Deadman walking

fort courtyard


A name that could make grown men tremble. A place so wicked, so evil even the harshest mother would never utter it to force her crianças to behave.

Compajaf prison, more a medieval dungeon than modern facility, housed the most heinous of Brazilian criminals. Functioning toilets were nonexistent, food was scarce and putrid, medical care was a rare luxury, rainwater poured in through gaping holes in the roof, and cells were crammed with three times as many inmates as there were cots. Prisoners died from disease as often as homicide.

Violence and death were a given among the prisoners and guards. Female visitors were subjected to body searches and in worst cases, rape. The prison director admitted he manipulated the poor conditions to his advantage to keep rebellion at bay.

Had Artur been anyone else, he would have been sent to a local detention center for his petty drug charge. The Sampas were using him to keep control over Marco and his girlfriend Danela, Artur’s sister.

Now, Marco was off grid and regarded a dangerous liability. Artur was to be made an example of what could happen because of disloyalty.

Over the last several days Artur was prey to Sampas crew members in the prison. At first it was only intimidation, then minor physical attacks escalating into death threats. He didn’t have anything left of value to bribe the guards to get a warning to Danela.

There was no where to hide inside, no safe corner to retreat. Artur couldn’t tell who was Sampas or who just had murder on his mind. He was a Deadman walking and he knew it.

He lingered only as long as required during meals, secreting the least offensive morsel inside his shirt to eat later. He stood with his back to the wall when out in the yard, staying in sight of the tower guards. He kept his head down and didn’t speak to anyone unless necessary.

There were no bed checks, no lights out. Guards only noticed him the next morning because of the flies. Artur was sitting under the lone tree in the prison yard. Bark stripped from the trunk, limbs bare save for a few scrub leaves at the top of the highest branches, he looked like he was asleep.

Clearing the immediate area, an armed protetor toed at Artur’s extended legs with his boot. When he fell over in the dirt, his eyes milky in death, and a crude shank embedded several inches in his neck, the alarm was sounded. The other inmates were herded back to their cells, and the prison went on lockdown.

In town, a dark sedan drove by a trendy boutique owned by an American woman. The closed sign on the door was an annoyance, but not a deterrent. The passenger called the cell number of a clerk who worked at the shop, sending her a recent photo of her brother. No text was enclosed, but the message was clear.

*Catch up with the adventures of Pauley and Vivian, beginning with “Dead Money.” The second chapter in this week’s installment is, “Great Expectations,” by published author, Lance Burson.

**Photo venue: Fort Pickens, Gulfshores National Seashore, Pensacola, FL

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

6 thoughts on “Deadman walking

  1. This is all story and you have written it so well. Sometimes I think keeping a story moving without any dialog is harder than dialog as a crutch to keep it going. You have painted the scene so chilling and quite vividly.


  2. I love the prison name. The feel of this narrative set mine up perfectly and it moved the story alongs by leaps and bounds. great chapter.


    1. The prison was named and based on an actual facility in Brazil where violent riots occurred last year. I liked how these two chapters meshed too.


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