~*~ 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.



He had been furious over the past few days at O'Reily's ridiculous insinuation about him and Cutler and had been avoiding him since then. In all the time they had been partners, that day in the storage room was the first time Alvarez felt like the Irishman had thought of him as a prag. That was what made him angry, and he had to get out of there because his emotions had gotten the better of him. He was no fucking prag and did not want O'Reily affecting him the way he was. That question had hurt.

He was sitting on the bed in his pod as he was drifting in and out of a conversation with Guerra. He thought to himself through most of the words. He knew O'Reily had been under a lot of pressure dealing with his brother, but Alvarez was not going to be his punching bag or take any insults like that. They were both equal in the partnership and he was going to be treated as an equal. Tension between them had been high, especially since O'Reily wanted him to keep all of Cutler's possessions.

"You want any of Morales's stuff?" Guerra asked.


"I feel bad. Enrique was really angry at me when he died."

"Well, then it's probably best he's dead. He would have made your life miserable," Alvarez said.

"True. But he's got no family left. They're going to stick his body in Potter's Field."

"He ain't going to know the difference."

"More and more, compadre, I'm tired of all this shit," Guerra said of his frustration.

"I hear you, man."

"Pancamo asked me who was going to lead El Norte."

"What'd you say?"


"Fuck that. I told you, man---I'm keeping my head down until my next parole hearing," the Latino said and stayed firm in his decision.



Alvarez was confused because he naturally assumed that Urbano was going to step up and be leader. If Guerra was asking him to step in, that meant that the rest of the Latinos did not see Urbano as the true leader. He remembered O'Reily trying to convince him to step into that role and got slightly angry all over again. Either way, no one wanted to hear what he had to say on the subject. Guerra was not listening and the Irishman did not listen the last time they had spoken to one another.

The burden of carrying El Norte was not his responsibility and he was not going to have any part of it because of his parole hearing. He had to get out of this place and he was going to remain like a fucking ghost until that hearing came. Alvarez was sitting at a table in the quad by himself and he thought about Morales---thought about their last conversation together. There had been no respect between them since the beginning, but he did feel bad about the death.

"Alvarez, you got a surprise visitor," Officer Murphy walked over to him and said.

"My girlfriend Maritza?" he replied with sarcasm.

"No---one, Cathy Jo Cutler."

"She's the---"

"Wolfgang Cutler's grieving widow," the hack said and finished his thought for him.

"Right. Well, that's good. Now I can figure out why he left me all his shit," the Latino said, hoping he could get some answers.

"Yeah, good luck."

This was the right thing he was about to do. His life up until now had been littered with mistakes and wrong choices so to do something he felt was good and decent ignited his soul with fire. It was almost in the same way that Ryan O'Reily's touch, and sometimes words, made him feel. And, after doing so many bad things in his life so far, Alvarez had to do something good to prove to himself more than anything that he was still capable of good---that there was still some decency somewhere inside him. The effects of training Julie for Rivera was running thin.

"Hey. Hi. Cathy Jo, right?" he questioned through the phone against his ear.

"Yes. Thank you for seeing me," the blonde woman on the other side of the protective glass said.

"Sure, of course."

"Mr. Alvarez, I'm here to ask you, beg you---"

"Wait, wait, wait," Alvarez stopped her immediately. "Okay, first of all, Miguel, all right? Let me just save you a little speech or whatever. I don't want your husband's crap."

"Oh. I didn't know you decided that."

"Yeah, no---I just did."

"I didn't sleep a wink last night, thinking what to say to you---the new owner of the bed I was lying in," Cathy Jo Cutler confessed.

"You got to do something for me first, okay?" he said because he needed an answer. "You got to tell me why he did this."

"Believe me---I've been wracking my brains. He did like to fuck with me when it came to the purse strings," she replied with bitterness in her voice. "Serves me right, maybe, you know? Why did I marry him if I never loved him? You're not married?"

"No, no. Girlfriend. She don't come around now," Alvarez said, though he was not sure why he did.

"Well, um, I guess that's all, then. Thank you for being a better husband than my husband---if that makes sense."

"Anytime. Maybe I'll see you again? You know, if I got to sign papers---whatever."

"Okay, Miguel," Cathy Jo smiled warmly and said.

"Cathy---all right."

Again, she smiled at him as she left the visitor's room and he was being escorted back. She had her hand pressed against the glass at one point during the interaction---when she knew he had no interest in taking away any possessions from her. Somewhere inside him was beaming and overwhelmingly glowing because this act of kindness proved that he was still human---proved that he could do the selfless thing. The act was noble and Alvarez knew none of the other scumfucks here would have done it. Nor would they have understood the meaning behind it.

Later in the afternoon, he and the rest of the Latinos gathered with McManus and Mukada in the hallway outside the morgue and waited. The warm feeling from earlier had disappeared and Alvarez had some regrets about the act they were about to do. He and Morales had never been friends, but they had stayed out of each other's way in the months leading up to his death. Now, the former leader of El Norte was leaving Oz in a pine box to rest inside the Earth. They all went in and went to a side of the coffin.

"The kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassers as we forgive those who trespass against us," Father Mukada preached as they carried out the coffin behind him. "And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen."

"You know, someday, maybe soon, these guys are going to be carrying my body out," Alvarez said to McManus after the coffin had been rested down to leave the prison.

"No, you're going to get paroled," the unit manager said. "I've been thinking---we should set up a meeting between you and Luís Ruiz."

"I hit that motherfucker in the face. He's not going to come by for afternoon tea."

"Steve Dawkins is retiring from the parole board, and the rumor is that Ruiz is going to get the job," Father Mukada said. "You're going to need him to be on your side."

"Fine," he agreed. "I'll do whatever you two guys say. I just don't want to end up like Enrique Morales. You know, I don't want to end up as landfill."

It was the truth. Sooner or later, someone inside Oz was going to take him out. It did not matter how strong his partnership with the Irishman was. They were not able to look out for each other every second of every day. Alvarez did not want his life to end in prison, and if talking to Ruiz was a way to get out of there, he had to take the chance. McManus left and the rest of El Norte went on their way back to Em City.

"Can I talk to you for a moment? I'll make sure Miguel gets back to Em City," the priest first said to him and then to the guard.

"What's up, Padre?" Alvarez asked as they began walking.

"I am proud of you, Miguel."

"For what---carrying out a coffin?"

"Yes. I know you and Morales had an unsteady relationship---"

"Unsteady is putting it lightly," he interrupted.

"Regardless, you came here and did this," Father Mukada said. "There's that, and also what you did for Cathy Jo Cutler today."

"You know about that?"

"I heard. It truly is inspiring what you've done, Miguel."

"No, Father---it wasn't inspiring. I did what I felt was the right thing, you know? I don't deserve praise for that," Alvarez truthfully said.

"I have never stopped believing that there is good inside you, Miguel Alvarez," he said and smiled. "You have proved me right yet again."

Dinner had been made interesting because O'Reily had passed him a note saying that he had wanted to meet after. It was tricky, but Alvarez had managed to slip away from the guards' watchful eyes and had quickly walked to where he needed to be. The room was empty when he entered and he waited as he thought about what they had to talk about. Maybe O'Reily had come up with a plan to take out Neema. The Latino's eyes went to the door when he heard it softly open and saw a body stealthily slip inside.

"I got away as quickly as I could," O'Reily said, when he was sure it was secure.

"What do you want?"

"Just to talk. Come on, let's sit."

"I'll stand," he said in the same slightly hard tone.

"Come on, Alvarez. Don't be like this."

"Be like what? Say what you came to say."

"Oh, hey, I brought you something," the Irishman said as he dug into his front pant pocket and produced a cherry blow pop.

"What's this for?" he asked when the candy treat was inches in front of him.

"Nothing. I just felt like brining you one."

"Uh-huh. Thanks---but I'll pass."

"Come on, loco. It's your favorite," O'Reily pouted like a child. "Do you need me to say it?"

"Say what?"

Alvarez had an idea of what was going on, but he wanted to see how far it was going to go---if it was going to happen at all. He was surprised when he felt a hand rest on his stomach through his shirt and a pair of lips touching his. It was not supposed to be that simple but the Latino wanted to forgive him for the stupid things he had said. He kissed back and pulled their bodies closer before tongues became involved and fingertips scraped against skin---both clothed and raw.

"Fuck. I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry for what I said about you and Cutler," O'Reily said when their kiss was severed. "It was stupid."

"It was."

"I guess it was my turn to be a little jealous."

"But nothing like that ever happened between me and him," Alvarez said as their bodies slowly drifted apart. "I don't get why you would think that, you know?"

"He left you everything he owned. I wanted to know why."

"It was to piss off his wife. Neither of them loved each other."

He filled the other man in on what he had gathered from his meeting with Cathy Jo Cutler earlier. He could see the disappointment and need to say something in O'Reily's eyes as he told him about getting lawyers involved and him signing everything over to her. Alvarez knew it was the right thing to do and he wanted O'Reily to see that too.

"As for why he picked me, specifically, I still have no clue."

"The paperwork is already in?" he asked.


"You followed your instincts, then?" O'Reily said.

"Yeah. She deserves that stuff---especially after being that Nazi's wife."

"You're a better man than me, Alvarez."

"I don't think so," the Latino definitively said. "I know there's good inside you."

"You becoming Mukada now?" he said and smiled.

"No. I just think I know you a little more than the rest of the pricks in here."

"Maybe you do---maybe you don't. You better not say anything to anybody," the Irishman warned.

"Maybe you should come and shut me up, then---make sure I don't talk."

The kiss was what their bodies were ultimately leading them to, so each man let their need for touch and closeness drive them forward. Tongues scraped against teeth and one other while hands busily removed clothing and touched skin. Alvarez grunted lowly when he felt cool air against his chest and made another tiny sound when a hand snaked into his pants and tightly grabbed onto his manhood.

Their tongues broke apart for O'Reily's shirt to go up and over his head but they came back together and he felt two hands squeezing his ass through his kitchen whites. He did not care because another human's touch was taking him into parts of his receptors he thought would die in Oz. Alvarez's lips were on his neck as his hands moved away from his ass and began to loosen the string in the front of his pants.

"Let's get on the floor," he said in that sexy Latino voice.

"Dammit---we need a bed in here! I hate the fucking floor," O'Reily whined.

"We're in prison, remember? And there's no conjugals."

Alvarez pulled him down and put his own back to the floor as they quickly got out of the rest of their clothes. He caught O'Reily staring at his body again but did not break the moment with words. He had seen the look from the Irishman before, and it made him feel wanted. Their hardening dicks stabbed against each other's as he got on top of Alvarez and continued their kiss. Hips gyrated up and down and around to create a sinful pleasure that had been too long denied.

The coldness against his back combined with the warmth generated from O'Reily's body on top of him was strangely exhilarating and arousing. Hands crept everywhere and eyes remained closed for minutes on end as they enjoyed each other's bodies in a place where it was forbidden. Alvarez arched up into every touch and caress because he wanted his mind to know pleasure too. He wanted O'Reily to touch him everywhere at once.

Their bodies faced opposite of one another and Alvarez felt hotness surround his head and shaft as he darted out his tongue and licked the dickhead that was on top of him. He had gotten accustomed to having it in his mouth and he did not know how to feel about it. The Latino had tried hard to fight away from it, but the touch and excitement of it all drowned out his brain and altered his mind like a drug. O'Reily's touch had become like a drug to him.

He moved his head back and forth, as he sucked O'Reily's dick and played with his balls. Precum was salty on his tongue and, at the moment, he did not care that he was exchanging fluids with the man. He selfishly wanted more and more gratification. O'Reily was licking the head of his dick and running his tongue along the shaft to elicit moans and quiet pleads for more---in both English and Spanish. Alvarez did not know this part of himself and wondered if it was a circumstance of where he was or that it had always been inside him.

He was not gay. Growing up in the neighborhood, he only wanted girls and had never so much as seen any other dick but his own. There was a naked man on top of him now, though, and they were both sucking each other off. Alvarez wondered what that made them---neither was the other's prag. He did not want to humiliate O'Reily in front of the entire prison like Robson or Beecher had been in the past. In a twisted and convoluted way, he had come to care for the other man.

The Irishman licked his inner thigh just below his balls and he had to laugh out because it tickled. Tongues dragged along engorged and needy flesh as both continued to pleasure the other orally. He wanted to hate this act---hate himself for doing it, but he didn't. Alvarez just wanted to get closer and closer to O'Reily. There was heavy irony there, seeing as no one in the prison thought either of them was like this---especially Ryan O'Reily.

Positions switched once again and O'Reily crawled back up to greet a pair of lips. Their hard dicks pressed and grated against each other, and their stomachs, like two wielded swords in a fight for ultimate pleasure. Alvarez kissed him back with the passion he knew the man liked and grabbed his butt to give it a hard squeeze. O'Reily groaned at the intrusion on the fleshy skin as he kept bucking his hips up and down because he was getting close. They both were enjoying it and getting close to the end.

"Jack us, baby," Alvarez's sexy voice whispered, as if he was in a sexual trance. "Rub mine against yours. Uh---oh! Like that---just like that!"

"Christ! I've never been so fucking turned on!" O'Reily said as he looked down at the man under him. "Kiss me, loco. Fucking steal my breath away. Shit! Oh---yeah!"

Alvarez complied and roughly forced their lips together as he arched his back up so his dick could be as close to O'Reily's as possible while he jacked them off together. Heightened sensations plastered across skin and the warm, energizing friction created between them was quickly becoming too much to handle. Insides were a pleasured fog and warm lips and hands only made the haziness worse. Alvarez stuck his tongue deep into the other man's mouth and held them together firmly in place.

"Uhh---fuck!" the Irishman moaned out.

O'Reily sped up his thrusting and was the first to shudder as cum burst out of his dick and spurted all over Alvarez's abs and dick. The Latino warned him not to stop jacking him off so O'Reily kept both their dicks together and continued with his feverous pace to bring the man below him to climax. Alvarez cursed in Spanish, muttered inaudible words in English, and whispered words of encouragement in Spanish again as his dick was being assaulted in such an overwhelming way. The Irishman looked at him throughout his jumbled word spree. He looked so cute with his eyes closed and his face painted with natural ecstasy.

It was only a few more strokes of coaxing from O'Reily's fingers grazing against his hypersensitive dickhead that Alvarez blasted cum out of his dick and all the liquid mixed together and pooled on his abs. He was panting as if he had just finished running a mile and his eyes danced open immediately to be met with the ceiling above them. The Latino wanted to say words, but his tongue was dry to them, so it remained silent.

They were both sweaty and sticky, but O'Reily did not care as he easily dropped onto Alvarez's body and rested his head on the other man's chest. He closed his eyes and tried recover himself. The silence was great because both of them could envision being like this somewhere far away from Oz. It was a thought, but thoughts were all they had inside these walls.

It was not about them just getting off with one another. There was some intimacy in the moment they had found themselves in. O'Reily had his ear pressed onto the left side of Alvarez's chest, as he lied on top of him---naked. If he wanted to, he could hear the beats of Alvarez's heart fighting to get back to its normal and steady rate. Somehow, their partnership had become more---something that each man had looked forward to. O'Reily opened his eyes and was greeted by the reality of prison all over again. It cut through his thoughts like a sharp knife.

"You said you weren't going to call me baby."

"Guess I got caught up. Sorry," Alvarez said and felt O'Reily beginning to move on top of him. "No. Stay here, like this."

"We have to get back. We've been missing for too long," the Irishman said.

"Just a few more minutes," he said as he wrapped his hands around the other man's waist to keep their bodies fastened together. "Can I get my blow pop back?"

"I thought you didn't want it."

"I changed my mind."


The cafeteria was buzzing with noise as it always did whenever it was mealtime. He was busy serving inmates food as they passed by, but his insides were at a complete standstill. O'Reily had begun to feel guilt because he was allowing himself to feel pleasure with Alvarez while his brother sat alone and scared on death row. The ongoing fight for Cyril's life was overwhelming him and, if was not for the Latino, he would have gone crazy already. He had to be honest with himself about that.

"Life's about wherever you're going to get to," Poet was saying to someone.

"Suppose you wouldn't want to trade that service spoon for a telephone, O'Reily? Come on over and join our company," Redding said.

"Yeah, that'd be a dream come true---pissing off strangers at dinnertime," the Irishman dryly responded.

"Ain't no money in the kitchen."

"That's why my middle name is subsidize," he said and watched as Redding walked towards a few new inmates.

"Hello, boys. You fellas are new here in Oz, right?" Redding said and sat next to them. "Haven't really had a chance to settle in yet. Well, rather than get involved in all the tribal shit that goes on around here, you need to know that these days, Oz has a better place to turn. Mm-hmm. It's called employment."

"I heard about that. You with that guy, Arif?" one inmate said.

"No. I'm with me, Burr Redding. Telemarketing."

"I'm going to try and get seconds before they shut down," another said and left.

"For all the flak it gets, a sales position in telemarketing is a fine way to keep yourself active," he continued.

"I just remembered, I got an appointment with Sister Pete," the first inmate quickly said and left.

"What about you? You got to go jerk off or something?"

"No, I mean, I'd take the job," the third inmate said.

"Oh, good boy."

"But, I'm dyslexic."

"Here---clear my tray, you squirmy little maggot," Redding frustratingly said to the inmate.

O'Reily watched him the whole time since he left the lunch line. Redding was pathetic---he had lost control of his homeboys and was now practically begging anyone to follow him in the telemarketing trade. Hill's death had really affected him, and he was quickly losing all his credibility with the inmates. O'Reily had to laugh at how far he had fallen---almost as far as Morales had.

He headed over to the hospital ward after lunch to check up on his brother. He had to spend all this time with him. The Irishman had been praying every night for some kind of miracle to happen. He kept Meehan's bible close to him and had read a few passages here and there. God was not listening to him---maybe his prayers were not worth listening to. Cyril's life was not worth saving in his eyes. O'Reily was upset with himself, but kept it inside when he walked into the infirmary.

"So, how Cyril doing?"

"He hasn't defecated on himself again. And he's sleeping a lot," Dr. Nathan told him.

"How much is a lot?" he asked.

"In and out, all day long."

"Oh. Maybe that's a good thing. You know, I mean, we're still waiting to hear about the stay from the state Supreme Court, but I don't know. I mean, if we don't get one, maybe he can just nap up until the time they put him to sleep for good," O'Reily said as he eyes sadly gazed across his sleeping brother.

"Ryan, lethal injection isn't just falling asleep."

"What do you mean?"

"It definitely makes execution easier on the public, easier on the staff, but we don't really know how painful lethal injection is," she truthfully said. "What I can tell you is the little known fact that it was invented by the Nazis."

"What?" his mind raced in circles.

"Hitler's personal physician devised the procedure as a means to kill off children and eventually used it on adults as well."


"Given the concern those bastards had for mercy---" Dr. Nathan said.

"No, I just---I just want what's best for Cyril, that's all," he easily said.

"Well, I was wondering if maybe the electric chair wouldn't be the better way to go."

"The chair? Why not just feed him to the fucking lions?" O'Reily said as the anger rose inside again.

"Think about it. I mean, he's had electroshock therapy, which isn't such a far cry from electrocution," she said to explain her point. "I mean, at least in his mind, it wouldn't have to be. By now, he's used to the straps and the electrodes. Just tell him he's going in for a special session. He might never know the difference."

She made sense, but he did not want his brother to be electrocuted in front of people like that. It was inhumane. O'Reily looked at her as she walked away to deal with another patient and her words stuck to him. Everything she said was right and she was considering Cyril's feelings in the matter as well. There was nothing more to be asked for. Hs brother's comfort level was what he wanted most of all.

"Fuck. Hey. Psst. Come on, Cyril---wake up," he called out to his baby brother.

"Hmm," he groaned and opened his eyes.

"So, you want the good news or the bad news?"

"The good news," Cyril said.

"All right. The good news is you're going to have your last ECT session in a couple of days," O'Reily lied for his brother's protection.

"Why is this the last session?"

"Well, because you've been such a champ so far, you know? And, because you've been so great, they're going to move you back upstairs. They're going to fix up your cell all special-like, and they're going to give you a TV, hmm?"

"Really?" Cyril's eyes lit up and it hurt him.


"I can watch what I want?"

"What we want, bro. I'm going to be there with you."

"You are?" he asked and smiled even wider now.

"Yeah, and, um---they're going to make you this big dinner where you can eat whatever you like," O'Reily said as he continued with the fantasy.

"I can have a fluffernutter?"

"You can have two fluffernutters."

"I can have two fluffernutters," Cyril said in his childlike way.

"So, you want to hear the bad news?" he said.

"All right."

"They've got to---they've got to cut your hair," the Irishman stumbled but said.

"Why? I like my hair."

"I know you do, buddy, but for this last session, they've got to cut it. I'm sorry."

"Will it grow back?"

It was another painful question he could not answer, so he remained still and just smiled at Cyril. A guard came a few minutes later to escort them to the barber in the prison for him to get his haircut. O'Reily remained silent the whole way there because he had not seen his brother with without long hair since they were children. And now, he was getting it cut so he could be electrocuted. He had to put on a brave face so that Cyril did not suspect a thing. It was crucial that he believed in the fantasy.

"Homey, you put Rapunzel to shame," the barber said as he fingered through Cyril's long hair.

"It's going to grow back, right, Ryan?" Cyril asked him.

"Yeah. Right," he nodded and said.

"Fingernails going to grow down there, too. Going to go from Rapunzel to Elvira," the barber said.

"Yo, homey---come on, man. Just focus on the hair, all right? We don't need a color commentary, okay. Actually, you know what; let me get a few snips in. I've been wanting to do this for years," O'Reily said and took the scissors and cut off his brother's ponytail. "Holy shit. Goddamn it, Cyril, I can see your face again, you handsome fuck."

"Ryan, look," Cyril said as he whipped the severed ponytail of hair in the air.

He had returned to Em City and his pod and was unable to get Cyril's bald head out of his mind. All his hair was gone now---it was one step closer to his death. He had spent hours alone in his pod---his mind running away from him. O'Reily felt alone and knew the feeling was only going to intensify once his brother was gone. He was brought out of his daze when he heard a slight knocking on the glass and suctioned air as the door hissed open.

"Listen, I haven't been very friendly since I got to Oz, but now, I've talked to Suzanne---I'm aware of how hard you've tried to stop your brother's execution," Neema said and looked directly at him. "I admire your efforts. I want you to know, at the hour of his death, everyone in Em City will be with him."

"Oh, yeah? How?"

"You'll see."

"Let's go, O'Reily," McManus entered the pod and said.

Night had fallen on them and he did not realize that he had spent the better part of the afternoon inside his pod by himself. He was curious to see what Neema was talking about, but was taken away by McManus before he could get more answers. O'Reily followed the unit manager through Em City with his mind not accepting the possibility that this was happening.

"Any word from the state Supreme Court?" he asked.

"No," McManus answered back. "You'll stay in your brother's cell tonight, and then, when they take him downstairs, we'll bring you back here."

"I was wondering if at the time of his death, you know, I could be alone."

"Stay in your pod."

"I---I was thinking maybe I could walk your mediation maze," O'Reily said.

"All right."

The local news was playing on the TV while he secretly watched his brother make and eat fluffernutter sandwiches. His insides felt so fragile now that anything could crack it and destroy him. Cyril was blissfully unaware that he was spending his final hours alive---O'Reily wanted it that way. He did not want to see his brother scared and losing control for what was about to happen.

"---Following a particularly heated trial, which seems to have only magnified the disagreement on the execution of the mentally challenged. So, this after at Oswald State Penitentiary---" the news anchor was saying before O'Reily turned off the TV.

"What was that about Oz?" Cyril asked with a mouthful of food.


"Why does that man keep watching me and taking notes?" he asked, referring to the guard sitting outside the cell and observing him.

"It's a part of the last ECT session. They always do that."

"I think I have a stomachache."

"It's all that fluff and stuff, you big freak," O'Reily said to him. "Hey, what do you say we lie down for a little while, you know, get a snooze in?"

"I forgot to ask for Rolaids. Are you okay, Ryan?" Cyril asked when he noticed the severe look on his brother's face.

"Yeah---as long as you are, buddy."

A guard came in a short while later and took the food away for them to get some sleep. His back was pushed into the wall as Cyril rested down on the front side of him on the small bed. It was uncomfortable, but he wanted to be nowhere else but there. It was his last night of being a big brother. Cyril fell asleep a short while later but O'Reily remained awake and was holding on to him as tightly as he could. He was having an extremely difficult time letting go.

It had not been a good night sleep for him because his emotions were haywire and tears had flowed once Cyril had fallen asleep. He had not been able to control them anymore. The officer had come early in the morning to wake them up and Cyril was brushing his teeth while O'Reily remained silent---struggling to stay afloat in his turbulent sea of emotions. Today was the day he was going to lose his brother and be all alone in Oz.

"One thing that I didn't tell you, Cyril---there's going to be other people watching today," he tried his best to keep the fantasy alive.


"Oh, let's see---the warden, Sister Pete, ma, Dr. Nathan, and a few other people you probably won't recognize."

"Oh. Are you going to be there?"

O'Reily failed to fight back the tears, but cleared his throat and said, "No. I want to, but I can't."

"Why?" he asked but then noticed the tears. "Daddy said---it's not good for big boys to cry."

"Yeah, well, you know what? Dad was wrong, and I was wrong. We were all so fucking wrong, Cyril. Man, I'm so sorry," O'Reily said and put his hand over his eyes and started crying.

"Did I do something?"

"No---no. Dr. Nathan, she said I got this condition, right, and the only way for me to cure myself is to cry. You know, it's got nothing to do with you. I'm sorry---don't be scared, okay?" he straightened himself up and said.

"Whoops," Cyril said after he farted and both of them started laughing. "I think I got gas from dinner."

"Mom, hi. Any word from Zelman?"

"No," Fitzgerald said with a grim face.

"You look pretty," Cyril innocently said to her.

"Sit down. I want to teach you this little prayer that I know. It goes something like this. It goes---"

He had hugged his mom as he asked her the question so that Cyril could not hear anything. Something inside him felt sick when she gave her response and he immediately rushed out of the cell to throw up in a garbage can that was close by and out of view from his brother. O'Reily coughed up what little he was able to eat last night and spat it all into the garbage can. His body was rejecting Cyril's death.

"Hey. There's probably not a chance I can get a copy of that journal you're writing in, can I?" O'Reily asked the officer after he had finished spilling his guts.

"Afraid not."

"No, just a, you know, one quick stop by the copy machine, you know?" he sounded desperate but did not care. "No one's got to know. I swear to God, I won't show it to anyone. I promise."

"Your time is up," the guard put the notebook away and said.

"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me," both Cyril and Fitzgerald were whispering as he laid his head on her shoulder.

"Hey, come on---we have to go," O'Reily said to his mother.

"Amen," Cyril said and Fitzgerald hugged and kissed him on both cheeks before she stepped out of the cell.

"Hey, who loves you, man?" he kissed his little brother's cheek and tightly embraced him in a hug as he said.

"You do."

"Oh, that's right. More than you'll ever fucking know. Listen, I just need you to relax, okay? You know, you get scared, you just think of me, all right?"


"My boy," he said and stepped out of the cell too.

"What?" Cyril asked when he saw both his big brother and Fitzgerald staring at him from outside the cell.

"Nothing," O'Reily replied and the two of them left.

"These are the clothes you asked for," another officer said and rested some clothing on the bed.

"I didn't ask for any clothes. Is that Ryan's shirt? He said I could wear it?"

His heart was bleeding out as he sat the second floor of Em City with his feet dangling off the balcony and was flipping through the pages of the bible. Cyril was going to be killed in his favorite shirt. He was so raw and his head was so compromised that it did not know what to feel or do next. O'Reily gripped the bible tightly and looked to the quad to see it emptier than it was just a few moments ago. Soon enough, only one person remained in the middle of it.

Neema stood up and walked around a small circle in the quad and every inmate began pounding against the glass walls of their pods. O'Reily slowly stood up and looked around in confusion to see what the hell was going on. Everyone, except for him and Neema, were voluntarily closed away in their pods and banging against the glass. The sound was almost Earth shattering to his brain. McManus and Murphy came to get him to take him out of Em City and his eyes connected with Neema's before he was escorted out.

The time was drawing close. The silence of the gym was a maddening backdrop to his already quiet thoughts as the Irishman entered the maze with Meehan's bible clutched tightly in his hand. The maze was his life, and he had lost his way in it so very long ago. He was unable to cope with his flesh and blood being destroyed today. A part of him was going to die at any minute, despite all his efforts to save and protect him. Cyril was a part of him.

O'Reily traversed the maze as far as he could until he came to a dead end. He had to go back and take a different branching path to reach the ultimate goal. His head was too cloudy and his mind was too gone to complete the meditation maze, so he stopped and kneeled to the ground where he was. He was lost in so many ways. He rested the book on the floor in front of him and pressed his arms into his chest as he closed his eyes and prayed---a prayer for his brother's soul that he wanted more than anything to be guided to and embraced by God.

He interlaced his fingers and dug his joined hands into the ground of the maze as he bowed his head and prayed. Tears escaped his eyes and his body was torn from the inside. His faith was not helping him cope with the loss he would soon endure. O'Reily wanted to scream or emotionally lash out at something but his eyes remained closed and his hands clamped together as he prayed and cried for his little brother. It all stayed a blur in his mind, and his insides were drenched from the many tears he had fought all this time to keep from releasing themselves.

A few hours had passed and the shock of it all had just barely allowed him to remain breathing. His heart was strained and hurting but also bursting for joy when McManus had come to tell him the news. O'Reily sat on a chair in his pod with the bible and a copy of the transcripts from the guard taking notes on Cyril resting on his lap. Emotions had been savagely beaten and his mind had threatened to shut his body down at any minute. But, it had worked. Prayer had worked. O'Reily felt the lifeline surge through him---it saved him from drowning inside himself.

"Thank you," he said and looked up at the ceiling of the pod.