Chapter 3a: Rude Awakening
The next morning, everyone woke at 5. Lights didn't come on until 6, but everyone was awake due to the screams coming from one of the cells on the top floor. Shit! I thought. Again, this was gonna be because of me. I sat there and fucking handed that boy to Cypress, so there was no way that I couldn't be the blame for this.
The guards sounded the sirens, and then came running from the guard's station. The three overnight guards, including Khalil's baby mama ran up the steps and past the cells. Like me, they assumed the disturbance came from Cypress and Jirani, so you can imagine their surprise when they saw the two of them asleep on top of each other. The guards continued running, and went to the place where the sounds came from. There were no longer any screams, but there were sobs.
"Billy?" Monica said. "What the hell did you do?"
I heard her yell from downstairs in my cell. It didn't hit me at first. I heard the name Billy and knew that the only person by the name of Billy was Lil' Billy. But shit, that nigga goes up there with random dudes almost every fucking night. So the urgency of the situation hit me a little late. I jumped down from my bunk.
"Yo, Hakim, you up?" Hakim didn't answer. "What happened up there wit' ya boi?" Still no answer. I turned around to look at his bunk, and that's when I remembered. Hakim was up there with Lil' Billy. Why wasn't I hearing him? Hakim was the loudest talker, and the yeller with the most volume in his voice. Why the fuck wasn't I hearing my boy?
"Thornton!" I yelled. Thornton was the last name of the female guard that Khalil bangs. "Yo, Thornton, what happened?"
The two overnight male guards had Billy restrained, and dragged him down the steps. His chest was covered in blood, and I don't think much of it was his. Why the fuck couldn't I hear Hakim?
"Thornton!!!!!!!" I yelled.
Khalil, in the cell to my left even screamed too. "Yo Monica, tell us what the fuck is goin' on man?"
Officer Thornton came down to us. "You guys need to chill. I know y'all were friends, but y'all will not be talkin' to me like that.
"What's up with Hakim?" I asked.
"There's not a simple way to put this. All I can say, is that he's not breathing. I called the nurses. They're running down here right now to see if they can stitch him up and possibly bring him back."
Just then, the onsite paramedics came in.
"Where do we need to go?"
"Just follow me." Officer Thornton ran up the steps and they went along behind her.
The jail doors usually open at about 6, but for obvious reasons we stayed in our cells longer. I watched as the guards and janitors brought down the bloody sheets and the blood soaked mattress. I even watched as Officer Thornton told Officer Tongis and Officer Melee the bad news when they came in for their shifts. Tongis ain't take it well. The officers weren't supposed to have favorites, but if I had to put money on who Tongis' favorite was, I'd say it was Hakim. The two of them would banter like nobody's business. Hell, most of the block favored Hakim. The dude was goofy as hell and funny as shit. Tongis regretted letting him go up there with crazy ass Lil' Billy.
Khalil tried to make a lil bit of small talk to raise my spirits and shit, but failed. Hakim was gone, for good.
The cells finally opened when they cleared and cleaned up that cell that Hakim spent his last moments in. It was about 9 o'clock. Most of the guys got straight in line to go to the cafeteria but the last thing I worried about was some stale as Cap'n Crunch.
"Tongis! What happened?" I said.
The question was on everyone's mind, and when I asked, it seemed that the entire prison stood behind me waiting for the words to come out of his mouth.
"Let's talk in my office." Tongis walked into the guard's station office and held the door for me.
I didn't want to go in his office. I felt like if he was going to tell me something valuable, then he should tell me out here so that everyone could hear.
"Come on in here if you comin," he said.
I started walking and followed him. In his office, he closed the blinds because he knew how much the Bloods loved to read the officers lips.
"If I tell you this, it doesn't leave this office. You can't tell anyone; you can't even tell God," he said.
"Then, why are you telling me?"
"Because I know how close you and Hakim were. Literally, you were two peas in a fucking pod."
"So- So what happened?" I asked.
"Uh... when Officers Kevins, Thornton, and Freebush got up to cell 311B, they found razors, the kind of razors that Hakim somehow always manages to get. We scan every single thing that came for him and it never contained razors but somehow Hakim always had one on him. But uh... they got up to the cell and saw that Lil' Billy had been sliced a couple times and had a razor stuck in his chest."
"And Hakim?" I asked.
"He had 3 of his razors stuck in his body. One in the eye, one the neck and the last was lodged in his chest. Um... all I can really say is that, Lil' Billy claims it was self-defense-"
"Hakim wouldn't have hurt that boy," I said.
"And I don't think he did. Not a damn thing about Lil' Billy's story is adding up. His lies keep changing, so he's with the warden and will remain with the warden until we can get the absolute truth out of him."
"Ok," I said.
Tongis' eyes were watered.
"I know that a lot of y'all think that I'm hard on you. I'm not. I'm not strict at all. That's because in my experience, the more liberties you have the more happiness. Cell block B had its fights every other week, but we hadn't had a murder in years. And when murders happen, I can't shut the emotions off." A tear fell from his face.
"I'm sorry, Tongis."
"No, it's ok. Because all of that is about to come to an end, one way or another."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean that cellblock B had more liberties than any other cellblock in The Well. When Lil' Billy tells the warden what's been going on down here, I'm fired. So is Melee, Thornton, Freebush, Sciano, Stoch, Kevins- all of them. All because I let Hakim go up to that God damn cell with Billy."
"He might not fire you."
"I can't take this shit anymore. I've seen way too much death in this business, and I'm done," he said. Tongis got up and walked out of his office.
I sighed heavily. I knew it was hard on him. Tongis was close to the prisoners. Sure, at times he acted like an asshole but I really think that's only because he felt himself getting to close to us and wanted to distance himself. But Hakim's passing, really took a toll on him.
I left the guard's office and went back to my cell. Mostly everyone had gone to the cafeteria for breakfast. I decided to skip it and go back to my cell. Oddly enough, the last two people that were in my cell last night, were back in it.
Jirani was sitting on the bottom bunk bed, and Cypress was standing up and facing me when I walked in.
"What you want?" I said.
"I'm sorry about Hakim," Cypress said.
What? This nigga just said he was sorry? Cypress was offering condolences? You've gotta be fucking kidding me.
"He was uh... a good guy," Cypress continued. "We were 2 cells down from him last night, and um... we didn't hear anything. I wish that we had. Perhaps, it could have saved his life."
WTF? The nigga's demeanor changed. Cypress is offering condolences and speaking in complete sentences? His voice no longer had that "nigga" dialect. And this nigga said, "perhaps." My face was stunned at this shit. And no, I wasn't buying it.
"What you want?" I asked.
"Uh... I noticed you don't have a roommate anymore. Though, the situation is terrible, it actually fits for what Jirani needs from you."
"Jirani needs a roommate?"
"Yes," Cypress said.
"Then, you be his fucking roommate. You had no problem fuckin' him and shit last night."
Cypress wanted to elevate his volume, but for some reason, he refused to. "I know that you're a noble man. And I know that if I tell you something, you won't go repeat it to someone else." Cypress looked to Jirani, and Jirani rolled his eyes. Cypress seemed stuck on his words, so Jirani took over.
"Cypress didn't fuck me last night," he said as he stood up from the bed.
"Hell no, that would be disgusting. Cypress is my big brother."
I stepped back to get a look at both of them side by side. They damn sure didn't look alike.
"Yo' real brother?" I asked.
"Same mom, different dads," Cypress said.
"That still doesn't explain why you won't just make him your cellmate."
"I don't want him near the Bloods. You saw the way they acted when he stepped off that bus. So many things are happening inside of the gang at this very moment that is actually making me think that many of the Bloods aren't loyal to me anymore. If word gets out that Jirani is my brother, some of the Bloods will make his life a living hell just to get to me. The safest thing for him is to be with you."
"Be with me?" I asked. "How the fuck am I the safest option you got? My manpower just decreased from 2 to 1 and that's still a whole fucking gang. If they want your brother, they're going to get him."
"No they won't," Cypress sighed. "All of the Bloods held major respect Jermaine. And before he hung himself, he set many codes that none of the Bloods will break in his memory. One of those codes is the one that he made for you. Because of what happened between you and Jermaine, Bloods aren't allowed to touch you or anyone that you associate with. Jirani needs to be associated with you."
"And what if they decide to break that rule? You expectin' me to defend him?"
"Yes, but just until I can get them all on the same page again. If I can get them united under me again, I will see to it that they never bother Jirani either. But with the way things have been going, they won't listen to me right now."
"But what the fuck, man? How in the hell am I supposed to protect him? I mean, y'all niggas are supposed to be a unit. They cheered you on when you went upstairs with Jirani last night-"
"Because they want him to be one of the hoes," he interrupted. "Yeah, I know."
"So don't you think they're going to be pissed that he's free before they had a chance to smash?"
"Of course, they will. But like I said, if Jirani is with you, then they won't fuck with him."
"But you don't know that," I said.
"I do know that. If any of them try, all I have to do is remind them of Jermaine. He was like a prison father to most of us. They will honor his memory by carrying out his wishes."
I scratched my head. "Oh, shit," I said to myself. "I guess, man. But I can't promise shit."
"Good. Once everyone gets back from breakfast, I need you to walk around the cells with Jirani holding your shirt."
"Oh hell nah, nigga! I ain't doin' that shit!"
"There needs to be a bold enough statement to show that he is aligned with you," Cypress explained. "So, he will hold your shirt as you walk around the block."
"Ok, fine. I'll do it," I said.
"Good." Cypress turned to his brother. "Come here, Rani." Cypress and his little brother embraced each other in a hug. "We can't talk to each other for a while, at least not until I can get some things straightened up."
"It's ok, Cy. But don't be a stranger to me."
"I won't. And uh... tell Ma that she can't come visit you for a while. If she comes up here to visit you and somebody recognizes her, it jeopardizes the whole plan. We gotta be slick."
"I know," Jirani said.
They broke the hug, and Cypress left my cell.
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