By Johnny Utah
I drove back to the hotel, jerked off twice and didn’t get much sleep. The thought of going on that work crew just kept me up, in more ways than one. I did think about chickening out, but I figured whenever would I get another chance like this.
The alarm on my phone went off. Time to get up. I brushed my teeth, didn’t take a shower, remembering the advice from Sergeant Stiles. I ate a pop tart that I got last night. I grabbed a to-go coffee in the hotel lobby and drove to my prison date.
Turning off the highway, there was an access road to a cell tower, and beyond that some railroad tracks. Nothing else but Florida Pine scrub. Sergeant Stiles was there with a white van. It was now or never, so I parked and got out of my car.
I kinda got the feeling of being a fly going in the spider’s web.
“Let’s go! Don’t have much time, they ‘ll be moving out soon,” Sgt. Stiles bellowed.
“Strip, all the way, I got you white boxers too.” That was something I hadn’t thought about.
I stripped. He watched every move I made. You’d think I’d get hard. I didn’t I was too scared.
“Put all your clothes in this box. Phone, wallet, watch too. No rings or piercings?”
First were the white boxers, I don’t wear them. It felt like I was free balling.
I got my white socks on. Next was a white T shirt, then I got my blue pants on, there was a white stripe down the outside of each leg. The was a belt, it wasn’t too substantial, but it held my pants up. There was a real simple buckle. He tossed me a pair of black leather boots. I could tell I wasn’t the first prisoner to wear them. I got them laced up. I pulled the blue shirt over my head. “Here’s a hat. It’s going to be hot as balls out there today.” He handed me a white baseball cap, I put it on. That was it.
I was dressed in a Class A, Florida Department of Corrections Men’s Blue Uniform.
“This is your photo ID,” he clipped it to my shirt, saying, “don’t lose it.”
“Put your hands in front of you,” Sgt. Stiles ordered.
“All prisoners with a single driver get cuffed. I’ll take ’em off when we get down there. It will look more like you just came over from the main facility.” Sgt. Stiles slapped the cuffs on. He came in close to double lock them. I took a good smell of him. Starch, Old Spice and sweat.
“Get in, Prisoner!”
“Yes, Sir,” I said.
It took all of five minutes to drive down to the other vans; five minutes of silence while thoughts of saying no were going around in my head. There were prisoners all over the place getting into groups with a few guards around. We drove up to two guards who had a clipboard each and looked like they were trying to balance the numbers.
His last words of advice were: “Don’t volunteer any information about yourself.”
Sergeant Stiles got out of the van, slid the side door open, and said, “Get, out and follow me.” I followed, cuffed. Like what choice did I have?
“Hi Joe, how’s your day going so far?” Sergeant Stiles said to the older of the two guards. The older guard had a name tag of Winter.
“Could be better, it’s going to be a long day, had 10 guys go off the crew to court this morning. They got that video link working again with the District Court, so I guess I’ll be down in manpower everyday now. What ya got for me?” said Winter.
“Last minute addition, he was in medical and missed the bus,” Sergeant Stiles said as he uncuffed me.
“OK, we can use him on the trail team.”
“Where’s Johnson? Johnson, R!” Winter hollered.
Up by the van ahead of us was a deep-voiced shout of “here, boss!” A prisoner, a big white guy, came running up to us. He was cute in that country-boy way. I could imagine him out on a tractor, shirtless in skintight Wranglers.
“This is Utah — ain’t never met anyone named after a state before,” Winter said to Prisoner Johnson. “He’s on your crew, make sure he don’t fuck up.”
“Yes, Boss,” Johnson said.
The guard turned to me and said very forcefully, “This is Johnson, he’s your team boss, you do what he says. Do that and it will be a smooth day. You got that, Utah?”
“Yes, Sir,” I said.
“OK, let’s get started, we’re only burning daylight.”
Sergeant Stiles gave me a wink, that gave my dick a jump and turned and left. The other two guards left, and I was alone with Johnson, my team boss.
“Come on, we gotta go up there,” Johnson pointed up to the woods. “Got a bunch of tires to move.”
I thought to myself, “Oh great this is starting out real well.”
I got up to where another prisoner was waiting, his name was Keelie. “They’ll bring a dump truck along soon, we’ll chuck these tires in first, and there will be lots of other trash. This part of the road hasn’t seen a road crew in a couple of years, and people keep throwing all kinds of shit away around here.”
Johnson and I lugged the old tires down to the shoulder of the road. There were parts of retreads as well. We went back and started to pick up old branches. I found a couple of 6-foot long 2-by-4s, who knows how they got out there. We found a couple of dead possums, Keelie got a shovel and flung the carcasses into the woods. The other teams were filling up orange trash bags with cans and other junk. The bags got stacked up, waiting for the dump truck. Before long the pile of orange trash bags was as tall as me, and it stank! Picking up trash with prisoners at the side of the road sure wasn’t so sexy right now.
A loud whistle went off, that thing could have been on a train. “Bout fukkin’ time,” Keelie said.
A single van pulled up. “Come on, chows here!” Johnson said to me. We lined up. There was a bucket to wash our hands. That surprised me. I figured they didn’t care about us that much. We got lunch in a brown paper bag. A thin bologna sandwich, a whole red apple, a clear plastic bag of corn chips, a squeeze thing of ketchup, and another clear bag with exactly two, two Chocolate Oreos!
“Over here,” Johnson motioned. There was a stack of juice boxes. “Only take two. There’s water still if you want something more to drink.”
“Just two juice boxes each?” I asked.
“One of the worst fights I’ve seen broke out here over a guy who took more than two,” Johnson explained. “The fucking guards make sure there’s only two juices per man out here, you take more than two, someone doesn’t get his two, that leads to trouble. One guy, think he was from Carolina — someplace I think — just beat this guy to a pulp when he found there was only one box left for him. Blood everywhere. It took a couple of taser hits to bring that guy down.”
“What happened to the guy he hit?” I asked.
“Ended up in the infirmary,” Johnson said. I thought Johnson wasn’t very sentimental.
“Come on, we only get 30 minutes to eat. They start the clock from when the chow wagon pulls up. Let’s get into that shade before the others get there,” Johnson said.
We got into the shade of a big road sign. We sat on the grass and dug into our bags. Normally I didn’t like bologna, but I was starving. Johnson wolfed his down, Keelie was more particular and delicately put the ketchup on his sandwich and slowly ate it.
“When I found out I was going to the road crew I kind of expected it to be like in the movies, you know all chained together,” I said after I was done eating.
“Naw, we’d never get any work done out here like that, maybe that’s the way it was in the old days. I’m sure they tried it out here though. There’ll be time for all that locking up shit when we get to camp,” Johnson said.
“Camp?” I said. “What do you mean camp?”
“Didn’t they tell you nothing? We don’t go back to Baker until next month,” Johnson said.
“Yeah, you can thank that prick camp supervisor Stiles for that”, said Keelie.
“Huh?” I said. What was he talking about?
“He got some big reward for saving money, they keep us out here. Saves the Governor a few bucks, shows he’s not coddling the criminals. If you’re working with us, you’ve been picked out to go to the camp,” Johnson continued.
“Keelie here is really lucky, he’s got two felony convictions, but he still ended up on the road crew.”
“So, we go back to a camp and then come back out the next day?” I asked.
“Yep, that’s about it, unless you fuck up, but that camp is better than the cages back at Baker,” said Keelie.
Oh shit, I thought. Stiles didn’t say anything about that. I’ll get out before we go to the camp anyway.
There was a loud whistle. “Come on, back to work,” said Johnson.
Johnson, Keelie and me slaved away all afternoon in that Florida humidity that just gets everywhere, especially between your legs. We piled trash bags for the rest of the day. I was thinking everybody who was on the road must have thrown at least something out their window when travelling through this part of Florida.
We had a short break. Johnson finished up throwing a couple of bags on a dump truck. Keelie was at the water jug. I watched Johnson. He must have been working hard most of his life. He had those built-up trap muscles guys get from throwing hay bales around on the farm. When he took his hat of once he had a buzzed haircut, I found that hot. Big arms kind of stuck out from his sides. Like those body builders who can put their arms down. His ass was good too, not a bubble butt like Sgt. Stiles. He just had a good set of working man glutes.
I got to talk to Johnson alone.
“So, what’s Sgt. Stiles like at this camp?” I asked.
Johnson kind of chuckled and kind of grunted at the same time. “He’s a real prick when he wants to be. He’s known to put moves on guys. Big son of a bitch is as queer as a three-dollar bill.”
There was an awkward silence. I kept my mouth shut.
Break was over and we went back to work for a couple more hours.
I’d just thrown another bag of trash on the dump truck when I saw him. What a relief, there was Sgt. Stiles! He’d come to rescue me.
“Utah, J! Get over here!” he yelled. I went running.
Sgt. Stiles said in a voice loud enough for everyone in about 100 feet to hear, “You gotta go back to Baker, you pissed hot, and they want a retest. Turn around!” Sgt Stiles cuffed my hands behind my back. “Come on.” He put me in the back of the van he was driving. We were out of sight of the work crews when he spoke.
“Whata think?” asked Sgt. Stiles.
“I was scared you’d forgotten about me. I didn’t want to go to that camp,” I said.
He laughed. “I mean about working on the road crew?”
“It was hard work, but the guys were great. Some of them were hot too!” I replied enthusiastically.
“What’s so wrong about the camp? I think you’d like it. Why not think about it. You enjoyed the day, didn’t you? Why not have the rest of it? Think about it until we get to the gas station. You’ve got no job to go back to, it’s only 30 days.”
Sgt. Stiles was persistent, I’ll give him that.
I was silent until we got back to the gas station. I thought, I’ve got no job, no one’s depending on me. I could stay down here. Could I hack it? I wasn’t going to lose anything if I just got in my car and left. It would mean no more Sgt. Stiles, though. If I did go to camp, who was to know? It wouldn’t cause any trouble.
“How rough is it? I mean the living conditions?” I asked
“What, you worried that you’re too delicate for the stay? Some things might be rough, but you can handle it. Not everyone gets to go there, only a part of the road crew goes. The rest of them go back to that shithole prison.”
“Why not,” I said. Sgt Stiles was right, I figured. I didn’t have anything else to do. It wasn’t going to be on my record of something. No one was waiting for me to complete a project or anything like that.
Sgt. Stiles turned the van around we and headed to the camp.
“I’ll take care of your car and wallet, don’t worry. I’ll park the car at the staff lot at Baker, and no one will fuck with it there.”
Without knowing it, I had slipped a little deeper under Sgt. Stiles control.
End of Part 2
Metal would like to thank Johnny Utah for this story!