Program Interviews

Entry interviews are taken to determine which candidates are best for the new labor program.

East Jersey State Prison

September 23rd, 2013


It's a bland sheet of paper full of complicated words as they've seen before.

"This is your contract, stating that you are aware of the dangers involved in participation in the Restoration program and commit willingly, in return for a reduction in your sentence equal to the service you provide. It also says you are aware of the punishments. That should one prisoner disobey the rules as stated here, then all will face the consequences, including being cut from the program to possible sentence lengthening."

There's a pen beside it. A small packet makes up pages 2-15 defining the virus, its spread, and how to handle those in various stages of infection: infected — saveable — and diseased — not so much.

"Do you understand, number— "





Only after a long moment of silence does a voice resonates against the close prison walls, slow and deep and aged up through a history of streets and cell blocks and book-reading, as relaxed as though its owner were seated in a recliner in the comfort of home. #000555991D takes his time; he's been diligent in reading every page provided to him. "I'll be lettin' you know…" He lifts a thin, rectangular-lensed pair of reading glasses off the wide bridge of his nose to better examine the text in front of him. The glasses, a delicate device, could easily appear too urbane for the face of an inmate, a criminal, a man whose strength is clear from one look, yet Derrick "Lobby" Cousens wears them as naturally as his prison uniform and the scrap of spare material that's been fashioned around his bald head like a bandanna. "When I finish page… ah. Fifteen. Patience, a virtue rewarded."

Completing the last line, he addresses the interviewer — patience, rewarded — straight in the eye, smiling. He either has no problem cutting straight across distances with that vision, or he cheats the stare well. "My eyes ain't what they used to be, but I read every word and I say I'm able, and I un'erstand fully the rules as well as the consequences." He lifts the pen and strikes it across the blank line, ending on a flourish that nearly tears the page with a sharp artistic flick. "Now y'all just tell me where to go and I'll show up at the head'a the grand parade."


Comically, Mason's eyebrow tugs upwards, and the right side of his lips follow suit in a smug side smile. The orange jumpsuit he sports does nothing for his complexion, leaving his normally olive-hued skin with just a touch of jaundice, whether its from what he eats in here or merely the reflection of colour is impossible to know. His arms cross over his chest as his eyes stare at the interviewer, considering the words spoken, rather than those written.

His head cants to the side as an empty echoey chuckle emits from his lips. "Some'in 'ronic 'bout gainin' life by beatin' the dead," he murmurs in a long slow drawl. None of the words are given their due. Instead they run together. But then, Mason really hasn't anywhere to be. It's a very different life than the one he'd occupied before.

Fingers brush against his hair, pushing it off his forehead as his eyes turn down towards the paper. The interviewer can see those eyes scan the page, riding one side to the next before he reaches for the pen and scribbles in unlegible scrawl: 'Ellroy Mason Jacks'.

Sliding the paper back to the interviewer, his lips curl upwards again. "Yea. I git it. We done here?"

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