Central Unit (Part 5 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.
Central Unit began with Warrior discovering a race war is raging, and the guards are staging human cock fights. Part 4 left off with Warrior receiving some messages.
There were two kites [letters] folded to the size of a stamp. One had “READ FIRST” written on it. It was a basic introduction from Shadow, telling me who he was and stating his position. It was forceful, but courteous. He was doing life, which told me he was probably heading in the direction of becoming a fully-fledged gang member, and that’s where his loyalty would lie. He was making a future for himself, that’s how I saw it.
The next kite was from Tiger, who preferred the Spanish pronunciation Tigre. He told me he was holding it down [the local leader] for the carnales [Mexican Mafia], and that he reports to them. He also stated that all orders and moves come from and are approved by him. He’d run my information, and everything had come back clean, meaning I was on no hit list, I was no child molester or rapist, I owed no money. He ran down the latest about the war taking place. What I had to be careful for, and the times throughout the day when the drama usually occurs. I could tell that Tigre was a probate [a prisoner putting in work to become a full gang member] by the mannerisms in his letter. There was an impulsivity from him to puff his chest out and bark orders.
Lately, because of the war, the gangs had dismissed the quality of character in their prospects and were more focussed on the quantity of numbers. Due to the reduced recruiting standards, there were a lot of shitheads ready to bark orders, yet they could never order the coward out of themselves. All of the real killers I’ve known never threw their business or themselves out there in initial introductions.
The letter told me that Tigre was an egomaniac, intoxicated by power, and lacking leadership experience. That I had to be careful with him, as he was the type to abuse his authority, and put you in the crossfire to save himself or to score points, and look good by making you a casualty. A typical prison politician.
His handwriting also stood out to me. Every T was crossed perfectly, and every loop in his script was exactly the same angle, width and length. In some areas, I could see where he’d been a little off on a T or a loop, and he’d erased the letter to be sure they were all equal in size. This, in conjunction with what I’d already picked up on, told me he had obsessive-compulsive disorder, and cared extremely about what others thought of him. It was good info for me to have, just he case he became my enemy.
Cowboy rapped on the wall with his mirror. I glanced up at his tattooed arm extending out, mirror in hand, and I could see his serpent-eyed smile on the mirror. He waved for me to come over.
“I see yer boys got atcha,” Cowboy said.
“Yeah, Shadow and Tigre,” I said, looking for a cringe or facial expression their names might cause.
But Cowboy was a pro. His face didn’t give me anything. Not knowing how close he was to them, I figured I’d best tread lightly and indirectly. Since I’m half white, I played up the Anglo slang and accent just enough to affect Cowboy subconsciously, without it being noticeable. I needed him in a comfort zone to reveal information.
“They seem like they’re pretty cool dudes. Is Shadow half white by the way? Is he from Tucson?”
“Nah, he outta Phoenix. I don’t think he half wood [white]. I’m pretty sure he full ese [Mexican]. Why ya ask?”
“Oh, he looks like a Shadow I did time with back in the days. He was a half-breed like me though.”
“Ya half wood?” Cowboy said excitedly, head tilted.
“Yeah, Scottish-Irish on my pop’s side,” I said, equally excited. It’s rare that whites accept someone who isn’t fully white. But I’ve noticed over the years that they liked that I wasn’t pure Mexican. I’m guessing it was due to the I’m-purer-than-you mindset, but it never failed to help me with the whites when I needed it.
“Nah, you shitting me?”
“Seriously. Here, look at my ID.”
He took my ID, and read my last name. “Ya ain’t kiddin’, are ya?” He nodded in approval.
“Hell, I listen to rock too, bro. Don’t let this dark hair fool ya.”
We spent the next hour bullshitting over how Hitler would have won the war if he wasn’t an egomaniac trying to micro-manage everything, how every Metallica album after the black one was garbage, how Carl von Clausewitz’s book On War was one of the best books ever written on the subject.
When he was most comfortable, I asked, “So tell me, man, between you and me, what are Shadow and Tigre about?”
He was no dummy, and at that moment I figured he would catch on that I’d made conversation to pump him for information. Whether he realised or not, he didn’t let on. He went ahead and told me all I needed to know.
Shadow and Tigre were both probates. Tigre was higher up the ladder. Shadow had more sense, was humble and doing life. Tigre had five years left. Both were in their early 30’s. Tigre had the keys [head position] to the building I was in. He lacked humility, and everything I’d guessed so far was on point.
Just then an officer came in wheeling the customary steel feeding cart, overflowing with lunches in brown paper bags. Before he started feeding, he came over in between our cells. He glanced at his clipboard, and then the cell number above Cowboy’s cell. From behind dark aviator sunglasses he said, “Roll your shit up. You’re moving.” Then walked away.
“Where am I going?” Cowboy protested.
“I don’t know,” the officer replied.
“Well, Warrior, it’s been nice meetin’ ya. Ya take care, and be on yer toes.”
“You going to a yard?”
“Nah, probably another building. Administration does that around here. They moves us all around to break up the line of communication, especially with this war. It keeps the incident factor down if everyone’s too busy re-establishing positions and lines of communication.”
“Right. I see.”
“Jus’ be on yer toes. Ya never know who yer neighbor will be.”
“Take care,” I said. We shook hands and I left him to pack.
I figured it was a good time to start my workout. First, I grabbed my Sony radio and put in a new set of AA batteries. I put on my headphones and tuned into 98, a really good alternative rock station. I needed something fast to listen to for the workout. I put my shoes on, took off my shirt. At 5’10” and 175 ponds, I was confident about my size. I’ve always been cut in build. I did my stretches for 15 minutes. Legs, hamstrings, back, arms, chest, neck, the usual. I then tied an orange line twisted from an old state-issued T-shirt from one end of my cell to the other. A low-tech dummy line per se. I spent the next 30 minutes shadowboxing.
In the middle of my cardio, I saw Cowboy leave. We acknowledged each other with the raising of our brows in unison.
I finished my cardio, then started with pushups. 15 sets of 30’s, 5 with hands almost together, 5 regular, 5 wide, all within 15 minutes, 25 second rests in between each set. Then upside down pushups against the wall, 5 sets of 15 in 5 minutes. Next curls and back arms, super sets, one after the other. 5 sets of 12 curls and 5 sets of back arms in 10 minutes. Squats, 5 sets of 50. Lunges, 5 sets of 50 on each leg in 15 minutes. I ended with crunches and sit-ups, 500 in 15 minutes.
I try to knock it out in an hour, sometimes I keep at it for 2 hours, depending upon my frustration level.
As I finished, I noticed a 6’2” Mexican in handcuffs being escorted into Cowboy’s old cell. He had a shaved head, and a wide forehead that made his eyebrows seem disproportioned. His frowning mouth was apparent behind his overgrown walrus mustache. His eyes were deep-set and scanning me and my cell as he passed by. He had to weigh at least 280 pounds, a cross between fat and muscle.
I glared back, not showing I was affected. He took his property off the moving cart, then his cell was racked shut. His cuffs were removed through the trap in the door, and the two officers left.
I began to wash up. I looked at my mirror hanging above my sink. I noticed a large arm, twice as big as Cowboy’s, holding a mirror and getting a view of my cell and me. I pretended not to notice. Hearing the rapping of the mirror, I turned and walked towards the bars.
“Q-vo, ese. Yo soy [I am] Big Tigre.” He then put his hand out for me to shake.
Click here to read:
Central Unit Part 1
Central Unit Part 2
Central Unit Part 3
Central Unit Part 4
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Shaun P. Attwood