Okay, so I got distracted and didn’t do a post on Wednesday. Harrumph.
You know what’s worse? I’m not feeling all that “post-y” today, either. And, no, I don’t have my usual plethora of already-written drafts ready and waiting for me to hit the “publish” button. Crap, I don’t even have the handful of half-written “oh shit” ideas I keep around for emergencies…
Nope, I have to fly completely off-the-cuff this morning. Dammit.
Aww, screw it…time for my ol’ slacker stand-by: a story snippet. I haven’t posted one of these since January, so what the hell. Oh, but first, the various reminders and warnings I always give:
The snippets I have been posting over the past year are all unedited first drafts, they are a long, long way from a finished product. These scenes are all from a current work-in-progress tentatively titled The Silence That Never Comes. The snippet below is the fourth scene in that story, and is a direct follow-on to the one I posted a few months ago (find it here, if you’re interested).
Oh, one last warning: I use a decent bit of foreign slang, along with, umm, one or two curse words. I used Japanese and Thai in the previous story, but this one uses Czech and Polish. Hey, I love languages, and I like to cuss, sue me. A guy’s gotta do…well, you know.
So, here goes:
Impatience and anger were all too easy for Connor. Impatience for the petty kecas that governed life as a prisoner, and anger at the bullshit attitude from someone he would gladly have robbed of everything had they met Dockside.
Still, giving in to impatience and anger meant giving the screaming bastard exactly what he wanted: an excuse to truly fuck with Connor. No, he would not give this svine the satisfaction. That loss of control would grant someone else power over him, and that Connor would not do.
Besides, the snarkier part of himself decided, passive-aggressive resistance could be fun, if only to test just how angry he could make this bachu, this guard. To test, in reality, just how much control and power he could manipulate away from someone ostensibly in control.
He could hear similar noise and chaos from the cell nextdoor. Could hear the guards yelling, and the prisoners screaming and cursing, as the bachu started to toss belongings outside.
Connor nodded to the guard in silence, his face controlled and calm. The guard very obviously wanted to get a rise out of him, and that calm would frustrate the shit out of the man. And that was just the start…
“Fuckin’ Christ, hurry the fuck up!” the young bachu screamed.
Connor took his time, made every move slow and considered as he very carefully laid his guitar on the upper bunk.
Only two guards were inside the cell, the younger man, the screamer, and an older sergeant Connor had talked to many times over the past year. Three more waited outside, their normal grey uniforms covered in black armor and their heads and faces hidden inside heavy helmets.
Armor, for fuck’s sake. Did they think Connor had a gun tucked inside his guitar? Fucking crazy dirtsiders. Even the newest, stupidest Dockside mappo — the closest thing this miserable, edge-of-nowhere system had to ‘real’ cops — would’ve laughed at the pseudo-military bullshit.
“Easy, Pavel,” the sergeant said, a touch of indulgent humor in his voice. “We got all the time in the world. I don’t clock out for another three hours. I don’t give a damn how long this takes.”
As often as Connor mocked those in uniform — and mock he did, as relentless as he was merciless — he actually liked old cops. Old cops knew the score. Old cops didn’t have the time or patience for petty bullshit. Just like the criminals and prisoners who were their ostensible foes, they realized just how crooked and fucked-up was the entire system. All those old cops wanted was to do their time and get home to their loved ones. Just like the inmates.
Connor owed his life to one such old cop. Owed, more importantly, his chance to say goodbye to Oz before…
No, not now. Those demons couldn’t get free now.
The sergeant put a friendly hand on Connor’s shoulder, and offered a knowing wink. “Let’s move it a bit, Connor, huh? We got shit to do, and you are slowin’ us down.”
With three inside, the cell was very crowded. Connor could see beads of sweat on the young bachu’s forehead, and he toyed with delaying even longer his cooperation. Crowding and claustrophobia did strange things to some people, and part of him wanted to see just how far he could push this aho.
Still, the sergeant was right…especially his unspoken warning about pushing too far.
A grimace for the young bastard, and a shrug and knowing grin for the sergeant, and Connor took the two steps necessary to stand on the walkway outside his cell.
The bachu began his search, aggressively tossing and tearing at everything. Shit, the bastard even squeezed the toothpaste out of its tube. Baka…Connor stopped himself, forced his mind away from the easy paths of old habit. It wasn’t baka anymore, it was debil now. The local slang had to become natural to him, and that meant thinking it as much as speaking. No more Dockside, not in word or thought.
While the young one was tearing through Connor’s few clothes with wild abandon, the sergeant took the guitar and checked it gently. Connor was grateful when the older man held on to that one precious thing while his partner thoroughly demolished everything else.
Control was all well and good, but Connor knew would not have been able to hold back had the bachu gone after that instrument. The flexible ‘screens were all-but indestructible, so who cared if the bastard tossed it over the railing and onto the dayroom floor fifteen feet below? But the guitar? Connor didn’t think it would have survived similar treatment.
Only when the simple sheet and blanket covering his cheap mattress were torn aside did Connor really wince. He was fairly certain this wasn’t going to end well…and editing his prison record yet again was not the safest thing in the world.
The bachu began to lift the mattress — the wrong end, thankfully — when the sergeant interrupted, “This is takin’ too long, Pavel. We’re done. Time to move on.”
The younger man, hunched beneath the top bunk, looked back with a mix of surprise and suspicion.
A sigh, then, and the older man answered that look with a voice stern and serious, “Lad, this kid grew up Dockside. You know what that means. If he wanted to hide shit, he’d do something a lot smarter than stuff it in his mattress.”
Connor had to fight very hard not to laugh. He didn’t think the anonymous, armored guards around him would appreciate the irony just then. All those jokes and conversations with the sergeant were paying off, however.
The look from the young bachu as he left the cell was frustrated and angry. Connor knew he would have problems with that guard in the future, if only so the asshole could reassure himself of his own superiority.
A few steps and the armored guards were taking up positions a few doors down the walkway. The young guard moved around them to stand by the door. A touch of the controls to open it and he started to scream again the curses and threats. Debil.
A touch on Connor’s shoulder and he turned, received his guitar with a grateful nod for the sergeant.
“Kid…Connor, don’t push Pavel too much,” the man said quietly, his expression easy and knowing. “He’s stupid as shit, but he can fuck with you, and you don’t need that.”
Connor was just turning to go back into his cell, sighing at the effort it would take to put right the mess the younger guard had made, when the sergeant caught his arm. There was a crooked half-grin on the man’s face as he nodded towards the disheveled bed, “You owe me a drink for that, by the way.”