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Chapter 2: Scene 5: Talking with Tony


       Kelly's been drinking a cup of coffee over by the counter but now he moves in closer. "Zip it up, Tony. Everybody. Clean up the table. Trays and forks go back on the cart. Scrape off the garbage in the can. You, Tony, grab that broom and sweep the floor. You know the drill."

       "Yeah, yeah." Tony passes the broom back and forth over the floor a couple of times and then shoves it off to Pat who runs it around in a circle. The rest of us push up to the garbage can. The ornery -looking one, Randy, digs an elbow into the middle of my back. "Tough guy, huh?" he says real low. "We'll see how tough you are." He moves away too quick for Kelly to notice.

       "Watch how you put those trays on the cart," Kelly says, leaning close in to watch. "Do it even or they fall off." The guys roll their eyes and jam their trays every which way but straight. We follow Kelly back to the other end of the room where he reads off a clipboard. "Doc's here tomorrow morning, dental checkups the day after. You'll be in Intake from three days to a week until you get your cottage assignments . You'll see your PO some day this week. One hour here in the dayroom and then lockup for the night. Any questions?"

ThinkLink: Did you ever have lots of questions, but were afraid to ask? What did you do?

       I got lots of questions, but nobody else says anything so I don't either. I go over and sit down on one end of a sagging couch. Tony stretches out on the other, one arm along the back of the couch. I take a sideways glance at him. He's got medium dark-brown fuzzy hair, light golden-brown skin and greenish eyes. Really built and he knows it. He rolls the sleeves of his T-shirt up so his muscles show. I look away but not soon enough.

       "What you staring at? Something don't suit you?"

       "No," I say. "I mean I'm not. Staring. I'm just looking around."

       "Don't sweat it, man. I don't beat nobody up for looking." He grins. "A gas station , huh? How'd you get caught?"

       "Bad luck," I say. No use getting laughed at again, and I don't really know how myself, it all happened so fast. Fletcher just came at me from nowhere. I didn't even hear him coming.

       I change the subject. "What goes on here? How do we find out where we're going? I mean who do I talk to about getting out of here?"

       "The way I see it," Tony says, and I can tell there's nothing he likes better than telling everybody how he sees things, "there's two ways of getting out. Me, I usually do a rabbit and run. The other way you work out a program with your PO. It's hard to get a hold of him, though. Mine's usually only here on Tuesdays. You learn the ropes, then watch for a chance to run." He pokes his chest with his thumb. "Watch me. You'll catch all the stuff you need."

       Tony's got my full attention now. Guys can run from here? He gets up before I can ask him more about it and walks over to talk to Pat. It's hard to believe he's for real. I look at the steel door. This doesn't look like an easy place to get out of. Wonder how many guys make it.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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