Hero Apomixis Chapter 11

 

hero-chapter-8-10-1

 

Synopsis of Hero Apomixis by C.A. Seller

Hero Apomixis is a work of stream of consciousness written over 22 months while the author was incarcerated in Attica Correctional Facility in 2000/01. A story of tortuous experience at the hands of a broken social services system, bad parenting, and the Prison Industrial Complex, Hero begins to lose his mind as evidenced by fantacide and dreamories only interrupted by prison feedings. Hero is either a victim or a sociopath. The book challenges us to ask, “What would you do?”

“If you like Dante, if you like Bosch, if you like Burroughs, you’ll dig the brutally dark brilliance of C.A. Seller’s HERO APOMIXIS. A rare stroke of ever darkening courage. Welcome to hell.” Ron Whitehead

 

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

It was, “Yawn,” time to go sleepy-bye. Another day without

any major upset or incident was a good day gone in Attica,

or anywhere else, so far as Hero was concerned. Time to go

sleepy-bye. Deep.. sleeping .. dark ….

“YAH, MON! DUB, MON! DUB!! BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!! BOOMBOOM-

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!! BOOM-BOOM- JAH RASTAFARI!! SELASIE I,

HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!!”

General’s tape player woke him up choking sleep from Hero

with the fool hypocrite’s choice of musical message sent

out at what must have been closer to 4:00 a.m. than 3.

He gave up and chose earplugs over General’s blood and when

earplugs were scarce he used damp toilet paper. Once in

he went right back to sleep.

“Fucking faka-Jamaican, pussy-clot, to Ras, Bumbaclod,”

Treasure. The aching bones of Hero’s hands as he washed

his dishes in stinging cold water. When he was a boy he

would tell his mother that he was sick. Looking back he’d

learned that it was only the loneliness of being a member

of his family that had made him think he was ill. Leftovers

of that behavior showed in his subliminal desire to be

ill – long believing that he could garner some sympathy

because he sure as hell wasn’t going to get any affection.

It was a cyclical pattern that he went through with much

mental hand wringing until the recuperative powers of his

spirit would rescue him, usually with full force. Now he

was afraid. Over the years Hero had begun to see NYSDOCS

a lot like he’d seen his parents; she’d never believed him –

sick or not – and when ill, treated his complaints as an

added annoyance to his very existence. Mentally, had she

been as erudite as she thought she was, Hero’s mother might

have realized that her feelings towards her son were exactly

the same as those she had for a peculiar old table radio

her mother had owned for decades. That radio, although

it appeared to be in working order, was full of nothing but

static and at best it received a couple of AM stations that

were in a foreign language. The box was beautiful, a very

polished red wood of some kind but the guts were old, ravaged

by time and cockroaches.

Hero Sr. terrorized him more than he beat him. His mother had an internal battle quietly going on way down inside her stale,

bitter, almond seed smelling bowels. Hero was her son. That

spark of recognition from this human Frigidaire tortured

him much more effectively than she could have ever known,

clarifying all her efforts as they had lasted long after

her icy blue heart had stopped beating. Hero had felt tolerated

although at the time he wasn’t aware of it. And, just

like his mother, NYSDOCS had never said, “I love you,” either.

(Even after Hero had said it first.) Not as a boy and not

as a man. Never.

“Just as well,” Hero intuited because he knew that she

wouldn’t have meant it anyway. She was ulcerous turmoil

drenched in Witch Hazel; a crushed, smoldering cigarette –

half as long – in a nearby ashtray. Grammatically correct

to a fault, an expert on what she called “sloppy grammer”

which, like herself, was vague and often indefinable – never

being able to be nailed down on any answer of consequential

import; the flipside of which was to lie shamelessly. She

was a fleshly wraith of bending spine and poor muscle tone,

a small woman of no more than 5’6” – that is when she wasn’t

slouching, which was always – who folk danced some evenings

at the local “Y” but to Hero she never appeared as if she

enjoyed it. Only the revisited memories of her youth spent

picking potatoes in Ohio as a teenager during The Depression.

(Memories are always better.) His father never missed an

opportunity to remind his son that she’d been put in a boarding

school at the age of six and never

been the same since which was a bit of a stretch because

he didn’t meet her until they were both in their twenties.

Hero determined that his father’s observations were somewhat

obtuse – even stupid or useless. The old man was a

poor minister of his own propaganda and a consummate, shameless liar, too. He would run Hero in anxious circles so full of desperation that by the time he was in his mid 20’s he’d

begun to ignore most everything the man said. (A slow learner.)

By that time, Hero had summed him up in one complete and

simple catch-phrase: “He’s a flip artist.” And it didn’t

get anymore accurate than that.

 

All these weren’t the most positive thoughts Hero could

entertain in preparation for his visit to sick call but

he believed that it was better to be prepared as one never

knew just exactly what, or more precisely, who one might

be forced to have to deal with trying to get what one needed.

The company returned from breakfast making too much noise

as usual. Waffles, considered a good breakfast, could do

that – make guys happy, although the syrup was definitely

suspect. (Everyone said it was watered down; Hero said,

“Yeah, dishwatered down.”)

So, yeah, happy – as men could be in situations like these –

most of them responded to the pressure by behaving like big

juvenile delinquents: singing rude rap lyrics as they made

their ways back to their cells – shouting to one another

– whooping and barking .

Yo! Yo! Yo, Demo! Yo, son, sen’ me a rolly, son!”

The speaker’s tone told Hero exactly what the relationship

was between Demo and the supplicant: familiar and confident

that his request would be granted, yet acquiescent of his

more than probable inferiority to Demo’s knuckle game which

the voice hadn’t attempted to test and didn’t sound as if

he would. Demo didn’t bother to answer. Hero assumed he sent

his homey a roIly anyway.

At 8:20 A.M. someone’s television was blaring the theme

song from CHIPS, that show about two motorcycle cops in L.A.

The city where six policemen dragged a black guy out of his

car and then proceeded to beat fire out of him with their

nightsticks during a “routine” traffic stop. The officers

initial explanation, which was later denied, was:

“Do you have any idea just how hard it is to swing a nightstick

inside a car?”

At the first trial, the jury was either clinically brain

dead or fixed and as a result almost half of South Central

was looted and burned. According to the news – things

were better now – only the week before, one member of the

LAPD admitted that he and his partner had shot a handcuffed

Latino and then planted an assault weapon on him. The kid

wasn’t even a suspect. He got 23 years and doesn’t do the

Macarena too good no more. The only reason the cop fessed-up

was because he’d been caught trying to steal a half-a-kilo

of coke from the police evidence lock-up.

“Pulp Fiction” or “Chinatown” (you know what? fuck you).

Then, faster than you can say “Reservoir Dogs” he ratted out

everyone but his own mother. About a dozen cops went down for the same shenanigans: grabbing suspected drug dealers,

shaking them down, beating and shooting them cuffed, and

then making up outrageous charges that got them put away

for the rest of their lives.

One of the two cases that Hero was doing time for had been

a bad arrest. He’d delivered dope via bicycle using a beeper,

a cell phone, and sometimes he carried a programmable police scanner with an ear hook-up just like the Secret Service guys used. One day he was introduced to a guy in the street who said

he knew another customer of Hero’s, Brian the Booster, only

they should have called him Brian the Boob because he was

such an asshole. Hero didn’t like him. He always had small

chavol and made big complicated arrangements whenever he

wanted to cop – like he had pressing business or something

boosting Harlequin Romance paperbacks or whatever

the fuck it was that loser was doing for money at the time.

(Quiet as it’s kept, rumor had it that Brian was also known

as Brian the Mouth for his considerable skill at sucking

tokens out of turnstiles.)

Hero used to boost books, although he’d been strictly into

art, photography, and architecture; the other junkies started

calling him “King of the Boosters” because he’d perfected

a system that enabled him to take down a better than $200 a

day habit. He was really smug, it was nauseating.

“You’re a real fucking asshole, “ Hero had told him on more

than one occasion and, “you are a real fucking jerk-off,

Brian, did you know that? A fucking jerk-off.”

After a while, abusing customers like Brian became the

only reason to serve them at all. As an experienced user

and dealer of heroin, Hero learned that most junkies

were overcome by their own worst personality traits

as they slid into blind resignation of the fact that they

could not maintain their habits in this society without lots

of money. It made them pathetically insufferable at best.

“Now you know why they call it dope,” Hero would tell them.

The guy that Brian sent was waiting on the corner of

Lafayette and Great Jones with another of Hero’s customers,

a kid named Jake, who approached him when he arrived pointing

to a heavy set white dude with fried, shoulder length blond hair and a matching beard and mustache. Hero thought he was one of these New Jersey guys he’d been meeting. He thought wrong.

He let Jake call him over and then the three of them walked

north on Lafayette while Hero’s new “customer” told him that

he’d gotten his number from Brain who had just,”gone around

the corner to make a phone call – probably to call you.”

“So, what do you want?”

Hero opened a bag with a small flip knife, cut a straw

in half and stuck it in …. . closed the knife and returned

it to the waistband of his bike shorts As he reached to hand

dude the bag, he said, “Here, this one’s on me … ,” and suddenly,

dude grabbed the dope and spun behind Hero, who felt a thick

hairy forearm wrap around his neck, and a leg in front of

one of his just before he went sailing face down into the

pavement where the UC’s free hand bounced his head off of

the concrete opening a gash over his right eyebrow that

took five stitches to close.

When they got Hero to the hospital, the other UCs tried

to get him to flip: who did he work for? Where did he get

his shit? etc., etc. They always tried their hardest when

a suspect was considered most vulnerable – very much in keeping within the bounds of The Constitution, Hero was sure.

Politely, he told them nothing and they got the picture pretty

fast seeing as how he wasn’t too shaken up by his arrest or

the gash in his head. That, and they’d ran his name on their

little dashboard computer. Hero had been on the job longer

than most of them; his first adult arrest having been in 1986.

With bail stashed the only thing he was sweating was

when he would get to see a judge.

The kops asked him how he felt about what had happened

with the UC, the one who had slammed Hero’s face into

the sidewalk entirely unprovoked. This was a set-up: almost

anything close to the truth could be used against him to

support their certain charge of resisting arrest.

He really ran off at the mouth they might even add a charge:

“Making Threats to a Police Officer.”

Hero often wondered what it was that kept the police from

making up whatever stories they wanted, forgetting for the

moment that he’d been lucky in that department – so far.

The bump on his head was slowing his thoughts, muddling them, which wasn’t such a bad thing considering the last question

these self-righteous Nazi motherfuckers had asked him.

“He was just doin’ his job – no hard feelings.”

A couple of the younger kops got tight; a short, goatee’d

Puerto Rican kop in particular. He was crying to the ranking

detective about how, “He thinks he’s fuckin’ slick! Blah,

blah, blah, he thinks he’s funny, blah, blah, blah, fuckin’

drug dealing scum, blah, blah, revolving door justice, blah

blah, blah!”

Hero felt good knowing he’d caught that asshole’s vein.

Before it was over, J. Edgar Hoover here managed to aggravate

the shit out of all of them – for which Hero silently gave

himself a hearty pat on the back for a job well done. And

the best part was that he didn’t even catch a beating doing

  1. The Manhattan South Narcotics Task Force (MSNTF), widely

recognized by the neighborhood junkies as all sharing the

exact same personality disorder, everyone of them thought

that he was Popeye Doyle.

A few years earlier an Assistant District Attorney (ADA)

in Criminal Supreme Court had said, “Judge, this man is a

career criminal!” He said it as he waived a boney finger in the air.

He desperately tried to keep his composure in

the presence of such an evil degenerate turn style jumper.

“Does that come with a pension or do I need to look into

starting a 401k?” Asked Hero whereupon the entire courtroom

cracked up. The legal aid tried to hide his smile and just

kept shaking his head with his hand over his mouth and even

the judge had himself a good chortle as he had Mr. Hero led

out and back to the bullpens.

“What did I say?” He hammed all the way to the door followed

by two snickering court officers.

Privately? Privately? Privately, Hero hoped that the UC

who broke his head open would be pushed under the wheels

of a garbage truck by some mentally disturbed homeless crack head, or better yet, hit by a Department of Corrections bus

coming straight from Rikers Island to the courthouse. Either

would do nicely. No drawn out painful illness like bone cancer

or ALS, the motherfucker might recover. Better to just take

him out quick and clean; no muss, no fuss.

At Hero’s arraignment, even the judge didn’t believe the

UC’s arrest report. Why any heroin dealer

would ever have to threaten a potential customer – on Lafayette Street and in broad daylight no less – was beyond speculation.

It wasn’t enough to beat the case though, and eventually

he took a plea bargain for a sentence of 2 ½ to 5 years.

They could have just as easily handed him a 4 to 9 and

that’s why he bought his own lawyer.

“Crime pays,” he told his lawyer, “just not as good as

it used to.”

“This seems a little trumped up to me,” the woman conducting

his presentencing interview had said after reading the arrest

He made the $7,500 bail in four days. When parole brought it up, he planned to ask them if they honesty believed that he needed to threaten anyone with a knife to buy $40 worth of heroin from him?

But Hero knew exactly what their response would be. Sidelong

stares and daggers shot out over thick lensed half-glasses,

CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

COUNTY OF NEW YORK

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

-against-

  1. HERO (M 33)

Defendant.

STATE OF NEW YORK)

  1. :

COUNTY OF NEW YORK)

PART F / 50/30

TB 50/

FELONY

ADA CREEP

(212) 181-U812

DET Matty Talcumpowder, shield #9073 of the MSNTF, being duly

sworn, deposes and says as follows:

On July 31, 1997, at about 20:05 hours at F/O 404 Lafayette ST.

in the County and State of New York, the defendant committed the

offense of:

  1. PL 220.16(1) Criminal Possession Controlled Substance 3rd

in that the defendant knowingly and unlawfully possessed a narcotic

drug with intent to sell it.

The offense was committed under the following circumstances:

Deponent states that he is informed by Undercover 6355, of

MSNT-F,–tha–>_6335 approached defendant, told defendant he was a friend of Brian, and that he needed some dope. defendant asked

how much 6355 wanted and 6355 responded four, (“i) defendant-t1ran–[

sic] told 6355 that he did not know 6355 and 6355 would have to

do a bag, (iv) defendant took out a glassine of heroin, pulled out

a knife, and ordered 6355 to do the bag, (v) undercover 6355 than [sic] tackled defendant, Deponent further states that he recovered 36 additional glassines of heroin and $583.00 from the defendant’s person.

Deponent further states that the above described substances

are in fact what they are alleged to be based upon information

and belief, the source of which is as follows: his professional

training as a police officer in the identification of drugs, his

prior experience as a police officer in drug arrests and observation of the packaging which is characteristic of this type of drug. False statements made herein are punishable as a class A misdemeanor pursuant to section 210.45.Of the penal law.

Indicating their express displeasure at having been asked

to so singularly confront the truth as supported by the weight

of the evidence. That, or they just wouldn’t believe him

anyway.

Jughead was locked out to go to church, the weekly politicking

session for the Irish guys from the different cell blocks.

There was a sizable Italian tip over in D-block but they

wouldn’t be joining the fracas; lately it was rumored that

the two camps were gearing up for a beef though Hero didn’t

have a clue as to why.

The Italian Brotherhood (IBH) were most of them obsessed

with a fossilized Mafioso stereotype based on their grandfathers.

(Most of their fathers hadn’t been worth shit.)

Hero saw them like anyone who still idolized Elvis, long,

tasteless, stale, and lame. These were the new breed. The Five Families of the infamous Commission were a dead

dismembered dinosaur that these young men were always waving the dry rotten limbs of, shouting, “We ain’t dead! See? Look, look, we ain’t dead, I tell’ya!”

Hero thought they were hokey twisted imitations of men

who’d been dead for well over 50 years. Albeit, recently

they’d earned an “E” for Effort after five of them were

arrested for smuggling cocaine and hand-held video games

in through the package room.

They were all pretty retarded and Hero did his best to

stay out of their arguments which wasn’t always so easy

as one might think when everyone involved was either paranoid,

stupid or paranoid and stupid.

“You’re either wit’ us – or against us, there ain’t no

in betweens.”

They were worse than the Christians. Hero maintained that

being Jewish around these guys was worse than being black –

it was fronting like you were white. As usual, a lot of guys

didn’t get it but it was worth it for those who did. And

if he laughed at his own jokes? “So what,” he figured, more

as an invitation than any question. Hero never wanted to

lose his sense of humor, he believed laughter was when we

recognized a paradox, and, where the two points of it met,

that’s where humor usually began. Not a Catch-22. The real

Catch-22, not that horribly overused and watered down version

of Catch-22 damned if you do – damned if you don’t, that was something entirely

different. In the book, Catch-22, Yosarian goes to the apartment

where Nately’s whore’s sister lived along with the

rest of the girls only to discover that the M.P.s have run

them all into the street without even their coats. He’s blown

away that the old woman left behind knows Catch-22. It is

here that the paradoxical synonym for abject horror in events

which cannot – and will not – ever make “sense” are defined.

For truly, when Hero reflected on the great distinction and

honor that had been bestowed on the author: to be recognized

for contributing a universally used catch-phrase to the English

language that practically everyone was using incorrectly

was not only so atypical of what consumers we all were, it

was a genuine Catch-22!

Hero believed that these were the integral parts of the

way in which men were changed – for better or worse – by the episodes of adversity in their lives such as war, prison, illness, love, and the absence of love to name just a few. Prisons changed men but wars were much faster and more finite as the opportunities for loss of life and limb were so much greater.

Hero had met a man in his late 70’s who’d been a crewman on a

F1ying Fortress, a bomber, during the Second World War.

He said that he didn’t know what scared was until he’d

experienced getting shot at 20,000 feet in the air and

seeing one of the other boys get hit and die. Hero imagined bullets piercing the thin metal skin of the huge airplane. Shouts

and screams cut short in the high altitude winds as they

were carried away into the cold – and then someone’s chest

heaving up and down as he gasped for air before dying. Some

young man bleeding to death 20,000 feet up in the sky. So

cold, so very, very cold.

So war changed men – and women – and children, too. (For

every one military casualty there were always at least four

civilian.) Certain life situations provided no area for an

individual’s personal safety, or anyone else’s most of the

time; the consumer often needed to be reminded of that. This

way he could be manipulated, told what to hate, who to fight

and most importantly, on the most subtle levels: what to

buy. What to know.

In prisons men turned into something else as

a method of survival. There wasn’t anything romantic about

  1. Hero hadn’t experienced it and it was ugly and

yet another part of his warrior’s spirit observed the transitions

with focused indifference, drinking in every minute

detail of intrigue, subterfuge and battles that raged

behind and before men’s eyes. Some changed in that they

found their limitations but if their image was ever compromised it was one of the greatest consumer mistakes they

could ever make.

When we are born, or any animal for that matter, as soon

as we are capable our parents want us to stand, to walk,

now, now the ground is our enemy – and although we may spend

a great portion of our lives doing many different things,

all along there is one thing that we are always doing and

aware that we are doing even when we think we are not: we

are trying to keep from falling back down to the ground.

After this primary fact all else is frivolous. All else

self-indulgent, selfish, and wanton.

One of the best pieces of advice that Hero ever received

in prison was,

“If it ain’t worth dyin’ for – don’t beef about it .. “

He always kept his fence up and electrified at all times.

Wild Bill had taught him that one. It was exhausting – he

had to be on point to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime; there

was no such thing as backing down in response to acts of

violence, disrespect or intimidation. Oh, and threats –

threats were a big no-no also and not to be tolerated. The self

promotion of greedy selfish causes by scumbags cast a

shadow wherever one looked. It made Hero feel as if his spirit

was being drawn fiber thin down a long and winding slop sink

drain full of dirty brown mop water that was connected to

the drinking fountain out in the A block exercise yard. Respect

was, to a large degree, determined by the amount of heart

a guy displayed in a fight. That was the beauty of building

a reputation: once you’d established that you weren’t putting

up with any bullshit, three quarters of the assholes didn’t even

look in your direction. Of course, there was a price to be paid

and then a few years in the Box.

To punk-out was the ultimate disgrace. That individual

was shunned by everyone and abused by those who didn’t shun

him: the bottom feeders, the rapos, the booty-bandits.

The violence was addictive and exhilarating requiring

very little in the way of intellectual thought. As for fighting,

Hero had learned to strike early and with absolutely

no mercy. Hurt the scumbag as bad as you can and try not

to kill him doing it. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded, killing

someone was way easier than trying to hurt him badly without

killing him; you could stab a guy and he might die later

in his cell from internal bleeding – it was a pretty common

occurrence because no one wanted to go to the clinic and then

get locked-up as well.

 

 

”CLUNK-CLUNK,” and the easy slide of Hero’s gate meant sick

call. He stepped out closing it behind him and headed up

front and then downstairs to 7 company where he waited with

a handful of other inmates just outside the nurses’ station.

When it was his turn, Hero explained what had been going

on with his strange body sensations for the past week. The

overweight and hardly attractive Nurse Boweler checked his

blood pressure, took his temperature, and even looked in

his ears. He noticed that she had sexy pudgy fingers and

sculpted nails just long enough to suggest and allure. They

weren’t pointed suck-me-bitchy and she was

a member of the Facility Health Services staff so all

bets were off: the bitch was either a freak or frigid. You’ve

heard of “fight or flight” haven’t you? Well, this isn’t

too far away from that.

She wore a matching gold wedding band and engagement ring set on the traditional finger. Nurse Boweler, a big phony

prone to writing entirely too much in an inmate’s Ambulatory

Health Record, took her time and Hero was grateful for it

as he sat before her fantasizing about all her tight fat

flesh and what sucking her pussy would be like and – after

all that – he still managed to affect an expression of perplexed helplessness – not too helpless – and worry over his

as yet undiagnosed condition.

Nurse Boweler asked Hero a few questions and he saw that

she’d blushed when he looked into her brown eyes. She was

attracted to him and had he known just what a basket case

she was he would have never got started. Nurse Boweler, in

her travels (Attica High School, Class of ’96), had contracted

one of the most virulent strains of herpes known to man or

beast and had vowed to spread it as far and wide as her

big fat hynie would let her. When she got wet, she became

as uncomfortable as she was aroused. A naturally very horny

girl she was aroused quite often there in her examination

room. Unable to satisfy herself, she took to writing vicious

and absurd suggestions in the inmates’ AHRs. No one ever

read the damn things anyway.

Meanwhile, Hero was thinking of all of those stories he’d

heard about inmates having affairs with counselors, nurses,

teachers, C.O.s, you name it. He’d never had one and suspected

that most of what he’d heard was bullshit anyway,

figuring if he was getting some like that – why would he

ever need to tell anyone!

Right then though he wanted to suck Boweler’s toes and

then open his hot mouth wet and wide over the backs of her

ankles, her knees, and later he’d give her a hickey inside

her thighs before French kissing her nipples, neck, ears

and lips. Hero guessed that she gave great head and, later

on in his cell, naively thought that she was a good girl

who partied but not a slut, just fun, horny, and sensible. The kind of girl who always made sure there was a designated driver.

“Now how the fuck would you know all that?” he asked himself

with a mock air of incredulity. “Huh?” Fantasies ended

when he admitted that he would have fucked her – but only

because he was so horny – and that she wasn’t at all his

type – and further more – that if they ever were a couple

(and she did lose all that weight), she’d probably dump him

for some cop or a lumberjack. Everyone sold themselves in

one way or another. It wasn’t always true but it sure

looked that way most of the time.

Back upstairs, General’s radio sang out, “ … step

all-night-long … ,” it was that pundit of hind-quarter prophecy,

Mary J. Blige. Hero thought she was gorgeous, even if she

said some stupid things now and then. Hero said stupid things

all the time; just who the fuck did he think he was with

his King Shitlovers delusions anyway? The next song had a

sample by Joni Mitchell in it that just didn’t fit. In fact

it sucked. It was by some unknown like a lot of the rap

General played; rudimentary – unpolished in its intellect.

Most of it was very Black but Hero’s particular prejudice

was against the crab-assed small mindedness of the messages

he heard – not the people who delivered them although a

lot of them were pretty obnoxious. Public Enemy and KRS1,

those were the artists he applauded. Maybe Snoop was technically “Da’ Man.” He was also too fucking raunchy and forever waving a blood soaked flag. He talked too much shit, too.

NWA were an angry bygone phenomenon. Now there was Ice-T,

Ice-Cube and probably an Ice-Skates running around out there

somewhere just waiting to be discovered. The corny quality

of rapper’s nicknames grew worse and worse: Old Dirty Bastard,

McGoo, Mystikal (his latest effort was called “Ghetto

Fabulous” ), “Treach” Salt ‘N’ Peppa’“ Gangsta’ ‘Boo, “Noriega”

“Capone” Timbaland (yeah, like the boots), Busta Rhymes (another of Hero’s faves), Lil’ Cease, Lil’ Italy, Lil’ Keke, Lil’ Kim, Lil’ 0′, Lil Ric, Lil’ Soldiers, Lil’ Suzy, Lil’ Troy,

Lil’ Wayne; sheeit, they had everyone but Lil’ Abner! There

were the late Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur who’s

beats were smokin’ .. They were on some “other” shit, some

“Thug Life” type shit, na’ mean?

And with that, one couldn’t help but come to all the prison

tags Hero’d heard over the years. See, this rap thing ran

the gamut from Back To Africa all the way to the ghetto

street corners. Having been demonized over 400 years ago,

it was only natural that they would eventually give up trying

to assimilate and adopt the role that had been forced upon

them.

Hero had met men with names like: Trigger (like the horse),

Twin, C-Murder, T-45 (for the number of years he had to do),

King Blood (and a slew of other Kings), Papo Trece, Raquon,

Shahkwon, Shahmeek, Tyreese, Zyrone, Lamel, Black, Red, Uptown, BK, Mussolini, Rambo (thousands of them and ner’y a Moet, Smooth, Silk, Hennessy, DieHard (yup, just like the battery), Bananas, Everlasting, Knowledge, Understanding, Peace God Allah, OG, Outlaw, Boogie, Bing, Mexico, Colombia, Dominica, Ecua, Russo, Russia, White Boy, Yellow Boy, Mighty Whitey, Deadeye, Fingers (don’t ask), Gangsta’, Thai Stick, Gotti, Monteca, Rude Boy, Kebir, Mustafah, Abdul, Triple Seven, Animal, Tyson (after the boxer), and on and on it went. Several of these names were criminal legends in the New York State prison system.

The rest? Poor imitators at best. Then there were the real

days at having to address some 18 year old clown as “Rampage.”

When he tried, the brat either didn’t hear him or wasn’t

paying attention so he called him by his first name instead

which was Contessa,or some such entonces que put’hermano

nonsense ..

“Yo, yo, man, don’t be callin’ me by my gov’ment, yo!”

“Your ‘government’ name? Oh! you mean the one your mother

gave you? That one’s no good? Right?” Hero shot back at the

crown clown loser, Rampage, or whatever the fuck this moron

was calling himself that week.

When Hero was a boy hanging out in the school yard back

in Flushing one of the first things he ever learned was

that anyone running around with two different names was

probably not worth knowing. Of course back then doing dirt

was not an accepted form of survival like dealing herb or

selling firecrackers.

Hero knew he was right and wrong but he didn’t care, he

didn’t like the phony little motherfucker anyway.

“Rampage,” he snorted to his man, Sean, as they were walking

away. “what’s he got, a brother named ‘Temper Tantrum,’

Fucking ‘Rampage,’“ and he spat with emphasis on the F, R, and P.

 

 

Next door, Jughead was watching Jerry Springer and howling

about some big ugly woman. “I wouldn’t want to have to fight

that bitch!”

Hero was sickened by lunch. In his feed up tray had been

rice diablo, another limp soggy salad and a small portion of

peaches. The smell turned his stomach on its side so that

he breathed through his mouth when he removed the peaches

into a plastic peanut butter jar to eat with the mi1k he’d

saved from breakfast. He still had some jelly left in another

container and used that to make himself a thin sandwich

on two slices of state-bread. That, plus the peaches and

milk for dessert, followed by a rolly, had been lunch. He

put on his headphones and listened to some Jazz .. thinking

about its development from African, Latin American, and

The Blues. Hero suspected that somewhere in there one might

search – and find – a greater degree of American Indian

influences far beyond those already adopted presently in Latin

and African beat and song most predominantly. In the Blues,

all three were connected by the phrasing of the crying call

and answer lamentations; the ancestor of Jazz.

First a call, a statement of the condition and the circumstances

that had caused them. Then a second call to hear

that statement again like a tribute to a memory, except this

time – ended with a wailing cry and always the lamentation

as if to say, “I cried out to you, but you did not hear me.

I cried out to you yet again, and still, you did not heed my call.”

A walking blues bass line and solo’s that cried. In Jazz,

Hero believed the content was a busy extended cousin of the

former, but without all that fucking crying over and over

and over again all the time; an existential blues and then

some. Jazz celebrated differently, too, with a great range

of intricate colors and textures, all of them very much its

own creation. A sort of flow that didn’t sound like it took

itself too seriously yet was firmly tuned and timed

disciplined and hammered by technical precision. Taking

turns, each instrument soloed to bass and drum rhythms, rata-

tat-tat-tat- heavy brushes swished over cymbal and

snare while stand-up bass strings buzzed fuzzy like the

crutches in a Salvador Dali painting, the one full of

all those melting clocks.

Hero had always appreciated Jazz, or, more accurately,

he recognized its technical and spiritual prowess. It was

only recently that he’d begun to listen to Jazz and to actively

seek it out. In the early 80’s he’d heard Don Cherry play

solo with his famous pocket horn at Life Cafe. Almost ten

years later, Hero would run into Don while the two of them

were waiting to cop dope on east 7th street. He introduced

himself, dropping a few names he knew in the local jazz scene

like Butch Morris, Jamee1 Moondoc and Dennis Charles. Hero

mentioned that he’d read the then recent article about Don

and his family in the magazine section of The Sunday New

York Times. Don told him that he regretted having done it,

feeling the article had focused too much on his long running

battle with heroin instead of his music. They’d also publicized

the fact that he was on methadone. Don said he was embarrassed

for himself and his family and wished he had never let them

do it. A year later Don died but Hero couldn’t remember

from what. He was survived by at least two children one

of whom is the beautiful and spiritual funk diva Nene Cherry

who Hero always thought was way ahead of her time, too. He

guessed that it ran in the family.

All that had been back when Hero was still boosting books,

right after he’d left the carnival. Boosting books was a

good hustle because even if you were caught a lot of stores

  1. never called the cops and, B. never showed up in court

and, C. even if you did get time – it was usually no more

than a month or two (depending on how many times you’d been

busted for it).

Hero was good at it, too; making and saving money and supporting an $80 a day habit. And it all came crashing down around his head when one miserable psychopath lied.

Since 1983, he had been the obsession of a frustrated,

middle-aged lunatic by the name of David Cohen. The consistent

crossing of their paths led Hero to strongly believe that

Cohen was practicing witch craft.

They first met when Hero was the super of David’s

building on east 9th street. Several apartments had been

burglarized before Hero took over yet David felt compelled

to complain to the landlord and although there was not a

shred of evidence to link him to the crimes he was fired.

He lost a free apartment and his salaried position performing

maintenance in several other buildings. He was 19 and his

world was turned upside down by someone almost 20 years his

senior whose idea of a good time was celebrating your bad

luck. Your failures were David Cohen’s triumphs for no other

reason than it made him feel good. Pure frustrated evil. Later,

Hero supposed that David was in lust with him, there

could be no other reason for the events that were to follow

over an almost 15 year period of time.

The next time they met it was 1989 and Hero was dealing

coke out of a bar on east 9th street known as The Aztec,

which, by fate or fortune, also happened to be right next

door to the building David Cohen lived in. At closing time,

David would scream obscenities at all of the bar’s patrons

while throwing boiling water, flower pots,

garbage, bottles, and small buckets of bleach at their heads.

In 1993 the apartment Hero had crashed in without sleep

for 6 days was also in the same building. The deal had been

that Hero could stay in exchange for scraping and painting

the place. A misunderstanding between his friend, the current

super, and the landlord, led to Hero being told to vacate the premises under threat of arrest without any notice whatsoever even though legally the place was his: he had over 30 days living there. They locked him out. He was homeless and out of doors in December, only days out of Bellvue and still loopy from all the legal drugs the Poohbaski-ites had poisoned him with. That

same night, Hero tried to gain access via the fire escape

when low and behold, there was David Cohen, screaming at

the top of his lungs, “BURGLAR! BURGLAR! CALL 911!! etc.,etc,” and waving a big black nightstick through the air with which he would eventually put a hole in Hero’s head before the evening was over.

When he was arrested, Hero didn’t run because he hadn’t

done anything wrong. He told the police that he’d been illegally

locked out and that he wanted to press charges against Cohen

for assault.

“We didn’t see it,” the cop said.

“You didn’t see me on that fire escape either, it didn’t

stop you from putting me in cuffs,”

“Shut-the-fuck-up, asshole.”

And that, Hero knew, was the only answer he would get and

with no more to comfort him than his own personal knowledge

that he was right he promptly shut-the-fuck-up as he’d been

instructed to lest his head develop another mysterious bloody

hole in itself.

Later on at the precinct, and trying to get home early,

the same cop wouldn’t take Hero to the hospital saying,

“Ah! It’s nothing – what’d you get? A little bump when

you fell down? You’ll be alright, right, Ronnie? (referring

to his partner who looked like he was on thorazine) Tell’em,

tell’em about the guy we had in here last week: he had a

a fuckin’ stab wound – and if he could go without going

to the hospital, so can you.”

“OK, then check this out,” Hero shot back, “one way or

another – I’m goin’ to the hospital before you take me downtown

into those filthy fuckn’ bullpens with this bloody hole

in my head,” whereupon the arresting officer thought better

of Hero’s original request (it had to be the mention of “blood”).

After too many arrests, Hero had seen guys in the bullpens

with tubes still sticking out of their bodies, catheters, casts, dressings, steel rods with all sorts of shit attached to them, all sorts of insane shit; with open and infected wounds, in withdrawal from heroin, methadone, crack or booze.

When they finally did get arraigned – after 2 or 3 days down

there in the overcrowding, filth, piss and shit – the judge

would order “Immediate Medical Attention” which always sounded to Hero, way too much like “Assault On Staff.” IMA meant that you would see a doctor sometime after you processed

on Rikers Island, which was nothing special because everyone

saw the doctor. So, if it was 9:00 A.M. when you saw the judge,

that usually meant you’d get your Immediate Medical Attention

sometime around 5:00 P.M. the next evening.

With his head all stitched up nice and tight, Hero made

his way through the Manhattan Criminal Court bullpens for

2 days. When he got to court, the D. A. produced a “Corroborating Affidavit” in which David Cohen alleged that Hero had assaulted him with a pipe, “causing severe swelling and lacerations to the left hand.” There was no hospital report

attached because there was none. When Hero’s legal aid attorney

read him the new charges, he asked – in all seriousness:

“Whose hand?!”

The Grand Jury failed to indict on the following charges:

1.) Attempted Burglary 3

2.) Possession of Burglars Tools 3

3.) Felony Assault w/ a Deadly Weapon 2

4.) Criminal Trespass 5

It was the Criminal Trespass. The judge, a not very friendly

Jewish woman in her early forties, gave Hero 8 months to

run concurrent with whatever parole gave him – hence – the

8 month parole violation.

In 1995, Hero stopped to buy a YooHoo in the Korean Deli

on 1st Avenue and east 9th street. Almost an entire block

away from David Cohen’s apartment and years away from what

had transpired between them – it just didn’t

seem important – old news. As Hero made to pay and leave

the store in walked you know who and immediately Cohen

launched into a ranting, raving, practically frothing diatribe

in which he told the Korean behind the counter that Hero

was responsible for every burglary that ever happened everywhere.

Hero slipped past him and forgot all about it.

A week later, standing just off the corner of St. Mark’s

Place and 2nd Avenue (yes, that’s right around the corner

from the bank, thank you), Hero saw a police van heading

downtown with someone sitting in the back pointing in his

direction. Having no known warrants (not that that had ever

stopped them before) he stayed put. In less than a minute and

a half, he was surrounded by uniformed police officers,

guns drawn and one of them was shouting at him:

“Hero! Get down on the ground, Hero! Do it now!”

“For what?!” Hero asked the booming, disembodied voice

“Just  do it, Hero!”

Hero thought about it, afraid to move a hair – they would

put too many holes in him for the doctors to close up. There

were at least three police cars and the van, no, this was

not good, not good at all.

The cop with the voice took a chance, and creeping slowly

he advanced in Hero’s blind spot as he spoke, firmly but

gently coaxing him down to the pavement. He obeyed and they

cuffed him, frisk searched him and lifted him up so that

he might stand up straight. Hero looked up as he rose and saw

David Cohen standing right in front him, smiling like the

cat that just ate the canary.

“Oh, so what does he say I did THIS time?!” said Hero,

to which the cop, sensing something was wrong with Cohen

from the start, put a mental note that was included in Hero’s

statement later.

David, with nothing less than true fairy tale inspiration,

told the police that Hero had followed him into the Korean

Deli and threatened him with a gun the previous evening. Armed with a three year Order Of Protection and knowledge of Hero’s rap sheet he had created a situation that would have Hero

back behind bars – if not shot. As a convicted violent felon the

police were very careful about how they approached him.

Plus, Cohen said he had a gun.

Strictly by coincidence, Hero landed in front of the

same judge who’d written the Order Of Protection that Cohen

was probably masturbating with at the very same moment

Hero was being arraigned. This time he was charged with:

Criminal Contempt/Disobeying Court Order 2

Menacing 2

Menacing 3

Harassment 1

Stalking 1

Harassment w/ Physical Contact 2

The judge, a short, blond haired helmet – the Jewish female –

who reminded Hero of a constipated duck, was so happy to

see him again that she offered him a year. Threatening him

in what could only be described as a nasal fury she said,

“Mr. Hero, can you tell me whose signature that is on the

bottom of this Order Of Protection?”

“Yours, your Honor.”

“That’s right, Mr. Hero, mine. Now would you kindly explain

why you have chosen to disobey the court’s orders that you

should stay away from Mr. Cohen?”

Where to begin? Hero desperately tried to think faster

than this liar but no dice, it just wasn’t going to happen;

so he went with the truth. Big mistake.

“Mr. Hero, iregardless of the circumstances, I hardly

think that Mr. Cohen would take so much time to persecute

you – as you say he is – and I will repeat my offer one

more time, do you hear me, Mr. Hero? I said I’m not going

to offer you the year again, do we understand one another?!”

Sheeit, Hero knew he wasn’t going to see her again either.

Once he motioned for trial that was it, he moved onto

another court: trial part. That, and just who the fuck did

this bluffing blond helmet think she was talking to? Even

if  he blew trial – which was impossible because most of

these things never happened in the first place, there was

just no proof – the most he could get would be a year!

“Yeah, whatever .. “

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hero, what was that?”

“I said: WHATEVER!”

Back in the bullpens he spat, “Lying fuckin’ bitch!”

And nine days later he copped out in pretrial hearings

and got 9 months (out of which he’d only have to do 6),

for trying to buy a Goddamned YooHoo. Still and all, Hero

figured he was slightly ahead (sort of), at least this time

he didn’t get his head split open.

Back in the bullpens. A regular Zone away from Zone –

The Twilight Zone, that is. Time for reflection about where

a man’s life was heading: Rikers Island.

Back in the bullpens. It gave Hero a chill that ran right

through him whenever he thought of them. They were large,

20 to 40 man holding cells with a wooden bench that ran along

all three walls – the “fourth” was covered with bars. This

was where detainees were delivered by the police and packed

in underneath the Manhattan Criminal Courts

building at 60 Centre Street. They were moved from pen to

pen for up to 3 days (just don’t piss the cops off down

there or you might stay a week!) until they saw a judge

for arraignment and either went home or off to the Island

which was the more common destination.

Filthy, crowded, dangerous, unsanitary, and more often

than not without working toilets or running water. It was

called “Bullpen Therapy” and if you had to go back and forth

between Rikers Island and court you were automatically

going to get a good dose of it. The trip began with being

woken up at 4:00 A.M., fed, lined up and led to a large staging

area big enough to hold at least 300 people like the old

mess hall in C-95which was closed almost a decade ago due to fights, slashings, and riots. There, a C.O. would call out the names of detainees collated by borough. One at a time, each man

was then pedigreed by photo, date of birth and home address

before being pat-frisked, sent through a metal detector

and then directed to one of the various bullpens in the

Receiving Room to wait to be called for a corrections bus

with mesh covered windows that would take him, and 29 other

swinging dicks, to court just prior to leaving the Receiving

Room. Everyone was handcuffed two men at a time one man

to another. Hero had seen a few fights that turned into bloody

brawls because of this.

The bus ride was usually about 35 minutes from Rikers

to the Manhattan courts and most of the drivers were road

menacing speed demons because after two trips they could

go fuck-off for the rest of the day. Altogether from breakfast

to the courthouse took 3 to 4 hours and then you

waited to be called for court which began at 9:30 but

didn’t start until shortly after ten when the judge took

the bench. That didn’t mean you were first though. No. Cases

from The Island could be heard anytime – it’s not like you

were going anywhere – so cases from the street were heard

first. A detainee could reasonably expect to see the judge

sometime either just before, which was with great luck,

or, just after his or her Honor’s one and three quarter

hour lunch break. You ate your “bullpen sandwiches” of baloney

on damp, compressed state bread in the bullpens and an apple

or two soggy cookies with a quarter drink for dessert.

When they finally did call you it was either to

be arraigned in any one of the criminal justice system’s

courts, depending on the severity of the offense you were

accused of, or maybe for a pretrial motion or a guilty plea.

But if you weren’t there for a pretrial hearing or actually

on trial, which most detainees weren’t because they copped

out in plea bargains, usually one could expect to spend

– quite literally – all of about 3 minutes in front of

the judge and then it was right back into the bullpens to

wait for a bus back to Rikers Island, ETA (in your rack)

8:00, 11:00 or 1:30A.M. Once you made it back you

waited in the Receiving Room bullpens for up to 3 hours

and sometimes more (and you definitely didn’t want to piss

these C.O.s off either) waiting to be strip-searched, fed,

counted and, after a bit more of the bullpens, taken back

to your dorm or cell after shift change.

This final part about count and shift change constituted

the NYC Department of Corrections finest example of the

same NYSDOCS competition to see who could do the absolutely

least amount of work in the greatest amount of time. The

reason the city C.O.s were so much better at it was because

they retired after 20 years whereas the state guys only

after twenty-five. Hero had once watched two Receiving Room

officers, from overlapping shifts, fist fighting because

those going off-duty hadn’t searched and fed the returning

detainees.

Bullpen Therapy. Hero shivered and scratched himself thinking

about the difference in even the dirt: it was distinctively

darker and finer – like moist dirt. Humid inside its

very molecules. He didn’t believe any amount of washing

could ever get that dirt out of your clothes. A lot of guys

threw their arrest clothes out and some burned them – but

that was all just superstition. As for the bullpens themselves

no amount of scrubbing would ever make them clean – not

even close. Then there were the people who went through

them. Hero’s first trip through the bullpens had been 15

years ago and right away he’d noticed just how God awful

ugly everyone else was. The combination of arrests, beatings,

generally poor health, and genetically induced bad looks

under the lousy lighting did not help. It never got better

either. There was a lesson to be learned there on one of

the harshest realities of life and its concomitant results

for folks who weren’t so easy to look at and who didn’t

have any brains to fall back on. By the time Hero was 35 he’d

been arrested over 20 times. A legal aid attorney once

told him, “Mr. Hero, you have a lot of arrests. Do you know

how many arrests you have?”

Hero was dying to say something like, “No, I gave up counting

after 13, figured my luck was bad enough already, know

what I mean?” But instead he said, “Oh, yeah, uh, I didn’t

think it was that many, I mean, I never counted them up

or anything. Look,” he continued in a much sharper tone of

voice, “just get me a bail under 12G’s, ok?”

“You can get $12,000?”

“I have some friends who’ll help me out,” Hero responded

as clear eyed as he could, dope sick like a motherfucker

and pissed that they’d locked him up at all. They were all

hypocrites; suckers in a dull, crass, Punch & Judy puppet

show in which he was forever getting hit with the stick.

He thought about his friends. His very best friends: Mr.

Franklin, Mr. Grant, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Hamilton and all

of their friends, counted, stacked, folded and rubber banded

nice and neat inside a dirty sock on the floor of his storage

room over on Hudson Street.

The bail was $5,000 for the dope and $250 for a stabbing

– that was at least 6 months old -over 23 bundles of heroin

someone had stolen from him.

 

 


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