Marco pushed the wheeled cart between the rows of cages. He didn’t have to announce that he was coming, the squeaky wheel on his cart allowed the inmates to hear him coming from the end of the cell block. He paused outside one of the first barred doors.
“Artie, your book is due. You need to give it back today.”
“I wanna renew it, Marco? I ain’t done with it.”
Marco sighed and pulled out the green cloth covered ledger that he used to record the ins and outs of the library books. He studied it for awhile and finally said, “You know you’re only allowed two renewals. This’ll be your second one. I can let you keep it for another week, but you’ll have to give it back next time.” He held out his hand, “Give it up, man. I need to stamp the card.”
“Pinche Orderly.” Arte spat as he picked up the book with his island sized paw and pushed it between the bars.
Marco kept his eyes on the death’s head tattoo that decorated the back of Arturo’s hand. He stayed back from the bars, and reached carefully for the book. Artie had been known to lash out, in the past and the little orderly wanted to be careful. He opened the front cover, pulled the card and picked up his stamp. He checked the date was right and bounced the business end off the ink pad then onto the next line of the card, careful to position the mark properly. He blew on the damp purple ink to dry it before inserting the card back into the sleeve that was glued to the inside front cover.
He noticed the title as he handed it back to Arturo, “Ornamental Horticulture”. The deaths head tattoo seemed to grin as the convicted man took back the volume.
Reading and fighting were the only two sources of entertainment inside these walls. Marco was glad that Artie had chosen reading, for the most part.