Yellow Brick Road
The look said it all. Chris Keller physically recoiled from the hateful glance he received as Tobias Beecher passed him by. There was so much he needed to say. So much that had to be explained, but it didn’t look like Beecher was much interested in explanations right now.
How the hell had they ended up this way?
Everything had been so perfect when he’d left Oz for Cedar Junction. For the first time in his life, he’d done something he felt proud of. He was taking the fall for Toby, and his sacrifice made him feel special. Even though he was sure he’d never see Toby again, Chris knew that he’d made a difference to the only person in his life that he’d ever really loved.
Fuck, if he’d known that sacrifice could feel so good, he’d have joined the priesthood.
Chris returned to his cell, the noise of unit B melting into nothingness as his grief ate into him.Toby thought Chris had ruined his parole, just to get him back here. Just so that Christopher Keller wouldn’t feel so fucking deserted, and alone. He had to make Toby realize that he’d done it for the best of reasons. That he needed him, he loved him, and he just wanted to protect him.
What if...what if Toby didn’t forgive him this time? What if even Tobias Beecher had his limits?
No, he wasn’t going to think about that. Toby loved him, he’d understand, when he knew the details.
Chris could hear the voice in the distance; he knew that the devil was closing in. He sat back on his bunk and shook out the kinks from his magazine. Suddenly a familiar face appeared at the doorway.
“How the fuck did Beecher end up back in here so soon?” Schillinger hissed.
“How the fuck do I know?” Chris replied irritably.
“Why do I think you had something to do with it?” Schillinger moved into the cell and suddenly grabbed the magazine from Chris’s hand. “You still protecting that little prag?”
“If I was, why would I want him back in here?”
Cold blue eyes sliced into Chris as Schillinger bore down on him. “I don’t know, lonesome maybe?”
“He got me off death row, some thanks it would be getting him shipped back to Oz, huh? What kind of a fucking sociopath do you think I am?”
Schillinger snorted, “Oh I know what kind of a sociopath you are, boy,” he smiled coldly.
Chris let an equally cold smile play across his lips, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a lot to do. Busy schedule n’all,” he drawled. He watched as Schillinger wandered out of the cell, and tried not to noisily let out the breath he was holding.
No one knew that he’d overheard Schillinger’s plan to have Toby kidnapped and murdered. Only a few of the most trusted Aryans knew about the plan, and Chris was fully aware that he was a dead man if Schillinger found out he’d gotten Toby hauled back into Oz to save his life.
What else could he do? Like the police were going to believe that this wild plot was being orchestrated from within a prison? The only way that Toby would be safe was if he was in Em City, and out of Schillinger’s grasp. Only then could Chris conceive a new, and painful way to remove Schillinger from the equation for good.
He’d done the right thing, he was sure of it. Dear old Vern wasn’t so stupid as to have any harm come to Toby right on his doorstep. No, he wanted it all to happen outside, in some dark alley somewhere. With Toby back in Oz, it gave Chris breathing space, and time to think.
Suddenly, a feeling of immense guilt washed over him, and he shuddered when he thought about how Toby must be feeling right now.
The man he loved had betrayed him.
It wasn’t too late to put things right, Chris had to believe that, but how the hell do you explain something that was playing out like a cheap Hollywood script, to a man who felt betrayed?
He had to hang on to the thought that someday Toby would understand. If he didn’t, there was no point in living.
It had been three days, and still Chris had received no word from Toby. He’d sent a message with a pretty reliable source, but there was nothing returned. Not even a ‘fuck you, Keller’, or thirty pieces of silver, tied up in a hanging noose.
Making a decision, Chris approached the hack on duty. He needed to be careful, he didn’t want to alert Schillinger to what he was doing.
“I want to talk to McManus,” he said quietly.
The guard looked him up and down, “What about?”
“That’s between him and me,” Chris hissed angrily.
“You in love with him now, eh, Keller?”
Chris bit his tongue. This new hack, Friedlund was a real piece of work. He couldn’t risk telling the guy anything, just in case he was mixed up with the Aryans the way Metzger was.
“Hey, I owe him a blowjob, now let me see him!”
Making a face, and pretty much taking Chris at his word, the hack shoved him away, “Go fuck yourself, Keller.”
“You can’t make that decision, I want to see him!”
“You want a week in the hole, too?”
Chris knew that was a bad move. In the hole, he couldn’t protect Toby, and more importantly, he couldn’t get to him to explain. “Hey, I can make it worth your while,” Keller said in a whisper, and fished out a small roll of bills from the side of his shoe.
The hack glared for a moment, then snatched the money from his fingers. “Just a minute.” After making a brief phone call, Friedlund called to Chris, “Keller, McManus ain’t back ‘til tomorrow, you can see him then. Now go fuck, and keep your mouth shut ‘til then!”
With a satisfied smile, Chris strutted off, back to his cell. He’d used all the spare cash he had, but if he could get to McManus and explain, it would be worth it. The frustration at having to wait gnawed at his stomach, as he dropped down on his bunk, but for once in his life, he had to be patient.
His sixth sense told him that someone had followed him back to the cell, and he wasn’t altogether surprised to see Schillinger appear at his door once more.
“What do you want?” Chris asked.
“I just thought I’d should apologize. I found out that Beecher got busted on possession of controlled substances. No big fucking surprise, weak, junkie little whore that he is. I guessed he’d crawl right back into a bottle once he got out of here, but drugs do the same shit I guess?” Schillinger half smiled.
“What the fuck’s that got to do with me?” Chris replied with a yawn.
“I accused you of something you didn’t do. Thought I should apologize.”
“Well, that’s fucking big of you, Vern! Since when did you give a shit about ‘the truth’? You found Jesus again?” Chris mocked, shooting Schillinger his best sarcastic smile.
Schillinger’s eyes narrowed, “You’re an ungrateful little fuck, Keller. Always was, I seem to remember?”
“Never stopped you sticking your cock up my ass, did it Vern? You, the ambassador for straight, white America, and family fucking values. A scared seventeen year old was just hors d’oeurves for you, ain’t that right, Verny boy?”
“I didn’t come here to fight with you, Keller, I came here to say ‘sorry’. Serves me right for thinking that’d mean shit to a twisted fuck like you!”
Schillinger roared suddenly.
Chris smirked, “Hey, I’m touched by your concern, but, face it, you and me ain’t destined to be best buddies. So let’s quit pretending, huh?”
Schillinger stood in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. His sharp blue eyes bored into Chris like steely shanks.
“I don’t see why we can’t call a truce. Past is past.”
“Nothing is ever ‘past’ to you, Vern, I know you, remember? I ain’t that seventeen year old any more. I wised up real fast. Rape does that for ya.”
Nostrils flaring with barely contained anger, Schillinger nodded, “Okay, if that’s the way you want it,” he snarled, and walked away.
Chris let out a breath. That was the test. He was telling the truth, he did know Schillinger. And he knew that any easy alliances would have been met with suspicion and a shank in the gut. Schillinger was a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. If he’d volunteered to be snuggle buddies with the Aryans, Schillinger would have instantly known that he was lying about
Beecher. All that mattered was that Toby was safe, and Schillinger was following the red herring. Chris smiled to himself; he should write a book like Hill, only his would be a thriller, full of twists in the plot. Oh Yeah, he’d be the hero, and Toby would see that everything happened for a reason. There’d be a few deaths- mostly Aryan in nature, and a big happy ending, with Toby forgiving him, and understanding why he’d done what he’d done. They’d be together and no one would fuck up this time.
So what? It’d be a fucking fairytale.
Settling down for a restless night, Chris convinced himself that he was in control of the situation. Tomorrow he’d straighten out all the misunderstandings, and this horrible mess would be over.
First step on the path to forgiveness, and the first tentative footstep on the yellow brick fucking road home...