Knock Knock: Issue 27: Protect and Serve

“Central control.”

“Evenin’ central control. This is flight 118 Dynasty. We’re beginning our descent.”

“Copy that Dynasty. We see you. Nice and smooth as always.”

“Bring out the chilled beer, central. It’s been a long flight.”

Air traffic controller Rick Monroe smiled. He watched the blips and bleeps on his radar screen.

“It’s all clear for landing Captain. It’s a cold night here in Coldford but a clear one. The west runway is clear for a landing.”

“Copy that central.”

Rick pushed his chair back from the table. He lifted the phone from the wall.

“Get the landing party out on the west runway. We have incoming. Orders received. Time to greet flight 118 Dynasty. Notify hospitality, they’re going to want to be there.”

A buzz was sent through the airport. A privately commissioned jet was preparing to land and with an important guest on board.

The traffic directors were on the front line. The west runway was one of their longest. It was usually reserved for large commercial flights to the Great States or further afield. When controller Neil was told it was a private jet, he naturally assumed the kind of smaller air craft the privileged class, who found themselves in need of hopping from country to country, liked to use. His excitement lifted when he spotted a Boeing cast a shadow down upon them as it followed it’s directed pathway. The wheels dropped from its enormous body and it touched the ground with the smoothness of a bird of prey snatching its meal from the forest floor.

The hospitality staff were put on high alert. The airport lounge was buzzing with anticipation of the Great States arrival. A kettle of squawking reporters hopped around waving recording devices, ready to peck at the juicy meat of a story being thrown to them.

Freshly pressed uniforms, straightened backs, standing to attention. District manager of the Coldford City Airport, Rebecca, looked on in awe as the gangway slowly approached the craft. I arrived just as they were lining up to welcome the guest of honour.

“Best foot forward girls,” instructed Rebecca.

From the pilot’s cockpit and onto the gangway, wheeling a flight case behind him and in full uniform, stepped Captain Charles Owen. He looked rejuvenated after flying the sizeable aircraft from the Great States. Whilst he wore a black tie to show his family still mourned the loss of Bobby Owen, he beamed and waved to the waiting press core. Flanked by his co-pilot and two finely dressed stewardesses, The Cappy took centre stage.

“Welcome back to Coldford, Captain,” Rebecca stepped forward. As district manner she had the honour of greeting the Owen Inc. CEO. “I’m afraid the press has caught wind of your arrival so you won’t be able to escape discretely.”

Chick removed his hat. “I have no mind to,” he assured her, clutching his hat to his chest. “In fact, I believe I will have a few words.”

“Of course,” Rebecca agreed. She stepped aside to allow The Cappy and his staff to present themselves.

Without allowing himself to be overwhelmed by the flood of questions he had to wade though, Chick spoke to the reporters.

“It makes my heart mighty glad to see all these familiar faces. Peter?” he pointed to one of the reporters. “Nice to have you back. I hope you are well recovered.”

Peter giggled shyly but he still hungrily clutched his recording device. “I’m happy to answer some questions but given recent circumstances I’m afraid I’ll have to keep it brief.”

“Captain! Captain!” cried a feisty female reporter in a skirt suit, she was pushing her assistant who was holding her recorder in front of her.

“Yes, Margaret?” The Cappy chose her first. Sometimes it was best to start by feeding the hungriest of the animals. It stopped them getting too eager.

“Firstly, condolences on the loss of Bobby from all of us at the Coldford Express. He was a lovely man and a sad loss.”

“Thank you,” Charles returned. “Do go on.”

“Is it purely the loss of Pops that has brought you back to Coldford?” the reporter asked. The press had been left feeling sketchy on the details.

The combined loyalist/fleet attacks had been kept from public news as much as possible. Covered with stories of random violence that was nothing new to Coldford.

Destruction, asbestos, and rejuvenation of the area were all delivered to the news feeds (Owen Inc. owned) and these falsities were spat back out in the face of the public. Maybe they would learn the truth eventually but in that moment the truth did not suit The Cappy’s agenda. Given that the City Main King had to remain low key as best he could, as well as Paddy Mack, the Owens had the chance to control the information leaked to the public. They stopped their allies from having cause for alarm and their enemies having reason to be emboldened.

“It is my sad duty to bid farewell to a great man, a much-loved man and my father. He will be sorely missed but I do have business in this great city of ours. My family’s heart is at home here so I will always have cause to return.”

“Can you give us some details on your father’s death?” asked another reporter.

“I’m afraid at this time, Taylor, I cannot. I will brief you when the time is right, but for now I ask that you respect my family’s privacy and allow us to deal with our grief.”

Margaret pushed in again. “Will you still be continuing to pursue your investment into Harvester Farm?”

Chick nodded. “Of course, and whole heartedly. Pops would be the first one to say, ‘Boy, family is of the utmost importance and it is in business we pave the way for our family.’ I would be delighted to have Miss Harvester hear the ideas I have for the future of her brand.”

The stewardess to the left, a brunette with a sharply cut bob, gently tapped on his shoulder. She whispered into his ear.

The Cappy turned back to the reporters again with a smile.

“I’ve just been informed that my time is up. I thank y’all for coming out. I will provide a statement in a timely manner. But for now, there is much to be done.”

The reporters clashed as they hopped after The Cappy for one last morsel of meat. With some laughing with his co-pilot, he left them behind and his Boeing craft named Dynasty to be serviced and refuelled. It was to be housed in Coldford for the foreseeable future.

***

Owen estate would seem like a great monster hidden deep in the northern farmlands should one venture that far. Not a tall building but spread wide. It emerged from the wilderness on approach like a hungry predator, its windows like eyes locked upon its prey. A single light was on. The occupier was home.

Back in his natural habitat, Buddy Owen stood in his father’s den. His whole life he had been visiting the estate and he was only allowed in the den by his father’s invitation.

Buddy, Chad and Cooper watched on as The Cappy silently cleaned his gun. A favoured Ruger 10/22 with a hardwood frame. He called it Betsy. Buddy much preferred an AR15 for hunting but The Cappy had a fondness for an antique look. The Ruger was after all one of the most successful rifle designs in history.

The bros watched as Chick pushed the cleaning rod into the barrel. He was lost in thought as though he had forgotten he had even summoned them and asked them to stand to attention. When he finally spoke, Buddy’s heart leapt. He had been so drawn in by the silence. Behind The Cappy hung a musket rifle used by Corporal Arthur ‘Arty’ Owen. Above that were maps drawn by Archibald ‘Archie’ Owen as he and his wife rounded a group of islands called San Mojo. There was one blank space specially reserved. Its place was to be given to a compass belonging to Henry ‘Hen’ Owen on his pioneering mission that put Coldford on the map. It had been acquired by the Penn Auction House. The Penns would only return it at cost. Chick was adamant that it belonged in his family and was insulted that he would be asked to pay for such an item that rightfully belonged to him. The auction house insisted that such a historical item should be placed for auction to allow anyone with an interest the opportunity to own it. Lawyers had kept the matter at a stale mate for years. With the Auction House seized, there may still come a chance for The Cappy to complete his collection.

“Chapter House, ruined.” He cleaned. “Our brotherhood, humiliated.” The dampness was drawn out of the barrel. “My father, dead.”

“They caught us off guard,” Buddy explained. “It won’t happen again, sir.”

“It most certainly won’t,” was The Cappy’s reply. “I’ve already taken steps to bring the matter in hand. What I would like to know is which one of you geniuses thought it would be a great idea to give your muck powder to a six-year-old child. Weren’t my express orders for you to be on your best behaviour whilst you were on that farm?”

“Yes, sir,” all three brothers replied in synchrony.

“If that is your best behaviour then y’all are bigger dumbasses than I ever gave you credit for. Have you set a challenge with yourselves to disappoint me?”

“No, sir,” again all three replied together.

“Then which one of you did it?”

“None of us, sir,” Chad protested. “We ain’t had no powder since we left the Chapter House.”

Chick looked up from his gun cleaning. His eyes met those of his son.

“We ain’t,” Buddy agreed. “Been damn hard but we ain’t. After what happened to Pops, I wanted to stay sober. I want those mother fuckers to pay so I wanted a clear head. Someone is trying to make me look bad.”

“Every time you open that mouth of yours, son, it makes you look bad.”

“I didn’t do it. Someone is against me.”

“Just like those teachers were against you? Just like the local authorities were against you?” Chick’s attention returned to Betsy. He handled her with a gentle, loving hand.

“This time it’s true. I will find out who and I will deal with it,” Buddy resolved.

“See that you do. For now, I am paying for the child’s care privately. I’m told by her nurses that she will be just fine. Whatever the father wishes to do to you I’m not making any of my concern. So, if you aren’t responsible, I suggest you find out who was and fast before the father’s attention is no longer occupied by a sick child. That powder habit of yours may have been charming to some when you were a boy but you are a man now, Bernard. It’s time for you to start behaving like one. If you are unable to kick that habit, I am more than happy to find someone who can help you.”

“What do you mean?” The moment Buddy asked this he regretted it.

“Harbour House. I hear it can do some good. Their twelve step programme is proven to be 90% effective.”

“You wouldn’t put me in rehab,” Buddy gasped, but it was more a plea than challenge.

“I would if I thought it would do you any good. Prove me wrong. Start acting like a man.”

“I will,” Buddy agreed. He was already measuring in his head the monumental mess he was having to clean up. What The Cappy knew was but the tip of the iceberg.

“You are now stripped of any authority you had. If you wish to have the Chapter back you will have to earn it. I have ordered some help for you. You are thirty-four years old and I’m calling in a baby sitter. You should be ashamed of yourself.” The Cappy distracted himself with shining Betsy’s glossy body.

“Who?” asked Buddy.

“When I was last in Coldford I told you if you were to disregard my requests, I would send someone to fetch you proper.”

Cooper and Chad looked to Buddy. They could see his eyes widen.

“Who?” he asked again with a little more desperation. Judging by Buddy’s reaction, his Kappa So brothers guessed he already knew.

“The expected time of arrival for the flight is four pm. You will be at the airport to greet our guest,” said Chick. He laid Betsy down gently, admiring her glow, her shapely form, her willingness to be held. He took in the three Kappa So brothers. “Now get out. The sight of ya’ll is ruining my appetite.”

The three turned towards the door but Chick always had one last thing to say.

“Oh, and Bernard, speaking of Harbour House, while you are finding this mysterious stranger who gave the little girl cocaine maybe you can also find the Baroness bitch. The search for her is heating up and I have not forgotten the artist boy pointing the finger in my face. If you are in any way responsible for her missing status, you and I are going to go on a hunt.”

The den door closed over. Buddy turned to his brothers with a sob.

“What does that even mean?!”

***

“Good afternoon, Charles. I trust you’re well and your flight was a good one?” greeted Judge Karyn Doyle as the staff of Owen Estate showed her to the den. Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Owen was already there. Chick’s younger brother had surprised the Coldford community when he was the one to step up and defend Tabitha during her trial. I myself had been surprised to hear it, when Tabitha’s murder spree had stemmed from the accusations that the Reverend Jerry Owen had attempted to rape her as a child along with countless other young girls. Judge Doyle had no evidence other than the word of the girls the Baroness was encouraging to step forward. Taking matters into her own hands, Tabitha had essentially ended her own life.

What I did observe through the trial was that Ronnie wasn’t there to proclaim her innocence. It was far too late for that. He wasn’t there to seek vengeance for his brother either. He knew what Jerry was. He merely asked the jury to take into account the events that had brought Tabitha to do what she did. They were the actions of a mad woman for the most part but they shed a light on a much bigger problem in the Shady City. Sexual assault was at epidemic levels and as difficult as it was to hear, a great many of these girls were still children. For her part Judge Doyle listened to both sides of the story but when the voice of the girl who called her out in her own court, murdered at least fifty-nine people, taunted the missing mayor and had a history of violence was up against a Reverend from a highly respected family, who had given a lot of charity to the city and had no physical evidence against him, that was how the scales of justice measured up. The Judge had heard the cries of those girls though. No matter how loudly they sang Tabitha’s praises she was not going to be forgiven her crimes. The sentence was death. I just hoped that in Tabitha’s death justice would be found for all those other girls she sought to protect.

“I am much obliged for you coming at such short notice. With the troubles we’ve been having, I fear I’m locked to the homestead for the time being.”

Karyn Doyle nodded. “It’s not a problem. The sooner we get things back on track, the better for all of us and for the city. The death of Joel Hickes and the escape of Reginald Penn Junior not to mention Patrick Mack being at large, has taught me that CPD needs to come under new management, immediately.”

Charles nodded. Ronnie also agreed.

“I recommended that this only be a temporary station,” put in the younger brother. “I stand by that. The Black Bands have been incredibly successful in bringing in known instigators but CPD must have a longer-term goal.”

Charles smiled. “Whilst the murderer of our father is at large I will stop at nothing. Are you agreed on that Ron? I would hate for us to move forward if we weren’t of the same mind.”

“I agree. Reginald Penn must face justice for his crimes. The city has already been torn apart enough,” said Ronnie.

“Then it’s time to do what needs to be done, starting with a stronger hold on CPD.”

Charles ‘Chick’ Owen, better known as The Cappy, slid a paper across the desk to her Honourable Judge Karyn Doyle. She supplied her signature. Ronnie witnessed. In a combined agreement between Owen Inc. and the High Court of Coldford City the police department were to be appointed a new commissioner.

***

“I think the first thing we should do, darling, is check into the hotel. We don’t want to be carrying our luggage around longer than is necessary, now do we?” Mr Johnson said to his wife as they waited in the airport lounge for notification from their transport to City Main. Mrs Johnson held a glass of Macks whiskey, on the rocks. It was early for hard spirits but it had been a bumpy flight and they were supposed to be enjoying themselves after all.

Mrs Johnson took a sip. “The exhibit closes at six. I would have really liked to have seen it. They are moving it on to Luen in the morning. This would be our only chance.”

Mr Johnson took out his notes. “It says here that the museum is just a five-minute walk from the Weir. It’s just gone four now. We’ll have plenty of time to check in, freshen up and pop along and still catch the exhibit.”

As she and her husband looked closer at the City Main tourist map he had brought up on his phone, she hadn’t realised her handbag had been kicked out from underneath their table. A man in filthy clothes who had been hanging around the airport for most of the afternoon, but not caused enough fuss for security to do anything about, closed in. He casually strolled towards the exit as though he had been intending to leave. As he passed Mr and Mrs Johnson he snatched up the handbag.

“My bag!” Mrs Johnson screeched.

Mr Johnson was on his feet but the thief was already at the exit door. As the door opened he ran into a broad man with a naturally muscular physique. His head was shaved. His eyes were heavy having just arrived on a private long-haul flight. He was brought to alert by the woman’s cry though. He snatched the man. He pulled his finger back with an aburpt snap. The man squealed with pain. The man picked up the handbag. He fixed the Kappa So uniform he was wearing.

“You damn near ripped my shirt you weaselling son ‘a’ bitch!”

The airport security swooped in and apprehended the thief. Mrs Johnson rushed up to the man to retrieve her bag.

“Thank you!” she stated sincerely. “How can I repay you?”

The man grinned. “It’s no worry ma’am. No yella bellied thief gonna get by me.”

“At least let me buy you a drink.” She turned to her husband. “Roger?” she cried. “Buy the man a drink.”

Mr Johnson had been so relieved for the return of his wife’s bag he didn’t hesitate. She had been carrying all of their reservations and travel documents.

The man followed her to the table she and her husband had chosen. He stopped her and spun her round so they could meet eye to eye.

“You’re a pretty thing,” his grin widened. “I’m mighty glad to have met your acquaintance.”

Mrs Johnson tried to smile too but he had pushed himself so close to her it made her uncomfortable.

He reached up and clutched her face with a rough hand. “You are mighty pretty,” he said again. “For a negress.”

Mr Johnson returned. He slammed the glass down on the table.

“How dare you speak to my wife that way.”

The man frowned. The wrinkles on his forehead deepened. “Can’t a man deliver a compliment these days?” He placed a hand on Mr Johnson’s chest and shoved him into a chair.

“Sir! I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

The man took a seat at their table, scraping it noisily across the floor.

“You invited me to drink and I got time to spare. Let’s drink.” He looked up to an aghast Mrs Johnson. Her husband hadn’t made any further movement. “Sit down, darlin’ and keep me company. Your pussy assed husband here might like to see what a real man looks like.” Mr Johnson was frowning severely but said nothing. The man gave a roaring laughter. “Where’s your sense of humour?”

“I’m going to call security,” Mr Johnson decided.

The man drank his whiskey. “Don’t bother. You’re just going to cut into your vacation time.”

“Who are you?”

“Billy!” a loud, Great States voice called across the lounge. Billy stood, throwing his chair back.

“Bud!” he yelled back as Chad, Cooper and Buddy Owen crossed to greet him. Billy swallowed the rest of the whiskey and abandoned the table. He charged towards his brothers, catching Buddy in a headlock.

“Little bro!” he cheered, rubbing his knuckles roughly on Buddy’s head. He let him go and turned his attention to Chad and Cooper. “So, this is the cream of the Kappa So crop these days. You look like a couple of fags. What’s with this?” here he imitated Cooper’s usual folded arm stance. Buddy laughed heartily.

William ‘Billy’ Owen was the son of The Cappy’s cousin Jackson ‘Jackie’ Owen. He was close to Buddy, but the Owen lessons over the years had given him a bullying nature. If anyone could hold Buddy to account it would be him. Whether that was a good thing or throwing petrol onto the fire remained to be seen.

“So The Cappy been chewing your ass, huh?” Billy put to Buddy as they started to exit the airport, leaving a flabbergasted Mr and Mrs Johnson behind.

All they could hear was Billy scream, “You lost the fucking Chapter House!”

Billy slapped Buddy over the back of his head. “You are a fucking moron. Pops would be ashamed – God rest his soul. We gotta spray the whole damn house now. A’body knows those gypos bring all kinds of diseases.”

***

Briefing room 40 was filled to capacity. The City Main precinct of the Coldford Police Department was brought together to meet their new commissioner.

“Bryant!” called Archer to old time detective Bryant McGregor.

Archer was younger, more energetic. Bryant was in his early sixties with wisdom etched on his brow. He was nearing his retirement. No one would have blamed him for wanting to rest easy and leave the force, especially after his close friend Hickes had been killed. Bryant wasn’t so easily swayed though. Like the others he waited in anticipation to meet the newly appointed chief of police.

Officer Ricky Marshall was also there. He had a warm hand shake and an embrace for Bryant. They hadn’t seen one another since Hickes’ memorial. Ricky had been partners with Hickes in their early days before he was moved on to a drug task force and Hickes gained his detective badge. Ricky looked stressed out. He always looked stressed. Matched with Hickes’ cool approach they had always made an effective partnership. His chestnut brown hair was greying. They were all getting older, Bryant had to admit. They weren’t newbies any more. Beside Ricky sat Lennon. He looked better than the last time Bryant had seen him. Lennon was a fine detective – probably one to rival Hickes in his prowess but he had been out of the force for a while in order to deal with a gambling addiction. He had lost his house, his car, but Joel Hickes had picked up on the telltale signs before he lost himself.

“Get your fucking shit together,” Joel had warned him. “Do you want your kids living in a fucking caravan? Do you want to lose those kids?”

If anyone else had put that question to Lennon he would have lashed out at them, but from Hickes it made a lot of sense. It was his shit and he did have to get it together.

I wasn’t given the chance to attend the briefing that day. It was internal only but from all I had heard of the fall out as explained to me by Bryant himself, Hickes’ integrity, his influence over his fellow officers had never faded.

The group looked to Bryant for his leadership as the longest serving. They trusted in him. They trusted that he would be true to Hickes’ example.

“Any word on the new chief?” asked Ricky.

Bryant responded, “All I could get was that it is a he and they have brought him in from abroad.”

Ricky shook his head. “I don’t like this,” he said. “They should be promoting one of our own. Bryant, that was your spot. It could have been Hickes’ place one day.”

“It should have been you,” Olivia Hickes had said to Bryant on the phone the night before. “But we’ll know better their thinking when we find out who this person is. You’ll know the right thing to do. I trust you.”

It didn’t sit well with any member of the police force to have someone come in from outside to lead them, especially when the privately-commissioned Black Bands were spreading farther and farther around the city – essentially taking the laws the CPD were sworn to protect and uphold out of their control. But the department had become flooded with corruption. Judge Doyle wasn’t leaving it up to a few good men like Bryant, Archer, Ricky and Lennon, to wade through. It would take someone with an outside perspective to clear the way.

Deputy Chief Michelle Crawly took the speaking spot. A hush washed over the nervous police officers.

“Okay, I know you’re all eager to meet the new chief,” she said, “and there’s a lot of work to do so we’ll be brief. Ladies and gentlemen, Police Commissioner Owen.”

A lot of the room erupted into an applause. Whoops and cheers rang out. The doors were thrown open and the overbearing presence of William ‘Billy’ Owen came sauntering through. He had a grin on his face and he could be heard muttering to Michelle, “I’ll take it from here darlin’.”

He clutched both sides of the podium and bared his teeth down on them.

“Well, well, well,” he began. “It’s good to be here. Time to whip y’all into shape. Am I right?”

“You’re right, brah!” one of the officers called back. Bryant shot him a fiery stare but Archer patted his arm and urged him to keep calm. Bryant couldn’t.

“This is not Kappa So,” he said.

Billy glared. “Whatcha say, old timer?”

“This is not Kappa So and this is not your frat house. Isn’t it enough with the Black Bands?”

“Sit down, Mc Gregor,” Michelle warned.

Bryant could hear the rumble of chairs behind him. Like a virulent disease the Kappa So influence in CPD had been spread quickly. It was how it had been so easy to declare one of them as chief. That coupled with Billy’s special ops background, for some he was seen as the saviour the department needed.

Billy laughed, raspy and unkind.

“You let a pussy Penn triplet escape your custody. You failed to find him. You let a bitch in a whore dress murder, steal and call herself a queen. Ya’ll are a disgrace. Worst of all, you let one of your own have his brains splattered all across the side walk. And you have the audacity to wonder why I had to drag my ass all the way over here to put things right?”

Some of the officers cheered. Bryant and his companions were sickened.

“You didn’t know Hickes,” Bryant snapped back.

Billy shook his head in exasperation. “And now I never will. You lost the rat fingering triplet, you lost that hippy dyke they call the Baroness and to cap it all off where’s the god damn mayor?”

Bryant stepped forward but Archer stopped him.

“No hard feelings old timer. In fact, you remind me of my granddaddy. He spent his final days pissing himself and thinking he was an astronaut. You got balls, but you better watch yourself. If you can’t handle the heat then it’s time to drop your badge.”

Bryant growled. He stormed to the aisle and approached Billy. The new chief of police for Coldford held his hand up to prevent any of his Kappa So brothers among the force from intervening. Billy smirked. Their faces were close. Bryant pulled the badge from around his neck and dropped it onto the floor. He walked out but before he had reached the door, Archer, Lennon, Ricky and those others dedicated to Hickes joined him.

“Was it something I said?” they could hear Billy jeer sarcastically.

CPD had its failings but its human element was what gave it the heart it had. That heart was torn from its chest that day.

***

They called it the pride of the north. The Boss looms over the town of Bournton like a great, waiting crocodile. Contained within its maw was the Shady City’s most notorious criminals. Thieves, rapists, murderers all called it home. With the newly-appointed chief at CPD it was about to come under new management.

“Yo Monty!” greeted the new guard.

Monty turned, took his cigarette from between his lips and grinned.

“Ethan? Brah!” he cheered. “How ya doin? I thought you were still in the Great States.”

“Moved Chapter. Coldford needs all the help she can get.”

They shared a lengthy Kappa So hand shake.

“It’ll be good to have some brothers around,” Ethan admitted.

One of the inmates had been playing basketball nearby. He threw the ball but it bounced on the basket and came rolling towards Ethan and his brother.

“See what I mean about this piece of shit scum here?”

They both rolled eyes at one another. The inmate, Tommy, collected the ball.

“You struggling to shoot straight there?” asked Ethan but, given how close they had gotten to the inmate, Tommy was on the defensive.

“Get outta my face,” he warned.

Ethan looked to Monty. He sniggered.

“Would you check the balls on this one?” he teased. “It’s almost like he believes we won’t beat his ass.”

Ethan grabbed Tommy and slammed him against the metal railing face first. The force caused a rattle.

“You’re going to apologise for throwing your ball at my bro here,” Ethan urged. “It was damn disrespectful.”

“I didn’t,” pleaded Tommy. “It just rolled away.”

Monty sniggered. “Are you saying your ball control is shit?”

Ethan slammed his head against the fence again. This time it was his skull that rattled. “Then why the fuck did you throw the ball? You owe us both an apology?”

“Fuck you!” Tommy returned with a spit. “I didn’t do anything, cunts. I just threw the ball.”

Ethan spun him around. He pulled the baton from his belt. He smashed Tommy’s left knee. The inmate yelped in pain but they didn’t let him fall.

“Fuck you!”

Ethan grabbed Tommy by the hair. They dragged him to an enclosure.

“If you’re shit with the ball you ain’t gonna need to be running around. You better slow down.”

The truncheon crunched his right knee. Tommy cried out.

“I didn’t do nothin! I didn’t do nothin!”

He looked up to the guard tower where an armed guard was stationed. He was young, tanned. Tommy had been inside The Boss for five years. He knew most of the guards but the tower guard was new. He had a naïve look on his face but he had seen everything. He had seen that Tommy had done no harm. Police brutality. The tower guard pointed his gun down. The two ground guards – Ethan and Monty – looked up. Ethan grinned and gave him a gesture with his hand that resembled the letter K. The guard with the gun did likewise.

“If he tries to get away, shoot him,” Ethan called up.

The tower guard replied, “I got your back brah.” He steadied the aim of his gun.

“Brothers for life,” Monty said to Ethan.

Ethan swung the baton. The first hit only fractured the tibia of Tommy’s right leg. The pain fired through his entire body. The second hit broke the fibula. Monty cracked his own baton across Tommy’s jaw. Tommy could feel a heaviness in his throat that preceded the need to vomit. He couldn’t feel the pain – although every crack of bone crunched in his ears. He was mostly dizzy and sick now. Even if there wasn’t a gun on him, he couldn’t have fought back. None of the other inmates opted to help him. Even his buddy Carl looked on in awe but wouldn’t risk the tower guards shooting him. Any of them could be gunned down where they stood and no one would bat an eyelid.

Tommy wasn’t taken to the infirmary. Instead, his aching body was discarded in a room with a damp mud floor and thick metal door. It allowed no light. It was known among the inmates as the prayer room. Many had found Jesus in there. Tommy would only find the pain of his fractures and breaks failing to heal properly. Whether he would have proper use of his legs again remained to be seen. He could be left there in pain for weeks before having a doctor’s attention. It would all be determined by how long the brothers intended to keep him in the rotting hole in the deepest depths of The Boss. The new chief of police in Coldford was a Kappa So brother and they were all brothers for life.


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