Judgment is an easy thing. The cold swiftness of it leaves some prisoners trembling. One minute you’re free; the next, you’re not. It’s just that easy; that swift. Some of the most hardened men shiver thinking of the rigid metallic jail cell doors slamming shut on their freedom outside. Then it gets more difficult. Reality comes knocking too.
It was Jake’s first night. He convinced himself that he was tough enough to stand it as he felt the eyes of his cellmate tracing him from behind. “I’ll kill him if he tries to touch me,” he tells himself.
“You got nothing to worry about, kid,” says his cellmate, as if he’d read Jake’s mind. “I’m going to take real good care of you. Better than your ma even.”
“I don’t need to be taken care of. I can take care of -”
“No you can’t, kid. You couldn’t even take care of yourself out there. That’s why you’re mine now.” His cellmate walks across the narrow cell. “You can fight all you want, but in the end you’ll still be mine. I’ll wait ‘til you’re sleepin’ if a have to.”
All of Jake’s toughness starts dying just then.
Photographs of various women smile perpetually even though they are ripped and torn after repeatedly being taken down when there was no one available to “be the girl.” Jake wonders if his roommate knows what the names of the woman are as he fixes on their constant smiling gazes. He knows it doesn’t matter, but it provides an escape from the fact that hands are encircling him and fingers are secreting themselves inside his pants, pushing deep and hurtfully into his buttocks.
“No!” says Jake as his cellmate laughs then spits.
“You got nowhere to go, kid. Door’s locked ‘til mornin’. So you push me away and then what? What’s gonna happen is gonna happen. Might as well face that right now.” He licks his lips between sentences. “An’ callin’ the guard ain’t gonna do nuthin’. Guard don’t care what happens to ya. I’m all you got.”
“Please,” says Jake, “I don’t want no trouble. I’m innocent.. I didn’t do nuthin’. I was only driving the car, I didn’t rob nobody. I didn’t know what they were doin’ in there. I was just sittin’. I don’t belong here!”
“We’re all innocent, kid, and none of us belong here. Not even me.”
After it was over and Jake is bruised blue while lying fetal and invaded on his cot. His cellmate watches him while washing himself in the toilet. “None of us belong here kid. I was like you once. Green and stupid. Thought I could talk my way out of anythin’. It wasn’t so for me, an’ ain’t so for you. That’s just how it is, kid. There’s no use fightin’ that fact.”
He throws Jake the toilet wet washcloth, before rejoining him on the cot. “Yeah you were green, an’ so was I once. Now you’re not. So just consider this your first kiss and learn to make do. Hell it’s just Monday, by Friday you’ll be used to how things are and maybe you’ll even learn to love me too.”
Rachel Blackbirdsong has been writing professionally for many years. Her most recent publishing credits include, UCLA's "American Indian Cultural and Resource Journal," "Writing for Our Lives," "Thorny Locust," "Gravity Press," and "Red River Review."Currently she is writing a short story collection, and her second novel, "The Call."