Pedro looked down at his feet. His prison issued Velcro’s were covered in what was assumed to be his lunch. Some sort of faceless slop that was most likely the by-product of a nearby food processing plant. That was less his concern than the reason the tray was upside down on his feet. He’d only been inside for a matter of hours and it already seemed he had enemies. It really didn’t surprise him any, as much as the men who put him in there wanted him to have a less than comfortable stay. Pedro knew he would have to make a statement to the rest of the population here, so that he could be left alone to do his work. This would be a hard bridge to cross. Even harder to cross was going to be the seven foot tall black man in front of him who resembled a slave-era Jolly Green Giant. Except he was neither jolly or green. He had walked up to Pedro and smacked the tray onto the floor, and Pedro’s shoes. The large black man was flanked by several other large black men, and the event had seemed to escalate into a staring contest.
“You seem to have dropped your food – meat.” The large black man calmly said. Pedro smelled something on his breath that certainly wasn’t being served in the cafeteria. The group of men waited for Pedro to make the next move, which they hoped would be anything. Because they didn’t need much to kick the shit out of him, and possibly kill him. Pedro knew if he knelt down to get the tray, he’d be toast. He knew if he attacked the man without a weapon, he’d be toast. Too much time had elapsed. If there was going to be an element of surprise, such as flipping the tray up with his foot and whacking the man with it, it was lost. “Well bitch,” he sneered, “ain’t you gon’ pick it up?” His knuckles cracked as he made a fist. He seemed to be speaking from his large, flaring nostrils.
Pedro, instead of bending down to pick up the tray, held his hands up together as if to pray and fell to his knees. He started bowing his head rapidly, as if praying to the large black man. This ego boost was enough to create a new element of surprise as the black men started laughing at Pedro. Pedro did not open his eyes.
“This nigger’s prayin’ to me! He thinks I’s his god! Hahahaha!” The seven footer declared to the room. Pedro stopped praying as the man turned his head to survey the room for a response, many prisoners laughed, then gasped as Pedro reached out with both hands and grabbed the mans scrotum and squeezed. Pedro is not a weak man, routinely benching at least 425 when he can get to the gym and running a brisk 5 minute mile. The large man quickly became small as he started to hunch over. Pedro twisted hard to his left. The man hunched over to his right and reached back to strike Pedro. Pedro twisted hard to his right and he felt something pop in his hands. For an area of the body with no bones, that can’t be any good. The flankers were coming out of their initial shock. He dropped the scrotum and flipped up the tray into his hands. As he stood up, he struck the closest flanker across the face with it, breaking the tray in half. With half a cracked tray in his hand, he swung it like a Frisbee at the next man, striking him in the eye. The rest of the men started to back off, the adrenaline pumping through Pedro’s head numbed him to the guards presence behind him. Pedro’s body jumped as he was struck with a cattle prod, then another, then another. He quickly was electrocuted to unconsciousness.
Pedro woke up back in his cell. He sat up, groggy from the zapping. At least he had made a statement, or invited the black gangs to skin him alive. As if he didn’t already know it, he’d have to watch his back. He was actually surprised he wasn’t sent to solitary or something. Usually that’s what they do to guys who tear apart other guys scrotums, at least in the movies. Pedro stood up and looked into the top bunk. His ‘roommate’ was reading a ten year old National Geographic. He was a young Hispanic man called Eli. Pedro didn’t know if that was his real name or not. Eli was a little under six feet tall and was extremely well defined. He had been in Prison since his sixteenth birthday, when he went into a bank and shot two tellers with a gun he thought wasn’t loaded. It was part of a gang initiation. Instead of running though, he felt immediate remorse and gave himself up. He had so far served 10 years of his reduced 20 year sentence. At least that’s the story Eli told. Pedro knew better, and had a feeling that Eli knew as well.
Eli looked over at Pedro. “Heard you got in a fight with that big nigger Byron James. You know that the brothers are going to be looking for you for a little revenge. He won’t though, you tore one of his nuts straight off on the inside. They’re shipping him upstate for surgery. He’ll never be the same again though, testosterone will be at about 50% for him.” Eli turned back to his magazine. “Someone will take over for him though, leading those bastards. First thing the monkey will want to do is establish dominance, and right now, you’re the dominant one.” Eli loved prison politics, one of the reasons that he was a valuable cell mate. He also liked to talk about such politics and about other things as well. Also good reasons that he was a good cell mate, especially for the sake of Pedro’s mission. “Anyways, that cross burning skinny fucker Marlon came by, to see how you were. Knock off a nigger and you get an automatic invite into the brotherhood of racist cousin fuckers. That’s how it works. You sure stirred the fucking pot at lunch today.” Pedro shrugged and walked to the cold steel commode to take a piss. The flusher didn’t work, what a surprise. Eli continued, “The good news is that the Mexicans also came by, and congratulated you for getting rid of Byron. They gave you a nice custom made shank as a reward. I put it under your mattress. You might want to think about carrying it with you. In fact, it’s just about time to go out in the yard for evening exercise.” Pedro had a sinking feeling as he realized this was way too much like a video game. A reward from a gang for taking out another gang leader? Of course, the thing that distinguished real life from a video game is that Pedro didn’t have any quarters on him for that extra life.
Eli hopped down from the bunk and grabbed his prison issued ball cap. “This could be an interesting day.”