Analise was gone when he woke; Joseph was already dressed, shrugging back into his shoulder holster, ready for the day. Colin rolled over in the bed and lifted up Joseph's badge from the nightstand, offering it to him.
"Get dressed," Joseph said. "We have a briefing to get to."
"I'll get your notes," Colin mumbled. Joseph shook his head and grasped him by the wrist, hauling him out of bed easily.
"Breakfast in ten," he announced, as Colin staggered sleepily towards the bathroom. He had a few spare clothes at their place, but once he was washed and shaved he chose the rumpled shirt from the previous day anyway; even if no one else noticed, he knew Joseph would, and Joseph would remember that Colin had spent the night in their bed.
Colin's face was not unknown at the precinct, but for a long time it had been because his face was on a wanted poster that had dominated the Fraud division's pin-board. Now there were other faces there, none as interesting or, he felt, as handsome as his, but then Colin had always prided himself on being one of a kind. He recognized a few of the faces up there now, while Joseph assembled his colleagues.
"Tips?" Joseph asked, coming up behind him as he studied the pin-board.
"Someday, when it's worth it to me," Colin answered, tossing him a grin. "So are your cops ready for me or what?"
"In," Joseph said, jerking his head at a poky, ill-lit conference room.
Colin let his mind drift while a junior detective briefed them on the investigation and his and Joseph's roles in the prison. This was not the kind of job you could study for; all the briefing in the world didn't really prepare you for prison. All he needed to know was that money was coming into Railburg and going out clean, and nobody knew where it was going in the meantime or who was handling it. He didn't need to hear about the anonymous tip they'd had or the gangland connections or the safety protocols that he couldn't hope to follow.
He did sit up a little straighter when a file was passed across to him, a sour look on the face of the detective offering it. He flipped through prisoner photographs, each familiar.
"Hm, sorry?" he asked, looking up when he realized Joseph was waiting for him to answer a question.
"Are any of them going to cause you trouble?" Joseph asked, nodding at the file. "They're the guys at Railburg that you helped us put away."
Colin drew out the first photograph and set it face down; he did the same with the next two, then laid the fourth photograph aside face-up. Five and six went face down, seven face up; eight he stopped and studied, fingers drifting over the scowling, puffy face of Eric Galano. The photo wasn't his mug shot, must have been taken later; his brown hair had been clipped prison-short and he'd been allowed to tip his head slightly to one side, hiding the puckered scar below his left ear.
"These won't bother me," he said, pointing to the face down pile without looking away from the photo. "Don't put me in a block with these two," he continued, indicating the face up pile. "This guy..."
Joseph craned his neck slightly. "Galano."
"He's at Railburg?" Colin asked.
"Looks like it," Joseph replied.
"I testified at his trial," Colin said.
"I remember." Joseph nodded. Colin knew it was probably hard to forget. Joseph had been the one standing next to him, one hand on his back, getting Colin's puke on his shoes after Colin saw the body Galano had left behind. He knew what Galano was capable of.
In the photograph, Galano's lips twitched upwards in a smirk. Colin fought the urge to start backwards, inhaling sharply through his nose.
"Guess he got a good lawyer." Joseph shrugged. "Not my call, you know that."
"So, when do we go in?" Colin continued, stacking the other photographs into the folder and closing it, resting a hand against it as if it might fly open.
"How soon can you be ready?" Joseph asked, but his voice was a little quieter than it had been.
"Three days, I think."
"So, we go in Monday. Works for me," Joseph said. "You have your prep work and you know the prison. Need anything else?"
"Not from you," Colin murmured, too quietly for him to hear. He passed the photographs back, gathering up the prep files he'd been given. He stood, nodding to Joseph, ignoring the looks on everyone else's faces; none of them were overly fond of him, whether he was helping them or not.
"Sunday night, be at the precinct," Joseph said. "We'll suit you up."
"Sunday night in jail. Sounds like a blues song," Colin said. "See ya Sunday, Joseph."
"Colin," Joseph said, just as he reached the doorway. "Thanks."
Colin smiled blandly. "Always happy to help."
That evening, Colin stood in the doorway to his bathroom, looking in, thinking hard about Railburg.
For three years he'd lived in a room about the size of this bathroom. Granted, it was a big bathroom, but it always made him uneasy. It smelled like the prison had, wet concrete and bleach. He could move, he supposed, but he suspected it wasn't the bathroom's fault. And anyway he liked his place: it was cheap, because it was falling apart, but the other tenants were quiet and the ceilings were high. It had its own little balcony he could go out on, which doubled as a handy escape platform in case he needed to run for it. Wouldn't be the first time.
He stepped away from the bathroom, settling on the battered sofa -- a rescue someone down the block had thrown out. He tipped his head back, propping his legs on the coffee table.
He hadn't had very high hopes about going into prison, and the first week he'd been there had only confirmed his fears. He'd tired quickly of the routine of prison life, and been angry that Joseph had thrown him in there, and scared of his fellow inmates. He'd tried to disappear, for the most part, but it didn't completely work. After the first time he had to fight someone off, he decided he needed either power or protection, and he could only get one of those fast enough to matter.
He laughed a little to himself, wondering if Rifkin was still king of the yard. If he was, Colin's job would be easier. Rifkin had liked him ever since the day he walked up behind him, picked the cigarettes out of his shirtsleeve without Rifkin noticing, and then sat down across the table from him and admitted what he'd done.
"I think these are yours," he'd said, holding out a handful of Camels. Rifkin's hand went to his sleeve and found it empty. "I picked them when you weren't looking."
"Are you trying to get your ass kicked?" asked the king of the yard.
"No," Colin had said with a smile, rolling one single Parliament out of the handful of Camels. Rifkin eyed him curiously; Colin already knew he preferred Parliaments, but they were expensive, harder to get. And he hadn't had any when Colin had picked his sleeve. Simple sleight-of-hand with a pack Grace had brought him, but it was impressive nonetheless.
"You must be suicidal," Rifkin said.
"Just demonstrating what I can do for you," Colin told him, rolling a second Parliament out. He offered it to Rifkin, who took it; he put the other between his own lips. "I'm a thief. I know how to smuggle, I know how to sweet talk and bribe. I can get you whatever you want, if you give me enough time. I could do a lot for a man, if I had his protection."
Rifkin had puffed thoughtfully on the cigarette before he'd grinned. "That a fact, Suicide?" he asked.
"Try me," Colin said with a grin. Rifkin leaned back and studied him, ever a cautious judge.
"Why you here?" he asked.
"Stole something I shouldn't have," Colin said calmly.
"No, Suicide, why you here?
" Rifkin asked. "This a level three state prison, did you kill someone
while you stole it?"
"I'm kind of a flight risk," Colin told him.
"You don't belong here."
"No," Colin agreed. "But I'm stuck here now."
"You been with anyone?" Rifkin asked. Colin frowned. "You anyone's punk? I'm not gonna fight someone for your ass."
Colin drummed his fingers on the table. "I'm trying to avoid that," he said slowly. "How about we make a deal: you don't fuck me and I'll do what you want."
Rifkin grinned. "And if I don't agree?"
Colin held up the small blade he'd plucked out of the other sleeve of Rifkin's shirt. "Imagine how hard someone like me can make life, for someone like you."
Rifkin was huge, both physically and metaphorically, and he had a lot of power. But he also knew the measure of things, which was what appealed to Colin to start with. He knew Colin was too valuable a commodity to waste on sex. When his smile turned from nasty to pleased, Colin knew he was in. He'd never regretted it, either -- with Rifkin's backing he could
do a lot, both for the king of the yard and for himself.
He hoped Rifkin was still there, because that meant immediate protection, no need to establish himself with the fresh meat. Not that it would be such an effort, really. Suicide Byrne's reputation should be reasonably solid. He did good work; he was reliable. Word had got around, and could again if necessary.
And he could always bribe Marlow to curse anyone who was being difficult.
He stood up and went to the kitchen, rummaging in the cupboards for dinner. Maybe he was looking forward to going back, a little. He wasn't crawling the walls at the idea, anyway. He put a pot on to boil and leaned on the counter next to the stove, thinking.
There were two drawings tacked over his stove, wrinkling from steam and heat, spattered from an experiment in fried chicken that had gone a little out of his control. He'd taken them out of prison with him because they weren't safe there; here, they were as safe as anything could be, and were slowly being faded into nothingness by the activity of everyday life.
After all, it wasn't strictly true what they said, that he could draw things that would come to life. Prison wasn't about that kind of power. But he had seen an egret flying over the prison one day and done the barest, vaguest outline of it in pencil in his cell that night. And the next morning it had moved.
Every so often, even now, it changed position. He'd been offered a lot of commodity for it in prison -- cigarettes he didn't smoke, food he wasn't interested in, protection he didn't need, sex he felt deeply ambiguous about. It hadn't been alive, or even close to alive, but it was a near enough thing. Prisoners treasured life, in a peculiar and brutal way.
The water was boiling. He tossed in a handful of pasta and watched steam rise up against the paper.
true that he once stole a soul. When he heard what the new guy McGall was in for, he'd held a conference with the others like him in the prison: Marlow, who could curse men; Gutierrez, who talked to God (and God talked back); Noel the ex-Aryan, who took away pain. They agreed that this was a special case and Gutierrez said God would choose the executioner. Marlow and Colin flipped for it and it came up heads for Colin.
Two days later, Colin asked McGall to sit for a sketch and nobody told McGall what a really bad idea that was. While he was drawing, Colin stole his soul.
It was a tattery, oily little thing, and he folded it up inside a red, red paper heart and burned it. McGall's eyes went dull and he moved like a sleepwalker, and he died two weeks later. Now, McGall's face looked down on him now from the second drawing taped up over the stove, but Colin felt not the least bit sorry; God or Gutierrez picked him for it, which meant it was a duty, merely an act committed through him. And, like the egret, the drawing had been too dangerous to leave behind.
Very few of the guys in his block had ever messed with Colin once Rifkin took him under his wing. After he stole McGall's soul, nobody
messed with him. Colin didn't crow about it; the power was only good as long as you didn't brag.
He took the cooked pasta it off the stove and poured off the water, sprinkling olive oil over the rest of it and shaking out some garlic and pepper over that. When he was younger he'd gone to Italy to study art and eaten fresh pasta with oil and garlic and nothing else, and he'd felt like he could live on the stuff. But this was cheap grocery-store spice, and anyway you couldn't get that kind of garlic in America even if you tried. He suspected it was something to do with the soil. Or maybe it was just that he knew it wasn't the same.
He should brush up on his languages. The Italians in prison, far-removed from Italy herself, still mostly spoke her dialects, which had surprised him at first. They weren't a bad bunch as long as you kept out of their business and didn't snitch. He preferred not to tattle; after all, if someone was sinning in prison, there were ways to handle it internally.
Except for Gustaf, he supposed. But Gustaf had been a special case, since Noel couldn't fight his own battles very effectively. The Aryans had no class, anyway.
The oil was a little bitter, but the meal filled him up. He stared out the window over his balcony as he ate, watching the clouds drift over the city. There were flickers of movement in the distance occasionally; too far away to tell if it was simply the city going about its business, or if Guye was out tonight. He'd have to ask Natell tomorrow.
In the meantime, he poured himself a glass of wine and went to the easel in the corner of the room, designed to catch sunlight during the day and the best of the streetlamp light in the evenings. There was a half-finished charcoal sketch on the top sheet of paper: a series of iron bars, a faceless figure behind them. A far cry from his former specialty, which had involved a lot more treasury seals, but Colin had always sketched for pleasure. At least this drawing would probably not come to life.
Still, he tore it off and crumpled it up, shoving it far down in the trash. He stood in front of the blank paper beneath for a long time, waiting for inspiration to strike, but he ended up looking past it, out the window. As if he thought peace of mind might blow in on the breeze.
Well, you never knew.
"The Darkman is a white policeman all in black -- his uniform is black, even his badge be black metal like iron, and he ain't got no eyes, just big black holes. He rides up and down on his black horse, clip-clop, clip-clop. If he sees your face you're done for
Natell was sitting on a large plastic storage tub in a back room of the shelter, surrounded by other children -- anywhere from infants in their siblings' arms up through kids almost old enough to have lost interest in fairy tales. Most of the younger ones who could understand Natell's narration gasped in awe or fear.
"You want to know how he can see when he ain't got no eyes?" Natell continued, drumming his heels against the bin. There was a wave of nods. Colin, leaning in the darkened doorway, watched with interest. "He sees through the horse's eyes. The horse see you, he sees you. You got to beware the Darkman."
Natell was eleven or thereabouts, at least by Colin's estimation, though sometimes it was hard to tell. He always looked faintly underfed, cheekbones standing out a little more than seemed healthy against the clear, light brown skin of his face. It made him seem young -- but he had quick, intelligent eyes, and as small as he was he commanded attention.
He was, still, too young to have stopped believing the stories passed from child to child in the shelters, but he was old enough to be the official storyteller. Some of the other kids were older than him, but only barely; past a certain age, children seemed to start forgetting the stories, or scorning them at least. They were an intricate mythology all their own, a secret language found in any shelter in the city, and Natell spoke it fluently.
Still, he was getting older, and he'd start to forget soon.
"He's Satan!" a child piped up, and Natell looked scornful.
"Those liars at the church mission tell you that?" he asked. "Satan's afraid of the Darkman."
"Why?" the boy pressed.
"Darkman's older than Satan, duh," Natell said. "Besides, people can pray against Satan. Can't say no prayer against the Darkman. If he's coming you better hide."
"How do you know when the Darkman's coming, Natell?" Colin asked, and the children all started at the adult voice in their midst -- they were somewhere they weren't supposed to be, telling stories adults weren't supposed to hear, and they knew it. A couple of them looked uneasily at Natell to see what he'd do.
"Don't you listen?" Natell asked, derisive, and Colin saw some of the children relax. "You hear him comin'. Clip-clop, clip-clop. That's why when you hear the black horse with the Darkman on it you gotta get out of sight before he slits your throat and eats you. Or you say Guye's secret name and he come down and protect you from the Darkman. But if you're a girl that doesn't work."
"What do you do if you're a girl?" Colin asked. Several of the girls exchanged looks.
"They don't tell me that," Natell said.
"What's Guye's secret name, then?"
"Nobody know," Natell admitted, shaking his head.
"Then what point is it, saying that if you know, it'll protect you?"
Natell screwed up his face in annoyance. "Man, fuck you, this ain't even your business."
"My mistake," Colin said, grinning and holding up his hands innocently. "You got a minute?"
Natell gave a loose twist of his shoulders, a half-hearted shrug, and waved at the children surrounding him. "Go on, go on. I got business to conduct."
It was near lunchtime, by Colin's design; he rested a hand on Natell's shoulder and guided him out of the shelter, onto the street. A few kids, older than Natell, cast pitying looks his way; they had cynical impressions of Colin's motivations, a white man walking a young black boy out of the shelter, but none of them were about to try and stop him. The shelter's administrators never even noticed him.
Natell was a keeper of important lore, and Colin had questions both general and personal to ask.
"You want a hot dog?" Colin asked, and Natell nodded, leading him unerringly to the nearest food cart. He bought a hot dog for Natell and a bag of chips for himself and they found a quiet corner to eat in, sitting on the sidewalk, watching the world pass.
"So?" Natell prompted. "What you want to know?"
Colin laughed. "Maybe I just want to see you eat a decent meal you didn't get from a school cafeteria."
"Aw, come on," Natell said. "You ain't saving anyone. You need something?"
Colin chewed thoughtfully. "Was Guye out last night?"
Natell nodded. "And the Darkman too," he said, around a mouthful of food. "Pretty big fight. You see it?"
"Not much. Who won?"
"Darkman did," Natell said. "That's why I was tellin' everyone about him. Something weird's going on."
"How?" Colin asked. Natell looked dubious. The boy didn't trust easily, and Guye and the Darkman were children's stories. Grownups weren't supposed to know about them. Even if Colin could see what they saw, he wasn't necessarily on their side.
"You ever seen the Darkman?" Natell asked, instead of answering him. Colin shook his head. "I seen him twice. He ain't never seen me. You ever seen Guye?"
"Only from a distance."
Colin gave him a sober look. "He's tall with dark skin, and he wears night camo, not desert camo like his soldiers do. His heart glows through his uniform, so he's easy to spot, and holy light comes off his head."
"Not holy light," Natell corrected. "It's just light."
"My mistake," Colin told him. "So, do I pass?"
"Yeah, okay," Natell agreed, seemingly satisfied. He looked almost eager to talk about it, like he didn't have many confidantes.
"What's going on? What's weird?" Colin asked.
"It's like...everyone be clearing out," Natell explained. "We don't hear from Guye's soldiers no more. But the Darkman's cops, they ain't come around either. It's like they say it was after 9/11," he added. "Whole city emptied out and it was just the Darkman. They had to dig Guye out of Ground Zero, you hear that?"
"How'd you hear?" Colin asked. "You can't be old enough to remember."
"My brother told me, back before he stopped believing," Natell shrugged again. "Fore he died. Someone told him. Story gets around."
"What happens if the Darkman wins?" Colin asked.
"Ain't never gonna happen," Natell said. "That's the point."
"What's the point?"
"It's just how it is. It's how it's supposed to be. If Guye wins, so what? If the Darkman wins, who's he got to fight?"
"Pretty big concepts for a kid like you," Colin said, offering him a potato chip.
"Fuck you," Natell snapped.
"No offense meant," Colin said.
"Yeah? I'm offended anyway."
Colin grinned at him. Natell took the chip he offered, but he still looked like he wanted to pick a fight. "You come all the way down here to ask me about Guye? What do you care?"
"No, I was just curious," Colin said. Natell shoved the last of the hot dog into his mouth, licking his fingers. "Listen, you can't tell anyone this, okay?"
Natell rolled his eyes. "What'd you do?"
"I'm going back to Railburg for a little while."
"What the hell, man?" Natell demanded, outraged.
"Look, it's not a big deal. Couple of weeks, at most. That's why you can't tell. I'm working for the po."
"Course you are," Natell growled.
"Hey, it pays the rent. And I have..." Colin shrugged, trying to find words for it without resorting to duty
. "There's something I have to do inside. So listen, you got anything you want me to tell Laney? You know anyone else in Railburg?"
Laney was Natell's cousin, twenty years old and freshly convicted for car theft. Natell hadn't been to see him since he went in a few months before; Colin hadn't known Laney that well, but he knew Natell missed him.
"Yeah, tell Laney he's a motherfucker," Natell said, grinning. Colin gave him a small disapproving scowl. "Whatever, tell him I say hi. Tell him Darkman winning right now."
"He still care about Darkman?" Colin asked.
"Laney? He might. He's strange." Natell glanced up at Colin, who towered over him even sitting down. "Ask him if he got anything to tell me."
"I can do that," Colin nodded. Natell chewed on his lip.
"You watch out for yourself," he warned Colin.
"I always do," Colin assured him.
That night was quieter than the last, but Colin slept fitfully; he dreamed about the last days before prison -- about the night Joseph had put the handcuffs on him and made them stick. And he dreamed about Railburg.
Railburg didn't have solitary. It had Seg, which was different in name only, though apparently more humane than some places. Railburg's Seg was right in the middle of the complex, housed in the central axis of the building that branched off into five different cell blocks, each with its own contained yard. The dining hall was also in the middle, directly above Seg, serving each meal in two shifts for the A through C blocks, who were level three security, and one more shift for the D and E blocks, who were level two. Colin preferred level three, in some ways; the level two boys slept in dorms, and Colin liked having his own cell.
He'd been around for almost six months before he was sent to Seg for the first time (the only time) and he'd thought he was doing pretty well. It wasn't an easy life, by any stretch of the imagination, but he had a routine; in the mornings he ran errands and carried messages for Rifkin, and in the afternoons he freelanced or sat and bullshitted and played cards with a couple of the guys on his block. As an acknowledged cheat he was forced to play croupier, but that had its own advantages.
In the dream he was dealing cards again, like he had been; it was spring, his first spring at Railburg, and he was feeling pretty good about having survived the winter. Each season was a landmark in a way he was only beginning to understand. Before, when it got cold, he'd just...gone somewhere warm. Not an option anymore.
There was some fight, some disagreement, maybe about the cards or maybe just nearby, Colin could never remember. Even in the dream, he couldn't recall how
it had started or why he'd jumped in, just that he had -- a swift crack across the bridge of his nose to open the fight and then his own bloodied knuckles, because he wasn't a fighter but he had enough muscle to make it count.
In reality, he remembered the whistle of a baton and a bruise across his ribcage that lasted far longer than his stay in Seg. Here, in his own subconscious, they were pulled apart much more quickly; Colin was tugged backwards, off-balance, and when he landed he was in a dark four-walled cell. There was a camera behind a cage in the corner and a hatch in the steel door for food.
He'd spent about a day making faces at the camera, for want of anything else to do. He'd spent another few days thinking up ways to escape Seg and then the prison, but you couldn't get out of Seg unless you had an exit strategy for the prison and a pretty good plan for life as a fugitive -- and anyway, he wanted to do his time and be clean, so that he'd have a head start when he got out and went back to old tricks. (Thwarted, all of it; what a ridiculous thing he'd done to himself since.)
But in dream-time he skipped ahead of all that, forward to sometime in the second week when the smell of cooking combined with the bland, spongy, nutritionally balanced "loaf" he got twice a day in Seg instead of real food were both beginning to drive him crazy. He'd started jittering for a pencil and paper, something to draw with; some kind of stimulation inside the bare walls. He felt like he was sinking into his own head, as everything got quieter and more distant and gray.
He'd long since stopped being able to see where the walls met. Half the time if he tried to move he'd stumble into one without realizing it, though the cell was well-lit. It had been pressing on him for a long time, the tight regulation and iron rules of prison, the unimaginative unchangingness of it, but here in this little room with nothing
, with nobody --
He woke in a cold sweat, tense and breathing hard, very still for a moment before he lifted his hands and tangled them in his hair, closing his eyes. He owed his strength to Seg, he knew that. The mojo had come to him in Seg because he'd needed it so desperately. But he'd made very sure for the rest of his term in prison never to get sent there again. He'd have gone insane.
He thought he had, when he'd come out and found he could do things he shouldn't be able to do, see things other people couldn't see. He'd always been able to disappear, but now he could walk through prison bars; he'd always been able to read people, but he hadn't seen their future in their eyes before. Only the faint, half-ignored knowledge that this had happened to other men kept him from believing he'd gone mad -- that and Gutierrez, who had found him on the yard and brought him into the fold, murmuring that God had told him to find Colin.
He didn't dare close his eyes, didn't dare finish out the dream. Instead he lay awake until dawn, drowsing, waiting for some kind of light before succumbing to sleep again.
Sunday he desperately wanted to sleep, but he had jobs to wrap up; he had lunch with the woman who'd had him trailing her husband, and told her as far as he could see the husband was taking dance lessons to impress her. She looked pleased, and he felt a little bad about that, but he reminded himself that this was a woman who ran half the coke smuggling in New York, and she wouldn't think twice about killing her husband and him if she found out he'd been lying. He hoped the husband wasn't stupid enough to keep stepping out.
Sunday afternoon he presented himself at the precinct, and Joseph showed him all his paperwork: an arrest for breaking and entering with a loaded firearm, a ten-year sentence, and an order for his admission to Railburg State Correctional Facility.
"Always makes me feel like I'm living in 1984
," he said to Joseph as he handed him his keys and wallet. Joseph cocked his head curiously. "Not the year, the book. You know. 'Re-education'. 'Correction'. Euphemisms for what we really mean, because everyone likes to pretend it works better than it does."
"Correctional Facility is still more accurate than saying Penitentiary," Joseph pointed out, opening a drawer in his desk.
"Not really. I don't think so, anyway. You think I got any correction when you put me in Railburg?"
Joseph's eyes darkened. He looked up from where he was fiddling with the drawer. "You committed crimes, Colin."
"Yeah, I know," Colin said, turning back to the paperwork. He heard Joseph turn the key in the cheap desk-drawer lock, securing his last symbols of freedom inside. "And I did my time. Most of it, anyway. There were a lot more of us being penitent than there were being corrected, that's all. Well, penitent we got caught."
"I know it was hard," Joseph said, which itself must have been hard to say. Colin set the paperwork aside and offered his wrists again, and Joseph instead put a prison uniform in his arms.
"Sure you're ready for this?" he asked, as Colin stood up and pulled his shirt off. Joseph was in a suit, jacket off, holster dark against his white shirt; Colin tried to picture him in a prison guard's uniform and couldn't.
"Are you?" Colin asked, honestly curious. "I've been a prisoner before. Done your homework for guard duty?"
"I know my way around a prison," Joseph said. Colin took off his shoes and socks, undoing his belt.
"As a guest, maybe," he said.
Joseph grinned. "I've been reading handbooks."
"Well, I hope that helps," Colin replied, taking off his pants, tugging his underwear down. He held up the cheap government-issue underwear the prisoners got, letting a little annoyance cross his face. "I hate this shit. You wonder why we're all belligerent in prison? It's the underwear."
"Hazard pay," Joseph reminded him. Colin stepped into the underwear, then the orange uniform pants and the soft canvas shoes.
"Aren't you nervous?" he asked, turning back to his street clothes and folding them meticulously.
"Why?" Joseph said. "Nothing to be done about it if I am, not until I get there. You worried about someone shanking me, Byrne?"
Colin gave him a gentle smile, the orange prison smock in one hand. "If you get outed, the guys running this thing will take you to the locker room and beat the shit out of you. Prisoners aren't the only violent ones."
Joseph returned a sharp look, no smile at all. "That ever happen to you?"
"It could have," Colin said, which wasn't precisely an answer and Joseph knew it. He continued before Joseph could reply. "You enforce the law. When you put people away you send them somewhere the laws are different. Just keep your eyes open and your mouth shut."
"Giving orders now?" Joseph asked, coming around the desk to lean against it.
"I know more than you," Colin pointed out. He kept the smile in place until he'd pulled the smock over his head. "At least, about this."
"I remember," Joseph said. "Come on. I need to lock you up."
"Game time," Colin murmured, and let himself be led to a holding cell and locked inside. It wasn't long past dinner, but he curled up on the bunk under the thin blanket and fell asleep quickly. If he dreamed, he didn't remember them. Chapter Three