Frank unintentionally shoves Gerard into the limelight, resulting in the complete opposite of what Frank wanted.
It started in the mess hall. It was 7 in the morning, and everyone had been guided to breakfast, where we all sat in the area we were instructed to sit. Thankfully, because my cell was so close to Gerard’s, we were able to sit together, or as he probably thought, have me sit next him. Breakfast that day was a couple pieces of toast with some disgustingly dehydrated sausages and powdered eggs. I’ve been vegetarian since I was a kid, but I didn’t want to bring it up in the prison; besides, the food they would give me instead wouldn't be much better, so I just ate my bread along with the little plastic containers of fruit preserves. Ironic, isn’t it; I can kill a person, but I can’t stand to be associated with killing animals. Funny how that works. The eggs, like almost everything else here, were by far the most repulsive tasting thing they served, and I refused to eat them after my first encounter with them years ago. Gerard probably learned that the hard way, too, as the eggs on his plate were completely untouched. Just like always, we had a silent meal between us. I struck up conversation sometimes, but it never went anywhere. His answers were always monosyllabic and uninterested. I tried to give up getting to know him; he just didn’t seem very interested, but I decided to push on. So, that day, while we were “eating”, I noticed that Gerard was nervously glancing at one side of the room, and quickly reverting his attention back to his food. I wasn’t quite sure what was interesting enough in the boring mess hall to catch his attention, but when I saw what he was glancing at, I realized the cause of his uneasiness. One of groups of the over-sized typical prison giants, those who preyed on the weak to relieve their sexual frustration, were looking at Frank, pointing, and obviously conversing about him. It took a couple seconds for this to register in my mind, but once I saw them nodding in agreement, I decided to take special caution to prevent Gerard from being harmed. This was entirely my fault after all. Gerard had never been in the limelight before, but now that I was around him, he had been shoved into it for everyone to see him. If put a light hand on his shoulder, feeling his muscles suddenly tense in surprise, then to relax when he realized that it was only me.
“Don’t look at them,” I said. He didn’t respond, but he did take my advice and intentionally took fake interest in his food. He knew just as well as me what those brutes had in mind.
Asking around, I found out through other inmates that Gerard worked in the laundry department as part of the labor we were required to take part in. Unfortunately, I worked in the kitchen, one of the easier jobs, thankfully, but I couldn’t risk Gerard being alone with those bastards. It would be hard, and I could have to sacrifice a few privileges, but to me, it was worth it. It seemed strange to me that I was dedicating so much time just to get to know and help someone. I guess your priorities get messed up once you have nothing to do all day every day. So, I asked one of my good friends, Ray, that I had met upon arriving here, for help. He wasn’t much older than me and was convicted for grand theft auto and assault. Unfortunately, he would be leaving in a matter of years while I would stay here, for the rest of my life, actually. In just the few years he had been here before me, he had gained a surprising amount of respect from many of the guards that surround our cellblock. My request to him was to change my job position or Gerard’s. I would prefer that Gerard come work with me in the kitchen, where all we had to do was clean dishes and cut vegetables, but that was highly unlikely. The population in the kitchen was already overflowing and the last thing they needed was another person to be taking up space. I would probably end up in the laundry room with Gerard. In a matter of time, I was notified that I would be moved down to the laundry. Thankfully, they had the complete opposite situation than the kitchen. More workers were needed there, and to take from the overpopulated to the under populated was the perfect solution. In actuality, I didn’t need Ray to arrange anything; all I had to do was ask, especially if it benefitted them. I was anxious to find out how Gerard was doing and it took a few days to completely transfer my job down to the laundry room, but thankfully, from what I saw of Gerard in the mess hall and prison yard, he was unharmed.
On my first day in the laundry room, when I saw him transferring the dirty clothes to carts that would lead to the washing machines, he looked up to see me, and looked fairly surprised. For the first time, he spoke first,
“What are you doing here? I thought you worked in the kitchen.” I smiled to myself, remembering that I had never told him that I worked in the kitchen. The only way he could have found out was to ask, meaning he had taken some interest in me. A great first step, I thought. I didn’t lie to him, but I didn’t tell him what my motives were,
“They had too many people in the kitchen, so they moved me down here. I guess I’m working here now.” He seemed a little suspicious. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that the one guy, me, that followed him around non-stop was suddenly his work partner. But, I guess he shrugged it off because he continued his work and didn’t question me any further. It was loud in there, the machines clanging and echoing throughout the whole concrete-walled room, so I decided not to start conversation to avoid having to yell over the noise. To my surprise, the work we did was not horribly hard; repulsive odors, yes, and I wished we had the job of taking the freshly warm clothes out of the dryer, but it wasn’t too bad. The hours went by slowly, the monotonous work stretching out the minutes longer than they really were. Finally, whistles were blown, notifying the workers that the workday was over. We shuffled out towards the doorway, about fifty or sixty of us in all. As I neared the double-doors, I looked behind me to see if Gerard was following me. I turned and saw that he was no where to be found. I whipped my head from side to side, desperately searching for some sign of him. I had stopped in the middle of the moving crowd and the other inmates cursed at me for disrupting the flow. Unfazed by their complaints, I pushed against the gradient, resulting in more cursing and threats. I searched for Gerard’s face, hoping that I would see his familiar pale complexion. Unfortunately, being the short person I am, I wasn’t able to see above anyone’s heads, and I wasn’t sure if he had gone ahead of me or I just didn’t catch his face. Finally, I reached the end of the crowd, running into the two guards that were always at the rear of any prison group.
“What do you think you’re doing?” one of them asked. Thinking quickly, I responded,
“I, uh, forgot something…” He rolled his eyes and told his partner to go ahead with the crowd and that he would wait for me. I quickly scanned the room, searching for any signs of movement or sound. Unfortunately, some of the machines were still running and I could barely hear anything. I jogged around the vast room, looking behind all the machines I could. I had done a full round of the room, and the guard was getting agitated.
“Hurry up, will you?” He yelled from across the room. I yelled back a response, claiming I was almost done. I started panicking. I wasn’t finding anything, but I was afraid that if I returned to the mess hall and Gerard wasn’t there, I would blame myself for potentially getting him hurt. My heart was pumping nervously and I checked around every huge machine and contraption, but in my panic, I realized that I had not checked the utility closet. The closet itself was practically a room; extra clothes were held there, along with sheets, blankets and an infinite amount of detergent bottles. I hurried to open the door, and upon opening, I saw the backs of three monstrous prisoners surrounding a corner of the closet. It seemed that in that moment, the machines had grown louder. I couldn’t hear myself yell to catch their attention, and I did not hear the guard coming up from behind me. Responding to my yells, the three prisoners in the corner turned around to see who had addressed them. They stepped away from the corner, anger etched into their expressions, furious that I had interrupted whatever they were going to do. Once stepping away from the corner, they revealed Gerard in the corner, struggling to hold himself up, using the wall to assist him. The right side of his face had swollen profusely from what I assumed were from the fists thrown at him. What scared me most was that he strained to pull up the orange pants that were half way down his legs. Rage overcame me, and I so desperately wanted to violently approach the disgusting giants, but I held myself back, aware that I was no match for them, and turned to the guard that still held my collar, and looked at him questioningly to do something of the matter. He yanked my collar again,
“Let’s go,” he said menacingly, directing the order only to me. The bastards across the closet came closer and closer, ready to demolish my physical state. I looked back at the guard, and pleaded to him,
“Do something!” but he did not relent. He was choking me now, the collar of my shirt tightening around my neck. “Do something!” I cried again, more desperately. The guard wasn’t looking at me now, but at the three prisoners. They exchanged glances, and the guard nodded and proceeded to try and drag me out of the closet again. I realized that the gang-rapists had bribed the guard in advance. This had all been planned. No wonder the guard had come so quickly when I had opened the closet door. The huge monsters turned around, knowing that I was not a threat and surrounded Gerard once again. Just before the bodies of the prisoners blocked him off from my view, I saw him open his mouth to yell, scream, anything to prevent what was about to come. I could barely breathe anymore from my further constricting collar, but I did not stop screaming. Surely, someone in the vicinity would hear me. Unfortunately, they did not. With all of the loud laundry machines, no one from the outside could hear what went on from the inside. With one hand I attempted to loosen the collar from my throat, and I twisted around, releasing myself from guard, and threw my fist at him, landing directly in his cheekbone. My knuckles ached from the contact, but the guard had been stunned. I ran towards the group, but just before I could reach, every muscle in my body stopped functioning. They grew tighter and tighter until I was unable to hold myself up anymore. Just as I was falling to the ground, I saw the guard above me with what I recognized as a taser gun, and once my head hit the ground, the complete sense of failure led me to believe that I had been unsuccessful in protecting Gerard.