I’ve killed two people now. I’m a serial killer. So maybe a body count of two isn’t exactly serial, but it’s a start. I’m still young. Who knows where opportunity might lead me? Opportunity makes the thief, or the murderer, or even the pastry chef. It’s well documented.
When it comes to sodomy, I’m a passive kind of guy; I mostly just wait for it to be over. When I ended up in prison, I soon realized this would be the best attitude to adopt. Trying to argue only turned my attacker on. And if I wasn’t getting a kick out of it, I certainly wasn’t going to give him one.
Under Butterfly’s protection I had nothing to fear—except him. Which was plenty. People who say that those who bark don’t bite are wrong. Butterfly barked and bit constantly. His six-foot frame was like the body of a Rottweiler crossed with the personality of a vicious chihuahua. He yelled and screamed and yelled, and if he got a chance to bite a foot, he’d take off with the calf too. I don’t think he ever had a mother: he was the offspring of a Viking chief and an Ostrogoth blacksmith. Basically he was a caricature of a monster, the kind that’s a dime a dollar in every prison. He’d blown a fuse once, and now he had a screw loose. One time I saw him smash an inmate’s head into a mirror for brushing his teeth too slowly. He wasn’t even in his way; Butterfly never brushes his teeth.
The most spectacular thing about Butterfly’s body is his tattoos. His skin is covered with them. Dragons, whores, tribal symbols, skulls. Even on his face. Barbed wire climbs his neck up to his eyebrows and around his eyes. And, like a trinity of cherries on a sundae, three tears mark the corner of his right eye, one for each murder.
Prisons look depressing, both outside and inside. The architecture is almost as ugly and austere as a high school building. It’s all beige-painted cement, or even just raw concrete. And everywhere you look, there are armoured doors with tiny grilled windows to let a trickle of light in.
I shared a cell with the tattooer, which would end up having major consequences. For an immigrant from a poor country, he was pretty talented. He hadn’t even studied art on his poverty-stricken island. He was Filipino, even though he’d lost all his exoticness and spoke with a Laval accent. He was Filipino so we called him Philippe. It wasn’t the name his mother gave him, but it was more practical that way. His real name was unpronounceable, and Philippe the Filipino has a nice ring.
On one side there was Big Dick the all-powerful, with Butterfly and Denis under him. He’d got the nickname Big Dick when he used to work with Mom. Not Mom Boucher, Mom Paquette. Criminals are usually creative types, but there’s a definite preference for certain pseudonyms: Kid, Baby, Fingers, Little, Scars, Tiny, Tony, and Mom, for example. Big Dick is less common. His full name was Great Big Dick. He was a major figure in the biker wars, in the pay of the Italians. His detractors liked to call him Big Fat Dick to diss him.
I’m into black guys who like hip hop. I’d have loved to be in the black guys’ gang, but I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to stick with my own race. No chance of appeal.
Orbiting around these two clans who controlled the immigrants and me were two civilians: Gilbert and Pedo. Gilbert the hooch guy and Pedo, just Pedo. Pedo was overmedicated, ugly, and despised; no gang wanted him in its ranks. It was natural selection, he isolated himself, anyway.
And then, of course, there was the third gang operating in our wing, the only one with the right to wear colours: the correctional officers, or guards, or you-big-dirty-dog-fucker-when-I-get-out-of-here-I’m-gonna-kill-your-whole-family, depending on your mood. They’re nice enough dropouts who used to dream of being in the police. Now they’ve got the grey uniform—no gun, no big paycheque, no social status, but at least they have the inmates, already locked up, to watch over.
So all the characters are in place. I’ll knock one off along the way. Will this or that one die or not? The suspense! I hope to have the time to write the whole story before my summons. It will do me good to get back to the courtroom, take a few rides in the paddy wagon, and enjoy the air conditioning. It’ll break the routine even if it doesn’t break my chains.
My mother wrote to me. She wrote a long letter of excuses, full of love and promises. She went on at length about all the wounds in her soul, the burns in her mother’s heart, her continuous floods of tears. Every sentence was filled with regret at being separated from me, for not having known how to love me or how to help me when she could. She signed off with lots of capital Xs for kisses and some hearts.
Big Dick was skinny. But he was well connected. No need for muscles when you’re the brains of the business. Not even any need for tattoos, in his case. He carried himself with an authority full of charisma and experience. He got sent down for dealing. Big dealing, big sentence.
The rare times I heard Big Dick’s voice was when he whispered in his men’s ears, or in that corrupt guard Tony’s. Always in a low voice, his hand in front of his mouth. I was impatient for him to confide his secrets in me, to give me missions to accomplish. He’d only spoken to me once—to order me to change the TV channel. I got the shivers, and then it turned into full-on trembling that almost made me drop the remote. I quickly switched to his favourite channel, then started breathing again. Big Dick had an impressive voice: paternal, soft, soothing, like Rick Mercer, the guy that does that funny show on TV.
Getting high is a basic need. All over the earth, since the dawn of time, all humans have consumed psychoactive substances. It’s well documented. The substances and the methods of consuming them change, but the need for them never goes away. Whether legal or not, prescribed or not, expensive or affordable, we get high with whatever’s on hand. Alcohol, GHB, tranquilizers, THC, cocaine, LSD, gas, PCP, ketamine, caffeine, MDMA, nicotine, amphetamines, or antidepressants, the most-prescribed medicine on the ...