Danny heard the key turning in the lock, and the heavy door was pulled open once again.
"Follow me, Cartwright," said a voice. Danny stepped back out of the cell and followed another officer he'd never seen before. Had the authorities already decided to put him in a different cell, he wondered, as the screw led him back down the iron staircase, along another corridor, and through a further set of double-barred gates before coming to a halt outside a door marked STORES. The officer gave a firm rap on the little double doors, and a moment later they were pulled open from the inside.
"CK4802 Cartwright," said the officer, checking his charge sheet.
"Strip off," said the stores manager. "You won't be wearing any of those clothes again"-he looked down at the charge sheet-"until 2022." He laughed at a joke he cracked about five times a day. Only the year changed.
Once Danny had stripped, he was handed two pairs of boxer shorts (red and white stripes), two shirts (blue and white stripes), one pair of jeans (blue), two T-shirts (white), one pullover (gray), one donkey jacket (black), two pairs of socks (gray), one pair of shorts (blue gym), two singlets (white gym), two sheets (nylon, green), one blanket (gray), one pillow case (green) and one pillow (circular, solid); the one item he was allowed to keep were his trainers-a prisoner's only opportunity to make a fashion statement.
The stores manager gathered up all of Danny's clothes and dropped them in a large plastic bag, filled in the name Cartwright CK4802 on a little tag, and sealed up the bag. He then handed Danny a smaller plastic bag which contained a bar of soap, a toothbrush, a plastic disposable razor, one flannel (green), one hand towel (green), one plastic plate (gray), one plastic knife, one plastic fork and one plastic spoon. He ticked several boxes on a green form before swiveling it around, pointing to a line with his forefinger and handing Danny a well-bitten biro that was attached to the desk by a chain. Danny scrawled an illegible squiggle.
"You report back to the stores every Thursday afternoon between three and five," said the stores manager, "when you'll be given a change of clothes. Any damage and you'll have the requisite sum deducted from your weekly wage. And I decide how much that will be," he added before slamming the doors closed.
Danny picked up the two plastic bags and followed the officer back down the corridor to his cell. He was locked up moments later, without a single word having passed between them. Big Al didn't seem to have stirred in his absence, and Nick was still seated at the tiny table, writing.
Danny climbed up onto the top bunk and lay flat on the lumpy mattress. While he'd been on remand for the past six months, he'd been allowed to wear his own clothes, roam around the ground floor chatting to his fellow inmates, watch television, play table tennis, even buy a Coke and sandwich from a vending machine-but no longer. Now he was a lifer, and for the first time, he was finding out what losing your freedom really meant.
Danny decided to make up his bed. He took his time, as he was beginning to discover just how many hours there are in each day, how many minutes in each hour and how many seconds in each minute when you're locked up in a cell twelve foot by eight, with two strangers to share your space-one of them large.
Once he'd made the bed, Danny climbed back onto it, settled down and stared up at the white ceiling. One of the few advantages of being on the top bunk is that your head is opposite the tiny barred window: the only proof that there is an outside world. Danny looked through the iron bars at the other three blocks that made up the spur, the exercise yard and several high walls topped with razor wire that stretched as far as the eye could see. Danny stared back up at the ceiling. His thoughts turned to Beth. He hadn't even been allowed to say goodbye to her.
Next week, and for the next thousand weeks, he'd be locked up in this hellhole. His only chance of escape was an appeal. Mr. Redmayne had warned him that that might not be heard for at least a year. The court lists were overcrowded, and the longer your sentence, the longer you had to wait before they got around to your appeal. Surely a year would be more than enough time for Mr. Redmayne to gather all the evidence he needed to prove that Danny was innocent?
Moments after Mr. Justice Sackville had passed sentence, Alex Redmayne left the courtroom and walked down a carpeted, wallpapered corridor that was littered with pictures of former judges. He knocked on the door of another judge's chambers, walked in, slumped on a comfortable chair in front of his father's desk and said simply, "Guilty."
Mr. Justice Redmayne walked across to the drinks cabinet. "You may as well get used to it," he said as he drew out the cork from the bottle he'd selected that morning, win or lose, "because I can tell you that since the abolition of capital punishment, far more prisoners charged with murder have been convicted, and almost without exception, the jury gets it right." He poured two glasses of wine and handed one to his son. "Will you continue to represent Cartwright when his case comes up for appeal?" he asked before taking a sip from his own glass.
"Yes, of course I will," said Alex, surprised by his father's question.
The old man frowned. "Then all I can say is good luck, because if Cartwright didn't do it, who did?"
"Spencer Craig," said Alex without hesitation.
AT FIVE O'CLOCK the heavy iron door was pulled open once again, accompanied by a raucous bellow of "Association!" from a man whose previous occupation could only have been as a Guards sergeant major.
For the next forty-five minutes all the prisoners were released from their cells. They were given two choices as to how they might spend their time. They could, as Big Al always did, go down to the spacious area on the ground floor. There he slumped in front of the television in a large leather chair that no other inmate would have considered occupying, while others played dominoes, with tobacco as the only stake. If, on the other hand, you were willing to brave the elements, you could venture out into the exercise yard.
Danny was thoroughly searched before he stepped out of the block into the yard. Belmarsh, like every other prison, was awash with drugs and dealers who would hurriedly ply their trade during the only time in the day that prisoners from all four blocks came into contact with each other. The system of payment was simple and accepted by all the addicts. If you wanted a fix-hash, cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin-you let the wing dealer know your requirements, and the name of the person on the outside who would settle up with his contact; once the money had changed hands, the goods would appear a day or two later. With a hundred remand prisoners being driven in and out of the jail to attend court every morning, there were a hundred different opportunities to bring the gear back in. Some were caught red-handed, which resulted in time being added to their sentence, but the financial rewards were so high that there were always enough donkeys who considered it a risk worth taking.
Danny had never shown any interest in drugs; he didn't even smoke. His boxing coach had warned him that he would never be allowed in the ring again if he were caught taking drugs.
He began to stride around the perimeter of the yard, a patch of grass about the size of a football pitch. He kept up a fast pace, as he knew that this would be his only chance of getting any exercise, other than a twice-weekly visit to an overcrowded gym during the day. He glanced up at the thirty-foot wall that circled the exercise yard. Although it was topped with razor wire, that didn't stop him thinking about escape. How else would he be able to seek revenge on the four bastards who were responsible for stealing his freedom?