Yard For Asians Only
In the morning after breakfast was brought to our cells, the gun tower announced, “Yard release for the Asian inmates only!”
Boxer pounded on our wall and said, “You guys will get off lockdown quick. This prison needs you guys to help run the place with us and the Blacks locked down!”
A Black inmate nearby yelled, “That’s right. We need you guys makin our food, cleanin our clothes and takin out our trash!”
That sentiment irritated me to hear but I had compassion for the fact that both of their races had been stuck in slow motion lock down for six months. Being confined to a cell the size of a small bathroom for that long did something to a human’s psyche. I had been through it several times and knew that one of the negative after effects was that being around people in a crowd was unbearable. There were other problems associated with being in Solitary, like loud noises that caused massive anxiety, or a hypersensitivity to light, fast movement, or to people being offensive.
In the afternoon the gun tower announced, “Mark Grisham! They want you in the Program Office.”
His cell door popped open and a few minutes later he showed up at our cell with a cup of coffee in his hand and a big smile.
He whispered, “I forgot to tell you guys something. We have a new guy who is making a lot of noise in building Five.”
I asked, “What prison did he come from?”
Mark whispered, “Calipatria. He is a really big Skinhead from Venice and goes by Hitler.”
I asked, “What’s his problem?”
Mark whispered, “He wants to know who has the yard for the White inmates because he isn’t getting fed. He says we should be sending chow hall food to those who don’t have any.”
I didn’t blame him for that. A closed mouth didn’t get any yum yum’s.
I said, “Tell him that is need to know info he’ll get soon enough. Tell him to send his paperwork for us to look over.”
Mark came back from the Program office six hours later with the paperwork. He whispered, “Hitler wants to know why you guys have the yard for the White inmates and still stabbed Godwin.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We were being questioned blatantly. I pulled in his paperwork and listened to Damon whisper yell, “Who told him we had the yard and stabbed Godwin?”
There was silence on the other side of the door. I leaned as far as possible to see Mark’s face and he was keeping it hidden at the extreme side of the door. It was obvious he told him. It was possible that he didn’t, but highly unlikely. It was time to find out if he would lie.
He didn’t. He whispered, “I did. He came at me hard with so many assaultive questions that I blew it.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his honesty.
He whispered, “Sorry homeboys. What do you want me to do?”
Damon whispered, “Stop talking so much about heavy business.”
I studied Hitler’s court and prison paperwork while Damon continued to train Mark with better etiquette.
Hitler started coming to prison at 18 years old for violence. He was a White Supremacy type. As he got older and kept coming back for prison sentences, his charges got less violent and were drug and petty theft related. I imagined him coming from a broken home and finding an identity on the streets.
His prison paperwork started at Corcoran on a very serious and deadly yard. After some time there, he went to Calipatria, another very serious and deadly prison, very similar to this one, very close by.
At Calipatria he was used as a soldier by whoever was in control of the yard for the White inmates. He was ordered to stab an inmate on the yard. On his Solitary Confinement paper work, a Lock Up Order form 144-D, it stated he did 9 months on his SHU Term.
Hitler had left notes on the paperwork to help other people he sent it to understand other details. In pencil it stated: Drug Debt Whacking.
I considered his highly aggressive style in two ways. He could be hyper sensitive like me and just be exerting himself enough so that he didn’t get used again. Maybe he wanted enough control to use his experience to create drug debt policies to avoid a race war without having to stab someone for not being able to pay for a heroin habit, like me.
Or he was a “dying to be someone” type, who was a professional “instigator” and “attention whore”.
I knew both types well since I had graduated from one to the other. I also knew how to find out where he was on his path upon meeting him in person, on the yard.
I whisper asked Mark, “Run the make down on him.”
Mark questioned, “What do you mean?”
“What does he look like, tattoos, gang, attitude, maturity level, brains…”
Mark hesitated like he was in unfamiliar territory.
Damon whispered, “It’s a little late to clam up homeboy. You told him we were the shot callers for the yard and that we stabbed Godwin.”
I would have laughed out loud if our situation weren’t always deadly.
Mark answered, “He’s big, early 30’s, shaved head, tattoos…”
Mark ran out of material.
I said, “So you just told us about 90% of the White inmates.”
Damon got to the heart of the matter, “Does he look like he can beat either of us up?”
Mark stepped away from the crack at the side of our cell and looked at us carefully and shook his head no slowly. He came back to the side and whispered, “He isn’t as hard as either of you. He’s big but its baby fat compared to you guys.”
I asked, “Are his eyebrows shaved?”
Serious Skinheads shaved their eyebrows during times of war. Not all, but most of the ones that always kept their eyebrows shaved, were trying to hard.
Damon asked, “What Skinhead click?”
Mark didn’t say anything. He was a terrible inquisitor. Because of that, he was easy to manipulate and move around like a chess piece.
I helped him understand and asked, “What do his tattoos say?”
Mark whispered, “I don’t know.”
Damon stopped whispering and said, “Your fired homeboy.”
I laughed loud enough to lighten the mood, but said, “You suck Mark.”
Damon schooled him on the art of anti bullying. He whispered, “Anytime you are being drilled like that you have to go offensive.”
I finished the degree in prison psychology and said, “You should have responded by hitting him with high powered questions like a jackhammer like this, “What gang do you claim? What neighborhood do you run around in? Who brought you in? Who do you check in with? Who can cosign who you are? What do you specialize in on the streets?”
Mark looked like he was in way over his head. He came back to the side of the cell and whispered, “Those are some intrusive questions.”
Damon whispered, “He’s questioning our ability to run the yard after just stabbing the first violator.”
I didn’t even bother whispering and said from in front of the door, “You don’t see a problem with that?”
Damon said, “We should be commended for running such a tight ship.”
I followed up with, “And for knowing how to run down policies with the Mexicans to keep another riot from happening.”
Damon asked, “Did you at least speak highly of us about those things?”
Mark didn’t say anything and that spoke volumes. He stammered, “I see what you mean. I blew it. He came at me hard and fast.”
I changed the subject, “When are we getting yard?”
Mark was on better footing and he said, “Probably tomorrow. Heart said, “We might even get dayroom tonight after chow.”