Chapter 4a: Lockdown
"So what the hell happened with you two? I thought you were friends," Tongis said. He sat at his desk as both Elijah and I sat on the opposite side of it.
"Everybody knows, don't open yo lips if you can't close yo fist," I said. "That's a fuckin' rule of conduct up in The Well. Everybody knows that!"
"Yeah, yeah. You're right," Tongis said sarcastically. "They actually have that on The Wellside Correctional Facility billboard in downtown Indianapolis," Tongis made a joke, but no one laughed. "Alright, so what was said then?"
"He brought up my past!"
"You cut my fuckin' face!"
"You're not even mad at me!" I yelled. "You came over and decided to start some shit with me because you're mad and Cypress and Jirani!"
"Oh..." A light bulb clicked on in Tongis's head. "This was about what happened last night."
"Yes!" I said.
"No!" Elijah yelled at the same time I did. "There is nothing wrong with me and Cypress. He just wanted to try something different last night. I walked over to them to play spades. I made a harmless joke about him and his new boyfriend and he got pissed and hit me. I guess he's allowed to talk shit about everybody else, but we can't say something to him."
"You can say anything you want to me, as long as you can back it up."
"Well look," Tongis started, but his phone rung. He answered it. "Tongis," he said. After a series of "Uh-huh"s, he finally said, "I'm on my way to get him right now." Tongis hung up. "Alright, both of you go to your cells. You're going into lockdown so you can cool off. Now hurry up! Move your ass!"
We left the guard's station. There's something weird about the way Tongis rushed us out of his office. I turned around and looked at him before coming down the steps.
"Go!" I saw him mouth out through the glass. As soon as I got back to my cell, the jail doors closed and locked behind me. Jirani was already in my cell and he was chattin' it up with Khalil through the jail bars.
"I don't like the way she looks," Jirani laughed.
"She ain't ugly. I don't know why y'all niggas keep sayin' dat. Monica ain't a dime but she ain't ugly."
"That bitch ain't even a fuckin' nugget."
I laid down next to Jirani on the bottom bunk. "We talkin' about Cryptkeeper Thornton again?"
"You're lucky there are bars between us, or I would knock you out, nigga," Khalil said.
"Son, you know that bitch is ugly."
"Pussy is pussy, nigga! I'm glad you can be so picky."
"But son, you be runnin' up in her raw," I pointed out.
"Aww, fuck you nigga. See how you act? Dissin' me when I just had yo back against The New Bloods. And I ain't even get a thank you for it." The New Bloods is what the Ex-Bloods like Khalil and Roland would call the current Bloods.
"Alright nigga, since you beggin' for it. Thank you... Now shut yo bitch ass up so I can read my letters."
I grabbed my box of old letters that people have sent me and hopped up to my bunk. Normally if I was in lockdown, I'd read them to pass the time.
The box was full of letters, and yes, most of them were from my girls. One of the girls was named Melanie. I met her when I was 19, and she was 14. She was one of the witnesses that had to testify against me in court. She didn't want to. But she had to when her mom went through her cellphone and saw the video of her 19 year old next door neighbor banging her 14 year old daughter. Melanie was a smart and perky Korean. And just weeks after her mother turned me in, she found out that she was pregnant with my kid. My mom, still wanted to be a part of her granddaughter's life but Melanie's parents wouldn't hear of it. They moved away not long after I got put in. However, Melanie wrote to my mom to find out how she could send letters to me. After a year in The Well, I got my first letter from Melanie. It was the best letter I've ever gotten to this day, and my favorite one to read.
I hope u r ok. Hopefully u havn't dropped the soap yet. (lol!) I don't know if ur mom told u that I got ur address from her. I'm sure she did. I've been thinking about writing this letter for the longest. This is like the 18th draft. I still don't know exactly what to say. I guess I'll start off with the really really good news. I had the baby! I named her Theresa or Terry for short, after u. But my mom wouldn't let me give her your last name. But I did put some pictures of her in the envelope. I wanted u 2 c what she looks like. My little sister says she looks like you. I think she looks like me. So you be the judge.
I miss u alot. I'm sorry about the video. I'm sorry I got u caught. I hope u not mad at me. I wish I would of lied for u. Cuz I didn't see u as a predator. I liked u since I first saw u. But I guess that still ain't supposed to be right. Predators don't love like u. I should of said that cuz I love u. And I love our baby. I hope when u get out that we can be together again. I really really really really really miss u (lol) Don't write back to this address because if my mom sees it in the mail she will go nuts. Write from a fake address or sumthin. Ok. I love you.
After reading the letter for probably the millionth time, I looked at the baby pictures. I had many more pictures of Terry since these, but these were the most precious. Straight out of the womb, my daughter was gorgeous. And not in some sick way. She was the most beautiful little girl in the world. It still blew my mind how she came from us. From something that was supposed to be so damn horrible, came the most beautiful thing that this universe has ever seen.
"When are they lettin' us out for dinner?" Jirani asked. A decent 8 hours had passed with us confined to the cell. Jirani didn't say anything when he saw the prisoners go to lunch, but he had to say something since he saw them headed to dinner.
"They not," Khalil answered him. "Lockdown is a 24 hour punishment."
"What? But I didn't do anything."
"You didn't have to be in the cell when I came back," I said.
"But... shit. I didn't eat breakfast because I was with Cy, and now I don't get lunch or dinner?"
"You'll get used to it," I said.
I jumped down from off my bunk and looked in Hakim's hiding space behind the sink. He always kept some kind of food back there. I pulled a napkin out from in back of it.
"What is that?" Jirani asked.
I opened up the napkin, and showed it to Jirani so he could see what it was.
"Spaghetti? In a napkin? That's been behind a sink for who knows how long?"
"It was Hakim's. Shit, he ain't gon' eat it."
"And I'm not either," Jirani turned it down. He laid down all the way on his bed and looked through the bars at Khalil. "What you got over there?"
"A bag of Cheetos," Khalil answered.
"Oh, so that's why you're teeth are so yellow," Jirani cracked a joke.
"Shut up," Khalil laughed. The whole time I was reading my letters, they flirted back and forth. It bugged me. It didn't officially irritate me, but it did bug me. "Nigga, do you want a Cheeto or not?"
"Yeah, I guess." Jirani pulled a handful of Cheetos out of Khalil's bag. "So Terrius reads, but what do you do when you're on lockdown?"
"Depends on what I feel like. I might read my letters, or I might write down a rap or something."
"So you rap?"
"Yeah, I got flow. But it's more like spoken word poetry."
"But you do rap. Can I hear you?"
"Shit, nigga, I don't rap out loud. I just write it," Khalil explained.
"You're fucking kidding me. Poetry ain't poetry unless it's read aloud."
"I read it aloud, in my head," Khalil laughed.
"Since you won't read it to me, will you at least let me read it?"
"Oh nah. You ain't readin' my work."
"Why not? I write poems," Jirani confessed. "I can tell you if it's good or not."
"You so obsessed with readin' my shit, why don't you let me read yours?"
"I didn't bring a notebook with me."
"Too bad," Khalil popped another Cheeto into his mouth.
"But... I have one committed to memory. I don't know if you'll like it though."
"I'll judge. Lemme hear it."
Jirani took a heavy sigh and closed his eyes. "OK, here goes. I lost my mind and followed my heart, to a beloved desire hidden in the dark, I'll be wounded but it won't leave a visible scar, I see it in the tarot cards. I tried to read myself and the cards went black, Flipped to the next card and the red heart's cracked, Flipped to the next card, the full balloon's gone flat, Flipped to the next card and it's filled with black cats. I tried to change the deck, but it's more of the same, The black mistress cries for a grave with no name, Cupid's arrow is bent, proof he has bad aim, Flames cover the sky too fast to contain. I read my own palm, but the lines weren't complete, I could look the other way, but truth is easy to see, I can only accept 'cuz there's no way to cheat, this battle for love will end in defeat." Once Jirani finished his poem, he opened his eyes to Khalil staring deep at him. "So?"
"I don't get it," Khalil said.
Jirani laughed. "It's called Tarot Card. I wrote it back when I was 15. I used to be really into magic and tarot cards when I was younger."
"But... what's a Tarot card?"
"Oh wow," Jirani smiled. "Give me some more Cheetos."
Khalil handed the bag to him.
"A tarot card is a card that supposed 'psychics' use to tell the future," I said from my bunk.
"Thank you!" Jirani said. "At least somebody gets it."
"It sounded like it was deep," Khalil said. "But I still didn't understand it."
"Khalil, stop acting slow nigga," I interrupted. "Obviously, the poem is about a love that is doomed; a relationship that is not going to last. All the cards were bad omens."
"Omen? What that is?"
Khalil and Jirani kept flirtin' back and forth. I would say that Khalil didn't know he was flirtin' but the nigga turned on the charm so hard, that flirtin' became mackin'. The whole thing made my stomach turn. I fell asleep reading another one of my old letters from Melanie. But those two kept flirting well past lights out. At least they had the decency to turn the volume down to a whisper.
"You still never let me hear one of your raps," Jirani said.
"And I'm not going to, not after hearing yours. Now, I'm intimidated and shit."
"For what? I just wanted to get a grip on your mindset. But if you're scared, it's ok."
"Oh shut up, nigga, and go to sleep."
"I can't. I can't sleep on an empty stomach, and I'm starving," Jirani rubbed his stomach. "I wish I had something else to eat."
"I do too," Khalil said. "At least your mouth would be too busy to talk."
"Stop it," Jirani put his hand through the bars and playfully punched Khalil. "Ay, I got a question for you. The only Blood I ever knew was my brother and I never got a chance to ask him."
"You got a brother that's a Blood?" Khalil asked.
Jirani quickly thought, making sure that he hadn't just given anything away. "Uh... he was a friend. I used to call him my brother." Jirani took a deep breath, hoping that Khalil wouldn't pry further.
"Oh, ok. Well what's the question?"
"Umm... can a Blood listen to Snoop Dogg?"
Khalil laughed. "I heard that some of them do. But I don't."
"Ok. Can I ask one more question?"
"If I say no, would you ask me anyway?"
"Yup," Jirani beamed.
"Then go ahead and ask."
"If Snoop is a Crip, and The Game is a Blood, then why do they get along?"
Khalil laughed again. "There's some kind of Bloods vs Crips truce in California or something. But that shit didn't extend all the way across the US. I'm from Chi-town, and back when I was at home, if I saw a Crip, or a Latin king or anything, the nigga was dead in minutes."
"Oh," Jirani said, kinda shaken. Though his brother was very deep into the gang lifestyle, Jirani wasn't. And he honestly began to feel that spending all day talking to Khalil had been in vain. This one confession that Khalil made, completely negated everything else.
"You stopped talkin," Khalil said. "You scared of me now?"
"I was scared of you before."
"But are you more scared?"
"Should I be?" Jirani tiptoed around the answer.
Khalil decided not to fight for an answer that he already knew. "I got a question now. It's about that poem."
"The poem that you didn't even understand?"
"Yeah, yeah. That one. You wrote dat for some dude, right?"
"Yes. I know that I've been hiding it under lock and key since I got here, but yes I am gay," Jirani said sarcastically.
Khalil didn't say anything.
"What's wrong? Don't tell me you're scared of me now," Jirani chuckled.
Khalil laughed. "I was scared of you before."
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