Rick flinched when the men rattled at their bars, howling, whistling and catcalling as he shuffled by, his belongings clutched against his chest as if someone would try to rob him. While his heart was slamming in his chest, he tried to ignore all the comments that were made about his 'nice little ass'. He had the feeling the word 'gay' was written all over his body and bile crept up into his gullet at the fear that being into men gave every guy around here the right to use his body as they pleased.
Instinctively, he walked closer to the guard, wishing the man would tell the men to shut up and leave him alone. He even longed for a protective arm around his shoulders, although the man made no such attempt. He stopped in front of a cell, put the key in the lock and opened the door, with a gesture of his head motioning Rick to get inside.
Rick's bottom lip was quivering. There had been countless nightmares about this moment; the encounter with his cellmate. His anxious mind had painted vivid pictures about sadistic giants and sly old men that were craving for young flesh. Entering the dim cell, he shuffled to the bunk to the right and carefully laid down his belongings; an extra overall, two pairs of socks and boxer briefs and some toiletries.
Behind him, the cell door was closed. Without a goodbye, the guard turned around and walked away, leaving Rick behind with his worries. Nervously, he bit his lip. He could feel the other man's presence to his left. Although the other inmates were anything but quiet, he believed to be able to hear his cellmate's breathing. Postponing the moment to face him, Rick refolded his clothes although they had already been folded neatly. There had to be a closet around to put away his stuff, but he couldn't find the courage to look around, fearing the hunger in the man's eyes.
He waited almost five minutes until his cellmate would say something to him, but silence persisted. Was he alone? Could he really be that lucky? Carefully he turned around and sat down on the edge of his bunk. His eyes fluttered through the room, registering the toilet, the sink and the cupboards, a small writing table and even a small tv screen. Ultimately, his eyes landed upon the bunk opposite to his.
Rick had expected a hundred things of his arrival in this dark place — but not that his cellmate would completely ignore him. He was sitting with his back against the wall, one knee bent against which a book was resting. His eyes were glued to the paper, whatever was written on it had to be ten times more interesting than Rick's presence.
Since the man had dipped his head, part of his face was hidden in shadows. Nevertheless, Rick concluded that he was in his late twenties — not even that much older than he was. He was wearing a black shirt through which his muscles were visible, and the tan skin on his arms was adorned with tattoos, which could also be seen above the neck of his shirt.
Rick swallowed, not exactly disliking the view in front of him.
He folded his hands, wondering if it could be possible that the man had been so immersed in his book that he hadn't noticed Rick at all.
Clearing his throat, he whispered: "Hi."
It sounded stupid.
Even more because it was barely audible. If the man hadn't been distracted by the hollers of the other inmates, his clumsy whisper would neither grab his attention.
"Uhm — hi," he said, a little harder now. "I uhm — I'm your new cellmate. I um — I hope we will become good friends."
His own words made him cringe — but at least the man lowered his book and slowly turned his head to the side.
"Where the hell do you think you are boy?" a mocking voice asked him. "At school camp?"
Rick's cheeks flushed. "N-no," he whispered.
Brown eyes drilled right into his own. There was a darkness inside them, making his throat dry. He swallowed, yet he couldn't look away from the man's handsome face. His fingers itched, eager to caress that beautiful face, to feel the faint facial hair under his skin, to trace his strong jawline and his soft lips — the only soft feature the man seemed to possess.
As the man's eyes wandered down his body, Rick couldn't help but wonder if he liked what he saw. He was narrow and small, quite a misfit in a place with rugged men like his cellmate. He barely had any facial hair, which made him look younger than he actually was. The man noticed it too.
"Juvie was full?" he asked, his eyebrows raised.
"Umm — no," he answered. "I'm 22, actually. Not that long tho — I turned 22 just a few weeks ago."
The man lifted the corner of his mouth, forming a contemptuous smirk. "You look like a schoolboy. They're gonna eat you alive."
Uncomfortably, Rick shifted on the bed, thinking back to the sexual remarks that were made on his way to his cell. "Will you — will you protect me?" he asked, his eyes wide, pleading.
The man chuckled. "Now why would I do that?"
"I — I can be a pleasant cellmate," he said. "I can sing. And I — I can tell stories. I love to tell myths and legends."
He could also offer other things, he wouldn't mind going down on his knees for a handsome man like that, but he was afraid the offer would piss him off — there was something about him screaming straight.
"You really that fucked in the head that you think the payment around here consists of songs?" the man asked. "Weren't you supposed to be brought to the psychiatric ward?"
Rick bent his head and stared at the floor. There was a time people had enjoyed listening to his stories. He had been able to make people laugh, distracting them from their sad thoughts. If there was a place where spirits needed to be uplifted, it had to be in a prison, right?
"So what do you want?" he whispered. "Money? I — I don't have any."
A dry chuckle left the man's lisp. "Then you're fucked, boy. Literally. Like I said — they're gonna eat you alive."
Rick's lips started to quiver, a tear rolled down his cheek. "I — I don't want that," he muttered.
"You should have thought about that before you committed a crime. What did you think was gonna happen to a pretty boy like you?"
His cheeks flushed as the man called him pretty, even though his words left a sting in his stomach. "I'm innocent," he whispered, looking up to the man, hoping he could see the truth in his teary eyes.
"I'm sure you are," the man huffed. His hard eyes rested upon Rick's frightened face. "Let me give you one free advice. Tears ain't gonna help you here boy. It's gonna attract the predators; they will be circling around you like sharks around a bleeding dolphin."
And with that, the man picked up his book again and continued to read as if he hadn't just sentenced Rick to death.