Why do I expect music when there is no radio? I blame the movies. There’s always background music in the movies, even in solitary.
There are three of us down here. If I’m right there are six cells. I’m in the fifth from the door. The others are in two and three. Sometimes at night I hear them whispering. I think they’re in love.
The rats come by at dusk. At first they came into my cell but they’ve learned I have no food to share. Now they just stop to sniff hello and move on. Maybe the lovers feed them.
I get two small meals a day at random times so sometimes it’s a full day before the next arrives. The best way to deal with that is to assume that you are never going to be fed again. That way each meal’s arrival is a nice little surprise.
I wish it was dark. That would help. There is a single bright bulb in the hall shining on the grime that paints every surface of the cell. If it was dark I could imagine I was somewhere else.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been sent to my room by my parents to think about what I’ve done. Only my room is a stinking dungeon and I still have no idea what I’ve done. The guards tell me that they can’t tell me.
I came to prison for identity theft. I was guilty. My lawyer told me if I plead guilty I’d get off easy. Id did but I didn’t. Maximum sentence for a first offender. Still, parole possible in eighteen months.
Three months later they drug me down here. No reason, no warning.
Last night the lovers had an argument. Many guards came and beat them into silence. Then they dragged one of them to cell six. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see the wounds.
I don’t like this. I can feel his presence. I know when he wakes up he’ll be listening for me. I have to keep quiet or he’ll start whispering to me at night. I don’t want to get into any more trouble.
From the sounds of the meal deliveries I think it’s number two that’s now number six. I don’t know why I care. Even if he tried to talk to me I wouldn’t answer.
They dragged away number six today. I think he was dead. They found out when they brought food. Fortunately they did his cell last so my food wasn’t delayed. You should have heard number three. You’d think it was him they beat to death.
Somethings wrong. I was pacing the cell like I do a couple times a day to keep my muscles from dying. Mid-stride it felt like my heart was sucked out of my chest. Then it slowly came fluttering back in. I sat down and breathed for a long time. Nothing happened.
I told the food guard what happened but he didn’t care.
The next day I woke up in the hospital. It took a couple minutes to focus and realize I was strapped to the bed. It was comforting in a way. No responsibility. Then the cute nurse came over and smiled at me. Instant boner. I tried to squirm and hide it but couldn’t move. He put his hand on my arm and said, “Don’t worry dude. It happens all the time.”
That was the nurse’s favorite saying. He said it a lot. All around me people were puking and shitting and screaming. The nurse ran back and forth doing everything he could do to make people comfortable and clean. I loved him, but he wouldn’t tell me his name. He said to call him nurse, company policy.
The meals in the hospital were much better and more regular. I was unstrapped. At first the nurse and the guard watched me closely but I wasn’t going to do anything to ruin this sweet setup.
On the third day a doctor and three suits came to visit me. Doc said that my heart was acting up because I wasn’t eating properly. No Shit. I complained and asked why I was down there in the first place. He was about to answer but one of the suits stopped him.
Then another one of the suits handed me a pile of papers and a pen. He explained that if I signed it and didn’t ask any more questions I’d be set free. Well, I’d be paroled. Not exactly free.
A week later I was ready to go home. No more heart “episodes.” I sat on my bed, wearing real clothes, waiting for the discharge guard to come get me. It’s amazing how clothes like I’ve worn my whole life become so important after not being able to wear them.
I still didn’t know what was really happening to me. I was deep in thought and didn’t notice the nurse standing in front of me. He sat down close next to me. Fortunately my jeans were better at hiding my excitement than my hospital robe.
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” He smiled and gave me a business card. It was the vice warden’s. I didn’t recognize the name. Then I did. One of my victims, a big one, had the same last name. I looked at the nurse. He nodded, got up and walked away, taking the card with him.
I sat all the way at the back of the bus. I like to have my back against the wall. That way nobody can sneak up behind you. You can see them coming. A fair fight. I wonder if the warden will see me coming.