The Jiminy part 28

The girl, he felt, was also having second thoughts. I hope I can get through this time. “Hey, I know you’re upset, and things don’t feel like they’ll get better. You gotta understand something. You will see hard days,lol! and you’ll see good days. These are part of them hard days. If you keep on goin’ this way, with that blade, you’re gonna create more hard days, worse days than you can imagine. They’ll treat you like an adult, and throw you in with the real hard cases. This ain’t close to what’s waitin’ in real prison. You know that. It ain’t too late. Just throw that blade away, it’s nothin’ but trouble and big time prison if you keep it.”

“Put it away for now, no one will find it in those socks. Bed checks never look at socks. You’re free and clear. If you’re scared, I understand completely. Not everyone has the guts to stand up for themselves. You’ll be just another loser bitch who gets told to fuck prison guards to get things smuggled in. Of course that’s all you’re good for, obviously. If you wanted to take charge of your life, you’d be scoring some tape and a little bit of plastic to help make a handle” the voice whispered with poisonous sympathy.

Travis felt the sullen anger at the voice’s words. Fear was there too. He saw her put the blade back in the socks, and the socks back in the dresser. She lay down on the bed, the view showed Travis the ceiling, where some staples still held torn bits of colored paper. The view remained on the ceiling as a sense of despair settled through Travis. What do I do? How do I get her to listen? She’s going to get killed. He took deep breaths, and willed himself to calm down.

Travis focused on regular breathing, and realized for the first time that he hadn’t been breathing at all except for when he was shouting at the other voice. I am dead. I knew it before, but it keeps surprising me how weird things feel when I think about them. I need to keep her from dying, but how? I can’t get her to listen. She doesn’t want to. That creep has got her convinced that blade is the answer to everything.

How do I change that?

The rest of the day was spent observing the day of a teenage girl, which Travis had no want to watch, o take part of. He spent most of the day with the screen off, and in his own head. There has to be a way. Why can’t I figure out a way to convince her?

‘You know you’re cute when you brood like that. It makes me think you might actually have potential, Travis. Not that you’ve shown any, to be truthful.’ The tan letters seemed to actually contain a little sympathy, which made Travis suspicious. ‘Would I really try to mess with you, or influence you? I would lose my job if I did that. All I am is just an information device. With attitude so you pay attention.’

Yeah right, and I’m …

‘Do you really want to finish that thought? Remember the thong bikini.’ The letters were a glaring white with bikini tops and bottoms floating around the words as they rolled down from the top of the dome and down the sides. The mocking warning got Travis attention and he shut up.

“So got anything about this situation you can share without breaking any rules, or do I gotta guess that too?” Maybe there’s a way to get information from that guy. Maybe it’s how I ask it?

The Jiminy part 27

“Listen to me, please. This anger ain’t gonna work. You’re too mad, you’re lettin’ that guy rile you up so you don’t think. He doesn’t want you to think. That’s how he works.” I feel like a shoulder angel facing off a shoulder devil.

‘Got it in one, T. You are and he is’ the letters spelled out in bright neon blue floor to ceiling, surrounded by gold stars with ‘attaboy’ written on them.

Sheer surprise stopped Travis voice. A shoulder angel? Like in that animated movie?

‘Exactomundo’ the letters printed in block three-D in white and ivory. Somehow they felt pleased and mocking at the same time. The feeling had Travis gritting his teeth in irritation. Something about that screen makes me really pissed off. How does it know to do that?

‘I pay attention to how you answer, and your mood, just like anyone with a smidgen of sense would do.’ The letters had the mocking tilt as they marched in day-glow orange across the view, blurring Travis vision of what was happening with the socks.

“Get outta the way!” he screamed at the letters, which stopped for a moment, then seemed to smirk as they slowly faded away. She’d pulled the blade out of the socks, and turned it over in her hand a few times. It was like she was seeing something there beyond just the knife. He shut his eyes and listened for the other voice. He knew it would be saying something right now. “That’s it, a little tape, and some padding to set it between your fingers and a slap will open their throats, one at a time, easy as slicing cherry pie.”

Oh god, please no. Wait, why am I so…oh yeah, the feedback the sign talked about. The link between his reaction and what was on the wall had him torn. He knew rationally that the girl was trying to find a way out of a bad situation, but the method was going to get her killed. Using a blade meant you were going to have to kill the person. In here, a blade would not just scare them off, it would make them decide to kill her right then and there. No excuses. No mercy. No more shoulder angel job.

There was a sense of mocking irritation from the screen, then letters in bright red rolled up from the bottom of the screen. ‘Throwing in the towel already, JIMINY?’

“I ain’t throwin’ nothin! I ain’t gonna quit! Not now! Not ever! You hear me you sonuvabitch! Never!”

His anger started pushing him more and more. Travis wanted to rage at the screen, and the voice. Something made him keep holding both of the embedded ski poles. It was a good thing as there was a vicious whipping lurch that would have catapulted him into the wall. He stayed on the platform more scared than angry now.

The Jiminy Part 26

“NO! No no no no! You aren’t that! You don’t want to do that!” Travis found himself screaming at the wall as hands clasped and unclasped at the bottom edge. Panic filled him. How could you think that? Dying’s not an answer! If I could get hold of that miserable sonuvabitch I’d beat him into a bloody pulp! Travis clenched and unclenched his hands around the poles as he stood on the platform. His hands ached to have that smarmy asshole’s neck between them. He’d give it a…

Movement on the screen caught his attention. The girl had stood up, and moved to the bed. She threw herself forward, her face landing on the pale blue pillow. The view shifted black as she buried it in the pillow and began screaming. The rage resonated in Travis, burning the confusion and panic away. Girl’s a fighter. We got a chance to turn this around. It was odd to Travis that her getting mad would make him optimistic, but he accepted it as true. Anger is not a place where a person tries to kill themselves.

If she’s mad, then that slimy asshat can’t get her to cut herself up. Crud, but what about killing? That’s too easy to do mad. There’s gotta be a middle way. When the heck did I get so thoughtful? This ain’t me. I’m the walk up and throw punches kind of guy.

‘You WERE that kind of guy” the letters marched across the dark wall. ‘Now you’re dead. Your old life is not this existence.’

It was true. As much as Travis was caught up in all the tension and drama of this girl’s life, he kept hanging onto his own memories as they slowly lost the passion that they had engendered in him. The realization raised a flutter of anxiety. I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to lose all that Kimmy gave me.

‘Melodramatic much?’ The words displayed right to left. The mocking hues of pink and yellow drew a flash of anger and despair from somewhere deep inside him.

“I ain’t gonna forget, and I ain’t gonna quit feelin’ them, you piece o’ crap! They’s mine! You can’t take ’em from me! Tha’s MAH LIFE! It’s MINE!” Travis screamed at the wall, and he heard an answering scream of muffled rage from the girl as the hiccuping sobs grew back into a building anger. The other voice became clear as Travis quit his rant.

“That’s it. You can do something about them. The blade will make them stop hurting you. You should be mad. They’re trying to CONTROL you. No one controls you. You are your own boss, your own woman. Show them what it means to cross you. They’ll never do it again i you stick them with that blade.”

Oh crapola. Me getting mad got her mad and that slimeball took advantage. Travis watched as the top drawer of the low dresser was opened again, and the socks with the blade hidden in them was pulled from the back. “No one will give me shit like that again. No one’s gonna a lay a han’ on me if I don’t want ’em to.” The venom that she spat the words chilled Travis to the core. He could feel her hate, and resolve start to solidify. If he didn’t find a way to change it, there wouldn’t be a future.

The Jiminy part 25

The view changed to the corner the small desk there. The desk was built into the wall, with a small round stool that swung out for sitting. The wall screen moved closer to the desk, then shifted as the girl sat down. The screen leaned towards the desk and went dark. A moment later, faint shudders went through the room as a choked sob escaped. Oh man she is taking this all way too hard. She’ll make herself sick with all this. There’s got to be something I can do, or convince her to do. ‘That’s the job Jiminy. Oh, sorry, Travis-iny.’ The letters were like a kid’s scribble, in bright red.

“So what’s the deal with that other voice? That guy sucks, you know! He’s trying to get her to attack those thugs one at a time with that blade! What’re you gonna do to stop her?! She’ll screw her life up if she..” The letters suddenly loomed from the floor up the curved wall to meet at the top of the hemispherical room. The black was so intense with made the room seem light. ‘I will do nothing, Jiminy. That’s my job. You’re here to do yours, and I can’t help you other than how I have done so to break you into your job. I am not here to jump at your command. You, Travis Jefftown Hoad, are here to do it.’ Travis found himself cringing away from the letters. They seemed to pound down on him in with each word that formed. It left him shaken to the core.

What is this I’ve gotten into? It is like some monster in the closet. Kimmy, dear god I need you right now. ‘She has her life that must go on. You. are. dead. Suck it up, buttercup and DO. THE. JOB.’ The letters had that impatient feel like when he first got here. Impatient, and, worried.? He shook his head as the soft hiccuping sobs barely sounded through the room, but Travis felt each one like a ache in the heart. If she’s crying, she’s not certain it will work? I don’t know but I hope that’s right. I don’t want her to use that thing, and if she’s too scared, then we can dodge that bullet.

As if on cue, the sot, hissing voice started up again. “Yes, you are weak, and helpless, you stupid little girl. They’re going to come for you and you can’t stop it from happening. They will find you, trap you, and kick the ever loving shit out of you because you wouldn’t mule for them. Your only hope is that blade, unless of course, you want to fix it forever.”

Fix it forever?

“All you have to do is cut yourself, let it flow out, and no one can ever hurt you again” the voiced hissed with a poison-sweet purr. Sympathy laced with venom making despair. “It isn’t so hard. It’s not the end, it’s a transition. One from this world to the next. You can be free of this miserable, beat-down existence you’re in, that will never end. So why not end it now, and move on to the next?”

The Jiminy part 24

Travis tried to think past the panic he felt. “I don’t panic. I ain’t never panicked in my life.” He gritted his teeth and thought hard. Don’t panic. You’re okay. Get rid of the blade first chance you get and no one will be the wiser. “Just get rid of the blade girl. No blade, no trouble. You’ll finish up your time and you’ll be out, with nothin’ on your record. Juvey records will be sealed and expunged. You’ll be free and no record.”

“Are you sure about that?” whispered that other voice sibilantly. “You know they have it in for you. You’re black, a MIN-OR-IT-Y. You don’t have rights, you have the MAN telling you what to do all day long. You’re a WO-MAN, you don’t count half as much as a man’s. Just think of all the stupidity that we have to put up with. WE can take CONTROL of our lives. The first thing is take care of the biotches that are making your life miserable. Just take it and catch each one alone. Your blade will scare them. you won’t have to take a beating ever again.”

“No, you don’t want to do that. It’ll just lead to more hate and more pain. You know that. You KNOW that.”

The view on the curved wall shifted back to the bed, and shook as the girl got back in the bed, palming the surgical blade in her left hand. She’d just finished as another clatter sounded at the door as it was pushed open by a wheeled tray which had a sandwich and a glass of water. “Here you go, girl. Ham, cheese, and some water to wash it down. You’ll be released today. Looks like the most you got was some good bruises. You got off lucky.” The heavyset nurse continued to talk about the day, and the other inmates in the infirmary while the view followed her so intently that Travis thought the nurse would catch on how nervous the girl was. ‘Interesting situation, isn’t it?’ scrolled in bright orange across the view, temporarily blocking the display.

“Dammit! Get out of the way!” Travis snapped at the letters. “I gotta see what’s going on.”

Travis watched the progress to the bedroom, the door opening, closing, and a shift in perspective as the girl sat down on the edge of the bed. The little blue dresser with the white alarm were no comfort. The blade appeared in the left hand. The view centered on that image for a full minute. Both Travis and the other voice remained silent. Travis wanted her to think it through and toss the blade, but it felt like he was talking to an addict with a ‘fix’ in their hand. No matter how much she wanted to throw it away, she couldn’t make her hand do it.

The hands slid the top drawer open. Socks, t-shirts, bras, and panties lay in neat rows left to right. The left hand opened, then tore the paper of the blade, which gleamed a polished silver under the fluorescent lighting. a pair of blue socks were grabbed by the right, and the blade thrust into them, and put at the far back of the drawer. The socks and the other articles were straightened, then the drawer closed.

The Jiminy part 23

She doesn’t want to be heard. Why? The doors swung open silently and hands darted in and lifted various items for a moment, then placed them carefully back on their shelves. Travis closed his eyes and concentrated. I’m supposed to be able to feel things because we’re linked, so why can’t I now? He didn’t feel anything, so much as heard.

“Come on, there’s going to be something we can use here. Rooms have all sorts of things that can be weapons.” The vicious honeyed words made Travis stomach lurch. “It’s the only way, you or them. You can call it self-defense. No one will question it. It was something that just happened. You won’t get punished. Protecting yourself is perfectly fine. If we’re smart enough, no one will suspect a thing. Catch them all alone. A couple of quick jabs. It’s just protecting yourself.”

Oh god. She’s going to kill them if she finds a weapon. Panic had him babbling. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You don’t want to hurt anyone! You’ll be a killer and never be let go!” Travis watched the screen as hidden underneath a roll of gauze was a small paper package about the size of a single-serving sugar packet. The cover said, ‘Scalpel blade #12’. The yellowed paper showed a blade with a slight hook at the tip, like the back of a gutting knife. The hand covered it, picking it up, then transferring it close to the screen as the gauze was reset in the cupboard, and the girl returned to the bed.

“Yes! Good girl! We can make them pay for beating you so badly. Self-defense. That’s all it will be. You’ll be free. They won’t be able to hurt you again.” Travis heard another voice talking over the first one. He didn’t realize he’d started until the first one quit. The wall fuzzed a moment. The hand was still in the view, still holding the packet with the blade.

“Com’on, you don’t need that. Think, girl. If you get caught you won’t be just in here for a little while longer, you’ll be here a lot longer. And the longer you’re in here the more chances those girls will have to get you. Just put it back, and forget about it. There are other ways to handle what’s happening. You can’t let it control you. One bad step and it’s going to swallow you whole.”

Travis continued to ramble in a near panic as he watched the hand waver. Indecision kept the hand from moving as he tried to convince her to put it back. A clatter of metal on metal had the hand, still holding the small surgical blade, disappear from the wall screen. No. no no no no. She still has the knife. She’s going to get caught and that on top of the burglary, she’ll be passed on to the adult … wait.

The Jiminy part 22

There was silence for a moment then letters enlarged onto the screen. ‘My, my, my. Such a direct question.’

Travis ground his teeth and worked to stay calm. “Yeah, and what’s the answer?”

Letters put themselves together from blocks and splashed pink against a sudden yellow green. ‘More the opposite. You’re just the Jiminy, Travis. She’s the boss.’

That explained a lot to Travis. If she’s mad and I get mad, then she’s making me mad by being mad, right? So, if I try to be happy when she’s mad, will that make her less mad? And if that’s right, then I have to figure out how to keep it together when she starts to lose it?

He continued to gaze at the screen. The view remained on the window. it felt so wistful, and terrified at the same time. She knows they’ll be waiting for her out there. What can I do to change the situation? My first reaction would be to catch them alone and beat each one to a pulp, but that’s not gonna work. Size counts and this girl’s a twig compared to those thugs. I gotta be smart about this.

‘Point for you’ scrolled across the wall as Travis was concentrating.

“Yah, right,” he answered without really paying attention. There had to be a way. He was on a time limit. It might be, at most, another day that they’d keep her here. After that, she’d be back in the general population, which meant those girls would be looking her up again. Travis scanned the screen for things that could be used as a weapon, or modified into one. A sense of unease stirred as he studied the view on the wall. Why is this bothering me? If we have a weapon, we can protect ourselves better, right? He thought about that sibilant voice he’d heard earlier. The venom and hate hidden in the words, seemed to slap him in the face as he recalled them. The more he thought about them, the less palatable the idea of a weapon became. He was so deep int thought that he almost missed the slight tremor in the floor.

Travis looked up, and saw that she’d stood up. The perspective was much more ‘downward’ as the girl looked at the IV in her arm, then at the tray holding a paper cup filled with ice and a clear liquid. The hand appeared at the bottom of the view, and picked the cup up. There was a faint slurping sound, and the cup was set back on the tray as the view shifted left and up towards come closed cupboards. They slowly enlarged on the wall screen as she walked towards them. What’s she doing? The arms reached up to the leftmost cupboard doors, then slowly began to open them. The screen swung back towards the partly open door and back to the doors rapidly.

The Jiminy part 21

Forget it, I’m not gonna let that little creep win. ‘Oh I’m going to win, and you’re going to fail again, just like you did with Kimberly, and everyone else in.’

“Just shut up you”, Travis yelled at the screen. His fists clenched and he leaned forward, jaw clenched, ready to rumble. “Come out where I can see you! We’ll settle this right here, right NOW!”

‘Oh come on’ the light spelled out slowly, mockingly. ‘Seriously, you’re going to punch out a wall. Let’s see you do it sport. This ought to be really amusing. Come on, fatso, what do you have?’ The taunting mauve letters had Travis seeing red.

In his rage he drew back his fist and slammed it into the wall. It hurt. A lot. Travis didn’t care, all he cared about was pounding that miserable mocking sign into paste. Four more hard shots against the unyielding wall had him in pain that he couldn’t ignore. it was then a sound reached his ears. Someone was crying. Her voice was making small gulping growls as if frustration was bubbling out of her, and her helplessness was driving her into a self-inflicted frenzy. “Let go, girl. I said let go! Marnie! Help! She got the scissors!” The urgency of the words penetrated the red haze. He looked at the screen. It was blinking off and on as her eyes opened, then closed.

She was screaming, helpless rage pouring out of a throat made hoarse by the self hate he heard coming from her. “What the..?! What’s going on!?”

‘I’m glad you asked, JIMINY. That’s all you, out there. Congratulations. You make my job so easy I have to laugh.’ The letters were a deep brown red like congealed blood. They seemed to pulse larger, and more ominous with each agonized, self-loathing scream. It took Travis a moment to connect the information together. I did this. I got mad and she got mad with me. No, I made her get mad. My temper became her temper. The weight between Travis’ shoulders was heavier than ever. I’m so sorry. His rage evaporated like mist. Over the screen, he could her the helpless sobs of the girl, and they bored into him with the realization that he’d allowed it to happen.

He looked at the screen, hating it. Slow down, what you’re feeling is part of what she’s feeling. I don’t know why, but it’s like we’re seeing things the same way. Or, are we? Travis started thinking more. He didn’t like thinking, reacting was a lot easier, but it also had gotten him a lot of regrets. Why am I here? That asshat sign said I was in-between, what did he mean by that? It’s like I’m getting half of everything what’s said. The other half isn’t being talked about. And he’s trying to get her to give in to that junk he kept spewing. Why? What is the big deal about all that? What am I missing? I can’t think. I get mad and want to hit something.

Travis stalked around the round grey room clenching and unclenching his hands as he tried to understand more about the so-called rules that the sign wouldn’t talk to him about. He’d occasionally glance at the screen and the hands at the bottom would close and open every so often. He saw the screen change to stare at a frosted over window often while he moved about the room. Every so often the hands, or feet, or body would fidget, as if wanting to move, but there’d be a lurch and a soft whimper that stopped further motions. The seeming helplessness of the situation displayed on the curved wall, and his own restless frustration at the predicament reflected his own thoughts and feelings. He slowed down, eyes riveted to the screen.

Is that it? Is that I’m what I’m feeling is projected? He looked at the screen again. It did say that I had to learn on the fly. I hope that means asking questions too.

“So what’s the deal? Why is she agitated when I am?”

The Jiminy part 20

The nurse shook her head and walked out of the room. Five minutes later she was back with a hand mirror. “The swellin’s gone down some, but you took a bad one from them girls,” the nurse said as Travis watched the mirror move to the girls hands.

She was right. Her right eye was nearly swelled shut by the ugly purple bruise that started on her cheek below her eye and spread around it. Butterfly tape was on the cheekbone below the eye. The other side of the face hadn’t been touched, and it was a plain face with a few scrapes on the nose that hadn’t been covered with a band-aid. The lower lip was split on the right side of the face, the same as the eye. It had two butterfly bandages just below it to hold the wound closed. She held the mirror as the other hand lifted the edge of the blue hospital smock, to expose the stomach, which was purple with bluish purple centers more pale that the surrounding bruises. That was where the kicks had landed. Most were hard enough that they were still bleeding slightly, which accounted for the change in color at the center.

Travis thought he’d be more nervous to see the girl’s body, but rage was all he really felt. Those three women had done a thorough job of hurting her. The warmth seem to increase, not uncomfortable, but like pressure was building. Like steam beginning to over pressure the valves like in one of those old movies. God help me, all I want to do is hurt them! I want to hurt them so bad! The breeze that started up sounded like a heated whisper with the warmth in the room. Travis was still angry, but the whispering bothered him. Was there someone else? He got off the platform, and tried to follow the sound. Against one portion of the curving wall it got loud enough to hear just barely.

Travis strained to hear things, and his stomach suddenly felt cold. His anger still burned hot, but a niggling doubt entered him as he heard the words. “Go ahead, they deserve it. They hurt you, hurting them back isn’t wrong, it’s payback. What goes around comes around. It isn’t your fault if they bring it on themselves, right? All you have to do is take things into your own hands. Control your own destiny and make them pay the same way they tried to make you their slave.” Damn straight, thought Travis.

“Or,” the whisper added, almost as an afterthought, “you could just give in, let go. They’d make all the decisions and you wouldn’t have to worry about anything any more. Just give everything up, and then nothing could touch you. you could hide behind all their decisions and never have to make one again. After all, with that kind of power they have, yours isn’t near enough to protect yourself, and your cousin Nar’vell, he never was much to you. Get him to pass you the stuff and you’ll be riding high in here. Those girls would need to protect you because you’d be the source for everything, and you could keep a secret. Nar’vell wouldn’t tell, especially if he thinks you like him. Just give up and let everyone around you protect you for what you can do for them.” The voice was soft, gentle, and felt magnetic. Travis had to fight the urge to press up against the wall to get closer to it. he pushed away from the wall in confusion, trying to clear his thoughts.

What, who the heck is that? I thought I was supposed to be the, well, the guy up here, the conscience thing. ‘Yes and no’ light spelled out on the grey screen in red-outlined black block letters. “What do you mean?” Travis asked angrily. It was just like when he got here. Nothing was explained, he had to stick his foot in the crap to find out it existed. Why couldn’t he just be told how to do the job and not have to go through all this stupid finding out the hard way.

‘Because it’s the rules. No help, no explanation unless you ask. then just the straight truth. After all, why should I give all the information to the opposition free of charge?’ the letters had a condescending air to them, like someone who felt infinitely superior to Travis, which really pissed him off. It was the same way that twiggy little Bobby Zillis kept talking to him on the job, like he was so stupid that he had to be told how to tie his shoes every day.