23 Mar 08

Month 3

The last time my parents went on holiday and left me in charge of the house (twenty years ago) I crashed Mum’s car. So it was no surprise that they hid their car keys before recently flying to Tenerife. Leaving me after our three-month reunion, Mum departed teary eyed – but only out of concern for the safety of her house plants. She wouldn’t have abandoned her plants if Posh Bird hadn’t promised to cater to their watery needs. As of today the plants are fine. I’ve watered them as per Mum’s written instructions. I also followed her instructions for the washing machine.

In Arizona’s state prisons, a laundry service is provided twice a week. Entering prison you are given a net laundry bag that you must immediately write your cell number on or else you won’t get your laundry back. Problem is, if you write it with a pen it just washes off – bon voyage laundry. So you have two choices. The first is to pull the top off a pen and to blow into the refill and write your cell number with the thick stream of ink that flows out of the other end. It may take a day to dry, but it’ll survive many washes before it fades and it’s time to give it a top up. The second is to use a marker. But markers are contraband. So you have to locate the local holder of a stolen marker, and have something like a soup to bribe him with. It’s best to go see him laundry bag in hand, because he’s usually disinclined to let his stolen marker out of sight, and if you lose it you’ll owe any amount he decides upon pain of being smashed.
You put your laundry bag in a cart. The laundry porters collect the carts the next morning. It comes back later in the day. If you take a clean item of laundry and put it in a sink of water, the water turns filthy. Which is why hand-washing services run by prisoners thrive.
Sometimes whole batches of laundry go missing. Forms must be filled out, and it can take months for replacement laundry to be issued. When that happens, you’ll see inmates going door to door begging for old socks, boxers, and T-shirts.

And laundry’s not all I’ve done. I’ve cooked – over and above cheese on toast. There’s nothing like hunger to motivate you to cook things. I even cooked Posh Bird an Indian curry thanks to Dad’s instructions. She ate it, survived, and actually praised the meal. Knowing she wouldn’t believe I cooked it, I made evidence: I videotaped myself in the kitchen converting a lowly pan of fried onions into a vegetarian rogan josh.
Also, I’ve hand washed dishes, cutlery, pots, pans – because my parents banned me from using the dishwasher out of fear I’d break it somehow or other, which I probably would as it’s old and fragile. I’ve vacuumed – well, just today, because they get back tonight. The only thing I didn't do was open the curtains, but I did put the plants in the kitchen for sunlight purposes.

Last Tuesday, Posh Bird put our relationship on hold again. She claimed to be under too much exam stress to be dealing with a relationship, but I suspect it is because I chose two bad DVDs for us to watch in a row. It seems movies directed by Tarantino aren’t what they used to be before I was imprisoned. Posh Bird put our relationship on hold just days after I had bought her an Easter chocolate champagne bottle, which I couldn’t regift to anyone else because the lady at Thornton’s embossed Posh Bird’s name on it. It was a close call between eating it and giving it to her, but I did the latter. It must have somewhat compensated for the lousy DVD picks, because Posh Bird has asked me to spend this evening with her spooning on the couch watching a DVD. A DVD picked by her of course. A chick flick. More penance. However, we have agreed to postpone preliminary discussions about taking our relationship off hold until after her exams.

This month I finished a draft of the first part of my second book. Part one is tentatively titled “Illegal-Alien Stockbroker.” It’s 17 chapters, 21,291 words. It’s a series of anecdotes leading up to my immersion in Arizona’s rave scene.
To a certain extent I am reliving my life vicariously as I write about it. In order to get details and dialogue right, I’ve used the Internet to find many people from my past and arranged telephonic interviews with them. These include my old boss. I am grateful to those people for taking the time to help me. And it’s interesting to find out how their lives have progressed since I knew them. Sadly, I also discovered that a former right-hand man of mine, the head of my security team, Cody “The Admiral” Bates, hung himself. He left a message saying our times spent together were the best of his life, and he hopes we’ll raise a beer and think of him. Cody was one of my soberest friends, but his life spiralled out of control after our arrests.
Tomorrow I’ll start part two of the book – I’m bracing myself to relive that madness. It’ll probably take all summer to write. I’m expecting it to be well over 50,000 words. Then part three will cover my time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system prior to the blog.

I’ll end this blog with an excerpt from Chapter 13, which is about Chupa, a small weekly rave held in downtown Phoenix around 1994-95. Deejays such as Eddie Amador, Gary Menichello, Pete Salaz, Emile, RC Lair, Inertia, Rob Saint, Sachmo, Mike Gomez, Chris Flores, David Alvarado, Marques Wyatt, and Jeno spun there.

Outside Chupa, homeless people milled about like zombies or clustered around industrial-drum fires. Gangbangers cruised the streets in lowriders thumping gangsta rap. The ghetto didn’t lack gunfire. For the safety of the RX7, I parked at the curb by Chupa’s entrance.
Red lights guided us down a hallway, past a flooded toilet, into Chupa. The strobe, like the Hindu goddess Durga emerging from a blinding light, beckoned us into the darkness with its many open arms. We disappeared into a smoke-machine cloud and joined the throng of regulars – drag queens, club kids, ravers – grooving to house, tribal and trance. Hypnotic beats. Lyricless, except for the repetition of phrases spoken in bizarre voices. Robotic voices. Androgynous voices. The voices of divas. Voices and tunes that played in my mind long after the music had stopped.

High levels of club drugs enable some people to dance with unnatural fluidity, and the stocky Sioux Indian, Acid Joey, was one of them. In the middle of the dance floor, Acid Joey would mimic loading up a shotgun. Then, still moving perfectly to the beat, he’d shoot the people dancing around him.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood


joannie said...

Good job on the survival skills-I'm sure mum's plants thank you- and I don't think bad DVD picks would cause a breach in relationship. That's sort of silly.

Wonderful writing-I particularly liked the description of the strobe. I could really picture everything. Keep up the great work, don't stress.

Jon said...


Just beeing a wee bit facetious re the DVDs.


Jenny Dreadful said...

What constitutes a chick flick? Haughty intellectual films like The English Patient? Maudlin crapola like Steel Magnolias? What?

Anonymous said...

HA! regarding the videotaping of the cooking job. That's just too funny.

I like the writing, too. Can't wait to read the whole thing.

Jon said...

Jenny Dreadful,

The movie was Notting Hill. Hugh Grant seems to pop up a lot in these chick flicks picked by Posh Bird.


Bill from KC said...

I have to say, I am definitely looking forward to the book coming out. I think that using a big section of it as sort of a prequel to your blog would help to fill in alot of the nagging questions. (how big were you in the scene, how well connected to the underground, etc) especially considering news stories that were published saying you were some kind of a drug dealing kingpin. I mean, all of your blog readers have the basic backstory, but I'm sure you have enough stories from those times to crank out some serious pages, and also to set the record straight. Also, do you have a title yet and could you post the recipe for the Currie?

jenny dreadful said...

OMG, Notting Hill! "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love me."

Notting Hill versus the latest Tarantino flick? That is the most hilarious juxtaposition possible.

joannie said...

Chuckle-shoulda figured.

Anonymous said...

Take care! Chick flicks are GOOD for you!!! Tell Posh Bird I said so!!!

Brett's Sister, Diane said...

looking forward to the book...

Dez said...

Eddie Amador, Pete Salaz, Emile, Mike Gomez, Chris Flores.

The Days of Chupa! I remember them so well and as of the Gang! they are still Dj'ing in some way or form. I still talk to them all. Let me know when the book comes out I will have to tell them all.

Hope all is jolly in England