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Next Year We Shoot Six More and Take The Whole Week Off! MLK Day in a Super Max Prison by Mark Anthony Given



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  I broke a mirror in my house and I am supposed to have five years bad luck.  

My lawyer say's he can get me five. -Steven Wright

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I WAS IN THE United States Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in the late 80’s, when one of the worst prison riots I ever been in broke out in the auditorium on Martin Luther King Day during a Talent Show. The tension was so high in their all my sense and bells and whistles were going in overdrive, the moment we were ushered into the overcrowded auditorium.  I am not crazy about being around a bunch of people period, and I shouldn’t have even been there but my celli was the bass player in a rock band, and I promised him I’d show up. What a mistake. I didn’t make back to my cell for nearly a month.

DURING AN INTERMISSION or between acts, people were going up to the open mike sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage waiting for the next act. First, the Native American Indians Alliance made a short announcement about the Sweat Lodge cancellation. Someone else announced a Photo Drive for the Jaycee’s to buy sporting equipment (The pictures taken in the Visiting Room is their hustle).


There must have been 300 convicts and 75 nervous guards lined the walls with looks on their faces like they were having difficulty keeping their sphincters muscles under control. Hell, I was scared being in a room full of murders and felons because of these little Convict Ball’s, are a rare but perfect opportunity to move contraband and weapons from one end of the joint to the other. These places are like cities; you will run into people in there you haven’t seen since Juvenile Hall, and find out he’s already been in there five years and you never saw him. They are also great opportunities for various underground groups get together in one place, and some of these people love to take this opportunity to show their ass.

     YOU COULD HEAR THINGS being dragged across the floor from behind the curtain, someone keeps sticking his head out between the curtain,  obviously looking or waiting for someone, making everyone nervous. The curtain fluttering with chaotic activity, the drummer tuning up with and the lead guitarist scratching away impending violence. A middle aged extremely good looking black man jumped up on the stage with an officer in pursuit grabbed the mic and spun around to inform everyone attending tonight’s festivities that “Pretty Ricky’ was there, and he hoped you enjoyed seeing him before the overweight prison guard ushered him Stage Left. The whole place nervously laughed when straight out of Central Casting, a big brusque Irishman with a shock of white hair and bright red nose from exceeding the alcohol saturation limit too many times.  Captain Mahoney wants’ everyone to settle down. He has his two ass kisser’s with him everywhere goes and a couple of scars on his forehead from nearly 30 years as a One Man Cell Extraction Team.


     At least a third of these losers would never see the light of day again and laid awake at night in a lonely cell imagining what he would do to that co defendant he blames for his pitiful fate. These rare little get together sometime provide just such an opportunity.  Pay Back City.

     LIKE MANY CONVICTS IN THERE I was eating a Rocky Road Ice Cream from the Commissary and others had chips and pop’s it was supposed to be a festive occasion to keep the tension down, but like a lot of things, it sounded good on paper but in reality is was very dangerous situation, as we were about to be reminded when a guy from my Unit who everyone knew as a hot head Southern rabble rouser, scaled the small rise and grabbed the mic. Something in the rear of the auditorium got the Captains’ attention and he and his minions had left. This guy’s case was in the law books having sent a homemade bomb to the local sheriff’s office because they had interrupted his chop shop in the back yard posing as a junk yard.


“I’m from Alabama and next year we plan on having our local congress man make ‘ah Martin Luther Law to shoot six more niggers and takes the whole week off!”

     He hadn’t got the words out of his mouth good when something whizzed by my head in his direction and all hell broke loose! Instantly I was crushed by a sea of humanity first toward the stage and then toward the back of the auditorium; fist was flying, fifty-five-gallon garbage cans flying thru the air and people screaming.


     I had already counted the steps to the exit and knew I couldn’t make and have placed myself at the end of a row.  I got to the wall and made my way where I could get under a desk where two other people were hiding.


     Alarms were going off, cops TRYING TO GET SOMEWHERE, screaming and whistle’s blaring. Old rivals had squared off, the skinheads were fighting the Blacks, the Mexican’s were fighting each other and the White Boys were hollering for more.  As usual, the cops conveniently disappeared for a few minute to regroup and let Men settle their scores, while they dressed out in Riot Gear or waited for SORT. 


     I was in the corner of the auditorium under an over turned conference table with two other cowards, and finished my ice cream and was glad I didn’t have any codefendant.  I had been in five or six of these things and they never end well.

Copyright 2016 by Mark Anthony Given
All Rights Reserved
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