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YOUTH CENTER I, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1975
“Ay, Blue!” Frank yelled through the vent in the back of his cell. He and Ronald were being sent to general population. Frank’s heart was pounding with apprehension of what awaited them on the compound. It was time to face the music. “Ay, Blue, get in the vent, nigga!”
“What’s up?” Blue yelled back.
“They ’bout to send us to the pound,” Frank yelled.
“Yeah, they just came to see us.”
“Me and T-Bone gon’ be in here for ’bout another week or so. Y’all stay on point out there,” Blue yelled.
Ronald got in the vent. “Ay, Blue, remember what we talked about, man.” They had vowed to never let the Northwest/Southeast bullshit come between them.
“You know that, bro,” Blue confirmed.
“Tell T-Bone to get in the vent.”
“Aaaaayyyy,” T-Bone yelled through the vent.
“I’ma see y’all when they let y’all hit the pound.”
“Be safe, Ronnie.”
“I’ma do that if I don’t do nothin’ else.” Ronald could hear the C.O.’s keys coming down the range over the loud talking of other convicts. “I talked to Synthia, she should be hookin’ up wit’ your girl.”
“Okay, man. I’ll holla at you when we get on the pound. I’m ’bout to get out this vent,” T-Bone said.
Ronald and Frank stepped into the unknown world of the Center. Ronald was assigned to 3 Dorm. Frank felt those familiar butterflies in his stomach when he was assigned to 2 Dorm without Ronald. As Frank and Ronald crossed the compound, they saw people everywhere, just like in the hood. They saw a few people they knew from the streets and from down Oak Hill. Some dudes they hadn’t seen in years. One of Frank’s homies that ran the streets with Gangsta, a dude by the name of G-Train, pulled up on Frank and Ronald.
“Damn, what’s up, baby boy?” G-Train hugged Frank. “What dorm they got you in?”
“2 Dorm,” Frank said, pleased to see a homie of his. “You over there wit’ me,” G-Train said, looking at Ronald like, Who the fuck is you? Ronald looked back at G-Train the same way.
“This my man, Ronald,” Frank said, sensing the vibe.
G-Train and Ronald exchanged nods, nothing more.
“Come on, I’ma walk you over to the dorm,” G-Train said to Frank.
Frank gave Ronald five and a hug. “I’ma catch you after I get my shit together.”
“Cool. Be safe,” Ronald said. He then headed to his dorm.
Inside 3 Dorm, Ronald ran into a partner of his brother’s, a dude by the name of Fray. He had some juice with the female C.O. that ran the block; she was a bad-ass sister with a sexy body. Fray got Ronald moved on the wing with him and a few other Uptown dudes.
Going on twenty three, Fray was well respected and already established down the Center. He had always looked at Ronald like a little brother and had watched him grow up. Ronald had a lot of respect for Fray; it was Fray that gave him his first .32 revolver at thirteen.
“So, what’s up wit’ this beef you got wit’ the dude Keith Henderson?” Fray asked as he and Ronald sat in his cell smoking a KOOL. “You know how word travels.”
“That nigga violated, Mike.” Ronald said, addressing Fray by his government name. He went on to explain how Keith Henderson tried to rape Frank.
Fray nodded. “Y’all did what y’all was supposed to do.” Fray respected the fact that Ronald and his little crew were coming through the door standing up as men. There was no other way to be respected down Lorton.
“Who all fuck wit’ the dude down here?” Ronald asked, knowing that he had to deal with the dude’s peoples. Not to mention, the people that fucked with the dude Joseph Hall—the dude T-Bone and Blue stabbed.
“Most of the dudes that fuck wit’ them dudes over Big Lorton, but the dude Keith got a brother in this dorm on the other wing–”
“In this dorm?” Ronald cut Fray off. His antennas went up.
“Yeah, but he ain’t that type of dude, he don’t want no trouble. He ain’t nothin’ like his brother.”
Ronald was already shaking his head no. “We can’t sleep in the same dorm, that’s out, Mike. If the nigga don’t want no trouble, then he gotta go. Matter fact, we can’t be on the same compound.”
Fray laughed a little. “Let me holla at the dude. He from Northwest, so let me talk to him real quick.”
“Mike, I fucks wit’ you and everything, but it’s nothin’ to talk about. He gotta go or I’ma put the knife in him.” Ronald’s mind was made up.
Fray tried to talk Ronald out of it, but it made no difference. “Okay, I see you got your mind made up, so I got your back. At the same time, the dude Joseph got a cousin over 2 Dorm, he pull a little weight down here. He from Southeast. You know we gon’ have to deal wit’ that, too.”
“You don’t gotta get into this shit. I got it on my end, man. All I need is a knife,” Ronald said.
“Hell nah, I fucks wit’ your brother and you like family to me. I can’t let you go out there like that.”
Moments later, Fray had armed Ronald with a lawn mower blade that could decapitate a bull. Fray also pulled up on a few of his comrades and let them know what was going on. Wookie, Larry Williams, and Greg Royster backed Fray’s call to back Ronald. Eddie Mathis and Fly were on board as well. In a huge green army coat, Ronald walked down the wing followed by Fray and his comrades. Convicts standing out on the tier looked on, knowing something was about to go down. Seeing who was backing Ronald, the convicts knew that the youngster was not some young off brand.
Pulling up on Kenny Henderson, Ronald found him talking to another convict and cut into their conversation. “Main man, let me holla at you real quick.”
Kenny could tell that Ronald was strapped, the huge coat said so. Kenny also knew that Fray and his crew were backing the youngster. “I don’t want no trouble, youngster.”
“I’m tryin’ to holla at you alone,” Ronald said with authority.
Kenny’s buddie spoke up. “You can speak to him right here.”
Wookie spoke up and addressed Kenny’s buddie. “You want some work?”
The dude sighed. “Y’all know Kenny ain’t wit’ no beefin’.”
“Fuck all that. Do you want some work?” Wookie got up in the dude’s face.
“Nah, man.” The dude left Kenny for dead.
“Look, man,” Ronald said to Kenny. “We can’t both sleep in this dorm. One of us gotta go and it ain’t gon’ be me …”
“I ain’t wit’ that shit my brother tried. I know y’all did what y’all had to do.”
Ronald thought about what Kenny said, but he wasn’t taking any chances. He refused to be rocked to sleep. “Look here,” Ronald pulled out the lawn mower blade, “I said one of us gotta go. Either you start steppin’ or shit gon’ go to another level.” In a way, Ronald felt fucked up knowing the dude had no win, but it was what it was.
“You got it, youngster.” Kenny eased by, heading for Protective Custody. “I’m goin’ in.”
Meanwhile, in 2 Dorm, Frank and G-Train were suited up as well. Frank was hiding in G-Train’s cell with a ten inch blade, his palms were sweaty and he could feel himself trembling. G-Train told him that he would go get Joseph Hall’s cousin and tell him that they wanted to squash the beef. It was game. G-Train was rockin’ the joker to sleep. He had told Frank to stab the joker right in the neck with no talking as soon as he walked him in the cell. Frank was having second thoughts as he impatiently waited for G-Train to lure the joker to the cell.
“Yeah, man, that shit ain’t for us,” G-Train said to Freddie Hall as he walked him to the cell. “My man ain’t tryin’ to beef wit’ you. Frank just comin’ in, he really don’t know how this shit go.”
With his chest out haughty and cocky, Freddie said, “Yeah, I hope so, cause I’d hate for us to fall out over this shit here.” Freddie was twenty five, he’d been down the Center for seven years and had been known to be a thorough dude. He respected G-Train, but saw him as a young nigga that was still coming into his own. As far as Freddie was concerned, G-Train had a long way to go before he could even think about getting in his business.
This nigga just don’t know, G-Train thought, we gon’ bus’ his ass. G-Train was nineteen, and he’d been down the Center for three years at that point. During that time, he’d already gotten away with a murder and countless serious assaults. He couldn’t believe that Freddie was acting like he didn’t pull weight.
As soon as G-Train opened the cell door, Frank struck like an angry diamondback rattlesnake, stabbing Freddie right under his Adam’s apple. G-Train whipped out his joint at the same time and hit Freddie in the back.
“Aaahhrrggg!” Freddie screamed, making a gagging sound as he grabbed his neck and forced his way backward, getting stabbed over and over again. Frank became possessed, stabbing Freddie in the face, neck, and chest. Freddie got unnaturally strong and ran down the wing trying to get away. Frank and G-Train were right on his ass like piranhas. They chased him and stabbed him all the way into the TV room where he collapsed, a bloody mess.
“Come on, let’s go.” G-Train grabbed Frank’s shirt, pulling him along.