I thought my first breath outside would taste like freedom. After wasting away for four years in the harsh, sweaty Hell known as The Empire Towers California State Correctional Facility for a series of crimes I didn't commit, the only scents in the breeze are the sour fumes of injustice and the acrid stench of fear. Everyone‘s afraid. My fear is because no one believes I'm innocent and I know the cops are fiending for a reason to put me back in. Everyone else is afraid because, in their eyes, the most ruthless and evil killer since Manson has just been released. The injustice is mine, but not because month after month fell from the calendar while I rotted away in prison. It's not there because whatever life I had before is gone now, replaced by the world looking at me and seeing a demon. The injustice is there because there's a killer that's still on the loose. He's started killing again. And somehow, he has my DNA.
It was the first of August when there was a knock on my door. I stared out at a Chandler-like cliché of a homicide detective through the fish-eye lens of the peephole, just before the hulk of a man in a blue uniform kicked the door open, sending me crashing into the wall with a broken nose and a million unanswered questions flying through my brain faster than the lightning quick movements of the cops as they slammed me down and slapped the cuffs on my wrists so tight my hands went numb and my wrists started to bleed. That was five years and an entire lifetime ago. And after a year in court and four more behind bars, maybe it’s fitting that it’s the first of August again when I walk out of prison and into a new Hell.
They took five years of my life, my dignity, and my honor, and all those bastards have the decency to leave me with as I walk out of prison is the clothes I had on when I was arrested, the twelve bucks in my pocket, and a pack of Chesters that‘s gone five years stale. Damn guards stole my Zippo. As I’m trying to figure out how to light up without a lighter or matches, cursing the guards for taking a very special gift from me, I glance across the street and see an angel. My angel. Dee.