Click Here for Part-I
The clatter of a plate interrupted my reverie. I looked up to see the guard of yesterday’s conversation outside the cell.
“I need to talk to you”
“I got no time for scumbags”
“You got some for this one, pig! I need to talk about tonight and Billy. Come to my cell after you are done”
“Awright” he mumbled fearfully and walked on.
It was an hour before he sidled into my cell wringing his hands and face white with apprehension.
“Whaddya want with me, Scholar?”
“I want to meet Billy ASAP”
“More than my job is worth, Scholar! I got a wife and kids”, he whined.
“You don’t want your son in jail for abetting an escape, do you?” I was merciless. “Billy is on cleaning duty, right? Get him here with his mop and pail to clean up”
“I’ll try my best, Scholar”
“Try doesn’t cut it. Get him”
He slunk out like a whipped dog.
For the first time in prison I felt like I had some power and it felt good. I was savoring the idea of telling off Billy and watching his impotent rage when I told him that I was about to squeal on his escape plans. It was not enough for me to merely destroy his hopes – I wanted to see him squirm!
A sudden thought crossed my mind. Had I not got my revenge on Billy already? After all I was HIV positive and he had sodomized me! In the very act that birthed my desire for revenge, my revenge would also have been accomplished. It was very likely that he was infected too.
Why not join his escape plan and get out? That man outside, who I had considered safe from me, was no longer safe if I could get out. He, more than Billy, was a target for vengeance and only the fact that I had assumed him out of my reach had kept him off my mind.
I laughed bitterly and almost hysterically. It was ironic that the man who humiliated me was now going to be the reason why I could gain vengeance on that devil on earth – Vince Galliano!
* * *
It was impossible to think of Vince without remembering Violet. The Pimp and the Whore! Violet took me in on one snowy night upon seeing me shivering on the footpath outside her tenement. Hard-bitten though she normally was, she had these sudden queer impulses and, on that cold day, I was glad of being the recipient of her impulsive kindness.
What it was about me that made her keep me around I will never know. It is a fact that within a week, we were lovers and within the month everyone, including Vince knew me to be her boyfriend. Vince was indifferent to the whole matter as long as it did not interfere with business.
I must have had about six months with Violet when my entire world came crashing down again. She had never tired of telling me how much she loved me. In the initial days, I had slept with her more for comfort and in gratitude but slowly I had come to love her as well. She was brassy, foul-mouthed, slovenly and amoral but there was this peculiar vulnerability about her that made me want to protect her. Above all, she had those lovely blue eyes which still reflected an innocence that was totally at odds with her coarse, ravaged and world-weary face.
At long last I thought I had found someone who cared for me without a thought for the use she could make of me. My complacency was abruptly shattered when I came back one day to see her sobbing into her hands.
“What’s the matter, honey?” I asked her.
“I am sorry, baby, I am so sorry”, she said embracing me and burying her face in my chest.
“What’s it?” I said irritably.
“I..I..I got AIDS”, she said. “I’ll never forgive my sorry ass if I have given it to you”
I thrust her away abruptly. Unreasoning anger and fear overwhelmed my mind.
“What the f***?:” I yelled. “You mean all the while you have been telling me how much you love me, you did not bother to check yourself up before sleeping with me? Even though you know what you do for a living?”
“I didn’t think….”
“You did not care, you mean, as long as you got what you wanted”
I started to go out of the house. As I was opening the door, she asked, “Where you going, Bruce?”
“To check if I got AIDS too.” A gust of fury blew through my mind. “If I have got it, I swear I will come back and kill you” I yelled and stormed down the stairs.
For three days after it was confirmed that I was indeed HIV positive I drowned my sorrows in various dives. At least, bleary-eyed and stinking of whiskey and vomit I made my way to Violet’s pad for want of a place to call home.
Vince’s bully boys were outside the tenement as was his car. I waved at them and started up the stairs to the third floor. Just as I was climbing up the last flight of stairs, I could hear Vince’s voice through the thin plywood that served as the door.
“Since when d’ya think of them as men. They are just tricks, you c***, so you better get your ass out on the street. So, what if ya have AIDS?”
Violet’s voice was a soft murmur following which was the sound of a slap. By the time I reached the door, there was a sharp bump as if something had fallen and the Vince’s voice rose to a thin falsetto.
“I’ll teach you to raise a hand at me, b****”
I fumbled for the key when a shrill scream split the silence of the night. In near panic and rage I groped with the key for the keyhole when another inhuman scream of pain drilled through my brain. By the time I had the door opened, there was a third scream which abruptly died down into a gurgle.
Vince came rushing out and I side-stepped him as he rushed past me and clattered down the stairs. I rushed in to find Violet lying down with a pleading look in her eyes that died as the light in them died. There was a horrid slash across her face, one more across her left breast and her throat was slit. Blood had spattered all over the room. The sickly-sweet smell of it abruptly caught my throat and I gagged, rushed to the bathroom and was sick.
A cold, murderous rage spawned in my brain and with an animal shriek I jumped up and ran to the door to destroy that devil of a pimp…and ran into the arms of the police.
There were witnesses enough to my threat to kill Violet; to the shrieks and to Vince having been on the other side of town in a poker game. Of course, even the rats in the tenement know enough not to hear anything to the detriment of the local Mafia Don’s nephew.
If ever there was someone I wanted to hurt and kill, it was Vince. He was safe, however, from the impotent rage of a jail-bird.