I was so excited from the good news that I received in my last report, that I rose from my bed an hour early to eagerly prepare for my move to Unit J. This would be the start of my fresh new academic career, and the promise of finally being able to attain my Doctorate of Law and enter into the world of a legitimate, fully-accredited legal professional  was so close I could taste it. I was convinced that being allowed to attend university inside the prison and graduating with a law degree would enable me to clear my good name once and for all, and I felt I had been granted an iron-clad insurance policy with unlimited liability against further criminal convictions and subsequent future incarceration. For the first time since I was locked up, I felt my legal situation was not entirely hopeless. Eager with anticipation, I paced my cell in the predawn darkness and waited for the guards to usher me to my new digs and, ultimately, my path towards freedom.

Bright & Early

   Two nasty looking screws arrived at my cell at the proscribed hour of 4:30 am and escorted me out of the cell-block, flanking me as I was marched through passages and corridors, and admitted through automatic steel doors, as the first rays of the new day crept across the sleeping jail. I was in an exceptionally good mood and almost skipped along, so it barely registered that I might have some cause to worry when I noticed a large sign identifying the unit we arrived at and which would be my new home for the duration of my studies.

A "Bad Sign"

   It maybe seemed a little odd, but not entirely unbelievable that the prison could hold its PhD programs and college courses in the same unit used as its own private psychiatric hospital. In fact, I imagined that it could serve a very useful dual purpose for those inmates studying for a psychology degree, as they could benefit from observing the activities of every doctor, and have unlimited access to all manner of clinical studies. Of course I was not intent on becoming a doctor. What I needed was a law degree, for I wanted to become a lawyer and finally clear up the legal mess I was in.

  We passed by wards and hospital rooms where various scholarly looking activities were taking place. Professors and inmates were engaged in all manner of intriguing scientific procedures. There appeared to be a lot of clinical studies taking place, and by the looks of it this jail-house university was quite progressive. There were rooms in which a doctor administered pharmaceutical treatment to patients who looked as though they were suffering from brain injury, and other rooms where caged men were being shown how to play the guitar. In another, a student with a bandage on his head was playing the guitar himself while a doctor studied a machine that was connected to the player’s head by wires. One room had a sort of “role playing” exercise going on, possibly the “Theater Arts” department? It was one of the strangest colleges I had ever seen.

Progressive Educational Techniques
Scientific Research
Experimental Theater?

   Finally, my impromptu tour of the facilities was over as we arrived at our destination. Although it was not quite what I had imagined, being without desks or books, the classroom I was assigned to was large and well lit, and I could see that I was to share it with many fellow students, all keen to learn the legal profession.

The Student Body

   The guards shoved me into the large room and locked the door behind me. Looking around, nobody seemed to notice my arrival. They all sat silently, abject, most staring at the floor or the space in front of them vacantly, so I found an empty seat and took it. I suppose that classes were about to begin, and everyone was simply showing decorum and waiting patiently for the teacher to arrive. Still, it was eerie how quiet everyone was. Suddenly I heard a noise coming from beside me.

  “Pssst…Hey buddy!” The student directly seated at my right begged my attention. “Hey! You’re the new guy!” He whispered loudly.

  Not wanting to be rude, but also trying to observe the golden rule of all classrooms (silence) I merely smiled at him, nodded and politely acknowledged his presence.

  That was enough for him to latch on to me like a dirty shirt. He pulled his plastic chair right up close to my side and began talking so rapidly, and with such instant familiarity that I was convinced the poor fellow must be suffering some sort of brain injury and was not entirely in full command of his facilities. The crazed look on his face told me he was most likely being treated with some sort of powerful pharmaceutical therapy. I was beginning to regret having to sit beside this guy, he seemed like the type of student who was a constant distraction to those around him and would probably prove to be a liability as far as my studies were to be concerned. Still, despite my polite efforts to ignore him, he persisted.

  “Hey man,” He went on, “You’re new, you better stick close to me.” He said as he sort of hid himself behind my shoulder. “I been here 2 weeks, and brother, this aint like anything you’ve ever seen inside” He was looking all around, tense and paranoiac. “They make us partner up in here, and you’re gonna be my new partner, so just listen to me and I’ll help you out, ok?”

  Obviously he was to be my “lab partner” for projects and assignments, so I decided I had better cut him a little slack, but before I could politely ask his name he interrupted me again.

  “I’m Mickey, Mickey the Rat they call me, but I never rat! Get it! I ain't no snitch! They just call me that because I’m all quick and nervous-like, and because I know everything about everybody. Everything! I got the goods on every con and screw in the joint, and I can help you out. A lot, see? Information is power in here and I got the information. You just stick by Old Mickey and you’ll see. I’m like a walking, talking insurance policy.”

Mickey The Rat
  I wasn’t exactly sure what he was getting at, but he continued at his rapid-fire pace anyway. “I’ll let you in on what’s going on in here, and I’ll show you who the major players are. You’ll get to know the ropes and we can help each other out. You watch my back and I’ll watch yours, OK buddy?”

  I nodded warily. This guy was obviously nuts, how dangerous could studying at college and attaining a legal degree be? However, I did not need him neurotically pestering me the whole time and being a liability as far as my graduating was concerned, so I just sat and listened as he hid behind my shoulder and pointed out some of the other inmates, all while he continued to hiss into my ear. He reached a boney, nicotine-stained finger between his face and mine and aimed it past my nose at a stoic figure who sat at the center of the room. The man was fully restrained with shackles on his wrists and ankles and seemed to be a million miles away in some private aura of darkness and gloom.

   “That’s the main guy you gotta watch out for.” Mickey says, his finger now picking nervously at the collar of my uniform. “That person holds all the cards.” A glimmer of rage passes through my new friend. “You know who that is don’t you?”

  I don’t know who the man is. He most certainly looks menacing, but I have no clue as to his legal identity, so I say as much. “No, who is he?” I ask.

  Mickey has a small tremor and straightens up a little. “Why, that’s none other than Ronald ‘Wrongful Death’ Rowan, the ‘psychopath’s psychopath’! And he’s the top dog in here!”

   Now I knew who he was talking about. In the criminal and legal worlds “Wrongful Death” Rowan was a giant of a man, if you could even call him a man, for his crimes had made him barely human in most people’s eyes. There was no crime he hadn’t reveled in, no atrocity he hadn’t enacted; in fact, they had to invent new perversions to put names to the indignities he had exacted upon his countless victims. He also had a high flying career as a high priced attorney; a well-respected Member of the Bar and Star Prosecutor until his nefarious activities were found out and he was sentenced to 50 consecutive life terms without any possibility of parole. His typical M.O. was to simply murder whoever may be the defendant in whichever legal claims he was representing on behalf of the plaintiff, chalking the whole thing up to “wrongful death”, and then bringing counter-suit. A certified genius and criminal mastermind, this lawyer's heinous acts went undetected for years. Also he was physically imposing, and struck fear into all who encountered him. "Wrongful Death" Rowan was a scourge upon society, the bane of the penal system, and now, according to my new friend, the person in charge of my university education!

"Wrongful Death" Rowan

  “This is outrageous!” I protested, “They can’t let ‘Wrongful Death’ Rowan be in charge, he’s a maniac. It would be the worst liability ever for the prison, no insurance policy could cover the threat this monster poses! How can it be?”

  Mickey corrects me, I’ve got it slightly wrong, “Oh, he’s not the boss, see? He’s more of a liaison. The boss would be “The Shadow Man”, the Doctor. That's who’s really in charge of this show. ‘Wrongful Death’ is just his henchman. But mark my words, with the doctor pulling the strings, and that psycho over there doing his dirty work, we’re all pretty much between the devil and the deep blue sea.” He laughs cynically, a little, at this characterization, despite the ominous gravity of the situation as it is revealed to me.

  I’m still in shock, I can’t believe it. “What sort of university is this?” I beg, “A mad doctor you never see, and a psycho-killer maniac leading our studies, is that even legal? How can it be allowed?”

  Mickey is looking at me, ashamed of my stupidity, “I don’t know what they told you bro, but this ain't no university. If you thought you was going to college, you are mistaken my friend. This is nothing of the sort.” He’s shaking his head and moving away from me. “I hate to have to inform you, but what you have got yourself into is something completely different than all that, son.”

  Then he goes on to explain to me that I am now entered into a top-secret and highly experimental government funded clinical research program, and what I initially took to be a university, is in reality nothing more than the Doctor’s twisted research into behavioral psychology, his own private psychiatric hospital where deranged clinical studies and pharmaceutical experimentation could be performed on a limitless supply of captive human guinea pigs.

  I gulped loudly, as I realized that now; forcible psychiatry and heavy pharmaceutical therapy was to be my fate.

  But who was this Doctor, known only as “The Shadow Man” to the wasted souls, in this locked ward of the damned, and what was to become of my shining career at law school , my precious law degree? Before I could venture this question, a door at the far end of the ward opened and a white coated physician followed by two mean looking nurses entered.
   The inmates of this private psychiatric hospital, most of whom appeared vacant and lifeless until then, suddenly began to shift uncomfortably in their seats at his arrival, and a wave of anguish visibly spread across the hoard. This sinister doctor of psychiatry was obviously “The Shadow Man” and I studied him intently as he moved across the large room. He was aloof... emotionless, a walking enigma, yet somehow, I felt I knew this man. I was sure I had seen that face before…

 To Be Continued...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Reading this makes me less likely to go to a University...