“You’re a racist,” he said. “And racists don’t get jobs here.”
Tom swallowed. Nobody fucking calls me a racist, he thought.
The interviewer started to put Tom’s papers back into the brown manila folder.
“And I’m gonna report you for discrimination,” Tom said.
The interviewer laughed as he closed the folder.
“You hate faggots,” Tom continued trying to force the point home.
The interviewer smirked, “You haven’t got a leg to stand on.”
“I’ll have these,” Tom said, and quickly took the papers and ran from the building.
It had been two weeks since the interview with the faggot hater, as Tom thought of him. Tracking the hater had been easy. Tom would hide in a recess at the back of the parking spaces. The interviewer would leave irregularly, sometimes early sometimes late.
Tom looked up from under the interviewer’s car into the familiar darkness of an engine. This is my kind of work, thought Tom. And although, the hoodie and t-shirt were not enough to keep Tom warm lying on concrete, he liked the edge the cold gave him. He was alert, awake, almost as good as meth, he thought.
When he heard footsteps approaching, he waited until he could see shoes at the door. The door opened and the shoes got in. Quickly, Tom rolled out from under the car and stood up. Suddenly, violently he yanked the door open, before it could be locked.
The man turned in fright and looked at Tom. “It, it, it’s you, he said.”I interviewed you.” Tom pulled him from the car and pushed him to the ground, forcing words out through gritted teeth. “It is me, you prick.”
“You’ll go to prison for this,” the man whimpered. “At least I work at prison,” Tom said as he pulled a baseball bat from behind him. “And if you tell anyone, I know where your family lives.” The man cowered and covered his face, as he waited for the first blow.
Tom’s cell was familiar already, so was being sore and bruised from his beating two hours ago. He had failed to pay for meth, and this was the consequence. That and double next time he met the dealer, or the beatings would get worse he’d been told. He didn’t have any money and he didn’t know how he was going to get it, but I don’t fucking care.
“You’re too angry, mate,” said the voice from above him. Tom hadn’t even known that there was someone there. He thought he’d been left alone.
“I like feeling like this,” he said. It was the only thing Tom really knew for certain.
Tom had more energy in his voice now. “It makes me feel alive.”
There was resounding laughter from the bunk above him. “You don’t know what being alive feels like.”
“You’re the one who’s fucked, mate, cause you’re so stupid.”
“What do you know?”
“Been here 10 years for murder. You’re not liked, bro.”
I don’t care about being liked. “I never killed anyone.” That’ll shut him up.
“But, I’m not addicted to violence,” the voice continued.
How can you be addicted to violence. Who does he think he is, some kind of guru? “Who the fuck are you?”
“Your guardian angel, bro.”
Tom laughed. “Why would you give a shit?”
“‘Cause you’ve got nothing and no one.”
“Nothing to lose,” said Tom. Got him.
“Except your addiction,” the voice trailed off, “to violence.”
Then Tom remembered being beaten, held against the wall and beaten, held to the ground and beaten. It would hurt for days, sometimes weeks. It was then that his father told him that he loved him.
“You don’t know anything,” Tom said.
A big brown face appeared over the side of the bunk. It smiled at Tom. “I’m Tom,” he said. I want to show you something.
Tom. How the fuck is he called Tom? I’m the Tom here. Suddenly he was disarmed. Am I dreaming? “Ok,” said Tom confused.
“Tomorrow,” and the big brown face, like the Cheshire Cat, disappeared from view.
Tom didn’t pay for the meth. Tom could almost smell the spores growing in the dank concrete, his mind ablaze with fear, as they dragged him limp into the darkness. But he didn’t mind that.
“Where am I going?” asked Tom already knowing.
“To your death,” said one of the hooded men and laughed.
“I don’t want to die,” he said smelling himself, but remained unconvinced that it was him that was talking.
“Then pay up then,” said the other man angrily almost spitting out the words.
“You know I have nothing.”
“And the only thing you’re worth to us is the example we’re gonna make.”
Then they let go of Tom. Tom felt like he had been falling for hours when he hit the ground.
A boot went in. Tom loved the sudden nausea that ran through his body and seized his brain. He couldn’t think but this was familiar and comforting. And then a boot went into his back. He knew that at worst he would be crippled, at best he would be dead.
*This stupid life will be over.* It was the last thing he thought as he began to lose consciousness.
“We’ll have him,” an officer shouted as he suddenly jumped from behind a pillar, his partner jumping from behind another. “You’ve done enough. He heard the hooded men turn and run, vanishing into the light.
It had been two weeks since they rescued Tom. The dryness of the room was almost suffocating. But worse were the nightmares and the brown man smiling at him constantly.
“I want to get off meth,” Tom said quietly looking at the floor. His mind on the other hand was screaming words he knew to be lies. All you need to do is get out of here. Just go. Run like they did.
The officer looked at Tom kindly. “We can help you,” he said.
It’s a lie,thought Tom, they never help anyone. “I’ve been seeing things.” You ain’t seen nothing yet. I will kill you for this.
“But you have to tell us who’s dealing,” he said.
Tom felt like a hand had reached inside his stomach and pushed its way up into his brain and was about to pull it out. “I can’t do that.”
“Then we can’t help you.”
“They will kill me.”
“They certainly will. Or we just leave you in solitary.”
There was no laughter in his voice. Tom looked up at him. He was the brown man he had been hallucinating.
“It’s you!” Tom shouted, his voice cracking with disbelief. “How? How? How?”
“It doesn’t really matter does it,” the officer smiled. The man reminded Tom of his mother. And that made Tom distrust the warmth he showed. He closed his eyes.
And as he retreated into the darkness, Tom became an ocean of being lost. He opened his eyes again.
“I give up,” said Tom.
“Good,” said the brown man.
“I give up,” said Tom.
“Good,” said the brown man.