Store day

Lewis, Kevin



Store Day Life, how precious and very fragile it is. A fact never far from your mind if you are unfortunate enough to call prison your home. The day starts like any other, at the level IV state prison, hot! By 8 a.m. I know it's going to be another scorcher, but I take solace in the fact that today starts 3rd draw, store day for me and everyone else here whose last 2 digits of their CDC #'s fall between 66 and 99. As I make my way through the fucked up, inconvenient, and totally useless process of the metal detector, I realize how the average American must feel these days when boarding an airplane. I just hope the airlines do a better job of preventing what they're trying to prevent, than CDC does with the farce they force us to endure of removing our shoes, glasses, and watches, when they know as well as we do that everyone who wants a knife on the yard today (and any other day for that matter) will have one. But if appearances alone could prevent stabbings there would be no stabbings at all in CDC, because they make it look real good! Once through the metal detectors and after putting our shoes back on, we are hearded outside only to face the next stage of their high security contraband prevention system - the pat down. If you can get a female officer, the pat down isn't so bad. But who wants to have another man's hands all over their body? Not me that's fa' sho'! Unfortunately there are no female c/o's among the 8 lined up on either side of the walkway this day. So seeing that I'm assed out I stop in front of the nearest c/o and assume the position, legs spread wide, arms extended at 90° angles from body, while c/o touchy feely, proceeds to run his hands up my legs, around my waiste, and over my stomach, chest, back, arms and neck. In what like the metal detector is, 99 times out of 100 a fruitless, yet always humiliating (unless it's a female) search. Strangely, feeling no safer, I finally complete the security measures and make my way to the weight pile in order to give my I.D. card to the c/o running the store. But even though the quicker I get there, the quicker my name will be called, I set a slow measured pace across the yard. Regardless how many people rush past me in an effort to get there first. In my experience it's better to move slow in here unless called into action. I finally make it to the weight pile, which, thanks to a system that continues to remove all stress relieving activities (such as family visits for lifers, weights, and cigarettes) from the prison population, no longer contains weights. It's just roughly a 40' x 20' enclosed dirt area with maybe 20 stations of stationary iron bars for pull-ups, dips, curls, and sit-ups. Once the c/o has my I.D. I walk to the 2 dip stations in the far corner. On the furthest of these 2 woods take turns doing dips. "Wood" is short for Peckerwood, the term most whites in prison prefer being called. The loudest of the 2 is a tall bald headed dude in jeans a t-shirt and boots. From their various tattoos I can tell he, like the shorter chubby one are skin heads. The fatter one, in shorts a t-shirt and a baseball cap, I've seen before, but the other one I never have. Which means he probably just got to the yard. In here it behooves you to remember faces, and remember them well. As I begin my second set of dips a youngsta from the "Town" (the way Blacks from the Bay Area refer to Oakland, CA) comes over to provide some comic relief. I say that because he'll most likely only do 2 or 3 sets. But he'll post up with me as long as I'm here supposedly keeping Usalama (Swahili for security), but really just cracking jokes and passing time. I don't mind because although I don't tell many jokes myself I still enjoy a good laugh. And in here sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Plus any security beats no security even if it comes in the form of a 6'3" 150 lb. wanna-be comedian. All around us men are pulling and pushing their stresses and frustrations into the iron bars. Minding their own business and doing their own time. Hoping that the next incident that pops off doesn't involve them. A group of Crips rotate on the pull-up bars, encouraging each other to get that money. Some southern Mexicans are on the sit-up bench doing decline push-ups while laughing and joking in Spanish. Names are being called for the canteen and one by one men are being let through the gate as others return with laundry bags full of groceries. The ones who are able reach into their bags to pass out icees, sodas, and sometimes whole pints of ice cream to their closest friends and allies to help them beat the heat. Most of those returning are greeted by helpful homies who assist them in toting their bags back across the yard to the building. People in society would be amazed at how generous the average convict is. Finally after about 20 sets of dips and 40 or so jokes, they call my name. So the homie and I walk the 25 feet to where the c/o has the gate open. As I get there I remember that I've left the laundry bag, I was gonna use to carry my canteen, by the dip bars. But what I see when I turn around lets me know I will not be needing it, for I won't be getting any store today. As I turn around to stroll back to the dip bars to retrieve the laundry bag my eyes catch a quick flurry of movement at the bars right next to the ones I've just left. Once I focus on that movement I see the big wood clutch his neck and stagger backwards as a fountain of blood shoots through his fingers at least 15 feet in the air. The heavy wood is on him as he retreats to the fence sticking him wherever he sees an opening. From where I am I can't really see the knife, but I know it's there by the way he pokes instead of punches. About this time the gun tower yells "get down," which is standard procedure whenever he spies an incident taking place. So I along with the rest of the yard sit down where we're standing, never taking our eyes off the action. Which of course is still ongoing. The chubby wood is continuing his assault while the tall one with his back against the fence is trying to use his foot to keep him at bay. But you can see with every limp half hearted kick that he has less and less strength in his body. Blood is still gushing from his neck in all directions and his face and t-shirt are crimson on his right side. All of a sudden a loud crack pierces the air. The sound of the gun tower's mini-14 exploding. But its only a warning shot and the fat wood doesn't even flinch. His prey is still on his feet so he's still attacking, trying to land the blow that will bring him down. By now the guy's defensive kicks are only slow motion leg raises and it's evident adrenaline is the only thing keeping him on his feet. As a second explosion rings out, the heavier wood pitches over almost simultaneously. He lets out a painful "Ooomph" and grabs his side. No sooner than he falls the bald wood does the same. Only he doesn't really fall. It's more like he crumbles straight down. From standing to sitting with his legs Indian style and his head leaned eerily to the side all in one lifeless motion. From the way he sinks and doesn't move a muscle I know without a doubt, as do most of the men around me, that after 14 years in captivity I've just witnessed my first penitentiary murder. So as I sit and watch the goon squad coordinate the crime scene, and the nurses deal with two individuals, one of whom is obviously already dead, I can't help but trip off how quickly it all went down. Just minutes ago I was not 3 feet from where the dead man lays, laughing at the homies tired jokes and hoping the store wouldn't be out of chips when my turn came. Never knowing just how close the grim reaper was the whole time. Written by: Mr. Kevin D. Lewis [ID] C.S.P. - LAC; D4-105 P.O. Box 4670 Lancaster, CA 93539

Author: Lewis, Kevin

Author Location: California

Date: August 30, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 7 pages

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