Monday, January 28, 2008

GroupThink: the Lighter Side - Chapter 2

Previous Chapter | Contents | Next Chapter

Year 5

The weirdest thing about Bull’s death was that it was honestly thought to have been an accident. By everyone except Nate and his boys.

5 minutes after he saw Bull, Nate knew that he would not be able to take him. He was a little bigger than Nate, but he was also strong and fast as hell. He was also confident and he knew how life worked behind bars.

To survive in a place like Attica, you had to be a badass or you had to be somebody’s bitch. You could have outside influence, like being with organized crime or maybe having someone owe you enough that the warden would make sure you were not severely mistreated. And then there were the bosses.

The bosses were the ones who ran the drugs and contraband and everything else that should not go on inside a prison. Running that sort of thing is dangerous – you had to get at least some of the guards to be in on it and you had to get a good sized chunk of the inmates to help as well. One of the conditions was that if someone got out of hand, you had to get them back in line or put them down.

Bull had apparently run such an operation before, because a week or two after arriving he had a small cadre of followers. Sooner or later it would come down to Nate and Bull facing off – the way Nate had been running things there was no other way. And when that time came, Nate knew that Bull would win.

Nate couldn’t have put into words exactly how he knew. It was the way that Bull moved that said the man had been in a few fights where the loser had gone to the morgue. And it was the way he talked to people that said he was just plain crazy and didn’t give a damn if he lost: he was either going to be the boss or he was going to be dead.

Given the changes that were going on, Nate would not have actually minded handing over leadership to Bull, but that was also not an option. One of the things that Bull’s victory would give to everyone was a good reason not to mess with him. Nate, as the “top dog” was therefore the only person whose defeat could give Bull what he wanted. And Bull was not going to be satisfied with anything else.

Nate sat in his cell and thought. It may have been the first time in his life he thought so hard about a problem. Though he didn’t notice at the time, the people around him were concentrating too. In fact all the people in the cells nearby were quietly contemplating the situation.

He felt as if he were thinking faster than he ever had in his life. He quickly went through a number of options but discarded them for one reason or another until he remembered an accident that had occurred a few years back in the shower…

With lightning speed, he recalled the details of the incident. The man had slipped on a tile and hit his neck on a low partition that separated the showers from the lockers, breaking his spinal column and killing him instantly. It was judged a freak accident and forgotten. Nate thought about what he would need to do to get something like that to happen to Bull…

Abruptly, the feeling of intense concentration left Nate, and he shook his head. Wishing for Bull to die that way was not going to kill him. He needed to get a few thugs together, get Bull alone with them and kill the motherfucker. Of course it would be difficult to get the right group because nobody would help Nate out of the kindness of their own hearts and even if he did win, he would be facing murder one and…shit.

Over the next few days, Nate noticed that he was thinking about the “freak accident” idea a lot. He found himself going over the details again and again: exactly what part of the neck had been hit? How much force did you need to strike that area to snap the spinal column? Had it been the front of the neck or the back? When did people take showers? Did they have a choice or was it on a schedule? When did Bull go?

The weird thing was that he noticed that the people around him seemed to be thinking about it too. One day he found S&W sitting in his bunk reading a book on human anatomy, turned to a section about the spine. As he was passing a nearby cell, he noticed one of the inmates looking over what appeared to be a schedule of some kind. Ordinarily, Nate might have thought he was just being paranoid…

The next day was marked with a bizarre series of coincidences.

At shower timemost of Nate’s cell block was there. The guards stood around, with their usual disinterest as the inmates took care of business in the overly chlorinated water.

Bull came into the shower area and took spot near the top of the row. The showers were now full. A minute later Nate came in and took a shower near the bottom. Nate saw Bull as he walked in. The man smirked at him in his crazy, “I’m gonna fuck you up” way.

Nate also noticed that he was near the partition wall.

A few seconds later Nate exclaimed “Fuckin water’s cold!”

He looked around and noticed Deck standing under the water near him.

“Hey Deck! Let me use your shower!”

Deck, a large man who occasionally gave Nate trouble, turned to him and said: “Fuck you.”

Hoots and laughter filled the shower area. This was another one of those discipline/hierarchy moments…

“Awww, c’mon. I asked all nice and…”

Nate smacked him and the two went down throwing punches at each other. Immediately, pandemonium reigned in the showers and other inmates rushed in to see what was going on. This included Bull, who was near the outside of the crowd. The guards were yelling and trying to clear a path to fighters.

An opening appeared near Bull, who quickly approached to get a better view. He didn’t notice that he was near the partition wall. The guards had similarly noticed an opening…on the other side of the crowd.

Abruptly, the man next to Bull moved and kicked Bulls feet out from under him. At the same time, the man on the other side of him pushed him back.

“What the fuuuuu!”

With amazing precision, the man behind him caught and accelerated his fall, putting his hands on Bull’s face and chest. A split second later the back of his neck connected with the partition.

There was a cracking noise and the man quickly stepped back and looked at Bull. A second later he exclaimed: “fuck man, are you hurt?”

Bull didn’t respond. He lay on the ground with his neck at a weird angle. The tussle between Nate and Deck continued.

In fact it took about five minutes before the guards discovered that anything was amiss. They had hauled off Nate and Deck to what guards jokingly referred to as “the time out room,” when they noticed that the inmates were all milling about staring at Bull. In another 5 minutes the managed to get the man to the infirmary, where he was pronounced dead.

The conclusion was that Bull had slipped on the wet tiles and broken his neck. Just like the man had done a few years back. The warden used this point when he spoke about it to the inmates and impressed upon them in the importance of not having fights in the shower area.

As Nate sat in the tiny, dark “time out room” after they had hauled him away, one thing that hit him was the way the water had felt. Nice and warm. Why had he hit the Deck?

Previous Chapter | Contents | Next Chapter

1 comment:

Tanis said...

hey you,
looks good :) things are getting mysteeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrriooooooussssss..... *waggles fingers*.
keep it up!
Talk to you soon,