Summary: Jarrod’s nemesis.
Category: The Big Valley
Word Count: 923
Paper was everywhere he looked. “Even lawyers could get tired of paper” Jarrod muttered to himself. Well, what he was working on was very important. Conditions in the California State Prisons were deplorable. As he had been called on to help before and been successful with the parole idea the commission felt he would be useful again this time, and he was honored to help. Reshuffling the papers into different piles just as his agile mind reshuffled itself, he realized it was nearly dinner time. Pushing back his chair he rose and smoothed the travel worn dark black suit he was wearing. He had not even changed clothes, such was his burning desire to help right this situation.
“Hello dear, I heard you ride up earlier. How was the prison tour? You must be exhausted” Victoria stated.
“A little tired Mother but not ready to relax just yet. There are a few issues still to lay to rest.” “I can’t believe how badly some of the prisoners still have it, the new ones especially. I thought that the reform bill had helped more than it did.” Jarrod answered.
“How’s that, Jarrod” Nick and Heath asked simultaneously?
“I’ll explain over dinner, shall we” and picking up Victoria’s arm, Jarrod led the way to dinner.
“Yes some of the prisoners need help protecting themselves. Its as though those first few weeks in the prison drives them mad. They try to hurt themselves on the bed railings, their silverware…even spoons. I saw their self inflicted wounds. That new field of psychology says that it is a temporary condition that happens mostly during the first few weeks while making the transition from free man to inmate.”
“Now Jarrod, just what have you come up with to help them through the adjustment period? Hogtieing them? Nick snickered.
“Sounds like depression” Heath added. “I know how depressing prisons are and how easy it is to lose the will to live. I’ve seen it happen too many times and to good men. It must be hard for them what with nothing to look forward to and all”
“Yes Heath, that’s it exactly and we need to stop them from taking their own life before they have had a chance to realize they will one day be eligible for parole. Now we think we have a solution, and its being installed at San Quentin as we speak . Our only problem is we need some one to test it on and I was wondering if perhaps…..,” before he could finish he was interrupted.
“Yeah Jarrod, I’ll do it” Heath answered the unfinished question. “When do you need me?”
“Now Heath,” Audra asked, “what makes you think Jarrod needs your help?”
“Audra, Heath’s right,” Jarrod explained, “I was hoping for his help as he has had experiences and knows more closely than anybody how hopeless prisoners can feel.”
“When do I leave Jarrod and what’s involved?”
“Well I’ll complete the paperwork tonight now that I have your approval and we will leave for San Quentin at dawn. The trial period should take five days.”
“I think I’ll turn in then, tomorrow might be very long indeed.” Heath muttered.
“Night Heath” they all chorused.
“Is this a good idea Jarrod” Victoria asked her son as soon as Heath had left “considering Heath’s penchant for getting hurt.”
“Yes Mother, I think it is –the situation needs a remedy, Heath is willing, and I feel there can be no harm done.”
Trusting Jarrod’s judgment they all turned in for the night.
Dawn broke to find Heath and Jarrod packed and already heading for San Quentin. They spent two nights on the trail camping and becoming even closer to one another. Jarrod liked the idea of camping more than taking the stage since he very rarely got Heath do himself. Heath reminisced some about his childhood and prison life, and Jarrod always felt appreciative that this brother had found their family. They were richer for his coming.
Arriving at noon on the third day at San Quentin Jarrod went to check on the design and see if all was done. While he was gone Heath was being briefed on his role and what would happen. They met up for dinner and then both retired to get a good nights sleep.
At 8 AM Heath was taken to a small room located to the west of the main cell block.. The door was opened and he walked inside. As he looked around he heard the door being locked behind him. *Well, well, he thought, this looks mighty comfy. Kinda like a vacation from my life.* With that he settled down to begin the long wait. He was fed good breakfast-lunch-and dinner all five days. He caught up on weeks of missed sleep. He had time to ponder the workings of his new families minds and liked what he found. All in all the five days passed quickly for Heath.
Jarrod was also busy those days working on one of his more complicated San Francisco law cases, and finished the report on the prison project pending Heaths okay.
As Heath was released from the room Jarrod rushed to greet him. He noticed that Heath looked no worse for wear, perhaps even more rested than normal. “Well?” he asked.
“Jarrod I don’t know about the prisoners but I’d be glad to take a trip to your padded cell anytime.”
And with that they sealed the deal.