Coming of Age Crime Suspense

A Trio Under Lockdown.

The Jones County Jail delivered a new set of convicts from various psychiatric institutions and prisons. Overcrowding in those locations resulted in many who should have remained where they were coming to the prison. The quiet that came from the County Jail prisoners was partially due to the short sentences. Hope that life could return to normal combined with the knowledge that being disobedient could extend sentences made all the difference. Bringing people from other places who have been convicted for life sentences, were going to be mixed in with people who only just made a minor error in judgment in comparison. 

Room assignments were going to be picked via a lottery. No longer considered people, numbers were drawn from the large bowl in the office lobby. Hypothetically, this was the logical solution rather than trying to analyze which criminals should be roommates. However, the risk involved with this method is that the wrong people could get paired together. A serial killer convicted for life living with the idiot who stole a bag of donuts that could have been purchased for a dollar. No longer would 'peace and quiet' represent the Jones County Jail.

Some match ups went well together, others put psychiatric patients with minor criminals. The newfound chaos that surrounded the Jail caused panic in both prisoners and wardens. Some were too young to have ever fought, while others with life sentences did not care, as their situation was already at the extreme. Bloodshed was found inside and outside of the three-four person jail cells. 

The cleaning crew learned after hours of scrubbing one cell, that blood does not come off of concrete walls easily. They finally gave up cleaning at all because it did not seem to matter anymore.

Wardens were equally at risk from injuries as the cellmates were, so recess was no longer allowed. The on site hospital ran out of supplies quickly due to all the needless fighting, therefore security measures were made more severe.

Other than participating in drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation sessions, (heavily monitored by armed guards at the front and back of the rooms) no interaction with others was allowed. Constantly in a room with 3-4 people, with nobody else to socialize with would cause its own problems, but at least slight increase in the measure of safety would be present. Putting meals through a sliding food tray rather than actually having a public cafeteria hour was the new policy.

While a common security measure in Psychiatric Institutions for the Criminally Insane, major prisons (especially prisoners on death row), or just crude jails in general, this was so new to the current inmates it was a shock. Those who arrived were surprised that it was not standard policy in all jails and mocked those who hated it endlessly. Serving longer than a year was uncommon if you were sent to the Jones County Jail. Some sections had minors serving in juvenile sentences even. Now those minors were turning into major criminals having to defend themselves against sadists.

The latest arrival, convicted of several DWI offenses, was going to spend the entire year inside a jail cell with a 'veteran' serial killer and the idiot who left contact information inside a restaurant. Actually receiving a call when the safe could be unlocked was absurd. Crime is a crime no matter what the offense was, therefore, suffering a punishment must occur. Shoved into the dusty, rotting cell, John, convicted of DWI met Jack, the serial killer and Bob the incompetent robber. “Hey buddy, whatcha in for,” VS “Just leave me the hell alone,” easily distinguished between the minor and major criminal. It would not have been a problem to leave them both alone, sitting in the silence. 

However, Bob disagreed. Friendly, albeit stupid. Walking in a straight line was a difficult task. Failing the 'walk in a straight line,' DWI test multiple times was nothing compared to being unable to walk to the battered cots. Tossing and turning all night long, the squealing of the cot cords was reminiscent of the 'long fingernail against the chalkboard' sound. Normally polite, even to the rude, drinking caused a personality change however. Dr. Jekyll VS Mr. Hyde described the change best. 

Tossing and turning throughout the night, should be declared illegal. If it was, however, the 'punishment' should not be so severe as near death. Nor should telling a bad joke. With nothing else to do, eavesdropping was a frequent pastime. Lying about a hearing impairment made it a simple activity to partake in. Remembering to play the part consistently proved difficult at times. Many times the whole hallway could hear the conversation. Turning around the wrong way before 'finally' hearing commands from anyone was just one way to pull off the act. Looking for a non existent hearing aid, and causing genuine but temporary hearing loss by 'accidentally' hitting various surfaces were only part of the act. 

The almighty conquer the weak. Solitary confinement and a lifetime sentence was nothing more than a sign of fear, it was not horrible, it was actually flattering. The sensation of having roommates only demonstrated a loss of fear. Taking advantage of what was provided inside the new cell was the only way to provoke fear. Striking as hard as possible would no doubt revive an evil reputation. Satan himself would be jealous, although to reach the Biblical nightmare's body count, would take time. There was plenty of it, why not use it to have some fun? Making as many lines on the wall counting beatings was motivating. With little else to do, working out and maintaining decades old body-builder muscles made the goal of conquering the world and afterlife seem realistic.

Already halfway through, the agony felt by the constant beatings showed why prison was actually bad. 'Three hots and a cot,' to a homeless man who owned nothing was at first positive. Just because things didn't go over well this time does not mean another scheme would fail. Having nothing and leaving even worse than before (a poor background check), caused a new course of action: fight back. Purposefully get into trouble so badly that prison would always be home. Always food on the tray. Frankly, if the tossing and turning was so annoying, it was only made worse when screams of pain and nightmares were caused by seeing blood on the walls and floor. Thinner than a tree branch, landing a punch anywhere would be a shocking miracle. Just reaching that goal would make this stay worthwhile.

New Year's Eve was approaching. Many convicts were soon to be released. However, the year spent mostly in alcohol rehabilitation sessions finally got the message across. As the rusty bars of the rotting prison cell came to a close, remembering to not come back was the most important New Year's Resolution to make. 

March 11, 2021 05:50

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Ishan Chopra
22:49 Mar 17, 2021

Well written piece. Would have enjoyed it even more if you'd taken the 3 characters you introduced in paragraphs 8 and 9 and told the rest of the story through their perspective. In my opinion, a story becomes more engaging if there's a personal angle to it. Keep up the good work!


Show 0 replies
Daniel R. Hayes
05:30 Mar 17, 2021

Hi Shannon, I thought this was a great read. I haven't read many crime stories, but I think you did an amazing job writing this. I'll have to check out more of your stories. Great job!


Shannon Ruane
09:55 Mar 17, 2021

Thank you very much. I appreciate your compliments. :D


Shannon Ruane
06:55 Jun 12, 2021

Hi fellow authors and readers! I'm grateful to those who read my work. I feel I ought to mention this story is not part of the 'Not Just Yet,' story universe. Most of the stories do feature characters and/or locations which may appear if I expand my 'Not Just Yet,' stories on this blog into a full novel.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.