The Day I Helped Günter Rhodes Find His Way, I Found Myself
by James R. Tomlinson
Günter Rhodes got popsicled.
"Hey Gunny-Boy," Jones said. "Ready for some more pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey?"
I said, "Leave him be." I unhitched my belt.
Günter arrived last Tuesday. No matter how hard he tried he smelled fresh, like the leather interior of a brand new Chrysler. "I've already went for a spin," I said to Jones. "Drives real good."
Jones kicked rocks.
I'd been abused myself—by my stepfather. "Name's Hightower," I said. There was terror in his eyes, reflective pools of Hell. I offered my hand. I tried to pull him back to the here and now.
He didn't know who to trust. Trust is an empty swing-set void of momentum. "You okay?" I asked.
He was unresponsive ... yet breathing ... that had to count for something, for some form of redemption.
"Günter," I said. "Talk to me." I told him he was no worse than the rest of us.
He said he was innocent, that he didn't do the things they'd said he'd done.
I knew better. I know harm is self-inflicted—we do it to ourselves. I told him not to think about innocence. I said, "We're all criminals in here, start playing the part."
He said he couldn't.
I believed him.
I slid the belt off my waist. I said, "Then let me help you," and when I did, I found myself.