Photo modified from original by Flickr user Edward Corpuz
HardWhite spied the new jack quick and hit the zoom button. Young little white guy, just arrived in the clink-clink, looking like Harry Potter with a stylish Danish-pussy-pube-beard face and cute glasses. HardWhite had spent more than the last decade or two behind bars and he’d seen this breed comin’ on board lately. He blames it all on the pills. The deluge of painkillers that’re making suburban kids fiend out younger and younger—now they’re seekin’ out dope ’cause it’s cheaper and better than their prescriptions. They slammin’ that shit much earlier than they used to ’cause it’s more accepted now. Fuck a stigma. They’re comin’ to jail for small-ball possession charges and dumb shit like credit card scams, check fraud, and petty larceny, a.k.a. “boostin’.” Johnny Law don’t play—if you’re a drug addict caught stealin’ you’re likely to wind up doin’ time behind that.
HardWhite ran shit silently behind bars. He had his jelly-butt butter honey, GutterBitch, smugglin’ him get-high on the frequent. Recently, though, him and his grimey, RockBottom, been on a bender—indiscriminately smashin’ their stash before they were made the requisite profit to re-up. HardWhite knew how to use a money whiteboy right, mostly ‘cause he used to be one—if he could get Harry Potter to send GutterBitch a couple hundred bucks, then he’d be back on top. Back living the way his doped-up desires told him he should be.
HardWhite knew the science well. Harry Potter was fresh from the world and had a sickness to feed. The weakling wizard fiend probably hated everything right then, but mostly he hated that his drug was gone. Suffering a heavy habit and landing in a jail with no methadone program, he’d be aware of the misery that’s gonna cripple him for the next couple sleepless weeks. All Harry Potter will want to do is get high and the boys are about to swarm on him. HardWhite knows some cracka gon’ try and get his knob topped off to give this whiteboy a taste of something. Scumbags in prison are ruthless. They’ll bag him up some coffee creamer, take him for everything, and then beat him to a pulp if he says something slick. Little white wizards get no play in county lockup.
HardWhite is whiteboy too, so it’ll be easier for Harry Potter to trust him. Plus, HardWhite doesn’t trip over what color the skin be, he always hits his custies with the killer kindness, at least on the surface. His papa always told him, you’ll make more bountiful babies if you stick it sweet to ‘em bitches rawdog. No funny stuff.
HardWhite had a couple subs (suboxone) stuffed in buttpockets that he could fish out to give Harry Potter a quick fix and gain his permanent loyalty. Just by peepin’ the wizard’s ways from afar, HardWhite knew this boy was ripe for some friendly-style extortion.
HardWhite stepped to Harry Potter with a smile. “Whats up, Bud? They call me HardWhite. What you go by?”
The poor kid was hunched over, crampin’, pale, with the clammy damp skin that plagues the fiend in withdrawals. “My name is Peter.”
“You look like Harry Potter. I think I’ll call you Harry Potter.”
The kid stammered a little bit, not sure if he liked being told his name. “Yeah… uh, I guess I have glasses, so… so guys used to call me that, but my, like, street moniker is P-Nutz, or you can jus call me Nut.”
HardWhite flashed the street businessman smile, meaning he could cheese like a Kraft, but his style was more Swiss Miss. “Oh yeah, Harry Potter? You’re a Loose Cannon, huh? Maybe I’ll call you LC?” It’s a simple psychological game, but HardWhite always tried to dictate the terms of a conversation by not-so-subtly playing the alpha male.
“So, Harry Potter… what they got you for? I can tell you foxin’ with that dog food… or you been poppin’ them pills willy-nilly?”
“I messed up bad… I was copping some bombs, and they had porkchops watching from the roof… the fuckers jumped out on me guns drawn like I’m gang-banging before I could even get right. Fuckkk, I’m sick as a dog, bro. I’m about to start puking and shittin’ myself. The doctor won’t give me nothin’… I think I’m going go to the hospital. I swear I can die from withdrawals. I been slammin’ a couple bundles a day… I, I really, really can’t do this shit cold turkey.”
HardWhite now heard from the duck’s mouth what he already knew to be true. He was just about to purchase himself a slave for one 8-mg pill of Suboxone, which GutterBitch got for free from Medicaid. The beauty of jailhouse economics.
“You ain’t got to sweat it, Harry Potter—I like you. You seem like a good kid, plus,” he took his forefingers and rubbed them on his pale white forearm, “we got to stick together, lo mein? Crackers gotta watch each other’s backs. I’m quite sure I can arrange to get you a sub or two to get you through the worst of your detox…”
“Oh shit! For real, man?!?! I got money for you on my books… I’ll get you commissary—you know whatever you need, bro‑I got you. I need that shit, though—I can’t do this without it. I’m FREAKIN’ THE FUCK OUT…”
“Shhh… it’s aight, baby bruv, they’re hard to come by and they go for 100 a piece in here all day every day, but I can tell you good people, Harry Potter—I’m gon’ look out for you. You gotta girl out there, someone with money?”
“Well, my mom, but she’s cool as fuck, and knows I need money ‘cause I’m sick. And then my brother is why I’m in here, ‘cause I was coppin’ from his people in a hotbox hood, and I told him I—”
“So you got money out there? This’ll be easy. You tell your moms and your bro that some big black animals with monster dicks are going make your ass hemorrhage uncontrollably messy unless you pay them some rent. Don’t fuck around sayin’ you need drug money. This is just how the game goes. I don’t need no commissary bread, I need money in the streets so I can bring in more of what’s good for us. You see, Harry Potter, your people are going to fund our drug operation and I promise you, one cracka to another, that you will never feel sick in here till your times served. You don’t talk to anyone else. Never. Or you and I are going to have problems. You don’t trust anyone else. They’re a buncha scumfuckers. You only talk to HardWhite and you don’t tell a fuckin’ soul what’s really good. You smell me, Harry Potter?”
And so it goes… with just one “jail rich” fiend, HardWhite is feelin’ comfy that he’ll keep his game runnin’ smooth. Harry Potter is the perfect ‘vict, and truthfully he will get treated proper. His street money is mucho importante to keeping the funk flowin’. All HardWhite gotta worry about now is keeping GutterBitch on the winning team… It’s just sad facts she’s gon’ get sick of the visits to jail smugglin’ the get-high in her saucy funk box. HardWhite just counts his blessings while he’s got ‘em, namely that he’s got a bad bitch on the outside, least for now. Love is what makes the world go around…
Bert Burykill is the pseudonym of our prison correspondent, who has spent time in a number of prisons in New York State. He tweets here.
Previously: The Trials of Job