By Joshua Ryan
The executive lounge is on the top floor of the Freer Building. It’s very comfortable. There’s even a deck outside where you can catch a few rays or look at the stars if you’re working late. It was a good view, but not many people stepped outside to enjoy it. Like Peter said, how much ass can you scope in an industrial park? And at breaks, everybody sort of expected you to keep with your group. There was one guy who stayed in his cube and read, and he was regarded as totally antisocial. I didn’t have enough guts to do that. But I was tired of Peter and his stupid jokes. So I started using the deck.
I knew he’d be watching out of the corner of his eye, so at first I just strolled around, glancing over the railing at this and that. But then I looked for what I really wanted to see. Down below, at the edge of Phase Two, the convicts were moving closer. Already the pile of rocks had come about a third of the way along the fence. The cons in the harnesses pulled the bin across the field, and the cons on the chain pulled out the rocks and laid them in line. Then you could see what looked like guys with hammers, going after the rocks to get them in shape.
“Making little ones out of big ones,” Peter said, on the one day when he surprised me by leaving the group and coming out on the deck. “Same thing that an old queer does when he’s naked.”
Continue reading The Convict – Part 03
By Joshua Ryan
On the train that night, I noticed a billboard beside the track, just before my stop. I’d never looked at it before. It showed a guy’s butt and the lower part of his back. The guy was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and his wrists were cuffed together behind his butt. There was a tough-looking hand gripping one of his arms. The billboard said: “COMMIT A CRIME, DO PRISON TIME. LOTS OF TIME.” I think it had been there for a while, but like I say, I’d never noticed it. I liked the guy in the jeans, though.
As soon as I got home, I went on the net. I knew there would be a Department of Corrections website. Every state agency has a website. I wanted to find out more about the Durant Unit. And I did.
The DOC home page had a “Mission Statement,” which I didn’t read, and a picture of “Anthony B. Michaelis, Director,” which looked pretty dorky, and a long rap about Mr. Michaelis’s “Recent Activities.” I didn’t read much of that, either. The activities consisted mainly of opening new correctional units “due to the enormous success of the Turn Em In Program, and the Universal Penal Reform Act of 2014.” There were links to “The Program” and “The Act and Its Aftermath,” but those pages looked really boring, and I went back to the rap on the home page. Near the end, it mentioned the Director’s success in “facilitating the rehabilitation of superannuated units,” which apparently meant reopening old prisons. The last one mentioned was “the Southern Regional Longterm Correctional Facility (SRLCF), formerly Durant State Penitentiary.” There was a link, and I clicked on it.
Continue reading The Convict – Part 02
By Joshua Ryan
THIS IS A STORY ABOUT ADULTS, FOR ADULTS ONLY
“There ought to be a world like that.” That’s what went through my mind every morning that fall.
It will take me a while to explain what I mean. I’ve got the time. Do you?
I was working for Freer and Sons, in the new industrial park. They’d opened their building about three months before. They were one of the first firms out there. There wasn’t much of anything except new-laid blacktop, naked white sidewalks, half-empty offices, and a deli that felt free to overcharge. The Freer Building overlooked a park that the city had about half developed and, just down the hill from that, a long stretch of land that used to be somebody’s farm. That’s where the next set of streets would go. In the meantime it was nothing but weeds and rubbish, with some surveyor’s sticks planted here and there. And convicts. There were convicts working in that field.
I found out about the convicts when I was waiting for my bus. Every morning at 7:09, the commuter train left me at the new station on Executive Way, and I waited at the curb for my shuttle bus. And one morning in late September, the convicts went by. Like me, they were on their way to work.
Of course, they didn’t look like me. I was wearing the gray suit that had cost way too much for a guy just out of college, and I was holding the briefcase that I’d bought for $650 and had stamped with my initials, JSR, because I’d noticed that every guy at Freer had a briefcase like that with his own initials stamped on it. Every guy that was ambitious, anyway. Every guy that wanted to establish who he was. When you’re as junior as I was, you’ve got to spend enough to make them take you seriously. That was one reason why I didn’t drive my car. Besides having to pay for parking, I couldn’t afford to let anyone notice what a piece of junk I owned. I knew that they’d never mention it, but I also knew that they’d be talking behind my back about how I wasn’t “bringing much to the firm.”
Continue reading The Convict – Part 01