For whatever reason, when writing this I saw Anthony Perkins' Javert in my head. I love how utterly calm he was throughout.
It was full of thieves, murderers, scoundrels… and guards.
Javert was the most disliked – and the most feared. It was instinctive, a "sense" about him that no one cared to put to the test. He was harsh, unyielding, unforgiving. Whatever the Law dictated, he dealt out. It was in his eyes, a cold emotional detachment that intimidated them.
"He isn't human," said Prisoner 64205. "I never see anger in his eyes."
Javert was calm – too calm for men used to violence. That's what unnerved them so.
"He bleeds, same as any man," said Prisoner 63452. "And I'll prove it to you."
Javert was careful. He watched them closely, but never without utter confidence; he had to be cautious as one of the highest guards. He dealt out punishment. He was hated as much as feared.
Prisoner 63452 took his time. He waited for his chance.
It happened. There was an accident in the yard. Guards rushed in to push through the tight circle of jeering men. Javert lost focus for a split second – just long enough for 63452 to strike. Javert slammed into the rock wall behind him. His hand came up in time to stop the chains linking the prisoner's manacles from closing around his throat. His knee rammed swiftly upward.
"Guard down!" someone shouted.
Chaos broke out. Prisoners leapt for guards. Men were beaten over the head. Someone hurtled past, knocking 63452 aside. He lost his grip enough for Javert to hook his foot around his ankle and bring him down. Lean fingers plucked a stone from the ground and struck, without malice, simply as a matter of course – 63452 went limp.
Dropping it, and rising to his feet, Javert looked up into the gaze of a prisoner. They stared into one another's eyes – one emotionless and cold, the other bitterness and resentful. Javert's gaze narrowed at him, memorizing his face.
"Sir, are you all right?" Another guard was at his side.
Javert never looked away from the new man, unsettled at the expression in his eyes. "Who is that?" he asked, as the prisoner slipped into the crowd. Guards beat the prisoners back to their cells, shouting at them.
The guard glanced after him. "Uh, he's new… 24601, a thief."
24601 had a look about him Javert had encountered before, the look of a man determined to live, to escape, to escape justice and flout the Law. He would keep a close eye on that one. Looking down at the unconscious man at his feet, Javert said, "Put this one in the hole for six months."
Javert went to his office. His face never changed expression.
Beneath the blood streaming down his face, Prisoner 64205 said, "See? Never anger, just the Law."
And none of them tested him again.