Mitch’s Lawyer didn’t waste any time. He arranged for Mitch to meet with a psychiatrist the Thursday afternoon following their recent telephone call during lockdown.
The Guards allowed Mitch as much time as he required for this meeting. Not that they had any say in the matter, when it came to an inmate’s mental health, but also because any report provided by the Doctor may form part of Mitch’s defence.
To Mitch, his session with the shrink proceeded exactly how he imagined. Lots of questions like, “how did that make you feel” and “What was going through your mind when you did that, or saw that?”
During the tape recorded session, the Doctor asked a lot of questions to gauge how Mitch felt and how he had coped since the incident. Mitch didn’t hold back. His conversation with the Doctor was open and frank.
He told of his interrupted sleep. He told of his recurring flashbacks of his father lying in a pool of blood. He mentioned his overwhelming guilt for not acting sooner to save his Dad. He mentioned his guilt for putting Alison through this.
He even mentioned his unrest and fear in relation to the violence inside this prison, direct and implied. Every day he stayed there was another day his life was in danger.
Based on his range of follow up questions, it is possible the Doctor suspected Mitch exhibited symptoms of paranoia since the shooting. That was until Mitch mentioned how he was attacked by the behemoth in the gym and the recent attempted stabbing in the servery queue, all within the space of ten days.
When the Doctor asked Mitch about his recollections from that fateful Friday night, his recall was limited. Mitch was able to vividly recall everything that occurred up until the moment he his eyes fell to his Dad lying on the floor in a pool of blood and witnessing one of the men strike his Dad with a hammer.
After that Mitch remembered the Ambulance officer shining a torch in his eyes and his discussions with the police, at the scene and back at the police station.
Despite the suggestions by his Lawyer to tell police he couldn’t remember anything, none of what Mitch could recall was fake. He genuinely had little, to no recollection. Maybe his body’s defence mechanism protected him, or maybe he did suffer some sort of psychiatric episode. Only the Doctor would be able to determine what happened to him.
The therapy session went for just over two and a half hours. By the end Mitch was drained. He actually enjoyed the opportunity to share some of his feelings, some of his concerns and his fears. Only time would tell whether it would be of any help.
Mitch had no idea of the time when he shook the Doc’s hand and left him in the meeting room. He soon found out,
As he strolled back toward the rec room on the ground floor, a PA announcement blurted through the speakers advising all inmates to make their way to the tea room for dinner.
He took a detour and continued to the tea room.
Since the stabbing attempt from last Monday, Mitch was apprehensive every time he walked into the kitchen servery area. His darting eyes were peeled for anything that remotely suggested confrontation.
A knot formed in his stomach and his chest tightened when he entered the kitchen. These feelings suppressed his appetite. It was a long time between meals, especially from dinner to breakfast, so he made himself eat something.
His greatest fear on a daily basis was the fear of reprisal. He didn’t know where, he didn’t know when, but he suspected it was coming. Mitch didn’t get the chance to see who the dead inmate’s colleagues were, so every inmate was a potential attacker. His nerves were constantly on edge.
Mitch entered the tea room area with his tray of food. His eyes scanned the noisy room for a suitable safe seat. He heard a loud whistle shriek off to his right. It was Fitzy.
Mitch slid into the seat beside Fitzy. Both men sat with their backs to a side wall. Fitzy lifted his chin at Mitch’s tray. ‘Is that all you’re eating…?’ He said then forked some food into his mouth.
Mitch examined his tray. ‘Yeah. Don’t have much of an appetite lately…’ He scanned the room. It was alive with energy from boisterous inmates dining.
‘Where did you get to today…? I didn’t see you around.’ Fitzy said.
‘Had to see Sigmund fucken Freud…’
Fitzy lifted his glass to take a drink. He paused. ‘Sigmund Freud…’ he repeated with a questioning gaze. ‘Ah…’ he nodded his understanding then took a sip. ‘A shrink. Gotcha. How did that go?’
Mitch shrugged. ‘You know how it is…Lots of touchy-feely questions.’
After dinner Mitch and Fitzy parted company with a bump of their fists before returning to their cells for lockdown. Mitch’s cell was located on the first floor, Fitzy’s was on the ground floor.
Night time lock down was the hardest to tolerate. After enjoying casual conversation with Fitzy over dinner and enjoying his company, it got cut short and they were banished to their cells until morning, like disobedient children.
He had no mobile phone, so no calls or text messages. He had no computer or internet, so no emails. From six o’clock every night, for twelve hours, he had nothing but the solitude of his cold, uncomfortable cell. There was only so much TV you could watch.
The worse part about lockdown was having so much time to think and reflect, due to the lack of distractions. The more time he had to think, the more negative his thoughts became.
With every passing day he missed his wife more and he grew less confident that he would beat his charges.
With so much time on his hand and nothing to do, the time for Mitch continued to drag. Minutes crawled into hours. Hours crawled into days. Days crawled into weeks.
The large black crosses on his calendar totalled twenty-two. That’s twenty-two days they had kept him from his wife. That’s twenty-two days wearing drab prison greens and treated like a common criminal. That’s twenty-two days living under extreme stress and fear for his safety with a population of men, many of whom are broken and show little regard for anyone else.
These inmates understood one thing only; extreme violence. And that’s twenty-two days of stressing over whether he will once again taste freedom.
Mitch had not been back to the gym since his first altercation and there had been no further attacks since the failed stabbing attempt in the tea room over one week ago.
Did this suggest something was pending; the calm before the storm...? Or had they all given up and decided to leave him alone, since each of his attackers have fared worse.
To help pass his time Mitch was offered the choice to work while inside. As a remandee, employment was not compulsory. He had no desire to learn a new skill, or a trade and he did not need to earn extra money to cover expenses inside, so he declined. He hoped he wasn’t going to be here long enough anyway.
He had no idea at the time how accurate that prediction was. It was the circumstances through which he would leave this prison that he didn’t forecast.
While returning their breakfast dishes to the kitchen Fitzy asked Mitch, ‘Do you play pool…?’
‘It’s been a while since I’ve had a game. We had a full size table at home, when I was a kid and I played quite a bit in my youth.’
’So…that would be a ‘yes’ then …?’ Fitzy said with a grin.
Mitch smiled. ‘Yes. That would be a yes.’
Fitzy gestured towards the Rec floor area. ‘Let’s go put our names down for a game.’
The familiar clattered scattering of pool balls echoed from the recreational floor area as they neared. Fitzy and Mitch exchanged a knowing glance. Someone had beaten them to it, even at this early hour.
Fitzy put their names on the list of those waiting to play. There were two names ahead of theirs. Both Fitzy and Mitch watched the preceding games while they waited for their turn.
After about ten minutes Mitch jabbed a thumb towards the toilet block. ‘I gotta take a piss, mate…’ he said.
‘Do you need any help…?’
‘I think I know how to take a piss…’ Mitch said with a grin at Fitzy’s light-hearted offer to have his back in there.
Fitzy grinned. He nodded once and returned to game watching.
Mitch was the only inmate in the toilet at the time. He stood at the urinal wall attending to what he had to do.
An African male who entered the toilet block caught Mitch’s attention. Mitch was alert, but not overly concerned.
When Mitch stepped away from the urinal to move to the hand basin, the African inmate stepped in front of Mitch. The man was skinny and tall, around six foot seven. The whites of his eyes were tinged with yellow against his jet black skin.
Mitch eyed the man then stepped to the side to pass. The African man again stepped across in front of Mitch.
Mitch stepped back. He regarded the man in and up and down glower. ‘What’s your problem…?’
‘Deng and Majok were friends of mine…’ the inmate said.
‘Dose men you shot… Dey were my friends.’
Mitch checked over his shoulder before responding. ’Those friends of yours killed my father… so fuck them…’ Mitch said, holding a firm glare at the man.
The man forcibly pushed two hands into Mitch’s chest, knocking him back a step.
Unbeknown to Mitch, the aggression was only a distraction to engage Mitch while the man’s three friends crept up behind him. It worked. Mitch was focussed on the man’s hands and body movements, in readiness to counter any attack.
It was fortunate for Mitch that he didn’t see the king hit punch from behind that knocked him out. It was fortunate that he didn’t feel the barrage of kicks and sickening stomps to his head and body they delivered while he lay unconscious on the toilet block floor.
His head bounced heavily from the stomps. His body rocked from the force of the repeated kicks, but he didn’t feel any of them.
Their cowardly attack was relentless. The fact Mitch was unconscious didn’t stop their attack. They clearly weren’t concerned with just causing Mitch pain, they wanted to seriously injure, or maybe even kill him.
By the time they fled from the toilets, they left an unconscious, seriously injured, broken, bruised and bleeding Mitch lying on the floor.
While standing with his arms casually crossed watching the game of pool, Fitzy regularly checked the toilet block door way, for his mate to return. During one of his regular glances, he noticed four African inmates running from the toilets. Huge toothy grins lit up their faces.
Fitzy’s face tightened. ‘Ah fuck,’ he blurted as he bolted to the toilets, knocking and pushing inmates out of the way as he ran. Concern etched across his face.
He stopped in his tracks when he was confronted with a bloodied Mitch lying unconscious on the toilet floor. ‘Fucken dogs,’ he blurted through gritted teeth.
He rushed to Mitch to check he was still alive. He was. His blood covered face was unrecognisable from the swelling and lacerations. Blood flowed from Mitch’s ears.
Fitzy ran back to the rec area. He raced towards the Guard station to arrange medical assistance for his injured mate.