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When Mikey went back to his quarters (cell) he was barely able to function. A few of the inmates asked him who his visitor was but he barely remembered responding to their queries. That confused them as well because the Mikey they knew always had plenty to say. Now there was nothing. And when he went into his cell and closed the door behind him, which he never did, they knew something was up. And that’s how gossip gets started.

Maybe he was being transferred. Some had heard that he was being granted bail. There was even a rumour floating around that his sister was here to visit him. None could remember him ever even mentioning family. And now he wasn’t talking.

If they were confused it paled in comparison to what Mikey was going through at that moment. After all these years. Not one inquiry from the outside world. In fact, his only contact on the outside, aside from his ministry work, was O’Malley. That’s who he needed to talk to. Why hadn’t he told him so he could have been more prepared. Prepared for what he wasn’t sure. And what would he have done differently?

“My God, I have a sister!” He’d been told a couple of years after he arrived in this place that both his Mom and his sister had passed away. End of story. He had no reason not to believe it, besides, it made it easier being in this joint when he had no life outside it anyway. He continued ” And she came looking for me! And she told me she loved me!” and he began to sob silently, and then he began to bawl, burying his face in his pillow lest anyone hear him.

Dinner time came and went, and still Mikey did not emerge. The other inmates were becoming concerned. “Maybe he’s sick. Someone’s got to check on him. Jerry, you’re the closest thing he has to a buddy in here. Go check.” And Jerry did.

“Hey Mikey, its Jerry. Can I come in?”

No answer. Mikey lay with his back to the door.

“Mikey, I’m coming in.” and he made his way over to his friend. “Are you ok, buddy? Everyone’s worried about you.”

A muffled reply “I’m fine. I just need to think. I’ll see you all tomorrow. I need to sleep. Close the door when you leave, ok?” And with that, Mikey pulled the blankets up and over his head.

This was not the Mikey he knew. He’d never heard him sound like that. “I think he’s crying.” to himself. “Jeez, now I’m getting scared.”

These may have been lifers but they were still human, and they cared for each other in each their own way. Oh, they had their disagreements alright, and things became downright violent from time to time, but there was still a brotherhood at work here. And right now they were concerned for one of their own.

Jerry took it a little further and asked one of the guards if he knew what had happened. “Yeah, his sister came to visit him today. That’s all I know.”

His sister. Mikey never talked much about life outside these walls but he distinctly remembered him telling some of the guys that his family was all dead. He had no one. “You guys are my family.” And that was that.

Now what? He hadn’t even considered ever being outside these walls. He liked it here. He knew everyone, not that he liked everyone, but he knew them all. He knew what to expect from them, and they knew his boundaries as well. One big, happy family. Maybe not happy, but definitely family.

I wonder what Charley would do? “Charley I need you.” he whispered to himself. “What am I supposed to do?” But really, what was there to do? He was a lifer with no chance of parole. Claire had alluded to the fact that he had been screwed over. There was a case to be made. Don’t give up. We’re in this together. He didn’t know how to reply. He was barely able to acknowledge her but there she was, as real as he. And he’d told her that he loved her! The words had just come out. And he’d cried in front of her! And once again, he began to sob.

The next day, any evidence of his odd behaviour was gone and Mikey was back to being the Mikey they knew. To their great relief! They needed this guy! Anybody messing with him was messing with us, and that ain’t gonna end well for anyone!

Mikey never spoke of it again to the inmates, including Jerry. But, he was quick to contact O’Malley. “I need to see you. You owe me an explanation.”

O’Malley had been expecting the call, and a couple of days after Claire had left, he made his way back to the prison. They needed to talk. A talk he’d wanted to have a long time ago, but now that he knew Claire would be there for Mikey, the time was right.

All Claire could do on the trip home was repeat over and over “I have a brother! I have a brother!” over and over again. And she’d told him she loved him. And he said the same thing to her. ” I need to do something. I’m coming for you Mikey!” And she giggled to herself. “Where do I begin?”

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