This is the twenty-ninth part of a fiction serial, in 917 words.
As Lee aproached the end of his fourth year of imprisonment, Marian was preparing for her wedding. Once her and Michael had bought an attractive two-bedroom cottage in Arkley, not far from where Michael had been living, he didn’t wait that long before proposing. His son was at university now, and they had been getting on so well that Marian accepted without hesitation.
They were of an age where children would not feature, so once they had settled into married life they could travel, and just enjoy the companionship.
Things with Ros had remained shaky for a year after the trial, but she had eventually come round. Once the wedding was in the planning stage, she was keen to be a bridesmaid and to trek around with her sister choosing a wedding dress. It was going to be a small affair, held at the Country Club north of Barnet. Marian had gone so far as to issue invitations to both Lyndsey and Amanda, but neither had replied. Their loss then.
Although they still worked together, Michael had suggested a move for Marian. He had recommended her for a better job at the company of one of his university friends. She was excited to be starting in her new post following the honeymoon in Italy.
Ros was still managing the same shop. Most of her team were still there, sales were good, and she was well thought-of. There had been some talk of her moving to head office to train as a buyer, but she was happy where she was, and still enjoyed living in her flat. She didn’t want to contemplate a move to Northampton.
Still living behind closed doors and rarely venturing out, Lee’s imprisonment had not provided the closure that Amanda had hoped for. Feeling ever-growing guilt about her involvement in framing him, she was conflicted. How had lying about a crime that never happened been fair? Whatever Lee had done in the past could not justify that in her mind. Even though she knew he was in a prison a long way from where she lived, she was unable to relax. What if he escaped? What would happen once he was let out on parole? So she stuck to her old routine, checking her cameras and not answering the phone.
Lyndsey was running a legal advice centre for abused women in West London. She was often featured on the TV news, and made it her priority to speak out for battered wives and girlfriends whenever possible. Her public profile was large, very active, and well-known. As for the Lee Fowler case, and Marian and Ros, she barely remembered that period in her life.
Denise Fowler was in prison in Ireland for fraud. She had taken work as a carer, befriended an old man she looked after, and used his bank card to steal over eight thousand euros from his bank account. There was some implication in the court that she had given him sexual favours to avoid suspicion, and she received two years.
She had not been intelligent enough to realise that bank cash machines had cameras in them, and that evidence had convicted her easily. Her defence that he had willingly given her the money because he was in love with her had not been accepted by the jury. Daisy had been taken into care, and was living in a children’s home just outside Dublin.
Lee had a new cellmate. Duncan was originally from Scotland, but had committed his crimes around North London. He was a woman-hater, and a serial rapist. On their first night in a cell together, he planted a seed in Lee’s mind that grew and grew. He had not raped that woman Marian. She had suggested sex in the car, and he had only changed his plea to guilty to avoid a much longer sentence because of the forensic evidence.
Up to then, he had put that from his mind. He knew he had got away with similar crimes, and worse, so had accepted he could do nothing when faced with Marian’s determination to put him away. But why she did that had remained a mystery for four years.
As the weeks went on, Lee became obsessed. He wanted to know why. Why had that woman ruined his life? But then something happened on the prison wing that caused disruption. Duncan killed someone after an argument about using the pool table, so Lee was moved. The prison he was moved to had no suitable segregation place, and suddenly he was plunged into the horror of the general population.
He soon realised that everyone knew his story, and seemed to be out to get him.
Despite doing his best to claim he had been framed, and avoiding the various tough guys in the new prison, he was finally ‘kettled’ one afternoon. A kettle full of boiling water, mixed with a large amount of sugar, was thrown over his face by John Murphy, the top con on the wing. Lucky not to lose his sight, Lee spent two weeks under guard in hospital, followed by various trips to the Regional Burns Unit. When it was all over, he was badly scarred, and full of hatred for the woman that had put him in there.
The authorities quickly transferred him to a segregation unit, and on his second week there, he received a letter. It was a personal letter, hand-written on nice paper.
After reading it, he smiled. Then he read it again.