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Big Gay Steve, The Undercover Guy

Big Gay Steve, The Undercover Guy

Ed. Note: Names have been changed.

Sometimes, people who’ve done or have been convicted of doing horrible things aren’t found out while they’re on the inside. They somehow manage get their hands on phony paperwork, or they make some really good cover story, and no one’s the wiser.

There’s quite a few stories that I can remember, of guys who were thought to be one thing, but were really another, so to speak. Child molesters mostly, but rapers come in at a not-so-distant second. They usually get found out, and when they do, they’re done. The least of their worries is getting the shit kicked out of them. They have to try not to get killed, and that usually takes the cake, when it comes to things that need worrying.

Every once in awhile though, you hear about a guy that was on the inside, and after he’s gone, it somehow comes out that he’s a chomo or a serial raper. You think to yourself, How the hell did he not get found out?

There was this guy, everyone called him “Sticky Buns,” on account of him selling his ass for commissary. Mr. Buns was a white guy who decided to run Christian, which is comical, considering his Big House profession. It did, however, keep him from getting killed by his own race for being a homosexual. Only problem with going that route is, if you need any type of help or back up, oh well. You are totally on your own. Apparently, if you’re craving dick that badly, it makes that hard choice worth it.

Anyway, Sticky B. was on the yard for awhile; I want to say at least two years. I had always heard he was there for fraud-he liked to write bad checks. I didn’t know who checked his paperwork, or in his case, who did not. What I do know is, he bounced around the yard, happy as a clam, locker full, and no one ever did anything to him, other than fuck him. He paroles, no one cares. One less disease-carrying mental case on the yard.

A few months later, a bunch of us are sitting in the day room, waiting for the TV show, To Catch A Predator, to come on. To this day, I still love Chris Hanson and the work he did on that show; whenever he’s doing something, I always make a point of setting the DVR. The show starts, Chris gives some info during the intro, then the sickos start trying to prey on kids. It’s gross to watch, but watch we did.

About the fifth perv in, the background info tells us that the next Chomo was recently released from prison for rape. He’s contacted someone he believes to be 13 years-old, and has taken a bus from Riverside all the way to Orange County in order to meet her. Ohhh, good; Mr. Hanson and the cops are going to put this POS right back where he belongs!

You already know the rest.

Roll the tape. Here comes Sticky Buns, bee-popping along to some song he’s listening to on the headphones, totally unaware of the hidden cameras and police officers, ready to take him down. I remember, the collective gasp in the day room, followed by an outcry that could best be described as surprise and anger.

That turd had slid by everybody. No one had really checked him out, and it made the whites look bad by not having caught the rapist in their midst. He comes in the house, tries to follow the girl upstairs as she’s doing her getaway so Chris Hanson can get him. Chris walks out, tells dude to take a seat. Cops come and grab him as he tries to leave, the end.

Sticky Buns was really lucky in that roll of the dice. If he would’ve been found out to have been a rapist, he probably would’ve been killed; at the very least, his face and/or body would’ve been rearranged is some sort of permanent fashion. I’m surprised that he, and all the other rapist/chomos didn’t PC-up as soon as the got to reception. That was an option-Protective Custody. Say you’re in fear for your life, you’ve been threatened, etc. After that, you get to go live with the other people who couldn’t hang in General Population. Snitches. People who couldn’t pay their dope debts. Homosexuals who were being sexually assaulted in one way or another. All of them trying to mind their own business and not get in any trouble. You do something on the PC yard, they’ll send you back to mainline, which was akin to a death sentence.

Some chomos and rapers didn’t go the PC route, however. Maybe it was pride, I don’t know. In any event, they tried to hide out on the mainline, running with the fellas and doing their thing. I’d say about three-quarters of the time, these guys get found out and worked over like there was no tomorrow. Stabbing was very common, but where there was no shank, a lock-in-a-sock or fists and feet would do just fine.

Thinking back to some of the scenes of carnage that I saw...it still makes my breathing go a little more shallow, and my hyper-vigilance perk up just a bit. Some of the worst crimes against humanity that I’ve witnessed were against child molesters and rapists. Some really awful, gruesome stuff. Things that I seriously wouldn’t want anyone else to see, because once you’ve seen them, they’re in your noggin forever. You’ll dream about it. You’ll be somewhere and suddenly remember it vividly, to the point where people can tell something is wrong with you. It can feel devastating, at times. The whole subject of PTSD among prisoners may be one which more time and effort should be expended in.

You may be of the mind that people who commit particularly heinous or downright evil crimes deserve anything they have coming to them. That might be true; I won’t argue against it, that’s for sure. As someone who considers himself a Christian, I’d like to say that I took the High Road, in that I didn’t wish to see anyone hurt; that I was a firm believer and supporter of the Golden Rule. I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to live by it. However, there were plenty of times when I’d heard about something some devil had done and was glad that the shit was kicked out of him. Some gross act that you were glad was repaid with a fist or a shank. I can’t sit here and tell you how wrong it is to think a certain way, when I would catch myself thinking the same way quite often. My regret is that I saw so much of the violence, and was too curious and too stupid to look away.

This act of slipping through the cracks can sometimes work for the innocent, too. I remember, there was this old white guy on the yard; can’t recall his name. He wasn’t trying to be anyone or run any game-he was just some senior citizen trying to do his time and get out. He had told everyone that he was there for robbery, and he had the paperwork to prove it. He’d sit there and bullshit about his crimes, talk about what he’d do different. This guy had all the marks of a seasoned vet when it came to the Prison Game. I remember him going out to court, still fighting and appealing his case. Then one day he’s gone, no biggie, just another day in the joint, life goes on.

Just shy of a year later, I’m reading Rolling Stone, a magazine I used to love and had a subscription to for years. There’s a huge story inside, on how there’s a crooked D.A. in Bakersfield who had sent a bunch of people to state prison for being child molesters that really were not. These guys were allegedly manufacturing drugs, but when the district attorney couldn’t get an indictment, he had his investigators instruct a bunch of little kids to lie and say these dope-makers were molesting them. Totally crooked, but happens way more often than you think.

Decades later, these little kids are young adults that have all had a life of misery, to various extents, due to the knowledge that they’d sent people to prison for awful things they knew those people didn’t do. All the while this has been happening, these inmates have been in state prison for something which will get you killed in the worst of ways. All have been professing their innocence via appeals, yet there they sat, 20 years later, still incarcerated.

The kids that were now adults started coming forward, saying it wasn’t true, they had lied. Didn’t matter. Still, they persisted, and as the wheels of justice slowly began to move, people started to be released. This guy got to go home to his family, who had seen 20 years go by without him. Still, he had his life, and a couple million dollars, courtesy of the State of California via the lawsuit he won.

What if this guy would’ve been “found out” for being a convicted child molester? He righteously didn’t do anything to any kid, yet he gave two decades of everything he was. Missed everything. Went home feeling like a stranger around his own family, like he didn’t belong. He wasn’t in any of the family photos or home movies. All the inside jokes went right over his head. Outsider. I know how he felt. I’ve been there.

If we’re going to keep it real, the fact is, most of the people convicted of something are there because they did it. Period. You can hear a bunch of truly convincing arguments for why someone was framed or set-up, but it’ll turn out to be BS. I’d seen it, time and time again. So when some chomo would get his paperwork checked, and he’d started saying how the girl was 17, he didn’t know, blah, blah, blah-no one’s buying. Besides, the titles of these charges can be pretty clear; if your paperwork says Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor under 14, there’s not too many excuses you can give to explain that one away. Still, people slid by, every once in awhile. Big Steve did.


To say that Big Steve lived up to his name would be a definite understatement. At 6’7” tall and 360 pounds, Steve was the Goliath of the whites. Shaved head. Tatted up. Not fat, either. Steve had been in and out of the system a few times, and had seen those weight piles on the yard probably more than he cared to remember. Steve was well aware of the fact that he had size, and he would use it to intimidate people into getting what he wanted. Classic bully. Except this is bullying at the Meta Level, where maiming or death is imminent should you resist.

When I showed up on the yard, Steve was one of the guys who checked my paperwork, and I can totally see why the Woods had chosen to do so. He was completely scary, when he wanted to be. Dude was a psycho, and that’s not exaggerating. There were plenty of times I’d seen Steve pick some dude up, usually with one arm and by some guy’s neck, and throw them, or slam them into something. I’d seen him pick up guys over his head and toss them. Total beast, when he wanted to be. Other than all that, nice guy. Real easy to talk to, and he always tried to get along with everyone. Thing was, if he felt he was wronged, or if he was on some type of mission, you’d better watch out.

There was this one time, the shot caller for the blacks came and told our rep for the whites that some white guy had gotten drugs from some black dope dealer, and the white guy wasn’t paying. In instants such as these, it’s usually the person’s own race that deals with them, as to avoid starting a riot. If the guy who isn’t paying has no means to pay his debt, his race will usually beat his ass and roll him up off of the yard.

Steve loved situations like these, as he enjoyed causing pain and mayhem. He raised his hand to fix the problem, and it was a no-brainer that he was chosen to do so. I remember, he had the dude meet him over by the phones, where there was a blind spot. The guy came over, visibly scared shitless, shoulders rolled forward and head down. Steve was all smiles though, hand on dude’s shoulders like they’re pals. Suddenly, the expression changed on his face friend to predator, and with an open hand, he slapped this guy so hard on the side of his head, it knocked him out. He dropped, like if you had a heavy bag of rocks in your hands and you just let go. Out.

I remember another time, we were in a riot with the Southsiders, and I looked over during the melee and see Steve, holding on to some guy’s arm with one hand, and the waistband of his paints with the other. He’s swinging this guy, the same way you might see a father swinging his child around in circles at a park. Thing is, Steve’s using this guy like a club, hitting other Southsiders that are running in his direction. He probably swung this guy in a circle four or five times before letting go of him and putting him in flight towards his own people. It was crazy to see, because this was a grown man that Steve had in his grip, and that man was powerless to do anything.

Coincidently, Steve and I ended up fighting side by side in that riot, covering each other’s back. People don’t realize that when you’re a big guy in a riot situation, the other side will usually send multiple people at you, as to take out the larger threat. This happened to me every single time I was in a riot. It would kick off, and five Mexicans would come running straight at me. It was as scary as it sounds, I’m not going to lie. What made me somewhat prepared was the martial arts I’d studied as a kid, and the fact that I was ready for the worst. Once the fighting starts, it’s a lot of adrenaline and trying to stay alive.

Suffice to say, Big Steve was a scary animal. The type of person you’re glad is behind bars, but are grateful when he’s on your side.

As time went on, rumors began to surface from the depths. Whisperings of Steve, the Vanilla Beast, the Enforcer for the Woods, doing things that were completely out of protocol. Homosexual things. Making a tent around his bunk using a sheet, and having known gay guys go inside with him. You hear these types of things and immediately dismiss them, mainly because you know the trouble he’d get in if that were true, and so does he. There’s no way he’d jeopardize himself like that, as known as he is, right? You’d think.

Steve kept it real quiet at first. Totally secretive, like a ninja. Thing is, you get a bunch of grown men together, and they’ll gossip twice as much as any group of women. There’s no secrets, especially in prison. Your neighbors are supposed to be minding their own business, but the minute they see a homosexual rubbing on your shoulders, they can’t wait to spit that info to the first person that’ll listen.

To be sure, I don’t speak for everyone; there are some real guys in there that know to keep their mouth shut about things and they do. However, real guys are a dying breed, and there aren’t too many around anymore.

Anyway, as time goes on, he gets a little loose with his security, so to speak, and people actually start witnessing things. Heads bobbing up and down between his legs, massages being given out in the open in his dorm. Slowly but surely, he started not to care about who saw what. A large part of which was the fact that Steve was so large. People had witnessed his carnage, and no one wanted to be on the receiving end. He had assumed no one had said anything about what they’d seen him do, and at first, he was correct. However, that kind of info was lit dynamite, and after awhile, people couldn’t hold it in any longer. Whispers. Giggles. BS’ing in the bathrooms. Pretty soon, people starting calling him Big Gay Steve behind his back, out of fear of being murdered for saying it where he could hear.

The whites knew what was going on with him, but no one would say anything to him, myself included. I felt like it wasn’t my job to make sure the Prison Rules were being followed, so why did I want to get involved in Steve’s business? The guys that were enforcing the rules? Well, being that Steve was the top enforcer, no one was saying anything from their end, either.

Among the other races, it became kind of a joke. These Woods pick and choose when to enforce the Rules, they’d say. They were right, except it was that way for all races to varying degrees, so it didn’t really matter. Still, it was pretty ridiculous that the guy who would knock you out for eating with another race would go and get a blowjob after he’d do it.

Then, Big Gay Steve started extorting people. Old people, mostly, but he’d get the occasional youngster or some guy that’d never been in the system. The racket was pretty straight-forward: give me x-amount of commissary, or I’ll bust you up. Victims were warned not to say anything to anyone, and when there were only a few, they complied. It was a lot easier for some senior citizen to pay Steve $20 in store items and have his (possible) protection, versus refusing and being slapped into next week. Once someone was paying Steve, they became part of his paycheck, so to speak, and if anything, he’d protect that aspect.

I saw it happening to a neighbor of mine. Some white guy in his late 60’s or early 70’s. His name was Tom. Nice guy; we’d play pinochle or spades together sometimes. Not a loud talker, kept to himself. When I first noticed Big Steve coming around his bunk, I thought he was just there mooching coffee from him. As time went on, I noticed that Steve was over at Tom’s bed pretty consistently, usually walking away with some items. Big Gay Steve, preying on little old men. Even then, I didn’t realize he was strong arm robbing him, more or less. I just though Tom was foolish for continuing to give Steve anything. That’s when I started noticing that Steve had created a racket; that he had multiple people he was running like whores, ready to give him whatever money they had.

People eventually started coming forward and approaching the shot caller for the grievances they had. The rep at the time was a guy named Joey, who had a diplomatic disposition and was generally pretty fair. One by one they came, please, Joey, don’t say anything to Steve, or he’ll kill me. They told him tales of being choked unconscious, sucker-punched and knocked out in the bathrooms. A few had some more disturbing revelations: being held down, while Steve would rub their back and their ass, saying that if they didn’t pay up, he’d fuck them. That’s when things starting getting real.

If people were going to turn a blind eye to some bully preying on the weak, that’s one thing. What we couldn’t have is a monster running around among us, feeling free to use anyone he wishes to gratify his sexual desires. We couldn’t have a big white guy raping other white guys. Besides the obvious fact of it not looking good for the white race, there was a deeper level as to why this next-level behavior from Big Steve just wouldn’t do: People wanted to sleep at night.

Everyone remembers Jeffery Dahmer. He didn’t last long in the joint: a little over two years, and that’s only because he spent the first year in solitary confinement, out of fear for his safety. His murder wasn’t the first attempt on his life, either. In one year, two attempts were made on his life, with the final try being successful. Why? The simple reason that people want to close their eyes at night without having to worry if their head’s going to get sawed off while they’re sleeping. No one wants to have the sickest of the sick roaming the tier, sitting next to them at chow, or possibly having to be their cellie. Same type of vibe was starting to come from Steve-this dude was sick, had no conscious, and apparently craved man-butt.

Now it wasn’t just the victims coming to Joey; people that were afraid of becoming victims were now starting to voice their concerns, worried that Big Gay Steve would set his sights on one of them, maybe decide that they were looking good from the backside and make their lives a living, burning hell. He’s got to go. This ain’t right-any other joint, this dude’d be dead. He’s been staring at me lately-please don’t say anything! When it wasn’t happening to them, or they thought they were safe, these guys had no issue with what Steve was doing. They were just glad that it wasn’t being done to them. Now that anal virginity was on the line, there was a crisis that needed to be solved, ASAP.

Maybe I should make clear that I’d never had a problem with Steve-as a matter of fact, he was always super respectful and had nothing but smiles for me. As mentioned earlier, we’d fought side-by-side in a riot where we were the last two people standing. I knew Steve was a straight-up psychopath, but so were half the other people running around the place. I was also glad he was on my side, make no mistake about it. You’d have to be an idiot, not to appreciate an elephant on your team. I just never had any reason to be afraid of him, and he’d never tried to give me one. We were friendly allies, and that was it.

My feelings about Steve started to change when I saw him pushing up on Tom, making him part of the paycheck. Tom was one of the nicer old guys. He was always smiling, trying to be friendly. He wasn’t giving anyone a reason to make him a victim; the only thing Tom had done to gain Big Steve’s attention was live a long life. I spent a large part of my childhood being raised by my grandparents, which may explain why it hit me the way it did; I don’t know. What I do know is, that was the big turning point for me, when my feelings for Steve began to sour.

Right about this time, Joey was probably looking for anyone else to pass the keys. He’d has so many people say something to him, he had no choice but to go and confront Big Gay Steve on the issue. It was at the point now where if Joey didn’t go deal with Steve, a bunch of people were going to end up dealing with Joey. He had an easy way of approaching people, though, which is a big part in why he was the rep in the first place. Everyone, myself included, was sure that Joey could approach Steve in a way that would remain friendly, yet address the problem at hand.

It didn’t go down that way.

It went a little more something like this: Big Steve’s in the restroom sink area, which happens to be a known blind spot. He’s in the middle of shaving his head. Joey comes in, approaches in a friendly manner and begins to talk.

“Hey, Steve, you got a minute?”

“For you, Joey? Anytime, buddy!” said Steve. All smiles, nothing to worry about, nicest guy on earth. “What can I do for you, bud?”

“Cool, man. Yeah, listen: this hasn’t gone any farther but you and me. But some of these old-timers, they’ve been approaching me an-“

“Which old-timers?” Steve asked. He still had a smile on his face, still shaving his head. Two friends, having a conversation.

“Well,” Joey said. “‘They asked that I not say anything, and I’m going to respect that.”

As soon as Joey had finished his sentence, Steve swung around with a speed you wouldn’t ascribe to such a large individual. Just like that, he had Joey, by the neck and against the wall, about two feet up from the ground. His free hand was cocked back with a fist, ready to fire upon command.

“You’re gonna come to me with something someone said, and you ain’t gonna tell me who?” Steve asked. The smile was still there, albeit a little more menacing. “You better get that shit outta here, Joey, and don’t come back with it unless you wanna get fucked up.” As he finished speaking, Steve dropped Joey to the floor and stood in front of him, as if he were letting Joey choose what would happen next. He did, quickly.

“Naw, Steve, I don’t want any problems.” Joey replied. “It’s cool, man. All good.”

“You’re goddam right, it’s all good, Joey.” Steve said. He’s smiling like he just ate dessert, because he sees that Joey’s on the retreat, and a psycho like Steve can’t help but feed from that fear. “You better learn to mind your own fuckin’ business, too. I don’t give a fuck if you’re the rep or not. Stay outta my business.” With that, Steve turned around and started shaving his head again, acting as if Joey weren’t there. Joey stood in place for a couple beats, then probably realized he looked like a dummy for doing so. He spun on his heels, and headed towards his dorm.

Quite a few people saw the interaction between Joey and Steve that day, myself being one of them. If it had been anyone other than Steve, Joey may have never lived down the fact that Steve had picked him up by his neck, and he hadn’t fought back. To be honest, I don’t think there’s too many people in this world that would have wanted to fight Steve, should they have had a choice in the matter. Still, the other races had heard about what had happened, and were saying that the Whites had a bitch for a Shot Caller, etc. Anything for gossip.

A game-changing event occurred shortly after the incident with Joey and Steve. There was some old guy, can’t remember his name. He was one of the guys that had been “under Steve’s protection”. One of the CO’s that’s on duty calls an inmate porter to the podium and tells him they’re rolling someone up, grab a trash bag. Sometimes, the cops would have the porters run the bags down to the CO office for them, or stand there like a human trash can and collect anything the CO deemed state property.

So they go up to this guy’s rack, the CO opens the locker and starts shoveling items into a garbage bag, and everyone’s doing the lookey-loo. Trying to see who’s getting rolled up, and maybe finding out why. Joey hadn’t been replaced yet, as he would be later for what happened with Steve, so he goes to the CO and asks him what’s going on. As a Rep for your people, that’s part of the job description as well: being a mouthpiece. You’re the one that has to go talk to the cops when situations arise, and in return, you have to be the messenger of news that is often of the “shitty” variety, emanating from the CO’s and/or the administration. This is a big reason why convicts don’t want this job-you have to talk to the cops. Don’t ever do that. Period.

So Joey goes to CO as he’s packing up this old guy’s stuff, trying to get the story.

“Hey, Boss,” Joey said. “What’s going on over here?”

“Rolled it up.” The cop didn’t even look up when he replied.

“What for?” Joey asked.

Now the CO stops what he’s doing, and slowly backs his upper body out of the locker, as to see who’s addressing him. Once he sees it’s Joey, he gives a reply.

“Fear for his safety. Chomo.”

There is was. Too be sure, that CO shouldn’t have told Joey anything, but just like everything else, stuff like that happens all the time. CO’s get caught up in the game, too: trying to play it tough and see who could play who. It’s a trip when you see it; as convicts, we did it because we had to, in order to stay alive. These guys were playing a game with some felons, then would go home after the shift was over. There were quite a few instances of cops getting people beat up, thinking it was a funny game. Offering the guy doing the beating a Walkman or TV or whatever other dumb thing that wasn’t worth it. Half the time, they’d end up rolling up the guy who they’d asked to do the mission, betraying the deal they’d made with them. When you hear of a CO being killed, this can sometimes play a reason in the explanation: playing a game, then having someone pull your card.

So now we have a child molester that was living among us, and no one was the wiser. How the hell did this happen? There’s a little gathering of the rep and some OG’s, trying to figure out how this guy slide by. He’d been here for awhile; played cards, hung out and bullshitted with everyone. Total bummer, to find out a guy you liked hanging out with turned out to be a POS. But his paperwork had been checked, right? Yeah, Steve must’ve checked him. Yeah, pretty sure Big Steve did; he was one of the guys in his pocket.

Wait a second.

Steve was getting money from a guy who turned out to be no good. Steve was the person thought to have checked this guy’s paperwork. Doesn’t seem like extortion any more; now it’s starting to look more like blackmail. If someone shows up on the yard, and their paperwork is no good, you get rid of them. Period. There is no, “Keep them around and make them my bitch” thing going on. If one of these guys shows up, they’re dealt with as soon as they’re found out, or shortly thereafter, if some planning is needed. If turned out that Steve, or anyone for that matter, was keeping a POS around, they’d be considered just as bad, and be dealt with accordingly. If this was true, it was huge.

At that point, some people started to dig. Who did Steve check? A lot of people, it turned out. The focus started in on the weirdos, the “Questionables”. People that seemed like they were off, or just plain looked like a chomo, it didn’t matter. Who was part Steve’s paycheck? A few were known, but nobody really knew how many guys he was pushing up on. A guy named Kenny who’d recently transferred from another yard for SAP (Substance Abuse Program), and some other guy who’s name I can’t remember started going around and re-checking different people’s paperwork real low-key, as to not wake the Sleeping Psychotic Dragon. No one wanted Steve to get wind of anything, because we were all pretty sure he’d go on a rampage if he did.

The first few guys Kenny and his partner checked turned out to be just fine. Then they came to Jerry. This guy was a Jahovah’s Witness that used to sit at one of the dayroom tables and write sermons. He’d then preach those sermons out loud, as if he had a congregation, when in reality, no one was listening. Crazy, but not that crazy. Lucid. Seemed smart otherwise. Kenny and company find this guy at the table he’s always sitting at. Real friendly, nothing bad.

“Hey Bro,” Kenny said. "We’ve lost track of who’s paperwork has been checked, so we’re checking the Woods now, make sure everything’s all good.”

“I’m all good, guys,” Jerry replied. “Steve checked me out, you guys can ask him.”

Uh-oh. Kenny told me after the fact that he knew the guy was no good as soon as he brought the subject of paperwork up. He said he could see Jerry going white.

“That’s the thing-We’re doing it without Steve,” Kenny said. “So, can you grab your paperwork real quick and that’ll be that?”

“Uh, yeah, no problem, guys,” replied Jerry. “I’ll have to dig it out of the locker. Can I finish up here, and I’ll go find it and bring it to you?”

“Yeah, that’s not a problem,” said Kenny. “I’ll be around. If you can’t find me, just bring it to Joey and show him. That’ll be fine.”

Can you guess what happens next?

Jerry stayed at that table for about another 15 minutes, probably fervently praying to Jehovah to save his life. He then collected all his things from the day room table and brought them over to his rack area. After putting his belongs back in his locker, Jerry gave the appearance of looking through folders of paperwork and the like. In reality, he was packing up all his stuff and making sure in was secured. Then, like so many before him, he walked over to the CO’s table and told them he needed to roll it up, he’s fearing for his life, blah, blah, blah. At that point, the CO’s escort him to the Support Office, which is when the 1500 guys on the yard find out he’s a piece of shit. Done and gone.

The tip-off that something is amiss when asking for someone’s paperwork is when they tell you they need to look for it, or they can’t find it, or some other excuse. A “128” was the form number that the description of a person’s crime(s) was printed on. Not even a full piece of paper, either; just a little slip. People in the joint know where that little slip is at all times; usually it’ll be on the top shelf of someone’s locker, or any other easily accessible spot. If you did lose it, you put in a request for another one, quickly. That form could save your life, or be a death sentence, depending upon what was written on it. Pretty important piece of paper; definitely not something to be considered so trivial, you don’t know where it is.

Now there’s another guy that Steve had checked who turned out to be no good. Upon further digging, it came to light via Jerry’s bunky that he had been in Big Steve’s pocket, as well. Now people are starting to see the pattern, and it doesn’t look any good. Big Gay Steve has taken things way too far. Then, at some point, Kenny, being the new guy to the yard, asked the million dollar question.

“Who checked Steve’s paperwork?”

I remember a bunch of swiveling heads and searching eyes during that moment. Steve had not only been in and out of the system a bunch of times, but he’d been on the yard for years as well. As mentioned, he was there when I showed up. Joey and the other fellas that were there all said the same thing. There’s no way, a convict as vetted as Steve would be bad news. Yet here we were, with two solid cases of Steve doing something unforgivable. There’s no question of him needing to go now. Even if his paperwork did check out, he’d still be no good for blackmailing the chomos; keeping them around was tantamount to being in with them. No good, at all.

At that point, it was decided that Big Steve had to leave. The question was, how? Kenny, Joey, and I had the sneaking suspicion that if Steve had kept those dudes around, something was up with his paperwork, too. We had to know. Steve was already going to be rolled up, somehow, off the yard, and this might be the way to do it.

Only a few people knew about this, because we didn’t want this guy to go on a killing spree, picking us off individually, one-by-one. We had to be patient, and we had to be together. I did not want to be in mortal combat with Steve, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I don’t like getting hurt, even though I’ve been in more fights than I can count. Steve was something else; if he didn’t take up a life of crime, you probably could’ve seen him playing in the NFL, no lie. Beast. I’d give it all my heart, but I know if he and I went at it, I’d come away damaged, at the very least, regardless if I had won or not.

So, we waited. We had to formulate a decent plan, and the opportunity had to present itself. Steve had noticed that two of his victims had rolled it up, and he started acting in a suspicious manner towards others. The smiley, nice Steve was gone-in his place was a big guy that looked pissed off all the time. No more conversations; in fact he spent most of his time on his rack now, either looking at smut-mags, or reading some other publication. He knew something was up, but he had nothing to go on. He was right, to be suspicious. I didn’t really have a dog in the fight, but for all I knew, Kenny and Joey could be plotting this guy’s murder. He’d embarrassed Joey so badly; I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had wanted to shank Steve, and in a public manner.

Fortunately, it didn’t go down that way. After observing Steve’s behavior, I came to the conclusion that it would be foolish to try anything for the next few days. Steve was waiting for it, and that wasn’t good for anyone. He’d been spending most of his time on his rack; for all I knew, he could’ve had a couple of twelve-inch shanks, one for each hand, just praying for someone to come and try something. Another obstacle: Steve lived on the second tier. If something went wrong, or if he was able to get a good hold of one of us, he could easily send that person right down to the first floor, no stairs needed. I thought it would be better for him to let his guard down; to start laughing it up with the fellas and not worrying about anything. Never let them see it coming.

I ran my thoughts, (along with a plan I’d come up with), by Joey and Kenny, and they were all for it. Looking back, I’m sure they were grateful that I’d taken the lead on this mission. It was tricky, and if it went bad, they could always blame it on me. My single motivation was that I didn’t want anyone actually getting hurt. I’d prefer the interaction to go down smoothly, as so everyone involved would avoid maiming or death. If I can stress a point, it’s this: when you’re approached in a certain way, or find yourself in some funky situation, it’s a life or death game in the joint. You have to expect that the person across from you in battle is trying to end your life. That person might be there for murder, who knows. Point being, this isn’t a place where it ends at someone getting knocked down in a fist fight. Most of these guys are going to try and take it all the way, and you had to be ready and prepared for it. I was trying to alleviate that aspect of the situation.

About a week after Jerry rolled it up, Kenny came by my rack as I was doing some junior college courses. I had some books and papers spread out on my bed, and I was sitting on an upside-down five-gallon bucket that I used to wash my laundry. He announced himself before entering the dorm, and I waived him inside.

“Hey, Bob,” he said.

“What’s up, bro?”

“I think it’s time,” he replied. “If we wait on Joey to make the call, it’ll never happen. Steve’s got him gun-shy. “

I believed him. By the mere fact of Joey not fighting back when Steve punked him, we knew he was scared. I gave Joey some credit, though: he was trying to redeem himself by being involved in the endeavor. He knew people were talking about him, making fun of him. I’m sure he was hoping that his taking part now would somehow alleviate the damage to his reputation for the rest of his stay. I was just hoping that he would pull through clinch when the time came.

“Where’s Steve at now?” I asked.

"He’s down in the day room, playing cards,” Kenny replied. “Man, he’s not even trippin’ on anyone or anything. We need to go get at Joey and tell him, ‘Let’s go.’”

“Go, tell him,” I said. “I’ll get this stuff put away and meet you over at his place in a minute.” I was at the point that having this whole ordeal lingering in the background of my everyday life was stressing me out. I wanted to have it over and done with, so I didn’t have to spend another day thinking about taking on the monster.

I met up with Joey and Kenny a short time later; we were to implement the operation after the day room was recalled for chow. Everyone had to return to their dorm and get on their bunks, and that aspect of the plan was critical. While we were waiting for chow time, we sat together at a day room table, talking about random stuff and trying not to look like we were up to anything. I was past nerves at this point. Sure, I didn’t want anyone getting hurt, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t go down like that. I was more worried about a CO seeing us and getting caught. What we were about to do could entail more charges for each one of us, should we be seen. That part had my attention, but we were going to do what we had to do. This had to be handled, and that was that.

Then it all starts to happen. One of the CO’s stands up from the card game he’s playing with his partner, and walks to the podium, then around behind it, where the microphone is.

“Day room recall, day room recall,” he says, in a voice like he’s announcing a prize fight. They would do that sometimes, trying to be funny. “Everyone on your racks! Let’s go, day room recall!”

When the CO got off of the mic, we stood up from the table, still talking and slow-dragging for as long as we could. This served a purpose; we had to make sure Steve made it to his dorm before we put our plan into action. The location of his bed inside of the dorm was actually a blind spot, and we intended to use that to our advantage. We kept talking to each other, each one of us watching Steve from the corners of our eyes. He had stood up from the table he’d been sitting at, and stretched for a moment as he still spoke to the people he been chatting with. He made his way over to the stairs and began his accent to the second tier. Once he was halfway up, the three of us went up the stairs next to the table we’d been sitting at. We slowly made our way along the top tier to the restroom area located next to Steve’s dorm. We were keeping an eye on Steve, making sure he’d enter his dorm. We were also watching the cops; some of them were pretty wise to the antics of convicts, and three guys moving as a group might catch their eye.

Once we reached the sink area of the restroom, we went inside and made as though we we washing our hands; Joey even went so far as to re-brush his hair. We stayed there a moment, making sure the cops weren’t looking, steadying ourselves for what was to come. Kenny went to the entrance way of the restroom and looked around the corner, making sure Big Steve was in his dorm. He looked back at us and gave the nod. Steve was there. Deep breath and it’s go-time.

The three of us left the restroom and headed towards Kenny’s dorm; we had to pass Steve’s dorm to get there. This was to make sure that he wasn’t standing there, waiting for us if we ran in the dorm. If he was, or if he had people over, we’d just keep walking to Kenny’s, and no one would be the wiser.

Fortune was on our side, as Steve had his nose in a Hustler magazine. Kenny was in the lead; I was bringing up the rear, making sure no one came to Big Steve’s rescue once this all went down.

Once Kenny saw that Steve was laying on his rack and not paying attention, he rushed inside the dorm, with Joey and me following suit. It only took Kenny a couple of steps once he was inside, and he had leapt on top of Steve’s chest, knee first. Driving one of his forearms into Steve’s neck, Kenny’s free hand held a four-inch shank, which he had pressed under Steve’s chin. He had initially struggled, at the impact of Kenny hitting his chest, and the shank which was at his neck had drawn blood.

Joey was standing next to Big Steve’s head, acting as though he were about to punch him in the face. I was watching the action, but also watching everyone in the vicinity, making sure no one was going to get involved. Nobody ever tried coming to his rescue, either. Once Steve had stopped struggling, when he saw that we had him, Kenny laid it all out.

“Check it out, you piece of shit,” Kenny said. “We know what you’ve been doing with the old-timers and the chomos.” Kenny pressed a little harder with his forearm, when he brought up the pedophiles. “How could you, Steve? You fucking know better!”

“Hey man, I wa-“

“Shut the fuck up!” Kenny said, with about as much menace as a person could muster. “Here’s what’s up, Steve: After chow, you come with your paperwork, or we’re gonna fuckin’ kill you. Do you understand, you big, fuckin’ turd?”

When Kenny brought up paperwork, I saw Steve go a little white, much the same way as what Kenny had witnessed with Jerry. I knew at that moment, Steve was a POS. I could see it all over his face. He was quiet for a couple of seconds, then he looked me in the eye and spoke:

“So that’s the way it is, Bobby?” He was looking for a way out, and was hoping our being friendly with each other was going to save him. It wasn’t.

“Yeah, Steve,” I said. “That’s the way it is.”

Kenny slowly removed himself from being on top Steve, making sure to have the shank ready in case he tried anything. Steve sat up on his bunk, while Kenny and Joey were ready to take his head off.

“Alright, guys. I understand,” Steve said. “I’ll dig it out of my locker when we come back from chow.”

Steve never came back from chow. He lined up and did the walk from the building to the chow hall like everyone else, but when he passed the Support Office, he did an illegal maneuver and ducked inside. You weren’t supposed to enter the Support Office unless you had been summoned, so the fact that Steve did what he did showed me he was desperate to escape the yard.

For good reason, too. Turned out, our hunch was right: Steve had been serving a term for lewd and lascivious and sodomy; had anyone seen that paperwork, they would have assembled a hit squad to take him out.

Big Gay Steve was a lesson that I’ve kept in mind over the years: you never know who’s who, and sometimes the people pointing fingers need to have a few pointed back at them.

Copyright, 2018, Bobby Dino, All Rights Reserved.

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