Jess Simpson walked out of the county jail into bright sunlight. He stopped and squinted his eyes against the suns glare. It was just past 11 p.m. and already sweltering hot. He watched the heat waves rise from the hot asphalt street in front of him. The grass was already dry and brown looking in the summer heat.
Jess looked in the small parking lot beside the jail then up and down the street. He sighed in resignation. He could see no one waiting to pick him up although in truth he had expected no one. He moved slowly to a bench in the shade of a tree beside the sidewalk. After one more look around he dejectedly took a seat. Jess watched the traffic moving slowly along the street for several minutes after he sat down. Even in the shade and gentle breeze he felt the heat. The rustling leafs overlaid the muted hum of traffic and buzzing of insects from time to time.
Jess sat with his arms on the back of the bench. Sweat beaded on his face and forehead before running down his cheeks. From time to time he wiped his face with his hands to remove the sweat. He could feel his clothes soaking up his sweat as they dampened in the sweltering heat and humidity. He was overdressed and knew it but he wore the only clothes he had available. It was January 24th when he had been sentenced to serve six months in jail for assault and battery. Now it was the end of July and the Midwest was sweltering in the midst of a normal summer drought. He heard a deputy say it was already 98 degrees outside while he was out processing from the jail. He believed it.
Jess merely sat and waited, watching traffic and the occasional pedestrian for the next 45 minutes. His mind was busy sorting through possibilities and wondering about his future. Finally one of the Sheriff Deputies came from the building and stood beside Jess. He looked at him for a moment and then said, "You need to move on outta here Jess. We don't want no trouble from you and want you gone. You've waited here long enough. If they were coming for ya they wouldda been here by now."
Jess looked up at the Deputy and glared at him for a moment. He really didn't have anything against him and knew he was just doing his job. He felt the anger surge through him once again though when he thought about what had led him to be sitting here. He was reasonably sure when he took his seat that no one would come for him but he still held out some hope. Now even that little amount of hope was gone, dashed and swept away finally with the Deputy's last statement. Jess knew he was right. With a sigh Jess stood. The Deputy stepped back a step and rested his hand on his taser when Jess moved.
Jess allowed himself a small smile when he saw the Deputy tense and prepare for an attack. Jess knew he was not going to attack the Deputy. He had never considered it but it still made him feel a little better to be thought of as that dangerous a man. For years Jess had just been one of the unseen mass. He was born, went to school and dreamed of a better future like many young people do. His future included one of the most beautiful women in his graduating class and riches beyond compare after he finished college. Well, that was his dream of the future in any event. Now, after his jail sentence he was unsure what his future would be. Certainly it did not include college any longer. Jess lost his full ride scholarship when he was convicted and sentenced to jail. It also did not include the most beautiful woman in his graduating class any longer either. She had made that abundantly clear while he was awaiting his trial.
Jess let his smile become more noticeable. He looked at the Deputy and said, "Relax Clayton. I've had enough of your hospitality. I'm not going to do anything today to get locked back up again even if I did want to and I don't. I suppose it gave you some pleasure to have me inside these last six months but I don't hold it against ya. I gave that sniveling little shithead what he had coming to him and his high powered lawyer convinced the jury to send me up for it. Next time you see him though ask him if a little piece of skanky ass was worth it all hummmm?"
Jess turned and began walking down the street. He neither wanted nor expected a response to his statement so was surprised when he heard Clayton say, "Jess I know we didn't get along in school. I never did like you and I know you didn't like me but for what it's worth the little shit did have it coming. You just went too far. He'll never walk well again you know and his right arm is crooked and weak. You got off easy as you did because of what they did to you. Who knows? If you hadn't fucked him up like you did you might not have even been sentenced to the 6 months."
When he heard Clayton speak Jess turned to listen to him. He stood for a moment in shock and watched Clayton return to the building. He muttered, "Shit" and turned to continue his slow trek down the street. He had no idea where he would go. Oh, he knew his immediate destination but even then he didn't know how he would get there other than make a long walk.
It was almost ten p.m. when Jess arrived at his parent's home outside Hollister, MO. He walked the entire distance from Forsyth, the county seat of Stone County to his parent's farm outside Hollister. In the nearly twenty mile walk he had been unable to get one ride. He was passed by four vehicles driven by people who he knew and none of them stopped for him. Every one of the drivers ignored him.
Jess tiredly walked onto the porch of his father's home and tried to open the door. He was not too surprised when he found it locked. He was somewhat more surprised when he found his key would not unlock it. While he was fumbling with the key he heard footsteps then the porch light came on. Jess looked up and stepped back when his father opened the inside door. He was surprised when he saw him holding his pistol.
Jess's father looked at him for a moment then said, "Well, I see ya got here. All your things are in your truck over there. We got nothing here fer ya now. You just get inta yer truck and get outta here now boy. You disgraced this family and we want nothing else to do with ya. Now go on, git afore I call the law."
Jess looked at his father for a moment then moved his gaze farther into the house. His mother and younger sister were sitting inside watching. His mother's face was drawn up in her, to him, famous scowl. She looked as if she had been sucking on a lemon. His sister Clara looked sad and seemed to have been crying. Jess clenched his jaw, glared at his father and walked away.
Jess got into his truck and sat behind the wheel for a moment. He opened the door so he could see to put the key in the ignition. When he did that he saw his check book and other personal papers in the passenger side of the truck. It looked as if the drawers of his desk had just been dumped in the seat and floor boards. The extended cab behind the seat was filled with his clothing and other personal effects. When Jess got into the truck he saw that the bed contained other larger items such as his tools, fishing gear, camping gear and so forth. His small 14 foot camping trailer was already hooked to the bumper. He had taken it in trade for cleaning up a neighbor's yard last summer. It took him three weeks of backbreaking work to earn the thirty year old trailer. Almost all the rest of his summer's work had gone to purchase the twelve year old Ford Ranger 4X4 it was attached to.
Jess put the key into the ignition and closed the door. He turned his head to see his father watching from the porch. He was still holding his pistol. Jess looked at his father once more in hurt and anger then started his truck. As he drove from the yard he thought about what had just transpired. He was hurt but totally unsurprised. His father had always been a hard bitten sanctimonious and petty man. He was pastor of a small offshoot sect of the Church of God and had no use for anyone friend, family or otherwise who strayed from his concept of the straight and narrow. He was judgmental to extremes as were most of the people in the church. No, Jess wasn't surprised at his reception. Now he had to figure out where he was going to stay and how he was going to live though.
Jess drove slowly toward town and his uncertain future. He pulled into the small city park and crawled into the lumpy bed in the trailer. He was exhausted and fell asleep almost before he was completely laid down. It was after 9 a.m. before he woke. He was starving. He had not eaten since early the previous afternoon in Forsyth when he purchased one quarter pound hamburger and fries from McDonald's Dollar Menu. He finished filling up on the free ice water and carried one last cup out with him to drink during his long walk home.
Jess slowly got out of his bed and moved into the main part of his small trailer. He sat in a chair and pulled his wallet from his pocket. There was $27.00 in it. There was some loose change in his pocket as well but he didn't bother to count it. After counting his money Jess walked outside to the rest rooms in the park. After he relieved himself he took a deep drink from the public drinking fountain and moved back toward his truck.
Jess opened the passenger door of his truck and picked up his check book. He opened it to the register page and refreshed his memory as to the balance. It showed a little over $1100. Jess snorted. He wondered if he even had that much money. His father's name was on his account. He would not be surprised if his father hadn't cleaned him out. He was sure his father could figure some way to justify it if he thought about doing that.
.... There is more of this story ...