"Somebody check on his mic," the producer said. "We need to make sure he can be heard clearly without any feedback."
Kyle sat nervously in the chair, trying his best not to fidget. He watched as the film crew ran around checking the lighting, and making sure everything was ready for the cameras. The young woman came by again with her makeup kit.
"Kyle, you have to relax. You are sweating, and messing up your makeup. Do you want to be all shiny in the face when you make your television debut?" she joked, dusting his nose for the umpteenth time. Kyle laughed and took a deep breath. When she finished, she looked at him and smiled. "Aren't you handsome?" she asked jokingly.
Kyle shrugged and blushed and watched her as she scurried off the set.
There were a few more camera tests and sound checks, which made Kyle even more nervous about this interview. Finally, after what seemed like hours, everything was in place. The producer came over to Kyle and shook his hand.
"Mr. Sherman, thank you so much for agreeing to this. Please, just be candid and as honest as possible. You'll be allowed to speak without interruption. Just tell the whole story exactly as it happened. Do you have any questions?"
Kyle shook his head. This would be his first time on television and he was anxious. He wanted to get everything right so he wouldn't look foolish. "I think I'm good," he told the producer. "Just ready to get it over with."
"That's understandable, Mr. Sherman," the producer said. "Okay. We are gonna start rolling now. Whenever you're ready, you can go ahead and begin."
"Where should I start?" Kyle asked.
"From the beginning," the producer said. "Start from the beginning." He walked off to the side and took a seat. Everybody in the room was silent and watching Kyle, who cleared his throat and began talking.
"The beginning? Okay, well... My name... Uh... My name is Kyle Edward Sherman. I am 34 years old. I am a husband... well... I was a husband, and I'm a father of three boys. Their names are Edward, Robert, and Kyle, Jr. I have three sisters and a brother, and my parents have been married for 43 years. Life for me has always been pretty simple. I enlisted in the Army after high school and did two tours in Afghanistan before I tore my ACL and was honorably discharged. I came back to New York, got married, and I became a C.O. a few months after my oldest son was born. I've been at the same job ever since.
I was a correctional officer at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, New York. Beacon is a really quiet town in upstate New York, away from the crowds and noise of the city. I've lived in Beacon for my entire life, and it's strange seeing people I've grown up with, people I went to elementary school with, people who lived on my street and played basketball with me, now incarcerated and under my command in this prison. It's sad, actually.
I liked my job okay. I mean, it's not the most glamorous thing in the world, but it was steady, the benefits were good, and it was close to home. I made decent money and had lots of opportunities for overtime. Who can really complain about making money? My wife whined that I needed to work fewer hours and spend more time at home with her and the kids, but I kept trying to explain to her that there isn't much opportunity here in Beacon, especially for people like me who didn't go to college. Every time it came up, there was an argument. Just a few weeks ago--"
"Mr. Sherman?" the producer interrupted. "Can we stick to the story? The real story? The reason why you're here this morning?"
Kyle frowned. "I'm sorry. Was I rambling? I'm sorry for rambling. Should I start over from the beginning? Or can I just pick up--"
"Just pick up where you left off," the producer said patiently. "You were talking about your job. What else can you tell us about it?"
"Oh, right. Okay. Well, as a C.O., it's basically my responsibility to make sure the prison runs smoothly. I make sure the inmates have what they need, and that they aren't putting themselves or others at risk of bodily harm. I make sure they're processed properly, that they get to and from their work details in a timely manner. I talk to them, too. I try to pour into their lives, give them some positivity. Help them understand there can be life after prison if they play their cards right.
That's my favorite part, talking to them. There's so much you can get to know about a person when you just listen to them. A lot of people write these guys off as bad just because they end up in prison, but I don't always think that's the case. Some guys are just down on their luck and trying to feed their families, and that's how they end up here, you know? Some are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I like to make the inmates here feel like they matter, like they're not just societal castaways. So I do my job, but I also listen. I find out about them. I treat them well.
Anyway, I know you're all here to hear about what happened between me and Calhoun, so I'll get to the point.
Calhoun was processed into the jail on one of my days off, so I didn't have an opportunity to meet him and feel him out during intake. He was already on the yard, assigned to a cell and work detail by the time I saw him. During an inmate's first few weeks in Fishkill, I like to watch him, see how he acts, how he fits in with the other inmates, how he sleeps, whether or not he eats, or cries, or begs to go home. I like to see which inmates have their eyes on him, you know? The thing about Calhoun that surprised me most was that he was always unbelievably calm. He didn't come on the yard running his mouth, acting tough like so many of the other inmates do. But he didn't cry and hide and cower in the corners either. He had a very quiet confidence to him, like he wasn't trying to make any noise, but he wasn't really one to be fucked with, either. Wait-- Can I say fucked? Am I allowed to curse?"
"It's okay," the producer responded. "We'll edit this interview before it airs. Go on, Mr. Sherman."
"Okay. So like I was saying... He had this confidence to him, and the other guys could sense it, so more or less, they just left him alone. He didn't seem to know anyone, and he wasn't associated with any gang or group, and I know he wasn't from Beacon, because I know pretty much every family here, having lived here my whole damn life. But as I'm looking at him, there is something so familiar about this dude... Something I recognize from somewhere that I can't put my finger on, you know? Anyway, the first few months Calhoun was in Fishkill, he was alone.
He was assigned to laundry detail. He was ridiculously meticulous about his work, and he never talked to the other inmates on laundry. He didn't watch tv or play cards or dominoes with the other inmates, either. He'd just... Sit. Off to the side. Not staring off into space, but he'd be sitting there watching the other guys, or reading. I always sensed he was getting a feel for who was who and what was what in Fishkill. From the moment I saw Calhoun, I knew there was more to him than what most people noticed. I decided to look into his file to see what I could find out about him.
Calhoun was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, which ain't all that far away from Beacon. Maybe a half hour, tops. He graduated near the top of his class in high school and accepted a baseball scholarship to Syracuse, but for some reason, he didn't go. Three years after he graduated from high school, Calhoun was arrested for petty theft, and he did several short stints in Otisville, Great Meadow, Bare Hill for small crimes. Petty theft a few times. Low-level drug offenses. Auto theft. Nothing real serious, you know? And he'd serve a few months, a year or two, and come home, and within a few months, he'd be right back in jail. The time between his last stint in jail and when he ended up here in Fishkill was the longest he'd been out since his little crime wave started-- 5 years. He came to Fishkill on aggravated assault and armed robbery charges and was given an 87-month sentence-- just over 7 years, the longest sentence he ever got.
What struck me was how does a kid graduate at the top of his class and get into college and get collared for such small, insignificant crimes? Calhoun was so... Weird. He wasn't new to prison, but he didn't fit the profile of a typical prisoner. I took a special interest in Calhoun after I read his background. I was determined to figure him out. See what made him tick, you know?
Anyway. Months passed and Calhoun was still off to himself, doing his own thing. After about 6 months on the yard, something changed. Calhoun had been a loner. He sat alone, ate alone, exercised alone... But one day, I noticed another inmate, Jenkins, sitting with him at his meals. A week later, two more inmates joined them. The week after that, there were three more. In a month's time, there were eleven inmates with Calhoun at meals, at HIS table, meaning they sought him out, not the other way around. He was clearly the smartest of the bunch, and the other guys that sat with him seemed to gravitate toward him in a major way. They hung on to his every word. Eventually, they were getting his meals for him. Doing his work in laundry. He was the boss, see, and they were his subjects. The eleven grew to twenty real quick. Soon, Calhoun and his boys became a major concern to us C.O.s. They'd become one of the biggest cliques we had on the yard, and I still never figured out how. Despite their size, though, they never got into fights. They never caused any problems. They never made any noise.
One afternoon after Calhoun had been in Fishkill for about a two years, I overheard him in the TV room talking about his girl, the girl that he'd left at home. This was the first time I'd ever heard about a woman from him; he shared very little of his personal life. The only visitors that ever came to see him were his mother, his brother, his sisters and his nephew. There was never a woman. Anyway, he was talking about this girl, and I overheard him say her name-- Tootie. He called her Tootie. He didn't go into a bunch of detail. He just said he missed her. Changed the subject and started talking about something else.
I'm standing nearby kinda baffled, because my wife's nickname is Tootie. Her mother gave her that nickname when she was born. Small world, I thought. I ain't think anything of it.
A few weeks later, in the TV room again, Calhoun mentions Tootie again. This time, the fellas were all sitting around talking about their girls at home and what they did for a living, to see which of them had the smartest woman, you know? Calhoun says that Tootie's a nurse, that she's smarter and prettier than any of their women. A nurse? My wife is a nurse, too. I'm not the smartest man in the world, but things were a little bit too coincidental. I thought maybe he was fucking with me. It's easy to find out personal information about C.O.s, and inmates often use this personal info to fuck with us, to expose our weaknesses, to get under our skin. I left it alone. I mean, it ain't hard to find out I'm married to a woman that everybody calls Tootie that's a nurse. I chuckled, shrugged it off."
"Mr. Sherman," the producer called out. "We need to take a second to adjust your makeup. You're sweating again and you look shiny on camera. Kristen!! We need you on set!"
The makeup girl came running, brush and powder in hand. "I'm certainly getting my salary's worth of work with you today," she joked. "Relax," she whispered, "or I'll have to take you into the trailer to calm you down." She winked and ran off.
After adjusting the lights and doing another sound check, the producer said, "Okay, Mr. Sherman. You were saying that Calhoun knew your wife was a nurse, but you didn't bite. Continue."
"Okay. Almost a year passed before Calhoun ever mentioned Tootie again. They were in the dining room having breakfast when one of the fellas joked that Tootie sounded like a name for a stripper and not a nurse. Everybody's laughing, you know, and Calhoun says, 'Her real name ain't Tootie, you dumb prick. Her real name is Nicole, and she's got a rose tattooed on her hip.'
This stopped me in my tracks. Knowing she's a nurse and her nickname is Tootie but her real name is Nicole is easy stuff. Common knowledge. But that rose tattoo? Toot never wore anything that revealed that tattoo. Very few people knew she had it. She went and got it when we first got married seven years ago. It's a rose with her cousin's initials, R.H.C, next to it. This was her favorite cousin that died when they were kids. She wanted to have a way to remember him always, so she got the tattoo. This was way too coincidental for my liking, but I didn't want to cause a big fuss, not with Calhoun's flunkies all over him. So I decided to wait and talk to him privately. This is eating away at me like crazy, and I need answers, you know?
A few days later, I managed to catch Calhoun by himself in the TV room. His friends were all playing cards, and he was off to the side, reading. I go and I sit next to him.
'So tell me more about Tootie,' I said.
Calhoun starts grinning, wide. Ear to ear. Almost like he couldn't wait to tell me all about her, you know? He puts his book down and starts talking.
'Well, Tootie, or Nicole, she's a nurse down at St. Luke's in Newburgh. She mostly works nights, so she don't visit... She got kids at home to attend to, and she's important at her job. But she's real pretty. She has my initials tattooed on her hip next to a rose. R.H.C.-- Robert Henry Calhoun.'
So by now, I'm clenching my teeth, you know? And I got my hands balled into fists. Coincidence is one thing, but this was just too much. I'm silent, tryna decide if I wanna say something else, and he continues.
'Tootie's a great woman, you know? She's a real cougar in the bedroom, too.' And then he winked at me. The bastard actually winked his eye at me! And I'm trying so hard not to lose my cool, because so many other C.O.s fall into this trap with inmates, and I refused to let Calhoun get the best of me. He keeps talking.
'There's a blue armchair in the corner of her bedroom, and she likes to be bent into all kinds of positions on that chair.' Nicole and me... We have a blue armchair in our bedroom. He goes on to describe our bedroom, down to the smallest detail. He knew she kept her hairbrush on top of the antique jewelry box she inherited from her grandmother. He knew that we have one pillow on our bed that's bigger than the rest of them. He knew all about my wife's sexual preferences. He's talking about her like she's the greatest lay he's ever had, like she's not my fucking wife! Can I get some water, please? It's hot as shit sitting here!!"
The producer jumped up. "Can someone get Mr. Sherman some water? Let's take a quick break. Kristen! Makeup!"
Kyle gulped water from the bottle that was handed to him and took several deep breaths. "Just tell the story," he muttered to himself, trying to calm his racing heart. He agreed to do this interview, but he hadn't anticipated it being this difficult. Kristen runs on set and wordlessly reapplied his makeup, doing everything she can this time to avoid eye contact with him. After a few minutes of deep breathing, Kyle said, "I think I'm ready now. Let's get this over with."
The producer nodded. "The cameras are rolling. Please continue."
Kyle scratched his beard. "So Calhoun describes all this stuff to me, and I'm just kinda standing there. I'm stunned, because I never had Toot made out to be a cheater. She's a really good wife, you know? A good mother. She's a family girl. My mind is playing tricks on me. I'm thinking, how could this man know all the details of my bedroom? Maybe he knows one of Toot's friends, somebody she talks to a lot. Somebody feeding him information, you know? I'm trying not to jump to conclusions. I can't let this fucker think he has me by the balls, but I'm mad as fire inside. And he's not yet come out and told me that the woman he's describing is MY Toot, so I'm giving all the benefit of the doubt. I try my best to look cool, like he's not getting to me, you know?
By this point, it's time for the inmates to leave the rec room to prepare for lights out, so Calhoun and I have to cut the conversation short. That night as I'm driving home, I have a million questions going through my head. Nic's at work, so I can't bother her, but I'm so curious. Does she really know this guy? Is he just pulling my leg, or has he really been inside my house? Inside my wife? I've seen other C.O.s snap and lose everything all over some inmate who paid someone on the outside for personal details just to fuck with them, so I'm wary. Cautious. Calhoun didn't say anything to me that he wouldn't have been able to get from someone else, and, like I said, he's from Poughkeepsie. We live in Beacon. Nic works in Newburgh. Everything is so close together. There ain't no way we don't have mutual friends. I decide not to mention it to Nic. I don't wanna upset her if it's not true, but if it is true, I don't want her to know that I know until I have all the details and I'm absolutely sure. I go home, go to bed, try to forget about it.
A few weeks go by and everything at home and at work is business as usual. I don't make any noise about it. Nic is acting like herself. Everything seems okay. I do my best to push the whole thing out of my mind, and I'm almost successful, until one day, I'm standing on the yard while the inmates are exercising and Calhoun comes up and stands next to me.
What he says next changes my entire life."
Kyle closed his eyes and clenched his fists, as if the mere memory of what was said is too much for him to handle. He opened his eyes and spoke slowly in a low tone, so that everybody in the room had to strain to hear him.
"Calhoun walks up to me," Kyle said, "and asked me if I've ever wondered why my middle son doesn't look anything like the other two, who look exactly like me. I don't answer. I'm just staring at the guy, trying to decide on my next move. He continues, 'I know you wanted to name the kid Ricardo, after your father, right? But Tootie insisted on naming him Robert. Interesting, right?' And he walks away. And I'm standing there dying inside. My middle son, Robert, who is 4, doesn't look a thing like my other two. Robert is several complexions lighter than both Nicole and I, and he has gray eyes. And I remember the argument Nic and I had over his name. For months, she insisted we name the kid Robert. Months. She was so adamant about it that I just gave in and let her give the kid the name, you know?
So I take my phone out, and I scroll to the most recent picture I have of Robert. And it hits me like a ton of fucking bricks-- the thing that was so familiar about Calhoun when I first saw him. Those gray eyes. Calhoun and my son have identical gray eyes. Nobody in my family has those eyes. Nic's family either. I'm weak in the knees at this point. I run over to a corner of the yard and I throw up. I'm sick. I can't see straight. I'm pissed. But I know I gotta stay cool, right? Because this is my livelihood, and I can't just be going off. So I wait out the rest of my shift, and I drive home. By this time, Nic is on her way to work, and she's dropped the kids off at her sister's, so instead of picking them up like I usually do when our shifts overlap, I call her sister and ask her to keep them for the night. She agrees. I go home, shower, and sit in the living room, and wait the eleven hours until Nic's shift ends.
She walks in the house the next morning all shocked to see me. 'Where are the kids?' she asks. She comes over, sits on my lap, kisses me like she usually does, only I don't kiss her back. She stands up. 'Is everything okay?' she asks. And I tell her everything ain't kosher, and ask her who the fuck Robert Calhoun is to her. And for a split second, I see something in her eyes, you know? Horror. Panic. I don't know what it is, but it ain't normal Nic, who usually has everything under control, you know? But the look is only there for an instant. And she goes back to her regular self. She looks me in my eyes and says, 'Robert Calhoun? The name doesn't sound familiar. Was he a patient at the hospital or something?' And then she walks off into the laundry room and starts folding clothes. She just worked a 12 hour overnight shift. She is usually dead on her feet by the time this shift ends, but this day, she goes in the laundry room and does housework. She's nervous. Visibly shaken. Fidgety. So I walk in the laundry room after her and stand in the doorway. I ask her again.
'I don't know anyone named Robert Calhoun,' she says, as she tries to push past me to leave the laundry room. I know her. For years, this woman has been my everything. I know when she's telling the truth, and I know when she's lying. Right now, she's definitely lying. I took my fist and punched a hole in the drywall. She screams, starts crying. I don't yell though. I just look at her again, and ask in my normal voice, 'Who the fuck is Robert Calhoun? Don't you fucking lie to me, Nicole.'
By now, she's fallen to her knees, and she's sobbing. So I sit down on the floor next to her. 'Just tell me the truth, Nic,' I say to her. 'I'm your husband. I can handle anything except you lying to me.' And the truth all comes out."
Kyle stopped talking to take a sip of water. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Despite all the people crowded into the small space, the crew with all their equipment, the makeup artists, everybody was absolutely silent and staring at Kyle, obviously enthralled with his story. He'd never had the attention of so many people before. All eyes stared at him, begging him to continue. So he did.
"My wife met Calhoun when she was 14 years old, a freshman in high school. He went to Poughkeepsie High, but came to Newburgh Free Academy, Nic's school, for a baseball game. He was one year older than her, a sophomore. From the moment he saw her, Nic told me, they were in love. Inseparable. They did everything together. They had big plans after high school, you know? Nic planned to go to nursing school, and Calhoun was set to play baseball in the major leagues-- he was that good. The summer before Calhoun was supposed to leave for college, however, Nic found out that she was pregnant. She still had a year left in high school, and she was devastated. As soon as they found out about the baby, Calhoun called Syracuse and let them know that he would not be accepting his scholarship, and instead, decided to get a job on the railroad in order to support his small family.
Nicole and Calhoun had an apartment together. Calhoun worked on the railroad, Nic was a part-time secretary and full-time high school senior. Sometime during her eighth month of pregnancy, however, she noticed that something didn't feel right... the baby had stopped moving. So she went in to see the doctor, who informed her that the umbilical cord had separated from the baby and the child was dead inside her. Nic was rushed from there to the hospital, St. Luke's, the same hospital she works at, and her labor was induced. She delivered a stillborn baby girl.
Nic told me that, after their baby was born dead, their relationship really took a hit. It was too late for Calhoun to accept that scholarship, but Nic went on to graduate and was accepted into nursing school. She left him to go to college, and his life took a turn for the worst. He became a heavy drinker, messed with drugs, and he and his brother Greg started with their string of petty crimes. Maybe he became a criminal because he was bored. Maybe because he hated the way his life turned out. Either way, his life turned to shit. Despite all they'd gone through together, though, they still had a thing for each other, seeing each other while Nic was home on breaks and when Calhoun wasn't in jail.
Nic graduated and gave Calhoun a chance to clean his life up. They moved in together and everything, but he just couldn't stay out of trouble. She kicked him out and vowed to move on with her life without him, and two weeks later, met a handsome young man in the grocery store who was struggling to push his cart while hobbling on crutches. He'd just been discharged from the military and had a bright future ahead of him. She knew she could settle down with him, have a family, and live a normal life.
That young man was me. She married me, but she loved Calhoun, and despite her vows, she couldn't stay away from him. According to her, on six different occasions, she slept with Calhoun in our home while I was at work. She even admitted that Robert was Calhoun's son. That crushed me... Just hearing her say those words. I mean, it's not like I didn't know, but hearing those words, 'he's not your son,' had a whole different effect on me, you know? I sat there and watched her cry, listened to her beg me for forgiveness. 'I owe him,' she sobbed. 'How could I say no to him? He ruined his life for me!' She told me that Calhoun was her first love, but she loved me, too, and would be willing to never see Calhoun again if I agreed to stay in our marriage. I love my wife. She's beautiful, and smart, and an awesome mother. All she wanted was my forgiveness."
Kyle stopped talking and stared off into space for a few minutes. He seemed to be in a daze of some sort. Finally, after several minutes, the producer decided to give him a little push: "Mr. Sherman? What happened next? Did you forgive her?"
"No," Kyle said, matter-of-factly. "I killed her. Wrapped my hands around her neck and choked her until she turned blue, until she stopped fighting me, until wasn't breathing anymore."
Kyle took another long pause, as if he were truly contemplating his actions. The producer said, "Do you regret your decision to kill your wife?"
"No," Kyle responded immediately. "I don't. Listen. I understand cheating, right? Because it happens. Stepping out on your marriage doesn't make you a piece of shit. That's forgivable, right? What's not forgivable is having unprotected sex with some felon in my bed, getting pregnant by the fucker, naming the kid after his sorry ass, and allowing me to raise the kid, thinking he's mine, attributing his gray eyes to some long-forgotten relative or something. What's not forgivable is not giving me the option to decide whether or not I wanna raise the bastard child of your high school loser ass boyfriend. I don't regret killing her. I regret marrying her. I regret loving her. Killing her? Nope."
Kyle paused again, took another sip of his water.
"So, I killed Nic, and then I went upstairs, put on my uniform, and reported to work. I clocked in, got my cup of coffee, shot the shit with the fellas. Per my usual. When it was time for my shift to begin, I walked out on the yard. Supervised work details. Stood around chatting with the inmates during their meals. Even played a game of dominoes with Calhoun and his gang, which was kinda fun. Hadn't played dominoes in years. When Calhoun got up to use the restroom, I followed him, and as he was using the urinal, I walked up behind him. Asked him, 'Why did you give me this information? What do you expect me to do with it?' Calhoun finished doing his business and turned to look at me.
He said, 'I could've been like you, man. Made something outta myself. I gave up everything to be with her, to make things work with her, and she left me. She up and left me to follow her dreams, even though I sacrificed mine to be with her. I stopped loving Tootie a long time ago, to be honest. When I found out that you worked here, I thought long and hard about how I'd play the hand I'd been dealt. I watched you, studied you, figured out what kind of man you are before I said a word. I'm stuck in here for seven years, but Tootie? She's on the outside, enjoying her life, when she's the reason I'm in here in the first place. I should've been in the majors. This ain't personal, Sherman. I promise it ain't. This is between me and Toot, and I needed you to do my dirty work, since I can't. You get it? I needed her life to be destroyed, just like she destroyed mine.'
So Calhoun and I are staring at each other in the bathroom, man to man, eye to eye, with the weight of all he said hanging between us, and the tension in the air was so thick it could be cut with a knife, you know? And all of a sudden, this fucker starts laughing. I mean, not just a chuckle. A full-on belly laugh, tears running down his face, the whole nine. And it hits me like a ton of bricks: He used me to get revenge on Nic. I did what he couldn't do. I destroyed my life-- I'm definitely going under the jail for killing my cheating wife, my kids are about to be without both parents, and this asshole gets to walk away, all this destruction in his wake, with clean hands. And I'm standing there watching him get a good laugh at my expense, and I figure I might as well finish the job, you know?"
Kyle balled his hands into fists and clenches his teeth. There are tears in his eyes, but he refused to let them fall.
"So right there, in that filthy prison bathroom, I wrapped my hands around his neck, and choked him, too. He used me. He baited me and I took the bait. Before I met him, I lived a quiet, normal life, you know? Worked a simple job. Had a peaceful marriage. Enjoyed spending time with my kids. He came along and took all that from me. All because he couldn't let go of the past. I choked Calhoun until he turned the same shade of blue as Nicole did. Choked him and made sure he'd never laugh again. I left him on the bathroom floor, walked up to my supervisor, gave him my work badge, told him I needed to call my lawyer. Informed him that Calhoun was dead in the bathroom and Nicole was dead in our laundry room. I took a seat on the intake bench and waited. I wasn't thinking anything. Wasn't even mad. I just felt... Hallow, you know? Empty.
I thought about pleading insanity. Did you know that before Fishkill became a minimum security prison, it was the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane? I could say that I was possessed or something. But there was nothing crazy about what I did, you know? I did it because they both played me. They both took advantage of me. My wife betrayed me in a way that I didn't think was possible for her. Her lover played me, like my life was a game of chess. He won. Checkmate."
Kyle stopped talking. He noticed that Kristen, the bubbly makeup artist, was quietly crying, her sniffling the only sound in the room. Everybody else was staring, open-mouthed. When Kyle agreed to do this interview, he did so only because his story had sparked national attention. So many people thought he was some awful monster, but just as many people sympathized with him. He'd been offered book deals, exclusive interviews with top journalists, and even a movie deal. But all he really wanted was the opportunity to share what really happened, to clear his name and be honest.
He reached down and scratched his leg. In all his years as C.O., he'd never paid attention to how itchy and uncomfortable prison uniforms were, because he never had to. He looked down at his orange jumpsuit, NYDOC printed across his chest, the shackles around his ankles, and the handcuffs around his wrists. He shook his head.
"My name is Kyle Edward Sherman," he said, "and I am 34 years old. I am an inmate at the Downstate Correctional Maximum Security Institution, located twelve minutes from where I grew up, in Fishkill, New York. My sons aren't allowed to come visit me, but I don't want them to, even if they could. There is a nasty custody battle happening right now for rights to middle son, who really isn't my son after all. His grandmother, Sandra Calhoun, believes she belongs with him. I don't have the strength to fight her. How could I?" He held up his shackled hands for emphasis. "I'm a little tied up at the moment." He laughed despite himself, but no one else in the room did.
"I killed my wife and her lover. I will probably spend the rest of my life in prison for my crimes, although I was urged to plead not guilty and am currently awaiting trial. I agreed this interview because I want the world to know that I am not a monster. I am a man who loved his wife, who was devoted to her, who would've done anything to see her smile. I am a man who was played by a woman I would've given my life for and the man who was so driven by revenge that he didn't care who else got hurt. I am not a bad person; I was just dealt a bad hand. I played it to the best of my ability, but in this game, there were no winners."
Kyle looked around the room at all the faces staring back at him. To his surprise, he saw no disgust. Nobody looked sick, or angry. All he saw was sympathy. All he felt was exhaustion.
"That's it. That's the whole story," he said.
"It's a wrap," the producer said, rousing the crew from the daze they were all in. "Thank you, Mr. Sherman."
Sometimes I write things that are too short to publish. I needed someplace to put them. Here seems like just as good a place as any...