~*~ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, making sure to add a relation to the story on the subject line of the e-mail to guarantee its reception.
Something was going on with Maritza---he knew it. He had called again and left another message on her machine but there was no response. No letters or no visits. Alvarez was upset, but felt more hurt because he knew he still loved her---still wanted to be close to her. But, his attempts to get her to Oz had failed and he knew she was avoiding him for some reason. He was starting to lose touch with her and that was what hurt the most.
Alvarez remembered the first time he had seen her around the neighborhood as he sat in his pod and thought about her. She had been wearing a pair of short jeans that had hugged her curves in all the right places. She was in the neighborhood visiting her cousin. He was outside washing his car---wet and with his shirt off. When their eyes had connected the first time, the Latino knew that he wanted to fuck her. Maritza had stood no chance because he was so fucking handsome and had a bad boy swagger about him. Three days later, she had come back to the neighborhood and they had fucked that night---three times.
That was the memory that had given him so much comfort when he was locked away in Oz---in Solitary. But, it had started to haunt him. Alvarez had fallen in love with her during that first night of sex. She was a bombshell that every fuck in neighborhood wanted to mess with, but he had her. Everyone had known she was his and no one had dared make a move on her. Now, their connection was diminishing and fading away as the walls of Oz only seemed to get thicker.
Then there was their perfect baby boy. Even in this shithole, the Latino had said a prayer every night since his death for his fallen son---his blood. Even in those lonely and disturbed nights in Solitary or the hole, he had never allowed himself to forget to say the prayer to guide his son's pure soul into God's awaiting arms and keep it there. Alvarez knew that nothing he did was going to bring his son back, but he still had to protect him because his instincts as a father had awoken once he had held the newborn in his arms at the hospital. They were among some of the strongest instincts he had.
He had to get out of the pod and outside his head because it was all depressing him. He walked out and headed down to the quad to give himself some space to breathe. Maritza was burned into his mind and her not responding to his advances was really bothering him. Alvarez had to make parole so he could start his life over. He was not going to rot in here for the rest of his life. He saw Rebadow sitting by himself and remembered an interesting rumor he had heard.
"Hey, Rebadow," Alvarez said as he sat. "Heard you were in the library checking out more than just books."
"I don't really care to dignify that with a response," the old man said.
"Chill, man. I'm just a little jealous, you know? You got your old lady on the payroll, right? I call mine twice---she won't even so much as fart my way."
"You and Busmalis should switch places," Rebadow said. "His girl keeps showing up, but he won't see her."
"Well, shit, let me know the next time she comes by. Shit, I'll visit anything in a skirt, man," Alvarez said.
"Norma's here today. For some reason, she asked for me."
"Well, shit, share the love. Share the love. Damn."
Rebadow ignored him as got up from the table and walked over to his pod. Alvarez was not sure of the whole story behind Busmalis and Norma and he did not care to know it. But, if the girl wanted to see him that badly, he should not deny her. If only Maritza had that kind of enthusiasm about visiting him. Alvarez felt himself slipping back into his thoughts when someone else sat in the chair Rebadow had just vacated moments earlier. Those green eyes flashed onto his.
"Let's play a game," O'Reily said as he opened a box to retrieve the pieces. "Checkers or chess, Alvarez?"
"Chess," he responded as he looked back at him.
"Fuck---had to pick the hard one. I suck at this game."
"I'll let you be white then. They go first."
"You're too kind," O'Reily sneered and distributed the pieces.
"That's me, víbora, you know. Kind-hearted Alvarez."
"I'm sure. Today's rehearsal is cancelled. My mom has some appeal to go to for Cyril."
"By the AIDS ward again?" Alvarez questioned as the game got under way and nothing looked out of the ordinary between them.
Only one game had taken place before O'Reily left him alone. It was hard being close like that and not being able to talk about anything real. He was alone again and waited for the time when they were able to talk more openly and privately with one another. Alvarez stored the chess pieces back into the wooden box and gave it to a hack as he made his way back to his pod. The loneliness was starting to corner him.
After lunch, the guard lost track of him and he headed towards the AIDS ward to get to the closet. Maritza was still a prominent force in his mind and he had not said anything to anyone since the game of chess with O'Reily earlier. The three years waiting for his next parole hearing was going to be torture. And, it was becoming increasingly clear that Morales wanted to rope control over him again. El Norte was not the name it used to be and he wanted no part of that sinking ship. He entered the room and closed the door behind him. The Irishman was already there.
"You were supposed to take it easy on me in chess, loco," O'Reily said and laughed.
"I gave you white," he said back.
"Well, I guess I can take the loss. Chess is too damn complicated for me."
"You have no choice," Alvarez said as he walked over to the corner and sat down on the ground.
"Why you looking so depressed?"
"Uh---yeah, you are," he said as he looked down at him. "I saw you walking around Em City today with this long face, and, during the game, too. The same face you have now."
"It's nothing. Sit."
O'Reily eyed him because he knew something was going on. In all the time they had been partners, they had gotten to know some things about each other---whether willingly or not. Alvarez was a passionate man, but he got extremely quiet and limited his words as much as he could when something was truly bothering him. It was one of those involuntary things he did---maybe he knew but just didn't care. Either way, he was pouting about something and had been at least since this morning. O'Reily slid down onto the floor next to him.
"What's going on, Miguel?" he asked again. "Okay, I know you're hung up on something."
The Latino sighed and said, "Fucking---Maritza, man. She's acting like a damn bitch."
"Why---what happened? What'd she say?"
"Shit---she hasn't said shit because she never picks up the fucking phone when I call!"
"Oh. The months leading up to our divorce, Shannon wasn't taking any of my calls either," O'Reily said. "Always got her fucking machine."
"She never visits me. I know she's fucking someone else," Alvarez said bitterly. "She probably just doesn't want to tell me---thinking maybe I'll forget about her."
"Maybe you will."
"How the fuck? I love her."
"If she's fucking someone else, then you got to go," the Irishman said.
"I don't know for sure if she is, and---where the hell am I going to go?"
"I knew Shannon wasn't being faithful, so I had to cut her loose. I wasn't about to have her sleeping around and then come and tell me that she loves me. Fuck that bullshit!"
"If she is fucking around, I'll kill her," he said in a serious way.
"Whoa there, loco. Just leave the bitch in the dust."
It was obvious he was hurting and feeling rejected as he stared at the floor in front of them and thought about the last words that still clung to the air. O'Reily wanted to say something more positive and comforting but it was not his strong suit. Alvarez was in pain, though. Those expressive eyes of his tried their best to hide it but a sliver was still visible. It was yet another thing Oz was capable of taking from them---if youth, sex, freedom, and love already weren't enough.
"You didn't see her---when you escaped?" O'Reily asked.
"I couldn't. Cops had her house staked and bugged. Couldn't go home either," he sadly said.
"I was so fucking disappointed when they caught you."
"You---imagine me," Alvarez cracked a small smile. "But why you?"
"You escaping had brought some hope to this shithole, you know? You escaped. At least one of us did---one of us was free. El Cid was mad as fuck. That huge ass vein in his neck almost busted. It was funny."
"Come on. I'm trying to get you to laugh, or at least smile a little."
"I fucking hate this place, Ryan. I have to get the hell away."
"We all hate this place. You're just going through a moment. I have them all the time," O'Reily said.
"Yeah---maybe. I wonder if Maritza ever thinks about me like I think about her. I wonder if she ever thinks about---him like I do," the Latino said mainly to himself.
O'Reily had known for the longest while that he did not want children. He believed that no matter how hard he tried, it was going to be beyond his reach to be a better father than his own was to him. He had accepted that fact and was never going to put children through the rough childhood both he and Cyril had endured. It had to have been difficult for Alvarez only to hold his baby boy once before he was taken back. O'Reily had not known himself what it was to love a child, but he had heard it was an extremely concentrated emotion from what others had said.
"What were you going to name him?" O'Reily asked but quickly realized how intensely personal and painful the subject had to be for him. "Hey, um---you don't have to answer that if you don't want to."
"We hadn't talked about names, actually," the Latino said. "We wanted to meet him before we decided on his name. Then---all that shit happened."
"Maybe Luís. Yeah---I like Luís."
"Well, you know, Ryan's always a good name," he smiled and said to try to lighten the mood. "Masculine and strong. Yeah, Ryan's the best name."
"I thought about Luís a lot when she was pregnant. I thought it would've been perfect for him when I first met him too."
"Luís Alvarez huh? It has a ring to it."
"We'll never know now," Alvarez said of his fallen son. "I'll never know him. You know, I never told anyone what I wanted to name him---not even Maritza."
"Hey---for what it's worth, I bet that kid would've been just as handsome as his dad is," the Irishman said positively because Alvarez seemed so depressed. "And I bet he would've had your passion and loyalty."
"You don't have to say that stuff. I'm just in a moment---like you said."
"I don't have to say it, but I think it would be true. Look, you already know how fucking handsome I think you are. That kid was your blood. You think he was going to look any different from his dad? He would've made little girls very happy."
"He was too perfect for this world, so God had to take him back. He had to---I don't blame him. I have to believe that."
"I know. I know you do."
The conversation was one of the hardest they had ever had. Alvarez was still hurting and wondering about his son even though so much time had passed since his death. The sadness and depression was emblazoned inside his eyes. Raw emotion was coming from him and O'Reily was at a loss of thoughts. There were no more words left to say. It was uncomfortable but he remained quiet to let Alvarez have his grief. It was good for him to talk about it with someone else---keeping all that unharnessed emotion bottled up for all these years without a proper outlet must have made his insides numb.
Nothing had happened a few days ago when they had been in the storage room alone together. They had not discussed any business nor did they do anything else but talk. O'Reily had been uncomfortable at first, but he had just let Alvarez talk about his son. Some of the conversation had been in Spanish so he did not understand it---like Alvarez had forgotten he was there sometimes. It did not matter though because the Irishman had remained quiet and let him talk about whatever he wanted to.
The Alvarez he had seen during that time was a different man than the one he presented to Oz---almost a broken man. His son was supposed to be his connection to the real world---something to prove that he was still relevant and mattered. O'Reily felt bad and was not able to get those hurt eyes out of his mind. It was lunchtime and he was on the line serving the inmates as he kept mainly to himself. Alvarez's eyes that day had haunted him since then. The Irishman saw Cutler and his prag Robson waiting in the line---how far the Nazi fuck had fallen to be in makeup and looking like a woman.
"Hey, don't forget my cookie," Cutler barked at his prag.
"Hey, Robson. Hey, what shade of lipstick is that, huh?" O'Reily mocked him. "Is it dick suck red?"
"Yeah, we heard you're working receiving and discharge," Pancamo said and laughed.
"Fuck you, Pancamo," Robson said.
"I'll tell you what, prag. This time, I'll use my bad hand to beat you," the Italian said as he approached. "Even it up a little. Bitch!"
Pancamo went to hit Robson but Cutler stepped in and punched him before he had a chance to. The muscular Italian faltered back as the fight broke out in the cafeteria and the hacks rushed to break it up. O'Reily looked on and laughed as the hacks separated and dragged the three of them out of the cafeteria. He did not even want to imagine what Robson had to do to get that kind of protection from Cutler, but he remembered what had done, of his own free will, to regain Alvarez's trust.
He definitely was in no place to judge, but the situation with the Latino was different. The word prag had never, nor would it ever have been used to describe either of them. O'Reily still felt uncomfortable when they were alone together, but the partnership between them was growing and proving to be far more beneficial than he had first anticipated. His body ignored his mind's commands when they were together. A growing part of him had come to like that because it felt like freedom. It felt like the closest thing to freedom inside the walls of Oz.
O'Reily asked Murphy for a favor after he was finished in the cafeteria and the officer agreed after some convincing. They walked together to death row so that he could check up on Cyril and see how he was doing. It was hard not having him in the pod to talk to and look out for. Everything was so fucked up in his life. Murphy gave him a time limit before they went into death row and walked away. At the front of his cell, O'Reily stood there and looked in as his brother was staring at the wall with his back to him.
"Cyril---hey, Cyril," he gently called out. "Hey, Cyril, you all right, little bro?"
"No," Cyril replied without bothering to turn around. "No, no, no, no, no."
"What's the matter? What's wrong? Hey---turn around so I can see you."
"He's depressed, O'Reily," Keller said from the cell directly across the hall.
"No shit, K-boy. You must have so much time on your hands now that Beecher is paroled."
"Shut up. Don't remind me of that shit."
"Look---shut up! I'm not here to be a part of `Keller's Twisted Love', all right?" O'Reily snapped at him. "Cyril, hey---what's wrong? Come on---talk to me."
"No," his brother started whimpering. "No---he's gone."
"Damn, O'Reily---your ass is looking nice and tight in those jeans," Keller smirked and said as he was checking him out. "Let me bend you over and open you up."
"Shut the fuck up, you fucking faggot!" he yelled. "I ain't like that, you fucking faggot cocksucker!"
"Yo, Keller---shut the fuck up!" Lopresti called out. "O'Reily, hurry it up and move it along."
"Cyril---Cyril, talk to me. Who's gone?"
"He's gone. He's gone. She took him away," his brother started crying as he said.
"O'Reily, come on. Sister Pete wants to see you," Murphy came back and said.
"Jericho? Sister Pete took back Jericho? Why, Cyril?"
"Come on," the officer took him away.
Murphy took him out of death row and they were headed to the nun's office. Cyril looked so sad and never bothered to look back throughout the short conversation. O'Reily wondered why Sister Pete took the puppet away. He was worried that it was all going to be over for his brother. The Irishman was starting to lose the little hope he had kept for Cyril---the little hope that had still made him human. O'Reily knocked on the open door and popped his head into the office. His mother was there too.
"Hey, you wanted to see me?" he said.
"Yeah, Ryan---sit down."
"That's good, because I wanted to see you, too," O'Reily said and sat. "I just saw Cyril and he's so goddamn sad. If this puppet means so much to him, why don't you just give it back to him?"
"I---I can't, Ryan," Sister Pete said. "Jericho was my idea, remember? A way for Cyril to deal with the confusion surrounding the trial, but, unfortunately, the puppet has come to mean more than that to him. It's become a whole other personality."
"I don't care about that. I just want Cyril to be happy."
"It's not that simple. Cyril is suffering from severe depression and schizophrenia," the nun gave her diagnosis.
"All right---so what's next? I mean, what can we do to cure him?" he asked.
"Your father has already agreed to electroshock therapy," his mother said to him.
"My father? What the fuck does that old bastard have to do with anything?"
"I know---it's unbelievable, but in the eyes of the law, he is Cyril's guardian," Fitzgerald said and she knew her son was getting angry.
"All right---so this electroshock therapy, does it do any good?"
"I have no experience with it. The treatment was invoked for years, then fell out of favor," the nun said. "However, some mental health professionals swear by it. Clinical evidence indicates that ECT produces a substantial improvement in eighty percent of patients."
"Are there any dangers?" the Irishman asked.
"There's headaches---there's soreness, nausea, memory loss. Look, we're talking one hundred twenty volts---an ordinary household current applied to the brain for half a second ten to fifteen times within a period of two to three weeks, and no one knows if there's any permanent damage," Sister Peter Marie said and explained the procedure as best she could.
"No," he said. "Jesus Christ---can't we stop them?"
Fitzgerald looked at him and said, "The truth is that they have conspired to make this happen. We are taken out of the decision making. I spoke to Zelman to see if we could go to court, if we could fight it. He says we wouldn't win."
"That's genius. Devlin wants to electroshock Cyril to make him normal enough to electrocute him," O'Reily indignantly said.
The whole fucking justice system was as corrupt as the prison system that had become his home was. None of them cared about Cyril---they all wanted his execution to be over with. O'Reily paced in his pod waiting for lights out to be called so he could rest. The stress of the constant fight was wearing his body down and he needed rest more now than ever. Lights out was less than an hour away but he wanted to be by himself to work through all his anger and fear of losing his brother.
He wanted to overlook the path completely, but he had to face reality that Cyril might be going down. No amount of appeals and protests seemed to work because he was still sitting by himself on death row. All the shit he had done in Oz to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with would mean shit if he was not able to save his brother from being executed. O'Reily feared the worst and no matter how much he had tried to prepare himself for it, his body was unwilling to let him go there. He only noticed that someone had entered his pod when he heard the air suction of the door.
"Hello, Ryan," Sister Peter Marie said with a sad smile.
"I just got a call from Arnold Zelman. They've denied Cyril's appeal."
"Okay. Okay, now what do we do?" O'Reily said as his brain was frantic to find answers to save his brother.
"Well, Zelman will probably try to figure out another approach---another appeal, but in the meantime, the judge has set the date for Cyril's execution," she said.
"Three weeks from Thurdsay."
"That's not much time."
"I feel, deep down, we'll stop the execution, but just in case, Ryan, I think you ought to accept the fact---"
"No. No way. You know, if I even entertain the thought, if I let myself believe for a second that my brother's going to die, then my brother's going to die. This was Father Meehan's," O'Reily reached over to his bed and retrieved the bible. "I don't know, I---I have faith, Sister. For the first time in a really long time, I have faith."
Sister Pete displayed the same sad smile she had come in with as she cupped one of his hands in hers for a quick second before she left. Meehan had given him some faith---he had to believe that. It had offered him some comfort when it came to Cyril, but it was still not enough because his brother was still in danger. A hack called count so he headed outside to be accounted for and kept to himself. No one had any interest to him right now.
Across the quad and upstairs, Miguel Alvarez had his eyes on him. He was the exception and, in a way, they had seemed to switch places over the past few days. The Latino had still mainly kept to himself but he was not as depressed as he was before. O'Reily looked over with a small smile on his face but looked away quickly. He was the depressed one now. Cyril's stay on death row was becoming too much for him. He reentered his pod for the night.
"Lights out!" Murphy called out and flipped the switch.