Pen Pals

Meet the Neighbors

By Bert Burykill

I’m in a dorm with somewhere between 35 and 45 guys—the numbers vary, because guys aren’t sentenced yet, and some are going to court or getting bailed out. No one has been in this dorm longer than four or five month, and no one wants to be here even that long. I’m not one to complain, but this place really sucks dick. Since no one views this as a permanent place to live, it’s DIRTY as DONKEY DICK, and the COs don’t give a shit either, so everyone is loose and reckless.

When I got here, I was dismayed to learn I was going to be in a bunk in 7’ x 5’ cubicle with no locker or lock. I basically have no place to put my shit and it can be easily stolen. I have the top bunk and my bunky has the bottom, which is pretty lucky for him; I’m perched up here at the top of the cubicle partition like a stupid bird on display for the whole dorm to stare at. Some people get single cubes, but it’s totally luck where you get put.

My bunky is a drug addict from a family of drug addicts. He has spent most of his 20s in and out of jail for petty misdemeanor shit and he is a hothead who has almost gotten into a number of fights over dumb shit. After debating the definition of “redneck” he almost got into another scrap last night. As long as he knows I don’t have his back, I’m cool with it. His favorite thing to do is talk about all the asses he’s kicked and how badly he would fuck up all these dudes, ‘cause he’s “not scared of NOBODY.” However, he’s 5’8” and a buck-forty soaking wet, so, uh, he probably shouldn’t brawl. Not to mention this dorm has cameras everywhere, so you’re not getting away with shit.

Older heads are usually calmer. At 32, I’m an older head in here—I’ve seen enough bullshit to know how to act. For instance, it’s best to mind my business and not engage in debates, cause dudes catch feelings. The other night my neighbor claimed that “you could fit at least ten USAs inside the Congo,” and that “gorillas were not discovered until the 1960s,” among other nonsense. The old me would have called him out but there’s no way to prove shit (no internet or books here) and if an educated white guy corrects some street dude, that makes him a know-it-all.

One of my neighbors is a seemingly chill white guy who’s six feet tall and had a basketball scholarship to Northeastern. That was 20 years ago, and since then he’s owned a bar, been a financial adviser, and racked up five DUIs. He’s avoided getting sent upstate, but has to do at least 12 months in the county jail. He gave me a Hunter Thompson book and discussed the future of green roofing in NYC with me. I don’t really fuck with my other neighbors too much, but they’re annoying as fuck.

One of the dudes is a 27-year-old black guy from Ossining, which is like a surburban town with some lower-class areas. He can act “white" around the white guys and “black” around the black dudes, but the more street guys from Yonkers, Mount Vernon, or New Rochelle don’t really respect him. His bunky is an old Jamiacan who plays dominoes all day and sleeps with his headphones on.

Then there’s the bunk with the Puerto Rican kid and the Honduran kid. The Honduran never says a word and sleeps a lot, but his bunky is one of the loudest, most ignorant individuals to ever irk me. Ninety-five percent of what he says is utter nonsense, and he talks all the time. Next to him is another surburban black dude from somewhere around Peekskill and he sounds like Kermit the Frog; he likes to yell too, and the louder he gets, the froggier he sounds.

There is some asshole Blood over in the corner who is from Greenburgh, which makes no sense. Why does Greenburgh have Bloods? I guess suburban parents should be concerned… Anyway, he’s a dust addict who rarely makes any sense but is often trying to bully people. There are a few Bloods in here, and it’s a fact that the world would be a better place if they were dead. I’ve been friends with Bloods before, so this isn’t a universal truth, but usually that gang breeds personality disorders.

Other inmates in here include a super fat crackhead with a funny voice who talks about food a lot and trades me all his milks for a couple commissary honeybuns; a moronic Italian dude who openly says shit like, “I’d suck the fart out her ass, bro”; another Blood who calls himself “Killa” and claims he had to cut at least five dudes to earn his stars or some shit; a diesel black dude who looks like Shrek if Shrek was into MMA; an old-time toothless Puerto Rican junkie who calls everyone “papa” and gets made fun of constantly.

The guy I feel sorry for in here is two beds down from me—he’s clearly mentally ill and talks to an imaginary friend. He always has someone to talk to, which is cool, but he doesn’t seem to get along with his friend and talks shit to him a lot. He doesn’t shower and produces atrocious smelling farts. I try to look out for him but he clearly doesn’t belong here—he needs to be in a mental ward. Someone caught him naked in the bathroom washing his tighty whites, which is a BIG NO-NO. He told me he’s in here for getting caught with a crackpipe, but he’s been in here close to a month, and if I got caught with a crackpipe, I’d be out the next day.

There’s another block of cubes across the way, but I don’t talk to the guys there too much. Maybe next week I’ll complete the portraits of those people. Or maybe by then the population will have changed and I’ll have a whole new set of shitty neighbors. Until then, don’t get caught, kids… This ain’t living.

Bert Burykill is the pseudonym of our prison correspondent, who is currently serving time in a prison in New York.

@burykill

Previously - Back in Jail and Smoking Green Beans

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