Authors: KM Rockwood
“And we see each other sometimes. I like her. I guess she must like me some.”
“Yeah. When we get the chance.”
“Which is how often?”
“I dunno. Was getting to be a regular thing, weekends, but then her dad, Old Buckles, got paroled. She let him use her address for a home plan. She said his bike club’s got a place up in the hills, and he’d probably spend most of his time there until he could get a place of his own. But he didn’t.”
“That put a crimp in things between the two of you?”
“Suppose he decides to stay living there?”
I shifted uncomfortably. That thought had occurred to me. “Kelly says she don’t want it to be a long-term thing. Thinks having him around isn’t good for the kids.”
Montgomery laughed. “Yet she lets
hang around them? How’s that good for her kids? You’ve got a murder conviction.”
I was painfully aware of that. “Yeah. But with her dad it’s more of a lifestyle thing. He’s a real biker. His club, the Predators, hang out a lot. They smoke weed and drink, and do what you’d expect bikers to do, like screw anyone they can in the living room. She don’t like that around her kids. And she’s worried about maybe losing the house if somebody gets a warrant, and it gets searched and a stash turns up. They can take your house.”
“And you two don’t do any of that stuff?”
don’t. Kelly drinks a little. But that’s legal.” More than a little, sometimes. I wasn’t going to tell him that.
When I thought about it, I probably shouldn’t have said anything about the weed and alcohol. Old Buckles was on parole, too. His was short term, and his bit would be up soon. Not like mine, with years of backup time. But he wouldn’t appreciate going back to prison any more than I would.
The weed was of course illegal no matter what, and Kelly’s ex was trying to get custody of the kids. I doubted I was telling Montgomery anything he wasn’t well aware of, or couldn’t find out easily enough. Still, I should have kept my mouth shut.
Montgomery looked thoughtful. “Kelly hang around with the bikers much?”
I shook my head. “Not that I know of. At least not before her dad moved in. But she grew up around them. Her dad raised her. I don’t know if she ever rode with them, but she hasn’t said much about them since I’ve known her. And I never saw none of them hanging out around her place.”
“Which is how long?”
I closed my eyes and counted back. “Maybe three months since we been seeing each other. I got released about four and a half months ago and started working at Quality Steel right away. That’s where I know her from.”
“True, that.” To me, it seemed like a different lifetime from the one I’d spent in prison.
He shook his head. “You really aren’t going to tell me a lot about this, are you?”
“About what? Kelly getting attacked?”
“No, sir. All I know’s what you told me.”
“Which isn’t much.”
“Not near as much I’d like to know,” I said.
He stood up and stretched. “So what are you going to do about all this?”
I looked up at the scowl on his dark, handsome face. “Me? Not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. You got me locked up.”
“How do you feel about that?”
How did he
I felt? “Shitty. If I’m off of work for long, I’m gonna lose my job. And my apartment. Mr. Ramirez is likely to violate my parole and send me back to prison for all my backup time anyhow, even if the charges don’t stick. Not to mention that my girlfriend’s been beaten and raped.”
“I thought you said she
“Well, not really. But the closest thing I ever had to a girlfriend.”
He ran his fingers over his leg and brushed an imaginary piece of lint off his trousers. “If you do get charged with the rape and assault, do you think they’ll stick?”
“They shouldn’t. I mean, if they do DNA testing, they’ll know it wasn’t me. And when Kelly really wakes up, she’ll tell you it wasn’t me.” I refused to entertain the concept that she might
regain consciousness. Or that she might have a head injury that would keep her from answering questions intelligently. At the thought, my stomach did a flip.
Montgomery looked toward the door on the other side of the room and straightened his tie. “You really don’t know anything about this, do you?”
“Tell you what,” he said, running his hand over his shaved head. “I can’t cut you loose. Somebody else—I won’t name names, but I think you know who—would just have you picked up again, probably find somebody to issue a retake warrant. It’s Saturday now. Let’s shelve the new charges until we get a bit more information. Just have you held on parole violation now—I’ll get in touch with your PO. Tomorrow’s soon enough to bring new charges, if they’re going to. Then you can have a bail hearing.”
I laughed. “You think I’m gonna get bail set? On these kind of charges?”
Montgomery grinned. “You’re probably right about that.”
He stepped to the door to summon the CO. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “Just hang tight.”
Like I had any choice in the matter.
of being on parole was that it would do me no good to complain that a retake warrant hadn’t actually been
yet. That would just speed up the process and annoy everyone from the records clerk at the jail to the commissioner who be contacted in the middle of the night to process it.
The mug shots would be useless in a few days when the swelling went down on my face, but they were part of the processing of a new inmate, so the bored clerk took them anyway. Filled out all the forms, took my fingerprints, issued me a bracelet ID. “Twenty bucks to replace that if you lose it,” he said, “so try to hang onto it. Leave it on your wrist, and no one can mess with it. Want me to fasten it tight so it don’t come off easy?”
The nurse on duty wasn’t gentle as he treated the injuries to my face, but he wasn’t unnecessarily rough, either, and I was grateful for that. I endured the standard body cavity search, went through the delousing and shower, and was issued underwear, shower shoes, and a jumpsuit designed for someone three times my size. I wondered when I’d get a chance to shave. Not until tomorrow, if then. No way would I get to use a razor without obnoxiously close supervision.
I shuffled off—no other way to walk in those shower shoes—to be assigned a bunk and issued bedding. It was late, after the nighttime lockdown. The long grey hallway was well lit, but in the housing units that opened off it, the lights were off in the cells and glaring security lights threw grotesque shadows into the corners of the dayroom.
The cells were designed as two-man, but when the place became overcrowded, which tended to happen within months of their construction, they were changed to four-man cells by the simple expedient of moving two sets of double-tiered bunks into each one. Unlike the holding cell, the fronts of the ones here in the housing unit were made of barred grills, open to a central dayroom. A pass-through port for meal trays was in the center of the door. Both were securely locked.
My assignment was K-Pod, the high security cellblock. The cell only had one other occupant, a scared kid who sat nervously on the lower bunk of one set, slapping his shower shoe on the floor. They were the only footwear we’d been issued, and his were so loose they fell off when he tried to lift his foot.
I stowed my bedding on the top of the opposite set of bunks and sat down on the lower one. Pressure was still rising in my chest, and I felt even more like crying or screaming than I had in the holding cell. Then, there’d been some possibility I would be released. Now, I was a processed jail inmate. With no possibility of finding out how Kelly was really doing. I reminded myself that causing a disturbance would just get me restrained and might earn me with an appointment with the psychiatrist. Which might land me on suicide watch. I had no desire to make a bad situation worse.
Only one good thought came to me. At least I didn’t have any pets to worry about. A few months ago, I’d found a cat in my stairwell and taken her in. She’d had two kittens. I’d enjoyed the company, but decided my situation was too risky to keep them myself. If I got locked up, like I was now, they’d starve to death if no one went to get them. Kelly’s school age kids, Brianna and Chris, had been begging for a pet, and she took the whole little family in.
I wondered how the cats were doing with Kelly in the hospital. Kelly shouldn’t be gone that long, and if the bikers just left them alone, they should be okay.
And the kids. How were they dealing with this whole thing? Had to be tough on them. I needed to think about something else. I tried to size up my cellmate.
He didn’t show any reaction at all, just stared at the wall and ignored me. I held out my hand to the kid. He was tall and lanky, his shoulders hunched dejectedly. “Jesse,” I said.
He turned away from me.
Shrugging, I said, “Suit yourself.”
“You just better leave me alone,” he said, his voice harsh. “I didn’t get picked up on no stupid possession charges like most of the guys in here. I’m looking at
Tough guy wannabe, I thought. He was right about most of the inmates in the jail being held on CDS—controlled dangerous substance, mostly narcotics—charges, but one thing about a county lockup is that often no one knows whether they were dealing with a kid who did something stupid or a true psychopath. We
in high security housing, and they must have had a reason for putting him here. CDS charges alone wouldn’t justify that.
“How about you?” he asked.
I turned to eye him. Hard to see much in the dark. “Right now, parole violation.”
“Parole violation.” He spit out the words, contempt in his voice. “What, they catch you using again? Dirty piss or something? How much backup time you got?”
I considered how much I wanted to tell him, but decided there was no point not telling him the truth. “Maybe another twenty years or so. Depend on how much good time I could pick up.”
I heard the sharp intake of his breath. “That don’t sound like usual drug charges,” he said. “What did they get you for?”
“Couple of things. Pretty much all related.”
No point in lying now. “Conspiracy. Possession of a handgun during commission of a felony. Murder.”
He made a strangled sound, kicked off his shoes and lay down, curling into a ball and away from the wall, his eyes open wide and staring.
I don’t think he slept well the rest of that night.
Dressed only in jail-issued shorts and a T-shirt, I slid down from the top bunk and slipped my feet into the shower shoes. An inmate in kitchen whites stood by the hatch in the cell door, a tray in each hand.
The CO stood behind him, watching.
I took one tray and set it on the steel shelf set into the cinderblocks against the back of the cell.
Glancing at my cell buddy, still lying in the bottom bunk facing the wall, his blanket pulled up over his shoulders. I asked, “Ain’t you gonna eat?”
“Don’t you want your breakfast?”
He didn’t look up at me. “Shut up.” Even less friendly than last night.
I shrugged and turned to the kitchen worker. “Can I take it for him? He might change his mind.”
“No skin off my teeth,” he said, slipping the other tray through the hatch. I put it next to the other one.
The actively circulating air was damp and chilly. The cell had no window. I peered through the grilled door into the brightly lit common area, which at this security level wouldn’t be used much. No windows there that I could see. No skylight, either.
This was going to be depressing. As if being locked up wasn’t depressing enough.