Chapter 6a: Work-Release

"Prison Shakedown!" Cryptkeeper Thornton yelled. She had just gotten her hair done the day before, so it was plastered up and looked plastic and fake. She walked by all the cells, holding her nightstick to the bars to wake us all up. I got up from the bed and stood at the door, awaiting the locks to pop open. It was a full 2 days after Zachariah Thomas's beat down. He was still alive, but banged up pretty badly.

Prison Shakedowns were room searches for drugs, alcohol, weapons or any other thing that the guards could find that you weren't supposed to have. They had specially trained German shepherd guard dogs to sniff everything out. They smelled everything from drugs to food.

When I heard Thornton yelling, I hopped down from the bunk and grabbed Hakim's napkin of spaghetti out of the hiding space we made behind the sink. The last thing I wanted was for the guard dogs to sniff it out and find the hiding space along with all the pencil-razors that I still wanted to keep around. I threw the napkin in the trash bucket.

"Rani, you ain't got no drugs on you, do you?" I asked.

"No," he answered.

"Good."

We were all in the clear. When Officer Kevins came by with the German Shepherd, we let him search. The only hang up was the trashcan. The German Shepherd smelled the spaghetti.

Kevins looked in the can.

"What is that?" he asked.

"That was Hakim's spaghetti. It was under the bed for a while."

Kevins could have assumed that I was pinning it on Hakim, except for the fact that he knew Hakim's nature. Kevins and his German Shepherd moved on to the next cell. After a few more pit stops in the Muslim's cells because of the food they'd been keeping overnight, Kevins kept moving. No one on the block had any drugs or alcohol in their cell so far. At the Asian cells, the shepherd smelled some form of alcohol, and a couple of painkillers. 2 of the Asian prisoners were sent to the hole. In the Mexican cells, the dog smelled more alcohol coming from the cell. And the dog nearly went nuts when it got to the Bloods cells. 5 guys got caught in possession of cocaine and got sent to the hole.

Jirani looked over at his brother's cell. After Cypress and Elijah's cell got searched, the couple re-entered the cell, closed it and got under their blanket to go back to sleep. Elijah's arm wrapped over Cypress's body and Cypress's arm wrapped behind Elijah's neck.

Jirani envied. No, he didn't want to fuck his own brother, but he still envied Elijah. Even though Elijah was supposed to be a ho, he was the best treated ho in all of cellblock B and probably the whole prison. The Aryans made their hoes sit on the floor to eat in the cafeteria. The few Mexicans that do get down in the pen share a Puerto Rican ho and make him sleep on the floor. And Blood hoes? Well... they get treated the worst.

The Bloods tie their hoes to the beds. Apparently, it originated with Jermaine. But depending on the position each Blood prefers, they'll tie their ho for the night (or however long they decide to keep him) up in that position. For example, there's a Blood named Sean. His hoes always get tied in the same position. First, Sean ties their hands together and sets the ho on his back onto the bottom bunk. Then, he ties the ho's hands to the bars of the top bunk. And finally, he ties the ho's left leg up with a sheet, wraps it around the top bunk and then as the sheet falls back down, he ties it to the opposite leg. The ho's legs would be spread eagle and the position resembles the way you would look in a sex swing. And if Sean needed to bust a nutt, he'd climb down from off the top bunk, fuck the ho, bust the nutt and then climb back on the top bunk and go to sleep. The ho couldn't even use the restroom anytime he wanted.

Also, the Bloods would make their hoes feed them, clean after them, run their errands, and even entertain them. At one point, they used to put their hoes in catfights against each other for gambling purposes. Aside from cleaning, feeding and occasionally running errands for Cypress, Elijah didn't have to do any of the other things. And Jirani wouldn't mind doing Elijah's workload if it meant that he at least feel the love that Elijah felt from Cypress.

I caught Jirani's eyes looking at the lovebirds' cell.

"Was Cypress homo on the outside?" I whispered to him. I always kind of wondered the question. I was here when he got here, and all I remember was that he adapted to the homosexual antics of The Well rather quickly.

"No," Jirani answered. "At least, I don't think so. He had multiple girlfriends and kids, but then again, that doesn't mean anything."

"You don't seem surprised to know that he gets down with men."

"He told me about it on my first night, when we were up in the suites. He broke down the situation. And honestly, I get it. He's in here for life, so what's he gonna do?"

"Hey, he could always bang the crypt keeper, like some people," I winked at Khalil. Jirani laughed.

"Aww, shut up nigga," Khalil said.

Jirani threw himself onto his bed. "I can't do this shit anymore," he complained. "I can't stay in this cell all fuckin' day again."

"This is prison. What did you expect when you came in?" I asked.

"I don't know," he sighed. "Wait a minute, isn't there like a work thing? Work services or something?"

"You mean like making license plates?"

"Yeah. They have something like that?"

"Yeah," I answered. "We'll go talk to Tongis when the shakedown is over."

You see, for the past 2 days, I've been thinking about Lil' Billy. The warden and officers couldn't legally beat the truth out of him, but I could. If there was something funny going on, and this nigga was lying about the reason he killed Hakim, I wanted to know. But I couldn't get to the solitary holding cells without permission from the guards, and Billy didn't make enemies of the guards like Zach did. But now, I had a reason to go to the solitary holding cells.

Immediately after the shakedown ended, I took Jirani up to the officers' station. Tongis had just come in and the overnight officers had just gone home.

"What's up Terry? How are you doin' Rani?"

"We're cool," I answered for us both.

"You guys wanted to see me?"

"Yeah, Rani wants to work."

"Really?" Tongis looked at him.

"Yes. I can't stay in that cell all damn day anymore," he responded. "I have to do something. What kind of jobs do you have?"

"Well," Tongis pulled the employment sheet out of his desk. The employment sheet was a list of all the available work options for the prisoners. Not many of the prisoners chose to work, and the warden was fine with that. "Let's see... I have some janitorial positions available."

"He's not gonna be takin' that," I answered for Jirani.

"Why not?" Rani asked.

"Janitorial work means cleaning the cells, mopping floors and washing them shitty sheets that come from out of the suites when the niggas are done using them. No thanks, we'll pass."

Tongis smiled. "Ok, I also have some positions in the cafeteria. Is food preparation something that you would be interested in?"

"Yes!" Rani answered. I swear this nigga didn't know a damn thing about haggling.

"No," I said. "I was thinking about something more along the lines of mail distribution."

"Ooh yes! I'd love to do that. I used to work the mailroom at a rec center during the summer breaks."

"Hmmm..." Tongis hummed. "I guess I could get you in over there. Most of the guys that worked the mail room were Aryans, and they're not working anymore."

"Good," I said.

"Hold on," Tongis added. "You don't know your way around all the buildings and the blocks."

"Don't sweat it, Tongis," I said. "I'll help him out. I know every building from the Aids ward to Supermax, inside and out. I'll show him around."

"Uh huh," Tongis delivered a leering glare to me.

"We'll make you proud," I walked to the exit and opened the door for Jirani.

"Ay, Terry. Why don't you hang back for a second?"

"O....K." I closed the door after Jirani left. "Wassup Tongis?"

"I wanted to say that- I uh, I always thought you were one of the prisoners with the best morals in my cellblock."

"Psssh... I think I am too," I agreed.

"Yeah," Tongis turned his head and walked over to his desk. "So did you hear about Zachariah Thomas?"

"No. What happened?"

"Uh huh. Well, they let him out of the hole yesterday and he had several bruises across his face and body. Officer Stinger says that one night, Zach just went crazy. He just started running and slamming himself into the walls repeatedly until he eventually passed out."

"Awww man... you think it was guilt?" I said. "The guilt from killing Hakim finally caught up to him?"

"That's a possible theory. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that he's ok, in case you were wondering."

"Why would I be wondering? I hadn't talked to Zach since he called me a boot-lipped coon on my first day," I lied.

"Oh ok." Tongis grabbed something out of his desk. "Well one more thing, make sure Khalil gets this back." Tongis tossed a folded up piece of paper at me.

I opened the sheet and saw that it was a rap, 16-bars. And the shit had Khalil's name on it- written in his penmanship.

"The warden found it on the podium by the hole," Tongis added.

Shit, I thought. It must've fell out of Khalil's pocket.

"Oh... I wonder how it got there. I guess somebody tried to steal it or something."

"Right," Tongis wasn't buying my response. "So you don't know how that got there?"

"Maybe a guard confiscated it and dropped it?" I suggested thinking quick on my feet. Tongis still had the same look of distrust in his eye. "I'll go run this down to Khalil and then take Rani down to the mail center."

"You do that, Terry," he said, knowing that I was holding back.

That damn Khalil...

A whole two week period went by in which, no one sent Lil' Cracker a letter. I was starting to get restless. Due to the low manpower, Jirani and I delivered half of the letters all the way around the prison while another group delivered the other half. I showed Jirani all the way around the prison.

Building A was the furthest to the east. On the bottom floor of this building, was the hospital. This was where the niggas that got their skulls cracked went to get fixed up. The female nurses always dressed down. It was our theory that they purposely rolled out of bed, put on their scrubs and came to work without wearing make-up or looking attractive to ward off the felons. One nurse has actually been raped before and several others have been attacked. So they're always nice and never try to piss anyone off. The hospital only extended from the ground floor to the second floor. The entire 3rd floor was for dirty cops.

Cops that had been arrested and sent to this prison were assigned to building A. They were kept separated from all of the other prisoners because of the simple fact that they would be dead men. Most prisons are run like this. The prisoners in building A got a lot of leeway, even more than us in building C, cellblock B. They didn't have to go to a cafeteria. They got their food delivered to their cells so they could eat while laying down on their full-sized mattresses, while watching whatever they wanted on the TV's they had in their own cells. Down on the basement of building A, they had the hole's holding cells, but they were rarely used.

Building B was the Aids ward and storage area. When you're brought into The Well, you're tested for HIV. Then the test is re-administered 8 months later, and repeated every 8 months. If you test positive, you're moved into this ward. The ward wasn't very crowded. The top two floors were the cells for the Hiv+ prisoners. The base floor was the office of the warden, the mailroom and a storage area for copy paper, cleaning supplies, and anything that the prison needed to buy in bulk. And of course once again, the hole's holding cells were down at the basement.

Building C was the building that gen pop occupied. This was the largest building, and bigger than A and B combined. It's divided into halls. The second to the top floor was where halls (or blocks) A and B were, and the base floor was the location of halls C and D. The basement held the hole's holding cells, while the very top floor was where our psychiatric doctors, the small Christian temple and the Muslim's mini mosque were.

Building D was also known as hall E. It was another place to put gen pop prisoners and it held the conjugal visit rooms and the visitor's quarters. And the final building was the Supermax building. All the floors of building E were on extreme lockdown. All three floors that were above ground were for the Supermax cells, and the basement was solitary confinement. And solitary was where they put the prisoners that were endanger of losing their lives, or where they would put prisoners if they ran out of hole holding cells, but that hasn't happened yet. Anyway, solitary confinement was where I needed to go. When the first letter came for someone in solitary confinement, I wanted to make sure that we took it to them. On this day, the 4 man mail crew split into 2 teams. Jirani and I took buildings A, D, and E. If word had gotten back to the Aryans about what I did to their leader, I was sure they'd be happy to see me. But my concern lies only on one person.

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