Officer Garrett uncuffed Marcus as they stood at the entrance of the gym field. It was a large enclosed area at the back of the prison that housed fitness equipment, a medium-sized basketball court, and a gardening section. Marcus stared at the flowers and contemplated them keenly before feeling a nudge on his shoulder.
"Go take a breather" Garrett encouraged him, taking a look at the few inmates that were present already.
"You have a few minutes until Judge Martin gets here with the DA (Department Head)."
Marcus nodded absentmindedly, still staring at the flowers. Garrett walked off with a small smile back to his business. Marcus ambled to the small gardening section to inspect the flowers a bit closer. Most of his time in the field was either spent working out or teaching the noobs what real dunk shots looked like. His biceps weren't bulging but they were enough to intimidate everyone else (probably except Garrett). The flowers were his new entertainment today so he grasped the handle of a watering pot and gently tipped some on the few plants.
The first two pots had healthy Magnolias that stretched just a little to his knee. He gave them water then proceeded to dig the soil a little with a small hoe next to it. The other two plants were the same height but he wasn't sure what type they were. Just like himself. He was a dangerous flower that had no idea how or where to categorize itself. Marcus chuckled at himself with his crazy analogy. I'm nowhere close to being a flower.
He stood again to his full length, smiled at the flowers then went to have a seat on one of the free benches. Judge Martin had scheduled an impromptu visit to him today. Marcus figured his plan with Edward was taking a turn for the worse but decided to stick it out. Nothing was going to scare him at this point. He wanted out. Now. He committed many crimes but this, the one they tried to pin on him, wasn't planned. He had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A setup perhaps. He had been charged with murder by Judge Martin and sentenced to 60 years without parole. Luckily, the Department Head was the one calling the shots.
Marcus watched the other few prisoners play basketball among themselves. The shorter of the four bounced the ball between his legs, widening his stance a little. At the right time, he sidestepped his opponent, a 6-foot wall of muscle and slammed the ball into the hoop. The tall guy shook his head dejectedly and slid on the bench to next Marcus.
"You're about 6 foot in my estimation so...how were you not able to block?"
Marcus hadn't registered the words coming out of his mouth until the guy turned his head to face him.
"I don't know anything about basketball. It's my first try" He answered honestly.
Marcus simply nodded. The guy was at least honest. He was also unfamiliar. "You new?" Marcus asked.
The guy nodded. "Been here a month. First time outta my cell"
Marcus nodded again. He usually avoided other inmates.
"Marcus Walker" He greeted with a firmer nod.
The guy smirked, his nose crooked to the left. "Ekon Grace"
Marcus smiled back.
"Well Ekon, what brings you to this side of the law?"
Ekon's smirk faded instantly and he repeatedly began twirling his fingers.
"I'm in here on murder charges. My wife and daughter were murdered, chopped to pieces and left in the living room."
Marcus relaxed his shoulders against the seat and crossed his arms. "So...did you do it?"
"No...but the Judge thinks otherwise. My wife had an offshore account for Ellie, our daughter's college fund and a three million dollar life insurance"
"Bingo," Marcus whispered.
Ekon chuckled. "I didn't do it. I came home and found them like that. If I could find out who did...I would make it right."
Marcus eyed him warily for a few minutes. Ekon's hands were twirling over and over in his lap, his eyes seemed dazed for a moment. His body language screamed remorse without murderous intent. Marcus knew better than anyone else what murder did to someone. He believed Ekon.
"Despite all this, the Judge concluded that all evidence pointed to me. So here I am. Without my family, I'll rot and die anyway"
Marcus heard the pain in Ekon's voice. He could help him find the killer. But would Ekon be that kind of man?
"Ekon," He started. "I'm unsure if you know me, but I own one of the most ruthless gangs in the world. If you seek revenge, say the word. I will find who murdered your wife and daughter. See it as a favor to a friend"
Ekon stared at him with a slightly shocked expression.
"I can see the good in you," Marcus explained. "You remind me of myself when I wasn't...like this"
Ekon nodded wordlessly.
"However, if I do this for you, you need to do something for me."
The two men sat quietly now, watching if the other inmates were paying attention to their discussion. The two cameras surveying the field pointed at them both. Marcus slightly shifted to turn his back to the camera right behind him. Ekon did the same to the camera that was at his left.
"I have a little agreement with Judge Martin to release me early on good behavior. You see, I have his daughter hostage. My friend hasn't hurt a hair on her head but for now, she's my leverage. Martin has clearly forgotten this, which is why he's coming here to throw his wrath. If things go sideways, I'll need backup. Also, if that plan doesn't work, I'll have to arrange an escape"
Ekon listened reluctantly.
"You're free to come along and join me" Marcus offered. "I'm not asking you to stay and be one of my men unless you wish. But revenge and freedom, that. I do put it on the table. Think about it."
Ekon nodded wordlessly as he stood up and went back to the game of basketball.
While Marcus was here, he avoided inmates because two murderous people becoming allies spelled trouble. He needed someone he could trust while Edward was out of the picture. Today was a good opportunity as any to pick the best from the scruff. Ekon proved to be a good pick physically and personality-wise. Marcus hoped he wouldn't turn down his offer.
"He's holding my daughter hostage!" Judge Martin shouted to the DA, pointing a crooked finger at Marcus. The group was settled in a small sitting room with plush red cushions. His handcuffs were on again with Garrett standing a foot away at the entryway. The DA stood in front of him, a slim, delicately built man with short dark hair. His name was Kal Henry.
Marcus was sitting in one of the single seats, handcuff and all, glaring at Judge Martin. The man had decided to disobey, which meant putting his daughter ar risk. The DA decided to have a seat, still listening to Martin declare himself over and over.
Sure, it wasn't impossible that a leader of a gang still had cronies to do his bidding but... there wasn't any evidence to corroborate. Marcus was a prisoner under constant surveillance. How would someone prove he'd been anywhere but here with communication to the outside world? They couldn't.
"Calm down, Jude," the DA almost shouted, in an effort to shut the man up. Martin's loud rant no doubt reached down the halls. The DA looked at Marcus and sighed.
"There's no proof of that when we have him in custody," Kal stated. "Also, all the guards are handpicked by me. If I have a dirty insider, I'll snoop them out myself. But for now...you can't expect me to deny him early release on nothing"
Martin fell back into his seat with a sad face.
"I want to believe you, Martin," the DA added, "But I think you're confused. First, you recommend him for early release on grounds of good behavior then change?"
Martin stayed silent.
"Have you lost it? Listen..." Kal stared at him, "If you're the dirty insider, I'll handle you when the time comes, but for now, get a grip."
Martin furiously denied the DA's assumption. Marcus laughed at Martin's sure demise but soon focused back on the DA. Kal regarded him carefully, then with a nod said: "Your release is denied."
Marcus's frown deepened. Was this a game?
The DA leaned back in his chair. "I've dealt with your type before and like hell, I'll let you roam about free. I may not believe Martin's claim but I know there's some truth to it so I'll play along.:
Marcus stared at his handcuffs.
"I wanted to gauge your reaction. If you're not worried about Martin proving his theories then I'm sure you're in no hurry to leave."
The DA didn't smile. He didn't wink. Nothing. This man was strong-willed and now Marcus thought of him more highly. Since they wanted to play dirty now, he'd join.
The dice had been rolled. Now Marcus just had to wait for his move. If Ekon agreed, then things could be arranged. He was also sure that Martin would find a way to corner Edward so there was no need to contact his friend on his own.
Marcus ignored the remainder of the conversation between the DA and Martin. He has already gotten his answers. He peered up at Garrett who threw him a coy smile. The Officer had started to become too friendly.
Marcus wondered if he'd have to do something he didn't feel up to. Killing someone who hadn't gotten under his skin would be a bother.