Tag Archives: prison

Tats

Lot of people wonder what it would look like if I bled out. They’d have to catch me first. There’s a school of thought around here that bigger is better, that you surround yourself with muscle then you’re guaranteed protection. People around here surround themselves with people, bulk up to the point where they can’t even bend their limbs properly. Numbers don’t matter. Strength don’t even matter. What matters is speed – fuck him up before he does the same to you.

“Hey, Tats!” It was Weasel. He was waving at me from down the mess hall. Why was this fool even talking to me? Probably a distraction. Someone’s sneaking up on me. I always keep a nail between my middle and ring finger when I’m walking around. The base is wrapped in cotton so I can tuck it up my ass. My right hand always smells like shit, but it’s a small price.

A short uppercut under the jaw is all it takes to take most men down. He leans his head back and scratches at my arms with some kind of shank. He’s fast. Who is this kid?

“You new?” I ask.

“Fuck you, man. I came just to kill you. You remember Jack Bronsen?”

“Who?”

“He was my brother!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, kid.”

He charges at me, snuffing like a rodeo bull. He’s emotional. Good. People are chanting, “Tats! Tats! Tats!” This is a problem. Being popular tends to attract the guards. Making enemies draws their interest more than I’d like. A shot is fired and we all hit the deck. Well, except for new guy. He doesn’t know the drill. I sweep his legs out and his head cracks on the ground. I stay down or else I’m a dead man myself. The guards want to see me bleed just as much as the others.

“Everybody down! Down! Tats, you fucker! You’re gonna live in solitary! C’mon!”

They clock me over the head a couple times and drag me off. But, hey, this kid’s fast. Maybe when I get out, he’ll understand the environment and he’ll be ready. I like a challenge.

 

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XX

Birds Don’t Fly Free (Revision)

Warden Crocker once saw a pigeon peck another’s eye out in a fight over scraps. He hated the birds. They strutted around liked they owned the place, heads bobbing like some gangster rapper. Crocker didn’t like it. He’d rather have pigeons that knew how to toe the line. If it were up to him, he’d shoot every pigeon that flew into his yard. But he’d long since realized it was easier on everyone if they just let the pigeons strut around. Pigeons weren’t a threat to anyone but each other. He looked over all the men in the yard. What was going on in their sick, fucked up little minds?

“Man, look at those pigeons.  Be nice to be free like them,” Oz sighed.

“Those birds ain’t free,” Huggy replied. “Ain’t nobody free.”

“They can fly anywhere the fuck they want. Sounds like freedom to me.”

“Oz, you’re a damn fool. Check it, homes.” Huggy reached deep into his pockets and scattered a few bread crumbs. The pigeons swarmed under his hand. He sprinkled some to the other side of the bench and the pigeons stumbled over each other trying to get to the crumbs.

“So? They’re hungry.”

“No free will. I got complete control in these hands.” He dusted the rest of the crumbs into the dirt.

“That don’t prove anything, man. They don’t have to take the crumbs.”

Huggy laughed. “They always do, fool! You grow wings and fly, we’ll see how far you get. You’ll be doing the same shit, talking the same shit, only down in Mexico instead of here.”

“You sayin’ people are like birds, man?”

“Not much different, no. If the man throws bread crumbs some other place. Problem is, we only got so many breadcrumbs and they all leadin’ right. Here.” He knocked on the bench. It sounded hollow.

“Breadcrumbs. I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying anymore, man.”

“I’m sayin’ that everythin’s decided for us the day we born. We live in a prison the size of the world. Ain’t no way out of it.”

“I don’t want to listen to this shit, man. Ain’t nobody tellin’ me what to do.”

“Motherfucker’s deluded,” Huggy laughed, then punched Oz in the shoulder. “Eyes up. Here he comes.”

“Huggy, man, just stop for a second. We don’t have to do this. The guards are gonna murder us, man.”

“Guards? We don’t do this and T. Mar’s going to murder us just the same. We owe him some blood. Sure as hell ain’t gonna be mine. We got no choice, mother fucker.

Huggy could see Oz’s resolve flying out the window. They’d taken the screws from the janitor’s tool box, spent nights with one smuggled nail file, sharpening their screws to blunt points. “Oz, if you back out now, I’ll be the first one after you. Don’t test me.”

Oz believed it. He sighed as Huggy bolted from the bench to greet their victim, Trey. He’d been smuggling over a decade, long before Huggy or Oz had even been commited. T. Mar took over and started just taking whatever he needed from him and Trey had had enough. Oz never noticed how strung out he looked. His eyes were worn down and bloodshot, like he never got any sleep. It looked like he’d been backed into a corner. Oz saw the same eyes in the mirror.

The pigeons scattered. “Trey! What’s up, my man?”

Trey’s eyes bulged like a fish. “Wait! No!”

Huggy and Oz had been sharpening their screws the entire day before. Each one slid into Trey’s neck like they were going into a corn cob.

“Motherfucker looks like Frankenstein,” Huggy laughed.

A crowd gathered around, clouding the scene in an instant. “Oh God! Someone help!” Oz yelled to nobody in particular. “This dude’s been stabbed. Man, somebody stabbed this guy!”

All the prisoners moved in to get a better look. Some of them laughed. Others were furious. Many of the prisoners had depended on Trey for everything in the prison. He had it in with the prisoners and the guards. This would cause a shit storm. The guards came with their rifles and trigger fingers and nobody could do a thing without getting shot first.

“Back in your cages, you fucking animals!” Warden Crocker screamed. The men filed into the prison.

“Shouldn’t we get a doctor?” a guard asked.

“Ain’t gonna do nothin’ now,” the warden spat, watching Trey’s bulging eyes and his blood mixing with the dirt and the crumbs. “I’m calling the coroner. You can call the doctor if it’ll make you feel better.”

When the yard was clear and the guards had herded the men back to their cells, the pigeons flew back to the yard to finish the leftovers.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction

Birds Don’t Fly Free

“Man, look at those pigeons. It’d be nice to be free like them,” Oz sighed.

“Those birds ain’t free,” Huggie replied. “Ain’t nobody free.”

“They can fly anywhere they want. I’d call that free.”

“Oz, you’re a damn fool. Check it.” Huggy reached deep into his pockets and scattered bread crumbs on the dirt. The pigeons swarmed around him.

“So? They’re hungry.”

“I put bread crumbs to the left, Birds go left. Bread crumbs to the right, they go right. No free will.”

“That don’t prove anything, man. They don’t have to take the crumbs.”

Huggy laughed. “They always do, fool! You grow wings and fly, we’ll see how far you get. You’ll be doing the same shit, talking the same shit, only down in Mexico instead of here.”

“Doesn’t sound bad to me. People can change, you know?”

“Yeah, if the man throws bread crumbs some other place. Problem is, we only got so many breadcrumbs and they all leadin’ right. Here.” He knocked on the bench. It sounded like a hollow door.

“Breadcrumbs. I don’t know what the fuck you’re saying anymore, man.”

“I’m sayin’ that everythin’s decided for us the day we born. We live in a prison the size of the world. Ain’t no way out of it.”

“I don’t want to listen to this shit, man. Ain’t nobody tellin’ me what to do.”

“Motherfucker’s deluded,” Huggy laughed, then punched Oz in the shoulder. “Eyes up. Here he comes.” Huggy whispered. He got up out of his chair. The pigeons scattered. “Trey! What’s up, my man?”

Trey’s eyes bulged like a fish. “Wait! No!”

Huggy and Oz had been sharpening their screws the entire day before. Each one slid into Trey’s neck like they were going into a corn cob.

“Motherfucker looks like Frankenstein,” Huggy laughed.

A crowd gathered around, clouding the scene in an instant. “Oh God! Someone help!” Oz yelled to nobody in particular. “This dude’s been stabbed. Man, somebody stabbed this guy!”

All the prisoners moved in to get a better look. Some of them laughed. Others were furious, but the guards came with their rifles and trigger fingers and nobody could do a thing without getting shot first.

“Back in your cages, you fucking animals!” the warden screamed. The men filed into the prison.

“Shouldn’t we get a doctor?” a guard asked.

“Ain’t gonna do nothin’ now,” the warden spat, watching Trey’s bulging eyes and his blood mixing with the dirt. “But I’ll tell you what. You get the doctor an’ I’ll call up the coroner. We’ll see who comes out on top.”

When the yard was clear and the guards had herded the men back to their cells, the pigeons flew back to the yard to finish the leftovers.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction

Uncle Malcolm

Uncle Malcolm does a magic trick where he snorts spaghetti up his nose and eats it. He pulls out the rest and asks us if we we’re hungry. It’s gross.

Uncle Malcolm used to be in prison but he isn’t anymore. When he got out, my family had a party. I played with my cousins. They weren’t fun that day.

Uncle Malcolm talks with one side of his mouth because he had a stroke. Mommy says that’s what people with strokes do because their brains can’t make their mouths talk right. He’s funny, though. I still love him.

Uncle Malcolm cries sometimes.

Uncle Malcolm says bad words a lot. Mommy doesn’t like it when he does, but he always winks and gives us candy. He has Dum Dums in his pocket so we don’t tell on him. I’m not a tattle-tale but Josie is. One time, Josie told on me when I was saying bad words. I don’t like Josie. She’s always tattling on me. Uncle Malcolm says I’m like a grownup when I don’t tell.

Uncle Malcolm says not to be like him. He says to listen to Mommy and Daddy, but I like him better.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session VIII

“I’m gonna shank you.”

“If you hand me that towel, I’m gonna shank you,” he told me.

“I don’t know what kind of incentive—”

“If you hand me that towel, I’m gonna shank you.” This time slower with his left hand cupped around an imaginary shoulder. He locked eyes with me and the right hand made a fist, pumping in a stabbing motion.

“Okay. I won’t hand you the towel.”

“No. Hand me that towel.”

“Why? You’re just gonna shank me.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You said it!”

“Oh, that. Well, you know I just say things…” he waved an open palm, pushing his lips out in a kissy-face. Then he stopped and got stone-faced again. We locked eyes and the palm turned into a fist. “But if you hand me that towel, I’m gonna shank you.” He started laughing, an open-mouthed cackle that cut the air.

“You’re fucking nuts. I’m leaving.” I slammed the door behind me, but I could still hear that laugh. It got louder, no mirth to it at all. He just wanted me to hear it behind the door.

Why do we have to go through this every morning?

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session VII