By Chester Himes

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4 SoMEONE CALLED me out into the aisle that night and while I was gone Mal got into a fight with the General and hit him over the head with a two-by-four. He didn't hurt him much. It was all over when I got back. Some fellows had pulled them apart. They didn't really want to fight, anyway. The night guard didn't like to take anybody to the hole. When he saw it was all over he went back to the guardstand without even questioning them. All the other convicts were laughing about it. Some of them cracked that the fight had been over me.

The cells, six on each side, faced outwards toward the thick, windowless walls. It was very cold and damp. My teeth began to chatter immediately. I felt my hands getting numb. "Put us all together," Glass asked Kish. " Kish asked. "I want to cell with him," Wilkerson said, pointing to Glass. I didn't answer. Kish put the three of us in the last cell, down on the North side. He locked the cell door. There was a steel strait jacket built to the inside of the door. We listened to Kish's footsteps on the concrete floor.

But if he stayed too long we would stump him with some trick question we had thought up for just such an occasion. After that we wouldn't see him again all that day. In the mornings, for twenty minutes before we went in to wash up for dinner, we marched around the yard for exercise, and again for twenty minutes in the afternoons. But since neither we nor the guards relished walking in the snow and slush and bad weather we compromised on fifteen minutes, or even ten or five, if the deputy was not about.

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