Central Unit (Part 2 by Warrior)
Warrior - Serving fourteen years for kidnapping and aggravated assault. Half Hispanic and Scottish-Irish with family still in Mexico. Brought up by a family steeped in drug commerce. He writes some of the best prison-fight stories on the Internet.
Part 1 left off with Warrior arriving at a lockdown run in Central Unit and being told about a race war and to be on guard.
Ten o’clock arrived, and I was awakened by multiple shouts on the run.
“Good morning, woods!” shouted a white prisoner with a southern twang.
“Excuse me on da tier! Yo, Conlow! Mornin’ nigga!” hollered an African American.
“As-Salāmu `Alaykum,” a voice replied, which is Muslim for “Peace be upon you.”
“Despensa [excuse me] on the tier! Buenos dias to all the raza [Good moring to all the Chicanos],” another voice echoed.
Every race had their own way about doing things, even when it came to “good mornings.”
I got up, washed, and prepared mentally for the long day I knew lay ahead. I’d been through what’s referred to as a “roll call” so many times, I wasn’t looking forward to it. It was more of an irritation to me if anything.
A roll call means the new arrival at the unit has to send his name and Department of Corrections number to whoever is holding down the run for his race, along with a brief summary of what yard he came from, who was there and running that yard, along with why he was moved. A check is run to verify all of the information disclosed.
A roll call is routine on every yard in order to weed out sex offenders, snitches, and dudes who are wanted by the gangs for whatever reason. It’s not uncommon for identities to be mistaken, especially if your name is a common one like Smith or Martinez, and the gangs may try and kill you for no good reason. But hey, that’s life in prison, and a test of how well you function under pressure.
I snatched my 4x6 plastic mirror and moved towards the bars. Mirror in hand, I slid my arm out and wielded my low-tech camera around to get a lay of the land. I noticed some others doing the same. I could tell by the positioning of their mini screens who was caught up in conversation. I readjusted towards my neighbor. He had his headphones on, watching TV. I reached in his cell and tapped my mirror against his wall to get his attention. Tap-tap-tap… He looked and headed my way.
“Good morning, Cowboy,” I said.
“Hey now! Mornin’, Warrior.” He had that southern twang too.
“Sleep alright?” he asked.
“Eh…it was OK. Long bus rides are a bitch.”
“I hear that. Where’d ya come from?”
“Up north. Buckeye.”
“That place is pretty crazy right now. Is Wild Bill up there?”
“Yeah, it’s off the hook lately. Wild Bill’s there. He’s holding it down for your peeps. I’ve taked to him a few times. He’s cool. Real quick to have a white boy smashed if he steps outta line.”
A half snicker and a laugh came from Cowboy. “Ha ha. That’s my dawg! We’ve done time since the Eighties.”
Just looking at Cowboy, I could tell he’d done a lot of time. He had squinty eyes, like he’d spent years staring against the sun. He had a weathered face and a huge horseshoe mustache. I wondered whether his face was like that due to the sun, prison stress, or living a fast life. Probably all three.
Without warning, I heard the clicking sound of a door being racked open. Cowboy’s expression went from friendly to shark-eyed. Not a good sign. “Look alive and be on your toes, Warrior. Shit’s about to go down. Suit up just in case.”
I knew what suit up meant. Tie your shoes on tight, and get the battle gear on. I rushed to suit up and returned to the bars wondering what might happen next.
Again, without warning, another door racked open. Out came Mike, a white man about 5 foot 8 with long hair. He had a pudgy face and body. He looked around, focussed and intense.
Wilo, a 6-foot Mexican, lanky with short hair, bolted from his cell, charging at Mike.
Warning shouts of , “Behind you! Watch out!” echoed from various voices, but they were too late.
As Mike turned, he was met with a perfect blow from Wilo.
The whole tier erupted with roars:
“Kill ’im, Mike”
“Get his ass, Mike!”
The boom Wilo’s next punch made against Mike’s face sounded like a mixture of a slap and the thumping of one’s finger against a melon to check for ripeness.
I clenched my teeth in pain as though I were the one hit. I’m familiar with hits like that, and I knew it had to hurt. I knew that hit had made Mike gun shy – afraid to get hit again.
Mike dropped his head and tried to rush Wilo’s legs. Wilo pounded the back of Mike’s head repeatedly. Mike struggled like a fish on the deck of a boat trying to stay alive, yet knowing it was only a matter of time.
Click here to read Central Unit Part 1.
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Shaun P. Attwood