I am looking over at the kid when he’s laying down on the bed. I was just 24 myself and this kid was a mere 18. He’d been married. He was on his way to school. The kid was innocent. Crime-wise I don’t think he did it. Real shit. Truly innocent. When he told me he was innocent, I actually believed the shit. It was so fuckin clear. You could look at the kid for two seconds and tell he was so clean he’d probably would make the Pope look like a fuck nigga. The system was shit. The whole system was fucked. They knew this kid was innocent. They had to. It was easy to tell.
All of that shit was just snatched away from him. It made me think of myself. I never was going anywhere back in the day, but my brother was. That was until that dummy boy got killed in a driveby. After that, it was always the hood. It was always the motherfuckin’ gun. Shoot first or get shot. That’s the way it was.
And when I got older and this nigga rolled up on me talkin his shit, I shot first. Period. Wasn’t gonna die in no drive by. Wasn’t gonna be no DUMMY BOY. I was gonna shoot him before he got me. Not just him. I shot his cousin. I shot his brother. I shot his dog in the backseat. And here I was. I was in here for murder.
And for some reason, this boy was sitting here looking at me reminded me of a time when maybe I wasn’t the piece of shit I was.
He didn’t belong here.
He just didn’t.
I am distracted from staring at the kid when I see someone standing outside the cell. He’s standing there looking over at me and he gives me a nod. I walk out of the cell and see him standing there. I don’t want to disturb Avonte. He’s looking way too comfortable.
“Top Shotta—dem boy dem callin fi you.”
He’s not alone. There’s another guy with him. It was just a matter of time. A matter of time before the fuckboys came to see if they can take down the big bad wolf. It’s been two weeks. Avonte refused to leave the cell. I would have been worried but I had to remember he wasn’t some normal con or something.
“Well let’s get it,” I tell Fuckboy 1.
They take me to a cell where most of the Yardie’s hang out. Fuckboy 2 starts that Jamaican shit with Fuckboy 1 and then Fuckboy one opens the cell to let me in. In the corner of my eyes, I can see the Black Union standing being alerted to my presence. It was nice to know they’d have my back if I needed it. But I didn’t need it.
I knew who was trying to get in contact with me before I got to the room. As I approach I see the heavy set gorilla faced looking fucker. Might as well be Fuckboy 3 for all I cared. But he wasn’t. Fuckboy 3 had a name. It was Buddha Benson’s brother Sonny. Sonny is just as big as his brother and just as dumb.
“We gonna fight?” I ask.
They lock us in the room. Just him and I. That’s how they did it in the Jungle. You want to settle a problem you do it away from the guards. No one could see us in the cell. The small glass has a towel hung over it already. I knew what that meant. I’m already bored.
“Don’t fuck wit me,” Sonny states squinting a bit as he talks, “I want di bwoy. We got a problem, Lynch. Di bwoy. Di bwoy. He needs to pay.”
“Your brother raped him.”
“Di bwoy snitched—-“
“Look save the gwala-gwala bullshiit,” I tell Sonny, “I can’t understand half the shit you saying anyway. That’s my cell. As long as that’s my cell no one is violating. You said we got a problem? I got that far. Not much of a talker. Never got my fuggin’ GED. I speak with my fists though. I’m fluent in many languages with that. You want to fight or not?”
“Fuck you bwoi—-”
He doesn’t get the words out before I smash my elbow to the side of his face. He reaches out trying to grab me. Big mistake. He put out a nice stiff left, which he planned to follow with a right cross. I slipped to the left, which threw him off enough so that I could step inside the right cross and get a handful of his hair. I pulled his head forward and broke his nose with my forehead. Still holding his hair in one hand, I got my other hand into his crotch and put my shoulder into him and lifted him off the ground and slammed him down on the hood of basin of the toilet. There’s blood everywhere and a bit of gray matter.
He was alive though. He grunted and went limp. When I stood back, he slowly slid off the toilet and lay there on his Fuckboy shit with his mouth open.
Fuckin fuckboys. They never learn.
I leave the cell making sure all the Yardies watching out got the idea.
“Nobody goes in my cell without permission.”
I didn’t have to give a reason. If they needed the reason why I’d left it bleeding in his cell.
He’s up. It’s morning and he’s eating.
“Hey. What’s that?”
Avonte is laying on the bed. He got on a wife beater and some boy shorts. I wanna tell him not be wearin that shit around me unless he wants to be bent over biting pillows n shit but I don’t. The rape joke might be too soon. I give him a look when I see him though. He got nice teeth and he actually don’t stink like my old cellies back in the day. I don’t smile or anything like that but he does. I notice at that moment he’s actually smiling really heavily. It’s rare. I hadn’t seen him smile at all in the last two weeks.
“Some popeyes from the mainland. Off the island.”
“That guard bring it for you?” I ask, “The one that comes to check up on you all the time.”
“Whatever the fuck his name is. I don’t name pigs.”
“I thought a pig was a regular cop.”
“What’s the difference?” I shrug.
If he wasn’t a pig he was damn sure a duck. A duck was a correctional officer who’s seen as gullible, easily manipulated or bribed to smuggle in contraband.
“He’s a nice guy.”
That’s what they say about all the ducks.
“Eh—-he wants to fuck you.”
I laugh at how uncomfortable Avonte looks in the next few minutes. At least he’s fucking talking at this point.
I shrug, “He’s a good-looking duck if you get into white boys. Got that whole Disney-channel-all grown-up shit going on if you ask me. But he’s OK looking. U need to be fuckin’ him. Maybe we can get a free tv in this bitch.”
I roll my eyes at the thought. Gay marriage? I’d fucked boys left and right for years now. Ever since I first got my life sentence with no possibility at parole and came to the clear recognition that I’d never see pussy again, ass started looking a whole lot better. That didn’t mean I was going to marry a fucking dude though. I wouldn’t even kiss a guy in the fuckin mouth.
“He don’t know that. He wants to fuck.”
“He’s just looking out. Not everyone who’s been looking out wants to fuck me. You’ve been looking out. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
I sigh a little bit. The kid was smarter than I thought. He barely left the room except to go to the showers and that was only when that Officer Denton personally walked him over in the middle of the night to avoid all the other prisoners. I wondered how long the Officer would be able to protect this kid. I wondered how long I’d be able to protect him…
“Who says it’s not cause I want some ass?”
“You’re better than that. You’re a good person. You’re not doing this for sex.”
The kid really is the most innocent guy I’ve ever seen. I can’t help but try to avoid smirking when I look at him. It’s rare he does talk but I like the banter. Maybe it’s because he’s not some gangster trying to prove something. He’s trying to be himself. For some reason, I find this fucking refreshing.
I lean up against the nearest wall, reaching my hands behind my head, “You don’t know shit about me.”
“You haven’t tried to fuck me.”
“I don’t want Buddha’s sloppy seconds, that’s all. He stretched your ass all the way out,” I state.
I laugh at my own joke thinking I got a good one over but then I realize Avonte isn’t laughing like that.
Damn. Too soon.
I’m sitting there unsure of what to do. A part of me wants to apologize but I don’t remember the last time I apologized for anything that I’ve ever done. So instead of apologizing I just sit there and bit my lip a little bit.
Fuck him. If he was offended we could fight it out. That’s easier than apologizing. Run up if you mad—-bitch.
He stretches a little bit.
“I’m going to bed.”
“You can call me Worm. Back in the day, they called me that.”
“Well, I didn’t mean to say that about you gettin’ fucked in the ass or biting the pillow or getting ya manhood taken or—”
“You’re not helping right now, but thanks for trying.”
Shit. That’s probably the best I am going to get because this shit is getting awkward as fuck and I hated the idea of apologizing. I would have rather ya fight it out.
“I got to get some rest. Visitations in a few hours. You got anyone coming?”
“You got a girl?”
I nod, “Yeah. And a son. Anyone coming for you?”
Fuck. Worm turns around as though he doesn’t even know what the fuck he’s saying. A part of me believes he doesn’t really get how big of a deal his father really was. Avonte DEATHROW was coming to the island. My heart races at the idea. This man was my hero. He was my idol.
June was just as pretty as I remember her. She was just always a naturally pretty girl. The kind of girl that didn’t wear a lot of makeup. Straight from the hood. We’d grown up in Camden, NJ together and I got her pregnant a few years back right before my bid.
“How’s Joey?” I ask.
“Nigga you ain’t going to ask about me?”
I’m already irritated with the Jersey girl attitude, “I’ll ask bout you after I ask about my son.”
“Oh, in that case, he OK.”
“Why didn’t you bring him?”
“You know how it is to drive 8 hours and then take a boat with a 5-year-old? How about you try it some time? Oh, I forget you can’t, you’re locked up—-”
She’s going off about some more shit like she always does. I stop listening. The reason is that Avonte walks into the room. He sits at the table. He looks so innocent sitting there. You would think he’s one of the visitors. He waves a little bit at me like a cornball. What in all fuck? Now he’s smiling. The kid was embarrassing as hell. Rape bait. He keeps smiling and waving like that I won’t be able to keep these niggas out of his prostate. I don’t wave back. I don’t even smile. I just stare when he sits in his seat. A few minutes later and I notice that someone walks into the room.
It’s him. Deathrow White, himself.
This shit was real. It was fucking real.
“Yo—shut up for a minute,” I tell June.
“Are you serious?”
“Dead serious. Shut the hell up,” I tell her.
I want to eavesdrop on the meeting. It looks tense too. I literally can see how tense it is from here. For a minute I swear innocent ass Worm looks like he actually has a lil goon in him. If he could mean mug everyone the way he was mean- mugging his father when his father walked in the room he’d be in a way better shape.
“Are you good?” his father asks him.
There is no answer. The steam is literally coming off of Worm’s skin at that moment.
“They think I had something to do with your business,” he states.
There is a pause.
“I know. Grayson wasn’t supposed to have you in the car. I told him never to get you involved in what we had going on.”
Gray Goon. They had to be talking about the gray. I was having a whole trip down memory lane at this moment. Gray Goon was the man. All along the East coast he was making money and making moves with the Black Union. I knew they had to be talking about Gray Goon.
“When were you going to tell me you and my husband were involved in shit like that—”
“Lower your voice!”
Husband. No. It couldn’t be. Was Gray Goon really Worm’s husband? I’d seen Gray Goon a couple times in Miami. I was moving some bricks for him. I wondered if he would have remembered me. I doubt it though. There were hundreds of boys working for Gray Goon at that time. The Union was shipping all types of drugs up and down the East Coast. We were pushing weight. I was just muscle. Not even the only muscle either. The Black Union had muscle all over but Gray Goon—-Worm’s husband—-was the brains to the operation.
“I didn’t do shit and I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison—because of you.”
“No, you aren’t. I’m going to get you out.”
I look over at Deathrow. I didn’t know shit about having a dad in my life. I’d never had a dad in my life. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t have become the piece of shit that I became. However, when I see how Deathrow looked at his son I could tell that there was more to this story. Deathrow looked hurt. This was someone who definitely didn’t want his son involved in no fuck shit. He definitely didn’t want his son to be entertaining any of this bullshit.
“Don’t worry about it,” Deathrow tells his son, “Just know that I’m working on it. I’m going to get you out one way—-or another.”
“I’m not going to fucking survive until then.”
Now was my chance. Now was my ONLY chance.
Before I know it I get up off the table. June damn near freaks out when I just leave her in the way I do, but I don’t give a damn. Now was the only chance that I was going to have to speak to Deathrow.
“Who the fuck is this?” Deathrow asks.
I guess he thinks I’m running up on him. He gives me a weird look. I notice there is a guy on another table that gets up as well. I thought the guy was just another visitor but I should have known better. I should have known a heavy hitter like Deathrow wasn’t going anywhere with at least some sort of protection.
“I don’t mean no harm,” I state raising my arm.
“This is my cellmate. This is Wisdom Lynch. He helped look out for me…” Worm offers.
Worm doesn’t mention why I looked out for him. He doesn’t mention the fact that he got raped. I don’t blame him. I guess he did have a bit of pride. Worm hadn’t talked about the rape even with me since it happened. I wondered if he spoke to his guard friend about it. It was hard to tell honestly.
Deathrow kind of looked like Worm as I get a closer look. It’s crazy the resemblance that they shared when you saw them next to one another.
“You friends with my son?” Deathrow asks.
Friends was a heavy word. We weren’t friends. We barely even talked. I literally just made sure no one came in the goddam cell. Of course, I’m not going to say that to Deathrow.
“Yeah, sir I looked up to you—-on some real shit, my whole life,” I admit to him, “This is an honor yo. Real shit. I mean real talk. I’m United.”
I throw up my gang signs. The Union gang sign. He looks at me and nods his head. He isn’t going to acknowledge the gang in words but he knows what I am. There is no other need to say anything else. We were fam and this was one of my OGs.
I was horrible with this shit. Why the fuck were my palms sweating? I never got nervous? Never. This was definitely some new shit and I didn’t know how to get control of my body.
“You a real nigga for keepin my son safe,” Deathrow said.
“As long as he’s here he’s good,” I state.
“Can you assure me of that?” Deathrow asks.
“I ain’t stuttering, young nigga. Can you assure me that you will protect my son?” Deathrow asks me.
The words hit me like a ton of bricks. Shit. I ain’t have a choice at this point even if I wanted to. I had put myself in this position by coming to this table in the first place.
“I’m talking to the man,” Deathrow quiets worm.
“He’s under my protection,” I assure Deathrow, “United. Gang. Gang.”
I throw my signs up again. He nods like an OG would. Then he gets up. Not acknowledging me again but turning to his son, “Make sure you send me information on your cellie. I’m going to be putting some money on your books and his. I’ll at least be making sure you’re comfortable while I make sure you get out of here.”
The day goes by relatively quickly. Sure enough, almost immediately Deathrow puts money on my books. Of course, I got all this debt that the money goes towards. Child support, medical and all this other bullshit but it comes with a promise that I’ll get more. And all I have to do is look out for Worm.
I’m trying not to act like a straight up fan when I realize that I’m really roommates with Deathrow White’s son.
“I grew up on your pops, ” I tell him, “You know that? Niggas in the hood, we used to walk around and put the Deathrow tattoo on our chest with permanent markers as kids. I remember one time my mother beat the shit out of me for it—
I start laughing. I don’t know why. I guess just the memory of it all.
“Funny—” is all that Worm responds with.
He has something on his mind. I could tell. Whatever he has on his mind is eating him up too. It’s something that he can’t shake. I don’t blame him. His entire life was turned upside down and he wasn’t really being given an explanation. I’d seen how short his father was in the visitation. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to get too much info out of his father in a place like that but still. There was nothing. No explanation of what the hell he had done to get so much time at all. I’d wondered if Worm seeing his father would make him feel better but it didn’t.
“Yo—let’s go to the gym,” I state.
I say it out of nowhere.
“Man I don’t feel comfortable.”
“Bro—-stop being a bitch.”
I have to remember I’m talking to Worm and not one of the regular goons I hang out with a daily. I retract my statement almost immediately, “My bad. I meant—it’s going to be OK. I got your back. But you can’t just sit in this cell for 50 years. I’m not saying it’s going to be 50 years but shit—-you need to get out.”
He pauses, “Well…”
“I got your back.”
The promise of me having his back definitely seems to work at least a little bit.
We walk out to the gym at that moment. As we get to the gym it’s clear there are bunch of other guys over there. I look over and see my boys. Everyone has their shirts off. They are playing ball.
I remove my shirt at that moment. I look back over at Worm, “You playing?”
Worm seems stuck. He’s looking at my chest at that moment. I knew I had a nice body. Hell, for years I had nothing to do literally but work on it all day. I’d come into prison smaller than most any other dude that I met and I had to bulk up. I didn’t have a choice. I never saw someone so obviously do something like that—not even in gay ass prison. I had to work with him on that.
“Worm—you playing?” I repeat.
“Nah I’m good.”
His bitch ass probably couldn’t even play ball.
“Ain’t seen you in a while Lynch,” Robinson states.
Robinson is another member of Black Union. He isn’t the only one on the court. There are two others. Tavontay and West. The other guys were affiliates. Guys who weren’t officially down with Black Union but either wanted to be or were cool enough that we kept them around. I knew Robinson from out on the street. He was big shit out in the street. Then again I was a skinny little kid running around in people’s shadows back then too.
I wasn’t the same kid anymore. As I approach him, I can see that he is kind of intimidated by the muscular frame. Most guys are it seems like. But they are even more intimidated by the reputation I’d built behind bars.
“Word is you been beefing with the Yardies.”
“I ain’t worried,” I state.
“Buddha might be coming back. Heard what you did to his brother. Paying off some guards to try to get transferred out of solitary.”
“Like I said,” I repeat slower this time so they get the whole picture, “I ain’t fuckin worried.”
I got the ball before I know it. I drive it to the hoop and dunk on these niggas. Proving your bravado was a thing in prison and everybody knew Wisdom, motherfucking Lynch had big fuckin balls.
“Union runs this prison,” Tavontay states with a smirk, “We ain’t worried about no Yardies.”
I look over at him. He’s another one who had a reputation on the street but definitely didn’t have one in prison. He’d done little stints here and there but mostly he was a street guy. I was kind of annoyed if anything that he was already even speaking on shit he didn’t know about.
“I ain’t worried about no Yardies,” I correct him.
This ain’t have shit to do with the Union.
“I know what my homeboy is worried about…” West states, “Playing all hard like you trying to impress somebody and shit…”
West was one of those smooth cats. Back out on the streets, he’d had a lot of girls. I didn’t. Maybe now I would. I’m not really sure. Honestly, I didn’t really think I was attractive until I got in prison and bulked up. Now that I was in prison it was kind of hard to tell how much game I had since I was constantly surrounded by dudes.
I play coy as fuck, “What you talking on, West?”
“Nigga. I see you. You got you a joint?” West asks.
There is more laughter. We knew what he meant by ‘joint’. It was definitely a Philly thing. An easy way to refer to a gay boy you’re fuckin in prison. West and Robinson both were serving time for murder. Separate charges all related to Black Union, however. God knows how many lifetimes they’d been charged with. They’d all had their own joints. West normally was known to be seen with the more feminine looking ones. It always started with them “braiding his hair” and ended with him braiding their small intestines into knots in the shower with me or Robinson being his lookouts.
Joints were always a thing in the Jungle and hell…maybe every prison that I’d been to. If you thought these men weren’t having sex with other men you were wrong. I’d say a good 30 percent of them were open to it…if not more. The longer you were in there the more you wanted a joint: a sexy young boy who came into prison looking for protection.
It was coded language. Most of the new guys like Tavontay, who hadn’t done much time, didn’t know what we were talking about but by the time he found out he’d probably have his own prison bitch.
“Nah…” I laugh slyly.
I turn back over to see him: Worm. He looks nervous as hell to be so far away from me but the fact that he was out of his cell at least was BIG progress. I have to admit that he was nice to look at
“Oh then I’m bout to slide through,” West responds licking his lips, slicking spit on his beard hairs and taking a few overdramatized Rico Suave steps over to Worm.
I don’t know why I react the way I do. I know West is just playing but West is an attractive guy. Whereas if Robinson had said it I would have not been concerned. Robinson had the face of a butch dike and the body of one too with his man tits. West was a good looking guy. For some reason him trying to go even talk to Worm makes me grab him. I don’t even think I would care until I do.
And then it’s too late. I’ve completely revealed myself when I try to cockblock West.
“Hold up. Hold up.”
“Wow—so you REALLY do got you a joint. Lemme find out you got a jail girlfriend.”
West and Robinson start laughing around at each other. I know West doesn’t mean the term “girlfriend” to be disrespectful. Most dudes say shit like that when they fucking with a guy in jail because I think it just feels easier to call them girls and pretend like there isn’t anything gay about what you’re actually doing.
I had to admit I looked whipped in those moments. These were my guys though. They held me down for a while.
“OK, Aight aight. He a lil sexy thing,” I admit with a smile of relief.
“He IS Deathrow’s son,” Tavontay says out of nowhere.
I turn to Tavontay. Maybe the kid felt out of the loop. The rest of us were homies for real. Of course, we allowed him around because he was gang. But this nigga had a big fuckin mouth. What’s even more irritating is how West and Robinson react to that.
“Who asked you, SON?” I ask.
“I ain’t your son,” Tavontay states.
“Lil bitch I really don’t want to beat you the fuck up OK, so why don’t you shut your mouth about shit that doesn’t concern you.”
Tavontay’s not dumb. I’m the bigger guy and I’m sure he’d heard about what I had done to Sonny. He was going to shut up whether he liked it or not.
“Wait that is—-” Robinson starts and get quiet, “Like Deathrow White’s son?”
“I heard the Feds were using his son to get at Deathrow,” West states.
“We got to protect him,” I acknowledge to the other boys.
I can see Tavontay giving me looks. He doesn’t like the idea that I’m trying to protect him. I wonder why until I remember how close Tavontay was to the Gray. If he really was cool with Grayson then it was probably disrespect that I had promised Deathrow I’d protect his son.
“Gray is in another cellblock…” Tavontay says out of nowhere.
This nigga again.
“Gray can protect him.”
“He ain’t here is he?”
“He ain’t. Niggas getting real comfortable in his absence,” Tavontay snaps, “Acting like you ain’t see that Worm is married.”
He must not like his face because he was begging to get it bloodied up.
I take a step in front to the little boy, “I said I was going to protect Worm.”
“So you not tryin to fuck?”
“Yo suck my dick. If I wanted to fuck him—I’d do it. I’d bend your bitch ass over and fuck you too…”
Tavontay takes a step forward. I see that he isn’t coming empty handed. He is reaching out into his drawers. He’s reaching for something. It has to be a shank. I know little dudes like him feel they got bigger balls when they come with the shank. He doesn’t get it out though. One reason is that there is PO walking in.
The other reason is that Robinson stops him.
“Yo—-Tay—cool the fuck out. Wisdom is the homie,” Robinson says, “I’m not going to allow no disrespect in front of me.”
Robinson held a lot of weight in this yard. He had built a career and he had built clout. A lot of people respected him.
“Aight—-wait till Gray hears bout this shit,” he states.
Just like a little snitch when he turns and starts walking away angrily probably ready to tell it all to his big homie Gray Goon.
“Where you goin bitch? You forgot to suck my dick!” I scream out after him.
As soon as he gets far enough away Robinson and West start cracking the fuck up.
“Yo you going to get yourself killed nigga,” West states, “That lil bitch Tay is going run STRAIGHT to Gray and you know it. You must want to die.”
I shrug, “I don’t give a fuck.”
Robinson is still amused but manages to mutter out, “Nigga, you know who Gray is, right?”
I definitely knew about Gray’s reputation and the truth is I wanted to be that.
“I protect Deathrow’s son, I can be the NEXT Gray,” I state, “I can be Deathrow’s, second-hand man.”
“Oh——so you playing CHESS chess,” Robinson asks.
I nod at the thought. Hell yeah, I was going to be making moves.
“Ya’ll niggas help me and we all can move up in the organization,” I state, “We just got to prove to Deathrow how loyal and down we are for the Union.”
Even in prison, the Union was everything. The higher you got the more respect. Hell, when you have life in prison there’s not really a lot to look forward to. Deathrow’s son had literally fallen into my lap and I was going to make sure I used him.
They nod at me with agreement. One thing was for sure was that Deathrow was respected even in gangs that weren’t Black Union. His son was most definitely going to get some protection.
“That nigga Buddha got to die. The game done fuckin changed if he did what he did to Deathrow’s son,” Robinson acknowledged, “That nigga got to die. Period.”
I could see the look on Robinson’s face. Robinson was a murderer. One of the grimiest niggas I knew. I’d seen him kill people in the sickest ways in prison. It always started like this. Him getting that glazed look under his eyes.
“That shit will start a war yo,” I tell them, “You niggas know that right?”
The other dudes seem to be well aware. The last time there was a war with the Yardies in the Jungle I was sent to another prison to ease the tension. I caused so much trouble at that other prison that they ended up sending me back to the Jungle though. It was the only block in the only prison that could hold a guy like me. This was Maximum security after all.
It’s Robinson who nods, “Then make sure you get out your grenades.”
“Don’t fall for that nigga though,” West states.
I look over at Worm. I hear West’s warning and the shit definitely hits home but I shake my head.
“Nah, I ain’t stupid. I’m just using that little nigga. When I get good with Deathrow—-those fuckin Yardies can have him.”
And I mean it when I say that.
Or at least I hope I do…