Time keeps ticking. And ticking. No matter how much time I spent on this cot, in this cell, it would keep on ticking. Until that day arrived.
I peered at the calendar taped to the wall right above my cot. I had less than a week, before the festivities would begin. Less than a week before a jury of people who couldn’t possibly be my peers would sit in judgment against me.
I sighed heavily, ignoring the growl of my stomach. For the last couple of days, I’d barely eaten anything. Hardly even said a word to Jay, doing my best to tune out the old school flowing from his cell that used to help ease my mind.
Being a man wasn’t easy. Being a man who had to keep up the front was even harder.
I twisted on the cot and stared out onto the main floor. There was no way I was going to do hard time. Starlet and AJ were my life, and I should have been strutting around like a proud peacock with another baby on the way.
But I couldn’t celebrate, because I knew deep within that if this didn’t turn out right, I’d never see any of them again. I wasn’t doing time for nobody long term, especially somebody I didn’t kill.
Jay suddenly appeared in front of my cell. “Hey, man, you on some kind of hunger strike?” He cheesed through the bars, pressing his face against them.
Looking at him lifted my spirits. Despite the hostile environment, he was nothing more than an innocent kid. I grew a little sullen at that thought, because I knew that by the time he was released, the innocence would be completely wiped away.
“What up, young blood?”
“Nothing, man. It’s all about you. I hear you ain’t been showing up for that mess they call food.”
“You hear that or you know?”
“Sheeeet, seeing as how I work in the kitchen, I pretty much know.”
“I figure I could stand to lose a couple of pounds,” I said, sitting up.
“Oh, come on, man. It’s me, Jay.” He glanced around the cellblock. “You don’t have to pretend with me.”
“I got nothing to pretend about.” I stood and walked over to him.
Jay handed me a small brown bag. “Compliments of the chef.”
“Is it identifiable?” I laughed and peeked in the bag. The aroma of grilled chicken grabbed my nostrils. My stomach growled louder.
“From the outside. It’s definitely identifiable.”
“I’m not even going to ask how you got this.”
“You know that new guard been kind of sweet on me. Yesterday, she bought me shrimp fried rice. That junk was off the izzo.”
“You something else, young blood. Don’t go get caught up now.”
“Man, you know how we do.”
“Yeah, I certainly do.” I gave him dap through the bars and returned to my cot. “I’m gonna hold on to this until later. Midnight snack.”
“Cool. I’ll see what I can hook up on the FM dial.”
“Bet.” I tucked the bag between the mattress and frame, letting the bottom hang freely. Once again, I stretched out on the cot and waited for time to do its thing.