Learning The Ropes

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I sent my best friend to prison. Well, I didn’t actually send him, but I might as well have. I’m a public defender. They don’t get much lower than me. Allan, one of my best friends caught his wife cheating on him and stabbed her almost a hundred times with a penknife. He asked me to defend him, even though we both knew he was guilty, but he didn’t care because he trusted me. And I, being the lowest of the low, failed as an officer of the court and as his friend. I just walked into my roach-infested apartment from the courthouse today to attend the sentencing hearing. Murder Two, no less than 25 years, and no more than life, eligible for parole in the year 2017. My life hurts.

I sit up late in front of the boob tube, laying back lazily in my beat-up old recliner, remote lying amongst the dozens of crushed beer cans on the floor next to my feet. It was going to be a cold, sleepless night, thanks to my relentless weighted conscience. I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said in the courtroom today. Right before they carted him off to jail, he whispered into my ear, “You fucked up on purpose. I’ll get you for this, Jacob.”

I can’t lie, I’m _still_ shaking. It was just the way he said it, and that menacing look in his angry blue eyes. Like he was going to sit there in his cell and carve my name into his arm so he’d never forget how badly he wants to skin me alive. Every thump and creak in this pre-war building makes me nearly hit the ceiling. I keep glancing nervously at the door and begging my imagination not to run amok. The only good thing about this is that psycho D.A. pushed for the death penalty the entire trial. At the very least, I managed to thwart those plans, but I’m far from pleased with myself.

This is stupid, why am I doing this to myself? I’m so emotionally messed up, not even a case of beer is helping me relax. I need something harder. On goes the coat and shoes, grab the keys and out the door I go. Where in fact does a depressed defense attorney go when he needs to get hammered? Why, the only place he _does_ go- a little mom and pop-type bar in the neighborhood called Fischer Tilly’s. I park the car and head inside, and the middle-aged blond-from-a-bottle bartender waves at me and blows me a kiss.

“Jacob! Hey, hon, where ya’ been? I haven’t seen you in weeks.” She leans over the bar to hug me, and the way her saggy tits melt into lifeless puddles on the wood makes me cringe. There was absolutely nothing attractive about this woman, and yet all she’s done in the four years I’ve known her is confess her love to me. I haven’t had the heart to tell her I was gay. It would destroy her.

“Yeah, I know, I’ve been busy. Y’know, court shit and all. Gimmie a scotch neat.”

“You got it, babe.” Those hands begin pouring and waving around effortlessly, and before I know it, there’s an iceless scotch sitting there like the fountain of youth, waiting for me to dive right in…and I do.

“Thanks, Celia.”

“Anytime, babe.”

________

“CHESTNUTS….roasting on an open fire!!!” I bellow out drunkenly, tossing my arms around in the air like a deranged opera singer.

“Alright, toots, tonight, your lucky numbers are eight and six. Now why don’t you get your act together and head home?” Celia comes around the bar to lift me up and help me gather my things and head out the door. For a chick, she was surprisingly strong. Then again, I was perhaps 160 lbs soaking wet, and she was easily over the 200 mark. She gropes me shamelessly on the way out, and I’m too drunk to appropriately respond.

“Celia, stop….” I grumble.

She brings me around into the alley and props me up against the brick wall. “Why should I stop? You’re defenseless now.” She giggles, reaching those salami-shaped arms out at me. Her thick fingers caress my pale cheeks, then run through my short brown hair lovingly. I whine and cringe, shaking my head in protest. “What’s the matter with you, Jacob? Is it me? Am I ugly? What’s your problem here?”

She was ugly. “No, I just…please, just stop.” Oh GOD, was she ugly. And I’m drunk, and she’s still ugly.

“Why are you so disgusted with me?” She frowns, getting angry.

“It’s not you, Celia. I…like guys.” The words slip from my lips without me realizing it until it was too late.

“You WHAT?? Jacob, I’ve heard them all, but this is a new one on me! Fine, you wanna find your own way home? Go right ahead!”

She storms off, but doesn’t go back into the bar. She instead storms down the block, huffing and puffing at this imaginary insult. I know in the state I was in, I won’t catch up to her on foot. So, I fumble with my keys and get in my car, wanting to pull along side her and tell her I’m sorry. I head down the block perhaps a little faster than I should. I’m along side her now and she’s flipping me off. I’m drunk. My reflexes are dulled. I swerve to the right instead of ease to the right. I call out her name. There’s a huge screech from my tires and I try too late to brake. I hear her scream and casino siteleri there’s a crash. Celia?

I black out for a few moments. The next thing I know, my head is on the steering wheel and I’m all wet. There are police everywhere. They are pulling me out of the squished sardine can that was once my car. I see police car and ambulance lights flashing. I also see two paramedics hauling a body bag into the back of the ambulance. Celia. Oh no. I catch glimpses of the police talking to the other patrons of the bar, telling them that we were yelling at each other just before the crash.

“Look at this guy, he’s loaded.” One of the cops points in my face. “Somebody stitch this guy up, now.”

___________

“Look, I already told you guys…I wanted to pull along side her. I didn’t mean to kill her.” I sniffle out, holding the ice pack to my swollen and stitched forehead.

“You know what the great thing is about alcohol, Mr. Grant?” The older cop sits up on the interrogation room table casually and leans closer to me. “It removes inhibitions.” He smiles and I know exactly what’s coming. “From what we’ve heard, this broad, Cecelia, she hit on you all the time. You couldn’t get rid of her. Am I right?”

“Wull…yeah, but…”

The younger one chimes in. “And the other bartender saw her taking advantage of your drunk state many times in the past. And that he told you about it on more than one occasion. Isn’t THAT right?”

I lower my head. “Yes.”

“So isn’t it safe to assume that you were a little miffed, I mean…about being violated like that?” The older man raises an eyebrow at me. It was more of an accusation than a question, and I don’t bother to grace it with an answer.

“HEY! The man asked you a QUESTION, Grant!” The younger one leaps down my throat, pointing violently into my chest.

“YES!!” I scream back in his face, leaping from my chair into a standing position. “Yes, she fucking took advantage of me, alright?? You HAPPY NOW??” Tears of anger and humiliation stream down my face. I clench my trembling fists threateningly.

“Alright, Jacob. Why don’t we just sit back down and relax.” The older cop eases me back down into my seat with the palm of his hand. “Mortie, get the man some coffee. Hey, Jacob, how do you take your coffee?”

“Black. Sweet. Got it, ‘Mortie’?” My lip curls up in a silent growl as the younger cop shoots me a dirty look as he slithers out the door.

“Okay, Jacob. It’s you and me, right here, right now.” The older cop takes a seat immediately next to me. “Why don’t you tell me what that fight was all about?”

“She…she…” I stammer, raking my hair back nervously.

“”Just sit and relax. Okay? Are you relaxed?” Both eyebrows raise at me. If I didn’t know he was a cop, I would easily mistake that look for genuine concern. This guy was good.

“Yeah. Thanks.” I sniffle again. “She was asking me why I was so disgusted by her. I kept pushing her away and I was afraid to tell her the real reason. I knew she’d be upset, but I didn’t know she wouldn’t believe me.”

“Why? What did you tell her?”

“I told her that I didn’t like her because I like guys.” I stop and really look at him for a moment, looking for any sign of sudden discomfort.

“Okay, and what did she say after that?” Nothing. No change. I’m impressed.

“She thought it was just another excuse. Then, she told me I could find my own way home and she stormed off, so I got in my car and tried to catch up to her.”

“I see. Well, I’ll be right back. I have to check with some of the other witnesses to see if those words ring any bells. Sit tight, you’ll have your coffee soon.” And with that, the other guy is gone and I’m alone with a table, three chairs and a two-way mirror. I sit there alone and silent for a total of twenty seconds before some old black guy comes in.

“Jacob Grant, you are under arrest for the murder of Cecelia Conway.” I barely stand up before the younger cop, Mortie rushes in and cuffs me. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.”

“They’re gonna eat you alive in Ryker’s, dough boy.” Mortie snickers in my ear.

“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you by the state. Do you understand these rights?”

I begin crying again. “Yes, sir.” I murmur out at the older man as they begin hauling me out of the interrogation room.

__________

The arraignment was quick and virtually painless. I was not granted bail because the judge was convinced I was a flight risk, and they were sending me to Ryker’s Island until my trial. The good parts were, I didn’t have any bail money to begin with, and I finally met a defense lawyer who was more of a loser and a failure than myself. I got a cool new gray suit with my very own serial number, which I took to my very own new cell. Well, it wasn’t my very own cell, I had to share it with a cute, thin, long-haired Hispanic canlı casino fellow that looked just barely on bright side of sexual legality. When I walk in, his half-exposed lean form is draped carelessly over the top bed, his long arms dangling down over the side, fiddling with a felt-tipped pen. The guard who had escorted me here slams the cell door behind me.

“Majados, meet your new roommate, Grant. Now play nice, children.” He chuckles and walks away.

“Yo, Esseh.” Majados grins at me mischievously. I wave back stupidly and he laughs.

“Lemmie guess…” He smiles fully with beautiful white, perfect teeth, pointing the pen at me. “You ain’t never been anywhere near a joint before.”

“Gee, is it that obvious?” I smile back, hugging myself in slight embarrassment. “I know, why don’t you point out the big boss in here?”

“They ain’t no big boss, esseh, but they be mad little bosses. Why, you plannin’ on becomin’ one?” He sits up with his back against the wall, tossing his long, straight black hair over his shoulder.

“No, I heard that if you ever end up in prison, you gotta find the biggest, baddest mother fucker in the place and beat the shit out of him. Then, nobody will mess with you.”

Majados bursts out laughing, almost falling off the bed. “Yo, man! You funny! I like you already. But for real, hombre. You don’t wanna be fuckin’ around wit nobody up in here. For real. You start playin’, They ain’t gonna see yo ass no more. ‘Sides, esseh, they always gonna be someone who fuck wit you. Always, no matter who you fuck up.”

I sigh. “So there’s no hope.” I suddenly look up at him and smile. “Say, can I pretend to be your bitch so they leave me alone?”

“Ha. Shit, yo. Ain’t nobody pretend to be my bitch. If you wanna be my bitch, I’ll make you my bitch, but I ain’t playin’ around wit that shit.”

A large part of me wanted to offer. He’s really, really cute. I begin imagining those long, lonely nights being filled with his firm, sweaty body crawling into bed with me and making me suck his fat, juicy dick. Instead, I merely laugh like an idiot.

It must have been that pause. That short, yet meaningful pause that tipped my new roommate off. He hops off the bed and walks confidently up to me. I can see his tight belly and accentuated biceps covered in tattoos. All he’s wearing are a pair of boxers that hang loosely off his perfectly defined hips and old, dirty Fila sneakers. He comes right up to me and glares into my eyes. He’s got light brown eyes like me, and a beautifully chiseled face. He smells strong and spicy…and horny. He draws a breath to say something and we’re both startled by a deep, commanding voice barking out at us.

“AY YO!! Whachoo got in there, dawg??” Some big, bald black guy in the cell across from us makes a jerk off motion with a huge fist through the bars. “You gonna make him suck yo dick? You gonna give us a show?? HA HA HA!!”

“Yo, shut the fuck up, Antuan. I gave yo ass a show last time when yo momma came to visit me, bitch!” There’s wholesale laughter, but Majados isn’t laughing, nor am I.

“Mah momma would break yo skinny spic ass, dawg!” More laughter from the peanut gallery. I got the feeling there would be a lot of that in here.

“Majados…c’mon, let’s sit down.” I touch his arm gently.

He pulls away angrily, turning to me. “Don’t…touch me, punk. Don’t you ever fuckin’ touch me unless I say to touch me, a’ight, bitch??” I take a step back and frown. I nod, the fear and realization of just what I’m in for hitting me full force. I didn’t know exactly what was in store, but I knew it was gonna be a bumpy ride.

_________

Now I understood why the guy higher up on the totem pole around here always got the top bunk. Last night was a whole new world of discomfort, and I woke up this morning itchy, cold, exhausted and achy from sleeping in all the wrong positions to compensate for the complete lack of allotted maneuvering room on those damn miniscule laughable excuses for the most low-budget mattresses on the face of the Earth. I’m starving, I’m irritable, I’m still very itchy and may God help any hapless asshole who gets in my grumpy little face this morning. When they herded us into the cafeteria en masse like cattle, I get a good look at who I was going to have to deal with while I was in here.

Armed guards were everywhere, swarming around the herd in constant non-verbal threat. About 86% of the residents were of African or Hispanic persuasion, and the rest were mixed with White, Middle-Eastern, Native-American, and even one Asian guy. As I look around, I see a lot of Moslems. I wonder why there are so many Moslems? The Asian guy wasn’t sitting with anyone, so I made sure to sit by him when we got our food. I begin to speak to him, and all he can do is gulp down his food. When I look around again, I notice that everyone’s gulping down their food. When I take a good gander at what’s on my tray, I almost throw up. Moldy ham, a leaky, half-rotten tomato slice kaçak casino and something orange and mashed that didn’t look altogether like the perfectly balanced breakfast.

“Good God, I’m not eating this!!” I whisper harshly to the Asian guy, and he shoots me a look of death with a tomato of his own hanging halfway out of his mouth.

“Get lost, fucker.” He mutters out.

I take a good look at the orange substance. I lean down and sniff it. Oranges? Its mashed oranges…yuck. But it was also the only thing I was going to get before lunch, and I was absolutely starved. I dig my fork in the stuff and put it to my lips when this little buzzer goes off, startling me.

“Alright, people, c’mon, move it. Back to the cells, all of you.” Son of a bitch.

I’m headed back to my cell, passing all these guys that are hanging out in the corridors. They shout things at me, holler out degrading names and shit like that. It pisses me off, but I keep walking. Suddenly, someone grabs my ass and I turn angrily to see who it is, ready to punch that guy in his irritating, ugly face.

“Funny meeting YOU here, Jacob.”

The color suddenly drains from my face and I’m suddenly unable to move. Allan. They guy who swore his revenge on me was standing here face to face with me. He moves closer, backing me up against a wall. “I missed you, Jacob. This place you sent me to for so long is driving me insane. But now…” Both of his bright blue eyes widen for a moment. “Now, I get to have you as company. Quite poetic, don’t you think?” He wraps his arms around my waist and tears begin forming in my terrified eyes. //This man is going to kill me.// I keep thinking to myself, //and I’m too scared shitless to stop him.//

“¡Vuélvase atrás, la ramera!” I hear a familiar voice snarl out from behind him. “He’s mine! Go get one’a yer own, asshole!” Good ole’ Majados comes marching towards us looking more than a little annoyed.

“Don’t tell me to back off, you little whore. This one’s been mine since you were one of your daddy’s sperm cells. Now why don’t you run along and please your own master.”

Then comes the obligatory chorus of “ooohh”s and “oh shit”s, which does nothing but escalate the situation.

“Hey, don’t talk to him like that, Allan…” I’m cut off when Majados swings violently at Allan’s head. Allan half-turns, catches his arm and uses his own momentum to swing him into the wall next to me. Allan then gives him a quick jab with a foot straight into his rib cage. Majados groans, wrapping his arms around himself and slides to the ground. Maybe I should have warned my poor roommate about Allan’s black belt in Karate. Allan then grabs my throat, pinning me to the wall with his own weight, his face a mere inch from mine. His grip on my throat tightens and I hear the voices of the onslaught of approaching guards.

“You’re mine. Remember that, Jacob. When I see you again, you’re mine…” They yank him off of me and he lets go of my throat, and I go into a hysterical coughing fit. “You’re MINE, Jacob!” He calls out as they haul him off out of sight.

Still shaking, I slink down next to Majados, but don’t touch him. “You alright, man? I’m really sorry about that, Allan knows Karate.” He just glares up at me angrily, but says nothing. “I don’t know why you helped me, but thank you.”

“Huh. Cualquier.” Some more guards come and take Majados into the infirmary. For now, everyone is so riled up from the fight, to ensure that a riot doesn’t ensue, they tell everyone to go back to their cells, including me. And there I wait for him, in my lonely little cell, all by myself.

_______

For the next couple of days, I don’t see Allan at all, and I learn to eat just as quickly as the others do. It’s better that I eat quicker anyway, because it doesn’t give me enough time to see what I’m eating. I also visit Majados in the infirmary at least twice a day. His chart says his first name is Antonio. What a cute name. I ask him if I can call him Antonio and he reluctantly agrees. I tell him that he can call me Jacob, or even Jake if he prefers. On the third day, the doctors tell him that he can leave and I escort him into the lounge room. The tiny black and white TV is blaring behind a metal gate, and the reception is so damn poor, I can’t even figure out what they’re watching. I sit on the couch next to him, glaring at him like an adoring puppy. The two guards are running around like headless chickens behind a surrounding gate. I think they’re more worried about us killing them than they are about us killing each other.

“I’m glad you’re better, Antonio.” I smile wide, leaning my head on his shoulder. The few nights I spent without him had made me realize just how much I liked him.

“Sheee-it, no thanks to that punk ass friend’a yours. I’m glad they put that mutha fucka in the hole. It gives that bitch s’more time to think about how dead his ass be when he come back out.” A few of the guys chuckle at his words. One of them in particular reaches right over me and whacks him on his sore shoulder. Antonio cringes in pain.

“Ay yo, mon.” An enormous, Neanderthal-ish type guy with a thick Haitian accent cackles at him. “I tought you let dat master’a yurs handle dem tings.”

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