I was out in the pigpen.
The country club had some other name for it, something like ‘Physical Exercise and Nature Therapy Zone.’ A fancy way of saying what the rest of humanity calls ‘outside.’ I guess they thought the more words they threw at it, the more they could cover the fact that it was just a field of dirt with some patches of sad yellow grass. The only other features were a few picnic tables, some bleachers, a basketball court, and a weight lifting spot.
The pigpen was shaped like a busted rectangle, bordered on one side by the cell blocks, on the other three sides by the fence. Beyond the inside chain link fence were two other fences spaced six feet apart, all the same eighteen-foot height and topped with spiky wire. The middle fence had huge signs warning in English and Spanish that it was electrified and would kill you. On a yellow triangular sign, a shadow dude fell backward from a lightning bolt aimed right at his dick.
Behind the fences were several towers connected by walkways. That’s where the apes hung out, rifles slung over their shoulders. They strolled in the sky above us and they could see everything. They could hear our conversation and we could hear theirs. Sometimes we would even talk. Hell, during their shifts, they were prisoners, too. Sorry, I meant guests.
I always spent my pigpen time strolling the outer edge along the fence, keeping to myself. Circling the drain in slow motion. Just like my life.
The sun was extra-warm where it touched my cracked skin. The patches left by Dillett’s last meal heated up quickly. The wounds itched like crazy, but I was glad to see the sun. In solitary, what we called ‘the pit,’ they’d only let me out for one hour a day. It was supposed to give me sunlight, but the way the walls were set up, I only ever saw shadows.
Annoying, but everything about my life was like that, so I endured.
Despite the aches and itches all over, I was smiling a little. That could be dangerous because it made people curious. Best for me to be invisible right now. In the shape I was in, I would be worthless in a fight. Unless of course, everything turned red. And then I’d have to deal with whatever I inflicted on someone.
Why was I smiling anyway? I’m used to being a miserable, wearing the don’t-fuck-with-me frown.
Maybe because the breeze and sun felt new after being stuck in the pit. By the end of recess, the routine would be familiar and I’d go back to being my unsmiling self.
Or maybe it was that crazy lady Miss Shannon saying I was an angel.
I looked around. In this dump? Among these jackasses?
Now that was worth a laugh. Or at least a grin.
My fellow guests gathered in groups according to skin color, black, white and somewhere between. Brownies, rice, and nachos. A delicious snack of humanity. Assuming we were human. The only real mixing of colors came in the specialized groups, the queens, kidbangers, and bible humpers.
No not bible thumpers. Bible humpers. Anyone who screamed about loving Jesus as much as those dudes did obviously wanted to screw the poor guy. So, not thumpers. Humpers.
The kidbangers stayed to themselves in one corner of the yard because whenever a guest felt like taking out some frustration, or getting some exercise, who better to beat the crap out of than a kidbanger? There wouldn’t be any retaliation from any other gang or skin color, and even the apes took their time rolling their fat asses over to break it up.
So the kidbangers stayed together, trying to make people think they were a gang. Of course when one of them got hit, instead of backing him up, they scattered. They sat around a rotting picnic table, smoking and reading, running their hands over the crinkled pages of children’s clothing catalogs.
Then there were the queens. All of us guests were guys, though some tried like hell not to look it, painting their faces with watercolors from creative therapy. For some reason, make-up wasn’t allowed in the country club. They would twist their jumpsuits to expose their bellies, prop up their hair and paint their nails. If you threw sand in your eyes, took some drugs and looked at them from a mile away through a fog, you might think they were female.
But they were left alone because, well why not? At least they weren’t kidbangers. And they were a lot quieter than the bible humpers.
The one thing we had in common, besides our bright orange outfits, was trade. For just about anything. Cigarettes, books, music, quick hand jobs, weed, and cleaning chemicals that supposedly tasted like whiskey. Psych meds that guests stole or hid under their tongues, were hot items. Those could even be sold to the apes.