Lance Oxley left the prison as he had started, alone, clothed in his plaid shirt, white t-shirt and ripped jeans. He had lost a little weight, but they still fit even all this time. Why the prison still held onto his clothes was beyond him. In his pockets he had $172 and loose change, a plastic toothpick, and a key chain with two keys, a rabbit’s foot and a silver bottle opener. After 24 years locked away he was not prepared for what the world had to offer. He was regarded as a bad man, and the press waited for him outside the gate to see if he would engage them as he did when he was up for trial. He lowered his eyes to the flashes of cameras and the many voices that were shouting for his comments.
“Mr. Oxley, how does it feel to be free?”
“Lance, lance is it what you expected?”
“How do you feel about your daughter saying she wished you were dead?”
“Ox, what do you think, will you beat more women?”
He had no answers. Lance just crawled into the cab that was waiting for him. The prison paid for the ride, and the trip that would take him to see his probation officer. His probation officer was Ed Unmun, and his reputation preceded him. When he arrived, the man wouldn’t even stop his lunch to greet him. He pointed at a seat and Lance took it.
“You will report to me every week for the rest of the year, and we will adjust that schedule next year as I see fit. You travel, then you give me two weeks notice, and I must hear from you at the time we agree on. You do anything outside your probation then you will finish the rest of your sentence. You have a job at the Yukon Diner, which you will report to at 6am promptly starting tomorrow. Your boss is an ex-con, and he knows all the tricks, so don’t cross him. He will report to me if you do, and you will then finish the rest of your sentence. You will go to the address on the piece of paper I will give you, and you will meet the landlord for your new residence. He will assign you temporary residence for as long as you want to be there and pay your rent timely. If you fail to pay your rent timely, I will be notified and you will finish the rest of your sentence. It is that easy. You committed a horrible crime, and free on probation, but you will never truly be free. Any questions?” Lance shook his head no. Ed passed the slip of paper with the addresses to his job and new home. “Good” he continued, “now get out of my face until next week.”
The Ox received his nickname from the press, but it was an obvious name used by kids at the elementary school level. He was always big with wide shoulders and his name was Oxley. He might have lost an inch or two at the age of 48, but he still was at least 6’ 5” and was well over 250 pounds most of which was prison muscle. Even with his size, when he first arrived in prison he was put in his proper place immediately and he had the various scars to prove it. Prison life was a belittling process for the Ox. From the moment he was arrested he was sorry for killing his wife and leaving his daughter parentless. He had 24 years to think about that night. Most of which was lost to him.
Carrying over a dozen bottles of beer in his belly he fell fully clothed into bed next to Dora. She was fast asleep, but he was feeling a bit horny. He just pulled back the covers and started to maul her tits with his mouth. She stirred awake and pushed him away.
“Come on Lance,” Dora muttered in her sleep.
“Shut up bitch,” Lance demanded.
“Go to sleep Lance, I can smell the beer all over you.”
“Don’t make me hurt you,” Lance said. He tore the panties off her after struggling to pull them down her legs. Dora tried to hold him off, but she knew when he was like this that she might as well give in. She spread her legs letting him have access to her sex. Lance ripped her pink satin nightie instead of letting her take it off. It was new and she didn’t like what he was doing.
“You idiot that was brand new,” Dora admonished. He raised himself on his knees while straddling her and drew back his hand and swung hard down on her face. She stared in disbelief at him. He had never hit her in the face before. Lance usually just pushed her around and spanked her ass and pinching was his big thing, but he never was beater.
“Don’t you ever call me an idiot,” Lance ordered. “You are to lay there and let me fuck you and I am good and done bitch. Not another word from you. You understand?”
“Yes,” she whispered. He smacked her in the face even harder this time using the palm of his hand.
“I just said another word from you,” Lance shouted. “Do you understand?”
Dora shook her head in agreement as she held her face hoping the sting of the slap would go away. He slid himself into her dry pussy and he started to move in and out of her in his drunken stupor. He was sloppy and had to keep aligning himself in her, while she just tried to bare the pain from his rape. Finally, he just fell to the side and started snoring. She just lay there afraid to move, thinking that he might want to finish if he awoken. Eventually she crawled out of bed and went to cry in the bathroom. On the way out of the bathroom, he stood there by the doorway in just his boxers.
“What you crying about Dora?” Lance asked innocently. “And where is your damn clothes woman?” She wiped the tears from her eyes and was afraid to answer so she shook her head no. Thinking that any other response would be handled in another knee jerk reaction from him. Lance shrugged and went to pee. She turned around to look at him. Thinking maybe he just was too drunk to remember. She touched her bruised cheek and went back to bed.
He pulled the covers back and crawled in. She had her back to him, hoping that he would just leave her alone. She felt his fingers on her breasts manipulating her nipples to stand erect. Dora was too frightened to move and when she felt him hard against her she began to tremble.
“Damn Dora you okay? You are shaking. I feel you baby.”
“Just a little sick Lance,” she explained. Dora couldn’t believe that he had forgotten what he did to her so fast.
“Let me see if I can make you feel better,” Lance said. He slid down under the covers, to her waist and spread her legs. He placed her tongue at her pussy and licked her roughly.
“Lance, you think we can do this in the morning baby?” Dora asked trying to sweet talk him. He peered from under the covers and smiled at her. He made his way back up to Dora and pulled his arms up and around, just below her chest. He snuggled tight against her and she could still feel his hardness pressed against her.
“Baby,” Lance whispered, “you know that I love you right?”
“Sure,” Dora whispered hesitantly. She felt his hands playing with her left breast. The stench of beer was strong still.
“I want to know why you would disobey me like this?”
Dora froze afraid to answer him. His hands started to pinch her nipples again a little more painful than last time. She didn’t dare protest him. His cock lay between her legs gently grinding against her ass cheeks.
“I see,” Lance continued, “now you fall silent. Why didn’t you obey me when I asked the first two times? When I ask for something, I expect you to obey me bitch.” He squeezed her nipple as hard as he could making her wince in pain. “I will except nothing more than your obedience for now on when I ask you to do something. Understand?” She shook her head in the affirmative. “Good girl. Now I am going to fuck you in the ass.”
“No,” Dora protested. This was one thing she did not want him to do to her again. She didn’t like it the first time, and he promised it would be the only time.
“What?” Lance questioned mockingly. He pulled his hand from her breast and pulled back her hair to she screamed in horror for him to stop. Suddenly, and with all the force she had, she elbowed him right in the face. His fingers loosened their grip and she quickly sprang from the bed. Before she could run, he grabbed her hair again and she lost her balance as she was yanked backwards. Her head hit the nightstand on the way down and she was instantly unconscious. By the doorway, Samantha their 3-year-old girl stood watching.
Lance panic-stricken called for an ambulance and while he was sobering in jail, she was declared dead. Samantha was left to Dora’s parents
Lance had not seen his daughter since that night. He wanted to see her in the worst way, but in his heart he couldn’t look into her eyes without seeing her mother there. It was for the best. He killed her, even if he never intended to do so. He loved his little girl and no matter what he did, nothing would ever change that fact. He wrote her each birthday and holiday, but he never knew if she ever got any of them. On her 15th birthday the letter came back forwarding order expired, but it had a new address on the label attached. He decided that it was best if he just ended his foolishness and stop writing.
As the years went on Lance withdrew and kept to himself. He turned to God and asked for the forgiveness that he didn’t deserve. His guilt overcame him and he prayed in silence. His prayers were for his daughter and not himself. His prayers sometimes turned to his wife, Dora. He remembered the love he once had for her. How beer and hard times got the best of him and made him the monster that he was. He killed everything that he loved, and at the time he didn’t even know what love was. He was too drunk to know.
Now that he was free, he didn’t know what to do. Everything was simple in jail. He had everything planned for him. Even now, his probation officer had set things for Lance. He had a place to live, a job and a set of rules. The living arrangements were fine enough for an ex-convict. The job was a greasy spoon establishment and that would be fine until he got used to life on the outside. At 48, he had little training for the new job market. He never learned how to use a computer in prison and it seemed that was how the world revolved around these days. Everyone seemed to talk on portal phones and that was a little science fiction to him. Especially those that used earpieces that seemed to talk to themselves.
A few months had gone by and a knock came to his apartment door right after work. It was the very first time he had received a visitor. He had no eyehole to see who was there so he just opened it up. By the door, a blonde haired, blue-eyed woman in her mid-20’s stared back at him. He knew at once this was his daughter by the resemblance to her mother, except for his height and his chin. Behind her a bald man about the same age, strong by his physique and about the same height as Lance stood with his arms crossed. Lance gave him the briefest of glances and turned back to his daughter. Not knowing what to say he beckoned them in with the wave of his arm.
Samantha took a step inside and without a moments hesitation her black leather boot found her father’s groin. Lance doubled over in pain and the bald man took an uppercut at his jaw and he fell backwards. She ground her foot against his face whilst the bald man too kicked him the groin. Drool and groans came from Lance’s mouth. Unable to speak as he became teary-eyed up from the assault.
“This is for my mother,” Samantha yelled at her fallen dad. “I would kill you if I had more of your dirty gene pool. I have waited for this moment all my life. I still remember you hanging onto her hair from the bed even when she lay unconscious. You fucking bastard!” She lifted her foot and drove it back down against his face smashing it against the floor. Only guttural sounds came from him. The bald man kicked Lance squarely in the ribs, cracking what would later be 2 ribs. “I hate you, I want you to live the remaining days of your life knowing that. Don’t look for me. Don’t write me. The only thing I want from you is to die alone and miserable. Let’s go Tony.” She spat on him before turning away. The bald man took Samantha’s hand and guided her out the way they came shutting the door behind them.
Lance wanted to say how sorry he was. He wanted to say how he spent the last 24 years thinking about her. He wanted to say so much, but he couldn’t. He had his voice temporarily taken away from the groin kicks. He was left bloody and in pain. The worst pain came from his heart. The one person who he had loved all these years, and the only person he cared about in the world, just set him straight. The tears of pain turned to tears of sorrow as he lay on the floor crying. He held his hands to his face and tried to hide the shame from the world. He wept and lay fetal until the following morning.
He stopped off at a local drugstore and taped up his ribs and went to work. When Gil, his manager of the Yukon Diner saw him he asked for an explanation. Lance said he was mugged last night and that he might have some broken ribs. He informed Gil that he would work through his shift and get them checked out afterwards. Gil dismissed him early and Lance went to the hospital. He had two crack ribs and a bruised sternum. The time he got back to his apartment he felt sorrow creep back into his heart. The pain he felt in his heart for his daughter was too much to handle and he felt helpless to the depression that overwhelmed him. He couldn’t help the tears from flowing again. Self-loathing and the never-ending guilt had an iron grip on him.
The more he thought about his wife and child the more he wanted to kill himself. These thoughts were not new. He had them in prison the first few years. If there were a way he could switch his life for his wife, Dora he would’ve done it. He looked at the pain medicine the hospital had prescribed for him and he opened the bottle. Jiggling the contents into his hand he heard the words of his daughter ringing in his mind. “I hate you,” she had said. He stared at the pills for a while and then just swallowed them all. His life flashed before his eyes and he cried himself to sleep.
Waking a little dizzy, Lance found himself back at the hospital. He was in a hospital gown in bed staring up at a police officer. Of course, he thought. Suicide was illegal. But how did he get here? His stomach hurt, most likely from the stomach pumping to release the pills. He was just so tired and as fast as he woke up he fell back to sleep. In the next few hours after awakening again, he answered questions and was put into protective custody. Lance was on hospital suicide watch. He met with the staff psychologist and Lance told her everything.
“What do I have reason to live for?” Lance asked.
“Mr. Oxley,” Dr. Biordini replied, “you have to see your second chance in life as a starting over point. Yes, your daughter hates you for killing her mother. Yes, you feel remorse for your actions and that is a lot more than other released inmates feel. I am sure you know from conversations in prison that they would do it all over again. There a lot of domestic abuse problems in the world and most of them go unreported because of fear. Most don’t get to the your stage where there is a death involved, but there is always a victim. You told me you would change it all if you could, correct?”
“Without an afterthought,” Lance responded.
“Then let me challenge you Mr. Oxley,” the doctor pulled out a sheaf of paper from her notepad. “I have here a list of domestic abuse programs in the regional area. It’s pretty much like an AA meeting for couples with abuse issues. You asked me what you have reason to live for, well let me see you try to stop the next Dora from happening.”
Lance stared blankly at her. He didn’t want to consul people. He wanted to crawl into a ball and die. He rubbed his forehead and eyes and didn’t answer her.
“I see your trying to think of a way to say no, but let me see if I can persuade you a little Mr. Oxley. You attempted to kill yourself yesterday, but deep down you didn’t want to die. You were clinging on to something. Maybe it was hope for your daughter, maybe it was just the will to live. Whatever it…”
“Doctor,” Lance interrupted, “I really wanted to die and still feel this way. I should be dead.”
“Really?” Doctor asked sarcastically. “Then why did you call 911?”
Lance just stared at her from his hospital bed. He didn’t recall that. Why would he swallow those pills and then call for help? He was confused. Was there a part of him that yearned to live? Whatever it was, he felt the dark despair of loneliness surround him once again and tears fell from his eyes despite his efforts to stop. His hands covered his face in the shame of it. His ribs stung with each sob, but that only made the tears fall faster. The doctor patted him on his shoulder and left the paper on his nightstand. Then she left quietly.
Lance arrived at the Clinic to meet with Nyla Evans who was in charge of the consoling. She was a tall light skinned black woman in her mid- 30’s. She looked strong and her face looked like she was all business. Her scowl met Lance square on. He held out his hand, but she didn’t take it.
“Oxley,” Nyla began, “sorry, but I am not a trusting person when it comes to murders.”
“I understand,” Lance murmured.
“I don’t care if you understand or not,” she returned. “You are here for the same reason as all these other cases are here for. That is help. Whether you believe you are cured or not, I don’t care. I have read your case study from your probation officer. I can’t say I remember you like some others that will see you in that room today.” She pointed to a room full of folding chairs. There was an elevated podium in the front with a microphone attached to it. It was pretty much what Lance had envisioned. Nyla continued, “You will listen and I hope you will learn something. I want you to get up when you are called upon and talk about what happened to you. None of these people get to hear a killer talk.”
Lance looked down to the ground and shuffled his feet. The word ‘killer’ hurt him more than he was letting on. It stung as much as the kick to ribs he received from his daughter’s partner in assault. Visions of his wife falling backwards flooded his mind. He suppressed the emotion rising in him to cry again. The Prozac was suppressing his depression somewhat. The doctors thought it was necessary he find a psychologist, and take the drug until the therapist thought it was time for him to stop. All of this was relayed to his probation officer and he approved it.
“Yes Mrs. Evans,” Lance said.
“It is not Mrs. anything,” Nyla corrected. “Just call me Nyla like everyone else. Now I won’t expect you to feel comfortable up there, but just tell it like it is. It will hit home on some of them. Your story is one that needs to be told. I want you to sit in the front row, left side so you don’t have to go through anyone and because of your height you won’t block anyone’s view from over there. Any questions?”
“No Nyla,” Lance said softly.
“You are pretty soft spoken for a murderer. I hope you will raise that volume up a notch for the group. Go grab some coffee or soda and have yourself a seat. They will be coming in slowly for the next 20 minutes.”
“Thanks,” Lance said a little louder for her benefit. He grabbed some water and watched the group trickle in. There were mostly men and some came in couples. When it was his time to say his piece he found himself nervous in front of these strangers. He wanted to turn and run, but he had been convinced that it was the right thing to do. Some people whispered in response to the announcement of his name. He was a celebrity of sorts here and it was not a status he relished. He made his way up to the podium with the shakiest of knees and made his speech.
“Hi, my name is Lance Oxley,” he stated clearing his throat. “If some of you don’t know me all ready, I am an ex-convict who just recently served a sentence for manslaughter and first degree assault. I killed my wife. I didn’t mean to kill her, but because I was drunk with rage, my actions led to her death. I often slapped her and pushed her around. Sometimes I would tug roughly on her arm or hair. I was no doubt a bully. I thought being a man, strong and all gave me privileges. I thought God had given me the right to boss a woman around. To do anything I wanted without repercussion. When I was drunk I felt more powerful. I didn’t feel like taking any shit from no one, especially anyone who didn’t obey my words. My wife. Hell, I loved her, and here I was treating her like a piece of meat. I don’t know when I started to turn on her. I guess I liked the power I got from her obedience. She was scared of me and I felt it. That made me into some kind of God. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe the alcohol made me do things, maybe it was all ready in me. I killed her and that gave me 24 years to think about it, and to sober my thoughts. That is what I did. I thought about it. Everyday I thought about that moment when I grabbed my wife’s hair as she tried to escape me. She tried to run away and I didn’t let her. I grabbed her hair and yanked her back to me. She fell backwards and hit her head right on the night table by the bed. With her hair still tightly gripped in my hand, I saw my 3-year-old daughter staring at me. It is an image I will never forget and let me tell you, I know now she hasn’t forgotten.