Go to all chapters of "Medium Security".
Brian was standing in line with Emmy, Michelle, and Ben, waiting to go in for lunch when two C.O.'s came up to him.
"Step out of the line, Kinney!" Lt. Clayton said in a booming voice.
Brian hated to be barked at, especially by a C.O., so he immediately dug in his heels. "What for, Clayton? I'm on my way to chow." Brian turned his back on the two guards.
"Now, Kinney!" Lt. Clayton's voice took on a sharp edge. "I said to step out!"
"Why? I haven't done a fucking thing!" Brian countered.
"Be careful, Bri Baby," whispered Em. "Don't do anything rash, honey."
"You got a bad fucking attitude these days, Kinney. You want us to cuff you and drag you away?" shouted Clayton, his face red. "The warden wants to see you, so step out now or else you'll end up in the Hole!"
"Brian, you better go along," said Ben. "It's probably nothing."
"I'm sick of all the shit around here," Brian replied. "I'm fucking sick of being yelled at, and I'm sick of being pulled this way and that! I'm sick of the whole fucking thing!"
"Move it, Kinney!" Clayton repeated. "I'm not going to say it again!"
Brian took a deep breath and stepped out of the line.
Lt. Clayton and his flunky jerked Brian's arm roughly, pulling him down the corridor towards the passageway to the Administration Building.
"What's this all about?" Brian asked.
"Shut up, Kinney!" Clayton huffed. "Who the fuck are you to ask any questions?"
Who am I to ask questions? Brian shook his head. No one. That was the truth. He was less than a person. He was an inmate. No one. And Brian was sick of it.
"I'm Brian Kinney," Brian replied. "That's who the fuck I am to ask questions."
Clayton stopped and grabbed the front of Brian's workshirt. "You see that number? 1969-21455. That's who the fuck you are. And that's who you'll always be. So get used to it!"
"No," said Brian, firmly. "That's NOT who I am! That's who YOU say I am. But that's not me. And it'll never be me."
"Shut up, Kinney!" Clayton cautioned. "Can it!"
The door of the warden's outer office was open and Brian was surprised to see Father Bob and Dr. Caputo standing by the secretary's desk. When Brian saw the two of them he got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Brian!" said Father Bob. "How are you, son?"
"I'm all right, Father," said Brian, uneasily. "What's going on?"
The priest and the doctor glanced at each other. "Not much, Brian," said Dr. Caputo. "We're here to do some business with Warden Horvath."
"Great," said Brian. "I wish I knew why I was here."
The warden's assistant, Ray Milton, opened the door of Horvath's office. "I see that Mr. Kinney has arrived."
Brian snorted and looked at Lt. Clayton. "Mr. Kinney, huh? Next time tell your bulls not to pull 'Mr. Kinney's' arm out of his socket when they escort him over here!"
Ray Milton cleared his throat. "I'm sorry about that, Mr. Kinney."
"Aren't you going to have them keester me, too?" Brian said, bitterly. He was sick of being jerked around. "Aren't you afraid that I'm hiding a machine gun up my ass?"
"Shut your mouth, Kinney!" Lt. Clayton warned. "Or I'll take you out of here!"
But Ray Milton stepped between the two men. "That's enough! Thank you, officers," Milton said to Clayton and the other C.O. "You may go now."
"But Mr. Milton...." began Clayton.
"It's fine, Lt. Clayton," Milton insisted. "Thank you."
Clayton glared at Brian, then he and the other C.O. left the office.
"Jesus," Brian mumbled to himself. "Now I'm going to have trouble with that asshole from now on."
"Please come in, Mr. Kinney," said Ray Milton. "The warden is waiting to speak with you."
Brian followed the warden's assistant into Horvath's office. But Dr. Caputo and Father Bob also walked in behind them. There were two men sitting in front of the warden's desk. Julie Finch was standing there, too. She grinned at Brian triumphantly. And Ron, seated in one of the chairs, turned to look up at Brian. His face was full of emotion.
"What... what the hell is going on?" Brian asked in confusion.
That's when Justin, unable to contain himself, pushed back his chair and jumped up. "Brian!" he cried. And he threw his arms around his lover.
Brian held on to Justin as if he were afraid that he wasn't real. Afraid that Justin would melt away as quickly as he had suddenly appeared.
But he seemed real. Felt real. Solid. Vital. Brian buried his face in that golden hair. Justin smelled real. He was real.
Justin wrapped his arms around Brian's waist and pressed into him. He was already hard and he wanted Brian to know it. Wanted Brian to feel it.
"Mr. Taylor!" Warden Horvath thundered. "Sit down right now!"
Justin turned his head and glared at the warden. "No!" he retorted. "I won't sit down! And you can't make me!" Justin swallowed, trying to steady himself. "I'm not an inmate here anymore. I'm not a prisoner and I don't have to do what you say. I'm free!"
Julie stepped forward and touched Justin gently. "Perhaps Brian might like to sit down? Why don't you have him sit in your chair, Justin?"
"Yes," said Justin, nodded. Brian's head must be spinning. This was all happening so fast! And Brian had just been sick with the flu. "You sit right here, Brian. And I'll stand next to you. Don't worry -- I'll watch your back." Justin smiled at him.
"I think I will." Brian slipped into the chair and clutched the arms of it, while Justin stood behind him and put his hand on Brian's left shoulder. "Can someone please tell me what's going on?"
Warden Carl Horvath came around the front of his desk and stood before Brian. "I have an order for your immediate release, Mr. Kinney," he said. "It's signed by Judge J. L. Morgenstern."
"Release?" said Brian in disbelief. "But... but what about my sentence? My conviction?"
"Based on new evidence offered by Kirk Bradley, Judge Morgenstern has ordered a new trial for you, Brian," said Ron, reaching over and touching Brian's hand tentatively. "He's also ordered your release until that time. The trial will be on greatly reduced charges. The second degree murder, the arson, the conspiracy -- all of those have been dropped by the prosecutor. Your re-trial will probably be as an accessory to burglary and vandalism. You admitted that you drove the car and that you knew they were going to break into the building. But even a conviction on those charges wouldn't add up to ten years in prison."
"The... the judge is going to do that?" Brian looked at Ron, and then at Julie, questioningly.
"It's a done deal," said Julie, firmly. "It's part of the agreement we made with the Prosecutor's Office and the Feds before Kirk Bradley turned himself in. But it's also the right thing, too, Brian. That's what you were guilty of -- being a minor accessory. It's what you should have been tried on to begin with. There's no need for you to be in here any longer, no matter what."
"Is that part of this... this deal, too?" Brian asked. "That I get out? No matter what?"
Warden Horvath cleared his throat. "Yes, Kinney. That's part of it. But it's also an opportunity for people to see that we aren't monsters here at Stanton Correctional. We only want to do right by the men under our care. So maybe we're... um... pushing this release through a little rapidly. But it doesn't do us any good to keep men here any longer than they need to be." Horvath motioned to his assistant, Ray Milton, who handed him some papers. "There are reporters outside from all over the state -- and national press, too. This is a big story, Kinney. Those reporters are going to want you to make a statement. And I'm going to make one, too."
Brian felt a growing sense of panic. "A... a statement? I can't do that! I wouldn't know what to say! I don't want to talk to any reporters." He looked at Ron. "Do I have to do this?"
"It's a chance for you to say what you're feeling, Brian," Ron replied. "A chance for you to be heard."
"It's okay, Brian," whispered Justin. "You don't have to say anything if you don't want to."
"As your attorney, I can make a statement for you -- if that's what you'd prefer, Brian," said Julie. "But you'll eventually have to say something to the press. Or you'll at least have to give an interview to some sympathetic journalist. Because you're a man a lot of people are very interested in hearing from right now. Not only because of your 'New Yorker' pieces, but also with all these new developments with Kirk Bradley and the Penn State Bombers case. Bradley has agreed to plead guilty to another reduced set of charges in exchange for a softer sentence and a Federal joint. That's also part of this same deal. But you may still have to face Bradley in court during the sentencing phase."
"Face him? You mean I'll have to testify?" Brian felt dizzy. "Against Glenn? I'll have to see Glenn? In court?"
"You may have to give some testimony, Brian," said Ron. "But it won't be hard. It'll be all right. You'll see."
"And what's going to happen to me now?" Brian asked. He felt Justin's hand gripping his shoulder tightly.
"You can collect your gear and we'll process you out," said Horvath. "Like I said, we've sped up the procedure a bit."
"A bit!" Ron laughed out loud. "Admit it, Horvath! You want Brian out of Stanton as fast as you can get him out of that door! Those reporters have been gathered at the front gate for the past four days and every time someone goes in or out it's like a fucking gauntlet! And both you and the Board of Prisons don't particularly care for the kinds of questions those reporters are asking."
"That's why I'm going to make this statement, Rosenblum," Horvath countered, glowering at Ron. "I've got nothing to hide! My prison is clean! It's run on the up-and-up!"
Justin made a disgusted noise. "I was gang raped at your prison, Mr. Horvath! You call that on the up-and-up?"
"Things happen, kid," said the warden, shrugging. "I'm sorry for what was done to you, Taylor. But that has nothing to do with Mr. Kinney's case."
"Justin, honey, this is a matter that will have to be dealt with later, okay?" said Julie. She looked at Justin seriously. "This is about getting Brian out of here and back to Pittsburgh today."
"Today?" Brian cried. "Jesus! You really mean right now? This minute?"
Ron stood up and nodded to Warden Horvath. "Yes, Brian, right now! So let's get your shit and blow this pop stand so we can get you home!"
"Emmy!" shouted Barbie. "Come quick!"
"What in blazes are you yelling about, honey?" asked Em, going to the door of the Television Room. "Don't you know that I'm in the middle of watching 'All My Children'? How dare you interrupt Erica Kane!"
"This is better than Erica Kane, Em! Believe me!" Barbie babbled in excitement.
Em shoved Barbie aside and looked down the tier. "Oh, my Lord!" Em breathed. "Is that Justin?"
"And Brian, too! And someone else with them." Barbie's eyes were wide. "Isn't that the lawyer? Bri Baby's old jocker? What's he doing here?"
"I don't know, darling," said Em. "But we better find out!"
Justin saw Em and Barbie standing in the doorway of the Television Room and he stopped to embrace them. "This is it, Em," Justin whispered.
"What's going on, babydoll?" asked Em. Then he looked up and saw Brian's face. And then Ron Rosenblum's face. And he knew. Knew for certain. Bri Baby was leaving the Quad. For good.
"We're getting Brian's stuff." Justin gestured to two C.O.'s who were carrying cardboard boxes for Brian's belongings. "We're leaving, Em."
Brian held out his hand to his good friend. "Thanks for everything, Emmett. We'll come and see you all. I promise. We won't forget about you."
Em felt herself beginning to tear up. "Why I'll be out in a jiffy, Bri Baby! And Barbie is due for parole this summer. We'll all have to get together and have a nice little reunion in Pittsburgh. It'll be your treat!"
"Yes," Brian smiled. "My treat."
"I don't see Ben or Michelle," said Justin. "Are they at work?"
"Almost everybody is at work this time of day, sweetie. You know that," said Em. "But I have the night shift this week and Barbie is on disability again, so we were just catching up on the soaps."
Brian touched Justin's arm. "As much as we'd love to stick around and say goodbye to the whole gang, I think we better get moving," said Brian.
"Yes, Brian, we need to pack up your things," said Ron.
"Hello there, Mr. R.," said Em. She smiled tightly at the lawyer. He had never approved of Em's friendship with Brian. Ron didn't care for queens and he had also suspected that Brian was using Em to relieve some of his sexual tensions, especially when Ron had been preoccupied with his own release. And he'd been right.
"Hello, Emmett," Ron replied coolly. "You're looking... um... fine." For a prison drag queen, Ron added in silent disdain. "We're in a hurry here."
"Wait!" called Em. "I'll help you pack!" Then she trailed them down the third tier to E-320.
At the cell Justin gently pulled his drawings down from the wall and slipped them into a folder, while Brian sorted out his clothes.
"You can leave the government issue on the floor of the cell," said one of the C.O.'s. "We'll collect it later to be washed and redistributed."
"What about my workshirts? The ones with my number on them?" asked Brian, taking off the shirt he was wearing.
"Just leave them," said Ron, packing his books. "You don't need a number anymore, Baby."
"Right," said Brian, slowly. "I won't need it."
"Put this sweater on, Brian," said Justin, unfolding a maroon cardigan he had taken off the narrow shelf. "This is the one I got you for Christmas. And put on your sneakers. You can leave those old prison shoes here."
"What about my letters?" asked Brian. "Those are down in the Law Library. In the files."
"You can get them later, Brian," Ron assured him. "Aren't you going to keep working for the PLD? They'll still need your expertise for all the Stanton cases -- at least until Josh can take over for you full time."
"I never thought about that," said Brian. The reality of being free was only beginning to hit him. "What will I do for a job? How am I going to live on... on the outside?"
"Don't worry about that, Brian," Justin reassured him. "You'll be working on your book! And we already have a place for you to live." Justin grinned. "All of that's been taken care of."
"It has?" Brian stood in the middle of the cell, at a loss, his hands empty. "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing."
"Let me pack those clothes for you, sweetie," said Em, pushing by the two C.O.'s. "Why don't you and Justin stand out on the tier? It's a little crowded in here."
While Emmett and Ron finished putting Brian's things in the boxes, Brian and Justin waited outside.
"I wish I could have seen Wesley one more time," Justin said, looking over at the next cell.
"He's out, Justin," Brian replied. "Back home with his mother and his family. When you're out that's all that matters. Maybe you'll see Wes again someday, or maybe not. That's the way it is in prison. People come and go, but I...." Brian stopped. "And now I'm going, too. I still can't believe it."
"Believe it, Brian," Justin told him softly. "And you aren't coming back. Except to visit or work in the Law Library."
"I think I need a cigarette," Brian said nervously. "I need something to keep my hands steady."
"Here," said Justin, slipping his hand into Brian's. "You don't need a cigarette. Just hold on to me. That's all you have to do."
Ron stepped out of the cell, followed by Em and the two C.O.'s carrying the boxes filled with Brian's gear. "Are you ready, Brian? I'm sure that Horvath is waiting to make his statement to the press. You don't have to say anything, but you'll have to stand there at the front gate while Julie speaks to the reporters."
"I'm ready -- I guess." Then Brian thought of one more thing. "Is it cold outside? You're all wearing coats. I don't have a coat. All I have is this sweater."
"I forgot about a coat," Justin said in dismay. "It's March, but it's pretty cold. It was snowing when we drove down here."
"Here," said Ron. He took off his long cashmere coat and put it around Brian's shoulders. "Put this on, Baby. I'll get you your own coat when we get back to Pittsburgh. And all new clothes, too. I'll get you everything you need."
"WE will get you everything you need, Brian," Justin broke in. He threw a warning look at Ron, who shook his head. But Justin wasn't about to let his lover get hijacked by Ron. Not now. Not ever.
"Then we'd better go," said Brian. He turned and looked at Emmett one last time. "Thanks, Em."
"Good luck, Bri," said Em, hugging him. And then she hugged Justin, too. "Take good care of your man, babydoll."
"I will," Justin said confidently. "That's one thing you can count on. Always!"
Facing the reporters promised to be a nightmare, so Brian blanked himself out rather than think about it. All he could see as he stared out at them was a blur of figures crowding before him, shouting questions and pointing cameras.
Brian stood with Justin, Ron, and Julie, with Dr. Caputo and Father Bob behind them for support, as Warden Horvath made a long, rambling speech at the front gate of Stanton Correctional Facility. The snow was starting to come down hard and Brian shivered in Ron's borrowed overcoat. Snow was melting on Brian's head and dripping down into his face, Justin was blowing on his hands, and Julie was coughing, but still Horvath droned on about Justice and how the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognized when an inmate had been wronged and how all public servants strove to correct such injustices.
"Jesus!" Ron swore under his breath. He was standing there without his fucking coat and all of this showboating by Horvath was likely to give them all pneumonia! Luckily his car, with Josh, the paralegal from the Prisoners' Legal Defense, at the wheel, was waiting to take them away the minute they were able to blow off the gentlemen of the press.
Finally, Horvath finished pontificating. Julie stepped up and spoke briefly, telling the reporters that her client, Brian Kinney, would release a statement later, but could not speak now because he was reserving his words for his trial. Lights flashed all around as the cameras caught Brian and his Defense Team, as the 'Pittsburgh Clarion' called Ron and Julie and Justin, at the official moment of famous inmate-writer Brian Kinney's release from medium security prison.
Then they were in Ron's black Lincoln Continental. Ron pushed Josh over to the passenger side so that he could drive them back to Pittsburgh. Brian, Justin, and Julie climbed into the backseat, while Dr. Caputo and Father Bob waved them off.
Safely in the car, out of sight of the mob, Justin took Brian's hands and rubbed them between his own. "Your hands are so cold, Brian. Why didn't you put on Ron's gloves while we were standing there?"
Brian shrugged. "I don't know, Justin. I didn't think about it. It's all right. I'm not that cold. I think I'm numb."
"We'll be home soon," Justin reassured him.
Julie and Josh and Ron discussed Brian's case as Ron drove them up the snowy highway, but Brian and Justin didn't say a word. Brian stared straight ahead, still unable to grasp what was happening. And Justin leaned against Brian, his eyes closed. He didn't need to live in his dreams anymore. His greatest dream was now their reality.
"We'll drop Julie and Josh off at the PLD office and then go directly to the apartment," Ron told them as they approached the city.
"That sounds good," said Justin. "My mom is waiting there. I wonder if Brian's release will be on the 6:00 news?"
"Probably," said Julie. "This is a big story. There were certainly enough reporters there, including camera crews from Channel 5 and Channel 7. Brian, try to remember NOT to talk to any of the press," Julie reminded him. "If they happen to find out the phone number of the apartment, don't tell them anything they can quote. And if one of the reporters corners you on the street, tell him that you can't make a statement until after the trial."
"Corner me?" said Brian, in alarm. "What do you mean? Are they going to follow me around?"
"Don't worry, honey." Julie patted Brian's arm. "The press is only looking for a good story. I doubt that they'll chase you down the street to get one!"
"I sure hope not!" said Justin. "If they do, we'll call the cops! And my mom got us an answering machine so that we can screen all of our phone calls."
"Where are we going exactly?" Brian asked. It was all too overwhelming. Now they were entering the city itself. Brian hadn't been in a car or in the city of Pittsburgh in ten years and all of these new sensations were making his stomach churn violently.
Justin squeezed his hand. "You'll see, Brian. I want you to be surprised!"
"I've already had enough surprises," Brian murmured. And he wished that he were back in his cell, with the door firmly locked and the lights off, leaving him sheltered in the dark.
It was rush hour in downtown Pittsburgh and Brian glanced out the window of the Lincoln nervously. A taxi went rushing by and a horn blew and then the Lincoln lurched to a sudden stop. Brian felt like jumping out of the car and running, but he had no idea where he would run.
Ron pulled the Lincoln up in front of an older building. Josh hopped out and opened the door for Julie.
"Bye, Brian," said Julie, giving him a quick kiss. "Take a day or two to get your bearings and then Justin can bring you down to the office and we'll go over your case. We're trying to schedule the trial for as soon as possible, but you know how things work. Right, honey?"
"Right," said Brian. His trial. Court. Glenn. More nightmares to come. "I know how things work."
"And don't run away, Brian, or the Feds will have all of our asses in slings! Got that?" Julie grinned, but she was also very serious.
"Don't worry, Julie," said Justin. "Brian's not going anywhere. I'll make sure of that!"
"Good boy! I'll see you soon!" Julie slammed the car door and waved them on their way.
"What did Julie mean about the Feds?" Brian asked.
"They were the ones who arranged this deal," Ron explained. "Because they wanted Kirk Bradley. And Bradley is giving up everything he knows about the other members of the Penn State Bombers cell. The Feds think they'll have the rest of them in custody within weeks. That's why you're out, Brian. It was a trade-off. The Prosecutors' Office went along with it because they didn't want another big stink while they're in the middle of being investigated because of Stockwell's misconduct. As soon as Julie and the assistant prosecutor can work out the date, you'll go in and face reduced charges. The re-trial shouldn't take more than a day or two."
"A day or two?" Brian swallowed. "And... and Glenn -- Kirk -- will testify?"
"Yes, Brian, he'll testify," Ron said. "The whole thing hangs on his corroborating your original testimony at the first trial. Even if you're convicted on the reduced charges, you'll get time served. But you may well be acquitted. But either way, Baby, you'll be a free man."
"It's... too much to comprehend." Brian looked at Justin. "I don't know what I'm going to do now. I mean, with the rest of my life."
Justin smiled. "You'll live, Brian! You'll work on your book. That'll keep you busy for a while. And I'll keep you busy, too." Justin stroked Brian's leg intimately. "You can enjoy yourself for once in your life. But the first thing we'll do is to get you some new clothes, starting with a warm coat. We'll make a list of everything you need and hit the mall. It'll be fun!"
"Fun?" Brian whispered. "Then why do I feel so fucking terrified?"
Posted June 30, 2005.