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©02 The Media Desk

The Smile of theHunter

Ch 48
[Warning: May disturb more sensitive readers.

     I was at it for three months.
     It took some doing. And some bribery, and yes, even the promotion of some prison contraband.
     But I got what I wanted.
     What I needed.
     A rundown of everything that happened to one person, one man, over the span of about six hours.

     "CHOW CALL! BREAKFAST! TEN MINUTES!" The corporal shouted down the tier after the lights came to full brightness in the hall. "CHOW CALL!"
     Inmate 8328405 stirred awake.
     His cellie, nicknamed Denver for his favorite football team got up. "You comin'?" He asked.
     8328405 put on his jacket and when the next call came, they walked out of the cell and joined the line of prisoners going to breakfast.
     The meal consisted of two rather chewy fried eggs. Three slices of bread. Cold cereal. Milk. An orange that wasn't quite ripe yet. A couple of packs of jelly for the bread. And coffee.
     8328405 made an egg sandwich like he usually did and traded his grape jelly with another prisoner for two packs of apple jelly, which he then spread on the sandwich. He ate it, then ate his cereal and left his orange on his tray. 8328405 put two packs of sugar in his coffee.
     After breakfast, back on the tier, 8328405 stood in line for the shower.
     Then he went to get the clean clothes for his side of the tier from the prison laundry.
     He sorted it and passed it out. Later, he would collect the dirty laundry to take for processing during the night.
     A lifer named Benny beat 8328405 in a quick game of checkers. Then it was time for the mail run.
     Conway was out to sick call, so the officer asked 8328405 if he'd go get the mail.
     An hour later the prison was locked down and an intense search began.
     8328405 never came back with the mail.
     Actually, he never made it to the mail window.
     Two hours later a badly beaten nude body was discovered in the inmate restroom in the gym.
     The man had been bludgeoned to death with a plastic mop wringer, he had been raped, and finally, somebody had tried to scalp him.
     A search turned up the mop wringer where it had been tossed over a low fence around the basketball court. The scalp was not recovered.
     A snitch said he heard that one of the nastier prison gangs had it in for 8328405, but did not say why.
     The investigating officer dismissed an allegation that the tier officer had been part of the setup to kill 8328405, calling the incident a crime of opportunity and coincidence. The charge against Conway was dropped after the investigation. No charges were even considered against Denver.
     To date, no charges in the death have been filed, the case remains open and unsolved.

     I closed the folder.
     John Kunsler had met his Maker in probably the most awful way possible.
     But I felt no satisfaction other than, yes, he deserved every bit of it. And had had it coming for ages.
     I had busted him three times. He had been arrested several other times before. And managed to slither away every time.
     If he had gone to work selling used cars, he would still be alive and free. But he chose his profession and sold child pornography over the Internet and other ways.
     He had fled this country to do it. He had paid for phone numbers in Mexico to do it. He had set up shop with offshore distributors and credit card companies to do it. He didn't do it by accident. The man was a genius at getting around, through, or under, the Law.
     The Bishop had estimated that John was pulling down in excess of a hundred thousand dollars a month for one stretch of his operation. His clientele, although small, was willing to pay through the nose for his wares.
     Some of his customers had also turned on him as soon as the heat began. They swore out statements against him like nobody's business. They voluntarily turned over tapes and pictures to the cops. And some of them went to jail anyway.

     "He been killed dead. Dead and gone Huntie. Let him go."
     I turned to Keia.
     She nodded. "Let him go."
     I knew he was dead. I had insisted they do a DNA match to make sure. The smashed corpse in the autopsy pictures I had was John. There was no doubt.
     I got up from the desk and went to my filing cabinet. I took out a sealed cardboard box.
     "So I guess I can get rid of this now."
     In the box was evidence against John. If he had come up for parole or something, I was going to send it to the United State's Attorney and ask him why they would even consider letting John out.
     John wasn't making parole anytime soon now.
     I thought about the irony of his having been raped by his killer.
     The coroner couldn't really tell if it had been before or after death. But he thought it was sometime during the attack. More than likely, John had been unconscious when that occurred, but still alive.
     The box of Inmate 8328405's garbage burned slowly. Making dark smoke that hung in the air.

     As the fire burned out I finally felt like I could let John go.
     The flames died.
     "Goodbye John." I said.

     As I walked back into the house...
                I smiled.

End 48 smile

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