THE JAYWALKER • by Tom Britz

Dressed in his festive orange attire, Niles Davenport follows the jackbooted, uniformed police officer down the boisterous hallway en route to his new weekend digs. His mind reels as he notices the thick gray metal bars that keep the current population in check.

Niles figures if Michigan lawmakers studied basic geometry he wouldn’t be here. He assumed everyone knew the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Yet, they called it jaywalking and the judge in his all abiding wisdom saw fit to give him a weekend to think about his criminal behavior.

“Looks like you got a wild one there, Frank,” someone yells.

“I bet the streets are breathing easier, now you’ve nabbed him,” another opined.

He hears this and other chatter as he’s led to the waiting cell down this interminable hall. For all he knows, there are hardened criminals — murderers, rapists, bank robbers and other jaywalkers, just waiting to torment him. They all look mean and disrespectful and truth be told he’s nervous as hell.

The keys on the huge ring in Frank’s hand make a loud jangling sound as he unlocks Niles’ new front door.

“Step inside,” he says. Niles just barely crosses the threshold when the door makes a reverberating crash as it’s slammed shut and Frank re-locks it.

As Niles turns around he gets his first glimpse of the dregs of humanity that are going to be his comfort and solace in the coming days. He’s not comfortable. They look… mean.

There are five others in this oasis amid the concrete and iron. Two of them look as if they haven’t bathed or met a razor in weeks, a razor that worked on their face, that is. Two others are lying on their bunks loudly snoring. The fifth sits in the corner reading a Bible. This gent lifts his head and snarls, sending Niles immediately to the bunks.

There is an unoccupied bunk, the top one, of course. Niles stares at it, trying his best to will himself afloat with no luck whatsoever. There is no way out, but to climb. Trying not to disturb the log splitter on the bottom bunk, he heaves himself up, then for the next few moments lies with eyes closed, trying desperately to teleport out of there, but that doesn’t work either, so he opens them.

Not two inches from his nose is Charles Manson, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

“What brings you here, boy?” he rasps.

Figuring he needs to impress this Manson look-alike, Niles says, “I killed a man.”

A look of disbelief and total respect crosses his face and Niles knows that he’s scored some major points.

‘What about you, Chuck?” Niles asks.

“Who you callin’ Chuck? My name’s Tim,” he says. “I’m in here for non-payment on my alimony.”

“What?!” Niles blurts incredulously. If ever there was a cold-blooded murderer, Niles was looking at him.

Tim raises his right hand and says, “On my momma’s grave.”

“In fact,” he continues, “I’d bet that you are the only man-killer in here. That guy readin’ the Bible’s another alimony skipper. The guy ‘neath you is here ’cause his dog bit the mailman. And those two over there,” he points, “tried robbin’ a donut shop and you won’t believe this, but there was a couple of cops in there. What are the chances, huh?”

Niles having already made his bed can’t see any way out of it, so he knits his hands together, feigns a yawn and cracks his knuckles. “Do you play checkers?”


Tom Britz says: “I am a writer. It was basically a sorting out of private ambitions, having given up on my first career choice of Major League ballplayer and my second, an astronaut. Never got the hang of Indian Chief or even a Tinker. I have been a factory rat but never really cared for it. Too lazy to work and too nervous to steal. I am a writer.”


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Avalina Kreska

    Fab just fab. Really made me chuckle. % stars from me. Sorry, 5 stars from me.

    • Tom Britz
      Avalina, thank you for your time in reading and responding. You are an angel!
      • Avalina Kreska
        I remember your window washer story, enjoyed that as well, great writing Tom, you officially have a fan (to keep you cool) !!
  • Avalina Kreska

    Fab just fab. Really made me chuckle. % stars from me. Sorry, 5 stars from me.

    • Tom Britz
      Avalina, thank you for your time in reading and responding. You are an angel!
      • Avalina Kreska
        I remember your window washer story, enjoyed that as well, great writing Tom, you officially have a fan (to keep you cool) !!
  • Sarah Russell

    Great story. 5 from me as well.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you, Sarah. It is appreciated.
  • Sarah Russell

    Great story. 5 from me as well.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you, Sarah. It is appreciated.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    Cut out a few adjectives from the first sentence, and this would be perfect. Nicely done, Tom.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you, Paul! Very kind.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    Cut out a few adjectives from the first sentence, and this would be perfect. Nicely done, Tom.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you, Paul! Very kind.
  • Cranky Steven

    Five stars. Really great. Does he really work in mental health or is he being treated? I’ve gone both ways.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you kindly, Steven.
      • Cranky Steven
        You are quite welcome. I look forward to more.
  • Cranky Steven

    Five stars. Really great. Does he really work in mental health or is he being treated? I’ve gone both ways.

    • Tom Britz
      Thank you kindly, Steven.
      • Cranky Steven
        You are quite welcome. I look forward to more.
  • Jane T

    What a witty story! I actually chuckled out loud when I read what the others were incarcerated for, and the icing on the cake for me was when Niles feigns a yawn and cracks his knuckles …. king of the walk – just like that! Great read, Tom. Five stars.

    • Tom Britz
      Jane, I appreciate you telling me what worked for you in this story. Thank you! You are kind.
  • Jane T

    What a witty story! I actually chuckled out loud when I read what the others were incarcerated for, and the icing on the cake for me was when Niles feigns a yawn and cracks his knuckles …. king of the walk – just like that! Great read, Tom. Five stars.

    • Tom Britz
      Jane, I appreciate you telling me what worked for you in this story. Thank you! You are kind.
  • Jen

    I loved this story, it was so funny!

    • Tom Britz
      Many thanks, Jen!
  • Jen

    I loved this story, it was so funny!

    • Tom Britz
      Many thanks, Jen!
  • Von Rupert

    Niles Davenport should have stuck with being a jaywalker. 🙂 My favorite thing about this story is how clearly the reader is able to picture Niles and his unique view of the world. You’re an awesome storyteller, Tom!

    • Tom Britz
      Von, thank you.
  • Von Rupert

    Niles Davenport should have stuck with being a jaywalker. 🙂 My favorite thing about this story is how clearly the reader is able to picture Niles and his unique view of the world. You’re an awesome storyteller, Tom!

    • Tom Britz
      Von, thank you.
  • Amrita

    5 stars. Simple, effective. Liked the surprise of the alimony skippers and doughnut thieves.

  • Amrita

    5 stars. Simple, effective. Liked the surprise of the alimony skippers and doughnut thieves.