The Most Beautiful Story – III


It was the clicking that made Harrison restless.

“Hey,” he called out from the cell he occupied. “What is that clicking sound? “

No response.

“Sounds like it could be trouble with your furnace.”

No response.

“I work at a heating and air-conditioning place. I could check it out for you.”

This earned a somewhat derisive laughter from the corner of the cell. “Yeah,” a voice said. “They aren’t going to let you out of the cell to look at their furnace system. Just sit down and shut up.”

This made Harrison more determined. “Seriously, I can look at your system.”

No response.

He finally acquiesced to the silence and sat down on the bench. But he tried to sit as far away as a possible from the other occupant.

His cell-mate laughed again. “You can’t really get away from me, can you?”

Harrison took a deep breath. “Seems like I can’t.”

“Who would have thought the two of us would be sharing a jail cell?” The other asked.

Harrison ignored him.

“Harrison and Clyde, sitting in jail together. Because of each other. Well, mostly you.

Harrison focused on the clicking noise again. It was much less irritating than listening to his old nemesis, Clyde.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Clyde asked.

Harrison was pretty sure out of everything this was it was not ironic. Another one of life’s cruel jokes on him, sure. Ironic? No.

Harrison thought of what had brought them here together. Sitting in jail. He was in his second year of college. Once he realized his dad had checked out of the family, he went to work studying. He studied and worked hard in school to earn a scholarship.

The scholarship was for math and he decided to pursue an engineering career. He had not forgotten Mrs Carrington’s faith that he held the most beautiful story inside of him. He just needed a solid career choice so that he could take care of himself and his mother. The story would have to wait while he focused on survival.

But, he did need to take some English general courses. He figured since Mrs Carrington thought he was a story teller, a natural choice would be a creative writing class. Imagine his surprise when on the first day of class he discovered Clyde was in the same class. Clyde, who had gone away to school out of state with much fanfare, had since flunked out of that school and was back. Back in town. Back in his school. Back in his class.

This was college though so Harrison did his best to avoid Clyde at all costs. Which worked out pretty well for four weeks until they were both in the library at the same time.

It was a big library. When he saw Clyde lounging on a chair, he went down the hall, across the way, into a room and shut the door. But Clyde was part predator. He found Harrison and sat next to him in the room.

“Hey,” Clyde whispered in a not soft voice. “Pretty crazy we have the same class, eh?”

Harrison ignored him.

“Didn’t know you were a writer though. You got all those math scholarships, didn’t you? Wouldn’t have fancied you as a writer at all.”

Harrison attempted to read the same paragraph again.

“I’m a writer though,” Clyde continued as if he were having a conversation. “Or I will be.”

Harrison continued his best effort at reading and ignoring.

“You remember Mrs Carrington? She told me I am destined to be a storyteller. She said I have the most beautiful story in me that I need to share.”

Harrison broke the pencil in his hand and looked at Clyde. Was he messing with him? Those were her words to him. Did Clyde somehow overhear that conversation? It didn’t make sense.

At that moment, another student walked into the room. Harrison recognized her at once. She was in his statistics class. He couldn’t help but stare as she smiled at them. “Sorry,” she said. “Didn’t know this room was occupied.” She ducked out before he could say anything.

Clyde watched him. “She’s cute.”

Harrison glared at Clyde

“Maybe I’ll ask her out.” Clyde didn’t actually get to finish the whole statement because Harrison’s fist connected with his cheek midway through.

And that was that. Harrison unleashed a decade’s worth of anger on Clyde. They tumbled out of the room and down the hall. It took campus security to pull the two apart. Since it was a Friday afternoon, security promptly delivered them to local police.

That is how Harrison came to sit in a jail cell with Clyde. Far from ironic but super annoying.

They sat in silence for a few minutes until the clicking sound made Harrison stand up again.

“They aren’t going to let you look at their furnace system,” Clyde drawled. “Relax.” Harrison refused to sit down again but he refrained from offering his help anymore. “First time in jail?” Clyde asked.

Harrison nodded.

Clyde stood up and walked to him. “It’s a privilege sir, to be the cause of your undoing.” He held out his hand to shake.

“This isn’t funny,” Harrison batted the offered hand away. “I could lose my scholarship over this. Then what? This job is only supposed to get me through school, not be my life’s vocation.”

“Wow,” Clyde said making the one syllable ooze with sarcasm. “You risked it all for what? To knock me around a bit?” He smiled. “It felt good, didn’t it? Feels like that was a few years of annoyance coming through those two fists of yours today.”

Harrison shrugged. “More like ten years.”

“Ten years?” Clyde asked surprised. “You sure?”

“A little more than ten years, yeah.”

“You sure about that? Most people let me have it a lot sooner. That must be some kind of record.” He said it straight faced but with a playful tone. The tone was not lost on Harrison and the two started laughing. “Look, I’m sorry for the way I treated you in school. But really, if you had let me have it sooner we could have been best friends by now.”

“You’re blaming me for you being a bully to me?” Harrison asked slowly.

Clyde shrugged his shoulders. “I am pretty messed up. Have some thinking errors. That’s what they call them, ‘thinking errors.’ I had to attend a group to learn some corrective thinking patterns.” He sat down again.

“Did it work?” Harrison asked.

“Eh, this is not my first night in jail so…”he shrugged his shoulders, “the jury is still out on that one.”

“I am sorry I hit you,” Harrison said.

“No, you’re not. Am I the only person you have ever hit?”

“Well, yeah,” Harrison said.

“I wouldn’t have guessed it,” Clyde felt his swollen cheek. “If you do get tossed out of school, you could probably become a professional boxer.”

“No good,” Harrison said and sat down. “It takes me ten years to wind up for a punch.”

Clyde hooted and hollered over that joke. “That is a downside.” He winced in pain.

“You okay?” Harrison asked.

“I will be. I should thank you. Monday I will walk into class with a black eye. Chicks dig scars.”

“Smith,” a guard hollered. “You made bail.”

Clyde stood up. “Perks of having a rich dad. Don’t have to contemplate my actions for long.” The guard opened the cell door and let Clyde out. He looked at Harrison. “I am really sorry.” The guard led him out and Harrison was left alone with the clicking sound and his thoughts.

He thought of that girl in his class that peeked into the room at the library. Rachel. Her name is Rachel. At that moment, Harrison knew the most beautiful story would be about her. She was, by all accounts, the most beautiful story that could ever be told. If only he could tell it.

“Hey,” the guard said interrupting his thoughts. “You are free to go.”

He stood up confused.

“Charges have been dropped. Your buddy doesn’t want to make a statement. And thanks to a sizable donation to the school, also by your jail pal, the school has dropped charges. You get a second chance. Consider yourself lucky.” The guard seemed disappointed.

Harrison nodded and walked out. His first jail experience and his first reprieve were due to Clyde. Now, that did seem a bit ironic.

Next Chapter

Chapter II

2 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Story – III

  1. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Story – II | ck's days

  2. Pingback: The Most Beautiful Story – IV | ck's days

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