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.