by Headley Hauser
Wally didn’t mean to keep people away. He liked people, but most found him forbidding, stand-offish, and restrictive.
Maybe if I was made of field stone, thought Wally, or even decorative brick.
Wally, as you may have guessed, was a wall. He wasn’t just any wall. He was the 28 foot, razor-wired exterior wall to the Murphysboro State Correctional Facility for Men, and in spite of every attempt to look pleasant and friendly, people avoided Wally.
Maybe it was the three strategically placed sharpshooter towers. The guards were not at all understanding when friendly inmates socially scratched Wally’s mortar.
In spite of his isolation, Wally wasn’t bitter. He reflected the gentle early morning sunshine into the exercise yard when the highly violent inmates of C block lifted the weights and did their drug deals. He blocked the harsher afternoon sun when the mob enforcers of B block smoked their cigars and planned who needed to sleep with the fishes.
The mobsters and murderers lives would have been far less pleasant if it hadn’t been for Wally, but as he was off-limits, he had to content himself with listening the inmate’s conversations.
“So, we got a movie tonight?”
“We did, and it was a good one, at least my kid liked it when they showed it at Youth Correction.”
“Your ex-wife tell you that?”
“She might have if I hadn’t planted three nine-millimeter slugs behind her right ear.”
“You know? The metric system ain’t as bad as people say.”
“You got that right.”
“It’ll be nice to have a good movie.”
“It’s a no go. Bubba smashed up the flat screen to make shivs out of it for A block.”
“Why didn’t he ask me? I got a gross of ready-made shivs hiding in my mattress!”
“Yeah, the marketplace is a jungle – hey, don’t they still have that old projector?”
“Sure, they still got it, but Jerry’s blood is all over rec room wall.”
“Ain’t it like Jerry to get in the way of a good time?”
“Yeah, if he weren’t in a coma, I’d…”
Wally stopped listening as an amazing thought occurred to him. My surface doesn’t have any blood on it! No one leans on me, or paints gang symbols on me, or anything. Once the sun goes down, all these great guys could gather in the exercise yard and watch their movie on me!
But there was one problem. Having no mouth, not to mention lungs, diaphragm, or larynx, Wally couldn’t communicate with humans whether they were guards or serial killers. Wally blocked harmful UV radiation from Big Louie and South Side Gang as he contemplated his problem – Wally was an accomplished mult-tasker.
Suddenly he heard a squawk. Wally looked for blood, but everyone in the South Side Gang looked unpunctured.
“Stupid Wall,” said a voice. “What’s the big idea, putting all this sharp stuff up here where folks are supposed to land?”
Wally followed the voice to the razor wire on top of him, and saw a grey bird.
“Don’t move,” said Wally. Birds can hear walls – even ones without a mouth. “That razor wire can hurt you.”
“I figured that out on my own, Blockhead.”
“If you stand still, I’ll get you out.” Wally shifted his blocks, slightly stretching the wire in one spot, and opening a hole in another. The bird jumped out of the wire and perched on Wally’s central rifle tower.
“Thanks, Wall, you’re a pal,” said the bird. “Anything I can do for you – just let me know.”
The bird must have thought it was unlikely that a wall would need a favor – or maybe he was insincere in his offer because he was already in flight before Wally could shout, “wait!”
“What now?” said the bird with less than perfect manners.
“I don’t want the mobsters and murderers to miss their movie,” said Wally. “They could show it on my surface if they wait until after sundown, but they don’t know that because humans can’t hear me when I speak.”
“Yeah?” said the bird. “I can take care of that for you.”
“Sure. I’m Stoolie the Pigeon. Talking to the Warden is what I do.”
So that night the inmates of Murphysboro State Correctional Facility for Men got to watch their movie. There was less than the normal amount of violence because Wally the Wall reflected the movie in all its wonderful colors. (The sound was crappy, but Wally didn’t have anything to do with that.)
And yes, the movie turned out to be Wall-E, but Wally didn’t think the main character was any relation.
All I really know about the inside I learned from Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Warning - language.