Friday Night Story


Yeah. I know why you’re here. You want to talk about the “riot” last week. Most people won’t talk to you, because the guards will probably punish them; but I will.

I won’t bother telling you if I’m innocent or guilty; the old adage is no one in prison did it, but neither of us are foolish enough to believe that, so no matter what I said you’d assume I belonged here. Where you come from, that’s a fairly safe assumption- due process says that the accused gets their day in court before they spend their life in a hole. Here “justice” means something else. You only get a prompt, public trial if you’ve done something so horrible the people demand an opportunity to spit on you as you ascend the court steps.

Sorry, I’m boring you. You’re not here for my life story, you’re here about the dead. The “riot” began as a vendetta. “Somehow,” members of the PCC got out of their cells, stormed another prison building, and set fire to the mattresses in the cells of an area occupied by rival gang members. I think that was where the formal plans ended, because the PCC just started roaming at that point, letting out those they trusted, setting fire to those they disliked; I found out that night that I’m neutral, because they didn’t spring me, but they didn’t murder me, either.

What adds irony to the situation is the government created the PCC, in a way, because of the Carandiru massacre. It wasn’t that the government allowed it to happen, but they made no effort to fix what allowed it to happen. The PCC are terrorists, there’s no question; but at the same time, they’re also the closest thing that prisoners have to elected representation, they’re an inmate union. I don’t appreciate their methods, because I have family outside who are terrified anytime they organize some kind of “political action;” at the same time, it’s impossible not to sympathize with their struggle- for better living conditions, freedoms and safety.

And I know that look. You want to know what I did, and you think you’re ready to hear, from me, without judging me, whether or not I really did it. But you’re not ready, not really. This is a harsh place, and sometimes you’re forced to be harsh to survive here; and that harshness shows on a person, on the face and on the skin, and on the soul in the eyes. You don’t spend any time here without this place leaving its mark on you, and it’s not possible for someone unmarked to understand it. But if you want to know, honestly, if I belong here, in these conditions, with only monsters to sympathize with? No. There. There’s your damned interview. And you didn’t even have to string two words together.

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