I wanted to call this 'What Happens When Sugarfaerie Daydreams During Lectures', but it wouldn't fit. ;) This is a collection of little ideas I've had in my head for ages. The title is a tribute to Gerschwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. The story is basically a series of linked snippets from prison life, involving all sorts of characters.

Rhapsody In Grey

It was raining when they brought her in, the first murderess of Cook County Jail. She was pretty enough, then, with blood staining her dress and wild eyes that grew wilder with every drink. Fierce, match-girl Liz. The whispers started as soon as Mama led her down the row.

Magda, a prostitute with a cigarette permanently attached to her lower lip, sniggered as Liz walked by. Liz, dropping the matches she carried even then, launched herself at the other prisoner, hands grabbing madly between the bars. She gained a hold on Magda's collar and twisted, ready to choke her. She fought like a demon; it had taken five policemen to arrest her and there was no way in hell she would let anyone forget that. Mama, laughing appreciatively, grabbed Liz's bony shoulders and managed to pull her away. "Wildcat, this one!" Mama chuckled to the other guards as she locked Liz into a cell. "You'll be trouble, girl."

Liz pressed her face between the cell bars and said nothing, a matchbox between her hands. She'd been called trouble before.

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Annie came next, angry, proud, beautiful. She faced her jail-mates as she did everything else, with her head held as high as she could manage, tossing her flaming curls if someone stared. Let them look. She called attention to herself immediately, by trying to smuggle in a few twists of cocaine. The nurse who confiscated them gave her a look that was halfway through exasperation and pity. "You do know that this stuff can kill you, right?" Annie tossed her head again. The truth was that she hardly ever used cocaine, but Ezekiel had kept it in his desk drawer and she wanted to see just how much she could get away with. Boundaries were there to be pushed.

Mama led her up the stairs to Murderess Row and Annie put up no resistance, practically marching herself into her cell. She had nothing to be afraid of, not really. Annie could survive anywhere. She'd always been good at that.

"Hey, Liz," Mama shouted as they passed one of the cells. "Looks like you've got company."

A slender girl moved behind the bars, a cigarette glowing in her fingers. She raised her head slightly and gave a smoky chuckle.

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June had been in prison for barely a day before she met the other murderesses. White girls, both of them, a brunette and a redhead with jail-hardened sneers, but they seemed to have a grudging respect for her. "Hey," the redhead offered lazily, her eyes narrowed through the smoke issuing from her mouth. Sweaty curls clung to her forehead. "Who'd you kill to end up in this dump?"

"Husband," June answered, shrugging. "Didn't like him callin' me a slut."

The other murderess sniggered, striking matches with inhuman speed. Her foot tapped crazily against the concrete, as if to a tune that only she could hear. It was slightly unnerving, like sitting next to a hand grenade with a very loose pin. "I shot my boyfriend," the girl said gruffly, giving June a lopsided half-smile. "He kept poppin' his gum, y'know. Christ, it pissed me off."

June raised her eyebrows. "Really."

The redhead pushed some curls out of her face. "Don't get on her bad side," she stage-whispered. "I'm Annie," she continued, returning to normal volume. "That's Annie, not anything else, y'hear? Call me Ann or Anna and I'll break your face. Same goes for Liz over there, don't call her Elizabeth if y'know what's good for you. And what do we call you, then?"

"Just June." June lit a cigarette, settling into her chair. "Yeah, I'm just June."

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Katalin didn't understand until she saw the bars. She tried to explain even then, but the guards only laughed and said they'd heard it all before, albeit not in Hungarian. They walked her past murderesses, real murderesses, and locked her in a world of grey. Smudges of colour, when they came, were so bright they stung her eyes.

She didn't cry. She could never cry again.

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She regretted nothing but being caught. Charlie and Veronica were barely cold when they got her, the famous Velma Kelly, flapper extraordinaire. The matron took to her at once, calling her sweetheart and baby even before they stripped off her beaded dress. Well, if that was what it took to get ahead around here, so be it. Modesty was never one of her attributes, it being in her mind a highly overrated virtue.

Girls, no more than shadows, watched her as she marched along the walkway. Their eyes glittered in the darkened cells like costume jewels in a smoky speakeasy. Long, bony fingers clutched the chilly bars while whispers rushed behind her. "That's Velma Kelly," they said. "Velma fuckin' Kelly!"

Mama clashed her truncheon against the cells and a blonde girl gave a shrill squeak. Velma Kelly had arrived.

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Mona was the last murderess to arrive, at least until that skinny scrap of a Roxie Hart was brought in. She came in at lunch, which was unusual as most murders happened at night. This gave her a chance to establish a very important thing: never get between a prisoner and her food.

She sat at the table without any food, as she hadn't been assigned a plate yet. The prisoners talked among themselves, casting her the occasional suspicious or curious glance. Hunger clawed at her stomach and a dark-skinned inmate, seeming to guess it, placed a protective arm between Mona and her lunch. There was no way Mona was getting any of her potato soup.

Mona stared ahead, wanting the others to stop looking. The girl opposite her hardly ate at all, but still fixed Mona with a warning scowl. She tossed a matchbox on the tabletop and exchanged a look with the redhead next to her. Mona, feeling intimidated by their gaze, dropped her eyes and studied her fingernails instead. They were already dirty.

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Roxie brought their number up to seven, destroying the nice, even title of the Six Merry Murderesses. They weren't particularly accommodating to newcomers, this lot, and the first words Roxie ever heard from another inmate were on this unwelcome disruption to their hierarchy. "I don't like it," said a coffee-skinned girl Roxie would later know as Mona. "We're gonna be the Seven Merry Murderesses now. It don't sound the same."

"Oh, shut the fuck up, Mona." That would be June.

"Yeah," another girl added. Roxie paused in the yard, trying to match the voice to the face. "Ya new, anyway, Mona, what the hell would ya know 'bout it." The girl giggled at her own wit.

Roxie tried to listen harder when a different voice startled her. "Hey, Blondie, over here!" The voice belonged to a red-haired girl Mama had slipped cigarettes to the day before.

"Why?" Roxie called back, suspicious.

The girl laughed, flicking cigarette smoke at another inmate. "We wanna know your story," she said simply. "Then we'll tell you ours."