His eyes snapped open, chest tight and his heart racing. His thick, dark hair hung lank and wet in his eyes. He looked around at the once familiar surroundings that now seemed more surreal than the nightmares that had plauged his sleep for months.
His heavy eyes moved slowly to the small clock beside the bed. 3.30. He breathed deeply trying to slow his heartrate, the accusing, angry faces from his dream still dancing before his eyes.
As in all the others he had been back in Fulsom Prison, the vicious taunting threats from the other inmates ringing in his ears. They'd come to his cell, snapped on the handcuffs that had cut and bruised his wrists and led him down a long narrow corridor, threatening voices still following from behind as he walked.
As he neared the end of the corridor they stopped him in front of a heavy metal door. The guard took out his keys, unlocked the door and pointed the way through.
"I don't wanna go in there" he protested, his voice sounding harsh and alien in his ears.
They pushed him roughly through the door and sat him at the table in the middle of the empty room. The harsh white light had flashed on making him have to squint his eyes to be able to make out the figure stood before him. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the light he began to make out the figure of the man he had shared a cell with during his four month stay in what he had begun to think of as his own personal hell.
"What are you doing here?" he heard himself say.
"Maybe you should ask yourself that question Hanson."
"It wasn't my gun! It was Frank Farrel. They proved it. I'm innocent!"
"Time you faced it. You belong here Hanson"
"I didn't kill anyone"
Then he had disappeared followed by faces so vividly remembered from a past so littered with faces that he was amazed he could remember any at all. Kenny Wheckerly, Tyrell Thompson, Jack Weaver , all turning their accusing eyes to his wide frightend ones , all asking basically the same question, "How can you sleep at night after all you've done?".
Now safe in his room he laughed bitterly at the irony of that question.
"If only they knew", he said to the darkness.
As he pulled the twisted sheets around him, his knees hugged to his chest, he still couldn't be rid of those faces.
Ronnie Seebok, who he had helped send to Death Row and then stood and watched as they had strapped him to a table and injected him with leathal chemicals, appeared sitting across from him. The hidious lines still in his arms, he was looking at him through distant glazed eyes saying "It should have been you, man!"
With these words still echoing in his head, Tom wandered into the living room of his appartment. He looked around the dark room, his tired wide brown eyes surveying the litter of a life that no longer seemed real. He'd been letting things slide recently and the living room looked to him like the scene of a breaking and entering. He let out that bitter cynical laugh that still seemed so strange to him, at the realisation that, even at 3.30 on a Sunday morning , he was still thinking like a cop.
Ronnie was right of course, or so Hanson had suceeded in convincing himself. In his own mind he was resposible for ending or ruining each of these young lives. First of all there was Kenny Wheckerly , who had come to him for help. Kenny had begged him to help him escape, but he had wanted to go by the book, and Kenny had ended up dead, trapped in a ventilation shaft.
He could so easily have let Jack Weaver run, instead he had condemmned him to a life he never wanted.
Ronnie himself, Hanson had chased for years. Once in police custody, no amount of pleading from Tom had suceeded in disuading them against the death penalty. Ronnie had actually asked Tom to be there when his sentence was carried out and what he had witnessed had haunted him ever since.
Now watching the dark street through his window still flashing on the latest of these nightmares, he saw himself moving towards the barred windows of his prison and the horrific scene that had unfolded before him. Harry Ioki had been on the other side bleeding uncontrolably from numerous bullet wounds. He had struggled against the bars, unable to do anything other than watch Harry's life slowly drain away.
Then suddenly the scene had faded away and he was alone in the harshly lit room again. A noise from the corner of the room had attracted his attention. As he turned he saw the familiar and welcome sight of Doug Penhall, his best friend and partner of the past four years. The person he had entrusted his life to on more occaisions than he cared to remember. He had called Dougs name, a smile on his face as he moved towards him, but Doug had not answered.
"Doug, talk to me please!" he had begged. But no amount of calling and pleading seemed to have any effect. He reached out to force Doug to turn and face him, but everytime he tried he was once again confronted with his friend's turned back. Then he had felt rough hands grab him from behind as they beat him and forced him to the floor. This is when he had awoken shaking and sweating.
Tom stood ,now. silently looking through the darkened window trying to banish these images from his waking thoughts. He had assumed, initially, that this was just his anxiety and the strangeness of adjusting to being free. He had resigned himself to life behind bars and had found it hard to accept that he was simply let free. But as the months went by his feelings of agnst and the nightmares had not only continued but had steadily become worse.
He didn't want to go back to prison, but sometimes he found himself thinking that maybe it would have been better if they had just accepted it and left him there. At least he would feel as if he was being made to pay for the lives he'd ruined and wouldn't be plauged with this guilt and self loathing.
He had spoken to Captain Fuller about his restlessness a week after Doug and Booker had secured his release and he had referred Hanson to the Department Pshycologist. He had reached for the phone to call him so many times but had always hung up at the last minute. He thought he could work through this, that he was strong enough, after all isn't that what everyone had told him since he was 16. When his dad died he had to be strong for his mom they all said. This had become so engrained in his pshyce that it had continued into his adult life. Tom Hanson was not the kind of guy to find comfort in tears and sharing his feelings was never easy for him. He had thought of telling Doug everything he had been going through. He had talked to Doug about his disillusionment with police work and he had seemed to understand, he wasn't happy about it but he had understood. But he had been so proud and happy to be partly resposible for freeing Tom and done so much for him since, helping him out with money when he needed it, putting up with his mood swings. If he told Doug how he was feeling he would cause even more hurt, and he couldn't deal with seeing hurt in the eyes of the only person he trusted these days. There was too much going on in his own head. So, like he had done so many times before Tom had forced a smile, cracked jokes like everything was as normal, as if he could just forget everything that had happened, pushing all the hurt and guilt way down where no one would find it. The only thing that betrayed this act was the cold dead look that was begging to creep into his once warm, bright eyes more often. He had seen that same look in the eyes of those he had helped to put away and in the eyes of lifers he had met in prison, and it shcoked him to see that same look peering out of the mirror at him every morning. The look of someone with nothing to live for. It was with this look that he turned to face the empty darkness of his living room. He thought about making some strong coffee, no point in going to sleep he thought as, glancing at his watch on the table, he saw with some surprise that it was 4:15.
"Time flys when you're having fun!" he laughed bitterly to himself.
Instead of making coffee however, he sat down on the couch, his bed sheets hugged close to him, and as his heavy eyelids began to close over his slightly bloodshot eyes, gave in to what had become a precious and rare thing lately, a dreamless sleep.
Harry Ioki had his own deamons to deal with. Since the shooting nothing had been the same. His confidence was severely lacking, he jumped at the slightest noise, and the thought of even handling a gun terrified him, yet to be without one scared him more. During every case he had been on since leaving the hospital he was convinced at least one person, if not more, had figured him to be a cop and was out to get him. He told himself he was being ridiculous but that nagging fear just wouldn't let him be.
There was a time when he loved his work. He was proud of the fact he was able to get out there and make a difference. But now he wasn't sure he was making a difference anymore and he was damned if he was going to risk his life for nothing.
The others at the chapel had been really good to him since the shooting, had looked out for him and been there if he needed to talk, but their constant concern had got on his nerves recently. While he appreciated that they meant well, he just wanted to be left alone. He had begun to distance himself from them and only occasionally would he join in with Tom and Dougs banter, or joke around with Jude. He felt bad seeing the looks on their faces when he acted indifferent towards them, especially Judy, but it was the only way to make it easier to do what he had to. Although he suspected it would still be quite a wrench when the time came.
These past months had given him plenty of time to think about what he really wanted, now all he needed was the right time and opportunity to set things in motion. Being a cop just didn't mean as much as it used to, and he decided that it was time to say goodbye.