Tobias Beecher, a wealthy
lawyer and family man, is sent to Oswald Maximum Security Prison when
he kills a young girl whilst drunk driving. On his first day he meets
the leader of the Ayrian Brotherhood, Vern Schillinger. Vern rapes Toby
and turns him into his prag, humiliating him at every turn. It's the start
of a vicious relationship that colours all the seasons of Oz, destroying
everyone who becomes involved with them.
This story explores a different
version of the Beecher/Schillinger relationship and leaves the reader
to speculate how this version might alter Tobias's future life in Oz.....
Warning: Vern Schillinger
is the leader of the Aryian Brotherhood. If you think you might find anything
said or done by a white supremist offensive, then I suggest you avoid
Bob Rebadow laid a card and leant back, waiting for his companion to respond.
After a few moments, he murmured, “Tobias?” Tobias Beecher jumped and
looked at the older man as if confused as to what they were doing. Rebadow
nodded at the cards. Beecher mumbled something and studied his hand. “If
you have something else you need to be doing, Tobias, we can finish this
“No! I mean, let’s just play, okay?”
“Because I understand Vern keeps you quite busy – what with all the…”
he paused just the right amount of time. “Laundry….” Tobias didn’t raise
his head and laid his card very carefully.
“Don’t judge me, old man.”
Bob eased his hand across the table, not risking touching this increasingly
gaunt companion, well aware he was another man’s property. “I’m not, Tobias.
I merely offer you my sympathy, for what it’s worth.”
Tobias nodded stiffly. “Were you ever a…? When you were younger?”
Bob chuckled. “You imply I’m too old to be someone’s bitch?” They glanced
an amused look at each other and it felt so good, so familiar that tears
sprang unbidden to Tobias’s eyes. Bob glanced around furtively. “Don’t.”
Tobias nodded. “I’m okay.”
They continued to play, and as the last card was laid, Bob whispered,
“No. In answer to your question, Tobias, I was never a prag.” He looked
intently at the younger man for a fleeting moment. “Being pretty is a
curse God didn’t lay upon me.”
Tobias felt a churning in his guts, a sense of utter bewilderment that
was never far from the surface over the last two nightmarish weeks. The
Oz weeks. As if he were in a dreamstate, he struggled, the morass only
growing. Pretty. Prag. Bitch. The New World order. All his male
certainties replaced by these feminine concepts, which nevertheless now
dominated his life. In Oz.
“Well, here you are! Got told you were taking a little personal time to
play cards, but I defended you, Beecher. Said, no, you’d be busy doing
your goddamned chores. Jeez. I’m cut to the quick.” Schillinger put a
friendly hand on Tobias’s shoulder.
Tobias shot to his feet. “I’m sorry, Sir.”
Schillinger switched on his friendliest grin. “Well, okay. Let’s go work
on that being sorry thing together.”
Tobias’s gaze had not left Rebadow’s lowered face. The morass deepened.
Not one glance of sympathy or understanding. Don’t involve me plastered
on his liver-spotted features. Tobias lifted his eyes and scanned his
own personal hell. Not one willing to stop what they knew was happening.
Not one. Tobias wondered fleetingly whether if he cried out to God, God
would have don’t involve me plastered on his fucking forehead,
Schillinger lay on his bunk reading while Tobias polished boots. Four
pairs of Jackboots. He held one loosely, pondering its provenance as he
“Hey, don’t spit on my goddamned boots, Beecher.”
“Sorry, Sir.” He said something else in his head.
Schillinger sat up and swung his legs idly off the side of the bed. Tobias
knew he was being appraised. Either a beating or a fucking was coming
his way. He prayed for the former. “Grab a towel. We’re taking a shower.”
What could he say? Please, I’m still torn from the last time? Still
passing blood when I crap? Can we just do oral? Inspiration hit him.
“I have an appointment with Sister Pete.”
“Not for half an hour you don’t.”
a glance to the pale face. Please, if you have any humanity left –
please let me be. Vern blinked his myopic pale eyes. “Well? Bring
some of that faggot-ass soap your wife sent. We’ll play prison shower
* * * * * *
His hair was still wet as he sat in front of the nun, dripping onto his
pale grey T-shirt, darkening small patches. He wondered whether his leaking
ass would darken his pants. Whether she’d notice. Whether she’d care.
Cum or blood, he couldn’t tell which; everything was too sore to differentiate.
feel?” Tobias focused his eyes on her and she sighed. “Are you okay,
“Prison is very hard if you… fight it.”
That got his attention. Fight it? He wet his lips and said dully,
“I’m a pansy-assed bitch, Sister. How am I fighting anything?”
She didn’t let him drop her gaze. “Sometimes complete surrender is a form
of mental escape. Giving up. Going away in your mind – denying what is
happening. I think you may be in denial.”
You got that right, Sister. Every time I bend over for Vern’s cock,
I’m denying it real hard.
“You are here and you won’t be going anywhere for some years. Do you want
to be like this your whole time in Oz? It might help if you face the demons,
Right. Facing Vern wasn’t on his list of to-do things anytime soon. “I’ll
“Good for you.”
The buzzer rang. Toby giggled. “Recess.”
She gave him a stern glance. “I’m worried about you, Tobias.”
I’m worried about me, too.
* * * * *
Vern wasn’t home. Tobias felt a surge of relief. He could find Rebadow
and play cards again – the epitome of his ambition now. Fuck Schillinger.
Then an even better thought struck him. He could get to the infirmary
and back without Vern knowing. The bleeding was worrying him, the burn
still agony, but Vern’s promise to feed him his balls if he discussed
their domestic arrangements had kept him from seeking help. He felt a
desperate need to talk to someone, have kind hands on him. Christ,
Mr Beecher, what the hell happened? Okay, we’ll get you out of his madhouse
and send you home. Debt paid.
Wittlesey didn’t bat an eye at his request. She even had an about time
look evident in her otherwise habitually neutral gaze. Tobias walked alongside
trying to smell her hair. Sister Pete had been coconut today. Wittlesey
smelt like coal tar, which was disturbingly like Schillinger.
* * * * *
“You gonna tell me who did this, Beecher?”
No, but I might fall drowning into your eyes and not come up for air.
“I don’t know his name.”
Dr Nathan snapped off her gloves and covered Tobias’s ass with the sheet.
“I’m admitting you. The burns are a little inflamed.”
She gave him a look – a lifetime, prison-weary look. “That was a big no
if you don’t know the guy’s name. Okay, I’ll let you go, but you take
this ointment and put it on after you shower and at night. And the other…
it’s just a small internal tear. Try to avoid… aggravating it for a few
days and you’ll be fine - don’t strain too hard when you take a shit.”
Good advice. He’d been straining way too much down there recently. Shit
going the wrong way could do that though.
No one came to escort him back, so he hung around. A guy in a bed was
calling for water and Tobias felt okay enough to think about someone else
for the first time in two weeks. His kindness brought tears to his eyes
as if he were on the receiving end of some. He held out the cup. “Can
you drink like that?” The sick man nodded and reached out. Instead of
grasping the cup, he caught Tobias’s wrist.
“You’re Beecher, right?” He snorted at Tobias’s fear and let him go. “I’m
your predecessor. Nice to meet you.” For a moment Toby thought of Sister
Pete’s office then he got it. The man grinned. All his front teeth were
broken. “How is the old fuck?”
“Still a fuck. Why are you in here?”
“Ah.” The guy hesitated before beckoning Toby closer. “I got put out with
Toby reared back. He’ll tire of me. Oh, thank fuck, one day he’ll tire
of me and I’ll be free.
The man was watching Toby’s reaction. He grinned. “Got back from Benchley
last week. Been there for three months. Sweet set-up.” He glanced down
at the bed and Toby’s gaze followed. The sheet ended abruptly. Way too
abruptly. He felt nausea rising, souring his throat. “The fucker had my
legs cut off. But they used a surgical saw. Did a bang-up job, if you
ask me. Cauterised an’ all. Gotta give Vern his due, he’s a sentimental
old fuck with his ex-prags.” The man was giggling now, the sound incongruous
with the tears streaming down his face. “Good luck with your Schillinger
thing, Beecher. Enjoy it while it lasts. It’ll be the best of times, in
The best of times. That, Toby had to admit, he had not considered. The
* * * * *
“Beecher, you okay?”
Toby nodded at the hack. “What was Schillinger’s last podmate’s name?”
“He was in with Mark Mack.”
Wittlesey kept her face steady, but her voice held some tension. “Guy
called Lane Nicks.”
“And he what? Just mislaid his legs one day?”
“Accidents have a way of happening in prison, Beecher. This ain’t a holiday
camp. You fuckers ain’t here for your health.”
“Cruel and unusual punishment.”
“This isn’t justice by any definition.”
“Maybe it is, maybe it ain’t. It’s Oz. Wake up and smell the shit.”
* * * * *
“Where have you been?” Tobias had anticipated this and showed Vern a cut
on his hand he’d done himself a few minutes before.
“I needed Dr Nathan to look at this.”
Schillinger took his hand, fatherly care in the touch. “Jesus, Beecher,
she not stitch it?”
“She had a crisis. Nurse wouldn’t touch it. Said to come back tomorrow
if it still hurt.”
“Fucking wetback quack. This is what you get when you hire fucking spics
and niggers to do professional jobs. No fucking sense of responsibility.”
Schillinger reached into his storage box. “Sit down.”
Beecher sat. Life had just shifted beyond bizarre into the downright surreal.
“Thank you, Sir.”
Schillinger cuffed him affectionately as he bandaged expertly. “No need
to thank me, Beecher. Can’t have your fag blood on my cock tonight. Christ
knows where you’ve been.”
Lane Nicks was calling to him from the Hack’s station. Toby was trying
to tell him that he seriously needed to change his name. What kind of
name was Lane Nicks? He needed a tribal name: spic, wap, nigger, homeboy,
Nazi. Names were critical in hell. But Lane wasn’t listening. He was sitting
in Hill’s wheelchair, just a head on a torso with arms. He blew a whistle
and two hacks began to play hockey in the quad below, Nick’s legs for
sticks, his feet doing a bang-up job with the ball. The whistle blew again,
harsher this time. “Beecher! Beecher! Count!” Beecher stumbled out of
the pod, the dream so real that he held onto the railing, staring wildly
at the floor below.
Schillinger greeted him mildly. “You look like shit.”
“I met Lane Nicks yesterday.” Why did he say it? It felt good, whatever.
A small rebellion at last.
“Huh. How is old Lane? I heard they’re changing his name to Lame.” The
Aryans laughed obediently as Schillinger looked around, smirking for approval.
Toby saw a number of options play out before the hack reached them. He
would attack Schillinger and throw him off the landing followed by the
Aryans throwing him off. He would attack Schillinger and Schillinger would
throw him off. He would just jump without attacking anyone. Instead, he
asked, “How long was he your… did you…?”
Schillinger slung an arm across his shoulders. “Stop shitting yourself,
Beecher. You’ve got some amusement factor left in you yet. When I’m tired
of you, you’ll be the first to know. Mind you, I might feed you to my
boys first. Or sell you to the niggers. So, you hungry?”
* * * * *
Tobias had not sought help from anyone, but it came nevertheless at breakfast,
God’s emissary an odd choice. Ryan O’Reilly hissed at Beecher across the
serving counter, “Hey, Beecher, meet me in the library in fifteen minutes.”
“Sure you can. Schillinger’s got a meeting with the Warden. Mail’s gone
* * * * * *
“So, what do you think?”
“I told you, O’Reilly. I was a litigation lawyer. I never practised criminal
“But you can read all this legal shit, right?”
“Well, of course I can read it, but….”
“Okay. Good. You gotta help me get outta here, man. I got places to go,
people to see.”
“What do I get out of it?”
“A sense of justice and renewed faith in the American legal system? Okay,
look, I can help you with your little problem.”
“You can kill Schillinger?”
“Christ! Lower your fucking voice. No! Do I look like a ‘tard? I was thinking
more along the lines of legs – and you keeping ‘em. Look, man, Lane Nicks
got stale. You get what I’m saying? I heard he turned into queen of the
desert big time.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Jesus, Beecher, do I need to spell it out for you? Stop being a fucking
pussy. It’s boring!”
“Doormat - little woman. Freaking A, Beecher, you gotta keep Vern interested,
keep him wanting it.”
“No! I want to disappear – to be so small and insignificant to him that
when he comes looking he won’t see me.”
Ryan pushed to his feet, exuding scepticism. “Yeah. Right. Good luck with
the prosthetics, man.”
* * * * * *
Toby hid Ryan’s legal files in his tray under Sister Pete’s. He wondered
how the interview with the warden was going, hoping interfering with the
mail was a capital offence. The most powerful job in Oz given to Nazis.
How fucking ironic was that? And why was he thinking about Vern in the
few hours of every day when he was free of him? Because he didn’t want
to think about O’Reilly’s words. He could not shake an image from his
mind of a cat with a mouse. Mouse lies down and takes it – game over.
Mouse hangs on in there, jumping, wriggling and squealing – he’s got that
old cat transfixed. No way that cat’s moving on.
Something way down deep in Tobias came back to life. Smarts. He had them
and Vern didn’t. Nazi fuck.
Actually, I’m jumping, wriggling and squealing, but I guess it’s all
the same in Oz.
* * * * * *
All plans fail on contact with the enemy. And Sun Tsu hadn’t meant fucking;
that was for sure. Toby lay on his bed that evening after count staring
up at the bedsprings above. The jumping off the landing thing appealed
more than what he was planning. At least that would be quick.
But he’d done distasteful things before. He was a lawyer for Christ’s
He slid off his bunk and went to the door, leaning on the glass, drawing
patterns with a finger. He could feel eyes boring into his back. “What
are you doing, Beecher?”
“I’m bored.” The lack of a final Sir left a vacuum in the air.
“Bored.” The surprise and hint of interest in the repetition gave Toby
hope. He slid around on the glass facing the other man, his hands tucked
behind his butt, displaying his lean body. “Wanna play something?”
“Do I look like your fucking friend or something, Prag?” Toby shrugged
and turned back to stare out at the hacks. “I’d only win anyway.”
“Hey, get over here, Beecher.” Vern sat up, indicating the space between
his thighs. He too kept one eye on the hacks’ station. Toby came over
obediently and stood between the strong thighs. Without hesitation, he
put his hands lightly on them, keeping his head lowered. “Sorry, Sir.”
Either the unasked for apology or the hands mollified the other man. He
nodded. “You need a serious attitude….”
“Chess?” Toby began to swirl his thumbs absentmindedly on Vern’s thighs.
“Chess is the game of kings. I could teach you.”
“I know how to play fucking chess. What are you doing?”
Toby had slid his hands further up so the swirling of thumbs was more
interesting. Vern hissed and leant back slightly. “It’s a game of strategy
and stealth. It takes intelligence.”
“I’m not playing fucking chess with you, Beecher.” Toby didn’t mind: he
hadn’t been talking about chess anyway. His left thumb was now stroking
across damp, round hardness and Vern was breathing deeply.
Tobias considered and didn’t. The stop hadn’t been said in a stop sort
of tone. He began to unzip the grey pants with his other hand. Schillinger’s
hand came down hard on his wrist. Before he could speak, the other hand
punched him in the side of the head. Tobias staggered back. “What the
fuck do you think this is, Prag?” Maybe it had been a stop kind
of stop. Beecher rubbed his hair.
“You too chicken to do it with the lights still on? Afraid your Nazi buddies’ll
think you’re a fag, Vern?” He stepped back rapidly until his back was
against the glass. Vern jumped off the bunk and came close. So close he
redefined personal space. That ole cat was just a bit too interested now.
Toby could smell him. He couldn’t say it was unpleasant.
“I know what you’re doing, Beecher.” Toby swallowed and thought about
his legs. “You think you’ll go back and spend a few pleasant days in the
infirmary with that spic doctor waiting on you. Few bruises, few broken
ribs, well worth having her greasy hands all over you, hey Bitch-er?”
Relief made him bold. Cautiously, he leant forward and kissed Vern chastely
on his cheek. “Sorry, Sir.” Before Schillinger could react, he kissed
again, but on the lips now, easing his tongue through, closing his eyes
trustingly. He had little to lose at this stage and much (his legs) to
gain. He slid a hand up Schillinger’s hip to his solid waist, tugging
slightly, pulling them together.
“Break it up in there, Ladies.” A baton banged on the glass, and Schillinger
was the one to jump away. He licked his lips and turned to lean on the
bunk. The silence was deafening. Toby turned and stared out at the retreating
blue back. Now they noticed. He heard bedsprings creak and turned
to look. Vern was stretched out on his side, facing away from Toby. The
silence was still incredibly loud.
Later, when it was dark, Vern said, “Get up here.” Toby obeyed as he always
did, lying on his side, facing the silent man. “You need disciplining,
“I know, Sir.”
“Shit, will you shut the fuck up, Beecher! I’m talking here! Tomorrow
we’ll have a private session in the gym. You’ll hurt for a while, but
it will be for your own good.” He turned his head to face the younger
man. Beecher let his gaze slide down to Schillinger’s lips.
He mentally closed his eyes and jumped off the landing. “Then I guess
I might as well get hung for a sheep.” He leant in and kissed Vern once
more, not bothering with the chaste thing but going straight for wide
mouth and tongue, demanding. You’d have to be dead, he figured, to resist
a kiss like that. Dead or so sated with love you didn’t need none from
nobody. And this was Oz. No love in Oz for nobody, no time. So Vern responded
as Toby’s intellect told him he would: needy as the next man under the
jackboot exterior. Who could resist a warm wet mouth and hands roaming
over you as if they cared, as if you were wanted and needed? Not Schillinger.
He rose to the need, rolling over onto his side, facing Toby, cupping
the back of his head, kissing harder, trying to regain the lead. Toby
wasn’t releasing it and pushed the heavier man onto his back, lying over
him, kissing harder. Schillinger wrenched the blond head back, fingers
cruelly entwined in the increasingly long hair.
“You do know you will pay for this tomorrow?”
“Can’t pay for something unless it was for sale in the first place.”
“Huh? You trying to be clever, Prag?”
“I’m trying to get laid.” Schillinger’s eyes widened and at that moment
Toby knew he’d won. He was looking at a man whose sexual advances had
never once been welcomed, probably not even by his wife. He wriggled a
little, bringing hardness to hardness. “You gonna talk at me all night
or actually do this discipline thing?”
Schillinger reanimated and rolled them, heavy on Toby’s too slim body.
“Oh, I’m gonna do it all right.” He tore Beecher’s boxers down as far
as his knees. “Turn over. Show me your ass.” Toby rolled, braced on his
arms, his back dipping interestingly. He felt fingers on his burn, tracing
the spidery pattern. “Have you let this get infected, Beecher?” Schillinger’s
switches never ceased to catch Toby off guard.
“Yeah. But I….” Bad move.
What the hell; he was getting a beating tomorrow whatever. “I got some
cream from the infirmary for it. While I was there anyway.”
“Well, you dumb fuck. Give it to me.” This was not what he’d planned for
his first seduction of Vern Schillinger. He lay under kind hands, being
cared for: Vern smoothing the lotion onto his burn and clearly enjoying
every finger stroke. Toby needed to cry so badly he almost stopped breathing
He recovered when Schillinger used the lotion to slide into him.
Hate polluted gratitude and destroyed love.
Ryan gave him an odd look over the eggs next morning. “You look like shit’s
Toby shrugged. “I’m having a session with the Aryans in the gym later.
Guess I’m all excited.”
“Huh. Hit me.”
“Beecher, hit me.”
“Hit me, or I’ll go have a little discussion with Vern about legs.”
Toby hit him, swinging awkwardly over the counter. It actually felt good,
so he leapt over the tray of eggs and pursued the slim man down to the
ground, not even hearing the usual accompaniment of hoots and jeers. Hands
grabbed his shoulders and excruciating pain lanced across his kidneys.
“Beak it up. Get the fuck off him, Beecher.” He was manhandled out of
the dining room, a stunned looking Vern Schillinger watching in amazement.
* * * * *
“Did O’Reilly provoke you?”
Beecher was trying to read the certificates on McManus’s wall and shook
“If you don’t tell me I can’t help you, Beecher.”
You don’t help me anyway. Adebisi and then Schillinger? Toby had
a theory that the man had been screwed over by lawyers during his divorce,
so he tired to cut him some slack. “It was my fault. I just lost it over
the eggs. O’Reilly had nothing to do with it.”
“Well, that would be a first for Em City.” McManus beckoned for the guard.
“Couple of days in the hole and maybe you’ll learn that losing it isn’t
an option in Oz.” Toby snickered. He’d lost plenty in two weeks already.
The hole. He lifted his face and blessed O’Reilly. Two days on his own
with no fear. It was absurdly like a holiday. Why didn’t more guys beg
for the hole?
Toby soon got why. He’d never sat naked on concrete before, or tried to
lie on it, or in someone else’s spilt piss. He’d never squatted over a
bucket to shit and had no paper and then shit on his fingers when he tried
to eat. He’d never had a moment without the possibility of a book or a
conversation or just a window to relieve boredom. He thought he knew boredom.
This was a whole new acquaintance.
It gave him time to think though. Not on what McManus intended, but on
Toby hadn’t admitted it until this aloneness in the hole, but during the
last two weeks he had come to know Vern Schillinger very well indeed.
Of course, you get to know a guy really well when he’s fucking you in
the ass. But there was more than that. They could not have spent the hours
they spent in each other’s company without interaction beyond the humiliations,
the fuckings and the beatings. They talked. On the way to the showers
to fuck. Inconsequential things about the heat of the water or the pressure.
They talked over meals sometimes. Sometimes Schillinger stole Toby’s food.
Sometimes Vern gave away something he didn’t want. They talked about other
people, Vern preaching his racist message and balefully eying some poor
maggot as he hastened away from the dangerous proximity of the Aryan table.
They talked about white supremacy. They talked about the law. They discussed
Miss Sally’s tits. They had hours every night between count and lights-out
to fill with conversation.
So, somewhere in the recesses of his brain, Toby knew his plan would work.
Because from conversation and living together, other things always developed….
This was only natural. It was inevitable. He knew neither he nor Vern
would admit on pain of death that moments had occurred between
them in the two weeks during which Toby had been raped and abused and
hurt. But, of course… they had. You can’t turn a man over without whispering
and hands. You don’t come in shots of blistering pleasure without groaning
in appreciation over the one making you come. After the first rape, when
the adrenalin from the power-kick was enough to keep Vern hard, to keep
him thrusting, he’d wanted… more. His prag wincing in pain every time
he was entered quickly grew stale. The body beneath him, tensed and stiff,
jerking away at every thrust annoyed him. Once he’d made his point about
their respective places in the order of things, Vern wanted some pleasure
for all the effort he was putting in. He wasn’t getting that without cooperation.
And Toby had cooperated. It made him sick with self-hatred, but he had.
So, as he saw it, he wasn’t changing one kind of relationship into another
with this plan. He was nurturing what was already there. Growing the cancerous
cell. A tumour fed with his desperate need to stay alive and whole. Of
course his plan would work.
Eventually, love was the one drug that no one could resist.
* * * * * *
He could see Vern in the pod as he returned to Emerald City. He ignored
the catcalls as he crossed the quad and jogged up the stairs. Vern didn’t
deign to notice his presence, so Toby knew it was going to be bad. He’d
strengthened his resolve though, long hours with only thoughts for company.
Standing in the middle of the pod, he stripped off his T-shirt, his pants
hanging low on his hole-starved hips. “I stink.”
Schillinger turned his page.
“Guess I’ll take a shower.” The pants slid to the floor almost without
assistance. No notice was apparently being taken. He stepped out of his
pants and then removed his shorts. Naked as a jaybird in a glass box with
his burning ass like a reversed blush, Toby stretched and sauntered to
the sink for his towel. He watched Vern in the mirror, waiting for the
cold eyes to turn to his naked back, as he knew they would. “Miss me?”
Vern jumped off the bunk and before he could apologise, Toby’s forehead
connected with the mirror, not hard enough to crack it, it was prison
issue after all, but hard enough to make him yelp.
Toby straightened, not missing just how close Schillinger was standing
to his bare body and regarded them both in the mirror. Vern was doing
the same. An odd moment of calm in the madness seemed present as if some
of the utter emptiness of the hole had travelled back and been shuck off
with Toby’s clothes. Vern ran one hand through Toby’s hair, tugging his
neck back. “Did you think you’d escaped me by doing time in the hole,
“Are you God then? Present everywhere?”
“I’m your God, Tobias, yes.”
“He maketh me lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters.”
Vern shrugged. “That’s only one interpretation.”
Toby smiled softly and to his amazement, Vern smiled back. After a moment
regarding each other, Toby murmured, “You did save me from Adebisi… Sir.”
“Much thanks I got that first night. All I recall is whining.”
Toby pushed his butt back slightly. “It’s never too late to give thanks
where thanks are due.” Vern’s fingers began to play in Toby’s hair as
he pressed closer, forcing the slim man against the sink, sandwiching
his cock between them. Toby glanced down the landing then, unasked, took
the initiative. He slid his hands back and began to unzip Schillinger’s
pants. Vern made a muffled sound like a distant explosion as Toby’s fingers
delved for their prize. Freed, Schillinger spread the pale cheeks, dipped
his knees slightly and pushed in. Dry, it hurt like hell at first, but
Toby enjoyed the pain, watching in the mirror. He’d never watched himself
get fucked and it was revelatory. He almost got what everyone else seemed
to see. Vern, too, seemed to find it fascinating. He hovered over Toby’s
shoulder, a pale incubus. Toby stretched his arms to the walls, braced
for the novel frisking. It enabled him to push back, which got a whole
new reaction from the other face in the mirror. Toby smirked. “I’m thinking
you did miss me, Vern.”
Schillinger pulled out, smashed Toby’s forehead into the mirror again
and snapped, “Go shower, Prag. You stink.”
* * * * * *
There was much silence that night, but not all of it was menacing. Some
of it made Toby want to giggle, so he guessed he was suffering from a
kind of post-traumatic stress. Only Christ, he figured, would know which
of his many horrors had sparked it.
“What the fuck are you doing, Beecher?”
Toby suppressed his latest need to laugh and replied lightly, “Nothing?”
“Well fucking stop it. You’re driving me nuts.”
Toby lost it. He bit into his pillow. He curled into a ball. Tears ran
down his face but his traitorous mouth betrayed him. “Who the hell could
think you were nuts, Vern?”
He sobered quickly as a pale body landed softly alongside his bunk. Schillinger
crawled over Toby, sitting on his legs. He regarded the frightened face
looking back at him. “I’m thinking my branding wasn’t very successful,
Prag. Seems you got an idea in your head that you can walk and talk in
Oz like all the other fuckers here. Like a man. That you don’t owe every
breath you take to me.”
“No, I--.” Schillinger’s hand fastened around Toby’s neck.
“Every breath mine to give and mine to take away.” He began to squeeze.
Toby didn’t try to struggle. He just put his hands on Schillinger’s’ rock-hard
forearms, rubbing them lightly up and down the soft hair. Schillinger
frowned but continued to squeeze. A loud drumming began in Toby’s ears,
but he held the man’s gaze and continued his soft stroking. He had an
absurd thought that he’d have to explain to St Peter how he’d died stroking
a Nazi. Schillinger suddenly gave an extra hard squeeze then let go. “Fuck
you, Beecher!” He bent down and took Toby’s mouth instead.
It was all the opening Toby needed. He grabbed Schillinger’s face and
ploughed his mouth into a surprised grunt from the other man. He rolled
them and rasped into Schillinger’s ear, “You just made all the blood flow
south. Fuck me or kill me, but do it quick.” He fumbled with Vern’s boxers
then flung himself over onto his belly.
Vern was in and riding him before Toby could draw breath, his heart still
beating fast from the choking, speeding up more from the fucking. Vern
lay low over him as always, one eye on the hacks. His breath played over
Toby’s sweating back. Toby twisted around and stared at him.
“What now? Christ, Beecher, just stop being weird, will you?”
“Please… bring me off, too?”
Vern made a face of disgust so Toby turned back and propped his chin on
his folded arms, taking no further interest in the fucking. He huffed
on the glass and drew tiny stick figures. After a suitable interval he
sighed. “I really miss cinnamon rolls, you know?”
Vern quivered to a halt. “What the…? Am I fucking my goddamned wife here?
You gonna remind me to pick up the fucking dry-cleaning next?”
“What do you want, Beecher?”
“I want to come.”
“Goddamn it! This isn’t about your pleasure!”
“But it is about yours.” He twisted around again. “Jesus, Vern,
maybe, you know, the two things are connected?”
Vern sat back on his heels. “I am not touching your cock, Beecher.”
“But you could let me touch it, for Christ’s sake.”
Vern considered, his pale eyes concealing his thoughts. Finally, he grunted
acquiescence and shifted slightly to allow Toby access beneath. As soon
as Vern moved though, Toby took the opportunity to roll onto his back.
Vern cursed. “Turn back over, Prag; no way I’m fucking you face to face.”
“Jesus, I’ll keep my eyes closed.”
Vern stared down at him. “You are one crazy motherfucker, Beecher.”
No, Vern, I’m catnip, but you’re too dumb to tell the difference.
Toby took hold of his cock, deliberately not shutting his eyes. Vern,
he noted with some amusement, did not demand he do so either. The bigger
man kept his own eyes averted however - as if he were just checking for
hacks. Once he was in though, and Toby began to pant from mounting pleasure,
Vern flicked his eyes back to the sweat-streaked body beneath him. From
then on, his gaze stayed firmly fixed on the action. He stared at the
way Toby tugged and twisted his erection. He seemed transfixed by pebbled
nipples, mesmerised by the way the strong hips rose each time he thrust
into them. Toby waited until the cat was dizzy with blood lust then rose
up, whispering in its ear, “It’s easier to kiss when you fuck like this….”
He slid his mouth around and touched the other man’s lips with his own.
Schillinger seized him around the back of his neck and pulled him harder
to his lips, mouth wide and just as eager as Toby’s. When they finally
broke apart for air they realised at the same time that they’d stopped
fucking. Toby wanted to laugh again at Vern’s look of puzzled outrage.
Instead he said, “Fuck it,” and captured the expression between his teeth,
tugging the lower lip into a different one, finding Schillinger’s tongue
once more with his own. Gradually, they sank back onto the bed, Schillinger
lying over Toby. Their mouths became the centre of Toby’s universe, and
for all of the minutes they kissed, Oz did not exist. When they separated
the next time, Toby saw from the look on the pale face that he was not
the only one who had been free.
Schillinger pushed off Toby and sat with his back to the adjoining pod,
absentmindedly wiping his mouth and said without his usual underlying
insincerity, “I’ve been in prison a lot longer than you, Beecher.”
When there was an expectant pause, Toby sat up alongside him and commented
wryly, “I have absolutely no idea what you want me to say.”
Schillinger smiled. “Some fucks take drugs to escape. Some cut themselves.
I’ve seen it all – guys who think they can escape… in here.” He tapped
“Like we just did….”
Vern turned his head and regarded him closely. “That’s what I’m saying,
Prag. It’s a delusion like any other drug.”
Toby stared out at the darkened cells, listening to the never quite perfect
silence. “But what if you could take those moments and make them last
“That’s just a corny old song.”
Toby pulled his knees up to his chest and rested his chin on them. “Aren’t
you tired of all this shit, Schillinger?”
“This shit is all there is. I’ve discovered if you have to live in a shit
heap, it’s better to be at the top – the breathing’s better.”
Toby nodded sadly then turned his head to gaze up at him, his eyes wide
and dark beneath tear-dampened lashes.
Vern made a small choked sound at the look. “Jesus, don’t.”
Toby frowned. Schillinger sighed then bent down and resumed their small
bid for freedom.
The next morning, Toby felt pole-axed. Schillinger looked worse. The Brotherhood
leader was the source of some amusement to Mark Mack and his friends.
But Schillinger was big enough to take a few jibes at his own expense
and nodded good-naturedly at the speculation about his sleep-deprived
appearance. He seemed to be enjoying the undercurrent of jealousy.
Toby suffered a similar interrogation from Sister Pete, but without the
swearing. O’Reilly was more direct when they met in the library after
work to discuss his case. “Christ, man, you seen yourself lately? You
looked fucked out. Great bruise, by the way. Anyway, you got good news,
“I’m sorry, O’Reilly, but you… kinda did it.”
“Jesus. That ain’t the point, Beecher. Can’t you bribe someone? I need
Ryan frowned for as long as it took Toby to close the file then he grinned
and straddled the chair, swinging on it. “So, you want some tits?”
Toby shook his head. “I don’t do drugs.”
“Sure, man, I get that, but there’s drugs and then there’s tits, right?”
“I don’t follow.”
“You ain’t a fag, am I right?”
“No, but what’s that…?”
“But you’re fucking a guy. That’s really kinda fucked up. See? In here,
that ain’t being a fag. That’s just Oz. Taking tits ain’t drugs. That’s
Toby considered this. “That’s a non sequitur. You don’t fuck.”
“Because you’re not a fag.”
“Huh? Beecher, that don’t make a lick a sense.” He dropped the topic though
and grinned again. “So, you gonna update me on project Beecher-Gets-To-Keep-His-Legs?”
“Not going good then.”
“No, it’s going better than I’d hoped. He….”
“Whoa! No details - I’m nauseous from dinner. Am I sensing reluctance
here, man? Cus, you know, everyone’s seen the change in you.”
“Change. In me?”
“You’re shitting me, right? You don’t stare at that Nazi fuck like a startled
rabbit in headlights every time he comes near you. Shit, Beech, you stole
his Goddamned apple at dinner and ate it in front of him!”
Toby stared at him. “You people really need cable.” The grin suddenly
slipped from O’Reilly’s face. “What?”
“Shit man, I just got the complex thing.”
* * * * * *
“I don’t want you associating with that Irish cumstain. He’s poison.”
Schillinger looked up from his bunk with a tiny smile. “Did you just agree
with me about something, Beecher?”
The Aryans sauntered along the landing and Vern nodded at their knock.
“We need the Prag.”
Schillinger turned his page casually. “Why?”
Mack grinned at Toby. “We bet him against some fag from B. Lipsticks to
Schillinger chuckled, but it sounded forced to Toby. “No.”
“Bet’s been made, man.”
“He don’t look busy.”
“I don’t want fag blood on him for Christ’s sake.”
“Vern, if I break your toy, I’ll buy you a new one.”
Vern shrugged. “Okay.”
“You wanna come watch?”
There was a longer hesitation. “Nope.”
Mack nodded at Toby. “Come on, Prag.”
Toby stared at Vern’s profile and said very softly, “Sir.”
If Vern noted it was the first use of his title between them for some
days or understood its significance now, he didn’t let on. He turned another
page of his book.
Toby had no choice but to follow.
* * * * * *
The gym was empty except for six bikers and a pale boy. Toby smelt fear
and suspected it was his.
“Okay, now this is how it goes. You two cumstains go at it like the bitches
you are. Last one standing gets to go back to his cell.”
Toby had to ask. It was the lawyer in him. “And the other?”
“He gets a special all-expenses ride on the rival pony express.” Mack
grabbed his balls and hefted them suggestively at the slim boy.
Toby glanced at the six filthy men. “Schillinger won’t like that.”
“Schillinger ain’t here, Prag. You gonna tell him you got gang-raped
by six rejects from a tattoo parlour? No offence guys.”
“This is madness.”
“It’s entertainment, motherfucker. Lighten up. You got old Vern swinging
his balls in the wind over you. You need a little reminding about the
natural order in Oz.” He nodded to the bikers and the boy was thrust forward.
The audience draped themselves on the gym equipment, expectant. “No biting,
Toby regarded the boy warily. He looked as if he ought to be doing homework.
“We don’t have to do this. If we both refuse to fight there’s nothing
they can do.” Something flickered in the boy’s eyes, but it wasn’t detente.
“Fuck you!” He came at Toby, and the word hellion sprang unbidden into
Toby’s mind. Vern – Toby’s only other experience of fighting - fought
like a man: hard punches and vicious kicks. This… thing… fought like a
demon: tearing, jabbing, biting, scratching, all the time crying “Fuck
you, fuck you, fuck you,” like a private litany to his demonic Gods. There
should have been no contest. Toby was heavier and his weight all muscle.
But he still thought like a man – a civilised man of rules and decency.
Despite the worst of his experiences in Oz, it was inconceivable to him
that he was fighting for his life against this boy. And so he began to
lose. The Aryans had not foreseen this and their casual dismissal of Schillinger’s
opinions on the outcome of the fight proved to be a bad bluff. Getting
their leader’s prag fucked up by six bikers had clearly not been on their
agenda. They’d just wanted some fun with the boy when he inevitably lost.
They stood and began to urge Beecher on. It had little effect until one
of the brighter ones toed a barbell and rolled it to Toby’s outstretched
hand. Desperate, trying to stop the boy gouging out his eyes, Toby grabbed
the weapon instinctively and brought it down on the back on the skull.
There wasn’t much of a thud, more a squishy sound. Toby rolled away, crying
“Fuck.” Mack knelt down to Beecher. “You tell squat. You got it?” Beecher
climbed slowly to his feet.
An Aryan toed the inert form. “Could be.” He unzipped. “I like ‘em quiet.”
* * * * *
Schillinger was leaning on the rail scanning the quad as Beecher limped
in alone. His eyes followed him across the floor and up the stairs. “You
Schillinger went to grab Toby’s arm, but he elbowed the older man aside
and went into the pod. Schillinger followed him in. “Don’t you ever….”
Toby swung around and punched him. Hard. Schillinger staggered but came
back immediately and kicked him directly on the balls. Toby’s eyes flew
open; he went an odd colour and fell to knees, spewing forth a stream
of vomit. He couldn’t get his breath between the kick and the vomit in
his throat and began to gasp. Schillinger watched for a moment then swore
and fetched him some water. “Here, drink this.”
Toby knocked it away and gasped again, “Fuck you!”
When he had some breath back, Toby panted, “You let them take me, you
Schillinger sat on Toby’s bunk eyeing him thoughtfully. “You’re getting
to be too much trouble, Sweet Pea. I might have to put your retirement
plan into action.”
Toby leant his head on the floor. He’d failed even at this. He was going
to die in some horrible, squalid place, alone. He wanted to shout at the
injustice of it all. Instead he burst into tears, real sobbing that scared
him with its intensity. “I think I killed him. Oh, Christ, what have I
“What the fuck is going on in here, gentlemen?”
Schillinger stood as Wittlesey opened the door, regarding Beecher and
the pool of vomit.
“How should I know, Officer? He just up and got sick all over my goddamn
“Well get it cleaned up. Beecher? You okay?”
Toby lifted his eyes to the quiet face. He blinked a few times as tears
continued to flow. There wasn’t a place on his body that didn’t hurt;
he was about to be murdered by a white supremacist; and he’d just doubled
his own murder quota. “I’m good.”
She nodded. “Okay then.”
* * * * * * *
Toby huddled under his blanket after count waiting for lights out. He
wanted to cry some more. He had a whole river of crying left in him. As
soon as he sensed the darkness beyond the confines of the prison bedding,
though, he felt the mattress depress next to him. “Beecher.”
Toby didn’t acknowledge him.
“What choice is it exactly that you think I had, huh Prag?”
Toby uncurled and gave him a baleful look. Vern shook his head. “If you
say fuck you again, I will hit you again. And, seriously, Beecher, you
look like you’ve been hit enough times for one day. You still feeling
“Why? You gonna rub my back?”
“So, you can still talk. Let the damn blanket go, Beecher. I ain’t your
maiden aunt.” Swiftly and expertly, Schillinger examined Toby’s injuries.
“I’m gonna need to bleed out these bites.”
“Lower your fucking voice.” He put on his most reasonable expression.
“You got bit by a fag. I’m gonna bleed them out.”
“Schillinger! Christ, you cut me and….” To his complete embarrassment,
when he realised there was no possible threat he could make, Toby began
to cry once more – not the deep sobs he’d been planning on, but huge tears
just free-falling from his eyes. “I killed him.”
Vern shook his head. “He’s in the infirmary.”
Toby sat up. “The infirmary? You knew? You knew this and only think to
tell me now?”
“Well, hell, Beecher, who wasn’t talking to who?”
Toby put his face into his hands. “Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck….” Vern took
his wrists and pulled his hands away.
“Beecher. Tobias! His name is Fisher and two years ago when he was fifteen
he raped his seven-month-old niece. When he’d finished with her, he drowned
her in the toilet.”
Toby swallowed. “And is that horrible story supposed to make me
feel better about what I did?”
“Well, does it?”
Toby buried his face once more, but nodded. “God help me, but it does.”
After a few moments he added, “Thank you.”
“Jesus. Still my beating heart. Beech Ball actually remembers to thank
me for something.”
Toby lifted his tear-streaked face, regarding Vern’s in the darkness.
He stretched out a tentative hand and brushed a shadow on one cheekbone.
“Did I do this?”
Vern didn’t pull away. “Yeah, like I’d admit that.”
Toby blew out a long breath. “Wanna see where you hurt me?”
* * * * * *
Later, towards a dawn they would never see, they lay side by side on Toby’s
bed. Like Vern’s use of his name earlier, this was a first. Sex up to
then had been perfunctory, Schillinger returning to his own bed to sleep
as soon as his pleasure was taken inside Toby’s body. This time he’d stayed.
They’d lain awkwardly not touching at first until Toby had fallen asleep
from stress and exhaustion. When he’d woken, he was lying in the crook
of Schillinger’s arm, with one large hand spread possessively on his shoulder.
He was cold, so he shifted to twitch the blanket higher. “You awake?”
Vern removed his arm from under Toby’s head and flexed his fingers as
if they’d fallen asleep. It occurred to Toby that Vern had lain uncomfortable,
not wanting to wake him. It only added to his sense of bewilderment. He
turned on his side, facing the door. Schillinger did the same, and suddenly
the narrow bed didn’t seem so small and sharing it so awkward. Vern made
a soft spitting sound. “Get your goddamned hair cut tomorrow.”
“Twice in one day, Beecher. Don’t overdo the obedience.”
“I won’t.” After a few minutes he asked softly, “Are going to kill me
Schillinger huffed. “Like you’d ever let me forget it if I did, Bitch.”
Toby closed his eyes and felt something warm wash through his belly. “It’ll
be count soon.”
“You telling me where to go, prag?”
Toby thought about this for a while and found for the first time no duality
in his desire. He reached behind and for answer brought Schillinger’s
arm over his waist.
Vern glanced over from his bunk when Toby returned from the barber then
cursed and jumped down. He ran his palm over the short bristles. “Nice.
You look as innocent as a choirboy, Tobias.”
Toby sat on the bottom bunk. “Well, we both know how wrong that is.” He
pulled off his itchy shirt, Vern’s gaze on his naked torso prickling as
much as the shed hair. He kept his head down, turning a clean shirt in
his hands. Vern came closer, standing in front of Toby, leaning on the
top bunk. Toby raised his eyes and Vern murmured, “Christ.”
Toby frowned. “What?”
Vern stared off through the glass, lost in thought. “Nicks looked hellishly
pretty in lipstick.”
Toby felt his stomach clench in fear and disgust. Vern sighed and looked
back into Toby’s unturned face. He caught his chin, rubbing his thumb
over lips swollen from his own. “He was such a pussy.” He smirked. “But
he did look good in stockings. Get changed. We’re going for a workout.
You’re getting fat, Prag.”
Toby didn’t feel fat when he worked out. Not if all the eyes on
him were anything to go by. Schillinger took it in good part at first
but became increasingly irritated by the leering. Toby felt utterly exposed
and raw. He was living the New World Order that had scared him so at first.
Pretty, prag, bitch.
The conversation about lipstick played on his mind, though. He thought
he’d done the depths of Vern’s humiliations – licking his boots to the
jeers of other men. But this was a different threat altogether. He’d seen
them, of course: men dressing like women. Not Fiona and her friends –
they were special. Liked and respected by hard men who missed what they’d
always enjoyed on the outside. These men were… different. They wore their
scarves and cut-off shorts like slaves wore collars and yokes. All the
men in Oz feared them because the path to where they were was very, very
easy to take.
Toby knew he had to squeal and wriggle some more, keep Vern focused on
what he had, not what he could devise. Suddenly, being an object of desire
to so many men didn’t seem so bad. There, in the gym, with dozens of pairs
of eyes watching him, another way to keep Schillinger fascinated came
He didn’t even have to pick. He was picked. Face up on the weights’ bench,
a figure moved behind him blocking the light. Toby looked up at a bulge.
“Want me to spot you?” Toby had the sudden and irrational desire to reply,
I want you to do something, yeah. All the hours dancing around
Schillinger’s desires had left Toby strung out and wanting something.
Permanently aroused, sickened by that arousal, he just needed something
“Beecher.” Toby peered to the other end of the bench. The new guy didn’t
seem worried by Schillinger’s tone, so Toby decided he wouldn’t be either.
Schillinger smirked at the man. “Fuck off.”
“I’m only spotting him.”
“You ain’t doing….”
They all turned to the sound of the hack’s voice. “You got a visitor.”
“Yes, you. Unscheduled one – Warden said it was okay.”
Schillinger turned back to Toby. “Pod. Now.”
“Schillinger! Some time this fucking millennium would be okay with me.”
“Schillinger!” Schillinger gave Toby a look. Toby gave him one back. He
didn’t know what the stranger was doing, but he guessed Vern wasn’t liking
that much either. They both watched the retreating grey back with interest.
When Vern was gone the man wasted no time. He grabbed both their towels
and walked off, casting one single glance behind at Toby. Toby followed.
He wondered what had become of a lifetime of fear -- fear of strangers,
of disease, of discomfort, of fear itself. He was following an unknown
man to an unknown place to have sex. For a moment he felt his legs weaken
as if his body was trying to override the determination of his brain to
do this thing. He forced them on though, focusing only on the hard butt
in front of him and the impossible pain in his balls.
The man stopped to speak with a hack and money was exchanged. Toby was
pushed into a dim room with stacked paper and a copier. It smelt like
every stationery cupboard Toby had ever been in, and like none at all.
He realised he was smelling male sex and sweat. The man pushed him against
the wall and fastened onto his mouth. The kissing was animalistic and
painful but Toby fought for more, eating hard into the other man’s mouth,
feeling his lip split and bleed. After some frantic fumbling the stranger
turned and spread on the copier. “Fuck me.” When there was no response,
he turned and growled over his shoulder, “Motherfucker, we ain’t got all
Toby felt his stomach drop as they were in an elevator. This hadn’t been
in the plan. He knew it wasn’t going to happen and he was suddenly so
scared he needed to piss. His erection wilted and he swallowed deeply.
“I’ll suck you off.” The man turned slowly. Toby backed off, fumbling
for the door handle. The man held out a hand.
“Hey, where you going? It’s okay, man.” He stroked his erection as his
pants slid down his darkly tattooed legs. “Suck on this then, cocksucker.”
Toby ran for it. He stumbled past the hack who took as little interest
of his existence as he had taking the money. By the time he reached Em
City, he was shaking and cold and he ran to the laundry and huddled behind
the bank of machines. Two weeks ago he’d been a father and husband, a
churchgoer, a good son, a respected, wealthy litigator. Today he’d solicited
sex with a criminal in a cupboard to piss off the Nazi psycho he was fucking.
“Hello, Beecher. How are you?” Toby flinched at the sound of Rebadow’s
voice. “Not so good, huh?”
“I think I’m going to die.”
“Of anything in particular?”
“Of Vern Schillinger.”
“What can I do?”
“The hole for a few days?”
“Oh, God, oh, God. This is a nightmare.”
Rebedow shook his head. “I’ve been here over thirty years. You’ve been
here almost three weeks.”
Toby wasn’t in the mood to feel sorry for anyone other than himself. He
put his head under his arms and pulled his knees in tight. Rebadow began
to load a machine. After a few minutes there was an agonised moan once
more from the floor, “What’s he going to say? Why the fuck did I do it?”
Rebadow turned, his face creased with puzzlement. “What did you say?”
Toby looked up and rubbed his face with his sleeve. “What’s Schillinger
going to say? I didn’t fuck the guy, but he’ll think I did. Jesus, I’m
Rebadow nodded as if this confirmed what he’d thought he’d heard. “You’re
more worried about what he’s going to think than what he’s going to do.”
“What?” Toby climbed to his feet, warily watching the space outside.
“You’re being abused and probably raped by that repellent man, but you’re
worried what he’s going to think about you being unfaithful? Are you his
victim or his lover?” With a slightly theatrical flourish, Rebadow snatched
up his basket and left.
* * * * * *
The wait for Schillinger to return from the visit was agonising and drawn
out and shredded Toby’s nerves. He had nowhere to go to escape. He wanted
to hide. He wanted to be rescued. He wanted to go back and not want the
stranger, not want to piss Vern off, not try to be so clever. That was
his trouble: he wasn’t clever. Men like Schillinger were clever. Street
smart where it counted. In the end he decided to wait in the pod on his
bed. In the end, there was nowhere else.
He heard Vern before he saw him, heard familiar footfalls on the echoing
metal, heard the door of the pod open, heard breathing. He sat up.
Vern didn’t even bother to speak. It was if he had thought of nothing
else since leaving the gym, as if the thought of Toby and what he might
be doing had built up an unstoppable pressure in his body that needed
venting. And it suddenly came to Toby that men could kill for other reasons
than punishing a prag, that Vern’s anger might have a more personal provenance
than offended status.
Schillinger swung a low punch against Toby’s chest which was so painful
it took his breath away. He thought his heart would stop. He would have
fallen back but Vern had the front of his shirt and he punched Toby in
the face, blood shooting from his nose. The next punch went into his ribs
and then another and another until they caved in. The last he remembered
was to his stomach and, too late, he realised he had never taken that
piss he’d so desperately needed in the stationery cupboard. As he sank
into welcome darkness, Toby realised that the whole attack had been so
quick and so silent that to a passing hack it might have appeared as two
men discussing whether to play a quiet game of chess.
The amazing eyes were on him once more the next time Toby opened his.
This time she seemed almost friendly. She smiled at him and patted his
arm. He didn’t care much what she did. Just being female was okay in his
book. He was done with men.
The next time he swum into consciousness he groaned. A far from friendly
pair of eyes was watching him. “Who did it, Beecher?” Toby went for incredulous,
but wasn’t sure he managed it. Before he could reply, who else do you
fucking think would beat me up in Vern Schillinger’s pod? McManus
added, “You were found at the bottom of the stairs between C and B. Someone
pushed you down.”
How the hell had Vern got him from the pod to the stairs without a single
“we will be watching you twenty four seven” hack seeing anything? It gave
him a great out though. Vern had left him alive, just, and Toby was keen
to see that state remaining. “I tripped.”
Toby tried again, but it wasn’t any clearer.
“Can’t it wait, Tim? He’s got severe concussion, fractured ribs and a
cracked breastbone. He’s in no state to be questioned.”
“Do you think he fell down the stairs?”
“It’s possible. The injuries are consistent with some kind of impact,
but my guess would be a fist or maybe a baton.”
“What the hell are you suggesting? That one of my COs did this?”
“Tim, no. I’m just asking you to wait until he’s able to talk, that’s
McManus stomped off and Toby eyed the Doctor warily. She came over to
adjust the drip. “I’m increasing your sedative. You need to sleep.”
He tried to thank her with his eyes. She twitched up her lips. “When you
can talk you can explain how the stairs seem to have knuckles all of a
* * * * * *
The next time he woke he felt worse, but more alert, which was bad. He
was enjoying the not alert thing too much. He looked around the ward to
see if he knew anyone. Lane Nick’s bed was empty and Toby tried to shake
off the idea that he was following the man’s career path a little too
“Morning, Beecher.” Vern stood at the end of the ward, behind the mail
trolley. “How are you feeling?” Toby made a stab at the question being
rhetorical and didn’t bother to reply. Vern searched in the trolley and
smirked. “Nothing for you today, Prag. No one loves you.” He continued
down the ward and Toby had a totally irrational desire to shout out that
he’d done nothing, that he’d changed his mind, but he didn’t. He’d sinned
in intent, if not in deed.
His next visitor was more welcome. O’Reilly jumped on the edge of his
bed as he slid a tray of food onto his table. “Don’t eat it; it’s shit
today. Christ, Beecher, he did job on you. Hey, Gloria, he gonna live?
“It’s Dr Nathan, O’Reilly and, yes, he’s going to be fine. Do you know
who did this?”
“Hell, Doc, I heard he had a run in with a repressed-homosexual staircase.”
Toby laughed and instantly regretted it. O’Reilly patted his leg and slipped
him a bar of chocolate. “Don’t eat it all at once.” He grinned at the
Doctor’s attempt to look disapproving and abandoned Toby for her more
The rest of the day was so boring Toby began to look forward to the pain,
which came in waves between doses of meds. His first night conscious was
even worse than his first night in Oz, with Vern. Then, only his butt
and his pride had been taken. The night stretched hour after hour of pain
with no relief from moving or from his tormented thoughts.
But, he reflected triumphantly, he wasn’t wearing lipstick.
* * * * * *
Three days later, busted ribs tightly bound, Toby was escorted to McManus’s
office. McManus was building something on the desk, which looked like
a model of a prison. It was too freaky for Toby to ask.
“Has your memory improved, Beecher?” McManus waved the hack out and nodded
for Toby to sit. It wasn’t easy for him to sit and breathe at the same
time, so he declined the offer.
“Christ. Why are you defending the fuck? I know who hit you!”
“If you know, then why ask me?”
“You need to testify, Beecher. You’re the goddamned lawyer.”
“And you’ll what, McManus? See I’m moved to another pod? Hey, why not
put me in with Adebisi?” He desperately needed to lie down and take his
meds, so to shorten the interview he added derisively, “You liberal cocksucker.”
McManus rose to his feet. “What did you just call me?”
“You fuck, McManus. You take our lives in your hands and play like a childish
God with them. Open your eyes and take a look around, man! We’re dying
in here!” The look on McManus’s face made him realise he’d said all this
louder than he’d intended. McManus, white with anger, stormed to the door
and wrenched it open.
“Get the fuck out, Beecher.”
“So, no Adebisi?”
* * * * * * *
As it happened, Toby was in a new pod. Schillinger watched from
their old one, leaning stretched on the glass, as the hack led him to
a new one two doors down. He was now in with a large, bald Aryan Toby
knew as Dickhead, as that was how Schillinger usually referred to him.
He didn’t mention this to baldy though. As he made his bed, he had the
distinct impression that not only had the cat tired of its mouse, the
poor, doomed creature had been passed down the food chain. But he had
his legs and he wasn’t wearing lipstick. In Oz, he’d learnt to be grateful
for small mercies.
* * * * * * * *
Sharing with Dickhead, or Monty, as he’d introduced himself, was a novel
experience for Toby. The guy was okay, given he was a white supremacist
who’d tortured and murdered two little black schoolgirls in Memphis five
years earlier. Toby liked him the minute he’d expressed a damning opinion
about Schillinger and called him a faggot cocksucker. That got Toby’s
vote, and for the first evening they shared a mutual disdain of the older
man. Toby liked Dickhead even more when the man eyed him up after lights
out and said menacingly, “Keep to your own bunk, Beecher. I ain’t into
all that Prag shit.” Almost unable to breathe by this stage because of
the pain and swelling in his ribs, the Aryan’s assertion came like manna
from heaven. He lay carefully on the lower bunk and tried to breathe through
his pain. It was a long wait till the following day and his next set of
meds dolled out in the infirmary.
The hours lumped past in sweat and pain. If he moved he hurt more, but
he had to move to relieve the pressure. At last he swung slowly to his
feet and began to walk softly around the confined space, gritting his
teeth to all his aches. His eye caught a movement further down, and he
leant on the cool glass to see. Schillinger was leaning in his pod, staring
at him. Toby stared back. After a few moments he mouthed something he
knew Schillinger couldn’t hear. He’d caught the man’s attention though.
Schillinger pursed his lips, his eyes cold. Toby said it again. Schillinger
frowned as if he read the lips but didn’t believe what he was seeing.
Toby laid his forehead on the glass. He wiped away a tear of exhaustion
and pain. When he looked back, Vern was a pale figure on the bed they
had once shared.
* * * * * * *
There were undoubted benefits in swapping pods. Leaning a new man’s personal
habits wasn’t one of them. By count he was climbing the walls to escape
the big Aryan and stepped out to the relative fresh air feeling light-headed
with pain. Vern came out of his pod without his usual cock-of-the-heap
swagger. He was silent and kept his eyes averted. As they left for breakfast,
Vern went another way. Toby knew he was obsessing, but he had nothing
else to think about except his ribs.
O’Reilly gave him an extra helping of eggs. “You look like shit.”
“You say that every day.”
“Well, there you go, Beech. Still got those tits if you’re interested.”
Toby stopped at stared at him, the devil temptation on his shoulder. O’Reilly
laughed. “Move along, man, you’re holding up the line.” Before he could
move though, O’Reilly leant close. “Heard about Vern?”
“Mystery visitor was his Dad. One of his boys is coming to Oz, looks like.”
He mimed snorting something illegal, with uncanny accuracy and grinned.
“I hear old Vern’s cut up something bad. Can’t afford a decent bloodsucker
– no offence. I’m weeping, man. So, you moving along here, Beech?”
Toby was on his way to the infirmary when lock-down was called. He was
desperate for his meds and tried to convince the hack that he could be
locked-down there, but he was led back to his pod. The Aryan was staring
intently into the quad. Toby asked cautiously, “What’s happening?”
The guy grunted then added, “Someone found fucked up in B.”
“And we’re locked down?”
“Guy had some parts missing. Guess they’re searching for ‘em. Hey, man,
“Parts? You mean body parts! You think someone kept them? Like a trophy?”
Monty gave him a look as if offended that anyone would find keeping body
part trophies odd. Toby sat slowly on the bed. It was his first lock-down.
Halfway through the long day he wondered if they were going to get fed.
The dynamics of that obsessed him. Would the kitchen guys be let out to
cook? Would O’Reilly make pod calls like he did to the infirmary? How
would he get the heavy meal trolleys up the stairs? Who would come back
to collect the trays? This repeated three for four times a day. It made
him insane that he couldn’t work it all out. He heard shouting and found
the Nazi in his face, red, mouth opening and closing. When he concentrated
he worked out the man was telling him to shut the fuck up. Had he said
anything? Next time the Aryan swung off the upper bunk Toby just got punched.
In the ribs once more.
He heard shadows speaking to him. Once he woke up to find Lane Nicks standing
on stumps by his bedside. He was just the right height to be face to face
with Toby. Toby screamed but he couldn’t hear it. The man was wearing
a red strap dress and lipstick smeared his lips. He looked good, given
the leg thing.
Behind Nicks, Toby saw two other women, taller, but they weren’t wearing
dresses, which depressed him. He heard one say, “Shit. Get him up.” They
held him under each elbow and helped him out of the pod.
“Is lock-down over?”
“For you, Beecher.”
“Are you angels?”
One of them laughed. “In Oz?”
Toby knew they were, so he didn’t push it. They were come to take him
home. He was convinced of it.
He awoke back in the infirmary, in a different bed, which was cool, and
Schillinger perched alongside him, which wasn’t. “Afternoon, Beecher.
You gave us quite a scare there.”
Toby clenched his jaw against tears. They hadn’t taken him home.
Schillinger handed him an envelope. “You got mail.”
“You fucked with it?”
“Jesus, Beecher, you are so accusatory, you know that?”
Schillinger opened the envelope for him and began to read the letter,
giving the salient points. It was from his old firm, a circular, reminding
him of the annual dinner and dance. Schillinger stopped and checked the
address. “You got some sick friends, Prag. They even readdressed it for
“What do you want, Schillinger?” Schillinger pursed his lips and tidied
Beecher’s blanket for a while. Toby tipped his head to one side. “What?”
“I had an interesting conversation with your new friend in B yesterday.”
“What friend?” Toby suddenly worked out which and actually blushed. “Oh,
“Yeah. Him. Only he ain’t your friend, seems. You pissed him off.”
“Yeah, well, I do that to the people who love me.”
“He told me you chickened out. Didn’t even suck lip.”
“And this was while you were removing his body parts?”
“Shit, Beecher, you can be a hurtful little bitch when you let that mouth
of yours run.” He smirked, and Toby guessed that unless he actually found
a penis or a testicle in his bed, or food, he would never know the truth
of what went down. This was Oz, after all.
“So, what now?”
He was weary of Schillinger’s games, but Schillinger surprised him by
saying evenly, “I want to know why you didn’t go through with it.”
Toby held his gaze. “I would have thought that was obvious.”
“I want you to tell me.”
“I want you to go away and think about it.” Schillinger’s eyebrows rose.
Toby flinched but the older man only regarded him coldly for a while.
The scrutiny seemed to go on forever.
“You’ve moved house again, by the way.”
Toby didn’t need to ask where. He was absurdly and unexpectedly pleased.
As Vern made to move away, Toby closed his eyes and asked softly, “Would
you like a top law firm to do some pro-bono work?”
* * * * * *
Something had changed in their relationship, and not just Toby’s ability
to withstand Vern’s weight on him at night. For a week, Vern fucked him
from the side a hand solicitously on his bandaged ribs and not thrusting
too hard. They didn’t discuss the beating and they didn’t discuss stationery.
Although he could not have proved it, Toby knew with certainty that Vern
had beaten him not because his authority had been challenged but for jealousy.
That Toby had not betrayed him had thrown him a curve.
Vern also didn’t ask about Toby’s silent confession behind the glass during
his temporary banishment. Toby knew it was eating the other man up inside,
not knowing. Mice didn’t usually mouth things at the cat: they were too
* * * * * * *
McManus frowned at the sight of Tobias Beecher and Vern Schillinger sitting
together on the bottom bunk playing cards. He was the God of Oz and they
owed him compliance to his World View. Beecher’s angry words flickered
through his mind, but his habitual self-righteous belief squashed them
down. “Beecher, you’ve got a conjugal scheduled next week.” Beecher looked
at Schillinger first, which pissed McManus off even more.
Schillinger shrugged. “You go make nice with your wife.” He laughed quietly
to himself. “And I wish her luck with that.”
Beecher scrambled off the bed and followed McManus down the landing. “Who…?”
“Why are you cosying up to Vern Schillinger, Beecher? He’s poison.”
“Jeez, I’m not sure, Sir. Some prick made us roommates. Who scheduled
McManus smirked spitefully. “Some prick.”
* * * * * * * *
Toby stood at the door to the pod kicking the glass idly.
Three hours to go to lights off. He’d kick if he wanted.
“Beecher. Quit it.”
“I don’t want to see her.”
“Well, I guessed that much.”
Something was so fucked up about this scene Toby felt his old sense of
disorientation return. He hopped up onto the top bunk and swung his legs
for a while.
“Christ, Beecher. Read a book or something.”
“Can I refuse this conjugal thing?”
“Dunno, never had one.”
Toby peered down. “You’ve had no sex since you’ve been in Oz? Jeez.”
Vern snorted. “Funny.”
Toby jumped down and took a piss then sat on the closed lid and chewed
“What is your goddamned problem with seeing your wife, for fuck’s sake?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you refuse, McManus will find another way to fuck with you.”
“Is he certified psychotic?”
Vern grunted. “He’s the most dangerous man in Oz.”
Vern smiled, pleased. “There you go: all cheered up.”
“Yeah. Great. I find my humorous moments of the day from the second most
dangerous man in Oz.”
* * * * * * *
The day of Gen’s visit arrived. Toby stared at his reflection in the mirror.
No bruises, which was good. “What should I take, do you think?”
Vern didn’t look up from his book. “A better attitude?”
Toby turned and stared at the man lounging on his bunk. Their bunk. Schillinger
glanced up at him and raised one eyebrow, both digesting the import of
this simple statement. After a moment, Schillinger said neutrally, “If
you fuck her, wear a condom.” There were too many possible meanings implicit
in this outwardly simple observation for Toby to untangle.
* * * * * * *
Gen looked thin and tense but she smelt overwhelming good and some of
Toby’s nervousness evaporated. They embraced and discussed the kids, talked
about everything to do with her life and nothing to do with Oz. She was
avoiding it, he could tell. He didn’t blame her. Death, cancer, Oz: not
easy subjects to chat about.
He led her to the bed and undressed her. The dizziness began once more,
the spinning. Only now he was spinning the other way. Oz was his life
and this was unfamiliar. He was the one slowly undressed every night.
He was the beautiful, desired body. He was the one entered to give pleasure.
He wondered what Vern was doing. Whether he was missing him. Christ, he
was naked with his wife and thinking about Vern Schillinger.
He smiled weakly.
“Make love to me, Toby.”
“Wait.” He reached down to his pants and extracted the condom. She stared
at it. They’d never used them. He saw her expression and said lamely,
“There is a lot of blood in prison, sweetheart. Best to be safe.”
She nodded. He tried. He was too soft to roll it on. He asked her to touch
herself instead, but the unfamiliar room, the thought of what lay beyond
their false sense of security, made her too nervous to want to. In the
end they cuddled on the bed, Toby making her talk about anything and everything
because there was nothing he could say. They tried again a few hours before
their time was up, but it was worse. He softened inside her and kept slipping
out. The condom was ruined and he’d only thought to bring one. They parted
in near silence. Her last look was pitying.
Toby’s rage inflamed on that look as he strode beside the escorting hack
back to Em City. He wasn’t a man anymore. He wasn’t anything he had once
been. Disbarred lawyer, absent father, now impotent husband. The fact
that Vern Schillinger could fuck him to three or four gut-wrenching orgasms
every night only stoked the embers of his self-wrath.
O’Reilly grinned at him over the familiar yellow mess in the tray. “How
goes it, Stud?”
Beecher lunged at him, but he was restrained by other inmates in the line.
The hacks approached and both O’Reilly and Beecher held up their hands
to placate them. Beecher looked at O’Reilly. “I want some tits.”
O’Reilly raised his eyes. “That non sequitur thing not going so well then?”
“Sorry about just now….”
O’Reilly shot him his infectious grin. “Hey, no worries, man. You hit
like a girl anyhow.”
It was the wrong thing to say. O’Reilly went down covered in egg. Beecher
followed, punching and kicking as if he could find his missing manhood
* * * * * **
“O’Reilly again. He provoke you?”
“Fuck, McManus. You provoke me.”
“A week in the hole, Beecher. Take your pissy attitude out on the damp.”
The guard cuffed Toby behind his back and manhandled him out of the office.
Schillinger was waiting outside. Toby felt his gut clench with too many
emotions to sort. He just lunged, kicking where his hands were of no use.
“Look what you’ve done to me, you prick! I hate you! I hate you!” Schillinger
just stood and took it with unreadable eyes.
* * * * * **
Toby had a great week. He cursed and sang, screamed and ran at the walls.
He threw his food and wiped his shit in pretty patterns. He couldn’t remember
anything that had happened since saying goodbye to Gen, but he was willing
to bet none of it was good.
When he was out he went straight to the phones to call her. A bad visit
and then no word for a week from him was shitty. She answered. She was
brief. She was leaving him. The visit had been made out of guilt for that
decision. The divorce was nothing to do with him or his performance –
her words, not his. He accused her of finding someone who could get it
up for her – his words, not hers. She left a longish pause and accused
him of the same. The call ended badly after that. Everything he’d felt
in the hole, all the madness and impotent rage rushed back to him. The
hack told him to get to count. He held it together until he was in the
pod then it exploded.
It was only then that he got just how strong Vern Schillinger really was.
The man forced Toby to his knees, held him in a headlock, dragged him
to the bunk and lay heavy on his prone, thrashing body. He held a hand
to Toby’s mouth to stifle the screaming insults. He held him contained
as effortlessly as Toby could a raging child. He said nothing, only kept
his gaze fixed on the hacks’ station, as if willing them to stay away.
Eventually Toby’s anger exhausted his body’s strength. He melted into
the mattress, shaking with grief, not rage. Schillinger eased his hold
and lay alongside him. After a few moments, he pulled Toby into his arms.
“You dumb fuck.”
Later, when the lights went out, Vern began to undress him. For the first
time since the early days of rape and pain, Toby refused. He pulled away,
curled into a ball of misery. When Vern persisted, stroking his butt and
exploring, Toby climbed out and hopped up to the top bunk. Schillinger
followed, standing angrily alongside. “Hey, prag.” Toby sat up and swung
at Vern, but once more, it was utterly ineffectual. Schillinger pushed
between Toby’s thighs and forced the arm down. Toby’s eyes suddenly flared
in the beam from a flashlight. “What’s going on in there?”
“Nothing.” Under his breath he added, “Fuck off.” When the guard was satisfied
he turned away. Toby grabbed Vern’s shoulders, pulling him in closer.
“Suck my cock.”
Schillinger’s head snapped back. “What the fuck did you just say?”
“Suck my cock, Vern. I’m still a fucking man!” He felt tears coming
so only repeated softly, “I’m a man.”
Schillinger regarded the lowered head for a moment then shrugged. “What
the hell?” He reached into Toby’s boxers. Toby looked down in amazement.
His cock had hardened at that one touch, lengthening as if seeking for
Schillinger’s mouth. Vern took him in and it was all Toby needed. He came
in a shuddering, pent up orgasm, gripping Vern’s head way too hard and
not caring one way or the other.
Vern straightened and spat into the toilet. “Well, that was a whole lot
easier than you make it look.”
Toby couldn’t process what had happened. Vern began to move away, but
Toby held his shoulder again. He looked down. Vern raised an eyebrow.
“Well, I’ll be…” He went back down and they both seemed to enjoy it far
more the second time around.
Later, lying back together on Toby’s bed, Vern rolled onto his back and
folded his arms beneath his head. “I’ll kill you if you blab about this
“Can I tell Sister Pete – in confidence, of course.” He liked making Schillinger
laugh but he could have done without the elbow to the head. He left it
a suitable time then asked deceptively casually, “You ever suck cock before…
Sir?” He was too slow to dodge the elbow again. He rubbed his head and
asked more seriously. “Have you?”
“Have I what, prag?”
Toby frowned. “What do you think?”
“You tell me.”
“Sucked cock! Ow, fuck! What did you do that for?”
“You just told someone.”
“You! And you knew!”
Schillinger folded his arms under his head again and after a few moments
he said distinctly, “Only faggots suck cock.”
Toby had no answer for that.
Toby now had power over Vern. He knew it as soon as he woke to a soft
alarm thirty seconds before count, a practised ritual to give him time
to hop up to the top bunk before lights on. What intrigued him was that
Vern clearly knew this too. He knew it and didn’t seem all that put out
by the knowledge. They exchanged a look as they waited in line for count.
Schillinger nodded pleasantly. “Morning, prag.” Toby kept his gaze and
replied evenly, “Sir.” Schillinger whistled to himself, grinning.
* * * * * * * *
“What’s so funny, Tobias?”
Toby turned and tried to stop smiling. “I was merely pondering the vagaries
of human nature, Sister.”
“That’s my job. Yours is to enter data.”
“So, Toby, how do you feel about what is happening with your wife?”
“It’s not funny, Tobias.”
“Actually, it kinda is. It’s all gone now, see? Job, money, house, respect,
children, wife. It’s… liberating.”
“I know you don’t mean that.”
“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. This is Oz, after all.” He watched her for
a moment then added, “May I take a short break?”
“Why? Are you unwell?”
“Not exactly. I have to speak with someone.”
“Can’t it wait?”
“All right, but I’m trusting you, Tobias. Please don’t let me down.”
* * * * * * *
Toby went straight to the mailroom and stood just inside the door. “May
I speak with you, Sir?”
Vern puffed himself out a little, clearly pleased with the subservience.
“Fuck off, prag; I’m working here.”
“Please, Sir. It’s important.”
“Jesus. Okay.” He handed a stack of mail to a pale man who was watching
the scene with interest. “Hacks come in, you let me know.”
Schillinger beckoned Toby towards the storage cupboard and went in. “This
Toby shut the door hard, fell to his knees and pressed his face to Schillinger’s
pants. He yanked down the zipper and had his tongue lapping at the hardening
flesh before the astonished man could stop him. Toby drew the long pale
prick into his mouth. He knew every ridge and contour. It didn’t take
very long. The surprise, the need obvious in Toby’s hot mouth, made Schillinger
shoot within half a minute. He couldn’t spit, so Toby swallowed, eliciting
a groan of pleasure from the other man. “Christ Almighty, Beecher. Do
you have a degree from Harvard in weirdness?”
Toby rose and grabbed Vern’s neck. “Shut up.” He kissed him hard, needy,
lifting up his leg to rub against Vern, demonstrating his hardness. “Your
Vern shoved him back. “Get the fuck out.”
Toby came back and kissed him again, tongue exploring. He hugged Vern
close and breathed into his neck, “Please. I want you. I’ll beg if you
want.” Schillinger gripped him fiercely for a moment then glanced to the
door and fell to one knee. Toby came before Vern’s lips touched him. Shots
of warm cum hit the hard, pale face. Toby hung suspended by terror. Schillinger
rose up. “Well, you gonna lick this off, or what? Prag.”
They kissed with Toby’s sperm like a third saliva, rolling it between
their tongues, idly playing with the taste on their lips. There was a
soft knock at the door. Schillinger swiftly tidied them both. “So, was
there something you had to tell me?”
Toby shrugged. “I guess I just did.”
* * ** * * *
The third time Toby asked to be sucked off, Schillinger didn’t even protest.
He went down the slim body and gave him a rough almost painful blow job.
The forth time Schillinger went there unasked, and made the journey down
Toby’s torso more pleasurable for them both.
Fucking Toby in silence and pain in the dark from behind seemed a distant
memory. Toby soon forgot to count, and Vern seeking his cock seemed as
natural as his desire for Schillinger’s. As natural as the violence, racism
and constant fear of Oz.
One night Vern produced lipstick. Toby put it on, Vern watching the effect
in the mirror, smearing it like blood with kisses, fucking him on the
floor, hard and silent and their faces looking like slash victims in the
The following night Toby decorated Schillinger’s mouth before kissing
him so hard the lipstick mingled with their blood.
* * * * * * *
“Hey, I haven’t asked for anything.”
“Well hurry up and ask so I can say no again.”
O’Reilly straddled the chair opposite the old man. “You seen Beech?”
“They went to the gym.”
“Oh, okay. So, how does he look to you?”
Rebadow glanced up from his game of solitaire. “Look? He looked fine.
I couldn’t see a single burn.”
O’Reilly frowned. “On his butt.”
“Oh, no, all over. When you play with fire you usually get burnt.”
O’Reilly chewed his lips for a while. “Fire. Schillinger?”
Rebadow smiled and moved a card. “No, his own capacity for love.”
“Okay, speaking of tits, I’ve got an ask….”
* * * * * * *
“How’s Tobias Beecher these days, Pete?”
Sister Pete looked up from her Nuns’ Weekly. “I think he’s finally faced
his demons and decided to take his life back.”
“Does he talk about Vern Schillinger much?”
“He doesn’t talk about much at all. He’s one of those rare people, Tim,
who are content within their own thoughts.” She gave McManus a pointed
look over her glasses.
“I’m thinking of splitting them up.”
“Why for goodness sake?”
Because I can. “It’s healthier in the long run.”
Wittlesey came over from the coffee pot and sat down. “They won’t like
McManus said neutrally, “Beecher begged me to move him a couple of weeks
She nodded. “Yeah. Then he found some balls and put Schillinger where
he’s been needing to be put for years.”
McManus frowned uncomprehendingly. She gave him a withering look. “Shit,
Tim, haven’t you noticed who’s really been controlling the Aryan Brotherhood
for the last two weeks?”
* * * * * * *
“Listen up. The following men are to report to Officer Wittlesey.”
Toby turned to Schillinger. “What’s happening?”
“Am I a fucking mind reader?” But he looked worried.
“96P192 Porter. 88B229 Brookes. 89C439 Cutter, 84M986 Mack, 97S110 Schillinger.
Get your shit together. You’re returning to Gen Pop.”
It happened too quickly after that for Toby to take in. One minute he’d
been sharing a pod with the leader of the Aryan brotherhood; the next,
all the Aryan’s were gone, and he had nothing but glass and a well-thumbed
copy of Mein Kampf. He caught McManus up just outside the office. “Hey,
what about me?”
“Send me to Gen Pop too.”
McManus nodded seriously. “No.”
* * * * * * *
Toby ached that night. He couldn’t admit that it was for Vern Schillinger,
so he stayed awake thinking about all the other things he had lost from
his life. It was a long night, when, with an empty bed and no interruptions
to his sleep, it should have been his best in Oz.
After count he went back into his pod to dress when he heard a rustle
at the door. He turned to find Adebisi leaning on the jamb, sucking his
obligatory toothpick. “Hello, Beecher.”
“It didn’t take you long.”
“What you got?”
“How about a spare copy of Mein Kampf?”
“You a funny man, Beecher. But you all alone now in the jungle.”
Beecher turned and stretched. “Yeah. I am. So fuck off and leave me to
Adebisi gave him a scornful look and sauntered off. Toby stared after
him his heart racing. What he had done that was so different? Is that
what came naturally to people like Schillinger and Ryan O’Reilly? He breathed
deeply trying to get his heart to slow. It wouldn’t and he had to concede
that it was now excitement and not fear.
At work he was entering data as usual when he heard a familiar voice.
Schillinger came in and engaged Sister Pete in a conversation about some
mail. He didn’t give Toby so much as a glance, so Toby decided, after
his run-in with Adebisi, that he could play that game too. Finally, Schillinger
said, “Beecher.” Toby turned nonchalantly. “You got mail.”
Toby took the letter and caught Vern’s eye. He suddenly wanted to stop
playing games and ask him how things were. For a fleeting moment he thought
he saw the same desire in the pale, cold eyes.
Schillinger nodded and left.
Toby went back to his computer then remembered the letter. When Sister
Pete went to see the Warden, he picked it up. It was hand-addressed and
just said “Beecher” on the envelope. Toby grinned and ripped it open.
It was a list. Of things Toby was allowed to do and things he was not.
He read it, laughing. It was his first love letter in Oz. Didactic, menacing,
nevertheless, Toby read between the lines and saw the truer message behind
* * * * * *
Toby sat in the quad watching the news. He was planning to do some laundry
and then go for a workout. There was nothing he wanted and nothing bothering
him. He was utterly calm.
One of the Sicilians dropped into a chair alongside him. “Man, that chick’s
Toby kept his eyes forward. The guy settled in to watch, folding his arms
and stretching out his chunky legs. Toby smiled inwardly. He was feeling
O’Reilly was the one to define Beecher’s new life – he had begun it, so
it was only fitting. He came into the gym a few days later and found Toby
idly shooting hoops by himself. “Hey, play with nicely with your little
friends there, Beech.” Beecher gave him the finger and shot. Ryan caught
ball as it came through the hoop. “You need to get some players, man.”
“I tried. I got blown out.”
“Yeah, that ain’t all that surprising though, buddy.”
Toby flushed slightly and didn’t want to hear it. He snatched the ball
from Ryan. “Fuck you.”
Ryan tackled him and took it back. “It’s not what you’re thinking, Beecher.
They’re scared of you – the new guys, the normal ones. Hah. That’s good,
yeah? Normal in Oz.”
Toby stood and wiped his face with the bottom of his T-shirt. “Scared?
“Shit, Beecher – you’re the guy who survived Vern Schillinger. You got
* * * * * * *
Toby could have gone to the mailroom – but he didn’t. Stability in Oz
was like ice: tenuous.
It was two weeks therefore before he saw Schillinger again. He went to
the gym and the older man was on the weights’ bench being spotted by a
shaven-headed, blunt-featured young Aryan. Beecher came forward cautiously.
Schillinger saw his partner’s move to stop someone and looked over.
Their gaze was held long and much was said.
Finally Schillinger sat up and waved him over, wiping his face as Toby
approached and sat down. “How you been, Beecher?”
“I had some trouble in paradise. Guess you heard.”
Beecher had. Three Aryans dead, but Vern Schillinger was still the leader.
“Yeah. You’re still top of the shit heap.”
Vern smiled too. “This is Robson, by the way.”
Toby closed his eyes for a moment. Conjones. Schillinger had introduced
him like a friend. Like a man. When he opened his eyes he nodded
at the man. Robson seemed unable to place Toby on the Oz pecking order,
or work out why his boss was talking to him. He hedged his bets however
and nodded back amiably enough. Toby kept his small and very childish
grin of triumph to himself, although he had a suspicion Vern saw it anyway.
Schillinger wiped his face again. “You observing my rules?”
Schillinger laughed. “Good for you.”
It was the end. Toby felt it and saw the same realisation in Schillinger’s
He shrugged and said reluctantly, “Guess I’d better go.”
Toby sat back down at the tone.
“I’ve got an ask.”
Toby stilled and considered. He heard cracking ice and wanted to run and
run and never stop running. But he had other sounds in his memory too,
just as potent: a man urging him to come; laughter over a shared joke
about a monster called Dickhead; the sound of a mouth seeking freedom
inside the confines of another. So instead of running Toby said simply,
“An acquaintance of mine is coming to Oz – Em City. I’ve arranged for
you to sponsor him.”
Schillinger turned and glanced at Robson who looked annoyed but moved
out of hearing. Toby slid closer so his knee was touching Vern’s. Schillinger
looked down at the contact but did not move away. “Was he your prag, too?”
Vern chuckled at Toby’s confusion. “I’d say he was… he’d say… fuck
you. And that’s why I want you to be his sponsor.”
“Because he’s as fucked up and confused about you as I am?”
Vern recovered quickly but could not entirely hide his look of pleasure.
“I want him… looked after.” He rested his arms on his thighs and stared
at the floor. “I want you looked after too.”
Toby jerked back, staring at the back of the shaven head he knew so well.
“They’re calling me the guy who survived Vern Schillinger.”
“Yeah. I heard.”
“You bothered by that?” Toby unconsciously began to rub his legs.
Schillinger looked up and shrugged. “Plenty that didn’t.”
Toby held his gaze longer than anyone else in Oz would have dared and
asked, “Why me?”
Schillinger choked on an expletive. “Christ, I could ask why me?
You manipulative little fuck. I’m the guy who survived Tobias Beecher.”
They both looked down to hide their expressions from onlookers. Schillinger
pressed his knee against Toby’s. “So, will you do it?”
“What’s his name?”
“Chris. Chris Keller.” Vern stood up. “He’s a manipulative fuck, too.
I think you’ll enjoy each other.”
is always welcome to: Jenny