Chapter 7a: Abandon
Moving day wasn't scheduled until next week, so there were still quite a few days of jittery Blood behavior. Cypress snapped at the drop of a dime at any sign of weakness that a Blood displayed. This week, more new prisoners came in. The Bloods drafted a dark skinned ho, and there was a dispute over which Blood would bang him first. So they settled it the way that Bloods settle it. The dispute went on between Leon and Kelly. Kelly grabbed the new hoes right hand and interlocked his fingers, while Leon grabbed the boy's left hand. The boy screamed Leon's name.
"Owww," he said once they let him go. Leon pulled him close to him. The battle was settled, but everyone wasn't happy. Don't get me wrong, Kelly accepted his defeat and Leon was more than excited to take his ho up to the suites. It was a 3rd party that took offense to the competition.
"You let Leon beat you?" Cypress got up from his seat. He stepped into Kelly's face. "You fuckin' let Leon beat you!?!?!"
Kelly backed up. "He won fair and square."
"I can't fuckin' believe this shit. Leon, the nigga that I considered to be the weakest fuckin' link out of all the Goddamn Bloods in Wellside, and he just whooped yo ass."
"Yo Cy, man, it's not even that serious," he tried to calm Cypress down.
"Not that serious? So you mean to tell me that you didn't even want to win? You wasted the last 30 minutes complaining about how you wanted to fuck the ho first, but when it came to do the battle, you didn't care if you won?"
"I mean... I tried man."
"You didn't try! If you fuckin' tried, then you should have won! If that was you trying, then pull yo Goddamn pants down and open yo asshole right now so I can fuck you cuz you handled that shit like a little ass bitch!"
"Turner!" Tongis yelled from the officer's station. "Knock it off."
"Ain't nobody fuckin' talkin' to you Tongis! Worry about the other motherfuckin' slaves on the plantation, cuz I got this."
"I said knock it off right now."
Cypress turned away from the officer's station and back to the Bloods. He looked at all of them, his complete band of merry men. "I'm lookin' at you niggas, and the shit I see is sad. It's fuckin' sad. No wonder why that nigga took out 6 of you pussy bitches."
"Ay, Cy, man," Leon interrupted. "I been hittin' the gym a lot lately-"
"You're weak bitch! You're fuckin' weak! I'm seein' you out of shape niggas complainin' about fuckin' hoes; NIGGA, YOU SHOULD BE A HO! Why the fuck you niggas ain't got no muscle?"
Nobody answered. It was like watching a bunch of boys get a lecture from their father.
"You niggas are pussy! Straight motherfuckin' pussy!"
"Turner!" Tongis yelled again. "Knock it off or you're going to the hole. Break it up right now!"
Cypress laughed. It wasn't a real laugh. It was more like the type of laugh you laugh when you're on the brink of insanity.
"You're right, Tongis! You're fuckin' right! I'm breakin' it up. I'm disbanding the Bloods! There ain't but 2 of you that deserve to really be called Bloods and a gang of 3 people ain't shit. I don't want to see or hear about any of you motherfuckers calling yourselves Bloods!" Cypress walked to his cell, and laid down. The room was stunned; the full room. Not a Muslim prayed, not a Mexican muttered. The room stood still.
Jirani and I played a game of gin rummy with my deck of cards in our cell. There was some tension, as expected. I mean the nigga's brother did just flip out in front of every fuckin' body. I wondered what he thought about that. Jirani's lips pursed when he was in thought. He was easy to read in a card game. When he was planning a big move, those lips joined together like they were trying to cool a bowl of hot soup. And when he was anxious, his leg bounced up and down. But then again, the anxiety might be coming from his personal reaction to Cypress... who was standing in my cell.
I turned my head.
"Hey," he said.
"You wanna talk to Rani?" I asked.
Khalil was lying down on his bed, on the other side of the cell.
"Nah, um. I wanted to talk to you and Khalil."
Khalil didn't even look up. "Don't even mention my name homeboi," he said.
"Iight, fine. Then, I just want to talk to you."
"About what?" I asked.
"I guess you heard all that, huh?"
"I think Supermax heard all that."
"Yeah. There's uh... no easy way to say this, but I want you to become a Blood," he said.
"Yeah. I know you can fight, I know you pack power in dat punch of yours. I want you to become a Blood."
"Uh... no. I mean," I had to think of a slick way to put this because Khalil was listening and he didn't know the relationship between Cypress and Jirani. "I partnered up with Rani to keep him out of harm's way. If I became a Blood, that would put him right in the center of it."
Cypress thought for a second. "Yeah... I guess you right," he said. Cypress stepped out of my cell and walked to another area.
"That nigga just asked you to become a Blood," Khalil laughed. "He must be shittin' bricks like a mothafucka. How you let anotha nigga get you shook like that?"
I looked at Jirani's face. He remained tightlipped, but you could tell that he didn't like Khalil talking about his brother like that. I refrained from joining in with Khalil.
"I been and said that them niggas was weak," he kept going. "When Jermaine died, all the real Bloods left. Them Bloods out there now, damn near all of them are under 25. A real Blood could see that shit for what it was from a mile away; a bunch of homo-ass-niggas dressed up in red."
"Can you shut up?" Jirani said. "I'm trying to think."
"Pssh," air passed through Khalil's lips. He went back to looking through his porno mag.
Jirani's face turned sour.
"You alright?" I asked.
After his stop by our cell, Cypress paid a visit to an old friend. Cypress took to the Muslim's corner.
Back in the day, Cypress and Aarif were the biggest homies. Even though they didn't even know each other long, the niggas linked up and became a 2 headed monster. Of course all of that changed when Aarif left the Bloods to become a Muslim. And so, Cypress went to the Muslim's cells to see if he could persuade Aarif into returning.
"Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar," The Muslims chanted.
"Aarif," Cypress said.
Aarif looked up from his position.
"Can I talk to you for a second?"
Aarif nodded, and stood up. Aarif walked Cypress far enough away from the Muslim's corner so their conversation wouldn't disturb the prayers.
"Yes, my brotha?" Aarif said.
"Man, I need you. I need you to come back to the Bloods."
"Ahh, but no. I have given my life to Allah now. Allah Akbar."
"What the fuck does that even mean?" Cypress asked.
"It means God is Great, my brotha."
"Stop it with that my brotha shit. If we were brothas, then you would be backin' me up. We were Bloods. That's a fraternity; it's a religion its own right."
"You are a fool, my brotha. Being a Blood did nothing but tear us down, and look at what it's doing to you. You're worried about losing battles so much that you don't realize that you are already losing. You can't fight them all, and you surely can't win them all," Aarif said.
"Then help me, Help me brother."
"This fight is not in the name of Allah, therefore, it is not for me. I wish you good luck." Aarif bowed to Cypress and then he walked back to the other Muslims and resumed prayer.
Cypress's anger could have burned a hole in his head. He realized he dismissed all of those Bloods for being just like him, weak. He actually feared the arrival of a new prisoner. He was trying to organize a gang of men to fight his battle for him. If the battle was meant to be fought, he certainly didn't want to lose. Pride played a big ass part in The Well. And Cypress could feel his slipping away. But he didn't blame himself for it. He decided the key moment in his life that he began to become weak, was when he started courting Elijah.
Cypress walked back to his cell, while Elijah was lying on the bottom bunk, reading a book he checked out from the library.
"Get up," Cypress said.
Elijah stepped up from the bed and stood erect.
Cypress grabbed the blanket off of his bed and tossed it out of their shared cell.
"What are you doing?" Elijah asked.
He got no response. Cypress grabbed the mattress from the bottom bunk and started to lift it.
Elijah sat back down, trying to keep the mattress in place, fearing the next move Cypress would make.
"Move," Cypress said.
Elijah's heart began beating faster and faster.
"I said move!" Cypress reiterated.
Elijah stood back up and quietly walked outside.
Cypress tossed the mattress out and then closed the cell door. The cell didn't lock, but it stayed closed.
The lights went out on a real tense cellblock, that night. The silence was thick. Aside from the sound of the Muslim's chanting, nothing else was heard, because not much else was said. Jirani has never seen his brother scared before. Cypress was, by no means, a role model to Jirani, but Jirani still looked up to him. Cypress was the closest thing to a dad that Jirani had, even though he wasn't around much during most of Jirani's tender years. But to see Cypress behave this way, broke his heart. Jirani knew that part of the reason Cypress became so paranoid was because of his pride. Cypress was top dog and had been for 2 years. And now there was a new person coming in that, if all the stories are true, had the power to dethrone Cypress and take over the kingdom. Paranoia? Yes, but I don't think he was overreacting. Prison is about power.
But this wasn't the only thing bothering Cypress, and yes, Jirani knew that. There was a threat to his throne, sure, but there was also a threat to his little brother. And he felt, what good is he if he can't protect Jirani?
Middle of the night, I hopped down from my bunk to take a piss. After flushing, I headed back to my bunk. I braced my hands on the mattress so I could lift myself up, but noticed Jirani's body shaking under the blanket.
"Rani? You up?" I whispered.
"Yeah, I'm up."
"You havin' trouble sleepin?"
Jirani lifted his body up and moved over so I could sit down.
"I hate this," Jirani said. He wiped his eyes
"You hate what?"
"Feeling scared. I know this is supposed to be the big bad Well, and you're not supposed to show fear, but I am scared."
"Why are you scared?" I asked.
"Are you kidding me? I have eyes. I see the way everybody looks at me."
"Yeah... being cute in The Well, never really works out."
"Oh, well thanks for the confidence," Jirani said sarcastically.
I laughed. "But nothing is going to happen to you. You got me in your corner."
"Forgive me if I don't feel reassured," Jirani smiled.
I laughed again. "Nobody is going to mess with you. You have two of the toughest guys in The Well here to help you out."
"I know the first one is Cy, but who's the second?" he forced a smile at the joke he just cracked at my expense.
"Ha ha, I see you got jokes. At least you're feeling better."
"Not much better, but I'm ok," Jirani looked off into the darkness of the prison. He wasn't ok. There was a character trait I noticed in this boy. He hid behind jokes and slick comments when he developed an uncomfortable feeling. Spending 24 hours a day with someone, you begin to notice these things. I looked around at all the cells, more particularly, at Khalil's to make sure that he was still asleep. If I did this, and one of the other prisoners saw, I would never live it down.
I scooted closer to Jirani and put my arms around him. I cupped the back of his head with my palm like I were holding a baby. I even kissed the side of his head, where his hair was faded. His body was still stiff and sharp. I tried to get him to actually accept the hug and relax. Jirani resisted it for so long that the situation actually became awkward. I almost let go of him, except for the fact that I felt him exhale. After he did, he put his arm around me too.
"You'll be alright, man," I said. "You're gonna be just fine."
He exhaled into my ear again.
I rubbed his Mohawk and played in his low naps for a second. My fingers ran through his waves while the rest of my palm massaged his head. He cooed. That's when I realized that he maybe misconstruing this. I was not trying to seduce him, but merely calm him down. Even though I didn't mind hugging him like this and smelling his scent and stroking his hai- oh fuck. I needed to think of a way to back out of this before I turned into some doo doo pirate.
I stopped patting the boys head and released him from my grip.
"You should probably get some sleep," I said.
"Right," Jirani agreed.
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