I was in the fish
tank for over $48,000 worth of traffic warrants and F.T.A.s,
which is pretty embarrassing to admit. Not to you, you
understand, but to any other prisoner. If your reason for arrest
doesn't include a taste of violence or at least a hint of drugs,
it's regarded as a bit of a humbug. So when another inmate would
"Warrants," or, "$48,000 worth of warrants."
That usually took
care of it, and didn't make me look quite the knick-knack I
This fish tank was
like all fish tanks; full. There wasn't enough room on the
stainless steel benches to sit, so you had to cop a squat
wherever you could. Many were standing. The iron door slid open
with a metallic click, and we all watched to see the new
arrivals. Many greetings were shouted and returned, and many gang
names were mentioned. But something evil was in the air. Bad
looks were given freely, then worse words were being exchanged,
when the guy next to me suddenly stood up to face a man who'd
just walked in and said,
"I'm Tiny of the
Milli Gangstas 127th St. Watts. Maybe you want somma
He proceeded to
thrust out his chest and chin. The crowd hooted and hollered.
They wanted to see a fight, not ending with a decision or even a
knock-out. They wanted blood. It was to be man to man, face to
face, and toe to toe. It was time to take your chances.
"Well, you be talkin' shit to Fat
Man of the 7O's, Compton. How 'bout maybe you want somma this?"
Fat Man replied, and swung hard with a round-house right.
When Tiny's head caressed the
concrete, it made the sound you hear when a butcher drops a side
of beef off his shoulder and it hits the cold cement of the
freezer floor.Then, since they were on the floor now, they
commenced to rasslin'.
Suddenly the crowd moved back, like
iron filings being pulled to the corner of the tank by some
gigantic magnet.Now they started to cheer and comment, saying
"Are you gonna let him do
that to you?"
Or whispering to someone nearby, "I
wouldn't let him do that to me."
Tiny lost one shoe kicking Fat Man,
as his laces had been removed by the sheriffs, in case he was
suicidal. (he wasn't) He kicked him vigorously; taking advantage
of the fact the Marquis of Queensbury was not present that day.
With each contact of his toe to Fat Man's chest a snapping sound
was heard, like the snap of a turkey wishbone after Christmas.
Fat Man was not to be outdone however, and now had Tiny's face
pushed into the corner, crushing his nose against the cement,
leaving crimson drops splashing against the wall, decorating the
tank with Tinys' lifeblood. Fat Man became suddenly coatless, as
Tiny pulled it off , failing to hang it up.(no coat hangers in
jail, sharp objects prohibited)We put both shoe and coat aside
It was better than the last fight I
saw on T.V, better than Pay-per-View or H.B.O. It was commercial
free. It was live. All the way live.
This is the danger of jail.When men
have no suitable entertainment, they often provide their
Finally, just when it was getting
good, the noise from the crowd awakened the sheriffs. We gave
them plenty of room. Both inmates seemed to be winners somehow.
The sheriffs, being the thoughtful guys they are, awarded each
one of them his own private cell for participating in the
championship bout, and provided each an escort upon leaving, two
sheriffs on each. The audience was satisfied and felt they'd got
their moneys' worth. Later, when the post-fight talk died down,
we made arrangements to return the shoe and coat to the proper
owners, and gave the sheriffs explicit instructions to do so.
They were more than happy to cooperate. The fight was over now,
but not for long. The ever-thoughtful sheriffs keep the facility
open twenty-four-seven for your convenience.