The Serviceman, Chapter 23

23 — The Prisoner

As the Prisoner jumped out of the crew cab dump truck, the humidity and heat hit him like a ton of bricks. He was assigned to a prison work camp, (as per his and his attorney’s request), at his sentencing hearing. It had been the Prisoner’s third DUI within a year and driving on a suspended license that landed him in prison with a one year sentence. Working on the prison crew had given him a wake-up call and being out in the sunshine was a lot better than working in the kitchen in some prison camp. As he walked to the rear of the truck to release the tailgate, the sun had already made the handle uncomfortable to grasp with a bare hand and the Prisoner winced as he grasped the locking mechanism. He dropped the gate and climbed into the back of the dump to hand down the “Caution, State Prisoners Working” signs. As he handed the signs down to the other prisoners, the sweat was already running down his arms and face. He wiped his shirttail across his face, grabbed the box of contractor garbage bags and grasp handles and handed them down to the open hands of another prisoner. The guard was handing out the reflective safety vests as another guard handed out bottles of water to the prison crew. Their mission was to collect all the garbage alongside the entrance ramp to the Interstate in preparation for the mowing crew. During the summer months, they would be out here every other week and would fill numerous bags with the garbage the friendly citizens decided to toss out their windows. This would be the last week for the Prisoner, he had accumulated enough good days, attended the AA meetings in the evenings and had applied to the City for employment after his release. He had been accepted under a special program within the state after several interviews with the government heads. The Prisoner had attended college locally and had failed to remove himself from the college lifestyle but now he had decided he would walk the straight and narrow, even if his new position would be working with local city owned utility company. As the Prisoner started his trek alongside the entrance ramp, a noxious odor swept past him. The wildlife didn’t fair to well against the Interstate and he often had to remove dead animals before the mowing crew started their task. He looked around and didn’t see anything and wondered where it was. The odor subsided as he continued his walk along the ramp towards the Interstate and he let the thought pass. As he reached the Interstate, he turned and headed up the hill to clean out the site where most transients camp when they decide to stay the night. As he looked towards the top of the hill, he noticed Turkey Buzzards swarming around a carcass, slapping, jumping and pulling rotten pieces of flesh and intestines from the carcass. It looked like a large animal and he thought; “Great, we get to smell that for the rest of the day in the back of the truck”. The Prisoner had had to contend with Turkey Buzzards before and they can get feisty if they haven’t eaten regularly. As he neared the camp site, something appeared to be different. He saw human legs below the bodies of the Buzzards. As he got closer, one Turkey Buzzard flared his wings towards the Prisoner as he looked upon the carnage the Buzzards were inflicting on the corpse. The stomach area was wide open and most of the intestines were gone, the face had been picked apart and the smell of rotting flesh, diesel exhaust and the roar of the Interstate made him light headed. He turned and ran down the hill towards the on-ramp, turned, running, headed for the guard who was standing with a shotgun on his shoulder, looked at the Prisoner, as he collapsed on the shoulder of the on-ramp. (��k��

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