If you remember, one of my “homies” had asked me to deliver a couple bags of stuff: tar, cheeva, call it what you want, it was still heroin. If I got caught I could be in big trouble, so I went to ask my cellie, “Player,” for some advice. He had been in Folsom for several years and knew what I could get away with.
I was really surprised when Player said, “Go ahead and deliver, The guards already know. You will be asked to deliver only when we know the guard is cool.”
So I set off making deliveries. Everything went smooth for a couple of weeks. Everybody got their issue and I, of course, got mine. All was great. Then I got some bad news from Player. Seems he was in debt to my next door neighbors who happened to be in a black gang. I am mentioning that they were black because it is a no-no for any one gang such as us Northerners to borrow or in anyway get in debt to another gang.
Well, I didn’t know this at the time, so of course I didn’t want Player getting stabbed for $60, so I paid the debt and he paid me back later. What I did was get my ass chewed by the “Boys” who ran the North. It wasn’t really that bad, they just said I should never had done that, and if that ever happens again I was to come straight to them and they would deal with it.
Well, Player got in pretty serious trouble over this, and in turn — and I’ll never know why — he took it out on a white prisoner by way of stabbing him. It didn’t kill him but the white prison gang believed it all started because of the “blacks.” Go figure. They in turned jumped a black man in the yard, and then it was on. A full scale war. Now, I was warned about this the night before. The big boys seemed to know ahead of time. I never knew how. Snitches I guess.
Well, it was going to break out during yard time and I was to stay behind the three Northerners who walked me to the yard. See, they knew I wasn’t supposed to be there and were going to protect me as best they could. Once we were in the yard, everyone kind of stationed themselves in different areas. Now, prison guards don’t like to see more than three prisoners together at one time, so we obliged them. I happened to see a friend of mine from the streets and asked my ‘bodyguards” if I could go over where he was. They took me over to the handball court and I was paired off with my friend and another person.
I was really glad to see Carlos.The last time I seen him was about three years in jail. Carlos had been sentenced to two years at Folsom and I was just doing 60 days at the county jail. Well, when I asked Carlos if he had been sent back up here again because I knew you only had to do about 14 months on a two year sentence, well, it was with a stern face that Carlos said, “Art, I got into some trouble last time I was here, and I stabbed and killed another prisoner. Now I’m doing life,” That is to say, another 13 years. “Man,” he said, “how quick your life can change in here.”
Carlos’s nickname in prison was O.G. — “Old Gangster,” and that was fitting for him.
Well, we were having a nice conversation when all of a sudden people were yelling, fists were flying, and the guard towers were firing rubber pellets down at us, while yelling, “On the ground! Everybody on the ground!” They didn’t really have to say it twice to me.
While we were laying there on the ground, a prisoner from the Black Crips gang was staggering toward us with a shank sticking from his chest. There were at least a half dozen other prisoners who had been killed or badly wounded that day.
Let me tell you, ol’ friend, I sure was glad to be back in my cell that night. Oh sure, we went straight to lockdown for the next week but so what. At least my life wasn’t in danger.
No sooner had we come off lockdown when Player and I were told to take out a Southern Mexican gang member. Well that was just great, I said. You guys protect me only so I can get time for a murder beef. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was really depressed. I could get killed. Hell I didn’t want to kill or be killed. I already spent my time in the Marines.
The next morning while having breakfast in the dining halln the prisoner at the next table said, “You look depressed, Garcia.” This guy had been in prison since 1966 and said he didn’t want to get out. He knew prison life, though, and gave me some advice. “If you don’t want to be here for the rest of your life, think before you do what you are about to do. I said I don’t know what you are talking about,” and started to get up. All of a sudden I heard my name over the intercom, “Garcia, cell, 207, roll it.” I was leaving this place and going to the minimum security yard. It took me about 15 minutes to get my stuff ready and say to Player. It’s been nice, but I gotta go. He was happy for me. He somehow got me an escort of two other homies to walk me to the gate separating the two prisons. On the other side, there were two other homies waiting to escort me to my new home.