As the old song goes: “If I ain’t drunk, it ain’t Christmas.” I guess it’s Christmas, because despite how much Baha’i god hates it, I got liquored up on Pie Hole (pecan pie flavored whiskey), and had me a merry-ass Christober. Or whatever. Yeah, I’m still wobbly, and my back aches just like it did in July. Strangely, not as badly as it did in July.
After hanging out with my family, and playing a drunken game of Exploding Kittens with everybody (BTW, I highly recommend that game), I’m back, I’m at a bit of a roadblock in Darkest Dungeon (more to come on that), and The Chiefs don’t play for another hour or so, so I figured now would be the perfect time to give you little imps your Christmas present.
The wrapping paper comes off, and to your amazement/disappointment/perplexity, it’s the official sample chapter for Lifers Wear Orange! ENJOY!
NOTE: Lifers Wear Orange’s speculated release date is some time in late January, or early February. More on that as it gets to me. I might also note that this version of the chapter is the second draft. If there are any noticeable spelling errors or what not, try to keep in mind this is still being proofread.
LIFERS WEAR ORANGE: BOOK 2 OF GAEL
COPYRIGHT 2016 THOMAS J. BLACK
I arrived at Camelbrook penatentury the day after my trial. It was a step up from the county jail. At least, up until I got past the front offices. Once I was escorted into the prison proper… Well… It’s honestly very amazing how one side of the building can look so nice, and the rest of the building look like hell on Earth. And Earthcrafters don’t even believe in hell.
The floors were filthy, say for a fresh white line of paint that separated various bits of the facility from other parts. The guard, a large man with a bleach blonde mullet, handlebar moustache, and biceps the size of bowling balls, immediately assured me I wouldn’t have to worry about that line.
“That line only applies to inmates assigned to tempblock,” he told me. “You’re going into liferblock.”
He took me to an empty room, and handed me over to another guard. This one wasn’t nearly as tall, but she was just as bored with her job as Muscle Man over there was. She looked over her clipboard, then looked directly at me.
“Ro-ee-sin O’Malley?” she said, not sure how to pronounce my name.
“ROW-SHEEN,” I corrected, trying really hard to hide my annoyance at that point.
“Whatever,” she replied, apathetically. “Take it off.”
As I stripped, I could hear the sound of a rubber glove being pulled on. Her gloved hand searched my body from neck to arse, she asking me to “squat and cough” somewhere toward the end of it. When she was finally convinced I wasn’t smuggling anything in, she pulled off the glove, and threw it in the trash.
“You’re clean,” she said, apathetic as before. She walked over to a table, and pulled out a bundle of orange clothes. “Put these on.”
I did as I was told. Included in the bundle of clothing was a white sports bra, an orange sweater, orange sweatpants, and a white pair of panties so bulky that they could’ve easily been Y-fronts. The orange clothes smelled like they’d just come from the laundry, but somehow managed to look dirty despite it. She then handed me a pair of gray socks, then a pair of black crocks.
Campbell will escort you next door for your prison ID,” she explained, as bored as anything else. “Make any stupid faces, and it’ll count as a strike.”
Campbell, the man I’d called “muscle man” in my head, came into the room, and escorted me into the next place I needed to be. I stood in front of a blue wall, and a black man who had to be in his seventies at absolute youngest snapped my picture with some contraption attached to his computer. A few minutes later, I was handed a warm laminated card with my picture, my name (the accent mark over the second I in ROISIN missing), and the number 70259 printed underneath it.
“Orientation is down the hall,” the elderly man told me. “Campbell will escort you there.”
Campbell took me out of the room, and escorted me down the hall. As we walked, I couldn’t help but notice a chubby little brunette mopping the floor up ahead. I guessed she was one of the inmates at first, considering she was wearing a jumpsuit with a number on the front and back. Strangely, though, her jumpsuit was powder blue.
“Stay in bounce, inmate,” Campbell warned.
“I’m on janitorial,” she replied.
“All the same,” said Campbell.
He must’ve noticed the look I was giving the inmate then, because I didn’t even have time to ask the question. “She’s a temp,” he explained. “Temps wear blue. Lifers wear orange.”
“Ooph, a lifer,” said the inmate. “I do not envy you. No sir, I do not…”
“That’s enough, inmate,” said Campbell, a hint of warning in his tone.
He walked me past her, and eventually, after a couple turns this way and that, we arrived in what appeared to be an office. There was definitely a desk, a couple filing cabinets, a phone, a walky-talky, and a couple chairs. Behind the desk sat a man who looked like he was expecting me.
This new man was a black fella with a bald head, and a tan suit with a black tie. He was about the same height I was, but a lot pudgier. His face was clean shaven, but his suit looked like it could use a wash.
“Ah, Ms. O’Malley, I presume,” he greeted. His voice had a very thick Jamaican accent. Not what I was expecting, in all honesty. “Welcome to your new home. My name is Jeremy Young, and I will be the one looking after you from now on.”
“Uh… Okay,” was all I could say.
“Normally,” he continued, “we hold orientation in the movie room, but since you’re the only new inmate we’ve had in three months, I might as well just tell you everything you need to know here. Saves me a trip.”
He picked up a couple papers from his desk, and began to read their contents out loud.
“You are here because you’ve broken the law,” he said, mechanically and hurredly. “You are now, and until the end of your sentence, state property. You will do everything the guards tell you to do. Failure to comply will result in a strike. Three strikes will result in you spending any amount of time we see fit in solitary. Depending on the severity of your offense, you might not even receive strikes prior to confinement in solitary. Consecutive solitary confinements, or the severity of the offense that results in said solitary confinements will result in you being transferred to a medium, maximum, or even a supermaximum security facility if necessary. Good behavior, meanwhile, will result in privileges ranging from longer phone calls, specialty items, and any other privileges we deem worthy of your behavior. You will be sharing living space with many other women. Yes, some of them are lesbians. No, you will not be forced into having lesbian sex with any of…”
He paused then, looking over his paperwork. It was then that I realized he actually wasn’t reading from a paper, but reciting this whole routine from memory! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little impressed, although I immediately figured it was because he’d done this so many times before I came here. I wasn’t sure what was on his paperwork until he spoke up again.
“Oh dear,” he said. “You appear to be rooming with her.”
“Who’s her?” I asked.
“You’ll meet her soon enough,” he told me. “We’ll be checking her for forks or knives, but you may want to be on your best behavior around her just in case we missed something. She’s been a bit of a problem case.”
That really didn’t fill me with a lot of confidence. He was in no hurry to tell me everything would be fine, either. Probably because he wasn’t obligated. Or maybe because it really wasn’t. Either way, he finished his speech, and before I knew it, we were on the move once again.
I was taken down a flight of stairs. There, I saw cell after cell along both walls. Most cells had two women in them, but occasionally, I’d see a cell with only one woman in it. I kept thinking for sure I was going to get crammed in there with the enormous black woman. Or maybe I’d end up with the Indian woman with the weird tattoo on her forehead (it wasn’t your usual red dot mark you usually see on Hindu women’s foreheads). Or maybe even the woman with the shoulder sling. It turned out neither of them were going to be my cellmate.
He took me down to the very end of the hall. Another guard, an equally large man with a black buzzcut, took one look at me, and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a massive ring of keys, and after a moment or two of looking through them all, he found the one he was looking for, used it to unlock the barred door, and pulled the cell door aside.
Campbell moved me forward… And that’s when I saw who I’d be rooming with for the rest of my life. My eyes locked on to hers as she just sat there on the bottom bunk. She didn’t seem to recognize me right away, but I recognized her immediately. A horrified gasp escaped me as I backed up a step.
“Meet your new roomy,” said Campbell, oblivious… Or more likely, uninterested in my state of shock.
“Try not to stab this one, Mahoney,” said the other guard.
Campbell nudged me forward. Left with no options, I did as he instructed, and went into the cell. The other guard slammed the door, locked the lock, and went on his way. Campbell, meanwhile, peaked in through the bars.
“Dinner’s at eighteen-hundred hours,” he told me. “In the meantime, I suggest you two get to know each other a little better.”
I didn’t have to get acquainted with her a little better: we’d already met a couple weeks ago back at Ron Swanson National Park. I wasn’t sure what her real name was, although I remembered that other guard called her Mahoney. But I knew what she went by. And now, I was locked in a cell with her. Badb: the woman who tried to kill me in my Gael persona. Badb: the woman who tried to hit on me while I was in my Gael persona. Badb: the woman who stabbed me in the arse in my Gael persona. Oh yeah, we were acquainted.
Or that’s what I thought, anyway. She was still looking me over when the guard left, but after a couple moments of incredibly uncomfortable silence, she went back to staring at her shoes.
“Hi,” I greeted anxiously.
“Hey,” she replied, apathetically.
I slowly, cautiously took a seat next to her on the bottom bunk. Seeing how she was way more interested in her feet than me, I took in the scenery. Or lack there of. The floor of the cell was the same greenish-gray as the rest of the prison, and the walls were the same dull grayish color. The only things in our cell were the bunk bed we were sitting on, and a toilet off in the corner. A week ago, that probably would’ve revolted me, but now, having been left with no alternative to watching four other women take turns on the bog, it wasn’t so shocking. At least this one had paper.
“So,” said Badb. Or I guess she was Mahoney now. “What’s your name?”
I cleared my throat. “Roisin,” I said.
There was a moment of silence between us as I feared that’d be what she needed to put two and two together. Once again, she didn’t seem to figure anything out.
“Roisin what?” she asked.
“Roison O’Malley,” I answered.
Again I feared, and again, she didn’t figure it out.
“Barbara Mahoney,” she said. “Call me Mahoney. Girls who don’t have nicknames around here generally go by last names. From what I’ve observed, they only go by first names if they both have the same last name, and nothing about them deserves a nickname.”
“Oh. Okay. So… I should go by O’Malley then?”
“Pff, with an accent like that, you’re probably going to end up with something Irish as a nickname. Or maybe just Irish.”
There was more silence between us. Then…
“Okay, let’s get this much straight,” said Mahoney, immediately shifting from bored to authoritative. “I get the top bunk, you get the bottom. You keep your back to me when I’m on the shitter. When we’re out in the cafeteria, or in the showers, or the recreation room, you stay near me at all times.”
“Do I need to put my finger in your belt loop?” I asked.
“Nah, nothing like that. Unless you really want to.” She shot me a sly grin that disappeared as quickly as it arrived. “Good news is you don’t have to worry about dropping the soap around here. First off, because they give us body wash. Second, because women usually aren’t like that. You aren’t interested, they’ll take the hint. Eventually.”
“Um, okay. What’s the bad news, then?”
“Other than a few of these women are really persuasive on top of being lonely, horny, and decided to be gay for the stay? Not much. Either way, if one of them decides not to take the hint, you tell me, and I’ll make sure they get the hint. Trust me, they’ll take the hint then. The two or three who won’t got stuffed in the box yesterday, and word has it they aren’t coming back, so…”
“Solitary. You get three strikes, and…”
“Oh, okay, I know what that is. The Jamaican guy explained that part.”
“Oh. Right. Well anyway, the point of all this is if you don’t want to get into a fight, or you don’t want someone trying to flirt with you, you stick with me, got it?”
She didn’t say anything for a while. This seemed to be the pattern we’d established: long silences, and short question and answer sessions in between.
“So,” I asked, carefully, “What are you in for?”
Babs snorted. “Where do I start?” she replied. “Well, I guess trying to stab someone to death a couple weeks ago was what got me here. Really, though, this isn’t even my first time in prison. But it’ll definitely be the last.”
“What got you here the first time?”
“I wasn’t here the first time I went to prison. Technically, I’d gone to juvi the first time. Spent most of my high school years in juvi.”
“Oh. Uh, for what?”
She shot me a dirty look then. “Never you mind.”
“Well… Uh… I mean, we’re going to be here for life, and…”
“And how is knowing what I went to juvi for going to benefit you?”
I didn’t answer.
“Exactly. Never mind how we got here, because you’re here, and you’re never getting out.” She stood up then, and jumped up to the top bunk. “I’m taking a nap. A little hint: nap frequently. It helps pass the time when you’re in the cell.”
I didn’t say anything. What would be the point? Mahoney was pretty sure that was the end of the conversation, and there was no changing her mind.
I flopped down on my own bed underneath hers, and tried to take her advice. I don’t know if it was nerves, or just not being all that shattered, but I just couldn’t go to sleep. I was very thankful she didn’t realize Roisin O’Malley and Gael were the same person, but I had a feeling there was a lot more to worry about in here than that. I was not looking forward to my time here, but it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been all in vein.