I arrive in J-3 with all my possessions in my back pocket. It is a single-level cellblock below the prison hospital. Dual banks of cells run the 90-foot length of a 12-wide corridor. At one end is the television room where we eat, it is a nice improvement over the J-1 toilet seat with Mose eye balling my tray.
The guard stops at a steel cell door with a window. “You’re in here,” he knuckles the door then walks away. I am surprised that the door is unlocked, so I open and close it twice.
“Hey idiot, open it or close it but get it over with,” a little middle-aged man sits on the lower bunk reading a book
“I just came over from J-1.”
“And that explains exactly what?” he grumbles.
“I can open and close a door in this place.”
“How long were you in J-1, a couple of decades?”
“No, I was there for a week, well actually eight days.”
“Eight days and now you have this thing with doors?”
“I’m Stephen Arrington,” I offer my hand.
“Hey! You’re the Fall Guy” he stands up, “I’m Morris.” He is in his sixties, five-feet tall with a slight frame and an old man’s paunch. He is an Armenian, who lost two restaurants for trying to dodge taxes and is now doing prison time.
“Why’d you call me Fall Guy?” I ask.
“Everyone at TI is calling you that. You’re going to take the fall for DeLorean. It’s the little people who always take the hit. The rich guys get off because they got the big time lawyers.”
“So,” grins Morris, “Is DeLorean guilty?”
Morris could not have been more obvious if he had written the word snitch on his forehead with a Sharpe. Large scary cellmate did not work, so the Feds are resorting to a small friendly Armenian snitch.
“I don’t have a clue,” I answer warily.
“It’s okay,” Morris has one hand up. “and just in case you’re thinking it I’m not a snitch.”
I still think he is as I put my few things on my bed.
“That’s all you got?”
“That’s nothing, you’re the poorest inmate I’ve ever seen.”
I look at my compact tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, and plastic comb. “I didn’t exactly have time to prepare.”
“Well I sure did,” brags Morris.
On the shelf in the locker, there are some socks, two T-shirts, soap, shampoo, letter writing materials, a paperback, and a few other personal items. “Yeah, so I see.”
“Not there,” he lifts his mattress, “here.” It looks like a store. There are cartons of cigarettes, candy bars, beef jerky, a half dozen flattened Cup of Noodles, salted nuts, and more.
“Want one?” Morris offers a flattened Cup of Noodles.
I shake my head, “How do you protect all this stuff?”
“Why do you think I’m offering you the noodles? One of us has to be in sight of this cell all the time when the thieves are prowling about.”
I glance at the upper bunk and do a double take; there is a window! The glazed glass prevents my seeing out, however, a pane of glass is missing. I have a four by six-inch view of the J-3 exercise yard. I spend five minutes watching a passing cloud.
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