Although my physical debt to society was paid through time spent behind bars, the mental bills keep piling up.
I am parked on the shoulder of the highway, behind the wheel of my trusted yet aging GMC Sierra, looking at the sign that marks the county line for the city I used to call home, before incarceration and before I turned my life around.
The city lights hover on the distant horizon like a beacon….or a warning.
I am not sure which.
I pulled over to figure out if I should once again turn things around and head back to the place I now call home and leave this debt reconciliation idea in my rear view mirror
face my past and take the judgement of those who reside in it much like I did the judgement of my felonies…..with my fingers crossed and a half hearted prayer to the religion of “one more chance”.
I served almost 7 years for my felonies to earn one more chance.
Second chances don’t come often for people like me. When they do, the door does not open to a yellow bricked road lined with roses and mariachi bands.
My road was winding, dark and overgrown with thick vines of temptation, crap jobs and little in way of reward.
I made it through the winding road and eventually came across the straight and narrow.
That turn around was not quick but anything worth working for often isn’t.
The future was bright but the clouds of my past deeds muddles it’s progression.
I turn off the engine and the lights of my truck and think back to the conversation I had with my boss which led me to take the 700 mile journey…..
“Look, I know you’ve had a rough going starting over in this town. You have given me bits and pieces about your time behind bars….over the past few months you have finally quit looking at those damn prison tats on your arms, which tells me your getting over it. You are the most reliable employee I have ever had. What you need to do is treat that past shit like my dog does and kick some grass over it and move on.”
With that he turns around and digs the toes of his workbooks into the ground and thrusts his heels back, one at a time, kicking up grass and dirt creating a small pile behind him. He then looks at me and smiles.
I shake my head and reply,
“The problem with that is, every time I go into the yard I still step in that shit. The past doesn’t go away and I can’t keep hosing it off my shoes. I paid my debt….for the crime I got caught for…..what about all the crap I got away with? Time doesn’t give my a do over for all that. I have to take time to amend for it.”
My boss scratches his head to think for a minute then answers.
“Ok. You know we were shutting down shop for 2 weeks so I could teach you to hunt and put some country into ya. I think you should take that 2 weeks and hunt down your past. You can’t be you here when part of you is still there. Go get him so all of you can be in one place……”
I am shaken back to the present when a semi truck blazes by my parked truck.
I become aware that I have been crossing and uncrossing my fingers during my flashback.
“It’s only a chance, if I take it.”
I clench and unclench my palms a few times to get the blood flowing through my hands and brush my left hand across the tattoos on my right forearm.
I raise my head up and look up at the city lights beckoning in the distance through the dirty glass of my cracked windshield.
I take in a deep breath.
I reach for the key in the ignition, start the truck and place the gearshift in drive.
I pull the truck back onto the highway and continue on the place I once called home.
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