If you can’t smell it

If you can’t smell it

A Story by Sam-Stafford

A short story about an imminent release from prison.




If you can’t smell it

By Sam Stafford


Derek Wiseman experienced little emotion as he sat on the blue foam mattress and admired the gloom of his cell for a final time. A lost feeling pecked at him, of time and opportunity - which was not emotion at all. Eight was the usual get-up time but he’d been up since five; reality refused him the time-travel of sleep. If the light in his room could be trusted then it was close to eight, although it was impossible to tell by sunlight alone - November noon could as easy be seven or four. Natural light wormed through dirty, plastic slats, in the top corner of the square water closet. Not for the prisoner’s benefit. It was only to stop the rancid stink of two hundred s***s filling the cells, corridors, and communal areas of Melling wing - even if the governor said, to do that, they’d need to bring back firing squads. Since he was soon to be a free man, upon seeing that ignorant f**k governor, Derek’d tell him, “Firing squads? They were used in the military. You mean hanging, you ignorant c**t.” As he practiced the words, the room illuminated. Officer McColloch stood in the doorway, unable to block out the penetrating light despite his massive frame.

“Morning Derek. Ready, are you?” And then, having observed him. “You look about ready. You been ready a little while, I suppose. Get up your belongings and we’ll head down the office. How much is your bus to Rossiter?”

Daylight burnt bright against Derek’s milky face as he swivelled towards the doorway, obscuring his features. His stooped and twisted form must have presented to them like an animal. A faceless, contorted creature hidden in the dark cell where faceless creatures are hidden. He unfurled himself to his full height of 6ft 9 inches and ran his hand through his sparse, ginger hair. “It was one pound fifteen in 2007. Anywhere and everywhere,” said the faceless-scrawny-sicko-freak.

McColloch turned to an unseen officer outside the room and laughed. “Not anymore, we’ve had a bit of an economic crisis. What else? New Labour are out, Tories are in. Rangers are done. Freddo bars are 30p. Not much happens in twelve years when you put it like that. Anyway, we’ll give you two pound twenty, just to be safe. Buses are always two pound twenty. It’ll be about eighty quid all in to make sure you get home alright. Sound fair?”

That was McColloch, laughing to soften how large he was. Smaller officers couldn’t afford to. And since Officer O’Hagan had been improper with the Bay Strangler (rode him like a seatless bike), a female officer laughing, at any time, invited undue attention. The unseen officer was probably a woman, Derek could smell just a hint of sandalwood perfume. That’s what women do, conceal their stink with pleasant scents. And anyway, what had McColloch meant, ‘always two pound twenty’. Only the United Kingdom uses the pound, so it wasn’t two pound twenty for a bus in most of the world even. More people use shillings than pounds, in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. And yet if he’d said it’s ‘always three thousand shillings’ he wouldn’t be the only one concealing contempt at McColloch’s stupidity.

Derek let a smile invade his lips. He curled them in the way he’d learnt to. “Always two pound twenty, that’s very funny. But I know about the other things. I’ve kept up to date in the library. You know I spend a lot of time there.”

“Just a joke Derek. Come on then, ‘ent got all day.”

Derek placed a few items in a plastic pouch and held it in front of him. It contained everything he owned.

They waited like naughty schoolchildren outside the headmistress’s door. Eventually, it opened. An administrator looked Derek up and down and offered him a seat at the opposite side of a large, oak desk. The scent of the female officer who accompanied McColloch drifted to Derek, but now there was a thick, iron scent, along with the sandalwood, which almost brought him to a rage.

Not now, an inner voice pleaded, you’ve been so good.

The administrator slid over two, quite-thin forms and offered a small pen on a string of the world’s smallest, stainless steel, anal beads. The first was a standard release form, and the second was to do with firearms. “Does this mean I can’t use sparklers on Bonfire night?” he asked.

“It means you can’t use anything with explosives. So yes, and no Christmas crackers either,” said the administrator.

But[SM1] [SM2] ,” McColloch cut in. “We hardly care about those. Just no AKs or handguns or grenades. We ‘ent going haul you in for a sparkler.”

Derek smiled at the administrator. He liked her. “It’s that kind of attitude that ensures no one respects anything, don’t you think?”

The administrator pursed her lips and said nothing. The correct response.

Derek scanned the firearms document and signed it where the tab told him. Then, he leafed through the other document. Of course, it mentioned his crime. Assault and attempted rape of a minor. Good lord, she’d been spunky, and not in the way he’d hoped. One of the stipulations of the release was that he wouldn’t attempt contact with her or enter within 250 meters of her. As if he would. She was an angel, no doubt about it. Bloody hell, she’d fought with such passion. When she scraped his eyes and ran clear, he’d almost ejaculated with happiness. A proper girl, even if she had disappointed him by being within the ‘bad time’. Twelve, for goodness sake, not even a teen. As if he could’ve known. But that was fine. Faults were fine. No hard feelings, alright.

Derek looked up at the administrator. “Can you smell that?” he asked.

“Excuse me?”

Twelve years should have been twenty-four if the legal system did its job. Half time just for behaving proper. Not behaving well - just not stabbing one of the losers who were on M-wing with him. That was one thing he’d learnt on M-wing, don’t stab. If it’s fatal add on fifteen, if it isn’t, add on five and maybe minus four if they’re out and out for revenge. He’d leant two other lessons. The first was that criminals were a third losers, a third imbecilic and a third both. But thirds leave the magic 0.01% who are neither losers nor imbecilic. That was where he sat in the pecking order and he hoped to show that in the coming years. The other thing he knew, without doubt, was that his sentence would have been much longer if they’d known about the dirty ones who hadn’t managed to scrape his eyes.

Derek thought and, instead of opening the damn, gulped and signed the document. “Nothing,” he said. “If you can’t smell it.”



© 2021 Sam-Stafford

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I like this story. Once I get past all the irrelevant flab I find some good strong bones. I like bony stories.

Posted 8 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Delmar Cooper

8 Months Ago

I gave you short shrift on your story. I honestly think the core idea and its presentation are bril.. read more
Delmar Cooper

8 Months Ago

I recommended your story to rourke.

8 Months Ago

I agree and it's something I'm actively working on. The difficulty for me is sometimes knowing what .. read more

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1 Review
Added on January 7, 2021
Last Updated on January 8, 2021
Tags: Prison, Short, Story, Short Story, Adult, Literary, Genre, Horror, Thriller



Ormskirk, West Lancashire, United Kingdom

Been writing since I was a child. Still finding my feet in terms of my style so enjoy writing a broad range. Mainly doing short stories for this reason, but I have finished a novel which simply isn't .. more..