Written by Evermore
There was a certain amount of irony in it, Tim Bayliss thought.
He glanced at the window, but all he could see before him
was gray sky. Not that the bars escaped his notice, but they
carried no consequence. Nor did the bars on the front wall,
those that faced the front corridor. It was another day, a new
day, and that was all that mattered.
Once upon a time, Bayliss would have been standing tall on
the other side of these bars, the outsider looking down upon
the criminal. Now, he was the outsider and the criminal both,
concurrently, forcing him to somehow look down upon himself
with disapproval. Sometimes it was hard not to do that; old
habits died hard, the habits of a lifetime of pain. It seemed, after
all, not much had changed in the past six years.
Since his arrest.
Ultimately, since sentence had been passed upon him.
Frank Pembleton had been there for some of it, but not for all.
After taking him in, listening to one last confession, giving in to
his strident demand for justice, even as his own nerves cried out,
Frank had made not a sound, remaining silent throughout the booking
process, watching his fallen colleague and former partner write
Ryland's murder as solved with a frown, an expression tinged
with the barest hint of sadness. Then, he had vanished, leaving
Bayliss to the officers and the their own expressions of shock
and betrayal. Frank had come and gone throughout the trial
like a ghost of homicides past, a dark angel of vengeance
waving a flaming sword before him, urging a fallen cop to
his fate, whatever it may be.
Pembleton had likely been the driving force behind Tim's
lawyer, an overworked and overstressed public defender
with a newly-minted degree who'd only read about
capital cases and never dreamed of defending one. Even
though some older man in a wrinkled suit from the D.P. division
for the P.D.'s office sat next to her in the courtroom and led
her by the hand through some of the case, Tim had no concerns.
He knew exactly how this would all end. True, she was a nice
girl, who worked hard and did her best, but Tim really didn't want
her help. He had no doubt that they had conspired to create an
insanity defense rolling and motions for incompetency this and
diminished capacity that. Since Tim knew he hadn't mentioned his
history of abuse or his suicidal feelings or any of the other things
that had been forced to the surface, that left only Frank to have
told the lawyers.
Still, it was nice to know that Frank still cared for him on some
level. His own personal angel of Justice, seeing that Tim got
some Truth back to him, as he deserved.
Tim tried not to think about the past, choosing instead to wrap
himself in the quilts of his present time. Star quilts all, but they
carried with them the warmth of comfort and life and joy to one
who walked a dead man. A dead man who still breathed.
All because he had lost control of his emotions, something he
fought with daily, something he had struggled to tame,
something he had tried over and over again in his quest to be
like Frank. His partner was so cool, so collected, so
completely in control, a statue of earth and ice made flesh
and breathing; Tim envied that ability to shut one's emotions
down, to channel them through a frozen exterior, saving the
explosion for a time and a place to minimize casualties. He
himself, on the other hand, found himself created from water and
fire, mutable -- all change, shifting opposites like his thoughts,
flowing like a stream, flickering in and out of existence like a flame,
unpredictable as chaos' chasms themselves but obeying certain
laws and thus staying within certain boundaries of action.
Until then, until that day, those laws turned on their ears and
cried with the pain.
Ryland had said, gleeful in his slaughter, that he was going to
New Orleans, now that he was free. Free as a vulture, he had
said, and then he just laughed. Laughed cruelly, his joy ringing
death knells to the unsuspecting, to the unknowing. Look for
my work, Ryland had gloated, look for my work coming to a web
browser near you. It was the last straw. All at once the camel's
back and Tim's fragile temper snapped with one blow and there
was a sound loud like a ringing bang of heavy books on a marble
countertop and a thump of a heavy bag hitting the ground and
someone was laughing somewhere and a light scent of iron and
jasmine and cordite and the gun was floating in his hand and it
was over and Ryland was dead.
The bastard was dead.
Tim knew he also had died in that same moment, that same
breath, but then he hadn't known nor cared. Frank believed
that he lacked a killer's instinct, he had even said so, but he
was wrong. Killing required no instincts; it required only luck
and skill. Killing required no special gifts, there was no secret
clubhouse, no special handshake, no decoder rings.
When he first joined Homicide, Tim had been excited to finally
be a thinking cop; 'no guns,' he remembered saying, with all
the exuberance he'd had then, 'this,' and then he'd tapped the
side of his head. Fate truly was a fickle bitch. Luck was
all he'd needed after all. Tim had found himself thinking of killing
Darrin Russom, who got Ryland and so many others off the hook,
technicalities be damned.
Fuck the law.
What about justice?
So Tim had handed down justice and so in turn would justice
be handed down upon him. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
The end, it is at hand.
So it was, so it would be. Maybe he really was every bit as
crazy as his public defender had tried in vain to prove, after all.
Tim almost looked forward to the carrying out of his sentence.
To the execution of his execution, as it were.
Even though Ryland had been scum and Bayliss a fairly
well-decorated cop, the jury had been neither forgiving nor
sympathetic. The judge had been appalled at the defendant's
actions and had entered his holy wrath into the record.
"A rogue cop," he had intoned, "is as dangerous to
the public as a rabid dog and should be similarly treated."
At least Tim could look forward to a new experience, death, the
land from whence no traveller returned to tell how the land does
lie. Zen taught the seeker to embrace new things, to live in the
moment. To always move forward. "Every day is a good day;
every hour is a good hour."
Start anew, begin again.
Accentuate the positive, like they used to say, back in the bad
Tim also believed there was another good thing about being
put out of his misery -- and, like he'd told Frank, he'd been
unhappy for a long time -- it meant that his way out would be
relatively quick and easy. Lethal injection was supposed to be
a nice way out, like going to sleep one last time. A killer sleep
aid, a permanent vacation, and, yes, those 'rabid dog'
comparisions really piled up when you weren't looking. Good
thing too, since the gas chamber's sickroom-yellowish clear-block
see-through construction looked uncomfortably like the Box for
his taste. Smaller, strangely intimate, but no less deadly.
How ironic was it that his own trial, all and all, for Ryland's murder
took less than two years -- the city of Baltimore wanted to have it
over and done with as soon as possible, to sweep the memories
away as soon as they could -- but Ryland couldn't seem to get his
trial started for love or money? Such is the mysteries of the
justice system, he supposed. On the other hand, if Ryland's trial
had gone forward without a hitch, well, Tim wouldn't have found
himself in this mess to begin with.
Ignoring the required appeals as much as possible, vaguely
catching references to 'unable to participate in his own defense'
and 'suicidal tendencies' and even 'passive-aggressive
personality' but not really caring about any of it, Tim waited for
the inevitable, knowing the prisoners would be happy to see him
go and knowing he would not care whatever happened. None
of them liked him -- he was a cop, one of the enemy -- but a
former cop, a rogue cop, the most untrustworthy of the trustworthy,
but they seemed to leave him alone, ignoring each other in silence.
Prisoners hated it when executions were carried out, but Tim
suspected that no one much would care when it was his turn.
Guards liked him even less than the prisoners did; after all, he was
supposed to be one of them on the other side of the bars. Tim
thought he could understand that, some of the time.
Other times he wasn't so sure.
None of it mattered, all of it lacked meaning and permanence.
Tim spent his myriad free time on Death Row reading books,
writing on every piece of paper that didn't fight back, and thinking
what he hoped were deep thoughts. Uppermost in his mind was
finishing a series of final letters to important people -- Lewis,
Kellerman, Frank, Howard, Munch, Ballard, even Gee -- trying to
explain his actions as best he could, confessions for a Zen
Buddhist to his nonbelieving friends. At least, he could try to
put his motives in some perspective for them. Even if they didn't
need to know the why, he needed to tell it to them, so they would
understand despite themselves.
He hoped that Frank would burn Gee's letter as requested. Burning
would send the letter floating up to Gee, where it could be read; at
least, that's what Tim had heard. Whether his partner would actually
do so, well, that was anyone's guess. Tim really hoped, most
importantly, that Frank read the letter intended for him. There was
so much he needed to say, so much Frank needed to hear, finally,
to really hear the intentions behind the words and not just the
syllables themselves. Tim needed closure, and knew that Frank
needed it also. They had written each other but briefly, speaking of
trivialities and pleasantries, but not of the important things they
needed to say to each other.
A river of blood now separated them, each standing on opposite
banks. Both stretched, aching, reaching for the other but unable
to make that proper balance so their fingers could touch and spark
the creation of life that made them. Tim understood it now. The
balance of Bayliss and Pembleton was wrong because their
fulcrum -- their point of ending, of understanding -- had been turned
on its side. In order to balance, Tim knew, they needed to depend
on each other. Each was the other's fulcrum, the other's horizon,
and where they met, they burned in creation.
None of this, however, made anything that happened Frank's fault.
Tim just wanted him to know why they were the right fit. Why they
felt so in tune even when they spoke in two different languages
on two different frequencies.
When it mattered, their points turned naturally toward each other.
It mattered now, or it would, soon. Frank needed to be there, to
help him one last time, to help him find his way home. Tim knew,
in his heart, that Frank would be there, not to watch him die, but
to ease his way. His partner would not flinch, instead deciding to
celebrate in public silence and mourn in private grief.
It would be a new beginning.
For both of them.