“Morning check! Line up! Move it you fat pricks!” It was George, the pen’s patrolmen calling us for the usual counting. As the cell doors opened, we all lined up outside and for the first time I got my first real good close look at the kid. He seemed kind of short but well built. Last night, we had given him a reality check. I’m quite sure that our grotesque descriptions of everyday life at the pen mortified the poor soul. For a new guy he seemed to take things really well. As we lined up, he took his first real look at me. He looked me up and down and when he saw my face, he grimaced. It didn’t feel all that bad now. The swelling seemed to have gone down a bit. They called out his number, “R3199” and he put his hand up and waved. Steve and I looked at each other. What was with this kid? He was pretending like this was some sort of class. Was he in denial? Would he not accept that he indeed was in this hellhole for a long time and that he would probably rot in here? I didn’t understand the kid. He seemed to know what he was doing and at the same time he seemed so detached from his surroundings. He didn’t seem like this kid from the streets. He was sophisticated, unlike us street bums. He seemed to have had an education. He spoke the English language with just a twang of an accent
As we all filed down for the morning meal some of the bully’s pulled him to a side and did what all bully’s generally did, mark out their territory. I started to go towards him, felt the left side of my face and decided against it. I was a nice guy but I believed in keeping all my limbs intact. The bully’s were doing what they did to all the new guys here. They were pushing him around, trying to see how far he’d let himself get pushed. They needed their entertainment, this was it. They were called ‘the Sisters.’ They’d force the new guys if they ever got them alone into performing sexual favours for them. If you refused, they’d make sure you never used your legs again. When I first came in, thankfully I was suffering from a very bad case of skin eczema. It’s the only reason I wasn’t touched. As I looked on, I saw that the kid really didn’t know what to do. As George walked by, they let him go; Steve and I walked towards him and took him to a seat. “You stay away from them kid if you know what’s good for you. They get you alone, your going to have a lot of trouble sitting down after that!” and he burst out laughing. The kid looked at him and then at me and we all started laughing. “Don’t mind Steve, he is very crude.” I said to the kid. The kid looked at both of us and just smiled. He had a very arresting smile. He wasn’t particularly good looking but there was something worth looking at for the women. There was something though, something below the surface, something that didn’t come through. He didn’t belong here. The kid would have looked right in some major company, working 70-80 hours a week. What was he doing in here? How did he get in to something so bad? I looked at him showing Steve, how to use the fork properly and decided I was going to ask him. “So kid, how did you land up in this hell hole? What did you do?” I had seen people getting defensive about their crimes, some actually telling me they were innocent but the kid, the kid looks at me, stares me down and says, “I did something I’ve wanted to do for a real long time.” His voice held such malice, such anger. His face had become a mask of fury, the whole boyish look had disappeared and in place of it was this stone cold, malice. He was breathing so hard. I looked at Steve and then suddenly the kid just jumped up, his chair falling back and he stomped out. Cyrus from the other end shouted out, “What did you try and do, feel him up?” this was followed by titters of laughter from everyone. I finished up my food and followed the kid out into the ground. As I was stepping out, one of the ‘Sisters’ caught up with me and said, “He’s my bitch. Don’t you dare try and keep him for yourself.” As I walked away I knew that the kid was in for a lot of trouble in here. I saw him at the far end just staring at the ground. I walked up to him and said, kid, if you don’t want to talk about it, we won’t. Its ok but you can’t go around throwing tantrums in here. These guys will rip you apart. The kid looked at me, and for a second I was at a loss for words. The kid’s eyes were filled with tears and he looked so lost. For a second I saw Angie in his place and I couldn’t help hugging him. The kid just fell into my arms. His sobs shaking my body, he held me so tight. Then he let go and looked away. I felt awkward for I really did not know what to say. Steve walked up to him, put his hand around the kid’s shoulders and whispered something into his ears. The kid laughed in between his sobs. That was the thing with Steve, he may not be the most educated amongst us but he always knew what to say to make you feel better. He was good at things like that.
We never talked to the kid about his life, though Steve now was dying of curiosity. He’d think of a number of ways of trying and asking the kid without really asking him right out. He told him his story of how he had gotten in here. He told him how his step father used to beat his mother up and how one night; he had enough, picked up a golf club and swung it so well that his step dad never got up again. The case would have been thrown out of court for he could have claimed self defense if he hadn’t gone and broken the knees of his step brother when he tried to defend his dad. It didn’t work though. The kid never spoke about his life. The three of us had loads of fun though. The kid made it a point to teach Steve a little bit of English and Science everyday though I don’t think Steve really liked doing it. He never really saw the point of doing it. He’d tell me, who am I going to impress with my English? I’m never getting out of here and I really don’t think the devil gives a shit if I can talk good. But the kid wouldn’t give up. He kept at it. I guess it kept him sane in a way, gave him something to do. In fact it improved Steve’s vocabulary. He started using words like ‘uncanny’ though he didn’t exactly use them in the right sentences. There was this one time when he walked up to us, and said “I am feeling very ‘uncanny’ today.” The kid and I fell to the floor in splits. We couldn’t help laughing. The kid was practically splitting his sides. Steve looked at the both of us laughing and said, “What? What? It wasn’t that funny! Oh shut up!” and stomped off. The kid and I rolled on the floor laughing our guts out. The truth was that the kid brought into our lives a bit of life and laughter that we never had before.