by Dennis R. Rushing

"There was no doubt in my mind, that I had been stabbed. All the clues were there; the burning pain, the incision, and the blood. The rasping and gurgling when I breathed, is what scared me the most. I knew my lung had been punctured, but I had to find a way to protect her. She was my girlfriend. Sure we had fought that night, and standing out in the dark, I swore to her that I hoped she died. But it was just a lovers quarrel, no harm or intentions were meant by our yelling.

"How was I going to protect her? The assailant had dragged her off immediately after attacking me. Now as I stumbled and rolled in pain, I began to regret pushing her outside and telling her to go; leaving her an easy prey for the assailant, who lied hidden in the shadows, awaiting the right time to attack me and drag her off.

"He struck with such speed, I had no time to wail out or even move, as he stabbed me in the chest. I could hear the air gush from the wound, as he worked the knife up and down several times, before fleeing with her. I tore off my jacket and stuffed one of the sleeves into the large bloody hole.

"Nevertheless, I heard her scream. So I forced myself up, and instantly fell back down, ravaging in pain. Dazed, I clung to the slimy brick wall and eased myself up once more. The pain intensified, as the gravity had its effects on my organs.

"Clinging to the walls of the alleys and buildings, I followed the screaming of my girlfriend. Soon, I reached the alleyway where her screams echoed from. At the entrance was her blouse, all torn to shreds. So I knew he was raping her, and I had to act fast. I looked around on the ground and found a broken window pane. I grabbed a shard of glass, and it sliced the palm of my hand, causing the blood to flow freely. However, I held on to the glass.

"I screamed as I limped towards the back corner of the alley. This seemed to halt the assailant from his rape attempts and I noticed a lot of shuffling. I assumed he was trying to hide. As I stumbled along into the alleyway, I espied a figure in the shadows leaning against the brick wall. It was breathing heavily, and I thought at first that it was my girlfriend, but I wasn't for sure.

"Some noise came from behind a dumpster, and it alerted my attention away from the person by the wall. As I turned towards the dumpster, I slipped and fell behind it. As I fell, my hand that firmly held the shard of glass sliced into something soft. A muffled cry came from the object beneath me and the person against the wall began to laugh. I threw the shard of glass towards the wall, and the assailant wailed out in pain, and climbed over a fence. I passed out and fell over the object behind the dumpster.

"Sweet perfume filled my nostrils.

"When I woke up, paramedics were loading me into an ambulance. Th- That's all I remember."

* * *

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. You have heard this man's testimony, and before your decision, remember, that the murderer's knife that killed Miss Tammy Braun, was found not two feet away from this man's body, and was covered with his blood!"

* * *

The jury left the courtroom, and within one hour, they returned with their decision. They found the man guilty of rape and murder, and sentenced him to die in the electric chair.

For three years the man tried to appeal the verdict, standing firm to his testimony, that the man that raped and killed Tammy Braun, was dead in the back alleys or inside one of the abandoned buildings in the area. However, the police testified that they had completed several thorough searches of the area, and found no evidence or body of an assailant. Furthermore, residents of the area recall only seeing the man and Tammy arguing and him chasing her down the streets, yelling and screaming.

After losing his third appeal, he was executed in the electric chair. His last words being, " The man's body is out there! I couldn't have killed her!"

Just one day after the man's execution, a homeless man wandered into an abandoned building, one block away from the alleyway that Miss Tammy Braun was raped and murdered in. Climbing to the second story, he uncovered the skeletal remains of a man, with a large shard of glass wedged into his chest. The young man was true in everything he had said. He didn't rape or kill Miss Tammy Braun.

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Shard of Glass, 16 May 1997