"John?"
"What?" John said through a bite of his sandwich. He turned around in the swivel chair to meet his boss, Mr. Lamberk. Lamberk was standing next to a smaller man, maybe five nine, who looked a little nervous and bored at the same time. John smirked, wondering if he could ever imitate that expression. The smaller man wore the standard, mundane uniform with a shiny new black .38 strapped to his regulation brown belt.
"This is Marc Livingston; he will be working with you for a while." The short man raised his hand in the typical half-wave you'd expect from a man like him. "Marc, this is Jonathon Andrews."
"Hi."
"I'll be right back with another chair. Coffee, John?"
"No thanks, sir."
When Lamberk left, John turned away from the big window that filled the wall in front of the desk and saw Marc with his hands in his pockets and a blank expression on his face. His eyes did not move; they stayed on the man in the window.
"You a young man, Livingston?" John asked. He thought Marc was surprised, because he didn't answer for a while. Then he wondered if Marc was scared to give the wrong answer because John didn't exactly seem like a soft, sympathetic, loving old man that would give you a cookie when the boss wasn't looking. Hell, no.
"Twenty-five."
"You got a wife?"
"And a daughter."
"Lucky man. You can look at pictures of your family instead of that old geezer. You're a lucky man."
Silence.
"I don't even know why Lamberk put two men on the job. It isn't hard to stare at somebody. I swear," John said, lowering his voice to a whisper, "sometimes I think they should make him a room here. Sometimes he's just out of marbles. You know what I mean?"
Silence.
"You don't talk much, do you?"
Livingston shrugged. Lamberk brought him the chair, grunted and walked away. Livingston sat down. He was tense. "Listen, all you have to do is watch this guy. This window is clear to us, but some high tech paint makes this window look white as the other walls from the inside. You can't see the door either. It's white. No lines around it. Oh, and he gets a shower every Friday. You bring him water and bread at midnight. He's always asleep then. But-"
"What's wrong with him?" Livingston rested his chin on the palm of his right hand.
"Remember, back in the eighties? The Little Rock murders?"
"Vaguely. I was a kid then. Class of '91."
"This was the guy. He's schizophrenic. He's sane, a normal person most of the time. But . . . well, all I know is that he didn't remember murdering at all. Lamberk said they gave him a lie detector test. He passed. But there was clear evidence that he was the murderer."
"And that's why he's here."
"For the rest of his life. Solitary confinement. No other way. From what I read in the newspapers, this guy was supposed to get the death penalty, but his family appealed it and won. This guy-Perdue, yeah, that was his name, Alan Perdue-was a lucky man."
"I would rather have taken the death penalty."
"Yeah, but he had no choice. His family comes and sees him every week. Freakin cries the whole time. To me, hell, I agree with you. I would've . . . well, I don't exactly know what I would've done, but-"
"You would have done something."
"Right," John agreed. This guy wasn't so bad. It won't be too horrible to have somebody to talk to during the night watch. He took another bite of his sandwich.

* * *

He was awake. He drank his water. It tasted dirty and bitter. He then threw the bottle and it made a soft clump, hitting the wall and floor. His eyes were wide but sunken, he was mumbling incoherent words, and his hands shook arthritically.
"Arthritically," Perdue said, a bit louder than before. He brought a hand to his mouth and the other to his ear. He was astonished. Sound. How long . . . how long had it been since he had spoken?
"Arthritically," he repeated. "Grandma . . . had arthritis . . ." He lay down on the hard white carpeting and stared at the ceiling, eyes wide. With his right hand he searched for his bread as he thought. His lips moved nonstop now, and his eyes watched the ceiling like a television.
"Grandma . . ." The bread tasted bitter also. But he did not notice it. He was too deep in thought as the memories flooded back.
He saw his grandmother lying on the wet grass with a big red, bloody mark on her aged forehead. Lightening flashed, and he felt the rain soak him. He looked to his right and saw the big, wet shovel gripped tightly in his hand.
His left hand shook on the floor. He felt his eye twitch, but that was very faint . . . he could feel almost nothing.
"Grandma . . ." He saw all of the faces now, like a ghostly yearbook. His face turned white as all of their damaged, bloody faces flashed through his mind.

"Code 38!" John Andrews exclaimed into the radio. "The C. S. C. Room, second floor. Patient 12 is having a seizure." To Livingston, the new guy, "Nurses will come. Seizures are bad. If it were me, I wouldn't do anything about it, but it would look bad when we tell Mrs. Perdue that while we were watching her son have a seizure, we didn't do anything abou-" A crackled voice came through the speaker. "What was that?" asked John. "All right."
"What?" Livingston's face was white, but he tried to remain calm. He didn't want to lose his composure on the first day of work. He'd be a coward.
"Two minutes. They'll be up in two minutes."

"Rain, rain, rain, rain, rainrainrainrainRAINRAIN!" Perdue screamed, standing up fast. He threw the bread against the wall so hard it stuck. But when he felt the hand on his shoulder, his vision was already diminishing. All he saw were two men, one short and skinny, the other fat, and somebody that had a needle sticking out from her hand into his arm.
Perdue collapsed.

* * *

Three months later. His eyes were sunken. His teeth had begun to rot, and his face had turned albino white. The pants he was changed into and out of had been wet and pungent every night. His eyes stared into nothing, and he did not move. He didn't move to eat either, but the water and bread was replaced every night. He hadn't eaten in he didn't know how long, and if not for the nutrients the doctors had given him, he would have been dead long ago. He cried once.
He closed his eyes, and went immediately into the sleep he had needed so bad.

Outside the room, John said, "Good, he's asleep. Now go." He looked outside through the window to the right. The rain shower was just ending, only a few drizzles remained. It had stormed earlier, but thank God, this one is ending. For some reason, John Andrews hated the rain. But he also loved fresh air. He swiveled his chair to the window and opened it.
Livingston got up and took out a slice of bread and a bottle of water from the refrigerator. The key, on a chain slung around his neck, was placed into the lock and the door opened. The door opened softly, and without thinking, John grinned and said maybe a little too loudly, "Don't wake him up! One time,-"
All of a sudden a strong breeze wafted through the air. The rain seemed to be getting stronger, because hard raindrops hit John on the back, which surprised him. He had sat down in the chair and picked up his ballpoint stick pen when the cold breeze hit him hard and went past him to the door, which closed with a click.
Livingston turned and looked back. He wanted to get out, but there was no way. There was no keyhole inside the room, and there was no other set of keys. That is, except for the ones at the main desk on the first floor. Outside the room, John picked up the radio. He had just started speaking with the secretary when he looked and saw that Perdue's eyes were open. And Livingston was frozen, staring at him.
Realization crept into John heart. He remembered how Perdue was schizophrenic. He heard the rain, John thought, and his heart raced and screamed. "Livingston, get out! He's going to kill you!"
But the room was soundproof. Only the sound of his echo and the secretary's worried voice went through his ears. "Code 4! Code 4! The C. S. C. Room, second floor! Hurry! Call 911 too!" John pounded on the glass, but his heart sank when Perdue got up and started walking toward Livingston, who started screaming and pounding on where the door would be. John ran over to the doorknob and turned it, but it was no use. It was locked.
Perdue had his hands around Livingston's neck, and his face was turning purple. Perdue's face was cold and stony; expressionless. After a minute, Livingston fell to the floor. He did not move.
The security guard and the nurse almost knocked John down trying to get to the door. When the door opened, it had stopped raining.
When Perdue saw Livingston lying dead on the floor, he realized something. He grabbed Livingston's gun from the belt and shoved it into his mouth. He smiled before he pulled the trigger.