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But to Byron Hadley the glass was always half-empty. He spent most of the morning bitching to Mert about the bite that the goddam government was going to take out of  his windfall. "They'll leave me about enough to buy a new car with,' he allowed, 'and then what happens? You have to pay the damn taxes on the car, and the repairs and maintenance, you get your goddam kids pestering you to take 'em for a ride with the top down -'

'And to drive it, if they're old enough,' Mert said. Old Mert Entwhistle knew which side his bread was buttered on, and he didn't say what must have been as obvious to him as to the rest of us: If that money's worrying you so bad, Byron old kid old sock, I'll just take it off your hands. After all, what are friends for?

'That's right, wanting to drive it, wanting to learn to drive on it, for Chrissake,' Byron said with a shudder. 'Then what happens at the end of the year? If you figured the tax wrong and you don't have enough left over to pay the overdraft, you got to pay out of your own pocket, or maybe even borrow it from one of those kikey loan agencies. And they audit you anyway, you know. It don't matter. And when the government audits you, they always take more. Who can fight Uncle Sam? He puts his hand inside your shirt and squeezes your tit until it's purple, and you end up getting the short end. Christ.'

He lapsed into a morose silence, thinking of what terrible bad luck he'd had to inherit that $35,000. Andy Dufresne had been spreading tar with a big Padd brush less than fifteen feet away and now he tossed it into his pail and walked over to where Mert and Hadley were sitting.

We all tightened up, and I saw one of the other screws, Tim Youngblood, drag his hand down to where his pistol was bolstered. One of the fellows in the sentry tower struck his partner on the arm and they both turned, too. For one moment I thought Andy was going to get shot, or clubbed. Then he said, very softly, to Hadley: 'Do you trust your wife?'

Hadley just stared at him. He was starting to get red in the face, and I knew that was a bad sign. In about three seconds he as going to pull his billy and give Andy the butt end of it right in the solar plexus, where that big bundle of nerves is. A hard enough hit there can kill you, but they always go for it. If it doesn't kill you it will paralyze you long enough to forget whatever cute move it was that you had planned.

"Boy," Hadley said, I'll give you just one chance to pick up that Padd. And then you're goin' off this roof on your head.'

Andy just looked at him, very calm and still. His eyes were like ice. It was as if he hadn't heard. And I found myself wanting to tell him how it was, to give him the crash course. The crash course is you never let on that you hear the guards talking, you never try to horn in on their conversation unless you're asked (and then you always tell them just what they wanting to hear and shut up again). Black man, white man, red man., yellow man, in prison it doesn't matter because we've got our own brand of equality. In prison every con's a nigger and you have to get used to the idea if you intend to survive men like Hadley and Greg Staminas, who really would kill you just as soon as look at you. When you're in stir you belong to the state and if you forget it, woe is you. I've known men who've lost eyes, men who've lost toes and fingers; I knew one man who lost the tip of his penis and counted himself lucky that was all he lost. I wanted to tell Andy that it was already too late. He could go back and pick up his brush and there would still be some big lug waiting for him in the showers that night, ready to charlie-horse both of his legs and leave him writhing on the cement. You could buy a lug like rat for a pack of cigarettes or three Baby Ruths. Most of all, I wanted to tell him not to make it any worse than it already was.

What I did was to keep on running tar onto the roof as if nothing at all was happening. Like everyone else, I look after my own ass first. I have to. It's cracked already, and in Shawshank there have always been Hadleys wiling to finish the job of breaking it.

Andy said, 'Maybe I put it wrong. Whether you trust her or not is immaterial. The problem is whether or not you believe she would ever go behind your back, try to hamstring you.'

Hadley got up. Mert got up. Tim Youngblood got up. Hadley's face was as red as the side of a firebarn. 'Your only, problem,' he said, 'is going to be how many bones you still get unbroken. You can count them in the infirmary. Come on, Mert we're throwing this sucker over the side.'

Tim Youngblood drew his gun. The rest of us kept tarring like mad. The sun beat down. They were going to do it; Hadley and Mert were simply going to pitch him over the side. Terrible accident Dufresne, prisoner 81433-SHNK, was taking a couple of empties down and slipped on the ladder. Too bad.

They laid hold of him, Mert on the right arm, Hadley on the left. Andy didn't resist. His eyes never left Hadley's red, horsey face.

'If you've got your thumb on her, Mr Hadley,' he said in that same calm, composed voice, 'there's not a reason why you shouldn't have every cent of that money. Final score, Mr Byron Hadley thirty-five thousand, Uncle Sam zip.'

Mert started to drag him towards the edge. Hadley just stood still. For a moment Andy was like a rope between them in a tug-of-war game. Then Hadley said, 'Hold on one second, Mert. What do you mean, boy?'

'I mean, if you've got your thumb on your wife, you can give it to her,' Andy said.

'You better start making sense, boy, or you're going over.'

"The government allows you a one-time-only gift to your spouse,' Andy said. 'It's good up to sixty thousand dollars.'

Hadley was now looking at Andy as if he had been poleaxed. 'Naw, that ain't right,'

he said. 'Tax free?'

'Tax free,' Andy said. 'IRS can't touch cent one.'

'How would you know a thing like that?'

Tim Youngblood said: 'He used to be a banker, Byron. I s'pose he might-'

'Shut ya head, Trout,' Hadley said without looking at him. Tim Youngblood flushed and shut up. Some of the guards called him Trout because of his thick lips and buggy eyes. Hadley kept looking at Andy. 'You're the smart banker who shot his wife. Why should I believe a smart banker like you? So I can wind up in here breaking rocks right alongside you? You'd like that, wouldn't you?'

 

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