Saturday, February 20, 2010


I have been writing about an old friend that I worked with when I was a kid. This is creative non-fiction. I am in the process of putting all of this into a novel. I am posting for editors to check out my work. I also hope to get you interested in the ongoing stories. It will be a little "Pulp Fiction-ish" as far as the pacing. By all means please comment and share it with readers and anybody in the publishing or film business. This is what was told me about Willies first day inside the Az state Prison at Florence. No, that's not his real name. This piece won a first place in a writing contest and was published in small Journal.

The First Order of Business
By Mad Coyote joe © 2003
“It’s unfortunate that the Arizona State Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, only allows a sentence of eight years. If it were up to me, I’d put you away for the rest of your natural life. You sir, are the definition of a career criminal. If and when, you ever, find yourself free again, I’d advise that you do everything in your power to avoid standing before this bench. In fact I’d leave the state.”
With the judge’s words still in his ears, Willie walks into the main yard, at C-block, General Population of the Arizona State Correctional facility at Florence, Arizona.
“Eight years, well shit your honor, I can do that standing on my head,” Willie remembered saying.
The judge was not amused.
A scruffy con, in his late fifties, wanders over to Willie. The con’s eyes dart about. The convict is frail and shaking, hunched forward and walking with a slight limp. The word “Love” is badly tattooed in decades old, ink across the knuckles of his left hand. Willie has seen this kind of guy before. He looks tired, old, used-up; a shell of what was once a man. This guy is a lifer.
The con asks Willie, “Hey brother, got a smoke?”
“Sure old man. What’s you name?” Willie says while giving him a cigarette.
The man’s hand shakes a little as he leans in for a light.
“ Jake. First time inside in Arizona?” He asks.
“Oh, I had a couple of county beefs. But they were only a few weekends. Willie replied. “When did they snag you?”
The old man scratches his head thinking, “Well… it was back in ‘64, what’s that now, 22 years? Shit, it don’t matter anyhow. I’m here for the whole fuckin load.”
“I caught a little more than a nickel and a half,” says Willie. “ So who’s the big dog on this block, anyway?”
The old con nods across the yard to a group of men sitting against a two story concrete wall with several ageing coats of peeling gray paint.
“That big, black haired, pecker-wood in the center is Martin Reeves. He runs everything in this wing. You can do what ever you want, as long as he gets his tax.”
Reeves, is about 210 pounds, muscle bound, and an eight inch swastika, under the word “Brotherhood,” in old English letters is tattooed in the center of his chest. Reeves arms are completely covered in a richly detailed, assortment of skulls and dragons. High quality for “Jailhouse Ink.” He’s leaning back against the wall surrounded by three other men, all of which look like pro wrestlers, big, mean and confident. These are the kind of men that straight guys worry about. These cons only have one rule: do what ever it takes to keep the others in line: beatings, rape, murder and extortion are all used. They run the unit. And nobody fucks with them.

Willie says, “Well grandpa… thanks, I’ll see you in a few months.”
The worn-out con watches, a little confused.
Willie turns and walks straight over to the men. On the wall next to Reeves is window covered with heavy steel bars. Willie smiles as he approaches Reeves, who starts to leans forward. But before he can tilt his chair all the way back up, Willie is on him. Grabbing a big handful of Reeves long black hair with one hand he takes a hold of the steel bars with the other. He jerks Reeves out of the chair. Slamming his head into the steel bars as hard as he can. His head makes a thud, like a cold melon falling onto a concrete floor. The other men instantly start, savagely beating and kicking Willie. But he keeps his mind on the task at hand. One con smashes Willie’s left cheekbone, with the heel of his boot. A deep gash, just under his left eye, opens wide. And Willie just keeps ramming Reeves head against the bars.
A siren goes off and a guard in a tower fires a warning a shot into the air. All the cons drop to the ground, but not Willie. He keeps beating on Reeves face, with all the strength that remains in his good left arm. Suddenly the guards surround Willie and spray mace into his eyes and mouth, which instantly swell shut. Then the nightsticks come out.
Choking and blinded, snot hanging out of his swollen nostrils, Willie starts to pass out, while the leaded batons are breaking and crushing his skull and ribs. He fades into a swirling, unconsciousness.

When he finally fights his way to back to the surface, he finds himself handcuffed to an old iron hospital bed. His left eye is swollen shut. His right arm is in a cast. He tries to move a little, cracked and broken bones causes his body to seize in spasms. He’s been here before, and knows the worst of it is over.
Two beds down, Reeves is also handcuffed. A quiet but constant metered mechanical pumping sound comes from the side of his bed. An opaque, white plastic tube, taped into his mouth is leading to the machine that is now breathing for him. His ashen face is badly bruised and swollen out of proportion. His eyes have a distant, dull stare. Martin Reeves is in a coma.
A few days later the Warden comes in and takes a look at Willie. The warden is small in stature, maybe five foot eight, in his mid sixties. He dresses in a tan business suit and dark brown cowboy boots. White, closely cropped hair and bushy, white eyebrows are contrasted by the warden’s almost black eyes that peer right through Willie. This man is a no bullshit cop that has heard and seen it all. He looks at Willie knowing he’s about to hear a load of crap. In a way that identifies Willie as less than human the warden says, “Okay ‘Convict,’ tell me what happened.”
Willie looks at the Warden, “Well boss, I tell ya, I was just walking across the yard when these guys jumped me. I’m new here and not really sure why they were so pissed off. I don’t want any trouble. I just want to do my time and be left alone.”
The warden shaking his head in disbelief says, “So they jumped you? Funny… I can’t seem to find anyone that saw anything. Isn’t it interesting, all those men, standing right there and no witnesses. Reeves isn’t talking. In fact, Reeves will most likely never talk again. Well, you want to be left alone, good, I’m going to give you a couple months in the box as soon as the doc lets you go. And you and I… we’re not done on this subject.”

Eighty-three days later, Willie’s right arm is still in a cast, but most of the bruises and swelling have gone away. With a new jagged scar on his left cheek, once again walking out on to the main yard. This time every eye is on him… He’s the man that took Martin Reeves out. No gang, no back, no weapon, he just put him away, like it was nothing.
Willie walks over to Jake the old convict he had met earlier. “Hey gramps, what’s it like.”
The old man, shaking his head says, “Well dad, I’ll tell ya, I’ve never seen any shit like that in all my years inside. What was your beef with Reeves anyway?”
“No beef, never met him, I just needed to send a message.” Willie replies.
“Message… who the fuck to?” asks the old man.
“To every mother fucker in this place, that’s who.”
Willie cracks a knowing smile and leans back against a post. He casually tosses a smoke into his mouth, and then hands one to the old man.
“Don’t worry gramps. Oh, they’ll talk a lot of shit about putting it to me. But none of these punks are willing to die just to find out. Now… I need you to get me hooked up… with some of that good shit.”

This is me at a book signing at "Pages" bookstore. I'm chatting with my friend Will the owner.
If you're ever in Cave Creek drop by it's a great place, they also are fantastic at locating those hard to find books.
Pages also does mail order They are in The Stagecoach Village located at, 7100 E Cave Creek Rd Ste 164 · Cave Creek
(480) 575-7220

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