GUILTY— “I shouldn’t have.”

GUILTY— "I shouldn't have."

“I shouldn’t have done it! I shouldn’t have! What was I thinking! I shouldn’t have done it!”

He muttered to himself over and over again. His inmates had by now, gotten used to his ramblings. He was unlike them in every way, with his fluent English, his neat appearance when he first came in, and even his eyes were not the eyes of a criminal. So, how did he get here? What was he looking for amongst hardened criminals? What exactly did he do?

Before all of this happened, Joromi was a guy who seemed to have life figured out. He was going to get his degree in Sociology, then go on for his Masters. He’d get married in five years time to a beautiful lady who probably studied French. They’d have pretty children together, seeing as he wasn’t lacking in good looks, and neither would she. And together, they would change the world! Yes, his plans were a little bit surreal, but at least they were plans and in this world of uncertainty, plans, no matter how little, gave your life some form of direction. Or at least, that’s what he thought.

His hands firmly gripped the prison bars as hot tears streamed down his eyes. He couldn’t stand himself. He remembered her eyes even as she pleaded no. Her screams tortured him every night. Sleep? Joromi had forgotten what sleep was because every time he closed his eyes on the flea-infested prison bed, he saw her face. He saw her tearful eyes. She begged him with anything and everything but he would not listen. He just wanted to have his way. And now, he had done it. He had put an end to an innocent woman’s life.

“Arrgh! Why?! Why?! Why did I do it?!” He had woken up his inmates again. The other criminals couldn’t stand him anymore. It was one thing for them to be confined to a prison cell for a long time, it was another thing for them to share that prison cell with a mentally deranged man. The authorities were looking into transferring him to a psychiatric hospital, but Joromi couldn’t care less. As far as he was concerned, he deserved nothing lesser than death. He deserved to die.

He never believed in demons or spiritual beings but that had to be the only explanation. He always got angry at people who after committing some heinous crime, chose to blame it on the devil. He always thought they were stupid liars who wouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. But now, he knew there had to be a devil somewhere. Demons must have possessed him because he really couldn’t have done it in his right mind.

His unstable mind took him back to the day he destroyed two lives.

“Joromi, I’m on my way o. Cook something sweet for me.” Linda said, over the phone.
“Mama, come and cook by yourself jare. Me, I just want to see your face.” He laughed and they hung up.

Linda was his secondary school best friend, and they were finally reuniting after 10 years. He wondered what she would look like. Even as he lay on his bed, his mind imagined her in various forms. Would she be taller? Would she be shorter? He had noticed that girls seemed to get even shorter as they grew up. He couldn’t wait to laugh at her if she had grown shorter. He quickly looked around his room and noticed its messy state for the first time in a long time. She couldn’t see him this way. He began working in a frenzied hurry and had barely come out of the shower when his phone rang. Linda. She was at the door. He hurried into a pair of shorts and T-shirt and went to meet her.

He wasn’t prepared for what he saw. She had completely changed. His Linda had grown into a beautiful woman with more flesh in all the right places. Wow!

“Baba, close your mouth and welcome me in na. Is this how I taught you?” She laughed and he apologized.

They talked all the way in and attempted to catch up on lost times. All the time, Joromi couldn’t stop staring. She was too attractive. Just her lips, he thought. Just a small friendly kiss.

“Joromi, do you remember that day you proposed to Shayo in the class?” She was laughing again, but he hadn’t heard her. He just wanted a kiss.

“Joromi!” She called him but he wasn’t listening.
“Joromi!” she called again, this time louder.
“Yes.” He came back to his senses.
“Have you even been listening to me?” she asked the befuddled guy.

“Linda, you’re so beautiful.” He confessed and stroked her arm gently.
“Thank you.” she said, and brushed his arm away. She glanced at her wristwatch.

“Wow. Is that the time? I really have to be going. My husband would be wondering where I am.” She stood up from the bed.

“That’s sad. This your husband sef. Alright, can you give me one hug before you leave?” He beckoned to her to come closer. He was still on the bed.

“Sure.” She bent over and hugged him. They had hugged for a while and it was now time for her to leave.
“Joromi, I have to go.” He heard her but he couldn’t let her go. He kissed her.

She looked at him in surprise and gave him one slap on the face.

“I’m leaving.” She stood up again.

“No, you’re not.” He said and locked the door and that’s where his problems began. He dragged her back to the bed, kissing her forcefully, despite her pleas.

“Joromi, don’t do this. Don’t do this.” She was crying now.

He took his pillow to silent her screams, until she made no more sound. He ravished her, enjoying every bit of it. He failed to notice that she had gone limp below him. When his cravings were satisfied, he suddenly came back to himself.

“Linda. I’m sorry.” He stood up, expecting her to make some form of movement but she just lay there, lifeless.

“Linda. I know I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.” He shook her, but her body had grown cold and she wasn’t responding.
“Linda! Linda!” He didn’t stop tapping her. He ran to the bathroom and doused her face in cold water but she wasn’t waking up. He had killed her! He was a murderer. He had killed her.

He took his phone and dialled a number.
“I killed her. She’s dead. I didn’t mean to kill her.” He muttered his address and his phone fell to the ground. Hia world was spiralling around him. He had killed her. He killed her. He hoped it was a dream, but it wasn’t. The policemen came and bundled him to their station.

“Murderer!” They spat at him.

“I shouldn’t have done it. Why did I do it? Why?!”

His unstable mind took him to another unpleasant memory; the sound of the Judge’s gavel as he pronounced him, “Guilty!”

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