Ed. Note: Names have been changed.
When you’re in the situation I’d found myself in, the type of characters you meet are straight from Dickens. For every one guy trying to mind his business, there’s 99 others who are scheming different ways to come up on you. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but that’s really the way it was.
It’s the lowest of the low that society has to offer; a place which is one stop away from the needle or the chair, because that’s the next and final level of punishment. It’s super-disgusting.
Even now, writing about it now brings the feeling to my stomach; the nausea of having to smell those people and be in close proximity to them. Imagine how dirty a prison bathroom floor would be after a full day’s use, how much filth would be on the ground around those toilets. Now imagine if that filth was men, walking around and joking about committing more crimes. This was the feeling I would get around most of the convicts I was around. I didn’t realize men actually existed on such a scummy level in this day and age.
The homeboys are most likely the group you’d meet first, as is customary. It’s also the group that’s likely to cause you the most drama you’ll have during your stay. If you buy-in to the Homeboy Ethic, you’ll all look out for each other, and represent your City/County/Town/Hood to the fullest. You might be required to contribute to a kitty, which is a collection of toiletries and cosmetics for new homeboys that roll up to the yard. If a homeboy is having a problem with another race (which invariably happens), you’ll be required to back that homeboy up, if your name’s worth anything.
If something jumps off, you’ll want to make sure you go 100%, because anything less, and the homeboys you were just playing cards with are going to be the same homeboys who are beating your ass and rolling you up.
Then there’s the dope debt; anyone who’s ever been to the joint can tell you about this one. It happens constantly-someone gets a bunch of dope from another race, makes a whole lot of promises they can’t keep, and ends up getting the races into a riot. People get snitched on, other people get rolled up, and everyone’s still stuck in the same awful situation.
Falling in with the homeboys also means you’ll follow the Racial Creed which runs Prison Politics. This is ultimately what runs everything in the joint, as far as the inmates are concerned. Sure, Administration can come in and change what time you go to bed or how you’re going to be classified for placement purposes. Lawmakers may make policy changes which give CO’s more leeway to mess with inmates. Day-to-day life, though? That’s all Prison Politics.
Prison guards can make all the promises in the world, but they’re still going home at the end of their shift. They don’t have to shower or sleep with these guys. They don’t have to worry about getting rushed while they’re taking a dump. The way that you conduct yourself, as per Prison Politics, has everything to do with whether you have to worry about any of that stuff, either.
Homeboys and Prison Politics are a double-edged sword. It sounds very rough and militaristic. It is, if it’s being done right; that’s to say, being enforced rigorously. On the flip side, it keeps everyone safe, as a whole, and gets rid of most, if not all confusion one may have concerning the Rules and their place in them.
Dealings one may have with other races are governed by these politics, so if someone starts to feel slighted in a deal, which they will (since chances are, they’re a sociopath), they can revert to these rules and plainly see who’s right or wrong, who owes who, how the races are going to handle different offenders and so on. Prison Politics under these circumstances make inmates feel like someone has their back, because someone does, by default.
Some find themselves delving into the Rules and Life of Prison; even more so if they’ve had an early indoctrination in a gang or hillbilly lifestyle. When someone says, He’s been institutionalized, chances are the person they’re referring to is a faithful believer in the philosophy of Prison Politics.
Some turd-like inmates try to come up off of other people by exploiting the Rules of Prison Politics. It’s sick, and it makes you want to smash their face in when you see them, even if it means you’ll lose some good time, which is time knocked off of your sentence for following the rules, or at least not being caught breaking them. These dirtbags might come and ask you for a cup of coffee, or soup, or a bar of deodorant, and they’ll do it repeatedly if you let them, trying to get that homeboy love. They might get into it with another race, then come to you for backup because you happen to be six-foot-four and weigh 240lbs.
If you start telling them no when they ask you for stuff, they’ll start acting like your enemy, regardless of the fact you said yes 100 times. They’ll actually go out of their way to make problems for you, telling other homeboys that you did this or that. Doesn’t have to be true, they’ll try and put a spin on it somehow. Serious.
So now, because some dude has openly come out against you, shown his true colors as a piece of living shit, you have to deal with him. What does that entail, you ask? It means you either have to beat his ass in a public fashion, or at the very least, dress him down in a public manner and make him look like a bitch.
No one gets away with anything in the joint. Period.
If you let someone get over on you, or if you let someone openly challenge you and don’t do anything, you’re done. Your life will become miserable. Other predator-types will hear about it and come in for the kill. They’ll start trying to take your stuff or you’ll get called out a lot because they know you won’t do anything. When you become a victim in prison, you’ll sink to the bottom, where you’ll end up staying, more likely then not, barring some extraordinary act of violence committed against others.
This is where Super Mac comes into the picture. I met him almost immediately upon hitting the yard, him being the OG homeboy from Orange County. His last name was Mac-something, hence the nickname. Honestly, I thought he gave the name to himself, being that the word Super was in it and all. He was a lifer, too. Murder, but I don’t remember the details. I don’t think I ever heard them straight from his mouth, come to think of it.
Mac was in his late fifties, but he, like many others his age in prison, was in really good shape physically. He could go out to the workout area and do pull-ups, push-ups, and dips all day long. Had the physique. Walked around with his shoulders all pushed back; he knew he had a little size, and he wanted everyone else to know it, too.
There was this thing he did, and everyone who knows a real asshole will know exactly what I’m talking about: it was a one-upsmanship on such a level that you knew the guy was a compulsive liar within five minutes of meeting him.
Did you ever buy yourself a bag of weed when you were a kid? Mac had 100 pounds delivered to him every three months. Ever fly commercial? Mac had a hanger with a couple different planes that he used to run drugs and various CIA agents over the border. A couple hits of acid? Dude had a 55-gallon drum full of it in his airplane hanger. You get the drift.
Mac got a pass on his behavior pretty much everywhere he went on the yard. People didn’t really like him, so much as put up with him. There were a couple reasons for this. First, he was older and (supposedly) wasn’t about to back down to anyone, which gave him OG Status. It was like auto-respect, so to speak; like when people are given the title Sir, or Doctor. Youngsters were taught early on not to mess with the OG’s, and there were repercussions for doing so. Besides, old age and treachery will beat youth and stamina in most battles, so it’s for the younger guy’s own benefit that they left these old-timers and lifers alone.
Second, Mac knew how to talk to people and had been on the yard for years. Yeah, people knew he was a liar, but it didn’t matter; Mac knew how to tell a story and people appreciated his delivery. He had made a ton of connections here and there, and had a line on just about anything you could want.
Mac was going so baller, he could talk to CO’s as comfortably as if they were convicts, in spite of it being frowned upon. Real cons didn’t talk to the cops, and if you had to, you always tried to bring a witness so someone would back you up if you were accused of anything. Mac didn’t feel like he needed to take any of those precautions; you’d see him out on the yard chatting up CO’s like it was the thing to do. I wouldn’t say he was king of the yard-definitely the mayor, though. Mac had it good and he knew it.
MAC was super-cool at first. Arm around the shoulder, Let me show you the place...the whole thing. Pretty soon after, however, it became apparent that his name should’ve been Super Mooch or Moochy Mac, because he was constantly around asking for things. Keep in mind, I was the young, brand-new guy on the yard, and I wanted to be cool and look out for the big homie and all. If Mac said he needed something, in my mind I was storing up brownie points by giving it to him.
However, after a few weeks of him coming by all the time, trying to get this, or borrow that till tomorrow: that shit gets old, real quick. So I had to start saying No I don’t have it, and his attitude changed towards me, significantly. The big smiles and pats on the back were gone; now it was the prison mask and a Hey-what’s-up head-nod. Fine by me. I was keeping my commissary in my locker.
There was a lesson learned in meeting Mac, and it was a scenario that I’d see play out a thousand times before I went home: No one gives a crap about you here. There may be fist bumps and smiles, but the second you don’t have something which someone wants, you’re worthless.
Feelings get hurt by those types of interactions, too. People get so emotional over what they (rightly) see as a betrayal, they’ll kill someone over it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a couple of guys who were best pals one day, beating the shit out of each other in the restrooms or on the dayroom floor the next. There are consequences for every interaction you have in life. Prison just ups the ante a bit.
After I’d been on the yard a couple months or so, I received my first package from my family. Sweaters, T-shirts, bags of Peanut M&M’s, cartons of Marlboro Reds; it was a little bit of the Outside, courtesy of my Grandma Dianne, and it was awesome. I was watching the CO pull all of those goodies out of that box, and I couldn’t wait to run in the building and put a fistful of M&M’s in my mouth. I’d brought a laundry bag to put it all in, and by the time that box was empty, my sack looked like Santa’s. Big pimpin’, for real.
Dang, now I’m out here on the yard with all this stuff.
I’m getting anxious, because my bag is made from a mesh-like material, and it’s completely see-through. Everyone can see what I have and come ask me for some of it, and that fact was making me way nervous. I remember looking around, seeing who was watching me get my package.
Guys stalking the package room was a thing, and don’t think for a second it wasn’t. Dudes would be hanging out at the package room or near it, trying to get a look at what someone was getting. That way, they could come and ask you for it later. Sometimes, you’d have a guy that owed everyone on the yard, so when his name came up on the package list, you’d see people out at the package room, waiting on this guy to get his package so they could get their stuff back. I’m telling you, everything is scammy and crazy in the joint.
Luckily for me, I was on the AM Kitchen crew, and I was getting my package during the middle of the day while the rest of the population was at their normal-hour day jobs. Yes! Now all I have to do is run into the housing unit and go put all this treasure in my locker. Like a dragon horde, or a leprechaun with his pot-o’-gold, once it was in my locker, it was only ever seen again by me. No one went in my locker, unless it was a CO, and it was the same for everyone else, too. I was speed-walking, right through the entrance, past the CO’s table, and up the stairs to the second tier.
That’s when I saw him. Good ol’ Super Mac. He was playing cards at one of the dayroom tables, and he was eyeing me the way a python would eye a mouse that was just dropped in its cage. Straight-up reptilian. He wasn’t even trying to hide the fact he was doing an inventory of all my stuff, either. Didn’t break his stare as I was going up the stairs or anything. This guy. Looking back, he probably thought that I was young and from Orange County, which meant I was inexperienced and hadn’t been toughened up yet. He was wrong, on both counts.
“Hey, Youngster! I’m gonna come up by your dorm in a minute!” Mac’s yelling this in the housing unit loud enough to where he might as well have just announced to everyone that I’d gotten my package. What a dick.
“Sure, Mac, come on up!” Gotta play the part now. Had I said anything else to the OG Homeboy, I would’ve looked like a little asshole youngster. He was acting like he was being funny in saying what he said, but he was 100% serious. He’d been nice to me in a very open and public manner since I’d come to the yard, up until the past couple weeks anyway; if I tried to blow him off now, he’d make trouble for me by talking shit to everyone about what an ungrateful, little jerk youngster I was and how everyone should keep their distance, etc. Better to just say hi, give his moochy-ass a shot of coffee, and send him on his way. Everyone plays their part, and the day goes on as normal.
I hadn’t been in the dorm more than 45 seconds, shoveling various items away to the dark, shadowy depths of my locker, when I heard that annoying, tough guy voice coming from behind me.
“Hey Youngster, whatcha got there?” Wow, Mac wasn’t playing about it being a minute. Slimey asshole.
“Oh, you know, Mac: just getting all this stuff put away.” So that mooches like you can’t see it.
“Yeah, I hear ya. Looks like you’ll be set for awhile. Hey, while you have it out, do you think that I can get one of those jars of coffee, and I’ll pay you back on Friday?”
Of course. At least he was being up front about his moochiness, and not trying to feed me some line. Mac was good for his word, too; if he said he was going to pay you, he’d do it. Still, it was something that my family had handled; had gone to the store and searched for, stood in line to buy. They’d brought it to the Post Office packed in a box, stood in another line, signed and sealed, paid for the postage, and sent it to me, even though I didn’t really need it. It was a luxury, brought to our institution care of the USPS, and here’s some dude wanting to take a piece of it before I’ve even taken it out of the bag.
Still, there’s opportunity here. I’ve just received a ton of coffee. I mean so much coffee it’s going to take me six months to drink it all. Mac’s asking to borrow some, which is perfectly fine(although he needed to work on his delivery), but I could just as easily give him a jar, and hopefully cultivate some future favors at the same time. Social Networking, prison-style.
Yeah, I could also tell him to get screwed, and be within my right, as long as I didn’t cross the line with disrespecting him. All that would do, however, is cause Mac to add my name to his list of personal vendettas, and I was too new to the yard to take on that kind of drama. After doing some quick Social Math equations, I decided it would be better to just give him a jar and send him on his way. Plus, it’d be easier to tell him no in the future if he happened to come back by to mooch. Funny, I had no idea how quickly the future would appear.
“Here, Mac,” I said, as I tossed him a big jar of Folger’s. “Don’t worry about getting me back. You were really cool and helpful when I showed up. You can have that on the strength.”
“Wow! Really, Kid?” Kindness doesn’t make an appearance in the prison-environment often, and it has the effect of taking people by surprise when it does. I could tell it took Mac by surprise: he’d gone wide-eyed and had a smile on his face. Happiness.
“Yeah, Bro. Go for it.”
“Man, that’s really cool of you to do that, Youngster!”
“No problem, Mac. Really.”
“I mean it! I haven’t had any money put on my books in awhile, so every little bit helps. It’s really cool, that there’s still some stand-up Homeboys around. Really solid of you. “
“Thanks, Mac.” He was laying on the gratitude ultra-thick, both in his words and body-language. Manipulation. There wouldn’t be conmen without it. Just as I was hoping to grease some wheels, Mac had seen an opportunity and was starting to run some game on me.
“Ok, Kid, I gotta get back to this game I had going down in the day room,” he said. Good. I could get back to putting my stuff away without listening to someone’s bullshit as they’re secretly inventorying all my stuff.
“Ok, cool, Mac. I’ll see you later,” I said.
This is where things got a little interesting.
Mac lived on the first tier and I lived on the second. From my vantage point, I could see almost all of Mac’s dorm, including his bed and locker. As soon as he left my dorm, he ran down the stairs, through the day room, to his dorm, and straight to his locker. Dialing through his combination lock in record time, he opened his locker and threw the jar of coffee in like it was a POW acting out in camp.
Then, to my moderate shock, he spun on his heel and made his way back towards my dorm.
No friggin’ way. He’s not coming back. Don’t come back, dude. These mental pleas were in vain, however, as that was exactly what Mac was doing. Heading right back towards me. I continued putting stuff in my locker and acted as if I didn’t see him. Hopefully, I thought, he’d see I was busy with what I was doing and decide now wasn’t a good time. No such luck.
“Hey, Youngster. I was wondering if you could slide me a couple of packs of those Marlboro Reds. I love those tailors!”
Tailors, or tailor-made was what cons called cigarettes which came in a pack. The only type of tobacco they sold in the joint was the loose type, where you had to roll it yourself. Tailors were considered a luxury, and priced accordingly. They were not cheap. Mac knew this. Now he was just seeing what he could get, and he was out of line for doing so. He was taking my kindness for weakness, and I had to let him know that wasn’t about to go down. I wanted to keep it cool, however, because Mac did have that OG Status, and I was still so fresh on the yard that I didn’t want to make any waves, at all.
“Mac,” I said. “I wasn’t planning on handing out any packs of these Reds. I’ll give you some singles, though. I was planning on hooking up the homeboys with some, anyway.”
I was, too. I’d seen the other guys do it with their packages, sharing certain things and creating a type of camaraderie. I just liked the idea of brightening someone’s day. Anyhow, I thought what I’d told Mac would be reasonable and not hurt any feelings.
“So you’re not gonna give me any of packs of cigs?” The smile was gone from Mac’s face now. He had the prison mask up. Devoid of any kindness or empathy. Dead-eyed. Almost like heroin users, except with a hint more malice.
“No, Mac. I’m not giving out any packs. I’ll give you some singles, but I’m not giving out packs to anyone.” Great. Now this stupid asshole has backed me into a corner. If I would’ve said yes and given Mac some of my packs of Marlboros, not only would it have made me look weak, but I’d have Mac and his cronies over at my locker everyday asking for stuff, all smiles, all fake-ass fools trying to use people. Nope. Had to stand my ground on this one.
Mac continued to stare at me for a beat longer, then turned around to leave. Cool, I thought. Spin, lame. Suddenly, he turned around, face full of anger, body postured as though he wanted to fight. Then he started yelling.
“Fuck you, motherfucker! You ain’t gonna give the homie anything after I looked out for you when you showed up!”
He was yelling so loudly, people down in the dayroom had stopped what they were doing and were staring up at the show that Mac was putting on.
Now there’s no going back.
Mac had put me on blast so gnarly, challenging me out in the open with everyone including the CO’s looking. Like I’ve previously mentioned, there’s only two ways this can go. I didn’t want this, either. I was trying to be cool with him. I had just given him a jar of coffee, no strings attached. That’s a rare occurrence in the pen, and instead of thanking his lucky stars, he assessed me as a mark that he could get more things from.
Now, by him yelling at me and calling me a motherfucker in front of the entire day room, he’s shown to have assessed me to be weak as well.
“Get in here, Mac,” I said. I had the prison mask on, but I wasn’t yelling. Unlike this shitbag, I didn’t want the CO’s to hear what I had to say.
“What’d you say to me?!” Still yelling, but I could see a shadow of confusion. A barking dog. In his mind, I should’ve been scared and begging him not to beat my ass.
“You heard me, you coward piece of shit. Get in here so I can fuck you up, proper,” I said, with a little more grit in my voice.
Once I’d seen that look of confusion in his face and knew that he was just a barker, I went in hard. I had to let him and everyone watching know that I wasn’t weak; that there was a line not to be crossed, and I wouldn’t take any disrespect.
“OH, YOU WANNA FIGHT?!” Mac is yelling louder than he was before, probably in the hopes that a CO would come and save him. “YOU WANNA GET DOWN?!”
I had wanted Mac to come into my dorm because it was a blind spot; the CO’s wouldn’t be able to directly see me thumping him. Mac knew this as well, and that’s why he was barking out on the tier walkway. Causing a scene. Trying to rally anyone to his side, because his coward heart knew he was about to get tossed around that dorm like the inside of a washing machine.
Well, it worked. Here came Joey, up the stairs and heading towards my dorm as quickly as he could walk.
Joey was the Shot Caller for the Woods. He was a nice guy, usually had a smile on his face, hanging out on the yard or playing cards in the day room. Wasn’t trying to be a tough guy; was just trying to do his time and go home. One of the things I remember about Joey was him swinging his dick around in the shower. With both hands, like a slinky. Dude had some serious length to his junk, like he’d been hanging weights from it every morning for the past 30 years. He was doing it as a joke, trying to make the other guys laugh. Probably made them a little jealous, too. Now here he was, trying to fix a problem he and I didn’t create.
“Guys, what’s going on?!” Joey was keeping his voice low, as to not let everyone know our business. The way it should be done. The way Mac wasn’t doing.
“THIS GUY THINKS THA-“
“Mac! Come on, man, let’s go down to your dorm and you can tell me what happened.” Mac was stuck on loud and Joey saw it. He was doing the mediating thing that Shot Callers are supposed to do.
“Hey, bro,” Joey said to me. “I’ll come by in a little bit, OK?”
“Yeah, Joey. No problem,” I said. He was shuffling Mac away, back to his own dorm, and I was relieved. I didn’t want to get into a fight because I’d get in trouble and lose my good-time credit towards release. Also, Mac was in his mid-50’s, and I’d always been brought up to respect your elders. It didn’t feel right to me, having to punch an older guy like that in the face, or bouncing his head off of any hard object I can find. Still, with all that being said, this was prison, and if you wanted to come out the other end, you did what you had to do. Mac had disrespected me in front of the whole housing unit, more or less. If I didn’t do something about it, things would start to turn ugly for me, fast.
I started throwing things in my locker with a little more haste, anxious to get my combo lock back in place. If I was going to have to get into a fight, there was a possibility we’d be seen by the CO’s and get sent to Administrative Segregation, or AdSeg for short. If that happened, I’d be away from my property for awhile, and who knows what would happen then. If I had my combination lock on my locker, at least I knew the only person who was going in there besides me would be wearing a badge. I remember feeling like a prairie dog at the time: I was so nervous about one of Mac’s cronies rushing me while my head was stuck in my locker that I kept popping up and looking around every two or three seconds.
It wasn’t long after I’d packed and locked my locker that Joey came by. I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t happy. Oh well, dude. Shouldn’t have raised your hand to be Shot Caller. Besides, I wasn’t happy, either.
“So he asked you for some smokes, and you wouldn’t give him any?” He could immediately tell by the look on my face the story he’d heard from Mac was bullshit.
“Joey,” I said, trying to remain calm. “I had just given that guy a jar of Folgers, on the strength, and he came back trying to get packs of cigarettes, not singles. That dude’s a liar.” I could see Joey’s eyes go big when I said I had given Mac a jar of coffee for free. As I mentioned earlier, stuff like that doesn’t happen too often in there.
“Damn, son!” Joey said. “Can I get a jar of coffee, too?!” We both laughed at his joke, although I’m sure in Joey’s heart, he was hoping I’d bust out with a jar. Not today, Joey.
“Well, look: I know Mac is full of shit. Everyone does. I know people give that bastard a pass on a lot of stuff cuz everyone treats him like the big homie. Well, fuck Mac. He pushes his weight a little too much, I think, and what he did right now was totally disrespectful. I’m gonna go let him know it, too. How do you wanna handle this?”
When Joey said, How do you wanna handle this? he was really asking me if I wanted to fight Mac. I didn’t, for reasons mentioned earlier, but I couldn’t just let his little show on the top tier go by unchecked. I came up with something on the fly, confident it would work.
“Ok, tell that fool that he can come to the day room and apologize, in front of you and the guys he was playing cards with.” I wanted to make him feel it a little. He was playing cards with his tag-alongs, and I wanted them to see him when he had to stand in front of me and say sorry.
“And if he says no?” Joey had a smirk on his face when he asked. He knew what I was thinking, and liked the idea.
“Well,” I said, “Tell him if he doesn’t want to apologize, we can go to the bathrooms and handle business.” The bathroom area was one of the few blind spots for the CO’s in the housing unit, and that’s where many, if not most disputes were settled physically. I could see by the spreading grin on Joey’s face that he liked this idea even more.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll go tell him right now!” Joey spun around, and off he went.
I watched him go to Mac’s dorm from where I was standing, and I could tell by the way they were both gesticulating that Joey was calling bullshit on Mac’s story. I could also see Mac was upset with the terms, as during one point in the conversation, he started huffing and puffing and pacing in circles. He was pissed, but he also had to respect the terms being put in front of him by his Shot Caller. OG or not, you had to respect the rules of your race, or you could get taken out, real easy. So he was sitting there, listening to Joey tell him how it was going to be, but he was not liking it. Not one bit.
I didn’t like it one bit, either, and there were a multitude of reasons why. Chief among them was the fact that I was still pretty fresh on the yard, and I didn’t like all the extra attention. The best thing to do in prison is try and blend, and I already had a hard enough time of doing that with my size. Now, as if God is trying to prove to me no good deed goes unpunished, I’ve got this mess with Mac, front and center.
When a couple of dudes are about to fight, or are fighting, the people around them get pumped up and excited. It’s a free show of carnage, and deep down, most guys are still into that stuff, albeit to a point. Dudes will even start getting brave and talking smack from the sidelines, or might incite a confrontation themselves. If you’re not careful, all hell can break loose. You have to do your damndest to make sure you’re in control at all times.
A few of the old-timers and other OG’s came by my dorm to talk to me, eager to get the first-hand scoop on what happened. It’s human nature, and I didn’t hold it against them. At the same time, I had to keep my eyes open to the situation at hand, and not get caught off guard. You could be talking to someone facing one way, and a guy comes up and gets you from behind. Could be the guy you were talking to was a distraction for the guy who got you, who knows. Staying on your toes is the best way to be.
I told the looky-loos everything would work itself out, and I couldn’t talk right now, thank you very much. They understood. Shoot, a few of them might have felt a little sorry for me, having to deal with Mac. What a headache.
I was standing in front of my dorm, talking to a homeboy named Mike, when I saw Joey heading back towards my dorm. I was just about to tell Mike to beat it, when he saw Joey, and his own chance to be in on some breaking news. The way he was bounding up the stairs to the second tier with a smile on his face, I could tell Joey knew something that was going to make for a great show.
“He wants to meet at the table in the corner,” said Joey. There were two day room tables, located in opposite corners of the housing units, that served as a blind spot for meetings and/or altercations. Mac was trying to send a message that he was ready to get down if negotiations failed. Unfortunately for him, I’d pegged him as a barker. He wasn’t about to do shit, and I was going to call his bluff. First, I have to cover my six.
“I know Mac’s gonna have at least one person there with him. Feel like coming with me, Mike?” I knew Mike didn’t like Mac, and was hoping I’d beat his ass. Might as well make use of him.
“Hell yeah, I’ll go. I’ve got your back, don’t worry”, he said. I believed him.
“Hey, bro.” It was Joey. “I got no love for Mac, either. You have my word, I won’t let anything outta line go down.” With him openly giving me his word, I felt that Joey could be believed in this instance, as well. Two would be enough, I thought.
“Ok then,” I said. “Let’s go.”
We headed down the stairs and into the day room, making our way towards the corner table. I glanced over at the CO’s table, careful to make sure that they weren’t hip to our rendezvous. They weren’t. They had their heads down in their magazines, like they did most of the time. Not paying attention, collecting that easy money.
As we got closer to the table, I noticed a few of Mac’s buddies sitting in the TV area, which was nearby. I caught a couple of them stealing quick glances at me, and I knew immediately what they were there for. If Mac decided to take off on me, or if I decided to take off on Mac, these guys would come to the rescue, and it wouldn’t be mine. That’s ok, though. All they were at that point was a math problem I had to figure out. I’d get there, but I had to do it quick.
Mac and two other youngsters were there at the table, standing on the opposite side from where we were approaching. There were no smiles or handshakes waiting at this arrival, however. The two kids with Mac were doing their best impersonations of prison masks, trying to look hard, with their unfinished ink work and skinny-ass arms. I wasn’t really worried about them; I was worried about the guys that were in the TV area behind me. If something did happen, I’d have to remember they’re there.
“What’s up, Joey,” Mac said. “Let’s get this over and done with. I’ve got other shit to do, and I want this resolved.”
Mac was doing his tough guy OG thing, showing off for the audience he had in attendance. He was also trying to take control of the situation; he was a lifer who had been in prison a long time up until this point and was skilled in the way the Prison Game was played.
“Yeah, so do I, Mac, and you’re the reason we’re here in the first place, so calm the fuck down, ok?” Joey was also a seasoned vet in the Game. He recognized immediately what Mac was trying to do, and was shutting it down, real quick. Mac’s face took on a look of confusion, mixed with a little anger. He was seeing that Joey was not a fair and impartial judge in this matter, and that his shit would not be taken.
“Oooohh, I see how it is, Joey! It’s gonna go down like that, huh?” You could hear the pissed in Mac’s voice.
“Yeah, just like that, Mac. Now please, don’t get all loud,” Joey said. “This will get resolved as fast as you just say what you have to say. “
Mac gave Joey a what could be described as a menacing stare for a second or two, but Joey wasn’t buying. He knew Mac was a barking dog, too.
“Ok, look: I ain’t apologizing for shit,” Mac said. “I don’t have to apologize to no youngster that wouldn’t hook me up. And he should be thanking me, that I ain’t sicking any of my dogs on him right now.”
Mac’s trying to push my buttons, to get me to react in a manner that’s either going to get me jumped or make me look bad in front of those present. I was getting pissed, make no doubt. This guy was so over-the-top-out-of-line on the tier, it was ridiculous. Now he’s saying I somehow had it coming, and Fuck You. Ok, Mac.
“So it looks like we’re going to the bathrooms, then?” I was trying real hard to hide how angry I was, and also how my hands started jittering from the adrenaline dump I was experiencing in the moment. Both of the youngsters stood at that point, as though they were going to hold the line for Mac.
A shit-eating grin spread across his face, and I started to feel like this could go bad, real quick. Only thing, though, is Mac was supposed to fight his own battle in this case, one-on-one. These dudes didn’t have anything to do with this mess, but now I have new enemies, courtesy of this piece of shit. It was causing the anger to build within me, to really want to smash this guy.
“Well here’s the thing,” Mac said. “I messed my knee up on the handball court a couple of days ago, and they told me at medical to go to surgery for it. If I didn’t have this knee-thing, I’d take this youngster out myself, educate him on how it’s done.”
Ahh, there it is. Mac’s got a bad knee, so one (or both) of these kids is going to fight in his place. How lame can you get.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have said shit, you fucking lame, if you’re knee was so messed up.” There. I’d crossed the line now. By me calling him a lame, I had thrown the gauntlet down, right in front of him. Lame was on par with punk, as far as fighting words went. He had to do something now, or he’d looked like a bitch.
I was boiling, but trying to keep it together. Joey could tell, and he tried reigning in the situation.
“Ok, Ok, Guys!” Joey’s playing ref. “Let’s not let the cops see, alright? Mac, that is bullshit, you trying to get these youngsters to fight for you. You know better than that.” He did, too.
“Hey, what can I say?” Mac’s all smiles. “They love me!” This got some smirks and chuckles from his kid-bodyguards. He went on: “If Bobby feels so disrespected, these are my terms.” Then he looked at me. “And as far as that ‘lame’ comment goes, I’ll deal with you personally when my knee gets better. No one calls me a lame. I’m considering that a separate issue.” Oooh, I’d made him upset. Good. Feel it.
“Consider it however you want, Mac,” I said. “I’m right here.”
When I said this, one of the youngsters stepped forward in an aggressive manner. His name was Paul. From Fresno or Modesto, I don’t remember. I’d never had a problem with him. Never really tried hanging out with him, either; he was trying to run around with all the seasoned cons and skinheads, and I wasn’t. Now here he was, about to step in some shit.
“You know what, homie?” He was posturing, chest all puffed-out, trying to look as hard as he could. “I’m not gonna sit here and listen to you disrespect the OG like that. I’ll step in for him, no problem, and you and I can take it to next le-“
When I sent that overhand-left missile into the side of Paul’s head, he dropped like a sack of potatoes. I’d had more than I could take, come to the boiling point and flipped dude’s switch. He was totally out, laying on the ground.
I looked up and around at everyone that I had perceived to be involved with this fiasco, and they were all wide-eyed, looking at Paul’s motionless body. Then they all scattered. Like it was a crime scene, and a murder had just taken place. Everyone took off to their respective dorms or wherever the hell, I don’t know. Point being, they left out of that area like a stick of dynamite was about to go off.
No one wanted to be involved with Unconscious Paul, who had pissed and shit himself in the 10 seconds it had been since he was sent to la-la land. I didn’t want to be there, either. I looked over at the CO table, and thank God, they hadn’t seen any thing, faces still down in the magazines.
I was about to take off, when one of the guys who was sitting in the day room came quickly towards me. I put both my hands up and readied myself. He didn’t want any, though. He had his hands up in that universal gesture of take it easy.
“Holy shit, bro, you knocked him out! I’m just gonna take him in the dorm, so the CO’s don’t see him,” he said.
Good idea. I didn’t say anything; I just put my hands down and nodded. I watched as this guy went over to Paul, grabbed him by both ankles and dragged him into the nearby dorm. I then made my way as quickly as I could towards my rack.
No one wanted the CO’s involved in this, or anything else. When there’s violence, the yard gets shutdown, the day room gets closed, and everyone has to stay on their racks in their dorms. Like I’ve stated previously, you do what you’ve gotta do, but I didn’t want to be the cause of people not getting their visits or going to the commissary. If I could get back to the dorm and lay low, hopefully we could figure this thing out with Mac and the cops would be none the wiser.
Funny thing: Paul was there to stand up for Mac, and the second the kid got knocked out, Mac ran like a racehorse, not wanting to take any heat himself. Not looking out for someone who had been trying to look out for him.
I felt bad for the kid, too, make no mistake. I didn’t get any joy or satisfaction out of what I did. I was doing what I felt I needed to do in order to send a message: My kindness is not weakness. I wanted to get out of this place, and if I had to make an example out of someone in order to do it, so be it.
I’d been over at my bunk for about five minutes when Joey came by. He had a huge smile on his face, like he was meeting up with a good friend. I was not in that same space; I didn’t feel happy. I felt like the hammer might come down, any second.
“Daaaang, bro! You knocked ol’ boy clean out! I went by a few minutes later, dog. You made him piss n’ shit himself, too!” Joey was laughing and almost giddy, the way he was retelling me what happened with him.
That’s how it was in the joint, too: everyone loved the violence. The inmates loved it. The guards loved it. It was the most exhilarating thing that happened there, and the bigger the display, the more of a collective rush everyone felt from the incident. People may talk days or weeks about some carnage that happened on the yard. They’d look back on things they were involved in and laugh.
“Dang, that sucks. No cops?” I wanted to make sure. I had no smiles for Joey. I was still very much worried and didn’t think any of this was funny at the moment.
“No, no cops,” he said. Joey’s smile was slowly fading. He was starting to see where my head was at, and he toned it down some. “I’ll tell you what, though: Mac don’t want none.”
I looked up at Joey, who was looking back at me with a smirk on his face. This was interesting.
“Yeah, when I was leaving the dorm where Paul was at, I saw Mac in the bathroom, and I went over to talk to him. It was kinda funny, man. He was like, ‘Why’d Bob do that? He didn’t have to knock him out!’” Joey was starting to laugh while he said it, but glanced at me and chuckled to a stop. “Anyway, he told me that he doesn’t want any. Says he’ll apologize in front of the people he was playing cards with, too. You could tell, he don’t want no problems. You scared him. I guess he thought you wouldn’t do anything.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess so.”
Later on that evening, Super Mac made good on his word, and apologized to me in front of his card-playing buddies. It was done very quickly; an I apologize, my bad from him, and an Alright from me, and everything was over. Good. I took no pleasure it what happened and just wanted everything to be over quickly. No boasting or backslapping. Done.
I went by to check on Paul afterwards. He was still on his rack, under the covers. When he saw me enter his dorm, he tensed up, as if I might have come there to do him more harm. I just wanted to make sure he was ok.
“Hey, man,” I said. “Wanted to make sure you were alright, dude. You good?”
Paul sat a little more upright in his bed before he addressed me. He was still sporting that tough guy look, even though I’d just KO’d him earlier. Like, Be a little humble, dude. It was a little irritating. Sometimes you feel bad for people who don’t deserve it.
“Yeah, I’m good.” Paul said. Funny, Paul: you don’t look good. Not at all.
“Alright, man,” I said. “Mind your own business next time.”
Copyright, 2018, Bobby Dino. All Rights Reserved.