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Paranoia and prayers, Atonement ending part two

By Melissa IngoldsbyPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 6 min read
Paranoia and prayers, Atonement ending part two
Photo by Mario Heller on Unsplash

3rd, January 2005

California manhunt still underway from suspicious prison breakout, $5,000 reward for information offered by U.S. Marshal Service to lead to capture. (Becker Pictured below in court 2004, May 22)

John Becker(now aged twenty years), first charged under first degree murder, now charged under a lesser degree of second degree life for the murder of Barbara V. Jones, was found to be missing after a routine psychiatry appointment at a neighboring faculty at Theo Lacey Facility, a maximum security prison complex, on June 18th, 2004.

The guard and driver on duty that had transported the prisoner had no explanation for the escape, and with further investigation, police and witnesses had seen discrepancies between the scheduled dates and times for several prisoners and doctors switched by a technical glitch and overbooked. Last known witness to see John Becker was possibly near the San Ysidro Crossing, but was unconfirmed.

Please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s office for any information.(contact information below)


John saw the paper in a terrified haze as he skimmed over the hospital newspapers and magazines and saw the news story in the USA Today article in the new magazine.

This was the third day he was visiting his boyfriend in the coma ward, and was trying to distract himself by reading a magazine or newspaper.

He did get a piece of mail he was going to read to Edward. He was hoping it was going to stir something out of him and help him start to heal and wake up.

But that magazine did not work, in fact it had the worst and most opposite effect. He felt naked, seen and even more importantly, a risk to Edward and their entire future and life they built together. A blight, a blotted out ink mark on a suit, a speck on a perfect canvas, a pitch of thundery rain on a sunny day.

He was all the worst things of those ideas, and he felt like if he just ran, ran far away—to go back, even, that would make things instantly better. Back there, to prison.

“Maybe if I had been there this whole time, Edward would’ve been much better off—especially not being in that horrible car crash. Not running from the law. Still in the law, practicing like a pro and not committing felony breakouts to get me out of prison. Back with Delia. Back in a normal relationship. No more freak outs. No more episodes. No more crap from me,” he thought to himself as he clutched the USA Today magazine, his jaw clenched and his throat feeling sore and achy from off and on crying.

It was bad enough he had gotten offhand weird stares from coming and going paramedics bringing in new patients, especially one woman who gave him a particularly long, hard stare, but the fact that this freshly printed article about the manhunt for himself was still underway and very much not forgotten—he was beyond paranoid. He was scared, too.

Not for himself. For Edward. He knew that Edward risked so much for him and to lose it all on just being seen again at the hospital and then he’s gone—-

John bit his lip and squeezed Edward’s arm and then hand.

No,” he thought. “That can’t happen. Then what will happen when he wakes up? How will he know what happened? Then he’ll be all alone and raising our baby by himself and….”

John shook his head and put his messy brown hair around his ears, sighing in an exhausted way.

“Hey, sweetheart, it’s me, John,” he breathed in with a very tight whisper toward Edward’s ear. “Got the approval letter for our adoption request. So, apparently from what I read, which I actually have the letter here now,” John gently slides the folded letter near Edward’s palm, “your file will be forwarded for a facility number assignment and then will be returned to the Matching Coordinator…” John sighs and touches Edward’s cheek, admiring his now clean hair(he was allowed to help the nurse give Edward a sponge bath and change his clothes, turning him over to avoid bed sores, stretching him to keep his muscles in tact, etc.), and continues, “So, I am so sorry baby, but when I read all this, I had no idea, absolutely zilch-o, idea what this all meant… but, I looked into it, and I think it means you’ll be needing to schedule a home study soon. To see your strengths, weaknesses… and to also talk about the child’s needs.”

He felt himself trembling and wanting to cry again looking at the completely still and silent Edward. He had not even stirred.

“Oh God, baby, please..” he felt the new fresh tears leaking out as he laid his head on Edward’s hand. “Our new family is waiting. We need you. I need you.”

John was starting to feel the pull of utter desperation and agony rip at his entire being at the utter silence and non-responsive stillness of his boyfriend, the one he called his husband(even as they couldn’t legally get married), and the one he wanted to spend his life with and adopt a baby with.

It was then he was making a severe promise, and a prayer.

“If Edward wakes up, I’ll pay for my crime against Barbara. Please just have him wake up and I’ll turn myself in. I’ll atone the only way I know how. But just keep Edward healthy and safe and awake and alive and happy, and I promise I’ll do it, God.” He closed his eyes and clasped his hands over Edward’s and prayed to God silently but in the most serious manner. “He deserves a happy life with a good family. I don’t. I don’t. A life for a life. Please, God, hear my prayer, please Jesus, hear my voice and my heart and my love for Edward and my deep regret for what I did to Barbara. I still think back to that moment and I wish so badly I could take it back. She didn’t deserve it. I am so sorry for what I did and I want the opportunity to make it right.”

“Amen,” he says out loud, and feels his tears rushing down his face.

He lingers at Edward’s side for what seems like hours, the silence settling the moment and he almost starts to fall asleep near the bed, still holding Edward’s hand.

Suddenly there’s a knock to the door and John jumps up in a nervous flurry.

“Oh, so sorry to interrupt..” the nurse says with wide eyes at the startled reaction, “but I was wanting to know if you wanted lunch…”

John shook his head, taking in a trembling sigh.

“T-Thank you, but I’m okay..”

John is startled again. He almost falls down and topples over a chair.

The nurse doubles back, and blinks several times.

It was not John or the nurse who spoke.


Author note: catch up on Edward & John’s story here on Amazon Kindle Vella.


About the Creator

Melissa Ingoldsby

I write short stories and poetry. I hope you find yourself in between the spaces of my words.

My Patheos column profile on art history.

My zombie apocalypse novel I am Bexley has been published by Resurgence Novels and you can read it here.

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Comments (3)

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  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)2 months ago

    Great job ❤️

  • JBaz2 months ago

    No spoilers but the ending was great.

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    😱😱. Whaaaaat! That last part!!

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