When the security van taking me to H.M. prison Burkinshaw breaks down and we arrive several hours late to find the dining facilities are closed till tomorrow it's the end of a perfect day, or nearly so. Me and my three fellow prisoners are rushed through the reception formalities, such as they are. The final blow for me? Being informed that the few personal possessions I'd been told I could take with me to gaol, just a few toiletries and a handful of other things, have been left behind at the Crown Court where I'd been sent down. Maybe they'll arrive tomorrow or maybe I'll never see them again. All they have available is a tee shirt, shirt and trousers, all in various shades of blue; a pair of plimsolls; a towel; tablet of soap; and a toothbrush with a miniature tube of mint toothpaste. I've heard that U.K. prisons are bursting at the seams and it looks like this one is at full stretch and then some.
I'm told that a proper issue will be made tomorrow when the day shift and a bigger staff are on duty. I'm led off to my wing by a small, blonde, prison officer; who offers me the choice of television in the rec room or straight to my cell and a chance to rest. After hours in that roasting, stalled, van; the cell wins hands down. As we walk the corridors I wonder how the petite officer Sheridan would cope with real violence though she seems calm and relaxed with me. At my cell she cheers me up by telling me there'll be a brew of tea before lock down. I'm surprised how friendly she is, I expected her to be more impersonal and perhaps tougher, even though Burkinshaw is a category B prison not an A which house the real serious customers.
The cell is clean if a little spartan, two beds, not bunks anyway, a small cabinet beside each bed; a formica topped table and two chairs; two small lockers or wardrobes complete the furnishing. And joy of joy there's a loo against one wall, no slopping out of chamber pots. A cotton nightdress on one bed and a small, portable radio on the adjacent cabinet tell me which bed is mine. I try the bed and find that at least the mattress is springy and comfortable. My head in my hands and elbows on knees I let my mind focus on how the fuck I've finished up as deep in the shit as I am now and how a nice, hard working lady like me, landed a three year sentence. Its little consolation to know that automatic remission means I'll only be here eighteen months. I shouldn't be here at all, yeah I know they all say that but in my case it's true!
I live alone in a big and really nice detached home, which I inherited when a teenaged maniac in a stolen Ford Orion pulverized the car my Dad was driving my Mum home in. The creep was trying to outrun a high speed police pursuit car. I cremated my parents and he escaped with cuts and bruises as so many of these little pricks do. He then plea bargained his way to a reduced sentence by pleading guilty to a lesser charge, a five year stretch which means he gets to serve two and a half years for killing my parents! The worst part was, at his trial, listening to his social worker giving the court mitigating circumstances and explaining how his dysfunctional family had forced him into a life of crime. Pass me the sick bag please! My further troubles begin when a plot of land across from my quiet avenue was used to build a small estate, not for sale, for rent from a housing association.
They must have scoured the city for every scumbag family available and moved them all in. Of course none of them paid rent, that's what state benefits are for! My occupation is librarian, my passions are books, at work and at home; along with my two Siamese cats. I enjoy the occasional night out with friends and workmates but the other great love of my life is the martial arts. I hold black belts in Karate and Aikido both, as well as holding instructors badges, so you can bet that when things started getting rowdy this lady wasn't worried about her safety. It all began with screaming teenagers in the street till all hours and progressed to booming music plus beer cans and reefer stubs littering the pavement.
The perceived advice over problems like this is to inform your local police station, which I did from the start. I spoke to my community constable, the local beat sergeant, and the area inspector. The only replies I received were vague statements to the effect that, "these teenagers were known to the police and matters were under investigation". Nothing changed and my patience gave out one morning at 2.30 a.m. when lack of sleep drove me outside to chase away a bunch of teenage morons from my garden gate. Two days later I came home from work to find they'd bricked in my front windows, double glazed units are tough but not rock proof!
This time I received a visit from a sergeant Lunt, she was portly with eyes like congealed bacon grease. As there were no witnesses, or no witnesses willing to talk anyway, the police could take no action and her best advice to me was that; since these kids were targeting me; my best choice would be to move house. In the words of the late, great, John Wayne; "That'll be the day". I came home early one night from taking a novice Karate class to find six assorted hoodies and hoodiesses in my front garden chasing Buster, one of my Siamese cats. Maybe it would have turned out better if I'd let them catch him because Buster has close combat skills that even I'm envious of, I've seen him back off a full grown Rotweiller! But they were after my cat with a can of lighter fluid and a box of matches!
I came through the gate so fast and silently that their ringleader, fat Kerry, didn't know I was there till she saw something in the face of her buddy and turned at just the right moment to take a heel of hand strike flush on her nose. I pulled it or her next stop would have been the morgue. However it had enough venom to smear her nose across her face and send a spray of blood flying. Next up was her boyfriend Darren, his all black, hoodie uniform, proved no protection when I kicked him flush in the balls; folding him over like a hairpin. Darren's mate Wayne swung at me with what he must have thought was his killer punch so I slid to one side and as he blundered past me I landed an elbow strike just below the ear, where the jaw is hinged.
I'm not sure which was the louder, his scream or the sound of breaking bone! The other girl was fumbling in her pocket and came out with something metallic. I didn't wait to see what it was. I caught her wrist in an Aikido lock and used her momentum to dislocate her elbow and shoulder as she lunged at me. All done and dusted then! The other two would be toughies were sprinting for home as if their arses were on fire. Time now for me to phone for the police and a couple of ambulances like any good citizen should. I didn't know it but my troubles were only just beginning.
After the ambulances carted off their moaning passengers I was invited to accompany two officers to my local cop shop to make a statement. Turned out it was an interrogation! Detective sergeant Baines C.I.D. and her partner detective constable Ali sat down across the table from me, Baines did all the talking whilst Ali tried to look inscrutable and kept mum. The gist of things were, did I realise that four children had been seriously injured? I pointed out that all four "Children" were as tall or taller than me and certainly a lot heavier due to their diet of junk food. Also what about Blondie's six inch, razor sharp, kitchen knife; which she'd dropped on my garden path when I put her out of action. Never mind the can of lighter fluid and the box of matches! It cut no ice and I was advised to find myself a lawyer as, once released on bail, a serious charge or charges would surely follow.
My legal rep, Mr Dawson, was totally optimistic; he reckoned the Crown Prosecution Service would never bring charges. They did! At a pre trial meeting he was equally happy that the fact that all four little angels had long police records, two of them had been ASBO'd, would leave me free and clear. The trial begins and my barrister, Charles Hopkins, is delighted with how things are going. The four witnesses against me mumble and mutter their evidence, and, under cross examination; contradict each other. Police forensic evidence shows that fingerprints on the knife belong to Kayleigh Thomas, my dislocation victim. The can of lighter fluid has fat Kerry's dabs on it.
All is well until Mr Justice Parkinson begins his summing up. He seemed to have spent most of my trial nodding off but he's now woken up to sink me. Society must protect its children from violent adults whose hands are lethal weapons! My solicitor and barrister suddenly sit bolt upright and gape at him but he rolls on inexorably in this fashion for what seems like hours. The jury goes out and messers Dawson and Hopkins tell me that even if the twelve good persons and true are daft enough to convict me any Appeal Court judge will quash the verdict, as Mr Parkinson's summary is too prejudicial to be true. It takes five days and another set of amazingly biased instructions from the judge for the jury to convict me on a majority verdict. I'm sentenced to three years preventive detention.
So here I am wondering how long it takes to get my appeal to court. Almost drowsing off when the most exotic girl I've ever seen bounces into the cell. A couple of inches shorter than my five foot six with skin an amazing saffron gold hue, her hair is dyed an improbable silvery blonde and cut in a sort of Mia Farrow style from many years ago. Her features are unmistakably oriental with epicanthic folds to her eyes, and fine high cheekbones. Her emerald green eyes sparkle mischievously.
"Hey you must be my new roomie. I'm Sylvie Chen. What are you in for and how long for?
I suppose they're the two most common first questions any new prisoner's asked apart from their name.
"I'm Wendy Callaghan and I'm doing three years for assault."
"Cool Wendy! You want a cuppa? Then we can have a natter and tell each other how we got here."
I'd murder all four of my teenage terrors for a cup of tea and happily do thirty years for it.
Sylvie hurtles out and soon returns with two mugs of hot, sweet, tea to die for. We sit together on my bed and after I've given her the outline of what's put me here Sylvie tell her story. She's a whore! She makes no bones about it, not ashamed, not proud; she's totally matter of fact about it. She's not however any common street corner hooker, set up in a luxury apartment by a well heeled Greek she handles top of the line clients and, she relates, was salting away lots of cash to fund an early retirement. Would be early too since I estimate she's about five years younger than my thirty three.
Things went pear shaped though when the police raided the apartment and found her in bed with her current customer and a medium large stash of crack cocaine turns up in a cupboard. Sylvie swears she knew nothing about it and I'm inclined to believe her since she's railed against drugs, getting hooked would ruin her chances of a long retirement in the sun. She's sentenced to thirty months for possessing a quantity of cocaine too large for personal use. Things could have been much worse she admits but for the fact the client she was fucking was Angela Falconer, her local member of parliament.
Ms Falconer pays for a top defence council if Sylvie agrees to steer clear of the media and keeps her mouth shut. She's just been transferred in to Burkinshaw from Carnforth, a real, tough, hellhole of a nick; which needs space for serious hardcore inmates. Not that this prison hasn't got it's core of nasty pieces of work. After only a couple of weeks here she knows everybody and everything about the place. Sylvie's Greek pimp has vanished into the woodwork but she's not too worried about finding a similar backer once she's released, and her cash stash is safe and waiting for her when she gets out.
To my surprise I sleep like a log on my first night as a convict. At wake up call and after breakfast I get my induction and issue of clothes etc sorted out and I have the invaluable aid of Sylvie. She passes time pointing out prison officers, grading them as good, bad, or whatever else they are. I get to know various fellow prisoners by name, appearance, and reputation. The eccentrics, the bad ones, the kind ones; and the psychos who should be in hospital rather than a gaol. Each night after lock down I go through T'ai Chi exercises and some simple kata in our cell to keep my hand in, Sylvie watches fascinated and tells me she thinks it looks like a dance routine and there's more than a little truth in that.
I've settled in far better than I thought I could after a couple of weeks when something happens to remind me that I'm in a prison, not any other type of institution. It's August, a hot and steamy August. The days are overcast and heavy while at night thunder rumbles and lightening flashes. The shower room is a wonderful relief from a sticky, sweaty, body; when we're allowed to clean up.
I'm standing under the needles of hot water lathering myself when I hear the whimper. I look round and in the next bay I see Sylvie on her knees, her arms are bent back behind her, held by a chunky woman who grips her slender wrists. Before her stands a lump of a woman who I immediately christen Miss Piggy. Doughy, pendulous, breasts; flabby belly; and if she turned round I'm certain she'd have an arse on her like a city bus. She's the one doing the talking as I step round the partition into their bay.
"Listen you little cunt, I hear you're some kind of top prossy so if I tell you to lick my pussy then you do it and you better do a good job or you'll get hurt."
I don't raise my voice, it's flat and level.
"Let her go!"
Chunky looks over her shoulder but hangs onto Sylvie. Lard lady glances at me and gives me my orders.
"Fuck off bitch it's no business of yours, if your girlfriend gives good head you'll get her back later."
Once more, same words.
"Let her go."
I never give three chances so when porky pig tells me to fuck off again I move in. Spinning kicks look great on T.V. or in the films and you certainly can use them in the right place, but on the tiled floor of a shower room awash with soapy water I use something a lot simpler. I step forward and drive a fist strike into chunky's kidney and she topples forward with a groan. Sylvie shows good sense and better reflexes to roll away from my victim's falling body and scuttles away from the fat one who charges me, planning no doubt to flatten me with her bulk; one hand clawing for my neck. I take her wrist in a prime Aikido lock, bending her forward, and chop down on the junction of her shoulder and neck with the edge of my hand. She lands, dazed, on all fours; so I finish it with a kick between her thighs.
You can hurt a guy real bad like that but remember a lady is really tender down there too. She's folded up on the tiles with her hands between her thighs while chunky shows no sign of wanting to get up so I toss Sylvie her towel and tell her we're getting out of there quick. By the time we get back to our cell her trembling has subsided, she's a tough little lass, only the one whimper when her arms were being bent back behind her. She sits down on her bed and I watch her silently, she'll talk when she's ready. When she does what she says surprises me.
"Will you teach me to do that Wendy? I can't go through this again, it was hell in Carnforth, and every tough bitch there wanted me to go down on them so they could say they'd had head off a five grand a night hooker. I need to be able to look after myself."
I look her over, she's petite and probably not particularly strong but she moves lithely and her reflexes are fine.
"Okay Sylvie I'll teach you what I can."
So right there and then, in our small cell, I begin to instruct her in the basics of T'ai Chi and Karate. She's a quick study and picks up the moves fast and shows surprising stamina. I carry on working with her until lights out. I'm laying on my bed in the darkness, it's another muggy night and I'm wearing panties and an over sized tee shirt, and even that's too much in this weather; when Sylvie slips out of bed.
Crossing her arms she grips the hem of her nightdress and peels it over her head. I've seen her nude in the showers, but, outlined in the bright moonlight; I'm suddenly struck by the beauty of her body. She's slender but rounded, her breasts are small but perfectly firm and formed, her legs and thighs are perfection while the neat triangle of silky black hair just above her tight little sex contrasts with her golden skin. Her feet whisper across the few feet separating our beds and she perches on the edge of my bed. She strokes my cheek with one small hand then drops it to my right breast. I speak to her softly in the silence of the night.
"What are you doing Sylvie?"
"I owe you a lot Wendy and the only thing I can give you is my body and what I can do with it."
I take her hand and fold it in both of mine.
"You don't have to do this Sylvie, it's not a debt you need pay."
Then I see the faint track of a tear down her cheek.
"Then that's all the more reason to do it, if I don't owe you let me do it because I want to."
I'm not going to pretend I've never had a woman before. As a girl I tried, with my school friends, same sex experiments. Later on I discovered boys, then when I went off to university I found lots of girls who were away from home and parental supervision for the first time. At boozy parties with the scent of pot in the air loads of girls decided to try something new and I was in there with them. After the death of my parents, their killer's trial, and the insurance settlements; followed by the reading of my parents wills; my sex life had pretty well died the death and male or female company had become increasingly rare of late. If I'm in this place for another year and a half females will be my only relief. Besides all else Sylvie maybe needs love and companionship as much as I do so with the back of one hand I stroke one chiselled cheek and softly whisper to her.
"If you're set on this then it's fine with me."
That's when I found out why the rich and famous or maybe the rich and not famous would pay so much to share Sylvie's bed and body. So softly! So lightly! She touches me with lips, fingers, tongue. She teases, caresses, and rouses me to a passion I have never felt before. From my lips to my hardening breasts and swelling nipples down to the triangle of my thighs she moves with certain knowledge of what will drive me wild. When her lips nuzzle between my thighs and find my sex I'm already in paradise. One of my arms is pressed across my eyes as if looking will end the magical sensations; the other hand is knotted in the bed sheet twisting it as my body begins to writhe on the narrow bed.
Slowly, slowly, she brings me to the edge of climax and then holds me there as the fires rage inside me. Finally she takes me gently over the top and my orgasm explodes, I'm jerking uncontrollably and twitching as I think there's no more to come. Then she shows me there's much more she can do for me. The second climax rises like a volcano and suddenly I lurch upright, my hands clenching and unclenching into fists. I look down at that silver head tucked between my thighs; watch the ripples of ecstasy flickering across the flat muscles of my belly; then throw back my head and a deep groan escapes my clenched teeth. Still sitting erect I experience the most violent sexual explosion of my life. The groan is replaced by a wolfish howl. My mind goes blank other than the feelings of overwhelming bliss boiling within my vagina.
How long I lie there stunned I don't know, my body is glowing with a wonderful heat and I'm streaked with sweat that tonight's steamy weather has nothing to do with. I look down the bed to where Sylvie kneels watching me and roll clumsily towards her, I'm lithe on the dojo floor but my body seems to belong to somebody else tonight. I clasp Sylvie's ankles and straighten her legs, gently parting her thighs. She gazes at me and shakes her head.
"That was for you Wendy, just for you."
I'm mumbling the same words over and over again.
"Please Sylvie please!"
She seems to realise why I want to do what I'm ready to do and settles back on the rumpled sheets. I lower my head until my breath stirs the silky bush above her tight, pink, shell. I begin to lap her labia and the salty interior of her sex like somebody worshiping at the shrine of a goddess. I'm clumsy and amateurish compared to her, it's a long time since I've made love to a woman, or man for that matter. Sylvie seems to read my mind and guides me.
"Yes! Just there, a little more, yes now! Faster, faster, don't stop; harder."
Then she's riding her climax in almost complete silence other than her ragged gulps for air. At last she lays still, she seemed totally genuine, not like a whore faking it for her client; perhaps she felt my genuine desire for her and my wish to please her. She wriggles her way up the bed to me and snuggles against me resting her head against my shoulder and tucking herself into the crook of my arm. She appears to fall asleep instantly, just like a cat, while I rest there with a whirlwind of thoughts spinning round inside my head. Just sex with a skilled artist or did I feel more? I hardly know her but there feels to be a magnetic attraction between us. When I wake, in the grey light of early dawn, she's still nestled against me soft and warm. My right arm is numb from the pressure of her body. Carefully I ease it free, Sylvie mutters something and drifts off again.
The next day I get my first work assignment, they know I'm a qualified librarian so they take the opportunity to utilise my skills, the assistant governor asks me if I'd be willing to sort out the shambles the prison library has got itself into lately and I manage to wangle a post for Sylvie to assist me. She's had little education but has a sharp, intuitive, mind; and grasps things quickly and completely. Besides she's better off with me than on kitchen duty. Things fall into a smooth routine, who'd have thought that prison life could be so easy to live with? Putting the library to rights, steadily. Teaching Sylvie the basics of Karate and T'ai Chi, then, after dark; making unhurried and passionate love to each other long into the night.
Four occurrences break into my steady acceptance of life behind bars. My first visitor. He's Dougie Foster a six foot seven inch eighteen stone karateka from my dojo. Dougie owns a scrap yard selling car parts and the occasional old banger for those who can't afford a decent car. Living in a grungy caravan on his site he's happy to volunteer to house sit for me the moment it was clear that I wouldn't be home for quite a while. Glad he did, one night the teenage wrecking crew come round with the intent of trashing my comfortable home. When my front door opens and a giant steps out with three foot of gleaming Katana longsword in one hand and the other gripping the collar of Cuchulaine his 165lb Irish wolfhound their army beats a hasty and permanent retreat. Buster and Madonna my Siamese cats are fine and have signed a peace treaty with his enormous pet.
My second visitor is my brief, Mr Andrew Dawson; he comes to tell me that my appeal hearing date has been set. Not in a few days or weeks but at least it's only a couple of months or so off. The third item is a real surprise. I'm approached by officer Marion Sheridan, it happens that she knew me before I ever finished up here though I didn't know her. Marion is a brown belt at ju jitsu and watched me in the all England finals in my match against Patti Harper.
I lost and had to settle for the silver medal, no complaints, she was just a tad better than me on the day. I evened the score though a couple of months later in a full contact match against her when I became the first lady to ever knock her spark out! Marion tells me that a number of inmates have asked her if she could get me to take a class with them after they'd watched me working with Sylvie. I'm happy to oblige and commence teaching T'ai Chi along with meditation and relaxation classes in the prison gym. The final milestone is way less pleasant!
Class over in the gym one day and I'm tidying things away before sloping off for supper, the officer supervising is officer Reynolds. Known to the older inmates as Debbie though she bares no resemblance to the mother of princess Laia of Starwars. Looking round I realise she's vanished, then through the open door of the gym walk three inmates. Two I recognise, chunky and Miss Piggy, the third is a tall, wiry, black, woman. In her right hand she's toting a home made shiv, ground down somehow from a chunk of scrap metal. Its razor edge glints in the bright neon light. The three of them fan out and close in on me. Piggy has to be the ham actor, very appropriate and I hope you don't mind the pun.
"Payback time bitch, you got lucky last time now you get hurt!"
Knife lady's the dangerous one because she holds it like she knows how to use it, out in front, moving it in small circles low down. I balance myself and wait for the first move and sure enough she comes in slicing the air from right to left and back again. This time I'm on firm ground so a spinning kick seems a good idea, I feint to my right then come back with a fast, high swing of my leg that clips her on the shoulder not the head but she still goes down.
Chunky, just like last time, hangs back so I go right at porky. Two hooks, left and right, hammer into her short ribs and she doubles over. She's perfectly placed for my knee to piston up into her face and she's gone for the duration, broken nose, split lip, and probably loosing a couple of teeth. I drop chunky with a vicious backfist knowing she'll take a lay down anyway to avoid further punishment. The blade lady has risen just in time for the total surprise that comes as she reaches down to pick up her weapon, Sylvie steps through the door and kicks her in the head with plenty of style and unexpected power. I amble over to her slipping my arm around her waist and hugging her to me.
"What brings you back here? I thought you'd gone to make the brew."
She wrinkles her nose and grins.
"Peggy Summers already had the kettle on so I came back just in time to rescue you!"
Arm around each others waists we walk down the corridor and pass a dumbfounded officer Reynolds. That's four enemies I've made now because Debbie knows that I know she tried to set me up.
I'm starting to get nervous now! The weeks have flown. Three days away from my appeal court hearing and despite my best efforts I've made no progress with trying to get Sylvie to abandon her plan to return to her old trade when she's released. She doesn't get angry with me; she just lets my arguments wash over her and asks me what else she's going to do when she gets out. My stomach is nervous, I'm not sleeping well, and then Miss Piggy; Bernice O'Hara; makes her last roll of the dice.
Bernice has influence because she has a pipeline to bring drugs into the gaol, people aren't scared of her but she can buy favours inside. I'm sitting against a wall in the exercise yard; it's the end of September now, a glorious English Indian Summer. Each morning I wake up to a crisp dawn with Sylvie snuggled against me and an hour or so later the sun has taken the chill away and another clear, warm, day lies ahead. Somebody hunkers down along side me; she's a frizzy haired blonde with long canine teeth that give her a distinct vampire look. Her eyes swivel left and right like a lizard as she mutters to me.
"Your girlfriend's in trouble."
I don't know why I say it, 99% of the staff and prison population know by now that Sylvie and I are an item.
"Yeah that sexy little chink, I just saw Bernice and her buddy towing her into the right angle."
I'm up on my feet and jogging off almost before she's finished speaking. I'm surprised that Sylvie would let herself be taken away like that but maybe Carnforth has destroyed her confidence. Burkinshaw is not an ancient Victorian gaol but neither is it a new one. The right angle is an area off the exercise square where modernisation work is due to begin, whenever the budget allows anyway. It's a blind spot to the prison officers patrolling the yard, they're supposed to check it regularly but with the shortage of staff, that tends to go by the board more often than not.
I slow down as I turn into it, moving towards its dead end I can see no sign of Sylvie or the other two I expect there. Apart from a couple of wheeled dumpsters there's nothing and nobody around. When I turn round they've walked in from the main yard and are fanning out in front of me, this time Bernice has sent for the A team!
I shake the tension from my arms while taking a deep breath and slowly releasing it as I weigh up the opposition. To my far right a tall, skinny one carrying another home made pig sticker. Her I recognise, she's one of the ones who should be in a mental hospital not a prison. She likes cutting people and is doing twelve years for carving a rival into a mess that required a couple of hundred stitches. Next is a beefy blank eyed dame, I know the type, not too bright but does exactly what her boss tells her to do. The third is a female juggernaut, six feet two or three and a good 220 pounds. She's a body builder, the massively muscled physique is softening a little as it's hard to score steroids in a prison, hard but not impossible!
The last one, I know, is the real danger. Around my height and weight but about ten years older she's got the look of a street fighter. Scar tissue above the eyes, flattened knuckles on both hands and a shuffling gait. She gives me a nod like one pro acknowledging another. Suddenly, deep inside me, something wild and feral bares its teeth and snarls. I've got to win this one, not just for myself, though if I go down its hospital at best and a coffin at worst. I've got to win for Sylvie, loose and she's Bernice's bitch till she's served the rest of her sentence. Suddenly I'm icy calm. My battle plan's ready.
"Fuck me you're a big twat! You sure you're a woman? Unzip those pants and show me your cock!"
My words have exactly the effect I want and the behemoth charges. I don't want to get to grips with her, she outweighs me by five stone, I'm gambling on a quick finish before the other three can close in. My gamble nearly fails! I owe success to the new haircut Sylvie did for me. My old dragged back and tied in a knot style would have fucked me, a huge hand just slithers across the top of my head but Sylvie's pixie style doesn't leave enough for her to grip so as she thunders by I unleash the hardest snap kick I've ever thrown anywhere anytime.
My foot smashes into her knee joint and her scream is merciless. I've wrecked her knee ligaments and probably displaced her kneecap. Crashing down onto the gravel her hands and face are scoured of skin in patches. Turning back I find the psycho is almost on me, some of these crazies are blessed with lightening reflexes and she's one of them. Her home made knife slices down my right bicep parting the cloth of my shirt like paper and scoring a long shallow cut that stings then burns, but no serious damage has been done. I sweep her legs out from under her as I throw a backfist at the beefy one; I only half catch her but she staggers back and the real danger comes right at me.
Street fighter launches a solid right hook that I deflect slightly so it lands on my shoulder instead of my jaw, she knows how to punch and I'll have the bruise to show for it tomorrow, dead or alive! I feint a right hand myself then hook her legs like I did psycho but she rolls easily out of reach and I decide I've got to end this fast so I gamble again. The knife lady is up again and closing on me while beefy is circling to get behind me, this is risky and the timing has got to be perfect so here goes. I back away from the knife as if I've forgotten the lump behind me, as the blade slashes at me I block her forearm deflecting her cut and kick backward as beefy charges in.
I connect spot on where I aimed and the crack is either her pubic bone or part of her pelvic girdle fracturing. I don't look back, just slam a heel of hand under psycho's jaw and crash a kite strike into her skinny abdomen flush on the solar plexus. When I dance back, risking a glance, three are down and won't be getting up. The mammoth is sobbing with pain on the ground, her leg bent at an impossible angle, beefy is doubled over hands pressed to her groin; and psycho is simply out cold. The tough one shuffles towards me. Now for the main event!
She moves like a boxer and a professional at that, high guard, chin tucked into her shoulder; feet planted solidly to generate power. She closes the distance and almost catches me out, from her stance I'm looking for the left jab but she switches to southpaw and only a twitch of my head means her punch glances off the side of my head instead of landing square on. I still hear the bells ring a little though. As she moves on me again, trying to fake me out, I step in and land a left on one of the hard breasts that bulge her shirt. She steps back wincing slightly then attacks again.
Behind her, in the distance, for a split second; I can see officer "Debbie" Reynolds trying to shoo a gathering crowd away but she's making no attempt to radio for back up or try to break us up. I know who is in whose pocket now. This time as slugger hooks at me I go for an arm lock but she spins out of it and dances back in, I'm waiting for her punch when she lunges at me and head butts me. Again my reflexes save me from full force but I feel the crack of bone on bone and briefly see stars. Luckily she's so close I can go for a lock again, she doesn't fancy that and wrestles free but up close I've learned something.
She's blowing hard, her teeth and fingers are stained brown with nicotine and heavy smoking does cut your wind. I unleash a series of short hooks and kites as she backs away and for the third time she suckers me and nearly finishes things there and then. She's not used her feet once, when boxers switch to mixed martial arts they struggle because they've never faced kicks before in the ring. She launches a perfect, swinging kick that I'd not expected from a boxer. She's gone for my head but her timings just a fraction off; shortness of breath maybe? So I catch her foot, kick her standing leg from under her, and dislocate her ankle as she goes down.
Fight's over but nobody's told her. Grimacing she gets her good leg under her and attempts to rise, she can't take any weight on her other leg.
She glances at me but grimly keeps trying to get to her feet. Then I surprise myself. I step back and drop my guard.
"Please, I don't want to hit you again so stay down."
A tired grin spreads across her face and she slumps back onto the concrete.
"You did your best, better than those three put together. No need for any more."
A genuine smile pops up on her hard features.
"Ten years younger and I'd have taken you."
I smile back.
"Ten years younger and I'd have still beaten you, you smoke too fucking much but it would have been a hell of a scrap."
Suddenly she's laughing, a hoarse, throaty, laugh, despite the pain. Officer Reynolds has vanished and the mob is watching but not approaching so I check out the fallen warriors. The giant is still moaning just as beefy is while psycho is still out cold. I amble back to my tough girl and give her the good news / bad news. Pointing to her ankle.
"I can fix that but it'll hurt like fuck."
Showing her strong, stained, teeth; she snorts good humouredly.
"Can't hurt much more than it does now."
Taking hold of her ankle I assess the joint then before she knows it I've snapped it back into place. She swears and a mist of sweat breaks out on her forehead. I hold out my hand and help her to her feet. She hangs on to it and turns it into a hand shake.
"Nothing personal lady it was just business."
I'm holding no grudges just her hand. Bushido, warrior's code, two tough gals who respect each other; call it what you like but she's lost nothing in defeat. She limps for a couple of steps then squares her shoulders and hides the pain, walking through the cluster of tough girls who part quickly to let her pass. I don't even know her name. Maybe I never will. I walk out of the right angle towards the crowd and as I approach them I hear a solid thwack and the fizzy haired vampire lady hits the floor and stays there. Peggy Summers, my second most serious student after Sylvie, is kneading her hand and checking her knuckles for cuts or bruising.
"That bitch set you up for Bernice."
Right then, like an icebreaker, the crowd are parted by the imposing figure of officer Rosemary O'Brian. Scottish to the core. She glances at me then ignores me completely. Turning to Peggy she asks what's going on. Peggy's in inspired form.
"Its terrible ma'am, some kind of fight, there's three down there and she staggered out then passed out."
Rosie looks down at the stricken blonde with a straight face.
"Puir wee lassie, we'd better get some medics down here."
Then she's off towards the fallen trio, bellowing to the crowd to break it up and clear off as she raises her radio to summons assistance. The next uniform through the throng is officer Sheridan, I've not taken a beating but the bruises and grazing show clearly as does the line of blood on my shirt sleeve. Marion winks at me and busies herself with breaking up the chattering crowds allowing me to head off to the gate that will let me back onto my cell block. My spirits hit an all time high when I spot a familiar lump of lard, Bernice is going nowhere because on either side of her, studiously ignoring her but making sure she hangs back, are two of my training class. Best of all is the slender form facing Miss Piggy, Sylvie, bouncing in front of her; like a fighting cock; is in full flow. Not loud but crystal clear.
"You fat fuck! If anything's happened to my lady I'll rip those fat tits off and shove them down your throat, now fuck off before I flatten you."
That's my girl! No, correction, that's my lady. That word sets my heart pounding so I slip my arm around her waist and watch her face light up as she realises all is well. Then I turn my attention to the fat one.
"You've had your last chance shit head, do you think anyone is going to take me on after this? You step one inch out of line again and I know ways to cripple you. You'd be better off dead than the rest of your life in bed being fed with a straw."
Right on cue Bernice pisses herself!
The armoured van delivers me to my city's Crown court building. In the cells, in the bowels of this fine old edifice, I'm allowed to change into civilian clothes. My Aikido sensei, Max Raeger, along with big Dougie; have brought me a change of clothes that fit the occasion. I've changed out of prison gear into a royal blue trouser suit, and a sky blue silk roll neck sweater. Low heeled black suede loafers make up the outfit. Before being taken up to face the music I get a visit from Andrew Dawson my solicitor. He's almost dancing with the good news he's got. My last judge, Mr Justice Parkinson, has; as they say; blown it big time.
Trying a case of rape and attempted rape he nods off yet again. Waking up he confuses a prosecution witness who dragged one of the accused off a twelve year old girl with the guy who was fucking her. Said witness is a burly bricklayer who, when asked by the bewigged buffoon to reply to councils question of what forced him to assault a mere child, gets rightfully annoyed. He eventually tells the maundering moron to get stuffed and is sent down to the cells charged with contempt of court. The case collapses pending a retrial and while it SHOULD have no bearing on my appeal the entire legal world knows his career as a judge is over and the grapevine is flourishing!
I won't bore you with a rehash of the evidence; let me fast forward to when I'm called into court to hear their honours decision. The senior judge is Mrs Justice Culver, a handsome fiftyish lady with aquiline features and a melodious speaking voice. I catch what she's saying through a haze, phrases leap out like headlines from a newspaper. "Unanimously agreed". "Conviction quashed", "Leave without a stain on your character". Then she really cuts loose.
"I am at a loss to understand why this case ever came to court and I will be contacting the Crown Prosecution Service for an explanation as to how they ignored forensic and other evidence to persevere with a case that should never have gone as far as a High Court appeal. Ms Callaghan you are free to go and good luck to you!"
Back to a hastily arranged party at my home which involves Dougie, Max, and assorted guys and gals from my dojo and library. It was kind of them but while I keep up a happy façade my thoughts are centred on Sylvie. Such a short time and I'm aching to see her already. I'm not worried about her physical well being now, with her newly learnt skills she can look after herself around any but the hardest inmates in Burkinshaw and she'll have back up from the ladies from my class and a certain officer Sheridan.
Before I left I talked Marion into taking over from me as instructor should my appeal succeed. She's just been awarded her black belt and though Tai' Chi isn't her speciality she figures she knows enough and can learn more to stay ahead of the ladies learning curve. So now I find myself chugging towards Burkinshaw prison on visitor's day in one of Dougie's old bangers at a flat out forty three miles an hour. At the appointed hour I'm allowed into the visitors lounge and there she sits, my lady, smiling at me as I approach her table. I sit opposite her and take her hands in mine and just gaze at her. A soft brogue issues from behind me.
"No touching, ladies."
I turn to see a smiling officer Rosie O'Brian walking past and winking at me and Sylvie. Visiting time is way too short but I cover as much ground as I can. Another wasted appeal to Sylvie about her prospects of life out of gaol, with maximum remission she'll be out herself in the not so distant future. However I wring from her a promise to come and stay with me once she's released, she's happy to do that as she has nowhere to stay in her home city and the police, she says, won't know her in my home town. In return she fills me in on the inside news from my former gaol.
"Debbie" Reynolds is under suspension pending police investigation; too many times missing when serious trouble has taken place and a rumour that an inmate has shopped her as Bernice's drug supplier. One real big surprise on top of that or maybe it isn't a surprise. Sylvie gets contacted by my hard case opponent, the street fighter, her name is Angie Evans. Angie tells my little lady that if she gets any grief off anyone and Sylvie can't handle it herself then Sylvie hollers for Angie and Angie will sort things out damn quick! There's also a message from Angie to me, Angie's quit smoking!
I'm having a hard time settling down to civilian life again, nobody to tell me when to get up or go to bed, the privacy feels weird after sharing showers and dining halls but I'm getting back to normal; if slowly. I'm teaching again at the dojo though I can't take kids classes as technically I still have a criminal conviction. How long before it's removed from the computer records is anyone's guess. I've applied for my library post back, since I lost it through a travesty of justice I should get it back but of course the city council can't just take me back with open arms.
A committee will be discussing my future in due course though in the meantime I'm back on full salary though suspended so I've got no complaints about that. I've also picked up some quite lucrative work giving private lessons in self defence to individuals who can well afford to pay me. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity and my appeal really put me in the public eye so some people have decided that it's time to stop cowering when the teen hooligans are out and about. I'm also working on setting something up that's risky but I've got do and I've lots of time to research it.
One day I'm sitting listening to a C.D. of Les Miserables and petting my Siamese when my phone rings. Sylvie! Thanks to the overflowing gaols here in England the Home office releases a lot of prisoners a month ahead of their release date and neither I nor Sylvie had thought about that. Can I come up to Burkinshaw next Monday and drive her home? Another of Dougie's rattletraps gets me there and on a bleak December morning with the hail rattling down. I see the gate swing open and a small figure steps out, behind her looms the shape of Rosie O'Brian who says something to her, gives her a motherly pat, then steps back as the gate closes behind my lady for what I truly hope is the last time ever.
I beep the horn and Sylvie scuttles across the road to sit besides me in the warmth of the overworked heater. For what seems like forever we just hug each other before I shift into gear and head us off back home. That night, for the first time, we make love in a proper; full sized bed. Our sex is spectacular, for once I take the lead and when my tongue and lips caress her proud little clit she climaxes like I've never seen her before. Normally quiet in passion she explodes into a writhing, howling orgasm that stuns me. After she's evened up the score by taking me to the heights she settles in her favourite position, Sylvie's a cuddler and a snuggler and she's happiest tucked into the crook of my right arm.
In the afterglow I tell her of what I've got planned and ask her if she's willing to risk helping me with it. She's eager to help, probably would have volunteered to help me invade Russia if I'd asked her! So on a dark and filthy night the two of us are lurking in Powell Gardens, not really big enough to be described as a park, it's a green plot with trees, bushes, devastated flower beds; and grassy stretches; which lies between Ascot Crescent and the by now notorious Mayfield Estate. Home of my city's vilest hooligan clans. I've tracked and trailed them in recent weeks so when they heave into view through the iron gate, heading for the entrance at the opposite end, which will bring them out onto their home ground; they're right on schedule.
Ten minutes to three in the morning and fat Kerry and skinny Darren her boyfriend are, as usual, much the worse for wear. Kerry's clutching an almost empty bottle of cheap, white, cider. Darren is smoking a spliff and both of them are reeling. Two out of the four who almost wrecked my life. Kayleigh Thomas is not around, she's doing seven years for glassing a girl in a pub and I was delighted to hear she's doing it in Carnforth. Darren's big mate Wayne is dead, shot over a drug debt the local newspaper told me so I'll have to settle for these two.
As they stagger along the path I step out from under the shadow of the tree I've been leaning against, through the pouring rain Darren focuses on me and though all he can see is a shape in a black, hooded tracksuit some animal instinct tells him he's in deep shit. Abandoning his partner he tries to leg it but the dope has slowed him down so I trip him and put him briefly to sleep with a short left behind the ear.
Looking up I see Kerry charging at Sylvie who is another black clad shape in the night, as they converge Sylvie sways lithely and Kerry sails through the air till she hits the chain link fence with a musical twanging sound. Didn't teach her that one! The weeks of tutoring with Marion Sheridan have added a few new moves then! We drag the fallen over to a tree and I unpack the sports holdall I've brought along.
We don't go to bed; we sit in my living room drinking coffee while I flit from one after another TV. or radio news channel. Its half way through the morning before the item hits the screen, someone came out of their home on Ascot Crescent and before calling the police went back for their camcorder. They must have made a decent sum by selling the footage and its well worth the price.
Kerry and Darren are chained and padlocked to each other and the bole of a substantial elm tree. Darren's tracksuit bottoms and Y fronts are around his ankles as are Kerry's leggings and knickers. Jesus you can't call them panties! You could use them on a yacht as a sail! Both of them have their mouths taped up, Darren's skinny rear has been spray painted royal blue while Kerry's lard arse is pillar box red. Each of them has a hand lettered sign around their necks. Darren's reads "I am a scumbag smack head". Kerry's says "I am a lying, fat, slag".
Worried as I am about the possible arrival of Sergeant Lunt or some of her cronies I still break into a manic grin. Later on I watch an extended coverage of what the police describe as an incident of vigilantism and realise we've got nothing to worry about. The boys in blue are looking for four tall and powerfully built men in dark clothing and are appealing for witnesses. Should have realised that those two creeps would never have let their mates know that two smallish people had sorted them out so easily.
Having missed out on a night's sleep we go to bed early, not that I expect to sleep all that early. Since Sylvie's arrival my bed's not just for falling asleep in! When I make love to her however I sense something's not quite right, she responds to me as I'd expect her to but there's something missing and for the first time I guiltily feel that it's the whore maybe cleverly faking it. When Sylvie takes her turn with me she makes all the right moves and I achieve some kind of physical satisfaction but my heart's not in it. Instead of scooting up into her favourite nest in the crook of my arm she stays where she is with her face resting against my flank and when her words come they're faint. And I realise she's crying in almost complete silence.
"Am I a bad person Wendy?"
Is she a bad person? Never in a million years! She's gentle, sweet, and hasn't a mean bone in her body except when feeling protective towards me. Then she becomes a miniature tiger.
"Of course you're not love, what makes you say that?"
She still won't raise her face and look at me but she presses on.
"I'm twenty nine and all I've been since I was twelve is a whore. I've been arrested and gaoled and all I've ever done with my life is sleep for cash with men and women, doesn't that make me a bad person? I want to change Wendy but can I?"
At last! My heart skips a beat, she wants to change her life direction, maybe my pleading's done it but more likely it's come from deep inside her. This time before I speak I consider my words carefully and let my mind range wide. Sylvie's father was an Irish seaman who hung around just long enough to get her waitress mother pregnant before vanishing from their lives forever. By the time she was ten Sylvie's mother was dead from a fast spreading cancer and Sylvie was passed from one member or another of her mum's extended family. Little schooling and no fixed home she used her only asset her face and figure to survive, does that make her a bad person?
Now I think about myself, thirty three blameless years then a politically correct police service sees me as the aggressor not the half a dozen inhuman young shits. The cops betray me in favour of the criminal classes when I defend my pet, my home, and myself. If I hadn't had the training and skills I posses I'd be just another newspaper report about an innocent householder beaten to a pulp. I'm betrayed by a legal system that finds it easier to tackle the honest citizen rather than the career hooligan.
I'm betrayed by an equally politically correct judge who is probably also senile. Finally I'm betrayed by a prison service that is hopelessly overworked and understaffed and has a least one criminal member to my certain knowledge. Am I a bad person because I hurt people to stay alive and protect Sylvie? No fucking chance! I've fought in the dojo, I've fought in tournaments, and I've fought for real in prison but what I say now to Sylvie takes more nerve than any of those. I reach down and take her chin between my thumb and forefinger and tilt her head up so she has to look at me, her face is reddened and streaked with her tears.
"Neither of us are bad people love, if you want to change then I'm right here to help you change in any way you want to. I've got to tell you love I just can't imagine life without you now."
Then the hardest thing of all, harder than my going up against the foursome in Burkinshaw.
"Sylvie I love you more than anyone I've ever met and I want you to stay with me as long as you will."
I don't need a reply in words because she's wriggled up the bed and is now in her safety zone tucked under my arm and smiling. Suddenly I know all is well and will stay well but I've one more thing to say to her.
"And Sylvie, neither of us is ever doing time again!"