I hope you're all enjoying the Christmas story I have written. I figured everyone might like something that is a little different. Here's Chapter 5. The next chapter will be posted this Friday... after that I will post a chapter a day until the story ends on Christmas Eve. Happy Holiday to you and yours! -- George
The Tunnel Rat
Mike “Mouse” Sanchez hadn’t been in the yard more than two days when a big misunderstanding landed him in the SHU.
Larry, a white collar embezzler, working as a clerk in the inmate receiving office, read Mouse’s file, including his military records. Larry would scan incoming inmate files for information that he could sell in the yard. As he inspected Mouse’s military record, something jumped out at him -- "tunnel rat." He smiled broadly. With no street smarts and no military background -- all Larry thought of was the jar of pruno he would get for passing on this information to the crew of convicts that controlled the yard.
The rumor that Mouse was a rat spread rapidly through the yard. Mouse was barely into his second day when he was approached by three hard looking men -- regulars, a term used for well-seasoned convicts -- a hispanic flanked by a well-muscled black man and a small white guy. The three were known as “The Counsel.” The guards may have had the keys but everyone knew it was The Counsel that ran the yard.
Tension was palpable but it was clear no one wanted a problem on the yard that could lock down the prison. To avoid crossing race lines, Slim, the hispanic man in the middle nodded and spoke aloud to Mouse, “Where you from man?”
“You know where I’m from or we wouldn't be talking” Mouse replied. He knew that without his street ties and credibility he, most likely, wouldn’t even have a chance to have this conversation.
“Yea -- okay -- you got some smut rubbing on you” said Slim.
“The only smut on me is on the bottom of my shoes. Get to the point.” Mouse asserted.
“Someone put on a piece a paper that you’re a rat -- like a tunnel rat, man” Slim replied back.
Mouse shook his head and chuckled slightly. “Man, a tunnel rat is a term used to describe what I did as a Marine in Vietnam.” He went on for several minutes about the tunnel rats -- a class of compact marine rifleman who entered and cleared the underground caves of the Vietnamese enemy the Viet Cong.
“You see that's what I'm talking about, a misunderstanding” said Slim, who was a high power prison shot caller. Those watching in the yard nodded briefly in consensus. Everyone seemed to be satisfied with his explanation. This was good. No violence in the yard meant no interruption in the flow of commerce.
Mouse suggested they go over to R&R and fix the problem in the file. The two other guys excused themselves as Mouse and his new friend, Slim, went to resolve the problem once and for all. When they arrived and explained the situation, Larry the clerk’s pale skin turned a sickly shade of white. It was obvious he was nervous having Mouse in such close proximity after he had made such a huge oversight and rush to judgement. But with Slim there he felt protected.
Larry swiveled around in his chair to retrieve the file and nonchalantly stated “Let's get this straightened out.”
Mouse replied in a matter-of-fact tone “Yea, that's why I'm here… To straighten it out.” With that he reached into his right front pocket and produced a sock with a large bar of soap slipped into the end. He swung the sling-like weapon and connected firmly with the skull of the unsuspecting clerk. Slim, although surprised, offered no assistance to Larry, who was now rolled up in a ball on the floor.
Corrections officers swarmed Mouse and immediately delivered him to the SHU. He would spend the next year in the dungeon right next to Danny Petros.