Shackles

Free Shackles by Bill Pronzini

Book: Shackles by Bill Pronzini Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bill Pronzini
Tags: Fiction
full of rain. Break open pretty soon, dump rain like gray piss on the rest of the day.
    I can’t keep still. Cold in here, the air smells of rain even in here, I need to move around. I’m not going to write any more, pointless to keep writing crap like this.
    Gray piss all over the rest of the day.

----
The Seventh Day
----
    Yesterday was bad, the worst since I’ve been here, and today doesn’t look much better. More dark clouds, more rain—it hasn’t stopped raining since yesterday noon.
    I’m still edgy, depressed. It’s getting to me, all of it, the weather, the chain and the leg iron, the short rations, the staticky radio,
all
of it, and I can’t seem to break the mood. Dangerous frame of mind, I
know
it is, I know I’ve got to snap out of it, but how? How? I did an hour’s worth of nonstop exercises this morning, then paced and paced and paced until I was fatigued, but the workout didn’t seem to have any effect on me mentally. I don’t even want to eat. My belly is screaming for food but the thought of food makes my throat close up. I’ve
got
to eat, though. Got to keep my strength up.
    Frigging weather. Why doesn’t it stop raining?
     
    I keep wondering if he’ll be back.
    Nearly a week now since he left. And he said he wouldn’t come again until he was sure I was dead. But will he be able to stay away that long? The whole purpose of this prison is to make me suffer, right? A man who hates that deeply, who craves revenge that much—wouldn’t he want to keep tabs on his victim, get a firsthand look at some of the suffering? Seems likely he would. He’d have to have tremendous will power not to. And wouldn’t he want to make sure I hadn’t found some way to get free, no matter how escape-proof he thinks this place is? If I were him I wouldn’t be able to sleep night after night for as long as four months if there was even the remotest chance of my prisoner getting loose, coming after me.
    But I could never be a man like him, so how can I know what goes on in a mind like his? Maybe he’s completely satisfied that there’s no way for me to escape. And maybe just the
thought
of my suffering is enough for him.
    Still. Still, there’s a chance he’ll come back. I
want
him to, because then I might be able to gull him into believing I’m sick, catch him off guard that way. He wasn’t careless before, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be maneuvered into making a mistake. Oh yes, I want him to come back, I want him to make a mistake, I want to get my hands on him.
    I want to kill him.
    Only one other person I’ve felt that way about. Man named Emerson who hired a gunman to take out Eberhardt a few years ago. I happened to be with Eb at his house when the gunman showed up and both of us got shot, Eberhardt so seriously that he almost died. I tracked Emerson down with every intention of canceling his ticket—only he was dead when I caught up with him, dead of a freak accident, and it came as a relief because I didn’t have to put myself to the test after all, find out if I really was capable of cold-blooded murder when the moment of truth arrived. Now, looking back on that time, I
know
I would not have been able to kill Emerson. All my life I’ve lived and worked within the law. And I’ve seen too much torn and bleeding flesh, too much death and dying, to want to inflict that kind of indecency on another human being.
    But this is different. What the whisperer has done to me isn’t human;
he
isn’t human. He’s a dangerous animal, a mad dog. And I
can
kill a mad dog—I know that just as surely as I know I wouldn’t have been able to destroy Emerson.
    Every man has his price in murder, just as he has his price in wealth or power or love. When the mad dog locked me in these chains we both found mine.

----
The Tenth Day
----
    My daily routine is well established now, some of it by choice and some of it dictated by the contents and confines of my cell.
    Wake up around seven, get up immediately.

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