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Teach Truth to Counterfeit by Lucas Smith (Chapter One)

The opening chapter of Lucas Smith’s Teach Truth to Counterfeit

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The lighting in the prison cafeteria had never been the same after Jeffery Wallace had thrown his meal tray in disgust of the so called food we were served three times daily. The tray had hit one of the spotlights, causing it to shatter. It was a punishment to all of us inmates that it would not be fixed, ensuring a gloomy, overcast sensation upon us as we ate our stale bread and eerily warm milk.
The guards enjoyed the flicker of the lights. They felt it fooled our sense of sight so much that they no longer had to worry about fights or gang rushes as everyone’s vision was now so hindered. It’s a real shame that we never thought of smashing all the lights, turning the prison into the hellish black hole we all believed it to be anyways. The guards would have a hell of a time dealing with us then.
That would have been a front page of the paper kind of story. I can see the headline now:

 “PRISON GUARDS KILLED IN BLACKEDOUT CAFETERIA OF TEXAS STATE PRISON”

The irony of them falling victim to their own punishment is just too sweet not to laugh at.
I didn’t always think this way. I used to be compassionate, and caring. Five years ago I would have been the reporter writing that news story about the poor, helpless prison guards brutally killed by the angry, savage inmates exacting an unjustified revenge on their captures.
But that was then.
Five years ago my life was ripped apart in a way that no man could ever repair himself from the damage created. Five years ago the only thing that I truly cared about in this cold world was taken from me. Five years ago my family was brutally slaughtered in my own home by some random coward. Ever since the moment I returned home to find my beautiful wife and daughter’s lifeless bodies I have been a much different, much less sympathetic man.
It was too tragic not to shake one’s head in pity. My family murdered in my home, and yet a mere five years later it was me sitting in a prison cafeteria, proud inmate number 782.
“Grey,” came a booming voice from across the room, breaking in over the dull hum from the broken light that acted as a rather macabre soundtrack to the shadows dancing along the wall to my right. “You’re time is up. It’s time to head back to your cell.”
“Sure thing,” I replied, pushing back the rickety chair I had been sitting on. “Thanks for, uh, letting me come in here now.”
The guard, Bradley Verra was his name, didn’t bat an eye as he came up to me to escort me back to my cell. “It’s prison policy Grey. After an inmate is removed from solitary confinement their first meal is alone, to avoid any issues during lunch. You know that all too well. We don’t want you getting pissed off at everyone’s jeers and questions and you ending up back in there.”
“ ‘preciate it,” I muttered, moving through the door into the hallway to lead me back to cellblock B. “Murderer Row” as it was commonly called throughout the prison. It was my less than perfect, exceedingly modest, little home for another twenty years.
Bradley led me back to my cell, or my “humble abode”, as he liked to call it in a rather derogatory, arrogant sort of way. As I stepped inside I took in my surroundings, as I always did whenever I entered my cell. It was hard not to. The cracked grey cement walls reached up as if they were embracing the chipped ceiling; lovers embraced in a merciless game of driving men mad. Clichéd scratches on the wall, counting the days of entrapment, only added to the ridiculousness of the situation. “Christ,” I sighed. “My life has become a goddamn TV show. Young white guy in prison for a revenge murder, a hot-headed black cell-mate, and all set in a prison cell that looks like something out of The Green Mile.”
“Shut up Chris,” came a raspy, yet sharp voice from the corner of the cell. “I don’t want your pissy mood to ruin my big day now.”
“Sorry Adrian, I’m happy for you man, just one of those days you know?” I replied turning to face my cellmate, whom I had shared living quarters with every single day for the last five years.
“No sweat C,” he replied, raising himself from his seat on his awkwardly small cot. A man that big should never be forced to sleep on such an undersized mattress, that was almost crueller than his incarceration. “Nothing can bother me on this beautiful day. Seventeen years in this shithole and in a mere three hours I am a free man.”
“As much as I’m gonna miss you, I’m sure as shit glad to see you leave Adrian,” I responded shaking my head. Typical Texas judicial system: a black man steals a couple of stereos and next thing you know he’s locked away from his family for almost a quarter of his life. ‘You deserve more than this, you’re a good man. I will admit though, I’d rather they leave me alone in this cell than replace you.”
‘You’ll be fine C, you a tough dude.” Adrian said, pushing up the sleeves on his jumpsuit.
“Yeah…I guess I will be,” I replied, as I lied back on my cot, arms behind my head in an attempt to appear comfortable. ‘Just gonna be weird you know, telling my life story to a new person. I mean, shit, what else is there to talk about am I right?”
It was going to be weird, I thought to myself. Over the last five years of my life I had shared every intimate detail of my entire existence on this planet with the man sitting across from me. Everything from my parent’s divorce when I was eight years old, to the girl I had a crush on in middle school. I didn’t want to open myself up to another person like that, and who the hell knows if the guy taking Adrian’s place was even going to be a somewhat normal human being? There were enough whack-jobs in this prison you never knew when another would be joining us off of the short bus.
“Gonna write me though right Adrian? You know I can’t get through this without your odd little pep talks?” I asked, counting the number of chips out of the ceiling. One-hundred-twenty-seven, there were one-hundred and twenty-seven chips in the ceiling above my cot. I knew the answer every time, yet I always counted, in case I was wrong, or a new one had somehow emerged, drastically changing everything.
“Of course C, wouldn’t ever think of letting you rot away in here without my witty remarks and comments, even in letter form. Hell boy, I might even have to drag my ass up here and visit you.” He replied, chuckling as he did. “Now if you don’t mind buddy, I gotta pack up, cuz my girl’s gonna be here in a few hours and I don’t wanna keep her waiting.”
“Pack up? Pack up?” I retorted. “You got three books, a magazine and a picture. If you can’t pack that up in three hours you deserve to stay locked up.”
“I’m just excited man, now shut up and let me do my thing.” Adrian responded, flashing me a grin that shone like a school boy’s after receiving his first kiss behind the bleachers at lunch hour.
I flashed him back a subtle smile and nodded my head. His excitement radiated throughout the cell and it caused my smile to grow even bigger as a rolled away from Adrian to face the wall to my left. I hadn’t seen such excitement in a person’s face since the last Christmas that I had with my beautiful daughter Cadence. I had bought her a doll, a simple enough present; however my wife and I had made her a necklace, which we placed around the dolls neck that read “Our Angel”. The smile Cadence gave us when she opened that gift, and when we placed the necklace around her tiny, elegant little neck will never leave my memory as it was one of the finest moments of fatherhood I ever got to experience.
I find it odd that in the last five years no sense of excitement had entered my body until Adrian James, my cell mate in Coffield Unit Prison in Texas, was being released. Time is a cruel mistress, and it was starting to truly set in that despite what I did, felt, or wanted, it would continue to move forward. One-thousand-eight hundred and fifty-two days had passed since my family had been killed, and I still felt as bitter, angry and cheated as the day I discovered them. Am I forced to live the rest of my days dreaming of the life I can never now have? It was too depressing of a thought to let grow in my mind. “I’m gonna catch some shut-eye Adrian, don’t you go leaving without saying goodbye man.” I called out, as my eyes closed and darkness surrounded me.
“Sure thing C, sure thing.”

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Stewart Smith

    October 27, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Looking forward to reading your next chapter.

    Well done son!

  2. Carrie Smith

    October 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    This is really very good Luke. I find myself already connecting with this character and wanting to read more to see what his future holds for him. Keep writing son as you have a strong talent for it. Great job!

  3. Kathy Pierce

    October 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Wow, Luke this is awesome. I’m totally hooked, it’s just my kind of story, now you have to write more and quickly please. You are a very talented fella, keep the pages coming.

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