"Brand" by Eric Christopher Jackson

“Call Button” | Short Story

George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”

“George, don’t touch anything on my desk. Sit down.”

George drags his feet back, “Yes, ma’am.”

Mrs. Whitfield takes out her clipboard and begins to scribble a few short notes on the page.

“Whatcha writing?”

“My notes.”

“Can I read them?”

“What did I tell you last time?”

“No.”

She nods.

“Well, this time isn’t last time,” he takes a pause. “Is it?”

“Nope. The rule still applies, though.”

“It is my life we’re talking about here, so…”

“Can we just get started? You’re on the clock,” Mrs. Whitfield snaps.

“Rough weekend?”

She slaps the clipboard down on her desk.

“You seem upset. A little tense,” he squints.

“If you don’t feel like talking, George, I can call the guard back in here to take you to your cell.”

“I’m not sure you’re fit for this kind of work.”

“Did you do something bad this week, George?”

“Heard of stuff like, compassion?”

“I want to talk to you about the altercation.”

“Ever pet a cat?”

“George.”

“I think it’d be okay if you pet a cat.”

“Okay, fine,” she waves for the guard in the next room to come forward.

“He deserved it.”

Another gesture of the hand, the guard stops his progress, “You wanna tell me about it.”

“No. I don’t. I don’t have anything to say.”

“You put someone in the hospital. Multiple chest fractures, a head contusion…and a missing tooth.”

“He deserved it.”

“You said that. Anything else?”

George doesn’t answer.

“They’re gonna move you to the West Wing. Isolation. No cable. Food isn’t as good.”

George nods.

“But you knew they would and you did it anyway,” Mrs. Whitfield concludes. “Why take that chance?” She waits. “George.”

He shifts in his seat, “Well. He knows the truth.”

Her brow rises, “What truth is that?”

“Really, my name’s Jack. And he had to go, ‘cause he knew I figured out to disable these cuffs.”

END

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