Christmas Comes to the SHU, part 2
Babbitt walked over to the SHU entryway, inserted his key and pulled open the hatch. Without looking at Cassie or Scott he turned his head to the right and stated loudly, “Ready?!” It was more of a statement than a question. They looked at each other, Scott advanced first then Cassie followed behind both of them. After they entered Babbitt once again inserted his key and locked them in the dungeon hallway.
The concrete hallway echoed of movement from within the small cells. It was much different than Cassie and Scott had imagined. It was brighter than natural sunlight and it was cold. “Let's go to the far end and work our way back” Babbitt suggested as he pushed the cart down the long tomb like hallway. The squeaking wheels alerted the prisoners they had company.
Out of the corner of her eye, Cassie thought she saw some sort of a rodent scurry along the floor, first one then many. It was the convicts fishing between cells. The Sergeant yelled out “Reel them in if you want your gifts.”
The hall was clear within seconds and each door now had a face peering out the small glass portals. Some pressed so hard against the glass, the images appeared grotesque and monster like. Cassie quickly looked away, grabbing Scott's hand for comfort.
They continued down the long hallway pacing their steps to the noise of the wheels. They reached the hall’s end then started their journey back. Babbitt’s system of distribution was quick and efficient. Cassie was surprised at how grateful all the convicts were. Scott however didn't appreciate the gazes as they watched Cassie's every movement. His consolation was Babbitt’s ability to control each encounter, as he opened door slot after door slot, and they winded their way through the dungeon.
Cassie, amazed at how Babbitt knew every inhabitant’s name, applauded him for taking time to recognize and not further dehumanizing the inmates. The Sergeant laughed and pointed up, above the door. Cassie looked above the door in front of them then down the hall -- centered above each door was a sequence of seven numbers, the inmate’s identification numbers, and below that their name. “I'm not so great” were Babbitt’s only words.
The chow hall was busy with the holiday meal cleanup. The Christmas cinnamon rolls were all covered and in place, ready for the morning. It would be all-you-can-eat along with strong black coffee and cold milk It would be one of only two meals served on Christmas day. Late afternoon would be turkey sandwiches.
White dismissed the trustees to the corrections officer in charge if the kitchen and was ready to call it a day. The yard was closed and as he walked across the hard surface he imaged the prison regulars standing aside for him. He even said aloud “Make a hole.” His daydream was interrupted by the sound of a young fresh Corrections Officer. “Hey White, you’re working the Dungeon, right?”
“I have some separation orders. You can save me a trip.”
The young officer handed White the paperwork, then wished him a very merry Christmas. White didn't bother to answer, he was too focused on the document in his hand. He scanned it quickly, folded it and inserted in his right front oversized pocket.
White sat in his car. He surveyed the lot and when he was confident he was alone, he removed the folded paper from his pocket. He inspected it slowly, confirming what he had suspected. This was the order Danny Petros had been waiting for -- the early compassionate release dated December 25. Allowing him to leave midnight tonight. Holding back the orders wouldn't stop Danny's release but it could surely delay it until after Christmas... and this delighted White.
If confronted he would blame it on a miscommunication with the fledgling officer. He paused for a moment as he studied his own reflection in the rear view mirror. He turned the key and the motor rumbled to life, he then exited the lot and entered the main highway to town.