Dead Man Joking

Here's a short story I wrote for a contest. You had to write about the photo they provided.

“Did I ever tell you the one—“

“Yep.”

“Wait, I didn’t even finish—“

“It don’t matter, Wilbur. I’ve heard every joke you know at least a hundred times. Give it a rest.”

But Wilbur couldn’t shut up. Never had. Never in the twenty years I’d known him. It was just yak, yak, yak all day, every day.

I stared down the long hallway ahead. The one that ended in a ten by ten room with a gray metal chair in it and big windows on two sides. I didn’t look at Wilbur as he shuffled along beside me, leather and chain restraints creaking and jingling with each step.

“No, this is a new one, man. Really.” He took a deep breath. “So a Screw walked into a bar...”

Silence.

Resigned to letting him get it out of his system, I turned and looked over at him. “Okay, what’s the punch line?”

He had a funny expression on his face, kind of a grin, but a little crazy. He grabbed my arm with surprising strength and spun me. The last thing I saw were the bars of one of the empty cells lining the “Long Walk.”

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