Virgil had warned me to be ready for payback. He already knew the story of me and Lee. I guess Nikki had told him all about it or he read it in the newspapers — how I’d backed out of our plan to shoot up our high school; how I’d told the police everything and served less than a year while my ex-friend got 25.
Lee never got back at me during my first term in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, but by now, he had built up some real prison currency. He had a better chance of exerting influence and bribing people to tell other people to do his bidding for something in return.
“He’ll find out you’re there,” Virgil told me. “Word travels from maximum to minimum and back again.”
“I know,” I said. “I’ve been there.”
“Yeah, but it’s been a while. Watch your back every second.”
On Day 29 of my 30-day term, Virgil’s crystal fucking ball flashed red.
And I was ready.
I was in the prison library, putting books back where they were supposed to be — the same job I had back when I was here in 2014-15. Lee was a fool for waiting so long because the closer it got to the end of my term, the more I felt it would happen at any moment … and the more I couldn’t wait to wreck whoever tried it.
I don’t know if the guard had been bribed to look the other way or not, but when he walked off for thirty seconds, my adrenaline surged. There were two guys sitting at a table well behind me who I knew and didn’t expect any shit from. I was standing beyond all the aisles of books, stocking the long shelf along the rear wall of the basically square room.
Two other guys I didn’t know very well — both shorter than me but pretty tough-looking — came in and started peeping around, but definitely not for books. My blood boiled and I imagined myself as who I always did before a fight — Shawn Thornton, ex-Boston Bruin and one of the best hockey fighters who ever lived.
I moved my cart toward the rear right corner of the library and played oblivious. I turned the cart the long way so it would block both the rear horizontal aisle and stick into the second-to-last vertical aisle at the same time. The only way they could get me without hurdling the cart was to come down the far right vertical aisle. I’d trapped myself in the corner on purpose and mostly kept my back to them. An exaggerated cleared throat not far away told me they’d found my aisle, my corner.
They both approached my ass single file as silently as they could while I raged inside — head pounding, heart banging through my chest. My left hand white-knuckled a hardcover of “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen; my right fist transformed into a hammer.
“This is from Lee in max,” the first dickhead declared, but before he got the “x” out of his mouth, my left hand had flung the book at his buzzed head, causing him to duck and my right fist followed with a hard punch to his nose, stunning him. The second guy, with the barbed-wire tat creeping up his neck, backed up a step, stunned that I was ready for them. I bull rushed past the first guy and tackled the second. I started whaling on him right there on the floor when the two guys I knew from the table ran over to check out the battle.
“Holy shit, Upton!” the one name Eddie shouted. The other one, Calhoun, just laughed.
“Get the fucking guard!” I yelled. “Or grab …”
Before I could shout another word, the first dickhead stabbed me in the back with something — a razor blade or the end of an X-acto knife maybe — and ripped downward. It fucking KILLED! I struggled to stand up as he put me in a headlock from behind, but I was so pissed off from getting stabbed that I rammed him into the bookshelf and crushed his arm enough to release me. Then I was free to wreck him up against the books. Every move I made hurt my back like a motherfucker, but I kept swinging anyway and wasted the rest of his face to match his broken nose.
That’s when the guard finally showed up. By now, at least Eddie was holding down the second asshole. Calhoun must’ve run off to tell the guard what had happened.
“What the fuck is going on here?” shouted the guard, a new one I didn’t recognize.
I shoved the dazed and bloodied mofo who stabbed me toward the guard’s feet. “These two motherfuckers just ambushed me and I kicked their asses! Now take me to the fucking hospital!”
They all looked at me like I was insane, so I turned around to show them my gashed back — orange prison suit parted by a red sea of blood. The chorus of groans told me how bad it was.
I spun back around on them.
“That’s fucking why!” I shouted, loud enough so Lee could hear it in max.
From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Release date: Oct. 9
ARC date: Available now on NetGalley