An Easy Favor Pt. 4

Hawthorne waved his data tag near the panel on the door and he heard the deadbolts release and he pushed the door open. He set his bag down and stretched, hearing a slight creak of metal in his shoulder. He really needed maintenance but he did not really have the money for it. He would have to save up his money after he got a job. He thought about hosing himself down but almost as soon as that thought entered his head, the data tag started beeping loudly. It was so loud that he was glad that he was in private and would not annoy anybody nearby.

“Stand by!” the device chimed almost cheerily. “Incoming call from Sergeant Callum.” The voice sounded like an old school phone menu voice. Hawthorne could not tell if it was recorded or synthesized voice. He idly wondered if there were voice options on the data tag. If there was a more soothing option, it would make calls a little better.

Hawthorne looked at the device on his wrist and sighed. He was kind of tired yet keyed up from his encounter downstairs and was in no mood to talk to his parole officer. However, he had no say in the matter and he had a feeling that his parole officer could reach him no matter where he was and what he was doing by design. He was resigned to make something of his second chance which meant putting up with his parole officer no matter what. The data tag whirred to life and a hologram started to form. A tall, lanky man with a gray push-broom mustache and a shaved head. Not what Hawthorne was expecting.

“Inmate report in,” Sergeant Callum said. It was direct but not hostile. The man stared hard at Hawthorne, his body language giving away nothing. He was all business much like Erinyes had been downstairs. It was the kind of attitude that subconsciously made Hawthorne stand up a little straighter.

“Inmate 1159261181514 reporting in,” Hawthorne said. It was something he had said hundreds of times over the course of serving his time. The numbers would be burned into his brain forever even though he was usually referred to as the truncated ‘1514’. Few people had used his name but he had repeated it in his head to keep a hold of it and hope that he would use it again.

“By reporting to your quarters, you are officially released,” the Sergeant said with a slight smile. “You’ve earned your name back, Hawthorne Cassidy.”

“Thank you, sir,” Hawthorne said. “I appreciate it.” He felt a weight lift off of him that he had barely realized was there. He was free. There were plenty more hoops to jump through but he was free and out in the world. He would be whole again.

“I hope you do, Cassidy,” the Sergeant said. “Don’t make the Department of Corrections regret releasing you. That’s my one and only rule. I succeed at my job when you succeed at your rehabilitation.”

“I get it,” Hawthorne said. “I mean that I understand. I want to go straight, I have no desire to commit any more crimes. I just want to live my life.”

“I hope that’s a genuine statement,” the Sergeant said. “For now, I’ll believe it is. I’ll be doing regular check-ins with you and I will be in communication with the house staff and your boss.”

“Yeah I have to get myself one of those first,” Hawthorne said. “I’ll start looking for work first thing in the morning.” He was not looking forward to the job hunt process. Part of what had made crime so attractive was not having to go through that process.

“No need,” the Sergeant said. “I have a job lined up for you already. A local auto parts shop put in a request for somebody with muscle and I volunteered you. The guy gets back into town day after tomorrow so you can use tomorrow to do a little food shopping and settle in. I’ll send the address to your data tag. You’re also due a few credits to start you off with some food. There’s a sub place a few doors down from where you are.”

Hawthorne was taken aback. “Thank you, sir, I frankly was not expecting this,” he said. “I was expecting to deal with a hardass.”

“Oh, I can be hard if I have to,” the Sergeant said. “Don’t make me stop being nice, neither of us will enjoy it. I gave up being mean when I left the service. Help me help you.”

“You’ve got it,” Hawthorne said. “A Cassidy is true to their word. I’ll do my best by you.”

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