“What exactly did it say?” I asked. “You’re not trying to do something stupid that’s going to get you in more trouble are you?”
“It just had Sheila’s address and phone number….and…well…it told him what I’d give him if he could get her not to come to court: $600 dollars, a cell phone, a television.”
“You must be crazy,” I said. “You should go to jail for life for this. You’re paying someone to tamper with a witness. What are you going to do if something happens to her?”
Danny V acted like he knew she would come to no harm, but the fact is he hadn’t considered it, or perhaps he really had. No one was that stupid, but a true sociopath could be that devious.
“Nothing’s going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t tell him to hurt or kill her.”
“You didn’t tell him to hurt her? Are you that stupid? What did you think he was talking about?”
“But…I’m getting the letter back immediately.” Danny V went back to the door and began calling Tyler again. He explained that he needed the letter back immediately. Understandably Tyler was confused.
“I just gave it to him,” Tyler said. “I don’t know if he’s even read it.”
“I know…it’s OK…but I need it back right now.” Tyler was gone in a flash. He had done the right thing by explaining to Danny V that he didn’t want to be in it, and that’s why he didn’t pass notes for people. He returned quickly with a piece of paper and slid it under the door. Danny V went to thank him, but Tyler was having none of it.
“Don’t thank me. I don’t know what it said and I don’t want to know. And don’t ask me to do something like that again.”
Danny V went to the toilet. Ripped the message in shreds and flushed it down the toilet. “There,” he said. “It’s all over. It’s all gone.”
“Gone?” I said. “You think it’s over? You are stupid. It’s just beginning. You won’t know what happened until the day of your trial, or until the DA shows up and adds more charges to your docket.” I rolled over in my bunk to think. My immediate inclination was to hit Danny V in the head. I hated him for being what he was, but I especially hated him for “sucking” other people into his shit.
At “unlock” that evening, Dallas came out singing. “Yo, Adams,” he said. “What’s up with your boy? Daniel? Did you see his note? My celly had me read it to him…He put his girl’s address, phone number, what she looked like, what kind of car she drives, everything. He even put down what he’d give him to keep her quiet: $600, and a TV. Your boy is stupid!”
It doen’t take long for shit to travel in here. Worst yet, if Dallas knew it that meant everybody knew it. And if everybody knew it, that meant the guards knew it; and if the guards knew it everybody near Daniel or the note would now be considered an accessary. I wanted no part of it. (Sharif had explained to me that that’s why “motherfuckers arrive at court to a host of new charges that they didn’t even know about, and more time they weren’t expecting to spend”. ) That’s also why no one talks about what going on with someone else. Who needs more problems?
Unfortunately, Dallas didn’t mean stupid like I meant stupid either. He meant funny, ha ha; and I saw no humor in it whatsoever. He turned to Danny V and began singing, “Sweet deal, sweet deal.” That was a signal that Dallas, like many of our colleagues, would tell the DA about Danny V in order to get less time. Dallas was joking, but if that information got to the wrong person, his assessment was correct. Somebody would try to make a deal.
The problem with Danny V’s story is that it had serious repercussions: not everybody in here was innocent. And if you weren’t innocent, you were looking for an edge. And a powerful edge would be to alert the authorities to the fact that a rapist, who was rapidly evolving into a murderer, was soliciting a “hitman”. What he just didn’t seem to get was by involving everybody around him in this matter, by telling them this story, Danny V was making every member of H mod accessories. That meant everybody in here would be looking at more time if something did happen to his girlfriend.
It wasn’t that someone, some snitch, might tell on him. It was way past that now. It was simply that someone had to tell on him in order to avoid being part of it because they knew about it beforehand. Danny V was looking less innocent every second, and now he was adding other people to his schemes. I also feared that one of the more insane members of our “housing project” might take it on himself to discipline Danny V. It was clear that the white gang members were offended by him.
That evening, I told Danny V we needed to stop being bunkies. His stupidity was putting me in a bad position and I didn’t want any part of it.
“I’m sorry,” he said with his eyes beginning to tear (as usual).
“Sorry?” I said. “You think that solves it? I told you from the start that my morality is rational egoism. I believe in ideas, not people. My loyalty is to principles and you just violated one, in a big way. “Hear me clearly: I don’t care about you or your girlfriend. What you people do is your choice. But I will not let you make me a part of your shit, so you need to find a new bunky, period.”
“What…look…I’m sorry; I didn’t even give him the right address…He doesn’t have Sheila’s address or name. Besides before he left he said he was out of it.”
“I don’t care what he said. You don’t seem to get that it’s you. You’re creating problems on a daily basis.”
Danny V just stared way off not focusing on anything in particular, into what distance I don’t have a clue. We were in a 6×10 foot cell. But he nonetheless seemed suspended, his brain going nowhere as he desperately tried to put this all together. For him, there was a disconnect. He just couldn’t see how his acts of desperation were jeopardizing everyone’s peace (and situation).
I suggested we stop talking. I was getting increasingly angry and I didn’t want to put him on the defensive. Besides, I had to sleep with this sociopath above me, at least for the night. “Just keep this to yourself,” I said, “stop spreading your business to anyone who’ll listen.”
Danny V couldn’t take that advice, though. The next morning he went straight to Dallas to say, “Don’t tell anyone about all this.” Dallas came straight to me which lit my fuse.
After unlock I confronted Danny V in the cell. “I thought I told you to stop talking about this shit.”
“What do you mean?” Danny V said defensively.
“I mean Dallas.”
“Oh…I just told him not to mention it to anyone.”
“He probably would not have,” I said, “at least until you alerted him to the pitfalls of his dilemma. Dallas would have never put it together that you were making him an accessory, but now that you have, he gets it. He understands now that he has this information before a crime is committed. And while he doesn’t get that morally it’s his responsibility to say something, he does get that it’s an opportunity for him to make a deal with the DA. I told you not to talk to people about it, at least nobody but your lawyer and the DA. You had the chance to do the right thing but it’s obvious you’re not going to do it. You don’t really care about anything, do you? That’s why these women are coming out of the woodwork to try to fry your ass. At first I thought there mightbe a chance you were innocent, and your girlfriend, for whatever reason, was pissed-off. But now…now…I get it.”