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Editor's Choice Award

For those readers who have been clamoring for a sequel to "The Pappas Journals," it is in progress. In the meantime, this sassy little parody is offered to entertain you as an hors d'oeuvre while I prepare a heavier meal. This story pays tribute to the trashy black and white "Women in Prison" movies of the 50's and endeavors to duplicate all the clichés of that genre. If I have missed any, please fill them in with your imagination.

Disclaimer:

The characters in this story will bear an uncanny resemblance to Xena and Gabrielle who are the property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures and are being 'resembled' without permission. No attempt is being made to profit from their use however.

Warning: This story develops the image of the "bad Xena" and thus contains profanity, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, smut, bad grammar and other gross stuff. But read on; I think you'll like it.

Commentary is invited.


Women in Prison

By Elaine Sutherland
ESuther105@aol.com

Call me Clyde. That's my nickname here. I've been in the Joint now 22 years and I'm never getting out. See, I knocked off my old man. Of course the sonovabitch deserved it, always pounding on me and the dogs. And if I'd gotten rid of the body on day one, I'd have never been caught. But old Aggie was a big guy, about 200 lbs, and it seemed an awful waste of good dog food. So I cooked up pieces of him for Buffy and Rex. But he was still just taking up too much room in the fridge, so I figured what the hell and cooked up the rest of him in a big stew, with veges and stuff, even brought some in a Tupperware container to the church supper. And damned if it wasn't a big hit. Imagine, after all those years of living with that mean sonovabitch, I finally found a good side of Aggie. He was delicious.

Yeah, well, I forgot about the bones, and when the garbage collectors found Aggie's skull, it was all over. Make a long story short, here I am. 

They call this place PENITENTIA. It's a 90-year-old black stone fortress that stands grim and stark in the middle of a rocky plain; so desolate all you hear is the howling of wind and occasionally wolves. It holds 420 'incorrigible' female offenders doing serious hard time.  

If we were men, we'd be on a chain gang, and that would be better than what we do, which is nothing. We don't even make license plates. We have no rehab, no gym, no TV, no hope. For entertainment we sulk. And go crazy. The walls are thick, the bulls are tough as nails, and nobody hears you when you cry.  

And the toughest one of them all was Guard Captain Xenia Krieger. Six stunning feet of sadistic Law Enforcement. Black hair, blue eyes and breasts as dangerous as the .38 Police Special she carried on her hip. 

Always the same story. All the new prisoners came in, took one look, and turned queer on the spot. But before long they found out she'd as soon pistol whip you as look at you. Oh, alot of 'em got to have her all right, some time or other, but 'having' her meant being on your knees on the concrete floor of the guard station 'making her happy' two, maybe three times a night with the barrel of her pistol sticking in your ear. Doing her was okay they said (I never had the pleasure), but waiting for the furkin' gunblast when she started getting off, that made you piss your pants. Use to be some of them said no, but they got solitary in 'the hole.' Sometimes at night we could hear them getting whipped in the punishment cell. Pretty soon word got out that 'yes' was a safer answer. And at least so far, the gun had not gone off. 

Krieger ran the place like Attila the Hun, and when someone got out of line, they got roughed up pretty bad and then cuffed to a shower head for a long ice shower to wash the blood off. And every so often for a lesser infraction, some poor bitch had to scrub down the mess hall. Every table and all four walls. And the floor and the ceiling. All night long. I know because whenever Krieger went on one of her punitive cleaning rampages I was involved. I had enough seniority to manage the cleaning inventory and had the key to the storage rooms.  

Since Krieger did a lot of punishing, we were a real clean prison.  

* * * * *

 

Then one day, a couple of months ago, it all changed. I remember it was a Tuesday. Stew night. Always reminded me of Aggie. I was sitting with my girls around table Nr. 16 in the mess hall of Cellblock Two. Our cells are all on the fourth tier and we stick together, like a family, watch each other's backs. And then they brought in the new one .  

Sort of reddish blond. Short, with a good build, like she worked out. That was a plus. We gave her the once-over and decided she was just a kid, and looked okay. As the oldest and sort of head of the 'family,' I made introductions, each one's name and rap. We were all proud of the rap. Show'd we weren't pussies. 

"Hey, the name's Clyde. Aggravated Homicide." I held out my hand and she took it. She had a good handshake. 

"Hi, Clyde. Pleased to meet you." 

"And this is the rest of the 'family.' Over there is Ephie. Double homicide. Horse rustling." 

The Kid turned to her, "You like horses, huh?" 

Ephie smiled sort of mysteriously and said, "Yeah." 

"And over here is Solari. We call her "Spearchucker." Double Homicide. Same day. Same spear."  

The new girl said, "Interesting choice of weapon. Where did you find a spear?" 

"Made it. A beaut, too." 

I continued, "Next to her, the one with all the hair, is 'Losa. Battery and Triple Homicide. With a fake sword!"  

"No, Clyde. Not fake at all. But it's a long story." 

The Kid said, "That sounds intriguing. I'd like to hear about it some time." 

"Over there, that's Eponin, or "Pony." Couple of homicides. With her bare hands. Show her those famous hands, Pony." 

Pony laughed and held them up. Big boxer's hands.  

"And the redhead at the end of the table is Laska. Mass murder. Explosives."  

Laska said nothing. Just glared. 

"Laska use to be head of a girl gang, called Grim And Deadly, or G.A.D. But there was a kind of turf war and she's the only one left." 

The Kid said, "Oh." 

Pony said, "Whatcha name, Honey, and whatja in for? Musta been bad. Otherwise you wouldn't be here." 

The new girl leaned her elbows on the table.  

"My name's Gabrielle. And actually, it was a mistake, although I suppose everyone says that. You see, I 'm a writer. Well, more like a journalist. I was writing about women's issues, especially poor women, women who walk the streets, and so forth. I got sort of out of my depth. I found out a lot of the women in my neighborhood were being pimped by a cop. Yeah, a cop. He had been roughing up some of his girls too, and there was nothing they could do. So some of the girls and I confronted him. We didn't have any real weapons, just some sticks and lead pipes and only planned to scare him a little, you know? You see, I don't kill. Uhh, didn't kill. Just wanted to maybe break a kneecap or something to get him to back off. But things sort of got out of hand."  

"What, bad aim?" 

"No, bad location. You see, it was on the roof of this building. A really tall building downtown, and he sort of fell off. By the time he hit the street he was basically beef stew. Doing that to a cop, even a dirty one,....they hate that. So, I got murder one." 

"Bad luck, Kid." 

"Yeah." 

Just then, silence fell over the mess hall, and we all knew what it was.  

Krieger.  

She was wearing what she always wore, a crisply-ironed guard's uniform one size too small. The buttons of the shirt were straining to hold those breasts in. The perfectly creased pants covered that tight butt and those long muscley legs like they were painted on, and we all wished we were the painter. Only the shiny black boots were not regulation. We knew that because one or another of us had to shine them every day. The gun holster was also fine black leather. She wore it high on her right hip, in front. It pointed down at that hot and dangerous part of her that ruled us all.  

She scanned the room with those eyes like blue laser beams. Then she began to slow-march down one of the rows between the tables, tapping her leg with her nightstick. The two sets of handcuffs and her ring of keys jingled with each step. It was a sound we all dreaded. 

Ching..........ching............ching...........ching.  

She stopped behind the Kid. You could have heard a pin drop. She looked down the back of the Kid's neck and her eyes sort of half closed. Anyone else you'd have called them bedroom eyes, but with Krieger it was more like panther's eyes. Predatory, savage, and a little bored. 

Then she took one more step, to where Laska sat and said to the back of her head: "Nine o'clock." 

Laska gave a smug little smile. She didn't need the gun in the ear. She was into that 'servicing' thing. Gave her a sense of power, even though she was the one on her knees. She got to pretend she was Krieger's girlfriend, although the rest of us knew it was bullshit. Half the prison had 'serviced' Krieger at one time or other, so in a manner of speaking, Krieger had about 200 'girlfriends.'  

- 2 -

Tuesday night was shower night for our cellblock and after mess hall the whole cellblock lined up tier by tier and went down to the main floor. It was an open shower room that held twelve of us at a time. There were no real stalls, just twelve shower heads in the walls which were controlled from outside and ran constantly while we were there. You undressed and lined up outside wrapped in a towel, and when your group's turn came up, you hung the towel on a hook, got your square inch of soap, and went in. You scrubbed down in the shower room for 10 minutes and when you came out you got your towel again. That way the whole cellblock showered in about two hours. 

Unless there was a fight.  

It had been brewing for a couple of days between Julie Chu and Carmen Rivera. Three minutes into the shower, and they were at it like wildcats, rolling tits over ass in the soapy water on the floor and screaming in Chinese and Spanish. Funny thing was, they used to be girlfriends, and used to make out at night in the shower room. I know because I passed them the key. Fighting and rolling around naked on top of each other they didn't look too much different from when they were getting it on, except this time the water was running and they were cleaner than usual.  

A couple of the girls tried to get in the middle, but it wasn't helping. Some others came back into the shower room from outside and the fight was starting to spread. Suddenly we heard "WATER OFF!" and two guards came in to pull the spitting hellcats apart. Fighting got you three days in solitary, so we all grabbed our towels and hauled ass out of there. Unfortunately, we forgot about the Kid, who of course didn't know the rules yet or the danger, and had stood there sort of stupefied the whole time. After a few minutes I remembered and I went back for her. But it was too late. The worse possible person had appeared. 

Krieger. 

She stood there tall and dangerous, whip on her belt, the .38 on her hip, nightstick in her hand and ice cold menace pouring from those eyes. In front of her, naked and very small, the Kid looked up at Krieger like a deer caught in headlights, her hair dripping water onto her chest. Krieger's eyes moved down slowly, watching that water trickle between the Kid's breasts down her trim little belly into a curly gold triangle.  

I held my breath. 

The Kid finally spoke, in a little quiet voice. "What should I do?" 

Krieger's mouth turned up at one corner, like she probably had a few thoughts about what the Kid could do just then, but she only said "I suggest you get dressed and return to your cell." That was my cue to step up and hand her the towel I had been holding. Still with that cruel little smile on her face, Krieger turned and walked away. 

- 3-

The next day Julie and Carmen were absent from dinner. No one asked about it since by now everyone knew they were in the hole. Laska was pissed though. She had been in the group ahead of us and was back in her cell waiting for Krieger by the time the fight broke out . But dealing with the two brawlers and filling out the report to put them in solitary had ruined Krieger's evening and mood, and there had not been any 'servicing' that night.  

We were in the middle of eating when Krieger came in, and the noise died down as it always did. It was always the same question hanging in the air: who will it be tonight? The junior guards looked the other way as she did her usual slow march down the rows. You could see the inmates who wanted it -- mostly the older women who had no girlfriends -- and the ones who were afraid and lowered their eyes.  

She came down our row and we were sure it would be Laska again. They had unfinished business. But we were wrong. 

Ching.........ching............ching.........ching......... She stopped behind the Kid.  

"You, Blondie. Nine o'clock. Be ready." 

Ching.........ching............ching.........ching.........to the end of the row, and she was out of the mess hall.  

The Kid turned to me. "What was that all about?" 

We told her about the rules in Penitentia, about being 'chosen,' about what she was going to have to do, about the pistol in the ear thing. 

She made a little sound of contempt. "Well, f--k that!" 

"I think that's the point, honey." 

"Well, not with me. Even if she is armed. And why does she carry two sets of handcuffs anyhow? Isn't one enough?" 

No one answered and we all found somewhere else to look. 

- 4-

 That night, at 9:00 PM, every ear in the cellblock was listening. We heard the Kid's cell door open and both of them go down the catwalk to the guard station. We waited for the usual, the moans, the threats, the sounds of a beating.  

Nothing. 

Then the guard station door opened and I heard Krieger take the Kid across to the other side of the cell block to the cell next to the storage room. Oh, shit, the punishment cell. I knew Krieger was out for blood. The 'punishment cell' was a bare cell with cracked plaster walls and only a tiny barred window high up close to the ceiling. It was lit by a single overhead bulb and had been used for hard corporal punishment, back when it was still legal. Shows you how old that prison was. Even after the laws changed, the warden kept it as a sort of threat. When Krieger came in as Guard Captain, she added a new function, sex and violence and no one ever asked questions. She hadn't taken anyone there for months; we all tried real hard never to give her a reason. Now she was going to 'break in' the Kid. Too bad. I had taken a shine to the Kid and she deserved better. 

Being in the joint as long as I have, you get to know things, like how to copy the keys, when the guards have rounds, how to get around the catwalks between patrols, that kind of thing. I had keys I was supposed to have, like to storage, and keys I wasn't supposed to have, like to my own cell and to the laundry room and various other places. I almost never used them though. What was I going to do wandering around the prison? I couldn't get off the grounds. I used to go out at night when I was young and hot and had girlfriends. Y'know, meet them in the laundry or the showers. I'm too old for that now. But that night I was curious so I took the risk and let myself out of my cell. 

I waited to make sure they had the door shut and I snuck over there. The punishment cell has a steel door instead of bars, and a barred opening in the middle. It was easy to stand on one side and look in sideways and not be seen.  

When I got there, both of them had their backs to the door. The Kid stood in front of Krieger with her back turned, but I heard her say, "I told you, no." 

Krieger said. "Oh yeah? Well I'm thinking you might want to change your mind about that."  

She walked over to the Kid, grabbed her shirt at the collar with both hands and yanked it down. The Kid's back was bare, well muscled and, I had to admit, beautiful. Krieger stopped for a minute and just looked at it before she pulled each arm out of its sleeve and left the shirt dangling from the Kid's waist. Then the Kid found out why the Guard Captain carried two sets of handcuffs. She hooked one set on the Kid's left hand and cuffed her to the pipe running overhead. With the other set she cuffed the right hand to the same pipe, so the Kid was spread out like a Y.  

Krieger was in no hurry. Brushing the red-blond hair to the side, she ran her fingertips slowly down the pale young back and said real low, "Too bad about that pretty skin." 

The Kid seemed to shiver but she didn't say anything. I couldn't see her face, but I could imagine the fear on it. Krieger must have liked that because she just stood there for a minute, real close. Then she stepped back two paces, unhooked the whip from her belt, snapped it once on the concrete floor of the cell and hauled back for the first whiplash. 

Just then, the prisoner slid her hands together over her head and turned around to face her tormentor, her wrists crossing as she turned. The Kid looked at Krieger with soft baby green eyes. The Kid's breasts looked at her with little pink ones. 

The Kid tilted her head and said sweetly, "By God, you're BEAUTIFUL! You look like someone I knew once, I think.....somewhere.." 

"Hunh?"  

Krieger froze in mid-lash. 

Is she crazy? I thought to myself. 

"Are you crazy?" Krieger said out loud. 

"I recognize that face. I don't know how, but I do. And I can't believe that someone who looks like you would hurt me." 

"Oh, but I WOULD hurt you. Be afraid. Be very afraid." She snapped the whip on the floor with a loud crack. 

The Kid jumped at the sound. "Of course I'm afraid. I've never been handcuffed half-naked to a pipe before. Does that please you?" 

"Uh hunh. That pleases me alot." 

She hauled back a second time and I was sure she would strike home this time. I had to do something.  

"Fire!" I shouted. "Fire!" 

Wow. I don't know where that came from, but since I had shouted fire I had to make one. 

Fast.

I dashed into the storage room, grabbed the first thing at hand, a large hall mop, doused it with cleaning fluid, lit it with my lighter, and threw the whole thing over the railing down to the bottom of the cellblock. It sent a column of sooty acrid smoke up from the floor while I fled the last hundred feet to my own cell.  

Fire alarms went off all over the cell block and guards appeared while most of the fourth tier, and then the whole cellblock began shouting. It took the guards about two seconds to see that it was only a greasy mop, but inside the punishment cell Krieger could only hear the shouting and had to react. She had to get two sets of handcuffs unlocked and off the overhead pipe, and the Kid's shirt back on. By the time she marched authoritatively out of the cell, every inch the Guard Captain, it was all over. The Kid was fully dressed and seemed none the worse for wear when Krieger marched her past my cell door shouting orders to the other guards to "find the damned fool who did that." 

I was not concerned that 30 women had seen me. No one would rat on me, I was sure. I was too much liked and Krieger too much hated. And for fifteen minutes, the cellblock had been pleasantly entertained. After everything had calmed down again, Ephie and Losa called over from their cells: "Good job, Clyde!"

 

- 5 -

The next day in the mess hall it was quiet as usual when the Guard Captain came in, and every eye in the place was on our table. Krieger had been frustrated for two nights in a row and we didn't know whether to smile or tremble in fear when she came by, hungrier than ever. Whoever got her tonight was in for a long night.

Ching........ching..........ching....... Krieger slow-marched by again, her uniform shirt still wrestling with those breasts and losing.  

Krieger stopped behind the Kid, tapped her once on the shoulder with her nightstick, and said, "I'm coming back," and walked on.  

The Kid didn't move, but Laska turned sideways in her chair. She looked up at Krieger as she passed, her eyes offering. But Krieger wasn't looking for volunteers. Krieger wanted the Kid. Laska looked at Krieger's back and then over to the Kid and rage crawled across her face. If those eyes had been loaded, the Kid would have been dead.  

We asked the Kid what she was going to do, but she just shook her head and said, "I don't know yet. I just don't know." It didn't seem the right time to talk about it though, because the whole rest of the meal, Laska was cooking like lava inside, you could tell. She stared at her plate and made little x'es with her spoon in the gravy. Laska was one of our group, but she was often sullen. And when she got like that, we all kept out of her way.  

When we left the mess hall, Laska hung back, with one of the troublemakers from another table. I heard the other girl say, "You gonna let her make a fool of you like that, Laska? She took what you want, right from under your nose. Sassy little bitch. Sure talks alot too." 

Laska said, "I'll quiet her soon enough." 

Later, in the yard, Laska made her first move. The Kid was sitting on a bench talking to Ephie. Laska walked between them. She put one foot up on the bench right next to the Kid's leg and leaned in real close. So close the Kid could have unzipped Laska's jeans with her teeth. But Laska wasn't looking to be unzipped. Not by the Kid. 

She snarled, "Look. I used to be the Queen of the mess hall.! She picked ME every other night, Y'know why? Because I was the BEST. And I'm not lettin' you push me out. Now, you back off, Bitch, or I swear I'll make a mess of that pretty face!" 

Chucker and I, we walked over closer. "Hey, Laska. Leave her alone," I said. "It's not her fault. And I know for a fact, the Kid's not doing it. I saw for myself." 

"Well, you just be sure to keep on not doin' it" she said, pointing her finger at the Kid's face, and she stomped away with some of her new pals.  

Halfway across the yard, she turned around again and yelled back at the Kid, "Because if I come after you, there's no cellblock you'll be safe in. You can't hide from a G.A.D!" 

- 6 -

 

That night Krieger came for the Kid again. It was turning into a real drama and I just had to see the next act. I snuck after them. 

This time they didn't even stop at the guard station, which at least had a little furniture. Krieger knew she had a problem prisoner on her hands and was bent on intimidating her. She took her directly to the punishment cell.  

I looked again sideways through the window. Krieger was too busy bullying her victim to notice, and if the Kid saw me, she gave no sign.  

The little Blonde stood bravely in the center of the cell with her hands cuffed behind her back.  

Krieger walked in circles around her, snapping her whip on the concrete floor every few minutes, to frighten her. But it didn't seem to be working this time. It sure looked like there wasn't gonna be any sex that night either. 

She came around and stood in front of the Kid, and glared at her. "You're not saying no to me again. No one says no to me. Not for long." She unbuttoned the prisoner's shirt and slid her hand inside. "I know what I want and I'm gonna have it." Krieger stroked the Kid's breast inside her shirt for a few moments in silence, and I'm sure I heard both of them breathing heavily, but the Kid just turned her head to the side and stood like a rock. A pretty blond rock. 

Krieger slipped her hand out from inside the shirt and then took hold of the Kid's denim skirt on both sides and pulled it up high above her knees. "What about if I touch you here?" she said, sliding her right hand the rest of the way up under the skirt.  

The Kid just closed her eyes tightly and said through her teeth. "Don't ....touch.....me." 

"I hear you saying 'no,' but it doesn't feel like 'no' down here." Krieger stroked for a few minutes there too, then pulled her fingers out from under the Kid's skirt and looked at them. They glistened in the light of the overhead bulb. Krieger said "This feels alot like 'yes' to me." 

"Maybe you're waiting for this," she added, taking hold of the Kid's head and forcing a hard kiss on her. The Kid just froze until Krieger let go and she pulled her head away.  

"You should really get a few lessons in courtship, Captain Krieger," she said, a little out of breath. 

"Courtship? I don't court. I come armed." 

"Do you always romance your lovers with a whip and a pistol? " 

"Yep. Every night. Works for ME!" She hooked her left thumb in her belt and licked the tips of her right fingers. 

"I believe that is considered illegal in this state. Not to mention in extremely bad taste. And even if you do 'get what you want,' it can't amount to much."  

"Illegal? That's cute, from a convicted felon. It seems to me that you are not in a very good position to lecture me on what I should want. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't whip you into submission, like all the others."  

She ran her thumb over the Kid's young lips. "You're no hero, my wet little cherub. And no martyr either. Two lashes or five. Or ten. Eventually you'll go down." 

The Kid turned her face out of Krieger's hand. 

"Is that all you want? A little groveling? A few pleasant spasms? I would have thought there was more to you than that, that you would have been more ambitious. There are more exciting things to be had than a little bondage and getting it off with a stranger." 

"Oh yeah? Like what?" 

"Well, for starters, seeing real desire in someone's eyes. You can't compel desire. You have to court it." 

"Again with the courtship! You are quite the romantic, aren't you? Let me guess, you also read poetry," she said with cool sarcasm walking behind her prisoner again. 

It was the opening the Kid was looking for. 

"Don't you like poetry, Captain Krieger? With eyes like that, surely you've had Shakespeare quoted to you: 'My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun...'" 

"Noooo.." 

"Or maybe Keats: 'I met a lady in the meads -- full beautiful, a faery's child. Her hair was long, her foot was light, and her eyes were wild....' You must get that sort of thing alot." 

"Uhh, no. Actually not." 

"You mean none of the women you tie up and rape ever recited Sappho to you, 'Awed by her splendor, stars near the lovely moon cover their own bright faces.' Of course it sounds a little different in ancient Greek." 

Krieger stepped around in front of her, exasperated. 

"Are you demented? Don't you grasp where you are?" she demanded, holding up the coiled whip to the Kid's face. "You are in prison, with hundreds of deadly, violent people. Arsonists, serial killers, mass murderers. You are handcuffed and helpless in a punishment cell facing a woman carrying a lethal weapon...and you are reciting poetry. What do you think that will achieve?" 

"Well, flowers would be nice."  

I couldn't see Krieger's expression, but I saw the whip hand go down again. That whip didn't seem to be doing her any good at all lately. She tapped it against her leg as she walked again behind the Kid, shaking her head. 

The Kid said, "Will you STOP walking in circles. You are making me dizzy. Can't you just stand and talk, like normal people?" 

"There are no normal people in this place. There are just weak ones and strong ones. You are one of the weak ones and I am one of the strong ones. You got that?! And we are all together here in hell." 

"Whither I fly is Hell; myself am Hell."  

"What?!" 

"John Milton. Actually Milton's devil. But I guess you don't get to read much Milton here. 

"Do you never stop? You are making me crazy! 

"I'm not trying to make you crazy. I'm trying to make you gentle." And then in a tiny voice I could hardly hear, "I remember you being gentle." 

"I was never gentle, not in this life. Not in this hell." But Krieger's voice had in fact gotten softer. 

The Kid answered, "You can create hell anywhere..... or goodness ." She looked around at the cracked green plaster walls. "Of course freedom does make it a little easier."  

Krieger looked around at the same walls. 

"Yeah, well of course there are different kinds of prisons too. How about "Whither I fly is jail"? 

"Hey, that's pretty good. You see, you do like poetry!" 

And then a miracle happened.  

Krieger smiled.  

Not a smirk, or a sneer or any of the evil looks I had seen on her face in the last few years, but a real human smile. 

I was so shocked I dropped the friggin' key, and both of them looked up when they heard the sound. Shit. I got the hell out of there and although Krieger didn't come out after me, I missed the end of the rape-turned-philosophical debate. Where this drama was going I had no idea, but it seemed like those two were in two different movies being shown on the same screen, and it was a wonder that they could even hear each other talking.  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized, it was the Kid's movie I wanted to be in.

 

- 7 -

 

The next day was Sunday and Krieger was off duty, so nothing happened at all. Just another day in the joint. Laska sulked, but she pretty much sulked all the time anyhow, so we didn't much pay attention. But she was hanging out now with some of the other inmates, on the other side of the yard. Like maybe she was starting up her girl gang again. 

Not good. 

Chucker and Losa met me in the morning at our usual place in the yard , the steps to the loading dock, and wanted to know what went on in the punishment cell. I sat on the top step, lit up my first cigarette of the day, and told them everything I could remember. I said that I never saw anything like those two. They were like night and day in a kind of showdown. And the Kid seemed to be winning, at least so far. 

Losa laughed, "Yeah but sounds to me like it was an uneven match. All Krieger had was a whip, some handcuffs and a .38 revolver. But the Kid....the Kid had twenty centuries of verse!" 

Chucker said more seriously, "Y'know. I like the Kid. She brings a little sunshine in whenever she sits down at the table. I think we should sort of keep an eye on her. There's not much we can do about Krieger. But Laska is another thing altogether. She's wants the Kid too, but she wants her blood, not her ass." 

I agreed. I liked her too, and it was nice for once to have something good to care about. 

"Well, alert the others, and stay sharp. You can be sure this isn't over.....not by a long shot." 

* * * * *

Mess hall that evening was almost cheerful. Chucker was right about the Kid; she brought a sort of brightness to the table. And she could really spin a tale. She told us stories about herself, but she got mixed with so many strange people, it all sounded like fiction. We began to understand how an innocent kid like her could get in with a group of angry hookers and be in the wrong place with the wrong crowd when a felony went down. 

She seemed really interested in us too, asked us alot of questions, and I wondered if we would be the characters in the next tale she would tell to other people in the some place. But she was a good listener too, and we trusted her so we told her our stories.  

Ephie told her about her years with the rodeo as a stunt rider and bow and arrow sharp shooter. "I could hit the bulls eye riding at a full gallop." She reminisced how she planned to start her own show with the horses she stole, until the sheriff and his man came to the corral one night. There were tears in her eyes as she thought back, " When I saw them leading away Phantes, my favorite stallion, some ancient fury came over me. I grabbed that old bow and arrow and let fly, two clean shots, and nailed those sons a bitches at 100 feet." The Kid took Ephie's hand and nodded sympathetically.  

When she turned those soft green eyes on me, I couldn't resist and I told her about Aggie, although I left out the stew part. Pony told about her career as a kickboxer and how the mob tried to get her to throw a match. When they came after her for refusing, she broke their skulls with her bare hands. "I was just tired of being jerked around by those guys in suits, know'd om sayin'?" 

The Kid laid her hand on Pony's massive shoulder and said, "Yeah, I know what you mean." Then she turned to Losa. "I bet you've got a good story to tell."  

"I guess I do. I was an actress, believe it or not. One night I had just come from rehearsing a play by Kleist called "Penthesilea." Off Broadway, WAY off Broadway, but a gig is a gig, and I was glad to be working. Actually, it was a fantastic role, but the budget we were on was so lousy that the set was minimal and we had to scrounge for the weapons and armor. I had borrowed this beautiful sword from a collector, a museum copy, and really fine, and I was bringing it home for safekeeping. It was near midnight and I was still rehearsing lines; you know; Penthesilea was still crashing around in my head. Around 34th street three punks stopped me, looking for trouble. But those guys picked the wrong queen that night, because this rage came over me that these men should challenge me on my own street, and I just lost it. I unsheathed that pretty sword and laid waste all around me. By the time I came to my senses, I had taken out the lot of them. 

"You killed three men with an Amazon sword?!"  

"Well, yes, in a manner of speaking." 

"Wow. Murder by myth." The Kid seemed deeply impressed, and I could tell by the look in her eyes that it would be a story for sure.  

She turned around to Chucker. 

"Then there is the spear. Not exactly the sort of thing we all have lying around on the coffee table that we might grab on impulse."  

"No, of course not. But I was an anthropology student. Mycenean culture. My master's thesis was the duplication of the full panoply of a Greek hoplite at the time of the Trojan war. It was about 1,000 BC, you know, and there are not alot of artifacts. I had to do months of research. But finally I had the whole armor designed and had made a fine set of historically accurate weapons. Then I found out that my doctoral advisor and his assistant had plagiarized the whole study and published it under their own names. In the academic world, that is a capital crime. So, I marched over to their offices one afternoon and showed them my final chapter, "The use of the Mycenean spear." It was a beauty and worked just as it had nearly three thousand years ago. They died just like Priam's Trojans must have done. It would have made a great scholarly article. But historical accuracy didn't seem to greatly impress the jury." 

The Kid looked around the table at all of us with awe and, it seemed to me, with admiration.

"Amazing. You are all so...... archaic!" 

Ephie laughed. "Archaic. Hmm. That's a really nice word. But it's not what the judge said. I think it was something more like...'savage.' Maybe he was right. It certainly felt that way at the time." 

"I'll tell you who's savage," Losa interrupted, "Krieger is savage." She turned and gently put her hand on the Kid's arm. "Did she whip you?" 

"Oh no. She's never laid a hand on me. I mean uhh, she's never hurt me. I know she likes to do that handcuff thing, but it's all just a show. She's really misunderstood, you know. I think that brutal, sadistic exterior is just a facade masking a very vulnerable person." 

Pony nodded and said with a straight face, "Yeah. That's always been my problem too, being misunderstood."...and she looked down at those powerful hands that had murdered three men..."and vulnerable." 

- 8 -

 

By Monday we figured things had maybe calmed down. The Kid was in a good mood we guessed because Krieger hadn't been jerking her around the night before and Laska had not been threatening her life. 

Funny thing was, when Krieger came in, we almost didn't notice. She didn't make her usual show of marching down the rows and choosing someone for the night. She just came in, looked around, spoke to the guards on duty, and left.  

The Kid noticed, and Laska noticed but nobody acted like they noticed. Like everyone was so damned cool and not interested. It gave me the creeps because I knew something was going on. Had to be.  

After the meal, we all filed back to our cells. Mine was two cells past the Kid's, Losa's one past mine, and Ephie's one past hers. The three of us walked single file past the Kid's cell. Then I saw it and I stopped so short, Ephie bumped into me and we caused a pile-up.  

"Oh shit." I said quiet like.  

At the head of the Kid's tidy prison cot, on the pillow, there was a bouquet of flowers.  

It might just as well have been a bomb. 

Worst thing was, a few minutes later Laska saw it too. I saw her do a sort of double-take when she looked in. I couldn't see her face from where I was standing but I knew she was squinting those mean eyes down to little slits.  

You could almost hear the ticking.

 

- 9 -

 

The next two weeks things began to change. Some things stopped happening. Like Laska stopped hanging out with us and Krieger stopped marching through the mess hall. She stopped carrying the whip, she wasn't 'choosing' people any more, not even Laska, and she wasn't taking the Kid out of her cell at night either. It might have had to do with the fact that Krieger had a new assistant assigned to her and there was a second desk in the guard station now. That meant of course that the guard station was now out for any 'evening interrogations.' But Krieger seemed to keep her distance altogether. She wasn't looking so good either. There were dark circles around those icy blue eyes. With all the other things hanging in the air, I couldn't figure it out.  

Some things started happening. The Grim And Deadly started up again. Laska was starting another girl gang. The new ones marked themselves with a little cut on the chin and at first there were just two or three. Then five. Then a whole pack of them, all with their scabby new cuts. Only Laska had the old scar. G.A.D. had risen again, and Laska was the Queen. 

In less than three weeks time, the Kid had done the impossible. She had broken the will of the tyrant, and had brought down the old regime. And she had started a war. 

If the Kid picked up on the danger in the air, she didn't talk about it. She talked about everything else though. We didn't always listen carefully, but we all liked to hear the sound of her voice. She never seemed to get depressed, and she made us feel good. That was a new thing, too. Feeling good. 

Meanwhile, the G.A.D. was getting bigger. We could hear them at night sharpening spoons on the concrete floor, making little handblades. It was a sound you could always recognize. 

Then one day in the yard the Kid was alone for a few minutes and Laska got to her before we could protect her. From the other side of the yard we could see her grab the Kid around the throat. Laska was half crazy and had nothing to lose by hurting the Kid real bad, even killing her. She was already doing a couple of life sentences, so this could have been it for the Kid. We ran over to her as fast as we could, but we didn't reach her in time. Laska picked up the Kid by the throat and began to choke the life out of her. The Kid struggled for a minute but was no match for the bigger woman. We were still about ten feet away when we heard the report of a high powered rife, and a little bit of dirt kicked up right by Laska's foot. She dropped the Kid right away, and we all knew what it was. It was the 30.06 scope rifle from the guard tower on the wall. We all looked up at the same time and saw Krieger squinting down the sight directly at Laska. The whole yard had gotten quiet, and even though Krieger was high up on the wall, we could hear her clearly. 

"Move away Laska, or I will take you out with the next one. You know I can. You know I will." 

Laska moved away, pure venom in her eyes, and we helped the Kid get to her feet. A couple of other guards grabbed Laska to put her in solitary. It wasn't going to do much good. She's be out in a few days, more dangerous than ever.  

Laska and her scum were Grim and they were Deadly, just like they said, and once Laska got out of solitary, the Kid's life wasn't worth zip. There was either going to be an execution or a war, and we all had to chose up sides. It was crazy, I thought. Everything had moved along normal like under the old reign of terror as long as Krieger was her old kinky sadistic self. But now all hell was breaking loose because she had "gone good" and had stopped raping the inmates. Boy, were we fucked up, or what?

 

- 10 -

 

Things moved along pretty fast after the incident in the yard. The next night Krieger and the Kid went to the punishment cell again, and I followed again to see what was up with Krieger.  

The two of them sat across from each other on the floor of the cell, each leaning against a wall.  

The Kid said, "Thanks for saving my life." 

"Was that as good as flowers?" 

"I'd say so. But I got the flowers too. Unless those were from Laska." 

"Noooo. You know they were from me."  

"Does that mean you've given up the whip approach?" 

"For the time being. I'll see how it goes." 

"I guess I was lucky you happened to be watching up on the wall." 

"It wasn't luck. I watch you all the time." 

"Really? I thought after I refused you and you let me go, you had forgotten me." 

"I didn't forget. Not for a moment. I wanted you, but I couldn't force you. And force was all I knew. This is new to me." 

"This?" 

"Courtship." 

The Kid nodded and sort of smiled. Then for a couple of minutes no one talked. It was the longest and sexiest silence I ever listened to. The only sound was the night wind whistling around the empty stone yard. Finally Krieger spoke, low and quiet the way I never heard her speak before. 

"Gabrielle." 

"Yes?" 

"Your name. I've never said it before." 

"No. I guess you haven't." She frowned. "I don't even know yours." 

"Xenia." 

"Oh. What a beautiful name. It's strange, though. Is it Greek? 

"Yeah. A sort of family name. My grandmother studied classical languages. Yeah, really! Found some kind of ancient Greek scrolls during the war. About an distant ancestor. I was named after her. The ancestor, I mean." 

"Curious. My grandmother also did something like that. She was an archeologist. I never met her though. By the time I was born, she was gone. Died on some dig. She wrote a lot of things about the Greeks, but I never read them. Guess I should. Maybe she heard of your ancestor. Be funny wouldn't it?  

"Be even funnier if they knew each other!" 

"God, how depressing though," the Kid said. "If we came from such accomplished grandmothers, how did we end up here?" She looked up at the barred window and laid her face in her hands. 

Krieger got up and with one step crossed the cell and sat down beside the Kid. She began stroking her hair. 

"You don't belong here, Gabrielle." 

"I know. You don't either." 

"Yeah, I do. I'm no good." 

"That's not true. I see a lot of good in you. You just get a little uh, violent occasionally. And you have a little trouble with rejection." 

"Yeah. Somewhere along the way I went bad. Guess I'm no different from most of the prisoners here." 

"Well, you're not a prisoner. You're free. And you can do anything you want. You can change for the good."  

You really think so? 

The Kid turned her head and looked at Krieger and nodded and smiled, and looked at Krieger some more. I was getting really bored watching this conversation. 

Krieger took a strand of the Kid's blond hair and brushed it out of her face. Then another strand. She looked into her face and said, "You're right. There's nothing in the world as exciting as that." 

"What?" 

"Desire in your eyes." 

They leaned toward each other and kissed. They barely got into it when the Kid said "Ummpf" 

"What?" 

"Your pistol." 

"Oh sorry. I'll take it off."  

"No. No. Leave it on. I sort of like it. Just move it a little." 

Krieger shifted it to the back of her hip. 

They kissed again, sort of half sitting, half lying on the floor and it got passionate real fast. By my reckoning, Krieger had gone three weeks without and clearly she was ready to explode. I had heard Krieger being 'done' countless times through the years, all the way from the guard station, but I had never seen it and I thought, oh boy, this is it.  

But Krieger, as it turned out, did all the doing. 

While she kissed her, Krieger pulled the Kid's shirt up out of her belt and without unbuttoning it, she slid her hand inside. All I could see was the movement of her fingers through the cloth, but could imagine that that hand was having a good time. It was the same breast that she had caressed two weeks earlier, but there were no objections this time. Then she pulled the Kid's skirt up and slid her knee between her legs. I could see by the Kid's face how turned on she was when the older woman started kissing her throat, but when Krieger slid her hand up again between those innocent thighs she hesitated. First she said "No, not here on the floor." And then just, "Please, no." Then just, "Please, oh please..." And then "Oh yes.... yes....yes." I guess Krieger convinced her. 

With her left arm, Krieger supported the other woman's upper body while she began a slow movement with her right hand up under her skirt. Seeing how the 'Cherub' began pressing rhythmically against Krieger's hand and whispering long breathy "ooohhh"s, I'd say she was being had. And Guard Captain Krieger, scourge of women and serial rapist , was giving it instead of taking it. But if wickedness relented that day, and tried on goodness, then innocence in turn walked a little on the wild side. That sweet blond angel not only let herself get laid on that gritty prison floor, but in the throes of passion, that little white hand of hers snaked along the Guard Captain's hip and seized the handle of her revolver. 

For a second I thought she would snatch it out.  

But no. That little hand stayed there and squeezed and stroked and rubbed that old .38 Police Special the whole time like it was part of Krieger's sex. Krieger seemed to feel it and to get off on it too, because she shifted her position, pulling the Kid over between her own legs, and began to meet the other woman's rhythm with a thrusting of her own. I could hear her gasping with excitement. And after a very few minutes, in that raunchy, down and dirty jailhouse sex between the three of them, Krieger, the Kid, and the .38, saint and sinner came together loudly.  

Afterwards they just stayed lying there, real quiet , but they had lit a fire in me and I wanted nothing more than to go look for a little sex myself. I thought of Maggie, down on the 2nd tier. 

But then Krieger spoke and suddenly it got interesting again. 

"Oh, I wish I could get you out of here, Gabrielle, . You deserve better than this." 

"What a nice thing to say. Got any ideas?" 

"Oh, I've got lots of ideas. It's plans I'm short on." 

"Ideas about what?" 

"About where to go. And how to do it." 

"Well, you have my full attention. Where did you have in mind?" 

"As far as possible from here. The other side of the earth. New Zealand, maybe." 

"Hmm. I could do New Zealand." 

"Good. I've got relatives there."  

"Uh, I think the bigger question is how, wouldn't you say?" 

"Yeah, that's a little trickier. But I have an important friend who might help us out. An old boyfriend. Still a good friend, I think. I hope." 

"The Warden? The Governor? The President?"  

"Na, not that important. But still...." 

"Who?" 

"Bobby Tapper." 

"The newscaster?" 

"Used to be. Now the big news show Producer."  

"Does he have legal influence? Could he corrupt a judge?" 

"Better. He has a helicopter." 

"Yeah, right! Chopper Three. Wow! Do you think.....?" 

"Don't know. But let me work on it. But for now...." 

"What are you doing?" 

"I thought you would recognize it by now." 

"No, not again. Not here." 

"No is what you said before. I kind of like it when you say no." 

"Uh, we will have to work on that. I mean distinguishing between no meaning 'really no'' and no meaning c'mon, convince me.'" 

"This one is the second one, right?"  

"Yeah, I guess so, since you uuhhhh already have oohhh your hand mmmm there."  

"Good. And could I tie you up again. Just a little?" 

"No tying. Maybe later. When it's a little more make-believe." 

"Oh, I see what you mean." 

And they started up again, and I left to go look for Maggie on the 2nd tier. 

- 11 -

The next day in the mess hall we talked it all out. There was a core of the five of us, plus a dozen or so others who either liked the Kid or hated Laska. We had a good chance in a fight. But we couldn't let G.A.D decide when and where. We had to be prepared. Like I say, I had been around. I got keys. I couldn't get out of the joint, but I could get in lots of places. To the laundry, and to maintenance. Doesn't sound like much, but what they had in maintenance was chemicals and mops and brooms. More precisely, mop and broom STICKS. We were going to make fighting staffs.  

Losa, and the Kid were already good at it, and the rest of us learned. The Kid was especially good. Went right for the knees. Only Chucker insisted on spears, so we said fine. Just not real sharp ones. We wanted to knock people down, not impale them. It was easy to conceal them. We just screwed them back into the mop and broomheads and left them standing around all over the place.

Since the Kid didn't know I was watching her and Krieger, I couldn't exactly tell her I knew she was going to bust out. But everyone knew that there was going to be a war with G.A.D over Krieger and the Kid. Krieger definitely knew we were on the Kid's side, and she looked the other way when brooms and mops started showing up in every corner of the cell block. We were the tidiest cellblock in the penal system. 

Losa turned out to have an instinctive ability to lead in a fight. She sat down with the Kid and they worked out when and where to train and how to stage the big battle. Krieger didn't talk to us, but somehow Losa and the rest of our group got assigned each night to mop up the cell block. That included the basement, a perfect place to spar. We figured it was safe to train about two hours without being missed by the other prisoners and we wrapped cloth around the staffs so that no one could hear us slamming them together. Losa was a good teacher and after a week or so, most of us could hold our own against someone with a handblade.  

One night the six of us were sparring down there. Losa, the Kid, Pony, Chucker, Ephie and me. The Kid was doing real fancy armwork, and she pulled up her shirt and tied it under her breasts to give her more freedom of movement. Such a cute little midriff she had. If I'd have been 20 years younger I'd have made a pass at her. She also ripped her skirt on a stretch but found it gave her more leg room so she ripped it all the way up to the waist and held it together at the top with her leather belt. Next to Losa, she was the best, and when those two sparred together, it was like Robin Hood and Little John. If you remember the movie.

While we were going at it full steam, we suddenly heard a sound on the basement stairs and before we could conceal our weapons, the door opened. We froze. 

Krieger. 

She sauntered in, looked at us standing uncertain on both sides of her and then she turned to the Kid. 

"Cute outfit. Especially the top. Look great in green." 

We all relaxed. 

I said, "You know why we're down here doing this." 

She answered. "Of course. After all, I'm sort of the cause of this war, aren't I." 

No one answered. So she went on. 

"I want you to know that I'm grateful that you've decided to help protect Gabrielle. But it doesn't surprise me. The five of you always held together and were a good group. You never made trouble. After all these years, I feel like I know you." 

"Some of us biblically," Losa remarked, and to our shock she walked over and put her hand on Krieger's arm. It was the first time a prisoner had ever laid a hand on her uninvited. "You know, it was only the gun that we minded. The rest was...fine." 

"The gun was never loaded. What, do you think I'm crazy?" 

"What!?. Well, why didn't you just ask?" 

"I wasn't into asking then." 

The Kid rolled her eyes and clearly wanted to change the subject. "Losa's really gotten us into shape with the fighting staffs. We have about twelve women who can use them, and a lot of other women who will just join in because they hate the G.A.D." 

"Yeah, but it not just about the G.A.D. You know that." 

I decided it was time for me to speak up. "Yeah, we know. It's about the Kid. We like her a lot and we agreed that she doesn't belong here. She's not like us, and we want to give her a chance to get out. All we can do from inside is hold off Laska and make a nice little diversion for you to get her out." 

"Oh, so you've figured it out. That puts the whole plan at risk. " 

"No! No! Don't worry about us. The five of us are agreed on this. All the others will just be fighting for the fun of it and never have to know anything. You just tell us when and we'll do our best to stage a nice noisy, smoky little riot. 

"Smoky you say? I hadn't thought of that."  

"Sure. All those brooms and mopheads. We have some cleaning kerosene that smokes like crazy. That and a few oil soaked rags should make the place look like the entrance to hell. 

"Hmm. I like it. Well, if you can be ready Tuesday afternoon in the north yard, I can have my man there." 

"Tuesday, Yeah, we can manage Tuesday." 

"Good. In the mean time, at the regular weekly briefing, I will remind the guards that they should not discharge their firearms except in life threatening situations. As long as you don't try to kill someone, you should only have Laska's little blades to worry about. The smoke is a good idea since that means we'll need fewer people out fighting to create the diversion. But you have to keep it from getting too bloody, or there will be tear gas." 

"Okay. I'll spread the word. Will there be TV?" 

"You can count on it." 

"Oh cool." Pony said. "I'll wear my best prison denims." 

The rest of us went back and pretended to spar while the Kid and Krieger walked together to the door. Krieger ran her finger down the Kid's bare belly and said "You'll have to wear this some time for me." Then she kissed her quickly on the lips and left.  

We exchanged looks that said unmistakably, "Oh, how the mighty have fallen!"  

 

- 12 -

 

Tuesday afternoon came and it was our finest hour. We had staged it like a play, and if it turned out more like a circus it was because we knew were going to be News and we got a little caught up in the spectacle. We all wanted our 15 minutes of fame. 

Act One: The Kid went out with Ephie to sweep the cigarette butts and other crud off the steps in the north end of the yard. On cue, they began to argue and Ephie stomped off with her broom calling the Kid "a frigid little pissant" (pissant?). The Kid yelled back something like "filthy sodomite" (sodomite?) and sat down alone on the bottom step. This was the weakest part of the plan, because we had to depend on the G.A.D thugs noticing what was going on. Ten long minutes passed and we started biting our nails. Either the G.A.D were very crafty and had seen the trap, or they were very stupid and hadn't noticed anything. It turned out to be the latter. When one of their rocket scientists finally picked up on the Kid's being alone, Laska and a pal wandered over. Thus we proceeded to: 

Act Two: the Kid looked up, fear on her face -- some of probably genuine -, and she stalled the two them for awhile so that Pony and Chucker could get within spear range. Then two more thugs appeared on the periphery at the same time as Losa and I did. As if in slow motion, Laska's hand came up with her blade and the show began. The staffs all came out at the same instant as the four blades. The Kid basically saved her own throat with a sharp whack to the Laska's blade hand with her broomstick, now quarterstaff. About one second later Chucker's blunted "spear" thumped into Laska's back and sent her breathless onto her face. Her pal moved to attack but by then Pony was within range and she got her in the legs. Within a few minutes dozens of us were parrying and thumping and thrusting amid increasing noise. More inmates joined in the melee and soon there was fighting all around us, rehearsed and unrehearsed, old debts being settled and new hostilities igniting and, at least from my girls, a lot of noise and theater.  

Act three: It turned out to be pretty easy to knock those stupid little sharp spoons out of the hands of the G.A.D. The hard part was keeping them engaged while the fires got started. It was amazing how few smoky fires you need to stage an inferno. Carmen and Julie, who had made up again, ran by with an old mattress that they soaked in kerosene and it was the centerpiece of our spectacle. By now we had enough of a cast to qualify as a full-scale riot and were clearly newsworthy. We would have been a first class photo opportunity except for the smoke.  

I backed up the steps of the loading platform to get an overview and look for my girls. Pony was acquitting herself well in the fray. We had warned her not to fracture any skulls and she was keeping it to low-damage punches and kicks and was herself completely untouched. Chucker was in no danger either. She had opted for the blunted spear and she retrieved it each time after she felled someone, using it as a fighting staff only between launches. Ephie went down once under a blow to the head, but Losa hauled her up again and they fought shoulder to shoulder. Theatrical types that they were, they both started up some kind of wild "AiAiAiAiAi!!" war cry. Nice touch, I thought as I ran back down to join them. 

We were surrounded by fires, and people were shrieking like harpies. I however was grunting and puffing with the effort of swinging my stick, sorry fighting staff. Hell, I'm fifty. What was I thinking? But the Kid was high on it. Every time she knocked someone over she did a little circle dance and shouted "Yeeha!"  

Who'd a thought? 

The amazing thing was that there were no guards on the wall, no one pointing those rifles and machine guns down on us. Krieger must have been holding them back on some pretense, for how much longer we couldn't guess. So far there seemed to be no serious injuries, but we didn't know how to keep things under control. Riots are by definition out of control. 

Just then we heard a deafening Putaputaputaputa. I looked up and saw -- massive and otherworldly -- the belly of a helicopter.  

Bobby Tapper. As good as his word. There to "get the news."  

Krieger suddenly appeared by the Kid. They stood for a few minutes back to back, although there was no one crazy enough to attack Krieger, and then they both ran to a spot right under the news helicopter where the TV camera couldn't see them. But I'm betting the camera was pointed elsewhere anyhow. (At Pony, I hoped. She had dressed for the occasion.) 

Someone threw down a rope and Krieger tied it around her hips and chest, making a knot in front. The Kid was looped inside but when they were a couple of feet in the air she started to slip out. I heard Krieger yell, "Climb up my body," although I could not imagine how a person could do that. But the Kid held on, wrapped her legs around Krieger's thighs and pressed her face against her rescuer's chest.  

Someone was supposed to pull them up into the chopper, but I could see that something had gone wrong with the plan. For long minutes they hung helplessly ten feet over the yard, revolving slowly and getting no place. Guards began pouring into the yard and it was a miracle there had been no shots fired. Then, as we feared, they began lobbing tear gas canisters. They fell all around us and tear gas began filling up the yard like an airy soup.  

Then Krieger showed how tough she really was, not whip and pistol tough, but endurance tough. By the sheer brute strength of those arms she pulled the both of them up that rope. The wind from the chopper blades blew dust and debris in a spiral around them and it was like she was pulling them both up through a well, inch by inch, hand over hand until they reached the runners of the chopper. Then some black gloved hands reached out and pulled them inside. The chopper turned around, swung sort of sideways over the prison wall and, as I fell to my knees and began throwing up from the tear gas, I could hear the putaputaputa fading away into the distance. 

- 13 -

They're gone now, those two, safe and together, I'm certain. Only I know where, and I'm not talking. A new Guard Captain arrived a few days later. Warden Moneus brought her into the mess hall yesterday at dinner and we sized her up. Skinny broad, but pretty. She was carrying only one set of handcuffs, and the regulation pistol and nightstick. "Awright!" someone said under her breath. ..Someone else muttered, "This one was going to be a pushover." I could already see Laska wetting her lips. No more beatings. No more living in fear.  

Moneus picked a bull horn and told us to settle down. He had an announcement.  

"Good afternoon, ladies. This is Warden Moneus. Since the riot last week and the unexpected, uhh, departure of Captain Krieger, we have been short handed. But now we have a new Guard Captain on board and things will soon be back to normal. Of course there will be a few changes in the regulations, to prevent another such outbreak and you will be informed of these. In the mean time, I want you to all meet the new Guard Captain Calvina Stowe."  

He handed her a clipboard with the new regulations. 

"Here you are, Cally, They're all yours." 

"Thanks, Sal." She stepped up on the low platform and looked around the room smiling ominously. Her large brown eyes glistened as she seemed to stare through each one of us. A twinge of anxiety went through me and I thought, "Oh, oh. Here comes trouble."

 

 


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