Hero Apomixis

An excerpt from the novel Hero Apomixis.


Eddie Burke counted down the days, on two hands, until

the 10th of next month when he’d be getting off of long

term keep-lock. Eddie was finishing up 6 months for his second

dirty urine – this one had tested positive for opioids

(he hadn’t studied). Eddie was anxious to get out. Hero

had ended up on the same gallery with him at the end of

his keep-lock. Moe had written a kite and boomeranged it from  Southport (Correctional Facility) to his old lady who

then mailed it to Hero. Hero then delivered it, via Jughead,

to Wire to Wire McGuire over in C-block. Even though it

wouldn’t change anything, especially the facts, Hero thought

Eddie might step to him for fucking up his little program,

the piece of shit. This was only true if Eddie was entirely

ignorant of the simple fact that it was he who had fucked

up his own program 5 years ago and checked in on a dope debt

back in Riverview  when he’d never intended

on paying in the first place. Protective Custody was one

of gravest of sins among stand-up guys – especially

stand-up white guys – and that’s exactly what shithead Ed

had done; he’d put it right on the dotted line which also

meant that he’d had to give someone up as the threat. Standup

guys didn’t snitch, go to P.C., punk-out, mess with homos

or cross color lines. And that was just the basics. Everyone

had their own interpretation that they argued and politicked

as situations arose – which they did quite often – and it

sounded like something intelligent was going on but it was

actually a barely workable system that more often than not ended

with someone getting their head kicked in whether

they deserved it or not; the rest of the time it ended in

some plausible satiating violence or lots of ridiculous

sanctions. It was, in a word, retarded.

Eddie’s latest great sin wasn’t that he’d checked in 5 years

ago – that that made him no good went without saying – it

was that here in Attica he’d been hanging out like he was

alright. Case closed. But guys knew that

although NY might have over 77,000 prisoners it was

really a very small system when it came to guys with bad

wires on them .

Eddie had always struck Hero as an evil junkie-lowlife

dope fiend version of Satch from The Bowery Boys. He would’ve got himself a job in Louie’s Soda Shop and worked with a big shit-eating-grin (his trademark) on his ugly face

until he couldn’t steal enough cases of cherry fountain

syrup to support his greedy-ass paregoric habit and then

he’d clean out the register and leave without locking up.

“Fuck dat old Jew bastid’!” he would say when confronted

later by Mahoney and the boys. He was a real tough guy

taking advantage of poor old nervous Louie, a regular Jew’s

Jew from Eastern Europe (the old country) who would probably

work until he dropped dead (which, of course, made him fair

game for a fink like Eddie).

“Fuck dat old Jew-fuck! Fuuuck H”imm!”

Poor Louie, “Robbt blindt by dis, dis, dis goniff who

ate da izcream like a kid mit-out da tonshulz! Oy gevalt!.

I vhant you should keep him avay, Mahoney, pleeze. Oy. And,

and da whole time da shop is open?! Oy, I gotta sit – airr

– I need airr – someone open da doorr, pleeze.”

“Here Mugsy get Louie a .02¢ plain in a big glass, .. there ya’

are Louie. Where was you anyway?” Mahoney asked, genuinely

fond of the old yid, as he handed the glass of seltzer to

him and watched him take sips in between gasps for air.

“Easy there, Louie, don’t get’cha apron strings all in

a knot now, we’ll help ya’ out, won’t we fella’s?”

“Sure, Mahoney.” – “Yeah, Louie’s our friend.” -”Yeah,

Louie, we ain’t forgot all ‘a da nice ‘tings ya’ done fer us .. “

“You boyz, ‘tank you,” said Louie and his old tired eyes

smiled just a little bit as they welled up. “Listen, I

vas at da Yiddish theater on 2nd Avenue, you know – the

one mit Fiddler On The Roof, yes? Mahoney, such a good show,

you should all see it …”

“But, Louie, I don’t speak Yiddish!”

“Never mind, it’s still beautiful, but .. oyesmere’ .. “ and

Louie went on muttering in Yiddish to himself as he got

up and pattered about his soda shop wiping everything

he passed with a damp, dingy counter rag in an effort to

eliminate Eddie’s germ.


Hero ate his hardboiled egg on soggy buttered “toast”

and then washed it down with cold coffee. The other egg

he saved for later along with the two milks and the juice

as well. Hero heard Eddie before he saw him back in

B-block when he’d just been let out of keep-lock and they’d

moved him upstairs to 18 company which was still  keep-locked.

He knew the voice and only waited until he’d seen the creep’s

face before flying that kite down to Moe in Southport. Once

he got Moe’s response outlining what Eddie had done it was

show time. Moe said real good things about how Hero had looked out for him from the street for over 2 years – that wasn’t

too ordinary anymore – but it was right. When you were doing

well on the outside you were supposed to remember your friends

on the inside. Once it reached Paddy McGuire, hands down

the original Wire to Wire and an expert in creeping out

white guys, the wheels would begin to turn. He was very

real, Paddy was. He would’ve run his own brother off the

court if he had to. Plenty of guys were walking the yard

in more than one jail because of his diligent screening

process. Hero didn’t know the guy to talk to him, they were

in separate blocks, although Moe’s letter was his introduction.

The word around Attica was that Eddie had been spreading the

love over in C-block and that was an indication that there

could possibly be some politics involved in getting him run.

Fortunately, McGuire didn’t do drugs and didn’t like anyone

who did. There were some exceptions but none of them applied

to Eddie. Too many headaches. That, and most dope fiends

were weak about the shit and then weak about everything

else, creating their own problems that Paddy wasn’t about

to let himself be dragged into.

Hero was watching the calendar, too, but at worst he figured

he might have to fight Eddie when he saw him unless he’d

grown some real cojones and wanted to call Hero out. Then

they would agree to meet down in the Chapel bathroom or

some other equally small out of the way place. Hero felt

inclined to rip Eddie’s face so that he’d look like an open

can of tuna fish when he was finished with him. Then there

was the chance that Eddie might come strapped, too. All

this and Hero’s “crew” who weren’t too bad – they were all

bad. More than half of who were nothing but young, thrill kill

robbery gone wrong shitbags with 25 years and better

in front of them who loved nothing so much as to see other

guys get into it just to find out if they would “go out”

or if they had been, “frontin’” all along, “I knew it! I told

you I never liked that guy from that first day over on the

weight court, didn’t I, Jug?! Fuckin’ pussy!”

Young dudes with 40 to Life tended to think and behave

very strangely and the younger they were the less apt they

were to listen to anyone. Hero had developed a theory that

the worst of them wanted everyone to have the same time

as they themselves had, as if it would somehow level the

playing field, but their self-pity, and overwhelming desire

to punish everyone for their fuck-up, would invariably dig

blind mole holes all around them making it impossible to

take even one step towards any other position.

Hero knew what to do about Eddie and really didn’t care

either way just so long as he didn’t get hurt.

The unknown variables of the equation were multiplied by

politics and drugs. That and a few of Hero’s letters hadn’t

made it to Moe, probably flagged for being too explicit

even though they were from his wife, Janice. If the brass at Southport had put even just a little effort into snooping around in

the records they would have had it all figured out in about

ten minutes. All three of them, Hero, Moe, and Eddie, were

together at Riverview 5 years earlier and one of them had

checked in. That would have been enough for these Keystone

Kops; they’d notify Attica and then Attica would create

a situation by putting Hero and Eddie together in the same

cell block, ostensibly to bring it all to a quick boil.

From their point of view it made perfectly good sense, they

didn’t care what the inmates did to one another and didn’t

like to ignore potential problems that would almost always

explode later when they weren’t looking. And besides –

this way was a lot more entertaining. It was common knowledge

that the cops in Clinton and Comstock had been letting prisoners

into the same keep-lock rec cages – together – who’d been

locked up for attacking each other in the first place. Shanks,

razors, can tops, whatever. And then the pigs would bet

on their favorite gladiator. If only one of them had a weapon

it made it that much more exciting.

Hero was praying that Eddie would just do everyone a favor

and check in again. Confronted with the letter, and the

guy’s name who sent it, Hero bet he would. He wasn’t there

when Eddie joined the Polo Club so in a worst case scenario

he guessed that a piece of shit like Eddie might attempt

a political campaign of slick propaganda – aimed at you

know who – that might get far enough to end up with Hero

creeped out and Eddie on the fringes. It was all very

complicated how grown men – alleged tough guys, murderers

and gangsters – could gossip and politic so fucking much.

It was beyond belief sometimes. Simply put, Hero told himself

that he might have to hurt Eddie and that was something

very one sided. Something meditated on and once answered

no longer examined. Done. Over. The taxing part of the game

was in trying to guess what role Eddie would play in the

various acts of the tragedy about to unfold. It gave Hero

a backache to go with the headache he still had from the

night before. Earlier, in the shower, he’d tried to stand

on one leg to put on his sweat pants and couldn’t do it.

Instead, he fell over against the wall. All his life he’d

gotten dressed like that and now this. Hero anticipated

the NYSDOCS argument would be that there was nothing wrong

with him, a head cold, maybe. When he’d fallen over in the

shower he felt like crying but was too tired and thought

he didn’t need the tears to do it. Stressed out in misery.

Someone laughed a creepy, mean spirited laugh .. Mary Queen

of Scotts leaned forward to palm a hot kite to someone,

slumped back on her throne, and prayed.


C. A. Seller

Illustration: Dan Reece



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