by Jeff Baker
(A New Year’s Story)
“Pssst! Hey, Rodriguez. Rodriguez!”
The voice was Shawn from the bottom bunk. He’d been occupying the cell longer so he got dibs. Besides, he was bigger than Rodriguez even though both of them worked-out a lot.
Shawn reached up and banged the bottom of the steel bunk Rodriguez slept on.
“Yeah, wha?” Rodriguez said, still half-asleep. He and Shawn trusted each other as much as anybody in the prison could. Still, Rodolpho Rodriguez slept with one eye open.
“Listen.” Shawn said.
Rodriguez propped himself up on his elbows. No riot. No yelling. As quiet as this place got. Then he heard the faint pop-pop-popping. Guns.
No, the sound was wrong. Fireworks. Outside the walls.
“Happy New Year, man!” Shawn said.
“Yeah, right.” Rodriguez said, laying back down and pulling the thin blanket over him again. “Some new year,” he mumbled.
At least six more years to do. They’d piled the years on a twenty-something Latino kid already carrying a big jacket. He’d be in his mid-thirties when he got out.
Six more years.
But he knew kids who hadn’t made it to thirty. And he could start over on the outside, prison record or no. He was keeping his nose clean and with his reputation as a fighter not a lot of people messed with him.
What was that image of the New Year? An old man leaving and a baby showing up? New opportunities. He could take a few classes, learn more about computer stuff. And there was always the old saying about where there’s life there’s hope.
“Hey!” Rodriguez said. Shawn opened his eyes. Rodriguez was leaning his head over the top bunk and grinning broadly. “Happy New Year.”
The two men stretched back on the steel bunks. Things would get better. And worse. But for now, there was the refreshing darkness of sleep and the promise of a new year.
Author’s Note: No Friday Flash Fiction this week (the new picture goes up January 6th, 2023!) so I posted this different sort of story for New Year’s Eve.
My Husband Darryl and myself wish all the readers (and writers) out there the happiest of new years for 2023!