Lack of Space

By Tom Foster

 

 

 

Saturday

 

            There was nothing to do.  This was the continuing problem of the young man who now lay upon the top bunk of cell number G-2, pod G-4.  He’d tried counting off the passing seconds in his mind only to find out that such a mind-numbing attempt to pass the time led to little more than a tension headache.  Thinking of what he would do once he got out didn’t help either, since for all he knew it might be some time before that happened.  Talking to his cellmates was an off and on prospect.  When it did happen it was pleasant enough, the three of them found enough subjects to speak of and often shared a good laugh.

            Of course, they had been in this institution far longer than he had and knew many more of the inmates.  He didn’t have the charismatic personality or even the desire to get to know the others, so here he was.  At least he wasn’t in E pod, the trustee that had been in the holding cell had tried to get him to erase the graffiti that former inmates had scrawled across the walls and bunks.  He’d scoffed at the other man’s attempt to act authoritative and simply tell him what to do.  The man was an inmate as well, though with the special privileges that came with being a trustee.  He had no idea what it took to gain such a position, nor would he be interested in learning.

            “Hey man, you read much?”  Looking up from where he lay, Colin Simmons saw as one of his inmates entered the cell.  The short, bald man was a Latino, dark-skinned and dark-haired.  The only hair he had on his face however was the bushy black beard and thin moustache that adorned his face.  His name was Enrique, though he had told Colin to simply call him Ric.  For the past day and half that he, Ric and another man named Marcus had shared a cell the two men had made Colin feel quite comfortable.  For the first half day he’d done nothing but sleep to wear off the terrible hangover that had resulted from a night spent drinking far too much.

            This was his first and hopefully last time in county jail, courtesy of three warrants for possibly one of the dumbest reasons, in his mind anyway.  For the past year Colin had been avoiding the problem of which he could have easily been rid of.  His driver’s license had been suspended for some time before he’d finally been hauled in, though why it had become suspended in the first place he couldn’t remember.  Whatever the case, here he was, all because he’d been dumb enough to drive his father’s work van in a neighborhood that was routinely patrolled by cops.  He’d been fully intent on leaving his friend at the house they’d ended up at after a night at the bar, having though that he had a good chance of getting laid if he were to leave as soon as his friend was dropped off. 

            The women had ducked out on him however, leaving Colin frustrated and heading back towards the house where his friend was already engaged in late night activities with the roommate of their shared friend who owned the house.  Colin hadn’t even made it to the door of the house, forgetting in his drunken stupor just which house it was.  The neighborhood looked quite different at night and without a sober view.

            He’d been heading back to his van when the police car had pulled up, lights flashing slowly as two uniformed officers had stepped out.  Never having been one to do anything but what he was told Colin had quietly done as they asked, sitting upon the curb

that ran the length of the street as the officers had asked him their questions.  Colin had answered honestly, though his guts had been churning madly the entire time, making him think that he might well have crapped in his pants had he not been scared that he would be hauled in on a drunk charge. 

            The two men had to have known that he was three sheets to the wind.  Colin was good at hiding many of the telltale signs of being drunk, though there were still others that he couldn’t quite control, such as his breath.  His dilated pupils were a good tip off as well when one of the officers had shined a light into his eyes.  After informing him that he had warrants out they had cuffed him and seated him in the back of their car, which had been quite comfortable even with his hands bound.  Colin had gone quietly after informing them that yes there was someone they could call to pick up the van, and that no, he did not have any weapons on his person.

            He almost felt like a fool for trying to give them the name of an old coworker when they’d asked him for identification. His license hadn’t been in his pocket at that time and he hadn’t wanted to get popped for driving without it, again. When they had checked the name he’d given them the lead cop, a nice guy who’d spoken to him with at least some respect, had decided to give him a second chance.  Most cops would have told him to roll over on his stomach before slapping the cuffs on. 

            The ride to the station house in downtown Vancouver had been reasonably comfortable, the cop had even struck up a conversation with him to ease the tension, or maybe he’d just been bored. Whatever the case he’d obviously believed that Colin wasn’t a threat, as he’d spoken to him almost as if they were buddies.  But the truth of the ride had presented itself soon enough and he’d been taken out of the back of the car and escorted to booking, where he’d given over everything in his pockets, took the few silver rings he wore, aside from the one over his right index finger. That one had been on there for so long he’d given up on trying to get it off.

            An old accident had school had left a large lump of scar tissue along the inside of the finger, preventing him from taking off the ring without dislocating his finger. He’d tried it once and the pain hadn’t been pleasant.  To make matters more embarrassing though one of the cops on hand had attempted to get the ring off with soap, then baby oil, and had in effect stroked his finger until finally giving up.  It had made him glad that his friends hadn’t been around to see it.

            After that he’d been allowed to visit the bathroom, with the door open, so he could change into his blue, ill-fitting jail clothes and rubber sandals.  His stomachs had been doing a strange mixtures of acrobatics and flip flops in his body just then, and he’d been almost certain he was going to puke. When the cops had called for him to come out though he’d sucked it up and gone on his way. 

            The next step had been fingerprinting and photographing, placing him in the system he’d tried so hard to stay out of since he’d turned eighteen.  His mug shot had made him look like a hardened killer, but really he’d felt all but certain that some guy inside would be trying him by the end of the night.  His buzz had been all but gone at that point, the sick feeling was all that was left. It wasn’t helped by the fact that after the processing he’d been given a brown paper sack lunch and tossed into a drunk tank what

was filled wall to wall with snoring, farting, and generally unwashed men.

            It had taken every bit of balance he still possessed to make his way between the outstretched mats without stepping on or tripping over someone.  The one spot available at the back of the room had seemed to glare at him with its white tile and badly scarred walls as if to say “You expected the Hilton?” Heaving a quiet sigh he’d taken his place, which, it turned out, was directly in front of the only toilet in the room.  Colin had taken only a cursory look at his bag lunch before deciding that the milk was the only thing that might not send his stomach into violent spasms at that second.  Drinking it down he’d put the other stuff away, rolling over to just drift off.

            He couldn’t have been down for more than a few minutes when the last sounds he’d wanted to hear reached his ears.  Opening one eye he’d seen a grizzled old man squatting on the pot, his nearly-toothless mouth open as he grunted and strained, attempting to pass what must have eventually been the world’s most painful shit. When he was done he just got up, made a cursory wipe of his ass, and moved off. The old bastard hadn’t even bothered to flush, and worse than that, the odor of the turd he’d battled to pass had decided to make an entrance not too long after.

            If someone had flushed it Colin wasn’t aware later on, because after that little episode he’d placed his hand over his mouth and nose and huffed on the faded smell of latex pain that hadn’t been completely scrubbed from his hands after a long day’s work. All he knew was that when his name was called to get placed in a pod he was more grateful to be up and moving than he would have anticipated.  He was on his feet and grabbing his pad, sheet, and towel before the officer had finished reciting his name, ready and willing to move to a different room where hopefully his fellow inmates wouldn’t be so crude as to leave evidence of their nightly forays to the porcelain god.

                                                            *                      *                      *

 

            All that shit had happened on Friday night.  Had it happened on a Thursday he probably would have been out by yesterday. But the weekend eliminated any chance of seeing a judge until Monday.  He’d asked several officers if his case would include further jail time, but none of them had been able to give him a straight answer. Some judges could be stern, others just wanted to hear that you’d messed up and would never do it again.  According to his cell mates, at least the one who’d already gotten out of this shithole, cases such as his were kind of a waste of time to most judges, as the orange shirts, the felons, were often those that were looked at under a microscope.

            It didn’t make him feel much better, but it was something. Some people might have told him to not take a con’s word for such things, but right now Colin felt more confident in accepting the word of a fellow criminal than the cops that obviously didn’t give a shit.  He knew at this point that keeping his mouth shut and his head down were what had served him well.  Colin was big enough that a lot of guys didn’t see him as an easy mark, and by keeping to himself he was able to keep from mouthing off and challenging the wrong person.  He’d already seen how that went earlier this morning.

            Some jerkoff whose name he didn’t even know had been in the process of jaw-jacking another inmate since just after breakfast. What the argument had been over no one knew, and no one really cared.  In jail, as he’d learned thus far, it was more important to mind your own business and not know everything, or learn how to know anything within the first few minutes.  He wasn’t the type that liked to butt into anyone else’s business, and had so far kept it that way.  If the little guy that had caused the ruckus had had his way though, Colin would likely be on the hot seat by now.

            He’d been minding his business not long after breakfast, which had been served on a plastic blue lunch tray and had consisted of a hardboiled egg, a small package of cereal, a sugar packet, and a small carton of milk.  They were given plastic spoons as well, but eating cereal out of the shallow basin of the tray had seemed like a bad joke.  Colin had eaten his dry and then drank the milk, but had given away his egg to one of his cellmates when they’d asked.  Ric had asked him if he wanted anything in return, but Colin had just shook his head. At the very least Ric had said he would get him back.

            It could have been only about ten minutes after their breakfast trays had been taken, as the next episode of COPS had been playing on the single television suspended above the common area.  Why the inmates seemed to like that show so much baffled him, but he’d said nothing about it.  His attention had been on the piece of paper he’d been writing on for the past few minutes, a concession from Ric for giving him his egg at breakfast.  Ric had also lent him a pencil after discovering that he was an aspiring writer, claiming that it was cool to meet someone who knew how to spin a good tale.  Colin hadn’t had the heart to tell him that he’d never sold anything in his life, that it was just hobby.

            At any rate, the mood in the common room had been fairly calm until the instigator of the scuffle to come had started talking shit to the guy who would almost kill him only a few minutes later.  Colin had listened with only half an ear as the black-haired punk, a tiny guy really with hardly any weight to him, had all but spit on the guy he’d had an issue with.  After looking at the black-haired guy Colin had figured that most of the guys in the pod could have picked him up and snapped him like a toothpick, but then little guys almost always had big mouths.

            So the shit-talking had gone on until it had finally come down to the other guy, a taller, blond-haired man with a definite anger problem, had invited the black-haired dude to settle this matter in his cell. Like a fool the instigator had gone up, thinking perhaps to sucker punch the other guy and end it quickly.  Unfortunately that was not how it had happened.  Colin had kept his seat, as had had Ric, when half of the pod had gone racing up to the next level to watch the fight, only a few of them offering words of caution as to how their hurried movements would attract the notice of the guards. 

            The loud smack of bone on flesh could be heard from one of the cells upstairs, and Colin had looked up just long enough to see the little black-haired guy come flying out of the cell, backpedaling so fast that he hit the upper railing with full force. He almost went over right then, but had just barely managed to catch himself by wedging his ankle painfully in between the bars.  Colin had gone back to his writing, thinking it likely that no one would have tried to catch the guy if he’d actually fallen. 

            After that black-hair had gone around trying to talk to the others in the pod, attempting to make friends and allies so as to get back at the other guy.  He’d met with failure and outright hostility for the most part, and had come to Colin almost last among them all.  When he’d come close Colin had held up his hand, palm outward, and simply said “No.”

            The punk had actually seemed to take offense from this, the bright red mark between his mouth and nose seeming to glare at Colin as the punk had dared to sit down at the same table. Ric had even attempted to get him to leave by stating that they were busy, at which point he’d invited Colin and another guy at the table to join in a friendly game of poker.  Ric had been playing Solitaire up to that point, but had made a quick decision when he’d seen that the black-haired punk hadn’t been ready to go away.  When black-hair had decided to tell Ric to deal him in, Ric had told him to take a walk.  That hadn’t gone over well.

            Ric had watched him go, grinning to himself as he’d shaken his head. He wasn’t afraid for his safety, not in a place like this.  In county it was hard to get away with anything. There were guards everywhere, and their response time was amazing as he’d already seen. The first night he’d been there, Colin had been forced to get up and vacate his bunk, which hadn’t been too hard since he’d been sleeping on the floor.  Staying awake at the table in the common room had been the hardest part as the guards had tossed the cells, searching for contraband and materials that weren’t allowed. 

            They’d found a few things, but nothing in Colin’s shared cell.  Everything inside had been purchased by his cell mates from commissary and was approved. How they used it to their benefit though was kind of odd. 

            Anyway, black hair had ceased to be even a passing issue after that. Ric had been elated all that day as he’d told Colin and their other cellmate, a lanky, curly-haired kid named Lenny that he was getting out for work release.  Work release in Clark County was the working man’s jail, as some called it. You got better meals, more time out of your cell, and got to go outside to work.  It wasn’t spending your time cramped and stuffed into a cell that was in truth no better than a broom closet. 

            In fact Ric had gotten out just before lights out, which wasn’t usual, but had to have been nice.  He couldn’t wait to get out of this place, but he had one more full day to go. The rest of Saturday had been largely uneventful, but of course jail wasn’t meant to be like summer camp.  The accommodations and the food weren’t much different though. 

                                                            *                      *                      *

 

            When the lights came on in the pod they came on throughout the entire space. Common room, cells, everything came on at once.  It was hard to remain asleep once the lights came on, but impossible when the guards suddenly told you to vacate your bunks and get your ass into the common area.  But it was considered a bad idea to cross the guards, and so Colin and Lenny, who was supposedly being extradited back to Las Vegas in the morning, were on their feet and in the common area in the next two minutes, bleary-eyed and unable to fully process why they and the rest of their pod were staring at what looked like two pods worth of inmates.

            The guards quickly explained the situation. The two neighboring pods had been contaminated by an unknown gas leak and had been deemed unsafe after one inmate had almost choked to death due to the fumes and another had fallen over in their cell and struck his head on the metal toilet.  None of it was processing all that well, but when the bottom line came both Lenny and Colin had to look at one another and shake their heads.

            Until the leak, which had been somehow stopped just before it hit their pod, could be fixed, all three pods would be staying in this one space.

            Bunk assignments had already begun by the time they were allowed back to their cells, and it wasn’t long before Lenny and Colin had not one, not two, but four new bunkmates.  Two of them were white, two were black, and all four of them were in a bad, bordering on confrontational mood.  One of them, a young black man who seemed incensed that he was being made to lie on the floor, tried to reason with Colin to give him the top bunk, only to be told that it wouldn’t be happening. When reason didn’t work, he tried to tell Colin why it would be best to just give him what he wanted. When Colin still didn’t give in the guy tried intimidation by standing at the side of Colin’s bunk and staring at him. When that didn’t work he tried to get physical, only to be reminded quickly and without any further violence that he was a visitor here, no matter if he’d been in longer than anyone like he claimed.

            He didn’t like hearing that, but then he also didn’t like the position of Colin’s foot only a foot or more from his nose. The addition of finding out that Lenny had been ready to mash his balls into jelly hadn’t helped him any. With a half-hearted promise to pick this matter up later the young man had gone back to his own pad, still grumbling under his breath right up until he’d fallen fast asleep. That had been the end of their confrontation, at least until morning.

            Breakfast came early in county, and without any more fanfare than the clattering of plastic trays and the grumbling of inmates as they shuffled forward upon hearing their name called. Colin had still been attempting to open his eyes fully when the young man from the night before had approached him, claiming that if he wasn’t going to get the top bunk then Colin should at least give him his morning sugar and cereal packets. Lenny had gone so far to laugh at him, but Colin hadn’t bothered looking at him as he’d spoken, acting with such disrespect that it hadn’t gone unnoticed. 

            He’d heard enough about county from friends that, in their infinite lack of wisdom, had made frequent trips to this place.  One of them was even proud of the fact that he knew the prison by memory.  What he had said to the young man was tantamount to spitting in his face, and he knew that even on the outside you didn’t act this way towards anyone without expecting repercussions.  Thankfully he’d never been a racist, a bigot, or even had an issue with race, religion, or any other difference that separated people. All he had a problem with was rudeness, and his own words had unfortunately made him a hypocrite in that moment when he’d told the young man that he could have his breakfast when he was done with it. 

            Translation: eat shit.

            A surprising number of inmates that had heard this had understood it. In this type of place he could believe that the inmates had heard damned near everything and weren’t easily surprised.  The level of disrespect he showed the younger man though was easily translatable as arrogance, and he almost paid for it later on. 

            Breakfast had been over, Lenny had been out in the common area doing something, and Colin had been in his cell reading one of the few books that his cell mates had offered when they found out he was an avid reader.  In the short time he’d been here he’d already gone through half of their sad little library, reading a Christian romance novel, an obscure fantasy book from the 80’s, and the majority of a spiritual guide written by a man who identified as a born again snake-handler.  He’d almost rolled his eyes trying to think what other titles might have been donated to the county library, if there was one.

            He was reading an older Tom Clancy novel when the young man he’d told to eat shit had come into the cell, his eyes never once leaving him as Colin had finally felt the need to acknowledge his presence. At that point he’d also seen one of the young man’s friends leaning against the entrance to their cell, positioned just so that the guards outside the pod couldn’t easily see into the space.  Colin had rolled his eyes this time, having known that this kind of thing would be coming.

            “Think twice,” he’d told the younger man without getting up.  He wasn’t about to show fear to this punk.  He didn’t need trouble in here, he just needed to get out the following day and all would be right. Well, he’d be out at least, and then he could get to work on making everything right.

            “You dissed me in front of my boys homey,” the young man said, his fists balling as he was preparing himself for action. “You don’t ever diss a guy like me.”

            “Why’s that?” Colin replied, “You gonna tell on me?”  He was pushing it, but he wasn’t about to back down to anyone, not now and especially not in here. If he got roughed up for being rude that was one thing, but he wasn’t about to kowtow to some ignorant, blue-shirt-wearing bitch that thought he was hot shit because he’d been in this place so long.

            “Get yo’ ass off that bed or I’m gonna pull it off,” the young man said, “I’m gonna kick your ass bitch.”

            “That’s all you’ve got?” Colin asked with a smirk, “You’ve had all morning to come up with something terrifying and all you can think of is ‘I’m gonna kick your ass bitch’?  My ten-year old niece could have done better than that.”

            “Motherfucka get yo’ ass down!” the young man insisted, not raising his voice as he looked quickly to the door, making certain that the guards  hadn’t noticed the exchange.  Colin wasn’t normally a violent person, but even he understood the difference between being the outsider and being the bitch when it came to county. He was for damn sure not going to be the bitch, not even for a single day.

            He rolled over quickly, reaching out with both hands as he allowed the Tom Clancy novel to go sliding to the floor with a dull fluttering of pages.  The young man didn’t know what the hell was happening as Colin wrapped both hands behind his neck and pulled forward, yanking himself off the bunk soon after. The resulting sound of flesh hitting metal was louder than he would have liked, but by the time the young man’s head had rebounded from the steel Colin was already off the bed and making it look as though he’d been trying to catch the younger man.

            The move shouldn’t have worked as well as it had, but he couldn’t deny the usefulness of it as the young man’s eyes rolled up in his skull, his body going limp as he began to fall.  Colin was there in the next instant to catch him before he hit the mat-covered ground. He might not have hurt himself, but there was always a chance he might have hit his head on the bottom bunk and made things worse.

            Instead Colin managed to catch him and lower his inert body to his own bunk without any further damage. His friend though was converging on him quickly. 

            “Do you want to fall down too?” he asked the friend, who was a rather hulking specimen that could probably turn Colin inside out.

            “Huh?” the man asked, clearly not understanding. His attacker hadn’t opted for the intelligence factor in his backup.

            “He tripped and fell,” Colin said, putting a small measure of steel into his voice.  “If the guards ask that’s what I’ll be saying happened.  So did you want to get all medieval right here and now or did you want to just fuck off?”

            “He’s gonna fuckin’ kill you white boy,” the big man said, “You just made him look the fool.” 

            “In front of a whole pod where no one saw shit,” Colin retorted, looking pointedly up at the big man, “except you, and me.”

            He let the unspoken threat hang out there for a moment, savoring the uncertain look on the big guy’s face as he tried to decide just what to do.  It was like watching a dim-witted bear trying to add two and two together.

            “You don’t talk, neither will I,” Colin said as laid the young man down before straightening up, “And I won’t need to tell the guards what was about to happen here.”

            “Snitches get stitches man,” mumbled the big man.

            “So do bitches,” Colin almost growled, “Remember that.”

            The big man walked off slowly, not speaking but obviously not willing to forget this. Colin felt his heartbeat accelerating just a bit, he’d done something a little rash, but he’d had justification for it. It wouldn’t matter to the guards, he knew that much. They would likely bring this news to the judge he was supposed to be seeing tomorrow if they found out.

            Just as he was about to get back on his bunk Colin noted Lenny coming in the door, whistling to himself as he looked at Colin and nodded.

            “Pretty boy taking a nap?” Lenny asked, indicating the unconscious form of their roommate at his feet, “I don’t know if I’d be standing so close to him right now man. He might wake up and think you’re trying to mount him.”

            Lenny had a good chuckle at that, and Colin tried to join in, but he was more interested in climbing atop his bunk and getting back to his book.

                                                *                      *                      *

 

            The rest of the day was uneventful.  He played some poker, borrowed a pack of cards to play Solitaire, wrote a little more, read some more, and even laid down to just stare at the ceiling for a short time. The punk had finally woken up with one hell of a bruise on his forehead and no idea how he’d gotten it.  When asked about it Colin had stated he knew nothing about it. Teezy, the name that others knew the young man by, had professed that he’d been talking to Colin and then felt a sharp pain in his head before passing out.

            When a few guys had asked him why he didn’t report that one of his roommates had passed out Colin had replied that he hadn’t been aware of it. He’d turned over to read, ignoring Teezy, and when he’d turned back he’d been gone.  It was a bullshit story to be sure, and no one was really buying it, but Teezy and his big friend weren’t saying anything to contradict it, so Colin knew that one of two things was bound to happen. They would move forward from this without further issues, or he would in for a long night.

            Teezy and his big buddy wouldn’t even look at him the rest of the day, preferring to be on the other side of the pod when Colin decided to come out of his cell.  He was under no illusions that they were afraid of him, but they didn’t want to risk the interference of the guards.  They wanted to get him when he wasn’t on his guard, and when they could proceed without anyone butting in.  In the pod that would be difficult, but he wouldn’t put it past the two of them to find a way to make it possible.

            As it turned out he only had to wait for lights out.

                                                *                      *                      *

 

            All the prison stories ever told, all the movies ever made, were a bunch of bullshit so far as he was concerned at the moment.  True, he was in county, which was different, but he’d heard so many tales about this place and what happened that he’d been scared shitless upon being caught.  But now that he was here he couldn’t imagine why he’d ever been scared.  This place was boring, that was about the worst thing aside from the food. Colin understood it wasn’t supposed to be like a stay at a luxury hotel, but sitting around reading outdated books, begging and borrowing what materials you could just to entertain yourself, and staring at the walls got very, very boring with a quickness he’d not expected.  There was no paranoia or feelings of claustrophobia for him, but then again he’d not been here that long.  He imagined that if he was here for a month or more he might feel differently.  That wasn’t going to happen so long as he could avoid it though. He was supposed to be getting out tomorrow after his arraignment hearing, and would be a free man again.

            Maybe that was why Teezy had planned his little parting gift the way he had.  For all the stories and myths that were told about jail, some were too real. Teezy didn’t manage to create a shiv or a shank during the day, but he had managed to visit the commissary where he had an account it would seem.  What he’d purchased had seemed innocuous enough, a small bar of soap, a few sugary snacks, and a bag of chips.  Unfortunately the soap hadn’t been part of his normal purchase, though he hadn’t known this.

            Lights out had come without any trouble, as the inmates had all retired to their bunks without fail.  Upon entering his shared cell though Colin had accidentally shifted Teezy’s mat before he’d reached it, which had almost caused a scene.  The fact that the guards had still been in the pod had kept the other man from shouting at him though. Instead Teezy had given him a look that Colin knew all too well. It meant “Your ass is mine.”

            He hadn’t said anything, just climbed into his bunk and ran over his few options as he let the thought of what he’d seen run through his mind.  The bar of soap had been wrapped tightly in Teezy’s pillowcase, creating a simple but painful weapon that could cause at least some harm and possibly humiliation if he managed to hit Colin just right.  He wasn’t going to depend on Lenny again, or their other cellmates if Teezy decided to attack. This time he needed to end it.

            Thankfully Teezy wasn’t the patient type.  Colin was lying on his back just waiting when he saw the young black man stand up, brandishing his homemade weapon as he spoke in a harsh whisper.

            “I want that top bunk bitch!”

            He swung the pillowcase as he spoke the last few words, but had not realized that Colin was still awake.  It took just a split second to reach up and grab the descending pillowcase, the bar of soap standing out in stark relief as he watched it aiming towards his face.  Colin ruined Teezy’s chance to beat him as he ripped the pillowcase away and, more out of luck than skill, backhanded him with his left hand so hard he felt the other man’s teeth through his lips before he was knocked away. 

            Colin’s hand immediately began to sting as rolled up to his knees, staying just inches shy of the ceiling as he swung the pillowcase.  So stunned was Teezy that he didn’t manage to block the first two hits as the bar of soap smashed across his left eye and then his right cheek as Colin just started swinging, aiming for wherever he could see

as Teezy, finally over his initial shock, began to cover up.

            He was angry to be certain, but he was also tired and sore from sleeping on a thin, foam mat with only a hard metal bunk beneath to offer any comfort.  He was tired of people like Teezy who thought they could take what they wanted, guys like the dipshit who’d gotten his ass kicked and then attempted to make friends with half the pod, and especially tired of being in this goddamned place.

            His anger played out as a flurry of hard, stinging blows that landed on Teezy’s arms and shoulders, with a few bouncing off the back of his head. The last hit had him raising his head as Colin could see tears of pain, or shame, streaking down his cheeks. This just infuriated him even more as he saw the glistening trails, prompting Colin to grab the bar of soap in one hand as he watched Teezy open his mouth to presumably yell, or perhaps call out for the guards, or both. 

            It was just like a bully was what Colin figured.  Once they realized that their intended victim could, or would, fight back, they became crying little bitches that sought to act like the victim.  Colin was definitely pissed off now as he rammed the bar of soap, still covered by the pillowcase, into Teezy’s wide open mouth. He had a perverse moment of enjoyment as he saw Teezy’s eyes widen in shock as he bit down out of sheer reflex, his teeth almost catching Colin’s fingers as he felt them slide across the skin of his knuckles. Worse than having the cloth-covered bar shoved in his mouth was the fact that Teezy could not control his reflex, and bit even harder as his teeth punched through the flimsy cloth and deeply into the soap.

            The others had barely stirred at this point, but he could hear Lenny coming awake slowly beneath him, and the other three were stirring in their sleep as Colin looked hard at Teezy, speaking in a low, dangerous voice.

            “Go back to bed Teezy,” he said calmly, still at a whisper level, “You had a weird dream and thought your soap was a candy bar.  Next thing you know you’re awake and your teeth are filled with soap chips instead of chocolate.  Do yourself a favor and leave me alone for one more day.  Otherwise it’s about to get a lot worse.”

            “Man you two need to get a life,” mumbled one of the others.

            Colin didn’t take his eyes from Teezy, “You ever had a comb rammed up your ass?”

            Teezy’s eyes widened, but Colin spoke again, “Lenny, you still got your comb?”

            “Just wash it after you’re done man,” Lenny said sleepily as he rolled over, “It’s on the desk.”

            Colin smiled at the horrified look that Teezy gave him, seeming to forget that he still had his teeth buried in his bar of soap.

            “Soap chips in the teeth, or potential anal trauma?” Colin asked Teezy as he cocked his head to the side.

            It was then that Teezy unclenched jaw, spitting out soap as he was careful to turn his head.  Otherwise he would have spit them right onto Lenny. 

            “How about I just go to the guards and let them drag your ass off to solitary, bitch?”

            Colin shrugged, “You’d need reliable witnesses,” he said, looking around.

            “I didn’t see anything,” Lenny said from his bunk, still turned around.

            “Me neither.”

            “Nope, I was fast asleep.”

            “We heard you spittin’ out soap, that’s all.”

            Colin managed a grin as the other inmates spoke up, and that grin continued to spread as he saw the anger rising in Teezy’s tear-filled eyes.  As Teezy looked back at him all Colin could do was shrug.

            “I’ll be gone tomorrow,” he said calmly, “And then you can forget all about me, and this little episode.”

            “I won’t forget,” Lenny said in a half-sleeping voice.

            “Me neither.”

            “Nope, won’t forget, bitch.”

            Teezy looked like he wanted to stomp the life out of each person in the room, but that kind of ruckus would be sure to bring the guards, and no one wanted that., especially when he was the odd man out.

            Teezy looked back to Colin, who was already rolling over to go to sleep.  He felt better than he had all weekend.  And for the rest of the night there were no more ill-fated attempts to disturb him.

                                                            *                      *                      *

 

            The next day came early, and as they rose and exited their bunks Teezy wouldn’t even look at him, much less speak to him.  Colin ate breakfast, then was escorted to his video arraignment a short while later.  He was eating lunch when Teezy and his big friend from the day before seemed poised and ready to make their way over to where he was sitting. It was only when he looked up and shook his head that Teezy seemed to think twice. When Lenny and the other three men from their cell looked up as well it was obvious that Teezy wouldn’t be coming out of this scenario as the victor, and he wisely backed away.

            It was just before dinner that the sweetest words he’d heard in some time came through the door, words he’d been waiting on for a few hours.

            “Simmons, roll out!”

            He knew what that meant and wasn’t at all sorry to trade his mat to one of his cell mates, or his towel, or even his slippers. Giving one last goodbye to Lenny he was out the door and gone before he could even begin to wonder if Teezy’s bitch ass would be allowed to get the top bunk.  Once he hit the doors leading out to freedom, he couldn’t have cared less.

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