Something must be done.


“Knuckle Up guard your grill this is real if you ain't-a Gunner than you're a goner. Violate we going to do you.”

“Shoot them up, bang bang doing what we have to do is our thing. If you ain't-a Banger, then you’re a stranger. Cross our paths and we got to have you.”

“¡Somos uno y uno que somos si luchas contra uno de nosotros debes luchar contra todos nosotros!”

This can be translated to English as: We are one and one we are. If you fight one of us you gotta fight us all.

Gunners Bangers and Cortados all shout from within the confines of the Essex County Courthouse holding tanks. In the midst, inmates hang on bars inside cells screaming names, comments, and obscenities back and forth, at the top of their lungs. In one conversation it is clear that the entire tribe was captured and incarcerated. The grandmother, grandfather, father, mother, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all on several different slave masters plantations. For a period of indefinite incarceration. There's another conversation going on concerning Genghis Khan. The dope is a winner. All those who are interested in getting high are excited to get out and give it a try.

There are constant rotations of chattel being marched in and out of the holding tanks. A Banger nicknamed Fangs is amongst the group of chattel.

Fangs’ fate is unfortunate, the outcome of a jury trial was not in his favor. He also has a parole violation running consecutively. He's a broken, frustrated man looking for trouble in the jungle, a place where harpy eagles attack sloths. Aggression is all he's ever experienced. That's the only way he knows to communicate. Is it too late? Is there still hope? One day will the powerful energy that germinates inside of him be redirected in a more meaningful, useful direction. Let’s, just say Inshallah (God Willing).

Additional chains rattle as another train of livestock, including Robbie McClain, is finally herded inside and arranged along the walls in a single-file line. Robbie's eyes roam cautiously. He's never had a reason to enter a courtroom. Now he does, and he doesn't know what to expect. The flock finally stop in clear view of a frightening sign. The sign reads Boulevard of Broken Dreams. That’s very discouraging, Robbie thinks to himself. It’s hard for him to understand how society deems it justice to destroy families. This creates poverty, and poverty creates criminal activity. The system isn’t about justice it’s all about business.

Incarceration produces extremely high stress levels. The worries are abundant. Various tribes of indicted, accused, and abused warriors wait impatiently for a judge, and a so-called jury of their peers to decide their fates. Many of them will be convicted, then auctioned off to private prisons. Privatized prisons are now sold, purchased and traded regularly on U.S. stock markets.

While Robbie waits he glances around to see if he recognizes any faces from the free world. He doesn't, but he does recognize Felipe from the lengthy exhausting procedure involved with processing. The two men built a bond chatting to pass the time away. Robbie noticed that Felipe is highly respected amongst the other Latino inmates. Felipe knows the ropes, he's also down to earth. Robbie hopes like hell that they put him in cell 202 with his Latino compadre.

“Ay Felipe, what’s up with you?” Robbie shouts.

“Nothing much man. I hope that the judge throws this bogus case out hermano.”

“I hope that he does too. When you get out don't get all of the girls. Save me some, and make sure that you use protection. I know how Latinos are. You will have a bunch of kids running around by all of them.”

"Ahh ha ha!" Felipe is amused by Robbie’s humor. Chains resume jingling as additional inventory is shuffled in behind the first line. If it’s not enough room for them. The system will definitely find a way to make room to welcome.

“Listen out for your name! If you hear your name called you will be interviewed by a public defender shortly! If you already have an attorney you can waive the interview! Does anyone have any questions?”

“Yeah what time do we eat?” One inmate asks.

“How much time do you think I will get for a common robbery?” Another inmate asks the guard. A series of unrelated, irrelevant questions are asked and ignored.

Robbie's really beginning to worry. Surely the dean won’t hesitate to expel him if he is convicted of a crime as hideous as murder. And that’s his least of worries. Being convicted of a crime he did not commit, undergoing indefinite incarceration, or maybe even lethal injection is really weighing heavy on Robbie's mind. He tries to cheer himself up by thinking positive. He daydreams that the judge is going to declare his ordeal a big mistake and apologize before releasing him. The first thing that Robbie plans on doing is spending more time with Summer. He loves to play games like Scrabble, 500, two-man Spades and Call of Duty with her. He can really appreciate having a young, hip, bout it mom. Robbie can’t wait to rectify this big mix up. This experience has really taught him gratitude. Since college, Robbie has really neglected to spend any quality time with his mother.

“Robbie McClain and Ahmad Miller. After I remove your restraints step in cell 201!” Robbie’s pleasant thoughts are interrupted. He snaps out of his daydream, returning to the real thing. He will not be joining his compadre, Felipe. However, he is being allowed to remain in Ahmad’s presence. Ahmad is an older gentleman that Robbie was fingerprinted and transported with. This gives Robbie a sense of comfort. The releasing of the restraints are a relief for Robbie and Ahmad. Both men demonstrate by rubbing their wrists.

"Control tower pop tank 201." Officer Williams speaks into his walkie-talkie. The guard in the control tower takes a look into the all-seeing eye then presses a button. The gate slides open. Robbie and Ahmad step inside. The gate slides shut behind them. Two poorly shaved young men with nappy dreadlocks are standing at the gate snarling for no apparent reason. Ahmad doesn’t back down. He returns the stares with a mean mug of his own. The Bangers can sense his aggression so they wisely eliminate him as a mark. Most old heads who were not washed up are best described as vicious street fighters, if not actual killers. The way of the Gunners, Bangers, and Cortados predator has always been to seek, destroy and devour the easy and weak. Ahmad bops to the back of the tank and steps up on top of a wooden bleacher. Both of his fists are balled up and clenched tight. His veins bulge. The hairs on his Teddy Pendergrass beard seems to breathe on their own as he grits his teeth. Ahmad’s ready for the bell to ring so he can ding ding ding and crack crack crack the first fools’ jaw sending the clear, uncut, uncensored message I’m not the one to be messed with.

Robbie has a problem. The problem is that there are no available spaces to sit on the bench. Even the space on the floor is occupied by dope fiends laying down trying to cope with their heroin illnesses. The last result for Robbie is to hike across the bologna and white bread slices that are mushed, and smeared all over the holding tank floors. Finally, after a half dozen excuse-me's, Robbie makes it through the rubbish, to a vacant spot on the bleacher. There he takes the seat that nobody ever selects, or occupies. The spot is always vacant because it’s located in a desolate area next to the horrific toilet in the back of the cell. The toilet is always out of order and overflowing with feces.

“What up Banger?” Before the seat has time enough to warm up, here comes trouble. One of the guys who was posted at the gate reckless eyeballing is now invading Robbie’s personal space.

“I’m neutral,” Robbie says without conviction.

“Ain’t no neutral! Either you make your mind up and choose up, or get beat up! It’s your choice!”

“No thank you, however, I do appreciate your offer.”

“This ain’t no offer! This is an initiation!” Wham. Right then, a powerful punch strikes Robbie from his blindside. The impact knocks him into a wall. His legs are oodles of noodles, but the wall holds him up and prevents him from falling. Both of the Bangers are now collectively attacking Robbie, landing flurries of fury, ranging from jabs to uppercuts. They even insert a few hooks. Robbie instinctively tucks his chin. His mouth is bleeding and tears are streaming down his face.

“Leave me alone!” Robbie growls while throwing a vicious haymaker weighing in at 5 pounds of pressure or more. Oomph. The punch drops and slumps one of the Banger into unconsciousness. The other Banger tries to lunge with a left hook in retaliation, but it’s aimed a bit too high. So the punch breezes over Robbie’s head. Robbie quickly drops low and scoops the Banger up. Oomph. Robbie uses all his inner strength to earth slam the Banger to the cold concrete. Oomph. Robbie plants vicious face blows that disfigure his adversary. The tables have turned Robbie now dominates the uneven battle.

The Banger under attack screams out in pain. His screams are in acapella baritone. Robbie is oblivious to everything going on around him, as he continues to engage in unleashing an arsenal of fatal blows. There's nothing that the Correctional Officers can do personally to stop the fight. It is against protocol for them to jeopardize their safety trying to defuse an unmanageable situation. The guard in the control tower presses a button to alert the G.S. while he closely monitors the situation through the all-seeing eye. The siren rings loud. This further incites the prisoners.

“Knuckle Up guard your grill this is real if you ain't-a Gunner than you're a goner. Violate we going to do you.”

“Shoot them up, bang bang doing what we have to do is our thing. If you ain't-a Banger, then you’re a stranger. Cross our paths and we got to have you.”

“¡Somos uno y uno que somos si luchas contra uno de nosotros debes luchar contra todos nosotros!”

Gunners, Bangers, and Cortados all scream out their cadences at a high volume. Their voices are loud enough to be clearly heard despite the deafening racket. Each organization in the arena are blindly cheering for their combatants. The gate suddenly clicks and opens. The Goon Squad quickly and tactfully burst into the holding tank protected in full body armor. One of them is recording the entire incident with a digital camera. If you’ve ever been to jail before you know the deal and the drill.

“Get down now!” A goon warns. His size is Warren Sapp intimidating. Actually, he’s bigger, faster, and hits much harder than Warren Sapp. Additional orders and demands are announced by other Goon Squad members. This is the last straw. This is the final warning. The inmates have no more chances. The Goon Squad are ready, willing and prepared to inflict bodily harm. They will even go a step further and cause permanent harm. Robbie refuses to obey the final call. He's been pushed to the breaking point. He doesn’t know the deal, nor does he know the drill.

A powerful shield hits Robbie directly in the chest. Followed by a baton across his left shoulder.

Robbie is in trouble. He has to do something fast if he wants to survive. Instinctively, Robbie grabs a tight hold of the goons shield with both of his bloody hands and pushes off using his right foot as leverage. Whap! The maneuver causes both of their bodies to twist in the air. Fa-thud! Robbie lands hard on top of the goon. His adrenaline is pumping, and his blood is flowing from the many open lacerations. Wap, whack, Klunk, Robbie is being clobbered with nightsticks and damaging licks.

Out of sheer desperation, Robbie shoots an uppercut under the protective riot helmet of his injured target. The blow is successful, and also lethal. The goon yelps, and bites down on his own tongue. The pain is, agonizing. A trail of blood begins to ooze down the goon's chin.

The tables have turned. Robbie is now the aggressor, unleashing a merciless assault. But not for long, another goon bigger and smarter than the last one, steps in and shoots Robbie with a stun gun. Robbie plummets to the ground, violently jerking, and coughing up a thick foam like mucus. He needs medical attention. Instead, he gets a severe whipping. The assault is brutal. Nightsticks, boot soles and all sort of deadly, unnecessary blows torpedo down on the helpless young man. Robbie’s heart rate decreases, the oxygen passage to his brain is clogged. This causes him to lose consciousness. Lub-dub-Lub-dub-Lub-dub. Thank God Robbie still has a heartbeat, but he has just about endured as much as he could withstand. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE before Robbie adds on to the endless list of so-called accidents. Bangers, Gunners, and Cortados soldiers within the confines of the holding tank all swarm down and attack the G.S. They’ve seen enough, they put aside their differences. They’re all victims of oppression in an unfair bias system. And they’re sick and tired of it. They just can’t, won’t, and absolutely refuse to take it anymore. AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.

Readers if you study history you will learn that whenever there are masses of people dissatisfied a change always comes into existence.

The Essex County Jail represents a modern-day valley. The dry bones are the inmates incarcerated there. In this story, those dry bones have begun to come together. These men are no longer divided according to religion, faith, shade, language nor financial basis. Despite their various differences, they’ve joined as one. THIS IS CLASSIC ACTIVISM, AND AN EXAMPLE THAT SOMETHING CAN AND WILL BE DONE.

Faheem The Writer
Faheem The Writer
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Faheem The Writer

Self-published author of the Vicious, These Boots Too Big, Generational Curse & Rough Stuff. Faheem is a native of Newark, NJ. His works contain a strong positive message & shines light on struggles that all readers can relate too.

See all posts by Faheem The Writer