Wishing Well

Wishing Well by Lily White


They are far too bleak, these places with their metal bars and razor wire, these holes where doomed men are tossed, awaiting the day when their numbers would be pulled and they would be walked down long halls to a room that would forever remember their last breath.

Even the sun couldn’t penetrate the low hanging dark clouds, the sky a grey haze welcoming Meadow Graham to Faiville Prison, the hole that held a criminal who had taken everything she had left.

Seeing him would shred what remained of her barely beating heart, but she made her way up the long winding sidewalk regardless. In the distance she could hear the muted shouts of men, both criminal and security. She could see the rigid, cement buildings, could smell the taint of violence and fear that doused the grounds in misery.

How long had this man - this monster - been chained? Three days remained for him, seventy-two hours that he’d set aside for one interview, one meeting where he would explain the reasons for his crimes. Approaching the outermost gates of the high security institution, Meadow was unsure why Vincent Mercier had allowed this last conversation, why he’d chosen her out of numerous investigators, journalists and rabid fans, to hear his tale of a life lived in luxury, elegance and decay. If anybody would hate him most, it would be her, yet one month prior, she’d received a note inviting her to the prison to record his last confession.

Smiling at the guard, she withdrew her identification and journalist credentials, allowing him to inspect the materials she’d brought to record the interview that many had requested but been denied.

Apologetically, the guard explained, “Given Vincent’s antics while in the facility, we can’t allow you to take much inside the interview room. Only a tape recorder, your tapes, and that’s it. Even these pens can be used as weapons. You’ll have to leave them with me until the day’s end.”

She wasn’t surprised. From what she knew of Vincent, he could create havoc in any place he roamed. “I understand,” she answered, forcing another smile, even though she felt like screaming. A month hadn’t been enough time for her to prepare her heart for this meeting, had been too little time for her to adequately steel her spine.

After flitting his fingers over an electronic keypad, the guard used a physical key to unlock the large, iron gate, the pneumonic hiss that of a serpent welcoming Meadow to Hell. Ignoring the chill that coursed down her spine, she brushed her long, brown hair away from her face, wondering why she’d chosen to wear it down rather than up and out of the way. It wasn’t that she wanted to impress Vincent with her appearance, it was that she wanted him to remember her face - to remember the face of his last victim before his incarceration.

The guard led her down a maze of halls, his steps regular, yet lethargic, his shoulders squared and his head balding at the top. Meadow would have aged him at least in his late forties, but she surmised he could be younger and that a life around violent men had stolen his youthful appearance, replacing it with a menacing resolve.

Approaching another set of ominous gates, two guards stood at the ready, their expressions hardened, their hair clipped close to their heads. They wore the standard slate grey uniform, their belts heavy with the tools of their dreary trade.

Snatching a set of keys from his belt, the older guard unlocked the gate, the younger entering a small booth to tap in the electric key, the gate opening with the same hiss as the first.

Meadow’s escort approached the men. “Ms. Graham is here for her interview with Vincent Mercier. Is he secured already?”

“Interview room three,” the older guard answered, confusion riding his tone. His eyes lifted to hers. “Although I have no idea what you would want with him. He’s worthless. A no good sadist that deserves the needle. Why give him the time to brag?”

Understanding filtered through Meadow’s bones. It was true that a man like Vincent would enjoy the theatrics of such an interview. His crimes weren’t solely physical, his cruelty wasn’t restrained to death of the body alone. He enjoyed imparting his control over the psyche of those around him. Knowing this, Meadow had attempted to prepare, but how does one ready themself for a man as refined in his games as Vincent? However, knowing he would enjoy this time wasn’t enough to deter her. She wanted answers, and she was willing to play whatever games Vincent demanded to get them.

“Perhaps the information I obtain in the next three days will give solace to his victims’ families,” Meadow mused aloud.

The guard huffed while stepping aside to let Meadow and her escort through. “The only solace those families will have is watching him die. He’s drawn a full crowd. There won’t be one empty seat in the viewing room.”

Meadow’s heart lurched, her mind warring with her soul. It wasn’t that Vincent didn’t deserve to die for his crimes. It wasn’t that she didn’t hate him for killing her sister. But there was more to him that she knew, secrets that had been revealed to her by a gift she’d received following her sister’s death. There was more to this monster than most understood, and for that small part of him, she mourned.

“Thank you for letting us through,” she responded in order to appear polite. The guard’s disgust was not without merit, not after what Vincent had so callously done in his life, but to celebrate his death was almost as bad. Refusing to meet the older guard’s eyes as they passed, she was thankful to turn a corner into a long hall marked by equally spaced steel doors.

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