This week at the Sunday Whirl we are to craft a story or poem using the words below.
The moon was almost full the night nine prisoners stood chained together awaiting the train that would take them from the Joliet prison in Illinois, to San Francisco. From there, a boat would take them to Alcatraz Island — their final destination. The shiny silver chains allowed for very little wiggle room. The men were so close to one another that each man could feel the prisoner behind him breathing on his neck. It was like Chinese water torture without the water.
All of the prisoners had been found guilty of murder, but only one man still insisted he was innocent of any crime. Sammy Rosati swore he’d been framed, that all he was guilty of was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, the callous judge had heard that one a million times, and disregarded Sammy’s explanation with disdain.
Before his life went sideways, Sammy had planned to be a dress designer, maybe even at the Maison Haute Couture. He had a knack for drawing and the right kind of creativity and determination necessary to be successful in the field. As one of the youngest and smallest inmates; a mere sliver of a man, Sammy had the street smarts not to share his dream with anyone. God only knows what could happen to a small guy like Sammy if word got around in a place like Joliet. To try and fit in, Sammy feigned a tough, wise-guy persona and walked around like a banty rooster. Thus far it worked, none of the other inmates bothered him. It also helped that Sammy stayed constantly in trouble by trying to escape and whatnot. On the other hand, this type of behavior is exactly what bought him a ticket on a train to San Francisco, with a eight thugs and murderers for company.
The train ride was uneventful. Sammy was able to sleep through most of it. The guards who escorted the inmates had the reputation of being a couple of real assholes, so nobody started any nonsense. One meal consisted of beet and turnip root soup which the inmates slurped up with gusto. They were even served dessert, which was a real treat, of two Lorna Doone cookies apiece.
While the other guys were thrilled with the meal, Sammy’s food stuck in his throat. He realized that this would probably be the last time he’d ever see, let alone eat a cookie. He wondered what the food at Alcatraz would be like. It was probably even worse than the slop they served at Joliet.
Sammy fell asleep again, and was awakened when the train arrived in San Francisco. The men were loaded on to a special ferry that would take them across the Bay to their new forever-home.
Sammy was in a state of panic now. The closer they came to The Rock, the more Sammy knew he couldn’t live out his life in a such a place.
He devised a plan: Sammy began retching and hyperventilating, between which he’d complain about wanting to vomit. When he broke wind a couple times and mentioned diarrhea, it got the attention of the guards. One of them quickly unlocked Sammy from the chain gang and commenced to take him below where the bathrooms were located. The nanosecond Sammy felt his hands and ankles free, he moved like cat. Before the guards could react, Sammy was up and over the side of the ferry, dog-paddling in shark-infested waters.
They watched him for a while, but didn’t try to go after him. No way would Sammy Rosati ever reach the shore.