Edit Story “Season of Jail” (Part 2) “Into the lion’s den” STILL IN DRAFT FORM
Had to start new blog page on this story because for some reason I could not edit last publication (part 1) from phone and still trouble sitting at computer to write…
To read 1st part go to: “Season of Jail” (part one)
This is still in extreme ROUGH DRAFT FORM ⚠needs editing⚠.
INTO THE LION’S DEN
The pod seemed a little more quiet without Jason there. Having him and a few others in segregation helped bring some true solitude to the cell, especially when Phil compared tonight with what the nights were like for him when he was in solitary confinement or when Jason was in general population. He slept sound, not just because Jason wasn’t there, but because Jesus was there.
The next morning, all prayed up and remaining in prayer, before breakfast chow Phil approached the cell section that ‘belonged’ to Mike and the two cons who almost shared a chow table with him yesterdays. He noticed three men but all four beds were filled with stuff, as if four men were staying there. This was the closest Phil had been to these men, including the time when there was at the table with treys between them. Mike stood in the doorway, the others behind him.
Phil spoke first, “Got something to resolve.” Mike said, “no pay backs, you said.” “This’ not a continuation of violence and revenge, this’ a favor for you, me and can beniifit the whole pod, especially your cell in this pod, you and your cell mates.” Phil showed the tip of the shive. The men used Mike as a body sheild. “Don’t bring that up in here homie!” Phil consealed it again, “If this’ found we know the consequences and if it’s used we know the consequences.” Mike nodded. Phil spoke with same soft tamber he used in his last conversation with Mike. ..”I wanna ditch it in the shower drain, let it go down beyond reach and confiscation.” One of the men behind Mike offered, “How we know you not gonna use it?” Mike elbowed the guy, a non verbal shout to shut up. Mike corrected things, “We could take it from you and use it!”Phil, giving due respect, wanting Mike to still think he was ‘tough enough’ said, “yes but the fighting doesn’t need to keep going on and on. If this is found (nodding eyes toward the hidden shive) you know it means 30 days in the hole or worse, death. Phil thought about Jesus’ words but translated them in his mind into jail terminology…’live by the shive, die by the shive.’ Mike shrugged, “So, what’s your intenshun’ homie?” “To drop it down the shower drain, beyond reach.” “Psh’ if they find that in my shower, in my drain, I go to the shoe! You ain’t droppin’ that here but I’ll take it off your hands.” Mike was way too willing. Phil insisted, “we gotta get it off the block. I made it, I’ll get rid of it, not goin’ to use it or let it be used.” With that Phil said, “that’s why I am coming to you first, I got an offer for you, like I said, it will beniifit you and the whole pod.” Mike raised his eyes, interested. Phil prayed one plea to God in his mind even as a different set of words came out to plead with Mike, “If they the find it in your drain, I’ll take the wrap for it.” Again Mike clicked his teeth, “tsk”, enough to show his disgust and unbelief, “pshhhiiiit, you crazy hom’ how you gonna take da’ shot fo’ us? You ain’t from this cell! You just one little fish in this big damn pod pond homes’ shii you ill! Sick mo’fo’ go fug yoursef’. Get outta my cell area, this my house,you in my house now bi…” Mike caught his last word before calling Phil a name that could cause that shive to find a place in his eye. Mike was not dumb, he recalled what happen the last time he started a beef with this man and used that one word, let alone all the other knock down drag out fights he had with other cons just for using that one word to address them. Phil calmly started with Mike’s name to bring humanity back into the conversation, “Mike, listen, I thought about that too. Just hear me out and if you don’t wanna deal I’ll figure another way.” Mike didn’t turn his back but took one step back and said, “ok homie, you got 10 seconds.” “I only need 5. You got 3 of you and 4 beds. I know you like your space and don’t want a 4th man, don’t need one, but if you let me in a top bunk and trouble comes cause they find the…it, I will fess up and claim it.” Phil emphasized the last few words, “If I’m in this cell and it’s found in this drain out of four in here I will go to confinement for you.” Phil waited and prayed. Mike thought for a few seconds. His cell mates were now letting out the sounds that anyone could interpret into full words of diragatory disgust toward the idea of giving up an empty bed. They got even louder when Mike said, “ok.” They couldn’t believe he’d do them like this but he was their alpha man and he ruled this cell as well as their lives, decisions and actions. To remain the master of these weaker boys behind him he added, “But we got rules homie and we kick you out if we don’t like you.” Phil agreed and said, “sure, you’re still in control boss. You ain’t nobodies boy. I respect you and your boys.” The slaves behind Mike puffed up. One even spoke up, “that’s right bro. You ain’t nothin’ to us.” Phil nodded but he knew with all the respect given it was only because they were human, he had no respect for the way they lived. They were not stupid but simply ignorant, unaware, life could be lived different. “Here daRulz’ homie. You only sleep here, no hangin’ out during da’ day time. That #1.” Phil listened, continued to pray and nodded in agreement although he’d miss a place to lay down anytime he wanted. “Next, no one else uses our shower but you. Juz’cuz’ you in here don’t mean others can come in.” Phil remained silent but nodded again thinking how unfair it was for people with cells to get each other’s strength in numbers, less light from the over heads, and a bath room to use freely. This jail should make sure there is at least a toilet for all men to use. In his thoughts Phil prayed, ‘Lord, if this is your will allow me to be safe.‘ Mike shared his last requirement, “AND you give us what we want from commissary. ” Phil waited to make sure Mike was done without asking, ‘are you done yet you selfish little…’ then he shifted his thought back to waiting, listening and maintained his conversation with His heavenly Father, ‘help me love the sinner, not the sin. Help me show respect, help me Father please…help me…’ Enough waiting past by when Mike raised his voice, “HELLO? DEAL OR NO DEAL HOMES?”Phil thought how iroinc, the slang ‘homes’ was used yet nothing was about having a true home in this housing unit. Mike smiled at his own cleverness. Phil said, “all but the commesary.” “Whachewmean’ man?” Phil clarified, “I only stay nights. No one else allowed in. I get that.I will take blame if the sh… if it is found, but I ain’t given you no goods.” “How that beniifit us?” Phil didn’t want to be threatening, although violence was the only language they seemed to understand. So he took a deep breath. Mike was waiting for a reply. “Listen, Mike, your cell is the only one with an open bunk. I need a bunk.” Phil paused as Mike nodded and raised up on his toes as if that made him any more powerful. Phil prayed the words would come out correctly and be acceptable to God but also to this con. “Ok, Mike, I’ll give each of you a honey bun or somethin’ not too expensive in exchange for the bunk and…” He paused again, showing the tip of the shive “This will have no way to find its way into your neck or anyone elses.” Phil thought about the way he was wording it in hopes that they knew he meant because it could get into the wrong hands or if need be, used in Self defense. Mike thought back for a brief second to how fast Phil made that shive with one hand, how He used treys. He remembered the capabilities this man in front of him had. Mike said, “I want gum.” Then he asked his ‘homies’ What they wanted. One said, “a car!” Mike slapped him up side the head and said, “You get nothin’ glouch! What you want, small time?” He asked the other. “I like chips!” The man said as his eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. “Gum, chips and more gum.” Phil said, “deal?” “Get your shit, join the boys. Make room popie!”
That night Phil got in the shower. Forced the spoon against the wall to break it into two pieces to fit down the drain better. He dropped it and never heard it hit the pipe. That should be far enough down so even with the drain cap off no one can get to it. They’ll never find that, he convinced himself.
NEW DAWN NEW DAY LIGHT
Little John watched Phil moving his things yesterday but it wasn’t till breakfast the next morning he was able to sit across from him and bring it up. Pip and PT were also able to join in on the breakfast together again. Little John expressed his concern, ” you makin’ friends with the Riff Raff? “Phil reply, “no just living arrangements”. Pip Piped in, ” you crazy, they kill you!” Phil said ,”maybe but not likely.” Little John said, ” you got God on your side but you still on God’s side? You know the company you keep can corrupt you bro? ” Phil nodded but simply replied, “greater is he that is in me.” PT finally spoke up, ” looks like your buddy buddy with them and becoming part of them”. Phil gave some background, “think back to our true example, Jesus. He was friends with Misfits but he didn’t join in on their ways”. Little John backed it, “In the world but not of it” Phil nodded and asked, “Are these eggs extra salty ?!”, as he noticed Pip heap more salt on. PT added hot sauce and pepper to his. Phil picked up the conversation again, “now I need to find a place to go during the day until God opens my new cell mates minds and hearts.” Little John asked, ” you going to try to convert them?” Phil said, “no that’s not my job I’m just a light.” Pip’s voice cracked as he said, “salt!” PT look for more salt packets, ” there’s more salt up in the chow window”. Little John and Phil smiled and wasn’t sure if Pip meant he needed more salt or if he was using a reference to Jesus saying we are to be the salt of the earth to add flavor, preserve and even used by God to melt cold hearts like the way salt melts snow . Phil emphesized, “I’m just the light and salt.” PT was confused. Little John spoke with a mouthful of instant eggs that tasted like Styrofoam, “I’ll pray for you. Maybe God’ll use you as an example, show them there’s a better way to live. They are career cons, you be careful or you will beat us all to Glory, get there tonight even if they decide to take you out early.” Phil accepted that the men could take his life but even that they could only do if God would allow it. It was all about trusting God and wanting His will, needing to allow God to move, which many times meant he’d have to exercise self-control. If he move to rapid it could drive the cons further away from understanding Christ’s true character . He could also risked being killed just for being annoying. Fully relying on God’s sovereignty and will was Phil’s focus. Pip, who spoke but really wasn’t invested in the conversation said, “I’ve got a dump this breakfast… can I use your new cell toilet Phil?” Phil said, “It’s not mine.” Pip argued, “you’re in a cell now, you got a shower and toilet now! Not going to share? What kinda Christian are you?!” Phil said, “I sleep there and maybe shower and use the commode but I’m not really in yet, however you can go ask Mike.” Pip just said, ” yeah right !” With that he got up to go find an available toilet that someone might let him use. Phil offered further explaination, “there’s a protocol.” Hoping that Pip heard him as he walked away. He knew it was best not to open use of the bathroom to his friends plus it was part of the agreement and part of a larger warped legislation beyond his control.
That night was the second night in the new cell area. Phil used a pen light under his blanket to read the book of James from his Bible until he felt sleepy. He treasured thoughts and prayers asking for God’s wisdom as he nodded off making sure to turn off his small light so the batteries were not dead by the morning. Little John prayed extra that night for Phil that Phil would not be dead before morning.
OUTDOOR ‘WRECK’ TIME
Once a week Pod Z was given an hour of recreation. Although it was not outside this Jail’s idea of recreation was an open room with extremely high walls and a few windows so high up that the light came in but not one sunbeam would reach the men. There were two basketball hoops, a few mats and three guards for 60 inmates. All but maybe 6 of the inmates we’re not cons. There were only four basketballs, this was another set up for more fights. Like groups were in clusters much like any neighborhood party where people of like interest would congregate in areas and occasionally tried to form teams. Today a basketball game actually took place but it took 10 minutes away from there 60 minutes arguing over who was on who’s team, much like the way some middle school students refuse to play with certain people on their team. The game gave those that were athletic a chance to be active and a chance for those who are not athletic to watch live sports. The games were never about who won as a team but rather about what fights may break out and what individual would dominant and not get their ribs bruised. Phil used the time to stretch his legs and do walking laps around the outside of the half size basketball court. The other men watched the game or laid on the mats. As he walked he watched men on and off court. He noted how The game on the court all about each individual trying to score on their own. There was never much passing or sharing. Each man just wanted to score, forget about assisting. 1 tall dude could dunk and each time he did the three guards yelled, “NO DUNKIN’!!!” They choose not to stop the game or pulled the ‘dunker’ out of the game. All but one of these three guards were seasoned veterans and knew some rules you let slide but also knew they had to give warnings to show they were not oblivious. Pip set in a corner and each time Phil passed he said hi. Mike and now Phil’s two new cell mates put the mat up against the wall and shadow box them. Phil caught Mike eyeballing him a few times . Phil would respond with a nodd but didn’t give him his normal over-exaggerated smile in exchange. Phil kept his distance and stuck with the deal they had made. After this time of recreation he hoped to use the shower but knew everyone would want the same thing and although the water was always cold it would be even colder with all the taps on at the same time. While in route Phil noticed some guys over by the sink. One acted like he was using the sink but it was only to block the guards’ view of another man working loose a metal clip that helped hold the pipe’s insilation in place. ‘ Oh no, a new shive, another shive.‘ Phil thought. When Phil past the guards he mumbled, “Shive at sink.” The guards almost didn’t pick up on the clue that he dropped. They rarely listen to anything from the inmates but the oldest guard looked over at the sink, “Heads up boys, looks like we got activity.” as he walked over toward it. The inmate lookout saw all the guards approaching and the man on the ground was kicked and quickly acted like he was just sitting. All three guards surrounded the sink and said, “Move away!” as the youngest guard bent down he noticed what the con was working on. In the opposite corner Phil noticed another con breaking off a very small piece from the rack used to hold the basketballs. Phil wondered if the sink had been a second attempt to get more than one weapon or just a great distraction. He wondered if it was a contest and whichever one was stopped first the other would win. Everything seem to be a contest or a back-up plan. Phil thought, ‘Funny how they work in teams when it come to destructive activities.‘ Some knew they were only in jail for 60 days, some more some less, but others knew after trial it was off to prison and more time. Some have nothing to lose or so they thought. Every time one was caught it just made time harder and longer for them. No one understood why this wasn’t an insensitive to just be on their best behavior. Why couldn’t they just do the time and get out? It was obvious to Phil that it was all about a struggle of human nature and pride that caused them to rebel and eventually become institutionalized. Many would take punishment over humility or acceptance. It was all to common to lose common senes and give into defending their ego rather than submit to any conflict that went against their own will. Phil heard that one of the men who only had 60 days turned it into 25 years because he fought and killed a guard. That con was only in on drug charges and was going to be released but he picked up charges while he was in. ‘A true Career Con’, the words of Little John came to his mind. Even with staying on high alert sometimes you couldn’t avoid a beat down but a shive took everything to a whole new level. As Phil watched the man secure the piece of metal he heard the shout, “TIME!”, yelled two of the guards while the third one tried to make sure the sink was secure. It had only been 50 minutes but this situation forced the guards to take away any time left. “We gotta take this or they gonna’ get it off all the way!” Said the youngrst. Another said, “we ‘prolly have to shut da water off and not allow the inmates to use it from now on. Another simple pleasure taken away. Tis’ a shame really…oh well, they dictated it. LINE UP AND SHUT UP!!!””SINGLE FILE!!!” Two guards barked in unison. “PAT DOWN!” Phil prayed the shive would be found. It wasn’t. So much thought was on the sink, that didn’t give the men anything, and yet it preoccupied the guards from solving a bigger issue to the point of rushing through the pat down.
SHIVE, SHIVE, WHO’S GOT THE SHIVE?
Jail life is a delicate balance. Many men feel if they lose their edge they fail and will fall for sure. For Phil that edge was not his ability to fight, which he definitely had. It was not his physical characteristics, his age, maturity. It wasn’t based on his ego and how tough he looked or acted. It was not based on what respect he was shown. His edge was his relationship with Christ, his greater,higher power.
Phil did his best to always be alert of his surroundings to avoid becoming someone ‘s prey but also avoided becoming a predictor. He prayed he wasn’t prey but also didn’t want to give anybody a reason to decide he would be an easy target. Snitches end up in ditches just like criminals end up in jail the key difference in both cases was if they were caught. Too often snitching led to a fatal blow not to mention a sign of being disrespectful to ‘the game’. Everyone incarcerated felt forced to play this game. The best way to keep things in balance seemed to be, mind your own business and leave the rest alone. Stand but don’t stand on others. Walk but don’t walk on anyone. Keep in step but don’t step on anybody in the process. For a few men the steps they wanted to keep were not fashioned and dictated by other cons or even by the mentality of the jail administration but designed by God. A personal one-on-one relationship with him and dedication to him helped beyond just studying his words and knowing the Bible.
Meals were never called out breakfast, lunch, dinner, just “Chow!”, which made meals sound more like just the daily feeding. Lunch gave reason to sit together, but more than that a time to talk, just as sitting in a group playing cards or working out did. Little John moved faster than normal so he got to sit with Phil once again. Pip didn’t make it to the same table but pip seemed to move at his own pace and move around a lot anyway, sitting at a different table each meal time. PT made it and since the last bad encounter during chow he never left Phil’s side when it was chow time. After thanking God for life and another meal Phil opened the coversation with his friends, “I saw a guy…” Phil stopped and rephrased his wording, “there is a shive in the pod.” P.T. perked up, “You still didn’t drop it down the drain?” Phil clarified, “Another one. I saw it taken from the rec.hall.” Lil’John took a mouthful before speaking, ” we gotta find it before it finds us”. Phil said, ” I’ll keep my eyes open but the best thing to do is always assume the gun is loaded. No sense finding it cuz you know there’s more than just one needle in this haystack”. Little John agreed. PT said, ” I need to learn self-defense”. Phil agreed to that as well saying , “working out is good but it’s better to work on your speed, reflexes and intuition.” Little John belched out the words, ” I ain’t got no speed so always rely on my size haha haha!!!” Phil and PT laughed as he continued, ” PT I bet you can move fast, you weigh less than one of my legs!”they laughed some more. PT said, “I have to work with what I got and I don’t have much not ‘barry much at all.” He said in a sing song Indian chant. After gathering himself Phil said, “we need to work the mind not the body.” PT was interested. “After we eat let’s meet up under the stairs.” Little John said, “After lunch I ain’t working out this big ol’ body.” Phil reiterated, “we’ll work the mind more than the body.” PT said, “Finally, something I can do.”
After chow they met as discussed. P.T. was excited to report that he saw Mike with a Bible. Phil said, ” yeah I asked if he read it much and he said ‘no, it is a good luck charm.’ I’m not sure he is a believer, just a card carrying member.” Lil’John laughed, ” psss, that like havin’ a sword you nevah’ usein’ it in battle. ” Phil began, “okay, let’s just come across like we are having a casual talk or playin’ a game.” He held a napkin above his head. “P.T., you grab this before it hits the floor.” And he dropped it. PT caught it with no problem as the napkin fell fairly slow, catching the air. He handed it back to Phil who balled it up and said, “Again.” It fell a little faster because of it’s density. PT was still able to catch it but had to move a little faster. Then Phil pulled a rolled up sock out of his waistband. He repeated the same exercise a few times. To catch the sock before it hit the floor P.T. had to really move. Phil faked the drop a few times and as he toyed with P.T.’s balance, waiting for him to recover from a fake drop the sock would occasionally hit the floor. P.T. would say, “Wait I was not ready!” Phil said, “Always be ready.” One time as Phil was picking it up he dropped it at waist level and P.T. swooped in and snatched it out of mid air. “That’s what I am talking about!” Phil exclaimed, almost over enthusiastically. Another time Lil’John stepped in and punted it with his foot knowing he could not bend like his fellow skinny brothers. The sock went flying across the pod and landed up on the second tear. After getting it Phil said, “See, it is all about reflexes. Now…” Phil continued as he pulled an A.A. chip out of the side of his shoe. Without warning he quickly raised the plastic disk and dropped it from chest level. Much to their surprise P.T. caught it. He almost shouted with glee. Lil’John was doing his best at keeping himself from becoming giddy. They appeared to be having such fun no one, including them, saw this was all a drill on developing dexterity and their ability to be more agile. After a few moments Phil changed it up and challenged them with, “now, try this…” He placed the chip on the floor, ” Stop it with your foot.” He slid it speeding across the floor and before it buzzed by P.T. he stepped on it. “That’s like soccer. ” P.T. Shot it back with his foot. “Now stay standing but when it reaches you grab it with your hand and return to your feet as fast as you can.” Mean while the guards in a video survalance room outside the pod and down the long corridor watched and began to wonder what the three men were doing under the stairs. The view was a little obstructed by the stairs and it seemed harmless because they were not in close proximity to each other. Occasionally Phil would walk over a good 10 yards away and slide the coin from there with a foot shuffle. It appeared to everyone else P.T. was just doing knee bends or some type of stretching. Lil’John stayed pretty stationary but roamed in, out and around the area. Because he was such a big guy many times those watching the closed circuit t.v. we’re drawn to him. What a brilliant diversion. Lil’John wasn’t even aware he was the perfect decoy. Phil motioned with his head for P.T. and Lil’John to come sit for a few moments at one of the tables in the center of the pod’s common area. Phil smiled and addressed his friends, “Next I want to throw the sock at you and have you dodge from being hit but I am afraid it won’t look enough like catch. If the guards see me throwing anything they will stop our training and possibly accuse us of ‘dangerous activity that gives potential to offensive mayhem’ while in the pod.” Phil smiled again, “so, we’ll have to wait until next week, during Rec. Time to do some of those things. “This is fun.” P.T. chimed in. Lil’John smiled, “sure is.” Phil encouraged them both, “It’s all about being alert and your muscles having a memory of what to do so if you are attacked you are thinking faster than the one doing the attacking. Hopefully you will never have to strike back, just move, stop of submit the other person, however, if you do have to strick remember your forearms and elbows are stronger than your fist. Never use your fist. I’ve seem many hands broken from just punching someone or something.” P.T. ‘s forehead wrinkled, “punch with your elbow?” “If a guy is on top of you you won’t have enough distance to punch with your fist anyway but you sure can get him off you with a few blows to his face with your forearms and elbows. You’re right handed right P.T.?” Phil enquired. “Yes.” “Most people are but we’ll develop your left side coordination so whoever you may have to deal with has no idea how to defend what they may have started. The key is not fighting back but protection and getting the other person a chance to use their brain rather than their brawn. Use your brain to get them to use their’s. I wish we had a shoe string.” Lil’John said, “I do, hidden of course but I can get it.” “Yeah, but that’s contraband and will be taken.” “Shoe string? What would you do with that?” Phil looked around, “wait here.” He returned with a broken rubber band, laid it on the table vertically between him and Lil’John, “grab it.” Lil John moved his hand as fast as he could and smiled holding his fist up in victory. Phil smerked, “think you got it?” Lil’John opened his hand, it was empty. “How you do that?” Phil opened his own hand revealing it, “speed.” P.T. begged to try. Once again Phil laid it vertically, flinched a few times then with a quick jerk pulled it toward himself. P.T. wasn’t fooled by the flinches, kept his balance and unlike the A.A. chip escaping his grasp he managed to not get the rubber band but rather snag Phil’s wrist before he could gain control of the band. “WOW!” ,Phil shouted, “Your going to be just fine.” Lil’John praised God, “Woo hoo GLORY, this good stuff brother!” NOT wanting to draw any more attention they decided the break up and spread out again .
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