~*~ 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 condoned nor encouraged 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 as to guarantee its reception.
Alvarez had gotten word out early that morning so he just had to wait to see if the bait would be taken. It was a desperate long shot but he was quickly running out of options on how to escape confinement. The voices would turn against him as they did before. It was only a matter of time before he was hanging from a sheet clasped tightly around his neck again. Maybe it would stick this time. His eyes ached and were red from his torment last night. This place was going to be the end of him if he did not find a way to get out. A ruckus caught his ears and the Latino knew this was his moment.
"Hey, yo, Glynn. My shower don't work, man. I'm fucking stink in here, man. Come on, man," Allah hassled the man that had come there for him.
White tried pitifully to get his attention with, "Warden, I got, I got some big news. You got to hear me out, Warden. I got serious 411 here. Warden! Warden, you got to let me out. I got to talk to you, in here."
Warden Glynn approached his cell and looked through the pushed back metal slot and asked, "You wanted to see me?"
"I got a proposition," Alvarez kept the beginning of a smile at bay.
"You patted him down?"
"Yes, sir," Officer Smith promptly said.
Eyes were still locked onto one another's but neither showed anything to the other. No signs of anything. Guard was something that could never be compromised in Oz. Broken guard meant certain death or the ultimate admittance of weakness. Therefore, the inmates and correctional staff alike all wore masks to keep their guard up. Glynn had known this better than anyone had. The door swung open and he stepped inside.
"Close the door---but stay close," the warden instructed.
"All right," the officer did what he was told and the two of them were left alone.
Alvarez had to play this smooth because he would only ever get one chance to convince Glynn to help him. He had to remain focused if he wanted to get himself back. Solitary slowly stole fragments of his mind and he had to get out of here to recover them before they were lost to him forever. The voices could not be kept at bay for too long. No matter how hard he had to repress them in the past, they always manifested themselves eventually.
"I know me and you had some bad shit between us, right?" he paused but he did not know why because he was not expecting an answer. "And I know you're planning on keeping me in Solitary for the rest of my life. See, but I can't be in Solitary for the rest of my life, because I'll be a fucking zombie. Especially after being on the outside again, you know?"
"Get to the point."
"Put me back in Em City---and in return, I'll be your eyes and I'll be your ears."
"An informant?" Glynn's face showed nothing.
"And your loyalty to El Norte?"
"Fuck them! It was fucking Hernandez who tried to get me killed---put me in this fucking shithole," a flash of anger jolted in his eyes but the Latino knew he had to control it here.
"Alvarez, you are in this shithole because you are the lowest form of animal life. Do you understand me?" his face showed contempt.
"So---your answer is no?"
"My answer's yes. You're also the perfect snitch."
The nasty names and boos flung at him as the heavy metal door opened once again for him to make his exit from the horrid place. Eyes were on him from the rest of the Solitary prisoners but he didn't care. Alvarez had struck a deal with Glynn and it worked because he was leaving the loneliness behind. He was not going to be a zombie. A fucking animated corpse. Now to get back all he had lost---and to see what had changed in Em City since his untimely departure---which felt like a lifetime ago now. Oz only took time.
He passed a window on the way back to Emerald City and was disappointed to see it had been raining. It was only a quick look but, outside the prison, the weather seemed bleak. Nothing was going to get him down from being released though. Allah had told him about Hernandez's death so Em City was already infinitely better for him. Alvarez knew he did not want to lead El Norte again. Not when his own, like Guerra, were gunning for him. Even though El Cid was gone, it was still dangerous and he had to watch his back always. Shit! The gates clanked open to let them in and all eyes and words were suddenly about him. The prisoners laughed and ridiculed him upon his entering.
"You got busted going into Mexico? What, are you stupid or what, Alvarez?" O'Reily said in passing.
"Spic and span, Alvarez," Hoyt looked over from where he was sitting and laughed.
Another prisoner yelled out, "Bring me back some pussy, man?"
The scumbags had their fun messing with him. When he had left here, he never thought he would see any of them again so the joke was on him. Getting caught and returning here---he would never live it down. That did not matter to him, though. Alvarez had to smile and laugh because he was out of Solitary and among people again. Whether they were jerkoffs or assholes, he didn't care. And maybe his being recaptured put him at the bottom of the heap but that didn't matter either. The loco Latino was determined to stay out of Solitary. He put his belongings down in his new home and watched as the officer walked away, leaving him alone. He had business to tend to so he went to the computer room.
"Miguel Alvarez. I was wondering when you'd come see me," Enrique Morales focused his eyes on him as he sat on the throne of El Norte.
"You know, a lot's happened since I escaped. Hernandez is dead," he had to say it to make it real.
"And that makes you feel how?"
"Happy. I hated that fucking cocksucker."
"Honesty," Morales cracked a small smile but it was soon broken. "I like honesty. But I hear sometimes you're too honest."
"Look man, I don't give a fuck. You in charge now. That's all you, man. I just want back in. Tell me what I have to do."
He was not sure if it sounded as genuine as he wanted it to be. It was going to be the same shit for him no matter who ran El Norte. But, with that being said, he needed some type of artillery because going it alone in Oz was a surefire way of getting killed. He remembered his first day in Oz and getting stabbed while waiting to be processed. It was an embarrassment to him. A failure of sorts.
Morales kept his eyes on him and got up from the computer to head back out into the quad. It was obvious Alvarez was to follow the lead so he did. He needed some type of backup---someone watching his back. Groups played far too important a role in Em City. There had been no opportunities left and the Latino knew he needed the alliance and influence of El Norte behind him. No matter the shit he knew Morales and the other members were going to give him. He needed them more than they needed him.
"You see that man over there---Burr Redding?" Morales drilled holes across the room with his eyes as he targeted the man.
Morales easily walked away without another word. It definitely was the same shit. He had to blind Rivera to prove himself to El Cid but that motherfucker still wanted him dead. Now he had to kill some nigger he didn't know to get into the good graces of Morales. Alvarez had to prove his loyalty to get back into the gang. Only then would information be shared with him and he had to be Glynn's eyes and ears. That did not mean he was going to remain loyal to the warden, though. If all his time at Oz had thought him anything, it was that loyalty to himself was the only option. Trust only yourself.
He returned to his pod without Redding paying any attention to him and relaxed. He had to come up with a plan to get himself out of killing Redding, but something as complicated as that required strategy and finesse, and making elaborate plans was not one of Alvarez's specializations. But, he had no one to turn to and Morales would want results soon. Putting down Redding would certainly mean a lifetime of solitary confinement. He wanted a lollipop to suck on---the sugar had always put him in a better mood. Cherry. He thought about the sweet treat until he could no longer bear it.
O'Reily had his mind busy in the kitchen thinking about the meeting today in the cafeteria. Dr. Nathan had explained that the Weigert Corporation wanted to test an aging pill on the inmates and most were excited about it regardless of the side effects of taking them. He wanted both himself and Cyril to be selected, but found out that lifers were not allowed to take part in the study. The Irishman fought like a threatened snake to get both his and his brother's name on the list, but still was not sure if it would happen.
The kitchen was empty, as lunch had already been served, so he and a few others had to clean it up in preparation for dinner. He wanted another chance to talk to Gloria to convince her of putting them on the list. Even after everything he did to her, she still seemed sympathetic towards him and Cyril. Killing Preston Nathan was a mistake and O'Reily knew that. He had to find a way to make it up to Cyril---that was what big brothers did. This aging pill was the solution for them both.
"Oh, Jesus!" he jumped and dropped a few trays on the table as Howell squeezed his ass hard.
"Hey, stud. These kitchen whites you're wearing are so sexy. I just love a man in uniform," the hack said as she kissed him.
O'Reily pulled away and looked around quickly before he said a bit aggressively, "Look, not here---not now!"
"What? You got a headache?" she mocked.
"I told you, we can't be doing this anymore. It's fucking crazy."
"And I told you, it's up to me when we stop."
"I could go to the warden," he played an empty threat.
Howell laughed and said, "That'd sure stop me from fucking you. Of course, then I'd have to find someone else---someone as handsome as you."
"Hey, I know. What about your brother, Cyril?" she said with an evil sneer in her revelation.
O'Reily glared at her and conceded, "All right."
No fucking way you're touching Cyril, bitch! I'd take you out myself before that happened.
"Today you're going to play the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dyke."
She was seriously starting to become a problem for him---and threatening Cyril like that showed how perverse and sick she truly was. He had the mind of a fucking five-year-old. He needed to make a move but had to hold back just in the slim chance he and Cyril got the chance to participate in the aging pill study. O'Reily was not going to let the hack ruin their chances of being chosen. The kitchen had almost been deserted now as Howell dragged him in into the food cage and licked her lips. Her hands erotically rubbed in between each of her thighs. She was performing for him.
Ryan O'Reily had begged her that night to let him and his brother be a part of the study. He pleaded with her to make them old so that they could escape from Oz. Gloria had those soft look in her eyes as he was in her office trying to find a way for him and Cyril to leave this place behind. She started to tell him no but then agreed to talk to McManus. The guy had never liked him from the beginning. It was going to be a battle, but that was in the past now.
"Five of you will be given the drug. Five of you will be given a harmless placebo. Once a week, you'll receive another dosage and another complete physical examination in order to monitor your health and the progress of your aging. Are there any questions?" Dr. Nathan spoke to the group of ten men, whom were in their boxers in the infirmary. "Let's go."
O'Reily was the first to grab the small cup with the pills and was given a cup with water from a passing hack. He was not sure if it was the aging pills or placebos but he trusted Gloria. She had gotten them both into the study after all. He looked at her and their eyes briefly met before he swallowed down the pills and followed it with some water. Dr. Nathan moved next to him and in front of Cyril.
"Take it, Cyril," he sensed his brother's apprehensiveness and said.
"I don't like the medicine," the long-haired blonde whined.
"Come on, take it."
Following his big brother's lead and gentle pushing, Cyril took the pills and drank some water afterwards. O'Reily looked on and smiled as he gave his brother a small hug. This could very well be their ticket out of here, but he never held his breath. Being the type of person he was, he knew not to expect anything until it was done and officially announced to the world. That was where he differed from Keller. He did not spend much time relying on chance or unfinished plans before the desired results had been achieved. Keller sometimes counted his chickens before they hatched and that was dangerous---especially here.
And, he had to admit that when a plan needed that extra component for it to fall into place, he had his trusted Irish luck and charm. O'Reily had mastered it from a very young age and had used it mainly in grade school to get girls to like him. His first kiss was in the first grade behind a tree on the PE field. That natural charisma had won over Shannon in high school. And, it was his luck, in part, that had kept him alive here in Oz. None of these other scumbags had what he had---was able to accomplish the things he did. Keller was definitely in over his head.
In Em City, he sat at the checkers table with Cyril, Rebadow, and Beecher---with the latter two playing a lazy game of checkers. It had been an uneventful day all around with the only highlight being them taking the aging medication earlier in the day. The afternoon was dragging along with some news program occupying the televisions. O'Reily looked around to see nothing out of the ordinary. Redding was talking to Poet and Hill in Hill's pod, Pancamo continued to gamble through cards upstairs, and Said had seemed to accept Tidd with Arif at his side.
On the other side of the quad was Miguel Alvarez sitting alone in his pod, apparently writing something in a notebook. O'Reily gazed at him and wondered what was up with the loco Latino. He had been mellow and flying completely under the radar, which certainly was not a bad thing, since coming out of Solitary. He barely hung out with El Norte and mostly kept to himself. Morales and his crew were nowhere to be found in the quad from what his earlier sweep of the place had revealed. Curiosity got the better of him.
"Hey, Cyril---stay here with Rebadow and Beecher, all right? Don't move," he told his brother as he got up.
"Where are you going, Ryan?" Cyril asked in his childlike way.
"Got business to take care of."
"With Alvarez?" Beecher said because he had noticed him looking earlier. "What kind of business do you have with him?"
O'Reily smirked and said, "New business, beach ball. Don't worry yourself with my affairs. Watch Cyril for me."
Beecher was not going to get straight answers from him asking pointed questions like that. Sometimes O'Reily could not help to think that he was a lost cause. The crazy bit after he had fucked over Schillinger was mainly working for him though, so it hardly mattered. He had bigger things to worry about than him or Keller. The Irishman headed up the stairs and gave a smirk to Pancamo, who just shrugged him off, and went over to the end pod on the opposite side of the wops. A light tap of the glass and Alvarez noticed him and raised two fingers to signify his entrance. The notebook rested next to him on the bed.
"Hey there, Alvarez," he greeted once the door was closed behind him.
"What do you want, O'Reily? I don't have time for you or your games," the Latino's tone was firm but not dismissive.
"Just wondering why I haven't seen you around as much since you got back from Solitary."
His laugh was fake and he said, "Why would you care? We got nothing to say to each other."
"Maybe---maybe not. So---any plans on how you're going to off Redding yet?" O'Reily said, knowing he had to show part of his hand to keep the conversation alive.
With the reflexes of a panther, Alvarez jumped off from the top bunk and pushed him against the cold glass of the pod, his forearm applying dangerous pressure onto the Irishman's windpipe as he held him in place. Fiery brown eyes encountered flaring green ones. A hint of fear passed through O'Reily but his face remained oblivious to it. He never dropped his mask in front of anyone---except for Cyril when he had needed a comforting big brother. Those times were when even shit like this did not matter in Oz.
This was the Alvarez he knew from before. The unpredictable and dangerous one that had demanded respect. He knew the mick was notorious for playing games and pulling strings, but hiding out in the open like this and making such a stupid move was not like him. Or maybe it was his plan. O'Reily only ever made calculated moves---even if he got roughed up because of them. Alvarez knew he could easily overpower the other man and force him out of his pod but, more than that, he wanted answers. And he was going to get them.
"What? What the fuck are you talking about?"
"Easy---easy. Calm down," he tried to diffuse the angry Latino because he knew he could not overwhelm him physically.
"What the fuck did you say? That's El Norte business. What's your fucking angle, mick?"
"Alvarez---you're going to have to let me go now."
"Oh yeah? Who says, mick? What the fuck are you up to?"
O'Reily felt more pressure on his throat and said, "Okay---okay. I'll tell you, but you have to back off."
"Don't try shit, motherfucker. I'm warning you," he said with his forearm still firmly clamped into place against raw skin.
"Wouldn't dream of it. Now---can you ease up on my throat?" O'Reily's voice sounded hoarse and water crept up behind his eyes but he still had the situation under his control.
Alvarez connected their eyes together one last time---as if he was searching for something, and then slowly backed away with all his senses remaining heightened. O'Reily coughed and immediately hated himself for doing so. He was not weak. The loco Latino had surprised him and there had been moments when he thought that he had lost control of the situation. Those doubts quickly dissolved though because here was not the time or place to analyze them.
"Talk. How do you know about El Norte business?"
"I overheard Guerra talking some other Latinos in the gym the other day," it was actually the truth coming from his lips, and it tasted awful.
"Why approach me about it then? Why not go to Morales?"
"Fuck Morales! Do you even know why he wants Redding gone?" O'Reily continued to thread.
"He and Pancamo don't want to cut him a slice of the tit trade. With Adebisi taking his dirt nap, more profits for them. Not so hard to figure out."
"But why do you have to prove yourself again? You did everything that cocksucker Hernandez asked and he still treated you like shit. Like an outcast from the Latinos. You fucking blinded that hack Rivera for him and he still wanted you dead."
"Where the fuck are you going with all this, O'Reily?" Alvarez wanted to know because he was not in the mood to take a trip down memory lane---and certainly not with Ryan O'Reily.
"When I overheard Guerra talking, he said you don't have the cojones to rub out Redding."
"Fuck him. Chico don't concern me no more."
The Irishman paused briefly and wondered how far he wanted to go with this, and then said, "Chico's concerned about you though, hermano."
"And you care now---is that it? I can take care of myself," Alvarez was quickly becoming bored with the conversation and his guest. "And I ain't your fucking hermano---so don't call me that shit."
"So why'd you go back to El Norte?"
The question was the same one he had asked himself more than a few times already. Morales did not seem to be as cruel and heartless towards him as Hernandez had been but he was still expendable in the eyes of the El Norte leader. O'Reily was definitely playing at something here for him to keep talking for so long but it had not made itself clear yet. Even under the threat of his life, the bastard kept his cool and never revealed his true intentions. Alvarez had to admire that about him. But, this was no damned congeniality contest. He had to figure him out---figure out what he wanted.
"None of your fucking business. You're not the only one in here who knows how to play games."
"Morales set you up to fail, Alvarez. There's no way you can come close to touching Redding---not with the way he rallied the homeboys the first day he got here," O'Reily said and was playing it extremely close to the vest.
"You don't know what I can do, mick."
"I never underestimated you---from the first time you stepped in Oz."
"What's that---flattery? You a fan?" he asked and almost wanted to laugh.
"No, Alvarez. Watch your back. Morales will start treating you the same way Hernandez did. Deep down, he knows you don't belong in El Norte. You may be a Latino like him, but you're not worth his time or effort---not like his lapdog Guerra."
"Man, fuck Guerra. I told you I'm not dealing with his bullshit vendetta anymore. "
"Watch him. Watch all of them," the Irishman said and decided to play his ace. "You know Omar White?"
"Who?" Alvarez asked as he watched him.
"The nigger that's down in Solitary. Came back in after you were already in there."
"Always shaking and talking fast like some damn crackhead?"
"Yeah. Why you think he got sent back there?" O'Reily gazed at him, knowing he was trying to fit the pieces together in his mind.
"Don't know. Got caught sucking McManus's dick?"
"Try stabbing Guerra."
"He stabbed Guerra? Why? I knew he had been stabbed but Morales said he didn't know anything about it."
Suddenly, it was starting to make sense. Upon returning to Solitary, White had asked for him by name and had said that he had owed him. It made no sense, however, that someone he did not even know stabbed Guerra for him---especially since he himself did not sent out any word that he wanted to put down the lapdog. Alvarez glanced over at O'Reily with a slightly confused look on his face. All the pieces were there but he was not able to figure out how to connect them. The Irishman, sensing this, spoke up.
"Morales lied. He wasn't out to get you while you were in Solitary, but Guerra was."
"So, White stabbed him for me?" the Latino scratched his head lightly at that.
"In so many words, yes. Guerra propositioned him in the kitchen to put rat poison in your food, but White refused. He stabbed Guerra after he called him a `nigger'. So he technically did it for himself, but you became a beneficiary."
The sound of air sucking stole the moment away as officer Murphy leaned into the pod and said, "All right, gentleman---break it up. Don't you have somewhere else to be, O'Reily?"
"Shit---all right, Murphy," he obliged the officer but quickly looked back at Alvarez to lighten the mood. "And damn man, you should have volunteered to be a part of the aging drug experiment. At least then my neck wouldn't hurt this bad."
"What---and ruin this handsome fucking face and perfect body? Fuck no!" the Latino grinned as the door closed behind the two men and left him alone again.
So he had owed Omar White for refusing to poison his food. That was, if he believed O'Reily in the first place. That manipulative bastard never offered up truthful information unless it benefitted him in some way. Maybe Morales was testing him through the Irishman. The Latinos and Irish had worked together in the past and there weren't any direct confrontations that bonded them as enemies. For the most part, they remained on neutral grounds with one another. O'Reily had to know that if this information got back to El Norte, his neck would be on the line too. It was a risky play on his part.
Alvarez was unsure of what to believe but there were too many coincidences in the Irishman's conversation for it all to be lies. Morales had to have known how and why Guerra was stabbed. He was the fucking leader of El Norte after all---and one of his men had been shanked. Guerra was unable to keep his mouth from running. Stupid fuck! He hopped back onto the top bunk and retrieved his notebook to continue writing, letting the entire conversation resonate inside his head.
He needed to hear from Maritza. He had only been able to see her once when he had escaped because of the risk involved. It was torture. She needed to know he was all right. From his pod, he could see out onto the quad below. Ryan O'Reily was sitting at a table with his brother and Rebadow. His eyes lifted and both pairs met. Something was definitely going on in that mind of his and Alvarez wished he knew what it was. He would kill to know.