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  • #31
    Chapter 16: Decisions, Decisions



    Following Attorney Natty Bumpo's Advice I moseyed on down to the Information Bulletin Board in the "Inmate Services" wing. I perused....well....browsed.... information on the education board. It was a montage of information on papers, pamphlets and cards of self-help, group meetings and this-and-that anonymous. Maybe I'd find something that would interest me. And I remembered his message to me for the parole board: "Establish a record of well....productivity."


    "I'm on a mission," I told myself. I scanned the information board:


    Anger Management meetings, Tuesdays and Fridays, 3-5 pm.


    "Nope," I muttered.


    Continuing your relationship with your partner while Incarcerated, Mondays at 6 pm.

    Legal discussion: case specific – Wednesdays at 2 pm.

    Vegans serving time support group: Tuesdays at 11 am.


    Nah, Thought to myself.


    Prepping for re-entry (back to the outside) group: Fridays, 3 pm.

    Conflict Resolution Seminar, Tuesday, 7 PM. Led by Jim.

    Learn Braille = Make $$$$ - Translating! Info session.

    Trolling posters anonymous, Mondays, 10 am.

    Communication Corner: things may cellie does that annoys me.

    Financial investing for Lifers, Wednesday 4 pm, let by inmate Robert C.

    Oral Hygiene: led by Jessica, Wednesday, 11 AM



    Well, I'm free Wednesday morning, I pondered. I wrote down this one.


    Cry & Drum Beat Session – Men w/out dads


    Let’s do Yoga, Sundays, 11 AM

    Feelings check, Mondays, 6 PM


    Coronavirus info session, Saturday 10 AM

    And there were many more....


    Jaysus, that's a handful, I thought.

    I looked at my schedule and at the board again. I was off from my part-time job at the license plate factory this Wednesday because they had

    to re-tool and modify the printing presses for the plate stamping.


    "It looks like this is the one," I said to myself. Not my first choice, but it's what's available.


    I circled the Oral Hygiene session. Led by a "Jessica." Hey, it's a good chance to see a woman, I thought. It had been a long time.

    OK. booked!
    LWO Community strong!

    Comment


    • #32
      Ch 17: Brush! Brush! Brush your teeth!



      I walked in very slowly. At a snail’s pace....looking around for a seat and more importantly, a familiar face. I definitely didn't want to sit up front.



      A large room with 4 white walls with sterile bright lights. About 60 inmates were seated in rows of 8 inmates per row, 8 rows deeps in a square block formation. A Giant white board stood in front of the room being propped up by two chairs at each end. It was jury-rigged. They couldn’t even be arsed to attach it to the wall since the hook on the wall broke years before.



      As I glanced around. Lifting my chin and head to peer towards the back saw Keegan sitting in the very last row. Voila, I thought. I sauntered over and sat down in an open seat next to him. It was very quiet. Slight murmurs could be heard among some of the inmates in the audience. The speaker was about to enter and begin her sermon. It was 2 minutes to 2 pm. These things never started late, I'd been told.



      “Hey,” Keegan said to me, in a whisper.

      “What’s up?” I greeted.

      "What are you doin' here?" he asked in a tone of questioning I didn't like.
      I furrowed my brow: "What are YOU doing here?"



      “you come to these things?” he asked.

      “You see me, don’t you?” I replied.

      “Is this your first one? I ain’t never seen you before,” he countered.

      "Yeah, first one" I answered. Jesus, is this an interrogation, I thought.




      “Why do you come to these things?” I asked him, seriously.

      Somethin’ to do. It kills time. Looks good on the activity record when you go to parole hearings....or so they say.”



      “Yeah” I added. "My lawyer said to attend these things because it goes on your record and looks good to the Parole Board," I said.



      “Yeah, but people say that the Board knows that people only come to these things because they’re trying to look good when they show up at the hearings,” Keegan noted, with is arms folded in front of his chest leaning back in his chair. "It kind of evens things out........“What’s this one?” He asked.


      "You don't know? Personal Hygeine,” I told him.



      Suddenly a young female entered the room, breaking the pale white decor with color and a large wide smile. A guard shut the door behind here with a clank and stood off to the side to monitor the group of "attendees."

      She stood in front of the crowd in the center of the room in front of the white board. She had semi-long straight brown hair, brown eyes, and was wearing a professional blouse and short skirt, both in matching dark brown color. She held a blue and red white-board marker in her hand. She raised her head and eyes to the top back of the room to the lights with a positive smile - just like a late night TV show host does to scan the audience with broad smile. This could be the 'Tonight Show,' I thought to myself.



      “Heellloo!!! I'm Jessica Spinelli!! I’m leading our information session on Personal Hygiene today!” She bellowed with a loud but professional attitude. I could tell she’d rehearsed this line a dozen times. Nothing wrong with being prepared, though.



      Some inmates nodded, while most sat motionless. This captive audience came in all age and sized. Slightly over-weight balding and graying guys in their 40s and 50s to leaner younger 20-somethings.



      “First, I’ll pass out these name tags so I can get to know your names,” as she passed a stag of name tag stickies to the right end of the front row.



      “Please take one and pass it down.” She handed a Blue maker to the first inmate to pen his nom de plume.



      “Alright! Let’s Get started!



      “First, a little about me! I'm a student at the University of ….



      Her voice faded into background noise as Keegan and I diverted our attention away from her to ourselves. One of the BIG benefits of sitting in the last row. We whispered:



      “She’s a student? What the heck is she doing here?” I asked, wondering why a Uni student would be giving an info session seminar in a State Pen?



      Keegan gave me the run-down: “She’s doing this because she’s in her last year. Sociology major. Every Sociology student has to do 1 ‘community program’ to graduate,” he murmured. Our heads were close enough together to keep others from being distracted by us. I felt like I was in school again. The guard standing at the side noticed us gave a slight condescending glance towards us. Keegan whispered even more quietly: "We get dozens of them every year."



      “OK” I acknowledge. We went silent.



      We then both tuned in to whatever she had to day.

      Most inmates sat stone-faced and expressionless. A couple would nod slightly at times to show they were listening. I could tell some were actually interested.



      “Now!....personal hygiene is important but even more important when when a large number of people are in a confined environ----I mean! When population density is high! that means, lot of people living close together!!



      “There, she said it....” Keegan muttered, leaning into my ear.



      “Said what?”



      “Confined environment. She she stopped and then corrected herself....I guess our feelings would get hurt if we heard ‘confined.’



      She continued. “In addition to flossing, brushing our teeth - which is critical to prevent halitosis – that means bad breath – and gingivitis, which is gum disease! When we brush, we move our brush in an up-and-down motion, not side to side because it will erode our gums!



      I rolled my eyes.



      “Jesus Christ,” I whispered. “She telling us how to brush our teeth. And she’s what....? 22 years old?”


      "Now let's do a chant! To help us remember how to properly brush our pearly whites!! Everybody stand-up!!"

      Some inmates look at each other, hesitant. Definitely self-conscious.

      "It's OK! Let's get moving! Please stand up!!


      Slowly, inmates stood up, now looking straight at our speaker, Jessica.


      Now....follow my motions! Arms out straight!

      She put her arms out straight ahead at the shoulder width.

      Now copy my movements and repeat after me! When we're brushing out teeth we brush,

      "Up, up, up and down!! Not, not, side-to side!!

      She jerked her straight-locked arms up and down to hear head and then down to here hips in a fast jerk-like movement.

      Some inmates, smiled. I heard a laugh. Nobody did it, thinking it was too silly or they were too embarrassed.

      "Now, let's do it!!" I do it, you all do it!!

      "Arms out straight!!." She was yelling even louder now. "it's OK!!!!! Don't shy!!!!

      The guard in the room standing off to the side, put his arms out.

      The inmates followed.

      "Say it with me!!"


      Up, up, up and down! Not, not, side to side! as she made one side-step to the left and back to here original position.


      Again! Everybody! You in the back row also!!


      "Up, up, up and down!! The inmates repeated this time, loudly.


      "Not, not, side to side!"

      We all did this like, 8 times. Here hair was not flopping around as she made abrupt movements, like a cardio bunny on a stair-master in a fitness center going hard-core. Her hair will now messed up, covering part of her eyes and face. It was bizarre. Some inmates did this with serious enthusiasm. These ones were probably on stimulants, while others were just lackadaisically going through the motions - probably a sedatives - prescribed by the infirmary. Others, just seemed burned out on everything. Me and Keegan did it half-heartedly just to not stand out as refusing to "participate."

      Very good! Please take your seats!!


      She turned to the whiteboard with her blue marker.

      "Now! what's in our mouths?!

      Silence.....then...."teeth!" an inmate bellowed.

      "Yes, that right. 32 teeth, in fact!!

      "What else in our mouths?!

      "Tongue!" another blurted out-loud.

      "Indeed!"

      "And there's another thing!.....we have millions of them in our mouths!!!

      Silence.

      She gave us this one: Bacteria!!!"


      She turned to the board and wrote "Bacteria" on the board and repeated with syllables: "Bac-ter-ia!!"



      Blocking out Spinelli, I started to think about what I’d gotten myself into. This will be an hour I'll never get back. JHC, I wondered. Oh, well. It does kill time.
      LWO Community strong!

      Comment


      • #33
        Ch 18: 2 Down



        Another morning. That thing called Life. I slowly transitioned into a state of consciousness. Meaning, going from a deep sleep to a lighter one to outright awakening. As I laid on my lower bunk I stared up into the bottom of the dark ply-wood board of the empty bunk above me. I heard a slight din of chatter from a far distance of inmates in my cell block. Mark had gotten up and hour and a half earlier and headed out to his day job at the prison laundry. I was so used to the occasional noise from Mark and other inmates now that I continued to sleep right on through it. Although in fairness to Mark, he was fairly quiet getting up and ready.



        I knew what this day was. I’d been thinking about it a bit here and there for the entire week.



        Today....was March 1, 2020.



        2 Down, my inner voice told me.



        It was 2 years ago today, that I received that message: Banned.



        Banned until getting 100 positive green repo points.



        The chance of me getting 100 positive green repo points was about as good George Best giving up the drink.



        I sat up in my bunk putting my feet on the cold concrete floor, staring at the wall in front of me. I was still waking up. I breathed slowly....deeply.



        Snapping to it now, I remembered that I had an appointment scheduled with Dr. Ganel today. This was an institutional rule. Meet the shrink on annual anniversaries of entering this place so she can write up a report on your alleged mental state and physical health in general. Just going through the motions. Kind of like Arthur Speck sitting with his social worker who always asks “are you having any negative thoughts?” every time she saw him to tick the box. But Dr. Ganel cared and I liked my interactions with her. We got along. She was still fresh and hadn’t been bureaucratized into the system - yet. At least that was the way she was the last time I saw her. It had been some time. Perhaps 8 or 9 months.



        I got up and made a cup of 'mud' as they call it: instant coffee. I plugged in the chord from the mini metal water heater into the wall socket. It heated automatically. There was no "on" or "off" button. That rumbling noise, then steam, then ahh-yeah: hot water.


        Black coffee. No cream, no sugar.



        I didn’t need a shower. It was too cold this Winter. I put on a pair of prison issued tan trousers and a clean white short-sleeved v-neck t-shirt, slammed my cup of Joe and headed down to Dr. Ganel’s office with my appointment card (aka snowflake) in hand.



        Same hallway. Same chair again. I sat again. I waited again. the door opened just as before.



        “Good morning, Grampa.” she said making eye contact in a pleasant way.



        “Hi,” I responded cheerfully. The caffeine was kicking in.



        She motioned me into her office and to the client chair and I sat down in front of her desk facing her.



        On her desk I saw that she had my "dossier"....my file.... and that manila folder with my photo: notes she’d taken, medical history, medications prescribed, and any record of infractions. She’d been reviewing it beforehand to prep for her questions to me.



        “So, how have you been doing?” She asked.



        “I’m doing well. Pretty well, actually,” I said in an update tone. It was true and she believed me.



        “Today is---”



        “I know, yeah....I know,” I interrupted her politely, making direct eye-contact. Eye-contact is something that I made a lot more now. Before, on the outside I didn't make it that much.



        “You’ve been here 2 years,” she continued.



        “2 down....that’s what we inmates call it. That's what we call it," I added.


        Dr. Ganel nodded.



        During these 2 years I’d started to sound more and more like the cons in here. I'd started to think like them, too. You had too. If you didn't, then you didn't survive. This was now my universe. This was what I was; who I was. I spoke the convict lingo and had developed the mental defense mechanisms to defend myself, to cope, and to always be aware of my surroundings. You should never get comfortable in prison. Other inmates can smell that on you, and they will make moves against you to take advantage of you.



        "It’d been a while since I’d seen Ganel for a consultation, as I previously noted.


        You’ve changed your appearance a bit,” she said with a minor smile.



        “Yes, I nodded. Being polite but not expanding on it.



        now had somewhat longer hair, slicked back, and a thin mustache.


        I'd gotten a lot more muscular after hitting the Iron Pile on a regular basis. The Iron Pile is the weight pile. All forum member inmates are required to hit it with their "car" - their crew - to keep in top shape. Not only strength but cardio. Because if something kicks off and you go to war and you get winded you'll lose the fight and possibly even your life.



        “You’ve got a tattoo now,” she noted, pointing to my arm with her eyes. She didn't mention that getting tatts are against the institutional rules. But there are some talented inmate tattoo artists with their home-made jury-rigged kits. Seeing new tattoos on inmates is not uncommon. They're done in cells away from guards' eyes.



        “Yeah, I got some ink,” I said in an indifferent tone. She seemed interested in superficial things and not my mind....maybe this was her ice-breaker. You never knew with shrinks.



        “Is there any meaning to your tattoo? Just curious.”


        "Hmm....it seems people with tatts always need to tell some story...to explain the reason they got it...."I said.



        "It's up to you, Gramps. I was just curious," she added.


        I looked down and pulled up the left sleeve of my t-shirt to my shoulder, turning my upper-arm towards her to show her. I thought to myself, yeah, It seems people with tatts have to have some story behind them or communicate the ‘significance’ or message of them.



        “My tatt is a bird cage.....but there’s no bird inside it like most inmates have.


        "Does the absence of a bird have meaning?" Asked Dr. Ganel with interest.


        "Yes. This cage is empty. A bird inside represents the person who’s confined. My cage is empty with no bird because I’m not confined....I’m not confined up here,” I said pointing to my mind with my index finger. “Physically yes, I’m incarcerated....but mentally, no. Not at all. My spirit is free."



        Dr. Ganel nodded. “I see....that’s a positive way approach life.....and....there’s a date below the cage.”



        Yes....there is a date: March 1, 2018 - ?



        “Can you tell me what that means?” she asked in her professional tone.



        March 1, 2018 is the date I was banned and sentenced to life.....the beginning....the question mark to the right means....unknown.....I don’t know how long I’ll be here. Life is life.....but this question mark means that I have hope....that I can....and will.....someday be free.”



        Dr. Ganel, agreed with her facial expression as she held her hands lightly clasped together with her elbows resting on her desk. She looked professionally serious but tranquil.



        May I ask you.....?


        She paused.


        "You can ask me anything you want, Dr. Ganel."


        "OK....do you have any resentment towards those involved in banning you?"


        "No....no, not at all. I've move on. The past is the past. I need to focus on today. I started writing----"


        "Oh yes?"


        "Yeah, kind of like poems, a bit like rap. I brought my notebook with me today. I write these rhymes in when I get ideas and then I say them out-loud in my cell to see how they jell.


        "Would you be willing to read some of them to me....to share them?" I'd like to hear them....if it's OK with you, Grampa."


        "Sure," I responded, taking out my notebook and opening it. "May I stand-up while I read?"


        "Certainly."


        I stood up to read my poetry-rap, holding my notebook to read in front of me, taking a deep breath....





        [Sound fade out, picture fade out.]
        LWO Community strong!

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Boots View Post
          Ch 18: 2 Down

          Banned until getting 100 positive green repo points.
          Curious. During the past two years how many greens have you acquired?
          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

          Comment


          • #35
            Ch. 19
            Bustin' Ryhmes



            I paused....something wasn't right. I felt like I needed more Hooch than the 2 shots that I downed in my cell I took before coming here. But anyway.....


            "Let's here it," she proclaimed.

            "Oh, but first: I need a back-beat."

            "A back-beat?" asked Ganel, visibly perplexed.

            "Yes....a repetitive beat in the back ground to I can hit the rhythm. Can you please help me and do this?

            "Well, yes....can you show me how?" Asked Ganel.

            I walked over to her desk, stood and her side, bent over a tad and put closed fists out an inch above her mahogany desk.

            "Like this," I instructed, tapping my knuckles on the wooden desk with the same repetitive rhythm beat.

            Knock-knock-knock (1 second pause) knock-knock-knock
            (1 second pause) knock-knock-knock (1/2 second pause) knock (1 second pause)....knock-knock.

            It's 3-3-3-1-2 separated by a one second pause"

            "OK," affirmed Ganel.

            Dr. Ganel clenched her fists and looked at them in a strange and bemused manner...like she'd never seen her hands in this fashion before. But she looked curious and interested.

            "Follow me," I said....and I did the 3-3-3-1-2 knock.

            "3-3-3-1-2" I repeated, sounding like a coach.

            "Got it," said Dr. Ganel.

            She did it:
            knock-knock-knock.....knock-knock-knock....knock-knock-knock....knock....knock-knock


            "Good, let's do it again together 5 times."


            We did it in harmony. It was perfect.


            "OK, we've got our back-beat" I announced.


            Now with the back-beat, with your vocal chords you can sort of hum....with a bust of air....make this noise at the same time your knuckles hit the wood," I instructed and modeled.


            "Boom-boom-bop....boom-boom-bop....boom-boom-boom-boom....boom, bop."


            Ganel tried the "boom-boom-bops." again perfect.....it was awkward at first, but then she got it. She could do both the "boom-bops and knock-knocks at the same rhythm together.


            "OK, we're ready," I said, elated.


            "Alright, let's go," said Dr. Ganel enthusiastically, taking off her spectacles. She looked so different without them.


            "On 3....


            1....2....3....Kick it!


            She started the "boom-bops" and knuckle-knock back-beat.


            She appeared wooden and uncomfortable but her timing was perfect. She then started to move her shoulders and shift side with her torso. She was getting into it! Her head and neck were bobbing with the beats! She was musical!


            I breathed deep and and started my rhyme after 2 of her back-beat cycles:


            1-2-3!


            Now first I wanna state
            This'll be the last time I ever mention that place
            as I harbor no hate just got somethin' to say


            From my perspective on this situation
            there is no justification but I wont succumb
            to that senseless electronic forum masturbation


            Over there over there over there


            Down with the homies that I bail out
            My story's goin' platinum and
            I won't have to sell-out
            F-you Grampa that was the dirty 5 say
            in that other place spelled with the triple-K


            at times people ask me if I hold any animosity



            my answer's "hell no" I only focus on positivity
            We're all cognizant of the fact that I'm "Mr. Century"


            I should have left a long time before
            But before I could they showed me the door
            Gettin' binned ushered me away from the blasé
            mentality but TC has fostered my writin´ creativity
            and now I have this fresh blank slate that's elevating my mental state


            I'm happy here lovin' life at TC
            This is the place where I can quintessentially be me
            now postin' with glee - not disharmony
            I left infinite and ubiquitous misery
            Now I´m sedated as I belt out lyrics with
            immunity


            The prison-industrial system thinks I'm a statistic

            But I'm an individual who's realistic
            I'm readin' and rightin' with perpetual persistence
            with a goal of becoming a jailhouse a mystic



            if some want to be negative then that's their prerogative

            those that promoted perpetual negativity

            are still in LOS but they practice celibacy

            they only dissed me to express their envy


            Thank you NDT and TC
            If it wasn´t for you I wouldn´t be me
            I´m full of passion, optimism, and energy


            I'll persevere here bustin’ out rhymes until the end of my life-time sentence for a non-existent crime

            yet I'm very alive so don´t label me sublime
            I caught an infinite sentence but I’m not askin' for lenience


            I've never searched for serenity but have definitely found
            equanimity


            When I got slapped with jail other posters thought I was full of heartache but that wasn't the case
            I was captivated by movin' on to a new place


            I´ve accepted the judgement-verdict-edict
            even though it came so harsh and quick
            and it's given me time to bust out scripts


            Natty Bumpo believes in me and together as a team I will be free I'll wage a battle for fairness and clemency
            In the end those over there'll eventually see

            Outside of these ryhmes Office Mike Rye was walking down the corridor with his handlebar mustache, broad shoulders and bulging forearms. As he walked past Dr. Ganel's office he heard these strange noises. He stopped in front of Ganel's door and with a perplexed facial expression crouched down a little and put his ear to the door. He heard Grampa's rhymes and Ganel's back-beats and "boom-bops." After a few seconds he started to slightly nod his head to the rythm. Then, he tapped his feet in unison with the lyrics and beat. He started moving his love-handle hips and bending his knees. He was digging this!



            Ganel was going loud and hardcore now with the beats
            Her hair was messed up as the was totally enthralled.


            Boom-boom-bop!!
            Boom-boom-bop, boom-boom-boom-boom bop!!


            Now let's rhyme about my life on the inside
            It's my universe now and there's nowhere to hide
            I don't cry I hold my head high with pride
            Mess with me and I'll stick a shank in your side


            I ain't seen a woman in years who's a lady
            listen up baby you look real pretty
            let me pull up yo' shirt and suck yo' t*tties
            Desperate lady I love yo so, since the time I've left
            my d--k has grown
            Let's rent a room in a f*ck motel and play this game called
            ring the slave bells
            Put a "do not disturb sign on the door and ride this d--K 'till it gets sore

            Mark is my cellie I'm with his crew I'm an associate
            ain't a full member yet nor laureate
            Safety in Numbers is how we protect
            with our shields armor & ammunition in effect

            I understand how all my homies feel
            'cause I've been shanked and to this day
            I pack me steel.

            Sentenced-banned-exiled to prison territory
            where you don't talk only the streets tell stories
            With gangs and predators all over the streets
            and if you're slippin' you'll be 6-feet-deep

            Last year I went to check that place the "server was busy"
            for me couldn't read any any space
            I knew it was their shallow and predictable way to save face because they can't communicate
            They´ve caused so many long-time posters to vacate
            Only a few left-over burnouts spewing hate

            it's their choice - but here I now have a voice



            One gets drunk and cusses sayin' he gotta Tesla but's takin' buses
            Another's aging angrily and shamefully
            while another's lookin' for hobbies at over 70




            I'm just bein' me contributing freely at TC
            I appreciate even though I don´t usually ingratiate
            I'm happy here I'm happy now

            I'm no longer surrounded by those redding clowns


            Officer Rye heard footsteps around the corner and promptly straighted up, stopped bobbing to the beats and continued his walk down the corridor so as not to be seen.


            Some think I wanna return No I've never yearned



            No need for me to save face


            'Cause I’ve got a solid reader base
            Have a good day I wish you the best
            For once and for all let's put all this to rest...."


            "That's it." I glanced towards the floor in a humble manner with a deep but quiet exhale.


            Silence filled the room.




            Dr. Ganel, arched her back straight in her chair, made a deep breathe and made direct eye contact with me and we nodded together slightly.


            We both felt something....it was an enigmatic energy....that was also was cathartic.


            "I've moved on," I said out-loud to myself more than Ganel.








            This is chapter is dedicated to NTD, TC, and my supporters.

            (1) one lyric passage sourced from Two Live Crew, 1989

            LWO Community strong!

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by S Landreth View Post
              Curious. During the past two years how many greens have you acquired?
              I guess that's zero then?
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

              Comment


              • #37
                Ch. 20

                Problems

                I heard the pain of noise. Noise. Any noise....annoyed. My mouth was bone dry. My lips parched. I had that feeling that this was going to be a long day - and I hadn't even gotten up yet. I was a statue. My head throbbed with the pulse of my heartbeat.

                I still hadn't opened my eyes My pillow and bed sheet were still covering my face. I wanted to avoid any shimmer of light. I heard the normal movements. Stuff being put down, A bag opened, things moved around. Light footsteps.


                I rolled over and laid on my back....I pulled my bed sheet slowly from over my head....squinted for a second, then blinked quickly to slowly let

                my eyes dilate. I was looking straight up at the dark wooden plank above me that was the bottom of the upper bunk



                When I got accustomed to the light I turned my head and saw Mark standing in front of our desk with his back turned to me. He was putting what looked like a packet a postage stamps into a plastic container that he keeps locked in his locker.


                "How was your meetin' with the Shrink for your 2-down anniversary?" Mark asked as he settled some things of his on the desk.



                "It was OK." I didn't tell him about our rap-n-rhyme duet.



                "How's the head?" he asked with his back still turned to me.


                "Uhm....." was all that I felt like answering.


                "You been hittin' the hooch quite a bit," he said.


                "Yeah," I responded in an exasperating but quiet exhale.


                "Up to you what you do man.....but be careful with that sh*t. Who knows what they put in that home-made booze. Could be anything. It gives those wicked hangovers."


                You can say that again, I thought.


                "Hooch" aka "Pruno:" prison homemade booze. Good ol' fermentation of god's fruits and such. The Nectar of the Gods. Some inmates are willing to make it and sell it to those who prefer alcohol as their drug of choice. By buying it the buyer, or let's say the consumer, doesn't have to gather the up ingredients, make the concoction, and wait for it to ferment and take the risk of getting caught by random guard searches. Alcohol....hooch....is contraband, of course. You get written up for having a prohibited substance. That means negative points. And with enough negative points that means a loss of privileges, reduction of time-off for good behavior and eventually a stint in the hole. These negatives create a demand from inmates that want to buy it and drink it without doing the risk of "cooking" it. And, they can drink it as much as they want, even every day or night, provided they have the money.....or in some cases....the credit.


                And herein lies the issue.


                Gramps had always had a fondness for beer. So much so, that his waist, driving record, and at times forum posts were....put at a detriment to himself, if you know what I mean.


                Mark added, "you got the Hooch-Head, that's a nasty Pruno hangover."


                'Yeah.....I said a bit drawn out with my vowels.


                "No work today huh?" Mark asked rhetorically.


                The clocked said 11:45 AM. My shift started at 8:00 AM.


                We both knew Jimmy, the foreman at the licence plate factory. In fact, it was Mark that got me the job. I was sure Jimmy
                was going to chew me out the next time I went to work. I didn't even call in.


                Mark took our only cell's chair, turned it around so it faced backwards and sat down on it, looking directly at me.


                "Look, like I said before. I ain't ya mother. And I don't like tellin' guys what to o do, but that hooch....it's messin' you up. It's makin' '
                you silly.....


                "I know, I know," I agreed.


                "Well, we're crammed up in this small box for the night....and when you're pissed on this hooch it rubs off on me too...startin' to annoy me.


                I nodded.


                "OK....no more hooch for a while," I said.


                "A good while," Mark added. "Look if you wanna get deep on the booze that your business, but we can't cell together if you want to."


                This caught me by surprise. I woke up immediately.


                "Nah, I'm good, Mark. I'm dry. From now on. Dry."


                "OK!" said Mark louder than usual as we bumped fists lightly.


                "Ya know Gramps, I hooked you up with that license plate factory job with Jimmy. Now, by you bein' flaky that makes me look bad, ya know?"


                I nodded in agreement.


                Mark added. "We all got our thing. When I was younger I loved weed. Sh*t, I was smokin' reefer 7 days a week....started to cause me
                problems here and there....relationships....lungs....and such. You like booze. That's OK....just remember two of us are crammed up in here. I don't drink anymore and that Pruno stinks while you're sipping on it. In the morning when I wake up it smells like a Brewery. I can't have that.


                "Got it," I said.


                "Good," confirmed Mark. "But it's not the just you're drinkin'. There is something much bigger and much worse than that related to you knockin' back all this Hooch.


                "Huh?" I asked. I didn't understand.


                One problem, is that by getting sucked into the hooch you're hurting the crew. When a fight or riots kicks off we need our members fully prepared and ready for battle. If you're drunk you won't have a chance. That puts the rest of us at risk. Hooch once in a while is OK, but you don't do that. It's every f*ckin' night you're gettin' plastered gettin' sloppy. And, the guards will eventually notice, do an inspection and they'll find the Hooch in our cell and I get busted too."


                "My hoochin' hasn't been that bad," I pleaded.


                "Not that bad? You been on the sauce for several months and you been f*cked up on hooch 19 days in a row."


                "What do you mean, 19 days?" I asked incredulously.


                Marked opened up a drawer, pulled out a daily planner, opened it up and showed me his nightly tracking. I could see his ticks on each day in the calendar.



                "Alright," I responded, but inside that pissed me. Tracking me like some kind of boss. My head was still throbbing and knowing this was a serious issue for Mark and was not going to go away.


                "I understand," I sad to him to break the silence.


                "You better understand!" Mark furthered, looking directly at my eyes for a few seconds.


                I nodded again. I knew where this was going.


                Mark was serious, and even getting slightly confrontational.


                And he continued:


                "NOW!.... this.....is EVEN WORSE:..I heard you been borrowin'....runnin' up debts for your booze. From the Ramirez brothers!!!"


                I sighed again, lowered my head and put my face in my palms.


                "Is this true?!" Mark asked me, now sounding like a prosecutor in court.


                "Yes."


                "How much you owe them?"


                "$275," I answered sheepishly.


                "Two-hundred-seventy five dollars!!!!"


                Jesus Christ do you know who the brothers are!? Do you know who you're f*ckin' with! Do you know why they're in here?!! Guys get their wig split for a $10 debt they can't pay and you run up a tab like that?! Mark was visibly hot. "How are you gonna pay that?! On a license plate factory job paying .30 cents an hour?! With you owin' this level of debt to them, my crew cannot protect you and REMEMBER, you're still only an "associate." You have not been voted in yet as a full member. If ......that even happens. We cannot protect you or negotiate on your behalf with the Brothers with debt that high."


                Mark was clenching his teeth with his mouth closed.


                I told you in (see Chapter 7, Learning the Ropes) the dangers of running up debt!!!!!


                I breathed in deep and blew out.


                Mark lowered his voice now and talked to me rather than shouting:


                "Runnin' up debts for booze - is same as a drug, because it is one. same a Coke, H, Meth.....all that sh*t.....it takes control away from you and gives it to the people you owe debt to. If you can't pay it back, you get a vicious beatin', have to pay high interest charges forever, have to give lenders your things and you might even end up like Dead Beat Danny."


                "Dead Beat Danny?" I asked with total ignorance.


                "Danny....Deadbeat Danny....He's a guy should meet to learn about what can happen when you get in the hole with debt.


                "Oh, that guy. I've heard his name dropped a couple times."


                "You don't wanna end up like him. He's a habitual gambler....he runs up debts....Often gambles and can't pay and then he ends being somebody's b-------"


                Mark stopped without finished the last word. But I knew what it was: "b*tch."


                "To be somebody's b*tch" meant....you know.....your manhood gets taken in return to paying the debt. You become what they call a "Boy Toy" to a Perv that pays off the debt in exchange for the borrower to doing him favors because he paid it. It's the number 1 reason guys in here get their Cheeks Busted. They take your cheeks.....and I ain't talkin' about the cheeks on your face."


                I sat quiet, expressionless, but my eyes reflected the pain of my disappointment for what I'd done to Mark.



                "I gotta go to lunch before I get back to my laundry shift. And start payin' the Ramirez brothers back for the booze you bought!!
                I sound like a broken record, but they want you in debt to them. That way they can control you. Extort from you, and even worse.


                I nodded again. "Got it. I'm on it," I promised


                "See ya tonight, be good," said Mark in an avuncular way, as he patted me on the shoulder as he turned to leave he stopped at the open cell door and turned facing me.



                "And you're goin' to a meetin' this week.'


                "Meeting? What?"


                "Yeah, a meeting. And you WILL go!"


                "What?



                "Hoochers Anonymous."


                I looked at Mark like he was nuts.


                "And If you don't start going you'll have to find a new cellie and you're no longer an associate of my crew," Mark declared.


                I was shell-shocked. Stone faced.


                "You got 2 options: start attending, or clean your stuff out of this cell by tomorrow morning."


                I took the deepest breath I've ever taken. He had given me an ultimatum.


                Inside my mind thought of making a cell transfer request came swiftly. I'll boot off then....But a second after that thought I knew things would be far worse with another cellie and trying to get on as an associate with another crew. Start all over from scratch? I knew that would be hard. Mark knew it too. He had leverage. I had to weigh things. But I was willing to take my chances to lead the lifestyle I wanted to live. I was a lot of things, but I sure wasn't a damn tee-totaler. The Hooch took the edge off and helped me deal with the daily pressures of prison. Everyone has their vice.


                I looked at Mark with a stare similar to what a puppy dog gives its owner when its cold outside in the Winter and the dog wants in. Mark was not only a mentor who's done a lot for me but also my cellie and my crew leader. I'd let him down. I felt quilt. And also, he had pull. He was also the guy who would have the final say in me becoming a full member of his crew and not just remaining as an "associate."


                I continued to stare, but away from Mark and towards the floor of our cell.


                "Book a meetin' this week. I know Terry, one of the mentors."


                I breathed a deep sigh, again. Mark turned, facing me:



                "Ya hear me! Book a meetin' this week. You're up for review to be a member of our crew in 3 months...if that's still what you want."


                I didn't answer. I had a look of F-you to Mark in my eyes. I gave him a wicked stare of defiance.


                Mark left the cell.....I'll make the first move and transfer, F*ck him, I thought.I continued to sit on my bunk. I knew things had changed. And things were about to change in a big way.
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                • #38
                  Ch. 21


                  Change


                  I made the decision. I made the change.


                  I sat in the chair. Bored from the start. "It began as a mistake," to quote fellow piss-tank Charles Bukowski.


                  Exactly 1 minute later a man walked in the room with a slight spring in his step. Mid-30s, cargo khakis, semi-tie-dyed t-shirt, short beard, spectacles and a short pony-tail in that "trying to get longer mode." This guy had Sensitive Man with Pony Tail written all over him.


                  What have I gotten myself into? I thought to myself.


                  The man stood in the front of us in our U-shaped chairs formation. There were 14 of us.


                  "Hi guys!"


                  A couple responses of "Hi" and "hey!" could be heard.


                  "OK, 3 o'clock, let's get started!"


                  Terry took a sip of coffee from a styro-foam cup. I glanced over to the Bun-O-matic coffee machine on the table against the wall. It must have had 30 years of use. The mud in those two coffee-stained pitchers looked like it was 2 weeks old, it was so thick and syrupy.


                  "We've got a new member tonight, let's welcome Grampa," he told the group, gesturing towards me.


                  "Hi, Grampa" the group said in lackadaisical unison.


                  "Welcome Grampa! Please tell us a little about yourself" said Terry.


                  "OK....I'm....."...I looked around sheepishly...."My name's Grampa.....I'm.....here tonight to learn and to......change some things."


                  A couple of members nodded with slight smiles in a welcoming and amicable manner.


                  "And may I ask, Grampa what is the reason or some of the reasons, of why you decided to come and join us tonight?"


                  "Well"....I sighed..."it was my cellie's idea. I'd been hooching it up in our cell at night when we're locked in for the night and....it started to
                  annoy him so he recommended me coming here."


                  "OK," responded Terry. "You don't have to open up and tell us much tonight. This is your first meeting. It's OK to listen. In the future we'd appreciate it
                  if you share some of your experiences with us - and trust me - we've all been down the same road.


                  Terry gave more instructions: "And, Grampa. It's important to note that although Hooch - alcohol - is a prohibited substance here in our facility, we will not be reported to the guards nor receive any infraction points for talking about our drinking. It's also not going to be reported that some members have brewed home-booze in the past or purchased it from other inmates. Everything here is with full immunity - and anonymity. There are NO judgments here. We are here from the same reasons - although each of us has had our own individual journey."


                  I nodded. "Thank you, Terry."


                  "OK, now that that's out of the way, who'd like to start with Feelings Check?"


                  A man raised his hand.


                  "OK, Randy, let's here it."


                  "Hi, my name is Randy and I'm a Hoochaholic."


                  "Hi, Randy!" the group regurgitated together.


                  "How am I feelin' today.....I'm feeling pretty pissed off. I'm very pissed off!"


                  "What's been going on?" Asked Terry.


                  "I'm supposed to be released in 6 months----"


                  "That's great!" we heard from another member. A couple of claps erupted and then everything joined in including me and it got louder and louder.
                  When it stopped, Randy continued.


                  "I've got a job lined up for when I get released. It was all set up. Friend of my brother's. Guy runs an auto-shop. I got experience in that. Everything was good to go but now my future Parole Officer says it's too far from the half-way house I'm gonna be in and I can't work that far from the half-way house! They set things up for people to fail in here!! I'm gettin' urges to take the edge off and go off the wagon!


                  Terry nodded with sincere empathy. He was now sitting in front of our U-formation group.


                  Another member asked from the right side: "how is it too far, Randy?"


                  "It's a 50 minute drive each way. I'll be living in Ballard but the job is in Spanaway. They don't have enough rooms in the half-way house near Spanaway to allow me to live there. I'm stuck in Ballard. It's bullsh*t."


                  Some members nodded.


                  "Any alternatives for work Randy?" asked another man.


                  "I'll have to look for another job closer to Ballard. But who wants to here an ex-Con?"


                  "Anything else Randy?" Asked Terry


                  "Nah."


                  "Randy keep us posted and on the bright-side you're about the get released. I think all of us here wish we were in your shoes!"


                  "OK, folks. Let's move on to the topic of today: triggers.


                  We're all human, Randy. You mentioned having urges. Sometimes there are triggers that cause us to want to drink. It could be a rough day at the prison job, problems with your significant other on the outside, or just the daily pressures of being in prison....One thing that is fairly common is for recovering Hoochers is to.........


                  [Fade out]


                  My first meeting left me feeling positive. I felt good. I was starting to think Mark was right in pushing me to go. I made the right choice, I thought. I rejected my innate stubbornness and chose to stay in 32-C with Mark and not stomp off to another cell just to feed my ego. I was ready to get my act together, got off of the booze and find a way to pay my debt, even though I was broke.


                  I was walking back to my cell after my first Hoochaholic meeting and as I got closer to my cell on the 3rd tier I saw something definitely not right at all. The 2 weirdos from the showers (see chapter 13) were standing near my cell door: Turbo and Charu. I never saw them around this part of D-block. Ever. Their facial expressions were neutral but in prison, you never knew what that meant. Turbo seemed even bigger than he was in the showers. He towered over everyone had the most muscle on him in the entire prison. He's was juicing, on 'roids, no doubt. His upper-arm biceps and triceps were thicker than my head. My spidy-senses started rising. I'd been in prison long enough to have the instincts. I looked straight at them without saying a word and walked to the entrance of my cell door and just before I stepped in


                  "Hey Gramps!" I heard someone say loudly to me from behind.


                  I spun around quickly, as this is what you do when you have the sense that something is getting tense.


                  It was Pete South. He must've been following me and was now we were 3 feet away from each other.


                  I looked at his eyes with a glare. I looked into those eyes and they were opaque. Like an abyss, a nothingness inside them.


                  "Ya didn't come to our party?" he said in a sarcastic tone with a contrived smile.


                  "What do you want?" I asked in a threatening voice, aware of the two behind me.


                  "I don't want anything....but I got a message for you."


                  "Message?"


                  "You gotta hearing problem!? You deaf? Open up your f*ckin' ears," he said menacingly. I quickly glanced back to check Turbo and Charu. They were still standing very close right behind me. I could almost feel Turbo breathing on me.


                  "Message from who?"


                  "Ramirez brothers."


                  Silence.


                  Pete and I both directly fixed our eyes on each other for about 5 seconds.


                  "What?" I asked, visibly angry. We both knew what this was about.


                  "Pay them the f*ckin' money!"


                  "I'll get it figured out," I told him.


                  "Make f*ckin' sure you do."


                  Pete tilted his head to his 2 cronies as a signal to leave and they walked past me, one bumping me slightly on purpose, as they followed Pete as he walking away.


                  "See you in the showers," the giant Turbo said to me with a wink and a grin as he walked off.


                  I walked into my cell and sat on my bunk.


                  Sh*t, I thought to myself. How am I going to get out of this mess when I don't have a dime to my name?
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                  • #39
                    Ch. 22

                    So....who is Pete South?



                    I had to keep a real-life nightmare from happening, and fast.

                    It'd been a couple of days since Pete South and his 2 soldiers Charu and Turbo approached me at my cell with threats demanding paying for the Ramirez Brothers. All of this, was the result of my my Hooch Habit combined with a lack of funds. When I first encountered them in the showers (see Ch. 13) ....they broke all of the unwritten prison rules inmates are supposed to follow: never choose a shower head right next to a guy when many others were available, never start a conversation while showering, and then....inviting me to "party" in their cell. They broke all of the protocols.

                    I still had not mentioned to Mark that they were waiting outside of my cell harking about my debt and I wasn't about to tell him. Nor did I ever tell him about the shower incident. But now I decided to tell him about the shower situation in order to get more info about South and his cronies. Mark was the Oracle. He knew everything about everyone.

                    We were chilling in our cell.

                    "Hey, I'm gonna tell you somethin'".... and I told him the full scenario of what happened in the showers.

                    "Those weirdos" he said, after listening intently to my shower story and not saying a word. He continued:

                    "Prison has a lot of messed up people. Best thing to do is for you to keep away from them and keep them away from you," Mark advised. "Ya don't talk to people ya don't wanna talk with. That's a rule. If they approach you or talk to you, you warn 'em.

                    "What do you know about Pete South?" I asked.

                    That guy Pete.......looks like Peter N*rth, the actor. That's why we call him "Pete South" - a nickname because of his similar appearance to that actor. He's got a six-pack, good looks, and is also from Southern California. That's another reason for the nickname Pete South. His real name is Peter D'Angelo. His family's got money. They send him regular deposits and part of that he pays Turbo and Charu to be his "buddies" - but what they really are, are his protection. He's a coward that intimidates others by using his 2 sidekicks as his muscle. Turbo is his boyfriend by the way. Thay have a....what do you call it?....An "Open Marriage" so to say.....or more like they are....Swingers.

                    I swallowed hard and I kept listening.

                    "He's from the upscale part of West LA....Brentwood. Claims he was a professional surfer in the past but not everybody believes it. Who knows? So many guys are full of sh*t in here.

                    He and his 2 hanger-ons were sizing you up in the shower. That was Pete makin' a move on ya. He was seeing if you were into that thing so he could have you as his Boy Toy. You told me you were alone in the showers - and they came up to you in the showers because you were alone. Like I said, he prays on the weak, or someone in a weak situation.

                    He also did that because you were new. He'd never try that with a Veteran Old Timer in here. That's a Wig-Splitting Offense.

                    He's weird. Strange. Off. Avoid him and if he tries to be your buddy tell him to take a hike. I ain't sayin' your soft, but you don't hit the weights enough in the yard and you've never been in a fight in here. Predator inmates make assumptions. People are always making assumptions in here."

                    "What's he in here for?" I asked.

                    "GTA - Grand Theft Auto. 4 counts. Doin' 18 years as a habitual offender with 5 down. He's gotta a long rap sheet.

                    "Any additional info on this guy? Like, before prison? I want all the info there is on him," I said.

                    "He was born to pure trailer trash in Central California, some small podunk town outside of Modesto. He moved to the LA area when his mom married-up big-time to some producer in the film industry. Pete's always had problems. Expelled from High School by the time he was 15. In and out of jail for various offenses. He was a spoiled kid who went from street punk to hustler, to pick-pocket to car thief and over time he graduated to thieving pricey expensive cars: Porsches, Jags, Benzes.....he even stole a Lambo (Lamboughini) that belonged to some star actor. We know this is true because it was in all da papers.

                    He's got a dark side. A short-temper. Can snap on a whim. He's been in the hole 3 times for assaulting other inmates. He's a manipulator who preys on weaker inmates. But he's not tough and doesn't know how to fight, so he sicks Turbo on people. That's the only power he has....well, two actually: His money and Turbo, to enforce his proclivities. The last shrink, the one before Dr. Ganel, diagnosed him with Narcissistic Personal Disorder (NPD)."

                    "How do you know that?" I asked curiously.

                    "Keegan used to work as an administrative assistant for the last Shrink, before she retired. He'd file documents and papers in her office. He read all of the reports on inmates, including bent Petey.

                    He's also a Booty Buyer," Mark added.

                    "A Booty Buyer?" I repeated, not understanding.

                    "Yeah, a Booty Buyer. Inmate goes into debt, can't pay, and he uses his well-to-do parents' wired money to his prison account to pay the debt off to the lender....and then Pete "owns" the debter's booty. Think of it as a Merger & Acquisition....or a Corporate Takeover.

                    This is the way things work here. These are the unwritten convict rules.

                    "Jesus H. Chri-----" I responded.

                    "Again, that why I keep sayin'....I keep preachin'....stay out of debt," Mark advised for the umpteenth time to me, as he pulled a stogie out of a pack, getting ready to light it.

                    "Yeah, got it," I answered.....I didn't tell Mark anything about the 3 coming to my cell about the Ramirez Brothers. I didn't want my dilemma known to Mark because he was already pissed off at me for getting into my Hooch Habit and Debt Mess to begin with.

                    I now knew what I was up against. I had to resolve this.....Who knows when they would approach me again and possibly engage in a beat down.
                    Marked continued: "Anyway, he's bent as a 3-dollar bill. I ain't got no problem with them, but he need not impose that on you because your straight.

                    Mark turned to me, and just looked at me: "Is there anything else goin' on? I mean, with you and Pete and his crew?"

                    I hesitated for 2 seconds......"No, no. Just wonderin' what this guy's about because of the shower thing."

                    I wasn't sure if Mark believed me. He paused, looking at me.

                    "You gotta take care of this if it happens again - You can't be associatin' with him or his fruit crew. Other inmates with thinks things and some will gossip. Rumors. This cannot happen with you bein' my cellie because those assumptions will come back on me.

                    You may have to do a beat down. Your first one. You might have to smash him if he tries that again, even if he orders Turbo to bash you - if you don't smash him you'll be considered weak or bent. Both of these labels will make your time in here very rough.

                    You got that? I ain't tellin' you what you have to do; I'm telling you what you may have to do."

                    "Understood," I responded with a nod to Mark, knowing he still knew nothing about Pete demanding payment on behalf of the Brothers. I was being dishonest in this sense. Deceit by Omission.


                    I knew if I could just pay off the debt that my problem with them would go away.

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