Shot Caller

The nearby river crested a few days ago, and the facility is no longer in danger of flooding—a shame, really. I was hoping the waters would breach the banks and wash this miserable place away, prisoners and all.

Last week, when potential flooding was still a concern, there were rumors that the prison would be evacuated and inmates would be shipped to a newly built facility in the Northeast. Eventually, a town hall meeting was called and we were told that, at worst, all inmates would be moved to the unit's top ties, and communication with the outside would be temporarily interrupted. I think my troubles with Duke have been solved, if only for a brief while. A few weeks ago, his pestering turned to harassment when he warned me that he'd seen my case in the Law Library.

Theoretically, if you know the district where an inmate is from, you can search for them in the Law Library's computer system, find their court case, and learn what their charge is. My cellmate showed me how it's done.

There's an old man here, a former lawyer with white hair, thick-rimmed glasses, and a protruding gut. He spends most of his time in the Law Library helping other inmates file appeals, but I've heard he snitches on people whose papers aren't clean, so I steer clear of him.

For his demonstration, my cellmate performed a search on the computer for the old man's name and found his court case within seconds: He was sentenced to 35 years in prison for paying an undercover FBI agent to allow him to watch her 12-year old daughter have sex with his 11-year-old son and to participate in the act.

I performed a search for my own name and found several hits. Luckily, my name is only mentioned as it pertains to entering my guilty plea, and the exact charge is never divulged. I was relieved. So why would Duke warn me that my case is in the computer if the charge isn't even listed? He wanted to see if I'd squirm and blow my cover story.

I didn't let that happen. When he told me he'd seen my case, I shrugged it off.

"So?" I asked.

"Just lookin' out for you, bud," he said and walked away.

A few days later, I was climbing the stairs to my unit after eating lunch and found him waiting for me—hiding, really—on one of the landings.

"Hey, man. How come I never see you anymore? You gotten too big now? Forgotten about the little people?" He was staring up at me from two steps down and smirking.

"Hey, do you smoke?" He pinched his thumb and pointer fingers together and raised them to his lips to imply he meant weed.

"No," I said and continued up the stairs.

Afterwards, he sat on a bench outside my unit and waited to catch me on my way out to the library. I stayed inside. Yesterday evening, the Duke drama came to a head when my busybody of a cellmate, after having venting my frustrations to him, shared my predicament with a white member of our unit who then told the shot caller for the Christians.

Before coming here, I thought "shot caller" was a term reserved for rap songs. In prison, a shot caller is the car leader who "calls the shots." Much like the President of the United States, the shot caller can, among other things, declare war on other cars within the compound.

After speaking to the white Christian shot caller, a sort of modern day Him Hones, he explained that he couldn't allow the Christians to intercede because I'm not one of them—I'm not a true Christian.

I was pissed, not because the Christians had refused to help, but because I had never asked for anyone's help in the first place, nor did I want anyone's help. It's impossible to take a shit here without the whole compound knowing. All I want is to be left alone to do my time in peace. I'm not here to make friends or enemies or find God; I'm here to pay my debt and move on with my life.

Okay, so I'm not a true Christian. Jim Jones called my bluff. If it were up to me, I wouldn't have gotten involved in any car, Christian or otherwise, but prison leaves you no choice. Your identity is determined by who you talk to, who you bunk with, and where you sit during chow. Association is just as unavoidable as privacy. After talking to the shot caller, I was angry at the world and was prepared to confront Duke and defend myself at whatever the cost.

Then, as luck would have it, Duke was caught stealing from a corrections officer and sent to the hole that very night. He'll remain in solitary confinement for up to three months, so I'm safe for now.

Why couldn't that river have just washed this shit hole and everyone in it off the map?