Every morning Donnie Martin followed the same routine. He kissed Ester right on the mouth before grabbing the brown paper bag from the counter. In the bag, he always found one of Ester's huge sandwiches, together with a cookie and a diet coke. His favorite sandwich had spicy bacon and mayonnaise resting on a layer of crisp lettuce and tomatoes. The vegetables came from the greenhouse they had built after the kids moved out. Then he walked to work and sometimes he took the detour around the lake. Being alone in the serene nature with his thoughts helped him to prepare or unwind from work.
When Donnie walked into the small entrance hall Mark, his youngest guard, flung up from his chair and overturned his coffee cup. Officer Thompson laughed so hard that his belly bounced under his strained shirt. With a curse, Mark reached for the box of disposable handkerchiefs and began to wipe up the steaming coffee from the terminal. Donnie nodded to Mark and tried his best to suppress a laugh as he passed him.
Donnie followed Thompson through a couple of doors and an encircling staircase. When they stepped out on the narrow corridor of B-block, the morning chatter among the cells died down. A tense atmosphere filled the air. When they were halfway through the corridor, a door behind them slammed open.
Donnie turned around. In the corner of his eye, Donnie saw a massive figure with a long object in his hand bursting out from a cell. Thompson opened his mouth to shout and reached for his weapon. But the figure was faster. With a mercilessness swiftness, the figure stabbed the object into Thompson, over and over, until the guard sank down on the floor with a groan.
Donnie recognized the massive man as Jesse Speck an incorrigible brute who would never be a free man. Jesse stepped over Thompson's body with a wild grin and pearls of sweat on his shaved head.
"Warden, can you imagine my surprise when my door buzzed open earlier this morning? I still cannot understand what happened! Can you?" Jesse said.
Donnie backed away with his palms up in the air, "Jesse take it easy now. Don't do anything you'll regret."
"On the ground now!" Mark moved down the corridor with his sidearm raised, and a symphony of howls and profane words erupted from the cells. Jesse moved behind Donnie and pressed a sharp object against Donnie's throat. Then he retreated into his cell, with Donnie's body like a shield.
Within seconds Mark and two other guards appeared in the doorway with their weapons. Donnie made a silent prayer that Mark would not turn this into a shootout.
"Now I want everyone to remain calm and—" Mark said before the stomach-turning sound of hard metal connecting to human flesh filled in the cell. Jesse's grip around Donnie's chest sank away.
Stunned Donnie turned around. A small man was standing on one of the beds, with a bedpan over his head looking like a golfer who finished a swing. Then he looked down and saw Jesse lying cross-eyed on the floor with a pool of dark blood growing around his head.
The small man looked anxious like an ensnared rabbit.
"Warden if anything will come out of this you should know I just would like my own cell, nothing more."
"I think we could arrange something like that. Don't you worry Joseph." Donnie said.
Then Donnie picked up his paper bag and thought he would take the detour home after work.