I Get Busy, Mo!

S. Abbas Raza in The Smart Set:

Screenhunter_10As it turned out, the man who was led to my cell and put in it with me about an hour later was a very large (about 6 foot 4, 250 pounds) man wearing a Mark Ecko sweatshirt and white sneakers, both covered in dried blood because earlier that evening he had stabbed someone he later described to me as “that Mexican nigga” during a robbery. He came in and casually pushed my legs off the bunk, not bothering to say anything. I knew that this was my cue to get tough, but at that moment I happened to be far too busy concentrating on not peeing my beltless, falling-off pants to actually think of something to say. It got worse. He looked at me with contempt and asked what I was in for, and when I tried to answer with a non-committal reply (I obviously didn’t want to admit to my fruity suspended-license rap), to my shock and horror my voice cracked out of nervousness and I heard myself stutter something incomprehensible in a higher-pitched falsetto than a goddamned Bee Gee. This, of course, amused my new friend to no end, and out of pity, I suppose, and good humor he reassured me that he would not hurt me. I realized that it is one thing to yell at my cat at home and scare her, or even at some annoying bureaucratic drudge or other behind a car-rental counter, and quite another to try and intimidate someone who is covered in the blood of his last attempted-murder victim and looks as if he could break me in two at the drop of his sideways-worn baseball cap. I now swore to myself that if I made it through this night in anything resembling wholeness, no matter how tempting, I would never ever do anything that had even an infinitesimal chance of landing me in an actual prison, where I now knew with certainty that I would last all of about three nanoseconds.

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