Chapter 40: Free
Mike stayed in the Detention Room for four days and it wasn’t until the fourth night was he let out. Charlie gave him his food and he ate on the cold floor. Mike never said anything as Charlie left and locked the door. He just ate his food in silence. Mike wished for Cindy. He remembered her kiss on the first night in the rain and the time when it had just been the two of them in his room. He wondered if he’d ever get out of this place. He wondered if Ian had forgiven him. He had seen him at the preliminary hearing and the trial, but he wondered if Ian had just gone to comfort Cindy.
A new thought entered Mike’s mind, but Mike knew it couldn’t be true. Ian wouldn’t betray him like that. Mike knew he could trust his once best friend. There was no way Ian would take Cindy away from him. Yet, he wondered if Cindy would move on by the time he was let out. He realized that this room was making him think negatively. There was absolutely nothing to look at in here and he knew that was the point. He thought he would die of boredom. There were no windows, so he could never tell if it was morning, evening, or afternoon. He kept looking down at his grey Roots watch, but for all he knew, time could be lying to him. Then on a Sunday evening, someone else entered his room other than Charlie, Steve James. Steve came to him and told him he could leave the Detention Room. Mike nodded and followed him out.
He glanced outside feeling like a caved mole seeing light for the first time. Though he knew he had a light in the Detention Room, which he could turn on and off, he felt relieved seeing other kinds of lights. He could see that the sky was already getting dark outside and wondered if he had missed dinner. Steve soon answered this question.
“Everyone’s in the kitchen,” he said. Then he disappeared down the hall.
When Mike entered the kitchen, he was greeted by an uproar of applause. Mark came up to pat Mike on the back.
“Impressive,” he said once everyone had stopped clapping and cheering. “Never did anything like that; I just gave her hell. You know, I made her come near me and told her all these scary stories about me like how I enjoyed eating people after I killed them. She believed every single one of them. I should have thought about locking her in the closet.”
“Man, Charlie was livid when you did it,” Smitherson told him as Mike sat down and brought a cold hamburger to his plate.
“I know,” Mike said as he squirted ketchup onto his burger. He then told his three friends what happened in the Detention Room.
“Wow, for the first week, you got it rough. But no offence Mike, that treatment was nothing compared to what I’ve gotten,” said Mark. You know when I told you that you didn’t want to be the next one cleaning up a shattered window?”
“Well, that’s kind of the shit I’ve been hit with. Once Charlie threw me so hard into one of the first floor windows that I cracked the glass. He then smashed that glass with a baseball bat and told me to clean it up. I’m not joking.”
Mike nodded, knowing it to be true.
“Yeah, you wouldn’t say Charlie and me are the bestest of friends.”
“So where were you at lunch the second day I was here?” asked Mike.
Louis and Smitherson looked at him with looks of surprises on their faces.
“You didn’t know?” asked Louis.
“I was in the Detention Room,” explained Mark ignoring Louis and Smitherson’s surprised looks. “Charlie threw me into detention because I was still complaining about the stairs. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He wanted to give me the right treatment I deserved. So when everyone was sent to do their chores, he sent me off as well, ignoring my complaints. And then when everyone was out of his way, he found me and threw me into that Detention Room. Maybe you wouldn’t have heard me yelling at him because you had your head in the oven. When I’ve cleaned that oven, I’ve found that the outside world is muffled. It’s good though, being thrown into the Detention Room. Charlie might think of it as a punishment but I think of it as victory because it shows you’re stronger than he thinks you are. When Charlie knew you were coming he thought you were going to be weak and easy to torture. ‘We’re going to have fun with him,’ he said. No one could believe, no offence, that someone like you could be capable of shooting someone and then robbing a store. Everyone thought you were put under duress or something, but the judge obviously didn’t believe that.”
Mike knew exactly what Mark was talking about. He wasn’t very muscular, he always had a baby-like face, and, given his size, he couldn’t really be a threat to anybody. Stereotypically, he didn’t come off as a violent person but obviously the judge had to see past the stereotypes in order to give him a fair trial.
“Charlie was at your trial; you may not have seen him, but when he came back to us he told us exactly what he thought of you, ‘weak’ and well, ‘innocent’. But he obviously wasn’t going to tell the judge that and we had no idea who you were. He thought your ‘episode’, as he called it, was just a phase and that you wouldn’t be a problem here. But you proved him wrong; he never expected you to fight back. He expected you to accept the pain making it easy for him to take advantage of you, but you didn’t let that happen. Locking up Ms.. Shemel was something he would never have expected. It’s why he threw you into the Room so quickly; he didn’t know what other tricks you might have up your sleeve. You fooled him Mike; played him like a puppet. He’ll be more careful around you. It’s why I was so shocked when you told me you shot someone when we first met. I couldn’t believe that you actually had done it.”
Mike blushed a little; he couldn’t accept all these praises. It was like he was some glorified champion. But he had to admit it; maybe he had matured. With all that Bradley had done, maybe it had really strengthened him. He was fighting back, something he had never believed possible. He smiled at everyone around the kitchen table who were all beaming at him. He had grown, and, for once in his life, he was proud of it.