Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental. The characters are fictional and of my own creation. The place, time, and incidents are purely fictional. Copyright © January 2004.
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Inevitable Destiny 4 Ė A Different Meeting
By Ken Rogers
Samantha handed her little folio to the guard, who popped it into the scanner. She raised her arms as the female guard ran a hand scanner over her body even though she had just passed through a walk through scanner. She was asked for her heels and the guard handed her a pair of one-time slippers. A guard had lost her vocal chords to a heel one of the cons ripped off an attorney two years before.
"Sheís clean!" the guard shouted to the woman above them in the control booth. The second guard handed her back her small folio after making sure it conformed to the no buckles, hard sides, snaps or catches requirement currently in vogue at the prison and using her hand scanner on it.
The sound of a heavy electronic lock slamming open startled her, as did the raucous buzzer, even though she should be getting used to them by now. The larger guard opened the metal door and stepped through motioning for her to follow. She did so and the second guard slammed the door behind her, the electronic lock slamming home, another shock to her system. These people seemed to like loud noises and the openness of the cavernous building, except for the never-ending bars, made everything echo adding to the overall unfriendliness of the place.
She was in prison, inside locked doors with, on average, forty guards and fifteen hundred murderers, thieves, whores, addicts, and just plain nasty bitches that would cut your throat on a whim.
In her four years in New York she had been to the county jail three times, to the city jail twice, and in the sheriffís office once, though not actually in their jail. She had never been to a state prison before and she again wondered how her client had gotten here. Finding Angela had taken the concerted effort of six assistants and herself a full three days and an unusually sizeable amount of money to some of the firmís less savory informants. Angela was mysteriously unknown in a system that was even now tearing her down in the news and promising a swift trial in the prosecutorís office. Everyone was certain she was incarcerated under heavy security but no one knew where since her safety demanded her whereabouts be kept secret. Reportedly, there had been threats against her life, which necessitated the secrecy. Near the end of the search, Samantha was doubtful the woman was still alive, the thought strangely disturbing to her.
Now here she was deep in the bowels of the state prison for women. If she had ever had any idea she might want to do something illegal, just the smell in this place was enough to change her mind. Everything was spotless but the place had the strong smell of a really well used and not too clean gym. Underneath it all she could smell urine, garbage, andÖ fear. She had never realized that fear had a smell, but it did here. This place was full of wild animals and some not so wild, and the not so wild ones were scared to death. Already she couldnít wait to get out of this place and she wasnít even in the main prison, though it was only another guard station away.
The guard took her into a room with dull gray metal walls, marred by paint chips and disturbing stains that had faded beyond identification. One of the walls had a small mirror which she was positive was one way so the guards could keep tabs on what was happening inside and probably videotape conversations. She had no doubt the place was bugged even though she was supposed to have access to her client in confidence. The guards she had met raised the hair on the back of her neck.
A sturdy, badly worn gray metal table was bolted to the floor in the exact center of the room, well away from any wall. It was a little like a small picnic table, in that it had benches instead of chairs, which were also bolted to the floor. The small table was about five feet long and two wide, the benches on the narrow ends to keep the visitor and prisoner at a safe distance from each other. An integral butt tray ran along the left edge of the table. Centered in the far end of the table was a large metal ring welded to the top.
The guard pointed to the closest end. "You sit here. You may toss the prisoner a lit cigarette if you want, but do not go near her, understand?"
"Only other thing I should see come out of that bag is a pad, a pen, and maybe a candy bar. The prisoner can have cigarettes or candy, but thatís all, got me?"
"Got it," Samantha acknowledged hiding her frustration. They knew damn well that was all that was in her folio; theyíd searched it enough.
"All right. Since this is your first visit, you get thirty minutes if you need it, but if the prisoner gets agitated, itís over, sister, understand?"
"I got it," she replied docilely when what she wanted to do was smash the annoying guard in the mouth. This was the fourth time they had been over the same ground. She had been here for an hour already and so far, they had done the rule thing five times. Sheíd had her purse taken away and put in a locker, the key taken by butch here, her little folio had been dumped out twice, run through a scanner and probed with one of those hand wands. She had gone through a walkthrough scanner twice, had a hand scanner waved over her three different times, and been thoroughly felt up by a guard that made butch here look like Barbie. This little game kept getting more and more interesting. They were trying to intimidate and frustrate her, which only made her more determined.
"Remember, Iíll be right outside if you need me.."
"I remember," she answered politely.
The guard grunted as she scanned her expensive suit appreciatively, one last time, enjoying the blondeís discomfort as her eyes roved, stopping in all the most interesting places, before she turned to the door. The door opened, then closed and Sam heard the snickering rasp of the bolt as she was locked in.
She waited. And waited. And waited, the raucous sounds of the prison coming dimly through the walls; slamming steel doors and heavy locks, warning sirens, shouts, and occasionally the sound of marching feet as a group of prisoners were taken somewhere.
Thirty minutes went by, the disquieting knot of anticipation growing stronger, and she lit the second of the cigarettes sheíd brought, in nervous frustration. She dreaded seeing Angel, but she wanted nothing more than to get this over with so she could get out of this depressing rat hole.
She heard her before she saw her, and her unease increased. Rather she heard the clank and rattle of chains. The door in front of her opened and Angela shuffled in with a guard on her heels, baton in hand, poking her to get her to move faster. Samantha wanted to take the baton away from the guard and smash her with it. Everything about this place seemed to irritate her.
Angel was handcuffed with an eight-inch rod between her hands. A short chain welded to the center of the rod was attached to a thick leather belt around her waist, which buckled in the back. Another chain ran from the belt to a small chain between the shackles on her feet. The most she could move was about half a shuffling step at a time. The guard kept poking her so she had to hustle.
She was dressed in prison orange with blue footies on her feet. Sam thought there was some blood on her right ankle from the shackles on her bare ankles.
Angel kept her head down, stopping when the guard told her to and moving only when told to move. On command she shuffled forward and sat down, moving to the center of the narrow seat.
The guard snapped a handcuff to the bar between her hands and locked the other one to the ring in the table.
"You got thirty minutes to sweet talk this mouthpiece of yours. If I were you, Iíd make it good." The guard chuckled then stepped back through the door.
Samantha was shocked. Angel was gaunt, her cheeks hollow. Her eyes were sunken and there were several dark bruises on her face and neck. To make her look even worse, her gorgeous raven hair had been hacked off unevenly to within an inch or two of her scalp and it looked like she was allowed neither comb nor brush. Sympathy welled up within her, but she quashed it, refusing to soften her anger at their painful past. Samantha waited quietly, desperately wanting another of the cigarettes she had brought, after reading the pamphlet Grace had retrieved from the state WebPages, after they finally figured out where Angela was.
Slowly the dark head lifted to show her haunted eyes, gone pale blue, almost gray, in the stark light of the room. The eyes burned into her, shocking her to the core, a feeling she could only describe as intense dread pulled at her guts. Her heart seemed to lurch in her chest. She couldnít breath.
Shock registered on Angelís face as she recognized Sam. She saw pain in her eyes and something else she couldnít quit name but took as dread, the same dread she had felt. Surprisingly, shockingly Angela chuckled, and the dread hardened into a knot in her stomach, a knot of anger.
"God, you must be hating this," Angela remarked, her voice rough, as if unused for a long time.
"It wasnít my first choice," she admitted, her own face displaying her courtroom mask, the one she wore when she went after someone distasteful, her voice cold, distant."
"Can I have one of those," Angel asked without indicating what she was talking about.
Sam nodded and lit two of the cigarettes, carefully tossing one across the table. Angel had to manipulate her bonds to be able to reach it. She had to duck her head half way to the table to take a drag, since her hands would come no higher than that.
Samantha took a quick nervous pull on her own.
"Iím kind of surprised you smoke," Angel remarked as she blew smoke, then took another drag.
"I donít, or havenít for almost five years, until three days ago."
"That when they saddled you with me?" she asked, pale eyes watching her closely.
"Something like that," she admitted.
"Whyíd you take it?"
"A favor. To keep someone from being hurt more than they already have been."
"Not me." It was a statement.
"No. When I found out who you were, I refused."
"You could quit."
"No, but you could fire me," she answered.
Angel just nodded. "Tell me who youíre doing it for, then Iíll decide."
"Your mother, and your father," she answered softly, startled to see tears well up in Angelís eyes and cascade down her cheeks. Her head dropped for a moment. She sniffled then lowered her head and took another drag, looking back up, not bothering to try to wipe her eyes, a near impossibility anyway, at least to any good effect.
"Sorry, canít fire you," Angel said regretfully.
Samantha nodded "Then I best get to work." She picked up her pen and took another drag on the cigarette before looking back up.
"Did you kill your sister?"
Angel flinched like she had been struck. She had to clear her throat before she could speak.
"No. I also didnít kill my brother, though Iíve wanted to for years."
"Who killed them then?"
"If sheís dead, Luca killed Juliana. Iím not sure who killed him. Iím not even convinced the slimy bastard is actually dead, though a girl can hope."
"Why do you hate your brother?"
She shrugged. "Can I get another one of those?"
"Given the circumstances Iím in, yeah, when I can get them. Itís one of the few things they let me do without close supervision."
"Didnít know you had them available to you."
"I donít. I more or less had to sell my soul to get a pack, which is now gone."
Samantha lit another one and tossed it to her, getting it a little closer this time. She rummaged in her folio and came out with a Snickers and a Baby Ruth.
"The prison pamphlet said you might like these."
"Angelís eyes lit up. Oh my god, the angel of mercy. Thank you."
"You want them now or can you take them back with you?"
"Now. First guard that found out I had them would beat the shit out of me and take them away just because they can. If the guards left me alone, any one of fifteen hundred women in here would gladly cut my throat for either of them. Iím at the bottom of the food chain in here and donít have my own gang of protectors so whatís mine is basically the property of anyone that wants it. Cigarettes are about the only thing that they let you alone about. Theyíre the universal cash commodity."
Samantha tossed the candy over and got back to work while Angel ripped the paper off the Baby Ruth and bit into it.
"Jesus thatís good. You have no idea," she said around a mouthful. "Thank you."
Samantha nodded absently. "I believe you were going to tell me why you hate your brother."
"Pick a reason for hating a man, or a snake, a rabid dog, or a vicious rat. Luca fits all those categories."
"Why do you say that?"
"How about we start with drugs. Heís into them, big time, using daddyís business. Girls, he sells them to anyone for any reason. You want to spend the night with two or three high priced whores? My brother could arrange it. Want to watch some woman with animals, heíll fix you right up. Want some boys? No problem. Luca also runs half dozen stables, one of them just off Wall Street for those high rollers. Need a cop in your pocket? Call Luca. Want a couple of sweet things for a snuff flick, Lucaís your man." She took a long drag off the cigarette and leaned back blowing smoke towards the ceiling, her hands noticeably shaking. "Shall I go on or is that enough?" she asked an obviously stunned Samantha, tears running from her pale blue eyes. "How about one more, just for the record, huh? How about because the bastard kept my sister a virtual prisoner for years, using her as a hold on me. How about because two months ago, when I balked at another of his schemes, he let some demented bastard use her in one of those snuff flicks and sent me a copy!"
"Enough!" Samantha said as Angel put her head down and sobbed.
Samantha had trouble lighting another cigarette, her own hands shaking worse than Angelís. She took a deep drag making herself slightly dizzy. She waited for Angel, watching the heavy sobs. It didnít last long. Angel sat back, her mask back in place, though the wet streaks on her face ruined the effect.
"You said you didnít think Juliana was dead," she remarked.
Angel shrugged. "Tapes can be faked, but I wouldnít put it past him. Luca had no patience with Juliana, after her accident."
"Why didnít you go to the police with the tape?"
"Because he threatened to give it to our parents. It would have killed them and if that didnít he threatened to kill them if I went to the law."
"How did you end up in here?" Samantha asked.
Angelís smile was grim. "Midnight run in a sealed van."
"I meant what caused them to put you in here."
"I havenít the slightest. Officially Iím a dangerous murderer, I guess."
"No, you are accused, but not convicted." She tossed another cigarette to Angel. "You donít belong here until after youíre convicted."
"You sound as if you think I will be," Angel replied.
"Itís a possibility," she answered coldly. "Can you think of any other reason you would be here?"
"Sure. Do you have any idea how easy it is to have someone killed in a place like this without raising much of a ruckus?"
"You think someone wants you dead?"
Angel laughed bitterly. "I donít think, I know.. Iíve got a six inch cut on my side from the last attempt."
Samanthaís eyebrows lifted. "Youíre saying there has been more than one?"
"Yeah, Iím saying that."
"Do you know who wants you dead?" she asked as she scribbled some notes.
"Not here, but my guess would be that someone bought a contract."
"Any idea who?"
"My loving big brother comes to mind," she answered.
"Iíll see if I canít get you moved," she answered, still taking notes.
"Donít take too long. One day soon they will get tired of toying with me. If that day comes first, youíll have to sign out the body bag."
Samantha looked up, startled at the bitter tone.
"Youíre serious," she said.
Angel laughed. "Jesus, Samantha, what kind of law do you practice? The average life expectancy of someone thatís been contracted in this place is twenty-three hours! They only get that long because, whatís the fun of killing someone if you canít bait them a little first. Iíve been nearly a week, I imagine because it amuses my brother to have me beaten and raped. Heís evidently gotten bored because Iíve had three fairly serious tries at me in the last two days. Whatís the law of averages that Iíll survive the next one?"
Samantha sat there stunned. Was life really that cheap? She tried to deny it; she didnít want to believe the prison system was that bad, but she couldnít deny the sincerity in Angelís statements, or in her eyes. She knew the signs, the little giveaways. She would stake her reputation that Angel was either telling the truth, or was insane and she didnít for an instant believe she was insane. That, along with the already mounting concern over her being here, and her whereabouts being so closely guarded, made up her mind for her. She was, after all, here to represent and protect her rights, like it or not. She had to do something. She took a deep breath, jammed the matches under the cellophane wrapping of the cigarettes and held them up.
"The pamphlet said you could have these." Angel nodded. Samantha tossed them to her and she stuffed them in her jumper, wedging them in her undershirt, braís being a possible weapon.
Angel jumped, startled, as Samantha stood. Both doors opened. She turned first to the guard that had manhandled Angel, Jotting down her name from her nametag.
"Officer Jeffrey, can I have your first name and rank? Iím afraid Iím not familiar with your ranking system here."
"My rank is corporal, maíam. Iím not required to give my first name," she answered insolently.
Sam turned to the other guard, obviously a little higher rank, who was looking at her warily. "Officer Conway, your rank? I assume youíd rather keep your first name secret as well."
"Sergeant," she answered tersely.
"Thank you." She jotted something on her pad, then looked up at the sergeant.
"My name is Samantha Coulter, in case you donít already know that. Iím Ms. Stephanosí attorney, which you probably do already know."
The sergeant nodded warily.
"Good, then this will go much easier." She gave them both a disarming smile. "For some reason, obviously a paperwork snafu, Ms. Stephanosí rights are being violated. She is, after all, innocent, until proven guilty, which means that she is a suspect." She gave them both a stern look. "As such she is entitled to all the protection the law can provide her and she certainly should not be in the state prison."
"We donít make the rules, or the decisions, maíam, we just enforce them," the sergeant replied tersely.
"Yes. I can see how well you enforce them," she replied drolly. "I have made note of the various visible bruises on my client, which were not there when she was picked up. I also have made note that you are treating her like she is a convicted murderer on death row, instead of a suspect." She paused for emphasis. "Now, hereís what I expect to happen."
"Actually, I can," Samantha interrupted. "I can also have both of you arrested for suspicion of causing bodily harm to my client, and if you know the reputation of the firm I work for, which Iím sure you have both been apprised of, you must know that I can make arrangements for you to spend a day, if not in this prison, at least in the city or county jail, while the ever so slow wheels of justice get around to you. I can also tie you both up in so much litigation that it might extend into a week or a month of repeated visits. Iím sure you are well aware just how much your status as prison officials will rate inside any prison, so can the attitude. They both remained sullenly silent.
"Now, as I was saying. Hereís what I want to happen. I want my client placed in solitaire, without the chains. I do not want anyone to see her, and I want her left alone until I can get her out of here, understood?"
"I canít authorize that, maíam," the sergeant replied, her tone much less antagonistic.
"Then go get authorization," Samantha answered.
The sergeant hesitated, but she didnít much like this situation. After a moment of watching the little blonde she decided this was way above her pay grade. She turned to the door and left.
Samantha turned to the corporal. "Release her from the table."
"No way, maíam," the guard replied firmly.
"Corporal, donít piss me off. I will make your life a living hell. This woman is innocent until proven guilty and you are treating her like a death row inmate. Now I understand you are just doing your job and I understand that for your own safety you have to restrain the prisoners and suspects you deal with, but she is not yet a prisoner and hardly warrants the death row treatment. Release her from the table so the woman can at least scratch her nose without degrading herself. She certainly isnít going to try to escape from here."
The corporal hesitated.
"I can tie you up in the court system too, corporal. Donít make me do something I donít want to do."
The woman growled in frustration, but produced her keys and released the cuff from the table, stepping quickly back. She didnít think the little blonde could do what she threatened but what the hell, let the bosses take the heat and make the decisions.
"Unhook the chain from her belt."
"Doesnít unhook," she answered triumphantly.
"Then either unhook the belt or take off the cuffs," she demanded.
The woman growled again but complied by undoing the belt.
"Now get out, until the sergeant returns."
Sam sagged a little when the door closed, though she was aware they were watching, and probably listening. "Can I have one of those cigarettes?" she asked.
Angel obligingly tossed her the pack and watched her light one, then lit one herself when the pack was returned.
"Wonít be many left if you keep this up, Samantha," she replied. "But then, youíre going to get me killed, so I wonít need them."
Samantha rummaged in her small folio and pulled out another pack and more matches, tossing them over.
"That should hold you for a day, Ms. Stephanos," she replied coolly. "And you told me that youíre basically dead anyway, so this shouldnít worsen your chances much. Might even improve them some."
Angel felt like she had been slammed in the chest with a sledgehammer. She stared into the cold green eyes unable to breathe or swallow the hard lump that stuck in her throat. To mask her hurt she dropped her head and took a drag from her cigarette before looking up. Samantha had dropped her eyes and was again making notes.
"Let me see the gash in your side," Samantha suddenly asked, still writing.
Warily, Angel got slowly to her feet, but no guard appeared. She awkwardly unbuttoned her jumper and pulled it open, pushing her undershirt up and turning so Samantha could see her left side."
Samantha looked up to see a raw wound that looked untreated."
"They havenít even treated it?" she asked surprised at the raw wound.
Angel shrugged as she started doing up her jumper. "Cons canít kill me as easily in the hospital and the investigation into my death would probably get more attention. Besides, any bleeding I do weakens me, making me an easier target. Who knows, I might just make them all happy by bleeding to death."
"Youíre saying the guards know about the contract?" she asked.
Angel shrugged. "Wound speaks for itself. They know about it."
Samantha returned to her notes and Angel sat back down surreptitiously watching her.
Time dragged for them both as they studiously avoided each other, except for an occasional clipped question and an equally short answer.
Samantha continued to write as the door was opened behind her.
"Ms. Coulter," a different, very gruff, no nonsense voice started. "Come with me, maíam."
"Iím interviewing my client," she replied glancing at her watch. "Still have ten minutes."
"Interviewís over now, maíam. Come with me."
Sam put her pencil down and turned to the woman behind her. The woman made three of her and Samantha could tell that she was pissed. Inwardly she smiled, even though the womanís anger made her nervous.. She glanced at the nametag and then at the bars on the shoulders. Oooo, the captain herself. This might actually be fun, she thought, more to calm her own nerves than as a belief that any of this situation could be fun.
"Lieutenant, Evers, I only have a few more questions," she said contritely.
"Ms. Coulter, you have already overstayed your welcome," she replied. She had bristled further when Sam misspoke her rank. Interesting choice of words, lady and just a little touchy about our rank are we? "You will either come with me now or I will have these officers with me place you under arrest."
Sam smiled, but it was a warning and the captain read it right. "That might be fun," she replied as she glanced at her watch, "but I have a court session in about two hours, so." She stood, turning to Angel, her cold mask back in place. "Weíll continue this at a later date, Ms. Stephanos." She immediately turned to the captain, starting to slide her notepad into her folio.
"Iím afraid we will have to confiscate that, maíam," The captain said dryly, looking exceedingly smug.
"This?" She held up the pad and the captain nodded sternly.
Samantha gave her a brilliant smile. "Not a problem, lieutenant." The captainís smile vanished. "Tell you what, Why donít you confiscate this little folio and the pen as well, because Iím done with them. I have a photographic memory, lieutenant. I only write things down to help organize them while Iím thinking. Iíll remember every word, spoken, or written, every intonation, and every nuance, of my charming day with you and your team. Oh, you will see that Ms. Stephanos is placed in solitary, wonít you? Guarded solitary. Thank you, captain.." Samantha gave her a parting smile and stepped around her leaving her standing with paper, folio, and pen in her hand, mouth hanging open.
The woman startled as she realized the sudden change in her title and the shrewd look in the green eyes. The little bitch was playing with her! She turned in a fury.
"Ms. Coulter," she growled, but Sam kept walking until she got to the next door, before turning.
The captain stormed towards her. "Ms. Coulter, Iíd advise you to change your attitude or you might find your cute little ass bunking with you client tonight," she growled, stopping with her face only inches from Samís.
"Iím disappointed, captain. I hardly expected threats so early in the game. Let me just offer you a little return advice before you haul my Ďcute little ass,í as you put it, anywhere. The judge Iím appearing before in less than two hours is Judge Winston Wendover.. Windy, an endearment no one dares call him to his face, is a class A, one hundred percent son of a bitch, captain, and one thing he is a son of a bitch about, besides people missing court dates, is this fine institution of yours. To put it politely, he hates it and every stinking rat in the place, four or two legged, and if he could find the way, he would turn out the inmates and incarcerate the keepers, as Iím sure you are painfully aware. Imagine his glee when he discovers that my Ďcute little assí has failed to appear in his courtroom because you fine people detained me while interviewing my client. Imagine his further glee when he discovers my client is a murder SUSPECT, doing time in your fine establishment BEFORE her trial.."
The captain glowered down at her. "Itís quite possible you may never live to find out, Ms. Coulter."
"Oh, better, captain. Yeah, that one scared the shit out of me, but before you strangle me, right here and now, just imagine that Iím on a case for one Mr. Jonathan Pike, the PIKE in Pike, Lewellen, Maranze and Talbot. Imagine that the woman Iím defending is somehow related to Jonathan Pike. Then imagine that Mr. Pike and Judge Wendover are long time golfing buddies, are you with me so far? Good. Now imagine my being on such an important case for Mr. Pike that my secretary, Mr. Pike, and the head of PLM&Tís security staff all know exactly where I am, right up to my call outside your lovely entrance to tell them I had arrived. Imagine just how long it will take them to figure out just where I disappeared."
The silence was heavy with tension as the bull of a woman loomed over the little blonde.
"You fuckiní bitch," she growled down at her.
Samantha smiled but for some reason it caused the captain to shiver.
"I suggest you pray to whatever you believe in, captain, that you never find out just how frighteningly true that can be."
For just an instant, Samantha thought she had misjudged the woman and had gone too far, but a subtle shift in her menacing posture told her she had won. "Will you get the door or shall I?"
The captain snorted, then grinned, but there was no shred of warmth in the movement. "You play a very dangerous game, using threats like that, Ms. Coulter. Iíd love to be there when someone pulls your guts out your ears."
Samantha smiled back. "If I get notice, Iíll send you an invitation."
The captain opened the door and Samantha preceded her through.
As the captain let her out the main entrance a surprisingly short time later, considering the complicated route she had taken to get in, she turned and boldly stared into the hate filled brown eyes.
"Next time, captain, I suggest you do your homework before a battle. If you had, youíd know I never threaten something I canít back up. Youíd also know that I never visit a snake den without doing my homework." She smiled sweetly. "Have a nice day.." For just a fleeting instant she thought the woman was going to shoot her right there, but she turned and walked confidently away. She was sure the whole prison shook when the woman slammed the door.
To be continuedÖ.
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