Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Story of the Six-Man cell-Elkins (Part 6)

Jamie and I were the first ones into the Six-Man cell with Chunks and Elkins. There seemed to be a relatively peaceful air about the cell until Jamie and Chunks were introduced and realized they were from the same part of North Las Vegas. Thereafter, Elkins was the target of every conversation he attempted to join. That very first night, Jamie must have told him to "Shut the F**k" a dozen times. I swear that Elkins bald head glowed with frustration and anger all night long in that dark cell. Before sun came up though, Elkins, was moving around the cell and running water for his morning obligations. His passive-aggressive nature assumed that this early wake-up avenged the late night laughter and conversations that kept him awake late into night. But we are generally unaffected by this. It's part of the thick skin thing. No one reacted, no one moved.

And so went the morning conversations as we all rose to get ready for breakfast and work. I rarely said anything, waiting for space at the sink to open up and some bodies to clear out. This way I never became a target of someone's morning grumpiness. On that first morning, I saw that Beau wasn't a laughing, joking type in the morning either. But instead of staying in bed to catch a few extra minutes of sleep or hanging back until Elkins had finished at the sink, he jumped down and easily made the bed, dressed, fixed a cup of coffee, and took a piss before Elkins had put his boots on. He was the first one out of the cell when the door was unlocked.

Thirty minutes later, with everyone mingling out in the common areas and waiting for breakfast, I rose and puttered about the cell. Biscuits and gravy this morning. No big deal, but I like to get up to the chow hall and drink some milk. Sometime in the near future I think I will start to work out and I think milk is a pretty good start to the day for healthy eaters. I'm pretty out of shape and feel like shit most of the time- especially when I think about all the energy and stamina I had as a younger man.

Getting old sucks, getting old in prison REALLY sucks. What a dumbass I was to get into that drug game again and start in on my old addictions. I swear it's going to go down a lot different the next time. I have a boy that needs me in his life and it would be an unbearable agony to know that my example led him into a life of crime he was unable to get out of before coming to prison. Imagine that, doing prison time with my son. Ughh... That boy's got a bright future if things and people just.....

The door opens behind me and Elkins voice follows it closing, "F**king incompetent bastards never call a meal at the same time two days in a row. Worthless morons- and they're telling me what to do all day."

"Biscuits and gravy is a very complicated meal", I point out. "especially when all the meat has to be bagged up and stolen before they pan it up." Elkins and I have been trading negative humor for a few weeks. We are both from Chicago and he really appreciates that connection, regardless the condescending tone he takes with me at least once everyday.

"And the fat, lazy cops up there are too busy trying to find ways around work to create an efficient and effective routine. Morons. And they say that we are a drain on the economy."

I pulled on my boots and watched as he prepped his coffee mug with creamer and sweetened for work. He was such a creature of habit that in a few days I had learned how many cups of coffee he drank at the factory-and I didn't work anywhere near the factory. (five, by the way. He planned it that way-the morning cup, the pre-lunch cup, the post-lunch cup, the afternoon break cup, and the end of day cup.)

"These idiots had me hot last night," he began, and I inwardly groaned because I hate listening to him talk trash about people behind their backs. I seem to be his only audience for this and, somewhere behind my conscience, I feel like I must be ashamed of this. " You think that shit's funny-staying up all night laughing and telling stupid stories about USP's and bit*ches on the street. If they keep it up, I'm going to say something. And I know when I say something they aren't going to like it and one of them is going to get slick at the mouth. I might be almost 50, but I've been places and done some shit they couldn't dream of. I'll surprise ' em"

"What did I do?" There was that uptalk that Beau accused me of before he even knew my name. "Don't look at me like I kept you up all night. I went straight to sleep".

"That's because you're thoughtless, there's nothing getting in the way of you falling asleep doing Ariel flips in a bi-plane. I heard you laughing up there last night, you thought that sh*t was funny. You and Chunks..nothing to say...just a bunch of aggravating laughter." "You sit there like a fly on the wall and avoid their attention. I won't put up with their childishness. If they keep me up all night tonight, I will say something in a way that one of them has to react- then we'll see whose the tough guy with the big mouth."

Did he really say that? I wondered. I remember thinking that, even though Elkins was a big guy and had been in the Marines, and he was probably as intelligent as he always boasted, he was also on the bottom bunk by medical approval for a bad back. He was almost 50 and the only exercise he ever did was run the track. These guys that had just moved into the cell were workout maniacs.

I didn't particularly like Elkins but his strength and decency were evident beneath the negativity and bluster. I didn't want to see him get into a situation with these guys that he wasn't able to walk away from with bruises and disciplinary reports.

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