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The creaking sound of the gurney’s wheels filled the empty dayroom as Rocky’s body was rolled out of the pod. Robert Parker watched from the door of his locked cell, as did the other fifty-eight men in the pod, thinking that next time it could be him on that gurney with a sharpened toothbrush handle sticking out of his throat and a white sheet thrown hastily over him. The pod was eerily quiet. Most everyone had liked Rocky, except of course for the man who had stuck him.
Robert had been through this before and he knew the routine. The prisoners would be locked down for a few days while the administration ran their investigation and unless there was a snitch in their midst, Rocky’s killer would go unpunished. That is, he’d go unpunished by the prison. But most likely they’d be locked down again within hours of the doors opening as one of Rocky’s many friends administered his own punishment.
In his year and a half in the penitentiary Robert had seen at least a dozen men rolled out on gurneys either dead or dying. Usually, these men had had it coming, but not Rocky. He was a good man, as far as criminals went, and he didn’t deserve to die that way. Why somebody would murder the big man was beyond Robert. Now somebody would have to call Rocky’s family with the tragic news. If Rocky even had a family.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this Mrs.…”
And then it occurred to Robert that he didn’t even know Rocky’s real name. Prison nicknames were funny things, and there were about twenty guys in there whom Robert only knew by names such as Spike, Tex, Preach, Pops, or Killer.