“There’s just so much goddamned weight on my shoulders
All I’m trying to do is live my motherfucking life
Supposed to be happy, but I’m only getting colder
Wear a smile on my face, but there’s a demon inside”
Jordan tapped his feet in time to the angry lyrics, sweat gathering on his creased forehead. His lunch time gym visits had begun in order to escape sitting with his colleagues as they ate their sandwiches and talked shop, but 8 months later he was a convert. He felt part of something powerful in this dingy, testosterone-fuelled room of pain and achievement. His belly was still apparent under his fluorescent Nike t-shirt due to the cheeky weekend burgers and his dislike for cardio, but he was proud of his colossal biceps. The CV room was next door but he never went in there, preferring the rush of lifting weights to a run on the tread mill.
Jordan exhaled heavily and lay down on the tattered blue bench, flexing his fingers in anticipation. He wriggled his back and arched it off the bench before relaxing and gripping the bar above him with both hands. He took an inhale of breath, and
He let go of the bar and looked to the patterned Superdry leggings at his side.
“Hey Aaliyah. I just have one more set to get through. Hang on a minute?”
“Sure. Lemme go stretch”
Jordan once again gripped the bar and focused. He heard the bar clank as it left the rack, and his arms extended against the 80kg resistance. He grunted gently and held still as his arms protested yet another set of reps, before slowly returning the bar towards his chest. He repeated the action methodically, counting each time he pushed upwards. The final two reps hurt and he uttered a low growl as he placed the bar back in the bracket.
He sat up and looked for Aaliyah who was touching her toes in the far corner, oblivious to the attention her compromising position was attracting. Jordan caught the eye of PEI Ringston who had been taking a keen interest in Aaliyah’s post-workout routine, and fixed him with a stern glance. Ringston grinned apologetically and shrugged, before allowing his eyes to flick back to Aaliyah, who was now holding her right foot up behind her as she stretched her quads. Her pinched in waist and shapely hips were accentuated by the pink lycra leggings and brought a soft quality to the sweaty masculine environment.
Only two men were completely oblivious to Aaliyah’s entrance. In the squatting rack Jason Discone was spotting Paul Prosserto as he braced himself to lift and squat his PB +10kg. The pair trained together every lunch time if they were on the same shift pattern, and most evenings after work in their local gym. Jason was a retired body builder, 6ft 2ins of pure muscle constantly coated in what appeared to be a thin layer of cuprinol. Paul was his protege , lifting weights 6 days a week and swigging chocolate protein shake in obscenely large quantities.
“Sometimes I cannot take this place
Sometimes it’s my life I can’t taste
Sometimes I cannot feel my face
You’ll never see me fall from grace
Something takes a part of me
You and I were meant to be
A cheap fuck for me to lay
Something takes a part of me”
Jordan strolled over to Aaliyah, rolling his tight shoulders and nodding his head in time to Korn as it blasted through the slightly distorted speakers. Smiling, she pulled him in for a hug. She smelt faintly of parma violets, with an overtone of lavender and clean sweat. He, as usual, smelt mainly of prison with a lingering odour of bergamot. Jordan held her tightly, before releasing his grip and pulling his right arm across his chest, holding it in place behind the elbow with his left hand.
“Hey you, sorry about that”
“That’s ok. Looks like training is going well then?”
“Not bad actually. Feels like I’ve hardly seen you recently”
“I know sorry. Life has been kind of hectic”
“Yeah I hear that. I’ve missed you!”
“I’ve missed you too. Want to come round for dinner next week?
“Yeah that would be nice. I’m sure Sasha will let me out for a few hours”
“Haaaaa under the thumb!! Ok bro, let me know. Oh I’ve ordered mum’s birthday present – you owe me £35”
Jordan shifted his position to stretch his left arm across his chest, holding it in place behind the elbow with his right hand.
“Erm. Ok. What did we get her?”
“I got her a beauty treatment voucher and some candles”
“Cool. Right better go shower. F wing this afternoon?”
“Yep. Right love you. Give the kids a squeeze from their favourite auntie!”
Aaliyah jogged off in the direction of the women’s changing room, just as Paul completed his third squat then returned the bar to the rack with a groan. Jason patted him hard on the back , and Jordan heard him say
“You’re going to be a fucking champ mate, you smashed it”
*A Wing 232*
She put the six £20 notes in her pocket and stared the prisoner right in the eye.
“This could work out very well you know, I think I could like spending time with you”
He smirked, and bent down to adjust the top of his sock.
“Yes miss, I think so too”
She stepped towards him, their bodies almost touching. She smelled of cigarettes and CK One. He could feel her body heat as she placed her hand forcefully on his crotch and spoke quietly in the direction of his left ear.
“You be good to me, Stevens, it will be worth your while.”
“Yeah my brother told me, innit”
She withdrew her hand and walked the two steps to his cell door, saying loudly
“Stevens you are not that ill that i should need to unlock you. Go to the hatch after lunch and get the nurse to check your blood sugar. If you press the bell again i will happily give you an IEP”
before saying in hushed tones
“Keep that photo hidden for fucksake. You’ve got what you wanted you could get rid of it now.”
“I will keep it for now miss if it’s all the same”
With that she strode onto the landing, bellowing down to the 1’s
“Gaffson! If you don’t stop making a fucking racket I will bend you up, got it?”
Stevens reached into his boxer shorts and removed the photo his brother had sent him. Miss Walker was lying on a dirty mattress facing away from the camera, naked from the waist up. His brother was also in the photo, looking directly into the camera as he licked a line of cocaine from between her exposed and distinctly tattooed breasts.
Officer Dovely swallowed the final bite of his second Rustler’s burger. He hadn’t particularly enjoyed the first, but they’d been on offer for £1 in Tesco and took less than 2 minutes each to microwave, so who was he to argue? His trousers were uncomfortably tight, and prisoners had started making comments about his snowballing weight gain and constant breathlessness. He knew things were getting out of hand, but since Clare had told him their break should become more permanent he had stopped caring. His colleagues knew he was going through a tough time, but in standard Dovely fashion he used humour to deflect the extent of the situation. Truth be known he had spent the last week lying awake on the sofa wondering if there was any point in him even being alive anymore. As he wiped a stray smear of plastic cheese from the corner of his mouth he felt overcome with exhaustion and hopelessness. He was sick of being the positive person for everyone else while his life disintegrated around him to nothing.
Dovely sighed, and picked the remaining crumbs from the blue plate, before awkwardly rising to rinse it in the makeshift ‘kitchen’. He turned the hot tap on, which invariably was only ever lukewarm at best, and squeezed a dollop of prison issue washing up liquid onto the plastic plate. He began thinking about when he had met Clare, over 20 years ago on a night out in Watford. He had been in a pub when Haddaway had started playing
“What is love
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
and he spotted Clare laughing with her friends at the end of the bar. She looked happy and he was drawn to her excessive silver eyeshadow and infectious grin.
Dovely was gently shaken from his memories by the sound of officers returning to the wing from the gym. He realised then it wasn’t only his trousers that felt too tight. He was short of breath, and the walls seemed as though they were closing in on him. It was as though three prisoners had taken up residence on his chest, and Dovely began sweating profusely. Gasping for oxygen he dropped to his knees, grimacing as a combination of shooting pains and unbearable pressure overwhelmed his entire body. He tried to shout for help, but no sound left his whitening lips.
**End of Part 7**
**Please be advised that Behind Closed Doors is a fictional story. Any likeness to people/prison environments/events is purely coincidental and not indicative of real life. I have used media stories, autobiographies, imagination and my writing degree to create this piece of work. My time working in prison has informed my understanding of regimes, and corruption talks from security have inspired some of the story lines**