Prison Guards called themselves, “COs”. We called them, “bulls”.
This is back when there were prisons. And people to guard them. These days when we use the word we’re usually just talking about minotaurs or sometimes that one cow in Nebraska that knew Kung Fu.
That guy was a dick.
But before we ever saw a dairy-cow perform a hurricane kick, “bull” meant, “guard.”
Probably it comes from an old movie. Someone heard Gary Cooper say it and it stuck. Probably the movie wasn’t even old when it got started. Or maybe it’s a Night Court reference. Fuck if we know. Fuck if we know why a life sentence is a, “jolt” or why a hustler is a, “rounder.” Or why a, “rounder” is a, “hustler,” for that matter.
It’s just what we called them. Being a convict is just like any other job. We’ve all got jargon.
If you asked a fish he’d probably tell you that the bulls all got their jobs by answering a Craigslist ad for “Deep, abiding, electric sadism.”
This is back when there was a guy named Craig and he made lists of things.
But sadists are usually doctors or cashiers at Walgreens.
Bulls aren’t sadists. They’re simply bred through generations of poverty and isms and the general disinterest of their parents to experience a range of human emotions that could, maybe, be described as “epically slender”.
Bulls have to be generally angry and completely free of compassion. They have to be self righteous enough to think they matter and dumb enough to think they’re always right but smart enough to not believe anything we say.
Some are quick with their sticks, some of them sell us drugs or carry our kite, some of them lie and all of them steal but, pretty much, they’re the same bulls with the same shoes and slightly different haircuts.
We know them all and they all know us. Prison is a lot like high school with better food.
None of us knew Jack Quietly.
He stood tall on that Tuesday, with an attitude of death seeping out of his standard issue everythings as he slowly peeled a small, white patch from his arm. He smoked like a soldier. Half a packet of cigarettes that smelled, to a nonsmoking prison, like glory, like the devil’s own incense, gone in minutes. Gone with purpose.
The aroma was so decadent, so sinful that half of us remember the smoke as being what called demons in the first place.
It was mostly the flying bastards that got through first. The walls of a prison are tall and strong. Some of the walking fucks got carried over by the flying bastards, but mostly they worked alone building a bone yard.
Sentries did a reasonable job thinning the first waves with shotguns and rifles and, later, farm tools and a fairly impressive blunderbuss made from, shit, we don’t really know how they pulled that one off. Reasonable for fourteen dollars an hour and no real experience dealing death from the bottom of the deck.
But guards and cooks and wardens started to run pretty thin by hour two of the onslaught. Mothmans, Man-bats, Ropens, Hippogriffs, Gargoyles, shit none of us could define, the thing that Embeth Davidtz turns into at the end of Army of Darkness and some really pissed off albatrosses picked off everyone in the yard. First in packs and then one by one.
At some point a phoenix showed up and straight melted a half dozen bulls. Another half dozen shot the thing to death but that shit was not effective in the long run. As you might imagine.
When the bombs finally, finally fell it only forced the remaining monsters inside. Into the offices and infirmaries and gen-pop.
We were almost all of us locked in our cells piecing together a story from screams and roars and concussive blasts while hell’s graduating class of 2010 ate everyone in south Florida. Most of the staff were dead or escaped or some combination thereof. The beasts were at the doors and we were trapped to be massacred either by creatures who were stronger than steel or by hunger, should the bars hold.
And then Jack Quietly quietly crushed out the last of his gorgeous, precious devil-sticks, took a deep, nicotine laced breath, opened every door to every cell in the prison and waited for death. He knew we would riot. The convicts and the inmates alike would run amok and enough of them would resent the bulls to kill him. He knew that. And he opened the doors.
Quietly’s thing is, he’s a truly decent guy.
A fish, a piece of shit little ding we called, “Fuckstick,” got to him first and was cleaning the last of the meat off of Quietly’s shoulder when Lucian snapped Fuckstick’s spine while Brinkmire stabbed a Mothman with the femur he just ripped out of a Ropen and Jackson tried to choke a gargoyle with a mattress.
Space is the sentimental type. He asked Lucian to save Quietly so he could tell the story. So he could tell us what happened outside. Which worked out.
Lucian needed Quietly to walk him down to the hole to release Danny Fraction, anyway.
Fraction’s thing is: he never met the thing he can’t kill.