Go to all chapters of "Medium Security".
"Mom!" cried Justin as he entered the Visitors' Gallery and saw his mother sitting at one of the tables. "Hi!"
"Honey, I'm so glad to see you!" replied Jennifer, hugging her son. She told herself that she wasn't going to tear up, but seeing Justin smiling and looking so beautiful forced her to reach into her purse for her packet of kleenex. "Are you eating well? How are you sleeping? You wrote that you're taking some classes. How do you like them?"
"Mom, hold it! Please!" said Justin, his head spinning. He pulled back from her arms and they both sat down, across from each other. "I can only answer one question at a time!"
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. It's just that I'm so happy to see you!" Jennifer put her crumpled kleenex down. "You aren't going to run away halfway through our visit this time, are you?"
"No, Mom," said Justin. "I won't run away. I'm sorry about that, but Brian was really upset that day and...." Justin stopped when he saw the look on his mother's face. And it wasn't a happy look. "Mom, you wrote to me and you also said on the phone that you understand about me and Brian. Do you? Do you, really? Because it's important to me that you understand."
Jennifer looked away, feeling very uncomfortable. "I... I'm trying, honey. But... it's difficult. Difficult to think about you... and this man." Jennifer lowered her voice. "Justin, please tell me that you're not really having... having sex with him?"
Justin sighed. "I can't tell you that, Mom, because it wouldn't be the truth."
"Oh, Justin!" Jennifer moaned, holding her head.
"Mom, please listen to me," said Justin. "I love Brian. I really do. I'm not saying it just to shock you. It's simply the truth. I need him -- and he needs me. We help each other in here. It's a partnership. I do things for him and he does things for me. He encourages me to take classes. We sit together in the Library and I do my homework and he works on his Legal Aid cases. He's not a rough or hard person, like you seem to think. Before he... he was arrested he was a college student at Penn State. He's smart and he's gentle." Justin sat up taller on the wooden chair. "And he's protecting me, Mom. That's another thing. I don't want to go into it right now, but... Brian protects me. You're getting friendly with Mrs. Novotny, Mich... I mean, Michael's mother. Ask her about the way things are in here, Mom. She'll tell you."
Jennifer swallowed. "Justin, you're scaring me!"
Justin took a deep breath. "Maybe you need to be scared a little, Mom, if that's what it'll take for you to understand what goes on in here. But from the minute I first saw Brian, I knew that he was important to me, and he's proven that he is, again and again. So don't tell me that I don't know what I feel. I DO know. And I mean that."
Justin stared directly at his mother, waiting. But Jennifer only blinked back at him. Ron had warned her that things might happen to Justin in prison that he wouldn't want to talk about, but nothing could have possibly prepared her for her 19 year old son's declaration of love for his cellmate. His convicted murderer cellmate! Ron had reassured her that Brian wasn't a violent person, but that still didn't put her mind at ease.
Jennifer looked down the row of tables. She saw Ron sitting at a table near the end. Alone. He kept looking at his watch and then looking around. Obviously Brian, his old cellmate and Justin's current cellmate, was not in the mood for a visit.
"Mom, I'm taking a couple of classes this semester," Justin continued. "Civics and Creative Writing here at Stanton. The classrooms are in this building, upstairs. And I'm also taking a correspondence course in English Lit. The professor sends me the books and the assignments and I write essays and send them back to him."
"That's so nice, Justin," Jennifer replied, trying to sound enthusiastic. But her eyes kept glancing over to where Ron was sitting by himself. Ron said that Brian was often sullen and difficult to control. If Brian was being obstinate and not doing his work for the Prisoners' Legal Defense, then that might impact Justin's case. It might slow things down. What if this man, this Brian, didn't want Justin to leave prison? What if he was enjoying her innocent son too much? Taking sexual advantage of him? What if he was sabotaging Justin's chances for parole, or even a new trial? What if...?
"I'm getting college credit for the courses, too, Mom," Justin interrupted. "I only wish they had an Art class, but they don't. They don't really have the facilities for a real art studio. Most of the classes they offer are pretty basic. Like the Civics course. But that's okay. Anything that keeps your mind working is worthwhile. That's what Brian says. He's taken a lot of courses over the years in all sorts of subjects."
"That's... very heartening, honey," Jennifer replied. "It's good to keep busy."
"The food isn't great in here, but there's plenty of it. And I get two desserts at dinner every night. Brian fixed it for me." Justin grinned. "That's one way he takes care of me, Mom. And I do our laundry once a week with my friend, Em. She... he works in the Hospital. Sometimes Mrs. Novotny's son does laundry with us."
"It's good that you're making friends here, Justin. Mrs. Novotny is such a nice woman. I'm sure her son will be a very good friend to you."
Justin bit his lip. "Michael is all right, Mom, but I don't hang around the quee... his friends all that much. Except for Em. I hang out with Brian, mainly. And some of the younger guys I take my classes with. Wes lives right next door on the tier. And Stormy and his jock... I mean, his cellmate, are across the way. And there's Lee and Zack, too. Sometimes I help them with their homework. Brian says it's smart to get in good with as many guys as you can, because you might need a favor from them later on. So I always help the guys whenever I can."
"That sounds... very helpful of you, Justin." Jennifer didn't really understand half of what Justin was telling her, but at least he seemed content with the way things were. And for some reason that troubled her even more than if he had been depressed. Because she could understand her son being despondent in this horrible place. But the fact that he seemed almost... happy unnerved her. Yes, Justin was happy! Because of that man. That Brian. She needed to talk to Ron before they both left here! She needed to find out more about that Brian Kinney!
"And Brian is on our third tier basketball team. They're pretty good, too!" Jennifer suddenly realized that Justin was chattering away and she was hardly even listening to him.
"Maybe you could play on the team, too, honey?" Jennifer suggested.
Justin shook his head. "That's only for jocks, Mom. Not kids. I... I wouldn't be... tall enough. But Brian is on the team! That's the important thing! He's part of their team!"
Justin searched his mother's face. She obviously couldn't fathom the importance of Brian's acceptance by the jockers as one of their own. Maybe he should stick to talking about school.
"My Creative Writing teacher, Miss Carver, is really good. She's about the only female we ever see in here -- except on Visiting Day, of course. Stormy has a big crush on her!" Justin laughed.
"Oh, is she a young woman, then?" asked Jennifer absently. She glanced over to where Ron was sitting. He was still sitting alone. She had to catch him before he ran off!
"I don't know," Justin shrugged. "Maybe she's Brian's age or a little older. She teaches at the local community college. But she has blonde hair and she's female, so Stormy is in love with her! I think he would probably be in love with her even if she was 20 years older and had a bag over her head! Poor Stormy!"
All the guys joked about how horny Stormy was all the time. He traded every credit he had for porno magazines and his cell was covered with posters of Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Raquel Welch, Cher, and Lynda Carter. Justin thought about his cell, which was papered with his own drawings, mainly of Brian. Maybe he'd make a big portrait of Brian for his birthday. But he'd need some larger, thicker paper. And it should be in color.
"Mom, do you think you could get me some more art supplies? Some bigger pads. And a box of colored pencils? Or pastels?"
"Oh, certainly, honey." Jennifer took out her little notepad and wrote down the supplies Justin indicated. At least he wasn't asking for anything more for Brian.
"And about Brian, Mom," Justin added. "I told you that his birthday is coming up. Did you get that list of things I want to give him?"
Jennifer hesitated. Ron had warned her not to promise Justin anything more for Brian. "I'll see what I can do."
The hour began winding down. Jennifer and her son stood and she clung to him, unable to let go until Justin finally pulled away.
"I'll see you next month, Mom," said Justin, sadly. "Kiss Molly for me. And give Dad my love." And then he was gone.
Jennifer stood for a few minutes, her eyes brimming. Then she remembered and turned to where Ron had been sitting. He was gone, too.
Jennifer went over to Mrs. Novotny. "Debbie, when did Mr. Rosenblum leave? I needed to talk to him about Justin's case!"
Debbie shrugged. "He hustled his butt out the door a while ago, kiddo. Looks like he and his old cellie are on the outs. Bri Baby never showed up to visit with him. I guess they didn't get a chance to kiss and make up after their little tiff last month!"
"Damn!" Jennifer swore under her breath . She couldn't call Ron's house because Jane was so suspicious. And she hated calling his office too often. But she had to see him! There were so many things to discuss. And that Brian seemed to be the cause of so much trouble! If only he weren't in Stanton! If only Justin hadn't fallen into his hands!
Ron would know how to advise her. He would know what to do.
Jennifer and Debbie Novotny walked out of the Visitors' Gallery and out to the parking lot. The sun was out and shining brightly. It looked like there was going to be an early spring this year.
Brian and Justin walked slowly through the long passageway between the Quad and the Administration Building on their way to Justin's Creative Writing class. They were early because Brian was meeting with Michelle's jocker, Dave, for one final briefing before his meeting with the Parole Board the next day.
The passageway was empty, so they held hands as they walked. Usually they only did that on their own tier, where everyone knew them. There they could kiss outside the cell or in the Rec Room or even make out while they were watching a show in the TV Room, which was always a little dimmer than the brightly lit Rec Room. A lot of the men made out with their kids in the late evenings by the light of the old television set, but none quite as much as Brian and Justin. But that was okay -- at least on the tier.
On your own tier it was different than in the rest of the Quad. The guys on your tier knew everything. They were like your family. Even the jockers on the third tier of the East Wing didn't seem to mind when the two showed more than the accepted amount of affection to each other. That wasn't usually what jocks did with their punks, but all the guys on the tier knew Brian was different from most jocks, so they cut him a lot of slack. However, jockers on other tiers, especially in the rougher South Wing, might not be as tolerant, so the pair still had to be careful.
At the end of the passageway Brian pushed the kid into the corner and pressed up against him hard, attacking his wide, pink mouth, slipping his hands down the back of his white workpants. Brian couldn't keep his hands off that smooth ass or out of Justin's silky golden hair. And Justin was always just as eager to reciprocate, darting his tongue into Brian's hot mouth.
Brian took his mouth away and gasped for breath. "We better quit it or I'm going to come right here."
"I'll suck you off," said Justin. "No one is around. I can get you off in a minute."
"No," Brian returned. "It's too dangerous, especially off tier. If they catch us in the Administration Building we'll both get written up. They might even separate us. It isn't worth the risk." Brian rubbed his throbbing cock, wishing it to retreat at least a little.
Justin leaned up and licked his ear. "I want you to fuck me silly tonight. I want you to fuck me on all fours, like a dog, on the floor. And then I want to switch. I want to fuck you like a dog. Okay?"
"Shhh," Brian whispered. "Don't talk about that. I mean it."
It was one thing to hold hands and make out, but if anyone found out that Brian let his punk fuck him, even occasionally, Brian would probably end up getting gang raped himself. And Justin would be taken away from him by another jock. All the jocks would see to that. That was the way things worked.
No matter how much the other jocks might respect Brian and depend on his legal work, playing the part of the bitch, the catcher, was one thing they'd never understand or tolerate in another jocker, especially given Brian's past as a former punk. He and Justin would be labeled as real queers and then they would both be fair game for any man in the Quad. A real fag had a status lower than a queen, and even lower than a biker punk. The only thing lower in prison was a child molester -- or a snitch. And neither of those things lived very long in prison outside of permanent PC -- 24 hour Protective Custody.
Brian left Justin at his classroom and headed back through the passageway to meet Dave in the Law Library. Dave's parole was already a done deal. By this time next week he'd be processing to leave Stanton.
Poor Michelle. She'd been dreading the moment when her old man got out. A bunch of horny jockers, most of them low status losers, had been kissing up to her recently, wanting to hook up. But she didn't like any of them. Michelle, like a lot of queens, was fussy. Dave was a big, good-looking guy, only in his early forties and still in prime shape. Michelle liked a guy who took care of himself. Brian thought that she read too many of those comic books full of muscled superheroes! That wasn't reality.
Brian had a brilliant thought. That new guy, Ben. He looked like he stepped straight out of a comic book! All that pumped up bulk. Yes, he was a juice pig, but he was supposedly off the stuff now. Brian made a mental note to ask Emmett to get the two of them together. Em loved playing matchmaker.
And having his own bitch would get Ben's mind off Justin. Brian had seen the guy looking at his kid in the Chow Hall and on the Yard and Brian didn't like it one bit. Brian didn't think Ben would go so far as to challenge him over the kid, but you never knew with a horny guy. But Michelle would take good care of Ben. She'd pamper him like crazy and keep him occupied. And away from Justin.
The classroom was empty and Justin loitered around, waiting. There was still almost 20 minutes before Creative Writing was due to begin and Miss Carver wasn't there yet. Justin had about 30 pages of Brian's manuscript hidden in his folder and he was anxious to give it to her.
And Brian didn't know he'd taken it. Justin had grabbed an early portion of the manuscript, so Brian would be less likely to notice that it was missing. Once he'd written a section, Brian rarely went back and looked at it again. He just filed it in with the legal cases and went on to the next section he was writing, so methodically, in his strong, curving script, on page after page of yellow legal paper.
Justin set down his books and folders and headed for the bathroom. Even before he opened the door, he heard them in there. Justin entered quietly and saw Stormy and Wesley. Wesley was bent over one of the toilets and Stormy was ramming his ass vigorously with his thick cock.
"Close that fucking door!" Stormy hissed to Justin. "Come on over. Wes will blow you and then when I'm finished you can fuck him, too."
Wes, his face red with exertion, grunted. "It's okay, Just," he said. "I'll suck you off and then you and Stormy can switch. But hurry up!"
"Um, that's all right," said Justin, backing away. He knew that a lot of the punks, frustrated by being constantly used by their jocks and never getting off themselves, often fucked each other. But Justin wasn't frustrated. And Wes and Stormy were his friends. And they were straight -- or claimed they were. It made Justin feel creepy. But he didn't leave the bathroom. He guarded the door and watched as Stormy came noisily, buried deep in Wesley's chubby ass.
"Shit!" cried Stormy. "I bet that Miss Carver could use a nice, hard dick like mine! I'd fuck her senseless. You like my dick, Wes? Huh?"
"Sure, Stormy. Sure," said Wes, looking away. He pulled up his pants. Now that the moment was over, he seemed embarrassed by the whole thing. Or maybe it was because Justin had seen him being fucked by Stormy.
Stormy was much bigger and tougher than poor, flabby little Wes. Justin noticed that Wes didn't get to fuck Stormy. So Wes was probably getting used not only by his jocker, Al, but by the other punks, too, whenever they felt the need to play the man's role. So Wes was doubly victimized. But he never complained. Complaining would be a violation of the 'Code' and Wes would probably get messed up for breaking one of those unwritten and unspoken rules.
"Come on, guys," said Justin. "It's almost time for class. I thought I heard someone go into the classroom."
Stormy washed his hands at the sink and strolled out, leaving Justin and Wes standing there, awkwardly.
"Don't tell your old man about this, Justin. Please?" Wes begged. "Al might... he might get mad. Whenever his buddies want to borrow me, he always says no. He's kind of possessive. So please don't tell Bri. He'll tell Al! You know how the jocks stick together, so we gotta stick together, too. Right, Justin?"
"I won't tell, Wes," Justin promised. "Don't worry. I'm your pal. I'll never squeal on you."
"Thanks, Just," said Wesley with relief. "And if you ever... you know? All you have to do is ask. Okay?"
"It's all right, Wes," said Justin. "We're pals. That's all I want from you. To be your friend."
Wesley nodded and both boys walked out of the bathroom to go to class.
"Miss Carver? I... I have that stuff I promised you," said Justin, laying a manila folder down on the desk in front of her.
"Thank you, Justin," said Amy. "Please take your seat and we'll begin."
Amy decided that the boys needed a little more direction in their writing, so she gave them an assignment to write three one paragraph descriptions of a person, a place, and a thing from their own experience. She wanted them to write something that they actually knew, that they could see. No space ships, no cowboys, no movie stars. The boys frowned a bit and then started scratching away with their ballpoint pens.
While they wrote, Amy opened up the folder Justin had given her. It was full of pages of yellow legal paper. The handwriting varied, sometimes flowing and sometimes cramped and difficult to read. But Amy had been deciphering student essays for years, so she settled down to see what kind of fantasies Justin's cellmate -- or his boyfriend, rather -- had come up with.
Amy realized immediately that she had landed in the middle of the story. Or at least well after the beginning. It took place in 1968, during the campus protests against the war in Vietnam. And as she read Amy began to feel a strange sense of deja vu. She knew what was going to happen. She KNEW this story. Knew that it had really happened. Remembered it from her own days as a college student involved in social issues and protests and sex and drugs all of the things that marked off the 1960's as an insane and beautiful time.
But Justin had said that his cellmate was writing a horror story. And that's what this was. This inevitable movement of a young man from idealism and naivete into betrayal and destruction.
"Miss Carver? I'm finished," said Jackie, waving his hand in the air, languidly.
Since Justin had told her about the boys in her class and the older inmates she had started looking at them differently. She noticed that Jackie was wearing a woven leather bracelet on his arm and earrings. And maybe even a touch of mascara around his eyes. And she noticed how Wes seemed scared to look her in the eye, while Stormy was openly flirtatious and aggressive. And also that Lee had some bruises on his arms that looked like marks made by someone's fingers, squeezing deeply into his skin.
"That's fine, Jackie," said Amy, setting the pages she had been reading aside reluctantly. "Is everyone else finished?"
The boys all nodded -- except for Zack, who was always the slowest to finish his in-class work. Then Amy had the boys read their paragraphs aloud and discuss what they had written.
As usual, Justin's was the most specific and literate. He had an artist's eye for detail and a large vocabulary. His description of a person was of his cellmate, Brian. But now Amy listened avidly, trying to picture the man whose words she had just been reading. Justin made him sound like a paragon of male beauty, but Amy chalked that up to a young man's infatuation with his older lover.
Still, Amy wanted to meet this man herself. Justin's Brian. Or at least catch a glimpse of him somehow. But she didn't know how that would be possible. She was not allowed into the area where the inmates were housed and she never came into contact with any of the men except her own students. Warden Horvath and the administration were very careful about that. They said it was for her own safety. But she wondered if there were some way around this prohibition. Because if Justin's cellmate was who she thought he was -- well, Amy wanted to meet him very badly. Wanted to talk to him. And she wanted to see the rest of his manuscript!
Class ended and the boys gathered up their books and papers. Amy collected their descriptions and slipped them into her briefcase as the boys filed out the door.
"Yes, Miss Carver?"
Amy hesitated. "Thank you for giving me these pages to read."
Justin nodded. "I noticed that you were looking at them while we were writing. I... I hope they're really as good as I think they are. But please don't lose them, Miss Carver! There's only one copy and if you lost it -- if Brian even KNEW that I gave you part of his manuscript to read, he'd probably kill me!" But then Justin winced, remembering what Brian had been convicted of. "I don't really mean he'd kill me, Miss Carver. He'd never hurt anyone. But he'd be pretty angry at me."
"I understand, Justin," Amy reassured him. "I'll give this back to you next week and no one will be the wiser. But I'd love to read more -- if that's possible?"
Justin grinned broadly. "I'll try to bring some more pages for you next week. Thanks for taking the time to read it."
"Justin?" Amy said, stopping him as he headed for the door. "Is your... your cellmate named Brian Kinney?"
Justin stared at his teacher in wonder. Brian's full name was nowhere on the manuscript, only his first name mentioned occasionally within the context of the story. "Yes, it is. How... how do you know that? How do you know Brian?"
Amy sighed. "I was in college in 1968, Justin. This was a very famous case. The Kinney trial was all over the news. What you gave me here -- it's all about what happened before he was arrested. Before the trial. All the events leading up to... to the bombing of that building on the Penn State campus and the death of that security guard."
Justin swallowed. His throat felt very tight. "I haven't read that part yet, Miss Carver. I just grabbed what I could from the beginning of the manuscript. The parts I've read are the more recent stuff. Mainly about life in prison and Brian's work with the Prisoners' Legal Defense. Brian doesn't talk much about... about his trial or anything like that. I think it's too painful for him."
"You mean you've never read this yourself?" said Amy, very surprised.
"No, Miss Carver," Justin admitted. "I really only vaguely know that Brian got caught and a bunch of other people -- the ones who really planned the bombing -- all got away. And they're still free. They all went underground. And Brian got convicted on all these charges, including murder." Justin felt a thickness in the back of his throat. "But he's innocent! He didn't do any of those things! He couldn't have! I know he couldn't have! And if you knew him, you'd know it, too!" Justin said hotly.
Amy Carver gazed at this passionate boy. She wanted so much to put her arms around him and comfort him, but that would mean instant dismissal if anyone found out. Touching the inmates in any way was strictly forbidden. "Justin, from what I've been reading here, just this little bit, let me tell you that... that I believe you."
"You do?" Justin blinked back a few tears. Never let them see you cry. Ever.
"Yes, Justin," said Amy. "And it's possible that there are things in this manuscript that might also convince other people that your friend is innocent. But I have to read more of it. Maybe get another opinion from another writer. Or even an editor."
"Yes! Please do that! Anything, Miss Carver!" Justin pleaded. "I'll get you more of it! More of the early chapters." Justin glanced up at the classroom clock. Brian was waiting for him in the passageway. "I have to go now. But I'll bring more next week! I won't forget!"
Justin spun out of the classroom, his heart pounding. Brian's case wasn't hopeless! Justin was certain of it! And Justin would be the one to get him free! Justin would make sure that people knew the true story! And then Brian would be released and Justin would be paroled, too. And they would live together and be happy! He knew it! It HAD to be! It just had to!
He ran down the stairs and saw Brian waiting, leaning against the wall of the passageway, smoking a cigarette. And Justin launched himself happily into Brian's arms and kissed him.
"That must have been an awfully great class!" said Brian, steadying himself.
"Oh," replied Justin. "It was! It really was!"
Posted November 25, 2004.