Angel 26 (church and children)
Most of the prison jobs were taken, but Angel hoped to get something soon. She got free- association a few hours a day and out for meals, sitting at the tables with other girls and that lifted her a bit. Her transition was made easier because one of the girls recognised her from all those years ago at the children’s home in Risk Street. Val had been a fat, mouthy kid then and she’d grown up to be a much larger version, with a shaggy perm and chipmunk cheeks. She was out of her face when she could manage it, and had good contacts on the outside that could get stuff in. Val had clout with inmates and guards and Angel was mostly left alone.
‘You’ve got a visitor,’ Church was one of the older guards that had been in Corton Vale forever, her uniform hanging off her wiry frame. Her drab appearance reflected the way she was, grey and preachy, flinging in words of wisdom about Jesus when she could wangle it.
‘How’s Lisa getting on?’ she asked Church as the guard escorted her along the corridor past other locked cells.
‘Twenty-four-watch, but it’s in the hands of the Lord.’
Angel had the cell to herself, her cellmate Lisa had been taken to the medical wing because she’d once more tried to kill herself with a ligature.
‘That’s good.’ Angel stepped back as Church used her key to open the door into a different block. ‘Who’s visiting, anyway?’
Her mum, usually, visited on a Sunday, when she could manage it, but it had been four weeks and two days since she’s last seen her. And a Tuesday night seemed an odd time, even for Karen.
Church pursed her lips, but said nothing. She’d seen something, but God knows what it was. Everything remained the same. Cells doors banged, noise rang from the walls and followed them downstairs and along corridor after corridor as girls shouted and screamed. They got away from the stink of shit and disinfectant in the walkways, between blocks and a glimpse of the night sky.
Angel was apprehensive who it could be and she thought it might be Pizza Face, who’d written telling her he was getting a new lawyer to organise an appeal. He also said he loved her and would wait on her forever. She was relieved, but wasn’t sure what he’d meant. She didn’t plan to be in Corton Vale forever. But getting out, after eight years, was as far away as happily ever after.
Finding Lisa choking in the cell had been a shock. She’d used a piece of plastic she’s woven into a loop and tied to the top bunk. Her face was purplish and Angel had vomited. The screws had went into automatic mode when she’d screamed and raised the alarm, but when things got back to normal, Angel got thinking. Maybe it would be for the best if she killed herself too.
Nobody much would miss her, she figured. Pizza Face was so far away. And she was sure he’d get somebody better. He deserved somebody better. And knowing him as she did, he wouldn’t wait long to replace her.
Karen was harder to fathom. She was her mum, of course, and she loved her in her own way. But she wasn’t so sure her mum would notice she’d be away. The telly was on in her cell and she’d watched a bit of The Thorn Birds, which she wasn’t keen on.
The strange thing was that the girls all went absolutely bonkers over the The Thorn Birds. They followed it religiously in the way girls followed David Cassidy when she’d been a girl. Stories of love, sex and tragedy were almost as popular as heroin.
‘I’d shag that Richard Chamberlain’s cock aff,’ said Georgina who shared a table with Angel at lunch.
Georgina was in for shoplifting. She looked like a scarecrow, no matter what she did with the prison garb, and treated such charges with contempt, as if she’d been accused of having influenza. She was from Possil, an old-hand in Corton Vale, with a voice rough as a hacksaw blade, but her four kids, came to visit regularly, and were always well-dressed in the latest kit.
‘And I’d muff her rotten,’ cackled Fitzi. She’d worked as a prostitute in London and Glasgow and other big cities. She was small and hard, with a voice like a dirty-old man. Her styled hair was all that remained of her prettiness and she kept patting back the lock that fell over her right eye. It was obvious to Angel that Fitzi also had an eye for her.
‘Toss a coin to see which one I’d do first,’ Mary got in on the act. She was in for fraud. A piece of boiled egg stuck to the corner of her lips. Her and Fitzi sometimes got together, but they weren’t a couple. Angel thought she looked like a gerbil, with her small white hands, especially when she as eating and tucking food into her small, odd-shaped, mouth. But she could sometimes say something which was funny, which made her popular. Others laughed at the table when she’d spoken, rolled her eyes, mimed doing a blow job with a piece of sausage, spitting it out of her mouth at the last second and on to the table.
Eight years of worshiping The Thorn Birds and laughing along at filthy jokes seemed too long and death, in comparison, didn’t seem that bad, or such a big deal. Going to sleep and nothing on the other side. She put her hand over her stomach as Church waited for the guard on the other side to let them into the visitor’s block.
Cherry, one of the senoir screws in the visitor's block, had made Angel see things a little differently. She was posh and they’d got talking because she’d complained of sore ankles and needing some Ibuprofen and laughed when Angel told her she’d worked in Boots the Chemist.
‘I’m pregnant,’ Angel ended up confiding in Cherry.
And Cherry had told her that was great news. They’d let her keep the kid until it was one and she’d get released early.
‘But everybody in here’s got kids,’ Angel had told her.
‘Not as young and pretty as you.’ Cherry had reached over and stroked her cheek, and Angel had pulled away from her.
But Cherry had cheered her up, not so much that she’d get released early, but that she could have some hope. A little girl of her own to cling on to.
Angel put the bib on that identified her as a prisoner, without even thinking about it. She was caught up with the notion of holding her own little girl. She’d love it to death.