After three days of giving me the silent treatment, Bo finally confronted me in our cell.
“I’ve got a couple of things I want to talk to you about.” He stood hunched in front of me, his face in mine.
“If you didn’t have me, who would you live with?”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Exactly,” he said in a cold whisper. “Let’s get one thing straight here. The white people here – they don’t like you. And that’s your fault. You burned that bridge from day one when you decided to move in with that Mexican. And then when that piece of shit Duke came in here and pulled out his junk, it was Daniel who told Duke’s people to have him leave you alone. And did you thank him?”
“I didn’t know he did that….”
“If you didn’t have me,” he continued, “you’d be fucked – literally fucked. Rooster would have moved in here, and he and his buddies would have taken turns on your ass.
“Now, I don’t ask you for much. I don’t pressure you for sex. I don’t send you to the commissary for me. I stick up for you when the other white dudes ask what your problem is. And all I ask is for a little respect.
“You go to the store every week and never ask if I need anything or get me any ice cream. You know I like ice cream. Who doesn’t like ice cream? And then a few weeks ago when you weren’t going to chow and I asked for your tray, you wouldn’t get off your ass and take five minutes to walk down and give me your food.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know….”
“And then the other night when I wanted half of your cheese, you told me no….”
“I was only kidding….”
“You know it took all of my strength to stop myself from smashing that fucking tub of cheese right in your face.”
He took a step closer.
“Don’t think for a minute that I’m weak. Don’t misjudge me and think that I’m a nice guy and that I won’t fuck your face up. I’m not a nice guy. I’m a very violent guy, and there are two thing I don’t like – people who are stingy and people who think I’m weak.
“Ask yourself this: What are the pluses and minuses to living with you?”
He paused and waited for my answer, but I just stared dumbly at him.
“You shed, you snore, we’re not having sex – but I can look past those things, but I can’t overlook stinginess.
“You see, you spend all day over there in education and think that everything around here is mellow, but let tell you something. Life can really be bad for some of the guys around here – you don’t even know. You have no idea the shit that goes on and the messes that some of these guys are in: sucking dick for ten guys and then turning around and going to commissary for them. But I don’t do any of that to you.
“Let me ask you this: What if I just slapped down a commissary list and said, ‘Here. Go pick this shit up.’ What would you do?”
“I wouldn’t do it,” I said weakly,
“So then – say – I beat the shit out of you. What then?”
“I still wouldn’t do it….”
“Yes you would. You know why? Because you’re weak. You’re not a fighter, and here in prison, it’s either fight or flight.”
“So then why did you move in with me?” I asked.
“Because I like you. I like you a lot, and you’ve got a lot to learn about prison. You’re naive. You think that boyfriend of yours is gonna stick around forever? He’ll pack it up before long – I guarantee it. They all disappear. Sure, your family will probably still be there, but the rest means shit.
“Don’t get me wrong. Don’t think that I’m the bad guy here. I’m the only one you have who’s looking out for you. I don’t ask for much in return. Sure, I’d love to get inside that ass, but no pressure. All I ask is for some respect.
“You’ve got a lot to learn about prison, but don’t worry. I’ll teach you.”