"Myron, are you listening to me?" Carl Herbold glowered at his
fellow convict, impatiently shook his head, and muttered, "Stupid,
Impervious to the insult, Myron Hutts's vacant grin remained in
Carl thrust his face closer. "Lose the grin, okay, Myron? This is
serious stuff I'm talking here. Has anything sunk into that lump of
shit riding on top of your shoulders? Have you heard a fucking word
Myron chomped down on his PayDay candy bar. "Sure, Carl, I heard
you. You said for me to listen good and pay attention."
Carl relaxed somewhat, but he wasn't convinced that even a fraction
of what he told Myron would register. Myron wasn't what you'd call
brainy. In fact, stretching, Myron's IQ might range in the single
He was physically strong and eager to please, but his shortage in
the smarts department made him a risk to Carl's carefully laid
plans. Having someone with Myron's limitations as an accomplice
wasn't without its drawbacks.
On the plus side, Carl needed a Myron Hutts. He needed a nonthinker
who did what he was told, when he was told to do it, without
question or argument or scruple. That's why Myron was a perfect
choice. Even if he'd been a fucking Einstein with gray matter to
spare, Myron was missing a conscience.
A conscience was "internal dialogue." Now wasn't that a catchy
phrase? Carl had picked it up from an article in a magazine. He'd
committed it to memory, then pulled it out and used it on the parole
board the last time he came up for review. For five minutes he had
waxed eloquent on how he had been having internal dialogues with
himself about his past misdeeds and the havoc he'd wreaked on his
life and the lives of others. These dialogues had shown him the
error of his ways and pointed him toward the light of self-discovery
and accountability. He was remorseful and wished to atone.
The board members weren't impressed by the big words he'd thrown in.
They'd seen his speech for the string of bullshit it was and
rejected his petition for parole.
But supposing the conscience was internal dialogue. That entailed
abstract ideas and concepts, which Myron was just too plain stupid
to grasp. Actually Carl didn't give a damn whether Myron had a
conscience or not. He would act on his impulses of the moment,
period. Which was precisely why Carl had chosen him. Myron wouldn't
go squeamish on him if things got ugly.
And speaking of ugly, Myron was one butt-ugly dude. His skin had
only a trace of pigmentation. Most of his coloration was
concentrated in his lips. They were large and unnaturally red. By
contrast, the irises of his eyes were virtually colorless. Pale,
sparse eyebrows and lashes made his vacuous gaze appear even
emptier. His hair was thin, but coarsely textured, radiating from
his head like crinkled wire. It was almost white.
He was particularly unattractive with the half-masticated nougat
center of a PayDay oozing from the corners of his fleshy lips. As
his tongue swabbed up the drool, Carl looked away.
Many would wonder why he and Myron were pals, as the contrast
between them was so striking. Carl was tall, dark, and handsome. He
worked out with weights when the mood struck him, but he religiously
did push-ups and sit-ups in his cell to keep his torso hard. He had
a killer smile that was reminiscent of a young Warren Beatty. At
least that's what he'd been told. Personally, he thought he was
better looking than the actor, whom Carl had always thought of as a
fruit. Beatty had a great-looking wife, though. A real sweet piece
was Mrs. Beatty.
Carl was certainly superior to Myron Hutts in the brains department.
The quantity Myron lacked, Carl had as extra. He was a great
planner. Brilliant ideas just seemed to come to him naturally. He
also had a real talent for taking a loosely woven idea and pulling
all the strings tight until it became a grand scheme.
If he'd been in the military, he would have been a general. But even
the highest-ranking officers needed soldiers to carry out their
strategies. Thus, Myron.
He could have picked his partner from any man in the joint. Myron
spooked most people, even hardened criminals. They steered clear of
him. But Carl's leadership qualities drew people like a magnet.
Seniority had given him a lot of clout among the convict population.
That and his innate charisma. He could have anointed any number of
inmates as his partner, all of them smarter and meaner than
Myron-because for all his violent tendencies, Myron was
sweet-tempered. But anybody brainier also could have caused Carl
He didn't need anybody with a conflicting opinion giving him lip
along the way. Disharmony led to distraction, and distraction led to
disaster, namely getting recaptured. All he needed for this escape
plan was an extra pair of eyes and ears, and someone who could shoot
and wasn't afraid to when necessary. Myron Hutts filled the bill.
Myron didn't need any cunning. Carl had enough for both of them.
Besides, he was going to catch enough guff from Cecil. Cecil thought
too much. He overanalyzed every goddamn thing. While he was weighing
the odds, he missed opportunities. Like that funny postcard Carl had
seen one time of a man holding a camera to his face and taking a
picture of the Eiffel Tower while a naked French lady was strolling
past-that was Cecil.
But Carl didn't want to think about his older brother now. Later,
when he was alone, he'd think about Cecil.
As he leaned back against the chain-link fence, his gaze roved over
the exercise yard. The vigilance was second nature. Twenty years of
incarceration had taught him always to be on the alert for the first
sign of trouble from an enemy, declared or otherwise. He wielded a
lot of influence and had a wide circle of friends, but he wasn't a
favorite of everyone.
Across the yard a gang of weight-lifting blacks were flexing their
well-oiled muscles and glaring at him with undiluted hatred for no
other reason than that he wasn't one of them. Society was all hepped
up about rival gangs, street warfare, vendettas. Laughable. Until
you'd been inside, you didn't know shit about gangs. The society
inside was the most demarcated, polarized, segregated, in the
He'd had differences of opinion with the black prisoners, which had
caused exchanges of insults, which had eventually led to fights,
which had resulted in disciplinary actions.
But he wasn't going to get anything started with anybody today or in
the near future. Until the day he and Myron had their turn to work
on the road crew, Carl Herbold was going to be an ideal prisoner. It
was a new program, part of prison reform designed to make convicts
feel like contributing members of society again. He didn't give a
crap about the social implications. All he cared about was how it
affected him. When his turn came to leave these walls and work
outside, he would be first on the bus.
So he was keeping a low profile, doing nothing that might call the
screws' attention to him. No rule-breaking, no fights, not even a
bad attitude. If he heard a mumbled insult directed at him, he
ignored it. What he didn't like, he pretended not to see. A few
nights back, he'd had to stand by and watch Myron suck a guy off.
The other prisoner, a white trash wife-killer two years into a life
sentence, had bribed Myron with a prize, so Myron had obliged him.
Frequently the more aggressive prisoners tried to take advantage of
Myron's mental incapacity. Carl usually intervened. But this close
to their break, it hadn't been worth the risk of a confrontation.
Besides, Myron hadn't minded too much. In exchange for the blow job
he'd been given a live mouse, which he'd later disemboweled with his
long pinkie fingernail.
"Now, remember what I told you, Myron," Carl said to him now,
realizing that rec time was almost up and they would have little
privacy for the rest of the day. When our turn comes up to work the
road crew, you can't seem too excited about it."
"Okay," Myron said, becoming distracted by the bleeding cuticle
around his thumb.
"It might even be good if we could look sorta pissed that we gotta
pull that detail. Think you can manage that? To look pissed?"
"Sure, Carl." He was gnawing the pulverized cuticle with all the
relish he'd shown the PayDay.
"Because if they think we're eager to go, then-"
He never saw it coming. The blow literally knocked him off the
bleacher on which he'd been sitting. One second he was looking into
Myron's slack-jawed, candy-encrusted grin. The next he was lying on
his side in the dirt, his ears ringing, his vision blurring, his gut
heaving, and his kidney getting the piss kicked out of it.
He forgot about his resolve not to cause or continue any trouble.
Survival instinct asserted itself. Rolling to his back, he brought
his foot up and thrust it into his attacker's crotch. The black
weight lifter, who obviously depended strictly on muscle instead of
fighting finesse, hadn't anticipated a counterattack. He fell to his
knees, yowling and clutching his testicles. Of course the other
blacks sought reprisal by piling onto Carl and hammering him with
The screws came running, swinging their clubs. Other prisoners began
either to try to break up the fight or to cheer it on, depending.
The struggle was quickly contained. When order had been restored and
the damage assessed, it was found to be minimal. Only two prisoners
were sent to the infirmary with injuries.
One of them was Carl Herbold.
Excerpted from "Unspeakable" by Sandra Brown. Copyright © 1998 by Sandra Brown. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.