As promised in my previous post, On Writing the Grisly Scenes of My Friend’s Former Life, here’s an excerpt from the book.
The narrator of this scene is the book’s main character, Newman. He’s landed himself in prison, along with the men rumored to have a hit out on him. Newman’s best friend, Benz, has already been murdered. Denying they ordered the hit and trying to convince Newman they’re all on the same team, they’ve pledged to help him find Benz’s killer.
We went back to J-Mack’s cell and devised a plan to interrogate Lester. We’d press him about who killed Benz. I knew what pressing him meant; this dude was in some serious trouble. I also knew motherfuckin’ well he didn’t have anything to do with Benz’s death. But this was my out. Lester was a fallen lamb who got caught in the middle of the situation and was being used by both sides.
It didn’t bother me much. The guy was being a thug with DJ, so I figure he had something coming. I was okay with the fact that, at least for today, he was the dead man walking and not me.
We arranged for the guards not to bug us, so we had the whole rear block on lock down. We got Lester from his cell, threw him down into a chair, and tied his hands behind his back. This dude was dark black, average height and build, with a square head box cut. His young baby face was looking scared shitless. But as we questioned him, he wouldn’t say nothin’ to save his life.
I already know he don’t know shit, but we fuckin’ him up. Me, J-Mack, Migs and Slim were taking turns torturing him, burning him with cigarettes. Migs was lovin’ pounding on him. J-Mack was pressin’ him and shit. We were beatin’ him so bad he often couldn’t breathe and eventually was going in and out of consciousness.
All the while, I’m listening to J-Mack say, “Ya’ll killed my man. How dare ya’ll motherfuckers kill my man! I loved Benz.” It made me sick to see all that fake ass emotion in his face and hear that shit. I had to keep reminding myself this was just buying me some time. So, I kept playing along, but in my mind I’m thinking how dumb all these motherfuckers are. First they told me James did it, now this dude. And all they trying to do is put me to sleep so they can knock me like they did Benz.
When we finally let him be, hours later, everyone was celebrating like we done avenged Benz. But I know this ain’t the guy. And no hit was gonna be made on Benz by our crew without J-Mack’s approval, so in my mind it was all still on him. But I let him think I was happy with the outcome. This just got me some time to figure out how to come back at him sometime in the near future.
We all went to our cells and acted like nothing happened. My favorite guard, Big D, came into my cell at midnight when he came on shift.
“Man, what the fuck you doin? I don’t want to see you in this jail the rest of your life. That man getting ready to die. He’s burnt up and in a coma.”
I looked straight at him and asked, “Who?” I wasn’t even trying to talk about that shit.
But he kept pushing, “Man, I’ve known you since you was growing up. You not supposed to be here to stay here. He about to die.”
I was still trying to play it off as nothing, so I tried to lighten him up, “Dude, where’s my food? You always be bringing me somethin’ good. Why you ain’t got nothin’ for me tonight?”
Big D was no longer speaking in anger, but he was talking to me with more emotion than I’d ever seen him show. “Look, this is serious. These thugs you gettin’ in trouble with ain’t on your team. Word’s out they setting you up to kill you. You need to stop getting high with them and start watching your back. I can only do so much.”
I knew Big D was putting his own life on the line to even be sharing this kind of information with me. And he was right. I had started staying high all the time. I would take pills, snort cocaine, smoke marijuana, whatever it took to help me not panic and stay relaxed amidst the tension. I had even started smoking cigarettes while in the hole to boost the high I was feeling from the drugs. Shit, I was high at that very moment. Besides always trying to play it cool, I’m sure the drugs were also partly responsible for the indifferent answers he was getting from me.
“Thanks for having my back, man, but I’m cool. These clowns ain’t foolin’ me none.”
He just left shaking his head.