Monday, May 25, 2015

Hush Falibur and the Case of the Missing Muscle Car: Part II

Yvon didn’t arrive to work until well after noon that day, having had to wait at his house for the police to show up and investigate the theft of his beloved Beaumont all morning. Five hours of waiting felt like a slap in the face to go with the sinking feeling in his gut he began to experience the moment he walked into his garage to find the automatic door open and his car gone.
One would think I might get special consideration, thought the superintendent. Certainly a man such as myself warrants some measure of priority, given the invaluable service I provide babysitting the scum of the earth and helping to keep the streets safe for the average taxpayer. Those policemen didn’t even know who I was, the ingrates. The police might arrest the vermin, but I’m the one who minds the rat cages. It falls to me to ensure punishment is meted out strictly and lawfully. Without me, where would those officers be? Where would our society be?
“A car like that won’t go unnoticed, Mr. Charette,” the greasy looking constable said. The one with thick black hair and olive skin. A wop or a spic by Yvon’s estimation. A visible minority, at any rate. He was forced to hire a few on at the jail himself. Canada, the superintendent thought somberly as he made his late rounds in the jail. Where everyone is equal, except some are more equal than others.
He made a quick stop in the admitting office in the basement and reviewed the inmate face sheets without acknowledging the two fat and lazy oafs in blue shirts who had toiled in the gloom of this odorous and dank dungeon for the last decade. Charette doubted the pair of them could generate enough mental energy to toast bread, and if it wasn’t for their corrupt union securing their well-paid positions he would have fired them years ago.
Like most of the other correctional officers under his command, Charette considered them useless. It was a mystery to him how the pair to get their jobs in the first place, because the superintendent wouldn’t have hired a single one of them to push a mop.
He trundled up the stairs to the jail slowly with his head hung low, wondering where his car might be and what kind of shape it was in. The greasy officer’s partner seemed a touch brighter, remarking that the lack of any commotion and the open garage door meant the thieves had some level of sophistication.
Yvon might have asked his neighbors if they heard or saw anything suspicious in the night if he were on speaking terms with the family of uppity East Indians across the street or not currently engaged in a law suit over property boundaries with the drunk newfie who lived beside him. He felt nothing but utter contempt for his vile neighbors.
After surveying the kitchen and outside worker ranges in Echo block, Yvon made his way to F area where the solitary confinement cells were located. He reviewed the clipboards beside every solid steel door before sliding the metal window plate open and peering in on the prisoner inside.
“McGonagle,” the super said as he reviewed the sheet next to Hush Falibur’s cell. The fat young guard in round wire-rimmed spectacles quickly stood up from his desk.
“Yes sir?”
“Come over here. Look at this status sheet,” Charette said as he tapped the clipboard with his index finger.
The guard complied.
“This is your handwriting and signature?”
“Yes sir,” the guard said after glancing at the board.
“Mr. McGonagle, you have perhaps the easiest job in the quietest part the entire jail this week. All you have to do is get up off your ass every fifteen minutes and observe what the inmates are doing in their seg cells, and then write what you observed down on this sheet.”
The young pudgy officer looked puzzled.
“What have you written here? 12:45pm, you write: sleeping. Then at 1:00pm you wrote “ “ “  and then again at 1:15pm “ “ “  and 1:30pm “ “ “”
“Oh,” the C.O. stammered. “The quotation marks mean the prisoner’s status is unchanged.”
“I know what the fuck it means, McGonagle. I’m not a fucking imbecile.”
 Charette felt his temperature rising, “Do I look like a fucking imbecile to you, Officer McGonagle?”
“N-no sir.”
“Is it so difficult for you to spell the word sleeping three times in forty-five minutes that you need to substitute it with punctuation marks?”
“No,” the guard said meekly. “No it’s not.”
“Then do not let me see it again.”
“You won’t, sir.” The officer’s face burned red with humiliation. Charette dismissed him with a grunt and a wave of his hand.

As the chastised C.O. walked away, the superintendent slid the metal plate covering the window on the door aside and looked in on Falibur, who was sitting on the metal toilet. When he heard the door window plate being slid open, he looked up and smirked.
“You’re late making your rounds today. Were you late for work? Car trouble or something?”
For a second he didn’t clue in. He paid so little mind to what prisoners said that he almost missed it. When the realization struck him, Yvon Charette felt all the blood drain from his face.
“Mr. McGonagle, key this door for me.”
“Sir?” The young guard was seated at his station just down the corridor.
“GET THE FUCK OVER HERE AND UNLOCK THIS GODDAMNED DOOR, MCGONAGLE!” Charette’s voice boomed down the corridor. The officer hurried over, fumbling with the key ring in his hands.
Falibur was still perched on the stainless steel toilet with his orange jumpsuit peeled down around his ankles holding a roll of toilet paper in his bare lap when the superintendent walked in.
“Hoo-boy Mr. Charette, you look like you’re about to have a coronary.” He leaned back and held up his hands as if to protect himself.
“You wouldn’t hit a man on the shitter, would you?”
“Where is it?” Charette demanded. The stench of Falibur’s bowel movement was so intense in that tiny segregation cell it almost overpowered him. Only his anger kept him from gagging.
“I apologize, sir. Prison food you know….oh, oh man.” Hush shut his eyes and let one go, a wet ripping fart that seemed to rise in pitch as it trailed on for an absurdly long time. When it eventually sputtered out Hush leaned forward and sighed with dramatic flourish. He opened his eyes and smiled wistfully at the head jailor standing in the doorway of his cell.
“Oh,” he said, sniffing the air around him. “Oh man. That is ripe.”
The superintendent took a tissue out of his pants pocket and covered his nose with it.
“Where is my Beaumont, scumbag? What do you know about it?”
“I don’t know anything about anything sir,” Hush answered. He unrolled a strip of toilet paper and reached between his legs to wipe.
“My car goes missing from my garage last night and you ask me if I had car trouble. Do you think I’m stupid?”
Hush pulled his blue underwear and orange jumpsuit up as he stood from the toilet. He looked the angry jail administrator up and down and then turned his back to him to wash his hands in the sink and flush the bowl.
“Your car was stolen?”
“Keep it up Falibur, keep playing dumb.” Yvon said to his prisoner’s back. “I’ll be calling my colleagues at the police station and informing them of your admission of guilt.”
Hush turned back around and grabbed a white hand towel from the slab of concrete that served as a bed in the hole and dried his hands. He chuckled.
“And tell them what, sir? That an inmate escaped your maximum security jail in the night and stole your car, broke back into the building and returned to his segregation cell, locking the door behind him?” he tossed the towel back on the slab and smiled at Charette. “Go right ahead, you do that.”
“You have your ways, Falibur,” Charette sneered. “You certainly have ways to smuggle contraband into my facility. I’m sure it’s not too hard for you to have messages smuggled out. No doubt you sent word your criminal counterparts and arranged to have my car stolen.”
Hush shook his head. “Again sir, you’re mistaken. I don’t know why you think I have so much pull. I wasn’t responsible for any dope and I had no part in your car being stolen.”
The superintendent was still covering his nose and mouth with tissue, but Hush saw his eyes burning with rage.
“You’re right Falibur. I don’t have enough evidence to go to the police with. What I can do however, is arrange to have two of my biggest officers drag you into the pipe-chase and beat the information out of you. Maybe that’s what I’ll do.”
Hush chuckled again.
“You won’t do that. You can’t.”
“Can’t I? Men like you prey on honest law-law abiding citizens. Thugs like you don’t play by the rules. Tell me, why should I?”
“Mr. Charette I’m sure you would have two big blue-shirts come up here and beat me if you could, but you can’t,” Hush answered. “You can’t because, well, you’re a miserable prick. You’re such a miserable prick that the staff here in the jail hate you just as much as the inmates do. And if someone finds out a prisoner was abused? Another officer? They’ll report it. That’s the problem with you law-and-order types. Very few of you are loyal to each other. Someone might find out about an inmate being punched out in the pipe-chase and there may even be an investigation. You think a single fuckin’ guard in this shit-hole would risk their careers for an asshole like you?”
The superintendent dropped the tissue he was holding to the floor, put his arms at his sides and balled his fists. For a minute Hush thought the man might take a swing at him after all. Hush hoped he would.
Go on, he thought. Oh please. Do it. That little breadstick in a blue shirt outside the door, McGonagle, he’d have to call for back up and by the time they dragged Hush off he’d have beat the superintendent bloody.
Instead, Charette began to speak in a very steady, measured tone. Hush could tell by the vein pulsing an angry purple on his temple that the superintendent was keeping it together by sheer force of will.
“I want my car back. I know you are behind the theft. Deny it all you want, I know. I saw the charges you are facing, Falibur. You and your co-accused will undoubtedly take your matters all the way to trial –your kind never take plea deals, oh no. That means you will be my guest for the better part of a year, I’m guessing. During that time I will make you my special project. You will do the hardest time you’ve ever done, I’ll see to it personally.”
Hush stroked his thick white mustache and thought a moment before responding.
“So what am I supposed to do? I have no idea where your car is or who took it. I do know a couple people who steal cars and strip them for parts, my friends Alex and Robbie might know a few more. If we could put our heads together and had access to a telephone, maybe….”
A chill ran down Charette’s spine when Falibur said strip them for parts. The small segregation unit seemed to swim before his eyes and he felt sick to his stomach at the thought of thugs and hoodlums tearing apart his Beaumont with their thieving hands and grubby fingers.
“I’ll put you and your shit-head friends together on range 5b, Falibur. I’m going to pretend I believe that you’re not directly responsible for the disappearance of my vehicle. You have two days. I warn you, I am not a man who is easily cozened.
Cozened, Hush thought. Sweet Jesus Christ.
Even back then all those years ago Hush hated the way the superintendent talked.
Charette made good on his end of the deal. Shortly after six that evening Hush was let out of his segregation cell, handed back his personal effects and marched unceremoniously to Alpha Area and placed in range 5b where Robbie McCharles and Alex Bolton were already unpacking their belongings and making their bunks in their new cells. This range was small, it was old and decrepit and tucked away at the back of the jail. There was barely any water pressure in the shower and the floor of the bathroom was overgrown with a reddish-green algae. The whole area smelled like a backed-up sewer. It was clear this particular block had not been occupied for quite some time. The three co-accused made the best of it though, and by lock-up that night the shit-smell emanating from the shower grate and filling the air was masked by the sweet pungent aroma of marijuana.
Around 1am the following morning, concerned residents of the Gatchell neighborhood called 911 and reported a fire burning in the parking lot of the old Big Nickel mine. Firetrucks arrived on the scene to find a black 1963 Beaumont fully engulfed in flames that shot some fifteen feet in the air.
Yvon got the call while reviewing security procedures in his office around nine hours later. After he hung up the receiver he got up from his desk, crossed the room and closed the door. He made a fist and brought it to his mouth, biting down hard on his knuckles to stifle his scream of anguish and rage. The scream went on and he bit harder until his teeth punctured the skin and his mouth filled with the coppery taste of his own blood.
In the following days Charette spoke to both McCharles and Bolton separately in his office, telling them he knew Falibur was behind the theft and destruction of his car and that he would be extremely grateful, even generous to anyone who could provide information about the crime.
McCharles, a lanky scarecrow of a man with a shock of loose golden blonde curls on his head and a narrow face was either a bonafied idiot, or he was putting on an academy award-worthy performance playing dumb. What’s a Beaumont? he asked Charette.
Alex Bolton however was nobody’s fool. A hulk of a man standing well over six feet tall and weighing in at a solid 235 lbs according to his prisoner info sheet, Charette was aware of both he and his twin brother Robert from their careers in the OHL. Both brothers played defense for the Sudbury Wolves for a number of years and had promising futures before running afoul of the law.
Alex had long brown hair and dark eyes and he possessed an air of menace about him that made Charette, a man not easily shaken, uncharacteristically uneasy. He took the unusual precaution of having two guards in the office with the prisoner while he interviewed him.
The administrator didn’t expect much of a response from Bolton, so he was somewhat surprised when the man began to speak.
“Hush never told us about any car. I don’t think he had anything to do with your Beaumont. You asked me for my insight, so I’ll give it. If Hush really had that kinda juice, if he really could arrange to have your car stolen while sitting in the hole in this jail, well then if I were you I would think long and hard about that. A man who could have your car taken from your garage in the middle of the night and have it torched, a man like that knows where you live, sir. He knows when you’re sleeping. Think about that. Maybe next time it’s not your car they find burning in the middle of the night. Maybe next time it’s your house.”
If it were any other inmate sitting across the desk from him, Charette would have torn a strip off him before throwing him in the hole. When Bolton spoke there was no hint of a threat in the tone of his voice. He sounded calm, even thoughtful. Charette found it all the more chilling. He dismissed the prisoner with his usual indignant snort and wave of his hand.
The Superintendent never interviewed Hush. He didn’t even want to see the man. For the first time in his career Yvon Charette took a stress-related leave of absence from his job and left his deputy, a much more affable and well-respected administrator named George Hillsdale in charge for the next six months.
Before he left, Charette had Hush Falibur removed from range 5b and brought back to F-Area to resume his incarceration in the hole…and there he stayed for the next hundred and fifty-three days until he and his co-accused were finally set free. The crown elected not to proceed with the trial when a reviewing judge ruled the warrant for the wiretap contained several errors and omissions and none of the evidence discovered as a result of the recorded conversations could be used in court.
Normally an inmate in the hole was deemed “LOAP” which stood for Loss of all Privileges. That meant no mattress or bedding, no access to canteen services and no magazines or books to read other than a copy of the King James Bible that was present in every segregation cell.
Hush would use the pages as rolling paper for his weed joints when he ran out of Zig-Zags. The only good thing about the hole was that the guards would rarely search segregation cells and that meant he need only hide his dope, papers and matches between his butt-cheeks rather than have to wrap the items in cellophane and shove the package past his sphincter muscle.
Word spread among jail staff about what had happened to the superintendent’s muscle car and Falibur’s suspected involvement in the crime. A funny thing began happening in the five months Hush spent in administrative segregation. The guards began conveniently forgetting Hush was out in the yard and he enjoyed an hour or so of fresh air every day instead of the regular fifteen minutes. He was given extra time in the shower every night. When he was returned to his cell he’d often find paperback novels, chocolate bars and bags of potato chips tucked beneath his thin security mattress. Sometimes there would even be cigarettes.

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