Where am I now? The slammer. As shrivelled and blackened as my heart is, I don’t deserve this. Every morning, the fresh air of freedom rushes through the cold steel bars of no return. The stench is appalling. The bed is no treat; it is rife with cold sweat. I’ve done things. Things no man ever should. There’s no going back now. I’m in this godforsaken hell hole for the long haul.
I retreat into myself in an attempt to block out the cruel sounds of the prison morning. The faint barking of rabid guard dogs seem to echo through the complex, ricocheting off of any surface like the lost souls of convicts. And here I lie amongst them. The dogs aren’t the only things that bark around here: the vicious snaps of the heartless wardens strike fear through the best of us. Occasional gang taunts reverberate down the vast lonely halls. But these ones that are all talk, they’re easy. Not a problem. When blood is spilled, it happens from out of nowhere. Always for a reason.
I turn round, snapping out of my thoughts, to see the dark haired man whom I trust with my life, Joe.
“What is it, buddy?” I replied with interest.
“Watch yourself today. I hear that Jon Lee stole Bobo’s contraband. Bobo and his boys gonna’ whoop his ass real good. Don’t get involved. Keep your head down. Stay safe.”
He looked at me with eyes that said “I mean it this time”.
At exactly 8 am, the warden came marching down the hall, violently bashing his baton off every surface he could with malicious intent. That sound only meant one thing: breakfast. With a stern face, the warden released us from our cell and directed us to the cafeteria.
With Breakfast over - the chow in here ain’t as bad as they’d have you believe - we hit the yard. One hundred cons out there, some shooting hoops, some pumping iron, others looking for trouble. A rag tag bunch of guys like us lay low on the outskirts trying to make ourselves invisible.
Joe almost undetectably tapped me and guided my attention towards the far eastern corner of the yard where Bobo stood, proud and ready for action. His ten or so sycophantic, brainless henchmen surrounded him like disciples looking for challengers. That’s what they do for fun around here. It’s a game to them. It’s sick if you ask me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Jon Lee standing alone in the western corner of the yard. Nobody wants to go near someone when Bobo is after them. It is clear that Bobo was on his mind. Bobo was on everyone’s mind. At this point, Bobo was aware of Jon Lee’s presence and vulnerability.
Joe nudged me and whispered, “You see any guards around Frank?”
I scouted as subtly as I could. “No”, I replied fearfully.
This was usually the first indication that something barbaric, ruthless was about to go down. Around here, big guys like Bobo have the wardens in their back pocket. You give em’ something and they’ll look the other way.
Bobo began to approach Jon Lee. His boys approached from all angles. No place to run. From...