Awakening Chapter twenty-one
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Awakening Chapter twenty-one Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:23 pm|| |
Sister Julia sat at her small desk in her sparse room at the convent, contemplating a very odd letter. She really wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and she had a feeling that there was a lot more to it than just what was written on the sheet of paper.
'Dear Sister Julia;
My name is Beth Jordan and I am a friend of both Thaddeus and Joshua just as I believe you are.
I am interested in writing an expose on prison life, but of course going through official channels would be self-defeating. I’m sure the warden would only show me what he wanted me to see—if he allowed me into the prison at all.
Thaddeus has spoken of you often and with a great deal of respect, so it occurred to me that you might be willing to escort me into the prison in the guise of one of your novices. In this way I would be safe from harm, I’m sure but I would also be able to get a more realistic view of what life is like for the prisoners. From what I have heard from Thaddeus about conditions in that horrid place, I think it is time for the system to be challenged and hopefully some reforms brought into place!
I am much older than I look, so it would not appear out of place for me to be a novice under your guardianship and I am quite willing to accept responsibility if by chance I am found out. I just feel that this is very important and that someone must step up and do something about what goes on behind locked doors!
I would also appreciate you not mentioning this to either Joshua or Thaddeus. For one thing I don’t want Joshua to feel uncomfortable knowing that I was there and watching him—I would hardly be getting a true experience of prison life if that were the case. He would try to sugar coat it in order to protect me and that is not the idea at all! Thaddeus would try to prevent me from going in the first place, and again though it would be out of an effort to protect me it can be quite infuriating sometimes!
They first came to know me as a young girl and I think that neither one of them can get used to the idea that I am now an adult and quite capable of making decisions for myself. So please, if you are agreeable to helping me with this task, I again ask that you not discuss this with either of my friends as I know they would both try to hinder me.
I will be in Denver Colorado for Thanksgiving so if you would be so kind as to send me your response to my friend Miss Clementine Hale who resides in Denver then I will be sure to receive it. If you are agreeable to my request I would like to meet with you shortly after that holiday as I really feel it is important to start my investigation as quickly as possible.
The Sister continued to sit for some time contemplating this letter. As mentioned before, she really did not know what to make of it. Obviously the young woman was a friend to both Joshua and Thaddeus and cared about what Joshua was going through. But her request that the Sister not inform either of them of her intentions set off some quiet alarm bells.
The only thing that stopped her from disregarding the letter altogether was the fact that she herself found conditions at the prison difficult to ignore and it often pained her to see the suffering that was inflicted upon the inmates. She had thought of raising a protest herself on some of the injustices she had witnessed there, but then she feared that if she did so she would not be permitted to return and that was not acceptable. She truly felt, and rightly so that her work in the prison infirmary was important and that she was needed there. So she carried on and played by the rules and tried not to see the things that she saw.
Now this letter had arrived. Part of her wanted to play it safe and refuse to assist this young woman in her quest. But another part was getting tired of playing it safe and that here, possibly was someone who, with just a little help from her could actually make a difference.
The Sister decided that she would think on it awhile—but not too long as the Thanksgiving holiday was fast approaching and Miss Jordan would need her answer soon. But the morning would still be soon enough, and Sister Julia set the letter aside and prepared to settle in for the night.
“Hey Doc, what does ‘impecunious’ mean?”
“How the hell should I know?”
“Well, you’re an educated man.”
“Who the fxxk told you that!?”
“Well you’re a doctor!”
“And I got my training from the school of hard knocks! I might have been drunk, but I do know I told you that much! I had a hard enough time learning medical terms, why the fxxk would I go outta my way to learn what impec…whatever, means?”
“Oh,” Heyes was disappointed. “Any idea how I could find out?”
“Hell! I donno!” then Morin sighed and forced himself to think about it for a minute. “Why don’t ya’ try the dictionary? They got lots of words in there that don’t mean anything.”
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed. “You got one?”
“Any ideas where I could find one?” Heyes was getting frustrated.
“How about a library?” Morin answered with a bit of sarcasm. He didn’t know why Heyes’ request for information was irritating him, but it was. Maybe it was because the young man was always asking for information, always wanting to learn more and it tended to make the Doc feel a little intimidated. But of course, he wasn’t going to admit that!
“Yeah,” Heyes agreed again. “It’s just that the library here doesn’t have much in it and I don’t recall seeing a dictionary there.”
Morin sighed again; obviously this wasn’t going to go away. “Okay, what about that lady chaplain? She’s all high educated, there’s a pretty good chance she’d know what it means.”
Heyes’ shoulders slumped. “Yeah, I think it’s a pretty good bet that she does know what it means.”
“Well then, there ya’ go!” and Morin moved off to tend to other duties, thereby ending the conversation.
That evening, after supper Heyes made his way down to the prison library and did a quick scan of the books that were on the shelf. To his surprise he did come across a dictionary, but then to his disappointment it was quite elementary and didn’t help to further his education any more than the Doc had.
Heyes ambled back to his cell and settled in for the evening. He sat down on his cot and with knees drawn up and his chin resting on a hand, he contemplated his options. He could think of a number of ways to discover the meaning of the word, but they all would take time and his time was running out. Kenny was about the best educated man amongst the guards and he didn’t know what it meant. Heyes sure wasn’t about to ask Carson even if he did get an opportunity to talk to the man without ending up covered in bruises!
Hmm, what to do? Heyes had to admit that he was stumped on this one, at least for the time being and tried to put his mind onto other matters. Unfortunately by the time lights out and lock-down came about, Heyes was still stuck on his word and couldn’t get his brain to leave it alone. He was starting to get angry with himself. Not because he didn’t know the meaning, but because here he was, once again with his mind running amok and not listening to him when he told it to please shut down for the night!
Later that night, after lights out Heyes was lying in bed and for the first time that season, began to shiver under his blanket. It was definitely getting colder and he realized that if he was going to get any sleep at all then he better make the effort now to layer up his clothing. The temperatures during the night were only going to get chillier and his friends’ requests that he stay warm and well fed during the winter months were actually starting to have an impact on him.
He pulled on his sweater, his socks and his new knitted toque and settled back into bed. Now he was too warm. Big sigh. Off came the toque and down went the blanket. There, that was more comfortable. He’d probably be pulling the blanket up again in a few hours and he kept the toque close by but for now he’d found a happy medium.
He closed his eyes and his thoughts wandered back to the Kid again and his regret over his mood of their last visit. He hoped Curry would be able to get back to see him at least one more time before winter really set in. He’d be sure to make the next visit more enjoyable cause he sure didn’t want the Kid worrying about him all winter long when he wouldn’t be able to get out to see him.
Heyes thought back to last winter and how miserable he was when he thought that his cousin had turned his back on him. How happy he had been when Curry finally made the trip out to come and see him. Since then Heyes realized that he had at times taken the Kid for granted and he had to remind himself to keep on reminding himself that Curry made quite a long (and what must be now, a boring) trip in order to come and visit with him. Heyes needed to let him know how important that was to him. Maybe he’d ask Kid for a dictionary for Christmas…hmmm…there’s a thought…..
Next morning, after breakfast Murrey came and got Heyes for his annual trip to ‘the other side of the tracks’ in order to report any discoveries to the warden. All the way through the proceedings of being searched and shackled and then escorted down the hallways, Heyes was busy racking his brain for anything of use, but not of any real importance to tell the warden. Nothing was coming to mind.
Once he found himself actually in the warden’s office he was still trying to dredge up something, and the very skeptical expression on Mitchell’s face wasn’t helping.
“Are you quite sure you have nothing to report—again?” Mitchell asked him.
“Yes sir, Warden. All’s quiet,” Heyes insisted, and then he kinda shrugged and began scanning the bookcase along the side wall. “Well, except for the usual—you know.”
“No Convict! I don’t know!” Mitchell snapped. “That’s why you’re there! To keep me informed of what’s going on—remember!?”
“Oh, yeah,” Heyes mumbled, bringing his eyes away from the books. Hadn’t spotted a dictionary yet. He sighed. “Well…let’s see….Carson beat up on Johnston the other day cause Johnston tripped over a broom that Macintosh had just finished trimming the bristles on and the handle broke. So then Mac got mad and took a swing at Johnston but missed and ended up hitting Thompson and Thompson fell over backwards and knocked into a work table spilling tobacco all over the floor and then Harris, whom I believe is allergic to tobacco, started sneezing and his eyes were watering so he couldn’t see what he was doin’ and ended up tripping over that same now broken broom handle and bumped into Carson who then got pushed over into…..”
“Yes! Yes! Alright!” Mitchell stopped the avalanche of descriptive narrative. “Anything of importance? Were you ever able to get into Dr. Morin’s medical cabinets? Have you found anything suspicious over there?”
“Oh. No sir Warden,” Heyes lied. “I checked all those cabinets like you said, but I never found nothin’.”
“I find that most odd,” Mitchell commented with just an edge of irritation. “I know the man is drinking on the job, I just don’t understand why you haven’t found any evidence—unless of course you’re covering up for him.”
“Honest to goodness, Warden, since you told me to go keep an eye out for Doc drinkin’ I haven’t seen him put liquor to lips even once.”
“I find that most odd indeed,” Mitchell repeated and then creased his brow in irritation as he noticed Heyes’ attention drifting. “Am I boring you Convict?!”
Heyes snapped his eyes away from the book shelf.
“Oh no Warden! I was just…ah…I was…”
“Never mind!” Mitchell was beyond frustrated. “Why would that man stop drinking? I know darn well that he was but now you say that there’s no alcohol in the infirmary at all!”
“Well, no, there’s alcohol there,” Heyes corrected him and Mitchell perked up. “you know, for disinfecting and such.”
Mitchell slumped again, something just wasn’t right here and he had a pretty good idea what it was. He knew darn well that Heyes was playing games with him and Mitchell was getting tired of it. It was time to put Mr. Heyes to the test and then he would see just exactly what he was going to do to this particular inmate.
Meanwhile Heyes had a mild epiphany and decided what the hell; he had nothing to lose by trying.
“Perhaps Dr. Morin is impecunious.”
Mitchell looked at the inmate, creasing his forehead again. How was it that an uneducated outlaw would know that word? But then the warden smiled inwardly and reminded himself that this was no ordinary outlaw; the man was highly intelligent and all the reports coming back to him from the officers on the floor substantiated that. Mr. Heyes was again trying to play him for a fool and something was going to have to be done about that.
“I hardly think that is the case,” Mitchell answered him casually. “If it were, then it would probably be because he was spending all his money on liquor and you would be seeing some evidence of it. Don’t you agree?”
“Ahhh, yes, I suppose so,” Heyes agreed somewhat hesitantly. He wasn’t sure if that answer helped him out much or not.
“That’ll be all,” Mitchell dismissed him. “Officer Murrey!”
For the rest of the afternoon Heyes was down on the work floor rolling cigars and stuffing them into boxes. Fortunately it was mindless work because his mind was definitely on something else.
Did it have to do with money? Heyes thought. Or liquor? Or the lack thereof? Or both, or neither? Hmmm. He could take the chance and submit a sentence using the word as referring to money—or liquor—or the lack thereof, but he so hated to be wrong. What if it was wrong? Damn! How could he get his hands on a dictionary? Kenny might have a dictionary, but how to ask him when you’re not allowed to talk?
Suddenly a bully club whacked the edge of his table and Heyes was startled out of his musings.
“Convict! Wake up!” it was Thompson. “You sure spend a hell of a lot of time ‘daydreamin’! It’s a marvel to me that you get anything done at all!”
Heyes kept his eyes down and didn’t say a word, but he did notice that he had been trying to stuff six cigars into a four cigar box and making quite a mess of things while doing it. Apparently even a brainless job needed some level of focus to accomplish it correctly.
Heyes quickly snatched back the boxes that were over-stuffed and began to rearrange the cigars in order to set things right. Thompson smirked and moved on. The other guards seemed to think that Heyes was something special, but Thompson hadn’t noticed that so far—fella seemed a bit dim-witted to him. Heyes heard Johnston snicker beside him but a quick look from the outlaw leader wiped the grin off Johnston’s face and sent his attention back to his own duties
Finally the long day was over and the inmates all headed towards the cafeteria for supper and some leisure time in the evening.
Heyes sat down to a plate full of corn beef hash and limp vegetables (couldn’t tell what kind) and just about turned away from it in disgust. Then, of course he heard Belle’s voice telling him to stay healthy and how worried they all were when he got sick last winter. Then David practically repeated the same message. 'Eat as much as you can, even if you’re not hungry.' Another heavy sigh. Maybe if they saw the food that was being offered they would understand why he didn’t want to eat.
He looked down at the gray mess on his plate and wondered if he would ever see a nice red T-bone steak again. This muck was disgusting. Oh well, he should eat he supposed. He surely didn’t want to get pneumonia again, especially after what happened to Billings. Who knows, one more bout with that infection and he just might not make it back either. But then, would that be such a bad thing?
No. Heyes shook his head and tried to convince himself to eat something. Don’t think like that, he admonished himself. What did Jesse say? ' At least in prison you have life and when you have life you have hope.' Something like that anyways, I donno Jesse, Heyes thought. Hope seems to be dwindling away these days. Oh crap! There he was getting all morose again! Things must be pretty bad if all it took was a plate of disgusting food to bring him down into such a melancholy mood. Smarten up and eat something!! So he did.
After he had eaten about as much as he could of that fare, which wasn’t quite the whole plate full, but close enough (Boeman would probably finish it up for him anyways) Heyes followed his normal routine and grabbing himself a cup of coffee he headed back up to his cell to spend the evening reading. He’d found ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’, which wasn’t actually complete anymore, but close enough. He was getting quite a lot of enjoyment out of reading the oddly worded English text and would often sit on his cot right up until ‘lights out’ and allow himself to get lost in the old world filled with intrigue and murder and plotting and of course; love.
When he arrived at his cell however, he found that someone had left another book sitting on his cot. Heyes assumed that it had been Kenny since no one else really had access to his cell—that is, no one who would care to leave him anything. Heyes tried to pick the book up with one hand, since his other hand was holding the coffee, but found that the text was far too heavy for that attempt. He quickly gave up that effort and simply flipped open the front cover to see what treat he had in store.
It was a dictionary! It wasn’t new, but it was intact and that’s all that mattered! Actually, it was more than just a dictionary—it was a dictionary and a thesaurus all in one! Heyes had never seen such a marvelous thing! He’d never even had a thesaurus before! Ohhh, this was gonna be fun! He pushed Shakespeare out of the way, settled into his cot with his pillow against the wall, and hoisting the heavy book up onto his drawn up knees, he opened it and started to search.
'Impecunious: Having no money; poor; penniless.'
Heyes snorted. He could certainly relate to that!
Now all he had to do was come up with a sentence before Sunday. That shouldn’t be too difficult and he would let the word play around in his mind for a couple of days and he was certain that by Sunday morning he would be able to present Dr. Slosson with his finished assignment.
For the rest of that evening he continued to flip through the heavy book and would read word after word along with their definitions right up until the buzzer sounded to indicate evening lock-down. Heyes put the book aside, stood up from his cot and went to stand by his open cell door for the head count. This had become such mundane routine that Heyes hardly noticed himself doing it anymore and he stood quietly while the guards walked by, doing their count and ticking off names.
His mind wandered again, thinking about all the words that he had come across just in that short evening of browsing. He was amazed at just how complex the English language was and how many words there were that he didn’t even know about. This little challenge that Dr. Slosson had started up with him was going to be an interesting learning curve. Now that he had his first word deciphered he was looking forward to Sunday in order to get going on his next one.
Thompson walked by Heyes’ cell and noticing yet again the vacant look on the inmates face, he shook his head in disgust. He had actually looked forward to meeting Hannibal Heyes when he was hired on at the prison. He’d grown up reading all those dime novels about the infamous outlaw; about how brilliant he was, and how dangerous! How he could turn a grown man into jelly just by looking at him and open a locked door just by tapping it with his finger.
Geesh! How disappointing! The man was obviously an imbecile and couldn’t even count high enough to package up a small box of cigars! He could certainly understand why he was given laundry duty as it kept him out of everybody else's way—just how many brain cells do you need to fold a sheet after all? But how in the world he got working over in the infirmary was totally beyond Thompson—he must have polished somebody’s brass the right way was all that guard could reason.
The buzzer sounded again and Heyes stepped back into his cell and stood there for a moment. He watched his cell door clang shut in unison with all the other cell doors clanging shut and then listened to the heavy locks all sliding into place at the same time. Evening lock-down really was a noisy affair! It was one thing Heyes never really did get used to, being locked into his cell at night. He was comfortable and felt safe there so long as the door was open, but the sound of the bolts sliding shut always sent a shiver of claustrophobia down his spine and though over time he had adjusted to it, he never really did forget that he was locked in.
Heyes sighed and turned back to his cot. He could still light a candle and carry on reading if he wished to, but he preferred to save his candles for when he was writing his letters. So he cleared his cot of the numerous books strewn about and settled in to try and relax and put his mind to rest for a while, which as we know, was not always an easy thing for him to do.
Darkness slowly invaded the cells as night closed in once again. After sending a few thoughts of evening solace to Abi; our hero turned on one of his favorite sonatas and listened to music in his mind until he quietly drifted off into sleep.
Throughout the next couple of days Heyes tried to catch Kenny’s eye and find a way to ask him about the dictionary, but the guard was not co-operating. Then when Sunday did roll around and Heyes thought he might be able to sneak in a quick question at chapel, it turned out to be one of Kenny’s days off and the guard was a no show.
This was frustrating. Heyes never could figure out the schedule of any of the guards who worked the floor. Eventually he decided that it must be on a rotating system so that way no guard ended up always working Sunday, or at night or on holidays and so on and so on. Another purpose for this was what Heyes had already found out for himself; keeping the schedules erratic would prevent the inmates from learning the pattern and thereby knowing who was going to be on when. Made an assault or escape that much more difficult to plan if you didn’t know who was going to be on first.
So Heyes went to the sermon and sat through the lecture and as usual, when he allowed himself to, he did get some enjoyment out of it. Then the music box came out again and those inmates who wished to stay longer to listen to the selection for the week settled in for another hour of a musical interlude.
Heyes would again sit back and close his eyes and try to imagine what the passages would sound like when played live in a concert hall. He hoped that one day he would be able to find out but in the meantime he could soak up the notes as they were presented to him here. So for a short time anyway, he was able to disappear into another world and drift away.
Not surprisingly he possessed the kind of mind that could hear the arrangements one time through and he would know it—he could remember them all so he could pull them up and listen to them again whenever opportunity or need presented itself. This ability would prove to be a sanity saver on more than one occasion, not to mention (as we already know) it often helped him to fall asleep at night when nothing else could.
Too quickly the hour was over. Those inmates remaining began to disassemble and make their way out of the chapel, and probably down to the cafeteria to partake of something resembling lunch.
Heyes took a deep cleansing breath and opened his eyes to see Dr. Slosson being escorted in his direction with Murrey in attendance this time. The inmate smiled and stood up politely to greet the chaplain.
“Mr. Heyes,” she returned the greeting. “were you able to complete your mission?”
He smiled. “Yes Ma’am,” he announced with just a hint of pride in his demeanor. He produced the sheet of paper and presented it to her.
Dr. Slosson accepted it and read what he had written down.
‘Impecunious: penniless, without money.
‘The Kid and I never had to worry about being impecunious until we decided to go straight.’
She smiled. Murrey, who had read the sentence over the chaplain’s shoulder sent Heyes a slightly reprimanding look. Heyes grinned.
“Very good Mr. Heyes,” she congratulated him. “You certainly have an understanding of that word—though I suspect you’ve had some help.”
“Yes ma’am,” Heyes admitted. “Use whatever resources become available, Ma’am.”
Her smile broadened as she handed him another folded piece of paper.
“Let’s see what you can do with this one,” she challenged him. “See you next week Mr. Heyes?”
“Oh, yes ma’am,” Heyes dipped his head in thanks and in farewell as he took the proffered paper and she turned and moved away.
Heyes unfolded the paper and looked at his new word.
‘Mettlesome.’ Heyes frowned in concentration. He was fairly sure that he already knew the meaning of that word, but he would double check before he did anything with it. It would be most embarrassing to be wrong on the assumption that it was too easy to bother with.
Finally Heyes got a chance to talk to Kenny when that guard showed up to escort him over to the infirmary for his day of work with the Doctor. The walk over was made in silence since Heyes knew the rules well enough by this time to know not to open his mouth while still in the prison proper. Even Kenny would let him have it for that.
Once inside the infirmary however, Heyes sent the guard a quick glance and brought forth the question.
“So you know anything about a dictionary that was left in my cell last week?” he asked tentatively.
“Dictionary?” Kenny commented suspiciously. “What dictionary?” But then the guard smiled, and turning on his heel he left Heyes to his daily duties.
Heyes smiled broadly and nodded to himself; Yes, Kenny had left it.
“What are you grinnin’ about?” Morin demanded. “Get over here, I need your help.”
“Oh, sorry Doc.”
Heyes hurried over to the examining table to find one of the new inmates sitting there with a sliced open hand. Apparently the knife used to trim the broom bristles had slipped and caused an injury. Heyes smiled to himself, but was careful not to show it; apparently this type of injury is quite common among the newbie’s!
Murrey was standing quietly off to the side waiting to take his charge back to work once he was stitched up. Heyes hadn’t even noticed him there until now; the man was so good at blending into the background.
“So—what do ya’ think?” Morin asked his assistant. “Does it need stitches?”
Heyes took a look at the cut that had already been cleaned and disinfected, but still looked pretty nasty.
“Ahhh, yup,” Heyes prognosed. “Looks that way to me.”
“Good! You’re right,” Morin agreed. “You know where the needles and suturing thread are kept—go get some.”
Heyes nodded and sent a quick look into the dark blue eyes of the patient and saw fear there. This was a young man, no older than Billings had been. He was obviously scared right down to his core at having been dropped into this new and hostile environment.
Heyes smiled quietly in reassurance.
“It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not gonna hurt.”
The newbie barely responded and was obviously still in some shock and not sure yet who he could trust and who he couldn’t. Heyes felt for him alright, but there really wasn’t much more he could do for him other than stay close to him on the work floor. He would give moral albeit silent support wherever he could.
Heyes went over to the counter and opened the cabinet containing the supplies that Morin had asked for, and then stopped dead in his tracks. Right there in the cabinet beside the suturing thread was an unopened bottle of whiskey. Heyes swallowed nervously and sent a quick glance back towards the doctor. That man was busy sprinkling powder over the wound and wasn’t paying any attention to his assistant.
Heyes quickly gathered up the supplies, grabbed a role of gauze as well, gently closed the cabinet door and then returned to assist Morin with the injury. He sent a furtive glance to Murrey, hoping the guard hadn’t seen anything and by the guard’s bored expression and casual stance, it would appear to be a safe bet.
Heyes held the young man’s hand steady while Morin stitched the lips of the cut together and then wrapped it in gauze and then some bandaging.
“There ya’ go Ames,” Morin stated. “You’re fine to go back to work.” Then he looked over to the guard. “Maybe just get him packaging cigars or something else light for the rest of the week, alright?”
“Yeah, sure Doc,” Murrey agreed without too much conviction. “I’ll see what we can do.”
Ames smiled weakly in thanks and then got to his feet, though a little unsteady. More nerves than injury, Heyes surmised as he gave the young man a smile and a pat on the back. Then Murrey had the new inmate by the arm and was heading him back towards the exit. Heyes and Morin watched them leave.
“Seems like a nice enough kid,” Heyes mentioned. “What’s he in for?”
“Apparently he likes to set fire to things,” Morin informed his assistant. “Burned their school house to the ground. Fortunately the only one inside at the time was the schoolmarm but she only made it out because some of the older students saw the flames and were able to run in and get her. Apparently she had been knocked unconscious.”
“Oh,” Heyes commented dryly. “No candles for him then.”
The two men exchanged glances and both looked towards the door where Murrey and the inmate had exited the infirmary.
“Yeah well, back to work,” Morin mumbled. “Not too much for ya’ to do today Heyes, baring the unexpected so I guess you can just tidy up in here and make sure all the supplies are topped up, you know.”
“Yeah,” Heyes replied, and then a little hesitantly, continued. “Ahhh, you been replenishing the liquor supply Doc?”
Morin sent him a confused and slightly irritated look. “What do ya’ mean by that?” he demanded.
“Well…” Heyes was almost shuffling his feet. “when I was getting those supplies for ya’ I came across a whiskey bottle over in the cabinet.”
“What the hell are you talkin’ about?!”
“Are you sayin’ you didn’t put it there?” Heyes asked hopefully.
But Morin was already on the move, heading over to the cabinets. By the time Heyes caught up with him, he had the drawer open and was staring at the bottle laying there.
“Fuck!” Morin swore. “How the hell did that get in there?!”
“So it’s not yours?” Heyes asked.
“Hell no!” Morin retorted. “Ya’ think I wanna’ loose my job?!” But then he rubbed his chin and looked contemplative. “Still, since it’s here—do ya’ wanna’…”
“NO!” Heyes had to be strong for both of them, because he had to admit, he was pretty tempted as well. It’d been a long time since he’d had a decent shot of whiskey. But…”No Doc, we can’t. Obviously someone has planted it here to set you up. You start actually drinkin’ it then you’ll just be walking right into the trap.”
“Hmmmm,” Morin sounded disappointed. “I suppose you’re right. But who the hell would do that? I get along fine with everyone here—well, pretty much. Who’d want to see me get fired?”
“I donno,” Heyes admitted. “It doesn’t make sense.” Then he stopped, and frowned as another reason occurred to him. “Unless it’s not you they’re trying ta’ set up.”
“Well who else?”
“Me,” Heyes answered bluntly. “The warden can’t understand why I’m not finding any evidence of your drinking cause he knows ya’ are—or were. He came right out and suggested that I was covering up for ya’. Of course I denied it but I don’t think he believed me. Now, I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe me.”
“Shit!” Morin swore again. “Now what?”
“I donno. If I don’t tell him about this then he’ll know for sure that I’ve been covering for ya’, but if I do tell him then you’ll lose your job,” Heyes sighed. “Let me think on it for a bit Doc, I’ll figure something out,” then he smiled. “I always do.”
Next morning, Heyes caught Murrey’s attention and silently let him know that he wanted to go see the warden. Murrey smiled slightly and sent him a subtle nod and went off to see it if would be convenient for his boss at that time. Heyes’ eyes narrowed slightly at the guard’s apparent satisfaction at the request. He decided that it was time he began to pay a little more attention to what that guard got up to when not on the work floor.
Two hours later Heyes once again found himself standing in front of the warden’s desk, trying to look servile. Mitchell was seeping superiority. He sent the convict a knowing smile.
“Have you something you wish to report?” he asked the inmate.
“Ahhh, yes sir Warden.” Heyes admitted, looking somewhat sheepish. “But ya’ gotta agree ya’ won’t punish me.”
“Punish you,” Mitchell repeated. “Why would I do that Convict, unless you are guilty of some misconduct?”
“Yes…well…” again Heyes looked as though he was gonna shuffle his feet and kept his eyes averted from the warden, putting on the air of a guilty conscience. “Ya’ gotta agree ya’ won’t punish me.”
“You are hardly in a position to make demands, Convict,” Mitchell pointed out. “Tell me what you know and then I will decide if the information is worth ignoring any misconduct that you have committed.”
Heyes gave a resigned sigh, apparently giving in to the warden’s ‘superiority’.
“Well, ahhh…” Heyes began. “a couple of evenings ago—I can’t remember which one—I kinda snuck over to the infirmary. I know I shouldn’t a’ done it—but I had a splitting headache and I know that Doc keeps some real good painkillers over there, so….”
“How did you get through the locked doors?” Mitchell asked and Heyes raised his eyebrows as though that answer should be obvious—and obviously it was because Mitchell quickly shook his head and waved the question away. “Yes, yes—never mind. So what happened?”
“Well, Doc had gone home by then, so I was just rummaging around for some of those painkillers when I heard the far door unlocking so I quickly hid until I could see who it was.”
Mitchell suddenly was looking a little uncomfortable and shifted in his leather chair.
“So who was it?” he asked.
“I couldn’t tell ‘cause it was getting dark in there, but I could see what he was doing.”
“He went over to the counters and I heard him open up the cabinet there, the one that isn’t kept locked and then he opened up a small satchel he had with him and took out a bottle of something. I couldn’t see what kind of bottle, but I knew it was a bottle. And then he put it in the cabinet, closed everything up and left the same way he’d come in.”
Mitchell nodded. “And you don’t know who it was?”
“No. It was dark and I couldn’t see his face.”
“That’s very interesting Convict.” Mitchell stated. “So what did you do next?”
“Well, I made sure that the guard….”
“How do you know it was a guard? You said you couldn’t see him.”
“No, no, I couldn’t see his face,” Heyes explained. “but he was wearing a guard’s uniform, I could tell that much just from his silhouette.”
“Right,” Mitchell conceded with a tinge of disappointment in his tone. “Continue.”
“As I was sayin’; I made sure the guard was well gone and not comin’ back and then I went over to that cabinet and opened the drawer and wouldn’t ya’ know; there was a bottle of whiskey in there!”
“Indeed?” Mitchell commented. “And how do you know that the bottle of whiskey hadn’t already been there for some time? As I have already told you, Dr. Morin does tend to drink while on the job.” the warden smiled. “You may have just given me the evidence I need to fire the man.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Heyes disagreed, though looking a little uncertain. “I mean, I saw the guard put a bottle in that drawer and that was the only bottle in there. If it had already been there then I would have found two bottles of something. Right?”
Mitchell signed. “Yes, I suppose you’re right about that.”
“Yeah,” Heyes nodded enthusiastically. “Seems to me somebody’s trying to set the Doc up or somethin’. Don’t know why anyone would want to do that though. Still, now even if I were to find any more bottles laying around I’d be real suspicious of them being legitimate—if ya’ get my meanin’.”
Mitchell’s jaw tightened irritably. “Yes, I suppose you have a point.”
Heyes smiled broadly, puffing himself up with a job well done.
“So,” he surmised hopefully. “we can just forget about me bein’ there after hours an’ all? ‘Cause if we can pretend that I wasn’t there, then we can pretend that nothin’ else happened either…right?”
Mitchell sent Heyes a suspicious look. “Are you threatening me Convict?”
“Threatening you, Warden?” Heyes asked, and then smiled innocently. “Why would I be threatening you?”
“Right,” Mitchell agreed, but he did not look pleased. “I will keep this information confidential for now. You may return to your duties.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Awakening Chapter twenty-one Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:25 pm|| |
“Hi’ya Kid!” Heyes greeted his partner with a big smile. “How are ya’?!”
“Good Heyes,” Curry answered as he sat himself down in his usual spot. “You’re sure in better spirits than ya’ were last time I saw ya’.”
“Yeah,” Heyes looked a little contrite. “I’m sorry about that Kid; I know I was kinda down. David passed along my apology didn’t he?”
“Oh yeah,” Curry admitted. “and I understand why, considering what had happened and the timing an’ all. Ya’ coulda’ talked to me about it though.”
“Yeah, I know,” Heyes admitted. “I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet, that’s all.” he sighed. “I guess sometimes its easier writing stuff like that in a letter rather than talkin’ face ta’ face.”
“Uh huh,” Kid sorta agreed. “I have to admit it was good for David to get that letter from ya’. He was kinda’ goin’ through a hard time himself right around then. I get the feelin’ the two of ya’ talked it out?”
“Yeah, we did,” Heyes admitted. “It was good.”
“Good,” then Kid smiled. “I got some good news for ya’ Heyes.”
“Oh yeah?” Heyes asked. “Did Judge Parsons finally see the light and is going to rescind my sentence and let me live my life as a free man?”
Curry looked disappointed. “Well, no. Not that good.”
Heyes smiled. “I was just ribbin’ ya Kid. I knew it couldn’t be that good. So what is the good news?”
“Well now that you’ve taken the ‘umph’ outa it, it don’t seem all that important anymore.”
“Oh no Kid! C'mon’,” Heyes insisted. “I was just teasin’ ya’! Don’t leave me in suspense. What is it?”
Curry smiled again. “Well we were right Heyes,” he informed his cousin. “President Cleveland finally got fed up with Warren and some of the business dealings he was involved in, and booted him outa office.”
“Oh,” Heyes responded, suddenly quite serious. “So Warren’s not the governor of Wyoming anymore? That is good news.”
“Yeah. A fella by the name of George Baxter is in office now,” Curry explained. “Lom and Steven and me already have an appointment to go speak with him early in the New Year. And I tell ya’ there’s gonna have ta’ be an avalanche covering the train tracks to prevent me from being there!”
Heyes looked disappointed. “The New Year? Ya’ couldn’t get in sooner than that?”
“No Heyes, Steven tried,” Curry explained. “I guess Warren left quite a mess behind and this new fella is already swamped with complaints and people wanting to see him. We got the earliest appointment we could.”
Heyes smiled, realizing his friends were doing everything possible to help him out. “Yeah, that’s good Kid,” he thanked him. “Let’s hope he’s more agreeable to our situation than Warren was.”
“Couldn’t be worse.”
Heyes raised his brows and nodded in agreement.
“How are the girls?” he asked.
“They’re fine Heyes,” Curry assured him. “Beth is all excited about spending Thanksgiving with Clem and Bridget.” He smiled mischievously. “She’s fun to watch. I just hope she doesn’t get herself into trouble, this being her first time kinda on her own. Clem isn’t what you might call a ‘strict’ chaperone.”
Heyes laughed. “Uh huh! And those two girls can get quite rambunctious when they’re out on their own. And knowin’ Clem any trouble they get into, she’ll be right up to her neck in there with them!”
Kid smiled. “Yup,” he agreed. “Still, Steven will be there to make sure they behave themselves.”
“Hmm,.” Heyes nodded. “So how are you doin’ Kid?” he asked, changing the subject. “You workin’—keepin’ busy?”
“Oh yeah!” Kid agreed emphatically. “The problem with ranch work is that there is always somethin’ that needs doin’! One thing ya’ gotta promise me Heyes is that when you get outta here, we’re not gonna buy ourselves a ranch!”
Heyes smiled. “I promise. It’s good that Jesse keeps you working though—and payin’ ya’ as well! I’d hate to think that you were impecunious now after all we’ve been through. Although, I know how mettlesome you get once the gloaming sets in. Are you behaving yourself and staying away from the meretricious side of town these days?”
Kid sat still as stone and stared at Heyes with his mouth open, not quite sure what he had just heard and no idea as to how he should respond to it. Finally he looked away and he and Pearson locked eyes for an instant. Pearson shrugged—he had no idea either. Curry looked back into Heyes’ inquiring gaze.
“So—what’s your answer?” Heyes asked innocently.
“What’s my answer!?” demanded the Kid. “WHAT THE HELL WAS THE QUESTION?!”
“I simply stated that I would hate to think that you were broke, but I also know how restless you get once evening settles in and I hope that you are staying away from the brothel—or at least that part of town.”
“Heyes, there weren't nothin’ simple about that question,” Kid pointed out. “What the hell are you doin’ anyways? Reading a dictionary from cover to cover or something?!”
Heyes grinned like the Cheshire cat. “Yeah, something like that!”
Curry waited for a further explanation. Heyes relented, though teasing his cousin had been kinda’ enjoyable.
“Apparently the Reverent here felt that I needed some mental stimulation, so she gives me a new word every week to decipher and put into a sentence,” he explained, excitement lighting his eyes. “It’s kinda’ been fun, Kid—you should try it.”
“Uh huh,” Curry didn’t look too enthusiastic. “Ya’ mean she has actually found words that you don’t know the meaning of?”
“I know! Amazing isn’t it!?”
Kid rolled his eyes; his cousin’s head was startin’ to swell up again.
“So how do ya’ figure out what they mean?” he asked. “Ya’ got a dictionary or somethin’ in there?”
“Well I didn’t at first,” Heyes admitted. “and it was proving to be quite a dilemma. I was even thinking of asking you for one for Christmas. But then somebody else beat ya’ to it.”
“Oh yeah?” Kid asked, feeling a little resentful. “Who?”
“I’m pretty sure it was Kenny, but he won’t admit to it,” Heyes surmised. “I went back to my cell one evening after supper and a dictionary with a thesaurus was sitting on my cot.”
“What the hell is a ‘thesaurus’?” Kid asked. “Sounds like it oughta be extinct.”
“Oh,” Heyes answered, taking on an important air. “well a ‘thesaurus’ is a book that gives ya’ samples of different words that mean the same thing.”
“Oh,” Kid rolled his eyes. “Great! Now you’re gonna be giving me even more words that don’t make no sense. Why don’t ya’ just use the same words the rest of the world uses Heyes?! You’d be a hell of a lot easier to put up with!”
“Don’t ya’ wanna learn new words Kid?” Heyes asked him, a little disappointed.
“Why?” Kid sent back to him. “I can communicate good enough with what I got. Geesh! No wonder your head is so swollen all the time—all those big words floaten’ around in there!”
“Oh,” Heyes mumbled, looking down at his shackled hands.
Kid instantly felt contrite. Here he had been telling Kenny that Heyes needed something new to get him out of his depression and now that he had, Curry was complaining about it.
“Yeah, I’m sorry Heyes,” Kid apologized. “you’re right.” Heyes perked up, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Maybe this is something we can do together. The lady Reverent gives you words to decipher, then you can pass them on to me and then I’ll take ‘em home and figure ‘em out too.”
Heyes’ small smile grew into a big dimpled grin. “Yeah! There ya’ go Kid—it’ll be fun!”
Kid smiled and nodded, though ‘fun’ wasn’t exactly the word he had in mind.
“I hate to say it though Heyes,” Kid reminded him. “but with the way the temperature has been dropping we could get hit with some heavy weather soon. I may not be able to get out here next month.”
“I know,” Heyes admitted. “I’m trying not to think about it. Still, when that happens I’ll send them along in a letter. The mail slows down in the winter but it does usually get through eventually.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
So the two cousins finished up their visit and then each went their separate ways. It had been a little harder this time, saying goodbye since they didn’t really know when they would be able to see one another again. But they had to do it and eventually they accepted the inevitable and parted company.
Heyes headed back to his cell to read since it was too cold outside to make a walk around the parameter anything akin to pleasant. He really was not looking forward to another winter here in the prison as he had no problem remember just how cold it had become the previous year. Still, he surmised, he was better prepared for it this year, with more knitted clothing and, well, maybe not so much a layer of fat as just not so much ribcage showing. Plus, he had a better idea of his place in the scheme of things; he wasn’t the new fish out of water anymore. He’d be alright.
Thanksgiving came and went without so much as a ripple. The prisoners had turkey and fixing’s for supper on that evening and the Sunday sermon was a little different in its message. But all in all it was just another day. Then in the week that followed the holiday Heyes found himself down on the work floor as usual, back to making brooms again. Ho hum. Nothing changes.
Then all of a sudden, one quiet morning, pandemonium broke out, which is pretty much the way it does happen when it’s going to. Since there was no talking allowed, when a dispute develops between the inmates, it’s usually a silent one and nobody other than the two adversaries is even aware of a disagreement until the fists start flying. And that’s what happened this time.
Heyes didn’t know what it was about nor even who was involved and he didn’t want to know. He had enough to deal with without getting involved in another man’s dispute. Unfortunately it did not take long for the other inmates on the floor to get caught up in the action. Pretty soon they had made a human circle around the two combatants and were making it very difficult for the guards to get in there and break it up.
Before Heyes could get himself totally out of the way, he got caught up in the throng and the harder he tried to get out of it the deeper into he got pushed. Within seconds he found himself with a front row seat to the fist fight and was doing everything he could just to stay on his own feet.
The fight was getting pretty brutal, and nobody could really tell who the two combatants were. For one thing both of them had bloody noses by this time and they were so at each other that it was hard to distinguish who was who.
Then all of a sudden, the man on top grabbed one of the dull work knives from a table and before anybody could stop him he had plunged it into the torso of his adversary. Then he was on his feet and disappeared into the circle of men standing and jostling around him. Heyes could see the stricken man writhing on the floor and made a run for him to see if he could help. But the guards were in amongst the throng now and were swinging their clubs to break the crowd up and send them back out of the way.
Heyes got around them just in time to see the new guard, Thompson bend over the injured man, grab the knife handle and prepare to pull it out.
“NO!” Heyes shouted and made a run for him.
Thompson looked up just in time to see Heyes coming at him and then the two men were sprawled on the floor with Heyes on top. Heyes scrambled to get away from the guard and hurried over to the injured man in hopes of being able to stop the bleeding. He grabbed a rag from one of the work tables and began to wrap it around the wound at the base of the knife handle, trying to be oh so careful not to dislodge the weapon. One thing he did know; if the knife were to be pulled out now chances were good the man would bleed to death before they could get him to the infirmary.
Heyes was scared; his confidence was at a low ebb and all he could see was the blood trying to seep through his pressure point. The wounded man (Heyes was surprised to see that it was Ames.) was gasping for breath and looked even more scared than Heyes was. He was grabbing at Heyes’ tunic, his eyes pleading for the older man to help him. Heyes started to shake and gasp for air himself; a scream was building up at the back of his throat and all he could see was his best friend bleeding out in his arms and the blood seeping from the bullet wound and soaking into the ground around his knees.
Then Heyes was suddenly jolted from behind; Thompson was yelling at him and grabbing the back of his tunic, trying to pull him away. To Heyes, it was just a re-enactment of Morrison grabbing him and preventing him from helping his partner. He yelled his anger and shooting up he sent his elbow back into the guards gut, sending the man staggering to crash into a work table. But then Thompson got his balance again and came at Heyes, swinging his club and swearing at him. Heyes felt the blows hit his back and shoulders, but he ignored them and continued to apply pressure to the injured man’s wound hoping and praying that he was doing the right thing.
“Thompson!!” came Reece’s’ angry voice. “BACK OFF!”
Then suddenly Kenny was there and he was between the guard and the inmate.
“Back off Thompson!” Kenny repeated. “Heyes is just doin’ his job!”
“What do ya’ mean; his job?” Thompson sneered. “That convict attacked me and he’s gonna get punished for it!”
“All Heyes did was stop you from killing him!” Kenny shot back. “If you had pulled that knife out, Ames would have bled to death right here and now! So BACK OFF!!”
Kenny was still standing between the three men, his hand against Thompson chest and locked into eye contact in order to exert control over the situation. Thompson was fuming, but finally he looked away and backed off from the senior guard. Kenny breathed a sigh of relief and took a quick look around.
The other inmates had been dispersed and were back at their own work stations, even though a few of them were still sending furtive glances over their way. As for the assailant, nobody was saying who he was or where he went. A quick wiping of blood off his face and back to his work station and none of the guards would know which one it was and none of the inmates were going to let on.
“How is he Heyes?” Kenny asked, kneeling down by the two men.
“I donno,” Heyes admitted, still shaking from the assault. “I think I have the bleeding slowed for now, but the sooner we get him to the infirmary, the better.”
“I sent Davis to go get Doc, so he should be here any minute.” Kenny told him. “so just hang on.”
Less than a minute later, though it seemed like an hour to Heyes, Morin finally put in an appearance and knelt down beside Ames, across from Heyes. He quickly checked the wounded man’s vital signs and his pupils, then let out his breath and nodded.
“Good job Heyes. Ya’ slowed the bleeding and he’s still with us. Now we just have to get him back to the infirmary without causing him too much distress,” then Morin looked up to someone standing beside him. “Sister, could you take over for Heyes and keep applying pressure to the wound while we move him?”
“Of course, Doctor,” came Sister Julia’s response.
Heyes looked up as well and smiled with relief at the Sister as she came around and knelt down beside her friend. He also noticed another young woman standing there, wearing the black dress and long white head covering, indicating a novice. She was standing back from the group, with her head down, obviously not wanting to get in the way. Perhaps she was also feeling a little intimidated by all these men, some quite menacing in their appearance, standing around her. Heyes dismissed her as his focus was brought back to the job at hand.
Sister Julia placed her hands over top of Heyes’ and then he carefully slid his hands out from under hers and she continued to apply the pressure needed to keep the blood from flowing. Heyes breathed another sigh of relief now that these two more experienced people had taken over and he got to his feet to await further instructions.
“Okay Heyes,” Morin said. “if you could grab hold of his legs, I’ll get his shoulders and we can move him over to the infirmary. Alright?”
So the small procession made its way back over to the medical ward. The young novice followed along behind, keeping her head down and not looking to either side but staying focused on the group in front of her. Kenny brought up the rear just to make sure they got the wounded man into the medical ward without any further mishaps.
Thompson watched the group leave with his jaw set tight in indignant anger. Carson watched Thompson, a subtle smile growing on his face. Boeman watched all of them.
Finally the small group made it over to the infirmary and Morin led the way over to an examination table and they laid the young man out on it.
“Okay,” said Doc. “Sister, you just keep applying that pressure. Don’t let up. Heyes, go ge the suturing thread and a needle.”
Everyone nodded and carried on with their tasks while Morin prepared a dosage of morphine for the patient. The young novice stayed out of the way.
Kenny approached Doc. “Shall I take Heyes back to the work floor?” he asked. “It doesn’t really look like you need him here.”
“No, leave him be,” Morin answered him quietly, so the others wouldn’t hear. “Heyes’ self-confidence took a beating after what happened to Billings. I think it’ll be good for him to stay here for now and help out. Come back and get him in a few hours.”
Kenny looked over at Heyes getting the supplies out of the cabinet and hurrying them over to the patient and then laying a comforting hand on the man’s forehead and shoulder.
Kenny nodded. “Yeah, okay Doc,” he agreed. “Good luck. I’ll see you after lunch.”
Reece discreetly left the infirmary while Morin returned to his patient and administered the morphine.
Within minutes Ames was totally out and the three adults concentrated on withdrawing the knife and keeping the flow of blood to a minimum. All in all the procedure did not take long. Once the knife was out, Morin took the forceps and was able to find and remove the small piece of material that had been pushed into the wound by the dull knife when it entered. Then he sprinkled the whole area with morphine powder and quickly stitched the wound together.
Once that was done everyone stood back with a sigh of relief. Heyes wiped his bloody hands on his tunic and stepped back. He was still shaking from the stress and the memories all of this had brought back on to him. Geesh! Was he never going to be able to see blood again without it triggering that response? He went and sat down over by the counter before his knees gave out under him. Then with a deep sigh he ran his hands over his eyes and then over his scalp—he still couldn’t get used to the fact that there was no hair there.
Morin supplied Sister Julia and her novice with padding and gauze and left the two ladies to get the patient bandaged up and then he turned and gave Heyes a scrutinizing look. He took a big cleansing breath and walking over to his assistant he put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“Ya’ did good Heyes,” he told the younger man. “Your actions probably saved his life.”
Heyes looked up and met Morin’s eyes and then he smiled. For the first time in a long time the convict actually felt some pride in himself.
“Come child; snuggle up so we can keep each other warm.”
Sister Julia opened up her warm blanket as a welcoming gesture for her young companion to tuck in beside her so they could use both their blankets and combined body heat to make the coach ride to the prison a little more comfortable. Beth smiled. Though she had her own blanket and was wearing long woolen underwear beneath her heavy black novice habit, she was still cold. The invitation to snuggle was instantly accepted and Beth moved in quickly and soon both ladies were feeling more civilized.
During the colder months, when the Sister was able to get to the prison at all, she usually stayed for a least a couple of days—longer if the need arose. There was always a comfortable room set aside for her just off the infirmary. It consisted of a wood stove, a writing desk with a chair, a chamber pot and two cots, for those occasions when she had a novice with her. It was not unusual for the Sister to bring a companion along since helping out in the prison infirmary was a good eye opener for any new novice who was contemplating a life in service to her God. After this particular initiation there were many who decided to simply pack it in and go home.
This current young lady though obviously not a true novice seemed very determined to accompany the Sister to the prison and had overcome a great many obstacles in order to attain her goal. Sister Julia admired her for that much but still had some doubts about the legitimacy of her claim. She insisted that she was an emancipated woman and a reporter in her own right, wishing to do an expose on the prison system, but it just didn't set right. She still came across as being like a brown eyed doe caught in the sights of a hunter’s rifle rather than the sophisticated woman of the world whom she claimed to be.
Still, Sister Julia admired her spunk and determination—and her courage too. This was not going to be a walk around the park during a Sunday social. The Wyoming Territorial Prison was a daunting institute even for the hardened criminals who had been sentenced to spend time there. For a young woman barely out of her teens (if indeed she was out of her teens, and Sister Julia had her doubts along those lines) it could prove to be quite terrifying.
“How long have you known Joshua and Thaddeus?” the Sister asked her young companion.
“About five years now I think,” Beth answered. “We had a ranch here in Wyoming and they came by looking for work.”
“And your folks had no problem with them staying with you?” the Sister inquired. “Two drifters coming from out of nowhere; that was awfully trusting.”
Beth shrugged. “It’s not like they stayed in the house,” she insisted. “They slept out in the bunkhouse.” Then she paused and thought about it for a moment. “But we knew we were safe with them. There was just something about them, something that made you trust them. And even after we discovered who they really were, we still trusted them. I never once felt threatened by either one of them.” Then she smiled. “I suppose you think that was awfully naive.”
“No,” the Sister denied that. “I know exactly what you mean. The first time I laid eyes on those two boys I knew they were decent men. Oh, a little rough around the edges I suppose.” she smiled. “and not at all comfortable with me lecturing them about how they had neglected the spiritual side of their lives!”
The Sister became serious again. “Oddly enough, considering their background, Thaddeus opened up to me right away. He told me that they had been raised in an orphanage but had run away while still quite young and had made their own way in the world. Joshua didn’t seem too happy with his friend discussing their past with me and was quick to shut it down.” Then she smiled again. “I suppose he was afraid that dear Thaddeus was going to get carried away and give me his confessional right then and there amongst the tumble weeds and the cattle!”
Beth giggled again. “Thaddeus is sweet, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” the Sister agreed and then she sighed reflectively. “I must admit to being very shocked when I discovered their true identities. It just didn’t seem possible. They were both such kind men.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Yet, Joshua has been in the prison for a year now, with no denial that he is who they say he is—it just doesn’t seem right somehow.”
“I know,” Beth agreed. “They were arrested at our ranch in Colorado, did you know?”
Beth nodded. “It was the worst day of my life. Thaddeus was so badly injured—I thought for sure he was going to die. I was so scared. I love him so much.”
“Both of them!” Beth quickly covered her tracks. “I love both of them; they’re like brothers to me. That’s why I have to see for myself what Joshua is going through! He’s a dear friend and doesn’t deserve to be mistreated. I want to do everything I can to help him.”
Sister Julia smiled and gave Beth a tighter hug. “Good. And I want to do everything I can to help you.”
Snow had been falling for some time when the coach finally pulled into the prison yard The two ladies were quite happy to finally be able to disembark and get settled into their heated room.
The coach came to a halt close to the entrance way and ole’ Bill, the convents handyman stiffly clambered down off the box. He opened the door of the coach and assisted the Sister and her companion to step out.
“Thank you Bill,” Sister Julia acknowledged him. “With the way this snow is coming down I suggest you best stay here for tonight. Get the horses settled and tell the trustee to escort you to the kitchen for a meal. I'll make sure you have a place to sleep.”
“Yes Sister. Thank you,” Bill answered and smiled at the memory of the impromptu poker game he got into the last time he'd had to spend a night at the prison. “You just send word when you're ready to head back.”
And with that Bill climbed back up onto the box and clucked the horses into motion again and turned them towards the barns. The Sister and Beth made their way into the prison and headed straight over to reception. Sister Julia had been here many times, of coarse, but for Beth even just walking through the entrance was like walking into a whole new world.
One of the guards greeted them in the foyer and escorted them, as was usual, over to the infirmary using the same route that Kenny had used to sneak Jed in to visit with Heyes that one time. And just like Heyes and the Kid before her, as soon as Beth entered the hallways of that institution she felt the oppressiveness of those walls closing in upon her. She followed the Sister and their escort down the cold corridor feeling a little frightened with her eyes looking everywhere around her certain that there were ghosts floating above and behind them, just out of sight.
Finally the guard stopped and opened the door to the room regularly occupied by the Sister while she was in attendance. The wood stove had been lit in anticipation of her arrival and the room was warm and inviting.
“There’s hot soup down in the kitchen Sister, if you and your assistant would care for any,” the guard offered. “There’s nothing pressing in the infirmary right now anyways.”
“Thank you officer,” the Sister answered. “I will let Dr. Morin know that we are here and then I believe some hot soup would be very welcome!”
The guard nodded and tipped his cap to both ladies. “Sister, Miss. I’ll see you later then.”
Beth stepped in to the cozy room and instantly felt the heat start to invade her cold toes and fingers. She smiled, and putting her overnight bag down beside one of the cots, she quickly began striping off her outer layer of clothing and went to rub her hands over by the stove. Sister Julia smiled as well and soon did likewise, giving them both a chance to warm up before heading next door into the infirmary.
Once both ladies had taken the time to steam away the chill they made themselves presentable after the discomfort of their journey. Then Sister Julia led the way down the short distance to the end of the corridor and tapped lightly on the door there. Within a few moments they heard a key from the inside unlocking and the door opened to present to them an older, balding man who looked a little grizzled and worse for wear but still managing a smile in greeting.
“Sister,” Morin addressed them. “I’ve been expecting you. Didn’t realize you were bringing a novice with you this time though.”
“Yes, I know Doctor,” Sister Julia answered. “it came up suddenly. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, of course not,” Morin responded, waving them in to the large room. “More the merrier!”
The two ladies entered and Morin couldn’t help but watch the young novice glide gracefully in behind her mentor. What a pretty little thing, he thought to himself, and what a shame she was going to hide away her beauty inside a nun’s habit. Then he felt guilty; but not because he was having thoughts like that about a servant to the church, but because he didn’t feel guilty about having thoughts like that. He shrugged; he was an amoral man and he’d learned to live with it.
“Not too much going on right now ladies,” Morin informed them as he closed and re-locked the door. “Might be a good time to show your student around the infirmary—you never know when things could get busy here.”
“Yes, of course,” the Sister agreed. “I will take some time to do that now, and then I believe we will head down to the kitchen for some hot soup. It was a rather chilly ride over here from the convent.”
“Fine Sister,” Morin agreed. “Whatever you want.”
Then the doctor left them to it and went back to his ever present paper work.
Sister Julia took Beth around the facility and showed her all the little nooks and crannies and where all the different supplies were kept and what tables were for what procedures, etc. etc. Then they left and went for some much need sustenance.
It just so happened that the two ladies were down in the kitchen and sitting at a little side table beside the stove having their soup and bread when Heyes happened to walk by bringing towels and table coverings down from the laundry room.
“Oh look,” Sister Julia pointed him out quietly. “there’s Joshua now.”
“Oh no!” Beth was mortified. “He can’t see me here.” And she started to look around for a place to hide.
Sister Julia smiled at her discomfort and then put a calming hand on her arm. “Don’t worry,” she said. “he’d actually have to be looking for us before he’d see us in here. Just relax.”
Though still a little tense Beth nodded and once she realized the truth of the assurance, she did relaxed and allowed herself to take a good look at her friend.
Heyes was standing at his ease, talking to one of the other trustees over by the shelving where the linen was stored. He didn’t notice the two nuns over in the corner, and if he had he probably would not have thought anything of it. Aside from sending his friend, Sister Julia a quiet greeting he would have simply carried on with his duties. It was not unusual for the Sister to bring a novice with her and it is likely that Heyes would not have looked twice.
As it was, Beth was able to watch her friend and remain unnoticed herself. Despite what she had already heard from Bridget and from Thaddeus as to Joshua’s condition, she was still shocked and heart sickened by what she saw.
He was so thin! That was her first observation. She’s wasn’t even sure if she would have recognized him if she had passed him in the corridor. It was only because Sister Julia had pointed him out that she could see that it was indeed her friend. He finished his chat with the trustee and was turning to leave, and she could see him smiling and her heart nearly broke; he had such a beautiful smile! But his cheeks appeared hollow and his complexion pale and tired looking. And his hair! His beautiful thick brown hair was all shaved off and that just made him look even thinner and gaunter.
Her hand came up to her mouth as a silent sob escaped her and she quickly looked away from him, hoping to block out the image. But of course she couldn’t and she looked back again to watch him walk away and then disappear around a corner to return to his duties in the laundry room.
“Are you alright my dear?” the Sister asked her.
“Oh my goodness!” Beth allowed her sob to come forth. “Oh my goodness! He has changed so much! I would not have known him! Thaddeus and my sister both warned me, but….to actually see him like that. Oh my goodness!”
The Sister put a hand on her arm. “Are you sure you want to continue with this?” she asked the young woman. “This is what life is here. If you don’t think you can handle it…”
“No, no,” Beth responded, taking a deep breath and wiping away the tears. “This is ridiculous! I must harden myself if I expect to be of any use at all! I get so fed up with these tears—they come so unbidden! I hate it! This crying over every little thing! I must stop doing that or no one is ever going to take me seriously. The only power a crying woman has over men is one of pity and condescension and I will not play that game! I have a job to do here—I have a mission and I will not let these silly tears have control over me!”
Sister Julia sat back in surprise. All of a sudden, right before her eyes this quiet unassuming young girl had changed into a determined woman who was not going to let anything or anybody stand in her way. Of course Beth had already exhibited this perseverance simply by having made it this far, but now the Sister was seeing it manifest into a true defining spirit. Sitting before her was a young woman who was not going to allow the powers that be control her life or her decisions. Even if it meant defying her own parents, which was something the Sister had by now, come to realize she had done.
The Sister smiled and patted her arm again.
“Come, finish your soup,” she said. “Then we will return to the infirmary and I’ll show you more of our duties there.”
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Awakening Chapter twenty-one Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:26 pm|| |
The rest of the afternoon went by quietly. There were some minor cases to tend to, but mostly it was for returning patients who’d had previous injuries or illnesses that the doctor was simply doing a follow up on. There were of no real consequence. Beth settled in to helping out with cleaning up and bringing supplies over to the doctor as he asked for them. By the end of the day she was feeling relaxed and confident about what would be expected of her in this new environment.
The next day would prove to be another matter altogether.
The morning started out just as quietly as the previous afternoon had been and Beth was beginning to wonder if her sister and Thaddeus had been over-reacting with their testimonies of deplorable conditions. The inmates whom Beth did happen to see and even assist attending to did not seem overly hard-done by and everyone seemed quite civil to one another. Joshua had certainly appeared to be underweight when Beth had seen him, but perhaps that was just her imagination—seeing what she expected to see. It may have just been the prison garb and his shaved head which made him appear almost emaciated.
Then the main door to the infirmary burst open and Davis burst in upon their morning all huffing and puffing and full of self-importance.
“Doc! We got a fight happenin’ over at the work floor!” he announced. “Don’t really know what’s goin’ on or who’s involved, but we might be needin’ ya’!”
Morin looked up from the instruments he was sterilizing and gave a sigh of frustration.
“Alright, we’ll be right there,” he answered. “Sister, will you please grab my bag over there by the desk? God dammit, I don’t know if these fellas are animals before they come here or if bein’ here brings it out in ‘em. Either way I always seem to be patchin’ up somebody!”
Morin and the Sister quickly headed out the door, and since everyone had forgotten about the quiet little novice, she decided to tag along.
Beth could tell when they were getting close to the guts of the prison; she could hear men yelling and something banging against wood and metal. She could also smell them. Uncouth men who are only permitted to shower once a week and in cold water to boot cannot help but put out an aroma that would tingle at a young girls nostrils and cause her eyes to water.
Beth put a hand up to her nose and mouth to try and mask some of the odor but she wasn’t having much luck. Then once they entered upon the work floor itself, she almost lost her courage altogether to run screaming back to the safety of the infirmary! But she took herself in hand and said ‘Self; this is why you are here! Don’t you dare turn coward now and run into hiding!’ And she didn’t.
But the scene that met her eyes was daunting to say the least. Harsh men dressed in the traditional prison garb were being ushered back to their work stations, but they were not going willingly. They were silent in their protest, but they protested none the less, with their eyes filled with resentment and anger and their mouths twisted in sneers of hatred at the guards enforcing the rules upon them.
The yelling and banging was coming from the guards themselves, using whatever means they had at their disposal to dominate and control the throng of prisoners who had been caught up in the aggressive adrenaline of the fight. It seemed to Beth that the guards themselves were just as harsh and brutal as the prisoners. The only real way to distinguish them was by their clothing and the bully clubs the guards were so effectively wielding.
Her teeth were chattering with the most basic of animal fears as she couldn’t help but notice the looks being sent her way by some of the inmates. Though most of these cons would have been civil to a young maiden, there were others who were used to taking what they wanted and didn’t mind showing it. Once they had noticed that a youthful female had entered into their domain, it didn’t matter to them that she wore the garb of the church. Their nostrils’ flared at the sight of her and the looks of masculine lust that were sent her way sent a shiver down her spine and encouraged her to keep her face hidden and to stay close to her mentor.
Then suddenly, all she could see was blood! She was taken back to that terrible day, a year and a half ago when her dear friend had lain stricken in the dirt just barely holding onto a life that was rapidly seeping away from him. And there was Joshua, down by the wounded man and again there was blood all over him, soaking into his clothing and smeared across his face. His hands were covered in it. Beth thought she was going to scream—it was happening all over again!
But then he and the doctor were standing up, lifting the man with them and walking away, towards the exit. Sister Julia was right in there, her hands keeping pressure on the terrible wound and they were all moving away. Beth shook herself into rational behaviour and quietly followed the procession. She was dimly aware of one of the guards coming up along behind her, protecting her from the advances of what she conceived to be the threatening multitude of pent up male lustiness.
It was with a great sigh of relief when she found herself back in the relative safety of the infirmary. She quickly got herself out of the way since she had no real idea as to how to tend to the injured man whereas everyone else in the room seemed to be quite capable of doing just that. She watched Joshua and she felt a sorrow rise up in her as she realized that he truly was a different man now than the one she had known. It was as though there was a sense of brutality about him now—a darkness that lingered. Or was that simply because of the blood that was on him?
She continued to watch him. He wasn’t brutal in his behaviour in helping to tend to the patient; in fact he was just the opposite. He was exhibiting compassion; a true sense of caring about whether or not the man lived or died. He was quick and efficient in carrying out the doctor’s instructions and Morin himself seemed to trust in his abilities to do what was needed.
And yet there was still something; just a hint of the wild animal in him that she had never noticed before. She remembered the doctors comment earlier on concerning the behaviour of these inmates; were they animals to begin with, or did being in this environment make them into animals? Knowing what she knew of her friend, Beth was certain she knew the answer to that question.
Beth briefly noted the guard leaving the infirmary and then her attention was again drawn to the activity over with the patient. She couldn’t see too clearly what was going on there and she didn’t want to move in closer in case Joshua would then take more note of her. More than anything else, he could not know that she was here. Indeed, it had not been her intentions at all to be in such close proximity to him. She had of course hoped to see him—but at a distance!
It did not take long for the impromptu surgery to be completed and then everyone, including Beth breathed a sigh of relief. Joshua went to sit down over by the counter, as he did look drained. Then fortunately Dr. Morin gave herself and the Sister a job to do in completing the bandaging up of the patient. Beth was relieved to be given a job that she felt confident doing and quickly moved in beside the Sister to help with that endeavor. It also kept her facing away from Joshua which was an added benefit.
Beth was vaguely aware of the doctor speaking with Joshua, apparently assuring him of a job well done and then the medical man disappeared into his side office to write up the paperwork on this latest incident. It was at this point that Heyes’ attention moved back over to the patient and his attendants.
This was really the first time that Heyes had taken much notice of the Sister’s young novice. She was very quiet and unassuming in her manner and indeed was quite masterful at keeping her head down and her face hidden. Heyes could not even say what colour her eyes were, and of course her hair was hidden beneath the shawl covering her head. And yet there was something naggingly familiar about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it and it bothered him; that feeling that he should know her but not able to get enough information from her countenance to allow him to place her.
Then the atmosphere in the infirmary changed for the worse. Carson and Thompson suddenly put in an appearance and neither one looked like they were there on a social call. Beth saw them come in and instantly felt the strained oppression settle over the room and its occupants. What she witnessed next removed all doubt in her mind concerning the safety and well-being of her friend while incarcerated in this institution. It awakened in her an anger and a resolution to not only save her friend from this horrid place but to have a hand in changing the very structure of the prison system itself.
Heyes tensed. 'Dammit! What now?'
He stood up, trying to be discreet, but also wanting to get himself into a better position. Sitting down he had been vulnerable but now he moved into position with his back against the counter and cabinets, hoping to prevent Thompson from moving in behind him. He half turned towards the two guards but he was sure to keep his head down and his eyes averted from them not wanting to provoke a worse beating than the one that was already headed his way.
Carson moved towards him, taping the end of that damn bully club against the palm of his left hand. He was looking mean but that didn’t say much because even when he was smiling he looked mean. Thompson on the other hand, was smiling. He was looking forward to this. The two guards got in to position around the convict; Carson in front of him and Thompson up to the side. Heyes may have protected his back, but now he was surely trapped.
He locked eyes with Sister Julia, his expression apologetic. Why the hell did Carson have to do this here and now, with these two ladies watching? But then it occurred to Heyes that that was exactly what Carson had in mind. Adding embarrassment and degradation to the physical assault would just make it all the sweeter for two men who had already proven themselves to be sadistic bullies.
“That has got to be a record out on the floor today Heyes,” Carson commented. “You broke three of the basic ground rules all in one go. How about you show these ladies just how smart you are and tell us what those rules are.”
Heyes’ jaw tightened. 'Dammit! Where was Morin?' He still kept eye contact with the Sister. He didn’t really know why; maybe he just needed to focus on something other than Carson’s boots. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the novice though he was very much aware of her looking at him. 'Dammit! Not here, not now! This wasn’t right.'
“C'mon Heyes,” Carson chided him. “you have permission to speak—let’s hear it! What are the three rules you broke?”
Heyes then did look down at the floor. His heart was pounding; his brain just didn’t want to think. ' Ahhh—three rules….what were the three rules?'
“I spoke out of turn,” Heyes answered quietly. “and I assaulted a guard.”
“Okay, that’s two,” Carson could count. “What was the third rule Heyes? C'mon. It’s probably the most important one of all and yet it seems to be the one you keep on forgettin’ about.”
Heyes was silent. Where the hell was Morin? He couldn’t think—what other rule had he broken?
Thompson snickered. “Just like I thought,” he sneered. “He’s an imbecile. Everybody keeps goin’ on about what a brilliant man Hannibal Heyes is but I swear I have yet to see it!”
“Officer, really is this necessary?” Sister Julia asked from where she was standing. “Please consider my young novice….”
“Just doing my job Sister,” Carson interrupted her though still keeping his eyes boring into Heyes. “We gotta keep on top of these convicts or they’re gonna start thinkin’ they run the place! Perhaps next time you’ll leave your novice back at the convent.”
Beth opened her mouth to protest but the Sister laid a hand on her arm, instantly silencing her. The Sister had dealt with enough bullies in her day to realize that the more you protested their behavior, the worse it would become.
“So, c'mon Heyes,” Carson continued. “you’ve had a moment to think on it. What’s the third rule?”
“I don’t remember sir.”
“You don’t remember,” Carson repeated. “Sounds to me like you need re-educating. Thompson, remind Heyes what the third rule is.”
Heyes felt Thompson lean into him, could feel the man’s breath against his neck.
Heyes closed his eyes. 'Oh yeah.'
“The guards are always right,” Carson reiterated. “You seem to have a hard time remembering that one Heyes.”
“WHAT THE FXXK IS GOING ON IN HERE?!” Morin had returned to the infirmary.
“Hey there Doc,” Carson greeted him with a mean smile. “I’m just reminding Heyes of the ground rules. He’s been kinda forgetful of them lately.”
And here he gave Heyes a couple of friendly pats on the shoulder. Heyes cringed with each touch.
“You know damn well you don’t pull that crap in here!” Morin threw back at him. “This is my infirmary and Heyes is my assistant! When he’s working as my assistant those fxxkin’ ‘ground rules’ don’t apply! And you bloody well know it!”
“Maybe in here they don’t apply Doc, but out on the floor they sure as hell do,” Carson pointed out. “And when he broke the rules he was workin’ out on the floor, just like any other low-life convict.”
“You wanna take this up with the warden then you go and do that!” Morin challenged him. “but in the meantime get the hell outa my infirmary!”
“Sure thing, Doc,” Carson agreed and turned to go, his hand still on Heyes’ shoulder.
Then quick as the proverbial whip snake he came around full force and whacked that bully club right into Heyes’ ribcage. Heyes gasped and doubled over but Thompson grabbed him around his chest, holding him up so that Carson was able to get in two more rapid blows—and then all hell broke loose.
“YOU FXXKING PRXXK!” Morin yelled and then made a run at the guard!
Carson had no problem blocking the older man and then with a quick upper jab with his elbow, sent the doctor staggering back into an examination table. Morin tried to stay on his feet, but was unsuccessful and went down with a crash and a clatter, taking a tray of utensils with him.
Heyes had fallen to the floor by this time, clutching his definitely broken rib and painfully gasping for air. He curled himself into a ball to try and protect himself from the onslaught that he knew was coming. Carson turned back to him and then both guards started kicking the fallen convict until suddenly they found themselves blocked by the devil in a novice’s habit.
“STOP IT!” Beth yelled at them, all fury and clenched fists. “STOP KICKING HIM!”
Both guards stopped out of surprise more than anything else. They stared at the young unassuming novice who was now standing over the fallen convict, her jaw tight and her brown eyes alight with indignant rage. This was not a frightened young girl, pleading with them for mercy, but a strong and angry woman demanding respect.
“YOU LEAVE HIM BE!”
Carson and Thompson smiled at each other. What a wildcat! This could be fun. But then Sister Julia quickly got in between Beth and the two guards and pulled her out of the milieu before anything more could happen. Morin was on his feet again, limping but coming at them.
“You get the hell outa here Carson,” he demanded. “and take your new little boot-licker with ya’! And you better believe that Mitchell is gonna hear about this!”
Carson snickered. “Yeah, right,” then he knelt down beside Heyes and grabbed hold of the front of his tunic. Heyes opened his eyes, but instantly looked away. “You look at me Heyes,” Carson ordered him. When he didn’t get the response he wanted, he gave the convict a shake—Heyes gasped. “Here I am giving you permission to look me in the eye and you ain’t got the guts? LOOK AT ME!” Heyes was sucking his teeth with the pain but his lip curled up in a snarl as he deliberately turned and glared his hatred into the guard’s eyes. Carson smiled. “You ever assault one of my officers again, I’ll hang ya’. But I won’t do it in such a way as to kill ya’ Heyes, I’ll just make ya’ wish you were dead.”
He gave the convict a shove so that the back of his head banged against the floor and then he stood up and addressed his audience.
“Doctor, ladies. Have a pleasant afternoon,” then he nodded over to Thompson and the two men turned and left the infirmary.
Everyone was on the move at once. Beth reached the fallen man first and cradled his head in her lap. She leaned over him, looking into his eyes, her blond hair which had fallen from the shawl, was hanging loose about her face.
“Joshua!” her voice was a mixture of anger and anguish. She wasn’t sure which emotion she felt the most.
“What the hell…?” Heyes looked up into her gaze, his face a picture of confusion. He must be hallucinating—Beth couldn’t be here. He must be seeing things. Surely Beth didn’t run away from home to join the convent, did she? No, no that doesn’t make sense. Something was wrong here. “Sister Julia?”
“Yes, Joshua—I’m here,” the Sister assured him. “It’s alright.”
“No, no. It’s alright,” she repeated. “I’ll explain later.”
“Heyes,” Morin had managed to squeeze himself in between the two ladies. “just relax; I wanna take a look at ya’.”
Heyes nodded and Morin pulled up his tunic and then frowned at the odd bump and discolouration on the right side of his torso. He gently applied pressure and Heyes tensed.
“Yup,” Morin confirmed. “it’s that same damn rib again. Only this time it is for true and surely busted. Three times lucky, eh Heyes?”
Heyes groaned. “It feels like there’s a knife sticking in me.”
“Yup, I’m not surprised,” Morin commented. “It’s a bad break. We move ya’ the wrong way and it’s gonna compound itself. Damn that Carson! He’s just a fxxkin’ sadistic bastard! I swear he should be hung by his bxxxs and left to swing until they rip off!!”
Heyes cringed. “Jeez Doc, and you call him sadistic,” he commented through clenched teeth. “Remind me never to get on your bad side.”
“And really, Dr. Morin,” Sister Julia admonished him. “I realize you enjoy your colourful vulgarities, but I would appreciate you remembering that there are young ears present.”
Doc sent a quick glance over to a rather embarrassed looking novice and then had the good graces to look a little embarrassed himself.
“Oh yeah,” he mumbled. “Sorry miss. Don’t pay me no mind; I’m just a filthy old man.”
Beth smiled self-consciously and then dropped her gaze to focus again on her friend.
“Well,” said Morin as he stiffly hoisted himself to his feet. “let’s see if we can get him up onto a table. We’re gonna havta be careful though; like I said, one wrong move and that rib is gonna be on his outside rather than his inside.”
Beth paled slightly, but also looked determined to do her bit. Both ladies stood up and prepared to assist in the maneuver. Morin disappeared into his office again, but returned promptly with a stretcher and laid it down alongside Heyes’ prone body.
“Okay,” he said. “now miss, if you could just take my place here beside the stretcher. Good, thank you. Now, Sister if you could kneel down by his feet and I’ll take his shoulders. Now, we want to roll him onto his side so that our young novice here can slide the stretcher underneath him. But we have to be very careful to keep his body straight, you understand? We can’t let it twist at all.”
“Yes, Doctor. We understand,” Sister Julia informed him while Beth nodded her agreement.
“Right then. Lets….”
“Wait a minute Doc!” came the tense and nervous protest from the victim.
“Ahhh, how about a little morphine or somethin’ down here?” Heyes asked. “I have a funny feeling this is gonna hurt.”
“Nope, can’t do it Heyes,” Morin denied him. “If we do start to hurt ya’ I wanna be able to hear ya’ hollerin’. Givin’ ya’ morphine would kinda’ defeat that purpose now wouldn’t it?”
“Well…yeah…” Heyes agreed, a little apprehensively. He was not liking this one bit.
“Don’t worry Heyes,” Morin consoled him. “Believe me, I don’t wanna havta’ deal with a compound fracture any more than you do. All that blood and bones sticking out of bodies—not to mention the screaming. And I don’t think the ladies would appreciate it either.”
Heyes groaned. Morin was picking a fine time to try to be funny.
“Okay Sister. Ready? One, two, three…roll.”
Heyes closed his eyes and tried to relax as he felt his body gently and smoothly rolled onto its left side. Then Beth pushed the stretcher underneath him and he was allowed to settle back down onto it again. That broken rib was hurting like hell, but nothing stabbed at him and if he could have taken a breath without pain he would have sighed with relief.
“Okay ladies!” Morin announced. “Now let’s lift up the stretcher nice and easy and move him over to that exam table there beside ole’ Ames. Good thing that fella’s still asleep—all I need is two damn crybabies in here.”
Ten minutes later Heyes was lying on the table trying to ignore the pain and waiting for the morphine to take effect. Morin had already cut his bloodied tunic off and Sister Julia was carefully washing away the blood from his chest and hands. Heyes was slowly starting to drift away but he could still feel the movements around him and hear them talking.
“Oh, Doctor,” the Sister was saying, as though from a distance away. “I believe he has broken his finger too.”
“Oh crap! Yeah. That Carson—and now Thompson too. What a pair of axxholes! Mitchell’s gonna be hearin’ about this that’s for damn sure!”
“Look at that!” Heyes could hear Beth exclaim, her voice starting to fade away. “I’ve never seen a bone broken like that before—look at the way it’s pushing up against his skin…..”
'What was Beth doing here anyways?' Heyes dreamily thought to himself. 'Shouldn’t she be in school or something? Or maybe she doesn’t go to school anymore—but she’s only twelve years old isn’t she? Oh Jesse and Belle are going to be furious….What was she doing here…..?' And then he was gone, drifting into dreams that he would soon forget and totally oblivious then to the procedures going on around him.
It was mid-afternoon by the time Kenny returned to the infirmary to collect his charge and return him to the work floor. Not surprisingly the scene that met his eyes when he walked into the ward was not at all what he had been expecting. He stopped dead in his tracks with his mouth open and such a confused expression on his face that it couldn’t help but bring smiles to the three people sitting down to a cup of afternoon tea.
“What in the world?” Kenny finally stated. “What happened here?”
“It seems that Carson decided that Heyes needed to be reminded of the rules he broke when he saved Ames’ life,” Morin explained. “He and that Thompson kid showed up shortly after you left and promptly taught him a lesson.”
“Oh Fxxk! Oh, I’m sorry Sister, miss,” Kenny caught himself, and then he gave a frustrated sigh. “Here we go again! I don’t know how many times I’ve told Mitchell that Carson is too abusive with the inmates. This is just getting out of hand.”
Yeaup,” Morin agreed. “Well, c'mon Kenny sit down for a cup of tea. I’d offer ya’ something stronger but I don’t have anything.” Kenny hesitated for a minute. “Oh c’mon!” Morin repeated. “If you’ve already had your break then have another one!”
Kenny smiled and nodded, then he sat down with the others and the Sister poured him a cup of tea.
“Officer Reece, I don’t believe you have met my young novice,” the Sister commented. “This is Beth.”
“Miss Beth,” Reece greeted her with a slight nod. “I’m sorry about my harsh language there, but that convict isn’t a bad sort—a bit hardheaded at times, but still—I’m getting tired of Mr. Carson singling him out for this kind of abuse. And the warden doesn’t seem prepared to do anything about it either. Anyway,” he added with a smile, and Beth couldn’t help but notice what a handsome man he was, despite being old enough to be her father. “I shouldn’t be bothering you with this stuff; it’s none of your concern.”
“Oh but it is my concern, Officer Reece,” Beth contradicted him. “Joshua is a dear friend of mine and I intend to see that something does get done about this! And don’t worry about your bad language, I think I’m getting used to it.” And she sent a sidelong glance over to Dr. Morin.
Kenny smiled. “Yes, I’m sure you are, being in this reprobate’s company.”
“Oh, that’s the thanks I get for workin’ in this insane asylum!” Morin complained. “And nothin’ in the cupboard to drown my sorrows with either!”
“That’s all you need Doc, to get caught drinking on the job!” Kenny reprimanded him. “I thought you quit.”
“Quit drinkin’ here!” Morin explained. “Still put away a few good belts when I get home though. How the hell else am I suppose to survive this fxxxing place?” Then he rolled his eyes as he realized that he had cursed in front of the young lady again. Oh well.
Kenny just smiled and then his expression turned serious as he looked across the ward to the two unconscious patients.
“So, you’re a friend of his, are you?” he asked Beth.
“Yes. Him and Thaddeus, both.”
Kenny creased his brow. “Thaddeus?” he looked to Sister Julia.
“Mr. Curry,” She informed him.
“Yes,” Beth confirmed. “And Thaddeus has told me all about you Officer Reece. He says that you are doing a lot to try and help Joshua and that you watch out for him here. I want you to know that we all really appreciate that.”
“Hmmm,” Kenny was contemplative. “So—you’re a friend to both Heyes and Jed, and here you are working in the infirmary as a novice. Isn’t that interesting.”
Beth and the Sister both looked a little sheepish with that observation.
“Well, Mr. Reece,” Sister Julia commented. “As you know many young ladies come to me as novices to experience our lifestyle. As you also know, most of them choose to move on to other things,” she sighed dramatically. “Unfortunately a life in the service of the church is not for everyone.”
Kenny smiled. “Am I to take that to mean that your current novice is not likely to be returning?”
“Not likely, no,” the Sister confirmed.
“At least not as a novice,” Beth informed them.
Kenny’s eyebrows shot up. “Ohhh?”
“As I said earlier; I intend to see that something gets done about this,” Beth further explained. “I fully intend to return here and have my own word with the warden!”
Kenny smiled again. “Good!” he said. “This stuffy old prison could do with a bit of a shaking up!”
Beth grinned broadly. She really was taking a liking to Officer Reece.
Kenny looked over at the two patients again. “So, what’s your prognosis?” he asked Morin. “I know Ames is going to be here for a few days, but will Heyes be able to return to work soon?”
“Not likely,” Morin answered. “Those two axxholes busted his rib quite badly and broke two of his fingers. He’s gonna be laid up for a while. Still, it woulda been a lot worse except our young novice here got in-between them and stopped the ‘lesson’ pretty quick.”
Kenny’s brows went up in surprise and admiration as he looked over at Beth again.
“Really?” he commented.
“They were hurting my friend!” Beth explained. “I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing!”
Kenny smiled and gave a little laugh. “Well, it seems to me that Heyes is lucky to have a friend like you watching out for him.”
Beth beamed her pleasure at the compliment.
Kenny sighed. “I swear, between illness, injury and working here, he spends more time in the infirmary than he does in his own cell. Anyway, I better be getting back to work,” he stood up and nodded to the visitors. “Ladies. Doc. I’ll be back later to check up.”
And with that Kenny left.
Later that afternoon, while Sister Julia tended to other duties, Beth sat beside her friend watching him sleep. She held his uninjured hand in hers and found herself becoming even more resolute in doing something about this deplorable situation.
Even in sleep Joshua did not look restful. Just as she had noticed before, there was a change in his countenance that she could not quite put her finger on. But she knew that it was something feral—something guarded. Even in a drug induced sleep he was watching his back.
She caressed his forehead and then cradled his face in her hand, again shocked at the angular feel of his cheek bone and jaw line. And Thaddeus said that he had actually gained some weight since last winter! Oh my!
Heyes moaned softly in his sleep and nestled into the feel of her hand on his face. Beth smiled; was it her imagination or had he relaxed a little, taking comfort from a friendly presence and a loving touch? She would try to be with him tomorrow when he woke up since Dr. Morin seemed to think that he would be out until at least mid-morning. She hadn’t wanted him to know that she was here, but now that he did know she would offer what support she could—whether he liked it or not!
“Really Officer Murrey, I’m very disappointed in you,” Warden Mitchell lectured the young man. “I give you a simple job to do and you totally botched it up.”
Murrey frowned. “I don’t understand Warden,” he admitted feeling a little pressured. “I did what you asked, there were no problems. I’ve been wondering why nothing has come of it yet.”
“Yes, you did what I asked,” Mitchell threw back at him. “but you didn’t watch your back and you were observed!”
“No sir Warden!” Murrey insisted. “I was real careful! Nobody saw me go into the infirmary!”
“Maybe nobody saw you go in, but someone else was already in there and he saw what you did!”
“WHAT?!” Murrey exclaimed. “No sir! Nobody was in there! I did a full check of the ward before I placed the bottle! Who says they saw me?”
“Heyes! That’s who!” the Warden was getting frustrated. “The very man I was trying to test! The absolute last person that should have seen you saw you!!”
“Heyes?” Murrey repeated with indignant amazement. “Heyes was no where near the infirmary that morning! All the inmates were still locked in their cells!”
“Morning?” Mitchell asked in a slightly quieter tone. “Don’t you mean ‘night’?”
“No sir. I went in there early in the morning, before the Doc showed up for work,” Murrey explained. “and I swear—there was nobody else in there!”
Silence ensued inside the warden’s office. Murrey stood quietly, not at his ease. He was confused and not quite sure why he was getting chewed out like this. He’d done his job.
Mitchell was into a slow burn, his upper lip pulling back in anger. It was a good thing that the coffee cup he was holding was made of stout ceramic or there would have been a minor explosion and a large coffee puddle all over his paperwork.
“That bastard!” Mitchell cursed in an angry whisper. “He’s still playin’ me!”
Murrey made no comment. This was all going right over his head, but he did pick up on one fact; that the warden’s anger was no longer directed at him and for that blessing he was no end relieved.
“That’s all Murrey,” Mitchell finally dismissed him. “Please tell Mr. Carson I wish to see him.”
“Mr. Carson. I have had no less than three complaints about your conduct in the infirmary the other day,” Mitchell informed his head guard. “Do you care to elaborate?”
“Yessir, Warden,” Carson replied. “Heyes, once again, forgot the rules right out there on the work floor, in front of everybody. I didn’t think it was a good idea for the inmates to start thinkin’ that it was alright to assault a guard for any reason, so Mr. Thompson and I made sure Heyes got the message. The rest of the inmates now know that he’s spending some time at the infirmary—as a patient this time, so they all got the message too.”
“Why did you take Thompson with you?” Mitchell asked him. “He’s still quite new here; why not take one of the more experienced guards, like Pearson or Davis?”
“Because Thompson was the injured party,” Carson reasoned. “I felt he deserved restitution.”
“Hmmm,” Mitchell nodded. “I want you to understand that I have no qualms about the way you manage the prison proper, Mr. Carson. I have no trouble absorbing complaints from bleeding hearts like Reece and Morin suggesting that your methods are too brutal. Most of the inmates here are willing to comply with the rules once they’ve spent a day or two in the dark cell, or lose their privileges for a month,” here Mitchell gave a resigned sigh and shook his head. “but there are always those few who refuse to accept the inevitable. Then we have to be tougher on them if we want to have any hope at all of breaking them in.
“If corporal punishment is all they understand then that’s what we’ll give them. Heyes has been a particularly difficult egg to crack and I certainly understand your need to get tough with him. I would even go so far as to say that you are doing a fine job of keeping everyone in line and I wouldn’t want you to feel that you need to change your methods in any way.”
Carson nodded, accepting the compliment but then wondering why he was here.
“The only thing I would suggest is that you use a little more tact next time,” Mitchell explained. “I mean, really Mr. Carson…delving out punishment in front of the Sister and her young novice couldn’t help but cause a stir. Indeed, Sister Julia was very—uncharitable in her level of complaint.” Here Mitchell groaned and rolled his eyes as another thought occurred to him. “And I’m probably going to be hearing an earful from the Mother Superior too. God Dammit!”
Carson shifted a little uncomfortably but remained silent. Mitchell sighed.
“That’s all Mr. Carson,” he concluded. “Just in future when you need to discipline an inmate, please make sure you do it when no one from outside the prison faculty is present to witness it. Outsiders just don’t understand.”
“Yessir Warden,” Carson agreed. “next time I’ll be more ‘tactful’.”
“That’s all I ask,” Mitchell concurred. “How is Heyes by the way?”
Carson allowed a small smile to invade his lips. “He’ll be a while recovering Warden.”
“GOOD!” Mitchell responded with some heat. “That’ll be all Mr. Carson.”
“You shouldn’t be here Beth.”
“I had to see for myself how you were being treated!” Beth would not back down. “I was sick and tired of only getting sugar-coated answered from Thaddeus and everybody treating me like I was ‘too young’ to know!”
Heyes smiled weakly. He was lying in bed and propped up on some pillows, allowing his young friend to encase his uninjured hand in both of hers while her imploring eyes asked him to please not be angry even while her voice demanded respect. He gave a resigned sigh.
“It seems nobody listens to me anymore,” he complained. “I make it very clear that I don’t want either of you young ladies coming out here and yet both of you completely disregard my degree and find ways—devious ways I might add—to make your way here anyways.
“ Don’t you people realize who I am? I’m the great Hannibal Heyes! I was the most successful leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang!” Cough, flinch—heavy sigh. “I could crush an unruly outlaw with just a look from my cold dark eyes! Hardened criminals tremble in their boots with a reprimand from me! And yet two young ladies who are just barely adults exhibit a total lack of respect for my impressive credentials and end up doing whatever they want anyways!”
Sister Julia, who was sitting next to Ames and helping him with some soup, glanced over at the ‘great outlaw leader’ and smiled. Beth laughed out loud.
Heyes sighed again and closed his eyes. “Nobody takes me seriously anymore.”
Beth raised his hand to her lips and gave him a sweet kiss and smiled at him.
“We love you too much to take you seriously.”
Heyes smiled and then bringing her hands up to his mouth, he returned the kiss she had given him.
“Your parents are going to be worried about you,” he said quietly. “You need to get back home”
“We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning Joshua,” the Sister informed him. “It’s been snowing quite steadily, but the road is still open. I’ll make sure Beth gets on a train and headed for home before we all get snowed in for the winter.”
“Good,” Heyes said with a smile, then closing his eyes because the lids were just getting too heavy to keep open anymore. “I’ll have to write Thaddeus all about this as soon as I’m able.”
“Oh no!” Beth was mortified. “Please don’t tell Thaddeus about this!”
“Why not?” Heyes asked through closed eyes.
“Because he’ll tell Papa and then I’ll really be in for it!”
Heyes smiled. “Considering you’re already over-due getting home from Denver I would not be surprised if your Papa already knows about this, and you’re already in for it.”
“Oh,” Beth was crestfallen. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Well I don’t care!” she stated fervently. “I wanted to see you and I did and I’ll accept whatever punishment Papa gives me! We’re going to get you out of here Joshua! I mean it! I won’t rest until we can bring you home!”
“Come Beth,” Sister Julia suggested as she stood up and settled Ames back into his pillow. “They’re both tired and need to rest. We’ll come back this evening.”
“Oh, alright,” Beth was disappointed, but looking at her friend lying back in his pillows, she could see the truth of the statement. “I’ll see you later Joshua.”
Heyes’ nod was barely perceptible. The two ladies glided away and aside from Morin doing some work at the far table, the infirmary was left in quiet.
“Hey, Heyes,” Ames called over from his bed.
Heyes forced his eyes open and looked over at him.
“You could do a hell of a lot worse than havin’ a friend like that.”
Heyes smiled softly and nodded. He closed his eyes again and was drifting off into sleep, thinking that Ames was right; he was a lucky man, having friends like that. A deep sigh and he was hard down dreaming about Karma and galloping like the wind across the sea of grass with the warm sun shining down upon him and the thrill of the ride causing him to laugh out loud.
To Be Continued
Posts : 483
Join date : 2013-08-31
Location : Madrid
|Subject: Re: Awakening Chapter twenty-one Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:46 am|| |
The warden really does have it in for Heyes doesn't he? I'm concerned about Beth's actions but at least Heyes knows that people aren't forgetting about himm
|Subject: Re: Awakening Chapter twenty-one || |
Awakening Chapter twenty-one