Prison Cell by Aapo Haapanen“You’re outta here.”

Hemlock grinned and looked down at the guard. “Thanks, Barker.”

Barker pushed a button to release the lock.

“My birthday today.”

“That’s right. Enjoy it, brother, and don’t let me ever catch you in here again.” Barker opened the gate and stepped out into the parking lot. A fireplug short man holding muscled arms and legs beneath his white uniform shirt, black tie and black pants. He reached into his shirt pocket for a scrap of paper.

Hemlock stepped out and took in a deep breath. He felt under dressed in blue t-shirt and black jeans. A black jacket, not needed yet, hung over the arm that also carried his black sports bag.

“However, you’re the one guy I will ever offer this to.” Barker handed him the paper.

Hemlock noted the ten digit number scrawled on it.

“If you ever have trouble, or want to get an ale…”

With mouth blossoming from grin to toothy smile, Hemlock shook Phil’s hand. “You’ll hear from me soon for that ale.”

“I’ll buy the first round. I owe you at least that. Are you going to do what you said tonight?”

Hemlock nodded. “Twenty years, no conjugals. Wouldn’t you?”

“Yeah, I would. Get out of here before I tear up and decide to go with you.”

Hemlock looked at the parking lot and, beyond that, the bridge that led from Highway 429 to Devlin St. He had seen that bridge from behind the fence in the yard everyday. Most, upon release, would have a ride or have ordered a taxi to meet them at the exit. Hemlock had a special request approved. His heart leapt as he took his first steps on the bridge that lifted him over the Acton River.

On the other side a corner gas station remained, but now surrounded by buildings that did not exist in 1993.

Being the sign of poverty that mass transit is in North America, the subway sign was small and exactly where Barker had told him it would be.

Hemlock took looked around before he descended to new life.

He checked in at half-way house and with his parole officer to schedule a meeting. He then shaved his beard down to goatee. His own modernization had included going from the chubby brunette working through law school to the muscled, grey-haired naked ex-con in the mirror. Dressed in black slacks and black button-down-collar shirt he made his way down from his new apartment.

“You’re Hemlock?”

Hemlock turned to the reception guard. “Yes, sir.”

The man offered a hand. “Mitchel Graves. I’m under special orders with you.”

“Special orders?”

“You’re not held to curfew, for one.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“I’m told you can help with legal matters.”

Hemlock grinned. “Absolutely, but first night here and…”

Mitchel interrupted, “Club Lightning is three doors left.” He pulled three bills from his pocket. “Compliments of Barker. With your appointment tomorrow he did suggest no drinking.”

“Suggest? I’m in agreement.” He took the bills and followed the directions. Entering the club, he descended stairs feeling bass thump from below. At reception he accepted a fluorescent yellow wrist band.

Bodies slithered on the dance floor. The black melamine bar with quartz top extended along one side. Sofas and tables provided places non-dancers could yell at each other over the music. A hallway led to the back lockers.

After Diet Cokes, or virgin Cuba Libres as he joked with the cute redheaded barmaid about, he found a locker. The back offered just enough light to watch live porn as couples and groups played. Planting on a couch, he watched.

The blonde curls of the woman in one young couple on a near mattress swayed forward as her chubby bald partner thrust from behind. Her blue eyes found Hemlock’s, but quickly looked away with a blush and grin.

Hemlock stood and walked to them. With muffled music, he crouched and spoke in a normal voice, “Dude, can I help you here.”

“Fuck off, old man! I’m not sharing.”

“You misunderstand.”

The blonde turned.

“She’s not your girlfriend, is she?” Hemlock’s tone was neither aggressive nor demeaning.

Baldy had no answer now and his thrusting stopped. “How do you know?”

“Are you here to just please yourself, or would you like repeats with this beauty? She’s bored, and no woman should look bored while fucking.”

“I, um…”

“Pull her hair. Smack her ass. Do something for her. Stop being so selfish.” He offered a quick grin to the blonde.

The blonde smiled her agreement.

Baldy wrapped a hand in her blonde hair and pulled.

“There you go. Make sure she enjoys as much, if not more than you do, and you’ll do well.” Hemlock returned to the couch.

Another young man with greased black hair had watched the entire interaction while stroking. Closing his towel, he followed Hemlock to the couch. “Why are you here?”

Hemlock raised an eyebrow. “Odd question.”

“You’re not stroking nor playing. You don’t even look erect under there. Are you a coach?”

Hemlock chuckled. “I owned a club like this. Long time back.”

“I’m Travis. I’m one of the owners here.”

Hemlock shook his hand. “Hemlock, newly freed criminal.”

Travis laughed. “You handled that beautifully.”

“Purely selfish on my part.”

“Selfish? Anyway, would you consider giving me some pointers?”

“On your sex life? You barely know me.”

Travis shook his head. “You’re not a kipper and we need less of them here. You’re not afraid to step in.”

“Kipper?”

“Kip, Kink Impaired People. Kippers.”

“I’m no kipper.”

“Could we talk sometime off-line?”

“Off-line?”

“Outside club time.”

“Excuse me.” The blonde stood in front of Hemlock.

Hemlock looked at her slim curves before a quick glance back at Travis. “Told you it was selfish.”

“Have fun. Leave your name at reception and we’ll talk.”

“I will,” he stood and leaned down to kiss her. “Good evening.”

She grinned and blushed.

Baldy watched over her shoulder, a befuddled look on his face.

“You okay, my friend?”

Baldy grinned and nodded. “Thank you.”

“Yes, thank you,” she repeated as her hand slipped under Hemlock’s towel.

“You’re welcome.”

“I want this,” the blonde said squeezing.

Baldy sighed. “Man, I could learn a lot from you.”

“Yes, you could. Follow us.” Hemlock took her hand and led them to another mattress.

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