voice. Do I make myself clear?" She wasn't finished. She slowly pushed her chair back, stood up, and got too close; into his personal space then looked up at him, "Tobias, you're walking a fine line here and I hope you're not trying to take our friendship for granted or trying to influence me in any way. It seems Chris taught you many things but his course in manipulation... maybe you shouldn't have taken it."

Toby stared at her; open-mouthed, dumbfounded at the way he talked to her. She was totally right; he couldn't lose her... she was his only ally in Oz.

"I'm sorry Sister. I'm just so... frustrated! I know I shouldn't talk to you that way and you have every right to kick me out of your office right now and I... I wouldn't blame you." He covered his face with his hands as he lowered his head, just as a child might.

She felt the situation was more... manageable now; Tobias had chastised himself enough; she didn't need to do any more.

Sitting down once again she leaned back in her chair and asked, "Tell me what you want, Tobias."

"I'd like for you to call the house where he lives, you can call there, they'll listen to you. See what information you can... pull out of whoever answers the phone. Please!"

"And if Chris is there? What then?"

"I don't know, Sister, but at least that'll mean it's good news for a change, right?"

Toby marched back to Em City without a C.O. He relived the conversation with Sr Pete, it played in his head over and over... he just couldn't put it to bed. 'And if Chris is there? Then what Tobias? Well fuck Sister, then talk to him and pretend you actually do give a shit', he thought as he ground his back molars together.

Chris was still all alone in the yellow room while the detectives ate dinner at a local hangout. Thurston found some of the conversation around the table... intriguing. One young Detective told the group he was at the firing range and guess who he saw there? Everyone around the table tossed out various names from Dirty Harry to the Sundance Kid and others in between. But no... it was... Agent Taylor. That's right he told the group and he was pretty sure the target he was shooting at was not the regulation outline of a body target but one having an enlarged facsimile of their suspects face.

Detective Thurston thought, 'Well that was a nice tidbit, if It's true. But why would he use Keller as a target unless he really was out to get him?'

A few hours later she reviewed the questions she prepared to use on Keller; earlier she checked in on him and he appeared to be sleeping. Prior to Agent Taylor's return to the station she'd read Keller's file, everything in it, his days at Lardner as a teenager and then at Oz. There were the murders Taylor still suspected him of even though there was not a shred of evidence, proof or witnesses... nothing but some arbitrary dates on a calendar. But there was one thing she noticed that was so out of character for Keller... admitting to a murder he didn't do; what made him do that? She read some of the notes from the psychologist, giving her a picture of the suspect she was dealing with and the two versions; the Nun's and Taylor's... didn't totally jive.

Taylor stood by the one-way mirror/window to watch the interview from outside the room, watched as Thurston opened the door then slammed it shut... loud and hard. ... Her plan worked the way she intended... it startled Chris out of his nap momentarily caught him off guard but he recovered quicker than she thought he would. She immediately started the barrage of questions not even taking the time to sit down... yet.

"You and me Keller... we're going to talk about a murder that occurred a few nights ago." "Hang on there a minute, you just woke me up... give me a minute." Keller yawned and after an exaggerated stretch thought... 'It's Showtime folks.'

Thurston thought, 'maintain control; give him just enough room to hang himself. Make him sit down first.' "Get off that table and sit in the chair." She said in a calm but confident voice. "Yes ma'am. Hey" Keller said pointing his index finger at her and turning on his charm. "You know my name but I don't know yours. What it is?"

"Detective Thurston."
"Thurston, that's nice. But what's your first name?"

"That's not relevant, so once again, lets start talking about this murder." "I don't know anything about a murder. Who got killed?" He asked as he stood by the chair and swung his left leg over it and then sat down. "Don't you have a recorder, detective?"

"I don't need a recorder, I've got a good memory, don't you?" She said as she sat down and to her surprise, she felt thankful she wore pants today. "That depends."
"Depends on what?"
"If my battery is charged or not."

'Don't play into his game; he's starting his diversion tactics just like the psychologist said he would. Have to get him talking about the bar.' "Were you by the bar Friday night?"
"What bar are we talking about?"

"You know which bar, The Tool Shed. Were you there? "I don't drive, how would I get there?

"That's not the question."
"Then what is the question?"

"Someone matching your vitals was seen there." "It wasn't me. Hey can I take a leak?"
"Not until you answer a few questions." "I'm sorry but I'm not wetting my pants." "Then don't. I'm not the one that's going to be sitting here asking for medication for a diaper rash, so suck it in."

'Stay alert, he's good at this.'
"Ok, then where were you?"

"Friday night! Where... were... you?"
"Give me a clue and I'll try to help you out."

"Do you know this guy?" She asked and slammed Perry Jordan's picture down in front of him. "Nope. Ouch! What happened to him?"

"Let's start again, Keller. Someone who looks very much like you..." She tried not showing her frustration as he manipulated her. How did the nun put it? Likes to manipulate people and situations to gain the advantage. "Look detective, a lot of people look like me. I've got a familiar face. But my best feature is my backside," he smiled like a Cheshire cat, leaned slightly to the left and patted his hip. "You know what Thurston? I'm tired...I'm hungry...I gotta pee like a racehorse...and I want outta here. And when the hell do I get to make my damn phone call, Detective?" Keller stood up and leaned against the wall showing as little emotion as he could, considering the circumstances. She remained sitting in her chair. Score another point for Chris Keller.

Taylor was getting more and more agitated as he watched and listened to the "expert" conduct the interview; this was supposed to be the detective who was going to teach him something he didn't already know about questioning a suspect? As far as he was concerned she'd lost control of the situation the first time she opened her mouth. Once again Keller was exploiting the situation; it was all a game to him; one he could play and usually win; the phrase, plays well with others, ran through his mind. Thurston had no idea who she was dealing with but Taylor did.

The FBI man put another mint in his mouth and walked into the room.

"You want outta here? I'll get you outta here and right into a cell!" Taylor said.

"I was wondering when you'd show your face. This whole setup smells like something you'd arrange...."

"Shut up Keller. You arranged this little setup all by yourself. Otherwise you wouldn't be here. Well this is my house, my rules. You're going to give me some answers!"

"So this is your house? Aw... I feel bad, Spanky. I didn't bring ya a housewarming gift. Will you accept my Christian forgiveness?"

"Sit down Keller...and keep your mouth shut." He took a colored wafer from his pocket and put it in his mouth, chewed and chewed until it dissolved.

Taylor looked at Thurston and jerked his head slightly. She knew what he wanted... he wanted to see her outside, now. They walked out faced each other and stared ... she wasn't going to be the first one to blink.

Taylor didn't blink either but said, "Real good interview, Detective. I'm glad we have it on tape so you can review it with your boss. Maybe I'll make a copy and send it down to Quantico. They can design a new course and call it Interviewing Skills for Detectives 101."

He waited a few moments then they returned to the room. "So Keller, I saw your girlfriend this morning. Guess what he told me? He had a lot to say about a phone call you made to him. No matter what happens. Do you remember saying that to... Toby?"

Keller shrugged his shoulders and gave him a lopsided grin.

"You surprise me Keller. You were so mouthy before and now you've got nothing to say?"

"You told me to shut up. Now you want me to talk? You're confusing me, which is it?"

"Talk to me." Taylor said testily.

"In that case, I really don't know what you're talking about." Keller leaned back in the chair scrunched up his face, lifted his chin just a bit and asked, "Who gave you that bruise?"

Taylor refused the bait. "So tell me, Keller. You were lonely, you missed... Toby. Did you miss sucking Toby's cock so much you went to a bar, The Tool Shed, and picked up Perry Jordan, that's his name, Perry Jordan or it used to be his name. I'll go on with my theory, stop me when I don't get the story straight." Taylor enjoyed this as he walked; he slowly paced himself closer and closer until he finally sat on the edge of the table... much too intimate for Keller's comfort. "Then you put Jordan's cock in your mouth and you sucked and sucked until he came." Taylor momentarily stopped, slowly wetting his dry lips with his tongue.

That gesture didn't exactly zip by Chris the way Taylor intended. Keller wasn't that tired although it did prickle the hairs on the back of his neck while he thought, 'What the fuck Taylor? You're trying to play me now with these new tactics? How stupid do you think I am?'

Taylor continued talking; his eyes locked on Keller. "Then you had him on his knees and he started sucking on your cock but for some reason you snapped his neck and then came, depositing a semen sample on his body? Am I right? Isn't that what you gay men do? Suck cocks I mean. Or did you snap his neck because he wanted to fuck you up the ass and you'll only let... Toby do that?"

Keller placed both hands flat on the table, relaxed like... he didn't want to ball them into fists and give Taylor any clues on how he really felt but his right leg twitched nervously as he wondered why Taylor kept referring to his lover as Toby and not Beecher. Taylor was just trying to agitate him. "Ya think so? Then prove it was me."

"Oh I'll be able to as soon as the DNA comes back. So plan on spending the night, mark this one as the beginning of many more nights behind bars. Oh... the blue plate special tonight is hamburger surprise." Taylor placed another colored wafer in his mouth and crushed it with his teeth then swallowed.

"In that case can I have one of your antacids? Sounds like I'm going to need it...what's your excuse, taking it for the calcium benefits?" Taylor was working on an ulcer anyone could see that... he just needed to relax that tight ass of his a little bit... he'd feel so much better.

"I asked for my phone call before and I'm asking again. And I want to talk to a lawyer before I say anything else."

Taylor sneered at Keller, winked and left the room telling one of the detectives, "Lock him up for the night... after he makes his phone call."

Two other events occurred that same day; events that could possibly change people's lives. But would it? Was it possible that a change in your feelings, your way of thinking or a change in your plans could lead you down a path you hadn't expected? Did you make the right decision? Would you be able to deal with the consequences?

Arriving back in the city after a long and tiring flight, Kitty and her boyfriend had lunch at a Mexican restaurant... one they had been to many times because they were able to eat on the patio. Munching on corn chips, salsa and freshly made guacamole the waitress served their drinks, a Strawberry Margarita for her and a Negra Modelo beer for him; she gave them a little time then returned to take their orders; Kitty was having tortilla soup with a side salad and he ordered combination plate #7... cheese enchiladas and shredded beef tacos.

The restaurant wasn't very large, seating seventy-five, and as soon as you walked in you could see a little waiting area for guests not holding reservations. The waiters and waitresses were wearing brightly colored clothes; lots of reds, yellows, and greens... bus boys wore white shirts and pants with tomato red colored sashes tied around their waists. The walls were painted a pale green and the doorways to the dining rooms were arch shaped with different flowers and vines stenciled around the portico. Most of the eating areas had red vinyl booths and wooden tables and chairs... upon request. The courtyard outside was a little different... diners were sitting at black wrought iron tables and red cushioned chairs. Adding to the ambience were large terracotta pots full of gigantic gerbera daises of varying colors. All the floors were covered with clay Saltillo tiles complementing the Mexican theme.

Sipping their drinks he placed his hand over hers, giving it a little squeeze and said, "Ok Kitty. Something's been on your mind all weekend; you've seemed distracted by something. What's wrong, babe?"

Kitty sighed before taking a long sip of her drink but she didn't make eye contact with him. There was a strained silence between them and it was becoming very uncomfortable


She remained cool, calm and collected as he tilted her chin; they had to look at each other now.

"Please talk to me and tell me what 's wrong. Did I do something to upset you?"

She swallowed hard, "No, you didn't do anything, it's me. I've been wanting to talk to you, to tell you something..."

"You know you can tell me anything. What is it?" he said giving her a long searching look.

"Before we left for the weekend together I did something and I... I sort of regret it."

"You sort of regret it?" He nervously laughed, " What does that mean?"

"I mean... This isn't easy for me to say. I... I... I slept with another man."

"You what? Who? I mean I wasn't expecting that for an answer. I don't know what to say. I'm at a loss for words here, Kitty. Help me out."

"I'm so sorry."

"You're sorry?" he said mocking her. " Who the hell was it?"

"Is that really important? To know who it was? What difference does it make?"

"Well, it makes a great deal of difference to me! I need to know who it was," he said his voice edged in tension.

"If you must know it was my ex-husband. I told you he was out of prison and I was helping him with a few things. I invited him to dinner and it just sort of... happened." She told him as her neck and face flushed.

"Nothing just happens Kitty, nothing. There's always a reason. You fucked Keller! Was it as good as you remembered?" he suspected he already knew the answer to his own question. "You know I'd really like to meet this guy I've heard so much about him, I feel I already know him and it looks like we've got some things in common. Tell me do you still love him?"

"No, you're wrong! I love you but there's a part of me that will always love Chris Keller, but I'm not in love with him. He has someone else in his life now anyway so it doesn't make any difference. I only love you. I want you to believe me."

It was obvious to the waitress and anyone else looking their way... they'd lost their appetites. As the waitress removed their plates she asked if there was anything else they needed.

"No." He said then quickly changed his mind. "Yes, another round of drinks and I'll take a shot of tequila, please." They apparently still had a lot to talk about.

Standing outside the Wiwona Hotel, two little girls continued to cry, as their father silently looked at his wife his eyes asking her what to do. Shrugging her shoulders she said, "It's up to you, honey." Gus Beecher already knew the answer to his question; he had no choice, they had to cancel their vacation plans. He was very disappointed, not being able to spend time in the old hotel, which was built in the 1870's; it still had the woodsy lodge look... hardwood floors, wooden plank walls, and wood-beamed ceilings. Still, he had to step inside it to cancel their reservations. At least this would give him the opportunity he needed, to run his hands over the original wood floors and walls... touching a part of its history. It wouldn't be a total waste of time for him.

Earlier they entered the park and their first stop had been the Lower Yosemite Falls, the world's fifth largest waterfall. The site had been breathtaking even more so than any of Ansel Adams photographs had been; it was no wonder Adams fell in love with this park. Walking on the trail to get different views, Gus and his wife were taking pictures when suddenly they heard the beginning of what sounded like a very low moan. Then the noise turned into whimpering until finally it was out in out crying with buckets of tears streaming down the little faces. They turned and saw what made their children bawl... they were staring at a sea of brown sticks. Gus and his wife planned this trip to Yosemite a couple of months ago but they hadn't given much thought to the recent forest fires and it's devastating effects. The kids became very upset at the site of the burned trees and thought of Bambi and the other forest animals that were now homeless.

"I'm sorry kids but it's something that can't be helped. It's called Mother Nature and sometimes she's not too nice. We'll plan another vacation soon, I promise."

The only thing for the Beecher's to do was catch a flight out of San Francisco and return home. But that was after a five-hour car trip with his two whiny, cranky kids and a wife with a major migraine. Gus couldn't wait to be back home in his study sitting in his favorite chair, drinking a glass of Scotch and listening to nothing but absolute silence.


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