Bred for Crime: Heat Wave

© 2017 James Bauhaus                                                                                   All rights reserved


The old deaf guy moved out. I had about 3 days of relative peace, not having to babysit, supply, trip over or listen to the needy except for occasional visits by “Friends” who, like parrots, all asked, “Who they going to move in with you?” apparently, they know how to manipulate the screws somehow, so I tried it myself. (The “guards” are called “screws” because they often function as medical torture devices such as thumbscrews. E.g., Last night, a screw came to my locked, brightly lit cage and demanded “stand up!” though he could not miss seeing two captives in his cage, minding our own misery, harming no one or thing. For no other reason than petty harassment, he fed his tiny little, needy ego, by making us act like his puppets. No, for 2 reasons: to instill hatred and resentment in his victims, which increases the screws’ job security, creating screw-jobs for his family? And you people wonder why these idiots get out and come right back…) I normally would have just taken the bottom rack and fought any inmate who the screws moved in and thought he was big enough to take it. This time, I took it and fought my way past 4 locked doors to see 2 different screws to ask politely for the bottom rack. The first screw-manager didn’t have the authority to say “yes”. The second screw-manager did, but, fearing some type of manipulation underneath the simple request, required convincing with logic, which any normal person could immediately see: (screws are not normal people: they are scared, needy paranoiacs, skilled at seeing or making problems where none previously existed) “I’m old; your typical punk criminal is young, why not save me breaking a hip and costing your employment piles of hospital bills by making the young punk criminal climb up and down from the ladder less top rack hundreds of times per week?” Again, any normal person would say “sure”, and then wave me away, slightly annoyed at the first screw-manager for wasting his time with such trivial nonsense. Instead, screw-manager wants his ego petted, like the dog that wipes its nose on your hand, insisting that you scratch its ears. Screw-managers must doubt his eyes first, somehow seeing, not a grey haired decrepit old man trying to avoid unnecessary injury and a drastic shortening of his life. Apparently he sees me as a young, punk trouble-maker. He delves straight to the heart of the problem, asking, suspiciously, for information which he already possesses, “Do you have a doctor’s note restricting you to the bottom rack?” (Everything in “corrections” is a “restriction” never an “allowance”) Showing my extreme adaptability, I refrain from pointing out that if I did have such a note, I wouldn’t be in his office at all, interrupting his important work of micromanaging and empire of locked gates, doors and cages. Instead, I give him what he really requires; begging, groveling and obeisance to his colossal power to make me dance like a puppet to his most capricious whim. It works, but just barely. Full of self-importance, he decrees, “All right, but if I assign someone to that cage who does have a doctor’s restriction, you go back up on top!” I am amazed, and in my astonishment, say only “Certainly”. I am astonished that he didn’t make this nothing problem more difficult, and I am astonished that he seems to think that ordinary, common decency is absent among his hated captives.

So I got official verbal permission to have the bottom rack this time. Then they move in Heat Wave (HW). He’s exactly like your ordinary, common, incorrigible criminal, except somehow more knowledgeable. His mind is very quick, and his mouth even faster. He can ask you a question, interrupt you with mindless blather while you answer his question, then loudly grunt “Huh?” To have you repeat what he kept himself from hearing. He can spew complete sentences as quickly as the fastest media talking head, and he gives off much more information while doing so. He is very nervous, having just been ripped from all of his friends and stuck into a much shittier, much scarier prison full of strangers. He has virtually nothing, because the screws steal half your possessions when they decide to shuffle you off to a different prison hellhole. Also the screws steal half of your possessions upon arrival at their other prison hellhole. The screws’ consequent theft of ¾ of your possessions at each, shuffle is part of the reason why almost all inmates shuffled are  determined to make the stranger with whom they are forced to share a toilet sized cage believe that they are rich in money  and possessions, rather than destitute. This strategy is calculated to make it easier to obtain essentials from the stranger, which is easy, rather than from the screws, which is difficult or impossible. Heat Wave’s first need is a mere cup to drink from. The screws’ practice of even stealing your god dammed cup from you is partially, directly responsible for the massive load of, and transmission of, tuberculosis among their captives. The same week that they put Heat Wave in my cage, the screws’ medics came around to inject us with TB antigen. The first 3 people, 2 Indians and Heat Wave, could not take the TB test, having already been infected with the shit: What is the commonality here? All three share cups, spoons, food, drink, drugs, etc, indiscriminately with each other, and they scavenge through the garbage left on cast away trays for more food. They may as well be ants, or birds, puking down each others’ throats for all their care of germs or other filth. The last time I was able to check the inmate TB infection rate by observation and statistical analysis, 10 years ago, it was a whopping 14%! So I gave him a rare, almost impossible to get, Styrofoam cup, exactly the same as I have been using for months. He wrecks it in less than 3 days and needs another. An hour later, the screws bring the food trays, which appear to be slopped together by retarded monkeys. The bottom of each tray is the top for the one below it, so food or garbage and stickiness, cover every surface, inside and out, of these trays after they are assembled, stacked, carted, carried, tilted, restacked and shoved through the garbage-encrusted bean hole. The screws have nothing to eat with, and Heat Wave of course brought nothing to eat with but his fingers and mouth.  I give him the same, tiny picnic spoon-type that I eat with. He holds it like a shovel and gobbles the shit down like he’s an Olympic-class speed-eater who sees hyenas charging in for their cut of the carrion.

The interesting information that he reveals is that the screws were forced to relieve

Some of the overcrowding that they had hidden away at their prison on the outskirts of String town. The screws had taught these inmates to endure claustrophobic cheek-to-snout sleeping in “Dorms” made from gymnasiums, storerooms and hallways.

Heat Wave loves to talk, and at 300 words/minute, it didn’t take long to go through all of his interesting information. We quickly got to his blather, which was refreshingly more sophisticated than the blather from blather of less experienced and educated inmates. He, of course, didn’t bring anything to read, depending upon his superior mooching powers to get what he didn’t bother to bring. An inmate’s “Talk-game: is usually his most valuable asset. Heat Wave was rich while at the String town prison, having 3 television sets, which he never watched and gave away rather than try to bring here. He was also rich when not in prison, through making and selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of “meth”, much of which he simply gave away. In faking a knowledge of chemistry, he is much more skilled than your usual inmate.  It appears that his Daddy taught him much of the folklore that he absorbed about “cooking” dope. He splatted-out a factoid that he was “25% Osage Indian” while rushing through an endless, apparently pointless story. To merely slow him down, I mentioned “Head rights”. He stopped to say that he was indeed rich in head rights too, but that he gives these yearly thousands to his wife and kids. To his credit, I asked him if he needed anything in particular for me to order for him from my account in the prison store: he declined. The second time we could order, a week later, he only wanted 50¢ worth of hair ties.

He went out of his way to say that “White people are stingy”. I refrained from mentioning that poor people tend to think that there is no cost to sharing. His stinginess comment was designed to cause me to let him stay up all night watching my TV, which makes me his mother-figure, who must wake him for chow and other services which he would otherwise sleep through. I never let inmates put me to work so that they may better enjoy my possessions. These “rich” (poor) mooch specialist inmates have two huge, flat screen TVs out in the “Big” cage (Tennis court size) to fight over. His excuse for not watching one of them is that he has no radio. These TVs have no speakers, because the midnight mop-crew inmates steal them when possible. These new TVs instead have radio transmitters, because the inmates turn the sound up to the maximum level, then bellow over it to each other, creating a noise problem for every thinking person half as insufferable as the screaming, bellowing and electronic shrieking coming from the screws’ two wall-mounted megaphones blasting us 24/7. The night-mop inmates stole the radio transmitter out of one of these TVs not a month after they were mounted. After more than 80 solid years of inmates injuring and killing themselves and others in radio and TV fights, the screws are finally moving toward forcing all inmates to listen to their TV/radio noise through earphones.

Heat Wave also wasted no time in telling me his philosophy of “I’m everything; you’re nothing,” as if I didn’t already know this from my 45 years of experience in psychoanalyzing thousands of other inmates exactly like him. After 3 days of pawing through his possessions, the screws gave him back some of it. Heat wave finally has his spoon, cup, comb and other essentials. It becomes plain that he has virtually nothing. His most expensive possession is a $10 pair of shower sandals, costing $20 from the prison store. No radio, no TV, not even a razor, but two coffee cups and one huge, well-used feeding trough made by a Tupperware knockoff. Its transparent plastic is discolored, soiled red with the chili pepper flavor-sludge packets from Raman noodle soups.

One of the first things he does upon getting what property the screws didn’t steal back is to put upon the wall a shitty little page of insults that purport to be professional “Rules of the Cage” titled “Cell Partner”. It’s the longest, most elaborate one that I’ve seen (of 3 in 45 years), made to look like a legal document which has a line for a signature at the bottom. I never read more than a dozen or so words of its 12 precepts  and numerous corollaries, but they all boil down to the same thing: everything in here is mine, including you”. It inspires me to write an contravening poster saying, “There is no cell partner:” you are more than an object that the screws put in here for me to trip over…” but I am too busy to waste time on trivial things. As soon as he points out his shitty little list of insults to me, I tell him, “You forgot to sign it at the bottom”. He realizes immediately that I will suffer none of his attempts at non sense.

Heat Wave has been here a month now. We have gotten past the part where he makes me hear his life story while I try to work and send telepathic waves of “shut up! Shut up!” he, and all inmates like him, are completely incapable of reading body language that is less subtle than a verbal whiplash. I let him talk himself out. It turns out that he is actually less of an asshole than he thinks he is. He is also quite considerate, once he finds a few friends and gets less uncomfortable. He both almost never sleeps and almost always slips into suspended animation as soon as the electronic pacifier is turned off or not turned on. I could only mute and slow his incessant yakking, when trapped in the 2 man cage for hours, by distracting him with cartoons on the TV at first. I thank God he hasn’t got a radio and shows no sign of dependence upon music as a pacifier. Now that he feels safe, I can work without having the TV pacify him. He now goes directly into suspended animation mode. It looks like he is sleeping. He sleeps very lightly despite being right-at obese. He wakes at the slightest noise and must face the door 90% of the time, as if expecting a horde of enemies to rush in and attack him. Even when his body is screaming at him to change position, he will wind up still with his head twisted at an almost impossible angle, still facing the door. When he is finally so tired that he actually forgets that he has to always face the door, he will sleep facing the wall, but only so long as no strange noise wakes him. To ne this paranoid is to have made more enemies than are easily remembered, and to have to even fear the friends (“gangsters”) of your enemies, who are unrecognizable until they attack.

For being so poor, (The poorest of inmates have to wear the cheap, rubber deck shoes that the screws grudgingly supply, which hurt your feet.) he is very industrious. He’s a good, fast artist, which is ideal for all the inmates who are hot to decorate themselves with permanent skin graffiti. The demand for this type of self-mutilation is great in prison. As soon as he got here, hordes of them lined up, some with cash in hand, to get mutilated. In a fantastic group effort, they searched the major parts of this 40 miniprison mega prison for wire, tape, batteries, cords, pens, ink, char, oil, little pieces of metal, wood, plastic and etc., to make a tattoo gun out of practically nothing. It was interesting to see Heat Wave apply his electrical folklore to tat-guns that others had made and try to make them work. Some (most) were reciprocal and did not push hard enough to shove a needle in with enough depth. They tear up anything they can find for wire to make coils. He unwrapped and re-wrapped coils that others had made to try and make them work, eventually realizing that none of them had enough wire to work properly. He tore up a clock radio for nothing, since the parts from it didn’t suffice to make any of the 3 faulty tat-guns that they’d bought to work. The thing was full of resisters, but instead, he built a salt water contraption to feed current through, which is supposed to keep his coil from becoming too hot to handle or work. Though they didn’t have the expertise to use electronic parts, two of them seemed to know how to temper a bread sack tie into a needle. Of course, they seemed to know how to make a working coil too, but only came close to succeeding. The tat guns that they bought are commercial: one was battery powered shaver, the other was a motor stolen out of a tape player that the church would lend to inmates for bible study. Heat Wave fast-talked all the tattoo-addicts with his superior knowledge of diodes, resistors and coils, etc, and they fell for it for two solid weeks by bringing him parts and materials, but, in the end, the lack of results told the true story: Heat Wave is an artist in graffiti and an artist in bullshit.

So now he’s scribbling on all the masochists here, and there are plenty of them. The first one, they both began doing it right in the narrow wedge of cop-camera sight line into this cage! It’s like they have a subliminal compulsion to get caught! Heat Wave admitted, in around-about way, that he’s been caught tattooing these idiots in every place that the screws ever moved him. He has lost every good-time credit that they gave him, meaning that they can ticket him all that they want, because it won’t affect the length of his sentence. He has maximized his sentence by insisting upon feeding his food and dope habits through tattooing other fools for junk food from the prison store. Despite him demonstrating that he is an incorrigible criminal, caring nothing for the rules, they paroled him at least once.

Even the rules of common decency have escaped him. Whatever bargain basement social graces that his Mother and Sisters managed to teach him were long blazed away by the prison and jail Hell winds. First off, he’s a lot like a horse: wherever he lifts his tail is his bathroom. Right now, he can’t afford coffee, so he drinks gallons of the chemical-flavored, artificially sweetened vitamin C Packets that everyone else throws away. (The prison dietician counts them as a serving of fruit.) Heat Wave quickly developed a routine where I wake his fat ass up every morning for 4:30 AM breakfast, he rushes out to be among the first to get his tray. He sets it down, then races back to the cage to piss while I’m 5 feet away trying to eat. I assist almost all of these slobs in this type of slobbiness, mostly because it’s easier to let them get away with it than to try to teach them common courtesy. Also, they usually deserve to self-sabotage themselves this way. Worse, living with such slobs has made me pretty-much immune to their disgusting ways. There could be a crowd of them around me, shitting, farting, puking, burping, pissing and picking their noses, and I could still eat whatever slop that the mess hall inmates have thrown together.

Oddly, these slobs seem to think that they are fastidious, somehow. Like many of them that I have featured in my musings, Heat Wave’s attention soon turned to the toilet bowl. He wanted to get in it, like all the other slobs who otherwise are comfortable to live in filth. It seems, this time, that my slob sees me sweeping and mopping this cage daily and thinks, “I’ll clean out that toilet so I’ll never have to seep or mop! Soon as he voiced his concern for the shitter and asked about how they got cleaned here, (the screws do not supply toilet brushes, or rubber gloves, or even rags or soap.) I told him how the shitter-germs need to stay in the shitter, and how they are not harming anyone by staying right where they belong.

He must have viewed this as a challenge, since, a few days later, he found a rough pad somewhere and sneaked over to halfheartedly scrape it around the underside edge of the toilet bowl rim. Most of these germ-spreading germophobes get in there up to their elbows, and you almost never see them wash their hands. (Merely wetting your hands and shaking the drops off doesn’t count.) Thankfully, Heat Wave didn’t get this enthusiastic. But, you can easily guess what he did with that pad as soon as he felt he had proven his point: he put it right on the sink.

You can’t effectively lecture people who are interruptive fast-talkers without raising your voice. And, soon as you raise your voice, it turns into a test of wills instead of a teaching/learning exercise. I accomplished probably all that I could by simply saying, after 3 days of that turd-soaked pad lying on the sink, blocking the flush button, “If you need a place to put that scratch pad, I can move my sink pad so you can put it in that hole. Let me get it out first, because it has never been in the shitter.” He mumbled something defensive, but then complied.

His constant attempts to fix other-people’s home-made tat-guns left lots of trash and dirt on the floor. I sweep and mop this tiny cage daily as much for the exercise as for the cleanliness. I like to do so pushups and not get filthy. Heat Wave would lie or sit in any depth of floor filth to watch television or work on his tat guns. Also, he is a person who will throw clothes on the floor and walk on them, despite the screws finally being forced to supply us with wall hooks for clothes to hang on. Instead of picking up his crap every day, I began to simply sweep out a 6 foot length of floor for me to pushups on. One time, in 40 days, Heat Wave brought a mop in here and smeared a small patch of floor with it, then proudly proclaimed, “I clean up my messes”.

An important attribute of shady people like Heat Wave is that they like to conceal their identities. Heat Wave first introduced himself as “Falluja”, as if this was my cue to ask if he’d been in the UD attack on IRAQ. When it became clear that I didn’t intend to ask, he began telling me that his name is “Lucchi”. He’s too old to have been in on the attack on Falluja, but he claims some kind of military service. He’s not Italian, but is a big lover of gangs. It seems likely that there is a lot of chameleon in him. His love of talking makes him very ingratiating, so that he can talk more. When trying to get true information out of him, one must carefully plan ahead for ways to cut off certain conversational paths first, so eager is he to craft stories and descriptions of events to conform to the desires and prejudices he perceives in his listener. His actual name is of common, English origin.

Over all, Heatwave is a pleasing, good-natured man, intelligent accommodating, polite and friendly; much better than the young, nervous punk that I expected the screws to shove in here on me. They, too often, are like scared parrots, scurrying from one end of the cage to the other, endlessly worrying and seeking attention. But even polite, good-natured convictees can drag you down. E.g., he keeps leaving his criminal paraphernalia lying out in plain sight for hours or days, or until asked to cover it up or get rid of it. When the screws see it, they punish both cage occupants for it, thinking that this illegal behavior creates more inmate snitches for them. The more inmate snitches that they create, the lazier the screws can get.

It’s been about 40 days now since Heat Wave arrived. He is steadily mutilating inmates’ skin and has a dribble of junk food and cosmetics payed to him every Wednesday (purchase delivery day). Still he scavenges the garbage pile, eating loads of corn bread at night as if it were potato chips. He refuses to buy a TV, and doesn’t seem to mind me weaning him off mine. He might not get a radio, either, not being terrified of silence like the young punks. I just continue working, getting more one each day, and wait for the inevitable catastrophe to occur. (4-23-17)

5-5-2017: Heat Wave has not had much success in selling permanent skin graffiti for money. All the young inmate punks buy dope instead, and there is much more dope here than there is money with which to buy it. Of course, they all still want scary skin graffiti that shows how tough they are in groups. This makes Heat Wave like a pawn shop. He takes in merchandise. He got a huge cup that the kops sell for $12. It looks like a clear trash can with a handle on it. He’s also accumulated many bottles of cosmetics, because inmates must smell like flowers and have shiny hair while they sport their skulls, feathers, swishtikas and spider webs. More important, he has guys selling him their food trays for skin scribbles. The guy gobbles the stuff down at Olympic champion speed and looks for more. He still scavenges the garbage oil of trays. He has a tall, Tupperware bucket which he fills to the top with scavenged items, like bricks of cornbread, which he eats one after the other while watching tv.

An interesting part of his tattoo technology is in making ink. He builds a 30 inch, tall, 8 inch diameter tower of paper. Within this, he sets an oil lamp made of pop cans. He sets it afire, puts a magazine on top, and lets it smolder for 3-4 hours, then collects the soot that accumulates upon all of the inside surfaces. The scraped-off soot goes into a 4 ounce plastic bottle into which he adds the liquid squeezing of the underarm deodorants that the state passes out monthly to its destitute inmates. This mixture of chemicals is not anything that needs to be shoved under anyone’s skin. So far, the only side effect is pain.

Today is Friday, which means that the bureaucrats are not here to “manage” us. Even so, Heat Wave and some crony have managed to suck out some boss-kop’s approval to move Heat Wave into his pal’s cage and oust some “Daniel” guy into mine. It is a welcome change, to get Heat Wave to take his phrenia elsewhere. All it took was to deprive him of free access to my TV for 2-3 days. Also, and probably more effective, was my ceasing to pay him and his stories the attention that he needs. Like a parakeet, he can talk endlessly as long as he has a pair of eyes or ears looking at, or listening to, his prattling.

Heat Wave’s pal next door got his catastrophe today. For the past week, one or both of the wild-ass Indians over there have been loudly scraping something between times that the kops wander through. This is, presumably, sharpening a knife-like object. My non-comment on this late-night activity finally got to Heat Wave. He couldn’t stand it any longer. He had to say what he had been so loudly thinking for so long. During a commercial, he said to me, the only other person locked inside this tiny cage, “It sounds like they’re sharpening a knife over there.” I replied, “I think it’s just a mouse digging his tunnel.”

Days later, he told me one night, “Don’t let me go back to sleep after breakfast.” This was a request for attention. I’m supposed to ask “why”, since the doors lock again at 4am and don’t open again until 7am. When I don’t take the bait, he mumbles out of subtle boast, saying, “Something’s going down with my Indian pals’ tomorrow morning. We’re liable to all get locked up. My pals are going to do something, and, if it’s like my pal Lennie, he really busts something up when he gets his ass up on someone…” This is the beginning of another long story, full of side-trips, and an eventual ending that immediately begins with another story. I cut him off, saying, “I don’t need to know a bunch of names and events.” I subtly insult him by loudly refusing to be interrupted or over talked by him and continuing, “The less you tell me, the better I will like it when it blows up in your faces and you all begin looking for rats who snitched you off.” Talk-addicts like Heat Wave are the first ones to pick up their pitchforks and torches to sic the mob onto other people, shouting “Snitches! Rats!” after they have boasted of their plans to rat-pack some dope deadbeat to everyone who will listen to them.

Early morning is the typical time for the ripped-off dopies to sneak up and attack the ones who keep not paying them for their dope. No one got rat-packed and stabbed that morning. Instead, knife-sharpener guy came over to my cage at 10am wanting a roll of toilet paper. He is Heat Wave’s pal and client, but Heat Wave is snoring. Knife-sharpener guy has been trying hard to cuddle-up to me for weeks, trying to find a friend. He acts like he’ll buy a craft item from me, and he has attempted small talk several time. These attempts at “friendship” make me hand him the full roll of my toilet paper instead of the almost spent roll belonging to his snoring pal.

I immediately regret this, and, sure enough, it blows up in my face almost immediately. The snooper-kop team arrives. They look in a few cages, to make it look like they are not homing in on any specific target. Then the snooperkops home in on their target, which is knife-sharpener guy. They tear his cage up, find whatever it was that someone scared probably sent them to find, or, they simply see something that they want that I sin plain sight or cursorily concealed. It is very common that these inmates leave proof of their criminal behavior lying around in plain sight, which is probably much of the reason that the cops so effortlessly made them into inmates in the first place. I had to tell Heat Wave to conceal his Firestarter twice, else he would have left it dangling out of the electrical outlet as its permanent home. The snooperkops drag off knife-sharpener guy. It is telling that they left his cage sharer, rotten-fruit guy, behind.

Every day, rotten-fruit guy and his accomplice scavenge through the garbage-pile trays to openly gather-up the fruit and syrup-preservatives that 48 people have left behind. They get away with a quart or more of this slop every day or so, which they add to a batch of rotting crap that they have hidden somewhere. Today, it became plain that they don’t keep it next door.

“Indians” (Asians) lack one of the genes necessary for the liver to effectively rid the body of the primary rotten fruit poison: ethyl alcohol. This is why they can get off on tiny amounts of alcohol. I’ve seen, in the county jail, a pack of them go from happy to violent from merely splitting two gallons between 5-6 of them. So far, for almost 2 years, they have seemingly been able to keep themselves under control.

One mildly amusing thing that these inmates do is publicly congratulate themselves on how clever they are at uncovering the rats and snitches that are, apparently everywhere they look. The inmates in this tiny mini supermax prison have done this twice, by boasting to me, “You are not a snitch!” while they are piled in this cage with their pals, watching one of them get their skin scribbled upon. I am supposed to imagine that their approval of me is a compliment, though it annoys me. They are surprised, somehow, to have found someone who hasn’t taken the bait that they so cunningly have laid out in verbal traps everywhere. Apparently, all the other inmates, upon being told one of their “secrets”, rush off to the kop to cash it in for the head-pat it is good for. Apparently these rat-trappers can’t conceive that a person exists who is not intensely fascinated with their petty rule-breaking. My interests do not coincide with theirs. They have no idea of politics or science. I couldn’t care less about their inane gossip, bullshit-spreading operations, dope or sports. We have nothing to talk about. Every time they disturb me to start a conversation, the point is quick to come clear. Number one is that they want to mooch something. They don’t even try to sell me dope anymore. I don’t buy anything from them. I keep every attempt at conversation monosyllabic-short. I give away legal and other information for free. Whenever they come to plant some rat-trap gossip, it is obvious what they are doing and I cut it off immediately with the magic words: “Don’t tell me what I don’t want to know!” What changes their clever rat-trapping operations from pathetic to mildly amusing is that they see me trying to uncover the kops’ name so that I can “snitch” their torturing operations off to the federal gov’t. The inmates seem to be blind to the fact that these two acts are the same. Snitching on inmates or kops who maim the common good of all are equivalent acts.

The main thing is that Heat Wave is gone and I can get back to work. He took all of his clients and friends with him. Though he and they are only a few feet away, it makes all the difference.