By Joanna, age 20, South Wales, United Kingdom
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
He had a cellmate with him, someone who looked very vaguely familiar to him, but whom he could not place within his memory. He had decided that this fellow must just look like someone he had seen on the streets of Paris at one time or another, or perhaps he was cursed with a universally recognizable face, a mixture of features so common that one must have seen another man like him.
In the several hours that Wickers had been imprisoned there, not a word had passed between him and his cellmate. A grunt which served as a welcome greeted him when he first was thrust into the miserable room, but aside from that a miserable silence filled the air between them.
Wickers began pacing the cell, bored out of his mind and at a loss as to gaining any knowledge of his supposed crime. Was this even legal? Or had he committed some terrible felony that he hadn't even been aware of? Perhaps he would never know, as the guards were seldom around, and besides, they seemed as though they had all been blessed with rocks for brains.
His pacing seemed to have stirred something in his cellmate. The familiar man rose from his seat on the stone floor and eyed Wickers with a somewhat menacing glare. Wickers stopped pacing and stared him in the face, unafraid and curious. Both men remained like this until Wickers finally asked him what he had done to end up in this cell.
"I've no idea," he told him, revealing an Irish accent. "I was out walking, minding my own business, and then I was here. What's your story?"
"Exactly the same thing!" said a suspicious Wickers. "Have you no idea at all why we're here?"
"Have you?" replied the flippant Irishman. Wickers subsided into silence and tried to think of all of the people with a grudge against him who might possibly set up some false accusation or strange kind of stunt that could have landed him here. Nothing obvious came to mind. As he was an undertaker he didn't have many dealings with the living, and the dead seldom seek revenge upon the undertaker, in his experience.
The Irishman continued to eye Wickers with a suspicious gaze. He was a silent man by nature and had never much liked the company of others, though this man could help him to figure out why he had been put here. Perhaps they had something in common. It would be a logical step to try and find out as much as he could about this stranger and determine the similarities. However, he was reluctant. He had learned, in his short life, that if you ask someone a question, they'll ask it in return, and sharing personal information was not something that he, as a crook and a thief by trade, was inclined to do.
Wickers was not a stupid man and the entire time he had been sizing up his acquaintance, trying to determine the best way to get him to talk. He needed to know why he was here if he was ever to escape, and the only link to any kind of knowledge was this man. Upper-class English and sounding like it, he was not sure that the rugged Irishman would tell him anything, but nevertheless he had to try.
"There has to be a reason we're both in here. Why us and not somebody else off the streets?" he began, but sensing irritation from the other prisoner, he quickly changed tack. "Have you pissed anyone off lately?"
"Plenty of people, but none that knew me personally, far as I know," he replied with a slight gleam in his eyes. He didn't ask the question in return. It was easier to let the Englishman do all the talking and provide minimal responses.
"I'm an undertaker," Wickers offered. The Irishman just nodded. "Have you caused any deaths lately - ever - at all? That's the only link I can think of."
The Irishman, avoiding the direct question, circled around Wickers. He was well built, and, Wickers thought, could probably tear him apart with a single attempt. "What makes yous think that someone like me could do somet'in like that?"
Wickers caught on to the tactic that his acquaintance was trying and bravely replied with another question. "Am I wrong?"
At this, the Irishman unexpectedly smiled, a crooked smile that made him appear softer and somewhat less terrifying. He extended a hand to Wickers. "Name's Seamus." Wickers shook his hand and offered his own name in return. Despite appearances, Seamus had not let his guard down but was simply employing another tactic. He had learned, through a life of crime both observed and actively participated in, that once a person thinks of you as a friend they let their guard down a hell of a lot. This, he hoped, would be the case with Wickers. He was right.
The next hour or so consisted of Wickers divulging his entire life's history, which Seamus thought rather bland and run-of the-mill, whilst he interspersed open-ended questions that lulled Wickers into a false sense of friendship. All that Seamus really wanted from him was to know which person, sent to their unfortunate and untimely death by his own hand, his upstanding cellmate had tended to in death.
As Wickers told various anecdotes about people he had come into contact with in his line of work, Seamus listened intently. He had a suspicion that it would be the teenager who had caused his anguish and imprisonment, and a few hours later Wickers would confirm that he had, so to speak, met her. Although, to be certain, Seamus reasoned, he must eliminate the three other deaths he'd caused, and asking careful, seemingly conversational questions, he discovered that none other than the blonde teenager had any link whatsoever to his cellmate.
A short while after sunlight, a guard appeared, passing a cup of water through the cell door. Both men attempted to question the guard, but he was silent, delivering the drink and then vanishing. Seamus took the water first, a cunning plan about to be exacted. Unaware, Wickers began to pace the cell momentarily before he remembered Seamus's exasperation at this action the previous night. However, the moment Wickers turned his back, Seamus slipped a small pill into the water and passed it to his new friend. As soon as he had been given a cellmate he had begun to form a plan of escape. It helped that he now had some idea of who was on his case, although it couldn't be the dead teenager herself. She had obviously left some trace of revenge in this world, and it was coming back to bite him on the backside. He had to get out of this cell and perhaps flee the country for a while. He had relatives back in Ireland who'd gladly put him up knowing what he'd done - they were loyal like that.
Seamus stood in a false pretence of wandering towards the sunlight projected down from the cell's only window - a small rectangle the size of a brick at the very top of the cell wall. Right on cue, Wickers began to violently choke. Seemingly concerned, Seamus ran to his side asking if he was okay. Wickers could not answer. "Guards! Guards!" called Seamus, the perfect note of panic and terror in his voice. The guards opened the cell door wide and rushed in at the commotion, just as Seamus rushed at them and out of the door.
He did not encounter any other guards as he slipped out of a back entrance of the prison. Finding himself in a dirty Parisian alleyway, he jogged up to the main street and got lost in the crowd before he could be followed. He smiled to himself as he headed for the train station. No one knew what he had done or who he was. It was true that he was a crook, and that served him nicely on his walk through the busy streets that morning, but there was a lot more to Seamus O'Doherty that any person could learn in one sitting.