I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys. Soon we will hear the clump, clump, clump of the guard's heavy soled brogans coming down the cell block. The rattle of keys is our wake up call. No loud alarm or bell to tell you to rise, just the soft jingle-jangle of keys and the slow, steady tread on the concrete.
To some prisoners the sound of the keys is a welcome sound. It meant that soon some food would be thrown into a dirty bowl and served with all the loving care of a backhanded slap in the face. To others the sound was the reminder that they were still alive and still trapped in the same shit hole with no hope of ever having their freedom again.
Either way you looked at it, at least it was better than the night time. The night is when everybody breaks down. There is no way around it. Sure, for the first few nights you might put on a brave face and pretend to sleep like you were at home, snuggled on your own comfy bed. But there will come a night when you just can't stand it any more. When the howls and cat calls of the other inmates won't quit ringing in your ears and they blend with the guttural noises of those who pleasure themselves in the darkness. When you can't stand the smell of urine and sweat and disinfectant and fear one more minute. When it finally sinks into the pit of your soul that you are behind bars and the only relief from this living hell is the painful sting of the needle that will shove the poison into your veins and it will close your eyes for good. Death is the only reprieve. I swear to God, when the fact of what you have to look forward to hits home, you will hang your God damned head and howl like a pup. Everyone gets around to it eventually.
Sometimes the guards will trot some people through the cell block. The people will smile and point at one prisoner or another and laugh and coo. These people will smell of sunshine, smoke, or cologne. Hell, they will practically reek of the outside, where you can feel the wind on your face and feel the crunch of leaves as you walk instead of the dull thud of concrete and the ever present hum of the florescent lights.
These effing people just stink of freedom. And when they have flaunted their free smell long enough, they have the guard drag some poor son of a bitch from his cell. The people will ruffle his hair and ask him if he has been a good boy. That's what they ask, but that isn't what they want to know. What they want to know is if he has been broken yet. Has every shred of his will been ground to a fine dust so that he will always cower when they speak? Has enough of his mind been pummeled to the point he can't even make a squirt of piss without their say so. Sometimes they take the son of a bitch away with them. Sometimes they just turn on their heel and walk away.
The worst ones are the shoppers, the looky-loos. They walk from cell to cell, listening to the hundreds of screaming voices that call out for mercy, clemency, and they act stone deaf. They just go from cell to cell and spew out reasons why this or that prisoner won't do. Every shortcoming or perceived fault is trotted out, one after another, like the devil recounting the failures of the damned.
Damn them. Damn them all to Hell. The guards, the people, the whole lot of them. They've got no God given conscious. If they did, why would they let us rot in these cages for weeks on end before the injection, and the whole time, hold up our freedom like some almost but not quite attainable lottery ticket? Damn them and their stinking false hope.
I am in this accursed cell and doomed because I defended myself and my home. For that, I will be allowed a coward's death. Stupid people. I only bit one guy, and he was a fucking mailman for Christ's sake. Isn't being bit by a dog part of their effing job?
Dear sweet Jesus, I just long to run with my pups one last time.
**Author's Note** My broken leg has been acting up and it helped to form the mood of this piece which is far from cheerful. The wonderful starter sentence that was provided by the good Mr. MaCrum suggested a convict or prisoner to me, but I wanted to give it a bit of a twist. After all, when you've seen Papillon, Escape From Alcatraz, and Murder In The First, there really isn't that much more that this poor country boy could possibly add. But what if the condemned isn't a person at all? What if he is a dog at the pound? Wouldn't he be more than a little bitter at his fate? I would. I've been to jail a time or two (always as a visitor thankfully) and the smell is something that hangs with you long after you return to the bright light of day. So if after reading this you realize that you have a little more room in your home and a little extra love in your heart, contact your local animal shelter or the American Humane Society, Adopt An Animal Canada, Animal Rescuers in the UK, or the Austrailian Animal Protection Society in the grand land down under . There is a furry convict out there who will thank you for it.