The justice system is just a system, not a just system.
Sentenced to fifteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Ethan Rafferty has one thing on his mind – payback! With his time up, the ex-con is free to pursue his mission of revenge.
During the trial, the District Attorney, Mariana Clark, suppressed evidence that would’ve exonerated him and now is the focus of Ethan’s vengeance. Intent on making her life a living hell, he works daily to antagonize and torment the woman. Unable to retaliate through the courts, considering the role she played, Mariana chooses to fight fire with fire. Soon, their feud escalates to a point where neither imagined it would go.
Which one will prevail, Ethan or Mariana? Can either? Or, are both of them bound to a destiny produced by a Miscarriage of Justice?
You will never look at the court system the same again!
Below is a sample of this book:
Everyone has dreams. Dreams of love, of success and riches, or of a long and healthy life. Given time, sometimes, those dreams become a reality.
The dream of Ethan Rafferty was one of freedom. And at last, his dream was coming true. After fifteen years of miserable incarceration, Ethan was finally ready, once again, to become a productive member of society. No, a psychiatrist hadn’t determined that he’d been rehabilitated, his newfound liberty had been attained the old-fashioned way; he’d served his time.
Time he should’ve never had to serve.
Nearly every inmate professes his innocence and insists the system is faulty, claiming to be the victim of some grave injustice. That’s the norm among convicts. And understandably so. No one wants to do time. Prison life is no day at the beach.
With Ethan however, it was different. He was in fact, not guilty. Although a jury, in a court of law, had convicted him, he was innocent. The murder of which he’d been accused, he hadn’t committed. To make matters worse, the District Attorney, Miss Mariana Clark, had known Ethan wasn’t the killer. Positively known – and not cared. Not only had she failed to vindicate him, as was her duty, but she’d aggressively pursued his prosecution. The only thing important to her was that she chalk up a victory with a conviction. And that she had done. Ethan Rafferty had been sentenced to fifteen years in Granite Hills Correctional Facility, the state penitentiary, for his alleged crimes. His time was up today.
With his debt to society paid, the state, via Granite Hills – affectionately referred to as Gray Rock by the inmates – no longer held claim to him. As of today, April eighth, he was a free man. Almost.
In an impatient laze the dark-haired clean-shaven, forty-year-old Ethan, sat unshackled behind the protective barrier, waiting while the insolent prison guard maneuvered the white transport van through the last gate. Then, the soon to be ex-prisoner breathed a small sigh of relief, he was finally outside the walls of Gray Rock – outside the contemptible confines of the prison. But not yet free to go. Had anyone cared that his momentous occasion had at long last arrived and been there to meet him, the last leg of his journey would not have been necessary. The driver could have let him out once they’d reached the outer grounds of the compound. Sadly, the inmate transfer area was ominously empty, as he’d known it would be. Another illustrative sign of his pathetic life.
And so, thanks to a recent procedural change regarding prisoner release, Ethan was forced to endure his insufferable captivity a few minutes longer. Forced to stifle any stirring emotion while the guards transported him to Fulton, the closest city, ten miles to the south.
Prison officials, namely, Anderson Matthews, the warden, and the Board of Directors, had instituted the new policy after receiving numerous complaints from local citizens. Generally, no one cares about the public’s safety if their own security isn’t threatened. And so it was with the dozen families who made up the small rural community near Granite Hills Prison. At the heart of their complaints was the practice of turning inmates out on the highway, where the ex-cons could be tempted to harass or otherwise molest passing motorists and, more importantly, the few nearby residents. Consequently, the new procedures dictated that inmates must be chauffeured into town before being released.
Ethan understood the intent of the rules; still he found the whole thing rather ironic. After years of isolation, away from the general public, the now former inmates were turned loose in the middle of the bustling city, a place abuzz with activity, full of an unsuspecting and naïve populace; innocent men, women, and children. That of course, presented an even greater opportunity for those deviant individuals who were inclined to engage in illicit behavior, placing the population at a more substantial risk. So much for governmental policies making sense.
As the transport van pulled onto the highway, Ethan turned for a final look at Granite Hills Correctional Facility; the plain, drab, uninspiring complex, which had served as his home the past decade and a half. Fifteen years of his life he had spent in that hellhole. Fifteen years. Years that were gone; wasted. Though he’d counted the days one by one, all 5,479 of them, time had ceased to exist the moment he’d passed through the massive steel doors and heard them clang shut behind him. Those years had simply vanished, with nothing to show for them. Life, once esteemed and celebrated, had been demeaned and disassembled, piece-by-piece, relegated to mere existence. Anxiety, boredom and depression encapsulated his days.
Ethan purposely turned his gaze away from the stone walls and razor fencing to what lay ahead. While Granite Hills may have functioned as his place of residence, it was a far cry from anything remotely resembling a home. As long as he lived, he didn’t care if he ever saw the place again.
Above all, loneliness is an inmate’s worst enemy. With no family or friends, separated from all interaction with those once known and loved, far removed from the familiar culture, the lonely feeling is intensified. Day after day, it persists, week after week, as slowly, the months turn to years. Ethan’s stay was no different. A lonesome train whistle was his only connection to the outside world and it was anything but comforting. The melancholy tone was a constant reminder that life for everyone else was going right on without him.
The one thing Ethan was sure of, he certainly wasn’t going to miss the place. Riding along the last mile to freedom, he concentrated on the lone inspiration, which had seen him through the whole trying ordeal. His worry and depression had ultimately turned to an ever-growing anger, an intense rage, tempered with bitter resentment. The emotion steeled a quiet inner resolve to one day exact a wrathful vengeance against the one individual who was solely responsible for his circumstances; the Lincoln County District Attorney, Mariana Clark. The passing of time did nothing to diminish his solemn determination. Quite the contrary, it served only to further cement the notion of a justified revenge and bolster in him an iron will, deep inside his soul. The one who had sent him to Granite Hills was going to pay, and pay dearly.
Despite the intense desire to buy a gun and shoot her multiple times, Ethan held the impulse in check. While, that would make a quick end of things, he preferred to drag out the suffering through many little things. Little things eventually add up and they would serve to prolong her misery. It didn’t much matter what he did; only that he did something. During his fifteen year sentence, he’d come up with several “somethings.” Some petty, some not so petty. They would all converge into a giant source of frustration for the D.A. With a little luck, her frustration could easily turn to exasperation – maybe laced with a heavy dose of insanity.
He wasn’t a vindictive man by nature, or hadn’t been, but an undeserved prison sentence had changed that. The years on the inside had molded him into a ruthless and calculating individual.
The van came to a sudden stop and the guard called through the steel mesh barrier that Ethan could exit the vehicle. Looking out the window, the ex-con saw they were parked in front of the bus station. He frowned, and then shrugged. A bus station was as good a place as any, he reckoned.
“Thanks,” he said in a forced friendly manner, opening the door.
The driver nodded. “Good luck.”
Yeah, like that’s going to happen, Ethan thought cynically as he eased his five-foot-seven-inch stocky frame out through the doorway. Standing firmly on the ground, he breathed in a welcomed breath of fresh air. It felt good to be alive, and even better to be free.
Not sure what to do, he stood idly by, watching as the van made a U-turn, heading back to Granite Hills. Then he smiled, a euphoric grin of exuberance. At last, he could allow himself the luxury of believing his discharge was real, and no longer just a fantasy. Being in confinement for such an extended period, the thought of ever actually attaining his release, experiencing freedom, and being responsible to no one but himself was so foreign, so far removed from reality, it seemed nothing more than an elusive dream. Just wishful thinking. Each day was a dull replay of the previous one. Every night, the same. No logical reason existed to offer even the slightest glimmer of hope that things would ever change.
Ethan continued to watch as the State Corrections vehicle slowly disappeared over the horizon. With the last visible evidence of his life as a convicted felon rolling out of sight, the reality began to sink in. He smiled to himself again. Then his lip curled into a sinister and devious snarl. After all the patient waiting, all the years of anticipation, he was finally free to embark on his mission of justice. A vengeful justice.
It’s odd what a guy will notice after being locked away from the world for so long; the swaying trees, stately buildings, people moving unfettered through the streets, walking, and driving. The once familiar sounds of people engaged in their everyday activities of life; simply involved in living, now seemed strangely out of place. Then, there were the smells, pleasant aromas and pungent odors he’d long forgotten; gasoline, mowed grass, and the savory smell of food being prepared.
From a nearby restaurant, the strong scent of sizzling beef wafted through the air, and Ethan realized how much he had missed food, real food. Giving in to the sudden hunger pangs, he walked across the street to the Wagon Wheel Grill, as the sign outside proclaimed. Though he was eager to set his plan in motion, the thought of a decent meal dictated his behavior at the moment. Prison food wasn’t necessarily bad, though he wouldn’t exactly describe it as delicious either. Somewhere in the middle. Bland sustenance. Nothing more. Nothing less. What made it distasteful was that the menu never changed. Every day, Sunday through Saturday, week after week, anyone could tell you what the fare would be. It was like eating at an elementary school, breakfast, lunch and supper, seven days a week, for fifteen years.
Opening the door to the diner, Ethan’s mouth instantly began to water at the thought of a big juicy steak. And a baked potato, and a fresh salad, and of course dessert. His mind trailed off on a fanciful gourmet fantasy. When the waitress arrived, he ordered according to his ferocious appetite, choosing the largest steak on the menu, a twenty-four ounce Porterhouse. The waitress disappeared and Ethan sat sipping his water, feeling at ease and glad to be on his own. The other customers, he noticed, now and then glanced his way, but none met his eye, almost like they knew he’d just come from Granite Hills.
“Must’ve seen me getting out of the van,” he grumbled under his breath. Then he shrugged it off; at least none of them had gotten up to leave. Sooner or later he knew, someone would ask why he’d been in prison and years ago, he’d come up with the best answer he could give, “Not having an alibi at the time of the murder!”
Slowly chewing his food, Ethan mulled over his options. Instead of jumping right in and starting immediately, he decided to take it easy. To relax for a few days and get used to the idea of freedom. The need wasn’t so pressing that he had to rush into things, he had all the time in the world. After waiting this long, another week or two wouldn’t make that much difference. Except to him of course, he planned to enjoy life a little, to revel and bask in his freedom. He laughed, almost out loud. In his younger days, the thought of waiting more than a few minutes on anything would have instantly sent him into fits. Waiting was simply out of the question. It just wasn’t in his nature. Impetuous, that’s what they called him; he was always in a hurry.
Ironically, it was his time in prison that taught him patience. Never, was there an occasion to hurry on the inside. Life, he’d astoundingly discovered, could be more fulfilling at a slower pace. With this new perspective came the realization that even outside the prison walls, aside from a rare emergency, there simply was no cause to rush or hurry. There is always tomorrow.