The Innocent Chapter 7: The Agents of the Warden

The Innocent

Chapter 7: The Agents of the Warden

While most of Havenville Penitentiary slept, one man prowled silently through the night. His name was Kai Tajiri, and after lights out Havenville was his playground. In his mind’s eye he could see where the cameras and motion detectors he had to avoid. He knew the shortcuts through ceiling vents, through the laundry rooms, wood shops, and cafeterias. He concealed himself in shadows as he stood silent as the guards passed chatting about last weeks football games. The security was lax at night, and Tajiri knew this all too well.

On this particularly dark night he had one mission in mind: Break into Dr Dean’s office and steal his notes. Dr. Harold Dean was one of Havenville’s resident psychiatrists, and had attempted to hypnotize Tajiri’s new comrade Xander. Tajiri’s friend and cellmate, Leonard, thought it was crazy to sneak into the medical wing offices and attempt to steal a notebook or two, but Tajiri gave his word he would try.

Tajiri walked on the beam above the guard’s quarters one foot in front of the other. His footsteps were muffled by the soft shoes he wore. He knew there would be a guard watching the cameras in the room, but oft times he would be asleep in front of his monitor or reading a book assuming all the inmates were safely locked in their cells.

Tajiri edged open the trap door he himself installed on the large square vent. It was a cool night, but the heat was not on. It was safe enough for him to pass through. He emerged after a dark ten minutes and emerged above the offices of the medical wing.

Here’s where Tajiri’s job became difficult. The cameras here rotate around in tinted globes, so there is no way to tell where they were pointed. The lights were on motion detectors and would turn on if he made a wrong move. He would have to stay above the ceiling tiles, so he could not see if there was a guard on a random patrol below him. Tajiri moved slowly and quietly on hands and knees on the rafters that held the lights and ceiling tiles. More than once he felt as if he had made a sound or shook a light and stopped dead. If there were any guards he hoped they thought the sounds were rats (Tajiri came across them in the night quite often).

Tajiri heard no sounds from the clumsy guards and moved on. It would seem he was alone tonight. When he was sure he was above Dr Dean’s office he removed the ceiling tile and dropped into the office. He ducked under the desk for a short period of time to make sure his drop wasn’t seen or heard. When he emerged he was in the clear. There was no camera in this office (since it was meant to be a “safe haven”), but the lights were on motion detector. Tajiri would have to be careful not to wander past the electric eye.

Tajiri knew this office well. He had also had his ‘treatments’ from Dr Dean, but that was before he had learned how to move about the prison in secret. Tajiri was had also adapted his own way around the hypnosis (which he had shared with Leonard). Tajiri listened intently and heard no movement from outside the office. Whatever guard had this area on patrol was surely napping somewhere or had his feet up in one of the unlocked offices.

There were audible clicks as Tajiri used his lock-pick to open the file door that was under the small desk. If anyone did walk by at this point they would have assumed they were hearing a mouse or a rat trying to gnaw its way through a wall. Tajiri paused every so often anyway to be sure there was no movement outside but there was none. He continued his clicking until the door popped open.

The files were labeled by name. He fingered through them looking for Xander’s file, but he didn’t find it. It must have been hidden elsewhere. Tajiri considered looking around the office more but decided he had pressed his luck enough for one night. He grabbed a thick file near the back of the cabinet and stuffed it into his shirt. He listened near the door one more time before standing on the desk to reenter the ceiling. He froze and remembered what Leonard had asked him to find.

He hopped back down on the floor silently, but he had tripped the motion detecting light switch.  He ran over to the switch and shut it off again, but the damage had been done. There was a guard in this area of Havenville, and he was rapidly approaching.

The door opened and guard came in clutching a flashlight. The lights went back on and the guard looked around the room intently. He stood silently scanning with his eyes and ears for the slightest bit of movement. Tajiri stayed in his hiding place above the guards head clutching the ceiling beam with both hands while his feet kept him above the ground atop the doorway. Every muscle in his body screamed at him to let go, but he willed them quiet and waited for the guard to either give up or look up (in which case Tajiri would be forced to fight, render the guard unconscious, and very quickly get back to his cell and fein sleep).

To Tajiri’s relief a mouse scurried from under Dr. Dean’s desk and ran right between the guards legs into the hallway. “Fuckin vermin,” the guard said to himself. He turned and left. Tajiri timed his fall perfectly so that his feet hit the ground at the same time the door closed, covering any sound the guard could pick up. He sat motionless crouched to the side of the door and waited for uncountable minutes with his heart pounding in his chest until the lights turned themselves off. Once they were off he very slowly and carefully turned the motion detector switch off, listened for a few more minutes until he was sure the guard had moved on, and went back to get the restraints Leonard had asked for.

Once Tajiri had the restraints safely tucked away into his black outfit and leapt back into the ceiling. 

*

Jodie Slate pulled into the parking spot outside of the Boston FBI Headquarters where she had worked before her disappearance. If it felt like a lifetime ago, it was because it was a lifetime ago. The real Jodie Slate was currently a hundred feet or so under the Havenville Max Lockup building, and this Jodie Slate was in reality criminal Dustin Reynolds, but after much internal and external surgery (not to mention the hypnosis treatments) Dustin Reynolds was no more.

Jodie looked at the large building and squinted as the morning sun reflected off of it. She had been here before. She knew she had. She knew exactly where her desk was as well as her colleagues offices. She knew that Carter down in logistics would stare at her legs if she wore a short skirt. She knew that her boss was always pleasantly pleased with her work. Jodie’s mind tried to untangle the kinks of information as she entered the building and requested an escort to her boss, Donald Perkins, office.

Perkins was worried about Jodie Slate coming back to work. The last they had heard from her she had gone deep undercover and disappeared. When she reappeared nearly three years later she had apprehended the criminal mastermind James Lockhart. She had not only brought him in, but he had come willingly and with no resistance. All their information on Lockhart pointed towards a violent struggle, so Perkins was worried about Slate’s mysterious return.

But then again, Jodie Slate knew this as well.

“We are going to have to search your purse, Ms. Slate,” the security guard said with a look of worry in his eye. Jodie didn’t know if she was suppose to recognize the muscular black man with the name badge that said “Thomas”.

“Standard procedure,” Jodie said with a smile. “I know.”

The search was quick and Jodie was buzzed in. She was greeted in the long hallway on the other side of the bullet-proof glass doors by Perkins.

“Welcome back, Ms. Slate,” Perkins said extending his hand.

“What’s with the formality,” Jodie said shaking Perkins’ hand. “You never called me Ms. Slate before.”

Perkins gave her a nervous smile. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen you.”

“Too long,” Jodie said giving a shudder. “If you only knew the places I’ve been.”

“I hate to impose this on you,” Perkins said. “But we have to debrief you. We need to know what’s been going on the last few years. We thought you were dead!”

“That’s abundantly clear seeing as I have no home or possessions left,” Jodie said. “I don’t even know where my cat is!” 

“Again, I’m sorry,” Perkins said leading Jodie down the long hall and to the elevators. “It’s standard procedure.”

“I’ve had enough of standard procedures,” Jodie said irritated. “Let me just get back to work and get my life back on track.”

“I don’t have any problem with that,” Perkins said. “As soon as you’ve been debriefed.”

Jodie could see that there was no way around this one. She checked her ‘memory’ and wasn’t at all surprised to see that Director Donald Perkins was an extremely by-the-book kind of guy.

“Whatever you say, boss,” Jodie said. She was also not surprised that she’d often been cold towards him.

*

Jodie’s debriefing took most of the day. She often got annoyed when asked the same question in three different ways (a trait the old Jodie Slate was not secretive about). When it was done the FBI had a very long and twisted tale on how Jodie had accidentally found herself in the web of the mastermind James Lockhart, held captive by his agents for a very long time, and escaped with Lockhart in cuffs. The question of why he came along so quietly had come up, but Jodie shrugged this off. “You’d have to ask him,” she simply said.

“We have,” the interrogator said. He clearly had every intention of rephrasing the question in a minute to see if he’d receive a different answer.

“And?” Jodie asked with her arms now crossed around her chest.

“He said you made him a tender offer,” the interrogator said. “Now what deal could that have been.”

“I asked him to put the cuffs on and come along quietly,” Jodie said. “I’m sure you found the evidence against him I provided more than enough to put him away.”

“Very much so,” the interrogator said. “He’ll be on the bus to Havenville by the end of this week, but that doesn’t answer my question. Lockhart has killed much more seasoned agents than you. He’s been on the run for most of his life. He’s eluded us so much we lost all hope of ever catching him. What made him come along with you?” 

Jodie looked the interrogator in his brown eyes fully aware of what was going on around her. There were no less than four hidden camera behind the giant mirror as well as no more than two other agents (Perkins included) watching and listening. They had infrared and special mics that can pick up the slightest waver in her voice to tell him if she was nervous answering a tough question.

Luckily for Jodie Slate, she had been conditioned for just this kind of situation.

“Again,” Jodie said with a sharp intake of breath. “You’d have to ask him. Are you sure he’s not fucking with you?”

*

“What do you think?” Perkins asked Chief Tom Moony behind the glass as they watched a very rude Jodie Slate handle herself during her debriefing.

“We’re wasting our time with her,” Moony said. Slate had worked with him for many years, which was why Perkins requested his presence. He had even partnered with her for a time before he was promoted. “She may be crass, but She’s not a liar. She was always a very loyal agent.”

“But she was gone for so long,” Perkins said. “How can we tell if her experience damaged her?”

“Of course it has,” Moony said. “Who wouldn’t be damaged after going through what she went through. There’s a reason Black Agents have the option for extremely early retirement.”

“She won’t take it,” Perkins said.

“No,” Moony said. “I wouldn’t think so.”

“Her story does have a few holes that worries me,” Perkins said. “I can’t put my finger on why, but she doesn’t even seem like the same person. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” Moony said. “You don’t get in that deep and remain unaffected. If I had to guess I would say you’re just looking for a reason to shit-can her. You guys never treat your Black Agents too well once they come back. They get that taint on them from being down in the trenches with the scum of this world. A brown-noser like you can’t really appreciate the work of a good agent.”

Perkins was taken aback by Moony. He wasn’t aware that he’d hit a sore spot with his line of questioning. “What do you suggest we do?” Perkins asked.

“Give her a desk job for now,” Moony said. “Get her set up with the shrink. Let her unwind for a while. Get her life back on track.”

“Do you think it’s wise to keep her around?” Perkins ask.

“I’d stake my life on it,” Moony said with a reassuring smile.

*

Three days after Jodie Slate was interrogated by her bosses and colleagues, the man she arrested rode the bus to Havenville Penitentiary. He watched the scenery zip by through his barred bus window with a smile on his face. He had been on the run and in hiding for so long it actually felt good to be out in the open and going somewhere he could be free. The irony of going to prison for freedom didn’t escape him as his smile widened.

It was going to be good to work with Hugo again. No matter what he was calling himself these days. His FBI escort shifted uncomfortably as Lockhart began to laugh.

*

“What’s going on?” Xander asked Wolfsky. He was standing at the gates with a few of his friends looking out at the entrance.

“New meat,” Wolfsky said with no hint of humor in his voice. “The guys come up here to check out the talent.”

Xander looked over and saw the same swastika-tattooed man that taunted the inmates on his own bus and had bad feeling. “This isn’t right,” he said in a low voice so only Wolfsky could hear.

“Right or not,” Wolfsky said in his own low voice. “It’s part of being on the inside. If you don’t catcall, you don’t fit in. You don’t fit in, you’re not trusted.”

At this point, Xander had trusted Wolfsky’s instructions. He decided to stick around and catcall the new meat like the other inmates to see who was coming in. With luck the FBI would have learned of Chris Well’s death by now and sent a reinforcement.

The bus doors opened, and the newest inmates to Havenville Penitentiary were ushered out into the sun.

“We got some fine treats today, boys!” the swastika-tattooed man bellowed as his buddies cheered. Xander noticed a small chubby man shudder in fear. He probably wouldn’t make it a week without breaking.

“Real nice talent!” a voice Xander recognized yelled from his right. He turned his head slightly to see the ginger man named Nate he had met on his first day in Havenville. He had avoided Nate since, but in such close quarters he was bound to run into him again. Nate gave Xander a wink and went back to yelling disgusting comments at the new inmates while grabbing his crotch.

“GET OFF MY FENCE!” the huge guard yelled stepping up to them.

“Big man on that side of the fence,” Nate said under his breath to Xander. He still backed off with the rest, though.

Xander took a step back, but stopped and stood transfixed as the last inmate was led off the bus by six men in dark blue FBI blazers. 

“Someone you know?” Wolfsky asked.

Xander couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Of course he knew the face and stature. It was plastered all over multiple FBI headquarters for years. It was James Lockhart. He was on the run for years, but it seems someone had finally caught up with him. But why had they sent him to Havenville when they knew his old pal Hugo Keene was running the place disguised as its warden? It didn’t make any sense.

“This is bad, Wolfsky,” Xander said under his breath. “This is very bad.”

“You need to move,” Wolfsky said.

Xander’s trance was broken. He had been so focused on Lockhart that he hadn’t noticed one of the FBI guards was staring at him with a confused look on his face. With a slight panic he turned and walked away. He tried to place the man’s face, but nothing came to him. His mind was buzzing in a million different directions.

“What does this mean?” Wolfsky asked. Xander noted it may have been the first time something like worry had crept into Wolfsky’s voice.

“I don’t know,” Xander said. “I just don’t know.”

*

Jodie Slate was finishing up some paperwork at her desk late one night. She actually had finished up a while ago, but she wanted to stay behind for when Lockhart’s escorts returned from their trip to Havenville where they had dropped Lockhart off to go into the maximum security ward where he was sure to be killed. At least on paper.

Jodie was rewarded sooner than she expected when the loud group of men came back still wearing their dark blue blazers. She got up and approached the men. “Lockhart try anything funny?” she asked.

“It’s funny,” agent Thomson said. “Barely a peep until we got close and he just started laughing.”

“He’s a wacko for sure,” Jodie said. She had gotten the information she waited for and turned to leave when she spotted a blonde man had a look of worry on his face. “Everything alright?” she asked approaching him. The other men had gone off to change and lock their weapons up before heading home.

“I just saw something weird today,” he said. “That’s all.”

“Oh yeah?” Jodie asked raising an eyebrow. “What did you see?”

“There was this guy who used to work here,” the agent said. “I don’t remember his name. He was a field agent. Did a ton of undercover type stuff.”

“What about him?” Jodie asked. She tried to hide her intentions for this information. It might be nothing, but she was sent to the FBI for just t his purpose. Ever since Warden Greene found that FBI agent in his prison he had been very interested in anything at the FBI headquarters that would help him flush out any more.

“Probably nothing,” he said with a shrug.

“Maybe,” Jodie said. “Maybe not. Can I buy you a drink, Agent…”

“Agent Banks,” he replied. “Steve Banks. And I’m married.”

“I’m not asking you to elope with me,” Jodie said. “You had a long day. Let me buy you a shot or two.”

*

Once night had fallen and things at Havenville had begun to die down Warden Greene had a late dinner with two guests. The first was one of his resident psychiatrists, Dr. Harold Dean, and the second was Kit Marshall, one of his guards. The Warden’s private quarters was dim and silent as his two guests settled at the table with glasses of red wine and steak for dinner.

“Good evening gentleman,” Warden Greene said raising his glass. He was a tall man with thick black hair and a trimmed beard to match. He wore gold glasses and  “I’m glad you both could attend this meal with me. An old friend has recently arrived, and I may be indisposed in the foreseeable future.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Dean piped up taking a small sip of wine. He settled the glass down and placed his napkin in his lap. He was a stickler for politeness, but this was one of the things the Warden liked about him.

“What do I owe the pleasure of a nice steak dinner, boss?” Kit asked while cutting into his steak. It seemed he never turned off the charm that he used to earn the trust of various inmates. This annoyed Greene greatly, but he put up with the annoyance since he always delivers great results.

“I just fancied an update on how things were going,” Warden Greene said swirling the wine in his glass. “A friend has recently joined our ranks, and I wanted to make sure everything was going well outside of max lockup.”

Kit and Harold exchanged a look. They knew what was going on in max lockup all too well. They had both taken part in the various experiments of Warden Greene. To attempt to do the kind of things that popped in Greene’s head required plenty of human test subjects, and that was something that Havenville had plenty of.

“Sessions have been going along nicely,” Harold noted in a matter-of-fact tone. “Most of the newest inmates have taken to the hypnosis fairly well.”

“Most?” Warden Greene asked above his wine glass.

“There was this one the other day,” Harold said. “He was quite rebellious at the start, but then again most are. The hypnosis began to take, but in the end he was able to force me out.”

“Interesting,” Warden Greene said swirling his wine once again and staring into it. “Shall we try one of the telepathic wards?”

“I don’t think so,” Harold said suppressing a shudder. He didn’t care much for the telepaths that Warden Greene had created. Aside from the ability to read minds (with varying results) they seemed to be devoid of all emotion and empathy. He also didn’t like the idea of them being able to enter his mind. “I would love to give him another shot. It takes a strong mind to resist me.”

“Who was it?” Kit asked. “Anyone I might know?”

“Xander Zane,” Harold answered before putting a small, perfectly square piece of steak in his mouth.

“I know him,” Kit said with a smirk. “First day in he picked a fight in the mess hall. Kid fights like a pro. He hangs around that Wolfsky character.”

“That Haitian hitman that spends his free time in the chapel?” Warden Greene asked. “Haven’t you expressed worry about him before, Harold?”

Harold swallowed a piece of steak a little too hard. “Uh, yes,” he said. “The hypnosis never worked on him as well.”

“He’s been linked to over a dozen killings that I know of,” Kit chimed in. “All pedophiles or rapists. We could never prove any of them so we left him be.”

“I don’t want that kind of trash around my prison anyway,” Greene said with a sneer. “I’d do it myself if I could. They do have their uses though.” Greene looked off and started rubbing the top of the wine glass. The others wondered what crazy experiment was going through his mind.

“We’re pretty sure Wolfsky had Zane kill another inmate,” Kit added grimly. “Kind of an initiation.”

Greene snapped back to reality. “So he has blood on his hands this Zane,” he said grinning. “He sounds like someone I can use. Would you mind giving him a bit of a test for me?”

“You got it,” Kit said taking a large slug of wine to Greene’s visible disgust. “I’ll set it up.”

“Good,” Greene said. “I can use someone like him in max lockup.”

*

“What are you drinking?” Jodie asked Steve Banks as they settled into their bar stools.

“If you’re buying it’s your choice,” Steve replied. He fingered the ring on his left hand nervously.

“Give that shit a rest,” Jodie said. Steve put his hand down. “I’m not interested in your wife. Four shots of tequila.” The bartender nodded and added four shot glasses to the bar. He filled them and pushed them forward. Jodie handed two to Steve.

“You don’t move slow do you?” he asked.

“You have no idea,” Jodie said with a devilish smile. She downed both her shots in what seemed like less than a second. A stunned Steve Banks followed suit.

“Goddam!” Steve said rubbing his mouth.

“Four more,” Jodie said to the bartender. He nodded again and put down four more glasses.

“Shit,” Steve said. “I’m going to have to go home sometime.”

“You’re a big bad FBI agent,” Jodie said showing her teeth in an almost evil smile. “You work late. You got stuck in the red tape. I wouldn’t worry about it.” She began to massage Steve’s leg as four more shots were moved forward. “You want to leave?”

“No,” Steve asked.

“Good,” Jodie said downing one of her two shots. Steve followed suit once again. “You had a rough day today. You want to talk about it?” Now she was closer and her hands were on his waist. She could tell by the way he breathed he wanted her.

“It was just like seeing a ghost,” Steve said with not prompting as to what he should be talking about. “It was clear as day. I heard his marriage was in trouble and he went after his wife who moved in with her sister or something. Now he’s in Havenville. What the hell could’ve happened.”

“Did you remember his name?” Jodie said getting excited. She cursed the female hormones that now coursed through her body. She knew that she’d end up sleeping with this man but didn’t care. It’s what she wanted.

“I did,” Steve said. Jodie imagined if he were a cartoon there’d be a very bright lightbulb above his blonde head. “Frost. Peter Frost. One of the best from what I hear.”

“The best,” Jodie mused downing her last shot. She giggled as she committed the name to memory. “There’s a hotel down three blocks down the road. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

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2 thoughts on “The Innocent Chapter 7: The Agents of the Warden

  1. Pingback: Table of Contents | budgiebigelow's Blog

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