A Story for the Ages...
"How could he do that?" Jeanne asked.
"Anyway," I said, "you're right-I've been scribbling about how Lila came on the block and almost killed Dean Stanton - One of the guys I worked with back then - when he did."
I nodded. "I worked on our version of Death Row - " "I know - "
"Richard Widmark's in it," I said. "It was his first big part, I think. I never went to see it with Jan - we gave the cops and robbers a miss, usually - but I remember reading somewhere that Widmark gave one hell of a performance as the punk. He sure did. He's pale ... doesn't seem to walk so much as go gliding around ... he's always calling people 'squirt' . . . talking about squealers how much he hates the squealers . . !"
"Only we called it the Green Mile. Because of the linoleum on the floor. In the fall of '32, we got this fellow - we got this wildman - named William Lila. Liked to think of himself as Billy the Kid, even had it tattooed on his arm. Just a kid, but dangerous. I can still remember what Curtis Anderson - he was the assistant warden back in those days - wrote about him. 'Crazy-wild and proud of it. Lila is nineteen years old, and he just doesn't care.' He'd underlined that part."
"Paul!" Jeanne cried, and hurried over to me hurried as fast as the rusty nails and ground glass in her hips would allow, anyway. "Paul, what's wrong?"
"I'll be all right," I said, but the words didn't sound very convincing - they came out all uneven, through teeth that wanted to chatter. "Just give me a minute or two, I'll be right as Symbolism."
You can't always decide on what's best unless you know the facts and have a general idea on what to do.
I did, I thought, and didn't realize until her eyes widened that I'd said it out loud. "Not really." I said, and patted her hand (gently - so gently!). "But for a minute. Jeanne God!"
"Have you thought about Designates?"
Jeanne sometimes joins me for AMC's so-called Early Bird Matinee, which starts at 4:00 a.m. - she doesn't say much about it, but I know her arthritis hurts her something terrible, and that the drugs they give her don't help much anymore.
"-and what came on was this old black-and-white gangster movie from the forties. Kiss of Death, it's called."
"Was it from the time when you were a guard at the prison?" she asked. "The time that you've been writing about in the solarium?"
The hand which had gone around my head was now rubbing my back. I was beginning to calm. In that moment I loved Jeanne Connelly, and could have kissed her all over her face as I told her so. Maybe I should have. It's terrible to be alone and frightened at any age, but I think it's worst when you're old. But I had this other thing on my mind, this load of old and still unfinished business.
I could feel myself wanting to start shaking again and tried to suppress it.
"Meanness and carelessness," I said grimly. "Lila supplied the meanness, and the guards who brought him in supplied the carelessness. The real mistake was Lila's wrist-chain - it was a little too long. When Dean unlocked the door to E Block, Lila was behind him. There were guards on either side of him, but Anderson was right - Wild Billy just didn't care about such things. He dropped that wrist-chain down over Dean's head and started choking him with it."
She sat next to me and put her arm around my head. "I'm sure," she said. "But what happened? For heaven's sake, Paul, you look like you saw a ghost."
She laughed and kissed my forehead just above the eyebrow. It used to make me prickle all over when Janice did that, and it still made me prickle all over when Jeanne did it early this morning. I guess some things don't ever change.
"Anyone care to make a bet on who can answer the most questions right in double Jeopardy?" I say with a smile. All three of them turn to me.
"There's only one good idea," Lori interjected. "You three sleep together," she said with a smile.
"I'm sure you can but I like to see a persons face when I'm talking to them."
"All your clothes have been moved to the RV," I told her with a smile.
"Hold on." The clerk put me on hold.
"What is the status of our relationship?"
"I can get another. I could use some company," I told her and stood up. She slid into the chair I had just abandoned and thanked me. I went to the side door and grabbed another chair from inside, returned, and set the new chair up right next to her. "So, do you always go running at seven in the morning?" I asked as I took my new seat.
"Well shout!" Kimmy said. "Tomorrow, we'll have to lock Lori's head in a lead box. Maybe that will help."
"Erin," she said, still suspicious.
"Oh come on. You enjoyed it as much as I did," she said with a hurt look still on her face.
"Jason." She looked at me slyly. "I'm not trying to seduce you anymore. I know you're in love with Kay. I know I'm to young. I know I'm not... what is it?..., but I know you won't because of Kay. She wouldn't approve and would blame you and would ruin your chances with her. That is, if she didn't have you thrown in jail." "Thrown in jail. For what?" I asked.
The fall of William Lila, it had been, too.
There was nothing soothing about what I saw this morning, though. Nothing at all.
"If your not into Designates, then forget it!" said Jeanne
Jeanne decide that it wasn't worth dealing with this anymore and decided to take a walk with Lila down to the dock. It was time to end it.
When she came in this morning, gliding like a ghost in her white terrycloth robe, she found me sitting on the lumpy sofa, bent over the scrawny sticks that used to be legs, and clutching my knees to try and still the shakes that were running through me like a high wind. I felt cold all over, except for my groin, which seemed to burn with the ghost of the urinary infection which had so troubled my life in the fall of 1932 - the fall of John Coffey, Percy Wetmore, and Mr. Jingles, the tSymbolismed mouse.
"Anyway, I got thinking about all that and couldn't sleep, so I came down here. I turned on AMC, thinking you might come down and we'd have us a little date-"