By R. John Quisenberry
The mud brown polyester pants of the screw swished in counterpoint to the thump of the oversized flashlight on his belt. Derrick could tell it was going to be him. It was just his luck. Some dumb-ass had scheduled him for one of those pain-in-the-ass work crews. He knew he should have done that Nazi in the yard. He would have been in solitary and out of the work schedule. Sure it would have added to his time, but what was one more term? Hell, they should take some off for getting rid of another white trash punk. Not that he cared what color a man’s skin was. Trash was trash. Most times, on the street, the only color that mattered to him was the one that said what set you were with.
Might as well get ready to go. “Get up and against the bars inmate! You know what to do. Put the hands through the slot.”
Derrick jumped up and strode to the bars at the front of the cell. Placing his forearms through the waist-level slot in the door, he could feel the cold steel of the cuffs close around his wrists. A set of shackles went around his ankles. “Now, kneel in the floor with your hands over your head facing away from the door!”
Interesting. They must have learned after what I did to that skinny screw last month. The officer radioed to have the door opened and the bolt retracted. Derrick knew that there was a second, quieter person behind the guard. Probably a guy with a taser. They liked using those. The chain of the cuffs was grabbed roughly by the rotund man and a chain was locked onto it. He was yanked to his feet by the chain. This guy is pushing his luck! The new chain was locked onto the shackles.
The shuffle to the truck was pretty normal stuff. He was used to how the shackles made you move by now. After all, this was his life now. Looking up when they got to the vehicle, Derrick saw the edge of the bag come down at the same time that somebody rushed to his side. There was a sharp, but the small sting in his right arm, and everything went black.
Milton was up and had tidied his cell by dawn. His mouth was clean and minty from his dental routine. His disappointing cellmate was still in his time out. Milton could not tolerate the man’s slovenly habits. Deplorable personal hygiene, snoring, and prattling had worn on the nerves. Such filthy people needed to be punished. Another hour and the knots could be untied. Panting from the corner verified that the man was still alive. If he did not learn, that could be fixed. “Are we feeling more civil today Herbert?” he said over his shoulder. If the lesson had been learned, some circulation might be restored to the hand. Yes, he was feeling generous. Turning to the whimpering lump of flesh, he observed his work.
Hogtied with strips of his own sheets, Herbert had stopped trying to fight the gag formed by his own underwear and a wad of his own soiled socks. The tourniquet on the right wrist made such a neat line around the dirt-encrusted flesh. Sweat had washed away some of the dirt to reveal the cyanotic cast of the skin on one side of the knotted cloth. A pity, it seems too late for the hand. At least he has had a chance for personal growth though…
He must have been distracted by his efforts at teaching because he was surprised by the booming voice that came from the cell doorway. “Get up and against the bars inmate! You know what to do. Put the hands through the slot.”
“Good morning Francis. Why so abrupt this morning?” Milton returned sweetly to the muscular guard as he turned to obey. “You know I am always happy to respond to a civil request. I am hardly one of those oafs who think the paleness of my skin is superior to the darkness of yours.”
“Milton, what have you done to poor bug this time? You have him tied in the corner naked again.” responded the bigger man. He cuffed the wiry blond man carefully. Frank knew from experience that these little guys with receding hair could be surprisingly dangerous. His time with martial arts and weight training had protected him many times in this job, but crazy was a weapon you could never take away or predict.
“Really, that nickname is so undignified! A reference to a child’s movie connected to the shortened version of his name and then distorted in such a way is beneath anyone who passed the fourth grade.” scoffed the smaller man.
“Now Milton, we have talked about this. Just because I let you call me by my full name, does not mean that it is polite to disparage a man for his nickname.
“Let’s get down to business here. I need you to kneel on the floor, facing away from the door. Once I get you set to go to the work detail, I can get Bug to the infirmary to fix what you have done to him this time.” The officer radioed to have the door opened and the bolt retracted.
Obeying, Milton answered, ”Fine, but I am afraid the hand is a loss. Slow learning has its costs you know.”
Shackled and chained, Milton was led to another man in the corridor as Frank knelt down and untied Bug.
“Good morning sir. I regret that Francis has not informed me of your name. I would shake your hand, but I fear my bonds have deprived us of the opportunity of polite introduction.”
“I am Dr. James R. Hildebrand. It is a pleasure to meet such a polite individual in such a place of cruel confinement.”
The medics arrived soon from the other direction after Frank’s hurried radio call. Poor Herbert was wheeled away on a gurney. He was babbling and crying as he cradled his useless hand.
“The enjoyment is surely mutual sir. It is so difficult to endure the company of the kind of unfortunates one finds in this institution.”
Milton paid no attention as the orderly stepped up to his side. The sharp sting of a needle was a surprise as it entered his left arm. “I am sorry, but we will need to continue this conversation in a more controlled environment. You should wake up sometime after we reach my facility.” said the Dr. as the lights seemed to fade to black.
The shiv had missed Kim’s internal organs, but the stitches were in an uncomfortable part of her abdomen. The Dr. in the infirmary of the prison had confined her to the bed until she healed up enough for regular activity. The experimental prison had separate areas for male and female inmates, but she could hear the screams from the other side this morning. Something about a hand. If this place doesn’t kill me first, it was sure to drive me insane. Nelson divorced me and took the kids as soon as I was convicted. The bastard won’t even let me see the kids!
“How are we doing this morning?” chirped the crisply dressed woman who stepped up to the end of the bed. Kim did not like her. She had shown up last night and acted wrong for a volunteer. She walked around like she owned, or at least controlled the infirmary. “We just need to take you for some tests now.” Kim could feel a wave of unreasoning fear as this dark-haired stranger smiled down at her while inserting a needle into her IV tube. Such deep dimples. No woman should have such dimples in a prison. Was the last groggy thought that passed through her mind as the contents of the syringe coursed into her body. Her numbed mind faded into darkness completely before she was wheeled away to a new life.
Peter was on his bunk reading a letter from Sarah. It was getting worn from the number of times he read it. It had only been six months, but reading it last thing every night and first thing every morning took it’s toll. Her foster family did not approve of her writing to him, so there would be no more. At least until she went out into the world on her own.
The foster family was good people. They just wanted to protect her. After all, this was all for Sarah. How could he hold it against them?
He had five consecutive life terms. ‘The judge really went after me. I couldn’t tell them why I did it.
‘Sarah deserves better, but I just couldn’t tell them why I had to do what I did. How I caught them. How I got the whole truth about the video and photos they took with those hidden cameras.
‘I deserve to be punished. Sally was only dead for a year when I met Melanie. I should have gotten to know her better before I married her. To think, I let that perverted creature into my daughter’s life! Why didn’t I realize that something was up when Melanie found us at that house so quickly? Those monsters used Melanie like bait! And I fell for her act.’
The voice came as a bit of a shock, he had been rereading the letter longer than he thought. “Get up and against the bars inmate! You know what to do. Put the hands through the slot.” came a surprisingly feminine voice.
“Morning Paul. What’s up?”
“Get to it, Peter. You’ve been picked for a work detail. The other three are already waiting.”
Peter did as he was told. Paul had laid on the perfume a bit heavy this time. As it wafted into the cell, he could not help but smile. “You know, my wife used to wear that scent. I used to get it for her every year at Christmas. You must have a very considerate partner.”
Bending down to secure the shackles, the perfectly proportioned officer responded, “I wish! I have to buy this for myself. I should trade that boy in on a newer model! Too bad all the good ones are taken, or in prison… Now, kneel on the floor like usual.”
Peter did as told and they were soon shuffling down the hall. The bronzed complexion and carefully styled hair of his guard drew some wolf whistles from some of the cells they passed.
Just as Peter was noticing the new sobs coming from one of the cells, A throat was cleared behind him. “Ahem! Mr. Lasiter. I am Dr. Hildebrand.”
Turning, Peter saw the tall, slender gentleman. The cut of his suit was quite nice. His dark hair had some distinguished gray at the temples. “Nice to meet you.” replied just before the bag went over his head. The sting in his arm was mild and quickly followed by darkness. He just barely heard Paul say, “Sorry Peter.” before he passed out.