The old man left the diner and walked toward main street. The town had changed little since he had been carried away in handcuffs twenty years before. Several of the storefront businesses were empty now, he thought. So it had changed some. It just hadn’t grown any. If anything it has just gotten old and tired like me, he thought. Since he had been sentenced to life without parole, he had done his almost twenty years in segregation.
The state had finally gotten around to retesting the evidence. They had a lot better tests by the time the Southern Justice League got around to his case. The scientist found out it was not John after all. As payment for their work, John made a very few statements, on the computer, for them to use in their fundraising efforts. Since he didn’t ask them to take his case, He figured they had been paid in full with those tapes.
There was a payment of a little over seventy thousand dollar on the way. The state’s payment for the false conviction. It was the amount of ten dollars for every day of his time served. He had been told bye SJL that he could file for more. That is, if he hired a lawyer who could prove that the cops and district attorney knew, or should have known, that they were sending an innocent man to prison.
Before John left prison they also filed for Social Security Disability for him. John did almost everything the woman handling his case told him to do. She had set up set up classes for him to learn how to reintegrate into society. The classes were held in the prison, even though he was not officially and inmate. He was allowed to live in a small trailer until his official release.
After his soup for lunch, he used his new phone to call a cab. He stood in front of an empty storefront while he waited for it to arrive. Once the cab arrived he got inside the minivan. Then he removed a note from his pocket to be sure of the address.
Finally he said, “506 Church Street.”
“You got money,” the driver asked.
John reached in his pocket to remove the wad of bills. He said, “Yeah.” Showing them to the driver. The address was a sort of half way house suggested by the SJL. Well not exactly a half way house in that it didn’t have any parolees. It was more a community run studio apartment complex. Almost a dormitory atmosphere according to the SJL lady. John had his key and the studio apartment number, so he carried his canvas bag to the door and then opened it.
Inside the room was a day bed/sofa, and a sink, stove, refrigerator, & cabinet unit all in one. The apartment was meant to discourage long term occupancy. John was sure it would do that. The toilet and shower were down the hall. There was a man and woman’s shadow drawing on the doors. John doubted that anyone would enforce the rules. From his time in the joint, John knew that he would be most at risk when using either of them. It might not cater to ex-cons, but the lessons learned in prison were long lasting.
There had been cable TV before he was arrested, so he recognized the plug. He just didn’t know how it worked anymore. Since he was on the second floor, he walked down the metal steps of the fire escape to reach the ground. He chose it because there was a man standing outside the first floor door way.
“Hi there,” he greeted the man.
“Hi,” the old man replied.