Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary
by Steven Jennings
Chapter 19: Hot Baby Oil and Jalapeno Juice
Socking someone in the face when they pissed me off was very satisfying. I’d been doing it for years, and it was a large part of who I was. My violence had escalated over the years and eventually landed me in prison.
While in prison I continued to fight and demonstrate characteristics unfit for society. I knew I was going down the wrong path and wasn’t doing anything to better myself. The only time I’d really think about changing my lifestyle was when I’d get visits from my family.
In February, 2004, SCCC finally instituted the EFV program, and I was once again granted overnight visits with my family. This was, by far, my number one priority. But when Rodney threw hot baby oil and jalapeno juice on me, I had to deal with him.
I had a reputation for being a badass. I’d been in a lot of fights and had never even come close to losing one. Rodney knew this. Rodney was one of the fellas who marched to the beat of his own drum. He had a history of fist-fighting with guards. He stood about 5′ 11″ and weighed 190, and he was a little on the crazy side. With his Swastika tattoos, red hair, blue eyes, and long red goatee, he looked like a real convict.
When I first met Rodney, we got along fine. The problem came when he would try to get a laugh at my expense. At the card table he’d mock me or mimic my words in a girly tone. He didn’t mean any harm, that’s just how he was toward everyone. But I didn’t like it, so I told him. He stopped for a while, but it slowly crept back. A lot of the time when he’d say something I didn’t like, I’d just ignore it. But I couldn’t fool myself. The tension was building up. I started to hate Rodney.
One day we were in line to get dinner. I heard Rodney talking about my ass. Literally. He was talking about my actual ass. So I turned around and asked, “What did you just say?”
“You heard me,” he said.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t repeat that either if I were you,” I warned him.
So he continued, “I said you have the sexiest ass in the joint and I wouldn’t mind fucking it.”
“Like how I fucked your mom in the ass?” I retorted.
Rodney wasn’t used to anyone talking to him like that. He had the whole fear factor thing going for him. Most people gave him respect just because of how he looked, but I was just the opposite. Over the years I felt like I had been disrespected just because I looked like a small white kid who would take it. I got a good feeling from taking any bully aside and beating his motherfucking ass—so it was only a matter of time before Rodney and I got into it.
After dinner I was in my cell brushing my teeth. Rodney walked in. “I’m just here to talk,” he said quickly.
It’s a good thing he said that, because I was about to spit toothpaste in his eyes and unleash a fierce ass-kicking on his face.
Rodney said, “Dude, you can’t be talking about my mom like that.”
I said, “Look, we’ve had this discussion before. You treat me with respect and I’ll treat you with respect.” Then I told him, “There’s an entire dayroom full of punks and bitches, rats and rape-o’s. If you feel like fucking with someone, go give those guys shit.” We ended up apologizing to each other and shook hands.
Deep down, I didn’t like Rodney. I knew he didn’t like me. But we had to co-exist. We ran with the same crowd and lived in the same pod. As much as I wanted to beat his ass, I wanted my EFV even more. So I did what I had to do to make it happen. When I was being tested I’d just think of my family. That inspired me to exercise self-control, self-restraint.
My EFV’s were absolutely wonderful. Every thirty days I’d get one. SCCC had a brand new mobile home set up for EFV’s. The yard was grass and had a BBQ area. In May 2003 I had one of the best EFV visits ever. We cooked a steak and lobster dinner together, with all the trimmings. My sisters danced around, singing to the radio. Alana grabbed my arms and made me dance with her. Then she theatrically sang along to a song, using her hair brush as a microphone.
The entire visit was a reminder of how good life can be on the outside. The love and joy I felt showed me the type of life I wanted to live. As great as it felt to smash in someone’s face, that happiness was fleeting, like a drug fix. It didn’t compare to the unbridled, lasting joy I got from my family’s love.
Yet when they wanted to know the details about my life, I was ashamed. What was I living for: my prison image, or my family? The answer made me ill.
A few days after that EFV, I was outside playing basketball. Rodney and I were on the same team. I missed an easy layup, and Rodney said, “You fucking suck, get off the court.”
Reflexively, I said, “Your momma sucks, and swallows.”
Suddenly the game took on a different vibe. Rodney and I jawed back and forth a few more times, then he quit. Every time I looked over at him he was staring at me. I should have just walked over to him and beat his ass. But I had another EFV in just three more weeks.
I thought about the time I beat Joey’s ass and got away with it. Could I do it again with Rodney? Then I thought about all the long talks I’d had with my family and how I really wanted to live a life that would make them proud of me. So I just ignored Rodney. That was a BIG mistake. No good deed goes unpunished.
That evening as I was sitting down playing pinochle, Rodney threw scalding hot baby oil mixed with jalapeno juice at me. As the liquid filled the air approaching my face, I saw it coming. I quickly dodged aside, so it wasn’t a direct hit. But the edge of the spray hit the side of my face, neck, and right shoulder. It stung like hell.
Rodney had waited for the C/O to leave the pod. As the hot oil stung me, I jumped back up and yelled, “Is that all you got, punk?” I looked over at his cell and saw his door was slightly open. Dumbass.
I strolled into his cell then called him like a puppy, “Come here, bitch!” He wouldn’t come in. So I took his electric guitar out of its case and started pretending I was Pete Townsend, smashing it against the wall and the metal bunk frame.
Rodney was freaking out, “No, not my guitar!” with his woeful, hot-oil-throwing ass standing two feet from his cell door. So I waved to him again, “Come on in here, motherfucker!”
Although he was at his doorway, he was careful not to get too close. I lunged at him a few times, but he would just jump back a few steps. I waited until he came back to the door, grabbed his TV, and smashed it on the floor. Rodney was nearly crying. He was frantic. He wanted to come into his cell to save what few things he had left, but he was scared to death of me, with good reason. I was acting like a maniac. He kept glancing toward the pod’s entrance, hoping the C/O would return.
Again I invited him into his cell, “Come in here and fight like a man, bitch.” Then I smashed his radio. It made a satisfying “whump” and shattered in a dozen directions.
Rodney ran over to the hot shot and filled his cup with 140-degree hot water. By the time he returned to his cell, I was smashing his digital converter box. He threw the cup of hot water toward me, underhand, like the girl he was. I saw it coming. I twisted to the side, but it got me full on the back and ribs. I gritted my teeth and growled as the pain soaked in. I scanned the cell for something else to destroy.
Rodney left to fill up his cup again. Then all of a sudden I heard him scream, “Get out of my cell…stop breaking my stuff!” Even before I exited his cell, I knew why he had yelled that: the C/O was back in the pod.
I left his cell and made a bee-line for Rodney. He back-pedaled. When I got within ten feet of him, he fired another cup of hot water at me. That one missed. He turned to run, but I was already on his back, bringing him down. The C/O yelled “Break it up!” and called in a fight on his radio.
I picked Rodney up and slammed him hard on the floor. I got behind him, reached around his face and sunk my fingers deep into his eye sockets. I was biting his back. Rodney went berserk. He thrashed every part of his body, like Daryll Hannah in Blade Runner. One of my index fingers slipped out of his eye socket into his mouth. Son-of-a-bitch damn near bit my finger off. As he bit down hard, my other hand was punching him in the side of his face. He still wouldn’t let go, so I bit his right ear. It made a sickening crunch in my mouth.
A team of C/O’s stormed into the pod, yelling, “Everyone lock down! Lock down! NOW!” They pulled us apart, and it was over.
As they do whenever there’s blood drawn in a fight, they took us both to medical. They checked out Rodney first. He looked worse, with half of one ear hanging off and his eyeballs bleeding like a Catholic statue. They put me in a holding cell just across the hall from the exam room. I got down on the floor so I could talk under the door. I had words for Rodney. “You’re a bitch, for real! How do you think that looked to everyone? Then when the cop comes in you start yelling. You’re a dry snitch, rat motherfucker.”
As I was talking, the guards tried to get me to quiet down. I just ignored them and kept yelling. I wanted to give Rodney some food for thought while he sat alone in segregation. I told him too many people saw the entire incident for him to lie about it. I told him everyone would now label him a coward and a dry snitch. Dry snitching is when you don’t sneak off and rat out someone, but you act in a way that makes it inevitable that they’ll be discovered doing something wrong. Like standing near a guard and yelling to inmates across the room, “Hey you guys, stop smoking that marijuana!” Or, as in Rodney’s case, “Hey! Get out of my cell…Steve!”
Rodney knew I was right. It didn’t take long for word to travel to other prisons. Rodney Gitchell had just been demoted from a fella to a piece of shit.
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