Malloy the jailer came at 4 A.M to cut Romanchuke down.
The jailer had seen hangings before during his eighteen years on the force,
and they didn't bother him any more. Hangings were a nuisance to him, of
course, and there was extra paperwork involved. But that many years of
working the Shakespeare District had numbed him, taking him from the horrified
shock of his youth to a state of indifference. As long as the prisoners
moved on, it made no difference to him whether they went horizontally or
on their own two feet.
His normal routine was to make his rounds, rapping on
the bars with his nightstick to rouse the sorry perps who had just finally
slipped into sleep. He never made eye contact. Better to not think of them
as people; staying uninvolved made the job easier. So he rarely made eye
contact, and never, ever looked at a perp's file.
For some reason, though, he looked at Romanchuke's file
just after the man was booked, an hour before, and now this one bothered
him. As he peered through the bars into the half-darkness within, at the
lifeless form dangling from a soiled T-shirt, he became unnerved. This
didn't make sense. Perps don't hang themselves over a disorderly conduct
rap. That much he knew, and it was just enough to put him ill at ease.
He quickly looked over Romanchuke, hoping to at least see needle marks
pocking his arms. A junkie would at least make sense, but there were no
needle marks to be seen. The victim actually looked pretty straight, Molloy
thought. Which made this even harder to understand.
The jailer didn't want to understand, but he couldn't
shake it from his mind.
Copyright 2000, P.J. Anderson