Greg R. Taylor, formerly Brad M. Parker, sat down on the bed, bending so that he wouldn't strike his head on the bed on top of his. His cell mate was sleeping, and Greg could hear his breathing, relaxed, but short and heavy as if his smoke-filled lungs were longing for clean air. Many nights that sickly breathing soothed Greg into a dreamless sleep, the sleep of a trapped animal, the kind of sleep that provides no rest and makes one wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and mad with panic. Tonight Greg listened quietly to Matt's breathing, counting how many times he inhaled per minute. Counting everything countable was his little mania, and he could remember counting someone else's rate of breathing, shortly before his arrest. But his feelings for that person were much different from the feeling he had for Matt. Matt was just his cell mate, but Rebecca ...! He had loved her.
Rebecca. What a beautiful name. She was his best friend, she had always been. Greg had considered her a little crazy, if only for the fact that she had always been on his side without ever getting mad at him for his obsessive behavior. That was probably what killed her. She never could see that Greg was impulsive and obsessive in everything he did.
Matt grunted and changed position in his sleep, whispering in an angry tone, "You bastard!" to an imaginary enemy, and Greg felt the bed squeak as it adjusted to his cell mate's new position. He closed his eyes, and saw Rebecca's face again. At first she was smiling, that warm smile of hers, full of love, but all of a sudden her eyes filled with sheer terror, and although he knew she was screaming at the top of her lungs, he couldn't hear her. Someone's hands were clutched on Rebecca's neck, squeezing harder and harder every second. He realized that the hands that were taking Rebecca's life were his, and he realized he couldn't hear her screams because he himself was yelling.
He started trembling, then he brought his hands to his face and started crying, quietly, almost noiselessly. Why, why, why? Why did he kill the only person he ever cared about? Was he afraid of his feelings for her? Oh, God, oh God, oh God, no! How could he - why would he - how could he do such a thing? Rebecca, baby. Come back, come back. Just please come back. Please. He realized how foolish he was. He had killed her, he had watched the fire in her eyes slowly die, he had seen the terror come to life on her distorted face, and he was now living in it. He had created his own hell and now he couldn't get out.
Suddenly, he realized that part of his mind hadn't stopped paying attention to Matt's breathing, and he felt it slowly make its way into his brain, at this point a foreign, unwanted sound. He looked up to Matt's bed, as if to identify the exact spot on top of him where the breathing came from, then inhaled deeply and put his hands on his ears. The echo in his head only became louder, unnerving him, making him feel like a selfless person, as if someone from the outside was governing his emotions. He felt his anger rising. He was alone with his cell mate in a terribly small room, he couldn't do anything to sleep peacefully, for Matt's breathing and curses would always be there. Unless ... he could choke him, too. Yes. That was his only way out. He jumped out of bed and looked up at Matt. He grinned at his new victim, but there was no malice and no evil in his grin. Just sadness. He climbed up to Matt's bed, the high-pitched squeaking of the bed echoing in his head, and slowly put his hands around Matt's neck, without putting any pressure on the jugular yet. Matt snapped his eyes open, and his voice was more surprised than terrified.
"What the fuck, man? What the fuck! Get off me! I mean it!"
"Shut up, just shut up. It won't hurt." Greg's words sounded foreign to his own ears, as if they were being diffused through water instead of air.
"Greg, let go of my neck. Now. If this is a joke, it's not funny." Greg started squeezing Matt's neck, and he could now see Matt panicking. "No, don't! Greg -"
"Guard! Guard! Help! He's killing me! Guard - mmmph!"
"I told you to shut up, man." Matt was gasping for air. Greg could recognize the same terror in his eyes that had once filled Rebecca's. Rebecca's hands had also held Greg's wrists, attempting to break free from his deadly touch, just like Matt's hands were doing right now.
"No, please." Matt grunted, and that voice was impossible to recognize as his. Rebecca had said that, too, and suddenly Greg realized he couldn't do it. Shit, he couldn't do it. He sighed as he released Matt's neck, and he watched his cell mate for an instant. Matt was trying to catch his breath. Greg quickly jumped down and went back to bed. Again, he began to cry.
When Matt was sure that Greg was back into his own bed, he ventured a comment on what had happened, being careful not to irritate Greg, for fear of being killed for real. "You are crazy, man. I think you're just crazy." He said this quietly, almost to himself, but still he wanted Greg to hear, for he could not help himself: he simply had to say that.
Greg heard him, but didn't reply. His eyes were closed, and he was starting to remember, again, something that had happened to him before the arrest, but this time Rebecca wasn't in the memory. He was just a little boy, looking out the window. His father was beside him, in his full police uniform, cleaning his gun. All of a sudden, Greg heard a bang, and the glass of the window beside him shattered in a million pieces, shooting in all directions, in his face, in his eyes. It hurt like a thousand knives all over his body. He screamed in terror, but his father couldn't hear him any longer: a second bullet had killed him.
Greg opened his eyes, putting an end to his painful memory, but the pain that he had felt as a little boy was still there. He realized that Matt must be right, he must be crazy: he had killed his best friend and attempted to kill his cell mate, and he always had weird dreams and visions. Now he got it. He was just simply crazy. It wasn't his fault. Maybe some of the broken glass that had hit him was still in his head, curled up where no doctor could see it, slowly eating away at his brain, making him crazier and crazier by the second. It was a scary feeling, knowing to be crazy. Again, Greg tried to calm himself by repeating in soft whispers, "It's just broken glass. Just broken glass. Just broken glass inside my head."
He fell asleep.
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