Stark hotel room. Reidsville, Georgia. I pulled the drawer next to my bed open to take comfort in the Bible I knew that would be in there. God Bless The South for keeping things the way they should be. I never needed to read The Good Book more than at that moment.
Phil had escaped and he knew exactly who I was. Did he know where I was? That I didn’t know yet. I figured the rat shit motel room at the edge of town would be a decent place to hideout until my brain started convincing me that the lodge was right out of central casting for the place someone hiding from someone would duck into and I started to panic.
I didn’t necessarily believe those words I read on the faded print of the paper of The Bible. Words are just words to me, they can mean whatever they want to anyone, but the words I read on that night did their job, taking me back to my childhood bed where my mom read me scripture every night before I went to bed.
They called me The Aneurysm. I brought sudden, unexpected death, but with the caveat that I only brought it to those that deserved it. I was essentially a death row fixer. An undercover prisoner. The right people in the prison industrial complex got a hold of me when they had a prisoner they felt should have gotten the death penalty, but didn’t receive it, or someone they particularly wanted to do away with who was going to be under the protection of appeals for years.
They brought me into their prison. I pretended to be a guard, or an inmate who could get access to the targeted prisoner and then I would covertly do away with their target. Choking was my most-common way of death – stage it as an incident of choking on food, or a hanging with a bedsheet or underwear or something – suicide was always reliable. A former hitman who knew all the tricks of the trade, I knew just how to do it. Getting caught for my hitman gig was how they found me, told me I would be facing the lethal injection myself if I didn’t take the job and the rest is history.
I was seamless until I was assigned to Phil LaRoche in the Georgia State Pen. Phil murdered the husband of the woman he unsuccessfully tried to lure away from her beloved preacher husband. He likely would have been sentenced to death, but being the step-son of a politician helped Phil score a plea deal that landed him life without parole instead.
What Phil’s senator step-daddy didn’t foresee was me connecting with a warden in Phil’s prison who just happened to be a devout follower of the preacher he killed. I was Phil’s roommate within a few days of being locked up.
I pulled off my usual routine. The biggest guy in just about every yard, tattooed and powerfully-built, I made my presence known right away by kicking the shit out of Phil at lunch.
Once we were bunked up, I started with the psychological torture. I acted like I wanted to make love to Phil. I would score him real booze from the guards, get him liquored up and bond, but then wake him up with hard slaps on the side of the head. This usually got guys to break. Hang themselves before I even had to choke them out. I would lay out a nice, thick bedsheet and position the room in the right way so they could easily hang themselves. Beg them to do it.
The problem was Phil didn’t bite. Instead he woke me up in the middle of the night by biting me hard on the neck, drawing blood and sending me to the infirmary.
The last words I heard out of his mouth before I was escorted out of the cell are what had me twisted up in that motel room smoking Winstons and reading Bible verses like a zealot.
“I know exactly who you are fucker. Aneurysm. Aneurysm. Aneurysm. I’m out soon baby. I’ll find you!”
The wounds of Phil’s bites were easy to heal, the fear from hearing the news that he escaped from prison the night after he attacked me wasn’t.
The Atlanta news, hell, national news was glued to Phil’s story. He broke out of the Georgia pen and vanished into the country night without a trace. Was I the first person he would come looking for? No. The guy was going to find a way to get to El Salvador or some anonymous shithole?
That’s what I thought, until I didn’t. I got over it and went back to my normal life. I walked into the local grocery store to pick up my usual weekend supply of Evan Williams, sugar free Coke, ice and frozen dinners and my eye was caught by a young woman who was staring me down the whole way from my truck to the entrance.
The mental sound of a chiming slot machine announcing my sexual victory with the 21-year-old sweet thing was quickly snuffed out once she started talking.
“Sir,” she whispered quietly to catch my attention. “Follow me.”
I didn’t suck in a single breath as the young woman led me into the graveyard of a magazine section in the back of the grocery store. She shot a look back towards the distant entrance once we reached the sparse collection of Star and People magazines.
“I was behind you out of the road and I think I saw someone following you,” the young woman started in.
My manhood shrunk.
“There was this beat up S.U.V. behind you. I saw him take a picture of your license plate I think with a phone. The truck was hovering in the parking lot waiting for you to park. I noticed it because the guy gave me a really guilty look when I glanced at him taking the picture. It could be nothing, but I just thought you should know,” the young woman said.
The young woman started to walk off. I grabbed her by the shoulder. She glared at me.
“I don’t want anything to do with this. That all the info I can give you. Let go of me please.”
I let the young woman slip away into the produce section and felt my entire body radiate with the heat of fear. I scanned the store for the sight of Phil. Nothing. Just overweight housewives stocking up on unhealthy food in the middle of a weekday.
I forgot about the whiskey, the Hungry Mans and the sugarless Coke. I went straight for the Employees Only area and hustled through the stock area, ignoring the confused looks of a couple of stock boys and ducked out the back door of the place.
A sweltering summer day high noon greeted me at the back of the store. I looked deep into the thick woods behind a little employee parking lot. It seemed a lot safer than retreating back to my car and risking Phil seeing me walk through a wide open parking lot.
The woods were comfortable to me. It was far from the first time I had hid in the cover of the trees. I grew up running through the woods of Tennessee with my older brothers and neighborhood friends.
I couldn’t stay in those woods forever though. I needed somewhere to regroup. I knew a spot. A little roadside motel on the edge of town. I had enough cash in my wallet to hold it down for the weekend and figure out my next move. I could sneak up on the place through the forest and hole up.
That’s how ended up in the musty room reading a Bible like I’m some kind of born again fool, sweating bullets and checking the window blinds every two minutes.
I swore I was just having one more peek out the blinds. After that, I was going to put that Bible back in the drawer, turn on ESPN, or something and wait for morning light to call my bosses to get me out of the pot of soup boiling in my head.
Okay, last look. I parted the blinds and looked out at the soft glow of the lights of the parking lot. Nothing new. A couple of P.O.S. cars, some scattered trash and a quiet, dead end street on the other side of the lot.
Wait…shit. I saw my car parked on the other side of the street which ran next to the motel parking lot – it’s dome light on, barely giving the thing some visibility from about 30 yards away. Fuck. The dome light went out. I saw the shadow of someone sitting in the driver’s seat. I heard the familiar sound of my door open and close.
I checked my pockets. Shit. I left my keys in the ignition, door unlocked.
Had Phil seen me looking through the blinds? No time to think. No time to do anything but head for the door. But no. The door faced the parking lot where Phil was likely strolling up. How did he know that I was there? Only so many shit rat motels in this small town. I should have bolted for the anonymity of Atlanta or Charlotte.
Too late. Time to run. I ran for the bathroom. There was a window in there above the sink that I could jump through. The phone rang as soon as I took off, almost as if it was announcing my flight.
Answer the phone or don’t answer the phone? Run or stay? I stopped in the room and gave it a second’s thought.
I went back to the phone and picked it up. I had left a message with my people up in D.C. Maybe they were calling me back with a plan of action. I picked up the phone…
“Uh, hi, sir,” the nervous voice I recognized as belonging to the pizza-faced teenager who checked me in was instantly recognizable. “I have a question, for you.”
I looked at the window. The blinds were still a little bit open. I stretched the cord of the phone and leaned over towards the window in hopes of closing that little gap. I stretched my arm out as far as I could, hoping to do it, but just couldn’t quite reach it.
“Sir, Mister, Um, I don’t know, uh, someone is here asking for you, can I give them your room number?” the check-in guy’s voice rang in my ear.
“Ah shit,” I squawked back on the line.
I had leaned too far over and fell to the floor, taking the blinds with me. The piece of shit plastic slats ripped off the top of the window and fell on top of me.
The cord of the phone must have fallen out of the phone. The line in my ear went dead. The room was silent again.
I worked my way to my feet, dusted myself off, and looked out the completely naked window. I saw a shadow standing in the middle of the parking lot. I only caught a glimpse, but I recognized the small, slacked stance, the too cool pose of Phil.
I dove back down to the ground. I crawled on my belly as fast as I could to the bathroom. I figured the bathroom window was my only chance.
I made it to the doorway of the bathroom before I heard the glass of the window break. I screamed out something ridiculous, regretted all my earlier decisions in life. Why did I do what I did? All the lives I ended over the years, even if those people deserved it. The last breaths and images of so many men I snuffed out ran through my head.
“Please,” the word dribbled out of my mouth.
I winced, readied for whatever was going to happen to me. I watched black shoes walk towards me in the carpet, couldn’t bare to look up. I closed my eyes.
“I need your help,” I heard Phil’s voice say.
I opened my eyes.
Phil explained how he tracked me down and it made sense. The town was tiny and he knew I would head to the grocery store at some point so he camped out in a parking lot down the street from the grocery store and waited for me to drive by. He was spot on about the one fleabag motel I would hide out in once he didn’t see me come out of the front of the grocery store and he watched the front desk kid punch in the room extension to figure out which room I was back at the motel.
Phil tracked me down, not to kill me, but because he wanted help and protection. Well, what he needed from me was probably going to get me killed, and he would have killed me had I said no, but he wasn’t some Terminator-like assassin on a machine to simply snuff me out.
For the second time in my life, I took on a job I shouldn’t have to save my life. I wonder if I will end up regretting this decision as much as the first? Fuck it. I had no choice.
Phil put me in the passenger seat of my own truck and talked as he drove off out of town and onto a road on the edge of town which seemed to wind endlessly next to a river. It reminded me of the kind of place where high school kids would sneak off to drink.
Phil stopped the truck in a little clearing centered by a burn bin and some stumps carved into chairs decorated with an endless supply of empty beer whiskey bottles. It looked like the setting of a nostalgic country music video.
I was led to a tree just outside of the party area and lashed to a steel bolt which stuck out of the thing.
“What the fuck is this?” I asked Phil while he lashed my wrists with thick rope.
Phil slapped me gently on the cheek.
“Sit tight, I’ll be back soon.”
What Phil meant by “soon,” was hours, until well after the sun down and I had rubbed my wrists raw trying to Houdini out of his lashing. I had finally given up when I saw the familiar headlights of my Ranger pull into the clearing. I could see two shadows in the car.
My heart dropped when I watched Phil walk over to the passenger seat of the truck and yank out a young woman. It took a few seconds, but I recognized the girl as the warden’s daughter. I had Facebook stalked him and admit to checking out a bit of her profile after noticing some clear bikini shots. I’m not made of stone, okay.
Phil dragged the girl over towards me kicking and screaming and clawing at him with her nails.
“No. No. No,” I barked at Phil.
The girl locked eyes with me. She already looked roughed up a bit. She gave me a look that was equal parts “help,” and equal parts “please don’t kill me.” I understood the mix of emotions, I’m not exactly the most warm and fuzzy-looking guy. She probably figured I was in it with Phil.
I looked away from the girl and saw a small metal baseball gripped in Phil’s hand and then spotted the bulge of a handgun in the pocket of his filthy Wranglers.
“Ah fuck no Phil. You can just shoot me now, because I’m not doing any shit like this,” I yelled as loud as I could, hoping someone might hear us through the woods.
“What shit? Doing what shit?” The girl screamed out even louder than I did.
Phil threw the girl at my feet and ripped the gun out of his pocket – pointed it right at my face.
“You know, this isn’t the first time someone has pointed a gun at my face,” I said, hoping my defiance could shake Phil’s confidence.
Phil smacked the gun up against my teeth. I felt my entire skull vibrate, felt a few teeth crack.
“What’s torturing and killing a fucking warden’s daughter gonna do Phil?” I asked with a bleeding mouth. “You should just get your ass to Guatemala. I’ll help you.”
I heard a familiar sound. The distant whine of an outboard motor. A small one. The kind that pilots small little fishing boats you can only fit one or two people on. I looked over Phil’s shoulder at the calm river through the trees. I could see the faintest glimpse of one of those little metal boats skimming in our direction – saw a couple of good ol boys on the thing tipping back beers with fishing poles in their hands.
The fisherman were coming closer and closer, and based on the path of the river, they would soon be just about 20 yards away from us. Close enough to get an eye on what was happening. Maybe they had a cell phone to dial 911 or simply just spook Phil to stop? I just had to keep delaying Phil.
“Hurting a woman Phil, that’s really the kind of pussy you are?”
I got another hard smash across the face from Phil’s gun as soon as the last word of the sentence came out of my mouth. I saw the boat was almost to the closest point once the world came back into focus.
I screamed out as loud as I could to try and draw the attention of the fisherman.
“FUCK YOU PHIL. You’re a fucking pussy if that’s what you want to do!”
I made eyes at the young woman, trying to telepathically tell her to scream out as loud as she possibly could. She somehow knew. She let out a horrid screech. The fisherman were close enough to hear, I saw their gazes shift to us.
“Come on, Phil, let’s just get you out of here. We’re a few hours from the gulf. We’ll get a boat to get you to Cuba, they’ll never bring your ass back here,” I said each word as loud as I could.
Phil pressed the barrel of the gun against my head.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, and you’re going to kill me after you broke out of prison? And kill this girl?” I went on.
I shot a look over at the fisherman, I hoped my overly-literal statement would tip them off that this was prison escapee, Phil LaRoche who was going to kill us. I hoped they would call 911, even though it would probably take the cops hours to get out where we were. The fisherman were staring right at us. Phil didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh I’m going somewhere to disappear, but not before I do this,” Phil said to my face.
I looked to the fishermen again. My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach. I saw both men aiming rifles in our direction.
Phil followed my eyes over the river.
“What the fuck do you keep looking at?” Phil asked.
The blasts hit dead perfect on in Phil’s chest and blew him back away from me. I let out the deepest breath of my life when I looked down at Phil and saw the life drain from his face in a couple of seconds – before he could even reach for his gun.
“Fuck you,” I muttered under my breath.
I’m now in a location I cannot name, but my exact locations isn’t that important. My state of mind is much more essential. Just know that it is in a good place.
My days of being The Aneurysm are long gone and I’m never going back. No way. I’m happy now. I’m just lucky that I saved up enough of a nest egg over the years during my work and had the warden’s daughter to vouch for me that I had nothing to do with what Phil tried to do to her.
It didn’t take long for the authorities to vet me. I had met most of them over the years in my line of work. It was mostly smiles, handshakes, warm cups of coffee and apologies.
I tell people my story sometimes and I see them get physically ill. They wonder how I did it all those years and how I came out on the other end as a person who is relatively stable. I generally debate my stability with these people for a bit before moving on and explaining to them my nickname.
I just tell those folks that I meant no offense when I did my job, I brought no emotion, no thoughts, no feelings, I was just an aneurysm, I was there to end your life in an instant and for no particular personal reason. Needless to say, I haven’t made a lot of friends in my new hometown.