| Chapter 3
Ben dialed his parents. His father answered.
"Ben! Son! I'm glad you called. Where are you? Do you need for me to come and get you? I would have waited at
the jail, but the police made everybody leave."
"No, daddy,” Ben said. "I'm at my apartment ... for now. How's mama?
"Well, she's a mess. She is ecstatic that you're alive, but ... she just doesn't ... I mean, we just can't understand ...
I mean ... oh, this just isn't coming out right."
"It's okay, daddy. If ya'll want me to go away ..." Ben started.
"Absolutely not, Ben. You are our son. We love you no matter what. We'll get through this - together."
After a long silence, Ben sniffled, "Thanks daddy."
"Are you okay, son? Do you need anything?"
"I'm not doing too good, daddy. As of today, I'm car-less, jobless, and, in three days, homeless." He started to cry.
"Well, you'll just come and stay with us," the senior Mr. Wilson assured him. Then, after some hesitation, "What
do you mean, car-less? Where is your truck?"
"Somebody destroyed it in the mall parking lot. I guess people are going to punish me one way or another."
"Well, son, It'll take time," his father said. It was of little comfort. They both knew that people could hold hostility
for a long time. At least his victim's family didn't live nearby.
"You call me when you're ready, son. Just pack up what you need, and you can move back into your old room."
"Okay," Ben sighed. "Thanks, daddy. Tell mama I love her and I'll talk to her soon."
Ben hung up the phone and lay across his bed and cried himself to sleep. He slept for sixteen hours and still
woke feeling tired. He made some coffee and poured a bowl of cereal. He then realized that he had no milk. He
had been gone a week and a half. He started for the convenience store nearby, but when he opened the
apartment door, he stopped and stared at the floor. Scattered across the threshold were a half dozen copies of
the Georgetown Times newspaper. The headlines read:
MURDERER WALKS FREE
Beneath that was a large picture of Ben.
Malicious messages had been scribbled across the papers. On one someone had written "KILLER" across his
picture in red lipstick. On another "MONSTER" was scrawled with a black marker. Still another had been spray
painted "GO AWAY". Ben thought, three days might be too long. He lost his appetite.
Ben stayed inside the apartment until late into the night. He spent most of the day watching television. He
avoided newsbreaks, because he didn't want to risk seeing his face plastered across the screen. Then he put on
a ball cap and pulled it down over his face. He skulked away from the apartment, staying in the shadows, and
slipped away, walking north on Route 17 in search of a 24 hour market. He didn't have to walk far.
He bought a half-gallon of milk, some canned goods, a bag of rice, some bread and lunch meat, a two liter soft
drink, and a bag chips. He also grabbed a few of those pickled sausages - the ones in which the chief ingredient
was beef lips. His father always teased him that eating one of those things was like kissing a cow. He barely made
it home before the bags broke.
He ate a good supper of rice and beans, stewed tomatoes, and lunch meat. He had been snacking most the day
on dry cereal, stale crackers and a can of pork and beans.
After he ate, he walked back down to the store and got some boxes out of the dumpster for packing. Late that
night, he threw most of what he did not need, or could not take with him, into the dumpster of the apartment
building parking lot. The next morning he boxed up the few things he would need to take to his parents' house.
Then he called his father.
"Hey daddy," Ben said when his dad answered the phone, "I'm ready. Can you come and get me?"
"Sure son. How much stuff you got? Will there be room for your mama to come with me?"
"Yeah! We'll make room. I really want to see mama," Ben said excitedly. He loved his mother, and he missed her.
But he especially needed a friendly face after bearing the brunt of so much hatred and rejection in the last few
days. He not only wanted to see his mama; he needed to see his mama.
Ben waited at the window, watching for his parents' car to arrive. Meanwhile, he noticed a man who appeared to
be in his forties drive up in a newer model Lincoln. That car didn't fit in this apartment complex.
The man locked his car after retrieving a briefcase from the back seat. That's something else that didn't fit in this
complex. He had on a shiny, expensive looking dark suit and wore some of those glasses with the photosensitive
lenses that turned to shades when he stepped into the sunlight. He looked rich and important. And he
approached Ben's door.
"Oh great!" Ben groaned. "Looks like a lawyer, or another detective. That's all I need."
The man tapped on the door politely.
Ben ignored him. The man persisted several times, knocking harder and more determinedly each time.
Finally he began to call out, "Mr. Wilson! Mr. Benjamin Wilson! I know you are in there, Mr. Wilson. I saw you
looking out of the window when I drove up."
He waited for a brief moment. No answer.
"Mr. Wilson," he tried again, more insistent, "I am an attorney. I have some papers to serve you."
Again he waited. Still no response.
"Mr. Wilson, if you do not answer the door, I will have to return with the United States Marshall. We will eventually
serve you these papers wherever you are, so please, do us all a favor and answer the door."
Ben jerked the door open in anger. "Now what?" he bellowed. He was not in the mood to be polite. He had
experienced nothing but hostility in the past few days, and now here was another pesky lawyer. "What did I do
now?" he screamed.
"Mr. Benjamin Wilson?" the man asked politely.
"Yeah! That's me. What do you want? What have I done now? Won't you people ever leave me alone?" Ben
"Can I see some identification, Mr. Wilson?" the man inquired.
"What? You want ID?" Ben shrieked. "Are you an idiot? Just look down, mister."
The man stared at Ben for a moment and then realized that Ben literally meant to look down. He glanced at the
half dozen scattered newspapers with Ben's picture emblazoned across the front page.
"I'm sorry," he started to say, "that's not really ... Oh, never mind," he decided. "Mr. Wilson, I'm Maurice Mitchum,
attorney at law. I represent the M & M Law Firm of Myrtle Beach. And I ..."
Ben interrupted him with laughter, "What? You're a lawyer for a candy company?"
"Not that M & M, Mr. Wilson. My brother, Murray, and I have a law partnership ... M & M - Mitchum and Mitchum,
or Maurice and Murray."
"Oh!" Ben wisecracked, "I thought maybe I had broken some chocolate laws. Ha! Ha!" He tried to disguise his
irritation, but it came out as pure sarcasm.
"Like I was saying," Mitchum continued. He was not trying to hide his irritation. "We handled the property transfer
when Mr. Cyrus Morris deeded his property to Isaiah Washington a number of years ago. Last week, Mr.
Washington came to see us. He made out a will that, in the event of his death, his cabin in Georgetown County
near Burgess be legally transferred to you."
"What?" Ben gasped.
"For what it's worth, Benjamin Wilson, you are now the owner of a cabin in the swamps of Georgetown County
and anything it might contain."
"But ... but what am I going to do with that cabin?" Ben ran his hand through his hair.
"Mr. Wilson, what you do with it is not my concern. If you will please sign this document, I will be on my way."
Ben scribbled his name and the attorney left after giving Ben copies of everything.
"Isaiah planned this whole thing out," Ben whispered to himself. "But why?"