Solitary 15, West Wing

“Hmmm,” Michael muttered. “That’s odd.”

His supervisor, Eddie, turned away from the monitors and files on his metal desk to look questioningly at the new clerk.

“What’s that, Mike?” Eddie had been a supervisor at the state’s most secure prison for so long he didn’t remember what his previous job was. Nothing, in his experience, was ever ‘odd’ about the prison or prisoners. Because that would mean someone had messed up and Eddie would need to call in the warden and the board. Nobody wanted that. Especially not Eddie.

“Well, Ed, seems like there’s a discrepancy in this file.” The newest clerk waved a standard manila file folder in his boss’s face.

Eddie grabbed the waving folder, looking at the number on the tab. “Wait. You’re not supposed to…why are you checking this one? I told you to work on the digital files.”

“Yeah, I know, but I got all those done. I figured I’d give you a hand with these old ones, the ones still in hardcopy. Sorry, man,” Michael shrugged at the older man.

Eddie shook his head. “I really wish you hadn’t done that, Mike. How much of it did you read?” The resignation in his voice was clear.

“Enough to know there’s something fishy about it. Who’s in solitary 15? I didn’t think any of those cells was used anymore.”

Eddie sighed. “Damn, son. I was just starting to like you.”

The old man’s fingers snaked out and pressed a button on the underside of his underling’s office chair. Metal cuffs whipped up and around Michael’s hands, imprisoning him in his seat.

Panic colored Michael’s voice, “What? What does that mean? What the hell’s going on, Ed?”

Eddie ignored the other man, instead turning to the ancient old phone on the edge of his desk. It was so worn and faded, Michael had assumed it was non-functional and merely a left behind piece of the clerk’s office.

Eddie lifted the handset and pushed the ‘0’ then waited, watching Michael squirm from the corner of his eye.

“Sir, 15. Yes, sir. It’s a helluva thing, yes, sir. All of it. Got him snugged. Yes, sir, I’ll see you shortly.”

The call finished, the supervising clerk hung up the phone and turned to Michael. “The big man will be down in a few. You haven’t met him and honestly, no one really wants to. He makes the decisions on 15. Well, the whole west wing, really.”

“What makes that cell so important? And what’s going to happen with me? I don’t understand.” Michael whined to the man he had begun to think of as a friend. “If it’s just a matter of keeping my mouth shut, I can do that, I swear!”

“Kid, you looking into the file was the mistake, and no matter how much you swear about keeping your trap shut, it won’t make a difference. See, all the solitary cells in the west wing house special cases. Those few people in the world who have been pivot points in history. And somehow, maybe because they’re pivotal people, they tend to have other special qualities, like extremely long lives. Or, sometimes, they have some crazy power that makes them very dangerous.”

Michael’s eyes widened in disbelief. “So, what’s going to happen to me? I got no clue which people are in those cells. I can’t tell anyone!”

“No, son, you won’t be telling anyone. In fact, you won’t be leaving the grounds. The big man will take care of that. Good thing you don’t have any family to worry ’bout you.”

Michael’s head dropped, the fight leaving the doomed man.

“But, since you’ve only got a little while left, I’ll tell you the best secret about 15. It’s not who you might think. No, most of the nosey snots who look at the files assume it’s somebody horrible, like Hitler or Stalin. No, it’s even better than that. It’s a Kennedy.”

The defeated man’s head snapped up, interest flaring in him despite his circumstances. “Which one? Bobby? John? The old man?”

The door behind the men opened creakily. A hand crept around Michael’s head, a dampened handkerchief clutched inside.

The last thing Michael heard before the ether took hold was, “No, boy, not even the right gender.”


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