~*~ The events of this story will incorporate external added elements from the author's imagination into the already rich and exhilarating canon narrative of the HBO original series, Oz. For the most part, the canon of the series will remain intact to preserve a sense of realism to the plot, while also being sensitive of the time flow of events occurring within Oz.

~*~ Although the characters to be featured are prominently factual in their given genre, they are the sole property of Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, and are copyrighted to Rysher Entertainment and HBO. All original characters are of the author's creation and belong to him alone and, as with the rest of the story, may not be replicated or redistributed in any way without formal consent from said author.

~*~ Underage reading or any other illegalities is neither encouraged nor condoned in any way by the author. He also will not tolerate any form of plagiarism towards any of the words to come, as they are his and his alone. The principal objective is that of enjoyment and entertainment to you, the reader.

~*~ Address any type of question and/or feedback to jc71883@hotmail.com, making sure to add a relation to the story on the subject line of the e-mail to guarantee its reception.

 

 

More than a week had passed and Alvarez was still in a bad mood because of the Irishman and his confession. He had regretted the punch, though---his mind had been clouded by anger. He was alone again now---the partnership fell apart. But, O'Reily had been honest with him ever since they had become partners. Him being the victim of the fixed boxing match was not a part of some agenda O'Reily had against him. It had all been to boost Cyril's confidence. Alvarez was still mad as hell about it, but a part of him wondered if he had made a mistake by calling off the partnership.

Both McManus and Hinden had fought on his behalf to get him a parole hearing because of the great job he had done with Julie. Alvarez felt that it was a step in the right direction for his life and there was a chance he was going to get far away from Oz. It was a small chance that he could start his life over and try to find some happiness in the world. McManus had come into the laundry room to tell him that the hearing was tomorrow. It felt surreal.

"Thanks for setting up the parole hearing, McManus," he said.

"Well, to tell you the truth, Miguel, these parole board hearings---your chances for release are a long shot," the unit manager said.

"No, no, no, no. I got a good feeling. I got a good feeling," the Latino said positively. "I got my A game on. God---it'd be great just to get away from Oz, you know. I could see Maritza. She's been let out of Parker women's. She got a job. You know, she got her life on course. Shit, maybe I can have another baby, you know. I just got to let the parole board people understand that I can do that too, you know? That I know in my heart that I'm ready."

McManus nodded and patted him on the shoulder before he left. Alvarez did not want to get his hopes up for leaving this place, but hearing himself talk about Maritza and the possibility of another baby took his mind into places he thought had been forever lost to him. It was dangerous to be this excited because it was a long fall back to Oz if his hopes were crushed now. He was alone in the laundry room and taking clothes out of the dryer to fold when he heard the door open behind him.

"Hey there, Alvarez," O'Reily said after he made sure the glass door had snapped back shut behind him.

"Stay away from me. We don't got nothing to say to each other," Alvarez did not bother to turn around because he already knew that lying voice.

"I said I'm sorry, loco. How long are you going to keep avoiding me?" the Irishman moved to the other side of the room for them to be face to face but it was still no use. "Why haven't you shown up to any of the meetings I left you notes for? I was waiting for you each time, so we could talk---alone."

"Told you---we got nothing to say to each other. Go fuck up someone else's life with your manipulations and mind-fucking."

"You think I manipulated you? You're the only person in here I've ever been this straight---this honest with, Alvarez. It was a fucking mistake I made a long time ago and long before we ever became partners. And, I told you about it now because I knew you were honest with me since the partnership started and I wanted to be honest with you. I'm sorry, okay. I won't say it again."

O'Reily was careful not to raise his voice or cause a scene because he knew people might have been watching on the outside. He had to say these things in such a public place though because Alvarez was not coming to any of the meetings. Five meetings had been set up in the past week alone and the Latino had stood him up for every single one of them. O'Reily did not want the partnership to be over because he had spoken the truth---Alvarez was the only person inside Oz, aside from his brother Cyril, that he had ever been that honest with. None of the other fucks in there had any chance of even coming close.

"Go!" was the short reply.

"Fuck you!" he said and left.

His eyes followed the other man as he walked out of the laundry room and towards his pod. Alvarez was confused---the vÝbora had bitten him in the past but the wound stung as if it had been freshly done. Alvarez could not concentrate on that right now because he was pumped for his interview in the morning. He finished folding the rest of his clothes and walked back to his cell to put everything away. His new cellmate, Samuel Gougeon, was busy writing a letter and did not bother to look up once the pod door was opened. Gougeon had become his podmate the day after he had given Julie to Rivera.

Night fell on Em City and they were all waiting to be locked in their pods for the night. Alvarez and Gougeon were already in their pod, with the former brushing his teeth. Butterflies were in his stomach and hope was in his heart for the first time in a very long time. Training Julie and helping Eugene Rivera had given him hope and had boosted him to this point. Gougeon already wanted to go to bed as Alvarez stood in the mirror and practiced what he was going to say to the parole board tomorrow.

"It's a pleasure to meet you guys, you know?" he was saying mainly to himself. "Yeah, my dad and my grandfather were both incarcerated in here. Excuse me?"

"Alvarez, what are you doing?" his podmate looked at him from his bed and said.

"I'm just practicing my answers for the parole board hearing."

"Count!" they both heard a hack say.

Everyone was outside and standing in front of their respective pods to be counted. The numbers went off as Alvarez wandered his eyes down and across the quad to O'Reily. He and Meehan were talking, but the Irishman knew eyes were on him because he gave a quick glance up before he returned to his conversation. He wanted to go to the meetings but was unsure of what would have happened if they were alone together. Alvarez did not want to cause more harm to O'Reily than he already had when he had made him bleed. Count finished and they were all sealed away for the night.

Alvarez was in his pod fixing his tie as he got ready for the hearing. He had on a suit and looked sharp in it as he fidgeted with the stupid piece of fabric around his neck to make it appear straight. The nerves had intensified in his stomach overnight and created a giant cluster there. The Latino finally gave up on the tie and left it the way it was as he saw a hack coming to take him to the appointment. He was anxious as he left his pod behind and walked down to the quad.

"Hey, Charlie Brown," O'Reily teased with that devilish sense of humor of his.

"Maritza---Maritza. Maritza, mi amor, pronto enstare en sus brazos," Guerra laughed as he hugged and kissed the air in front of him.

"Fuck you," Alvarez ignored them both.

"Oh, careful, Miguel. You wouldn't want a smudge on that record this late in your parole," Guerra continued.

"Shut the fuck up," the guard told them both.

"You know what would be a terrible tragedy? Just before you got out, if Maritza---has some kind of accident."

"You hurt her---you're dead. You fuck with my parole---you're dead," Alvarez angrily said.

"Oh---you're so fucking beautiful when you're angry."

The hack pulled him away and out of Em City towards the interview room where they were already waiting for him. Alvarez entered and sat on the one seat across from the three interviewers. Be cool. Stay calm. It began right away and he spoke about his progress in Oz. He spoke about how far he had come and how parole was his second chance at life. Alvarez was nervous as all their eyes were on him, but he remained focused and finished saying what he had practiced in his pod the night before.

"All right, Mr. Alvarez---that was a very lovely speech you just made, but now, we'd like to ask you some questions," the interviewer named Dawkins said to him.

"Mr. Dawkins, you can ask me whatever you want."

"You were convicted of beating a seventy-five-year-old man, then cutting his face, all because his car scratched yours," the female interviewer Sommers said.

"Yeah. I wasn't myself that day," he responded.

"Once you were in Oswald, you cut your own face, and later, tried to hang yourself in your cell. Were you yourself either of those days?" she continued.

"Last year, you masterminded an escape from Oswald," Dawkins said.

"I didn't mastermind an escape. Busmalis was digging a tunnel, and I was fearing for my life---"

"You were one of the major leaders in the riot and hurt a number of people, including an officer, Joseph Mineo," Ruiz, the last interviewer who had been staring at him hard throughout the entire hearing, said.

"He was making a move on me---" Alvarez began to say, but was interrupted again.

"Later---you poked out the eyes of another officer, Eugene Rivera. Then, you murdered two fellow prisoners, Carlo Ricardo, and a Jorge Vasquez," Ruiz spoke in an ever harsher and condemning tone. "So, my question is, what the fuck makes you think we should set you free, you little prick?"

He tried hard to remain calm, but something inside him snapped and he jumped up and reached over the table to punch Ruiz in the face. The other two interviewers jumped back in fright and horror as Alvarez continued to hit him in the face. All his work and progress was gone. In one single act, all his hard work had been extinguished by his past actions. An officer quickly entered the room and tried to get a grip and restrain the Latino.

"Knock it off!" the hack's voice was forceful. "Let him go, Alvarez!"

The hack pulled him off and Alvarez swore he saw Ruiz smile as he was being dragged out of the interview room. He was trying to fight the hack off as two more came over and finally subdued him. Everything was ruined now and he had fallen back into the clutches of Oz. There really was no escaping this place. The hacks took him down to Solitary and threw him in a cell without his tie or suit jacket. He felt his body shutting down on him because he was back in the small cell again. Solitary was going to claim him.

McManus was there listening to all of them rant and rave. He had believed in all of them at one point, but they all had ended up back here. It was disheartening to see so much good work and unbounded potential go down the drain and wasted. Alvarez was supposed to be a fucking shining star, but he had let his anger control him again. McManus's head wanted to explode from everyone yelling and screaming things at him. All of them had been his mistakes. His failures.

"Fuck! This is bullshit!" Alvarez screamed as he punched the wall of his cell and his voice echoed throughout Solitary. "I'm fucking telling them. I'm trying to tell them how I'm rehabilitated---fucking bullshit! He asked me how I think I changed in all this bullshit. I'm talking to him, and I'm trying to explain how I changed. Are you listening to me?"

"McManus, I got to talk to you about my trial," Kirk yelled from his cell.

"And he just fucking cuts me off! He just cuts me off!" the Latino kept on.

"I'm lonely---I'm afraid," Cyril O'Reily said.

"Are you listening to me?" Alvarez said.

"Montgomery is a cunt that got what he deserved. Cunt!" Stanton said.

"Hey---that CO had no right to shove my face in shit," Penders banged his hands against the metal gate and said.

"Get me out of here. Get me the fuck out of here!" Martinez screamed.

"I'm afraid," Cyril was almost whimpering now.

"Cunt!" Stanton said again.

"Get me the fuck out of here!" Martinez screamed again.

"McManus!" Alvarez yelled out.

Oz was quicksand that only pulled him down quicker when he tried to fight for escape. Now, he was there again and would lose his mind if he couldn't get himself out. Alvarez scratched his head hard and ripped his shirt as he wondered when the voices were going to come back to him. Ruiz had fucking provoked him---none of them ever gave him a chance to talk or defend himself. He had crashed back into the ground so hard after building himself up and trying to move on from Oz. There was going to be no Maritza or no baby---no fucking freedom from this place!

 

The Irishman was sitting on his bed in his pod and looking out onto the quad as he thought about what had happened with Alvarez. El Norte, and especially that bastard Guerra, were all too happy to spread the news that he had attacked one of the interviewers and had been sent back to Solitary. O'Reily knew something was fishy because he knew Alvarez did not attack unless he was provoked or felt threatened. Maybe it all had been a setup from El Norte themselves. All the possibilities were there.

He expected a strong reaction when he had told the Latino about the fixed boxing match, but he did not expect that the partnership would be called off. O'Reily was stupid for being honest because now he was left with nothing. The inside of his cheek had been swollen for days and it had hurt every time he had even remotely moved his jaw. Alvarez had struck him good---maybe it was payment because had never gotten to show what he could do in the ring. He had to figure out a plan to get Alvarez out of Solitary and back into their partnership.

"Lollipops won't work this time," he said to himself. "Shit, loco!"

Meehan was sitting at a table with Beecher and they were talking as he looked on. The disgraced priest's efforts to get inside his head had intensified since Kenmin's body had been found in his Solitary cell. He had always said that he only wanted to talk, but O'Reily never talked about his past---never spoke about her. It was a dark time that he was not sure if he was past or not. Officer Murphy appeared at his door and poked his head into the pod.

"O'Reily, come on. The Sister needs to see you," the officer said.

"What for?"

"Come on!"

Cyril had acted out again---during his transfer from Solitary to death row. He had gotten scared and confused and had attacked the officers who were trying to restraining him. In the office, Sister Pete, Dr. Nathan, and Warden Glynn were having the conversation with him, but O'Reily only thought about his brother. Everything was getting worse by the second and now, he had more problems to deal with. Cyril was supposed to remain with him.

"Finally, the S.O.R.T. team had to subdue your brother," Glynn finished the story.

"Christ," was all he could say.

"I gave him some Haladol, to calm him down, but, as we've learned from previous episodes, it's just a stopgap measure," Dr. Nathan said to him. "It's never going to be a long-term solution to Cyril's violent episodes."

"We don't need a long-term solution. The judge has set his execution for next month," the warden informed them.

"What?" O'Reily was shocked.

"Why are you acting so surprised? He was found guilty of the murder of Li Chen. The punishment is death. Look, you're going to have to discuss with Cyril the way he wants to die---either the electric chair or lethal injection."

"Lethal injection," he said. "Man, I just want Cyril to doze off and go to sleep."

"There's more to it than that. The drugs they inject into his body first paralyze him," Dr. Nathan said.

"Oh, yeah---I don't want to hear the details, okay?"

"It's not okay, Ryan," Sister Pete spoke to him. "Up to this point, you've resisted all our attempts to help your brother. You should know what his last moments will be like."

"Can I see him?"

"Not yet. I'll allow a visit once he's settled down. Take O'Reily back to Em City," the warden said to him and then instructed an officer.

A few hours had passed and there was a commotion going on outside the capital building a few blocks away. It was what he had overheard the hacks talking about but he already knew what was going on. O'Reily sat in the quad with Meehan next to him as he watched the latest newscast that was being shot live just minutes away. Both Sister Pete and his mother were protesting Cyril's death penalty verdict. Meehan looked proud of himself but the Irishman was sick to his stomach and getting more upset the more he watched the news.

"The guilt or innocence of Cyril O'Reily is not an issue here," Sister Peter Marie was saying into a microphone. "The question is whether the eight amendment of our constitution, which protects us from cruel and unusual punishment, will also protect Cyril O'Reily, whose IQ, by the way, is fifty-one. That's one of the lowest IQs of any condemned prisoner on record."

"As a mother, I appeal---I plead to all the mothers and fathers out there to stop the state from committing this monstrous act," Suzanne Fitzgerald said.

"Governor Devlin refused to comment on the demonstration held outside the capital building," the news anchor reported.

"You know, Meehan, you can hold a million press conferences, but you're still not going to be able to save my brother."

"Well, if I had that attitude, you'd be right, but I'm going to prove you wrong Mr. O'Reily," Meehan said. "I'm going to show you the power of prayer, of hope---of faith in the almighty."

"Okay, well, while you're at it, why don't you suck my dick?"

He pushed his chair back and walked away from the foolish man because he was tired of all the nonsense. These conferences did not mean shit because Cyril was still going to be executed. O'Reily wanted to talk to Alvarez---there was no contact with him in Solitary because Redding did not let him do food deliveries. The nigger was turning out to be more of an ass than Pancamo had been before him. He quickly went into his pod to change his clothes and was off to the gym to lift weights, or do something that was going to clear his mind.

Beads of sweat fell down his face as he pumped the heavy weights in each hand and breathed strongly. Everything had been building up in his mind and was starting to overpower him. He did not want to talk to Meehan, but it did not seem likely he had a choice. They were podmates and he was so damn persistent with his questioning. O'Reily spent the next hour or two in the gym until he was forced back to Em City because of the familiar buzzer. Something had gone down.

"Lockdown! Lockdown!" a hack yelled as he entered Em City and was forced to his pod.

"Ryan, tell me about Carolyn," Meehan said after everything had settled.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Carolyn---your little sister."

"She's dead---end of story," O'Reily looked at the man and wondered what his angle was.

"Well, then, don't tell me the end. Tell me the beginning, the middle, and all---"

"Who the fuck told you about Carolyn?"

"Well---that doesn't matter. Just tell me your memory of her," the man threaded carefully.

"No."

"She was barely six-months-old---fell out of her crib and broke her neck."

"Why are you doing this?" the Irishman asked in disgust because he did not want to rehash that part of his life.

"Well, I've seen how you love your brother, how you're protective of him, yet you're willing to let him die---and I wanted to know why."

"I thought I told you before---death is better than any day in Oz. Isn't that what you priests are always preaching---the upside of life everlasting, and all that fucking Catholic nonsense?"

"Did you have any responsibility for Carolyn's death? Were you taking care of her when she fell?" Meehan continued to dangerously probe.

"No, I'm not talking about this," he said adamantly. "I haven't spoken about my little sister with anyone in my entire life---not even Cyril. And I'm not about to start with you!"

"So, that's what happened---you think you killed her?"

"No."

"So, what did happen?"

"Shut up!"

All these feelings were stirring inside him and he did not want anything to come to the surface. No one was ever supposed to know about Carolyn and he was getting angry at the constant questioning. Meehan did not know when to cork it and the conversation was becoming too dangerous for him. O'Reily walked over to the door and looked outside the quad, as he kept quiet. He had wanted to go to the police back then---he was so small and everything had happened so fast. She was gone in a flash.

"Ryan, now is the time to speak the truth. You've been carrying this burden on your back for far too long," Meehan tried to coax the truth out of him. "Whatever you say to me will stay right here between us."

"No. No."

"Like a confession. Now you can finally say what you want to say since Carolyn died."

"No---fuck you!" O'Reily turned around and punched the man in his face. "Goddammit! Fuck! Don't. Please stop. "

"Come on," he said as he recovered from the blow. "It's all right."

"I went to a priest, and I told him the truth but he didn't believe me. And she was so small---it's my little sister."

"I know. God loves you. God loves you."

His voice had cracked and he was fighting with his body not to let tears flow. Meehan came up behind him and rested his hand on his shoulder as to say everything was going to be okay. She was fucking dead---he couldn't save his baby sister. One tear slid down and dropped to the floor but he was in control again. O'Reily shrugged off the hand from his shoulder and remained quiet for the rest of the night. Meehan knew better than to push anymore so he too remained quiet and got ready for bed. Tomorrow was going to be another day in here.

"Lights out!" Murphy called and everything went dark.

The Irishman rested on his bed and watched outside as he thought about what it all had meant. He thought about what Meehan's purpose had been to dredge up the past like that---in such a raw way. It had to have been his Aunt Brenda that spilled the news about Carolyn. His father had never spoken about it since it happened. O'Reily tossed and turned to try to get some sleep. It had made him feel better momentarily for getting it out in the open, but quickly made him feel sick that someone in this hellhole knew something so deep and personal about him. Meehan was going to pay with his life if anything ever got out.

He had been on the phone the next day telling his father to come for a visit. The conversation last night with Meehan had given him some prospective and he felt as if he was ready to confront one of the darkest demons within his soul. O'Reily remained to himself in the visitor's room as he waited for his father to arrive. There was a twinge in his brain and hatred inside his heart. It was all threatening to engulf him and make him lost within his own fragmented soul.

"Suddenly, I'm famous," Seamus O'Reily said as he approached the table and sat. "I've done six interviews---newspapers and TV, ever since that nonsense with your brother started. I got to admit, I'm getting kind of used to the attention. The guys down at Kelsey's---they've been buying me rounds every night. And, there's this broad, sits at the end of the bar, she's been flirting with me. I might just fuck her."

"You going to see Cyril while you're in the building?" he said without hiding the disgust in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah---I guess I ought to. I don't know what the fuck I'm going to say to that boy."

"Tell him you love him."

"Oh, yeah---right."

"You ever told Cyril that, dad? Cyril, or anyone?" O'Reily questioned angrily. "Ma? Tessie, when you were married? Have the words `I love you' ever crossed your lips? Because, I never heard them---not once."

"Don't start with your whining."

"I'm sorry---I forgot how sensitive you are."

"You asked me to come---I'm here. State your business," his father was losing his patience.

"I want to ask you about Carolyn."

"Carolyn? What about her?"

"I want to talk about the day she died," O'Reily said because it had gone on for far too long. "I remember her crying, you know, non-stop, for what seemed like hours. Tessie couldn't get her quiet. You were drunk and in a foul mood. Sit down!"

He demanded this Seamus O'Reily quickly stood up and said, "Fuck you!"

"You sit---or I finish telling my story to a cop," he said lowly and dangerously and waited for his father to take his seat before he continued. "Carolyn was crying and you took her from Tessie's arms and you put your hands around her and you shook her and you shook her and you shook her until she stopped---until she went limp, like a rag doll."

"She fell out of her crib," the man said.

"No. I was there, dad. I was in the doorway. I saw what happened," he told his father with hatred laced to his every word.

"You were just a kid. What the fuck did you know about anything?" Seamus O'Reily got defensive and said. "Think my old man didn't beat me---that fucking scumbag? My life has been nothing but shit since the day I was born, and I didn't have no brother to lean on like you did. I been alone my whole fucking life, and, soon---you' will be, too."

"I'll never tell anyone the truth about what happened with Carolyn. That's between you and me. But, dad, you better pray to Jesus Christ almighty himself that I never get out of this place, because, when I do---I will kill you," O'Reily said lowly.

He immediately got up from the table and left the visitor's room after that because he wanted to do the act right there. That bastard did not deserve to live---did not deserve to breathe one more breath. O'Reily crunched his fists tightly to regain control over his emotions as he walked back to Em City. His father had no remorse for what had happened to Carolyn. All he was concerned about was covering his tracks. On his way back, he saw Sister Pete and called out to her. This had gone on for long enough and he had to become proactive now.

"Hey, Sister. Look---I want you to know that I've decided to become totally selfish, okay. I'm not going to lose Cyril from my life. I'm going to help save him. And, whatever you need me to do, I'm here one hundred percent," he said to her with every intention of sticking to his words.

"I am so glad to hear that," the nun smiled at him and replied.

They discussed it a bit further and Sister Pete said she was going to try to get him to see Cyril today. He thanked her and walked back to Em City to wait for everything to go through. Carolyn was gone---she was never coming back. Despite them not having their freedom, they had each other in Oz and O'Reily was going to fight with everything in him to keep them together.

He was sitting at a table in the quad by himself waiting for Sister Pete's words. It had been hours and almost time for lights out but a hack had approached him and they left shortly after that. The Irishman followed him to death row and wanted more than anything to see his brother. Cyril was staring at the wall with his back to the gate so he did not notice when O'Reily had come. He just looked at his brother and the pain in his heart was almost unbearable. He was doomed to either be executed or spend the rest of his life confined away to a small cell.

"Hey, little brother," he cleared his throat and made his presence known. "Who loves you?"

"You do," Cyril replied in an almost teary tone.

"Fucking A."

The hack opened the door and warned him that he only had five minutes as Cyril walked over and hugged him tightly. He hugged back and tried to make his own heart stop hurting. His brother was shaking---he was scared and alone in death row. O'Reily rubbed his back and tried to whisper words of encouragement but, deep down, he knew they were almost at the end of the rope. Options were gone and time was running out to save him. He was whispering the words to Cyril, knowing explicitly that he did not believe in them himself. It was all too much.

"Let's go," the hack came back and said. "Time's up."