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Prison Ebonics 101
Bo-ricker (Bo-rik-ka): Untrue or disingenuous statement, belief or practice. Something that is bo-ricker is said to be poorly thought out, untrue, or maliciously intended. Syn: bullshit.
Boo Game: See below.
Blow Rec: Lose your edge. Become sloppy. Get old. Opposite of "Got Game."
THE BO-RICKER BOO GAME
(Or how I "blew rec")
by *P.O.W.D. Gary Brooks Waid
(*Prisoner of the Drug War)
Ta-daa. I'm baack...!
If it's not one thing it's another, though. Sometimes I just want to shout or break something. Good thing Kay's on my mailing list. Especially now, because I've recently reached a giant milestone. It's official now, I'm fifty actual years old or more. And I'm not dead yet. Not even close, although some things don't work so well and I'm beginning to look like Yoda.
Actually I had a little party on the night of my birthday. I was sitting on my bunk thinking things through, preparing to get up and go use one of the remarkably impersonal, assembly-line prison toilets - kind of a celebratory 50th anniversary bowel movement - when the dorm was invaded and overwhelmed by a crack squad of D.O.C. troops all shouting and gesticulating like Patton storming the beaches at Auzio. I and the rest of the inmates were ordered to catch our racks and make ready for a shakedown. A lot of grumbling and rumbling ensued, and we were given a five-minute window of opportunity so we could toss all our illegal things in the aisles under an amnesty umbrella, which, truth be told, didn't produce much wrongful hidden booty. And I myself had nothing to reveal anyway; I sat squirming, distressed, thinking good grief, I hope these people hurry. (When you're 50, you should avoid any monkey business involving regularity.)
But shakedowns are not unusual. They're a fact of life here in prison. In the Florida D.O.C., or in other systems across the land, inmates have to endure periodic rousts at the hands of trained professionals who systematically go through all your personal items and confiscate whatever's dangerous or not allowed. In the feds it's done with a minimum of fuss, often while the inmates are at work, and the invasive bruising is kept to a minimum. The Florida D.O.C. enjoys a bit more latitude, applying a measure of carnival and some cartoonish zeal to the job in hopes, I suppose, of shaking loose a nefarious plot or two.
The word contraband must conjure up images of shanks or drugs or hacksaw blades or tickets to Brazil for some of you, I know. But the actual stuff can be something as silly as a rubber band or an apple. Here at New River "Correctional" Institution up in Raiford, any tiny thing seems to be criminally inspired. It may be that, because the D.O.C. has recently had to endure a spate of publicity about guards selling drugs to inmates, the administration has directed their employees to be extra vigilant and extra menacing. Or maybe they watch too much TV. I don't know, but the D.O.C. is currently in the process of removing all sorts of previously available items from the inmate canteen, too. Items as innocuous as tuna fish and shaving creme*, and simple things like a multi-vitamin or a retractable pen can get you in serious trouble. In this new age of Secretary Michael Moore's Lock 'em down mentality, the inmates are blamed and punishment is meted out for new things every day.
*They claim that cans can be repositories of drugs.
If you want to know, it makes me mad. The longer I hang with these people the guiltier I become of something and the more punishment I'm to endure. Although I'm not a state inmate, and although it's in the rules about my federal rights, somehow the federal B.O.P. has decided that I deserve this lousy treatment. Irrespective of my record and no matter that there are 100,000 other federal inmates enjoying the right to avoid rickets and gum disease in federal institutions that serve recognizable food items and meat products that don't float, I and 29 other non-violent feds like me must floss our teeth with thread from our underwear after chowing down on state powders and potions supposedly infused with the minimum amount of micro-nutrients like vitamin-C. If I go to every meal and spoon up everything on my tray, I will reportedly survive. But need I remind you (again), I'm 50 years old. I get such terrible gas from just breakfast, I avoid it at all cost. I currently survive on salted peanuts and Buddy Bars from the approved "snack" section of the canteen list, a list that has no fruit, nothing with fiber, no vitamins, and no discernible health fixation to worry about. You folks out there have Ronald McDonald, I have Little Debbie.
So anyway, a shakedown here at New River is an organized sport. And for some of the more moronic orangutans in uniform, it's a wonderful opportunity to get in an inmate's face, accuse him of something, shout imprecations, rattle the poor guy with threats, throw his property around, and generally turn him into a quivering pile of jelly in front of 70 witnesses. The event is called The Boo Game, and on December 23rd '99, my birthday, I was chosen to play.
The officer who had the honors is a member of the goon squad here at N.R.C.I. He's a brutal cur who's name I can't repeat here, although his surname rhymes with Doody as in Howdy. But his reputation is as decorated with scalps as any D.O.C. guard, and if he were a bug he'd be a dung beetle, constantly rolling other people's droppings into big balls, then packing them away to dine on later. I think I'll call him Officer X in honor of the wing at F.S.P. he'd be most capable of managing.
Officer X scared the doody out of me. I don't know why, exactly, but I never do well in the face of shouting and confusion. I become tongue-tied (which is one of their objectives), but I also have this sense of outrage that boils up in the face of stupidity. And this guy was enjoying himself too much, as if it was his job to punish me. If I could write something accusatory in a venue he might see, it would have to be a feature for Monster Truck or Backdoor Mama Magazine, but nothing much gets printed in those kinds of periodicals except pictures. And there's no evidence that Officer X can actually read because what he does is against the written rules and only performed as entertainment.
Oh yeah. Make no mistake, the boo game is against published D.O.C. regulations [D.O.C. Chapt 33-4.002 (9)(27)]. There are specific statutes that supposedly prohibit standing an innocent inmate up, screaming at him, forcing answers to unanswerable questions, scattering his legal materials like so much garbage, and pursuing a confrontation for no reason with an endless, ongoing, never-ending, minute-by-minute, longer than long, excruciating-in-this-instance-because-I-had-to-take-a-crap-
-and-I-was-trying-not-to-explode-on-Officer-X-who-wouldn't-leave-me-alone, barrage of unintelligible drivel that he learned from watching The Dirty Dozen and Cool Hand Luke on late night TV.
And also, you know, why me? A few months ago at F.S.P. Work Camp, a truly bizarre ignoramus named Zook (later implicated in inmate beatings) pulled me out of the dorm at midnight one night because I'd written something, and booed me up under the stars. It was a move that is, of course, way against the rules, but necessary in case I wanted to say something smart and he had to slap me around. His sidekick, Lt. Anderson (also implicated) was there, along with a Sgt. Nimnon, and the trio's purpose was to terrorize me. We were out alone, on the grass, me and them in the dark, and Zook was shouting, threatening, letting me know in no uncertain terms what power is all about. I eventually reminded him of my federal status, which probably saved me from a beating.
Months later now, a lot of D.O.C. sludge has floated to the surface...the pond scum is in trouble. Because of the murder of Valdes, the goons have been told to lay off. I was surely safe from any public slapping or beating, even though there was no reason to think Officer X knew I was a fed at first. All he can do in front of witnesses now is scream, accuse, entrap, plant contraband, and issue bogus discipline reports (See my previous writing) that put you in the hole for more thorough treatment away from prying eyes. There are guys in the hole that have been locked down for years, garnering more and more solitary for things like "disrespecting an officer" during the constant boo game that is life in a Florida D.O.C. box. And because Officer X is reported to be a catchdog**, he is a permanent fixture in the confinement wing, having been transferred here from N.F.R.C. because of his management skills.
**A catchdog is a corporal punishment specialist in the D.O.C.
But even though he didn't touch me, Officer X sure stuck it to me, I'll tell ya. It took a half hour for six guards to shake down the entire dorm (70 inmates), and during most of that time Officer X did only me. I was standing for most of it, face to face, and I was nervous as hell, but also, as I said, I had to GO, and I kept thinking man, let's do this, while we're young, and I was jiggling and pinching let's go let's go, but he wouldn't end it. He just kept asking me all these dumb questions ("Is this here white stuff COCAINE here in these little packets?" "Uh, no, it's..." "WHAT?" "Uh, SIR. NO SIR!" "ARE YOU MAKING FUN OF ME?" "It's Sweet & Low, SIR, like, um, fake sugar..."). He went on and on:
"Are you a liar, inmate?"
"So you're NOT a liar! You never lied!"
"Uh, well, I suppose..."
"So you ARE a liar!"
"HEY! WHICH IS IT? YOU JUST SAID SO, INMATE! Or are you calling ME a liar?"
...and so on...trying to make me stumble or whatever, and screaming and waving his arms around like a crazy man, panting like a dog and squinting myopically because our noses were usually three inches apart (although mine was higher and less chubby). When it was finally over and I was doubling over with cramps, he smirked at my remains and told me I'd soon be in the hole where I belonged.
Good, I thought. Maybe I'll get to use a toilet.
Later, after I did get to use a toilet, several inmates tried to explain what had just happened (I'm considered sort of a federal rube in here, unsophisticated and too gullible by far).
"You're talking about a bag 'a puss, here, Mr. Waid," said one guy. "He ain't a cop and he ain't a genius. He's at the bottom of the food chain in the real world, but here he gets his cookies by the boo. When you told him you're a fed he laid off, so that's something."
"He scared me," I said.
"He runs that 'are you man enough' shuck. Like he asks if you think you can take him, man to man, and all that."
"They do that at F.S.P."
"Don't give it another thought, Mr. Waid. You just got booed up by a born and bred, Starke Raiford goon. They don't believe in crop rotation around here, either, so his mother is probably also his wife's big sister. He wears a sheet on weekends, you know. Burns crosses and shoots things."
I wanted to know should I file a complaint.
"No! They'll gang up on you. I'm surprised he didn't tell you right out. Must 'a been put off because you're federal. Usually they tell you keep your pen in your pocket. You'll probably be left alone now, unless you go to the hole for something. Just chill out. He's got friends. They'll do you, Mr. Waid. I know you think you blew rec, but really, it ain't worth it. Just let it all go away."
So that's what I've been doing this past month. Still, I resent the introduction to Officer X. And as you all know by now, I'm learning more than I want to learn about Florida D.O.C. techniques. I'm stuck out on an ice floe here, without any protection except my lawyer, my friends, and this web page. I had thought that by this time I'd have been in my minimum-security federal camp or a low, going to my D.A.P.*** class, preparing to rejoin the world. Instead, I'm learning about the bottom crawlers and trying to cover my flank.
***Drug & Alcohol Prevention
And I blew rec, too. Bummer.
Did I describe this guy to you? No? Well Hell, then, let me tell you what he looks like so you'll recognize him at the dog fights. Officer X is a white guy of medium height, who's recommended P.S.I. he must've long ago ignored to become a florid faced, razor burned pumpkin. He has that pressurized look of recumbent, pork-chop-and-donuts ill health that a doctor might associate with budding heart disease or non-specific cardiac neurosis. He has painfully short hair and eyes like peas in pudding, and his pudgy little hands move through the air, invading my space, firing off this way and that as he tells me what he thinks of me.
I picture him at home in the double wide, at the table eating greasy meat and smearing the oils on his cheeks, sticking his fat fingers in his mouth past teeth like wide-apart nickels. He's talking, and half-chewed food is spilling from his mouth. He gestures across the table with his fists, spitting and farting and forcing the conversation as his bruised, desiccated wife and terrified children cower by the stove.
Really, you guys, all goons are alike. They're Secret Police. And although there may be some differences in degree between the D.O.C. secret police and, say, the Tonton Macoute of Papa Doc or the KGB of the old Soviet Union, the idea is basically the same. They're dumb, instinctual, and cruel - the ultimate terror weapon. Remember those two female inmate "Suicides" last year? When they were found dead, one lying naked on the floor of her cell, investigations should have peeled apart the boo game. Those ladies were most probably victims of prolonged, agonizing bouts. Boo up...after boo up...after boo up. With no regard for mental condition.
Oddly, I've been told the boo is a necessary evil in prisons. But that's nonsense. I've done 4 ½ years in the feds. The only people who were authorized to play the boo game at F.C.I. Texarkana or F.C.I. Tallahassee were Internal Security investigators, and only when there was evidence of illegal or improper behavior (fights, gambling, etc...), investigations into certain unhealthy practices (gangs, weird sex), or threats to security. So those in the D>O.C. who claim that the boo game is necessary are overstating their needs and admitting misconduct. Public excoriating only causes anger and more problems. Officer Doody, er, I mean X, was clearly out of line.
A pall of greasy black smoke hangs in the air over the camp. I see Officer X standing in the mud in his spattered Nazi jackboots, smiling evilly, overseeing a ragged phalanx of starving death camp inmates as they stumble down the ramp from the cattle car. "Schwein!" he shrieks, and orders his men into the sea of wretched humanity. Clubs rain down and he laughs, his tiny ears pink in the cold like baby mice. The air is thick with the stink of death.
I love this guy. I wish him ringworm.
He stands at the pulpit in his dirty white linen suit, screaming country catechisms, stinking of Early Times as sweat pours over his face and down his back. The tent pulses with life. The citizens of Starke and Raiford are mesmerized, ululating in raptures of agony as waves of power and glory wash over them. Officer X's fly is open, his suspenders stretched and pinging like banjo strings. He raises his fat arms and a hundred yahoos cry out and roll in the aisles and offer up their daughters to be washed in the blood of his pulsing lamb...
Maybe Officer X was pissed at me because I wasn't a plump young black boy. Maybe we'll see him later in life banging around the stadium urinals offering candy and rides in his van.
I see Officer X in some futuristic scene. It's the end of civilization and he's astride a big black horse, riding through the ruins with a bunch of other thugs. The animals are exhausted, lathered, panting. Their hooves are clattering on the bricken pavement. The goons are hunting. They're chasing down the remnants of America - men in white-collar rags or women of independent mien. Officer X is running them down and shooting them. BLAM! BLAM! Blowing their brains out for sport. Exterminating writers and thinkers and marijuana advocates and other scum, shooting them down like wild indians because that's the way life is, the way it should be, praise the lord.
Am I being clear enough here?
Because I can really see this guy, you know, but the thing is I can make him come alive so that you can see him, too. And anything I make him do on this page, he does. I have power here. I am powerful.
What if I wrote this: "Oh please, Officer Doody, stop looking at my crotch."
See? So Officer X can beat my ass: You can beat my ass, Sir, and give me a bunch of illegal, uncalled for bo-ricker grief Mr. Officer X-D.O.C.-bully-boy-Howdy-Doody-bag-o-slime. You can make up charges and roust me and make me do whatever you want me to do, up to and including barring me from the bathroom. But I will explain you to everyone if you do. Your own children might someday understand that you're a cretin and a fraud. I want to be left alone, Sir, so poo on your boo. With a pen and a stamp I GOT GAME, and you're the one who blew rec.
- Gary Brooks Waid -
...and oh yeah. The irony here. There's always some irony. The irony this time is that this clod, Officer X, might very well be a serial assault and battery perp, who spends his days contemplating gross misconduct and illegal activities that include violence - but I'm the guy in jail. What's up with that?
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