Tommy Fiore and Why We Fight Over Dumb Shit

Shot Callers: Part 12

A little additional info on that last incident with the Paisa’s: I had completely forgotten about that day, so much of what has happened these past 22 years of prison has faded away into the insanity of this daily struggle to maintain some form of decency. Sometimes my memory concerning things like that will get jogged by something I see, and other times a memory will resurface when someone else tells the story – the one I just wrote about concerning the Paisa’s and the white snitch was one of those, that story came back to me when I heard it told by someone else. Let me fill in the blanks.

There’s a guy here named Chris DeraLeau who went home and then came back for violating the conditions of his probation. When he returned to Three Rivers he sought me out and told me this story.

“I was on the bus from the Oklahoma Transfer Center to FCI Three Rivers along with a group of other prisoners. Sitting in front of me was another white guy – we sat in silence as most do on those miserable bus rides.

“About halfway to Three Rivers the white guy in front of me turned around and asked me if I was going to the Camp at Three Rivers, or, the FCI at Three Rivers. I answered that I was going to the FCI. He then introduced himself as ‘Goldberg, a white, Mexican Jew.’ Then he told me that there was a man at the FCI that he wanted to send a message of “Respect” to. He told me that this man had been the Shot Caller for the yard at Pollock, then he began to tell me stories about this man and some of the things this man, Mayor Mark, did while at FCI Pollock. I then told Goldberg that I too knew Mayor Mark, we spent the remainder of the ride telling stories about him – one in particular that Goldberg told me was how Mayor mark walked in-between an angry crowd of men and prevented a race-riot.”

From the things Chris told about the story Goldberg had passed on to him, I suddenly remembered which incident he was talking about; hence the story in my last entry. As I told you earlier there are a great many stories I will never tell, because the men involved in those events need to remain anonymous, sometimes I don’t tell a story because that story might be construed to have some sort of legal liability, and sometimes I don’t tell ’em because if I did I’d sound self-engraciating (for you Hillbillies, that means a braggart: OK. I might have made that word up, but I like it, so I ain’t gonna remove it!), which I have tried not to do. But, rest assured that the stories I do tell are ones where there are witness, names of men who stood beside me, and even some times, in front of me. This next story is about one of those men, a man I’ve spoken of before, in fact, he’s the man whose face I used for one of my paintings of Jesus ( see bog entry 11-7-17).

Soon after the event I spoke of in the last entry we had several problems between the blacks and the whites. First, there was a black guy in the cell-block adjacent to mine who would change the White TV at Rack-up (Rack-up is at 9:30pm; we are locked in our cells until the following morning at 6am) so he could watch Black Entertainment Television (BET) through his cell door window. The men in that cell-block, F-3, had asked him not to do it; to change the TV of another car is a serious form of in-your-face, disrespect. Why, you ask? Because that is the first step in someone making a move to TAKE your TV from you.

The white Speaker for that block was an ex-military guy we called, “Sarge”. Sarge had personally went to him and asked him not to change the TV, but this youngster had a crew he hung around with and he felt safe in their numbers, so he decided to ignore anything the minority said. So Sarge came to me with the problem. I am a reasonable man, cunning even. It is for this reason that the men trusted me over men like Richard Scutari who would more likely than not, have wrecked the whole white car over this incident. And, he would have been correct in doing so; my gift is not to lead men into battle, but in finding ways to avoid that battle, if possible.

In a situation like this there are several possible option – but only one acceptable outcome – he could not be allowed to change our TV. Option one was to tell Sarge to take a couple of the white guys in that cell-block and put the boots to this guy; like I said, we would have been justified in doing it. But had we done it that way, we would have lost, not only the men in that cell-block in the insuring brawl, but, more likely than not, this would have rolled over into other cell-blocks when the blacks could have used this as an excuse to attack whites, and lots of folks would have went to the Hole. Not my first choice.

You on the outside might think that something as trivial as a TV is not worth fighting for, and, maybe in your world you are right. But the problem with passivity in prison is that we prisoners ain’t dealing with reasonable people, in fact we are dealing with, for the most part, unreasonable people. Bullies is the proper word for a school yard, not the proper word here. The proper word here is “Predators”. These predators start by testing you on something like a TV, then they come to your cell and take your property, then they extort you for your money, and if they get away with all of that, they rape you! It ain’t the fact that he was changing the TV, it was what was down the road that I was trying to prevent. Understand this, white-men in prison are preyed upon, oftentimes by their own people; we are the minority in here and if you ain’t willing to stand up, you’ll be trampled into the dirt. I wish I didn’t have to tell you all these things, but, in truth, without men like Richard Scutari who believe in absolute war, none of the rest of us could even walk a yard in Federal Prison. So, let me say it here, that ain’t necessarily MY way, but the ONLY reason the rest of us even have a TV to watch, is because of men like Richard. So hate him and his politics if you must, but I tell you that there are things happening in here, that you’re blind too. You’re right, a TV ain’t worth fighting over, but DIGNITY is. The point here is: this dude was a selfish, disrespectful, racist asshole who was daring us to do something, and his Speaker, by extension was aiding him.

A point you need to understand here is this: the TVs in our cell-blocks do not have operational speakers, if you want to listen to one of them you are required to have an FM radio to do so. I had been told that his justification for changing the TV was that he had a cell in front of the TV and none of the white boys did, therefore it didn’t matter what was on the TV. I understand his bullshit logic, but some of the white boys liked to put the News on the TV and then listen to it from their cells. No, they couldn’t actually SEE the TV, but they could listen to it. So a man could be in any cell in the dorm and LISTEN to our TV; likewise HE could have been in his cell and listened to BET on the Black TV. But, like I said, this wasn’t about the TV, it was something else.

Prison is full of men like this, they come in all sizes, colors and religions – the predators of the world congregate here. Let it go you say! Take a seat you think! It ain’t worth it, you add!. Well, I live with a plethora of men who think the same way – they think it more noble to sit than stand. They think that if they do the right thing others will follow. They have been taught to turn the other cheek and to offer their cloak. But I tell them, they are wrong, that here, kindness is considered weakness. I tell them that if they turn the other cheek expect to get hit on it too, and if you offer your cloak to some folks on this planet they’ll take it and spread it upon the ground and use it to keep the dust off their knees while they sodomize your child. Yeah, the bed of prison reality doesn’t acquit virgins; it has “Siriusly Bent” me. I have become a product of an ugly world and this TV example is only a fragmented piece of an ever present even uglier side of humanity.

With this in the matrix of my reality I chose option two, which was for me to go and talk to the man myself, if this didn’t work, then I’d go to his Yard Speaker and site the rules. The danger in this of course is: if this guy tells you to go “F” yourself, war then becomes the ONLY option. I wanted a peaceful solution, if possible. What I did was to have the guys point the perpetrator out to me. Then I waited in front of my cell-block to see if he and his homeboys would follow their daily routine of going to the Recreation Yard to workout. They did.

Sure enough they came out of their cell-block, him and five or six of his homeboys. Being that our cell-block was parallel to theirs I shadowed him down the stairs; we met at the sidewalk-crossroads between the two buildings. I walked up and nudged my way to his side – his homeboys didn’t even notice that their space had been invaded- he did! He looked at me, then looked away. I was on his right side. I looked back at him and said, “How ya doin’. I’m Mayor Mark.”

Without looking at me he replied, “I know who you are.”

We continued to walk the sidewalk towards the Recreation Yard, side-by-side. Looking forward but watching each other out of the corners of our eyes, I said, “I hear you’re changing the channels on the white TV.”

He answered, “Yeah. One of the white boys told me I could watch it after lock-down.”

Without hesitation, I replied, “Well, whoever gave you that permission had no right to do so. And when I find out who he is – I’m gonna put two big white boys on him with padlocks and boots.”

At this point in the conversation we had reached the gate of the Recreation Yard and along with a crowd of about a hundred other men, waited our turn to get through the metal detector blocking the entrance to the yard. Being that we were stopped and in a crowd I turned to face him directly and added, “I’d appreciate it if didn’t turn that TV again.” He looked straight ahead but didn’t say anything either way. When I turned to walk back towards my cell-block he turned to watch me go, and it was in that moment that we both saw, for the first time, that Tommy Fiore was standing right behind him. When I saw Tommy I hesitated and in that hesitation I saw surprise in his eyes, just like that, surrounded with his homeboys, he’d been caught sleeping. It happens JUST like that, when you least expect it – one of the things convicts should always be aware of … anybody can be “Hit” at anytime, including him, including me.

No, Tommy and I hadn’t planned a “Hit” on this guy, hell, I didn’t even know that Tommy was aware of what was going on, but he was, and while I was stalking dude, Tommy was stalking me, and had things went bad, he’d of been there for me. Good friends are hard to come by. FYI: dude never touched the TV after that.

Tommy and I went on to become great friends; never even once did I doubt his loyalty. Tommy eventually left Pollock and transferred to a Low Custody Prison in Mississippi; I suspect he’s a free man now; probably living back in Miami.

Over the next few months, thanks to the help of youngsters like Craig Orler and Marshal Duncan, I settled into my new position and when some gang-members did hit the yard they too counted themselves as allies. I have sent pictures of all these characters to my son Chris for him to post along with this so you can see the faces of the men I’m talking about.

But, it wouldn’t be till nearly a year later that I’d be able relax and not have to watch my back; this would coincide with the arrival of two men who would become my closest friends – Alaska Mike (Michael Barnes) and Chopper (Colt Marlin), rest in peace old friend. Next time I’ll introduce you to them.

Well, even though I promised to do so, I obviously ain’t gotten around to telling you about how we resolved the problem with the Southern Louisiana guys … nor have I introduced you to some of the guards at Pollock, maybe next week … maybe not, lol.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I received a message from a good friend of mine named Boon concerning the last entry where I had the problems with the youngsters and Richard Scutari; we were at Pollock together; Big Boon has since went home. Boon is a man of few words, his message read this way. “I WAS THERE”, yeah, lol, that was the whole message!! 🙂 Boon is from Oklahoma, and I’ll tell you here, that the Oklahoma Car always had my back.

Peace be with you all.

Three Rivers, 11-18-18