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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 31 page 10


During the years Jed was incarcerated, Mac seemingly was spotted in town three times. Twice the look-alike said it was a case of mistaken identity. The third time, when the look-alike was observed exiting the McCoy mansion, the man claimed to be not Mac but rather Mac’s cousin.

The third sighting raised no doubts about Mac’s fate since by then Jed had admitted to the slaying. He had confessed hoping to get released early for good behavior and for showing remorse.

After thirty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Jed finally was set free. Life was still hard after his release. No business wanted to hire a convicted murderer in his sixties with hardly any work experience. He survived on occasional odd jobs and scavenging.

Several years later the patriarch of the McCoy clan died. The following week Mac showed up with his beautiful family, moved into the McCoy mansion, and claimed his inheritance.

Mac told people he had fled town fearing for his life and, bored with his old life, decided to create a new one. He denied having any contact with anybody in town during his long absence. He claimed that he had heard nothing about the murder trial and nothing about Jed.

Although Jed had brooded some in his broken-down trailer, Mac’s triumphant return made things worse. Jed had no children, no wife, no girlfriend, no vehicle, and no real job. At an age when he should be thinking of retiring, he had no pension and no money saved. It was a stark contrast with Mac’s life, one Jed might have lived had his tormentor not pretended to be dead. As bitterness grew, Jed began to plot revenge.

He started with surveillance of the McCoy mansion. He wanted to learn the household schedule to catch his arch-enemy at home alone. He also hitchhiked to a big city to buy a handgun with a silencer.

On the chosen night Jed slipped into the mansion after picking the lock on the basement door. He walked quietly through the house to the master bedroom. “Welcome home, Mac,” he said with a cold smile.

Mac woke up with a jolt. He stared in horror at the gun pointed at him. “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” he screamed. “You don’t want to kill me and get sent back to prison.”

“What makes you think I’ll get sent back?” Jed replied coolly. “I can hide your corpse in a place where no one will ever find it.”

“If I go missing, the police will know you killed me,” Mac answered.

“You deliberately disappeared from your life once. People will think you did it again,” Jed said. “But even if your wretched body does turn up one day, I’ll be in the clear.”

“That’s impossible,” Mac responded. “You’ll spend another thirty-five years locked up.”

“What — no credit for the thirty-five I already served for no reason?” Jed replied. “I guess you haven’t heard of double jeopardy. I already got tried and convicted of your murder. I can’t be tried for offing you again.”

Mac looked terrified as Jed’s words sank in. He began to blubber.

“I can kill you any time I want,” Jed said. Then he pulled the trigger.