Jeremy and Trey have made difficult choices in their lives, and both harbor regrets. Sometimes choices made in order to survive come back later to haunt and torment. Will Trey ever be able to forgive Jeremy for the things he’s done in prison? Will Jeremy even be able to forgive himself? And will Trey be able to cope with yet another devastating loss, one he well could have prevented?
The arrival of a television news crew drew the attention of several curious inmates who gathered at the far side of the yard along the fence. Such visits weren’t all that rare, though, and Jeremy assumed the local TV stations were probably filming the arrival of another high-profile convict. When he heard murmurings that this particular camera crew hadn’t arrived from Podunkville, but that they were with a national cable news channel, his ears perked up a bit.
“What’s going on?” He sidled up to Wes, his cellmate, who stood by the fence gazing across the double row of fences into the drive. A parade of vans, some bearing satellite dishes, pulled in, one after the other.
“Haven’t you heard?” One of the other inmates, standing on the other side of Wes, sounded shocked they could be so out of the loop. “Getting an important visitor this week. But he ain’t even supposed to be here till Friday.”
Jeremy had heard nothing about it. He rarely watched TV, not even in his own cell, and when he did, it was never the news. “Who is it?” He leaned forward to look past Wes.
“The president. Duh.”
“The president?” Wes laughed. “You mean, like, of the United States?”
“Yeah. Remember how he promised criminal justice reform?”
Jeremy didn’t remember. He had no idea what the dude was talking about.
“Well, he’s finally getting around to it. Or that’s what he wants everyone to think, anyway. Probably his visit is more of a photo op. This is the first time in history a sitting president has actually visited a prison.”
“Wow. I wonder why he picked this prison, of all places.” Although the Pit boasted they were the largest multi-level prison in the state, housing sometimes as many as thirty-five hundred inmates, Jeremy suspected there were far more interesting correctional facilities the president could have chosen.
“Politics.” Their new friend spoke with an air of confidence, as if he possessed the answers to all of life’s perplexing dilemmas. Yeah, right. That’s why he was in here, caged like an animal. “Percentage-wise, the Pit has the most minority inmates. He’s trying to push a reform bill that’ll address the disproportionately affected minority communities.” The thirty-something, balding white dude raised his hands to make air quotes when he said the words disproportionately affected. “I’ve got a newsflash for him, though. If the Blacks and Mexicans didn’t commit a disproportionate number of crimes, they wouldn’t be disproportionately incarcerated.”
Jeremy shrugged. “Unless they’re being unfairly sentenced. I mean, there are actually still more white people in the country than all the minorities combined. But look around.” Jeremy nodded toward the general population gathered in the yard behind them. “In here, there are a lot more of them than us.”
“You’re one of those dumbfuck liberals, aren’t you?”
Wes immediately used his arm to push Jeremy behind him, shielding him with own body. “You’re the only one around here who’s allowed an opinion, I take it.”
“And who are you? His bodyguard? Or his faggot butt buddy?”
When Jeremy looked down to see Wes’s clenched fist, he grabbed hold of his forearm with both hands, tugging in order to drag him backward. “Wes, no. Not worth it!”
“You better watch your fucking mouth.”
“Or what? Gonna have your boyfriend here beat me with his purse?”
That was when Jeremy released Wes’s arm and stepped back. The haymaker landed on the side of Mr. Know It All’s jaw with such force it echoed like a shotgun blast. Immediately an outburst of gasps and shouts erupted as inmates from all around the yard charged toward the scene. Wes nailed him a second time in the nose with a wicked left jab, then again with another right. Flailing his arms in a ridiculous, futile manner, Know It All stumbled backward and fell to the ground. Raising both hands to cover his bloodied nose, he cried out, shouting something unintelligible.
“No, wiseass. I wouldn’t want my boyfriend damaging his purse with your ugly fucking face!”
By the time a CO arrived, Wiseass had managed to rise to his feet with the assistance of a couple spectators. When the guard pushed his way through the crowd, ordering the inmates to back off, the skirmish was over.
“I must have tripped,” the bloody-faced inmate lied.
Of course, not one of the two dozen or so other witnesses had seen a damn thing, especially not Wes or Jeremy. The sight of Wes’s scraped bloody knuckles didn’t seem to faze the officer, either. “What did he do, trip and fall into your fist with his face?”
“Something like that.” Wes smirked.
“Hate to have to toss you into the hole for fighting.”
“I’d hate that, too, officer. We’re all friends here.”
You didn’t rat on anyone in prison, not even your worst enemy, not even the guy who just beat your face in. What you did, instead, was get even, if you could. Wes obviously wasn’t worried about this mouthy dildo exacting revenge. As well connected as Wes was, he could easily have the dude taken care of. The bloody nose and humiliation would probably suffice.