No Way Out – Chapter 5.
Peter looked out of the bus window as it made its way through city traffic, the people on the street just going about their day, people driving their cars. It’s human nation to not appreciate what you have until you loose it, like walking along the street or driving in traffic. Peter would not be doing any of these things for a long time, life was about to get very difficult. He would have to stand up and deal with it or things could be even worse. This was going to be something so far outside his comfort zone that he was starting to doubt himself.
The bus continued crawling along in heavy traffic for about an hour before the traffic thinned out as the road become a motorway. The view through the window changed from city streets and buildings to green country side with cows grassing on grass.
There were eight other prisoners in the bus all making the trip to prison for all sorts of crimes. Most looked the part, tough guys, big guys, tattooed guys but Peter and one other didn’t fit the mould, he looked more like a white collar criminal. White collar criminals don’t usually go to high security prisons so the prisoner sitting opposite Peter must have done something bad even though he did not look the part. He was not doing much of a job of hiding his fear, in fact he looked like he was about to come unravelled.
“Hi my name is Stuart,” the prisoner sitting opposite Peter said.
Peter did not want to interact with other prisoners as he was of the believe that the best way to get through the coming years was to keep to himself but this guy looked like he needed help so Peter replied, “Hi I’m Peter.
“What are you in for,” asked Stuart.
“I’m not sure you should ask that question, I think it is unethical,” replied Peter.
“Liston to her, ethical, just tell the woose to shut up,” said the prisoner sitting behind Peter.
Peter turned his head and gave the prisoner a steely stair before saying, “shut up.”
“You’re lucky I’m hand cuffed to this seat or I’d punch your head in,” replied the prisoner sitting behind Peter.
Peter again turned his head and just staired at the prisoner for an uncomfortable amount of time. He then turned back and said to Stuart, “she’ll be right mate.”
Peter found himself questioning the advice given to him by one of his fellow students during his last self defence course. That was ‘to never show weakness’ or ‘let anyone know you’re scared’ and always ‘push back if someone pushes you’. Going by the interaction with the prisoner sitting behind him, that advice just seemed to escalate the situation. The guy that gave him the advice had been in prison a number of times so he must have known what he was talking about.
“Is it all right to ask if you have been to prison before?” asked Stuart.
“Yes I think that one is alright,” replied Peter.
“Well?” asked Stuart.
“No, never, first offence, what about you?” asked Peter.
“Same,” replied Stuart.
“You two are in for it,” said the prisoner sitting behind Peter.
Peter turned around and said forcefully, “I want tell you again, shut up.”
“Don’t wind him up,” said Stuart.
The prison officer sitting at the front of the bus got up and came back to were Peter was sitting and said, “all of you shut it, no talking for the rest of the trip.”
Peter just looked out of the window and tried to savour the view as soon he will only have walls to look at. But all too soon he found himself looking out the window at a prison wall as the bus pull up outside what would be his home for the next seven years. The bus then drove in through some large gates and stopped near what looked like a loading dock. A prison officer came along undoing the hand cuffs and then they were told to stand and exit the bus in signal file.
They were then taken into a large room and told to undress, all the cloths and any possessions were put into large brown paper bags and sealed. Each prisoner had to sign that everything was correct before the bags were taken away. They were given prison uniforms to ware as well as boots.
They were all then taken to what could be described as a large meeting room and told to sit and be quite. A prison officer came around handing out a small booklet, entitled ‘your rights and prison rules’.
All the prisoners had become very quite since getting of the bus, it was like it had suddenly sunk in that they were in prison, it was real. Peter had been very quite during this process, just doing what he was told and observing. Stuart was struggling with it all and he was clearly having trouble with what was happening.
More prison officers as well as a middle aged man wearing a cheap suit came into the room. The cheap suit went to the front of the room and said, “My name is Phil Green and I am the manager of this prison. You have been given a small booklet covering your rights and prison rules, read it from cover to cover it you want to stay out of trouble. If you behave yourselves and do the right thing your time in here will be a lot easier. If you do the wrong thing and don’t behave yourselves, your stay will more than likely be longer than it already is,” said the manager.
The manager then left and one of the prison officers said, “stay where you are until your name is called.”
After a few prisoners were taken away it was Peter’s turn, he followed the prison officer who took him into the prison proper and to his sell. The sell was small it had two bunk style beds down one wall, a table and two chairs along the other wall.
“This will be your sell, read the booklet for rules relating to your sell. Another prisoner will be brought here soon, abbey the rules and you will be fine. My name is officer Young but you call me Sir. Do you under stand?” said the Officer.
“Yes Sir,” replied Peter.
“Leave your bag there and come with me,” said the Officer.
The Prison officer then took Peter on a tour of the Prison, which involved the bath room, the canteen and the exercise yard. All the time sprouting rules relating to that area, the time they could be used etc. Eventually ending up back at the sell, where the Officer said, “do you understand?”
“Not really,” said Peter.
The Officer relaxed a bit and said, “don’t worry your get use to it.”
“Time will tell,” replied Peter.
“Your time is yours till six o’clock when its dinner time in the canteen,” said the prison officer.
As Peter sat down on one of the chairs he saw that there was a second bag on the bed. So far he had been able to keep up an outward pretence of confidence and that nothing was a problem. A veneer of ‘it’s just another day at the office’ but underneath he was in full panic mode.
After about ten minutes a prison officer came into the sell with Stuart in tow and said, “this is you sell mate, I suggest you make an effort to get on.” He then left with the same instructions to Stuart that had been given to Peter.
“This place gives me the creeps,” said Stuart.
“If you are going to get through this you will need to relax,” replied Peter.
Stuart sat down opposite Peter but could hardly keep still. Peter sat very still with his eyes half closed stairing into space, shutting the world out.
After a short time Stuart got up and walked to the sell door.
“Don’t go out there,” said Peter.
Stuart came back and sat down.
After about an hour a prison officer came into the sell and said, “a bell will ring in a few moments for dinner so when you’re ready make your way to the canteen.”
Peter and Stuart walked towards the canteen and as they did the bell for dinner rang. They lined up with the others prisoners, picked up a plastic tray and made their way along the counter where they selected food as they went. It all looked awful but it was all that they were going to get so there was no other option.
The canteen was a large room with a counter down one side where the food was dispensed. The rest of the room was full of tables and chairs, each table sat six prisoners. The tables appeared to be bolted to the floor and were spaced so as to give clear access to all parts of the room.
Peter and Stuart sat at a table against the side wall, Stuart was in a bit of a state, he was not dealing with his first day very well. The food in prison was always going to be a problem for Peter and would add to the hardship of being in prison. The food tasted as bad as it looked and the thought of years of eating this food was the first thing about being in prison that really got to Peter.
After dinner Peter headed back to the sell as he didn’t like the idea of mixing with the rest of the prison population just yet. Stuart followed him and they both sat in the sell but did not talk much. At around eight thirty a prison officer came into the sell and said, “You two should have a shower now.”
They both got their towel, tooth past and brush and followed the prison officer. He stopped outside the bath room and said, “well there you go.”
They walked over to the hand basins and Peter started to clean his teeth when he saw in the mirror, three prisoners walk in.
“Well what do we have here, two new boys, I think we should initiate these two, what do you think?” said one of the prisoners.
“This was the last straw for Stuart, he fell apart. He got down under the hand basin and just grabbed hold of the waist pipe. Peter spat out the tooth past but kept hold of the tooth brush, he then turned around and just stud still waiting for them to make the first move.
Peter new that this was it, this moment would define the rest of his time in prison. One of the three moved towards Stuart and the other two came at Peter, he stayed died still until they were just about to grab him. He then hit one of them in the throat with the end of the tooth brush and martial arts kicked the other in the knee forcing it backwards and breaking it. They both fell to the ground, one gasping for air and the other in agony from his knee. Peter then turned towards the third one who was heading toward Stuart but who turn around to see what had happened to his friends. The third prisoner started to run but Peter tripped him and he fell face first onto the hard tile floor, Peter then broke his leg with a martial arts kick.
Peter helped Stuart to his feet, picked up their gear and they walked towards the exit.
“Stand up straight, look like there is nothing wrong,” said Peter.
The prison officer was still standing outside the bathroom as Peter and Stuart walked out.
“You need to get in there, three blokes are fighting,” said Peter.
“Stay here,” said the prison officer as he pushed a button on the wall that set an alarm off, he then went into the bathroom.
Peter and Stuart stud against the wall and waited while prison officers came running. The first one to arrive asked Peter, “what’s going on?”
Peter said, “there were three blokes fighting in the bathroom.”
More officers arrived and went into the bathroom, Peter and Stuart were taken away and placed in separate sells.
After a few hours a prison office came and took Peter to an interview room. Not long after that two Police officers came into the room and introduced themselves.
“I’m Detective Sargent Bill Brown and this is Detective Constable Jack Stevens,” said Detective Sargent Bill Brown, he then continued, “we are here to ask you a few question about what happened in the bath room tonight. What did you see?”
“Sorry I did not see anything, I was cleaning my teeth when I heard a commotion so I got the hell out of there.” replied Peter.
“That’s not what the others are saying,” said Detective Constable Jack Stevens.
“Well if you have enough evidence you better charge me with assault,” replied Peter.
“We have not concluded our investigation yet,” said Detective Constable Jack Stevens.
“I thought not, is that all?” replied Peter.
“Take him back to his sell,” said Detective Sargent Bill Brown.
“Haven’t you forgotten something?” replied Peter.
“I don’t think so,” said a sum what puzzled Detective Sargent Bill Brown.
“You forgot to say, ‘don’t leave the district we may have more questions,’ or something similar,” replied Peter.
Detective Sargent Bill Brown smiled as he said, “get him out of here.”
Peter was taken back to his sell where he found Stuart in a bit of a panic.
“What happened, what did you tell them,” asked Stuart.
“Don’t worry about it Stuart, nothing will come of it,” said Peter.
“May be not from the Police but those guys you bashed,” replied Stuart.
Peter interrupted him and said, “for goodness sack Stuart stop whining and just relax, those blokes will be in the medical wing for weeks.”
Stuart said nothing for about ten minutes while he just sat on his bed but he couldn’t help himself and said, “but they will have friends.”
Peter just looked at him for an uncomfortable amount of time before saying, “firstly, those blokes don’t have friends they only have people they mix with and secondly, it’s my problem not your so lets not hear anymore about.”
After a few days Peter was told that the Police would not be talking any action due to insufficient evidence. Time was passing very slowly for Peter, his first two months in prison seemed like two years. Every day was much the same as any other day, it presented no challengers, nothing to stretch yourself, just the same things day in day out.
While eating lunch one day Stuart said to Peter, “oh shit, look.”
Peter looked up from his lunch to see three prisoners walk in to the canteen, they were the three heavies Peter had assaulted on his first day in Prison. They picked up a tray each and walked along the counter collecting food for their lunch. They then walked over towards Peter and Stuart, Peter said to Stuart, “make yourself scarce.”
As Stuart got up and walked away the three heavies sat down opposite Peter.
“Hey guys, how are your injuries?” asked Peter.
“You are dead meat,” said one of the heavies.
“What makes you think that?” asked Peter.
“Where going to,” said one of the heavies but before he could finish Peter jumped onto the table and kicked two of the heavies in their heads, forcing them to fall backwards of their chair with food going everywhere. The third heavy attempted to grab Peter by his legs but Peter just stepped to one side, jumped off the table and martial arts kicked him in the knee, coursing him to fall to the ground. Kayos broke out in the canteen as prisoners tried to get out of the way and prison officers tried to get in to break it up. Before the prison officers managed to stop him Peter had broken all three of the heavies legs.
Peter was taken away and place in a sell while the three heavies where taken to hospital for treatment.
About an hour later Peter was taken to an interview room to be questioned by Detective Sargent Bill Brown and Detective Constable Jack Stevens.
“We have you bang to rights this time, its all on video,” said Detective Sargent Bill Brown.
“I did it, I’m guilty, give me a piece of paper and I will write a statement,” said Peter.
“Why did you do it, you’ll get another eighteen months for this,” said Detective Constable Jack Stevens.
“Yes but no one will even dare look at me sideways from now on, I can relax,” replied Peter.
A few months later and Peter got to leave the prison for the day, it was his day in court. It was nilly worth the extra time just to get to go for a bus ride, to look out of the window and see the sights.
The court case was just a formality as Peter pleaded guilty, there were no witnesses called just the video evidence. The judge had a bit to say and then as predicted by the Police gave him an extra eighteen months. Since the fight Peter had been kept in the isolation wing which meant he had no contact with other prisoners but now the court case was over he was moved back to the general prison.
The next few days were uneventful and Peter started to fall into a daily rotteen. If he just kept his head down, the days would slide into weeks then months and then years and it would eventually be over.
After lunch each day was allocated as exercise time and everyone was released into a foot ball sighed exercise yard. In order to keep fit Peter decided to use this time to jog around the yard. He would keep to a steady pass and pretend he was jogging on a bush track away from it all, without any problems.
After a few laps two other prisoners started jogging with him, they were big muscular blokes not really suited for jogging and it only took about fifty metres for them to start running out of puff. One of them tried to shoulder charge Peter but he saw it coming so he just stoped with the result being he shoulder charged his mate, they both fell to the ground. Peter then continued jogging but as he came around to complete another lap the two prisoners plus a few more where waiting for him and were blocking his way.
He started jogging on the spot and said, “can I help you blokes?”
“Mr Harris wants to talk to you,” replied one of the heavies.
“And who is Mr Harris?” asked Peter.
“Just walk this way,” said the same heavy.
Peter was tempted to say, “I couldn’t walk that way if I tried,” but thought better of it. Instead he followed along to the far corner of the exercise yard.
Sitting on a bench in the far corner of the exercise yard was an older man, may be in his fifties. He looked like someone who you wouldn’t want to cross, he had a number of scares and tattoos, his nose had been broken a number of times. He gave off an air of arrogance and an ‘I’m in charge’ attitude. There were two heavies, one standing at either end of the bench as well as the one standing next to Peter.
“My name is Robert Harris, you can call me Mr Harris, come and sit next to me,” said Mister Harris.
Peter sat down on the bench next to Mr Harris and tried to look relaxed.
“What can I do for you Mr Harris?” asked Peter.
“What do you see when you look out there,” said Mr Harris as he waved his arm indicating the prison.
“An exercise yard,” replied Peter.
“No, this is my little kingdom, I run this place,” said Mr Harris.
“I’m sure that would come as a bit of a surprise to the minister for Communities and Justice,” replied Peter.
“For the second time you have put three of my boys into the medical wing, now if you were me what would you do about that?” said Mr Harris.
“If I were you,” replied Peter, he then paused for a moment and then continued, “I would do nothing, I would just put it about that we had come to an understanding.”
“I can’t do that, it wouldn’t look good,” said Mr Harris.
“What you need to think about Mr Harris is how it would look if I put more of your boys into the medical wing,” replied Peter and then added, “why don’t you offer me a job?”
“What, you would be prepared to be one of my enforces?” said Mr Harris.
“Well no but you could tell everyone I’m working for you but never use me,” replied Peter, he then added, “all I would have to do is have lunch with you every day and everyone would just assume.”
Mr Harris just sat there looking across the exercise yard for a few moments before saying, “you know that’s not a bad idea see you at lunch tomorrow.”
Peter stood up and went back to jogging around the exercise yard. As he jogged past Stuart he joined in and said, “what was that all about?”
“He offered me a job as one of his enforces,” replied Peter.
“Did you take it?” asked Stuart.
“Yes,” replied Peter.
Prison life became easy now, everyone feared him, but it did not change the fact that he would be there for a long time and it was very boring. Time passed all be it somewhat slowly, prisoners came and went except for the lifers, like Mr Harris. Even the prison officers came and went as some found the work to be to stressful and others retired. Peter kept his head down and managed to mostly stay out of trouble mainly due to the fact that as the stories of his fights were told and retold he become something of a super fighter.
Stuart’s day of release came around but prison life had affected Stuart, he never came to grips with being in prison so he was not the same man that came in, he never hardened up, in fact he became even more nervus. If it wasn’t for Peter’s protection who knows what would have happened to Stuart. Peter gave Stuart, Reg’s phone number and organized Reg to give him some money to help him get back on his feet, but he had no expectations for Stuart. He would more than likely be back inside or died before Peter would be released.
Having a reputation of being some sort of super fighter had its good points but it also had its bad points. Sometime some hard nosed heaving new to the prison would take a pop at Peter resulting in the occasional fight. So Peter was never going to get out early on parol or good behaviour as he wasn’t well behaved.
Eventually the time was coming around for Peter to be released. This was not something he had given much thought as it always seemed a long way off. But with only a few weeks left he found himself thinking about what he would do on the outside.
Working in the banking or finance industry was out of the question, no one would employ a convicted criminal in those industries. In fact there were lots of jobs he would not be able to get, white colour work was out of the question. So it would have to be blue colour work, may be something like driving a truck or working in a factory. The more he thought about it the less he could think of things he could do let alone things he had any chance of getting. He had done a number of courses while in prison, so that might help but no matter what the work is who wants to employ a criminal.
The day of his release arrived, it was time to go back into society, to start again. Reg had organized some new cloths as the cloths he was wearing when he came in were more than likely to small for him now. He said his farewells to a few prison officers, a few prisoners and Mr Harris, he was then taken to the front gate and that was it, he was a free man.
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