Heartfelt
rating: +23+x

Release of D-Class Form AE-2600


Name: Samuel Allen Dierks
Serial: D-5150
Incarceration Date: 03/23/2004
Induction Date: 02/12/2019
Record: [EXPUNGED]
Release Date: 08/05/19

Notes: As agreed to upon acquiring D-Class status, D-5150 has been hereby pardoned by the Governor of the State of [REDACTED] and is to be released into the custody of his family, with the following stipulations:

  • A 10-year mandatory period of rehabilitative parole, as mandated by the laws and regulations of the state of [REDACTED];
  • A yearly examination by Foundation Medical staff, and;
  • Upon death, the cadaver of D-5150 is to be donated to the Foundation for post-mortem examination.

THEREFORE, in agreeance with the terms laid out herein, and with the agreeance of all parties involved, D-5150 is hereby freed, effective as above.

Congratulations, Mr. Dierks, and good luck in your future endeavors.

Signed,

██████████████

Site Administrator


Blake was waiting for me in the parking lot.

"Sam? SAM!"

He ran towards me, tears in his eyes. He stopped within two steps of me, and looked at me. How different I looked. The last time he saw me was at a visitation in Supermax, almost 13 years ago. I'm sure my balding head, the growing middle-aged paunch, and the extra wrinkles made me look quite different than what he was expecting.

He looked different too. A decade and a half will do that to a kid. My little brother was all grown up now. He was 15 when I went in, just a chubby kid who talked a lot and always got on my nerves. Now… Jesus, look at him. He'd turned into a handsome man. He looked a lot like Pops.

Pops.

I wrapped my arms around him, and we cried.


"And that's the last thing you remember?"

"Yup."

"Did it leave a scar?"

"Oh yeah."

Pulling up my shirt, I showed him the scar from the transplant surgery, and knocked my knuckles against my breastbone. "Brand new ticker in there. Top of the line, the best that medicine had to offer."

"Holy shit." He looked at me for a second, as if to ask Can I touch it? He ran a finger over the incision site, eyes full of wonder.

I smiled at him, he smiled at me. "Hard to believe." Nodding, I pulled my shirt back down and looked away. "Yeah. Hard to believe."

A beat. We both stared into our coffee cups.

"Sam… you were in for life. No parole."

"I know."

Tears were welling in his eyes, something that would be kind of a common occurrence for those I talked to in the immediate future. "You got a second chance."

"Two of them. In a row."

"Yeah. How's that work?" He chuckled softly, and wiped his eyes.

"I don't know, brother. I don't know."

Our eyes met our coffee cups again. What do you say in a moment like this? When there's so many questions you need to ask, but the words are impossible.

In this case, you say nothing, and you flag the waitress down for the check.


Readjusting to life is hard. 15 years of routine changes you.

Every morning, I wake up at 6:00 am without an alarm. I cradle a cup of black coffee and wait for the sun to come up. At 7, usually, I go out for a jog. By 8, I have a couple of fresh eggs over-easy and some toast.

I head out to Paul's farm in an old Dodge Ram that runs for a few dozen miles at a time. He pays me to work on whatever needs to be worked on- sometimes it's fixing up one of the tractors, or a hay baler. In the summer, it's hauling hay. Sometimes I'm feeding the cows, looking over the herd, keeping count. They're not quite tame. The younger ones are curious, they approach carefully and might sniff your hand. The older ones keep their distance.

Come lunchtime, I read the paper, and eat the sandwich I packed that morning. If it was a good week, I might get the nice turkey from the deli counter at the grocery store. Most of the time, it's budget bologna.

I keep to myself. The other farmhands are young, and full of wild ideas and crazy dreams. They talk about last weekend's party, or this girl and that girl. Never really engaging, I keep my head down and my mouth shut.

The afternoon drags on, but there's always work to be done. Clearing and repairing the fences, getting rid of the old fallen trees, keeping the barn cleaned up. On Fridays, Paul gives me a few hundred dollars in cash and a case of beer. He always says I do good work. I always thank him for the money and the job, and he always just shrugs and says something like It's hard to keep good help nowadays or Keep up the good work.

I go back to my little shack right before dark. Sometimes I'll text Blake, and talk for a little bit. Lights out at 9, just like the last 15 years.

It's funny that way. Every night I spent in lockdown, I swore I would do things so much differently if I had the opportunity. When it comes down to it, I guess we're all creatures of habit. The setting might be different, but the routine is the same.

Maybe I need a change.


Hey bro.

Hey man, what's up?

NM. Paul's out of town for a week, just running the farm.

Cool

I gotta blow off some steam. Anyplace around here I can go?

The old Wagon Wheel is just across the state line.

That place is still around?

Yeah, IKR :D

IKR?

IKR= I know, right?

Oh

you should go have some fun. You never go do anything anymore

You think?

yeah just don't get hammered and drive

Maybe.

It's been a while.

bro. trust me. Just go.

Alright.

Promise you'll call me or Jane if you have too much to drink

I promise.


The Wagon Wheel is vacant, except for the waitress, Susan, and one old boozehound, slumped over on his barstool.

Susan is pretty. She's probably about 37, kind eyes, and long red hair. There's happy crow's feet at the corners of her eyes when she smiles. She keeps me in cold beer and listens. She talks sometimes too. A single mom of two girls, Susan is also a trauma nurse at the hospital when she's not tending bar.

She curls her hair around her fingertip when we talk.

The Wagon Wheel becomes a regular spot for me, two or three times a week, just to talk to her. I ask her for her number after a month of working up the courage. She smiles and asks me, "What took you so long?"

I barely slept that night for feeling so good about it.


Laying in bed together, she traces her finger along my scar.

"So, when you die, these scientists get your body?"

"Yep. That was the deal."

"That's… unbelievable."

"Believe it." I smile and kiss her forehead. "It's a small price to pay to be able to be here, with you."

She smiles up at me. I feel like the luckiest man on earth.

I want to feel like this forever.

It's a whole year before I propose. Saving for a ring on an ex-con farmhand wage takes some time. I asked her daughters if it was okay first. They laughed and gave me a hug, and called me dad.

We got married in October. It was uncommonly cold that day. The orange of the leaves made for a stark contrast against the thin white blanket of snow. In the south, it's so unusual to get snow at all. To see it on our wedding day seemed like a blessing from above.

Her white gown and red locks perfectly matched the landscape.

She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.


Hey bro.

Hey old man

I have a question. Kind of a weird one.

I mean, I guess it's weird.

What is it?

I didn't get to go to pops funeral.

Yeah. I know.

I don't know where he's buried. I don't want to bother mom with it.

Understandable.

Can you tell me where he is?

Yeah.


Hey pops. Long time no see.

I… I'm not sure what to say right now… Never even thought about it before. The possibility of you being dead. That's really stupid, I know. They wouldn't let me come say goodbye before, the warden wouldn't. Obviously. I mean… I don't even know if you would have wanted me to.

The last time I saw you, you were so disappointed in me. And I deserved that. I did something horrible. The people I hurt, the lives I took… I can't ever take that back. And it's something I deal with, every goddamn day. I still see them when I go to sleep sometimes. It upsets Susan so much that I've just taken to sitting in the living room for a while until I get it together.

What I would give to go back in time. I was about as old as Blake is now, but really, I was just a kid inside. I wish I could stop myself, show myself what pain would come of it. How I'd hurt others, hurt myself… hurt you, and mom, and Blake. Those poor people, and their families. I think… I might do anything to be able to change that.

But… I wasn't defined by that one moment. I'm not that.

Pops. I'm sorry. I know you probably left the world hating me, and I'm sorry for that. I let you down, and I deserve it. For my part, I always loved you. I always just wanted to make you proud. The thing that broke my heart the most was seeing you and mom in that courtroom. Your faces when they read the guilty verdict. That was the last time I saw you.

I wonder if I've become someone you could be proud of.

Those doctors and scientists, they gave a second chance to a murderer who didn't deserve it. But here I am now, forever changed. I have Susan now, and the girls, and they look at me the way I used to look at you. My greatest desire is to be a good father and husband, just like you were. You should see them. Belle got second place in the elementary beauty pageant this year. And Shyanne, well, she was the star of their dance recital. I know they're not my kids, but… I'm their dad. And if you could see them, you'd fall in love with them, just like I did.

And Susan, my god. Never did I dream of meeting, much less being with, someone like her.

I wonder what you think of me now. I hope you'll forgive me. Wherever you are.

I miss you, pops.

Is it okay if I sit down here? I'm just not feeling so good. Age, I guess. What's the old saying? "Time and tide wait for no man." It's just catching up to me, I suppose.

Just need to catch my breath.

I just… need to…

I…

Oh god.

O̖̾̈́̃̎ͧͦ͞H͕̗̻͇ͬͧͪ̾ͪͅ ̘̰̬̯̠̖̬͗͗ͣ̿̀Ǵ̢̦̈́̒Ȍͮ̉ͦ̔ͦ̚D̫̤͉ͥ̓̓̔͒̚.͚͙̠̙̦ͦͩ͐̅̀ ̖̰̣͙̲̝̬̒̔́̾̚Ḥ͈̮̈͑̃̈́̔̌͜E̱̫̹ͨͨͣͤ̈́L̷̲̱ͨͦ͐̇P̥̂̓ͪ̏̐ͦͥ ͍̲̘̲̹ͥͭM̺͇̫̼͘E̙̺̩̙̲͓̓ͭ͌͘ͅ.̊ͣ̆̽̎̎͢

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