Slim (Part 1 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.
Seven times around the dirt track was one mile. Everything else was centered inside. Seven workout stations. Two basketball courts. Four steel picnic tables. Just outside the track were eight phones, a water fountain, and a urinal. No grass, trees or any other greenery on our rec yard. Just concrete and steel, desert dirt, and the traditional gun tower.
The temperature was in the hundreds, the sun beating down, giving no leeway to the breeze trying to keep us company.
Some guys were working out, others playing basketball, the rest gambling or caught up in idle chatter.
My earphones were blaring as I muscled out my last set of pushups. I began to make my way towards the next station to do dips and back arms. I walked the track, by two Native Americans sat at one of the tables.
“Warrior,” shouted Day, waving at me to look in his direction.
I barely caught my name through my blasting Walkman. I walked over to Day and Red Hawk. “Wattup, chiefs! How you two doing?”
“Jus’ chillin’,” Red Hawk said. They both greeted me with handshakes.
Day was an old guy about 60 who I knew from other yards. Light skinned. Long hair. Standing around 5’6”. Missing a few teeth. His face lined with wrinkles like an old boot. He’d spent 20 years in the system. Red Hawk was in his thirties, 5’10” and dark complected. His face clearly showed his native ethnicity, especially his nose shaped like an eagle’s beak. Both guys were Pima, one of the native tribes in Arizona. We respected how we each carried ourselves.
“Getting’ ready to watch da show,” Day said.
I immediately knew something was going to go down, and they were giving me a heads-up. “Ah shit. Something’s gonna pop off, isn’t it?”
Both guys looked at each other and laughed. My eyes sharpened between the two, attempting to gauge who’d tell me first. To a certain degree a little anxiety rose in the back of my mind. Instincts can’t help but raise caution because the “show” may well include you.
“Be careful,” Day said, leering around to see who was in earshot. “They’re gonna get Slim.”
Slim was a character no one liked. A few of the guys were already waiting for him to screw up. He was Mexican, stood 6’ and 180 pounds, with a shaved head, and tattooed all over. Some say he had mental issues. In reality though he would get spun out on speed or heroin and think he had courage, throwing out threats at guys he knew he could intimidate, steering clear of those he knew he couldn’t. The longer he went without sleep, sometime days, the worse he became. Everyone was tired of him, including me. Slim had recently picked a fight with a guy everyone was fond of for no reason. It was time for him to go. He was going to get run off the yard.
“Who’s gonna get ’im?”
“The homies, Casper and Lumpy. Check ’em out. They’re trying to get close to ’im.” Red Hawk nodded in the direction for me to look.
Casper and Lumpy were walking laps, each lap inching their way closer to Slim who was at the pull-up bars. They knew he was spun, he’d been up for days and was paranoid. They were trying to make their way close to him without raising suspicion.
“Good,” I said, “Everyone’s tired of his fucking shit.”
“Yep, that’s why,” Day said.
“I appreciate the heads-up,” I said.
“It’s all good,” Red Hawk said, “We seen you working out and know you always at the pull-up bars, so we figured we’d give ya a heads-up, so you’d not get caught in the crossfire.”
“Right on. Good lookin’ out,” I said. “Well I’m gonna go finish up my routine. Thanks again.” I shook their hands, and headed back onto the track towards the next workout station.
I approached the dip bar. No one was there except me. This station was located in the northwest corner of the rec yard, resting on an area slightly elevated in comparison to the rest of the yard. The high ground afforded me a better view of everything taking place, causing me to wonder how good the view was for the guard stationed in the gun tower.
I began my routine, but not with much intensity. I figured it best to stay alert and keep my eyes on Slim, so he didn’t by chance make his way to my area to work out. I didn’t want to find myself in the middle of the chaos. Small situations can escalate into full-fledged riots within seconds. So being alert can be the difference between life, death or harm.
Three sets into my back-arm routine, my cellmate Charlie happened to walk by. “Wattup!” Charlie said.
“Nothin’. What you doin’?” I asked.
“Nothin’. Jus’ walkin’ laps.”
“Hey, chill with me right here.”
“Why? What’s up?”
“Some shit’s gonna go down right now.”
Charlie’s eyes animated, his attention picked up like the ears of a Doberman. We’d recently become cellmates, and got along great. We were both from the same hometown, and knew much of the same people. Charlie stood 5’4”, weighed 170 pounds and sported the customary fade haircut. He wore tortoise-shell designer frames a bit too large for his small round face. When he arched his back to look up at you through his lenses, it appeared as though his neck and face were struggling to uphold the weight of his glasses. I found this humorous as it was his signature.
“What? What?” Charlie asked with an anxiety that said he thought he might be the target.
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Shaun P. Attwood.