Thanks to all of your help and feedback, the prologue for my next book, Two Tonys, now looks like this:
Sometimes at night, I lay on my bunk, staring at the swatted flies and mosquitoes stuck to the ceiling, reminiscing about the pieces of shit I whacked, which gives me weird thoughts. Probably not weird in the way you’re imagining. If you’re thinking that any of my victims might have been the next Bill Gates, or might have discovered a cure for cancer, or might have been the first man to walk on Mars, no, let’s be real. They were pieces of shit who might have blown your face off during an armed robbery or sold heroin to your kids. For almost two decades, I got away with putting dirt-balls to sleep. It all ended after my arrest in the early nineties, so let’s take a peek there.
In 1992, I was reading in my cell – books keep me alive, they keep me from fucking dementia – when the peep slot on my door slammed open, and a pair of eyes gazed in. “You’ve got a legal visit. Back up to the door and don’t try anything stupid.” A key rattled, a latch clicked and a hatch unfastened.
Glad to get out of my shithole, I put my book down, got up from the metal bunk, put my hands behind my back and fed them through the hatch. Handcuffs clicked on tight. Two pairs – a practice reserved for dangerous motherfuckers, like the big dudes in here who work out all day, and are into cage fighting or are ex-Marines, and have the strength and knowledge to get out of cuffs. I ain’t in that group. Then there are guys who ain’t physically intimidating, but their file says that based on their criminal and prison history, they’ll kill you in a heartbeat with a weapon. That’s more like me. But if I got free, I ain’t gonna whack a guard. I’d stab a child molester at a kids’ playground, lusting over a six-year-old girl on a swing: creeps like that.
“Step away from the door.” The metal door screeched open. “Come out with your back to us. Any sudden moves and we will face-plant you into the concrete.” I ended up between two overgrown hillbillies, trained to remain aloof, probably told, “If you slip and fall, don’t think a prisoner won’t grab your gun and kill you.” They were not gonna talk about who won the ball game or where the nearest pizzeria is. Chains jangled around my belly and ankles. The door clanged shut and was locked. “Down the corridor. Go!”
Curses and sewage smells rose from the cells as the guards’ boots clunked forward. When they guided me past Visitation, I knew something was up. “Where’re we going?”
“We can’t tell you for security reasons.” They brought me to a small room, and opened the door. “Can we bring him in lieutenant?”
I shuffled inside: beige walls, a fluorescent strip light, no windows, a creaky fan.
“Three homicide detectives and a county attorney from Anchorage wanna talk to you,” said another fat redneck, who stood sweating through a tan uniform. “Have a seat.”
The plastic chair slid towards me scraped the concrete. Restricted by chains, I sat slowly, relishing the better air. “Do I have to talk to them, lieutenant?” I asked, playing dumb.
“Then I don’t wanna talk to them.”
“I’ll call the gate to see where they’re at.” He got on his radio. “They’re on their way up. When they get here, tell them you don’t wanna talk to them.” That was his ploy to get me in a room with them.
Dwarfed by the guards, the detectives and lawyer came in, eyeing me like a prize. With the three Alaskans was Dirk Taylor, a Tucson homicide detective I’d been jousting with for almost two decades. In a beige shirt, brown pants and snakeskin boots, he tilted his cowboy hat, revealing his face, leathery and tanned, with a bulbous burnt nose. “How’re you doing?” Dirk’s southwestern drawl was less rustic than the rednecks’. It was polite and coaxing, designed to get fools to incriminate themselves. But behind his charm, he hid the tenacity of a hunting dog.
“Just fine, but I don’t wanna talk to you.”
“We’re just looking to close some old cases,” said the Alaskan attorney, a skinny twerp. “We’re not gonna charge you with any crimes. We know you’re never getting out. Indicting you would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Dirk steered his brown eyes, small and severe, towards the lieutenant. “Can you make him talk to us?”
I kept my expression deadpan, but every fibre in my body itched for me to say, “What is it you wanna talk about?” But if you ask that question – I was taught a long time ago by the Mafia – you run the risk of dialogue with them, so you say nothing. It’s always best to plead the Fifth, even if they only ask for your address. To come all the way from Alaska to Arizona, it had to be serious. Someone must have ratted me out for whacking members of The Brothers, a biker gang that tried to muscle in on my cocaine business. So what if I left a few bodies along the highway. Those punks all had it coming.
The lieutenant shrugged. “OK, you can go.”
Glad to get away from them, I stood.
“Wait! Don’t you wanna save yourself from the death penalty?” Dirk busted open a manila folder and slapped down a photo of a big bald dude on a hotel-room bed, a fucking mess, blood coming from his mouth, some of it congealed, his eyes closed, one foot on the floor, one on the bed, most of his brains on the ceiling. “We found your prints at the scene. Is there anything you’d like to tell us?”
Gazing impassively, I thought, Who’s Dirk trying to fool?
Dirk slapped down another photo: a biker stabbed to death in a prison cell. “How about this one?”
I shook my head.
Slap! Slap! Slap! Bodies unearthed from the Tucson desert. “How about these?” Dirk snatched a folder from the county attorney. He slapped down another photo: a biker frozen in Alaska with a chunk of his head missing. “How about this one?”
Slap! Another frozen biker. “And this one?” Slap! A biker with his throat slit. “This one?” Dirk gathered the pictures together like a hand of cards and shoved them towards my face. “You left a trail of corpses from Arizona to Alaska. Tell us something, anything.”
“OK. I have something to say.” Their gazes intensified. The detectives’ eyes were as cold as the corpses I’d left behind in Alaska. I wondered if hunting motherfuckers like me had injected ice into their hearts. “Don’t ever show up here uninvited without bringing me a soda and a burger.” I smiled at Dirk, who sneered. “Can I return to my house?” I asked the lieutenant. He nodded at the guards to return me to maximum security.
Just as I was about to leave, Dirk said, “When they sentence you to death, would you prefer the gas chamber or lethal injection?”
I didn’t even turn my head to look at the motherfucker.
A big thank you to the team
at Double Act TV for including me in the Prison
Night broadcast on Channel 4. It featured clips from famous prison
movies. Here's the show on Catch Up.It's
repeated tonight at 11.10pm. The response online was overwhelmingly positive,
especially from fans of the Shawshank Redemption. It started
trending on Twitter. Even human-rights advocate Bianca Jagger pitched in with: Bianca Jagger @BiancaJagger Nov 7 Kensington, London Brilliant program #PrisonNight
Double Act TV structured it well, achieving a balance between entertainment and human-rights issues,
such as Sunny Jacob’s story, which brought on the tears. The show dovetailed with my message to schoolsby showing the horror of what can happen in prison versus glamorisation. Dean Stalhamreally livened it up with punchy and hilarious quips, and every time Sheriff Joe Arpaio opened his mouth, he managed to personify himself as one of the evil wardens from the movie clips.
The prison strip searches included getting your foreskin searched: Prison sex and rape are common in Arizona: One of my cellmates was a serial home invader torturer who I didn't get along with: In this video I describe how the gangs work: News broadcast of Aryan Brother murdering an inmate in the jail I was at. The inmate had refused to beat someone up for the gang: The guards in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail like to murder the inmates too: CCTV footage: My hard-hitting talk to schools: More jail survival advice: Here are questions I answered for Nat Geo and what I'm up to now.
T-Boneis a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter from Arizona prison:
The last few weeks have been pretty
serious. Firstly, the Blacks and Mexicans almost had a riot because of bad talk
A new guy came here from somewhere (nobody
knew where) and started saying that a black guy owed him money for drugs. Then
he said that the black guy was a rat. To squash the beef, the gang leaders made
the two go into a cell to fight. Then we had a sit-down. The two were ordered
to leave the yard or get smashed. After they left, the guards locked the yard
As soon as the yard reopened, a second incident
happened. A black guy came onto the yard and said a white guy who works in
property had stolen his sweatpants. The black guy came and asked me for help. I
went to the white guy, who said that he wanted to fight the black guy, because
he didn’t want a jailhouse-thief jacket [reputation]. All of the whites grouped
together, and demanded that the two go into a cell and fight. The black guy
didn’t want to. He came to me for help. I told him to apologize. He did. Everyone
said it was cool, and that was the end of that.
So now the outstanding issue is just
plain old evil racism. The whites want to be the first in line to do everything:
chow, store, rec… And they are willing to fight over it at any cost. Now the
yard is open, there is supposed to no longer be a line rule, but the whites
want the blacks to go to the back of the bus, so to speak, because they have
the Mexicans backing them up.
This Saturday, Nov 7 on Channel 4at 9pm (UK time), I'm part of a 90-minute Prison Night Show #prisonnight, commenting on iconic prison movies such as the Shawshank Redemption and Escape from Alcatraz. As you can see in the above trailer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is also on the show. Click here for my YouTube prison videos
This Saturday, Nov 7 on Channel 4 at 9pm (UK time), I'm part of a 90-minute Prison Night Show #prisonnight, commenting on iconic prison movies such as the Shawshank Redemption and Escape from Alcatraz. Click here for my YouTube prison videos