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Locked In
by Eric Miller

Hanging from the branch of the family tree which was rooted way back to William the Conqueror, Jayle Byrd Mann thought he was very well hung, very well hung, indeed.

What people thought of him did not bother Jayle Byrd at all. It was his lifestyle that had him concerned, because it was not living up to his pedigree. Indeed, it was contrary to what his lineage dictated.

Despite his royal ancestors and his impeccable academic credentials, Jayle Byrd was unemployed, locked out of the good life, and locked into indigence. Believing that he was overqualified for any job, he did not look for a job, because he believed that a job should come looking for him. But deep down inside, he really believed that a man of his stature shouldn’t have to work at all. So, his Ph.D. in Romance languages from Harvard hung on the wall over the desk in his study, like he hung from the branch of his family tree. He told his wife that he didn't want to lock himself into an inappropriate position, so he would keep all options open, remain flexible, and be ready to jump at the perfect job offer if and when it came. It never came.

Marriage and parenthood were supposed to have come after he had banked some big bucks from a big job, and since he only took menial jobs as a temp, and because his wife had her hands full with the twins, the balance in their checking account kept dropping, and their health insurance got dropped completely.

The pressure from his wife mounted, and his spirits plummeted as he began to spend his days sitting on a stool in a dark corner at a dingy bar on the far side of town, across the street from the state prison. He got to know the guards, many of whom seemed to have the world by the, well you know. This, of course, surprised him. After all, none of them had his academic credentials.

He learned that the guards, as state employees, had a good salary, good health insurance, and a good pension plan with retirement after 25 years. He learned that he could have all of this by just taking a job at the prison as a counselor for the inmates.

This suggestion horrified poor Jayle Byrd so much that he began to have nightmares of being incarcerated for life with miscreants. Such a situation did not suit his plans or his genes. However, it suited his wife's plans and genes just fine, thank you, and she dragged him by the hair, kicking and screaming, to the prison's personnel office where she signed his name on the bottom line of the job offer.

Jayle Byrd Mann was now locked in with the locked-up, but not locked out of the good life. And lo and behold, he found that this unsought career was not a hard sell, at all. Indeed, it was the key to his success.