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Sunday, November 20, 2011

3 Moves

By: Arnold Prieto Jr.

“Prieto, you’re moving so pack your things and be ready!” is what I hear from a pudgy male CO who’s gums are fighting a losing battle with snuff.

I was already expecting to be moved since the “Powers that be” here on the row started what they considered a “brilliant” idea by shuffling everyone on the row around.

Disappointedly, I yell down a couple of cells to my row dawg Thomas letting him know my name has been in that day’s shuffle, my mind set has been never get too comfortable in one spot, but damn it, my Row dawg and I were in the same living quarters for the first time in a couple of years.  So I couldn’t help but to feel pissed for being part of the shuffle.

I did entertain the thought of refusing to move and stick around for a few more hours until the extraction team extracted me out using chemical agents (tear gas) and by force with their 5 – 6 man team in full riot gear. But being a logical convict, I opted to disregard that fleeting thought.  Plus, we live in a small world so we’d probably meet up again before one of us is put down by the state.  I’m going to miss our conversations and his tutoring which I could surely use right now with my Geometry Course!  I will not fail the course though because by doing so I’d be failing him, Dina, the Swedish Stranger and everyone else who has encouraged me in my studies!!  THAT is something I refuse to do.  I know what it is like when those you truly care about fail you and I’ll be a monkey’s shaved butt before I fail those I care about.  I’ll just have to work slower and study harder…nothing to it, but to do it.

A couple of hours into the evening, I hear the rumbling of the large laundry cart which will be used to carry my property to my new cell.  I travel light so in my 2 mesh bags I carry all my property.  Officer Lee’s eyes light up as she sees I do not have a lot of property to move.

“Thank Goodness you don’t have a lot of property!” she says.  With my 2 bags of property and my mattress loaded into the cart, I was off to my new place…

Looking up to my new cell on the 2nd tier as I’m walking into my new living area, I hear ..

“Conehead!! Sup Mexican!?’  I instantly recognize “The Superfly’s” voice, my old cellie from the old unit Ellis-one.  Seeing bodies fill up the door ways of cells as other convicts walk up to see who has arrived.  Recognizing other voices like Catracho, Cobra, Shy and Shell, some of these guys I haven’t seen in years!  Walking into 56 cell, I kneel while sliding my arms out through the door slot so the officer could take off the handcuffs from my wrists.  Stacking my property bags and mattress on my bunk, I pull out my mirror to start my usual inspection of the cell.  Looking under the bunk, toilet, locker, cracks and crannies for any “hidden contraband” left behind by the prior occupant!  Followed by washing-down and cleaning the cell walls, floor and the sink/toilet unit.  Three days after I moved in, we are put on lockdown for our 6 month building shake-down.  The day we came off lock-down, I was once again notified that I was on the moving list!  8 days after my arrival…

So I reluctantly start packing my property back up again and holler down to Superfly letting him know I was moving again.  A couple of hours later I hear the familiar rumble of the laundry cart rumbling my name out as if to say, “here I come for ya.”

Moving from my original housing, A-pod to B-pod, which are pods located in the front of the buildings.  A-pod is the “show pod” where the Death Watch section is held for those awaiting execution and the pod where free-world tours pass through:  Law students, future ranking officers who are in training, etc.  Even the governor has reared his ugly head there.  So A-pod was always in pristine shape!, with fresh painted walls and shiny mopped floors.   Poor saps.  If only they actually paid attention, they’d see the wool covering their blind eyes!

Now I was heading to the back of the buildings to F-pod.  F-pod is where they house Level II and III status inmates who have their level status dropped from level one for catching a disciplinary case.  So I knew the living area scenery was about to drastically change because the pod itself has been a place of fires, chemical agents, etc….But at the moment F-pod was basically empty!

Walking into F-pod, the smell of old smoke hits my nose, the kind of smoke that is part of the place…

“Prieto! Qué rollo Holms?!”  I hear Pewee and Lil JoJo hollar out, I also hear Saint, Ghetto, Big Money, Smoke and Big Country.  Walking up the stairs leading to the 2nd tier I see the wall next to a cell burned from the floor up to the ceiling leaving behind a wickedly looking collage of dancing shadows.

After they placed my bags and mattress into 14 cell I started to walk into the cell only to freeze in mid-step.  Stepping back, the escort officer saw what had caught my attention.  The bottom of the locker had a long piece of metal missing!  The pod officer instantly said that it was already documented and that I had nothing to worry about.

Walking into my now cell with heightened senses, they rolled the door closed and opened the bean slot so I could put my hands through it.

Placing my bags and mattress on the bunk I quickly pull out my mirror to begin my normal inspection with a more précised intent.  5 razor blades and about 15 feet of wire later, I felt comfortable enough to start cleaning the cell and shelfing my property…

At exactly 8 days later, I am being told that I’m on the moving list once again!  Crossing my arms, I look the CO in his eyes with the intention of talking crazy to him…but kept myself in check.  He must of seen it in my face…

“Man, Prieto, you’re not the only one being moved after being moved…”

I start packing my property yet again and do so while counting to 10.  As I am being escorted back to the front of the building to B-pod again, but on the other side of it, I shake my head and laugh to myself, thinking how these folks can’t make up their mind…

“SOBRINO!! What cell are you going into!!?”

The booming voice of Big Lou causes a small stir within the quiet section.

“5 cell, Big Homie!” was my response.  I’ve known that man for years, a solid convict and the best chef on Death Row!

Soap and toilet paper was the first think I saw…up on the ceiling where our cell window is located.  A leaky cell!  Haven’t been around Big Lou for a couple of years.  I bit my tongue and walked into my new leaky cell.  Going from a pristine cell to a leaky cell 3 moves later.  I know I would have to tear down all that build-up on the ceiling and re-do it properly ‘cause this was done by someone who really didn’t want to do it.  I’ll have to do it right the first time because rain was expected a few days later and there had to be time for it to dry.  Well, it did rain, but not a heavy rain pour.  The good thing though was that it held good and water did not stream down my back wall flooding my floor.  Constantly keeping an eye out for black mold catching on.

So far I have been in this cell for 3 ½ weeks and it’s looking like 5 cell, B-pod will be my permanent residence until my name comes up in the shuffle again.

***



© Copyright 2011 by Arnold Prieto Jr and Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
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