Damian Stubbs had been born into an infamous family. As a young man, his uncles and brothers had endeavoured to teach him the family trade. He had become an expert in what they called ‘supply and demand’. He had learned all about international distribution networks, goods trafficking, protection rackets, and of course the disposal of anyone who might be sufficiently unintelligent to get in the way of his beloved family. That had always been his forte, the disposal of people. Unfortunately, there was one thing that Damian didn’t quite pick up, the rather important aspect of successful criminal activity, which was the ability to not get caught. Consequently he had spent the last seventeen years behind bars. Such was the authorities’ delight at having finally incarcerated a member of the Stubbs family that any applications he made for parole were immediately declined, and Damian was unlikely to walk as a free man for many years, if at all.
Despite his unsavoury history, Damian had a few redeeming characteristics. Although he was not well-built, nor particularly tall, nor especially strong, he indisputably possessed the gift of the gab. On the outside he had been able to charm himself out of most situations, and he had used this skill to the best of his ability throughout his seventeen year tenure at several high security prisons. He knew when to give respect and when to be respected. He could read the warning signs long before a situation became messy.
He had been uneasy about his transfer to Alcatraz 2.0. History had not dulled the reputation of the original, and the talk in the secure wing of the last place had enforced the impression that it was going to be tough. Damian had never been a top dog, but his aptitude for business and his knack for getting hold of contraband items had resulted in some power and several friends in high places. In Alcatraz 2.0 there had been two things in particular that prevented Damian from falling foul of the prison hierarchy during the early months.
Firstly, as a boy he had been fortunate enough to have been taught, by a second cousin from London who had spent a fait bit of time away at her majesty’s pleasure, how to concoct the perfect prison hooch. He had become proficient at procuring the necessary ingredients; either by sleight of hand in the dining hall or through his growing network of customers. Mouldy bread strained through a sock provided the yeast, and then all that was needed was fruit juice, water and as much sugar as he could get his hands on, before letting the resultant mixture ferment in a plastic bag over seven days.
Secondly, a small quirk in the minuscule cell that he had been allocated meant that a tiny vent in the wall hidden behind his bed had not been attached securely when the place was built. He was able to remove the cover, and though he could only fit one arm though the hole, the space in the cavity behind the wall was not insignificant. Just the right size to fit several plastic bags filled with fermenting alcohol. He exchanged this lethal brew with fellow prisoners for whatever he could get his hands on, be it cigarettes, drugs, weapons or simply home comforts that were hard to come by.
Damian’s first few months at Alcatraz 2.0 had been prosperous. He had kept himself out of trouble and had a growing customer base. The big players had of course become aware of his little business, but he had plied them with enough charm and free hooch to keep them sweet for now. Sure, life inside was difficult, forever on the edge, but Damian was a survivor who devoted much time to his greatest interest: looking after number one.