jPay Message #202

Today at lunch, control center briefly rescinded our quarantine restrictions after three weeks of no (false) positive tests, only to reimpose them again at 4 o’clock count. Allegedly, someone who went home two days ago failed the re-entry test required of every parolee by testing positive for covid. At this point, I just think they’re making this shit up in order to more funding from the state and federal governments.

Still, for a brief two hours, I was able to chop it up with my homies in other units. Howie flagged me down from across the yard, and, with a smirk, informed me that Adam-el had been murdered. He just went home a few months ago.

“When I heard that, I thought of you immediately…probably brightens your day a little,” he said. Stripped of context, and from a civilian POV, that sounds like a really fucked up comment with more than a hint of deranged sociopathy. But I didn’t feel glad or cheerful or anything nice at hearing that news. Granted, I wasn’t mourning his death either. The dude was a fucking piece of shit.

He was the first, and only, person to pull a banger on me, but not with the intent to use it, only for intimidation. He was upset that I refused to get soft-squeezed by his homeboy. I wilted under the pressure, still relatively new to prison at the time. When I reflect on this and other moments like it from early on in my bit, I wince at the reactions of my former self.

There were some definite growing pains but I’ve learned that if I’m to survive and possibly even thrive over the next 5 years in the penitentiary, I have to carry myself in a certain way, and undergo a personal evolution that doesn’t flinch at physical conflict, all the while protecting my own interests with vigilance. In the world, disputes are settled through the courts or some professional intermediary; in *this* world, violence, and the threat of it, is the default negotiating tool.

While I’m far from a badass, I’ve slowly earned a rep as one of the most reliable, tougher civilian honkies. As in, I’m no gangbanger, but I will fight back, protect my shit, and will never lockup. Unfortunately, nearly every white guy in the joint has or had a drug addiction of some kind, and many lose control and run up tabs they cannot pay.

Anyways, it’s still weird to hear someone make a telling, off-hand remark in which they reveal the sorta high-regard I’m held (by no means unanimous). One time, an old head flat out told me I’m a lot tougher than this wannabe gangbanger who was always bragging about the knives he kept stashed.

So then I reflected on my confrontation with Adam-el and how I would have handled it now. I probably would’ve dared him to use it, calling out what was (hopefully) a bluff. Or swung on him. If I had been in actual danger, there’d be no exchange of words after/if I saw the piece. I’d simply be butchered before I quite knew what was going on.

Someone that goes around brandishing a banger like that willy-nilly, as he was wont to do, is doing it for show; in a counterintuitive way, they’re very conscious of the serious criminal case that could possibly result from its use. For that exact reason, even if I were on the receiving end of such an attack, the primary objective is usually to make a lot of shallow cuts to draw blood but not necessarily seriously injure or threaten my life. Shitttt, I’ve seen someone get ‘shot’ before, and he yelped “Ow!” loudly before grabbing a shovel and proceeding to beat the shit out of his attacker.

Alright, dwelling on that bloody possibility could possibly invite some bad ju-ju, so lemme move on..

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