The Adventures of Killer Cain
“On the Gate!”
“Crack one five!”
“On the fucking gate!”
Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.
All day. Everyday. Endlessly. Relentlessly. Every fifteen minutes guaranteed, with others interspersed between the quarter hours. The clanging of the gates. The barred doors being opened and closed. Crack them for meals. Clang. Crack them for showers. Clang. This guy’s going to medical. Clang. This guy is heading to court. Clang. The bars never stop. They slam and reverberate in their steel frames, a constant auditory reminder to those locked inside of HDM. You ain’t going nowhere. Not unless the C.O.’s let you. You belong to the City of New York. You’re locked in. You’re locked up. Your ass is ours.
They also resonate with many the officers. The constant clanging reminds them of the choices, or lack thereof, that led them to this job. A few are happy to even have a job. Most of the others wonder, “How in the hell did I end up here? Standing behind the same bars as the dregs of society?” The constant ringing is twisted and warped to them, the antithesis to melodious church bells singing their call to twelve o’clock mass.
For Will Pryzbjoski, affectionately known as Campbell’s, PBJ, White Bread, or cock sucking mother fucker depending on what group you talked to, the gates are an infinite headache. The veteran officers had told him that he would get used to them eventually. Well, it’s been two years, and he isn’t used to shit. Hell, he had gotten used to gunfire and mortars going off quicker than this. But Will also knows that it’s not just the gates. It’s the entire place, the whole building. Buzzing like a malicious hive. A nest hit one too many times with a stickball bat, the bees inside driven to crazed madness. It doesn’t take an outside factor to stir HDM to that level of buzz. It happens every day, without provocation, without fail. A constant droning of the most vile vulgarity, given voice by the ever ignorant and depraved. That includes some of the officers. It leaves a blinding pain lodged right between his eyes at the end of every shift.
Will stands on “A” post in cell block five today. The square space serves as a control and transition point for inmates moving out of the block to other parts of HDM. In front of him on his right and left are the gates he’s responsible for inside the space. Each one governs access to a separate stretch of cells two football fields long and three tiers high. Behind him is another gate that connects “A” post to the central corridor, known as the rail because of the giant steel beam that runs down the center of the ceiling. Another officer is posted there manning that gate. For an inmate to get somewhere other than the tiers, they would first have to be let out of one of the gates Will oversees, and then once it is closed and locked, let out into the rail corridor by the officer there.
Looking through the bars, Will watches the inmates on the tiers. They stand around in groups, smoking, jiving, moving about aimlessly. The malaise of humanity stripped of purpose. The C.O.’s on duty inside, the “B” and “C” posts, stalk through the crowds. They walk under the tiers so nothing can be dropped on them from above, keeping an eye on their charges. Will stifles another yawn. To tell the truth, the clanging and buzzing are the least of his worries. The Wheel is what is really grinding him down. No longer a rookie, but still extremely low in Union seniority, he and the other guys like him don’t have set schedules. That means different shifts. All the time. Without rhyme, reason, or expectation. Sometimes he’d be on a four to twelve, only to find out he’d be on a six to two the next morning. Then back for the midnight later that same day. Or the next day. Or whatever the fuck it was. Sometimes he barely had six hours between tours. The differing schedules didn’t happen by the week but by the shift. Combined with mandatory double shifts, sometimes even triple shifts, and he was basically only sleeping a couple of hours here and there, every few days. It had been like this since he left the academy two years ago.
The result was that he never knew if he was coming or going. Sometimes he was so tired he would drift off while driving. He was sure he would go off the road and end up wrecked in a ditch eventually. Just what he needed, to spend the rest of his days on Department disability drinking his meals through a straw. Or worse. Other times he would be wired. Unable to fall asleep despite knowing that he had to. Despite the fact that he’d just worked 24 hours straight, and was expected to be back in six. The Union couldn’t help. Hell, it was the Union serving them up on a silver platter to this grind. Manning levels were still short and recruitment drastically low. Will and his recently joined comrades were the ones with “fresh legs” as it were. The rookies had to fill the gaps in the schedules. Guys with more time in, guys closer to retirement couldn’t be expected to do it. They had already done their spin on the Wheel. What? Rookie was a little tired? Tough shit. Suck it up buttercup.
What no one spoke of, but what everyone was all too aware of, was the added threat. More shifts meant more time on the tiers. More hours in the cell blocks. More exposure to the inmates. It sapped you of your awareness, your alertness, your attention to detail. The things you absolutely had to have about you every second of every day were stripped away by the lack of sleep. So much so that you could barely keep your eyes open while standing up. That made you a target and translated into more chances of getting jumped or having a shiv shoved in your back. Guys about to step off couldn’t be expected to take that kind of risk. It mixed into a strange blend of hyper vigilance clouded by exhaustion and fueled by necessity. And coffee. Lots of fucking coffee.
Will yawns again and turns to look into the common area, hoping a distraction might help keep him awake. He knows he’s getting stuck another shift tonight. Captain Braxton had that look on his face when calling out posts at roll call. Will’s sure it’s why he got put here. The Captain was trying to give him somewhat of a break by not having him on the inside. He appreciates the gesture, if it’s true. Of course he has no way of knowing for sure. Braxton could rotate them alphabetically for all he knows, but the thought makes Will endure the shift a little better.
And that is what it has become. Endurance. Endurance, and interviewing for any other fucking job he can get a lead on. The juxtaposition is, between the Wheel and the personnel shortages keeping him stuck, the chance of actually having a day off and an interview available was practically nonexistent.
Across the way, gathered by an open cell is a group of Bloods huddled around one another. They are hunched over, snickering and whispering. Every so often Jackson, the short one with the dew rag, twists around and looks over his shoulder. He starts laughing, and then turns back into the group. Will looks to where the inmate was gazing. His eyes fall on Cain. A fellow officer, Cain barely stands five foot seven and is thin as a rail. He looks like a cross between Don Knotts and Mr. Magoo wearing a pair of thick glasses. Meek, soft spoken, and clueless, he invites disrespect and abuse. Will immediately gets a bad feeling. The combination of Jackson and Cain can’t be good.
Jackson, the short, wiry brother from Bed-Stuy knows that he can’t get by on his size alone. Not in a place like this. He relies on his gang affiliation to survive. In order to keep his boys happy and therefore have his back, he constantly pulls pranks and taunts the C.O.’s. Nothing too bad. Nothing that would get them special attention or bring the riot squad. Just enough to fuck with everyone. Will hates the little bastard. He’s an annoying fuck of a pinprick in an already miserable existence.
Cain adjusts his glasses, standing a little ways from the group. The man is staring up at the tiers. He’s transfixed by something or someone. The vets tried to tell Cain not to let his mind wander. That his distracted nature could lead to him getting knocked the fuck out, but the man didn’t seem to catch on or absorb the lesson. Cain just looks everywhere other than where he is supposed to.
The guys in the locker room were already against him, despite his only being here a few weeks. His affable nature combined with the fact that he is a hundred and five pounds soaking wet left little confidence. No one believed that he would be able to handle a full on brawl, or come to the aid of a fellow officer if need be. Cain didn’t catch on to the sentiment either, illustration just how oblivious that man really was. Further resentment brewed by watching how he handled his business on the tiers. Cain flinched. Cain cajoled. Cain tried to reason or joke with the inmates. No command presence. No authority. Not a shred of intimidation factor. At times it looked as though Cain tried to be friends with the incarcerated, instead of being in charge of them. The tactic did not go over well. He may not have earned a nickname as quick as Will did, but it was damn close. Perhaps the difference of a shift or two. Officer and inmate alike all agreed. That man over there was Killer Cain.
Jackson chuckles, leans into the group, then turns and separates from his buddies. His left hand is curled back as he saunters across the floor. Will’s attention perks up. He turns fully to the gate, trying to get a closer look at the man’s left hand. As Jackson nears Cain, Will tries to spot what he’s holding. The inmate walks up.
“Yo, yo, yo, Cain. What’s up my nigga?” Before Cain can get his head around, Jackson is slapping him on the back. Wads of shaving cream burst forth from the spaces between his fingers, flipping into the air. The Bloods back by the cell burst out, laughing hysterically. Cain looks at Jackson who can’t keep a straight face any longer. The inmate starts laughing as well. That’s when Cain notices the shaving cream splattered all over his back.
“Dang it Darryl, now why did you have to go and do a thing like that?”
Jackson continues to laugh, wringing his hands in front of him. “Just a joke baby, just a joke. Come on now Cain, you know you need to laugh in this place. Ya feel me, right?”
“Yeah, I get it, but… dang it! Now I’ve gotta go change my shirt. The Captain will kill me if he sees me like this.”
“Ain’t nobody gonna kill you Cain! You the killa baby!”
“Yeah, well, you shouldn’t do things like that Darryl. I won’t tolerate that again.”
“Sure Cain,” Jackson says as he walks away. “Don’t get mad. I don’t want yo killa ass coming after me now, ya heard?”
Will feels a spike of anger, both at the now retreating inmate and the rapidly approaching Cain. He sees the anxiety and anguish on Cain’s face. The man tries to hide it and fails miserably. As Cain nears the gate he averts his eyes, pretending to look at something down the cells that line the wall. “Hey Will, you uh… mind covering me for a quick minute?”
Will chews on the request, not in the least bit happy. Now he has to watch two posts because the guy across the gate from him can’t watch one. At the same time, he knows that he can’t let the guy stay in the block in the state he’s in. That would just invite more attention and more attempts to fuck with him. Something like that could spin up the tiers real quick. He looks Cain over and sees that he is trembling. With a deep sigh Will starts cracking the gate open while Cain looks nervously about, hoping others in the block won’t catch on to what’s happening. “Yeah Cain, but be quick about it okay? The Captain sees you off the tiers and he’s gonna have both our asses.”
“Yeah, of course. You got it Will,” he says as he slips through the opening. Will closes it quickly behind him. “I got spares in my locker. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”
“Make it eight.”
“Yeah, eight, right. You got it. Thanks Will.” Smalls, the C.O. working the rail post for block five, cracks him out. Cain hurries through the central corridor. Smalls, an ironically hulking mass of humanity, throws Will a look. Will returns it and shrugs.
While Cain is gone two Meal Relief officers come down the hall, Wade and Ramirez. Wade assumes Will’s post. When Ramirez asks where Cain is Will tells him not to worry about it. The Mexican American arches an eyebrow and then mutters, “Maricon” under his breath as Will lets him through the “B” gate. Will lets out a deep breath, grateful for small blessings. Having Ramirez in place for meal will mask the fact that Cain had to go up to the locker room. It also gets the tiers back up to full strength. The Captain would be none the wiser should he come by.
“Take off Whitebread. When I see Cain coming back down the hall I’ll tell him he’s on meal. Do your thing baby.”
“Yeah, thanks Smalls,” Will replies, pounding knuckles with the man.
Will heads out and makes his way to the mess hall. After getting a tray he finds his way over to an empty table and sits down. With his head down he shovels in the same crap food that’s served to the inmates. A few minutes later a clatter on the lunch line picks his head up. Cain is fumbling with a tin of silverware that he knocked over, trying desperately to keep the knives and spoons from spilling further. Their eyes meet in the process. Cain’s face perks up, a small smile creasing his mouth.
“Shit,” Will says under his breath, quickly ducking his head back down. The damage has already been done. Sure enough Cain makes a b-line straight to his table. “Heya Will, mind if I sit down?”
He doesn’t look up. “Free country Cain.”
The man chuckles, much more so than is warranted by the tired joke. “You’re right of course. So right.” Cain clunkily sits and begins eating, his mouth not closing in the process. The auditory mashing of food and smacking of his lips is like fingers on a chalkboard to Will. Grimacing, he doubles down on his own tray, trying not to focus on the sounds. “Food’s not bad here, huh?”
“I’ve had worse,” Will replies.
“That’s right. I heard you’re a vet. I bet Army food tastes terrible. I just missed the draft, so I wouldn’t know.” Will doesn’t respond, and the silence draws on for long moments. Cain takes a few more bites, looking back and forth between his tray and Will. “So, what do you do for fun when you’re not at work Will?”
This man is a genuine fuck up, Will thinks to himself. “I don’t know Cain. Read.” He hopes the abrupt answer is enough to convey that he’s not interested in talking.
“Oh yeah? I love books. Almost became a librarian actually. What are you reading now?”
“Alaska huh? Interesting. I’m a fan of Michener myself, but I haven’t gotten around to that one yet.”
Despite another interruption Will perks up a bit. “You’ve read him too?”
“Oh sure. I’m a big reader. Never had much in the way of TV growing up. Books and the library were always my entertainment.” Big surprise there. He goes back to his meal but the man seizes on the commonality. “What made you pick out Michener anyway?”
Will sighs slightly, resigned to the fact that Cain isn’t going to leave him be. “Always been a big fan of history I guess. That, and I like his delivery. Plus it gives me an escape, you know?”
Cain cocks his head to the side, brown gravy running down the side of his mouth. “How so?”
“I mean, let’s be real. I’ll probably never get to go to Alaska. Reading is a way of visiting it. Gives me something to think about other than this shithole for a few minutes at a time, that’s for sure.”
Cain chuckles again at the last sentence. “Yeah. Sure. I bet. You’re funny Will.”
Will picks up on something in Cain’s tone. He can’t quite place it, but there is a nuanced sentiment coming from the man sitting across from him. “How so?”
Cain freezes, his fork halfway to his mouth. His eyes flash towards Will. First they flutter with concern, and then a moment later confusion. He lowers his fork. “It’s just… wait. You’re serious? You don’t like working here?”
Will’s eyebrows skyrocket like a jet taking off from a carrier. “Cain…” He doesn’t even know where to begin. “Please tell me you’re joking. You don’t actually enjoy working here, do you?”
The man hesitates, face flushing slightly. “Well sure. Doesn’t everybody?”
Will rocks his head back, letting out a deep breath. He leans forward, putting his elbows on the table and his face in his palms. Cain stares at him, obviously still confused. Will drops his hands and looks at the other officer incredulously. “No, Cain. They don’t. Are you fucking kidding me?”
“But… I thought… then why take the job?”
Will shrugs, leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms. “The pay is steady and the benefits are good. Men have families, mouths to feed, clothes to put on backs. That’s why they take this fucked up job. At least it’s why I did. But I sure as shit don’t enjoy it Cain.”
“Oh. Well… yeah. I guess I hadn’t considered that. Not having a family of my own and all.”
Will looks off, slightly peeved at the guy, when another thought occurs to him. He turns back. “Wait, why did you take this job then?”
Cain looks down at his tray. His cheeks flush a deeper red. “I dunno. Something was missing. My life was so boring before Corrections. I guess I joined up… for the adventure.”
Will bursts out laughing but quickly clamps a hand over his mouth. When he gets control over himself he leans in. “Did you just say adventure? Are you serious? Cain this place is death. If you don’t get it quick by an inmate you’ll get it slow by the grind. You see some of the guys nearing their twenty walking around here? They’re in their forties but they look like they’re going on seventy. Divorced, alcoholics, drug addicts. All mangled and fucked up from fighting for their goddamn lives every day. And you willingly joined up for this shit? Out of what? Thrill seeking?”
Cain continues to look embarrassed, but surprisingly a small fire seems to be lit in him as well. “Well, it’s something I had to do Will. I needed to live, to experience. I couldn’t sit where I was any longer. All I had to look forward to was decades of pointless monotony.”
“Come on Cain. You expect me to believe anything could be worse than this place? What was so bad that you left to come here?”
“I worked for the Social Security Administration.”
“You… doing what?”
“I cancelled out the social security numbers of the deceased. All day long. Transposing forms to unassign it from whoever died. You want to talk about slow death, or a grind? Try doing that paperwork for ten hours a day every day of the week. After a while you just become numb to the forms, not even realizing it’s people that have died. Hundreds and hundreds of people every day Will. After a few years I just realized that I had to try something else.”
Will still can’t believe it, but he also gets the man’s point. He certainly wasn’t one for sitting behind a desk, at least he never thought he was. That of course was before setting foot on Riker’s. Now he’d gladly shuffle papers all day. “Alright Cain, I’ll give you that. But listen, I’m going to level with you.” The man’s beady eyes glint behind his glasses. “The guys in here, myself included, we’re not looking for adventure. You know what I mean? Fighting these behemoths. Outnumbered a hundred to one at any given time. Hoping you just get home in one piece everyday. That’s not our idea of adventure. We’ve got the upper hand because we keep them in line, but that only works if we all hold the same line. You understand? We can’t have any weak links. These animals see that they can fuck with one of us and they start trying to fuck with all of us. The other officers don’t appreciate that. I don’t appreciate it. Someone not handling their business puts the rest of us in jeopardy. You want to be in it for the thrills? Fine. But you gotta do it in a way that’s not putting the rest of us in the crosshairs.”
Cain scratches his head a bit. “You think I’m doing that?”
Will fights the urge to toss his hands up. “Yeah Cain, you are.”
“But when? How?”
Jesus. “Come on Cain, you can’t be this oblivious. You try to make friends with these fuckers. Call them by their first name and shit.”
“I’m just showing them respect. I feel like that’s lacking with them.”
“And are you earning any respect back? You think that bastard was respecting you earlier? There’s only one thing they respect, and that’s showing that you won’t be pushed around.”
Cain swallows, looking increasingly uncomfortable. “I don’t let them…”
“Cain. Come on.”
“Well I don’t. I just… have a different approach is all.”
“Listen man,” Will says. “Why didn’t you hit that guy earlier?”
“What? Because of the shaving cream?”
“Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? I mean, my life wasn’t in danger. In the academy…”
“Fuck the academy. The academy teaches you nothing, man. Basic was the same way. The real lessons are in here. Yeah okay, it was just shaving cream this time. What if it’s a razor next time? What if they try to cut you? Or cut someone else because they’ve gotten bold? You gotta knock the shit out of a guy that tries to walk up on you like that. That way he and every other fucker like him will think twice about doing it the next time.”
“Will… I just… I don’t know if I can. I’ve never been in a fight.”
“And you joined the Department of Corrections?”
Cain looks down. “I know. It sounds bad. I just think things can be handled differently.”
Will sighs and looks at his watch, growing more frustrated by the minute. “Alright man. I’ve been there. I get it. It can be intimidating. But you have to stand up for yourself. The next time that guy messes with you, or any of them for that matter, hit him. Hit him as hard as you can and then just grab onto him. Hold on. I’ll hit the alarm. Someone will hit it. Hell hit it yourself if you can, and then punch the bastard. The other guys and the squad will roll to you. You’ll see. Then when they find out you busted a fucker in the mouth and he caught a beating, you’ll earn respect on both sides. People will be less likely to fuck with you after that.”
“Yeah, well I suppose you’re right.”
Will pushes back his chair and scoops up his tray. “We gotta head back. Just think about what I told you.”
“Yeah, sure. Thanks Will.”
“Yeah man,” Will says as he turns away. Once he’s out of the cafeteria he shakes his head, not believing the things revealed in the conversation. They are back on post a few minutes later. The hours tick by. Monotonous. The clangs resounding. A demented reminder of the moments of life slipping away. They crank, slam, and reverberate throughout the building.
Right before twenty two hundred Will spies Jackson and his trio huddled up again. They eye Cain, most likely looking to get in another prank before they’re locked in for the night. Only this time Cain is alert to it. As Jackson approaches, Cain squares to the man. Will can see him visibly shaking and turning pale as the crew draws near. Behind him in the corridor, Will hears Wade and Smalls talking to one another.
“I gotta get outta this shit pit man. Meals are done. Time to go.”
“I hear ya slick. Two more hours and we out.” Smalls replies.
Inside, Cain is holding his finger up in front of Jackson. The C.O. looks like a schoolteacher reprimanding a petulant child rather than an officer speaking to a known gang member and drug dealer. The shorter inmate looks stunned, while his crew around him begins laughing at his expense.
“Wade,” Will calls out, interrupting the conversation in the hall behind him. The two officers look at him through the corridor gate, their faces pictures of annoyance. “Go call out the squad. Tell them to get here on the double. Once they’re coming run ahead and take the rail gate. Smalls, when you see him come inside, take my gate, and hit the alarm.”
Confused indignation replaces the annoyance. “White bread, da fuck you up to now?” Wade asks.
“Do it Wade! Now!” he says, raising his voice just enough to convey the urgency, but not enough so that he can be heard inside the cell block. Wade’s face changes to alert necessity. He wheels around and sprints down the hall.
“What’s up PBJ?” Smalls asks in his deep, booming voice.
Smalls doesn’t ask any further questions. The massive man simply gets his key out and unlocks his gate, preparing for the switch. Back inside Jackson is furious. Cain continues on for several minutes with his lecture. When his homies start ridiculing him as well, Jackson decides he’s had enough. He can’t let the powderpuff C.O. get the better of him. He spits on the floor and balls his fists while taking a step forward.
Come on Cain. Hit him. Just hit him. Will watches, barely able to see Cain’s face. The C.O. begins to shake harder. Jackson becomes more and more animated. “Come on. Come on man,” Will whispers to himself, growing nervous.
Everything happens in a matter of seconds. Jackson slaps Cain’s finger out of his face. Will hears Cain’s breath catch in his throat and sees his eyes go wide. The inmate backs Cain up against the wall. With Jackson making contact with the C.O. the members of the crew immediately stop laughing. They surround the duo in a loose huddle, using their frames to hide what is going on. Will catches a final glimpse of the officer before his vision is blocked. Cain’s face is contorted with fear, tears streaming down his face.
Will rips open the gate and rushes inside. Smalls jumps into action, coming in behind him as planned. Fuming with anger, Will sprints across the floor.
“Hey!” he screams as he gets to the huddle. The nearest inmate spins around but Will has already closed the distance to them. He jacks the gang member with an uppercut to the man’s throat. The Blood chokes on his own spit and struggles for breath as he clutches at his neck, sinking to his knees. Will is past him in an instant, grabbing Jackson by the back of the head and ramming his face into the wall. “How’s that bitch!” he bellows into the space of the tiers. “You like that!”
The shorter man screams in pain. Will pulls him back and slams him again, his face crunching on the wall. A smear of blood and snot streaks across the surface. The other two inmates, initially shocked at his sudden arrival, now spring into action. They grab onto Will’s arms and haul him back, but he thrashes and twists in response. The C.O. kicks to his left, not doing much in the way of damage but buying himself some space in the process. Will turns back into the Blood still hanging on him, wrestling with the man like a hockey player trying to avoid having his jersey pulled over his head. He starts wildly throwing punches at the inmate’s body and head. They start to trade blows while Will heaves for breath. He clings onto the larger inmate with everything he has.
Suddenly the Blood is ripped away from him. Smalls is there, tossing the inmate to the ground and keeping him there with a kick into the gang member’s face. The riot squad pours around them. They quickly separate Will and Cain from the four inmates, and then proceed to thump the shit out of the troublemakers. Over the cries of pain Will hears the alarm signaling. A moment later the cell doors crash shut as the tiers are locked down. Smalls moves Cain and Will off towards the “A” post gate. Calls come at them from across the different levels.
“Ain’t right C.O. You fuckin’ dem up for nuttin’ man!”
“Shut the fuck up assholes!” Will yells back, amped from the scuffle. He shoots a sidewards glance at Cain. The man is shaking considerably more so than earlier. Cain’s left hand twitches as if to go to his streaming eyes, but he manages to keep it down as they cross the floor.
“Aight then. Watch yo bitch ass C.O.” another inmate yells.
“You know where to find us punk. Whenever you’re ready!” Will screams.
“Fuck you bitch!” a third sounds off.
They reach the gate, Wade standing there at the opening. At the last comment Will twists back into block. “Eat shit and die motherfuckers! We’ll be back! Come get some! Come try it!” He is so riled up that Wade and Smalls have to pull him out into the hallway.
The aftermath is standard. Will and Cain are sent to the infirmary. Braxton takes their statements and they both fill out reports. Instead of heading back to post Will is given his reassignment, stuck on the overnight for a double just as he suspected. He heads back to the cell blocks, leaving Cain sobbing gently on an infirmary bed.
The overnight passes without incident. Once done Will endures the rush hour traffic of everyday people going to their desk jobs. He’s only able to grab a few hours of sleep before he is up and driving back for a four to twelve. Feeling like he never even left, Will fights against his bleariness as he suits up for another shift.
Standing in the hall, Will lines up for roll call with the other C.O.’s. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Cain walking up. The man’s uniform is disheveled, one tail of his shirt sticking out, multiple buttons undone. His face is a picture of detachment. Will can’t be certain, but he thinks the man’s hair shows a lot more silver and white than it did yesterday. As he walks by Will can see that the man is shivering. Cain lines up, indifferent to the stares and snickers around him.
Captain Braxton walks in, adjusting his belt against the downward pressure of his gut. “Quiet down. Quiet down,” are his only words before he launches into reading the shift assignments from his clipboard. He spouts off half a dozen names before calling out Cain’s. “Cain. Six block, ‘C’ post.”
“What the fuck?” It comes from Wade. The rest of the officers spin around to see what’s happening.
Cain’s whole body shakes, twitching and convulsing. His eyes dart and spin. His mouth works open and closed, nothing but breath escaping. The man starts shuffling his feet, moving a few paces to the right, only to then shift back to the left. Cain’s mouth closes, his escaping breath flapping his lips over and over again. Braxton grimaces and walks over to the officer. “All you stand fast.”
The Captain grabs Cain by the arm and guides him out of the line up. “Alright Cain, just take it easy,” he says as he walks the man down the hall. “Go back up to the locker room and sit down. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Cain returns to opening and closing his mouth but still doesn’t emit a sound. The man seems to nod and then heads up the staircase to the locker room. Braxton turns around, muttering under his breath as he walks back to the group. “Change my whole damn… the Warden… mufuckin basket case…”
Braxton scribbles on his clipboard a few minutes. He reads off the rest of the posts and curtly dismisses everyone. Will never sees Cain again. The Killer’s adventure in Corrections had come to an end.
18 years to go…