Standing in the lengthy lunch queue, Mitch held a blank stare at nothing in particular as his mind was elsewhere. He loved seeing his wife, but his mind kept re-visiting the expression on her face as he left the room. Her mouth was open. Her eyes were wide as she stared back at him. That hurt him. The good-byes were too sudden. If only he could’ve held her before she left.
Mitch’s reflections of his visit with Alison distracted him. He didn’t notice three inmates standing off to the side with their focus on Mitch.
The tallest of the three inmates handed the short stocky built man something. The man accepted the ‘item’ then glanced back at Mitch as he shoved his hand under his green prison windcheater. The inmate held his hand there as he approached the lunch time queue.
At this time Mitch stood about twelve to fifteen back from the servery area. There were a further ten inmates queued up behind him.
Mitch failed to notice the stocky inmate force his way into the queue to stand immediately behind Mitch. But Fitzy noticed. Fitzy stood about seven or eight places back from Mitch. He observed the whole situation unfold.
When the man forced his way into the queue, Fitzy forced his way forward, pushing passed the queuing inmates. He kept along the wall side of the queue, to try and disguise his approach.
As Fitzy neared he glanced across at the tall inmate standing off to the side in time to witness him scan his surrounds, then give a single nod to the man standing behind Mitch. This was about to go down.
As the stocky man removed his hand from under his windcheater, Fitzy arrived behind the man. He acted before the other man could. In what was a well-practiced, lightning fast action, Fitzy forcefully snapped the man’s head sideways.
A sickening crack reverberated. The man’s lifeless body dropped to the floor. When the man’s right hand hit the floor, a home-made shiv, formed from a shard of Perspex, fell from his hand. Layers of masking tape formed a grip on the ten centimetre long weapon.
Mitch turned after hearing the man hit the floor. As he turned Fitzy grabbed a hand full of Mitch’s windcheater and dragged Mitch towards him. By this time inmates had gathered around the fallen man.
‘Get out here,’ Fitzy said. He pulled Mitch back towards him. Both men moved along between the wall and those remaining in the queue, towards the rear of the line. They exited the servery area, walking casually to avoid attracting attention as they moved out into the recreation area.
Fitzy’s breathing was heavy. They stopped in a corner of the rec room. Both men scanned their vicinity.
‘What the fuck just happened in there?’ Mitch said.
Fitzy checked his surrounds. He spoke in a low voice. ‘That guy behind you was going to stick you with that shiv he had.’
Mitch’s mouth fell open.
‘They waited until you were in a position in line that was in a blind spot from Guards and cameras. I saw him get handed the shiv and walk over to you.’
‘What did you do to him…?’
‘Snapped his fucken neck…’ Fitzy said matter-of-fact, followed by a further scan of the vicinity.
Fitzy nodded once. ‘That was the intention,’ he said scanning the room. ‘Don’t give them the opportunity of a second go…’
‘Why me? Why was he going to stick me?’
Fitzy shrugged. ‘Could be the bikies seeking revenge. Could be anyone. I don’t know. I didn’t have time to ask him.’
Mitch rolled his eyes. ‘Do you think anyone saw you?’
’Oh yeah. They saw me. But none of the Guards did. That’s why we got out of there. I don’t want to be around when the Guards arrive to see what happened. Everyone in the immediate vicinity will be taken away and questioned. The cops will be called in.’
’What about the cameras in there…?
Fitzy confidently shook his head. ‘Stealth is what I do. When I take someone out…I make sure I don’t get seen. Plus, the area they tried to attack you was in a blind spot…The cameras won’t pick up shit.’
‘Do you think he wanted to kill me?’
‘Wasn’t prepared to wait and see. But my guess is, yes. Did you see the width of that thing?’
‘Briefly. You grabbed me.’
‘If he stuck you with it...it would have done major damage to a kidney or lung, or both.’
Fitzy and Mitch waited for around ten minutes before casually returning to the tea room servery. A Guard blocked their entry to the room. The area where the man was lying had been cordoned off.
‘What’s happening?’ Fitzy asked the Guard.
A screen had been placed around the body, while further screens were in place two or three metres away to cordon off the area and block the view of curious inmates.
‘We’ve just had an incident in the servery. No-one is going in there.’
’An incident…? Fitzy said, feigning surprise. ‘Are we still able to get lunch? I’m starved.’
The Guard shook his head. ’I very much doubt it. I’m not sure what happened but I’d expect there will be a lockdown very soon ‘till they sort this mess out.’
Fitzy and Mitch made their way to the outside yard. They were the only inmates out there. They stood close together, talking in a low voice.
’Do you think they’ll come after you now…?’ Mitch said.
Fitzy shrugged. ‘Who knows? Probably.’
‘Doesn’t that worry you?’
‘Every day in here is a worry, mate.’
‘Does this mean we have targets on our backs?’ Mitch said.
‘Possibly…’ Fitzy said. ‘Stay alert from here on.’
Mitch scanned their surrounds looking for anyone paying them attention. ‘You mean more than usual…?’ Mitch said. This place was hard enough to take without being on the most wanted list of inmates.
Physical confrontation was not new to Mitch. He had fought some highly skilled exponents of his martial arts. The difference being those fights were under controlled conditions, with strict rules and referees. In here, there were clearly no rules and no referees. It was the way of the street, where anything goes and only the strongest survived.
A PA announcement ordered all inmates to their cells, immediately. A lockdown had been ordered. Mitch and Fitzy were in for a long, hungry night.
His Monday started out so positively after seeing his wife for the first time since being arrested. From there however, things went downhill fast with the attempted attack on his life in the servery queue. And now he was locked down like an animal and with no lunch.
Mitch had relaxed back on his bed when his cell door opened. The Guard standing in the doorway called Mitch out.
‘You have a call from your Lawyer…’ The Guard said.
Mitch threw his legs to the floor. He questioning eyes lifted to the Guard. This can’t be good. ‘Is the lockdown over…?’ Mitch said.
Mitch ambled over to the cell door. ‘I’m confused. Do you allow inmates to take outside calls from Lawyers when a lockdown is ordered?’
Mitch stepped from the cell. The Guard gestured to the right.
‘Normally with a lock down ordered the Lawyer would have to wait,’ the Guard began. ‘But in your case, you are here on remand, you’re not a convicted inmate. So you are afforded more liberties than the convicted inmates.’
Mitch nodded his understanding. ‘So…what happened in the kitchen earlier?’
‘Still unsure,’ the Guard said. ‘Appears to have been a fight of some sort.’
‘Anyone seriously injured?’
′Can’t say because you don’t know...or can’t say because you are not allowed to discuss the incident?′
‘Can’t say...’ the Guard repeated.
The Guard escorted Mitch to a room where he could speak in private. ‘You can take the call there…’ The Guard gestured to the telephone on the desk. When the Guard left the room, Mitch lifted the handset.
‘Mitch. Frank Morgan. How are you?’
‘You don’t want to know Frank. What’s up?’
‘I’m afraid I have some bad news for you…’
Mitch’s immediate thoughts were for his wife’s safety. Did she have an accident on the way home? Had something happened to her? His voice was filled with apprehension when he said, ‘What sort of bad news…?’ He cringed slightly, waiting for the news.
‘The three men who fled from your parent’s home last Friday were in court this morning for a remand hearing…’
‘OK. Keep going.’ Mitch’s shoulders relaxed when the news didn’t involve Alison.
‘Well…The police case was thrown out. Their defence put forward a motion to dismiss on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to place the three of them at the scene, or in the stolen car.’
‘Wasn’t there a witness who saw them driving away?’
’There was. But the witness saw a car being driven away. The car was later identified as being stolen. But the witness did not see who drove the car, or who was seated in the car. What is disappointing is, the house across the road from your parent’s home has a CCTV camera on their garage. The camera’s range captures your parent’s front yard. When they reviewed this footage around the time of the incident, three men of African appearance were seen running from your parent’s home. The footage is too grainy to identify their faces. A short time later you were seen in the footage running after them. You were carrying what appeared to be a shot gun.’
Mitch shook his head. ‘So…they get away with it?’ he said as a question. His tone was flat.
‘The Magistrate found in favour of the motion put forward by the defence. All charges were dismissed, with the understanding that Police could re-charge any or all of these persons if and when other evidence becomes available.’
Mitch cupped his forehead. Could this day get any worse? ‘What are the chances of that?’ Mitch said.
‘Never say never,’ Frank said. ‘But, if you are asking my opinion, I would say highly unlikely given the paucity of available witnesses and other physical evidence. I’ll keep you posted though.’
The call ended shortly afterwards and Mitch returned to his cell.
Lockdown continued for the entire following day. Meals were served like old school times when trays of food were delivered to the cells by the Guards; no choices and lukewarm to cold by the time it arrived.
Most in the Unit voiced their objections to the prolonged lockdown. Most notably was the steady and repeated kicking of cell doors by inmates, causing a hollow metal bang to echo through the unit block. Other inmates screamed abuse and threats at the extended isolation.
Mitch reclined on his bed, staring at the darkened ceiling while being serenaded by the sounds of disgruntled inmates. He rubbed a hand across his chin, uncomfortable in the knowledge that indirectly, he caused the lockdown.