Criminal Past

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

Colin used to work for Sterling Johnson, a great company. He started entry-level in marketing. It’s hard to get a job there. Your past has to be impeccable, your character beyond reproach. The pre-employment screening includes several interviews, drug tests, a lie detector exam, psychological testing, and an interview with a psychologist, and an extensive background check.

Colin was good and loyal. He received a couple of awards, raises ahead of schedule, and two promotions.

Sterling Johnson does not discourage employees from marrying one another. He dated Amy, a recent grad from Colgate. They talked seriously about marriage.

Colin’s brother, Darin lives, with him. Colin loves him, but he is the branch of the tree that produces the bitter fruit.

Colin worked days and supposed to report to work at 8:00 AM. He shows up at 7:30. Darin worked the graveyard at an all-night diner; the grill man. His shift starts at 11:00 PM and ends at 5:00 AM. He’s home by 5:20 AM. He wakes Colin, they talk, have coffee, and breakfast together. Colin leaves the house at 7:05 AM. It’s a seventeen minute drive, but he allows for traffic backups, trains, and bad weather.

It was a year ago Colin worked until 10:00 PM. When he got home Darin was already gone. It looked as if Darin had some of his seedy friends over. They left the residue of a few beers and the stench.

Colin showered and went to bed. The next thing he remembered, Darin shaking him “Dude, you got to get up it’s quarter past seven!”

Colin jumped out of bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “I’ve got time,” he said.

While Colin brushed, shaved, combed, and deodorized, Darin explained. “The place closed down at three. Some stoner hit a power pole. Me and my friends at work crashed at somebody’s place. We were blowing weed the rest of the night. Dude I’m sorry. I hope I’m not making you late. Can you call in sick or something.”

“I’m not sick,” Colin said sharply. “That may be the way you run your life, but that’s not the way I run mine.”

Colin grabbed hes cloths from the closet and ran to the kitchen wearing nothing but briefs. Opening the refrigerator he grabbed a carafe of orange juice and gulped it down like a thirsty farm hand. It tasted strange, but I just brushed my teeth. “That’s not toothpaste,” he said after two more gulps.” It was whiskey. Darin spiked the orange juice the night before.

Colin ran to the car still in briefs. “I can slip my cloths on while driving,” he thought. He grabbed the keys from his pants pocket and ripped it. “Dress code,” he thought, “every Sterling Johnson employee must wear clothing neat in appearance with no missing buttons, frayed collars, or tears.”

“I got an extra pair at work.”

He put the key in the ignition and started the car. As he pulled his hand away the cuff of the shirt caught on the key chain. He jerked and the key broke-off. “I’ll call the dealership from work.”

The neighbor’s boy left his bike parked behind the car. H ran over it and dragged it a couple of car lengths before knowing what happened.

The car smelled like a pot house. There was a note on the dash. Colin grabbed it and read, “Hey, Brother Dude, my car was low on gas last night so I got off early and used yours to go to some friends place to chill. I was pumped and didn’t want to wake you.”

Bam! While reading the note h hit a light pole. ’I’ll call it in.’

There was a lonely stretch of road, it was a back way to work and not much traffic. “That would be a good place for me to put my pants on.”

He tossed the pants to the floor and began to pull them past my ankles. He steered with his teeth clinched to the steering wheel. He heard a siren. He was pulled over by a State Patrolman. There is whiskey on he breath from the whiskey/orange juice cocktail in the refrigerator, the car reeks of marijuana, and he don’t have any pants on . It was all caught on the dash cam. He was arrested on the spot. His car sat by the side of the road all day with the engine running. The engine blew.

The drug squad of the Highway Patrol brought a K-9 unit to sniff the car. It appears one of Darin’s friends tossed his months supply of weed in the trunk.

Well, anyway, here Colin is in jail; charged, tried, and convicted for possession of an illegal amount of drugs, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and public indecency.

Six months ago Sterling Johnson decided to hire people with a past in the hopes of giving them a second chance they might show extraordinary loyalty and work ethic in return. The program has been very successful. They hired Colin’s brother, Darin. He’s doing great and now engaged to Amy.

It looks as if Colin will serve the entire eighteen month sentence. He didn’t make parole. One of the conditions to early release; he needed a place to stay. The logical place would be with Darin, but Sterling Johnson has a policy for employees hired under their new rehabilitation program; they could not have association with persons who have a criminal past.



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