13 May 04

Chess Moves

Frankie, a Mexican Mafia contract killer – his fee is $50,000 per hit – instigates most of the hullabaloo in our pod. He is a recent arrival from the jail's infirmary. Last month he was playing cards in a maximum-security pod when someone stuck an eight-inch shank into the back of his neck. Unfazed, he extracted the shank, and was about to return the gesture, but a guard blinded him with pepper spray. Frankie was dragged from the pod with blood gushing from the wound. He was promoted to our pod – an area where inmates are confined to tiny cells for twenty-three hours each day.

Frankie looks and acts like Joe Pesci playing Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas. He wears his thick, black hair slicked back, and his arms are heavily prison-tattooed. He overcompensates for his Napoleonic height with a cocksure manner, but the inmates have warmed to his lewd wittiness. During a seventeen-year sentence, he became a chess heavyweight. On my hour out, I usually play a game with him by holding the board up in front of his cell window. His piercing hazel eyes and fiendish grin animate when he attempts intimidation tactics:

"Eat dat fuckin' pawn!"
"Let me fuckin' teach ya somethin'!"
"Eat dat fuckin' bishop!"
"Watch dis! Check! Trick move! What'd I fuckin' tell ya!"
"Don't do it!"
"Move my bitch [Queen] all da way up!"
"Check-fuckin'-mate! Boo-yah!"
"Nobody fucks wiv da champ!"

Hearing my rapping neighbour whimpering to his grandmother on the phone in the day room, begging her to bail him out, the inmates lambasted him for being a crybaby. Nevertheless, his grandma followed through and he was released.

He was replaced by Yum-Yum, an eighteen-year-old transsexual who looks like a malnourished teenage girl. Yum-Yum has black, curly hair, speaks like a female, and has stirred up the love-starved inmates. Frankie is leading the pack. Every day, Frankie has offered Yum-Yum sweets to move into his cell to “make ma cell look good.” Frankie complains that his eighteen-year-old cellmate, Cup Cake, will not participate in "sword fights" (sexual acts) with him. He seems confident that Yum-Yum will be more obliging. I sense a love triangle.

The heat is making it difficult to sleep. Las cucarachas are getting more adventurous. They wake me up as they explore my limbs.

The inmates are speculating that the foul-smelling breakfast meat is ostrich.

My green onion, that had sprouted six inches, suddenly wilted and died.

I found a quote by Jon Adams (1756.) that is helping me ignore the madness that I am surrounded with:

"May I blush whenever I suffer one hour to pass unimproved."

No comments: