Carousel of Pain
by Stu Russell
Our room on the third floor was isolated from the others. We were in a corner room and across the hall from us was the Club. Except for Mr. Lacy, we were the only crew located on our end of the third floor. This remoteness gave the guards the feeling that they could be a little freer with what they could get away with in their personal dealings with us. This occurred frequently when the duty officer left our floor to discuss things with the duty officer on the second floor. Another problem that we had to suffer through concerned our door which had a faulty latch on it. On windy days, which were many, our door would blow open. Whenever this happened, the person nearest the door would get up and try to close it before it was noticed by the guard. The guards, looking out for this kind of activity, never missed the door opening, and consequently, the person with his hand on the door when the guard entered received spot guidance. This "guidance" ranged from a stern ass chewing in Korean to a stern ass stomping delivered by a Korean. The severity of treatment depended on the guard, the program at the time, and who the duty officer was. To provide for equal distribution of abuse, we rotated the seat nearest the door on a daily basis. The chair came to be known as the 'hot seat' and the twenty-four hours it was yours was living hell. This particular activity came to be known as the Carousel of Death. No other room had the need for a similar arrangement.
After the Bear became part of the guard detachment, sitting in the "Hot Seat" was even more of an extremely stressful and painful situation. On one such day, Steve Ellis was in the Hot Seat. The wind came up and we all knew that it was only a matter of time before the door opened. When it did, Steve was ready -- he moved with fluid grace and had that door almost closed when the Bear yanked hard on the door knob and pulled it from Steve's hand. As the Bear entered the room and the blood left Steve's face, the Bear asked him what he was doing with the door. Before Steve could form a reply, the Bear blasted Steve with a right to the forehead; he staggered back, but he did not fall. This angered the Bear and he delivered a volley of blows to Steve's head. Steve still didn't go down, but the Bear was satisfied, as Steve's head was covered with lumps the size of his beloved golf balls and his knees were ready to go. The Bear just smiled and left the room.
At our next lecture Hayes asked the Robot how to say, in Korean, that the wind blew the door open. Robot told him to say, "Paroom monta tora." Hayes didn't bother to say why he was asking, the ugly incident in Room 5 was still fresh in our minds and the Robot didn't ask Hayes why he was asking. The next Saturday Hayes was able to try out his new phrase. It was when we were performing our weekly cleaning. because I was one of the floor crew, I was in front of the door when it blew open. anticipating this event, the Bear had been waiting in the hall ready to move. He was in the room and looking down at me before anyone could move. Before he could question me about the door, Hayes stepped in between me and the Bear to explain in his best Korean what had happened: "Paroom monta tora." The bear cocked his head like a puppy hearing a new sound for the first time and asked Hayes to repeat himself. Hayes must have made a nasty remark about the Bear's mother, because the next thing I knew, I was starring at Hayes' empty sandals. He had vacated them as he was blasted over two beds. Hayes was getting to his feet when the Bear delivered the final flurry of blows for the day. the score was Bear 1, Hayes 0. He had the wisdom to go for the long count and his tormentor flashed his regular smile at the boys and left the room.
A few weeks later we were sitting at the table when the door opened, it was Shingleton's turn in the Hot seat, but the gods were smiling on him that day. It was Good Guy, one of the three guards that we felt comfortable with. He had a new guard with him and it looked like he was breaking him in. Good Guy motioned to the bucket, he wanted something cleaned. One of the benefits of the Hot Seat was that all chores outside the room that day were yours, so Shingy started to pick up the bucket. Good Guy said no and motioned to me; I was to clean something. I picked up the bucket and followed them to the officers' ward room. Good Guy explained that he wanted me to clean the room, so I started working and the guards left the room.
Only a few minutes had passed before one of the guards opened the door to inspect my work. Our standing instructions were to come to attention when a guard entered the room, so I came to attention and faced the guard. It was Good Guy, who motioned with his hands that while I was cleaning it was a waste of time for me to come to attention. He told me to just keep working. After inspecting my work, he left the ward room. Several minutes later the door opened and the other guard walked in. As instructed, I stayed on my hands and knees, continuing my chore. Guard number two did not think highly of my insolent behavior and let me know about it on no uncertain terms. When he entered the room I was to stand, and that was that. Then he left. Moments later the door was opened again -- my back was to it and I could not see who was coming in, so I came to attention. It was Good Guy...his right hand nailed me under the chin. He was angry that I had stood up. I could see now that the pattern was a new version of the good cop/bad cop routine...only this was the bad guard/bad guard, and momma's little boy was about to eat the big one once more. The door opened again and I spun around on my knees to see who it was and, bad choice, it was the stand up guy. His boot caught me in the belly, the second kick was upside my butt. I somehow got to attention just in time to catch several well-placed blows on my neck, chin and forehead. He left and I went back to work trying to figure out what to do next. Since they had been rotating turns coming in, it was only logical that the next guard back would be the new one. The door opened and I sprang up like I had a spring up my ass. Poor judgment...it was Good Guy, who hammered me to the floor and cleaned off his boots on my back. Once again I was alone in the ward room planning my next move. My options were simple, I was getting beat up and it was certain to continue. At least I could still guess, the odds were on my side, and sooner or later I had to get one right. I figured that the next one at the door would be the new guy so I was prepared for attention. The door opened -- both of them stood there. I didn't have to be a genius to figure this one out, I simply dropped to the floor, rolled myself into a ball and waited. They played soccer and kicked the shit out of me. I went back and forth in that room enough that they each must have made several goals. After awhile they became bored, told me to clean up the blood and go back to my room. The anxiety that had built up waiting for an event like this had been awesome, and now that it had happened to me, I felt calm and relaxed. As I walked back into the room, I was surprised to see the shocked looks on the other guys faces when they saw me in my new condition. I said we had to give Good Guy a new name. Doc came up with Egg for Ex-Good Guy. The name stuck and after the Bear and Cheeks, he was always one of the real bad asses in the camp.
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