Behind the Door
The inmates inside were a complete mixed bag of creeds and races. Some guys were pretty big and terrifyingly intimidating. Some were overweight and kept their heads down. A few were old and grey, again, my heart went out to these old men, they looked lost and out of place. Some were like me, average height, skinny and wondering what the hell went wrong with their lives to put them in such a place.
Thankfully, I was amazed to see queuing going on. Queuing I thought, the first sign of mutual respectfulness and courtesy. This was a good sign. It reminded me of a wildlife documentary I watched once where all the animals on the African plain were suffering with a two-year long drought and as they all gathered around the last watering hole no animal was harmed or killed. I prayed this was the case in this watering hole.
Each time a shower became free, the man next in line would quickly undress and jump in, and he’d hurriedly lather up his head with shower gel and then with a flannel use the froth to clean the rest of his body. This whole process took approximately sixty seconds. He was soon, in his track suit, sopping wet and leaving through the door back onto the wing.
Razor looked at me and wordlessly nodded me over to the farthest end of the room. I gathered that being nearer to the end of the shower-room his back would be covered by the wall and he could see anyone and everything that was going down. Men stepped out of the way and let us both pass without so much as a comment or a sneer. The king of the jungle has come to the watering hole and even though there was an unspoken truce, the other animals didn’t push their luck.
(Jai Byrd, East Sussex)
The Silver Bracelet
I left the bracelet in the bird’s nest and began my descent which was much more difficult than the climb because you can’t see where you’re going. After a final undignified slither I was safe on the ground, brushing off the green mould. Veronica held out her hand. ‘My bracelet please.’ I shook my head and shrugged. ‘I told you. If you want it back you can go up and get it.’ She thought I was joking. ‘Now don’t be stupid Jim. Give it back to me.’ I threw my arms apart. ‘I haven’t got it. Search me if you like.’ She still thought I was joking and patted my pockets. ‘Where is it then?’
‘In an old bird’s nest at the top of the tree.’
‘Well you can jolly well climb up again and get it.” Her eyes were blazing, and her hands were clenched. I waited for her anger to turn to laughter but it didn’t. So I went back to the tree. ‘All right then. Keep your hair on. I only did it for a joke, like.’ I began climbing when she called out: ‘ no – don’t bother.’ She was smiling now. ‘I didn’t like the rotten thing anyway.’
‘If you want me to I’ll go up and get it’
She shook her head.
The church clock was striking and it gave me an idea. ‘Today is the twenty seventh of October. Suppose we come back in twenty years’ time and day at exactly four o’ clock and I’ll climb up and get your bracelet.’”