(The year:2007: several years before Joan enters Wentworth)
It was nearly midnight as Governor Joan Ferguson overlooked the prison with pride. It had been a fairly good day at Blackmoor. The calculations that Governor Ferguson foresaw have now initiated a new top dog. This had been in the works for months; Joan needed a collaborative leader who wanted what she wanted for everyone. “Big Cass may lack intelligence- however, no one will try to overthrow her” Joan thought. She played her cards right and now no one would even dare make an attempt to have her fold.
The office phone rang, “Governor Ferguson, speaking” she answered. The call was informing Joan of a new sudden arrival to Blackmoor. Hanging up the phone, she reached out to her senior guards on night duty; Deputy Linda Watkins and Officer Kelly Shea: Deputy Watkins was an incredibly reliable deputy who followed Joan’s orders with no objections. Officer Kelly Shea was young, admired by staff and prisoners alike for her empathy- She’s a thorn in Joan’s side. Joan doesn’t appreciate Shea’s mediation between Governor and prisoners alike.
Joan, Deputy Watkins and Officer Shea make their way outside to the prison entrance.
The white van parks by the curb near the prison entrance. Governor Ferguson stood waiting by the side a few feet away from the vehicle. Two Officers exit the front. Both men are looking nervous, pitiful, when they get to the Van doors. “Governor” they both say, nodding in unison to Joan. Joan acknowledges them, “Officer Talau. Officer Kemper” Officer Talau is the biggest and strongest of her workers in Blackmoor but he’s as tough as a chicken tender. Officer Kemper is disliked by Joan for his arrogance but the inmates love him. Officers Talau and Kemper standby hesitant to open the vehicle doors; after a suspected “3, 2, 1” count, they open them.
No one comes out.
Deputy Watkins moved closer to get a better look as Governor Ferguson remained back with Officer Shea. Officer Talau leant his head into the opening appearing like a shroud of darkness-shadowed completely that the surrounding lights couldn’t expose anyone, or anything, hiding in the shadows.
“Come on. It’s ok. “Officer Talau said trying to sound convincing. Still. No response, no movement of any kind,
“Hurry up. We ain’t waiting all night. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You can help us do our jobs by getting out; we’ll get you processed and you can have a bed to sleep in. Or, we remove you from there, proceed with force and you can sleep standing up. Which will it be?” Deputy Watkins’s attempts of intimidation work as the officers’ shift with the sounds of shuffling inside the back of the van.
Blackmoor’s ‘newest arrival’ steps out from the van.
The young woman now standing outside shocks all of them. Officer Shea steps forward then recedes with professionalism. Deputy Watkins does a double take despite the clarity of her new glasses. Governor Ferguson carefully displays her bewilderment. The girl can be no older than seventeen. Her sentencing happened today but there was no time for change, she wears a little black baby doll dress; white long sleeved collared undershirt, black stockings and heels. Her apparent sadness, mildly appropriate court attire and subdued fear exaggerate her youth.
Joan glares at the girl walking in, obviously downtrodden, and handcuffed. The governor will oversee the officers’ process her up to standard. The uniqueness of the situation is not foreign to QLD law, but this is a first for Joan. Unusual cases stir the waters of this environment. New inmates provoke curiosity and motives, violence. If blood is to be on her hands she’ll scrub them clean. If there is to be a war amongst anyone here, it is not without the Governor’s authorization.
“Stand there” Officer Sheas’ voice gives out to her nerves when giving instructions for the girl’s booking picture.
Standing shoulder to the wall, the girl struggles to face the surroundings of her new reality. “Hair out of your eyes” she’s told. She brushes her hand to comb back the stray hairs, but continues staring down the corridor. “Back against the wall”, her obedience to direction is habitual; people have always made it clear that she ‘do as she’s told’. It’s always for the benefit of others. She glances down at her scuffed shoes, they shined before sentencing. Her arms still hurt from the struggles she made against the guards whose grips tightened with each protest.
“Look directly at the camera” the man says to her. Lyon is use to averting her eyes from the lens.
Deputy Watkins speaks to Governor Ferguson as they wait outside the filing room, “That girl must have done something absolutely heinous to wind up here rather than a youth detention facility.” Her voice quickens when she’s surprised. Seeing the officers’ concerned faces and muted words, through the window, Joan replies, “Indeed. However, as you said her actions brought her here. She is now the property of Blackmoor prison and her youth does not invalidate her criminality. We’ll have her sleep in protection for tonight, and then tomorrow she’ll be assigned into a unit. I’ll organize a peer worker for assistance.” she’s young and obviously reckless. Joan cannot afford any disruption to her reputation within these walls.
“But, surely she could stay in protection?’’ Watkins asks.
“Until, she’s eighteen, at least?”
With an eyebrow raised at her, Watkins adds “I only meant that she’ll be vulnerable to the others. She is a minor... “
“You’ve made your concerns clear and they’re noted. She will be the youngest prisoner to have entered through those doors and it is our responsibility to ensure her alignment within the order of this institution.” Watkins can’t respond. She witnessed Joan’s laborious dealings with Pearl Davies and ‘Big Cass’. It’s best she trust the Governor.
Watkins follows officer Shea and the new inmate into the strip search room. Officer Talau approaches Joan.
“The new prisoner’s name is Allyona Lyov. She turns eighteen in six months.” He says handing the folder over.
“Lyov? She wouldn’t be related to anyone we know?’’. Joan and everyone within the fraternity of QLD law are familiar with that name.
“Diana Lyov aka former Magistrate Lyov and the new ombudsman is her aunt, but her documented guardian is her grandfather.” Talau replies.
“I wonder how Diana was instated as Ombudsman given the rumours of scandal surrounding her. The amount of criminality that seems to be associated with that woman, no surprise it runs in the family.” Joan has no doubts about Magistrate Lyov’s ’reputation’.
“With all due respect Governor, I don’t think someone in Diana Lyov’s position would expect a teenage girl to cause grievous bodily harm to a corrections manager from Melbourne” Talau laughs at the prospect.
With that statement, something inspires Joan. “I’ll hang onto this” she says before walking away.
The Governor cannot afford to have any more ‘casualties’ within the prison. These women have voracious appetites and they respond to fresh meat intensely, especially if it’s young, lean and tightly packaged. But there could be something of use to her from the girl. She’s not top dog material, all skin and bones, the other inmates would use her like a chew toy. However, she could be the link to a chain that Joan has been trying to forge for a couple of years.
Returning to her office, Joan searches media reports online for any additional information. All the newspapers have similar detailing and focal points- Allyona’s young age and the charges. One catches her eye: BRISBANE TEEN CONVICTED. SET MAN ALIGHT: The article failed to specify who the victim was, but it provides Allyona’s of self-defence, and court allegations of enforced child prostitution. She skims through the file of Allyona Lyov once more before an interruption of knocking on her door. “Come in” she says reorganizing and closing the file.
It’s Officer Shea who pops her head in, “Governor, Lyov is here at your request?” Joan nods “Ah yes, have Deputy Watkins bring her in and you’re excused for the morning.” Shea stands in the room shutting the door behind her, taking the Governor by surprise. “Miss Shea?” Joan quips. The younger woman composes herself. Joan resists the urge to roll her eyes; a confident woman is admirable to Joan but Kelly Shea’s humanity irritates her. “Sorry Miss Ferguson…I just—it’s just” Officer Shea is intimidated by her senior but reckons her emotional intelligence can overpower ironized authority anyways. At least she thinks…
“Oh what is it Kelly? “ Joan sits back folding her arms.
“Sorry Governor, It’s just- The poor girl has been through a horrific ordeal—“
“Kelly is this necessary?” Joan remarks.
“I know. I’m sorry- I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just…She hasn’t eaten.”
“I beg your pardon?” Joan replies after a pause. This is not the first time Kelly’s tried to reason with her. Privileges are earned by prisoners when the Governor accepts what’s offered.
“She was disturbed during the body cavity search. She almost hit Linda. I distracted her by asking her questions and one of them was when she last ate and she hasn’t since this morning. Or yesterday morning.” Officer Shea looks to the clock and Joan whose unimpressed by her inconvenience.
“Goodnight Officer Shea. Send Deputy Watkins in with the new arrival”. Joan has bigger things on her agenda than one guard’s conscience.
Deputy Watkins comes in with the new prisoner. Joan watches Allyona approach her but freezes behind the chair without even looking up. Allyona wipes her nose and her bottom lip plumps out as though she were about to cry aloud. She silences herself and Joan finds herself more intrigued by the girl standing before her. Joan has dealt with many attitudes, mass acts of insubordination, bravados; none of the likes Allyona is giving off.
The last thing Joan wants to do is make the girl feel intimidated or frightened by her. A feeling she hasn’t justified without a desire to act on it, since…’then’.
“Why don’t you take a seat? You’ve had quite a day, you must be tired.” Joan speaks lightly in an inviting tone.
Allyona shakes her head then quietly answers with, “No thank you.” Joan stands up wanting to level with her new prisoner. “My name is Miss Ferguson. I am the Governor of this prison. Do you know why you’re here?” Allyona’s head shakes side to side, she cries a little more boldly. Tears don’t do much for Joan, but she can’t ignore the young girl’s fright. “You’ve been sent here because you decided to take the law into your own hands. And you’re probably feeling afraid, it’s ok, but I promise if you cooperate you’ll be taken care of in here.” Joan adds. Watkins is listening tentatively. She’s never witnessed the Governor speak this ‘nicely’ to any of the other prisoners, since working with Joan
Allyona folds over the chair, grabbing it for support. She fears her display of weakness will bring further harm. The Governor comes closer but Allyona cannot face Miss Ferguson. Nothing, right now, seems logical. She’s paralysed by the truth and deceit of it all.
“You’re so young and so brave. You seem mature enough to understand your predicament...” Joan’s impressed by Allyona’s exposure of sadness.
“I remember when I was your age, always out to prove my strengths, feeling unworthy.” Watkins suppresses a smirk. Joan is so close to the girl that Allyona feels her breath on the side of her neck. “All I wanted was to feel like I could trust someone. I’d like to help you Allyona.” Miss Ferguson whispers near the girl’s ear.
Allyona sniffles” You can’t. Nobody can.”, she feels too humiliated and scared to look up. Joan, pitying the girl, reaches into her pocket and takes out her handkerchief. She’s about to offer it, instead she pats Allyona’s tear stained cheek. Allyona doesn’t react; she’s been touched in all sorts of ways but this small gesture of compassion was unexpected. Joan gives the handkerchief to Allyona for keeping; she can’t see Allyona’s face behind her short and thick golden waves. The governor tucks a strand behind Allyona’s ears. A hazel eye golden like the sun meets Joan’s dark moons. Joan smiles and a genuine attempt of one greets hers.
Deputy Watkins is speechless. This is a side to Joan Ferguson she’s never seen before.
“When was the last time you ate?” Joan turns back and returns sitting behind her desk. She can’t make any promises to the girl, or spoil her. But she can make exceptions.
“Before court this morning- about 8:30ish” Joan looks at her clock on the wall opposite her. It’s now quarter to one the next day.
“Honestly don’t they feed you…?” Joan starts mumbling to herself while she thinks.
“All right, I’ll get you something to eat so you can sleep on a full stomach. You have a big day tomorrow. General population. I’ll assign a peer worker to help you settle in. We can discuss tertiary studies further on. You’ve graduated high school?”
“No Ma’am.” Allyona is unmoved by the ‘concern’ on Miss Ferguson’s face.
“What happened? Joan’s got her work cut out for her.
“I was pulled out from year 10 because my aun--…I had trouble” Allyona feels tempted to trust someone. Tempted.
“I understand. I’ll see what I can do.” Joan smiles.
Joan looks to Deputy Watkins in disbelief at this exchange. “Deputy Watkins will take you to protection. In the morning you’ll be escorted to general. Miss Watkins have Allyona wait outside while I speak to you.” Allyona nods at Governor Ferguson and is about to exit the room before she says “It’s Lyon by the way”. Joan grins “We can help each other, Lyon.” She responds. Lyon walks out and with the door closed behind Watkins walks over to Joan, processing what she’s just witnessed.
“Don’t gawp Watkins...” Before Linda can speak Joan does, “The petrol station, ten minutes away from here is always stacked with hot food, is it not?”
“Ah, yeah, yeah it is”
“Buy something to eat for Lyon. Use my card” Joan takes out her card from her wallet and hands it over to Deputy Watkins. She has other matters at hand, so she decides to continue with paperwork.
Joan looks up at Deputy Watkins by the door, “Yes, Linda?” Linda slips Joan’s Eftpos card into her pocket, “Did you want anything?” she ask timidly. Joan chuckles with disbelief, “No, thank you. Just do as I asked, please.” Head down, Joan hears the door close.
Time passes and Joan wants to continue her research. First, the governor cheeks the CCGTV. The monitor of protection catches her eye, she watches Lyon accept something from Deputy Watkins. When Lyon is by herself, again, she speedily rips the food from the bag and although she’s hesitant at first she ravishes every bite.
Going over to her window, Joan hears Lyon sobbing in the background.
If there’s anything in particular that Joan Ferguson wants to know about anyone within arms distance she’ll have to reach outside. Going over to her safe, tall, grey and towering, Joan opens it and reaches for the silver burner phone. Only one contact on this mobile, her best source of information:
“It’s Me. Find out everything you can about an Allyona…Lyon Lyov. She’s from Southeast Brisbane. Her aunt is former magistrate Diana Lyov; I want you to find anything connecting both of their cases. “
“Anything else?” the voice on the other side ask.
“Anything on him?” Joan answers.
“No, not yet.”
“Then she'll do, for now.”