Title: "A State of Grace"
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Fandom: "The Shawshank Redemption"
Rating: PG-13.
Disclaimer: Frank Darabont and Stephen King created the Heywood persona and Bill Sadler brought him to life.
Notes: Here we go...a VAS/WS.com contest fic. :-). I figured I'd best try something other than Jim Valenti for once.

He closed his eyes and listened to the sound of Red's harmonica echo through the block. Sweet, soulful, music. Soon there was only gonna be silence. He knew Red was up for a parole hearing soon and, deep in his gut, he was sure that meant one more pal was going to fly the coop.

All of Shawshank was still buzzing with stories about Andy's escape and every damn fool thing Andy had ever done. Hell, he told most of 'em. It was his only claim to fame these days. "I knew Andy Dufresne, yes Sirree."

Thirty years. He'd been behind these walls for thirty years. He hadn't been young for most of 'em. Every morning, in the showers, while he was ducking the Sisters, he found another silver hair among all the strands of blond. He was getting on in years...and he was going to die alone.

He was sure of it.

"Amazing Grace." Red was playing "Amazing Grace" now.

He'd a sweetheart named Grace once, hadn't he? When he was sixteen and an even bigger bastard. A redhead. With big, bright, green eyes. And a set of tits so fine his hands still remembered their shape. The one, shining, lovely girl who hadn't laughed when he stuttered or called him a "Dummy". Naw, instead, Gracie Woodburn had just taken his face between her hands and kissed him good and hard behind the General Store. And they'd gone all the way in her daddy's pick-up truck on the Fourth of July. Heckuva fireworks show. Yeah, definitely amazing Grace.

Where was Gracie now? Married with a passel of kids? Dead and buried? Like he would be soon. Naw, he wasn't getting out like Red would. He wasn't "redeemable". And he wasn't escaping neither. He wasn't smart like Andy. It would just be him alone, in this narrow little bed, with pretty pin-ups on the wall (and not a single Grace among 'em).

Sure, he could tell stories. When he was old and bent and his voice shook like old Brooks. He could be that old fella that no one paid mind to and even the guards pushed around. "Why, back in the '50s, I tarred the roof of this prison with the great Andy Dufresne. He was the only lucky S.O.B. to ever escape here, you know."

Yep, that was his legacy. Staying in this shitheap and passing on somebody else's great accomplishment. Whoopty-fucking-doo.

The curse of the guilty.

He reckoned he deserved it. Getting soused on moonshine...getting into a fight with Bobby Ray Steele outside the drugstore at 4 in the morning...knives flashing...blood pumping from Bobby Ray's neck. All around stupidity on his part. There was no rest for the stupid, right? Or was that the 'wicked'?

Would Grace Woodburn pray for him? For a 48-year-old convict who'd been an idiot, murdering, kid once? For a 48-year-old convict who couldn't even wipe his ass without another man's say-so? Hell, maybe she would pray for the boy she'd sparked in a beat-up truck.

He wasn't sure that boy still existed.

Across the way, Red was working on another song, pulling notes from the beat-up Jew's harp and making it sound like a whole cell block full of men crying.

Heywood brushed at the tears on his cheeks and rolled over on his bunk, staring at the outline of Marilyn Monroe.

"Play something cheerful, you damned, cocksuckin' Sumbitch!" he shouted out, hoarsely.

The music stopped for just a second, and he knew Red was probably grinning like Old Jimmy Satan himself. And then he started in on "Camptown Races." Right cheerful. Upbeat. Making some of the guys rap on their bars and keep time.

Doo dah. Doo dah.

He dragged a hand through his hair. Swallowed a couple of times. A lump rose in his throat. He knew he'd look like a pansy if he yelled out for another round of "Amazing Grace". So, he just closed his eyes and hummed it.

In his head, he kissed her good and hard behind the general store.

And he wasn't alone anymore.

--The End--

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