I own nothing. The Almighty Larson owns it all.
April, Mark, and Maureen are gone and Collins asked Steve to leave the room. It's just the two of us now. We haven't said anything. We've just been sitting here in silence. I feel like I should say something, but I'm afraid I'll only make things worse. If I hug him, he might punch me or something. Then again, he may hug me back. I can't tell. He doesn't really have an expression. He's just staring at the wall in front of him. I can't even imagine how he feels right now. I look down at the floor and remain silent.
"I'm gonna die," I hear Collins whisper. I bring my attention to him as tears begin streaming down his cheeks. "I'm gonna fucking die." I stand up, walk to his bedside, and slide my hand in his. He looks at me. "I don't wanna die, Roger."
I just stare at him. I can't think of anything to say. I hug him as he begins sobbing uncontrollably. I still don't say anything. I'm at a complete loss for words. I hear the door open, but I don't bother turning to see who opened it.
"Davis," a familiar voice says. The hug I'm giving Collins ends and I turn to face Warden Harris. I glare at him. "I'd like to speak with Collins alone, if you don't mind."
"Of course I fucking mind!" I shout. "You don't care about him! Hell, it's your fault he's here anyway! What makes you think I'm gonna leave him alone with you?"
"I'm not gonna listen to anything you say! And the only way I'll be leaving this room is if Collins asks me to!" My glare grows fiercer. Everything is still and silent for about a minute and a half. Warden Harris sighs and takes a step toward me.
"Sampson . . . was my lover," he tells me. My eyes widen and my mouth drops open. "I was upset that he died and Collins managed to survive. I know that's no reason to have sent Collins to Crawford's cell and I apologize for that. Now, can I please speak with him alone?" I close my mouth and remain silent.
"You can go, Roger," Collins says. I turn to him as he wipes tears off of his cheeks.
"Are you sure?" I ask. He simply nods. I give Warden Harris a "you-better-not-hurt-him" look before I walk to the door and exit the room.
When I get to my room, I lie down on the bed and I think of possible things that the warden is talking to Collins about. I hope he's apologizing for treating him like shit for six years. He owes him more than an apology, but it's a start. This is going to drive me insane. I wish Collins had asked me to stay with him. He really needs a friend right now. Besides, I want to spend as much time with him as I possibly can before he gets to leave the hospital and is released from prison.
Wait . . . where is he supposed to stay? There's no way his apartment is vacant after all this time. He probably wouldn't be able to stay in it even if it was. This is awful. He's a free man, but he has nowhere to live.
My eyes land on the phone that's on the bedside table and an idea occurs to me. I pick up the receiver and dial the number to the loft. It rings twice before someone picks up.
"Hello?" Mark's voice says.
"Hey, Mark," I reply.
"Hey. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah. I'm calling about something regarding Collins."
"How's he doing?"
"He cried a little."
"Poor guy. At least he doesn't have to stay in prison."
"That's kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. You see, he doesn't have anywhere to go once he gets out."
"And we have that extra room that's filled with a bunch of random crap, so I was thinking maybe you guys could clear it out, make it into a bedroom, and Collins could stay there." Mark is silent for a moment. "Mark? Hello?"
"Roger, we don't really know much about him. He could be dangerous."
"He's the nicest guy in the world, Mark. I mean, he gets defensive if someone he cares about is being threatened, but other than that, he's completely harmless. Please, Mark. I can't just let him live on the streets. I'm his only friend. Do it for me." Mark sighs heavily.
"Okay, fine. I'll run it by the others."
"Thanks, Mark. I'll talk to you soon." I hang up the phone as a doctor enters the room with Nancy following him. She's carrying a small, circular saw and a towel.
"Are you ready to have that cast taken off?" the doctor asks me.
"It's the only thing that's keeping me here instead of prison, so . . . not really," I reply. The doctor chuckles as Nancy plugs the saw in and hands it to him. She then holds my arm still while the doctor slowly and carefully cuts my cast open. The second my cast is taken off and placed next to me, I smell the stench coming from my arm.
"Come with me," Nancy says. I stand up and follow her to the small bathroom where she thoroughly washes and rinses my arm. After she dries it, I bend it a few times just for the hell of it. I smile and continue to bend my arm as we leave the bathroom.
"Enjoying the freedom, I see," the doctor comments. He picks up my cast. "Would you like to keep this?"
"I've grown a little attached to it, but no," I tell him. He nods and leaves the room carrying the saw and my cast.
"The man that's talking with your friend right now told me to tell you that you're going to be discharged tomorrow morning," Nancy informs me. Well . . . that's perfect.
"When will my friend be discharged?" I ask.
"Sometime next week." With that said, Nancy leaves the room and I lie back down on the bed. This is great. This is just fucking great. A whole week alone in that hell hole without Collins to help me out. There's still so much I need to know in order to survive without him for the remainder of my sentence. But at least he'll be safe. He'll be with my friends and he'll be safe. I know they'll care for him.
I let myself drift off as I think of how happy Collins will be when I tell him he gets to stay with them.
As I sit in the back of the police cruiser that's taking me back to prison, I watch all the scenery go by. I'm back in my gorgeous orange jumpsuit and I've been handcuffed. I can't keep my mind off Collins. He seemed distracted when the warden took me to say goodbye to him before leaving the hospital. I wonder if that had anything to do with whatever the two of them talked about last night. At least he won't have to deal with him anymore. I really hope he adjusts well to living at the loft.
"You're awfully quiet back there, Davis," Warden Harris says. "Got something on your mind?"
"Just thinking about Collins," I reply.
"Of course you are."
"Since we're on the subject, what did you say to him last night?" Warden Harris is silent. "I'm not gonna stop asking until you tell me, you know." He sighs heavily.
"I had a . . . proposition for him," he tells me.
"What kind of proposition?"
"If you hurt him in any way-"
"Davis, believe me, I am not going to hurt him. Especially if he accepts my proposal."
"What was your proposal?"
"I told you. It's confidential." Those are the last words that are spoken for the rest of the ride.
When we arrive back at the prison, there are two guards waiting. Warden Harris opens the door I'm sitting next to and the guards take me out of the cruiser. They're gripping my arms tighter than necessary, but I don't say anything. I'm taken right to the concrete yard where I was first introduced to yard work and given a pick ax after my handcuffs are removed. The guards then leave me. I spend about four hours by myself in the hot sun breaking boulders into small rocks.
What the hell is the point of this?
The two guards soon return and lead me back into the building and take me to my cell. The cell remains open while I lie on my bunk for about an hour. When the alarm for visiting and recreation hours goes off, I get up and walk to the yard where the basketball court is. There are a few prisoners starting a game. I make my way over to the bleachers I sat on with Collins when he told me what had happened to him. Before I can sit down, two sets of hands grab me and I'm forced to walk toward the prison.
"Nice to see you made a full recovery, Houdini," I hear Fuse's voice say.
"He'll be right back in the hospital in no time," the other person says. I think it might be Dog, but I'm not quite sure.
"Where are you taking me?" I ask in fear.
"Bones heard you'd be coming back today and he wants to see you," Fuse answers.
"He didn't say." My heart sinks. Why does he want to see me? What is he gonna do to me? Am I gonna die? I don't wanna die in prison!
Fuse and the other person take me through a library and the cafeteria before we get to a weight room. There's loud rock music blaring. Every prisoner in this room is twice my size and could probably eat me. I scan them and my eyes land on Bones, who's bench pressing three times my weight. One of my arms is released and Dog (I was right about him being the other person) walks over to Bones and says something to him. He puts the bar back in place and stands up. He whispers something to Dog and then smirks at me. My heart sinks even lower. The music suddenly stops along with nearly all of the movement in the room.
"Everybody clear outta here," Bones says. No one moves. "NOW!" That's enough to get everyone to rush out of the room, leaving me alone with Bones. "Houdini." He walks toward me and I feel like running.
"Please, don't hurt me!" I cry, covering my face with my arms. "I just got out of the hospital! I know you hate me, but-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Bones interrupts. "Who the hell said I was gonna hurt you?" I bring my arms back down to my sides and stare at him in disbelief.
"You mean, you're not gonna kill me and make another hair tie for yourself out of some of my bones?" Bones laughs loudly and slaps me on the back.
"But I thought you hated me."
"I do, but that doesn't mean I wanna kill you."
"Well . . . what do want with me then?"
"What about him?"
"I want you to help me take him out." My eyes widen and I back away from Bones. "What's wrong with you?"
"I'm not gonna help you kill someone." Bones chuckles and walks toward me. I back away from him until I run into a wall.
"You don't have much of a choice, Houdini," he tells me. "Either the warden dies or you do."
"I-I thought you said you didn't want to kill me," I say. I really hope a guard comes in here soon.
"Just because I don't want to doesn't mean I won't." Bones grabs my shirt collar and looks me in the eyes. "So, what's your final answer?"
"C-Can I think about it for a while?" To my surprise, Bones sighs and releases my collar. He must really need me for this. But why?
"Fine," he says. He walks back toward the bench press he was using when Fuse and Dog brought me in the room and takes the weights off of the bar. "I'll give until next week to think about it." He picks up the bar and turns to face me. "And if I don't like your answer . . ." He holds the bar in the middle and bends it until it breaks. I wince. "Am I clear, Houdini?" I nod slowly as Bones drops the bar and smirks at me. I then quickly leave the room.
I slow my pace when I get to the library. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I can't help Bones kill the warden. I'll never get out of prison if I do that. Wait . . . I won't get out of prison if Bones kills me either. I'm screwed no matter what I choose! As I walk through the library thinking about what to do, I notice Collins standing between two of the shelves scanning the books.
"Collins!" I exclaim, rushing to my friend. He puts his index finger to his lips.
"Shh, this is a library," he reminds me. I nod and lower my voice.
"Right. What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to stay in the hospital until next week."
"Everything regarding my release will be finalized next week and I know I won't be able to enjoy my freedom if I leave you without saying goodbye. So, I asked Alan to let me come back here." I give him a look of confusion. "That's Warden Harris' first name."
"Since when do you call him 'Alan?'"
"Since last night." He smiles a bit.
"Collins, what did he say to you? He said he had a proposition for you, but he won't tell me what it is. He keeps saying it's confidential."
"And it is." My eyes widen and Collins chuckles.
"Come on! You're my friend! You have to tell me!"
"Sorry, but I really wanna know. Tell me, please?"
"It's confidential." I scowl at Collins. "Looking at me like that isn't gonna make me tell you."
"Collins, I hate being out of loops," I tell him. "I won't tell anyone. Come on, you can trust me."
"Fine." Collins steps closer to me. "He apologized for everything he's put me through and then he asked me if I . . . needed a place to stay." I don't buy that. I don't buy that at all. Well . . . I buy 70 percent of it.
"That's it?" I ask.
"Yeah," Collins replies.
"Are you sure you're not omitting information?"
"I prefer to call it 'summarizing.'"
"So, you have a place to stay?"
"Staying with him is gonna be really awkward for a while, but it's either that or I'll have to live on the streets. It's my only option."
"There's an extra room in the loft I share with my friends. I called Mark last night and told him to get everybody to clear it out. You can stay there. And, hey, once I get out of here, we'd be roommates." Collins stares at me with his mouth half open. "What do you say?"
"Roger . . . are you serious?" Collins asks. "I could really stay with your friends?"
"Yeah. Are you accepting the offer?" Collins says nothing, wraps his arms around me, and presses his lips to mine.
Yep, I'm gonna stop this chapter right there.