By Randall Radic
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Additional info for A Priest in Hell: Gangs, Murderers and Snitching in a California Jail
The other inmates line up near the cart, and I imitate them. Taking a tray from the cart, I move to another, smaller cart. Arrayed on it are white Styrofoam cups filled with coffee. I take one. Turning, I look around for an empty chair at one of the tables. Seeing one, I walk toward it. I drop my tray on the table and sit in a chair. Three faces stare at me. Across from me is a morbidly obese hulk of a man with dark hair and a goatee. He is stuffing his face with food, as if he hasn’t eaten in a week.
They’ll treat you the way you treat them,” he says, glancing in his mirror. He looks away. ” A horror ignites in my stomach, begins to burn white hot. “But you’ll be all right,” he says. ” There’s a funny quality to his voice. ” I ask. “Well,” he says, shifting in his seat. ” He doesn’t look at me in the mirror. ” “One point five million,” he states. My eyes widen. “What? ” “I don’t really know,” he says. ” There is a confessional note in his voice. “I don’t understand. ” “Embezzlement, fraud, forgery,” he recites.
Your books are your account here at jail,” he explains. “Like a bank account, kind of. ” I ask. “Someone on the outside puts it there for you,” he tells me. “They come in and tell them your name and give them the cash. No checks, has to be cash. ” “Oh,” I say. ” “Then you’re fucked,” he says matter of factly. ” He looks up at me. ” “Twenty dollars,” I say. ” “Oh. ” I smile. He stands up. “Look, guy, be careful when you fill out your commissary form. Fill it out — all of it. ” “Okay,” I say. I don’t get it, but I will remember it.