“It was a funny sorta day. It was rainin’. ‘Cause of that, they didn’t let nobody outinta the yard…everybody hadda stay locked up in the cell block.
“There was a young Italian guy there who was a goofy sorta bastard. He musta lifted weights ‘cause he had a good seta shoulders, but was like only fiveseven, fiveeight.”
At this point, to indicate the height of the tale’s protagonist, Hal stuck out his arm in an inverted Sieg Heil salute, with his hand about the level of his own solar plexus — as if his palm was resting on some little guy’s head.
“Ever since hittin’ the joint the goof was tryin’ to chew everybody’s ears off with a rap.”
“Whadda we listenin’ to the guards for? It’s time we stopped takin’ orders and started givin’ the orders aroun’ here.”
“Smellin’ trouble about ready to brew, the other guys all steered clear of the kid — even The Tornado, who was generally ready for any kinda game. Not me… I decided to see how far I could get the goof to go by talkin’ ‘im up.”
Hal half extended his arm out to the side, as if he was holding somebody by the shoulder in a fraternal embrace. Hal was struggling to keep a straight face, but kept breaking out in giggles, overcome by anticipation of the humor in the situation.
“You got lots of good ideas. Nobody else here knows howta think. We been needin’ a guy like you to show us the way. Remember, If anything goes down, I’m right behin’ you Baby.”
Hal, at six foot four inches, 280 pounds, and even stronger than he looked, would seem to be one hell of a guy to have backing you up in a fight.
“Everybody was just millin’ about the cell block. Outa nowhere, the goof begins bangin’ a frying pan against the bars. The hack, a white-haired old Irish guy all hung-over, comes hurryin’ on down.”
“Hey, I got a headache. Stop it with all the racket.”
“Whatsamatter stupid, you can’t hear right?”
“The hack unlocked the cell block door, slid it open and walked in holding a nightstick pointed down to the floor.”
“Say that again, will you?”
“Now the goof skips up real fast like an’ belts the hack a hard right to the jaw.
“The shot drives the hack right through the doorway and sends him backoutinta the alley. But even as he’s flyin’, the hack grabs the door an’ slides it shut. He lands against the wall and pours all the way down to the concrete. Sully just sits there dazed with his chin against his chest for aroun’ ten minutes. Then, slowly proppin’ himself up, he gets back on his feet and staggers off.
“Maybe another five minutes go by. The alarm starts howlin’.
“Next was the poundin’ and thumpin’ of the goon squad runnin’ upa coupla’ flights of metal stairs — sorta like jungle drums in some old timey movie.
“All of a sudden a crowd of strange hacks is boilin’ at the door. One wormy prune is fumblin’ with a big brass ring of keys, tryin’ to fin’ the right one.
“The goof’s still standin’ like a boxer, all ready to do battle. The hacks finally get the cell block door open and swarm on in. The first one dives and gives the goof a good whack across the knees with the nightstick. As the kid goes tumblin’ down, the hacks — maybe six of them — right then and there — work him over with their nightsticks, like a crew bustin’ up a sidewalk. Stoppin’ short of killin’ ‘im, they drag ‘im out and down the hall.
“It’s a couple of months before they bring the goof back. He was all casts and crutches.”
The skin between Hal’s yellow beard and blue eyes crinkled. He again began giggling.
“No matter, I still kept ‘im bullshitted.
“Hey Baby, I wanted to help, but it all happened too fast.”