20 July 2006

730 Days, Part III

"Who's the girl?"

"Uh...she's my niece, Marisa."

"Cute kid."


In two months, this was the most Javier had said to Jonah. At first, that had suited him fine; he wasn't looking to expand his social circle and figured the surest way to survive was by avoiding trouble. But as the days passed and the hours grew longer, the silence in their five by nine grew deafening. Like a blanket thrown over his head, it muffled the din beyond their bars, reducing the cons' harsh conversations to the murmurs of voices from another room. While that was comforting for a time, of late it had become stifling.

Five days back Jonah nearly lost it in the yard.

Five nights back Jonah started to hear his own pulse, coursing through his ears as though shells were pressed tight to his head. The next night was worse. The next night Javier's every shift and turn in the top bunk joined the beating of his heart. Each night since had added to the cacophony.

Jonah couldn't take the silence that wasn't silence anymore; he couldn't take the solitude. Two bunks. A toilet. A sink. Three thousand men on ten acres. Two shelves. Three books. One wallet-sized photo. Twenty-four hours a day without privacy or personal space. Two years without human contact - if he was lucky.

Javier's first words barely registered. They fell on Jonah's ears like rain on an arid plain, dancing on the hot cracked soil before finally penetrating. So long had he craved company, he didn't immediately recognize it. Once he did, he welcomed the deluge.

Javier was lonely too. Javier was locked in the same five by nine. They had little but this in common, but it was enough.