IRON CHEF

By

Eve Fisher



In Laskin, South Dakota, the Davisons have always been the equivalent of the Sopranos, just not so organized. It’s simply assumed that a Davison will start criminal activity early and stick with it unless, like John Davison, they have a knack for marrying money. Randy Davison, nephew of Siv, grandson of Dave, great-grandson of Ole, didn’t have much of a chance.
Not that Randy wanted one. In junior high, he was a thin, twisting otter on lit basketball courts and through dark basement windows, landing feet first almost every time. His education ended his freshman year of high school, when his cousin introduced him to meth. By the time he was eighteen, his good looks were melting away in skin sores and lost teeth, and his vocabulary was pretty much variations in F Major. His mother wept as he was handcuffed after being sentenced to prison, but Randy’s response was, “What’s your problem, Mom? I finally did something you told me to do – I’m going to the pen.”
Siv Davison backhanded him. “Dumbass.”
“You’re not gonna do something about that?” Randy shouted at the sheriff. “He hit me, and I’m all cuffed up. I can’t even defend myself!”
“Get him outta here, will you?” Siv said, and for once Sheriff Hanson was happy to comply with a Davison request.
Randy went into prison bragging, because he believed it proved he was tough, in the same way that knowing how to make a band-aid from toilet paper and tape proved he had street smarts. But what had worked before, sort of, in high school and the mean streets of Sioux Falls, didn’t work so well in the pen.
Ole Davison, Randy’s lifer uncle, took time out at rec to talk to him: “Look, punk. Just shut up and behave. You’re giving us all a bad name. Stick with Elgar, he’ll cover you. I told him to. But you keep on the way you’re going – you’re not gonna survive.”
Randy didn’t say anything back – he had some sense – but he shrugged and walked off.
“Well, you tried, Ole,” said a buddy.
Ole nodded. “He’s going to have to learn the hard way.”
The hard way was a savage group assault that required hospitalization. When Randy returned to the tier, pale, limping, and very quiet, he slipped under Elgar’s wing and stayed there. But Elgar was released a year later, and Randy, on his own, went back to attitude. And dreams. Soon he’d be up for parole, and he’d talk his mother into taking him home with her. A little R&R, right? And he’d stay with her, because she’d be happy to have him, she’d be missing her little boy. Before you knew it, he’d be back in business. And he’d never, ever, ever come back.
But his mother didn’t come for him. She finally remarried, and her new husband, who was not a Davison, wanted nothing to do with Randy. Nor was he paroled. Instead, a CO loaded him into a van and took him on a long silent drive to the Spirit Mound Work Farm, a jumble of buildings in the middle of nowhere.
“Here you go,” the CO said, and left.
Randy took one look around – or rather, took one good whiff – and said, “I ain’t gonna stay here.”
“Son, you’ve been transferred here,” Leif Anderson, the manager, replied. “You can’t just leave when you want.”
“That’s not what my lawyer says,” Randy bluffed. “My Mom, she’ll come get me. She’ll get me out.”
“Give her a call.”
Anderson took him inside the kitchen, where a heavy-set woman was cleaning up after lunch with the help of two inmates. Only the inmates paid any attention as Randy demanded, asked, pleaded, and begged his mom to get him out and back home. Finally he slammed the phone down – “see if I f---ing care” – kicked the door open, and slammed it hard behind him.
It might have been the strong sunlight or the ammonia smell of pigs and geese that made Randy’s eyes water as he stood looking at those miles of corn. The barns looked small under a hard blue sky. A handful of young men were standing by the nearest barn, having a pop. Something made them all howl.
“What the hell are you laughing at?” he yelled.
“Just you,” one of them yelled back. It was Trent Fourche, a distant cousin. He peeled himself off the barn wall and walked over. “When’d you get here, Randy?”
“Right now.”
“Anybody show you around yet?”
“Nope. I ain’t staying long anyway. My Mom, she’s working on it to get me out.”
“Aw, did you call your mommy to come get you?”
Randy leaped on him, and the two fell into a wrestling/punching match. More guys came out and watched until Yardley Davison, another cousin, came out and literally tore them apart.
“You settled down now?” Yardley asked, shaking Randy like a rag doll until Randy gasped,
“Yes.”
“Good. Come on. I’ll show you around.”
#
Randy was given a bedroom in the old farmhouse, a pair of blue jeans, a white t-shirt, a set of coveralls and tennis shoes, and set to work. He didn’t like any of it. The bedroom was tiny and hot, and he had to share it with a guy named Provo, who was twice his size and snored. The work coveralls reminded him of the jumpsuits at the pen, and he had to wear the same crusty, filthy pair to work all week.
The geese scared him: there were hundreds of them, and they weren’t afraid of him at all. They ran right at him, hard yellow beaks open and hissing, ready to bite. He couldn’t hit or kick them either – Elgar had warned him the boss would have his hide if he did. Instead, he jumped back, ducking behind the other guys as they spread their arms wide and walked towards the birds, flapping their arms and hissing back at them. It actually worked: the geese waddled quickly away from them.
“You gotta show ‘em who’s boss,” Cal said. He was a big black guy from Mississippi, who’d spent summers on a farm. “You run, they’ll run after you. They catch you, they’ll bite your fingers right off.”
“No, they won’t,” Randy said defiantly.
The hogs were worse, huge, with tusks and small savage eyes. The hog pens stank, the lagoons were worse, and:
“You slip and fall in, not much gonna come out,” said Rosti, the head hog man and Anderson’s right-hand man.
“Yeah,” Yardley confirmed. “They eat anything. Even people.”
“No, they don’t,” Randy protested. Barely.
“Oh yeah? Watch this.” Yardley picked up a dead squirrel and slung it into the pen, to the gobbling delight of the hogs.
And the other inmates just ticked him off. They were always telling him what to do, laughing at him when he screwed up, disrespecting him. One night he heard them talking about him, in the old shed they called the clubhouse:
“What was he busted for, anyway?” Cal asked.
“Drugs. Meth,” Yardley replied.
“He do anything else?” someone else asked.
“He’s not much good at anything else.”
“He wasn’t bad at B&E,” Trent added. “He’s kind of like a weasel; he can slide into most any kind of window.”
“Mm. On his own, or someone tell him what to do?”
Yardley snorted. “He’s no hunting dog; he’s gotta have a handler.”
Another voice: “Can’t imagine anyone wanting to handle him.”
And everyone laughed.
God, he was sick of people talking about him, laughing at him. It wasn’t fair. He’d never lived on a farm, damn it. How was he supposed to know how to handle animals? And why should he? He wasn’t going to make a career out of this, that was for damn sure. As soon as he could, he was heading out to Sioux Falls or Omaha or even Chicago, and never set foot on a farm again.
“It ain’t fair,” he whined to the cook, Donna Anderson, late one morning as he scrubbed pots and she worked on lunch. After failing at hogs and geese, he was now on what seemed eternal KP duty. “I’m a city boy.”
“You’re from Laskin. That’s no city.”
“It’s the county seat. It’s more of a city than this damn place.”
“Just about anywhere’s more of a city than here. We’ve got to get lunch going. Come over here and stir this until it browns.”
He walked over to the stove. “Where’s Lynn and Mercer?”
“Mercer came up sick this morning. And Lynn’s off getting groceries with Mr. Anderson. Taking their damn sweet time about it, too.”
“He got to go to town? How come I didn’t get to go?”
“Because I need some help.”
“That ain’t fair.”
“Nothing’s fair. Let me know when that roux’s brown, and don’t let it burn. Keep stirring, it keeps the lumps out.”
After a while, he asked, “How did you know I’m from Laskin?”
“Never met a Davison that wasn’t.”
“This stuff’s brown.”
“There’s hot stock in that pan behind you. Pour it in slowly and keep stirring.”
He did. She watched him, and when he was done, said, “Good job. You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”
He shrugged. “I used to help my grandmother some times.”
After lunch, over dishes, he asked, “Why do you stay here?”
“Somebody’s got to get lunch.”
“I mean here. Working.”
“My family’s here.” He’d heard that she was Anderson’s daughter-in-law. And that her husband had died young. “Besides, where else would I go?”
“Somewhere big. Somewhere there’s something to do.”
“Takes money to do things. They don’t give anything away free in a city.”
“Yeah, well, someday I’m gonna make a ton of money and have everything I want.”
“I buy a lottery ticket every week myself. You know, you want to make a lot of money, you could do worse than learn to cook. Chefs, they make a lot of money.”
“Then how come you’re here?”
“I’m a cook. There’s a difference. You take those men chefs, Emeril and Wolfgang Puck, they make a mint. Watch the Food Channel once in a while, you’ll see.”
There was a kick at the door, and “Donna!”
She went over and let in Anderson, carrying a huge box of groceries. “Where are the boys?” she asked.
“Back in town.” Anderson slung the box on the table. He looked tired and angry. He turned to Randy and said, “There’s a whole lot more out in the truck. Go get ‘em.” To Donna, he said, “I gotta go make a bunch of phone calls. Those stupid –” He stopped, and glared at Randy, who hadn’t moved. “You gonna get those groceries or what?”
Outside, word spread that something had happened, and five guys showed up to volunteer to help take the groceries inside. Randy heard “in what fit of stupidity I do not know -” broken off as they marched in. Anderson looked at the guys, shook his head and went into his office.
#
Lynn and Wes had been arrested. Anderson had given them permission to go to the local café for a burger and fries while he went to do some business (rumors flew of alcohol and/or sex). The two young men ordered their meal, bolted it, and then headed out the back door. Barely two hours later they were under arrest for breaking and entering into the home of Mrs. Pug Pervald, a ninety-two year old widow who would have been an easy target, except her son was home from Mankato for a visit. By the weekend everything was confirmed, Lynn and Wes had been arraigned, and were back at the pen for parole violation, pending their trial.
“What the hell were they thinking?” Provo wondered.
“They were thinking they were gonna get some cash and a car and head out of state,” Cal said.
“Just what you’d expect from that pair of dumb-asses.” Yardley commented.
Trent nodded. “Yeah. Well, they blew it for us, didn’t they?”
“What’d they blow?” Randy asked.
There was a pause. “Us going to town,” Trent finally said. “Anderson won’t take us anymore.”
“Oh, he’ll take us when he needs help hauling. But we won’t be let out of his sight.” Cal sighed. “No more burgers and fries.”
“Worse, no more lap dances at the Kit-Kat,” Trent groaned.
“When the hell did you get to go to the Kit-Kat?”
“The time Anderson delivered all those geese down to Sioux Falls.”
“Oh, God. A lap dance. It’s been so long.” Cal gyrated.
“Marcy. Blonde and tight and sweet with it,” Trent said, his eyes closed. “She got me busted, but damn, it was almost worth it.”
Trent went graphic as the guys all whooped and hollered, including Randy. But his was just mimicking: he didn’t have any memories of lap dances and strippers. The only sex he’d ever had was with girls his own age, teenagers, only two, who had had to be coaxed and didn’t do much except let him do it. At the time, it had been enough.
“Southern women,” Cal assured everyone. “They’re hot. Hot as firecrackers.” As Cal gave details, Randy considered moving south when he got out.
#
All that talk about sex made Randy realize how long it was going to be until he got any. His life was being stolen away from him, so the next few days he snarled at everyone, tried to shove Yardley and Trent around (who shoved him back), and finally one day mouthed off to Rosti. Rosti grabbed him, dragged him to the nearest hog pen fence, slammed him into it and repeated the slamming until Randy felt his back was about to break.
Rosti stopped and looked into his eyes. “Now. You got anything else you wanna say to me?”
“N-n-n-no.”
“Good. Then listen. You do what I say, and when I don’t say nothing, you don’t say nothing to me. Got it?” Randy nodded. Rosti shook Randy until his teeth rattled, punched him hard in the face, and then threw him to Yardley, who’d followed. “Get him out of my sight.”
“Man, you are some kind of idiot,” Yardley said, dragging Randy away. “You don’t piss off Rosti, no matter what.”
Randy wanted to say something smart and obscene, but his face and his back hurt, and he knew that if he opened his mouth, all he’d do was cry. So he didn’t say anything and went back to the kitchen. Donna looked at Randy’s face and handed him a bag of ice. “Put that on it. It’ll help some.”
“Nothing’s going to help.”
“If you say so.” She dug down into a pocket and handed him a couple of aspirin. “But these might. So what happened?”
“Everybody hates me.”
“Mm. You like anyone but yourself?”
“I don’t like those sons of bitches.”
She poured coffee for them both. “Well... Rosti can do anything he wants. Stay out of his way. And try being polite to the guys.”
“I don’t care.”
“Yes, you do. You just don’t want to admit it.”
Her voice was soft, and he started to cry. “It’s… my life… It’s… everything…”
“I know,” she said, patting his shoulder. “I know.”

By the end of the month, Randy was working in the kitchen full-time. He liked it, especially now that Nathan and Jonah, both slightly mental and very slow, did all the scrubbing and cleaning, leaving Randy to do the prep. It got him away from those damned geese and hogs. It got him away from Rosti. He got to watch TV, even if all they watched was the Food Channel, the Weather Channel, and soap operas. And Donna was a damn good cook, generous with leftovers and extras: barbecue, chips, cookies. Plus she showed him how to cook things, or watched as he tried something he saw on TV.
“It’s not bad,” he told the guys back behind one of the barns one night as they smoked and ate a huge bag of chips that Randy had stolen.
“Get anything else besides chips?” Elgar asked.
“What do you want?”
“Depends on what she’s got,” Cal said. “There’s always something in the back room.”
The back room was a locked storage room, and Randy shook his head. “I’m not breaking any locks. I ain’t stealing nothing.”
“Who the hell asked you to?” Yardley was offended.
“I don’t want to go back to the pen.”
“Thought you hated it here,” Trent said.
“Not as much as the pen.”
“No one’s asking you to do anything other than pass us some cookies. Jeez, you’re a paranoid sumbitch.”
Cal pulled a joint out of his pocket, lit it, and passed it to Randy. Instantly he knew there was something specific they wanted.
“Yeah, well,” he inhaled deeply, “I gotta look out for myself.” But, as he exhaled, he felt vaguely guilty. These were his friends. You had to go along to get along. He knew there could be a lot more dope in his future now that he had something to trade. “Besides, she’s teaching me to cook. Yeah, listen. I’m gonna be on Iron Chef some day, and when you guys’re down at the Kit-Kat getting your laps rubbed, you’ll be paying for it. But I’ll be getting it for runzas and pound cake.” He gyrated with abandon, and everybody laughed, this time with him.
That night he went to bed, stoned and happy, music bouncing in his head, something he’d heard at the Cinco de Mayo festival in Sioux Falls. One rhythm, he could only remember a couple of notes, but he played it over and over in his mind until it got down to his feet. Late, after everyone else was asleep, his feet danced in the night.
#
He walked into the kitchen the next morning and found himself backed up against the wall by the stove, next to the skillet where sausage sizzled.
“What the hell were you thinking? You think I don’t keep tabs on the food? You think I don’t know you took that bag of chips? You got five bucks to pay me for them?”
Randy shook his head at all of it, and tried to sidle away from the grease spattering him. Her blue eyes were suddenly hard and cold.
“What the hell made you think you got the right to take anything you want and walk out of here with it? You think I don’t know when I’m being played? You can go back to slopping hogs any day for all of me if you’re gonna steal from me. They can throw you to the hogs.” He shrunk back even further into the corner. “Are you listening? You hear me?”
“Yes! I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I just… I just wanted… I needed something to share with the guys. They’re jealous of me working here. They’re always making fun of me! And I got nothing, nothing at all! You don’t understand! I’ll never do it again. I swear to God.”
“Yeah. Right. Well, we’ll see.” Her face and voice softened slightly. “Don’t do it again.”
He nodded. He would, of course, if he got half a chance – but not today. She opened the storeroom with the key on the large key ring she kept in her pocket, and told him what to get: “Bisquick and syrup. And a bowl full of potatoes.”
He lingered in the storeroom, looking over everything: shelves of food, cooking equipment, towels, paper stuff. Bins. Boxes. In the back corner an old green safe – and he stopped. It was the kind they showed in old movies, with a tumbler lock.
“Hey, Randy! Come on! We’ve got breakfast to get!”
He came out and started peeling potatoes as she mixed pancake batter.
Anderson stuck his head in and said, “I’m heading to town right after breakfast. You got a list?”
“Right here.”
“Mm. What you making there, son?” Anderson asked.
“Potato bake,” Randy replied. He turned to Donna and said, “Maybe we should put some hot pepper in it, zing it up a little bit?”
“I think there’s enough zing for right now,” she said. But she smiled. Anderson smiled. Nathan was always smiling. Randy smiled. There was a safe, and he knew where it was. Everything was okay.
#
Anderson lived in the new farmhouse; the prisoners lived in the old farmhouse where Rosti had the master bedroom downstairs; Donna lived in an apartment above the kitchen/dining hall. She took Tuesdays and Wednesdays for her weekend, which meant cold sandwiches and soup, or a casserole “now that I can trust you to put it in,” as she told Randy. Sundays were visiting days, but almost no one ever came. Sunday afternoon was the best meal of the week, with roast meat and fixings. Randy was in the storeroom, eyeing the safe, as he had all week long, and wondering what was in it.
“What’s taking you so long?” Donna asked. Randy flinched, even though he really hadn’t done anything. She looked at him, at the safe beside him, and laughed. “You found the safe. That belonged to Leif’s grandfather. Back when this was a ranch. He kept the payroll there, and whatever else he thought was valuable.”
“What’s in it now?”
“Nothing,” Donna said. “It’s just too heavy to move.” She reached over and opened the safe by just turning the handle. “Someone disabled the lock years ago. See? Nothing there.”
Randy was disappointed. “That’s a shame.”
#
By now Randy had learned a lot about cooking. He really enjoyed it: the process, the end result, the praise when it was good, just the fact that he actually was good at something, something that might work out in the long run. He might have a future after all.
He sort of expounded to the guys on one of the quiet Sunday nights in the shed.
“You know, I was kinda thinking. We should be doing something with our lives, instead of being out here, slopping hogs. Or just chasing drugs all the damn time.”
“Sure. Easy to say,” Yardley snorted.
“Besides, you ain’t slopping hogs, you’re in the kitchen,” Cal said.
“Iron Chef.” Everyone laughed – it had become his tagline – but kindly. “Yeah. And there’s nothing in that kitchen but cheap food.” They had been nudging him about the storeroom, off and on.
“You don’t know,” Trent objected. “Think I should tell him?” The other guys all nodded. “Listen, there’s a safe in that storage room. Back in the back. Can’t see it.”
“I know that. There’s nothing in it.” The guys were staring at him. “She showed me. Opened it right up. The lock doesn’t even work anymore.”
“When did she show it to you?”
“The week after Lynn and Mercer were busted.”
“And you believed her?” Trent crowed. “That was to get you off the track. They keep the money there. Her and Anderson, they take a cut from all the money they get from the state to run this place. And from the suppliers. All the food and everything. They stash it there. Lynn and Mercer were supposed to be helping us. They were supposed to follow Anderson, not go and B&E some old woman.”
“Why would they follow Anderson?”
“To check out what bank he’s using. He was taking the money from the safe to the bank. That’s why it was empty when she showed it to you. The money was in the bank. But there’s been more since. We get hold of that, we can go anywhere. Do anything. And it’s our money. They’re getting it off of what the state pays them for us. Their cut. It should be ours.”
Randy was stunned. It was so obvious, he couldn’t believe he hadn’t seen it earlier. “So what do we do?” he asked.
“Well, first off, we need the keys to the storeroom,” Yardley said.
“That way we can get a duplicate made,” Trent added.
“Well, why haven’t you? Why didn’t Lynn get the keys?”
“She didn’t like him,” Cal said. “Not the way she does you.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Provo grumbled.
“She’s nice to me, that’s all,” Randy protested.
“She ain’t nice,” Yardley said. “She’s a bitch. She treated Lynn like shit.”
“Yeah. But Anderson put Lynn in the kitchen, and she didn’t like him. Didn’t want him. But you,” Trent drawled, looking Randy over like a prime cut. “She picked you out all by herself.”
“Huh?”
“Hey, them older women, they like a little hot pepper in their diet,” Cal insinuated.
“That’s right,” Yardley added. “They get to a certain age, they get all itchy.”
“Yeah, they’re just like old guys. They want someone young to spice ‘em up. Make ‘em feel sexy again.”
“Good looking kid like you – just make sure she doesn’t squeeze you to death,” Trent leered, and everybody laughed.
“Come on,” Randy said in disbelief. “She’s old enough to be my mother.”
“Yeah, well, she’s got the keys to the kingdom,” Cal said, “in more ways than one. Dude, if she wanted me, I’d be all over her.”
#
Randy had always thought of himself as a ladies’ man, mainly because he always wanted to get laid. His lack of success had never interfered with his self-image. Nonetheless, this was a new idea: someone wanting him, Donna wanting him. It was something to chew on, especially with the guys continuing to tell him how lucky he was, how lonely she must be, how hot she’d be once she got going, what he could get out of her…
Sunday afternoon, raining hard, super quiet. Anderson had gone to town, Rosti was snoring like a hog in the TV room, where the guys who weren’t taking long naps were watching the game. Cal nudged Randy and nodded towards the window. Outside, he could see Donna driving up with a big sheet cake.
“Somebody’s birthday?” Cal asked.
“I don’t know,” Randy said, but his heart was pounding. He had a birthday this week. Did she know that? He almost thought he might have mentioned it.
After a while, Cal said, “Wonder whose it is.”
Randy shrugged. But a little while later, during a tricky play, he got up and wandered outside. He looked in the window: Donna was fussing with the dinner roast. She had nice hands, he’d give her that. Red-blonde hair, blue eyes, wide mouth, high cheekbones, not bad from the neck up. An older woman, still holding her own. But she had a cook’s body, heavy and thick, that stretched out her white jacket at the seams every time she bent over. Probably been a long time since she’d had anybody hit on her. If he loved up on her, she’d probably let him do anything he wanted, with her or the storeroom, and there’d be a lot more food and maybe even some cigarettes and meds for him. But damn, it’d be like doing his mom. Still… Maybe. She smelled pretty good, a mix of fresh bread, soap, and perfume. Might work.
He stepped inside and came over to her.
“You need any help?” he asked.
“You startled me. No, I’m doing fine. Go back and –”
“No, I mean it. I’d like to help. I’d like to do anything I can to help you.” Donna closed the oven door on the roast and stood up. “I just wanna say, I’m really, really grateful, for everything you do for me. Have done. The way you feed me, you take care of me. You are such a cool lady. I don’t know what I’d have done without you.” He drifted, her backing up, him following, to the corner by the storeroom. “You stepped in and helped me when no one else gave a damn. Got me working here instead of out with the hogs. I appreciate it. I really do. You are so special. And you are so pretty. Did you know that? You got some of the prettiest blue eyes in the world. You should put on some more make-up, make yourself up more. Not that you’re not beautiful just the way you are. You are. You’re a mature, beautiful woman, a real woman.” His body taut, his hands started moving. “The kind of woman I’ve always wanted. You and me, we could be –”
And she shoved him away with all her strength.
He landed against the table, his manufactured desire curdling into fear, ready to leap into anger, but she raced past him, towards the window. He turned, and saw the back barn leap into flames.
“Jesus!” Two guys came running from the barn, and then the rest poured out of the old farmhouse. “Oh, thank God - ” Donna began, but all eleven of them looked at the barn, jumped up and down, whooping, and then they started running towards the new house, Anderson’s house.
Donna looked over at Randy. “So that’s what this is all about.”
“No! I had no idea! Honest to God!” She pulled out her cell phone, and his whole stomach flipped. “Who are you calling?”
“Yeah, this is Donna Anderson out at the Spirit Mound Work Farm. We’ve got one of the barns on fire, I think it’s arson, and there’s a bunch of prisoners trying to make a break for it. Need the fire department, sheriff, everyone ASAP. Yes.” She put the phone back in her pocket and said, “You gonna go with them or stay here?”
Randy gulped. He couldn’t make up his mind. If the guys took off, if the guys got caught, if he was stuck, if he went with them…
“Oh, for God’s sake,” she said. “For once, make up your own mind.”
Randy looked out, at the van they must have hotwired, skidding in the yard as someone did a 180 in the mud. Rosti came lunging out of the farmhouse after them, stumbling. They had set this up; they had told him nothing about it; they had set him up; they were going to leave him behind. He leaped for the door and lunged out, screaming, “You sorry sons of bitches! I hope they catch every damn one of you and you all rot in prison!”
There was a pop-pop-pop – someone had found a gun and fired it, poorly. Then the van was gone, it was all quiet except for his heartbeat, and even the fire was dying down under the falling rain.
#
They were all caught and sent back to the penitentiary. Even Nathan and Jonah, who had gone along just because they were told to. Even Randy, despite the fact that Donna had said, “I don’t think he had a damn thing to do with it.”
But Anderson was fed up with prison workers: “You can’t trust ‘em, no matter what. And if I have to hire guards to keep ‘em in line, then it’s just not cost effective. I’m sticking to kids and Mexicans from here on out.”
“Listen,” Donna told Randy, as they waited for the prison van, “what you tried on me? Don’t ever try that again. It’s just going to get you killed. I was about to knock you across the room before I saw that fire.” He winced, and she tsked. “You’ve got to start thinking for yourself. Pay attention. There’s still hope, but you keep on the way you’ve been going, you’ll never do anything, you’ll just be a bum, spend your life in prison and on the streets…”
The prison van pulled up, and his heart started racing.
“I wasn’t going to join them.”
“I know. They know that. Listen. Try to keep on cooking. You’ve got some talent there. You could be a contender. You could be somebody.”
“Iron Chef!”
Donna sort of nodded, with a frustrated smile, as the two COs stepped out of the van and came to take him away.

THE END