Authors: Jamie Bowers
Awoken by the door to his room being thrown open, it quickly slammed shut. Joe sat up with immediate attention to see Bruce standing at the bottom of his bed, resting both hands on the white rail by his feet.
‘What are you doing here?’ asked Joe with alarm.
‘What do you want to get out of this?’ Bruce said calmly as he leant over the end of the bed. Joe was confused, still tired he wasn’t sure what he was being asked. ‘What do you want to get out of this?’ Bruce asked again as he walked around the side of the bed to get closer. Joe just stared into the eyes of Bruce, standing tall over his bedside, it felt as though the room had gotten smaller.
‘Get out of what?’ he asked trying to figure out why Bruce was in his room. Bruce slipped his hand into the front of his orange trousers.
‘I got what you want.’ He said as he took a small pistol out and placed it on the table next to the bed. Joe looked at it in awe; he couldn’t believe that he managed to get a gun into prison and now into his room. It was a small, black revolver, a six-shooter that you would read about in detective books that the main character would have strapped around his ankle. He looked up at Bruce who was rearranging his trousers to fit more.
‘I don’t have the money for you,’ Joe stated, ‘I need some more time.’ Bruce stared at the window and gave a smile that could almost be construed as enjoyment.
‘I bet you see the sun rise every day in here, it must be amazing to watch the start of a new day over the free world. Just imagine how wonderful it would be to be standing on those hills as dawn breaks, feeling God’s fire burn onto your face without the restraints of this concrete hell.’ Joe knew that this was just a big speech to try and lure him into a false sense of security.
‘I haven’t been able to get you the money because I’ve been in here.’ He said as he leant forward.
‘I know you’ll get me the money,’ said Bruce as he picked up the pistol, ‘But the price has gone up.’ He said as he examined it, opening and closing the chamber.
‘How much?’ asked Joe, knowing that he couldn’t afford the original asking price of five thousand dollars.
Bruce held out the gun handle first, waiting for Joe to take it, ‘Ten grand.’
Joe slowly reached out and held the grip, as the gun slid into his hand he could feel the weight of it, heavier than it looked.
‘But I haven’t got the money for you,’ he stressed as he looked at the black metal absorbing all light that hit it, ‘I will get the money for you, I promise.’ Bruce stepped back to the bottom of the bed and placed his hands back on the railing.
‘I know you’ll get me my money, but I need to make sure you remember.’ He clamped his hands down on Joe’s ankles, pinning his calves to the mattress. The gun fell onto the floor, Joe tried to pull his legs away but Bruce’s strength was too much to resist. ‘If you struggle, it will only be worse.’ said Bruce as he pulled Joe closer. Pulling his ankles up to the rail, he pushed his feet through the gaps furthest apart to restrict Joe’s movement. Still trying to fight his assailant, Joe didn’t have enough strength to stop him. He lay on his back on the edge of the bed, reached his hand down to the floor, scrambling to find the gun. He could feel the barrel with his fingertips but as Bruce continued to hold his feet in the rails he could not pick the handgun up. With all his strength, he managed to pull his leg away from the resilient grasp just enough to grab the firearm from the floor. As he gripped the handle in the palm of his hand, Bruce pulled his foot back through railing. Joe sat up and holding the gun firmly in his hand pointed it at Bruce.
‘Let me go!’ Joe shouted. Bruce kept a firm hold on his feet.
‘Do you have what it takes?’ he asked as he strained to keep a tight grip.
‘I do.’ said Joe as he pulled the hammer back with his thumb. With his hand shaking he pulled the trigger and the hammer released. The gun gave a dull click but nothing more, Joe was surprised at this and continually pressed the trigger, hoping that the gun would fire.
Bruce stared at him and a giant grin spread across his face. ‘You didn’t ask for bullets.’ he said as Joe looked down at the gun held in his sweaty hands. Joe turned the gun, holding it by the barrel sat up and swung at Bruce. Bruce was too fast and raised an arm to block him, knocking the gun away. Joe had pulled a foot away but one was still stuck in the foot of the bed. He tried to kick his way free but Bruce was too strong for him.
Bruce swung his fist and punched Joe on the chin, knocking him back onto the bed. Joe slowly pulled himself up to try again to free himself as Bruce grabbed his gown and pulled him closer. The strength that Bruce was displaying rivalled that of a weightlifter, he was still holding his ankle with one hand and Joe was almost helpless in the iron grip. With his foot still wedged in the rail, Bruce pulled Joe off the side of the bed, his head and shoulder hitting the floor first. Joe took a deep breath as the pain in his leg got worse. He could feel Bruce pulling his foot and his body pulling him down. The sound of his bone twisting and then the snap as it could no longer resist the force. He let out a scream of agony as he looked to see Bruce still bearing down all of his power as the bone was visible below the skin. The protrusion could be seen as his leg twisted and then the splinters of bone tore their way through his calf, spraying blood in all directions, soaking the bed. The blood quickly spread across the white sheets, as it poured out of the open wound it ran down his leg and some towards his foot, and over Bruce’s hands. Joe screamed for Bruce to stop but he refused to let go, instead pulling harder on his leg, tearing the skin causing more blood to expel from his veins. Joe became weaker and could feel himself becoming faint, he tried to shout for help but each intake of air made him frail. His eyes eventually closed, the last thing he saw was the blurred figure of Bruce leaving his room, leaving him hanging from his mangled leg, still stuck in the rail at the base of the bed.
‘Shall I wake him?’ said Francis to Doctor Gable as he lifted Joe’s gown.
‘No, I would let him rest,’ he said as he gently prodded Joe’s stomach with his fingers, ‘poor guy’s been through so much. Plus I don’t want to tell him yet, not until I’m one hundred percent certain.’ He pointed at a heavily swollen area on his abdomen. ‘Does that look worse to you?’ he asked Francis as she poured a fresh cup of water and placed it on the bedside table.
‘It looks bigger.’ She exclaimed with worry. The swollen mass in Joe’s stomach looked like he had eaten a large meal or he was pregnant. She could see the bulbous area expanding when Joe breathed.
‘Did you want it to be bigger?’ she asked. Gable wrote on the clipboard that he had placed on the bed.
‘This is not good, Nurse.’
Francis quickly stopped and turned, a brief moment of silence before she decided what question to ask first.
‘Is he ill?’ she asked. ‘Can you help him?’ Doctor Gable pulled Joe’s gown back over his stomach and lifted the bed sheet to his chest, tucking it under his arms to make him comfortable. ‘I promise to help you Joe.’ he said as he picked up the clipboard and placed his pen in the top pocket of his jacket. Without any further words said, they started to walk out of the door.
‘Don’t.’ Joe said slowly waking from his dream state. Gable and Francis both turned to face Joe trying to open his eyes.
‘Don’t?’ asked Francis as they both stepped back to Joe’s bedside.
‘Please don’t hurt me.’ said Joe as he reached out both of his hands in a plea.
Francis placed her hands on Joe’s. ‘We won’t hurt you,’ she said as she pressed his hands down to the bed, ‘it’s Doctor Gable and me, Francis. Do you remember us?’ Joe gave a large exhale of air in relief when he realised he wasn’t in any danger.
‘I thought you were someone else.’ he said as he wiped the beads of sweat from his brow.
Francis picked up the cup from the bedside table. ‘You’ve been asleep for two days now, Joe,’ she said as she passed him the cup, ‘I didn’t think you were ever going to wake up. Tell me, what was the last thing you remember?’
Joe finished the water and passed the cup back to Francis. ‘I’m not sure,’ he said when he was really thinking what he should say, ‘my leg, it hurt and that’s about it.’
Gable looked at Joe. ‘Hurt? That’s a bit of an understatement. You’ve broken it severely,’ he said as he pointed to the cast around Joe’s ankle and foot, ‘the bone has broken clean and it ripped your skin to pieces. A nasty accident like that makes me wonder if this was an accident or self-inflicted.’ Joe looked at Gable in amazement.
‘You think this was an accident?’ he said, ‘That mother-fucker Bruce did this to me when he came into my room. How the hell is he allowed to come in here and why does nobody know this?’
Francis looked down at Joe, confused by his recent statement. ‘Do you mean Bruce Glenn, the man who strikes more deals with the guards than he does with the inmates?’
‘Yeah, I think that’s his name,’ Joe replied, ‘he was here and he did this to me. He came into my room and….’ Joe paused for a moment, looking around the room to see where the gun was. He couldn’t see it; Bruce must have taken it with him, not wanting to be caught. If the gun would have been found by someone else Joe would have known about it by now and he would be most likely cuffed to the bed, or worse. But maybe someone did find it, maybe it was Francis and she has hidden it to stop him from getting in trouble.
‘Don’t worry, Joe.’ said Francis, ‘I’ll help you.’ Joe stared up at her and gave a small smile of gratitude.
‘Thank you.’ He said as he reached out and held her hand.
‘Why do you think Bruce Glenn did this to you, Joe?’ Gable asked as he interrupted the intimate moment between patient and nurse, ‘There is no way that anyone would be able to get in this infirmary without anyone knowing. There are guards making sure of that, in case anyone thinks this is a route of escape, or easy access to drugs. Hell, we once had a man who cut off his own finger to get up here. He stole medicine but could only do it with one hand. So, in a rush, he didn’t know what he had taken. He just dealt them to the other inmates when he went back. I tell you something, I have never seen so many inmates with a bad case of the shits at the same time. It was funny, but it took a few weeks to get the smell from the cell block.’
Joe looked at the Doctor and Francis as they showed their concerns. ‘He was here, he broke my leg.’ He said, trying to convince them both.
Francis looked at Joe with the same caring, concerned look that he had seen before. ‘Joe, there is no way that Bruce could have done this.’
Joe sat forward. ‘I’m telling you, he was here,’ he said pointing at the end of the bed, ‘he got in here and broke my leg.’ Gable started to write on his clipboard.
‘Why was he here to see you?’ he asked as he took notes. Joe stared out of the window for a moment, not sure if it was right to say. He didn’t want any trouble if and when he got back to the cell block. This journey has been tough enough for him so far, did he really want to make it worse?
‘Joe?’ said Francis as she placed her hand on his shoulder to get his attention. Joe turned his head and looked Francis in her blue eyes.
‘He was here because-’ He was interrupted by the door being opened, Captain Richards walked in, followed by Warden Tanner.
‘Thank you, Doctor.’ Said Tanner as he took the pen from his hand and placed it in the Doctor’s top pocket.
‘I’m not finished here.’ said Gable as he looked down at the Warden’s hand poking the pen into his pocket. Gable took a small step closer.
‘Thank you, Doctor.’ Tanner said again, this time with more aggression in his voice. Gable stepped back from the cigar smell on the Warden’s breath. ‘Come on, Nurse.’ he said as he walked towards the door. Francis quickly turned, focused her sight on the floor and followed Gable out into the corridor. Richards quickly closed the door behind them and stood in front of it so that anybody outside could only see his broad torso through the frosted glass.
‘How is your leg?’ asked Tanner as he stepped towards Joe, ‘Can you walk on it?’
‘I don’t know,’ Joe replied as The Warden pulled back the sheet to reveal his cast, ‘I haven’t tried yet.’ Richards stepped forward from the door and stood on the opposite side of the bed to Tanner.
‘Shall we give our boy a hand?’ Said Tanner, ‘Captain Richards, will you please give young Mr Parcoli help to his feet?’
‘With pleasure,’ said Richards as he held onto Joe’s upper arm with a strong grip. Pulling him quickly up to a seated position, Richards used his free arm to swing Joe’s legs off the edge of the bed.
Joe shrugged Richards’ hand away. ‘I don’t need any help!’ He said.
Tanner stood in front of Joe, looking down on him. ‘Are you going to stand for me, or do I have to make you?’ he said watching him trying to get his breath. Placing his hands on the edge of the mattress either side of his legs, Joe pulled himself slowly forward. His toes touched the cold, unforgiving floor. With one big breath, Joe pulled himself forward once more and put all of his weight on both feet evenly. Letting out a scream in pain he quickly leant backwards to the bed, breathing heavily as he tried to cover the agony with pride.
‘I can do this,’ he said to himself as he closed his eyes tight to try and take his mind to another place, ‘it’s not that bad.’ Tanner looked at Joe and then at Captain Richards.
‘It looks like we have a fighter on our hands, Captain.’
Joe once again tried to push himself upright, this time putting most of his weight on his right leg as his other just hung with the plaster cast scuffing the floor. He slowly lowered his left leg; his breathing became heavier and more erratic as the pain got deeper. Eventually leaning on both feet, he released his hands from the bed. The pain became more bearable the longer he stood.
‘Now that’s okay, isn’t it?’ said Tanner as he rearranged the collar on Joe’s gown. ‘Try and take a few steps, see how you like it.’ Joe was not sure of Tanner’s intentions and knew that this had an underlying truth that he was not going to like. Tanner held Joe’s arm gently and persuaded him to step forward. It was more of a shuffle as his left leg didn’t leave the floor, then he lifted his right and gave a scream as all his weight shifted. Beads of sweat running down his face, Joe was struggling to keep his stance as the pain was getting the better of him.
‘I can’t do it,’ Joe said as he tried to step backwards to the bed, ‘I need to sit down.’
Tanner grabbed his arm and stopped him from sitting down. ‘Now come on, you can do this. You know you can and you will.’ Joe looked Tanner as he was still struggling to stand.
‘Why are you so interested in me being able to walk?’
‘Well, you see, it’s like this.’ said Tanner as he let go of Joe, allowing him to sit down. ‘If I let you stay in here it makes me look weak. To most of the inmates this is a vacation lodge and some of them will do anything to get in here. I don’t want anyone to be in here for a long time because of my image. So you see, Parcoli, you will be back in your cell tomorrow.’ Tanner stepped around Joe and gestured to Richards, ‘Come on Captain, we had best let Mr Parcoli get his rest, he’s moving back home tomorrow.’ Richards opened the door allowing Tanner to leave and then he followed, closing the door behind him.
Joe sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, thinking of Tanner’s last words telling him that he will be back in his cell tomorrow. He took a big inhale of air and closed his eyes. Pulling himself quickly to his feet he bit his lip as the pain set in.
‘You can do this,’ he said to himself once more as he tried to stand up straight, ‘it’s just one foot in front of the other.’ He slowly moved his left foot forward, the cast weighing down his leg, it barely left the ground. As he rested it on the ground he took a deep breath, ready to shift his weight to his bad leg. As he leant over to his left, the pain became stronger and he had to take it slowly. Lifting his right foot gently off the floor he gritted his teeth and quickly stepped it forward. The momentum took a hold of him so he did it again, trying to breathe in synchronization with the pain. With each movement the pain became more bearable and before he knew it he was at least six feet from the bed. With one last step he reached the window, reaching out at the ledge, he used it for support. Sweat dripping from his face onto the crisp, clean floor Joe was happy with what he had achieved so far. Just as he pulled himself upright to walk back Francis walked into the room.
‘Don’t try and stop me,’ he said as he took a small step, ‘I have to do this.’ Francis stood watching him, holding a walking stick in her hand.
‘I heard what the Warden has said,’ said Francis as she placed the stick on the bed, ‘that’s why I got this for you. It’s an old one out of the storeroom, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.’ Joe looked at it lying on the bed. It had obviously been used by many men before with the scratches, dents and dirt along the shaft.
‘Thanks, but I don’t want to look like a cripple out in the yard. An easy target for the other men to go after? No thanks.’
As Joe got closer to the bed he moved his feet too fast and stumbled, grabbing out at the bed he pulled on the sheet and it went down to floor along with him. Lying on his back, the pain was unbearable for him. Tears running from his eyes, settling into his hair Francis stepped over slowly, not knowing if she was allowed to help him. Joe reached out his hand for help, admitting defeat.
Francis went down on one knee, holding his hand she placed her arm under his and lifted him to his feet. ‘You don’t need to be afraid to ask for help, Joe.’ She said as she propped him against the edge of the bed.
‘I know,’ said Joe as he wiped the tears from his eyes, ‘I just want to do this my way.’ He turned and picked up the stick from the bed. Holding it upright, he sat and stared at it, a solid, single piece of wood, something that could not be taken apart and used for parts to fashion a weapon. The wood felt soft in his hands, possibly a result of the damp conditions it has been subject to whilst in storage. Joe placed the end of the walking stick on the ground and leant forward onto it. Pushing down with all of his strength he slowly rose to his feet.
‘I’d hate to say it,’ he said looking down at the stick, ‘but this does make it easier.’
‘I hope you will be okay back down there.’ Francis said with a small grin. Joe smiled back with gratitude, but soon the smile went when he remembered what was waiting for him.
‘When I go out there Franny, you may never see me again. Bruce will want to break more than my leg.’
Francis held Joe by his hand. ‘Please sit down,’ she said as she pulled him down to the bed, ‘I need to talk to you about Bruce Glenn.’
Joe sat down slowly and rested the walking stick against the bed. ‘I know that he’s trouble but I only asked for it because I wanted to protect myself. I assume that you know where it is.’ He turned and grasped Francis’ hands in his. ‘I know I shouldn’t have it, but I need it back. The Warden needs to be given a lesson and I think that a gun pressed firmly against his temple will be a good learning aide.’
Francis looked at Joe in shock. ‘What are you talking about? What gun?’ she said as she pulled her hands away from his. ‘Bruce Glenn was never here, he did not break your leg.’
Joe looked frustrated because Francis was not listening. ‘I am telling you the truth.’