Until tonight. He swelled his lungs with rain-drenched air and stared out the half-open
window. He was suddenly that still rare beast: an innocent man in prison.
He had convinced himself over the years that such evil had been lurking, cancer-like,
within him. He had even thought of suicide, to make penance for stealing the life of
another, more pitiably a child's. But he was deeply religious, and not a fleeting
jailhouse convert to the Lord. He thus could not commit the sin of prematurely forcing his
last breath. He also knew the girl's killing had condemned him to an afterlife a thousand
times worse than the one he was now enduring. He was unwilling to rush to its embrace.
Better this place, this man-made prison, for now.
Now he understood that his decision to live had been right. God had known, had kept him
alive for this moment. With stunning clarity he recalled the men who had come for him that
night at the stockade. His mind once more clearly held every contorted face, the stripes
on the uniforms some of them wore--his comrades in arms. He recalled the way they
circled him, wolves to prey, emboldened only by their numbers; the telling hatred of their
words. What they had done that night had caused Ruth Ann Mosley to die. And in a very real
sense, Harms had died as well.
To these men Harms was an able-bodied soldier who had never fought in defense of his
country. Whatever he got, he deserved, they no doubt believed. Now he was a middle-aged
man slowly dying in a cage as punishment for a crime of long-ago origin. He had no power
to see that any semblance of justice was done on his behalf. And yet with all that, Rufus
Harms stared into the familiar darkness of his crypt, a single passion empowering him:
After twenty-five years of terrible, wrenching guilt that had relentlessly taunted him
until he was just barely in possession of a ruined life, he knew that it was now their
turn to suffer. He gripped the worn Bible his mother had given him, and he promised this
to the God who had chosen never to abandon him.
Author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen dies(Dec 20 2013) British novelist Paul Torday, who had a surprise best-seller with his debut novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," has died at age 67, his publisher said...