1| Forks and Jelly
I remember with clarity the first time I met him, Mal.
It was on a Wednesday during the second week of my time in juvie. That day, the cafeteria was unusually crowded; punks were really bustling around everywhere in their faded blue uniforms. Red plastic trays topped with white mush were being slammed onto the steel tables.
I was sitting with a couple of guys that I had gotten to know. Two of them, Blake and Pedro, were newcomers to the place like I was. Blake was this tall guy who always wore a goofy smile; he was apparently a small-time drug dealer and had found himself in juvie when he was caught in a drug bust. Pedro was this really, little guy — Latino, I think. Despite the fact he was such a small guy, he had a real big mouth on him. His story consisted of a robbery gone wrong. No, there were no deaths... just an unhappy man with a knife mark on his leg. The two others who sat with us were long-time delinquents. Their names were Jeff — he was an airy kind of guy; he kept calling himself "poetic" or something — and Dyke — he was a big, silent type; he was always looking around and attentive — if I recall correctly.
So, the five of us were just talking normally. Pedro was yapping his mouth off while Jeff was belting out pros and whatnot. All of sudden, all the tables excluding ours fell silent. Then a loud whistle filled the entire cafeteria, followed by the clapping of footsteps. I couldn't really make out the tune back then, but I do remember the whistle's undulating pitches and mellows. I remember wondering, 'what kind of loser is whistling the sappy tune?'. I also remember hearing Pedro say my thoughts out loud.
Now, the cafeteria was pretty echoey, so practically everyone heard what Pedro had said. The little fella had been standing up at that time, so he let out a yelp of surprise when Dyke suddenly pulled him back to his seat with a warning hush. Jeff had begun to mutter some weird stuff under his breath and shake his head back and forth. All of this was happening as the footsteps and whistle drew closer.
Next thing I know, three people were hovering over me. One of them was large and bulky — almost intimidating (almost). The other one was kind of girly looking and lanky; I could see his toned muscles beneath his worn out uniform though and I recall thinking that if worse came to worse that guy would've pulled out his guns. The last one stood in between the two. Now, this guy looked so out-of-place in the sea of delinquents for two reasons: he looked absolutely wimpy, like a twig almost; secondly, the uniform he wore was a bright blue, much unlike the uniforms the rest of us had worn back then. The uniform that he wore looked positively new.
I remember craning my neck back vaguely and asking him if he needed anything. When I had said that, all eyes within the cafeteria had snapped to my back. I made eye contact with Dyke then and he just gave me a small shake of his head.
"Indeed, I do need something." Mal had replied with an oddly serene smile on his face. He then slid into the empty space next to me and leaned forward onto the table, propping his elbows up and resting his chin on his folded hands. The two tougher-looking guys hung back with sneers on their faces. I remember thinking that their behavior was really strange.
"Well, shoot." I had replied.
It was then that his dark eyes drifted across the five of us, resting on each of us for less than a second. I thought at first that he was sizing us up, but later realized that he was actually inspecting our uniforms. His gaze had then dropped to our food trays.
"I really do enjoy jello."
Almost immediately, Jeff straightened up and offered his plate of red jello the guy. Now, jello was Jeff's favorite part of his meal, and now here he was just offering it up like that. I remember feeling extremely ticked. That ticked feeling turned to surprise when I saw Dyke offer up his plate of jello as well.
So, the two full plates of red jello were now sitting in front of Mal like completely foreign objects. He smirked at the jello and flicked a piece of one of the squishy deserts in Jeff's direction. The jello piece had hit Jeff square in the face, but instead of reacting in anger, Jeff just sat there staring at his tray. Mal had grinned.
I think right after that Blake stood up and started to call Mal out on what he had done. Dyke had subtly shaken his head in response, while Jeff profusely squirmed in place.
"Sit down, you peon." had been Mal's response.
Pedro had then walked over to where Mal was sitting and had grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt. I remember wondering where the guards were at that time. Anyways, just as Pedro had gotten a grip on the guy's shirt, a fork found itself right above the little guy's left eye.
There Mal sat with a wide-eyed slasher smile, holding the fork only inches away from the little guy's pupil. The room tensed, and it honestly felt like shit was about to go down. All of a sudden though, the fork clattered to the floor and a loud, dark chuckle echoed throughout the entire room.
It was at that exact moment that I realized that Mal was bat-shit crazy.
"Oh, I'm going to enjoy playing with you." Mal had grinned, wiping a mock tear from his one visible eye. He had then slid out of the seat and patted Pedro on the head, looking at him like he was a toy of some sort. He then bent down to the floor and picked up the fork and twirled it around between his fingertips. He turned around and began to walk along the row of empty tables, dragging the tip of the fork along the tables' edges. He stopped suddenly and tapped the table twice with the fork, before craning his neck back. "People are just like toys: they're fun to play with, but they're even more fun to break."
The fork clattered onto the empty table and the odd whistle filled the air again. The doors to the cafeteria swung open, Mal and his two followers disappearing behind them as they swung close.
The cafeteria immediately began to be filled with chatter again. Pedro stood frozen in place, wide-eyed.
"Dude," I recall saying to Dyke, "I thought you said that all the whackjobs were locked up in a different section of this place!"
"That guy's name is Mal." Dyke had replied, rubbing his temples. "He's just barely a few points away from crazy, so the guards have no choice but to put him here — not that they ever notice when he does anything bad. That guy is a serious sneak."
"That's not the point!" Jeff had screeched next. His head snapped in Pedro's direction. "The point is that you have just made that guy's list!"
"What are you talking about?" Dyke had grunted, glancing at the jello sitting across the table. "We're all on that guy's list."
It was then that the two long-time delinquents had explained who exactly Mal was and the things that he had done while in juvie. No one knew what had exactly gotten him into juvie in the first place, but Dyke and Jeff made it seem like he liked it there.
I knew that at that moment I would make an effort to stay out of that guy's way. I mean, I can deal with tough, but I can't deal with crazy.
2| Anything but a Family
The second time I came across Mal was even more unpleasant than our first encounter. It was my third month in juvie, and the four guys and I had completely forgotten about the cafeteria incident. Pedro, Blake, and I came up with the conclusion that Mal had just made an empty threat. We had actually made fun of him for not actually going through with his word. All of those shits and giggles went out the window when I came across him for a second time.
It was at a therapy group-talk secession. The five of us and two other guys were part of this mandatory psychiatry circle. We would meet once a week to talk about our feelings and all that dumb stuff. Our assigned therapist had been a short, bearded man named Mr. Wesley. Now that I think about it, he was actually a pretty chillax guy and let us talk about whatever we wanted for most of the time.
Well, Mr. Wesley had an "accident" going up one of the many long stairs in the facility and broke his leg. Since he was in the hospital getting his leg fixed up, the seven of us were temporarily merged together with another therapy group. I bet you can guess whose group we ended up getting merged with.
I strongly remember chatting with Blake and Pedro as we were filing into the room where our merged therapy secession would be held. Dyke and Jeff were talking about comics or something with the two other guys behind us. Pedro was walking in front of me at the time and had grounded to a halt as soon as he had made out who our new groupmates were.
I was about to cuss him out, but I stopped myself when I finally realized what he was gaping at.
"Well, looky here, my favorite toys have arrived. "
On one of the fifteen drawn out chairs sat none other than Mal, very noticeable with his bright blue uniform, himself. He had a permanent smirk planted onto his face and that smirk greatly contrasted with the dark circles tucked under his eyes.
Next to him at his right sat the two tough-looking guys who had accompanied him at the cafeteria. On the other side of the circle sat the four other delinquents; all of their eyes were averted to the ground, their bodies tense like they were waiting for hell to break loose.
"Well, fuck me." Dyke had muttered under his breath. Jeff had whimpered in response.
The two guys Jeff and Dyke had chatted with slid past us and quickly took the seats that were the farthest away from Mal as possible. Jeff had followed suit, tucking himself right in between Mal's goons and the two guys he had chatted with. He had glanced at us and muttered a quiet "sorry" before looking at his hands.
It was at that point that I began to wonder what exactly made Mal so terrifying. I mean, sure, he had almost stuck a fork in Pedro's eye, but that didn't mean that he was going to actually go through with it… right? I remember thinking, 'This guy is a total hoax!'
Blake had apparently followed my trail of thought, straightened himself, and found a seat right next to Mal. I remember hearing a collective of gasps at this time; and out of the corner of my eye I remember seeing Dyke shake his head with disappointment.
Pedro apparently hadn't caught on to Dyke's warning and he planted himself right next to Blake, nodding fixedly at Mal as he did so.
Dyke had grimaced at that moment and had taken the farthest seat away from Mal, Pedro, and Blake, leaving two empty seats in between them.
Okay, so it was my turn to choose a seat, and I wasn't going to let everyone think that I was a chicken, so yeah. I stupidly took a seat right next to Pedro. The little guy had grinned widely when I sat next to him, like he had won one million bucks.
I remember the whole room being so eerily quiet that I could hear the rafters above us howling like tornadoes. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mal purse his lips and begin to whistle.
The guy's gaze was planted on Blake's face as he was whistling. It was so damn creepy. Blake had glanced at Mal strangely, had attempted to stare him down, but had then resorted to averting his gaze and playing the silent treatment. The whistling had gone on for three minutes and I clearly remember wondering where the hell our therapist was. After he had stopped whistling, Mal had thoughtfully tapped his chin.
"I wonder how Mr. Wesley managed to fall down a whole flight of stairs; it must have been quite a tough trip."
I remember straightening myself up in shock when Mal had said that.
It was then that the door had swung open and our temporary therapist had entered in the room. Our new therapist was, I must admit, a babe. She had a perfect figure, a nice rack, and a nice smile. She had grinned at me and took the last open seat between Dyke and me. I remember internally thinking to myself, 'SCORE!'.
Once she was seated, she had taken out a clipboard and had gazed around the room, smiling at each one of us.
"Hello, my name is Mary Line for those of you who don't know me," she had introduced herself, "but you can just call me Mary."
"Hellooo, Mary~!" the five ( five because Jeff wasn't really taken by Mary and because Dyke never really paid any attention to women; now that I think about it, maybe the two were gay for each other or something ) of us who weren't previously acquainted with Mary had cooed.
"Now, I was hoping to talk about our families today." Mary had nodded.
There were a couple of groans.
"I know that many of you don't know each other, but this is a perfect chance to get acquainted!" Mary had explained, tucking a lock of black hair behind her ear. "Now, I want us to go around the circle and I want you to say your name and at least one thing about your family." Her gaze had flickered to me and she had glanced at her clipboard, "How about you start, Duncan?"
"Sure, whatever." I had shrugged, attempting to sound indifferent. "The name is Duncan and my parents are police officers; I didn't want to follow suit obviously."
There were a couple of impressed "ooh"s and "ahh"s ; I remember feeling really good about myself then.
"Okay," Mary had nodded, "How about you, Pedro?"
"My name is Pedro." the little guy had begun with a big, deep breath. "I have five brothers. Two of them are in college right now and the other three are working as a mechanics. Their names are Enrique, Caelo, Sebastian, Stiles, and Henry. My mom works as a chef at this fancy middle-class restaurant, while my dad does stocks. They don't get along that well and argue a lot, but it's never really bothered me. Actually one time, they…"
I had zoned out then. I'm pretty sure ten minutes had passed before Pedro had finally finished his story.
"That was wonderful, Pedro!" Mary had grinned, looking actually very invested in his tale. "Now, it's your turn." She nodded at Blake.
"Well," Blake started, crossing his arms, "my name is Blake. I actually was raised by my father for most of my life, because my mom died when I was like seven or something. My dad never considered remarrying." He paused with a frown, before he reached into his uniform's pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. "This is actually the only photo I have of her."
I had looked over curiously at the photo in Blake's hand at that moment. The picture had captured the image of a light-haired woman grinning in the sunlight and holding an infant in her arms. I hate to admit it, but I was kind of touched.
"Idiot…" I heard Dyke mutter with a shake of his head. I had raised an eyebrow at him when he had said that, but he just shook his head again.
"Well, isn't that just bittersweet?" Mal had grinned beside him — he had remained strangely quiet during the whole ordeal. He inclined his dark head in Blake's direction and leaned forward, slinging his arm around Blake's shoulder. "She's very pretty."
Blake sent him a weak glare. "You…"
"That was really good, Blake." Mary had interrupted, sending Blake a sympathetic gaze. "It's good to talk about things like that." She turned her gaze to Mal and her eyes darkened a bit. "It's your turn now, Mike."
I remember feeling really confused when she said "Mike", thinking that she had skipped over Mal for some reason. Mal, however, just pulled away from Blake and reclined back in his chair with a small sigh.
"My birth name is Mike." He had said with a hint of spite. "I, however, prefer the name 'Mal'; it has more of a melancholy ring to it." He had then leaned forward and had glanced at Blake. "I think I'll follow suit with my friend Blake here and talk about my mother as well." He stood up from his seat suddenly and tilted his head with thoughtful tap of his cheek. "My mother was a strange woman. Sometimes she would ask me to dance with her," he turned to the lankier one of his two goons and pulled him up to a dance, "like this."
Mal grabbed the lanky guy's hand and placed a hand on the guy's hip. The lanky guy looked pretty uncomfortable, but he went with it. Around and around the two spun, entrapped in our little circle. A couple of uneasy sniggers filled the air. Mary had a small smile on her face; she must have thought that she was making progress.
"Most of the time, though..." Mal drew, pushing the lanky guy back into his chair. He walked over to Mary and took both of her hands in his; she had looked up at him in surprise. I remember thinking, 'Is that guy going to dance with her too? What a player!'. Suddenly though, he jerked her arms upwards and forced her hands to wrap around his neck. He clasped his hands around her own hands and forced her to tighten her grip around his throat "Most of the time though, she was just like this." he finished with a serene smile. "When she did this, she usually said something along the lines of, 'Why don't you just die, you piece of trash?!' or 'You aren't my son; give my son back, you demon!' or even 'Just disappear!'."
Mary had sat there frozen, eyes wide, arms limp.
"My mother was actually quite similar to your husband, Mrs. Mary, now that I ponder over it." Mal had murmured slowly as his serene smile turned into a malicious one. "Although, I think my father resembles your husband a lot more, but that's a discussion for another day."
He dropped her hands at that moment and walked back to his seat.
Mary's released hands began to shake uncontrollably and she wrapped them around her mouth.
"Mary?" I remember saying. Then it dawned on me: what Mal meant — everything.
She had looked up at me, but her gaze was fixated on something else.
"Mary?" Dyke had echoed, placing a hand on her arm.
As soon as his hand made contact with her, she shot up from her seat and ran out of the door with a scream.
As she left the room, Mal began to whistle that haunting tune of his again.
Afterwards, one of the guards had entered the room and had ushered us back to our usually schedules. The very next day, Blake's only photo of his mother went missing. He was pretty broken up about it, and I'm pretty sure that all of those times he asked to go the bathroom when we were in the cafeteria were just an excuse for him to go bawl his eyes out.
The very next week he found pieces of wrinkled paper marked with black ink sprinkled all over his bed.
He just was never the same after that.
The last time I came across Mal was in the cafeteria again. It was my fourth month in juvie. Dyke, Jeff, Pedro, and I were discussing football, while Blake wordlessly played with his food. All of a sudden a loud shout filled the air. Everyone went quiet and all gazes flew to a round table that was placed at the center of the cafeteria. There at the round table sat Mal and his two goons. His two goons wore expressions of surprise and fear. Mal, on the other hand…
Mal was sitting on his seat shaking from head to toe, head buried in his hands.
"What the hell?" Dyke had muttered as he stood up to get a better look.
"GET OUT!" Mal had shouted loudly to no one in particular , shaking his head back and forth as his hands moved to cover his ears. "GET OUT! GET OUT!"
His dark gaze was glued to his reflection on his silver tray.
"I'm staying in control!" He continued ranting. "I'm staying!" All of a sudden, he brought his head down on the table. "You're not getting rid of me!" He brought his head up and slammed it down again and again and again and again.
That was when the guards burst into the room and grabbed him from his seat. He had struggled against their grasps, shouting colourful words and profanities. Suddenly, he let out a loud gasp and his body went limp. I remember thinking, as the guards dragged him out of the room, that he looked like a completely different person. I didn't think much of it back then though. I just remember thinking, 'I hope he never comes back, that psycho!'.
And he didn't.
At least until now.
Oh my gawd. I'm obsessed with TMO and Mike and their relationship with Duncan... I am such a fangirl. /sigh. Anyways, I had to channel my inner fangirl and this is what came out of it. I hope you enjoyed!