Different people handle time in a prison cell in different ways, even a prison cell like Nick’s holding cell which is a bit like a holiday compared to real jail. We’ve seen tough guys who before they were arrested thought they could take on anyone turn into pussy cats when the cell door locks and we’ve seen the drunkest of people sober up so quickly it was like they had a split personality. But it was rare we saw the kind of sight that greeted us after we got back from the pub after failing to remember Matthew, my brother, was locked in the cell.

Did I say we were stunned rigid? Yeah I think I did. Well it wasn’t like we stood there unable to move for a long period of time and it took something like an earthquake to break us out of our trance. No, we were just a little shocked by the sight we saw and we stopped dead in our tracks.

There was no cowering at the bars crying and begging for his release, there was no swearing at us as if we’d committed the world’s worst injustice. Instead what we got was Matthew, asleep on the bed as if he was catching forty winks wrapped in a big fluffy cloud.

“Dammit.” I said. “We came back from the pub for this! We could have had another beer.”

“He’s definitely one of the most sedate prisoners I’ve had in there.” Nick replied.

“Should we wake him or just leave him here?” I asked thinking of another cold beer and parma.

“Given the lack of respect he’s showing for an officer of the law I think we should leave him.”

“What about the lack of respect he’s showing his sister?”

Okay we were extending the truth and really just making conversation, neither of us had the intention of leaving poor Matty boy in the cell any longer, the game had gone on for long enough.

“Oi! Wakey wakey hands off snakey!” I called loudly as I rattled the cell door on it’s hinges making as much noise as I could.

Matthew stirred a little bit on his bed but didn’t wake immediately.

“Hey prisoner! Cell check. Look sharp!” Nick called.

This time Matthew stirred and I knew he was awake despite trying not to show it. Like I said the game had gone on for long enough so in a sign of good faith and politeness we stepped away from the door, turned and began walking back to the hallway.

“Come out when you’re ready Matthew,” Nick said over his shoulder.

We’d only taken three steps when we heard the springs on the bed creak, which was almost immediately followed by Matthew grabbing the cell door and trying to open it. Of course the cell door rattled in the locked position as Matthew moved it because Nick hadn’t unlocked it.

“You bastards!” We heard Matthew say in a low voice.

The two of us turned and headed back to the cell. Matthew stood at the door like he was not only trapped in a cell but trapped in a sad movie. He had his face pressed up against the bars of the door and his hands were clinching each bar either side of his face.

“Did you say something prisoner?” Nick asked.

We all laughed, well Nick and I did and I’m sure that despite Matthew’s surly look he was laughing on the inside. Humour aside it was time to let Matthew out of his cell.

“You two are hilarious!” Matthew said.

Nick pulled the cell keys out of his pocket and unlocked the bolt, then he pulled the door open allowing Matthew his freedom. Almost as if in a silent protest Matthew stood at the door unmoving. Was he actually shitty with us? Had we gone too far this time? Was he going to tell on me to Mum and Dad? Apparently none of the above.

“You both owe me a beer!” he said looking between the two of us, he then stepped out of the cell, looked me directly in the eyes and added. “And you, are paying for my dinner!”

“That’s a bit unfair.” I said without too much fight given that it’s probably the least I could have done given our little stunt.

Over at the pub Matthew finished his first beer nearly before Nick and I had picked ours up, I guess he was thirsty after his little nap. The second beer took a little longer to disappear but it still didn’t have time to get warm.

Being the nice person I am I of course offered to buy Matthew some dinner, I didn’t even enforce the rule of “my money, my special parma”, he actually chose it before I had a chance. We shifted ourselves from the bar to a table after we ordered, not because we didn’t want to talk to Barry but because there was a few tourists in the pub and we didn’t need to take up space on the bar.

As we waited for our dinner Nick asked Matthew why he chose to sleep in the cell, as it was not the first act chosen by most of the people that went in there, not that he had too many tenants these days.

“I knew you two were only joking, that’s why I really didn’t fight going in there.” his words confirmed my thoughts that he knew we were just playing with him. “I figured if I fought you two someone might have gotten hurt, and I hate hearing you cry!”

“Oh you’re such a nice brother!” I said, the three of us laughing together.

“Anyway,” Matthew continued. “I figured you two were just playing a game so I just lay back on the bed and closed my eyes. At first I didn’t plan on going to sleep, then when I checked and it had been ten minutes I was a little annoyed. I couldn’t hear any noises so I didn’t know if you were listening and waiting for me to make a noise at which time you’d make a big deal about it so I decided I’d just stay silent and wait. Next thing I knew you were standing at the cell door.”

“Well I have to say, you do get the award for my most polite tenant!” Nick said with a smile.

Previous Desert Rescue story here.