Hammer and Nails
Who? "prison guard" What? "hammer" Where? "Cabin"

Nick was driving home after his shift. It was a hard night at the prison. The inmates were restless, more so than normal. There seemed to be something in the air tonight. It was like there was a full moon or something like that. It was feeding the negative emotions that all people have. Everyone, the guards and the inmates were agitated and everyone had a short fuse. He was relieved to finally be going home. He might get a call at home if a riot broke out, though. This is how it felt in the prison that last time a riot broke out and he was only a rookie then.

He is about 20 minutes from the prison when he hears a loud bang and his car becomes hard to control. He pulls on to the shoulder and can tell by the way the car is leaning that he blew a tire. He pops the trunk and goes to get his jack and spare tire. The tire is there but his jack is not where it was supposed to be. He then remembers that he used the jack to work on his wife’s car last week and it is sitting in the garage.

He is about to use his phone to call his wife when he remembers that she is at work right now. She is a nurse in the emergency room and most likely would not be able to leave. He is thinking of who to call when he notices that he is blocking a driveway.

He has traveled this road for the last five years. He does not ever remember seeing this driveway here. He can see a light coming from a small cabin at the end of the driveway. He does not see a car, but it is possible that this person has a jack he could borrow. He walks down the driveway towards the cabin.

He knocks on the door. A man answers the door. All he could really focus on was the man’s eyes. There was a depth that he could see in them like he has never seen before.

“Can I help you?” The man asks with a gentle voice.

“Do you have a jack that I can borrow? I blew a tire out right at your driveway.” Nick asks.

“I will help you with your tire, but first I would like to speak with you. Would you please come in and sit down?” The man asks.

“I’m sorry sir, but I really need to put my spare tire on and get home.” Nick responded.

“Nick, your wife is at work and she will need to stay later, I promise that I will not take up too much of your time.” The man responded.

“Do I know you?” Nick asks suspiciously.

“Not yet, Nick but I know you very well. Please, come and talk with me. I promise to have you back on the road to home shortly.” The man says.

Nick walks in to the cabin. The only furniture in the cabin is a table and two chairs. The chairs are place on the long side of the table across from each other. The man sits on one side and gestures for Nick to take the other chair. On one end of the table to Nick’s left there is a hammer.

“What is the hammer for?” Nick asks.

“Pay no attention to it, Nick. Please, sit down.” The man says.

Nick takes his seat reluctantly and looks at the man across from him. He is still drawn to the man’s eyes and none of his other features. He oddly feels at peace here. The whole situation is highly suspicious and his instincts are telling him to run, but he sits quietly waiting for the man to speak.

“Are you a good man, Nick?” The man asks.

“Yes, I believe so, I am not perfect, but nobody is.” Nick answers.

The man responds, “Remember when you were 10 years old, Nick, You broke your mother’s pearl necklace that originally belonged to her grandmother? You hid the necklace in the woods and denied knowing anything about it when you were asked?”

The question brought the memory to Nick’s mind. He looks down at the table as he confirms the man’s words. The hammer rises from the table and strikes a nail that Nick did not see that was close to him. In Nick’s mind, however, He sees a hammer hitting a nail, and driving that nail into someone’s hand. He flinches as that vision fills his mind.

The man continues, “Remember when you were in high school. There was another boy that you would always set up to get into trouble during your junior year? You would always tell people that you hated him?”

The memory comes to Nick’s mind again, along with the hate and anger he felt towards that boy. He just nods his head in confirmation. The hammer rises from the table and strikes the nail again. Again, Nick flinches at the vision of the nail being driven into a person’s hand.

The man still goes on, “Remember the time when you took money out of your mother purse while she was sleeping?”

“Yes.” Nick responded.

The hammer rises from the table and strikes a nail on the other side of the table close to the man. Nick sees in his mind a nail being driven into a hand again, only this time it is the opposite hand from the first vision.

The man continues, “Remember when you were working temporarily at another prison. You would come home late, not because you were working, but because you were meeting a certain female convenient store clerk as she would get off her shift, but your wife thought you were just working late?”

Nick nods his head as tears start forming in his eyes. He still sometimes has to work at the other prison, and would see that same girl at the convenient store. The hammer rises again to strike the nail. Again Nick sees the vision of the nail being driven into a hand.

The man still continued on, “Remember when your father came to you not too long ago to talk to you? He had heard about your struggles and wanted to try and help you? Do you remember the things you said to him and how you treated him?”

Nick remembers that incident very well. He has not spoken to his father since then. He was so angry at his father and was ashamed of the things he said and the way he treated him. His words to his father were harsh and foul. His father left that meeting in tears because of the thing Nick said. Nick nods his head with tears flowing freely from his eyes now. The hammer rises up and moves to the other end of the table to strike another nail. In his mind, Nick now sees a much longer nail being pounded in to a person’s feet. One nail is being driven through both feet. Nick cringes at the impact.

The man still goes on with his questions, “Remember shortly after that your mother tried to talk to you, she invited you to go to church with her and your father. Remember what you said to her?”

Nick remembered that one well. His mother had tears in her eyes from his words. He also told his mother that he did not need God or church for they had done nothing for him. The hammer strikes the nail on the table again and Nick sees the vision of the nail being driven into someone’s feet. Over and over the man would ask a question about something that Nick had done in his past, and Nick would see a nail being driven into a hand or feet.

The man asks one more question as the tears are flowing freely down Nick’s face, “What do you think should be done to you in view of all these things?”

“I should be punished, severely.” Nick said.

The man stands up and shows Nick the palms of his hands. His hands had circular scars on them.

The man said to Nick, “I took your punishment, Nick. I paid the price so that you would not have to. I love you so much that I would not allow you to suffer. I suffered to set you free.”

Nick looked from the man’s hands to his eyes. The Man walked around the table to Nick and put His hands on Nick’s shoulders. Nick turned and buried his face into the Man’s chest and was now crying uncontrollably.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The Man said as He embraced Nick, “Go home now to your wife and be free of the chains that are binding you.”

Nick gets up and makes his way to the door of the cabin. His hand hits the nail closest to him as he stands up and knocks it loose. He picks it up and was about to put it on the table when he feels a hand on his shoulder.

“Keep it as a reminder of this night.”

He turns and looks at the Man one last time before leaving. He can see the eyes again full of love and compassion, full of peace and hope. He smiles at Nick and it was like the Sun came out. He puts the nail in his pocket and goes to his car.

He gets to his car to see that the tire that blew out is somehow fixed and full of air. He turns to look back at the cabin and finds that it is no longer there. The driveway is also gone. He is on the shoulder of the road. He shakes his head as he goes to the driver’s side door. He reaches in his pocket for his keys and pulls out a long nail. He gets in his car and drives home with a heart that feels much lighter than it ever has before.

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