Joe walked the prison grounds like the walls couldn’t hold him. It annoyed the other inmates and made the guards anxious. But he kept counting; he was pacing out the yard.

“Hey you, canary, snitch on this.” A monster of a man grabbed himself and glared at Joe, but the absent-minded accountant just kept walking like he didn’t see him.

“Are you a snitch?”


“We kill snitches in here.”

“I know.”

Satisfied, the inmate walked away. Joe knew it didn’t help that he had a canary tattooed on the back of his neck. The moment word got out that he actually had ratted on the mafia, he was done. It would probably be gasoline in his cell or twenty stab wounds with a toothbrush. He tried not to think about it and he walked over to the bench press to pump iron. He needed to get stronger.

There was a basketball game in the gym. Maybe he could spot the right prisoner for an escape. It would be someone who could jump high and hang on the rim. This left out most of the white guys, which made things more complicated. Prison is mostly segregated by race, but social rules can be bent by a smooth talker.

Joe noticed the sunroof. There was chicken wire stretched across it. He shimmied up the basketball hoop and started to climb the rafters. The brothers saw what he was doing and kept playing. There are some things that bring prisoners together; escape is one of them. Joe grabbed the chicken wire and the staples pulled out. He ran the length of the roof, stopped to grab an old hammer, and looked for the cable that stretched across the razor wire. Joe put the teeth on it and let gravity do the rest. Sparks flew into his eyes.

CRACK. There was the first shot.

CRACK. And the second.

He cleared the fence and dropped to the ground. The trees were only twenty feet away.

He ran ten.


Blood blotched the front of his striped uniform. Joe was only two steps away from freedom and he willed himself to take them. He looked up at the green canopy and smiled. This canary had flown the cage.

One thought on “Canary in a Cage

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