Prison 101:6

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

Me and this kid Robert in the cell next to me are listening, smoking, we both have a lot of time, I don’t know about him, but I know I was wondering about making it out in one piece. And the homosexuals are talking nearby, somewhere, you really don’t know where anyone is, you just hear voices, but they are talking about how they keep the backs of their pants slit open for their husbands so they can easily get to their pussy. Their words not ours.

What the fuck is this, I thought. I really went suicidal for a few of those first hours. I considered it too hard. I thought, fuck it, there is no way I will make it out without killing someone or someone killing me. Robert says to me. “No way. If anyone tries to turn me I’ll kill them first.” And I was like, “Fuckin’ A!”

That same first night I went into the shower and some guy flashed his stuff and then winked at me and I knocked him out. I don’t mean I simply popped him, I knocked him out. So panicked, scared, I hit him way too hard, very lucky I didn’t kill him.

So a year goes by and I’m working one day in a hallway for the prison wood shop, putting up some brackets, and here comes this guy walking down the hall, escorted by two CO’s, and he has more wiggle in his walk than a bowl of gelatin, and as he gets close to me, I had turned back to my work, and he calls my name. I turn around and it’s Robert, only now he’s called Swish. Weird. That is a kid that had no values. He spoke about drawing a line, but he didn’t. I don’t know how he was turned (that’s what it’s called), but he went with it. Fear will do things to you. Even if it’s fear about something that hasn’t even happened yet, or might not happen at all.

For me I just said there are things I will not do and things I will not set back and watch done, or know about, or anything. I lived by that in prison and it makes a difference in my life. It makes me more honest, and it makes me more open, less likely to get used again, because it also means that when someone tries to use me I will do something. Either walk away from the situation or say something.

What I am saying, is that I believe much of the bad shit that came my way was my own fault, because even when I knew I was being used I allowed it because I truly didn’t care. Now I do. It doesn’t mean someone can’t use me, of course they can, it only means I’m paying attention. It’s walking a line, a thin line, because I won’t spend the rest of my life alone, but I won’t just take on any relationship because I’m tired of being alone either. Guard the door, but don’t shut the door.

Six months after that first night in a Max all of that panic, suicidal impulse, was gone. I was getting up every day, dealing with the gangs, the rapists, the crooked cops, all of it, every day. And somewhere along in there I had a real conversation with myself. I realized that all of my problems came from me. I allowed people to shit on me, use me, and I got up every day out in the free world expecting nothing else. I may as well have been locked up for my whole life. I had never considered myself free at all.

I can remember hearing a kind of spitting noise my first full day in the Max yard. No matter who you are, once you are sentenced to state time in this state you are heading to a Max to begin classification. It is the shock value I think, because you are only there a few days and then you are packed up and sent to a real classification facility to get your shots, a little cell time to see if you are going to be a problem, and to acclimate you to your circumstances. You have days, weeks, and maybe months in those classification cells. You sit, you think, wonder why you did what you did. You cry, you pray, and then you get your shit together and start to do your time. They know that, that is why they keep you there so long.

But that first stop is always the Max. A Max (Maximum Security) has a wall. Usually 20 or more feet tall, concrete or stone or both. It surrounds the entire prison, and there is a set of fences inside that topped with razor wire. Believe me, when that bus you are on rolls up to that wall your heart sinks to your feet. I don’t care who you are, you’re scared.

So my first full day in the Super Max. I went to yard recreation even though the C.O. said not to. I went because I had many years to do and you can’t do many years, what we in prison called football numbers, hiding or staying in your cell or you’ll go crazy. So I went. That is how I met Robert, put a face to the voice.

It was like a different world out there. I mean it really was, these guys didn’t even know that wall was there anymore, it was like that, and everyone I passed looked me over, I guess deciding if I was a fucking idiot or wanted trouble, or I was being straight up and dealing with it, but nobody messed with me.

So I am walking around and I hear this spitting sound and a guy close to me says ‘Disappear’, and he steps way away from me. Instinct, I followed him just that fast and stepped away. As I did I heard the spitting sound again and turned around to see what it was. Just instinct again, I think, you hear it and your head turns to the sound. Curiosity maybe? I watched this kid spit a razor out of his mouth and into his hand. This is a bare razor taken out of a disposable razor, but he caught it without cutting himself, and he went after this guy and cut his face.

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