Sunday, August 11, 2013

The visit

Two hours later we pulled into the station attached to the pen’s main building, and after some vetting and credentials checking, we were ushered into the prisoner visiting room. Visiting room, what a term. It was a big rectangular box built completely from massive stone blocks. No windows, just a few steel doors, and a thick, continuous, floor to ceiling glass partition that ran the entire length of the room: visitors on one side, prisoners on the other and some phone handsets for communicating. No tables. No chairs. No sitting. No leaning. Everything designed to minimize interactions and make everybody as uncomfortable as possible to hasten the desire to leave. 

A few minutes after we entered, a disheveled figure in a dingy gray coverall was escorted into the other half of the room by a guard. The guard stood back against the stone wall. The figure advanced to the glass partition and picked up a receiver. 

No speaking was necessary. Leslie’s face said it all. She recognized Donna immediately. 

So did I. 

Donna dropped her head and started to cry. She kept holding the receiver to her ear.

Leslie picked up hers, “Donna?” I picked up mine. Donna sobbed softly.

“We’ve only got 10 minutes,” was my gentle reminder to Leslie.

“Donna?” called Leslie in a low, disbelieving voice.

Donna sniffled and stopped crying. “Yes,” was her meek reply. She stared at the floor. She didn’t raise her head. 

I don’t think Leslie knew what to say. She had thoroughly convinced herself that whoever we met in this place wasn’t going to be her old colleague, but she tried, and got right to what concerned her, “What happened? Did you kill that man?”

Donna didn’t raise her eyes, “Yes.”

Leslie gasped. 

We were all quiet. We were waiting. For what, I don’t know.

I placed my hand on Leslie’s shoulder, “We’ve only a got a few minutes.”

“Why’d you do it?” asked Leslie.

Donna spoke to the floor, “I was offered a lot of money. It was supposed to be just play acting. They gave me one of our old rayguns and I was supposed to fire it at the guy who got out of the car. It was supposed to have been fixed at illuminate and he was supposed to be wearing a suit under his clothes.” She took a depth breath after this was out.

Leslie looked at me, “A suit to slow the burn-through. We made those too.”

“She shot the wrong guy,” was my re-joiner.

“Who asked you to do this?”continued Leslie to Donna.

“They called him Zed. He had a deep voice.”

“What did he look like?”

Zed? A deep voice? I could guess what he looked like. Leslie wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe where this was going.

“I only spoke to him once on the phone. Some other people set things up. Will you help get me out of here?”

I answered that one, “You did kill someone. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t give you the injection.”

“The lawyer they got me said if I pleaded guilty and then remained silent, they’d make sure I just went to jail,” Donna started to cry again.

Smart move by whoever was behind this. Death penalties always come with loud public outcries and intensified media attention. This way everything is nice and quiet.

Leslie marched on with the questions, “What happened when we were at the store?”

The guard started to walk over to Donna. 

Leslie looked at him, then back at Donna and continued, “I’ll be coming back soon.”

The guard stood behind Donna. Our time was up.

The next instalment can be found here.


  1. A very apt illustration at the head. I'm enjoying this story very much! Snappily written, taut and engrossing.

    1. Thanks Iain. The open pit iron mine is based on an actual location - hence the historical picture - although the idea of converting its remains to a jail is pure fiction. The pit is located in a part of Ontario that has recently become known as 'the land between' since it's sandwiched between the cities and towns to the south that are near Lake Ontario and the so-called 'near-north'. TVOntario did a short series on it recently and a couple of trailers are posted on youtube: