Exact Revengeby Tim Green
- Tim Green's most recent novel, The First 48 (0-446-53144-8), was published in Warner hardcover in 2/04 and was a New York Times extended bestseller. It has grossed nearly 71,000 copies. - The Fifth Angel (0-446-53085-9, Warner, 2/03), Green's previous novel, hit the New York Times extended bestseller list and has over 450,000 copies in print combined. - The… See more details below
- Tim Green's most recent novel, The First 48 (0-446-53144-8), was published in Warner hardcover in 2/04 and was a New York Times extended bestseller. It has grossed nearly 71,000 copies. - The Fifth Angel (0-446-53085-9, Warner, 2/03), Green's previous novel, hit the New York Times extended bestseller list and has over 450,000 copies in print combined. - The Fourth Perimeter, published in hardcover in 2002, was a New York Times extended bestseller and People Page-turner of the Week. It has close to 480,000 copies in combined print. - The author is a featured commentator on NPR and Fox Sports, and a regular contributor to Salon.com and USA Today.
- Hachette Book Group
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)
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By Tim Green
Warner BooksCopyright © 2005 Tim Green
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHERE WAS A TIME when people wished that they were me. The only boundaries I had were the limits of my imagination. Now my world is six feet wide, eight feet long, and eight and a half feet high. It's less than you think. The only thing between the concrete floor and me is a narrow three-inch mattress. I don't need blankets or sheets because it's always warm. My shirt and pants were once gray. Now they are the color of oatmeal. They are no longer stiff with sweat and I can't smell them even though the guards angle their faces away whenever they try to let me out.
My days are full. They last one hour. It is the hour that they give me light. There are pests to be hunted and killed. Cracks in the walls need to be filled with a mortar I compose from loose pebbles and sand. My body needs inspection. My nails need to be filed down against the block wall. An ingrown hair scraped clean. Small ways that bring some order to my life.
When my work is through, I allow myself to languish and think about the times when I was a boy. I like to tilt my face to the light and close my eyes. I can feel the heat of the sunlight then and hear the swish of waves lapping the stones and the trees whispering secrets. I can feel the planks of wood beneath my towel. I hang my arm over the edge of the dock and press just the tips of my fingers into the water's pliant skin without breaking its surface.
I can smell the woodsmoke from the cobblestone fireplace in our small cabin and an occasional whiff of balsam. I can hear the bang of aluminum against the dock and my father asking me to go for a canoe ride. I say yes so as not to disappoint him even though I don't want to leave my mother's side. Her fingertips slide down the back of her page and her thumb snaps its edge as she turns to the next. I can hear the rattle and clang of the dinner bell.
Then my day ends.
I begin by allowing myself to vent, having somehow latched on to the notion that it's good for me. I have screamed myself mute. I have cried myself dry. I have laughed until my stomach convulses in painful knots. I have jabbered insanely to myself, reasoning with, arguing, begging, scolding, and mocking God. Eventually, I grow tired and I am ready to behave. Then I'm like everyone else, struggling to stay busy enough with what I have so I won't think about all the things I don't.
I still take pride in the long hard muscles, taut beneath the bronze skin of my six-foot frame. I have more positions for push-ups than a sex manual has for copulation. Push-ups on my fingertips. Push-ups upside down. Push-ups with my feet braced halfway up the wall. There is a thin metal seam above the door casing. I have calluses on my fingertips that fit nicely into that groove. I do pull-ups four different ways. Frontward with a narrow grip. Frontward with a wide grip. Same thing backward.
I can do five thousand sit-ups. I can run in place. I can jump on one leg and jump on two. I can shuffle from side to side the length of my world six thousand times without stopping. I know eighteen katas from Okinawa and I can do them all, ten times in succession without stopping. Then I sleep.
When I wake up, it's still night. Always. If I can, I go back to sleep. If I can't, I exercise my mind to keep from thinking of her. The velvety handfuls of dark hair in a curtain over my bare chest. The smooth pencil-line scar on her hip.
I can multiply and divide seven-digit numbers in my head. I can integrate and differentiate formulas I make up at random. I can regurgitate the meaning behind every mnemonic device from Pieper's New York State Bar Review.
I need to be strong.
Every sixty days, they come for me. Sixty days is as long as they can put someone into solitary confinement without giving him the opportunity to show that he is ready to behave. When they come for me, I will attack the first person I can get my hands on. I will do as much damage to him as I can because I know I'll get it all back and then some whether I spit in someone's face or tear out an eyeball.
At first, they try to beat it out of you. One at a time, the meanest guards get a chance to claim you from the hole. Then, when they realize that you are strong and that you will never stop, they begin to send the rookies. They will watch from behind the bars and laugh until they've had enough or until they get nervous. It takes six years to work through the digestive system of a maximum-security prison in New York. I am in my third different prison. After today, I believe they will send me to a fourth.
My life didn't used to be like this. There was a time when I had everything.
Excerpted from Exact Revenge by Tim Green Copyright © 2005 by Tim Green . Excerpted by permission.
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