Deborah Tadema                                     

 Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Urban Thrillers, Fantasy and Historical Novels  Book Reviewer



Reflections of Honor

Reflections of Honor

Book Seven

Due to unnatural circumstances, Mitch Wilder is pardoned from prison early. He wants to forget what he did in there, the relationships he had. But one man haunts him, the one who looks so much like his stepbrother, Tom Fleming. And Mitch finds that he's unable to form a serious relationship with anyone since his release. He is confused about his own identity.

On top of this, Mitch meets several of his kids for the first time. His womanizing has finally caught up to him. He vows to do right by them, no matter how many of them there are. Two of his sons are into drugs. Mitch is unable to do anything about it. Not when he's addicted himself.

      Late August 1972. The 6 a.m. buzzer sounded, making Mitch Wilder groan and turn over on his narrow bed. He kept his eyes closed and tried for a few extra minutes of sleep, remnants of the nightmare still clouding his mind. Above him, he heard Snake stop partway down the ladder and straighten his covers. They were in a prison known locally as the Funny of the many government experiments concocted in the sixties. It was in a small place called Damascus, Ontario; near Orangeville. The inmates grew most of their own vegetables and raised animals. They had fresh eggs for breakfast twice a week. Best of all, they grew their own pot. Both Mitch and Snake, bunk mates, worked the morning shifts in the gym. Mitch during the first part of the week, Snake the later part. They knew it kept them from beating the shit out of each other. 

      The nightmare had been about Mitch's first shower in prison and his introduction into gaydom. Several men had held him by the arms, bigger and stronger men, while a male hooker stripped and bent over. One man aimed Mitch's oversize dick into Queeny then stood back. Mitch resigned himself into screwing a man. In the dream, Mitch convinced himself that it was his brother, Tom's face he saw. Tom and Queeny looked so much alike that they could be twins. 

      Snake let out a cough Mitch was certain was aimed at him to get his ass out of bed. He hadn't had sex with Snake. Snake was a monk as far as Mitch was concerned. Or maybe he was too choosy. He'd never seen Snake partake in such acts. Yet, Snake kept track of the inmates' activities, who had little else to do outside of their assigned jobs. 

      Mitch kept telling himself that once he was out of prison, he'd go back to screwing women. After all, Sue Marshall was waiting for him. But then, why would she? If it hadn't been for his satyriasis, Mitch wouldn't have screwed more than 530 women...or taken his anger and frustrations out on some of them. He wouldn't be in prison, convicted of rape. 

      But he was calmer now. His medication made him feel like he was not quite awake enough for his temper to unleash. The Paxil he took for his depression kept him from trying to commit suicide again. 

      Mitch opened an eye and watched Snake finish making his bed then go over to the toilet to relieve himself. After, he put on his bright orange pants. As he tucked in his matching shirt, he kicked the bed. “Get up, Wild Man. Or we don't eat.” 

      Mitch followed the same routine as Snake. After they were both dressed, they waited until the cell door slid open on hydraulic hinges. They stepped outside and stood in front of their cell under a big number six in a line of fifteen cells. Across the hall was the same setup, giving them thirty, double- bunked cells. They waited until the guards went down each side of the big hall. Their keys jiggling on their belts as they counted heads. Mitch often wondered what all the keys were for, beings that most of the doors slid open on their own. All the guard did was talk into his little radio to someone who'd push a button somewhere within the confines of the prison. 

        After the all-clear buzzer sounded, Mitch lined up at a cart that a male nurse wheeled in. The doctor checked his armband then doled out Mitch's medication to him, watching carefully. Mitch washed his pills down with water from a paper cup. 

      Mitch threw the cup into the trash then went with Snake down the corridor and into the cafeteria. He picked up plastic utensils wrapped in a napkin and set it on a tray, sliding it along the counter. An inmate shoved a plate at him, loaded with pancakes and two sausages. Mitch put it on the tray then took a tiny paper cup filled with syrup and a mug of coffee. 

      He sat at the same table since he'd first come to the Funny Reflections of Honor 9 Farm and poured milk into his cup from a little packet, then he stirred in two packages of sugar. The range boss, ironically called Boss, sat across from Mitch, along with Queeny and Snake. Sponge, the range whore, sat on Mitch's right, across from Snake. Sponge was a small man who never laughed. No one would laugh, being at the mercy of the nearly forty men in B could hold up to sixty inmates. 

      The seat on Mitch's left remained vacant. It would be so now that Mackey had been transferred to another prison. He had been severely beaten after attacking Mitch in a jealous rage. Testimonies and cameras had proven that Mitch hadn't been the culprit. A month later they still didn't know who had beaten the crap out of Mackey. 

      Mitch glanced at the man directly across from him. He was the man Mackey was jealous of. Queeny was the good-looking hooker chasing after Mitch. Proclaiming his love to him. Mitch knew he had feelings for Queeny---but it certainly wasn't love. The weird thing about Queeny was, he looked too much like Mitch's stepbrother, Tom Fleming. In fact, there had been a mix-up in the prison when Tom visited him. They arrested him when they thought Queeny had escaped. And knowing Tom, he would never visit Mitch again while he was in prison. 

      Mitch ate his breakfast and joined in idle chat with the men at his table, noticing again that Sponge just sat there, eating in silence, keeping his head down. Mitch gave up telling jokes to get the small man to laugh, or to engage him in conversation. Sponge seemed like a zombie, not quite focused on life; eating, sleeping, and getting raped several times a day. Mitch often wondered what went on in Sponge's mind. Maybe he blanked everything out. Or he told himself that he'd be out of prison soon and be able to live normally. Somehow, Mitch didn't think Sponge's life would ever be normal again.  

      After breakfast, Boss stood and yelled for quiet. The drone of conversation dulled as all eyes turned toward the range boss. He scanned the paper in his hand then told five men that their jobs had been changed. Another three men were to report to the nurse for vaccinations. He looked down at the men sitting at his own table. “Snake and Wild Man; I need to see you later.” 

      Usually during Boss's speech, the kitchen staff would come out and collect the dishes. They'd take everything into the back where it would all be counted. No one could leave the cafeteria until the all-clear was given from the top dog in the kitchen. Except this time Boss didn't get the okay signal. His eyes turned hard as he addressed the men. “We will sit here all day until whoever stole the knife gives it up.” Nine out ten times it was a knife. 

      Mitch watched a couple more guards join the two already by the door. No one would be allowed to move from their seats, not even to go to the bathroom. They wouldn't get fed again either, no matter how long they were there. They'd just sit in their seats until the knife would suddenly appear on the table in front of an inmate. Then that inmate would automatically be sent into the hole...or solitary confinement as it were. 

      Beings they would be late vacating the cafeteria, it meant that they were holding up breakfast for the inmates from A Range. That in itself could cause a riot. Mitch hoped that this wasn't going to take long. 

      A hand slowly went up. “Stand,” Boss told the man. 

      An old-timer near the far wall stood and looked sheepishly at Boss. “I dropped it. It's on the floor somewhere.” 

      Boss nodded. “Find it then.” 

      The man squatted and looked under the table. Then he crawled under it. Mitch looked up at Boss. Boss was scowling at the men in the corner as if sensing that something was wrong. He signaled the guards.  

      All four guards headed toward the corner. A man suddenly started screaming and flailing about. Boss rushed over to him. Mitch stood, along with several others, craning his neck to see what was happening. The men in the corner crowded around the screaming man. Boss pushed his way into the center of the crowd. Mitch lost sight of him for a few minutes. The screaming suddenly stopped. Then a guard cuffed the old man and led him out. His hands were bloody. Another guard was talking into his little radio. 

      Minutes later the door burst open. The doctor and several of his staff ran in carrying a stretcher. Mitch saw them rush the injured man out, blood covering his stomach area. The missing knife sticking out of his gut. 

      “Take your seats,” Boss yelled as the doctor followed the stretcher out. The guards backed up toward the door, watching over the injured man...who looked dead to Mitch. Slowly the men took their seats and a nervous calm spread throughout the cafeteria. 

      Boss waited by the door with two of the guards who had stayed behind. “Nobody move.” He glared at the men in the corner. 

      Ten minutes later the warden marched in, along with her two bodyguards who followed her everywhere. She surveyed the room as Boss told her what had happened. Her eyes remaining a bit too long on Mitch. Snake snickered. “She has a thing for you, Wild Man.” 

      Mitch glanced at Snake and noticed Queeny's scowl. Snake chuckled. Mitch turned back to the action taking place across the room. Warden Little ordered five more men arrested. They'd be taken to the interrogation rooms and questioned. She said something to Boss on her way out. Boss nodded, then waited until everything had settled down again. He signaled the guard talking into his radio. The all-clear buzzard sounded.