Misery, Kansas


The cell door slammed.

Daniel Tanner plopped down on the lumpy mattress; he buried his head in his hands. The tenuous journey had taken its toll, both mentally and physically. Once vibrant, emerald green eyes now lifeless and dull stared at the concrete ceiling. With fingers interlaced through his curly black hair, this one question returned over and over, how was he going to save his beloved pet? His right index finger instinctively stroked the inflamed area on his neck in an attempt to soothe the pain the direct result of an overzealous patrolman yanking his gold necklace. Daniel’s shoulders slumped with the proverbial weight of the world, realizing the end might be near—maybe it’s just too late. Hopeless and saddened by this confinement, he teetered on the brink of depression.   

Should he have left? Was it the right decision? Did stupidity of ignoring the deputy end him in jail? Lying wasn’t something that came naturally. In hindsight maybe the truth would have worked. Daniel had lived his life as a loner, never trusting anybody, and never experiencing the benefits of a friend.

Daniel struggled to sit up, a dull pain emanated from his lower torso, the direct result from the violent blow of the butt end of a nightstick. He swung his bare feet onto the dusty cement floor, narrowly missing the tray of food—a baloney sandwich wrapped in cellophane, a bag of chips and a warm carton of milk. A long slow exhale helped calm him. Showerless, and feeling grungy, his fingernails dug deep to soothe an incurable itch. Daniel had slowly made his way down to the back of his wrist where the scars of an old wound had healed. It was an area that was always sensitive. Today, for some strange reason, the area pulsated. These scars were his inspiration, his reason for being here. Gently rubbing them, this small act had given him the strength to rise—to stand.

Daniel started to pace like a caged animal behind the iron bars. His hands tightly gripped the door as he violently shook the entry. “What the fuck?” His voice echoed in the small cell. “Somebody, get me the fuck out of here!” A middle finger raised in defiance flashed in the direction of the camera outside the cell.

            His tirade fell on deaf ears. Alone in the jail, Daniel attempted to look out the small cell window, his view obscured by iron bars, and a brick wall on the other side of the alley. The smells and sounds of Misery, Kansas filtered through the window. A town very similar to his own, quaint with old world charm. The laughter of children, the sweet smell of barbeque pork and an occasional whine of some child demanding ice cream. How could everybody be so blind? Most of them are tourists; how would they know? It was obvious to him something was going on in this town, why don’t the townsfolk see it? Doesn’t anybody else care? What’s up with this fucking deputy? He seemed to be everywhere, haunting and harassing me. Yet behind bars, he was as sweet as Tupelo honey in sharp contrast to his underlings demanding and violent nature. Daniel always had respect for the law he mused, but in this town, the law seemed tainted. Is this just another case of small-town politics?

            If only Gramps were here, he’d know what to do. Does he think I abandoned him again? Is he in the right place?

            Why isn’t that deputy tracking down some of the leads? If it’s such a problem, just find my dog, and I’m gone. I didn’t come this far, just to get this far. “Let me out of here.”

            His thoughts suddenly turn to the dark side. What if this goes to prosecution? What if they don’t let me out? Would they put me in prison? Or worse yet, bury me in some unmarked grave? Only a few people know I’m here. There’s already one person missing, am I next?

Exasperated by his lack of success, Daniel slugged the brick wall. A dull pain radiated throughout his hollow shell, temporarily halting his barrage of personal negativity. Daniel never celebrated his triumphs; he only focused on his failures and ways to make them more successful. He felt his knuckles as they started to swell.

Unsure of the next move, he retreated to the cot, laid down and once again stared at the ceiling. Fingers spread as they swept through his greasy hair as he put them under his head. Idle thoughts still churned. “Will this be the end? Does anybody truly care?” Why did I waste my only phone call by calling Louisiana? Did I do the right thing in dialing that number?

            “Daniel be strong, it ain’t over yet,” he mumbled under his breath. “For whatever reason, you can’t go back, you made your decision, and it was a long shot, but one you needed to take.”

As twilight descended on Misery, Daniel closed his eyes and thought, “How did this all begin?”