Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Inspiration/Block (for the writer) (05/20/10)
TITLE: Unfortunate Incentive
By Kimberly Russell
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He leaned back against the slate-gray brick, head propped on the cold metal of the bunk above. Could write for a while but why bother since his creative juices had been dry as the Sahara for weeks. It would be dinnertime soon anyway--at least his internal clock thought so. On cue, the officer's shout echoed from the hallway.
"Chow time--everybody move it".
Another meal, another opportunity for nausea. Prison made weight control easy. Most days he handed off the meager portions to his bunkies. Never a bad idea to keep in their good graces. While the "Fab Four" did pretty well, their cubical closed in on a regular basis and nerves could fray in a flash.
Blackie retrieved the note with a sigh--better stash it in his footlocker. The others would ask questions he didn't want to answer. No reason to garner their interest or encourage attempts to redirect his attention.
"Why do you type all day, man? You need to get out on the yard, exercise, get in on the card games."
The letter would spill out secrets he didn't care to divulge and he wasn't in the mood for their shenanigans--best get it out of sight before he left for chow. Mission accomplished, Blackie's mind replayed (for the millionth time) how he ended up in such a mess.
His success had swelled as he rode the wave, livin' the dream...until it took a nightmarish turn. Endless parties brought unsavories out of the woodwork. They clutched, blood-suckers drawn to fame and dollar signs. It didn't take long for life to ooze out of him. And he allowed it.
Days blurred and when the fog lifted, his existence had spiraled into a pathetic cliché. And included a prison sentence for cocaine possession. Two to five years. Along with any chance to salvage his career?
Endless hours at the keyboard had produced reams forwarded to his editor. But Drake made it apparent that Blackie's vigorous attempts had fallen short.
It seemed the cold brick he leaned on had seeped into his fingers and froze them immobile. Could be the end.
He had kept Drake in the dark about his current predicament but the editor grew more reluctant to accept the bland answers Blackie provided.
"You've grown stale, Blackmer. What's up? It's like the light is gone and all you push out is drivel. What happened to the eager new author with the fresh outlook I took a chance on a few years ago?"
Blackie pushed aside guilt he wasn't ready to face. Maybe he was prideful. Or was shame the problem? Honesty was a real issue, for sure. Thoughts to keep him company the next time he couldn't sleep. Insomnia had befriended him and visited often these days.
The door burst open as one of the bunkies slammed into the cube, eyes wild. He flopped down and curled into the fetal position as the jail-house tattoo of a demon twisted in a macabre dance down his arm.
"Hey, Juno. What's wrong, man?"
"Shut up and stay on your bunk." Juno snatched up a scratchy wool blanket and flipped it open. The steamy room contradicted his odd behavior as Blackie stared in confusion.
Soon unasked questions were answered with the scream of violent red as Juno situated the blanket to cover blood sprayed across the front of his shirt. Eyes shut, either to feign sleep or ward off further conversation, Juno wheezed in an attempt to catch his breath. The smell of nervous sweat hung thick as the emergency siren wound up with an eerie wail. They ignored both.
Blackie cleared his throat, hesitant. "Juno, I'm gonna miss ya. You've been good to me."
No response came and soon clatter in the hallway signaled the inevitable. Officers exploded into the room, accompanied by the clang of handcuffs to truss up Juno while Blackie hovered, ignored. But he knew the score: they would be back to interrogate him in order to verify his whereabouts during "The Event".
He didn't have much time.
Blackie grabbed his typewriter, fingers ready to fly across the keyboard. Juno's misfortune might just be the oasis his desert needed.
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