Smoke Signals

I can't say my first meeting with my new cellmate was all that convivial.  I also can't say I think all that highly of this Nevada, either.  It probably didn't help that once her escort closed the cell door on us, she gave the concrete box a disdainful once-over, wrinkled her nose, then let her eyes rest on me.  She didn't say word one to me, but from the look in her eye I could tell she'd heard stories about her new cellmate on the long pilgrimage between the registry office and Block D.

She'd shrugged, and without further ado climbed up into the upper bunk.  I couldn't believe it: she'd actually slunk into my spot.  I'd tried to tell her, but all she did was shrug and say, "Oh, that's nice."

The nerve of her.

But, I might want to try getting on decent terms with her.  My plan's successful execution could very well depend on her.  I can't stand relying on others, but one must make exceptions to personal rules sometimes, I suppose.

I lean in my usual dark corner, looking for Manuel.  I've been looking the perfect opportunity to talk to him, but I can't find him without that brute Terry.  It's like the guy's his bodyguard or something.  I finally find him, trying to make an inconspicuous beeline to one of the new'uns.  I detatch myself from my corner with a bit of a smirk.  The new'un's gonna have to wait, seniority rights and all.

I cut him off just before he reaches his destination.  His face falls in disappointment, but then he realizes who exactly his blocking him and cringes a bit.  He glances fitfully around the room, but his usual oaf of a shadow's nowhere to be seen, just the way I like it.  Not only that, but I manage to back him into a corner.  Perfect.

"Manuel Simon," I purr, my voice taking on a Spanish lilt.  I wasn't raised in a Spanish-speaking country, and neither was Manuel, but being raised in a Gutatamalan immigrant household is enough to catagorize me as hispanohablante, and from the few times I've confronted him in the past I can tell Manuel's from a similar situation.  He pretends not to understand me, but I know better.  He's just as fluent as I am.

"¿Cómo tú estás?" I ask as easily and serpentine as I can muster.

"¿Qué quiere usted, Ana?" he asks suspiciously.  "What do you want, Ana?"  I click my tongue.  I should've expected as much from the jumpy one, he's using the formal tense with me.

"No tienes que hablar conmigo como eso, Manuel," I coo.  "You don't have to talk to me like that."

He tries to shy away.  "¿Qué quiere usted?" he asks more firmly.

I sigh.  "Let's cut to the chase," I say sternly, continuing in Spanish.  "I know you and that Nevada chiquita have a history.  Don't deny it, I see you get nervous whenever you see her.  I also know you're itchin' to run."  He tries to protest, but I lay my ashen fingers on his lips.  "Nevada still hasn't a clue you're here, and I know you want to keep it that way as long as you can, yes?"  He nods nervously.  "I can help you keep it that way, just so long as you get any nobly silly ideas of escape out of your head and keep them out.  Got it?"

He pushes my hand away roughly.  "¿Pero por qué yo?  But why me?" he hisses.

"You keep going on about how you don't belong in here, some misunderstanding and all that.  Well, if the same circumstances can be applied, that means I don't belong in here, either.  And I don't have a chance of getting out of here any time soon; if I don't have a chance, then neither should you."

He scowls dangerously.  "You play dirty."

A smirk flickers to my lips.  "Ah, but I won't have to if you behave, now will I?"  I take a small step back.  "It's all give and take, Manuel.  All give and take.  It's the only way to keep us all on even footing"

His eyes narrow.  "You're bluffing," he murmurs.

"Am I?  Listen Manny, I'll do anything to keep us equal, and I mean anything.  One false move from you, and I light the fuse.  Any chance of you making it out in one piece goes up in smoke."  I blow through my fingers, imitating the whoosh of an eager young flame.  "Just like that."  My smirk twists a little.  I give him a nod, and stroll casually away, leaving him with his thoughts.

The End

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