The Fish Tank
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 ask me,
I’d say, “Warrants,” or, “$48,000 worth of warrants.”
That usually took care of it, and didn’t make me look quite the knick-knack I was.
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 this.”
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 things
“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 for
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 own.
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.
© Copyright 2016 Steven Hunley. All rights reserved.