map Locked Up

by Mohamed Refaat

Published in Issue No. 225 ~ February, 2016


“I killed a man, Father. I killed him and I chopped him up.”

It was the first, and last, time Jack had asked to speak to the prison chaplain. In a minimum security facility like this one, not many inmates requested to speak to the chaplain. Except maybe for the ones who were religious before they came here, and those were not many. And then sometimes, those who found God along the way. And then there was Jack, three years locked up, he hadn’t found God or religion. He just wanted to get it off his chest.

At the words “chopped up,” the priest suppressed a cringe, caressed the cross in his hand and said nothing. He was too green, and this lot was his first congregation. He didn’t get many stories of “chopping up” around here; mostly wife-beaters, pot-heads and a whole bunch of sorry souls who were just too dumb to stay out of trouble.

“Don’t you wanna know who he was, Father?” Jack said without looking up. He sat on the edge of his bed looking at his hands, fingers locked together.

“Only if you want to tell me, Jack.”

“It was my father. More accurately, he was the guy who had married my mom and had sex with her nine months before I came to the world.” The priest still said nothing. He was actually interested to hear the rest of this account. He just didn’t know what to say without sounding inappropriate. Jack saved him the trouble and went on.

“I was fifteen when I did it. My mom was there. She just smiled when finally I dropped his bowling trophy and he no longer had a face. She wanted to help me get rid of the body. But I didn’t let her. She had put up with his crap for me for too long. Fifteen long years. It was time she let me take care of things. I told her to go out shopping or something and come back later. I used the cleaver and the bathtub. I’d seen it done in a movie. I buried him in the backyard. I saw that in a movie too.” Jack looked up at the priest. He noticed that the young man of God had turned a little pale. A hint of a smile crept into Jack’s eyes then it was nowhere to be found.

“The guy was an asshole, Father,” Jack continued. “He had it coming. I know you’re probably tired of the old story of the abusive drunk father who molests his kids. But it’s true. They’re out there, these pigs, and my mom had married one of ‘em. But she tried to make up for it; she tried to stand up for me. The bastard beat her up every time. The only color I knew her eyes to be was red with blue swollen skin around it. She actually had green eyes. That I found out after his death.

“I can see you didn’t expect this, Father.”

“I took a look at your file when you asked to see me.” The priest’s voice was smooth and soft.

“Breach of a restraining order. That’s what it says,” Jack said.

“Yes.” The priest said back.

“See, that’s the funny thing, Father,” Jack raised his head to look the priest in the eye. “Twenty-two years. Twenty-two years I’d been living in that house. Even after mom passed away. No one knew what I’d done. Twenty-two years, till that bitch filed for divorce and got half my money, half of what was left, anyway, after I spent most of it on her for two years. Then she got the house, too. Her lawyer was better than mine.”

The priest thought he saw a twinkling in Jack’s eyes. Could’ve been tears. Jack blinked and nothing was there. The priest was sure his eyes tricked him.

“I didn’t give a fuck about the money or the house, I just wanted her back. Even when they handed me the restraining order, I didn’t care. In fact, the first thing I did was go over to the house. I just wanted her back. I knocked and I knocked, and when no one answered I began to bang. I just wanted her back. Then I heard the squad car pull up behind me. I didn’t resist. But when the uniform was pushing my head down as I got in, I saw a face behind one of the windows. A guy. The guy she was dating before me. I couldn’t help myself, Father. I just laughed. I kept laughing all the way to the station. The bitch had taken everything. Even the dead body in her backyard.”

account_box More About

Mohamed is an Egyptian pharmacist working in the field of pharmaceutical sales and marketing. Mohamed is an avid reader who found a calling in writing, both fiction and non-fiction. Mohamed has a completed novel in Arabic, (The Cafe), scheduled for publication in January 2016 as well as another novel in English which is a work in progress. In addition to these, he is also working on a short story collection titled "Broken Men". Mohamed frequently updates his personal blog and contributes book reviews to a local magazine in the Gulf where he lives with his wife and two daughters.