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"Jake, did you hear what happened at the penitentiary, this morning?" asked Abby, her face full of concern.

"I heard," replied the young man, getting up to prepare a plate for her.

"And?" pressed Abby.

"And what?" asked Jake, setting her a place at the table.

"I don't know," shrugged Abby, beginning to feel a little silly. "I suppose if you're not concerned, then neither should I."

Jake looked at her for a moment and then sat back down at the table. Abby tried to ignore the foreboding she had in her heart, but it wouldn't go away.

The next day, everyone woke up to the headlines of the morning paper. In black letters, the newspaper announced the firing of Richard Doyle as warden of the Watertown State Penitentiary. It was a shock to everyone-- everyone that is, except Jake. He accepted the news with very little surprise. Though he hadn't said it, Abby could plainly see that her friend was troubled.

Late that same night, Abby heard Jake's footsteps outside her door, as he paced up and down the hallway, deep in thought. After an hour of this, Jake stopped at Abby's door and poked his head inside.

"Are you awake?" he whispered softly.

"Come in," yawned Abby, sleepily checking her clock.

"I know it's late," apologized Jake, "but I need to talk to you."

"I'm listening," she answered, trying to stifle another yawn and look wide awake.

"I've not been explaining things to you as much as I could have," he began, stepping inside the bedroom and sitting down in the chair at Abby's fly tying table, "because I didn't want you to be frightened. But, when Dick was fired as warden today, the situation changed. You need to know what I'm facing. Dick has been very vocal about prison rape, and is going to use me at the commission, as his example of someone who has turned his life around, in spite of what I've been through at the pen. Dick has rocked the political boat, and I could fall in with him. If I testify, and I later get sent back to the same prison, Dick won't be there to shield me from general population, as he has in the past by keeping me in solitary confinement. If the other inmates find out that I testified against them, which I'm sure they will, then it might not go very well with me. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Numbly, Abby nodded her head that she did.

"But," she reasoned, "if you testify, then the abusers will be punished, right?"

"This won't be a criminal trial," explained Jake. "The commission will hear my testimony, along with others, and hopefully, change policies so that prison rape won't be so common, anymore."

"But," whimpered Abby, "if you speak out, and no one is punished, then what will happen to YOU if you get sent back?!"

Jake was silent.

The young woman now realized the full implications of what he had been trying to tell her. In a heartbeat, Abby was wide awake. Every nerve in her body throbbed with dread. In the stillness, she could hear the low hum of her aquarium pump and the sound of crickets outside her window. How could those merry bugs chirp so happily, when her friend could be facing such a fate?
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