Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

This story comes from a book that holds a collection of short stories. From an author that has become a one-of-a-kind CLASSIC, Stephen King, here is the story of how "some birds just can't be caged. Their feathers are just too bright." This is the story of Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption. Narrating this story is Lloyd Ellis "Red" Redding. He came to Shawshank prison in 1925 when he was just 20 years old. He was different from all of the other inmates. He committed murder. But he hadn't planned on getting caught. He was given 3 life sentences, one to run right after another. While his crime was a truly heinous one, it is also in the past. It wasn't so much about rehabilitating himself, but more of adapting to his surroundings. Sometimes you can get used to just about anything if you have to!

Red has been at Shawshank for nearly 40 years of his life sentence. He has been "the guy who can get it for you." It may include time in solitary confinement, but it's the risk you take when you're the guy who can get it. Why does he do it? He has a reputation and he wants to keep it. He will help bring in what they wish - within reason. Yes sir, Red is a regular Sears & Roebuck. He begins to tell the story of an actual innocent inmate, Andy Dufrense, who was found guilty of murdering his wife and the fellow she was cheating with.

Andy came to Shawshank in 1948. He was 30 years old. He always looked clean as though he should be wearing a tie. On the outside world, he had been VP in the trust department of a large Portland bank. Andy's case came in Portland Superior Court was a big juicy one w/ all the right elements. Andy's wife, Linda Collins Defresne, expressed an interest in learning the game of golf at the Falmouth Hills Country Club. She did indeed take lessons for 4 months. Her instructor was the country club golf pro, Glen Quentin. In late August 1947, Andy learned that Linda & Glen were lovers. On the afternoon of 9-10-1947, everything came out to fruition. Linda told Andy that she planned to obtain a Reno divorce. Andy expressed "he would see her in Hell before he would see a divorce". Linda went off to see Glen Quentin at his bungalow not far from the golf course. The next morning, the cleaning woman found them both dead. They were each shot 4 times.

Newspapers dubbed Andy as "The Even Stevens Killer". Andy was/still is completely innocent, but ALL signs pointed at him. Andy took the stand in his own defense and told his story calmly, coolly & dispassionately. Giving his testimony, Andy spoke in the same calm, remote voice. If he cried on the stand or even raised his voice to the Washington-bound D.A., Andy probably wouldn't have gotten the life sentence he did. Even if he did, Andy would have been in jail until 1954, then released on parole.

Andy stated he had been drunk that night, that he more-or-less drank since August 24TH. He was also a man who didn't hold his liquor well. Andy took just 4 drinks a year in all the time that Red knew him. Red's commission for liquor in Shawshank was/is 10%. Andy told the jury that on the night of the 10TH, he had been so drunk he could only remember what had happened in little snatches. He had gotten drunk drunk that afternoon before going home to Linda. Memory is a pretty subjective thing. But, by midnight Andy was sobering up. He was feeling the first signs of a bad hangover. He decided to go home and sleep it off. Thinking about the matter of his wife in a more adult fashion the next day. As he was driving home, Andy thought the best & wisest course of action was to divorce his wife and let her go.

Andy turned down the defenses argument that murder was his divorce. He told the jury that the bought revolver was due to feeling suicidal. Instead, Andy threw his gun into the Royal River on the afternoon of Sept. 9TH. The D.A. hammered at Andy for 2 days.  The case went to the jury on a snowy Wednesday afternoon. They found him guilty. (If Maine had the death penalty, Andy would've been at the chair right after the guilty verdict.) Andy was condemned to spend the rest of his life in Shawshank; the part that mattered. Five years later, Andy was up for parole hearings. He was turned down like clockwork, in spite of being a model prisoner. 16 years later, Andy was still in his same cell. By 1975, Andy was 57. You get sent to prison for life. That's exactly what they take.

rock hammer
Red knew a guy named Sherwood Bolton and he had a pigeon in his cell. From 1945-1953, when he got out, he had that pigeon. He was just another inmate who had a pigeon, Jake. He set Jake free a day before his release. Red remembered the first time Andy came and got in touch w/ him for something. In the summer of 1948, Andy came around for a rock hammer. Andy had a reputation for being a snob and a cold fish. People were already saying Andy thought he was better than most. With Andy's language & dialogue, he could see why. Andy wasn't kowtowing to Red or sucking up and Red respected that. Andy wanted a rock hammer for shaping and polishing rocks. In his old life, Andy was a rock-hound and would like to be again on a limited scale.

The interesting item piqued Red's interest. Andy stated he had NO enemies on the inside. Red liked Andy from the start. This item cost Andy $10.00. He did explain to Andy the results of what happens if getting caught. When the rock hammer arrived, Red finally got the joke. It would take a man just about 600 years to tunnel through the wall using this tool. Andy had begun having trouble w/ The Sisters. After Red had slipped Andy the rock hammer, he didn't see it again for 19 years, but by then, it was already damn near worn down to the numb. During this time, Andy's encounters continued w/ The Sisters. He never said anything, but the abusive evidence showed. In spite of the problems Andy was having, he was going on w/ his life. Keeping up w/ his appearance and not letting himself go. Over the next 6 months, Andy spent ALOT of time in solitary confinement. The Sisters were after Andy the day he walked into Shawshank prison. He tried to fight the good fight until they left him alone. But, prison is NO FAIRY TALE.

Andy punched back and bloodied up the lip of of a big inmate, Bogs Diamond. Bogs promised to get him/Andy and he did. Andy went through it alone until he decided to fight. The Sisters didn't put anything forcibly into Andy, but they beat him within an inch of his life. Bogs was found in his cell badly beaten one morning in early June. Back in 1948, each cell-block, had it's own turnkey. A guard could have been bribed real easy to let "someone" - maybe 2 or 3 "someones" - into the block and even into Bogs Diamond's cell. Prison economics are on a smaller scale. A $1.00 in your hand looks like a $20.00 did outside. After the beating; 3 broken ribs, the hemorrhaged eye, the sprained back & dislocated hip; Bogs and pretty much everyone else left Andy alone. That was the end of Bogs Diamond. But it wasn't the end of Andy's troubles w/ The Sisters. A small break, but it picked up again, although not so often. There were easier pickings than Andy Dufresne.

Rita Hayworth
Andy always fought them. He would turn up at times w/ fresh bruises on his face every once in a while. Solitary wasn't really a hardship for Andy. He got along w/ himself, (which if you think about it, "If you're not fit company for yourself, you're not fit company for anyone else".) After he adjusted to The Sisters, in 1950, it almost stopped completely. In 1948, Andy asked Red for a rock blanket. Red charged his usual 10% and not a penny more. Five months later, Andy asked Red if he could get him Rita Hayworth during their monthly movie night event. At the time, it was Rita that was the pin-up queen. The prison administration does know of the "market" inmates use of their care packages. Rather have them quiet than an exploding inmate. You learn to make allowances. In May 1950, Andy's 3-year series of skirmishes w/ the Sisters finally ended. It was also the same time that eventually got him out of the laundry and into the Shawshank library, where he stayed until he left.

Andy Dufresne had a mystery about him. He fascinated Red. In May 1950, the roof of the license plate factory needed resurfacing w/ roofing tar. They asked inmates to volunteer for a week. More than 70 men asked. Andy & Red were among the names chosen. There were 6 guards on the projects, all picked due to their seniority. Instead of inside work, they could be outside in the May sun. One of the guards watching, Byron Hadley, who had been at Shawshank a long time, had gotten amazing news he was upset about. For Byron Hadley, the glass was always half-empty. While explaining his madness, the inmates were overhearing. The story that Byron had told was that his older brother had gone off to Texas 14 years ago. His family hadn't seen/heard from him since. The family figured good riddance. A lawyer called and informed him that Hadley's brother died a rich man. Oil wells and courage. Leaving his family close to a million dollars. Hadley was set to inherit $35,000 of it. To anyone else, it would be like winning the lucky sweepstakes. Anyone else they figured to have won the lottery. But Byron only seen the tax that came w/ the money. All the troubling chain that comes w/ acquiring an amount of money that large.

Andy layed out that game plan for him. Byron explained the consequences if Andy were wrong. Everyone understood it. So, on the second-to-last-day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in 1950 ended up in a row at 10:00AM, on a spring morning, drinking beer supplied the hardest crew that ever walked a turn at Shawshank. Although lasting 20 minutes, they felt like free men. Only Andy didn't drink. He sat in the shade, watching them and smiling. They wondered why Andy was sitting back: Maybe he did it to be accepted. Maybe he did it to be free . . . . if only for a little bit. Either way, Andy earned their respect.

By 1950, NOBODY laid a finger on Andy the way The Sisters did or the guards heard about it. Andy went his way and The Sisters went theirs. Andy was now working in the library under an old, tough con; Brooks Hatlen. Brooks had the job as librarian due to already having a college education. He came to Shawshank in 1905, he was made librarian in 1920. His degree was in animal husbandry. In 1952, Brooks who had killed his wife & daughter after losing a streak at poker, was paroled. The state had let Brooks out after any chance for him to be a useful member of society was gone. He was a 68-yr-old used up old con w/ arthritis in both hands, probably couldn't even get a library card if he tried. Brooks was in Shawshank for 50 years. It was all he knew. In Shawshank, Brooks was an important man - an educated man. On the outside of the prison, Brooks lasted 6 months longer than expected.

Andy soon became Brooks successor. He was librarian for 23 years. Andy used the same will of force as he'd had w/ Byron Hadley with succeeding for an actual library in Shawshank. Gradually, Andy turned one small room lined w/ Reader's Digest Condensed books and National Geographic into the best prison library in New England. He did it all a step at a time. He took up a collection w/ a suggestion box. He wrote to the major book clubs in New York and got 2 of them to send editions of all of their  major selections at a cheap rate. Andy discovered an educational hunger for small hobbies and got all books he could on small subjects.

Andy began to write to State Senate in August 1954. Stammas, the Warden of the Prison, thought Andy was crazy. But he told Andy to go ahead, write the Senate. He would even mail them for Andy. The requests were turned down routinely until 1960. It wasn't until 1962, he received $400.00 and then $700.00 for the rest of the decade until the matter was closed. By 1971, it had risen to an even $1,000. By the time Andy left, that one paint locker turned library expanded to 3 rooms. If you couldn't find it, Andy could get it for you. Word got around that Shawshank was housing its own financial wizard. In the late summer and spring of 1950, Andy set up trust funds for most of the children of the Guards. By 1951, Andy did 1/2 the taxes for the crew at Shawshank. In 1952, Andy did them all. There was a need for Andy's services. They took him out of the laundry and installed him in the library. Andy was set up to wash dirty money instead of dirty sheets. He funneled it into stocks, bonds & more. All the stuff Andy was doing on the inside wasn't all that different from what he was doing on the outside. Andy explained the whole entire process of this funneling system throughout Shawshank.

On the outside, Andy was an honest man; straight as an arrow. Following the law to-a-T. He had to come to prison to be a crook. Andy was able to do all this work in the prison due to one reason: he worked cheap. In 1957, Byron Hadley had a heart attack and took early retirement. In 1959, a new chief and guards arrived. A new staff. For 8 months, Andy was just another con again. In 1955, Rita Hayworth hung in Andy's cell. After Rita, then came Marilyn Monroe having the ICONIC signature scene still from The Seven Year Itch. After Marilyn came Jayne Mansfield in 1960. Soon after Jane came the lovely Raquel Welch that lasted 6 years. The last poster to hang on his wall was Linda Ronstadt.

Andy said these posters symbolized freedom. Being w/ whomever at that particular place. A terrible thing happened to Andy in the spring of 1963. By that time they had a new warden, Samuel Norton. Sam's major innovation was to make sure each inmate had a New Testament. He believed in 2 things: discipline and the Bible. Sam Norton was the foulest hypocrite seen in a high position. He instituted the "Inside-Out" program. Under EVERY project - there was Norton, skimming off the top. Prison labor is slave labor. Norton passed thick envelopes under the table during his tenure as Warden. How the money rolled in. Andy was Norton's right hand in all of this: his/Norton's silent partner. The prison library was Andy's hostage to fortune. Norton threatened to diminish the library if Andy quit. The library would get a new set of books & literature. If Andy "helped" Norton, Norton "helped' Andy. Andy didn't see just how bad things could get.

Tommy Williams came to Shawshank in November 1962. He was 27 but had already done time all around New England. He was a professional thief. A married man w/ a 3-yr-old son. Life would enrich them all in Tommy's life if he got his high school equivalency. After his wife talked him into it, Tommy began visiting the library regularly. Andy didn't need much when helping Tommy. The important thing was that Tommy went to Andy and that he came to like him/Andy. Tommy came to realize how smart Andy truly was. Andy wasn't the type to tell him. When Tommy asked someone else, he got the shock of his life. Andy blew his lid after hearing one big budget of information. It came from a former inmate of Tommy's, Elwood Blatch. Blatch had been busted w/ a weapon and serving a 6-12 stretch.

Blatch revealed his plan of action that led to his committing murder. The REAL story of what happened the night of the murder Andy was accused of. Of course, there were inconsistencies in Tommy's story. After hearing this news, Andy went to see the warden. The Warden began dismissing Andy's claim then threw him into solitary for a month. He was patient. It got to be summer. Kennedy was now President. The Beatles were on the rise in America. Tommy Williams is gone from Shawshank. As long as Warden Norton was at the prison, Andy was NEVER leaving Shawshank.

Andy told/promised Norton that the dirty dealings are over. Norton sent him back to solitary for another month. Norton threatened Andy that if the deals stop, all prison extracurricular's were GONE! Andy will lose EVERYTHING. So, Andy kept up w/ the dirty dealings. But, he was different. He wore his freedom like an invisible coat. He never developed that prison mentality. Andy's dark mood broke around the time of the 1967 World Series. Red soon had an anniversary coming up; 30 years in Shawshank Prison; 60% of his life spent. Andy explained the life that was waiting for him and his plan once he gets out and free. Outside those walls, there's a man that no living soul has ever seen face-to-face. He has a SSN, a Maine's driver's license & birth certificate. Name of Mr. Peter Stevens. Red asked about Mr. Stevens. It was all completely 100% legal. Andy explained how/what came behind all of this. The logistics. He told Red about a hay-field in the town of Buxton. At the end of the hay-field was a rock wall, right out a Robert Frost poem. Somewhere along the base of the rock wall is a rock that has no business unlike the others. A piece of volcanic glass, until 1947 was a paperweight on Andy's desk. There was a key underneath the rock. The key opens a safe deposit box in a Portland branch of a bank. All under the name Peter Stevens. Creating a new life on the outside while still inside Shawshank. Red explained he's too institutionalized. He couldn't imagine getting along on the outside. But Andy made Red feel it was possible. Freedom was just over the horizon. You just have to walk it.

As far as it came to jailbreaks, they didn't happen at Shawshank. You couldn't go over the wall at Shawshank Prison. Red explained past examples of those who have tried and failed. When you take away a man's freedom & teach him to live in a cell, he seems to lose his ability to think in dimensions. More often than not, a con will do something on the outside to be put back inside. Back where he understands how things work. Andy was NEVER that way; but Red was. Andy had brains and he had heart. Warden Norton was DETERMINED to use one and crush the other. He COULD NOT do ANYTHING without Norton watching.

In 1975, Andy Dufresne escaped Shawshank and hasn't been recaptured. He doesn't even exist anymore. On March 12TH, the cell doors in Cellblock 5 opened at 6:30A.M. as usual. The inmates stepped forward and step up to the main cell gate, where they were counted off by 2 guards before being sent down to breakfast. It was routine as usual until the count at cellblock gate. Instead of 27, there were 26. The captain of the guards came down to Cellblock 5 right away. After re-opening the cell doors, commonly it would be a sick inmate or dead. Instead, they found NOTHINGLITERALLY! It broke routine due to Andy's absence. What they seen was what they got. A COMPLETELY EMPTY cell. After looking at the poster that had been on the wall for 26 years, they were in for a surprise. Norton hit the roof. You could hear him clear down to Records & Files. NO ONE knew what happened. Every prisoner was accounted for! Dufrense was locked up last night and somehow gone in the morning. It was impossible!

At 3:00P, Andy was still missing. Norton went into Andy's cell, just as he'd left it. His eyes fell on the Linda Rondstadt poster. Soon Norton began ripping it off the wall w/ a simple swipe of his hand. It revealed the gaping, crumbled hole in the concrete behind it. Norton ordered for him to go all over the prison searching. HE WAS GOING CRAZY!! As it turned out, Norton got someone of Andy's height & build to go into the hole. Red was sent down to solitary and stayed for 15 days. He spent that time laughing thinking of Andy heading for the Pacific. Beside the jagged hole in the pipe, they found Andy's rock hammer. Andy was free, but it wasn't easy.

Andy was in that pipe that emptied into a stream 500 yards beyond the prison. 500 yards. The lengths of 5 football fields. He swam through the most foul-able shit imaginable. At the end of the pipe, they found a set of muddy footprints. 2 miles from there a search party found his prison uniform. 3 months later, Warden Norton resigned. Andy Dufrense truly got the best of him. Andy had graduated from the University Of Maine's Business. Geology became Andy's chief hobby. Andy was interested in rocks and the walls of his cell. Red thought of the tasks/wants Andy wanted. Things slowly clicked. It took Andy rock hammers and 27 years. He worked mostly at night - late when everyone slept. Emptying the concrete pieces out into the yard from his feet outside. Cascading out of his pant legs as he walked. Doing this over a period of years. Tunneling through the wall would take a man 100 years. Andy did it in less than 20. Andy breaks into the sewer line, crawls  through 500 yards and comes up against a heavy mess at the end.

On 9-15-1975, Red got a postcard from a tiny town in Texas. A town on the American side of the border. The message was completely blank. Others remember and have tales of Andy. Some birds just can't be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. In May 1977, Red himself was released from Shawshank prison. The parole committee set him up w/ a job as a grocery bagger/"stock room assistant" at the local grocery. It was Red's toughest adjustment. Being on parole, Red thought to do something to go back in. Andy had a new identity and ALOT of Warden Norton's money. Red began taking Andy's advice on going to that rock wall. Get bust livin' or get busy dyin'. Red's new hobby was looking for Andy's rock. After taking the trip, he found it. NO MISTAKE. Red had/did look what was underneath for a long time. It was an envelope wrapped in a plastic bag. It was a letter from Andy w/ 20 NEW $50.00 bills. Red hopes and does join his friend down to their destination and shakes his friend's hand.

In 1994, a film was made based on the story in this book entitled 'The Shawshank Redemption' starring the 2 Most REMARKABLE actors in the film; Tim Robbins as Andy and Morgan Freeman as Lloyd "Red" Redding.



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