Never Again
November 17, 2012

”Never again” was the cryptic clue in a mind game being played by a prison officer I’ll call Billy. [not his real name]

Billy and Lily [not her real name either] had hatched a scheme to get stress leave for the weekend. Working shifts in lieu [not getting paid but on the promise of days off in the future] I guess made them less regular down the pub on a Friday or Saturday night.

The scene was set as I heard them scheming outside my cell. Billy was to provoke a reaction out of me come my turn for the use of the phone, shower and supper.

The cell door opened and I walked out into the arena cautious that something was coming my way. The four Loyalist orderlies had positioned themselves for a ring-side view, wearing their colours [anything red white and blue] while smoky-face Lily almost tripped over herself and swallowed her fag keeping pace with things as she hurried to be near the screw’s panic button. Once she pulled that, it was over to the Ninja’s [riot squad] and like the hounds out of hell, they don’t return to their realm empty handed.

I went about my business and at every turn, Billy boy was in my face trying to get me to bite. As I moved between facilities getting the essentials, Billy was there throwing out remarks and posturing as he paced with his two thumbs anchored in the chest/armpit of his body warmer like you might see cops do on patrol.

I bided my time and as I filled my lighter with petrol, Billy began again…”Never again I tell you.” Staying cool, calm and collected I asked….”Never again what?” To which he went on to elaborate in a biting manner, ”You’ll not put us off the wings again.” He said, referring to Long Kesh were pre-ceasefires, screws weren’t permitted onto republican or loyalist wings.

”Who’s yous? I enquired, seeing as he’d placed me in some sort of collective. He gave no answer but was thinking hard.

”Too many officers were murdered and we’re not going to let yous put us off these wings like the Maze.” [Long Kesh]

I had all my essentials for the evening and although my Mothers teaching words ”Hold your tongue” were with me right through I felt the absolute need to tell Billy boy and I did…… ”It’s Prison officers with attitudes like your’s that get good decent prison officers killed.”  It left him speechless.

I returned to my cell not wanting to give him or Lily the pleasure of ”ordering me” to lock up. There was a silence, footsteps and my cell door slammed.

They’d forgotten to close my cell door flap which was a small metal door, oblong shaped and vertical. I heard Lily say, ‘‘this one next” and thought nothing of it until I heard the distinctive sound of a Travellers voice plead to have his medication and refusing to take a shower. It later transpired that the Loyalists were bullying him and I guess like so many, he felt alone and afraid.

I made my way to the cell door and turned out the cell light to take advantage of my view point and watched as Orange Lily staged managed an assault on herself.

I heard her say ”I’m gonna charge him” to the other screws and ordered the Loyalist orderlies locked.

She approached the Traveller’s cell and entered. I watched and listened as she systematically stitched him up. Out of view of the cctv camera, she smashed a glass vial [containing the Traveller’s medication] on the floor of the cell and stepped out holding her eye.

“Right, you’re on report,” she said and slammed the door, “no need for the ninjas” she said, “ he’s contained”. Lily, Billy and co sat at their desk on the wing conspiring and forging an account of the incident and soon after, Lily left the block using her fingernail to exaggerate her lie.

“See yous on Monday,” she said and as the screws were now a man down and had insufficient staff to continue work ‘for security reasons’, our wing was locked down.

Soon after, the Traveller was transferred to the punishment block and if you ever get to wondering why prisoners might despair and hang themselves and what really happens behind bars, now you know.

Trow 17/11/2012

%d bloggers like this: