Olivia knew she wasn't supposed to be this far away from home, but the temptation was too much. The other kids on the island told her if the cons were well enough behaved, they'd get to leave the actual prison and go on gardening duty. There wasn't much to garden, Olivia reasoned, but that was none of her business.
She didn't believe them. She was seventeen years old, older than any other children, older than the previous oldest boy, who was only thirteen. How was she supposed to make any friends with the age difference? The single two kids she liked a little bit were Annie and Moose, or Matthew, who had told her about gardening duty in the first place.
Annie was twelve, with white blonde hair and a heavy-set build, the exact opposite of Olivia regarding looks. She spoke her mind, which was mostly why Olivia liked her.
Matthew, who normally was called Moose because he was taller, as tall as Olivia, had been the first one to welcome her to Alcatraz. That's why she liked him. He had a sister, too, the only girl her age, but she was, "special," and went to a different school than she did.
The other boy, Jimmy, was an abercrombie in Olivia's opinion, and his little sister Theresa was annoying and loud. She didn't care if she brought her a cake. Olivia did not like little kids.
So, while her mother and father had taken the ferry to San Francisco to do some shopping, Olivia left her new dingy apartment to explore Alcatraz, her home.
She's only been here nine days, and thanks to Moose, knew this place was the, "cream of the criminal crop," a big floating piece of land with, "bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns and automatics, and 278 of America's worst criminals."
To her all Alcatraz was is a big slab of concrete plunked in San Francisco Bay, close enough to see the glittering city but always and forever set apart.
She wasn't expecting much as she walked along the rec yard wall, where the cons played baseball and sometimes they would land on the other side and kids would take them. That was rare. Olivia just wanted to see, if maybe, something interesting would happen.
She bent down once in awhile and looked under some bushes, just in case she found a baseball. She never did that day, but she did find something else.
"Looking for one of these?"
Olivia's heart skipped a beat and she froze in her tracks. The voice didn't exactly sound like it belonged to a serial killer or a rapist or a bank robber or a madman. She turned around.
An inmate with dark brown, slicked back hair stood in the custom striped uniform, smiling kindly, a baseball in one hand and a white bucket in the other, about ten feet away.
Olivia caught her breath. He seemed like he wasn't looking for trouble. Heck, he couldn't have been if they let him out to do the gardening. (What garden?) Just to be safe, to make sure he hadn't somehow against all odds, escaped, she glanced around until her eyes rested on a guard who stood very close behind the con. He tipped his hat, letting her know it was alright. Good. He wasn't escaping and looking for a hostage.
"Hello," Olivia said shyly.
The con came closer to her and, even through all her nervousness, her feet miraculously stayed glued to the ground.
He gave a look to the guard, who nodded. Olivia figured, judging by the bucket filled halfway with weeds (How'd they even grow here?) and the dirt on the knees of his uniform, he was safe enough to be around.
"Hello," he said, and he seemed very pleasant. His eyes were a calm greeny blue and he had a sincere smile. He couldn't have been more than 25. How someone so young and innocent looking could ever do something horrible enough to be put in Alcatraz, Olivia would never understand.
The con held the baseball out to her. She didn't know whether to take it or not. Where had it come from? Did she really want a baseball that belonged to a criminal? She looked at him quickly, then at the now rather bored looking guard, who shrugged. She wondered how he could act so nonchalant about the situation. Did this happen on Alcatraz normally?
Finally, Olivia reached out and took it from his hand. At least she'd have something to brag about, if anyone believed her. "T-thank you," she stuttered, backing up.
"You're welcome," he said, grinning like he couldn't stop. "You have a nice day, miss."
"Good day, Olivia," the white moustached guard said, tipping his hat again. That puzzled her. She had been there only over a week and everyone knew her name already. Maybe that's the way it works when you're such a, "tight-nit" community.
"Is that okay?" she suddenly blurted out. "I mean, is it okay for him to do that?"
The con snorted, holding back laughter.
"No harm done," the guard replied. "But you shouldn't be out here this far. Now since you're new around here, I'll warn you. Otherwise, I'd have had to tell the Warden. Anyway, don't come this way again, alright? You're supposed to stay in the designated-"
"Sorry," Olivia cut him off, not wanting to upset anyone more than she already had when she missed the boat for school and had to scream for them to come back and get her. "I didn't know."
"It's fine," he said, sounding slightly irritated. "Just don't do it again. And look, you got yourself a convict baseball, from an armed robber escaped prison twice."
Olivia gasped and threw a hand over her mouth, staring at the con who's smile had faded. "This prison?"
The guard motioned for the, "armed robber" to follow him. He did.
"Not this prison, miss. No one's escaped here, no one ever will. He's from Crown Point. Now you keep that ball somewhere safe. That's something special." Crown Point was where they sent Dillinger, she remembered.
Olivia nodded and turned back, walking home quickly. Maybe if she hurried her parents wouldn't know she had left and didn't stay to do homework. When she felt far enough away, she looked over her shoulder to watch them. The number on the con's back was 21.
Olivia kept the baseball in her underwear drawer, tucked near the back. As soon as she could, she grabbed it and ran not too far, past the Mattaman's where Jimmy and Theresa lived, and to Moose's apartment.
Mrs. Flannigan answered. "Hi, is Moose home? Thanks." Olivia shoved past the surprised Mrs. Flannigan and rushed to the table where Moose and his weird sister, Natalie, were eating lemon cake. Natalie had her legs pulled up to her chest and was rocking back and forth, her chin touching her chest. Olivia liked Natalie, but...there was really something wrong with her.
"Hi, Moose, hi Natalie. Guess what?" Olivia took a seat next to him, crossing her legs. She showed him the baseball from 21.
"That's nice," he said, not yet realizing it's importance.
"Guess where I got it?"
"A con. By the rec yard, yesterday."
Moose's eyes bugged out. "Did you find it on the ground or-"
"No, a con gave it to me. He was doing the gardening or something."
"Are you okay?"
Olivia proudly hugged the baseball to her face. She pulled it away quickly, worried about smudging her makeup. "A moustached guy didn't let anything happen. He even said it was okay for him to give it to me. He came right up to me and I took it from him, just like this." Olivia took Moose's hand and re-enacted the whole encounter.
Moose couldn't believe it. "You're so lucky. You better not tell Piper, she'll hate you even more."
Piper hated everyone. She was a manipulative witch who used being the Warden's daughter to her advantage. She felt threatened by her, Olivia thought, because everyone knew she was the prettiest. That's what Olivia thought.
"Did you say anything to him?"
Olivia straightened her back. "I said thanks."
Natalie muttered, "Thank you," and at last raised her head to take a bite of cake. Olivia tried not to stare. She actually cared about not hurting Moose's feelings, even if she didn't care about the other kids. He loved Natalie, strange or not.
"Were you scared?"
"Not really," she answered somewhat truthfully.
"What was his name?"
"I don't know," Olivia said, incredulous. "His number was 21, though."