Back In The Day - Tales from the Hood


Jail Pt. 4

Standing lined up, facing a big dark one way window...

We waited for our next instruction.

To our left and to our right were large solid doors with a small window covered by brown paper and big black writing; 5800 Cell Block stamped on it. This door was the one we would soon enter.

I had no idea what was on the other side. I never went this far when i was 18 and a first time visitor. Now at 49 i was to be a inmate and find out what being (deep) on the inside was all about.
The large door opened and being the first in line, told to step on in. It was like going from day to night, like a dream that is sureal. My eyes needed a moment to ajust to the dimly lit room. A room that seemed to hold about 200 inmates and filled with bunkbeds lined on either side and the middle. A room were all you can see are shadows with no faces. The air itself seemed to have its own story to tell as did the writing on the walls.

My first few steps were marked by the sounds of... "New Fish"
I in turn repeated the same as to acknowledge the fact... "Yeah, New Fish! It was now time to be smart and to be hard, if you care to survive. This was my way of holding my own, right from the start. My attitude was..."thats right" I deliberately made as much eye contact as possible with all that were looking at me. I knew i had to show i was not intiminated, and for me that came easy cause i'm usually not... I will be tested once again.

No longer being involved with gangs since my early years didn't mean i forgot how its played in the circle of the weak and strong and i always kept my strong side in my back pocket for whenever i just might need it... this was the time to pull it out and display where i was at or coming from and not to be mistaken for weak.

I "strolled" to the back (as if to say i was "seasoned") while looking to see if any beds were available. There were none. As i came to the end of a row of bunkbeds, i met the "main man", the shot caller of the Mexican Group in this block and was asked if i were either Sureno or Piesan. I was asked again your piesano right? and i answered si'mon (yes) not really knowing what i just did. This could have been a very dangerous move for me but apparently i said the right thing. The other is also Mexican but from a different land and so a rival. I was now faced with the very strange and uncomfortable situation of dealing with something not to be taken lightly. If you didn't go along or if you did something displeasing you would get timed. If it was a 30 second time then you got beaten for that long!

After the intros i started back to the front to see if anything was still available. As i walked to the other side one of the members came up and verified my statis then told me to follow him. I was led to a bed in the corner that was in a dark area. Not a safe place to be unless your being set up for something! I saw it as a place to crash out being that i hadn't had a place to lay down for some time. No sooner that i began to unroll my bedding the head man came up and said no! follow me! So i followed him to the back where it seemed most of them were situated. He pointed to a top bunk and told me to use this one and get some rest til they asigned beds later that night. He knew what i was feeling and so i did just that!
I slept for some time. It turned out that they made room for me by ordering one of the guys to give up his bed for the time.

As i woke i could hear the sound of a tv mounted in the front. The movie was Speed. I knew i had to open my eyes and get off this bed to cohabitate with these guys. I layed there asking myself how i was gonna deal with the very real situation at hand. I knew it was very touchy and that i would have to continue to seem like i was a seasoned homeboy. I thought of what could happen if i didn't meet their conditions or expectations whatever that might be. This wasn't a game, it was serious business and i was now a part of it. This wasn't a choice! If you want your back watched and protected you played it their way otherwise you were on your own and very vaunerable. Its.. either your for us or against us...period. Interesting that it seemed that the outside rivery of various conflicting gangs were non-exsistant and now merged as one Group. I could be wrong but it did seem that way.

I jumped off my bunk and even though i was feeling somewhat insecure at the moment, i made small talk here and there, keeping it short as possible. I went and washed my face and brushed my teeth then made my way slowly back, jumped back up and tried to relax.
One of the guys saw that i was awake and came over and asked me if i knew "the program". I told him not really,tell me. As he began to enlighten me, the Guard at the blacked-out observation window (if you wanna call it that) told us all to get up and ready to march out for dinner. I soon made my own way in line and as i followed i now found out that we had a big dining room (cafeteria style). I was handed a tray then a container of milk and then the food would be served on it. I still wasn't eating so i drank my milk,ate the bananna and gave the rest of it away. I could have been in trouble if i gave it away to a black or white man! or even a sureno too i guess!

The meal was fast paced and soon enough our table was instructed to get up and move out. Heading back to the cell kinda remained me of a dorm but it really wasn't.
Once again laying on my back in bed and still recouperating. My body was still hurting from head to toe!
Being cramped for so long will do just that!

It was 4pm when we ate and at 7 or so i would be asigned a bed. At 5pm the Guard called out someone's name saying to "roll it up". That someone who he called out was me!
I got my bed roll together said goodbye to some and made my way to the door up front.
It would now be just a matter of time. 4 hours of time to be exact!

The release process was so much quicker than the entering but it seemed to be forever and even though i remained patient, knowing it was just about time and it would come sooner or later many couldn't wait to hit the door. Ironically, these were the same who would probably be back within a matter of time.
The procedure was the same only in reverse and minus many of the formalities. We were once again herded from one room to the next and waited til the next move. Our names were called and we were handed our street clothes. We changed and then started for the release rooms. Soon we would be sitting once again on those benches lined up facing ahead while nearing the end. The last room was were we would collect our property. The last phase was to collect any money we had on us before entering. The door was now only a few feet away. Soon i would be stepping out into a warm night's air and enjoying every second of it. I decided to just use this time walking and reflecting on the events of the past days and continued to head in the direction i called home. It was only 5 miles away but for a time felt like forever.
It took me about one hour til i reached those fimiliar streets and neighborhood. And it felt great!

Reflecting while walking:
I always knew i was smart enough to avoid doing any serious time and of course also knew that when i wasn't smart...i would have to deal with it. I always kept my mistakes minor or so i hoped. If not i would be doing real time behind it.
Enjoying my personal freedom had always been top priority...but sometimes i would do something stupid or careless and even though minor, stupid still... but then be put back into check. I was ok with that.

Personally, i wouldn't want it any other way. I always knew my potential for being bad, doing wrong and falling into the system from early on. I had made the decision long ago to avoid any trouble in my life if i wanted to remain free. It was basically simple as that!

Maybe you yourself can appreciate why i wrote this... or maybe not, but for anyone who ever wondered what its all about or how bad it can be ...well, now you can stop wondering. Everything experienced was degrading and uncomfortable as it was meant to be...

For me to write about it really was worth the tour. After all, i already knew i had a release coming any day between the 16 days or sooner.
So i have no regrets and as i said before...this was of my own choosing. I see it as a test but not at all a game! Its a serious matter to me when your freedom is taken, no matter how many days or hours! When your right to freedom is removed it is serious and no joke. I learned many things while in this place and somehow ironically... its all good. Maybe in another 30 years or so i'll drop on in once again for another "reality check" when i'm 80 or so. (yeah, right)

And as for retriving my money at the window before walking out? I was actually planning on not collecting it!
You see, i only brought 5 quarters,2 dimes and a nickle with me in case if anything i would make a call to be picked up if i was in some other location farther away.
The cashier mentioned that it could not be located and i said to her to just keep it, it wasn't a problem.
I smiled at her and stepped out the door.

I thought to myself...
This musta been my "BuckFifty" tour
It was... and then some!

End of story!


Post a Comment

<< Home