Disclaimer: Property of others blah blah blah copyright blah blah. This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to actual persons living or dead are unintentional.
Overlong first chapter author's notes: This is an AU story set in an actual California prison: Pleasant Valley State Prison. I will try to keep it as real as possible, but all my knowledge is on the wrong side (three immediate family members that work/have worked in Corrections, but thankfully no family members that have done time). Sadly, most of my interpretations of prison life will be based off "Prison Break," with snippets of stuff I actually know (like names of various state facilities, levels of security, a few administrative details, etc) thrown in. I may use actual events/inmates for inspiration, but all accounts will be fictional and timelines will be altered to suit my whims. This is AU - I can do that.
As for the KKBB timeline and characters, I'll keep as true as possible to the original, but some things must be necessarily altered.
No real warnings for Chapter 1, but later chapters will decidedly have warnings.
And now, I'll get on with it!
Harry's eyes, despite his attempts not to be nervous, darted here and there almost frantically as he took his first step into Pleasant Valley (never had any place been less aptly named) State Prison. If he had been expecting great relief from the blistering heat outside, he was only moderately disappointed. If he had been expecting some reassurance that his life was not going to end in this hellhole...
Well, it was a good thing he was not that optimistic.
OK, so it wasn't Folsom or Corcoran. And he wasn't going to be in the maximum security ward. No rubbing elbows with Charlie Manson or Sirhan Sirhan…
But for someone whose fighting skills were unlikely even up to a women's facility, it was more than bad enough.
First off, there were the guards. The one who had been on the bus with the new inmates and who was now leading them inside was like a cross between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Lenny from "The Grapes of Wrath" (or was it "Of Mice and Men?" Harry never could keep his boring literary movies straight), except with less intelligence than either. The brain-dead mass had been obscenely fondling his nightstick since the bus had started rolling and his expression as he had eyed the prisoners had said clearly that he lived for punishment.
The guard that now received them seemed more intelligent at least, if not more compassionate. Farm boy Charles Barkley, Harry dubbed him. His cold eyes and stony demeanor promised swift and merciless response to any trouble.
Again Harry found his eyes wandering here and there around the room, looking for signs of his fellow inmates (other than the subdued and motion sick lot that had been on the bus with him). After two months at the Reception Center in Chino, they were his greatest anxiety. It had taken Harry most of his stay at that overcrowded facility to learn half the inmate politics. And now he had a whole new prison to learn. All new rules of who to avoid, who to play nice with, and whose ass to kiss and how to kiss it...
"Lockhart!" the deep voice of the Pleasant Valley guard called him forward. The underlying anger in that authoritative voice had Harry scrambling forward before he remembered he was supposed to avoid showing fear at all costs.
"Don't look scared, whatever you do, boy," an older inmate at Chino had told Harry when he had learned it was the younger man's first time doing hard time. "Guards, inmates. They all trip on the power play - it's the drug of choice inside."
Harry recovered himself enough to walk fully upright, but with eyes down as the old man had instructed. Still, when he met the eyes of farm boy Charles Barkley (Jones, the man's nametag proclaimed), Harry could see the hint of a smirk behind the man's otherwise grim expression.
"I'm Harry Lockhart, er, boss." He knew well enough by now what to call the guards, if not how to talk to them.
Jones' smirk became more obvious. "And I'm the head guard here, but you can call me 'boss' or 'the right hand of God.'" The man did not sound like he was joking. "Now, you follow the rules here and you'll make it through to your parole."
"Rule one, you follow the COs' orders and you follow them quick and without question."
"Yes, boss." So far he was managing the conversation alright.
"Rule two, you make trouble, you get trouble. Tenfold. Clear?"
"As crystal, boss."
Jones gave him a hard look at that, but apparently decided that Harry was not being a smart ass. "Now pick up your blues and get out of my sight."
"With pleasure, boss. Orange isn't my color." Beyond that, the orange uniform of Chino hurt Harry's eyes with its brightness.
"You getting smart with me, Lockhart?" All trace of amusement left the guard's face.
"Uh, no sir, I mean, boss. Smart's not a word that's ever been associated with me."
Harry swallowed and looked down as Jones continued to glower at him. "Rule three, just for you, Lockhart: keep your mouth shut except to say 'yes, boss' and I won't have to shut it for you. Got it?"
"Now go." Harry scampered again to collect his prison blues and go to the other barred door to the room - the one that led deeper in. "Rogers!" Jones called to the guard waiting at that door. "Take Cottontail here to C Ward. He's Gay Perry's new cellie."
Gay Perry? Fucking Hell no!
Harry's step slowed as his trepidation about his new home for the next five years overcame his eagerness to leave Jones' presence.
"Liven it up, Cottontail." Rogers apparently liked Harry's new nickname. And like the bus guard, he also seemed to like his nightstick an inordinate amount.
"Yes, boss," Harry replied in a subdued tone.
Rogers guided him down a hall to another door, which led back outside. They walked across heat-shimmering asphalt, razor wire topped chain link fences on either side, toward a building with a large C on it.
Level III... Harry's nervous eyes yet again flicked here and there in spite of all his efforts. His vision was good. He could make out the rifles the guards in the towers carried.
"Don't make me ask you again, Cottontail." Harry's step had faltered again.
With a nudge of Rogers' nightstick against his back, they made their way into the large, imposing block of a building that was C Ward. The guard nodded to a fellow officer who, Harry noted with shock, actually gave him a tiny, almost friendly nod of greeting as well.
A tiny glimmer of hope sparked within Harry, but it sputtered out as soon as the Latino guard opened the cell block door and the eyes of hundreds of inmates zeroed in on Harry with every variation between utter disinterest and predatory assessment.
Back straight, eyes down. He kept his eyes focused on the floor a few feet in front of him, at the moment grateful for Rogers' imposing frame (man looked like an oversized cross between Chuck Norris and Burt Reynolds, complete with porn-tache) beside him. The guard's presence did not stop the catcalls of the other prisoners, though.
"Hey Fish!" Harry was prepared for this charming nickname at least. "You don't get along with Gay Perry, you give me a call."
"Must be a dogfish - look at those big puppy eyes. Hey Dogfish, I got a bone for you!"
"Whatcha in for, Fish? Snatch the wrong granny's purse?"
"Well, I think we've got a tropical fish here - look how red he's gone."
To Harry's increased horror, he felt his cheeks become hotter than the nearly stifling temperature could account for. Fortunately, his cell seemed to be on the lowest level and not too far from the door.
"Van Shrike!" Rogers called. "New cellmate for you."
A man both taller and broader than Harry, with bleached blond hair shifted himself off the top bunk of the cell's bed. How does he maintain the color behind bars, Harry wondered inconsequentially, thinking of all the work his kind-of girlfriend put into her hair.
"You show him around, teach him the ropes, Van Shrike. I'll be holding you equally accountable for any trouble he causes in his first week." Rogers somehow seemed like a playground bully in front of this Gay Perry Van Shrike (linebacker Val Kilmer, more like it!), his voice coming out in an overly gruff bark.
"Yes, boss." There was no obvious sarcasm in his voice, but somehow the honorific came across as anything but.
"Free time inside until lunch, Lockhart," Rogers told Harry, nudging him into the cell with his nightstick. "Welcome to Pleasant Valley, Cottontail!" he added in a ringing voice before he left, snickering.
"What did you do?" Harry's new cellmate asked him as he looked Harry over with nearly complete disinterest.
"Um... Armed robbery," Harry replied, turning to face Gay Perry with a move akin to a great nervous twitch.
"I could not possibly care less what you're in for, idiot. I'm asking what you did to piss off the guards already."
Idiot? Was that an improvement over Fish? "What do you mean? Was he angry?"
"He called you Cottontail for all the ward population to hear." Harry blinked at him. "Hello!" The larger man snapped his fingers at Harry. "It's a rabbit - a prey species? A creature only found here in the jaws of feral cats or pancaked on the tires of the bus? So what did you do?"
"I, uh, guess I opened my mouth."
"You make a habit of that?" Harry nodded. "Well break it."
With that, Perry Van Shrike resumed his place on the top bunk and picked up the book he had been interrupted reading.
A biography of Cagney? What kind of criminal is he?
"So," Harry began hesitantly, at more than a bit of a loss, "You're G- er, Perry Van Shrike? I'm Harry Lockhart."
"Go ahead and call me Gay Perry."
"Uuhh... Why the nickname?"
"I've got a hot wife who screams down the entire cell block when she comes for conjugals. The guards and inmates are all afire with jealousy."
"No, shitwit. It's exactly what it sounds like."
"Uh..." Harry felt nervous sweat break out on his forehead.
"Relax, Chief. Even in prison, I've got standards."
"Um, I'll just call you Perry, if that's alright. Er, nice to meet you, Perry."
"Thrilled." Never had word and tone been so at odds.
"Sooo, what are you in for?"
"Rule one: we don't have that fucking conversation."
"Right... Gotcha... Um… Do the bulls treat us alright in here?"
"Rule two: no prison lingo in this cell."
Harry felt the nervous sweat return. How am I going to live five years with this? Heat and anxiety were making him dizzy. He sat down on the lower bunk. "Is it always this hot in here?"
"Eight months out of the year. Be glad the guards can't handle the heat, or the thermostat wouldn't even be set as low as 80."
Great. "Well," Harry made a sickly attempt at laughter before continuing, "I'm sure the insulation is asbestos they can get."
Harry heard Perry shifting overhead and looked up to meet a pair of very dangerous eyes. "Rules three through ten: shut up."
Harry, feeling any remaining flush drain away from his face, silently nodded then lay down on his bunk. He heard a groan and muttering from above.
"God. Jones is punishing me for something!"