Chapter 2: Day One
Xander woke up after a long night of broken sleep. He listened to the hushed voices of the other inmates talking in whispers. His own cellmate Wolfsky slept like a baby after finishing his hand written book, and woke up with a stretch and a long piss in thier shared toilet.
“You sleep well, new meat?” Wolfsky asked as he drained himself.
“As good as I can,” Xander said swinging his legs over the edge of the bunk.
Wolfsky laughed. “First night’s a bitch,” he said. “Wolfsky slept like a baby. Did you hear if anyone cracked?”
Xander thought back to his restless night. He could hear someone sobbing and imagined it was the fat man who was a few men behind him in the entrance line the night before. The other inmates were yelling at him to shut the fuck up and suddenly he stopped. “Could have been,” Xander said. “Hard to tell. It was kind of far away.”
“Well you made it,” Wolfsky said. “Have you been on the inside before?”
“First time,” Xander said swinging down and draining his own bladder into the steel toilet.
“Always the best,” Wolfsky said splashing his face with water from their small sink. “Wolfsky guesses Wolfsky has to show you around after all. Here’s how it works, white meat. Walk by Wolfsky’s side. Never behind Wolfsky or they’ll think you’re Wolfsky’s bitch. Wolfsky don’t need that rep. In here we’ll get along fine if you don’t spend your time outside of this cell acting like a puppy. We gonna go to breakfast now. You sit where Wolfsky tells you and eat with who Wolfsky tells you to eat with. Once we’re done Wolfsky will show you around the places we’re allowed to go. This ain’t max lockup, so you’re allowed to move around. You fuck up and you’re in the hole. If your file gets fat enough and they move you to max. You don’t want to be in max.”
Xander knew about max lockup from his file studying and didn’t ask Wolfsky to elaborate. Max lockup was a separate building located in the north of Havenville that housed around three hundred or so inmates. The cells were small, meals were minuscule, and the torture was imminent. Max lockup was basically for those deemed by the warden to be unfit for general population. It was the last place in Havenville Xander would want to be.
“C Block will be eating breakfast at 9:15 AM,” a loud voice said over the automated system. “If you are not in chow line at 9:15 AM you will not eat.”
Xander perked up at the sound of breakfast. He was sure the food would be horrible, but he’d have the chance to spot for Chris Wells who may be in C Block as well.
“Yo, Wolfsky,” a short black man said coming by the cell. “You got a new cellmate?”
“Yeah,” Wolfsky replied. “He cool. No tears. Not even a sniffle.”
“I’m Rohan,” he said to Xander extending his hand. “What you in for?”
“Home invasion,” Xander said.
“Home invasion?” Rohan asked. “Shit, Wolfsky. With that long hair you’d think he be sticking kids with an AIDS needle. You sure you ain’t hiding something, Shandor?”
“It’s Xander,” Xander said. “And no. I was taking a bag full of jewelry out some rich bag’s house and her old man got me dead to rights with a shotgun. She phoned the cops and I got eighteen months.”
“Eighteen months?” Rohan said. “Shit, short-timer. You better not go mouthing off at that. Those of us with decades here won’t take too kindly to that. If that were a black man and not some pretty white meat he’d get at least twice that. Five years minimum.”
“Keep it down,” Wolfsky said. Wolfsky don’t need heat outside Wolfsky’s cell.”
“I’m goin’ anyway, Wolfsky,” Rohan said. “You going to that wake after?”
“No, man,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky knows better than to go mourn someone the Ten of Clubs offed.”
“I hear you,” Rohan said. “I’m off to breakfast. See you there.”
Xander got a sick feeling in his stomach. “A wake?” he asked. “Someone died?”
“Some white meat from Lower A got on the wrong side of Ten of Clubs is all,” Wolfsky said. “The day before last.”
“Anyone you know?” Xander asked.
“Not really,” Wolfsky replied. “Just another white meat too dumb to stay away from the Ten of Clubs.”
Wolfsky walked down to the mess hall with Xander by his side. When they got close Xander noticed the line already forming. He went to get in line when he was stopped by Wolfsky’s huge arm.
“Here’s how this works,” Wolfsky said. “You won’t sit with Wolfsky in the hall. You’ll sit with your own kind. It’s your first day, so some joker will fuck with your food. If you don’t stand up for yourself it will happen every day. Do not call a guard. The back four round tabes belong to the Ten of Clubs. You stay away from there and do not stare. New meat always stares and they end up raped.”
“What if the Ten of Clubs are the ones fucking with me?” Xander asked.
“They won’t,” Wolfsky said definitively. “Go mix in with that group of white meat. Wolfsky will show you around after.”
Wolfsky went silent and Xander walked in the group of white men waiting in line for breakfast. The line moved quickly and quietly as the guards looked on. The mess hall was floored with dark hardwood floors and long rectangular tables with round attached stools. On either end of the hall there were groups of about eight round tables also with attached stools. Xander noticed the tables already full of the Ten of Clubs (a gang he already knew of from his folder on them), but didn’t let his eyes linger. He still had a shred of hope he would run into Chris Wells at some point, but he had the sinking feeling the wake being held later was his. A wake he couldn’t even attend to find out since the Ten of Clubs apparently don’t like anyone mourning their victims.
Xander got his small plastic bowl of soggy oatmeal, piece of bread, and runny eggs. It was topped off with a cup of watered down orange juice in a small plastic mug the same brown color as the oatmeal bowl. He picked out a seat that didn’t have too many people near and sat down and began to eat. The food almost immediately threatened to come back up, but he was able to keep it down.
Xander was joined shortly by a scrawny red-headed man in thick misshaped glasses. His hair was tied back in a rat tail and he smelled as if he actively avoided showering for the entirety of his stay at Havenville. “You’re new,” the man said. “The name’s Nate. Are you finding our humble abode comforting?”
“I’m doing alright,” Xander said sipping at his juice.
“Good to hear it, brother,” Nate said sucking air in through his wet nostrils.
Xander sat in silence eating his runny eggs.
Nate looked up at the ceiling. “You see up there?” he asked. He turned and watched Xander intently until his gaze went up to the metal canisters on the ceiling. Nate’s smile widened. “That’s tear gas in there,” he said. “I’ve only seen them use it once. It’s a beautiful sight seeing a room full of people gassed because two men think fruit cocktail is something worthy of brawling over. Have you ever seen anything like that?”
“Not really,” Xander said lying. He had seen all sorts of things like that undercover.
Nate observed Xander again. “If you need anything at all you give me a holler. I’m down in Lower C cell 7. A lot of magic happens down in Lower C. You should transfer down. I think there’s a spot in cell 9.”
“I think I’m fine where I am,” Xander was about to toss the rest of his food to get out of this conversation when someone came up behind him.
“You having fun with the ginger rapist, new meat?” a black man nearly twice Xander’s size said.
“I don’t know…” Xander said. He noticed Nate was no longer there. He had skulked under the table and and silently made his way out the other side. He was currently halfway towards the exit.
“Shut the fuck up!” the man said not yelling so he wouldn’t catch the guards attention. “You save me your eggs?”
“You want my eggs?” Xander asked.
“Yeah, mother fucker,” the man said. “Am I speaking English?”
“You want my eggs,” Xander said.
“What?” the man said as the group behind him chuckled. “You stupid or just need a beating.”
“You can have my fucking eggs,” Xander said quickly moving and slapping the man in the center of his big face with his tray splattering eggs and oatmeal all over him. The man was taken aback by the action and Xander kicked out at his legs and he man fell chin first into the table. Blood began to ooze from his mouth. Xander kneed the guy in the head and he went down like sack.
When Xander looked up he noticed the room went silent and there was a guard aiming a stun gun at him. “What the fuck do you want?” Xander said a second before the world turned painfully white and he was suddenly looking up at the ceiling unable to move. The world turned black and Xander got some much needed sleep.
When Xander awoke his world was in pain. His head buzzed and he tried to move, but he was handcuffed to a wooden chair that was bolted down to the floor. “Look who’s awake,” a voice that sounded miles away said. His face was splashed with water and his world began to come back into focus. “Stay with me, boy.” Xander focused and saw a fat guard sitting at a desk in front of him with a newspaper opened up.
“Where am I?” Xander asked.
“Lucky you’re not in the hole,” the fat guard said. “A fight in the mess hall usually gets you a day, but seeing as it’s your first day we let you off with a shock. Consider this your last warning. You act up in my mess hall again and you’ll wake up in the hole. You got it?”
“Got it,” Xander said. “Can I go?”
“Yeah you can go,” the guard said getting up and taking the cuffs off Xander. He stood up and looked out the window towards the detached chapel across the yard. Next to the large stone walls. “You a church man?” the guard asked.
“Not really,” Xander said. “I just heard about a wake or funeral of some kind.”
“Oh yes,” the guard said. “Happens way too often around here if you ask me. That’s why I’m asking you to refrain from violence or it may be you that has an unattended funeral next.”
“Who was it this time?” Xander asked almost knowing the answer.
“Boy by the name of Wells,” the guard replied. “Ran across the wrong men. Found him clubbed to death next to a toilet. You know him?”
“No,” Xander said.
The guard observed Xander for a few seconds before putting his hand forth. “The names Marshall, by the way,” he said. “Kit Marshall. Find me if you find yourself in a bind.” Marshall opened the door and Xander nodded before leaving. “Don’t spread it around though,” he added with a wink.
Xander believe he just came across one of the FBI’s inside men.
Xander took the long walk back to his cell to think of his next plan of action. There was no time to mourn a man he wasn’t supposed to know. Now that he knew he was alone in this venture it would be up to him to implement the plans he was supposed to perform with Wells. He was supposed to make contact with the two men that could possibly help him, but in prison everything worked slow. He still needed to find where they were before he could make his offer. Even after, they’d have to agree to it, and if they decided to sell Xander out it would cost him his life. Xander wondered if that’s how Wells got found out.
“Hey,” a voice with a hispanic accent said from behind him. “Slow up, yo.” Xander turned to see the short Mexican man running up behind him. The top part of his jumpsuit was undone and tied below his stomach. He wore a white tank top with his tattooed arms showing. “I like what you did in the mess hall today,” he said. “I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. I’m El Niño by the way.”
Xander shook El Niño’s outstretched hand. “Xander,” he said.
“You need anything you come find me,” El Niño said. “Just ask any of the chicanos. Let them know I said you’re cool.”
“Thanks,” Xander said. He was glad he was earning some respect so soon, but he worried at what the price would be later.
“I’ll never forget the guards face,” El Niño said. “He was shocked. ‘What the fuck do you want?’ Classic!” El Niño started to break off and go towards the exit to the rec yard. “Remember, yo. Tell them El Niño said you’re cool. I’ll see you around, chico.”
Xander left and made his way back to Upper C cell 18 where Wolfsky was sitting on the bunk reading another hand written book in a composition book. He put a bookmark in and set it down on the bed when Xander came in. “Sit down,” he said. “We need to talk.”
“About what?” Xander asked. “I did exactly like you said. I got picked on and I stood up for myself.”
“Not about that,” Wolfsky said. “You were talking to that ginger rapist at breakfast.”
Xander thought back. The events in the mess hall seemed like days ago even though it had been less than a couple of hours. He remembered the creepy ginger guy who had say next to him. “Oh him,” Xander said. “He took the seat next to me and tried to start a conversation.”
“Wolfsky can’t associate those who keep that kind of company,” Wolfsky said. “That red headed white boy has his friends hold guys down while he rapes them. He got a dick full of Hep C and he don’t mind spreading it around. They say he’s in here for keeping a group of high school cheerleaders in his basement for six months.”
“He just sat next to me,” Xander said. He was beginning to understand the guard from admission’s remarks from the day before about Wolfsky.
“Be careful,” Wolfsky said picking the composition book up again and taking his bookmark out. “Go out into the rec yard and get some exercise. Wolfsky’ll catch up with you later.”
It was after midnight. Closer to one actually. The day was done and the inmates in Havenville had long since gone to bed. The gates that were normally on lockdown during the night opened as a dark blue sedan rolled out. The guards looked the other way as it left the walls and drove down the road that would take the driver back to the interstate.
Inside the dark blue sedan was Jodie Slate. Jodie Slate had entered Havenville seven years ago, but at the time was named Dustin Reynolds.
Dustin had been convicted of killing his wife and the man she had taken as her lover. He had caught them in the act and shot them both in the head in the back of the bastard’s car. The cheating bitch was naked and on his lap as they lay in each other’s arms. Dustin had been convicted to life without parole in Havenville Penitentiary.
In Havenville Dustin had been subjected to psychiatric sessions with the resident psychiatrist where they would work hard to make Dustin a better man than when he entered. There was no point to them since he would never see the outside of those huge fortress walls, but Dustin decided he’d do just about anything to pass the long years between his entrance and when he would mercifully die within the prison walls.
After long examinations and sessions (some of which Dustin couldn’t even remember) he was asked to see Warden Greene. He was surprised that the Warden would want to talk to one of his inmates. Especially one who was convicted of something a vulgar as double homicide.
“Sit down,” Warden Greene said as Dustin entered in front of the guard with the stun gun. “I think it’s time you and I had a talk.”
“I wasn’t aware you met your inmates one on one,” Dustin said. “Is this some new kind of program or something?”
“Or something,” Warden Greene said. “I’ve gone over your notes and spoken at great length about you to Doctor Goldstein. It seems you’re on his short list to be in my new program. Would be interested in taking part?”
“Sure,” Dustin said jumping at another opportunity to pass more of his time. He was just a little over a year into his life sentence. “Just tell me what the catch is.”
“No catch,” Warden Greene said folding his fingers under his chin. “Not really.”
Jodie Slate smiled thinking back on her early days in Havenville. Before the experiments that made her into the woman she is today. The secret staff of doctors and psychiatrists had worked tirelessly on turning Dustin into exactly he needed to be to help the Warden accomplish his goals. And why not? The Warden’s goals were absolute. The Warden’s goals were perfect. The Warden’s goals were the true path to freedom.
The dark blue sedan finally made its way to the interstate where it would take Jodie Slate to her first task.