No Warning Shots Fired
I got up and walked to the cell door. The gun tower was 30 feet away. To the right along the wall there were two phones that inmates used when we weren’t locked down. In between each phone was a steel cage the size of a small phone booth for temporary security housing for inmates. Above, on the wall 15 feet high, were red block letters that read: WARNING! NO WARNING SHOTS FIRED, WARDEN
The gun tower was constructed of tinted bulletproof windows we could see through. There were bars from top to bottom every few feet. In between the bars there were open spaces in the windows for enough room for guns to be pointed to fire anywhere below.
One of the tower guards sitting in a swivel chair playing with his cell phone got up. He walked past the other guard sitting at a lit up control booth and stopped at a window that overlooked the prison yard.
A loud metal noise reverberated through the building. Someone was yanking a steel handle on the vestibule door back and forth on the yard side signifying they wanted entrance.
The tower guard looked down at whoever was outside and nodded his head. He turned to the tower guard at the control booth and said something.
The tower guard at the control booth pushed a button and the vestibule door underneath shrieked and rattled open.
The other tower guard walked back and looked down through a clear window overlooking the vestibule tunnel to watch the procession walk underneath him.
At the end of the tunnel Gomez, our building guard, was the first one through. Behind him were a couple other guards. The three stopped and looked up at the tower guards standing up facing them at one of the portals.
One of the tower guards asked, “Are we running showers this morning?”
Gomez said, “Maybe later. First we’re going to move Johnson and Smith to building one.”
Gomez was a short, stocky, mean looking Mexican who looked like he lived for the power he had as a prison guard. He turned and stared at our cell and looked right at me.
The tower guard asked him, “How did they get authorization to move out of the building that fast? Did they get the green light from you?”
Gomez stared at me with a frustrated look on his face and said, “I didn’t know about it until a few minutes ago. Inmate Grisham maneuvered it. I don’t know how that White inmate has so much juice on this yard.”
The tower guard said, “I do. He types all the paperwork for the Sergeants and Lieutenants in the Program Office.”
Gomez continued to stare right at me. He said, “I’m going to have a talk with Grisham and find out who authorized their cell move.”
Damon was sitting on the stainless steel toilet soaking wet and buck-naked. He was facing the sink filled with water. He scooped a cup of water out and dumped it on his head and back and asked, “Are they moving us now? I can give you some extra time by flooding the cell.”
Gomez was walking toward me and I muttered, “Here he comes. Flood the floor.”
Damon used both his hands and scooped out a flood of water that I let run under our cell door.
Gomez got to the cell and saw the water. He stepped to the side and said, “Get your bedrolls ready after you clean up all that water. You might be moving.”
I asked, “What do you mean, might be moving? We either are or we aren’t, right?”
Gomez said, “Not if I can help it. I’m going to try to block it because you guys didn’t get at me first. I told you we run the buildings and you guys run the yard. We give you that respect if we get ours.”
When we arrived to this prison a few weeks ago, Gomez told us we could stab inmates on the yard but not in the buildings. I said, “No disrespect intended Gomez. An entire cell became open in one block where we want to be. We need to get there before it gets filled. It’s an emergency. Can you help us?”
Behind me Damon said, “Way to clean that up homeboy.”
Gomez shook his head and said, “It doesn’t work that way. I run the building and you get at me first.”
Everyone heard a Mexican yell out the side of his cell. It was time for the Mexicans to work out.
“EXCUSE ME ON THE TIER!! THIS IS STRANGER! IT IS NOW TIME FOR OUR WORKOUT ROUTINE! SURENOS, RAZA!! ESTAMOS LISTOS?”
Over 70 Mexicans yelled out of their cells in unison, “LISTOS!!”
Gomez shook his head and walked back to his desk. He sat facing the vestibule entrance to the building and the tower guards above. A minute later he had a phone in his right hand clamped to his ear and was talking to the tower guard standing at the window above.
I went back to work on my prison weapon. There wasn’t any need to worry about noise now. Every Mexican cell in the building had an inmate dropping to the ground for pushups together in unison and the noise was boisterous and intimidating.
Stranger yelled, “FIRST GROUP… READY, BEGIN!!”
My right hand flew back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Into the routine, Stranger yelled even louder, “MEXICANS HOW DO YOU FEEL?”
Over 70 Mexicans yelled out of their cells in unison and it was like thunder, “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!!”
Stranger yelled, “NEXT SET, VAMANOS!!”
I was down to one inch left, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Damon was at the cell door watching Gomez. He said, “As soon as you have that piece of steel removed I’ll make the carrying case while you stand at the door. We’ll leave the floor soaked for extra time if we need it. The gun tower won’t pop our cell for us to leave with it flooded.”
The six inch long piece of steel was hanging by steel threads. I angled my razor edge intimately at just the right angle to carve it our cleanly and it fell to the floor. I picked it up and put it in the air and said, “Done. Check it out and make me a smooth carrying case to stick it up my ass. Be gentle. I’m a virgin.”
I handed it to Damon and stood at the cell door.
Damon said, “Virgin? Your ass has done squat routines with a seven-inch sword up it before. Miss me with that shit.”
I laughed through gritted teeth and it felt like I was high on adrenaline. Gomez was still on the phone and he turned his head and looked right at me.
I turned to avoid his stare so if we won and were moved, I wouldn’t be rubbing it in. He had already insinuated that he had gun tower guard friends in other buildings who would shoot us.
Damon had a pile of plastic saran wrap on his lap. We saved it every time we took it off our state issued lunch sandwiches. He was busy molding it into a layered covering. My ice pick was going to fit snuggly inside with a half inch of plastic protection.
Stranger yelled, “SURENOS, RAZA, COMO SE SIENTE?”
I understood it to mean: southern mafia, Mexican race, how do you feel?”
The now pumped camaraderie of the Mexicans was bursting out even louder. All the Mexicans yelled at the top of their voices, “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!!”
The echo of all of their voices resounded through the building. Every building on the yard could hear our building’s Mexicans working out. It was a show of force. Everyone in California’s prisons knew the southern Mexicans were warriors. It didn’t matter how small, or how young, they were known for kamikaze missions for respect and loyalty. They were a deadly foe and there was no bend in them.
Unexpectedly, our cell door popped open. I looked at Gomez. He was staring at the tower guards and looked angry. The tower guard at the podium tapped the microphone signifying an announcement.
“Inmates Johnson and Smith! You’re moving to building 1, cell 212.”
Damon handed me my luggage and grabbed our floor towel to wipe up the water. I got behind him so he was blocking the view into our cell and studied my ice pick sheltered in plastic wrap. It was about the size of a long poop. I spit on the end of it for lubrication and bent over.
With my weapon up my ass, I squeezed my butt cheeks together so it would climb deeper in me. There was a good chance Gomez would strip-search us. If he did, he would make us bend over and grab our ass checks to open them and cough three times. I didn’t want my ice pick to peek out at him.
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