BADDEST ON THE YARD

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A second generation Swedish immigrant discovers and accepts his sense of destiny within the confines of a United States correctional facility.

Submitted: March 30, 2016

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Submitted: March 24, 2016

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AUTHOR'S NOTE:  As a writer, I have no regret in regards to and offer no apologies for the subjects I write about or the details I choose to include in my fiction.  Should anyone be offended by the contents of this story, I assure you that it was not my intent.  I only hope that there are readers among you with the patience and open-mindedness enough to give this lengthy tale a try.  I welcome all comments and criticism.

 

BADDEST ON THE YARD

 

  The Swede sat upon a flattened and compact excuse for a mattress, idly paging through issues of VOR TRU while humming a slowed down melody to Ozzy Osbourne's 'Crazy Train'.  There were only six issues total, all that he has been able to acquire since the change of protocol which only recently approved the publication's entry into Department of Corrections facilities.  Being the pulsating life blood of the Old Norse and Germanic spiritual movement, the journal had been previously deemed to be racial propaganda.

  The prolonged struggle between pagan clergy along with Asatru offenders and the officials in charge of contraband regulations was a debate of monumental status.  In the end, the inmates' belief that forbidding possession of necessary literature or ceremonial tokens pertaining to their faith was a government infringement upon their freedom of religious practice had finally won out.  Although still under heavy scrutiny, individuals are now allowed to have their reading material as well as tiny versions of their symbolic hammer necklaces.  The crusade to eventually have followers of the Northern tradition removed from beneath the Wiccan umbrella is still in early developmental stages.

  It was a particularly quiet day on the unit as no sporting events were being broadcasted.  The Swede was unaffected because he did not observe television anyway.  His preferred source of entertainment consists of reading history and enjoying whatever scratchy heavy metal station he managed to pick up on his cheap clear plastic AM/FM radio.  Being a validated supremacist with a record of violence toward fellow inmates, the Swede had thankfully been granted a red tag and thus did not have to tolerate the nuisance of a cell mate.  He cherished the peace.  

  Contrary to the label attached to him at behest of the gang coordinator and the bold lettering of 'White Pride' tattooed down the backs of his arms, the Swede was not a racist.  He harbored no irrational hate towards any particular group of people, aside from perhaps the government.  He simply held a tremendous pride in his own people, a strong connection to heritage, and preferred to remain among fellow caucasians because it was to those whom he could relate to on any personal level.  He fit in with them.

  It was his view that honoring one's heritage was a healthy trait for any man or woman to have, be they of European, African, Asian, Native American, Pacific Island, or any other decent.  He also believed that each should commit to looking out for and furthering their own.  Without some natural, self sustaining instinct amongst related peoples, a race will eventually become so diversified that their existence would be irrelevant.  Any world standing which they may have at one time gained would quickly diminish.  They would evolve into an inferior and insignificant tribe of slaves who would vanish entirely over time.  The Swede would never stand by and allow his own kind to go distinct.  He found it odd that the Latino three cells down who has 'Brown Pride' written across his chest is not declared a racist.

  Fourteen long years ago he had all but relinquished his birth given name and accepted being known throughout the system as only "the Swede".  Although he considered himself Swedish, he was also a true American, his mother and father having migrated from Sweden's Nordkinn Peninsula to Wisconsin's Kenosha County merely weeks before he was born.  As a young adult he had even volunteered for enlistment into the United States Marine Corps with a longing to some day see front action as an infantryman.

  As a result of discharge without honor due to insubordinate transgressions, the Swede's ambitious goal of doing battle in defense of his adopted country was never realized.  Yet, the military's shunning did not taint the sincerity of his patriotism.  Despite each of its many flaws, the Swede did love this glorious land of the not so free and occasionally brave and he respected the stars and stripes.  Still, this love for the new land could never surpass the passion he held in his heart for the home of his forefathers.  The tree may have flowered in the United States, but its roots remain embedded into the soils of Sweden.

  The Swede, having never been awarded the distinguished title of soldier, has the soul of a modern day warrior nonetheless.  He is a warrior of the Thor type, the archetypal strongman, defender of kin.  Depending upon circumstance, he can be forceful and fiery, he has a wickedly short temper as well as an innate friendliness.  He is recklessly courageous.  He tends to be straightforward and not subtle.  He is a man of simplicity rather than complexity.  Deep intellectual philosophies are not his forte.  Instead, he prefers matters of hands on practicality and muscle.

  For guidance through the procedures of dealing with allies, opposition and adversity, the Swede relies almost exclusively upon the wisdom of the words of the high one, the 'Havamal' of his beloved Poetic Edda.  The virtues therein are clear and uncompromising.  "A man among friends should not mock another.  Be loyal through life to friends, and never make offer of friendship to their foes.  Return gift for gift.  Make no truce or treaty with foes.  A wayfarer should not walk unarmed, but have his weapons at hand.  Evil counsel is often given by those of evil heart.  Never open your heart to an evil man, you will get evil for good".  The Swede's interpretation is to come in peace but be prepared for war.

  His tendencies toward the physical never take away from his spirituality.  He knows full well that though generations have purposely or inadvertently strived to separate the deities of the Northern pantheon from their kin, they remain alive and well within the conscience of all Europeans.  The gods and goddesses of his ancestors have chosen the Swede as a conduit for reconnection with their people, and in turn, he has made every effort to open the eyes of the unknowing whites who rarely enter the institution.  He knows that the stronger the bond between man and god, the closer they will be to days of old, when the great one in bristling red beard would visit Midgard in the flesh and sit beside the fire with the villagers, resting his heavy hammer and laughing as he consumed the offered ale.

  The Swede leaned down and rubbed at the discomfort of the lump in his sock where he concealed his newly acquired weapon.  It was a flathead screwdriver of approximately six inches.  Hardly a forged Viking broadsword, but it would be sufficient in a pinch and he was grateful that the strategic maneuvering of bringing such a piece into his possession had gone off without any hitch. 

  The position of his institution employment was one of the most sought after of all available opportunities.  He worked in the third shift bakery.  Although the miniscule pay was no better than that for any other inmate duties, the job did have a few otherwise unattainable perks.  He got to sleep in through morning count time and he got to taste various baked goods as they were fresh out of the oven and not yet gone stale through the process of freezing and re-thawing.  It took a substantial amount of time without incident, but he had managed to earn promotion to lead baker in the bread department.  

  His was the responsibility of overseeing a ragtag crew of mostly incorrigible convicts and identified snitches as they created the large quantity of bread needed to serve the extent of this institution's population.  That was two pieces per meal for each inmate, a total of a hundred and fifty loaves to every unit on a daily basis.  The loaves are all made from scratch.  There are six units.  Needless to say, the production was a hurried and never ending process.

  Last night the dough mixer went down at exactly the wrong moment and the civilian kitchen supervisor was forced to call in an outside maintenance man at two o'clock in the morning.  The sleepy and foul smelling man grumpily sauntered in with a tool belt around his ample waist and last night's whiskey lingering on his breath.  Being a master at his chosen path, it only took him a matter of minutes to diagnose the malfunction and have the machine functioning once again.  As he left in a hurry to return to his slumber, he failed to retrieve a screwdriver from behind the mixer.

  During an instant hidden from the watchful eyes of the kitchen's night guard, the Swede quickly snatched the tool and slipped in into his waistband.  Later, when the next batch of dough was ready to be formed into loaves, he turned his back to the eye in the sky and rolled the screwdriver into the center of what would soon become whole grain bread.  He watched and remembered exactly where on the table this special loaf was placed to rise and when it was ready he personally set it on the right corner of the top pan on a rack and wheeled it into the oven and then went about gathering bags of flour for the next batch.  

  When the buzzer sounded, the Swede paid special attention to precisely where that particular rack was parked in the cooling hall.  Next would be the cutting and bagging process, a rather monotonous chore consisting of one white suited worker feeding loaves into the top of the slicer, and another catching the sliced loaves at the bottom, slipping them into bread bags, giving them a swift twirl, pressing the open end into the binder to be sealed, and passing the finished product on to those responsible for packing.

  Last night the Swede accidentally forgot to send a certain loaf through the slicer and simply went on to bag it as is.  The loaf went into the crate designated for his own unit of residence.  Shortly after, his shift came to an end.  Then commenced a routine and thorough strip search of all workers before they were escorted back to their respective housing units.

  Rather than immediately settling into some much needed rest upon returning to his cell, he stayed awake and read some chapters of William Shirer's Berlin Diary until the appropriate time to stand for count arrived.  Shortly thereafter, a series of loud pops echoed through the building as the doors were electronically unlatched for breakfast.  When the swamper who earned a measly thirty six cents a day to hand out bread at meal times came across a loaf which had not been properly cut, he nonchalantly tossed it into the trash bin.

  Being that the Swede had no appetite this morning, he gave the contents of his tray, all except artificial eggs, away to a very grateful elderly man and was the first in line to return his dishes.  While dumping the eggs into the garbage, he accidentally dropped his fork in the can.  If each piece of silverware was not tallied and accounted for, the unit would go into lockdown and every cell would be ransacked by the staff until the missing utensil was recovered.  Not wishing to bring this hassle upon his fellow inmate's, he reached deep into the trash can to dig out the dropped fork and while doing so he dug into the discarded bread and slipped the screwdriver into the sleeve of his green shirt.

  Now that the itch at his ankle had been satisfied, the Swede began to focus on utilizing his finger nail to pluck at the barbs of a staple in the binding of the VOR TRU volume which currently lay open on his lap.  It would be a significant day in the life of this Swede.  Indeed, he had spent the past fourteen years in vigorous preparation for a day such as this without ever knowing whether it would actually arrive or not.

  He first came in as an angry young man with a deep chip on his shoulder, an utter lack of respect for any figure or branch of authority, and many things to prove.  Early in his sentence he had conquered all of the usual tests and challenges, rites of passage designed over time to determine a pecking order in this primitive environment.  There were predators who would introduce certain scenarios to find out whether you were one who could easily be taken advantage of or not.  The young Swede had defended himself, his property and his sexuality.  He had taken some lumps along the way and given many more.

  Once established as a man who would not sacrifice his honor, the masses soon began to grow tired with attempting to test him and even those who did not fear him would choose the easier route of leaving him alone.  After respect had been earned, the time began to move along more quickly.  There was still the occasional vacation to solitary confinement for minor conduct infractions or the obvious skirmish that will occur any time when so many contrasting egos are secured into a small space, but aside from those, the day became but a repeated habitual routine.

  In the penitentiary, everything is routine.  When not preoccupied with satisfying the routines set forth by those powers that be, each individual tends to follow their own routine.  The Swede's routine was a vigorous one.  The daily regiment consisted of five hundred push ups with his feet propped up on the bed, two hundred sit-ups, one hundred and four squats while picking up and setting  back down playing cards from a deck placed on the floor between his feet, and at least an hour of running the track outside.

  The Swede had also developed a method of tightly rolling his so called mattress up into a bundle and tying it off with bed sheets.  He would use this invention to curl a hundred times each day.  The same roll could then be tied to the welded steel bed frame and used as a heavy bag for practicing his own unique concoction of martial art, a rapid fire style of knees, elbows, punches and kicks, which peppered their target from original angles that would confuse even seasoned masters of self defense.

  His combat preparations went without merit until yesterday.  That's when Timothy Henricson came in.  This scrawny twenty two year old, blonde haired, tanned skinned and blue eyed boy was a true fresh fish.  Up until that night when he had attended a beer party with his friends before volunteering to drive home, he had never seen or considered a day behind brick and steel.  His car had swerved far enough over the center line to clip a Jeep Cherokee carrying eighty year old Clarence Shumacher and his equally aged wife home from holiday.  Clarence Shumacher perished as a result of his injuries and a sympathetic senior citizen judge sentenced Timothy Henricson to forty five years for vehicular homicide.

  From the moment Timothy entered the unit with his bedding and hygiene products in arms, the Swede could notice the lack of confidence in his eyes and the fear in his stride and he knew that the entire population had witnessed the same.  Clearly the only prayer for the survival of this timid newbie rested upon the chance that some seasoned veteran would be willing to take the kid under his wing.  The Swede considered the option.

  Timothy Henricson checked in with the supervising turnkey at the main desk to be issued his cell and bunk number, and then he made a slow march to the upper tier, staring straight ahead in an attempt to avoid even the slightest eye contact with any of his new neighbors.  The entire day room had eyes upon the youngster, not excluding the Swede who watched the entrance from a corner table where he sat alone while drinking a cold cup of instant coffee.  He had decided to allow Timothy time to settle into his new home before approaching to verify whether he needed anything or not.

  Shortly after the boy entered his assigned home, there developed a small gathering outside of his door.  These were the scavengers, those whose friends and families have abandoned or forgotten them, leaving them to serve their time without any outside assistance.  They were at the door to panhandle, begging for whatever items the new guy could afford to order on the next commissary run.  However, these insignificant parasites immediately dispersed when the heavy hitters arrived.

  Before long, Timothy Henricson was being escorted to a different cell, the one in the back corner of the upper level, by three large black men with bright smiles across their faces.  Often times the predators such as these would be first in line to extort whatever benefits they could from fearful fish, offering protection in exchange for loyalty.  Believing this to be the case, the Swede waited to see how the baby faced blonde would react to such a proposition.

  Ten minutes later Timothy had still not emerged and the Swede decided to go investigate the progress of their negotiations.  The scene in which the Swede came upon in the corner cell should have been expected, but it was not.  Two of the three men held the weaker kid down, bent over the bunk crying with his pants around his ankles as the third inmate stood behind him, having his way.  The Swede instantly flew into a defensive rage and entered the cell swinging wildly and with the worst of intentions.

  Holding true to the convict code, not one individual involved in the altercation spoke a word to staff in regards to any specifics.  Following the incident, Timothy Henricson voluntarily checked himself into protective custody to avoid any chance of future assaults.  For the Swede, disappearing from the aftermath's equation was not an option.  Pride would never allow him to shy away from self inflicted conflict.

  It turned out that one of the men involved with the sodomizing attack of Timothy was currently holding house for an African American street gang whose members frequently found themselves locked up.  This meant that he had been entrusted to call the shots for an angry gang of criminals who based their strength primarily upon numbers.  The man was held in high regards among all of his race throughout the prison system and an act of physical aggression toward him was something that could not and would not pass without being avenged.

  The Swede, being thoroughly institutionalized after so many years, knew exactly what these developments meant.  It meant not only that the blacks would be gunning for him personally, but that a white man's actions upon a black man of such high standing would mean a generalized outcome in the world of inside principles.  In the great scheme of things, the blacks would make war upon the whites.  There would be a race riot.  Many would be beaten, some would die, and sentence extensions would be abundant.

  So, last evening the Swede responded to a summons to not so discreetly sit down at the back of the day room with the hierarchy of the Aryan organizations.  It was a summons that no white inmate could possibly object to without being construed as disrespectful.  Naturally, these neo-Nazi fanatics were all up in arms and prepared to enforce an attack first strategy in order to squash their chosen enemies before allowing them chance to establish order.  The meeting consisted of much delusional destiny and final battle rhetoric.

  These politics held no significance to the Swede.  His actions had been a result of personal humanist beliefs.  He would have defended this broken man against any opposition in such circumstance, regardless of the origin of the man's attackers.  It was a question of morals, not a racial discrepancy.  According to the Swede's system of ethics, he had simply done what his heart had felt to be right without considering the outcome.  He informed the members of the council that he had acted alone and would accept the repercussions on his own.  After much convincing, they reluctantly agreed.  That was last night, before lockdown and before third shift work.

  Currently, having successfully extracted the staple from the VOR TRU magazine, the Swede almost straightened the tiny piece of metal and then used it to scratch a rune into each of his thumbnails.  He did so properly, carving each line from high to low in a separate stroke.  Now he took the staple and punctured the tip of his finger deep enough to squeeze a thick drop of blood from the wound.  He used the blood to massage into his thumbnails, thus dyeing the divine symbols a deep red and empowering them with his own essence.

  The thurisaz rune, shaped like a thorn, symbol of forward thrusting force of destruction.  It is applied power, active defense and the awakening of will to action.  Its raw strength makes it the most dangerous of the entire futhark.  The 'Havamal' declares, "in the thick of battle, if my need be great enough, it will blunt the edges of enemy swords, their weapons will make no wounds".  The mystery of this particular force is so hidden amidst chaos that even the most proficient of rune masters the world over tend to shy from its use.  The Swede had no such fear.

  Moving forward with his preparations, he picked up little Mjollnir, a shrunken and plain pewter hammer on a leather strap, and stood erect with his hands at his sides.  With three long and deep breaths, inhaling through his mouth and exhaling through the nose, he created a smoky white sphere above his head, a living, spiraling mass of raw energy.  With the talisman clenched in his right fist, he raised it up into the globe's center and held it there for nine heartbeats.  The Swede then lowered his fist to his forehead and spoke aloud, "Tyr".  At his chin he said "Odin", in the middle of his chest, "Thor", at the left breast, "Frey", and to the right, "Freya".  Following these dedications, he slid the black cord around his neck. 

  Since issues of VOR TRU only averaged out at approximately fifty thin pages each, the series of six would provide little protection against any serious bone crushers, but they would assist in deflecting a standard hand made shiv away from penetrating vital organs.  The Swede divided his magazines into two stacks of three and slid a stack into each side of his waistband so that they would cover the most vulnerable areas of his midsection.  He slipped his feet into a pair of state issued brown boots and left the cell without tying them.  

  The dayroom card sharks and domino wizards paused in their actions and watched the Swede walk to the unit's front exit.  Everybody knew the importance of this trip, including various guards who did not have the courage to intervene.  These were an outfit of weekend warrior security who showed up to punch the clock, go through the motions and collect a weekly paycheck.  They were soft and out of shape men and women who could not bust out of a paper bag even if their lives depended on it.

  Immediately upon stepping out into the crisp, October in Wisconsin air, the Swede nearly bumped straight into an inmate to whose acquaintance he had never made.  This was a tall, elderly but far from frail gentleman sporting a long, full and gray beard along with a black patch over one of his eyes.  The two observed one another for some time.  The one good eye of wisdom on this stranger seemed to stare directly into the very core of the Swede.  Before stepping aside, the old man nodded his head to him.  It was not a nod of greeting, but a nod of approval.  

  People on the yard were abnormally scarce on this day.  Few and far between were the lonely and depressed picnic table residents in front of each unit.  One or two openly homosexual couples walked  around the track.  In the center, at the basketball courts, there was a small gathering of black men dressed as if it were late December rather than early Fall, complete with thick green coats and blaze orange stocking caps.  There were ten of them total and the odds were as good as they could possibly get.  The group looked toward the Swede as if anticipating a feast of epic proportions.

  The Swede walked slowly toward this congregation and then halted at about fifteen yards from them.  He smiled as he watched the sky above fill with apparitions of beautiful armor clad battle maidens mounted on incredible steeds descending from unseen Asgardian realms.  He knew what the appearance of these valkyries foretold and he did not question who the choosers of the slain had come for.  His orlog was sealed.  On this day he would gladden the raven.

  He crouched down and tightly tied his boots, withdrawing the screwdriver from his sock as he rose.  With a Berserker wrath consuming him and a savage battle cry echoing throughout Midgard, the Swede charged into the midst of his awaiting adversaries...

 

Copyrighted 2016 Jason Crager

All Rights Reserved

 


© Copyright 2017 Ronin. All rights reserved.

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