He didn’t like prison. People normally don’t like prison, but Casio was softer than most and sensistive. It wasn’t just that they had wrongly accused and then wrongly convicted him. It was also that the kind of person Casio is isn’t the kind of person prison is good for.
The most painful thing he knew outside of those bars was the knowledge that his family, friends, and lover were all on the same side as the law. The courthouse had been packed with people crying for blood. It had been hot, made hotter by the amount of people moving and talking. Some were crying, but no one cried for him.
It was an old country-type courtroom. It was so backwoods that there was dirt on the floor and the judge wore his hunting clothes beneath his robes. Casio was never sure if this custom was on account of the inbred, South Dakotan style of law or the dirty 1920s style of life.
As the judge made his decision, and the gavel met the wooden surface of the desk, he turned to his wife, his bestfriend, his lover, and saw that she was wearing the same guarded expression that everyone else was. She believed them over him. After that he was ready to be locked up, ready to die away from her.
Inside the prison, the most painful thing he knew was the humiliation of being branded a pedophile. He told anyone who would listen that he was innocent, but that same cry was a common mantra of every other inmate. No one listened to him; they broke him in so many ways.
It got to be common practice. After a while, he took neither the care nor energy to resist the things they did to him. He remembered it, though. In his mind he replayed the scene from the courtroom when he realized that his wife didn’t even believe him. It made him bitter; it made him cold.
He paid his debt, as they say, in due time. Being on good behavior and convincing the board that he was cured of a social ailment he was not aware of having, Casio was let back out into the real world.
It was a dark, summer afternoon when he got home. He stood on the beach of Stardust Lake and stared forward. You couldn’t see the other shore from where you stood. It was a flat pane of water, of glass. All that was visible in the Stardust was the front that was rising at the horizon.
He pondered. He was no longer a victim, a horse. He was a free man, but he still felt shackled to what they had done to him. He was trapped by hurt and anger. He looked calm; he looked silent.
The wind picked up. The claw-like hands grabbed at his pant legs. They pulled on his hair and shirt. The storm was coming. It urged him on. It mocked his outward coldness and stoicism. It clutched at the rage that was growing inside him.
He watched the front across the waterway pickup. It reared its head in the water. It rose high above the ground, towering with raindrops clinging to tiny dust particles. He heard it on the wind as he saw it with his eyes. “The storm in the sea.”
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