At the break, I told the C/O, Officer Stewart, that I needed to talk with him. Toward the end of “unlock” he called me over to his desk.
“Look,” I said, “I need to get another bunky. This guy is creating a lot of problems. I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to be mad at him and I don’t want things to get out of hand.”
“I told you from the beginning to find someone you liked.”
“I know. You’re right. But it’s not a matter of liking or disliking him; he’s creating issues I don’t want to be a part of.”
“Look, you’re straight with me and I’m going to be straight with you. He’s just a fuck-up, and I don’t want to get into details, but I’ve got to get him away from me. (I felt bad not being completely honest with Stewart. He was a stand-up guy. He also knew why I couldn’t and wouldn’t, so he didn’t press it. Besides, I could tell he already knew about Danny V. His partner had told everyone on the way out. Danny V was an idiot.)
“You and I both know guys in here talk shit; but I’m not going to let some idiot bring me into his mess. So now we all know.”
“OK,” Stewart said, “I’ll see about getting another bunky. You think about who you want.”
“I’m not trying to force a bunky out; understand I just don’t want to be part of his shit. This guy is going to have everybody on this module doing more time.” I walked back to the cell and relayed what I had said to the C/O to Danny V. I wanted him to understand that I was mad at him for doing stupid shit and bringing everybody else, especially me, into it by talking about it. I then asked him to never speak to me again about any of his shit.
Again, Danny V got all teary-eyed and began staring off in the distance. That seemed to be his characteristic response to any question, not confrontation, but question, simple question. This in itself suggested, as far as I was concerned, that Danny V had emotional issues and clearly seemed to be arrested in childhood, at least emotionally.
The fact is I didn’t want to be mad at him; I actually felt sorry for him. But even that didn’t change the fact that Danny V would pull anybody into his hole with him, and it wasn’t going to be me.
At around 2:00 a.m., our cell door swung open. The C/O asked us to remain where we were and conducted a search. He had me roll up my bedding so he could see under it. He said to Danny V, “You want a better view of the TV…come on,” he added without waiting for a response. “I need this top bunk anyway.”
Danny V rolled up his bedding, took his blue bucket with his personal belongings, and was gone, like a thief in the night. He was moved to the upper tier and while it was just above me in the same module, the fact that he was with a different “unlock” group put him a million miles away. There was sadness at having to watch him leave but the fact remains he needed to go. I still felt as if I had failed him. He just lacked any and all of the social skills. He had been on the upper tier previously anyway, a lot of the guys up there knew him, but I wasn’t sure that was a good thing either.
It took a while to get back to sleep. The room was somewhat empty again, but the major problem was the anticipation of who would be next.
Actually, though, at around six a.m. I found out. Niko, a Latin guy with a massive amount of tattoos, opened the door carrying his bedroll. I had met him before. He had slept in the day room during the parole-probation round-up. He was quiet, studious – read the Bible a lot – but more importantly stable and considerate. For the first time, I felt at least I could be comfortable with the guy above me.
Niko was preparing to become the mod worker when Tyler was transferred to the penitentiary. It also meant he was on his best behavior because by having that job, he would not be locked down for 22 hours a day like the rest of us. “He would be a very good bunky to have”.
All my concerns that day, however, weren’t about my new bunky. I had other things going on. Some lawyers from LA were coming to do a deposition. It was completely nonsense. One side represented the client. The other represented the surgery center I had used in Fountain Valley, Euclid Surgery Center. It had been my patient, but off the top of my head, and without a chart, I couldn’t remember the details. The lawyers obviously had been a bother because Lt. Marsh, himself, had come to the module to alert me of their arrival. He offered that he wanted “to give me a head’s up” and I should “probably talk to my attorney to decide if I wanted to talk with them.” I didn’t, I knew that from the start – no conversation with these people could come to any good but in spite of his apologetic tone, it was clear it wasn’t my or his decision.
Lawyers for me had come to fall in the “what now?” category. This was a medical malpractice suit and although I had been named, it wasn’t about me, it was about the Surgery Center and some perceived slight to a patient on their part. Like 99% of them it was unfounded. This patient, though I had no recollection of who she was, was obviously dishonest because her suit had surfaced some four years later. That already tells you she didn’t have a problem; she had had a conversation with some “friend”. Someone had told her she might be able to get some money from the surgery center’s insurance, and so here she was, her and her lawyers.
My reasons for not wanting to participate were long, but the main reason was simply that I wasn’t familiar with her case, I had been in Solano County for the last six months and hadn’t been supplied with a chart to review, and therefore felt I’d be doing some insurance company, the Surgery Center, and myself a disservice by testifying to something I wasn’t sure of. The lawyers, however, I knew would be aggressive because they wanted money. The quicker they could extort money from this insurance company with the least amount of time spent on it, the more profitable for them.
Lawyers lobbied for changes under the notion of the common good, but the only good they were interested in was their own. There is no such thing as the common good. The common good meant them.
This suit should have never happened and the first thing the lawyer for the opposing side, the Surgery Center, said to me was that “this suit is completely unfounded and defensible.” But here’s the question that begs to be answered: “If you know that and the other side senses that, why did it get so far? Again the answer: ‘Cause lawyers get paid for the process, due process if you will, and not the results or the merit of the case.
As a result my shower the next morning was not the wonderful moment of the day I had come to cherish. The outside world had crept into Solano County and it was an experience I didn’t want to have. Before I had completely dried off following my shower, the message came over the overhead: “Adams…Adams…Come to the officer’s desk.”
I knew immediately what it was and I took my time getting dressed. By the time I was standing in front of Corrections Officer Powell, I was already visibly annoyed.
“They want you down in administration for some kind of deposition,” he said.
“I don’t know why,” I offered. “I talked with the lieutenant on Friday and I let him know Monday I wasn’t going to participate.”
Powell got a confused look on his face. He thought for awhile and then began fumbling for the phone. “I’ll tell you what,” he said. “Go back into the day room and I’ll find out what’s going on.”
I returned to the day room and to the smiles of my colleagues as they all peered through the slits in their doors. They had all known that I didn’t want to go and they took my return as a triumph. I assured them all that it wasn’t over yet. They were calling downstairs which meant I was going to have to go down and tell the attorneys to their faces. Solano County was not about to take that responsibility.