Standing Up (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.
I lived in cell 12 on the lower tier. We approached my cell, the first on the run.
“Face the wall, and don’t move,” said the officer who’d tried to give me water.
“Open fox 12,” the other radioed.
The bars to my cell opened with a clanging of metal against metal that roared down the run. The men on the opposite tier stood to attention behind their bars, waiting for the officers to leave to speak to me. On my side, through my peripheral vision I could see hands holding mirrors reflecting images of faces casing the situation.
“Step in. All the way back. Face the wall and slowly back up once the bars close.”
I complied. Once the cell closed I backed up. Usually an officer will reach in between the bars to undo the cuffs. It’s easier on both parties since the handcuff slot was considered a design flaw – it was set too high to raise your arms from behind to be cuffed and uncuffed. Instead of an officer reaching in, I had to back up and try to manoeuvre my arms into the slot. The vigilantism hadn’t ceased.
“Step back, and slide your wrists through the slot,” he said, his voice dripping with spite.
Hunching over as far as I could, I strained to pull my arms high behind me. The lack of water in my body made this task alone difficult to achieve. I felt a glove reach in the slot and seize the middle links between my cuffs. The hand lifted and pulled my arms through the slot. The pressure upon my shoulders made me wince, but at least the officers couldn’t see my expression as my head was leaning forward.
As one officer took my cuff off, the other held my wrist in place. When both cuffs were off, they took much longer than usual to release me. I pulled away and turned to face them. With nonchalance, they walked away satisfied.
I took off my orange jumpsuit, and headed straight for the sink. A film of salt from the sweat had dried upon my body. It was a feeling I’ve never been able to get comfortable with, not even with my daily workouts. I washed up, and filled my cup with water. I sat on my bunk, debating my next course of action.
At this time my neighbor was O.G. Pete. He’d been down 30 plus years, and used to run around with older heads from the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia. He was half white and Mexican, but both races gave him sovereignty status when it came to the racial divisions due to how much time and “work” he’d put in. Work, in prison, means stabbings, riots, robberies, deals…His criminal resume covered all trades, and he was considered a master of them. He was close to 60, and now basically retired. He had a few years left to go home. He had some money stashed away from years of hustling that he’d invested wisely. He used to tell me he couldn’t wait to spoil his grandchildren once he was free. Pete was about my height, 5’10”. Decades of push-ups and pull-ups gave him broad shoulders and a strong handshake. Though he was in his late fifties, he physically resembled a man in his early to mid thirties. His hair was grey, his face age-spotted due to years in the sun. He wore bifocals to see and read. His philosophy was one of entitlement and staff viewed it that way too. He used to always say that he’d been doing time when more than half of the staff and wardens were still crappin’ green in their diapers. It was true too.
“Hey, youngster, that was some foul shit they pulled,” O.G. Pete said.
“Yeah, it was. I’m fuckin’ pissed.”
“I can imagine. He’s just fuckin’ with you ’cause yer young.”
Earlier in the day, the sergeant and I had an argument over a laundry line. The unit had reduced laundry from twice a week to once. So some of us chose to wash certain items in the sink – boxers, socks, T-shirts – and hung them out to dry in our cells.
In a small 5’ by 10’ cell, dirty clothes in summer smell quick. In prison, the smallest issue escalates with staff and inmates. Sometimes two rational people catch each other on a bad day, and a trivial situation becomes the seed for a riot or murder.
Since I’d refused to take down the laundry line, the sergeant threw me out in the holding cage for a few hours. He was a new sergeant. He’d barely received his bars, so was looking to push his weight as opposed to embracing his leadership role.
Click here for Standing Up Part 1