I’ll probably never know what Ziggy had told the yard concerning me but it must have been something to hear because after that day, most, of the White-Boy Family Members began to treat me with a high level of respect. If I walked across the yard men spoke to me, patted me on the back, nodded, or in the case of the Cali guys, I was given a high level rank of respect. But the yard population was beginning to change. It was clear that Administration was slowly turning over the White population; the California Boys were being transferred out and Texas Boys were slowly replacing them. In this change a few ABT’s (Aryan Brotherhood Texas) began to hit the yard.
In case you’re wondering, California guys and Texas guys have an intense dislike, one for the other ... remember, I went from Texas to several different jails in California, so I know a little something about this. FYI: this division is the same with the Mexicans, the California Mexican Mafia and the Texas Mexican Mafia do not recognize each other and are at constant odds. In most cases, they don’t even talk to each other. Do not be confused here, the California AB, “The Brand” and the California Mexican Mafia “The Black Hand” are not the same as the Texas AB or the Texas Mexican Mafia.
As the yard began its inevitable evolution Ziggy remained in control. As it would turn out, Ziggy, like me, was an artist and in later conversations I got the impression that this was probably the reason he’d taken notice of me early on; no, I ain’t sure about that, it’s just the only reason I can come up with. But, as it turned out Ziggy was not only an artist but a guy who was able to think bigger than crime and prison and in the end those were the only things which would make us friends. Yes, Ziggy and I actually became friends.
Later on I learned through conversation, he never said it but I intuited that he didn’t actually like most of the guys who followed him around and hung off his nuts. I suspect that he saw them as soldiers and therefore knew that he needed to keep them at arms length, which means, he really didn’t have many friends.
One afternoon he invited me over to his cell-block to look at some of his artwork and to just hang out. When I entered his cell I saw that he had a small easel sitting atop his desk with the name “Ziggy” on a small white label stuck to the front of it. He saw me looking at it the way a man on a desert island would look at a poster of Blake Lively – truth is, I’d never before seen an easel like that. When I painted in my cell I sat my canvas on the table and propped it up against the wall. Like I said, he saw me looking at it and said, “Take it! It’s yours”. That my friends was a huge gift! A huge serviceable, much appreciated, much used gift that I would later carry with me when I transferred to FCI Pollock, only to have it taken from me when I transferred to Three Rivers ... don’t get me started on that! Or I’ll be ranting for the next three hours.
Ziggy had been in the ADX prior to hitting the yard at USP Florence and over there the only color medium available to prisoners is Pastels, so he had plenty of time to perfect his skills with chalk, and he was good. Ziggy actually did a pastel painting for me of a couple of men pulling a huge fish into a small boat in a nighttime storm – beautiful work. I sent that pictures home to be added to my own extensive collection. It’s very important to me.
A year later, Ziggy was gone, transferred and Ghost had the keys to the yard. But the yard was in that slow transition period I mentioned earlier and the Texas Boys were hitting the yard in increasing numbers. As these new gang members hit the yard they came there knowing nothing of the struggles I’d been through scratching and clawing my way through those early tests. All they knew was that I was held in high esteem by the yard, I was living off my experience and relationship with Ziggy. None-the-less, the new guys simply assumed that I was a bad-ass. Don’t let humility fool you here, even though I was in my fifties at this time, yeah, FIFTIES! don’t forget that. I was a fifty plus year old man fighting men half my age. Yes, when forced to do so I will fight and fight hard. So my reputation isn’t all overblown, most of it, but not all of it.
This story that I’m about to tell you was early in this personnel transition period I’ve been telling you about. At this time there were maybe twenty or thirty Texas patch holders on the yard. Now that ain’t a huge number but it’s a hell of an increase from when I’d first arrived. And those numbers were making the Texas car feel a little bold; you could see them grouping up, feeling safe in their numbers.
From the first day I set foot on the yard at USP Florence I felt the need to examine myself, to find out how I’d gotten myself into the predicament I had and so I began an internal spiritual guest. As absurd as it will seems to you, I was trying to make some sense out of my life. Yeah, it seems the joke was on me, I was trying as best I knew how, to find God, in the one place I could see no evidence of His/Her/Its, presence. I was looking for God in Hell; this whole bastard of a quest I have outlined in a part fiction, part non-fiction book entitled “A Poet Dreams”. In that book you will find bits and pieces of the things you’re now reading. Hopefully this will help you to understand the reasons behind the things I tell in that book. No, as some of my Christian friends have asked, I didn’t fall from the roots of my upbringing, I simply turned to the only sources of spiritual knowledge available to me, both good and bad, like Buddhism and Ceremonial Magick.
As part of my spiritual quest and as a benefit of my new found stature on the yard I found a moments peace, Enough that I began a practice of daily meditation. This was a relatively happy time for me. Time passed, things happened around me – my children were happy and I was writing and painting, like I said, it was a happy time.
During this period of respite, Ghost, went to the Hole. I have no idea why; I was focused on fixing myself. Then, one evening I was in my new, highly coveted cell meditating when I was startled out of my reverie by the dead-silence of my cell-block. So rare is silence in this world that it actually caused my sub- conscious to take notice. My mind left its happy place and returned to the awareness of my surroundings. Silence here at USP Florence meant that something was going down. I opened my eyes, removed my ear plugs and confirmed to myself that something unusual was happening, and sure enough, the silence was broken every few seconds with grunts and the sound of bodies being beaten. I jumped up and ran to my cell door only to find that I couldn’t open it. Nope, it wasn’t locked, someone was holding it closed.
Yeah, to my surprise a friend of mine named John Bent was holding my door closed, a few seconds later the guard who was frantically trying to get as many cell doors locked as possible, locked mine. When my door was locked, my friend turned and walked away. As I looked out my cell door window I saw several men lying on the floor, others were beating them and kicking them in the face and head – blood, everywhere. The odd thing was, there were no guards rushing in to stop the violence. The only action being taken was the cell-block guard was hollering “Lock Down!” and rushing to lock as many doors as possible to hopefully prevent others from being attacked, or, joining in. In horror I watched through the cell door window as a mixed group of gang-members beat the two ABT guys in my cell-block without mercy. I could do nothing except watch, hoping that the guards would rush in and save them. They didn’t. The beatings stopped when fatigue overtook the attackers.
I would later learn that word had come down to take the Texas Boys off the yard ... except for me.
This coordinated “Hit” was executed in all seven cell-blocks (one block was not open to the yard) at the same time. What this means is that it was timed to happen in all seven locations at once, the desired affect was that when the cell-block guards “Hit the Deuces”, a summoning of all available staff, they would realize they didn’t have the manpower to cover all of the cell-blocks at the same time, and “Stand-Down” until the attacks stopped. Hence when I looked out my door there were no guards to intervene.
When we came off lock down things pretty much went back to normal, except of course, the Texas Boys were gone, along with a shit load of White Boys who’d participated in the attack. Shortly after that someone came into my cell-block and told me that Ghost was outside and wanted to see me.
I stepped outside to see a smiling Ghost still in the clothes they give you when they let you out of the Hole; he had come to see me even before he went to his cell-block. We shook hands, hugged and sat on the concrete barrier outside my cell-block. We talked ... about things I can’t go into, but the gist of the conversation was that “whoever” called that “Shot” did so because they believed that “they” Texas gang- members were “Dropping Kites” on Ghost (sending anonymous notes to the guards, snitching) telling the guards to not let Ghost back on the yard, that he was a trouble maker. Yes, there’s a lot more to this conversation that I will not talk about, but what I can say is that along with the orders to conduct that hit, came the orders that I was not to be touched; if you read “A Poet Dreams” I’ve included a part where my alter ego and I are talking and he makes reference to the fact that some of the Utah boys were jealous of my status on the yard and wanted to take me off the yard. Hence the need to include the order that I was not to be touched.
There’s a lot more to this story that we don’t have time for here, but suffice to say that after that attack, the Cali White-Boys were short-lived at Florence. Within six months staff had transferred most of them out and brought in other cars. The yard was never the same after that and the White-Boys were never again a force on the yard ... This turning over of the yard also included the Blacks, the Cali Blacks were out and they brought in a large contingency of guys who called themselves “The Mid-West Crew”, St. Louis guys. But the yard was run by the, Black Hand.
After the above mentioned event and transition we had the Race-riot of 2008 dubbed by the media as the “Hitler Riot”. No! I can’t talk to you about it ... maybe someday but this ain’t the time nor the place for it; you’re smart, you figure it out. What I can tell you is this – after the Braveheart like charge the guards in the Gun-Towers opened up with live ammunition and tons of tear gas, as a result within a short span of time the two sides were separated one from the other and held in check by the guards poring in bullets tomaintain the void in-between. In reality, the White-Boys were so outnumbered that if staff hadn’t been so well trained, every White Man on that yard would have been slaughtered ... even with that, it was terrible for both sides.
This was the type of event a man never forgets, and, I guess that’s why I am the way I am about prison rules. I firmly believe in segregation, not racism, but segregation in prison, because no one knows better than I what can happen in a split second. Yeah, these youngsters here at Three Rivers look at me like I’m a Martian when I caution them about the way they act and about the company they keep. And if I say, “When things jump off, and the guy you thought was your friend tries his best to stab you because of the color of your skin, then you’ll understand why I am the way I am.” But, I’m a dinosaur. Guys like me no longer fit in this new prison mindset. Next time I’ll personally introduce you to the, Black Hand.
I was on the phone with my son Chris and he tells me that he and some of his friends are following this “Shot Caller” series. He also told me that he went on-line and found the man I refer to as “Ziggy” and reminded me that his name is Gregory Storey. This is the reason I have and will endeavor to put names to events, so that these men will hopefully read my accounts and be willing to fill in some of the blanks. I will tell you however that, unfortunately, I don’t remember all of the names of people involved, sometimes I remember only their nick-names, and, sometimes, because of who THEY are I can’t use their names without their permission. But when I can I will try to be as forthright as possible.Also, my son chastised me for saying things like “I was a mouse in front of a lion” in my Ziggy confrontation. So, I’ll act a little tougher, where I can. Love my boys! : )
Three Rivers, 10-18-18