Authors: Jamie Bowers
Copyright © 2015 by Jamie Bowers
All Rights Reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
For Camilla & Jacob- You are my life
‘For your heinous crime, I sentence you to fifteen years in Hampton Penitentiary.’ As he woke up, the same words were the only thing that Joe could remember, repeating over and over in his head as he rode the bus to the concrete fortress that would be his home for the next decade and a half. Apart from the handcuffs around his wrists, Joe felt like this was his last taste of freedom, watching the people on the streets going about their everyday business; they weren’t even paying attention to the secured vehicle passing them by. Pinching the cuff on the sleeve of his leather jacket between his thumb and forefinger, he wanted to feel the softness one final time before he was stripped of the luxury and bundled into a generic prison uniform. As the reality started to become clearer, a single tear rolled down his cheek and neck, soaking into the collar on his white shirt.
Trying not to make eye contact, Joe looked around at the other men wondering what their crime was. ‘Is it too early to try and make friends?’ Joe thought himself. ‘Maybe it would be worth showing a united force from the moment we go in. But what if you make friends with the wrong person and he already has enemies inside that shouldn’t be messed with?’
‘What are you staring at?’ said the bald black man in the opposite seat as he caught Joe glancing around.
‘Nothing’ replied Joe.
‘You damn right it’s nothing. I catch you staring at me again and you will be carrying those eyeballs in your ass.’ The man had a clear look of aggression shining through his eyes.
Although seated, Joe could tell that the man stands over six and a half feet tall, raised in an African family that loves food and he enjoyed burning it off by lifting weights or crushing skulls. Joe wondered what he had done to end up here but didn’t think it was the right time to ask. The large man overshadowed the smaller man sitting next to him who Joe could barely see except for his fingers nervously tapping on the window bars. Everyone there was nervous but they all showed it in a different way. The man sitting in front of Joe was rocking forward and back, biting his nails whilst another on the front seat didn’t seem to have any trouble sleeping. Maybe he was hoping this was a dream world and falling asleep would take him back to reality.
After leaving the bustling life of the city, the bus quickly saw the beautiful colours of the country with green grass as far as the eye could see and the fields broken up with trees that have been there longer than anyone could remember. Joe had spent most of his life in the city and can’t remember the last time that he saw such a beautiful landscape. He could not believe that what he was seeing out the window was real and not a picture in a magazine or on a television. For a moment he imagined himself sitting on the bank of the highest hill with his wife and daughter watching the sunset over them.
‘Now listen up.’ Joe’s mind was quickly brought back to reality by the guard standing at the front of the bus behind a chain gate. The guard was holding a baton clutched in both hands to show his authority, ‘We are nearly at your new home. When we get there you will step off the bus one at a time and when I tell you, you will walk one by one through the yard following the guards. Do not talk back and do not try anything stupid or you won’t live long enough to see your cell.’
The bus slowly pulled up to the gates of the prison. Looking at the front of the concrete building, it reminded Joe of a picture he once saw of an English castle with the impenetrable walls and large towers being patrolled by armed guards. The gates soon opened and they were greeted by a roar of sound from the inmates who were having time in the yard. The bus door opened and a loud bang of the prison gates behind them closing gave a reminder that they will never get out.
‘Here we are fuck nuts!’ shouted the guard at the front of bus as another unlocked the gate. ‘I want each of you to get off and follow the guard in front. You first,’ pointing at the prisoner on the front seat. ‘Let’s go.’ The prisoner looked like he was ready to break down into tears but he was trying hard to save his masculinity and hold back his feelings. Joe was the fifth prisoner to be led off the bus, quickly shackled by his wrists and ankles to prisoner in front and behind, the sunlight burned onto his head obscuring his view of the towers surrounding the yard. Struggling to cover his brow with his hands bound, he could see at least a hundred men shouting at the new inmates from behind the fence.
‘Welcome to hell!’
‘That looks like some fine fresh meat.’
As the black inmate stepped off the bus, he seemed to look happy to be there, probably the only person that stepped off the bus who was, not even the guards looked they enjoyed it. As the last man was taken off the bus, the guard at the front led the line-up past the fence. Holding a shotgun in both hands, he guided the men between two chain-link fences, behind which the other inmates shouted and shook the barrier.
As they were being led, a prisoner from behind the fence spat in the face of the black man. ‘I want me some chocolate for supper,’ he said with a perverse grin, showing the few brown teeth he had left. The big man stopped suddenly bringing the line to a standstill.
‘Why are you stopping?!’ shouted one of the guards. ‘You have not been told to stop!’
The guard was ignored and the black man looked at the gaunt looking prisoner behind the fence. ‘Do you want a piece of this?’ He said staring at him with his large white eyes.
‘Oh yeah, I fancy some of that.’ Pressing his face against the fence and licking his lips. Two guards started to make their way towards the line in the hope to get them moving again. One guard swung his baton at the knee of the giant man. Without even a reaction, the man moved away from the line bringing the entire line of prisoners to the ground. Dragging them with him, he jumped at the fence vaulting the man and a few others on the other side to the ground.
He stared at them through the metal grating like a farmer looking at his chickens. ‘I can’t wait to see you on the inside.’ He said as the men tried to get up and regain their composure. ‘If you think you can handle me, just wait and see.’
‘That’s enough foreplay ladies,’ a guard shouted, addressing the line, ‘get back in line and let’s get moving.’
The other prisoners in the line helped each other to get to their feet and walked into the main building. As they walked through the door, the light quickly disappeared and what welcomed them was a dark hallway accompanied by the strong smell of damp creeping through the walls and floor.
The prisoners were ordered to line-up shoulder to shoulder. ‘Move up closer,’ ordered the guard, ‘you will need to get used to spending time in confined spaces. You might as well start now.’ One by one, a guard walked along the line as the door closed and the shackles were taken from around the ankles and wrists of each inmate.
A figure appeared from the shadows and stepped into the only light provided by a small single window. He was a tall, broad man wearing a tailored blue suit and waistcoat. It looked as if he was fitted into the suit and not the suit to him. With slicked black hair, shoes so shiny you could see your reflection and a white rose in his butthole, he looked like he would be more at home at a wedding than in a prison. ‘I am Warden Tanner,’ he said in a stern voice. ‘I run your new home and you will do exactly as I tell you. I am not your landlord, your mother or your babysitter.’ Joe could tell that this man has been doing his job for long enough to know how to put people in their place. The emotional inmate from the bus started to cry and bow in the direction of the floor. The Warden stood in front of him. ‘What is your name?’ he asked with authority. The man was crying too loud for anyone to hear the question. ‘What is your name you piece of shit?!’ the Warden asked again. This time the man looked up at him with eyes swollen with emotion and his face damp from tears and sweat.
‘B..B..Butt.’ He could hardly get any sounds out to respond.
‘Butt?’ The Warden said with an uninspired look on his face. ‘Now I can’t imagine anyone’s parents being so cruel that they would name their child that. Was your mother shot in the ass with a pellet gun?’
‘No sir.’ The man said whilst wiping away his tears to compose himself. ‘My name is Button sir, Andrew Button.’ He stood back up and tried to sniff back the tears. ‘Please sir, I shouldn’t be here, I’m innocent.’
‘How many people do you think tell me that every day? And how many people do you think I believe?’ exclaimed the Warden as he stepped away from the line-up, back into his original position in the light.
Another man was standing behind the Warden, staring into the eyes of every new inmate in the line. Without saying a word, you knew that he is the brawn of the prison and Tanner’s puppy dog that would attack on command.
The Warden turned to him and pointed at Button. ‘He’s first, Captain Richards. I want everyone to know that I won’t be won over with any crocodile tears’.
The Captain stepped forward as the Warden disappeared back into the shadows. ‘Right you mother-fuckers, each of you take off your clothes leave them in a pile behind you. I don’t want to see a thread on your body.’ The men precariously unfastened their clothes and kicked them to the wall behind them as Richards continued his welcoming speech. ‘I will be watching you every day. You go where I tell you, you eat when I tell you and you take a dump when I tell you. This is not a hotel, this is a prison and you will learn this very quickly.’ As the final man threw his underpants towards the wall, the Captain grabbed Button from the back of his neck and pushed him to a corner of the room. ‘Put your hands in the air and spread your legs.’ Shaking from the cold air and the fear of embarrassment, Button slowly put his arms in the air, exposing his pail body. The potbelly showed that this man wasn’t fast or dangerous, maybe his crime was made from behind a desk or the wheel of a car. A guard stood waiting with what appeared to be a fire hose and quickly blasted Button with a spray of cold water.
‘Turn around.’ said the guard as he then continued to spray him. He turned the hose off as quickly as he started it, ‘Now move over there.’ One by one, each man was subjected to the cold water and ushered to one side like a cheap car wash. Still dripping from the hosing, each man was lined up once again, something that they would need to get used to in prison. Another guard tossed delousing powder at each new inmate as they waited for the others to be hosed.
‘Step to the window and state your name,’ shouted Captain Richards to the line of new inmates. ‘You will be given your new uniform and then taken to your cell.’
They were promptly pushed towards a small window where they were greeted by a man who clearly didn’t like his job. ‘Here are you clothes,’ said the man from behind the grated window as he passed each of them their uniform, ‘follow the guard round the corner and wait at the gate.’ Each prisoner was handed a set of orange clothing with a number branded on the front and back along with a pair of cheap shoes that looked uncomfortable even if you were sitting down. The guard around the corner was standing in front of a large solid metal gate. The white paint had not been renewed in some years, with most of it due to guards hitting it with their batons or the heads of prisoners who do not play by the rules.
‘Follow me.’ The guard shouted down the line of new inmates. ‘When you walk past a cell, do not get close unless you want to spend your first night in the infirmary. Before you get any ideas, the nurses are not what you are used to back home, the matron has bigger balls than me and she’s not afraid to give you a colonic if she’s feeling frisky.’
The gate slammed open and the guard led the way with Captain Richards past the cells currently occupied by inmates that had not seen the outside world for many years. Embarrassed by the previous humiliation, they all had to walk through the prison as naked as the day they came into this world. As he walked past empty cells, the guard pointed and shouted out a cell number and name. ‘113, Jackson.’ For each number called, another guard pushed the named inmate into the cell and stood waiting by the door. Each new prisoner was quickly acquainted with his new home and the last two to get a cell allocated were Joe and the large black man. ‘334, Aloma’. The guard pointed to an empty cell and the man looked inside before pushing him in his back with his baton.
‘You push me again you little cheese string,’ Aloma said with a smile, ‘I will shove that stick so far up your ass that your mother won’t need to tell you to sit up straight during dinner.’ He stepped slowly into the cell and the guard remained standing outside, trembling from the threat he had just been handed.
‘335, Parcoli’. Joe was next to his new friend from the bus, he couldn’t believe his luck. As Joe walked into his cell, he took a look into the cell next door and felt the hair on his neck stand on end as Aloma stared back at him.
‘Keep looking boy,’ Aloma said from behind his bars, ‘and this will be the last face you ever see.’
Joe placed his clothes on the end of cot and sat down on the stiff mattress. Placing his head in his hands he didn’t even think about getting dressed, he just tried to remember what has happened to make him stay here for next fifteen years.
‘Closing them.’ a voice bellowed from the end of the cells and a metallic bang echoed through the cells as the doors closed tight.
Tap, tap, tap. Startled, Joe looked up from his hands and saw Captain Richards standing at his cell door.
‘Parcoli,’ said the Captain.
‘Warden wants to see you in his office first thing.’