This story was written in answer to Fandango’s One Word Challenge. Word – ‘Survive’
This story also includes the Your Daily Word Prompt word – ‘Exonerate’
Here’s what I came up with …
Innocence on Trial
Anthony (Ant) Logan walked out of the prison gates and took a deep breath of freedom fresh air. He’d had to survive five-months in the slammer while his lawyers worked to exonerate him. It’d had been a boozy night which got him in trouble. He woke up the next morning with a hangover and the police banging on the door. They arrested him for the knife murder of another man and the nightmare began. He knew he was innocent; even being drunk couldn’t make a man forget stabbing someone.
Now, months later CCTV camera footage from a shop near the pub had finally proven him innocent of the crime. Ant couldn’t have been more relieved as he climbed on the bus to make his way home. Even his wife didn’t know he was free yet, he couldn;t wait to get home and tell her.
The bus took a winding route through the leafy, field-lined country roads picking up and discharging people of all kinds in the villages.
Ant tried to zone it all out, focusing on his desire to get home to his wife and catch up on lost time. One thing he wasn’t doing was having a beer. He was done getting drunk after what had happened.
“May I join you?” asked a gentleman getting on at one stop.
Ant looked over and smiled. “Course you can, take a load off, mate.”
“Thank you, sir. You know; in Nigeria, I wouldn’t be allowed to sit next to you at all.”
“I’m, Ant.” He offered a hand and smiled as the two shook hands. “I don’t know much about Nigeria but you have as much right to any seat on this bus as I do,”
“Thank you. I’m Ozinna – my friends call me Ozzy.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Ozzy.” Ant settled back and the two began to chat as the bus headed on toward the city.
It was on the outskirts of the city at a business park, where Ozzy rose to disembark and got to work. “It was a pleasure talking with you, Ant. I hope we meet again maybe for tea.”
“I’d like that, Ozzy. Have a great day.” Ant shook his hand again.
Ozzy smiled at him and walked down the bus. He reached the door just as a guy in jeans and a lion print t-shirt came aboard.
“Get out of my damned way!” he yelled shoving into Ozzy.
Ant felt a little rage burning with him at once as he watched on.
Ozzy raised his arms and attempted to move out of the way and let the guy pass.
The man wasn’t interested, he was out for trouble. He began unleashing volleys of racist abuse.
“Oi! Curb it and get off my damn bus!” demanded the driver.
Ozzy took a shove in the chest and stumbled back toward Ant.
His attacker advanced and knocked him to the floor. “You’ll pay for getting in my way!” he said drawing a knife.
Passengers screamed, many getting up and either disembarking or moving as far away as they could.
Ant was on his feet by then. ‘I don’t believe it, five minutes out of prison and now I have to potentially do something to put me right back inside again.’ “Hey, pal! Put the knife away and get off the damned bus!” he yelled.
“You want to defend him?” the guy swung the knife at Ant.
“He’s a nice man, pal. Back off the bus now!” Ant stood his ground. The knife terrified him. He didn’t want more time inside for somebody getting stabbed.
“Then you’re as bad as him!” the guy slashed at his face.
Ant caught his wrist and backed him off. “The only bad person on this bus is you.”
“Time to die hero.” The guy threw himself on Ant.
Ant fell back on a seat and felt the knife tear into his forearm. He cried out and kicked his attacker in the stomach. A second boot knocked him into the seat across the aisle.
Ozzy seized the knife and attempting to rip it away from the crazed, screaming man. “Give it up!”
Ant saw the knife flash in the light as it came free of Ozzy’s grip. It arced back at the Nigerian’s chest – it would be a death blow. Ant lunged across the bus, shoved Ozzy away and felt the knife spear his shoulder. He screamed out in pain as he staggered back across the bus and down on the seats.
The attacker never relinquished his knife as he pushed him back “Told you, you’d pay!”
Ant felt the knife come out of his flesh.
The guy lunged at him again. He would never stop until somebody was dead.
Ant grabbed for his wrist. The knife tore into the seat, came free and slash in front of Ant’s face. Sweating with pain and fear, Ant kicked out and reversed the pressure on the knife saving his life by millimetres.
The attacker kept trying to kill him and then it happened. He lunged hard – too hard.
Ant rolled away — the knife hit the seat’s metal frame, rebounded and buried itself in the attacker’s chest.
He stumbled back gurgling blood and fell to the floor.
Police officers burst onto the bus in the same instant. “You – on you knees hands up!” they demanded of Ant.
Ant felt sick with worry and dizzy with pain. He collapsed onto a seat and raised his hands.
“Wait, on my honour, Ant is innocent,” said Ozzy stepping before him. “I made to leave the bus when this guy racially abused and tried to kill me with the knife.” Ozzy indicated a tear in his suit where he was nearly stabbed in the chest.
“Is this true?” asked an officer.
“Every word. If he didn’t act. I would be a dead man.” Ozzy turned to face Ant. “I owe you my life, my friend.”
Ant looked to him and nodded as they shook hands. “You didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a racist prick like him. Besides we haven’t had a chance to have that tea yet.”
“We’ll worry about the tea later. Right now, I got a dead man and you’re a released prisoner wearing a lot of blood.” The officer moved forward to handcuff Ant. “I arrested you last time right?”
“Yeah and I wasn’t innocent then and I’m innocent now. It’s my blood, look.” Ant showed his slashed forearm and the stab wound in his shoulder. “I need medical attention, not handcuffs.”
“Officer, they speak the truth. The bus camera will confirm it too,” said the driver speaking up. “Those two are both victims.”
The officer nodded.
“And good friends,” Ozzy said with a smile.
Have a great day!