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Jonathan: Most masculine, beefy guy in prison; 32 years old.
Paul: A new scrawny inmate that’s quite nervous and shy; 20 years old.
Byran: A man who knows what he wants and is quite boosterish.
Guard: A woman who finds violence intriguing and loves causing more of it.
Inmate, Inmate 2,
The courtyard of a local prison; prison cafeteria; Jonathan’s prison cell
[ Jonathan sits on a bench staring wistfully through the endless metal fence. In the distance, a long white bus drags a cloud of dust behind it. The bus turns furiously and proceeds to speed towards the prison with a cloud of dust trailing behind it. The bus stops with an abrupt halt and one by one the new inmates file out. The guard at the front gate waits eagerly as the inmates all trudge towards the prison. She unhandcuffs them one by one and hurls them into the courtyard. Jonathan turns his head and lets out a deep sigh s one of the inmates comes strutting over shakily.]
Paul: Are you the head honcho around here?
Jonathan: Yeah kid. What’s it to yah?
Paul: [ Hands begin to perspire as he gulps hard in utter terror.] I’m ….I’m …. I’m here to knock you off your high pedestal… [ More confident.] SON!
Jonathan: [Stands up laughing.] Go ahead, Shrimp.
Paul: [ Weak in the knees.] Oh…. you’re going to get it now.
[Paul sweeps Jonathan’s legs and he falls with a loud thud. Paul jumps back surprised and waits for Jonathan to stand up, yet nothing happens. Paul proceeds to kick Jonathan in the stomach and face with confidence as the guard watches with excitement in her eyes and no intent to break up the beating.]
Paul: C’mon fight me! Fight me! Are you weak? Be a man!
Jonathan: [ Towering over Paul while laughing crazily.] You’re new here so I’mma let you in on a little secret. [ Putting an arm around Paul.] I-don’t-feel-pain, period. I’ve been beat up more times than you can count, by inmates, by guards [Mumbling.] by my own mother. The pain no longer bothers me, so I laugh at your foolish attempt.
[Paul pushes away from Jonathan and backs away from if as he was a mad dog frothing at the mouth.]
Jonathan: I don’t want to fight anyone in this stupid hell hole [Jonathan’s voice begins to trail off.] yet everyone here wants to fight me.
Paul: [Continuing to back away.] How did a guy like you end up here then?
Jonathan: Bad child support, that’s all it is. Can’t get a job, can’t pay the woman, get thrown in jail, but hey free food no rent! Why not? I just didn’t realize my body and stability would be sacrificed.
Paul: Aww, dude, I’m sorry. You know the deal though if I don’t defeat you these other guys will pummel me. You get it right?
Jonathan: Sure…. Sure, do what you must. [ Lowering his voice.] It doesn’t hurt anyway.
Paul: Well…. You see…. I …. I
Jonathan: What are you soft now? Hit me, go ahead, ease my pain. [Yelling.] Hit me. Hit me. Are you weak? Ease my pain. [Screams.] Hit meeeeeeeee!
Paul: [Scrunches up and begins to perspire.] You’re crazy.
[Paul runs away tripping and fumbling as he goes. Jonathan watches with a heavy heart and sits back on his bench looking out the fence again. The guard calls everyone to come inside and Jonathan trudges to his cell then sprawls his body on the bottom bunk. He looks left and then quickly right, hesitating he yanks a ball of yarn and two knitting needles from under his mattress and begins to knit while humming softly.]
Byran: [Walks past Jonathan’s cell and stops in his tracks while trying to hold back laughter.] Are you [Snickering.] knitting? Are you going to bake cookies next, huh? Are you a grandma, because you’re too ugly to be one. Just an old hag knitting alone. Ha!
Jonathan: Well you’re just a foolish, idiotic, ameba that can’t comprehend how beautiful the art of knitting is. [Stands up.] Try this on. [Jonathan shoves a sweater in Byran’s face and he shakily takes it and puts it on.] What do you think?
Byran: It’s a perty color I guess. Boy, it’s comfortable too.
Jonathan: [Laughs.] Take it.
Byran: [Gulps.] Really? Are you being one hundred percent serious with me?
Jonathan: Yeah, take it, stay warm [ Grinning.] be happy.
[Byran scurries away with the sweater on and heads straight to the lunch line so comfortable he forgets he even has the sweater on. Byran sits down and proceeds with his meal.
Inmate: [ Hollering so that everyone can here.] Look ere’ this softie gots a sweater on. Where did you get it from mama’s boy? Your granny?
[Everyone starts laughing and one by one they head over to Byran to tease him. They poke fun at him until the guard notices and runs over in excitement.]
Guard: [Proudly.] Who does this sweater belong to.
[Everyone points to Byran, snickering.]
Byran: I know yawl be snitchin’. Look lady dis ain’t even mines. I got it from dat yahoo buff guy, the one covered in scares and tattoos.
[The guard heads to Jonathan’s cell holding the sweater she made Byran take off like it was garbage. The inmates stampede behind her whooping and hollering. The guard reaches Jonathan’s cell and raises her head speaking loudly.]
Guard: Is this yours Honey?
Jonathan: [Slumping over on his bed just enough to the guard and the crowd of inmates at his cell. He sighs deeply.] Yes, why?
Guard: Tsk…tsk…tsk, ain’t your mama ever told you if you don’t gots enough for everybody then don’t bring any at all?
Jonathan: [Sighing heavily.] No ma’am. Why does it matter anyway?
Guard: You are the cause of this problem, but I think these fells can take care of that. [ Looks at inmates snickering.] He’s all yours boys, go get em. [ She throws the sweater at Jonathan and leaves the cell, but stands close enough to see what about to go down.]
Inmate: So, you’re the grandma? Well, you know what we do with helpless old ladies right?
Inmate 2: We put them out their misery!
[ Everyone enters Jonathan’s cell at once and starts pounding their fists as Jonathan lays still awaiting his beating.]
Paul: [ Pushing through the crowd, yelling.] Wait! Don’t hurt him!
[ Everyone turns and stares at Paul.]
Inmate: So, you’re the grandson? You want to save your granny?
Paul: Yes…wait no…he’s not my grandma, but he doesn’t deserve this. Who cares about masculinity? [ Gulps.] We don’t need to hurt each other to show power, we don’t need to pretend to be strong when we are broken.
[ Everyone stares at Paul then quickly at broken down Jonathan.]
Byran: This shrimp is right. This guy did nothing, and we are going to beat him up over a sweater? Once in all of you guys lives you were civilized. Let’s handle this properly. We don’t need a war.
Inmate: [ Clapping slowly while holding back tears.] You is right. [ Walks over to Jonathan.] Can you makes me a scarf?
[ Everyone gasps.]
Inmate: What? It’s cold.
[ One by one everyone in the crowded cell begins to ask for a sweater or scarf or mittens. Jonathan stands up slowly and smiles brightly.]
Jonathan: Sure. Maybe I can even show you how to knit during craft hour.
Guard: [ Comes marching in.] No, no, no. You were supposed to fight not make friends!
[ The guard angerly stamps her feet as the inmates file out of Jonathan’s cell. He lays on his bed smiling and Byran, the last inmate to leave, shoves the sweater under his shirt and scurries out.]
Jonathan: [ Shedding a tear while laughing quietly.] Finally, I am appreciated, I’m useful, I’m somebody to someone.