They called Wayne, "The Machine". He was a guy in his forties who would go out on the yard everyday and work out, for hours. Who knows what the guy was thinking about to keep him going like that, but I'm guessing it was a fragile cross between anger and despair. You have to be really lost in the noggin to completely ignore your body's screaming desire to quit. Whatever it was, it was consistent.
The first time Wayne and I actually conversed was sometime during winter. I remember because he was wearing a state-issue jacket over a personal grey sweater. It was hard to size him up through the layers of clothes he was wearing. Definitely a thick dude, though. We ended up being casual workout partners, meaning that if we were out at the same time, we'd spot each other and talk shit in order to intensify the routine. I found that he was a thinker; well read and able to hold his own on most topics. We could be talking about music or God or whatever, and he usually had some interesting feedback.
This is what a lot of guys look for when they're locked up: good conversation. Being that your mind is the one thing that a guard or convict can't strip from you, any pleasurable stimulation is something that you'll gravitate towards. When you find that type of friendship in that environment, you value it.
We'd go to chow together sometimes. Usually the conversation would be reviewing a book, talking about an exercise routine, or maybe debating a religion. He never got upset, at least visibly. Didn't have to worry about him flipping out and suddenly wanting to punch you in the face. He was relaxed. Calm. The heartbeat of an athlete. Easy to be around.
One particular night, he and I went to chow together. As we're walking along, Wayne says, "Hey Bobby, check out that guy. Chomo."
That's a word you don't ever want to be associated with. Child molester. Kiddy Raper. In the joint, this is the lowest of the low. Scum. They have to go to PC, or they'll get killed. Seriously. And here we have Wayne pointing him out. Apparently, when they tried to check this guy's paperwork, he got scared and ran to the CO's like he was on fire. The CO's told him to go to the Support Office, which is next door to the Chow Hall. In a game of shaming a guy (or risking his life), the CO's have him waiting out in front of Support Office while the housing units are on the way to chow.
"Hey, you fucking piece of shit!"
Oh wow. That was Wayne. Cool-as-ice Wayne. Now he's calling out a chomo. In front of 300 guys going to eat.
"I know you hear me, you chomo fuck! They'll get you!"
Now, if this had been the end of it, with the CO's who are watching the chow line mysteriously losing their hearing and all, that would've been it. Not for Wayne, though. Something clicked in his head. Some repressed memory; some hurt at the thought of the most supreme injustice. And here was a chance, for just a moment, to take a flicker of that injustice and make it right.
As we're walking, Wayne kneels down for a quick moment and falls a few steps behind. He catches up in a second, and shows me the answer to his problem.
A piece of asphalt the size of a softball.
My heart received an adequate dose of adrenaline at that moment. I knew the yard was going to go down before anyone. I knew Wayne was probably going to get gaffled up. I knew that child molester was about to get hurt. I felt no joy or excitement over it. I was indifferent. He came to prison, and now he has a price to pay. It's the way it goes.
We were about 20 feet away when The Machine launched the rock. He waited until the cops weren't looking, wound up like a major league pitcher, and gave it all he had. The chomo was looking the other direction and took that fastball straight to the back of the head. Dropped him flat. Flipped the switch.
Now the CO's suddenly regain their vision and hearing. It's one thing to shame a guy, but it's quite another if he loses his life on your watch. Once the violence starts, that's usually the point where they'll step in. The alarm goes off, and everyone is down on the yard. Prone position, on your stomach. Hope you didn't wear your nice clothes. Wayne's down next to me, saying yes, yes, yes, over and over. He's thrilled with himself that he made such a spectacular shot. It's hero material. For the rest of his term, Wayne's going to have respect from all races on the yard. People will talk about it and laugh. He knows it.
Miraculously, Wayne was never caught. They scrapped the chomo up off the ground, brought him into medical, and he was gone from our world. Wayne did get status. All the guys developed a respect for him. Not that it really mattered. His schedule didn't change, which meant that he was in his little zen-space, out on the yard, working out all day.
Copyright, 2018, Bobby Dino, All Rights Reserved.