Boston had absconded from the Feds in Boston. Then, after a two year run in the porn business in Southern California under a new identity, it all came tumbling down in an electronics chain store over his ID, a credit application and a big screen TV.
Boston described the wanna be looking cop behind the counter as a overachiever in every sense of the word. Their exchange had become a battle of will -- over a $3,000 big screen TV. His gut told him to walk away. But like so many of us have done when we get that funny feeling -- he didn’t listen. The police soon arrived and everything began to unravel. When the officers patted him down for their own safety, the Glock was hard to explain.
He was smiling as he recounted the story to me, conceding it was pride and ego that brought him down. That TV salesman didn't deserve one ounce of credit. Under arrest, Boston weighed out his choices: LA county jail or a confession he’d absconded from Federal probation? He chose the Feds and that's what brought us together.
After a quick seat on the toilet to recover his goods, he invited me to partake. Although I was no longer bound by club rules against the use of heroin, old habits die hard -- I declined his offer. He was outwardly disappointed and asked if he was interfering in my sobriety. I explained myself and countered that I didn't want to interfere in his good time. With a wide grin he stated he would accept responsibility if we found ourselves in a shakedown, I replied “Yes, you will.” With that we shook hands and set the ground rules for the cell.
Boston had been here close to 18 months fighting his gun case. Not only did he know many inmates, he had also developed personal relationships with the staff. He had been in and out of the SHU several times between stays in general population and wasn't shy calling in favors. His first order of business was his mail. He told the guard he was expecting some important legal mail from his lawyer to come in. In fact, he had seen it on the guard’s desk just before they moved him to the SHU and he really needed it for his attorney visit tomorrow. If he didn't get it, it would set his legal defense back. Now I don't know if Boston had something on this guard but about a half hour later the rectangular slot dropped open and a guard slid in Boston's legal mail. All legal mail must be opened in the presence of both inmate and a corrections officer to insure no contraband is sneaked in while protecting attorney client privilege. A shuffle of the legal brief and a quick look into the deep heavy overnight mail envelope satisfied the guard and he was on his way.
Boston was beaming as he looked over the legal motion. Then, to my surprise, he tossed the packet on the table and took a seat on the small steel stool. Carefully and methodically he deconstructed the envelope - first each side, then the bottom border -- revealing a generous second border of black tar heroin that Boston slowly scraped into a sizable black tar ball.
Boston called out to the Surenos in the cell next to us.
“Hey Johnny! It's me, Boston!
“Ya, I know. The whole god damn tear knows it’s you.”
“You still mad at me?”
“No, let’s just squash it.”
“Good, I got a taste for you. Let's start over”
Apparently they had been in general population together. A beef between the whites and the Surenos over, what else, some dope, had broken into an all out brawl and half the unit wound up in the SHU. Boston had talked his way back to general population and now was back in the SHU again. With a few simple words the conflict was now officially behind them. A fishing line was cast between the two cells to transfer the dope to our neighbors and needless to say they were very happy. Of course the first one is always free and after that taxation begins. Over the next few weeks the Surenos commissary slowly transferred from their cell to ours, not to mention the outside sources that began putting money on Boston's books for payment, as he distributed his product throughout the SHU via the trustees as well as a few unsuspecting guards.
His next mission was to see what women were in the cell directly above us. I learned that the floor above us housed all the women inmates and that conversations between their cell and ours could be conducted through the sewer pipes. In addition to conversation, you could also drop fishing lines to pass contraband between the two floors and then on to various cells. Many a jail romance began and ended through those pipes. Boston was real Casanova.
Despite the good times it wasn't all fun and games. One evening, everything was brought back into perspective when a high power member of the Aryan Brotherhood came calling. He had been bought in from the United States Penitentiary in Victorville to stand trial for the murder of another inmate and as far as the staff was concerned he was already guilty. It was no secret the Aryan Brotherhood was the premier white prison gang - birthed in the California prisons and later spreading into the federal penal system. When the Aryan Brotherhood spoke the prison population listened and Boston was certainly no exception. This influence extended to many a guard.
It was the combination of boots and keys that first caught our attention and brought us to our small reinforced glass window. Looking out we saw five guards and in the center a small lean blonde man with a oversize mustache making their way down the hall. Flanked with two guards on each side, and a rear guard armed with a oversized billy club - this guy was under some serious security. I can still clearly recall the sound of his rubber shower shoes slapping against the floor was a sharp contrast to the sound of the heavy boots of the guards - all highlighted by the sound of his leg shackles dragging on the cement.
They stopped in front of our cell door and opened the shower door, located directly across the hall. The shower door locked, of course, to maintain security. Two guards held him by his arms, that were cuffed behind him, as his leg irons were removed. He entered the shower and after the door was secured his hands were extended through the small rectangular slot and his cuffs were removed. The slot remained open. As the five man detail prepared to leave, one of the officers opened up our slot. Then all the guards exited.
Clearly this was done intentionally so we could converse. Not in an effort to eavesdrop on our cell but to placate this potentially dangerous Aryan Brotherhood member who had apparently requested to pay me a visit. I think this in-of-itself is a real testimony to the power of underground communications in the prison system.
We exchanged introductions and small talk, then the conversation took a sudden turn. “Hey Boston, I heard you might have something for me.” said the man. Without skipping a beat Boston replied he did and asked him to cast his line. A package was affixed to Boston’s line. It shot across the floor, the two lines intersecting each other and the transfer was complete. It was the first time I saw Boston look unnerved - a little shaken and out of sorts. All the mysterious man across the hall said to Boston was "That's mighty white of you." The guards returned shortly after and our guest was escorted away. Within the hour, the laid back and confident Boston I had come to know returned. The next morning it was back to business as usual.
I'm not sure exactly how long Boston and I shared that cell. I think we were into the third week and I had truly given up on the Warden when the Lieutenant appeared and told us to dress up -- the Warden was coming.
The Warden was a large, robust women with very dark skin. She was no youngster but had no wrinkles or any grey in the jet black hair piled neatly on top of her head. Her deep voice travelled through the glass loud and clear and she got right to the point. “Christie, You want in general population-- is that right?
“Yes, Warden.” As I began to plead my case she stopped me mid-sentence.
“I don't give a damn what the FBI wants.” She said. “This is my house. You get one shot Christie and that's it. If there is any problems I will bury you in the SHU. We understand each other?”
Relief washed over me. And I quickly replied “Warden, you won't even know I'm here.
“Then roll it up." She said. "Someone will be by to get you.”
Silent through the exchange until now, Boston couldn’t hold back his sense of humor. “Ok Warden, we’ll be ready.”
The Warden broke into a deep rich laugh. "Boston, you got nothing coming."