“Cell Block C – For Crazy”
“Isn't it rich?
Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing
in my career.
And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns... "
“Send in the Clowns”
I didn’t know anything about this prison, but I didn’t expect any real big surprises.
Boy was I wrong.
Have you ever heard the term “Country Club Prison?” They were talking about this place.
The place has a golf course! Swimming pools (2 of them) are available to the prisoners! The smell of the kitchen was better than a lot of 3 star restaurants I’ve eaten at.
I found myself wondering what kind of evil I would have to commit before being sent to a place like this.
Then I found the ultimate insult: they were busing in prisoners from other penitentiaries to clean the place! They had even hired some independent contractors for work onsite. I am not often given to outrage, but this would make a saint take up arms. I knew the kind of manipulators who were incarcerated here, and they were as evil as any in any other facility of so-called rehabilitation. I didn’t see a place that would talk anyone out of returning to the life that sent them here. I have seen men turned around by prisons, but more who were taught to be criminals with the better knowledge of how to be crooks. These men would network with each other and become even harder for the forces of law to catch in the outside world.
I was shown into a visitors’ center, there to wait for my “interview” with Simonson. I needed to use some time to cool down. No man less deserved to be in this hotbed of comfort. I knew he was dying, but I would rather he did it in some place less agreeable.
Max was standing guard over me. In a place like this Simonson could hire a couple of guards to kill me with impunity.
With a guy like Max, it didn’t matter they had taken his guns; I had seen him take down a couple of thugs after they had put three slugs in him.
It was in Istanbul. We were hunting down some of Pharaoh Khufu’s gold. He was of the Fourth Dynasty, aka Cheops. He was the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza. This was one of the greatest troves ever discovered, and all supposed to be in the archive and museum of the people of Egypt. They had contacted my wife and requested her aid in recovering these blessed antiquities. She laughed that this could never have happened without Sadat, for an Egyptian Museum to ask a favor of a Jewish Woman, but it was something that really needed to come out right; it was, for her, an obligation. I understand obligation.
Max, Hugo, Harry, Beverly and I had tracked down the weasels who had stolen the gold and were preparing to melt it down. They had found, mostly because of our efforts, that there was nowhere they could safely fence the goods. So they were going to destroy this history for its gold content.
We went into the warehouse in Turkey angry. They were armed and desperate. They began firing before we crossed the threshold.
I was hit once, Harry got one in his shoulder, and Hugo was hit over the head with a cricket bat. But Max, whose mother was Tunisian (His father was German; it is a strange World War II story I have to write down someday, if he doesn’t) felt as much and possibly more than any of us about this case. He grew up with a love for what he could find out of the Arabian world, as well as his European roots. It was like someone had burglarized his own family. When they hit him with the first bullet he kept coming and scared them even more. The second was a rifle round that was fired from a loft that he pulled down an instant later. The tumbling rafters ended the majority of the other side. But there were three men left and they had the time to loose one more round before Max pushed them through a wall. We were surprise to find our friend standing and laughing on the other side.
Max McKraken was not a man to fool with. I often found myself mentally shouting, “Loose the McKraken!” (But I would never let him hear me say it aloud!)
Now, the metal doors in the hallway opened.
I heard the footsteps nearing.
The door swung open and Simonson entered the room.
He was withered and pale.
He looked like death itself.
And then he smiled at me.
He was death.
© C. Wayne Owens