My Lady Greensleeves
Every prison has its Greensleeves--sometimes they are called by different names. Old Marquette called it “the canary;” Louisiana State called it “the red hats;” elsewhere it was called “the hole,” “the snake pit,” “the Klondike.” When you’re in it, you don’t much care what it is called; it is a place for punishment.
And punishment is what you get.
Block O in Estates-General Correctional Institution was the disciplinary block, and because of the green straitjackets its inhabitants wore, it was called the Greensleeves. It was a community of its own, an enclave within the larger city-state that was the Jug. And like any other community, it had its leading citizens ... two of them. Their names were Sauer and Flock.
Sue-Ann Bradley heard them before she reached the Greensleeves. She was in a detachment of three unfortunates like herself, convoyed by an irritable guard, climbing the steel steps toward Block O from the floor below, when she heard the yelling.
“Owoo-o-o,” screamed Sauer from one end of the cell block and “Yow-w-w!” shrieked Flock at the other.
The inside deck guard of Block O looked nervously at the outside deck guard. The outside guard looked impassively back--after all, he was on the outside.
The inside guard muttered: “Wipe rats! They’re getting on my nerves.”
The outside guard shrugged.
“Detail, halt!” The two guards turned to see what was coming in as the three new candidates for the Greensleeves slumped to a stop at the head of the stairs. “Here they are,” Sodaro told them. “Take good care of ‘em, will you? Especially the lady--she’s going to like it here, because there’s plenty of wipes and greasers and figgers to keep her company.” He laughed coarsely and abandoned his charges to the Block O guards.
The outside guard said sourly: “A woman, for God’s sake. Now O’Leary knows I hate it when there’s a woman in here. It gets the others all riled up.”
“Let them in,” the inside guard told him. “The others are riled up already.”
Sue-Ann Bradley looked carefully at the floor and paid them no attention. The outside guard pulled the switch that turned on the tanglefoot electronic fields that swamped the floor of the block corridor and of each individual cell. While the fields were on, you could ignore the prisoners--they simply could not move fast enough, against the electronic drag of the field, to do any harm. But it was a rule that, even in Block O, you didn’t leave the tangler fields on all the time--only when the cell doors had to be opened or a prisoner’s restraining garment removed.
Sue-Ann walked bravely forward through the opened gate--and fell flat on her face. It was her first experience of a tanglefoot field. It was like walking through molasses.
The guard guffawed and lifted her up by one shoulder. “Take it easy, auntie. Come on, get in your cell.” He steered her in the right direction and pointed to a greensleeved straitjacket on the cell cot. “Put that on. Being as you’re a lady, we won’t tie it up, but the rules say you got to wear it and the rules--Hey. She’s crying!” He shook his head, marveling. It was the first time he had ever seen a prisoner cry in the Greensleeves.
However, he was wrong. Sue-Ann’s shoulders were shaking, but not from tears. Sue-Ann Bradley had got a good look at Sauer and at Flock as she passed them by and she was fighting off an almost uncontrollable urge to retch.