“Good,” he paused. “What did I tell you about getting that close to their hands?”

Diane sighed. “I have to get close to them to inspect injuries.”

“Yes,” Bayou agreed. “But you wait until the guard attaches his hands and feet to the bed, then you do what you need to do. He could’ve hurt you very badly today.”

Diane looked expectantly chagrined.

“There are protocols in place that keep you safe,” Bayou continued to hammer his point home. “And you’re teaching your bad habits to the new girl. Trust me when I say that you need to remember the protocol, because if she gets hurt because of your indifference to the rules, I won’t be happy.”

Bayou was staring down at Diane’s ducked head with distaste written all over his face.

I sensed a story there, but I couldn’t very well ask them right in front of each other.

Bayou’s eyes went to me once more, held my gaze for all of two seconds, and then dropped. He stared at my neck as he said, “Be careful.”

I smiled, but he didn’t see it in his haste to leave.

“Oh, hey!” I called out to Bayou as he turned to leave. “I left a pen in your office yesterday. Can I have it back? It’s one of my favorites.”

Bayou gave me one thumb up without turning around.

Then he was gone, and I was left with a very pissed off Diane.

“He’s such a douchebag,” Diane grumbled. “God, I cannot believe that I ever had a crush on that man! I’d rather claw my eyes out than get anywhere near him at this point. Creepy motherfucker.”

This morning I’d had to watch a two-hour long video about how to stay safe when working with inmates, and the first thing on the list was to never get too close to them without ensuring that the inmate was safely secured.

Hell, I was fairly sure Diane watched it right next to me because there’d been nothing else to do, yet the moment that inmate had walked in with the guard, Diane had dashed toward him with glee.

The inmate had seen his opportunity and taken it, seizing Diane and pulling her toward him in some vain attempt to get something only he knew he wanted.

“I’m sorry,” I lied. “Are you really okay?”

I didn’t like that she was talking badly about Bayou.

I’d always been protective of the man. But this woman didn’t know Bayou at all…though, regrettably, I didn’t really know him all that well, either.

“I’m fine,” Diane grumbled. “Just annoyed. Can you clean that up?”

‘That’ being the paperwork that’d been on the filing desk when the inmate had walked in. It’d been knocked down somewhere in the struggle and was now laying on the ground all over the room.

I bent over and started picking up the papers, glancing at them quickly as I went.

They were medication refills for inmates.

“Do these need to be in any particular order?” I asked as Diane took a seat behind her desk.

And why the hell were they sitting up here instead of being faxed? I assumed that was what was happening with them, anyway.

“No,” she answered. “Just stack them nicely and put them back up on the filing cabinet. I have to fax them all in at the end of the day.”

I did as asked and returned to my seat across the room.

I could see the television better here anyway. I didn’t need a fancy desk or anything like she had.

Unfortunately, the television in the corner was one of those old-timey, massive ones that was in the wooden box. The picture quality was terrible, and I wasn’t sure how the hell anyone ever managed to actually watch a program with it.

Not to mention it had to weigh hundreds of pounds.

“Why is the television in here so old?” I asked out of the blue. “Surely a new one would fit better on the wall and wouldn’t take up so much space.”

“That one is there because if we had a newer, nicer one the inmates would just break it,” Diane answered, sounding bored. “That one they can kick and it can survive the attack.”

That made a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the television quality still sucked.

“God,” Diane whispered. “I’m going to be bruised everywhere.”

I looked over at her as she inspected her arms.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “You are.”

Another few hours passed, and finally it was time to go home.

We saw four more inmates, three of them with lacerations of some kind due to fights they’d had in the yard with other inmates. One of them was due to the fact that he’d shoved something up his ass a few days ago and had gotten it lost inside of him.

That one we’d had to transfer to the hospital. There was only so much we could do at the prison infirmary, and we had to draw the line at exploratory surgery of the anus.

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