It’s almost 6 am. Every morning they wake us up at 6 am for the count. It’s only been a month but my body is already used to it.
He gives me a nod, “Ay I’m bringing you with me to breakfast at 7. My boys wanna meet you.”
He was bringing me around people. It makes me smile. I’m surprised that I like Lynch. Usually, the smart-mouth gangsters going nowhere in life were the kind of guys I stayed clear of. Then again, my father and my husband just happened to be the same sorts of gangsters just not so smart-mouthed.
“Who’s your little friend, Lynch?” A tall thin corrections officer woman shows up at the cell. She’s relatively thin.
“None of your fuckin business.”
“Ah, we back to our usual selves, I see.”
“‘We’ would imply we built the same, Giovanni. We aren’t.”
“Arrogant fuck,” the woman mutters, “The Warden wants to see you.”
“My schedule’s booked. Tell him to make an appointment,” Lynch curls back looking at me as though waiting for an audience to applaud. I smile a little bit, finding it funny but too scared of the officer to really make a noise.
“Knowing you it won’t take long.”
“Not what you said last time.”
“Hurry up, jackass. You really are the worst person in the world. Lynch.”
She leaves the cell and I look over at Lynch who has a satisfied reaction.
“I see you’ve got a lot of friends here,” I remark dryly to Lynch.
“She’s just mad. They usually get like that after.”
“After I stop fucking them—-”
“You sound surprised that I fucked Giovanni before. What? You don’t think I’m a good looking guy?”
He couldn’t possibly believe that. Lynch was one of those guys who you never thought would end up in prison. Not because he wasn’t a gangster. He was that. He was pretty mean as hell too. But because he was so goddam handsome. I could have easily seen him on the cover of a sports magazine with his shirt with the caption “Sexiest—- this or that—- for whatever year”.
“Just that she’s a prison officer.”
“She got a pussy, doesn’t she? And I got a dick. Most of these bitches that work here…they got fetishes. At home their husbands probably ignore them. His dick probably little. So they come here looking for real men. Like me. See this—-” He grabs onto his crotch outlining the size of his package underneath, “This here is DICK. All Caps.”
I pause. Getting uncomfortable when he grabs his crotch. He probably realizes how it looks so he stops and laughs a little bit.
I sigh, “So you like her?”
“Pussy was OK.”
“No her—-as a person.”
“Yeah, Giovanni. Were you guys in like some sort of prison—relationship. I mean I know that’s against the rules but, you can tell me.”
“Jesus Christ, Worm—-you really got to go all Oprah’s-must-read-romance-book-club on a nigga? The only girl I ever dated was my son’s mother. Didn’t I tell you about my son.”
“You might have mentioned.”
“Oh ok. It’s too early for this shit.”
“Didn’t know it would matter. Just asked if you liked her, is all.”
“I fucked the bitch. Didn’t even nut in her. That doesn’t even count. It’s like eating a burger with no bun. She swallowed. I liked the way she swallowed—-from what I can remember. Or hell maybe that was the other probation officer who used to smuggle cell phones in for me. But Giovanni? I didn’t like her.”
“So you never been in love?” I ask.
He laughs, “You really think I’m a pussy, don’t you?”
“Never said that. I’m saying it’s OK to be in love. I’m sure people have been in love with you before…”
“What makes you so sure?” he asks.
Because he has that sexy ass look that he’s giving me right now. The kind of look where you just want to turn over and fuck and fuck and fuck and fuck until you died. Because that look was heaven and you knew that your life would be complete now that you’ve seen it.
But I was a married man so I just shrug.
“Ionno. Am I wrong?”
He doesn’t deny it, “If someone falls in love with me. That’s their fuckin problem. I don’t love these hoes.”
I roll my eyes, “Yeah right.”
He laughs, “You don’t believe I never been in love?”
“One time I—–fuck nevermind.”
“Go ahead. One time. What happened that one time?”
“Nevermind I said. Damn. You’re the only one who gets all soft—coming out of nowhere with the romance bullshit. Fuck is this? The fuck. Young and the Restless, Prison edition? The fuck…”
I smile, “Yeah—ok.’
He gets worked up.
He sighs a little bit, “I’ll go talk to the Warden. Whatever it is—must be important. It’s too early for this shit. Fuck. I need sleep.”
“I’ll probably head to showers.”
“Showers. No. FUCK no. You don’t go to the showers—-not without me,” he states, “Hear me?”
“Worm serious. Do you hear me?”
I smile at the thought, “If I didn’t know better I would have thought you were really worried about me.”
“Real cute,” he sighs, “I’m trying to keep your cute ass alive. Meaning your cute ass doesn’t go anywhere without me. Period.”
“You think I’m cute.”
“Shut the fuck up,” he laughs throwing a pillow on his bed at me and surprisingly wearing a smile that kind of makes me a little warm before quickly adding before he comes back, “Don’t go anywhere outside of this cell without me, Worm. I mean it. I made your Pops a promise.”
I’m sitting in the cell waiting for Lynch when I hear someone walk up to the cell. I’m still jumpy as hell so I’m thinking maybe it’s one of the Yardies. It was very clear the Jamaican gang was a big part of the Jungle. They had their own area, spoke their own language, did their own thing and the majority of people didn’t fuck with them. Except for me. I had to be the one fuckin idiot who got on their bad side. So yeah—-the last thing I wanted was to end up as a side course on some Jamaican gangster’s oxtail plate.
Tavontay. He scares the holy fuck out of me but I don’t want to let him know that as he walks into the room looking around to make sure the coast is clear before stepping in.
“Tay—-what’s up man?” I ask.
“You giving this nigga cakes?”
What the fuck?
“Damn wassup with you too man—-”
“Wassup Worm—-are you giving that nigga Lynch cakes?”
I sit there for a moment trying to comprehend if this was some sort of crazy prison lingoes like ducks or dry snitching (the latter being something that Lynch warned me I should never do). I don’t think it is though. I have to pull it back to the streets. Tavontay was basically asking me, straight to my face, if I was getting fucked by Lynch.
He hands me a cell phone. I look down at it wondering how the hell he was able to get a cell phone into a place like this. I knew if I got caught with contraband I would have been written up. That was just drama I didn’t need.
“Grayson wanted you to have it. Keep it with you. Hide it somewhere at night.”
Shit. It changed everything. Grayson was trying to get in contact with me.
“Buddha is out.”
Fuck. My heart raced.
“What the hell is Grayson gonna do if Buddha is out.”
“It’s better than nothing man. That’s all I’m saying. OK cool.”
“Oh and Worm?”
“Stop hanging out with Lynch. He’s bad news. You don’t know what that guy is capable of.”
Tavontay leaves before I can ask him to go into detail. Honestly, however, if he had stayed I doubt I would have had the balls to ask Tavontay exactly what Lynch had done. I’d probably be too chicken shit to face exactly what kinds of things Lynch would have been in prison for.
So instead I shove the thought out of my head.
20 minutes later Lynch is back and I have to admit regardless of the warning that Tavontay gave I didn’t expect for a minute to stay away from Lynch. He was the only person keeping me alive and keeping the Yardies at bay. Tavontay was too fucking small and Grayson just wasn’t here. I needed Lynch.
“Hey, Lynch—I got a cellphone. You can call your son.”
“Get that shit away from me,” he grunts, “If you get caught with that shit, we both in trouble and I’m beating your fuckin’ ass.”
Whoa. I’m not sure at this moment if this is one of his funny little moments or if this was something serious.
“How’d your meeting go?” I ask, “What’s it about?”
Lynch doesn’t answer. He just sits on the bed.
It comes out of nowhere. Looking at his expression as he’s sitting on the bed at that moment and acting really weird. I haven’t really seen Lynch quite like it before. He gets to taking out his brush and brushing his waves. I think that’s something calming for him in a way. But curiosity makes me wonder exactly what it is all about.
That’s when I see a paper.
“Murder of two inmates—” I start reading.
“Yo mind your fuckin business!” he snaps.
He jumps up. There is all this rage in his eyes. It seemed like court papers. Something about the murder was written on these papers. My heart is racing. I retreat at that moment to the corner of the cell looking up at him and placing my arms in front of me like an idiot hoping he won’t hurt me. I feel so little in that corner. I’m just hoping he doesn’t bash my head in. I’m not sure where this is coming from. Lynch hasn’t really snapped on me before. This is definitely new.
My heart is skipping beats like a stone in a lake. He seems rather irritated now but not so blatantly aggressive when he quickly adds, “Get your fuckin self together. We going to chow.”
I keep wondering what it was that I saw back in the cell that has gotten Lynch so shook up. He doesn’t make any eye contact with me and when we get to chow I realize in the midst of sitting down with a sad excuse for breakfast that I’m not the only one he’s being cold with. Something was definitely on his paper and he isn’t having it.
“Don’t be too friendly,” he tells me.
Or at least that’s what I think he says. He’s talking so low that it’s hard to tell. I nod realizing that I might not need to be doing anything at this point. Still, it was kind of nice when I see a group of guys walking up to the table we are sitting at. I realize that one of those people just so happens to be Tavontay. The other two guys I don’t know but have seen around.
“Worm—-“ Tavontay says as he gets to the table, “This is West and Robinson…”
“What’s good man? All respect. Your Pops was a legend out on these streets,” Robinson said.
West nods in agreement, “Anything you need—-we got you.”
Like I said it’s been a month so I’ve seen these guys before. Robinson was a big shot I assumed. I didn’t know shit about prison culture but I saw how he walked in front of a lot of the other guys a lot of the times. West on the other hand just seemed like this smooth criminal. The kind of guy that could talk some poor old lady into giving up her entire pension with a smile.
“Can we skip the small talk?” Lynch interrupts, “What’s going on with the Yardies?”
“Glad you asked,” Robinson leans in, “Since Buddha has been gone——a lot of shit is changing around here.”
“Thanks to you,” West winks at me.
“I didn’t do shit,” I state, forgetting to add—-besides getting it up the ass unwillingly.
Before I get the chance though, I get a dagger from Lynch. I wonder what I am doing wrong but maybe he thinks I’m being friendly. I’m not sure how by answering a question though. Honestly, I think he’s just highly irritated and so I just shut up completely.
“We managed to take control of the smuggling,” Robinson tells Lynch, “He dropped the ball on the exchange and we picked up from where he left off.”
I’m confused, “Exchange? What’s that?”
“Don’t fucking worry about it,” Lynch states, “Didn’t I tell you to shut the fuck up?”
It’s awkward when he says it. There is an extra—something in this voice. The kind of brewing tension that kind of comes out of nowhere. I look over at him and really feel like Lynch is a whole different person by how he’s talking to me.
He’s not the only one who thinks it’s weird. All the other guys give Lynch this weird look.
“You good man?” Robinson asks him.
I know he isn’t going to mention what happened when he went to go see the Warden this morning. I know he isn’t going to tell them what happened, but I would assume he would make up something. Some sort of lie to make his homies at least not seem upset about anything.
Instead, he just turns it all on me, “This motherfucker is irritating. He just keeps asking all these fucking questions like he some type of cross-examiner or some shit. Keeps following me around everywhere being annoying as fuck. Won’t ever shut the fuck up.”
“Whoa…” Tavontay states.
It gets awkward. Truthfully I’m embarrassed. My face gets red as fuck and I wish I could be anywhere but here.
“Damn Lynch he’s just asking a question,” West interrupts, “The exchange is when people smuggle contraband. It’s a lucrative business. With the head of the Yardies gone—-we are definitely taking over. I feel like a Trump or some shit.”
“How?” I ask, “How do you sneak things in the prison.”
“ Up the ass,” West states licking two of his fingers and giving the symbol of a man getting something shoved up his ass, “Something I know you’re familiar with. Maybe you can be one of our runners now that we got the business going.”
It’s a gay joke and West seems to find himself just hilarious as he starts rolling. I don’t respond. I don’t even wince. I’m terrified of Lynch at this moment. The others don’t see him boiling up but I do. He looks like he is about to fuckin snap.
“You should consider it,” Robinson adds right after Wes, “Smuggling some shit in. Joinin in with the team. You can hang wit us, man. We got your back. Any son of Deathrow is like a son to me. Smuggling is easy…”
“Yeah just like how I got that cellphone in here for you,” Tavontay adds in.
“That was you?” Lynch asks.
“What?” Tavontay asks, “Grayson wanted me to bring his husband a cellphone.”
“You came to my cell without asking me?” Lynch asks.
“Yo Lynch chill—” Robinson tries to calm him down.
Lynch shakes his head, “I asked this little pussy a question. Did you fucking come to my cell without asking me?”
“It’s not that fucking serious—” Tavontay tries to respond.
He doesn’t get the chance to finish. Lynch’s fist collides with the side of his face making an impact that shatters Tavontay’s jaw causing Tavontay to fall back hard as hell, hit the ground and spit out a mouth full of teeth. I’m shocked when it happens. His mouth is bloody. People start making a big deal about it almost immediately but not as big a deal as I would imagine. I am purely shocked seeing what Lynch just did to Tavontay.
The guards run over, “Who hit you?”
Tavontay just shakes his head silently. He’s not going to snitch. I look back over at Lynch and he’s just sitting there as though nothing happened.
Just at that moment, there is laughter. I notice where the laughter is coming from. The Yardies have entered Chow just in time to see the CO helping Tavontay collect his teeth up off the floor. There is one Yardie in particular that gets my attention.
“How I miss dis—-” I hear his heavy accent say with a laugh that runs up my spine.
It was Buddha.
Buddha was back in the Jungle!
“Can you take me to take a shower?”
It’s the next day and I’m scared out of my fuckin mind. Buddha was back in the Jungle. I look over at Lynch and he’s just been sitting there silent the entire day which was really unlike him. Usually, he’d be talking about one thing or another. Some ‘bitch’—-as he called them—-that was obsessed with him or some ‘fag’—–as he also called them—–that was jealous of his swag. The arrogant, loud mouth Lynch that I knew was gone and replaced by someone else.
This new person was almost a ghost in the shell and I just didn’t get it.
“Fuck off,” he states.
“Please,” I state, “Buddha is back in the Jungle.”
There is a silence in the next minute.
“I’m begging. I fucking stink—–”
Just around then I see someone standing at the gate. I look over and see a woman standing there. When I look at her she looks at me back. It’s the same CO from earlier. The one he called Giovanni. It’s a little late at night and she walks into our cell. She just stands there.
“Yo—–you got to leave,” he tells me.
I look at him. I look at her. He had to be fucking joking.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I ask, “You going to kick me out of the cell? Buddha is out there. What the fuck?”
“Go find that fucking CO who wants to fuck you. He’ll stand guard.”
“Destin? He’s off of work this weekend.”
“Well you need to get the fuck out,” Lynch states, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
Cold is the only way to describe how Lynch is being right now. He looks right into my eyes and I can’t tell at this moment if he doesn’t care if I live or die. If it was up to Lynch I can be kicked right outside of this room. I can be hung. That’s how I feel when he talks to me.
“Why are you being like this with me?” I ask, “I didn’t do anything to you.”
I don’t want to be weak right now. I don’t know why I expected something different from him. All I know is that tears are rolling down my face at this moment. Tears are thoroughly running down my fucking cheeks and I hate that I’m coming to this. Here I am literally crying this man who promised to protect me to just be there for me and he was kicking me out because his CO jumpoff was here.
“Fine. You can watch,” he states.
I watch in horror as he pulls down his pants. He pulls out his dick with both hands. He works it until it’s hard and standing completely erect in front of both me and his corrections officer. She looks over at me and gives a horrible laugh like she finds all of this just fucking amusing and exciting.
Then she drops to her knees and starts sucking him off right in front of me.
I’m so sick that I leave. I just fucking leave. I’m steaming at that moment and I find myself heading to the showers. The showers were communal showers. You walk in.
The Jungle had open-ish showers.
There were four showers separated by waist-height walls. They gave a little privacy but not a great deal. The changing area was completely open and it wasn’t possible to dress with any privacy – the door into the shower room had a window open to the wing, and anybody passing by, including female officers, could look in. Prison officers regularly patrol the landings but rarely venture into the showers so, of course, this is where scores are settled and deals are done. I should have noticed by now when I walk into the changing area and get undressed that the guys in there just walk out. It’s as though they know something. Something I don’t know.
It doesn’t click to me though. I’m so upset that I don’t think about the fact that people may have just been setting for me this whole time. They were just waiting in the wings. They were just waiting for the moment that I was alone.
“Your bulldog not here fi you?” a voice states.
I’ve been followed. The voice is like some deep drastic tone. There were many of them. I count 8. Some of them I’d recognized with the Yardies. Others were new. All I knew was that my heart was racing. I began walking and he immediately grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him. I froze because I did not understand what was happening. He began kissing me, I tried to pull away so he grabbed me with a lot of force. He was hurting me a lot but I didn’t feel it at the moment. He unclung my towel which was the only thing I had separating me and my naked body. One of the guys he was with catches the towel and sniffs it before immediately getting hard.
“Fuck ‘im. Fuck ‘im good.”
“No fuck you!” I state.
That’s when I hit him. I hit Buddha and when he releases me I hit the next one. I’m flinging my arms wildly fighting back but no matter how hard I swing or how brave I was going to be—-I couldn’t fight them off. All I could think about was showing them some sort of pain in these moments. I wanted to show them a little bit of what they made me feel.
I wake up bruised and bloodied. Fighting back had made it worse. According to the doctors I had been beaten to an inch of my life. I spend days in and out of surgery wondering if I would ever survive. A part of me doesn’t want to.
My feelings during being raped were an overwhelming sense of betrayal. Not even towards the Yardies. They were animals. It was towards him—-Lynch. Someone who I thought I trusted that had literally just thrown me to the wolves.
“We brought someone you would want to see—-” a voice states.
It’s the same doctor who had treated me for the rape the first time. It’s the very same fucking doctor. She looks at me and I can tell that she feels bad for me. For a moment I swear I see tears in her eyes as well.
I look up and that’s when I see him. Grayson. He was a prisoner too but in another block. By the looks of my husband, his block was a lot nicer than mines was. He looks at me for a minute as though struggling to recognize me with what I looked like after I was attacked. He runs over to me, grabbing me, holding me…keeping me close. For a moment I want to feel safe again. I mean, there I was, sobbing, my nose running, retching…
“I want to die—-” I tell him, “I want to—-”
I stop talking. Grayson wasn’t the only visitor that had been there. There was someone sitting off to the side that I had not noticed after the multiple surgeries. I wondered how long he had been there. How long had they allowed him to be there?
“Worm—-I’m so sorry—-I…” he starts off saying.
I just start breaking down at this point. I can’t even talk. I feel so fucking bad for myself that I’m just crying. I couldn’t imagine what I looked like right now. I could feel the scars all over my face. I’d probably never recover. I’d probably never look the same. I had been raped and disfigured by these fucking monsters while he was busy getting his dick sucked.
It was all sad. All so fucking sad.
“I don’t think he wants to see you,” Grayson tells him.
“I just want to explain,” Lynch argues, “I got some bad news. Some fuckin horrible news from the courts. I shouldn’t have let you out on your own. I should have.”
“Get the fuck out. You’re dead to me…” I tell him.
“I was being selfish. I…”
“You heard what the fuck he said yo. You hard of fuckin hearing?” Grayson asks.
“I’m going to give him something.”
“He doesn’t want shit from you.”
“Who’s gonna stop me from giving it to him?” Lynch asks.
They were going to fight. I knew Lynch. I knew he was pop off. I thought I knew Grayson. I thought he was this calm, collected person but obviously, I was wrong. He had one image for me and another image for the streets. Right now he isn’t backing down from Lynch and I’m worried things are going to escalate and escalate fast.
“I’ll take it.”
Lynch hands me a letter with Grayson looking angrily around. I have no doubt Grayson has gotten some intel from Tavontay on how Lynch has been acting in the Jungle.
“I’m sorry…” Lynch states, after handing me his letter, “That’s just my apology.”
“Honestly I don’t give a fuck.”
The first time I was raped, I tried to stay the innocent person I was. This time—something changed. A little piece of hope in me died and I didn’t think it would ever go back to where it was. Grayson keeps looking at Lynch. It’s that lingering stare. The kind of lingering stare that makes someone uncomfortable enough that Lynch finally nods and walks out. The look of anger and depression drafted all over his face.
After he’s gone Grayson comes to the side of the bed. Grayson was always a protector. A part of me always knew there was a dangerous side to him. How he didn’t allow me into certain parts of the house or he didn’t ever like to talk about work. I remembered one time he went to have a talk with a boss of mine who called me a nigger. The next day my boss had a broken arm and an offer of a promotion for me ready. I always knew he had a bad streak but this lifestyle was worse than anything I could ever imagine and the way he looks at me now I wonder if he blames himself for me being here.
“Why were you even around him? He wasn’t anybody in the street. Lynch wasn’t shit but a foot soldier.”
“He got a name for himself here in jail. Plus Pops liked him.”
“Your Pops liked him?”
I nod, “Yeah.”
I knew when Pops liked him. There was a time Pops loved Grayson. After I got arrested though I heard from my cousins that there was some bad energy between Pops and Grayson. Pops blamed Grayson for putting me in a situation where I was arrested. I would have thought the first time Grayson and I was together he’d be more interested in explaining how I was in this position then caring about my relationship with my cellmate.
Right now though he seems jealous. It’s obvious. There’s no other way to describe the boiled up heat he has when he gets up.
“I’m coming to the Jungle. I’m getting transferred at the end of the week.”
Grayson shrugs, “A favor. The Warden owes me. I’ll try to get your cell changed too. You don’t need Lynch anymore. Got it?”
I think about it. I want to be mad at Grayson right now but I couldn’t. I don’t care why he’s angry right now. All I know is that he was angry and he’s always been there for me when I needed him. I wanted someone in the Jungle. Someone I could trust. Not someone who was going to leave me hanging so that he gets his dick sucked.
“I got it. Here—-you can toss this.”
It’s Lynch’s letter.
“You sure. You not even curious about what it says.”
Fuck Lynch. He was a fucking asshole. What he did was unforgivable. There was nothing—-nothing in the world that could have happened to make him abandon me in the way that he did. He was selfish. He was all about himself. If I never saw Lynch again, it wouldn’t make a fucking difference to me anyhow.
“Well, I want to see—-“
“Suit yourself. I don’t give a fuck.”
“Look at bae being a badass. Asshole Avonte. Keep that same energy bae. You’ll need it.”
Grayson opens the letter. He’s going through it while we’re in the ward. I ignore it still steaming from the situation I was finding myself in. I was a walking target as far as I was concerned. However, something weird happens. I turn back around to see if Grayson is done reading but I see his face. Something in that letter has really gotten to him. Something in that letter has brought some shock into his world. The kind of shock that he didn’t realize.
“What does it say?”
“You said you didn’t care. You care now?”
“Nah I don’t care—-just curious. Your face changed.”
“It’s nothing man. Asshole Avonte remember,” he states before quickly ripping up the letter into separate parts and throwing it in the trash, “I’m going to try to get you some lunch. Turkey or that off meat shit.”
“Only two options?”
He shrugs, “Pretty much.”
“Off meat shit then, I guess. Pretty sure that turkey gave me the shits the other day. Pretty sure that’s off-turkey shit. All this shit is processed…”
“I”ll go see what I can do bae.”
He leaves. The look on Grayson’s face was weird though. There had to have been a reason he tore up that letter as fast as he did. I knew Grayson. Everything he did was intentional. He was the most calculated man I knew. For a gangster, I swear he definitely did a lot of office work. I’d seen it myself. I saw how he spent all days at his desk back home pushing numbers. Now that I know what kind of numbers he was counting, it didn’t change the fact that he worked hard. Nothing really upset Grayson but something in that letter upset him.
I walk to the trash trying desperately to figure out what it was. Fuck Lynch—-still. But, you know? I was curious.
So here I am, shuffling through god knows what—-we were still in the ward—-for pieces of the letter. Most of it is unreadable but I get to two parts. The first reads.
Now you know all the things I’ve done. Now you see the monster I am. I hope I don’t scare you.
I’m assuming that he explained to me in that letter all the crimes he had done. Probably all the real reasons the guy was locked up in a harsh prison like this. I can’t really put two and two together before that with how Grayson tore up the letter.
But then I see the second part. The second part definitely had more detail.
I wasn’t mad at you. I was mad at myself. They are going to decide if I am going to get the death penalty. Unless the fuckin’ skies open up—I’m sure I will. I’m sure I am going to be sentenced and put to death.
My heart is racing. I said that Lynch couldn’t possibly have had a reason to be distracted away from protecting me.
I may have been wrong.,