Flashback to Yard 4
T-Bone V Monkey
“You’ve been in so many fights,” I said to T-Bone, “you must have had your arse kicked some time. Can we talk about that?”
“Alright. In ’98 at Rynning Unit, I was workin’ as a field marshal for the Mau Maus, given responsibility to handle certain things among the blacks: Crips, Bloods, AAC, Muslims, Christians. And I was supposed to keep an even keel among 'em all.”
“Who’s above field marshal in the Mau Maus?”
“A general. A guy who has rank of status, who’s done a lotta kills. I made a mistake: I let a black guy get away without payin’ a $500 heroin debt. I shoulda whipped his tail but like a dummy I felt sorry for him. I thought I was home free, but word went around all the yards.
You know, it takes ten men to control an eighty-pound chimpanzee. Next thing is I’m getting visited by Monkey. He’s five-six. About 150 pounds. He’s an expert in a West African style of fightin’ where they study animals such as the monkey. He says, ‘Hey wassup, bro!’ And shook my hand. I thought we were cool. He says, ‘I heard you had a rough time with the white boys and the po-lice at the other yard. Everybody sends you their L 'n' Rs. But check this out: when we get to the pod, I need to talk to you. I’ve got somethin’ for you.’ I asked him, ‘Are you livin’ in my pod?’ and he says, ‘No. But I’ll get over there though.’ I had an uneasy feelin’, but I didn’t listen to my instincts. I was a massive and lean 295 pounds. I was grabbin’ humongous water bags and drivin’ ‘em. I thought I was invincible to a certain degree. Monkey comes over with two bags of store when we’re all – 100 of us – comin’ back from rec. The cops let him in my pod – even they wouldn’t mess with him 'cause of his reputation. We’re walkin’ together and all of a sudden he drops his store goods, and goes for my throat, but hits me in the sternum – bop! The pain’s instantaneous. Lastin’. It stayed there, draggin’ naggin’ – argghh.” T-Bone's face contorted. "Somethin’ like that.” He punched me.
“Ow! Thanks for the dead leg,” I said.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just wanted you to know how it felt.”
“It’s alright. Your stories wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t get socked every now and then.”
“Everything happened so fast. While I recoiled, Monkey dropped down like an ape. He karate punched me right into the femur. Right here. It numbed my whole leg. It took every bit of mind control from trainin’ in football, the Marine Corps, street and prison life to get my mind back – grhhhh -"
Oh no, I thought. Here we go again. I’m in trouble.
“ – to control the pain. Monkey rolled on the ground like an ape, and kicked me straight in the face. My mouth an’ nose were bleedin’. I fell down. Everythin’s cloudy and blurry. I’m dazed. He kicked me in the right shoulder, which woke me up. I did a forward roll, came up, grabbed him, and was gonna rip him apart. But he was just like a chimp – strong and wiry – and I couldn’t hold him. He tried to bite my arm. I bolo punched him in the back of his head but his cornrows cushioned my good six-inch punch – bam!” T-Bone punched my left arm.
"Ow,"I said. "Now my whole left side is injured. Whatever you do, don't punch my right arm or else I won't be able to write."
“I’d focussed all my energy into that one punch. It had took so many people down before. He elbowed me and did a back spin with his left hand across the bridge of my nose. I remember my eyes waterin’, and the next thing I woke up in the infirmary. People said he was bangin’ my head on the ce-ment floor. The brothers held him down until the cops pepper-sprayed the place down. Then Monkey took me outside, outta harms way. I was shamed for a long time. It took me two years to recover mentally from the ass-whippin’. I had to whup a lotta tail to get my prestige back of bein’ number-one hog. He whupped me in 25, 30 seconds. It was a terrifyin’ experience, and I learned how others felt when I terrified them. Monkey was one of the baddest dudes I ever met in my life. Size doesn’t matter. It’s combat readiness, skill and ability to damage a person. He had it deep in his heart. I still have nightmares about Monkey."
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