Keeplock: A Novel of Crime

Keeplock: A Novel of Crime by Stephen Solomita Read Free Book Online

Book: Keeplock: A Novel of Crime by Stephen Solomita Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephen Solomita
Tags: Fiction, General, Mystery & Detective, Crime
over his forehead. He has pimples on the right side of his face and the bare beginnings of a mustache on his upper lip.
    “You got parents, Pete?”
    “I had adopted parents. They don’t want me, but I don’t care about them. I’m finished with them.”
    He takes out a cigarette and offers it to me. I shake my head and he lights it himself. “My mother is a drunk,” he announces. “She loves me, but she’s too fucked up to care for me. I don’t have no father. Do you know who your real mother and father are?”
    “I don’t even know if I have a real mother and father.” Jack nods his head slowly. “That’s the way it is with a lot of the kids in here. I asked Sister Margaret to find out who my father is. Maybe my father would give me a place to live. But she wouldn’t do it.” He takes out a candy bar, a Snickers, and offers it to me.
    Suddenly I’m in the shower room. There’s so much steam that I can’t see the kid next to me, but I can hear kids laughing and shouting.
    I soap my hair and lean into the shower. When I pull back the kids have disappeared and the only sound is the splatter of water on the concrete floor. A figure appears, pushing the steam ahead of him. It’s Jack Parker and another boy named Ramsey.
    “Say, Pete,” he says, “you remember that Snickers I gave you? Well I want it back. You took it and now you have to give it back to me. Matter of fact, I want that same Snickers I gave you.”
    “How can I do that?”
    “You took it. Now you gotta give it back. You don’t take nothin’ in a place like this. This ain’t a place where people give you somethin’ for nothin’.”
    “I’ll buy you a Snickers this afternoon,” I say, though I have no money.
    “I want the one I gave you. If you can’t give me the one I gave you, then you have to pay me back the way I say.”
    They fuck me, the two of them taking turns. There’s nothing I can do and I offer no resistance, but they beat me anyway. When they finish, I fall to the floor. The floor is gray and the steam is gray. The blood on my legs offers the only color in a black-and-white frame.
    I woke up for the last time at six o’clock. After ten years of bells and counts, it takes more than a day of freedom to change prison routine. The dream was fresh in my mind and for the ten thousandth time I wondered if that was the way it happened. I can’t remember anymore, but it seems to me that adolescents were kept apart from the younger kids.
    It really doesn’t matter, anyway. Rape is so common in group homes and adolescent jails that the only important thing is your reaction to it. I’d snuck into the kitchen four times and was caught and punished four times before I was able to steal a knife. By then, Jack Parker and his buddy had been transferred to private foster homes (a reward for proper Institutional behavior?) and the opportunity for revenge was gone. But I’d held on to the knife, stashing it during the day and keeping it under my pillow at night.
    A couple of weeks later, two boys my own age explained the facts of life. They knew what had happened to me—everyone knew, except the nuns who ran the home—but they could see that I wasn’t a punk. They were part of a gang composed of the few white kids in the Institution and they had to protect themselves like any other minority. They never mentioned the fact that both of my assailants were white.
    “Survival, Pete,” one of the boys had insisted. “ Survival . Anybody fucks with one of us, they fuck with all of us.”
    Don’t Trust Anyone is a prison cliché. You can have allies, but not friends. Today’s bro is tomorrow’s witness for the prosecution. Survival is what it’s about. The ethic is transparently stupid, but at nine years old … The problem is you don’t find out how stupid it is until you’re too old to believe in anything else.
    My two juicer roommates were snoring away. A third man, who must have come in after I fell asleep, also slept soundly.

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