Six Months to Life
“I know what I’m gonna do,” I say to my friends, my words falling sideways out of my mouth. “I’m gonna go in there, and get us some beer!”
It’s just past midnight on New Year’s Eve and the entire town is lit up. Everyone is out having a good time, but my friends and I are out of beer and money. I stumble, drunk, toward the gas station and hear them cheering me on from behind.
I stroll down the beer aisle and yank the cold door open. I pick up a six-pack of cheap beer and turn to walk out of the store, but the cashier is looking at me. I walk up to the counter and hold the beer up into the air.
“I’m taking this beer,” I slur, and I look down to a pack of cigarettes. I quickly grab them and look at the woman in line. “These too!” I declare.
“Those are my cigarettes,” I hear the lady say, behind me, as I walk out the door.
“Hey! I’m talking to you,” she says, louder. “Those are my cigarettes!”
I turn around and she is outside, a few feet behind me. I shove the pack into my pocket and pull out my knife.
“Back off, lady! Now they are mine!” I yell.
She steps back, cautiously, fear flashing in her eyes, and I leave the parking lot to join my friends and enjoy the fruit of my labor.
A few minutes later a squad car pulls up in front of our little New Year’s Eve celebration. The turning sirens color the city street red and blue as a policeman walks toward us.
“Those are cute little shorts, Mr. Police Officer,” I say, trying to have some fun, but he is not in the mood. Five minutes later he puts me in the car, handcuffed, and drives me to the station.
* * * * *
I slump down into the chair and glance up at the judge. He is looking down at the papers on the bench, over the rim of his glasses, and I know that he is reading my rap sheet, my forty-three arrests, my numerous convictions, and my seven years in jail. He looks up and thinks for a second.
“Mr. Gist, it says here you are being charged with two felony counts of armed robbery and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.”
I stole ten dollars worth of beer and cigarettes and they have me up for felony charges. I still couldn’t believe it.
“I am finding you guilty on all charges, Mr. Gist. You could face up to six years in jail for these crimes, but I’m ordering you to serve six months in state prison. I want you to use the time wisely and think about your life.”
|next page >>|