The invisible cipher a.., p.8
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       The Invisible Cipher - A Jagged Journeys' Novella, p.8
 

          
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“Well, Mr. Gatlin,” the clerk said. “I have papers here declaring that—” he lifted a document from his briefcase. “On this day, October fourteen, nineteen hundred and sixty-four, the defendant, Neil Allen Gatlin, is hereby absolved of all charges of murder in the case of Mr. Walter Parsons and Mrs. Harriet Parsons by the State of Illinois.”

  The room was silent except for the clock on the wall.

  Neil stared in shock at them.

  The clerk handed him a gold bordered paper. “Here is a Certificate of Innocence from Judge Bracket.”

  Neil took the paper, his limbs moving more like a man in a trance.

  “And this is an Executive Pardon Based on Innocence from Governor Otto Kerner, Jr.,” said the clerk, handing him another stiff sheet of paper.

  “I’m absolved?”

  “You bet, you are, son,” Harvey Rubens said and reached over and squeezed Neil’s arm.

  Neil’s brother, Ken, nodded with a suppressed grin.

  Neil looked around the room at each of the men. His breathing intensified. “This isn’t a joke?”

  “Nope,” Ken said.

  “How? What happened?”

  “My men cornered Charley’s friend, Scotty, and let him know we had enough evidence to lock him away unless he talked,” Ken said.

  “Did you?”

  “Only hunches. But we were pretty sure Willis did the killing and Scotty corroborated that.”

  “Willis and Charley are sitting in jail right now awaiting trial,” Rubens said.

  Neil looked at Rubens. “So, I’m, free?”

  “You bet your bootstraps.”

  Neil raised his head to the smoke-stained ceiling then glanced down to his hands, still cuffed. “Then, can we get these things off?”

  “You don’t want to keep those on as a souvenir?” asked Warden Trimble, sifting through his key chain.

  Neil rubbed his wrists. “I’m free!” Tears streamed down his face.

  Rubens put a hand on Neil’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for the hell you’ve had to endure.”

  Neil’s shoulders shook. He wiped the tears on the back of his arm and looked up. “I want to see Sunshine.” His face contorted. “And my son. I want to hold my son.”

  “They’re waiting at a diner in town,” Ken said.

  Neil jumped to his feet. “Then what are we waiting for?”

  “Hold on there young man.” The warden pulled some papers from a drawer and slid them to Rubens and Ken. “We’ve got just a few details to finish up and I think Mr. Burns has some papers that need signing.”

  Burns nodded and held out some papers.

  “Mrs. Collins,” the warden spoke into his intercom. “Have Neil Gatlin’s belongings been gathered?”

  “Yes sir, Officer Landon has just arrived with them.”

  “Send him in.”

  The strapping Hugh entered carrying a box which he set in front of Neil. “Please verify everything is accounted for.”

  Neil removed the lid, scanned the contents then looked at Hugh.

  “Congratulations. I knew you were innocent.”

  “Thanks. But why’d you send me to solitary?”

  “In hopes of protecting you.”

  ***

  The gate clanked shut behind them. Neil inhaled the fresh, free air. A small group of reporters rushed at him with notepads, cameras, microphones, and questions. He was grateful for the positive attention. He looked into a newsman’s camera and shared his story, all the time wondering if his father would see the report.

  A white, four-door Lincoln Continental pulled up.

  Rubens opened the door. “You ready to see that little lady?”

  Neil looked at his brother, surprised by the fancy car.

  “What can I say? It’s a big day, might as well leave in style.”

  Neil grinned. “Now where’s my girl?”

  The car was barely in the parking lot when Sunshine burst through the diner doors. Neil jumped from the car and scooped her off the ground. He buried his face in her blond hair and took in the faint scent of her violet perfume. “I’m so sorry. You deserve better and from now on you will get better. I love you so much.”

  Sunshine sobbed onto his shoulder. “I was so afraid...”

  He set her down and brushed her tears with his finger. “I was too. I love you so much.”

  “Hhhuumm.”

  Neil looked up. There stood Leonard. “It’s good to see you free.”

  Before Neil could say or do anything, Leonard pulled Neil into an embrace.

  Neil’s muscles, stiff at first, relaxed. “Thank you.” Neil sniffled. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family. And thank you for believing in me.”

  “Leonard.” Phyllis tugged on her husband’s arm.

  They both turned and Neil saw she was holding Neil Gatlin Junior. “My son.”

  Phyllis placed the baby in his arms.

  Neil’s hands trembled with excitement. He stared into the small face. “My son.”

  Sunshine wrapped her arm around Neil’s waist and traced their baby’s face with her finger.

  “He has your blue eyes,” he said.

  “And your jaw,” she replied.

  The baby reached for Neil’s face and he leaned closer to his son. “He’s beautiful.”

  “Beautiful but with a few signs of stubbornness.”

  Neil looked at Sunshine. “I imagine.”

  ###

  Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave a review at your favorite retailer?

  This book is available in print at most online retailers.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  When Ida Smith isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and scrapbooking. Ida’s love of story began as a child while listening to her parents and their friends share stories of their adventures. When she was ten her parents pulled her out of school and the family traveled across the United States to see many of the important historical sites. That trip planted an interest in history and how people lived and gave Ida her first view of the Illinois plains.

  To learn more about Ida and her books visit: https://www.idasmithbooks.com.

  Follow the author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIdaSmith/

  Sign up for the author’s New Jagged Journeys’ Releases mailing list and get a free copy of the suspense-filled novella, Deciphering Invisibility, the sequel to The Invisible Cipher: A Jagged Journeys’ Novella.

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  OTHER BOOKS BY IDA SMITH

  Deciphering Invisibility

  Be careful who you cross.

  Neil Gatlin may be out of prison, but it doesn't mean he's out of trouble. With few prospects, Neil finds himself back where most residents still think he's a killer. Neil now has suspicious townsfolk and even dangerous criminals watching his every move.

  When Neil finds himself entangled in threats from an unknown source it doesn't take long before his life spirals out of control. Now every choice drives him further from the woman he loves and closer to prison or death.

  Neil must discover the art of invisibility before it's too late.

  Available in both print and eBook formats from your favorite online retailer.

  Anticipated

  What we hope for isn’t always what we expect.

  Under the watchful eyes of Roman soldiers, Uzziel pieces together ancient prophecy of a coming king. If only he can rid Israel of Rome’s oppression before they discover his dark secret.

  Anticipated Earned a 5 Star Rating from Reader’s Favorite.

  “A wonderful story about the Jewish response to Jesus the Messiah in the first century A.D. The author’s description of Jesus is based upon solid research and a realistic portrayal of the different responses to Jesus by first century Jews, as seen through the eyes of Bethlehem shepherd boy Uzziel…fun reading, but also very informative. The gr
ammar is flawless, making for easy reading and an ample desire to keep turning the pages. Author, Ida Smith, knows her craft.”

  –Paul F. Murray, Readers' Favorite

  Available in both print and eBook formats from your favorite online retailer.

 
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