Flash Fiction Challenge
Writing prompt: An escaped prisoner hides from police within a group of homeless men.
I was standing in front of a Radio Shack on Main and Station watching a Breaking News banner: “Prisoner Escapes from Police Custody.” A picture of me flashed on the screen. Next to me, a crowd had gathered, and gasps of disbelief filled the air. I tucked under the ball cap I’d swiped from Station News and Gifts.
I made my way to the river. It was noon. Office workers populated every bench along the river pier, eating pricy fancy vegan sandwiches and sounding off about topics foreign to me. I watched a couple sharing a hot dog and a coke, the guilty pleasure hung heavy around them as they giggled. It was one of those moments you just know has a whole happy life attached to it. I pushed aside the thought. It’s a fine line between thinking about what you don’t have and not thinking about what you don’t have.
What I don’t have anymore is sanity. And when you don’t have that you are never believed. Humoured, but never believed. There were interviews. I told them we were dating. I told them she loved me. I told them we were going to get married. I’d bought a ring. I was planning to marry her on this very pier. I told them about my plans. They didn’t listen. They didn’t believe. They called in the “doctors.” I answered questions about my relationship. Listened to them read letters I’d penned to her–my personal letters. I explained my whereabouts that night. The night the love of my life went missing. Why weren’t they looking for her, I shouted at them.
They did look for her. They found her body stuffed into a drain pipe in the field behind her house. They showed me pictures of my dear love, broken and folded into the small space. Why would they do that to me–the grieving fiancé. They asked me again about that night. They wondered if I’d seen her. Of course I’d seen her, I told them. She was my best friend, my fiancé. She was my beacon.
I spent the next four years locked away in that hospital on the edge of the city, talking to doctors about my fiancé. I came to learn the police believed me guilty of her murder, but had little evidence. Of course they didn’t. I took precautions. I told the doctors what they wanted to hear. They started to trust me. I did this to earn my freedom in order to take back my freedom.
I looked around the pier; I hadn’t been in these parts for a while and was surprised to see a bunch of hobos fishing in the North River. They were like a beacon. My beacon. I knew right then that life as a hobo was my next adventure.