Bitter Beauty (Radio Play)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Before his scheduled execution, a condemned man discovers a terrible secret.

Fade in:

Int. Jail cell – (Night)

Tony Blake is sitting alone in his jail cell, sweat pouring from his quivering cheekbones. Above the cell door, a clock ominously ticks by, as if eager to witness his impending demise. Distraught by the auras of light and shadow that dwell through the bars of the cell, Tony buries his face in his hands, all but resigned to his fate. As the hand on the clock approaches midnight, his feet lose all sense of motor control. They tremble, shake, and convulse. Vapors of white mist, some of them very thick, cloud his visual perceptions, distorting his view of the bars.

Just as all hope seems lost, a guard comes to the cell door. After several moments of fiddling with his keys, he opens the cell door. Tony looks up, his gaze widening. A shadow approaches the doorway, its outline stout and imposing. As the shadow solidifies, a pair of emerald eyes come into view, followed by the appearance of an oval-shaped face. Tony’s lawyer, a man by the name of Hubert Emerson, enters the cell. The guard leaves the room, locking the cell door behind him. Tony gazes up at Emerson, his lower jaw shaking. Hubert takes a seat across from Tony, his mannerisms relaxed and controlled.

TONY

Well, what’s the verdict? Don’t sugarcoat it. Whatever the news is, I can take it.

HUBERT

You’ve been saying that ever since the trial began, but I highly doubt that’s true. Let’s face it: you’ve been a mess ever since the police first laid handcuffs on you. Well, save for some unforeseen act of God, you won’t have to suffer for much longer. I’m sorry, Tony, but, uh, the governor turned down your stay of execution, just as I knew that he would. Frankly, I don’t know why I even try anymore. He turned down my last five clients; why should it be any different with you?

TONY

Perhaps because unlike your other clients, I’m perfectly innocent, as almost everyone who knows me can attest to. But did it matter to the jury? Of course not! They only cared about the gun that was found beside the body. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t even there when the murder took place, or even that I had no motive for committing the crime. I loved my wife more than life itself. Back when I was just a kid, I used to stare at her through my bedroom window, cautious not to let anyone see me. I remember fixating on her raven hair, her rosy lips, and always with the most noble of intentions. Even before she knew it herself, she became the very core and meaning of my existence. Prior to meeting her, I never realized how empty, how hollow my existence truly was. It was as if a flame had been ignited within me, but the moment she died, the moment I saw the cold avatar that had once contained her spirit, the flame went out, never to be sparked again.

HUBERT

I never realized you were so sentimental, Tony. Well, I suppose spending years behind bars will do that to a man. As you well know, I’m not the most sentimental man in the world, but I truly feel sorry for you. It must be hard sitting there, waiting for the Angel of Death to come, to drag you back into the eternal darkness that spawned you, but it’s something you must face, like it or not. I can do nothing for you. It should’ve been obvious to the jury that you didn’t kill Helen, but the prosecution wouldn’t let go of the fact that your gun was found beside her body, despite the fact that you hadn’t used it in years. Over and over again, they repeated that fact, almost with a hint of glee. Without a doubt, they wanted you to be convicted. If the police can’t solve a case, they always like to have a fall guy, or at the very least someone that they can put the blame on, however absurd the evidence might be. You know, luck can be a very tricky thing. Throughout my life, I’ve been very lucky, becoming one of the most powerful lawyers in my profession, but luck, especially when paired with the volatile attributes of fate and destiny, can also deal you a cruel and lethal hand, one which cannot be reversed, rescinded, or revoked.

TONY

You don’t have to remind me of past traumas. Ever since I was convicted, I’ve been replaying the events of that day in my head, desperately trying to figure out what I could’ve done differently, what I might have said to her before going to work, and how I might’ve prevented the whole situation from occurring. To this very day, I don’t understand how anyone could have hurt her. She was so very innocent, her nature resembling that of a blissful spring day. Even my father, callous though he was, warmed to her gentle spirit. Day in and day out, I sit in this cell, staring at the walls, at the spaces between the bars, but my efforts at recollection never seem to pay off. The memories are always the same, the variations so subtle as to be invisible. They swell up inside of me, tormenting me with their alluring decorations.

HUBERT

Well, in just two short minutes, they won’t torment you anymore, but I can see that your suffering needs a resolution, and believe it or not, I can actually provide one.

TONY

What do you mean?

HUBERT

Originally, I wasn’t going to tell you this, but now that you’re about to go to your grave, I don’t really see the harm in it now.

TONY

You’re not making any sense, Hubert. This entire time, you’ve been acting like there’s no hope left. What’s behind your sudden change in attitude?

HUBERT

I just feel that I owe you something after all of this. After all, I’m the reason why you’re sitting where you are now.

TONY

How is that?

HUBERT

Your wife was a very lovely woman, Tony. As you so eloquently pointed out, many people noticed that, including myself. At first, I tried to resist the passion that burned in my heart, but I lost the battle, I’m ashamed to admit. I suppose it was the same for Helen. She didn’t want to betray you, Tony; you must believe that. She fought it for as long as she could, but in the end, we succumbed to the same temptation that brought sin into the world. Before we even knew what happened, we were doing things, saying things that we never thought possible before. It was baffling, the sure irrationality of it all.

TONY

What are you trying to say, Hubert?

HUBERT

I’m ashamed to say this, Tony, but she wanted to leave you, to run away with me and leave everything else behind. I tried to find a way to get out of it, but when she threatened to tell my wife, I had no choice. Having access to your safe, it was easy to plant the gun by her body, something that I hated to do. Like I said before, someone always has to be the fall guy, and in this case, that person is you.

TONY

I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. Every time Helen saw you, there was always a gleam in her eye, but I always wrote it off as being nothing more than friendliness. Now that I know the truth, everything fits. I always thought she was likely killed by a burglar, by someone that I didn’t know, but now that I think about it, it’s always the quiet ones, the respectable and admirable ones, who stab you in the back.

HUBERT

I concur with that, but it’s too late to do anything about it now. If you told the guard what I just told you, he would think you mad. You know I’m right, don’t you?

TONY

Even if I had more time, what good would it do me? She’s dead, and there’s nothing that I can do to bring her back. This way, I’ll see her again in Heaven, and when I get there, I’ll ask her this question.

HUBERT

And what’s that?

TONY

Why do beautiful creations always evoke bitter aftertastes?

As the last echoes of Tony’s words roll off of his tongue, the cell door opens. The guard reenters the room, a priest standing by his side. Tony stands up, taking the priest by the hand. One last time, he looks back at Hubert, his eyes resembling the countenance of a corpse. As the four men walk towards the cell door, potent orchestrations of shadows envelop the room, soon covering it in total darkness.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: April 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 JL reaper. All rights reserved.

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