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George Pollock

State Kid
Issue 35
The Prisoners Rule

Billy Stone now had Director Carson's old job.

Less than an hour after Carson had left for the day, the kid sat at the Director's big,
finicky-clean desk flanked by Johnson Johnson and Billy Ruggieri. Kali, Durk and Angel
sat on the couch trying to believe that this was happening.
Juices surging from his ordeal with Stansky and his tabletop speech, Billy called Debra
Florsheim at the Sentinel -- and, unable to stop himself, lit into her:
“I hear the Sentinel is telling people that I'm a murderer. Julio was my friend. I tell two
imbecilic detectives that and they don't hear a thing. I wonder ... is there something about
me that causes people's ears not to work? I told you weeks ago that Joy Stojak's father
was beating the crap out of her. You didn't hear what I said? I tell Carson the same thing
every day; it just doesn't get into his head. Debra, is there a universal immunity to the
truth? Why do people who run newspapers destroy lives? Out of curiosity, why haven't
you gone after that pervo Stojak or those filthy cops?”
“You're right, okay? So shut up and listen. Joy Stojak ran.”
“I don't believe it.”
“The Stojaks reported it. Also, Vera ran, too.”
“No, I don't believe it.”
“Well, it's true. O'Toole is a complete wreck. He's afraid of scandal. He wants to find Vera
before the word gets out that she's missing.”

“That figures. Anything to avoid a crack in the facade.”


“Stojak called the paper ranting. He says it's all your fault that Joy ran, because you
traumatized her.”
“Oh, great, I can see the story now.”
“Also, the East Side is getting ready to blow over Julio de Cruz.”
“I know.”
“You know?”
“You forget that this is the East Side's very own lock-up. I have sources, too.”
“Look, Billy, I have the go-ahead to do a story.”
“The truth?”
“The truth.”
“Debra, first, I'm sorry I snapped at you. I really called to see if we could make a deal.
Big things are happening, bigger than anything you've got now.” Billy paused. “Debra,
the deal is this: I give you a huge breaking story in return for two things. You get a TV
crew here tomorrow morning and you sit on the story until then.”
“Why do I have to sit on it?”
“To prevent a massacre tonight. Can you sit?”
She revisited basic journalistic ethics.
“Yes.”
“We took over the prison about an hour ago.”
“Say that again.”
“There's been an inmate uprising. We're in control.”
“My God!”
“Do we have a deal?”
“I'll be right there.”
***
Debra Florsheim jumped in her car and drove to Granite City School for Boys where
Billy Stone gave her a tour, as well as the statement the detectives had refused to accept.
“You'll never get away with this,” she said as she left.
“If your next stop is the police, I would agree with you. In that case, I get butchered
tonight.”
“You're putting it all on the line, aren't you?”
“Yes. But if you don't go to the police and a TV crew is here tomorrow, it gets interesting
-- doesn't it?”
***
After Debra left, Billy called David Weatherall. With the school basically shut down
since the stabbing, Billy had not seen or talked to his well-connected friend. When he
couldn't get Weatherall in his room, he told the operator at the university's main
switchboard that there was a medical emergency and that Weatherall had to “bring the
medicine to Billy Stone at the Granite City School immediately.” He left the number of
Director Carson's personal line.
Weatherall called back.
“What the hell was that about?” Weatherall said. “They called my house and my Dad
took the message. Now he thinks one of my radical friends overdosed. Damn it all, Billy,
you can't just call me at home like that.”
“I had no one else to turn to.”
That hit Weatherall right in a soft spot where was located a genuine concern for the
underprivileged and the suffering. Billy piled it on, even making passing reference to
Weatherall's privileged life compared to his own. Then Billy told him the situation.
“You what? You're crazy! You'll never get away with this. It's unthinkable. It's
impossible.”
“I know. That's why I desperately need your help.”
When Weatherall didn't immediately refuse, Billy moved in on him with outrageous
requests -- and his friend was unable to say no.
***
Billy went into the dining room to make sure the kitchen staff was preparing the evening
meal. They were. He had directed that inmate kitchen staff carry on with their duties. “We
have a prison to run,” he had said.
The evening meal took place as usual, but without a guard in sight. The night-shift guards
were all locked up and Billy had meals given to them through the meal slots. Billy
himself brought a meal to his guard friend, Wally Witkowski.
“Ah, Billy, you're crazy. You'll never pull this off.”
“That's what everybody's telling me.”
“About what House and Hawkeye did. I couldn't do anything to stop it. They would have
put me in a cell with Stansky. I'm sorry, Billy. I feel really awful.”
“Well, you can make it up to me.”
“What do you want me to do?”
Billy told him. He let Wally out of his cell, with critical assignments.
***
Billy went to each jailed guard for a private heart-to-heart. First, he told them that some
inmates wanted to kill them or, more accurately, have them kill each other in Stansky-
Stone-style human cockfights. “The choice they want to give you is to slice up another
guard or take a bullet to the head. They want the games to start now before the place is
stormed.”

It was no lie. A few inmates wanted to do exactly that.


“I'll do my best to stop this barbarity if you cooperate.”
Second, Billy laid out his case. He said, “I'm innocent and I don't belong here. I ask only
for a chance to prove it, peacefully. In return for guaranteeing your safety, I ask you to
help me.”
He gave each guard a copy of his Factual Account and of the statement that Lt. McGiver
and Sgt. Milberry had declined to accept.“Read this. When you've read it, I know you'll
want to do the right thing.”
These guards were not a high-minded lot. They were the same guards who less than an
hour earlier had placed their bets on the Stone-Stansky contest. (Almost all had bet on
Stansky). Yet there is something about one-on-one, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, that is mind-
opening. Also conducive to mind-alternation was the fact that the guards were locked up,
terrified for their lives and at Billy's mercy.
He showed them the wagering sheet with their names on it and the amount they had bet.
“No one has to know about this,” he said. “No one has to know about how you guys set
up Stansky and me to fight it out. Nobody has to know about all the other fun and games
that have been going on. No one has to get killed or hurt. No one has to lose his job.”
***
Next, Billy turned his attention to major pieces of intelligence from Debra Florsheim:
Vera and Joy running away and East Siders boiling mad about the death of Julio de Cruz.
Human considerations aside, how could this intelligence be turned into strategic
advantage? He huddled with Kali Muhammad who had been born in the East Side and
had lived there all his life.
“Why should we care about two white girls takin' off?” Kali said.
“One is the daughter of Captain O'Toole. We find her, we can deal big-time,”
“She's on the East side.”
“How do you know that?”
“White girls on the run always go to the East Side, like they's programmed or somethin'.”
“Maybe they want to play around with fire.”
“Yeah, then they run into the wrong dudes. I seen it over and over.”
“Do you think we could find them?”
“No problem.”
“No problem?”
“Nah. We just call around.”
“Can you do it without people figuring out what's going on here?”
Kali laughed. “They already know, man. We's in the hood, man.”
“They won't talk?”
“Yeah, they will. They's buzzing already. They just won't talk to them.”
Billy asked Kali and the others to “ask around” and, amazingly to Billy, he was soon told
that Vera and Joy were indeed in the East Side, together, and were with “some dudes in a
three-decker and we could have the girls if we want them; we just have to pick them up,
they don't care, they was just partyin' anyway, and if we need them to help kick ____, just
say so.”
“Just like that?” Billy said, astonished.
“Nothin' for street guys.”
“Did I hear you say that they are willing to help us?”
“You got it, baby. They hate the _______ that's been goin' on here.”
Billy's militia had just been beefed up by unknown numbers. He set up communication
with the East Side streets.
Billy sent Wally Witkowski in the school van to the designated three-decker to pick up
Vera and Joy and bring them to Granite City School for Boys. “Tell them only that Billy
Stone sent you to take them to a place where they'll be safe -- and nothing more. Got it?”
“Got it.”
***
As soon as Wally was out of the driveway, Billy picked up the phone and called Dr. Sam
Bridges at Fairview Memorial Hospital. He told the operator it was a life-threatening
emergency.
“How dare you use such a pretext to take me away from a patient,” Dr. Bridges said.
“Who do you think you are?”
“Jeremy Caulfield told me you would help me if I needed it. And now I'm asking for that
help. Oh, by the way, thanks for ignoring the material I sent you documenting my
innocence.”
There was a long silence.
“What do you need?”
“I need you to come to Granite City School to look at a couple of guys with broken legs.
They're in a lot of pain. The sooner you get here the better.”
“Are you running the place or something?”

“They just need help now and they're not getting it.”
“I'll see what I can do.”
“Thank you. You know Captain O'Toole of the Fairview Police Department?”
“Yeah, we went to school together.”
“Well, you can do something nice for him.”
“What do you mean?”
“Captain O'Toole's daughter, Vera, is missing. I have an idea where she is.”
“Why don't you just call him?”

“Just tell him to come to Granite City School tonight, alone and in civvies, at ten o'clock
sharp. Tell him we want to keep it just as quiet as he does. Tell him it's the only way to
keep Vera from harm.”
“Hold on, Billy. You're asking me to ...”
“What's the matter, doctor? Can't remember why you didn't die in a filthy East Side alley?
Don't mind letting me die in prison without lifting a finger? What would Mr. Caulfield
think of that?”
“I'm sorry,” Dr. Bridges said and hung up.
“Damn.”
***
The prison van pulled in and Billy went out to meet it, along with a few inmates. Vera
and Joy piled out and ran to him.
“Billy!” both cried at once.
“Did I say I would come or not?”
Billy executed the sweeping bow of a medieval knight that he had learned from Mr.
Caulfield.
“And, miladies, here I am, at your service!”
“Nice thighs,” Vera said.
Seeing Billy's courtly bow, an inmate, mouthing self-help lingo from behavior mod class,
said, “Is that appropriate behavior?”
“No way,” said another inmate.
The girls plastered Billy's face with kisses.
“Thank God,” Vera said.
“I have never been so happy to see anybody in my whole life,” Joy said.
“Whoa,” Billy said, laughing.“Try to control yourselves. If the cops show up, they would
hit me with a double rape charge.”
“I don't think so,” Joy said.
“I'd hit them with something,” Vera said, shaking a fist.
“I guess you two don't want to go home,” Billy said.
Both looked at him in horror.
“Anywhere but there,”Vera said.
“Anywhere,” Joy said.
“We'll put you up at Granite City for the night,” Billy said.
The girls stared at him.
“We took it over. And tomorrow we're going to put everything right -- and that's a
promise.”
They continued to stare with mouths open.
“I'll explain everything,” Billy said. He opened his arms wide. “Now come here, both of
you.”
They went into his outstretched arms. The three of them, Billy in the middle with an arm
around each girl, went into Granite City School for Boys.
“Girls aren't allowed here,”Billy said, smiling, “except for tonight. Hungry?”
They nodded.
“Come on in. Let's have something to eat.”
***
Later that night, Dr. Sam Bridges arrived and tended to House and Hawkeye. After the
second house call of his career (the first having been his treating of Billy at Mr.
Caulfield's), Billy had him detained. Billy went to see him in his cell. The doctor jumped
up and grabbed the bars with both hands as Billy approached.
“Get me out of here, now!”
“Careful, you're not at the hospital now. You're in a prison. My prison.”
Billy then took a lot of time laying out the situation for Dr. Bridges and why his presence
was needed. As they talked, they began to do so easily. They even reminisced about Mr.
Caulfied. At one point, after they had been talking through the bars for some time, the
absurdity of the situation struck them both at the same time.
They laughed.
“Can I call my wife?”
“No.”
“I'm really in jail, aren't I?”
“Yes -- and you're innocent. Think about that.”
Billy gave the doctor a copy of his Factual Account as well as a copy of the statement he
had given Lt. McGiver and Sgt. Milberry.
“Some light reading for you, on the subject of innocence and jail.”
“I gave your message to Captain O'Toole.”
“Thank you,” Billy said, reaching through the bars and putting his hand on Dr. Bridges's
shoulder. “Until tomorrow, then.”
Later, Billy returned to let Dr. Bridges call his wife “for humanitarian reasons.” While
Billy stood by, Dr. Bridges told her that he had been called out to an emergency at
Granite City School and would call again in the morning.
***
Now, Billy thought, if only he could stay alive until morning and the arrival of Director
Carson and the large contingent of day-shift guards.
If an assault force showed up first, it was all over.
Meanwhile, the Bastille was secure. The prisoners ruled.