LIFE BEHIND BARS
Kevin Nash had been in Block F for two days. He'd been give a couple of days to settle in before being given his work assignment.
During his time off, he spent a lot of time in the cell with Chris and Adam. Adam had been excused from work for a week so he could help Chris. Jericho was getting better, but was still on bed rest for another day or two. After that he'd be able to get up and go down to the main room. He couldn't wait.
Nash caught up with all that had been going on with Chris since the older man had been moved to Block D. They had a treat time just being together again.
Kevin also got to know Adam. It didn't take him long to fall in love with the pretty blond. It wasn't a sexual love, but a protective, brotherly feeling. He also knew Chris and Adam were meant to be together. Who ever said love can't happen at first sight had been proven wrong.
Nash loved spending time with the couple, but he was glad when Mark returned from work each evening.
Diesel was now having breakfast. He filled the empty chair that was always at Mark's right.
"You watch yourself. There's a reason you were sent to the laundry to work instead of the motor pool. Barrett is the Shop Steward. I'm sure he'll try to make life hell for you. Double check everything before you use it or do something. Look for traps. Things like checking the bleach bottle for acid or shorted wiring on an iron. Please be careful." Mark whispered, worried for his lover.
Kevin chuckled a bit. "I will Mark. It's not my first day, babe. I ain't a fish. I know you're worried. It's a laundry, not too much can happen. I'd rather be in the motor pool. Is "Old John" still running?" Nash asked the faction leader. He knew Mark was worried, but Diesel felt he was old enough not to need a mommy.
"Just did an over haul on the steam system. Adam was able to find an old repair manual on the computer. He printed it out for me. That kid is a wonder. Sandow can't praise him enough", Mark said with a soft smile.
Adam had come down and gotten two breakfast trays and take them back up to the cell. He always ate with Chris. The two older men watched the blond go up with the trays. They were both smiling at him.
"He's a good kid. I've never seen Jericho so happy. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with them. You have no worries. It's the most real and deep love I've seen in a long time", Kevin's smile matched his lovers.
"Stop changing the subject. I'm serious Kevin. You weren't put in the laundry by mistake. Barrett is planning something. I can feel it. Your being back isn't an accident either. I'm guessing that somehow, they are going to get to me through you. The only way to do that is to hurt you", Mark's tone was full of angst.
"I do realize that babe. I promise I'll be careful", Kevin said with a last bite of his breakfast.
Mark nodded and finished his own food. He was happier than he had been in a long time. The sex was great. What worried the faction leader the most was that he realized Kevin was more than a fuck buddy. He was deeply in love with the older man. He was scared to death of losing Kevin, and the Deadman didn't scare easily.
Mark Calaway also realized that Kevin was a pawn on Laurinaitis' chess board. As the Top Dog he would have to find some gambit that would keep not only Kevin, but all the his faction members safe.
Over at the table of the Nexus leader, Wade was giving his instructions for the day.
"I want all of you to keep eyes and ears open. Things are going to be happening and I want to know about anything you hear or see. And not just with the Deadmen. I mean everyone," Wade said to the men of his faction. He'd called a short meeting right after breakfast.
He dismissed his faction. He was still worried about his own task. It was not going to be easy to drive a man into crazy behavior. The Brit finished his coffee. He had one more thing to do.
The Englishman had to hurry. The Guard shift change would happen just before the work bell. If he was going to get the Miz into the laundry he had to talk to Ziggles.
Barrett went to the desk. The Head Guard was busily filling out his reports before the shift change. "Officer Ziggler?" the faction leader spoke respectfully.
Dolph sighed, he was busy and didn't like interruptions. "What?" the guard barked sharply at the Englishman.
"Sir. I'm sorry to bother you. This is important. I need Mike Mizanin in the laundry. Preferably permanently. With the nursing home contract and other things we need his skills", Wade emphasized the hidden meaning in his request.
The Head Guard was immediately aware of what the Englishman was asking. He wanted the matter dealt with. "Of course. I'll give him a temporary placement. I'll leave a message for Jacobs to talk to the Welfare Officer about permanent placement. I don't think there will be any problems. If there are, I'll speak to the Assistant Warden," Ziggler said with an almost undetectable wink.
Barrett nodded and winked in return. He went back to his table and told Mike he'd be working in the laundry.
The Miz looked around. He was checking to make sure no one else was listening. When he was sure, he spoke low to his leader. "If Heath is loyal to Mark we'll find out soon. We forgot he works in the laundry. All we have to do is let it slip that something will happen with Nash during work. If Red does anything to stop it then we'll know for sure." Mike whispered.
Barrett palmed his face. In all his worry he'd completely forgotten the redhead worked at folding sheets in the laundry. Sometimes he got so worried about the harder problems he forgot the simple things.
"I forgot he works in the laundry. He's so fucking quiet. What's wrong with me?" Wade said with a sigh. It was almost as if he was the one who was cracking up.
"I forgot too boss. Wade... just... relax. It will be alright. No Voice needs you. He isn't going to kill you. He needs you and the Nexus behind him. He's got to much invested to break in a new faction." Miz tried to comfort his boss.
"We'll see," Wade said simply. Just as he was about to say more when the bell rang. It was time to go to work.
The guards had made their shift change. Officers Johnson and Jacobs were now on duty. Johnson pushed the button to the main Block door as Glen led the line of prisoners out to start their work day.
Before they went their separate ways Mark gave Kevin a look that was both full of warning and worry. The big man just smiled at his faction leader. He was telling his lover all would be okay.
Adam stood at the railing of the third level of cells. He was hoping things would go okay. There was just too much tension in the air. Even as a new inmate he knew things couldn't go on this way.
In the laundry Barrett had things in hand. He'd told Mike on the walk to work to start off slow. Nagging Nash with small things first. Then in a few days they would set up something bigger. A gnat was more annoying than a barking dog.
Kevin had been posted to the big steam press. It was a hot, hard job and required a lot of strength.
The Miz was working at the folding table with Heath. He wanted to test the redhead. "We're going to mess with the new guy. Just watch." Mike said in a joking tone. He wanted to see if Heath would do anything to stop him or warn Nash.
Mike folded the sheets but as he did he always made sure there was something wrong with the fold. That way when Nash pressed it, a corner would be bent or the fold line would be crooked. All the folds were supposed to be straight and uniform. Especially for the nursing home.
Kevin had been hard at it for an hour. He didn't realize he was being sabotaged. Barrett as the Shop Steward decided to come check the Diesel's work.
The Englishman unfolded a random sheet from the pressed pile. All the inside seams were crooked ant the corners were dog-eared. "Don't you know how to press a sheet? I can's send this out!" Wade spoke sternly to the tall man.
Kevin looked confused, "I'm sure that's the only one. I was very careful not to move the press." Nash's tone was earnest.
"All these need to be checked. Reso! Come over here." Wade called out to the redhead. The Miz smirked as the young man went over to the press area.
"You unfold and check these. All the mis-pressed ones will have to be re-washed, re-dried and refolded. If you put my schedule behind... you just better hope that's the only one. Now get busy." Wade barked as he stormed off. He flashed the Miz a quick smirk.
Heath said nothing but the look he shot Diesel told the tall man all he needed to know. He'd been set up. There was no point in wasting time unfolding the stack of sheets.
Kevin threw the sheets in the big skip trolley. The skip was a big, cloth sided rolling laundry basket. He wheeled the basket to the huge industrial washers. There were fifteen washers and ten dryers in the prison laundry. Wade's department did all the sheets, towels, wash cloths and pajamas. Another section did the uniforms.
Wade Barrett was the Shop Steward over the entire laundry, but Alberto Del Rio was in charge of the section that cleaned the uniforms. He was just as efficient as the Brit. It wasn't often that Wade even had to go over to Del Rio's department.
"Sorry Ric. The press messed up. Gotta re-wash these." Kevin explained to Ric Flair. The old man was in charge of loading, running and then unloading the washing machine. His helper was silly Santino Marella.
"It's okay Diesel. You should be in the motor pool. By the way, glad to have you back. Woooo!" Ric said with a laugh. He seemed to end every sentence with an excited "wooo". Santino quietly helped load the washers. He was always in in his own little world.
The Italian took out a load of wet sheets and threw them in a skip. He wheeled it over to the drying section.
Ricardo Rodriguez was in charge of the dryers. He was very efficient at it. He quickly loaded up the sheets Santino had brought over.
Heath felt awful. He'd seen what Mike had been doing with the sheets. He couldn't say anything to warn Kevin. Mark had told the couple, through Adam, not to do anything that would make members of the Nexus suspicious. He made sure all his sheets were carefully folded.
When the redhead had fifty folded sheets he took them to Nash. He gave the older man a knowing look and a tiny nod. Kevin knew these sheets were safe.
Later Wade put Kevin on loading machines while Ric, who was a trustee escorted the crew that delivered the clean laundry to the cells.
First the handles came off three machines when Kevin pulled them open. Barrett had to be called each time and the machines would be out of order until the maintenance crew fixed it. Luckily it was a quick repair. But each one put the laundry further behind.
When Ric returned, Kevin went on skip duty. He pushed dirty sheets to the washers. Then he took the clean ones to the dryers. After that from the dryers to the folding table.
Skip duty was easy, at least usually. Keven seemed to be very hard on the rolling baskets. Wheels and handles came off. Three skips got torn sides.
Nash was near the end of his tether. Every repair cost time and made Barrett furious.
"NASH! Can't you do ANY fucking thing around here? You are a walking disaster area! We are FOUR hours behind because of YOU! Do you think you can possibly manage to push a broom without BREAKING it? Just TRY will you! Sweep the lent and threads from the dryer area. And for fucks sake DON'T break anything!" Barrett yelled at the top of his lungs. Everyone in the laundry could hear him, even over in Del Rio's section.
Kevin felt like a scolded child. His anger had calmed a bit and was replaced by humiliation. He knew he was being submarined but he had no proof.
Diesel also had to deal with the wrath of the other workers in the laundry. They were upset that he had put them behind schedule. They had pride that they always ran on time and now they were hours behind. It would take at least two days to make up the time.
The tall man was swept up the lint and threads that came out of the dryers. The lent traps were cleaned often and while Ric threw it away, some of the fluff still fell on the floor. It has to be cleaned or it could be a fire hazard.
"Kev, don't let em get to ya. You've just had some bad luck. Barrett really turned this place around. He just likes to keep things running smooth. Wooo!" Flair said honestly. He didn't understand what was really going on.
"Yeah okay Ric." Kevin said in an annoyed tone. He just managed to stop the roll of his eyes. He knew the old man meant well, but it didn't help Diesel's mood. He just kept sweeping up the lint.
Wade was in his small office at the front of the laundry facility. He was filling out a daily report. The Englishman made sure to note all of Nash's mistakes. He embellished a little. On paper Kevin Nash looked bad.
As Kevin swept he would stop every so often and with a rake scoop up the pile of lint and threads. He put them in a thirty gallon metal trash can. Nash was sweeping behind the dryers when he heard a voice cry out in a panic.
"FIRE! THE TRASH CAN IS ON FIRE!" the voice came from Mike Mizanin.
It was a small enough fire that Barrett put it out before the sprinklers were set off and the alarm sounded. The fire alarm was tied directly to the Wild Wood East Fire and Rescue Department. They came any time the alarm went off. To have them come full out for something so minor would have been costly for the prison.
Barrett put the red fire extinguisher down. Inside he was grinning proudly. Outside he was fuming, much like the fire Miz had intentionally set.
"For fucking fucks sake Nash. How in the bloody blue hell did THAT happen?! You are just... a... a... FUCK UP!" Barrett was again yelling at the top of his English accented voice. His face was red. His neck muscles bulging with the anger he was showing.
The Head Guard of the laundry, Theodore "Teddy" Long came running over to the group that had gathered around the screaming Shop Steward.
"Arighty boys, what's going on here?" Teddy asked with authority. He was an older, African American man. His frame was slight and he was much shorter than the men he stood guard over. He was tough, but fair. He had the respect of the prisoners.
"Somehow this... screw up managed to set the trash can on fire. He's been screwing up all damn day!" Barrett explained to the guard.
Kevin by now was ready to blow a gasket. He'd had enough of being set up. He knew perfectly well that Miz had somehow set the fire. Still he adhered to the rules of the prison He wouldn't lag. He would deal with it later, back in the block.
"What happened Nash?" Long asked the newest laundry worker.
"I dunno. I was over by the dryers. Maybe it was spontaneous combustion. It just hasn't been my day, Sir." Nash answered with as neutral a voice as he could manage.
"Well get all this cleaned up. Almost quitting time. And everyone calm down. No harm was done, alright boys?" Teddy spoke firmly but calmly.
"Yes, Sir" Several men said at the same time, including Nash, Barrett and Mizanin.
The Brit went back to his office to file a report on the fire. Barrett was pleased with the day. If Miz kept it up, Nash would blow. It might not even take more than a day or two.
Nash bagged up the burnt lent and put it by the back door. He was so angry. His reason told him this was exactly what the membership of the Nexus was after. He had to remember his promise to Mark. He couldn't lose his temper, no matter what. He pulled himself together.
The bell for the end of work rang. The prisoners lined up at the door. They had to wait for Barrett to clear everything. If there was a real fire during the night he would be to blame.
Officer Long always went with Barrett on the shut down walk through. He'd been watching the days activities. While it seemed Nash was just having a bad day he was also wary. Usually the laundry ran so tight and smooth.
As they checked the pressing area Long spoke, "Wade son, is there something going on here? I haven't seen a day like this since before you took over." The older guard's tone was full of concern.
Wade looked at the guard. He tried to look confused. "Nothin' that I know of. Maybe Nash is bucking to get back in the motor pool. I'll talk to him. I don't want any trouble. You know I run a well oiled machine." The Brit sounded sincere.
Teddy thought about what Barrett had said, "I suppose so. Good, you tell him to settle in. I'll keep an eye on him too. Let's finish up now." Long said sounding satisfied.
The guard knew now something was up. He would keep an eye on things especially Nash. He wasn't all together sure it was the tall man's fault. After all the Miz was known for causing trouble.
An hour later back in Block F the men were settling into their evening meal. The nights menu was chili and cornbread.
Mark, Shawn, Hunter, Kevin, John, Randy and Adam were at their usual table. After the Kitten had take a tray up to Chris, the Lion insisted Adam go and eat with the others. His Kitten had spent the entire day taking care of him. Jericho wanted Adam to have a break. He also wanted to know the latest news and Adam could fill him in later.
Kevin spent meal time filling everyone in on all that had happened. Nash by now had calmed down and was able to talk about it without wanting to kill Barrett.
In listening to his lover, Mark was now sure his suspicions had been right. Kevin had been brought back to be destroyed. Now all Mark had to know was what would happen to his angel. He knew the why. He knew that with Kevin's destruction, he too would be destroyed. He could not let that happen. The prisoners depended on him as Top Dog.
Yes, he battled and fought for the position of Top Dog. But he remained in the top spot because his fellow convicts kept him there.
When supper was over Adam went up to the cell where is Lion was waiting. Chris was having a smoke. The Kitten joined his Lion and filled him in on the news of the day. Chris was unhappy and worried about Kevin. Somehow though he knew their leader would handle it.
"Mark will handle it. He has before. At one time I thought being Top Dog would be cool. You know boss over everyone, getting perks and such. Now I wouldn't want the job for even an hour." Chris said as he took a deep drag from his cigarette.
"I know I wouldn't want to do it. Perks?" Adam asked as he too took a drag.
"Yeah. He got to pick his cell and he gets a bit more pay. See, the Warden knows the value of a good Top Dog. He even meets with Mark and they talk about things. It's almost like he is a CEO of a huge company. Mark or not, this prison could not run without a Top Dog." Chris explained to his beautiful boy.
"I just thought … wow I didn't realize the job was so important." Adam said in a thoughtful tone. He stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray on the small TV tray.
"Come on Kitty, lets play some backgammon." Chris said as he pointed to the small pocket sized magnetic game that was also on the TV tray.
Adam smiled and nodded. They set up the game and began to play. During the day since he'd been out of the hospital, Chris had taught Adam how to play backgammon. The younger man had picked up the game quickly and they enjoyed playing for hours.
As the Lion and Kitten played backgammon in their cell, downstairs the rest of the Deadmen faction were getting ready to play cards. All but Shawn, Randy and John that is. Orton and Cena were talking quietly together in a corner.
Shaw was sitting alone at the next table over. The older man was making notes in a spiral notebook. He had a big event coming up soon. Reverend Baker was going out of town in a couple of weeks. He was going to preside over his granddaughters' wedding. Shawn was going to deliver the sermon on the Sunday Reverend Baker was gone.
It would be the first sermon Shawn would be doing all on his own. Usually if he had to be away on a Sunday, the Reverend would leave a fully prepared sermon for Shawn to read.
The copper blond wasn't scared, but he he did want to do the best job he could. He had chosen the topic of Daniel in the Lion's Den. He thought it would make a good allegory for life in prison. He'd spent hours in the library doing research and now he was writing.
Hunter looked over with pride at the man he considered his husband. He was proud of Shawn. Years ago, after they lost the baby the man had gone into a drug and drink spiral.
Then one day Hunter got tough. As much as he loved Shawn he told him to dry up or get out. Shawn had stormed out of their tiny house.
Hunter had been frantic. Shawn had vanished without a trace. A week later when the door bell rang, Hunter was sure it was the the cops, come to tell him Shawn was dead. Instead it was his beloved looking healthier than he had for a long time.
Shawn explained that he'd gone to find help. At a clinic he'd met a young, vibrant preacher who's put the love of Jesus in his heart. Shawn had changed and was clean and sober.
Hunter took him back and they'd been together ever since. Occasionally though Shawn's old HBK personality took over and violence reared it's ugly head. Here they were now in prison together. That was a different story.
"Guys, I know you normally don't, but I'd appreciate you going to church on the Sunday Shawn preaches. It would mean a lot to him." Hunter said to his table mates.
Just as Mark was about to answer, Barrett, Miz and Ryder walked up to the table. Kevin shot them a dirty look. Mark laid his hand on Diesel's thigh keeping his lover under control.
"What do you want Wade?" Mark asked the opposing faction leader. Now he was speaking as Top Dog, he had to maintain that polite respect... without throwing up.
"Nothing special. Just thought you might like a friendly game of rummy of something. Just to show there are no hard feelings?" Barrett asked, sounding honestly sincere.
Mark knew something was up. He thought for a moment then spoke, "Sure, but play fair." the Top dog nodded to the Nexus leader.
Both Hunter and Kevin understood. Better to have Barrett there with them than off planning something. Jail house politics was a bitch sometimes.
Again, before anything could be said the cell block door buzzed. Dolph Ziggler came into the block.
During supper, Officer Jacobs had suddenly gotten ill with a migraine headache. Dwayne had to call the Head Guard back to finish Glen's shift.
Mark just shrugged. He shuffled and dealt the cards for a hand of Gin Rummy. "Now as I was going to say. I don't think the chapel roof will fall in. Kevin and I will be there. What about the Nexus? You going to hear Shawn preach in a couple of weeks?" Mark asked the Englishman.
Wade picked up his hand and started sorting his cards. "Shawn preaching? I didn't know he was qualified to do that. Guess I'd better ask him to pray for my laundry facility. Need all the help I get get!" The Brit exclaimed.
Nash glared a bit. He wasn't sure if it was a jab at him or if Wade was being serious. He just kept his mouth shut and drew a card.
Hunter too wasn't sure of Barrett's words. For Mark's sake he decided to play it real. "Yes, he is actually. He didn't graduate from a Seminary, but he is able to marry people legally and perform other legal Pastoral duties. Reverend Baker helped him take the exams and fill out the papers, and the Warden approved Shawn's legalities. But you know, you don't have to have a paper to preach. Anyone can deliver a sermon." Hunter said in a neutral tone.
I'll have to make sure the Nexus is there. But Mike you and Zack will have to behave. Leave your sack of rotten tomatoes in the cell." Wade said with a laugh.
Miz and Ryder laughed loudly. Mark led his faction in a polite chuckle. Were was this going?
None of the members of the Deadmen faction knew was was really happening. Was Barrett honestly trying to be nice or was trouble on the way?
"I'm sure he'd appreciate you not bringing rotten tomatoes. He's working hard Wade. This is serious to him. You know, you might actually enjoy it. If you and the Nexus do come, and you are more than welcome, I ask that you please take it seriously. Leave the faction crap at the chapel door." Hunter spoke plainly. He would do anything to protect his beloved copperhead. Even if he had to plead to Wade to keep it real.
Barrett's scheme to snipe at Kevin and drive him into anger was temporarily halted. Hunter's words had gotten inside the Englishman's head. It shook him. It honestly shook him up.
"Um... yeah... Okay Trips. I promise. The Nexus won't cause any problems. It would be different to hear a sermon from one of our kind. He at least has first hand insight into the way we think and feel. I promise, that we will leave the faction crap at the door. I'll spread the world." Wade's own tone surprised him. His voice was just as sincere as Hunter's had been.
Mark knew for once Barrett was telling the truth. He would hold the Nexus leader to his word.
"Good Barrett. That's the way it should be. I just wish it would work outside the church. You and I... never mind. Ryder it's your play." Mark spoke, knowing it was pointless. Moods like this never lasted. Especially in prison. It was like anything good was the disease. He was right. The mood melted away with time.
The card game had been going on for about an hour. Not much had been said, but the mood was turning. Hunter and Mark were winning most of the games and Miz was frustrated. He hated loosing.
"Hey Nash, you'd better make sure there ain't no wheels on your bunk. They might come off." Mike taunted the older man.
At first there was a bit of laughter. Even Kevin wanted to try and laugh it up. With Ziggler there now... he had to be even more careful.
"Yeah. I just have had the oldest skips or something." Kevin joked back.
Mark was proud of his lover. He knew Kevin had been ready to kill earlier. He could tell the man was at least trying.
As Hunter shuffled and dealt the next hand Kevin lit a cigar. He always enjoyed one in the evenings.
"Watch where you throw that match. Don't want any fires in here." Zack taunted this time. He'd not been in the laundry, but Mike had filled him in.
"Funny how that happened isn't it Mike? Especially when I wasn't near the trash can. You were the one that yelled fire." Kevin's tone was full of venom this time.
Now things at the table got more intense. There was absolutely no humor and certainly no good feelings.
"Are you saying I started the fire?" Why would I do that? There is such a thing as spontaneous combustion. All that static from the lint. Don't fucking accuse me of starting that fire!" The Miz was plying his hurt and angry part perfectly.
Inwardly Wade was proud but he had to show his leadership just a bit, "Now Mike. It was an accident. Just leave it at that." Wade chastised his lieutenant.
Mike did a good job of pouting and acting ashamed. "Sorry" he said in a small voice.
Mark lightly kicked Kevin under the table prompting his angel, "Okay. Just forget it." he said as he flicked the ashes of his cigar.
A little more time passed. More games were won and lost. Tensions were building on both sides.
"You know what pisses me off most. Wasting time waiting. Like when we had to wait for all those repairs today. I hope you do better tomorrow Nash. You're just a walking disaster zone." Wade had finally had enough. Mike, Ryder and Nash had sniped at each other all night. Nash had made a comment about Mike being slow, it was enough to the piss the Nexus leader off.
Kevin had also had enough. He stood up so fast the chair skittered across the floor a few feet. He pulled Barrett up by the collar. His fist was pulled back ready to smash into the Englishman's face.
Everyone at the table was on their feet in seconds. The rest of the room went quiet. Shawn dropped his pen. Chris and Adam heard the commotion from up on the third level. They were now looking down over the railing.
The only movement came from the Guard Desk. Ziggler had risen from his chair. He grabbed his baton and a pair of shackles from a shelf under the desk. He was glaring at Nash as he approached the group of men.
Mark was in a panic. He couldn't lose Kevin, not so soon. He had to do something... fast.