Miami Herald Article on Gary B. Waid

Miami Herald
Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Steve Bousquet
Capital Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE - A convicted marijuana smuggler serving time in Florida was moved over the weekend from a low-security work camp to a high-security lockup amid accusations that he used the prison's computer to write letters to The Herald and other newspapers.

In those letters, inmate Gary Brooks Waid, 49, joined the chorus of prisoners accusing guards of brutality. And in the tense atmosphere following the fatal beating of Death Row prisoner Frank Valdes, Waid's charges are being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and his temporary transfer has drawn intense scrutiny.

Late Monday, Waid was back at the work camp with other white-collar criminals, away from the killers and rapists down the road at Florida State Prison - the place where Valdez died a month ago after a confrontation with guards. Waid's brief journey speaks volumes about the climate in the Florida prison system since Valdes died.

Shortly after Waid was moved last Friday, his lawyer was demanding explanations, and a friend, Kay "Grandma" Lee of Key West, was sending urgent e-mail messages to Florida newspapers and to inmates-rights groups around the country, pleading with them to take up Waid's cause.

Prison officials took pains Monday to describe Waid's three-day transfer to the closest prison as a necessary move while they look into charges of misuse of state property - a computer in the work camp law library.

"He is not a security risk at the moment. We're moving him back to O Unit," said Florida State Prison Warden James Crosby, using prison jargon for the work camp. "We wanted him separated from any access to the computer until we could have someone go through the computer and check it. We have everything he had on the computer. We had to remove him over the weekend until we could get an expert to look at it."

Letter not typical

Prisoners' letters to the outside often are written in painstakingly precise handwriting, a reflection of the amount of time inmates have.

Not Waid's.

His three-page letter to The Herald on July 28 is neatly typewritten and articulately phrased, with key words italicized for emphasis. Describing himself as an apprentice law clerk, Waid said that since Valdes' death, "more and more inmates are coming to me to help them with their affidavits."

"They don't like a prisoner who's able to articulate himself," said Waid's lawyer, Donald Cohn of Miami. "He's one of the people they don't like because he's exercising the rights he has. This was, in effect, a form of punishment that was given to Gary because he's not the kind of inmate you normally get."

Waid, formerly of Merritt Island on Florida's Space Coast, was convicted four years ago of conspiring to smuggle two tons of marijuana on a fishing trawler from Jamaica to Florida over several years. He got a nine-year sentence in a federal prison and wasn't supposed to be in state custody in the first place.

He was one of about 30 minimum-security federal prisoners swapped last November for 30 violent state offenders, many of them murderers who came to the United States during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. The prisoner swap had been advocated by state officials.

Miami Herald Article

Record Defended

His lawyer says Waid had an unblemished record while in federal custody and that he'd probably be in a halfway house by now if he hadn't been transferred to Florida State Prison's work camp last November.

"We're now in the process of doing whatever we can to get him out of there and get him back into federal custody," Cohn said. "He was in the worst place they could have put him."

Corrections spokesman, C.J. Drake said some e-mails on Waid's behalf came from people involved in efforts to legalize marijuana use. But, he said, Waid's transfer back to the camp was not a result of any complaints made by Waid's supporters on the outside.

"There's a heightened sense of awareness by prison management when it comes to conducting internal investigations," Drake said. "The Valdes incident has created an environment in which prisoners feel they have a forum to rehash allegations against the prison system."

Waid's Internet home page, set up by his friend, Kay Lee, is entitled "A Smuggler's Tales From Jails." On it, Waid describes Florida's prisons as "factories of hate and violence."

A biography written by his brother says Waid was a promising musician - a onetime professional trombonist with the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra who got into shrimping and from there "became enticed into the marijuana trade."

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Uncensored Words about River Junction

Hi Kay and friends, It’s been a long time since I’ve written, I know. I have no excuse except fatigue. Those last weeks in the joint wore me out. 

Things I became tired of:

  1. Living with men.

  2. Showering with men.

  3. Peeing with men.

  4. Men.
But I’m out of prison now; my last day was June 17, 2002, and my brother and his wife came and picked me up at ACI. I spent my final days in the box. I went nuts when the DOC refused to give me a set of clothes. They said they didn’t have anything for me except a pair of size 48, expando britches. They were laughing. I would have looked like a starving waif in his fat uncle’s overalls. My waist size is 32. But it had been a bad final week. The DOC had decided not to let me out at the conclusion of my sentence, so I had to get my family and friends and my lawyer and my new probation guy to run down my records and force the goddamn idiots to get with the program. When a man anticipates his out-date for eight years, and when he’s told six days from that date, “You’ll get out when we say you’ll get out!” --that man may not take it very well.  

But that’s another story for another time. 

On to other things. Like I assume some of you have heard that on or about the 20th of April last, three hacks from the forestry camp at GULF CI—Lt. McLemore, Sgt. Woods, and Officer Guillot—were fired for shackling an inmate to an oak tree and beating him. The investigation took a year, and the lawyer for the officers was surprised at the outcome. He explained that a stress analysis machine they’d hooked up to the inmate indicated he was being, uh . . . stressed, which could mean he was being deceptive. The officers passed the lie-detector test, he claimed.
I would like to say this: 

Let me clue you in, those of you who haven’t thought about this, the lie-detector scam is an old tool of Florida’s prison bureaucracy, used to exonerate its officers. A friend of mine who was beaten and thrown down a flight of stairs at FSP, and who was the subject of a so-called investigation, was asked to do a sit-down in one of those DOC fairy tale stage-plays. He conferred with his lawyer, then told the investigator, “Okay, I’ll do the lie-detector, but my lawyer has to be present and an independent company will run the machine.” 

The DOC refused. 

Remember it’s a stress analysis. I don’t know the particulars of this case, but imagine yourself a victim of a beating, being told one morning not to report to work. At some point a squad of three unsmiling goons shows up, tells you to police your area, stands around watching you do your toilet, then chains you up and escorts you to the sally port, where a van is waiting. You are not told where you are going. You are not told anything. You have no idea what’s happening, but you’ve been beaten before and this looks familiar. The van takes you to the main compound and you’re led, jingling like a reindeer, up a long hallway and into a small, bare room with a bench. You might wait a few minutes, you might wait for hours, but you hear occasional laughing and odd noises through the walls and by now you’re terrified. Visions of Controlled-custody, close-management ratchet up the anxiety level. At some point you’re plugged into a lie-detector, then a technician paid by DOC, an employee if you will, angrily asks you a series of questions designed to elicit a stressed response. 

Of course you won’t pass. Nobody would. They know that. Thankfully so does Michael Moore. I commend him for not trying to pass off the bullshit and insisting on getting rid of those guys (if it holds up). Maybe he’s serious. I was once told to shackle up at FSP lockdown (this was during the Valdes murder gom-up), and within a few seconds I was shaking so badly I couldn’t keep the chains from playing at fortissimo. I felt like Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, pulling the bell rope and gibbering to the bats. 

Speaking of FSP, I suppose the stuff about the murder trial of the guards in Raiford is way-old news. Inside we didn’t hear much. Except of course the verdict. And wasn’t it surprising and too totally fab. I mean really, those hacks were misunderstood. Now, finally, thankfully, they got their fair trial out of the way so they could be declared innocent of wrongdoing and so they could go out and drink some shots and beers, maybe beat up some queers or Mexicans, blow off a little steam.  

Good thing I’m out ,though. I’m troubled by the idea I could’ve been the next suicide. Thankfully I’ll be safe from temptation. And I get to read the web now, see what’s going on. I’ve felt left out, which reminds me—there’s an inmate back at RJWC whose sister told him all about the Smuggler’s Tales on the web. She described in detail some of the stories, got the guy all excited, then refused to send him any printouts. No matter how much he begged, she wouldn’t send him the hard copy because she didn’t want him to get into trouble. “They’re too explicit,” she said. “Too confrontational.” 

Which of course made the guy more and more curious. “Lemme see your stuff, Waid?” he asked me one morning at early breakfast. 

“I can’t,” I said. “I’m a principled man.” I went on to explain that just to peek at the titles would be a for-sure death sentence and his bones would break and his nuts would swell up like giant Christmas cheese balls. “Read even one story of mine,” I warned, “and you’ll be flinging yourself off your bunk and into the bars by sundown.” 

The guy sighed and called me a turd. “You’re a turd, Waid, and so’s my sister.” 
But actually I couldn’t loan him any of the stories. I wasn’t able to because I sent the handwritten copies home and the mailroom had rarely allowed me the right to receive my own words. The last time someone tried to send me a package at RJWC, I got this from the DOC:

“Your correspondence is being returned for the following reason(s): (It) contains correspondence that is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, disruption of the institution, violation of Department or Institution Rules, the violation of which would present a serious threat to the security, order or rehabilitative objectives of the institution or the safety of any person.” 

See? So all the stuff on the web is extremely dangerous and the guy’s sister was right. 

But this little story about paranoia has served to illustrate a problem, which has in turn posed a question that has occurred to many of you readers. The question is—has my writing really gotten me in trouble? And aside from the times it saved my ass, the answer is, has got to be, First Amendment not withstanding, forget the rules and regulations, the answer has got to be yes. Even excluding the transfers and the farm work, the dish room and the bans from law libraries, I was up for legitimate work release twice (and one other time it was promised), before they finally gave me a whopping opportunity to go for 30 days to Daytona, there to reconnect with the community.  

No matter it wasn’t my community. What do I know about Daytona? Might as well have been Idaho. 

But it was probably too dangerous to allow a man as disruptive, insurrective and riot-prone as me the privilege of washing dishes at a Daytona Denny’s for more than a couple weeks. You could say that my writing was a for-sure exacerbation, forcing the DOC to pout like children withholding candy. 

Except what the hell, hey? I like to blab. So although I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read about the little cruddy things that go on inside a prison, Here’s another report about shitsville. I’ll call it… 

Be my Valentine

In which I explain many important concepts, casting dispersions that bleed personal vindication while exploring the mystery of romance and posing the question: Is Life Truly Like a Box of Chocolates, or are there Other Edibles Involved?
At River Junction Work Camp I usually managed to avoid ruffling any feathers. At least mostly. Except for the time a year-and-a-half ago when I wrote a little thing about the abuse of a Muslim friend of mine named Zafar Mian, who would pray and do his ablutions with studied devotion, even though a couple hillbilly guards named Griffin and Rogers didn’t like it. They shouted at him, chained him up, sent him off to the hole… and they got mad at me for writing about it, but couldn’t quite figure out how to hurt me without setting my pen in motion. I didn’t actually know they wanted to do me, until Griffin began sneaking around at night trying to catch me out of my rack getting water for coffee before lights-on (I had an early job loading the hospital laundry truck in the wee hours), and Rogers started calling me boy, as in, “the boy Waid is causing trouble again.” Griffin soon found his sense of humor, but Rogers was way too caught up in himself to examine the glyphs and relax. 

I didn’t particularly like being called boy. Especially by a bowel movement like Rogers. He was an intensely unhappy bowel movement, too. All the grumbling and sighing he did at work hinted at either great personal tragedy or severe dyspepsia. And he was no genius, that was certain. I got to hear second-hand boy comments that originated from a guy so thick he could’ve been a nuclear reactor shield. He’d been in trouble constantly while I was at River Junction, and it was usually because his mouth didn’t understand restraint. He actually gave a prisoner a heart attack one evening shortly after I arrived on the compound. The guy had put in a lot of overtime that day planting flowers in the sweltering heat of late Summer. Sgt. Rogers was routinely screaming at him and calling him names, when he collapsed:

Sgt. Rogers (shouting)—“What the hell you think you’re doing?!” 

Inmate (clutching his chest, falling)—“Ak . . .ak, urp . . . ugh . . .” 

Rogers was put on the graveyard shift for a year as punishment, so the first day he got off he issued 18 CC’s to inmates for silly things. One guy left his reading glasses under his pillow, another failed to make crisp hospital corners on his bunk (the mattresses are wads of cotton batting sewn into bags. There are no corners). Every CC was chickenshit. Rogers was an even messier bowel movement after a whole year of midnight-to-eight. He left little piles all over the compound. 

What did this guy Rogers look like? 

He looked just like you’d expect—big and meaty and, oh, swelled up. He had a large red face and tiny eyes, and every miserable moment of his miserable life was telegraphed through his sour and sadly mobile mouth. When Rogers spoke, Dixified bombinations were the order of the day, which was why I was offended at the boy thing. I remember in the feds I took for granted a raft of mutual discretions, one of them relating to address. The rule makers there must’ve felt that to legitimize disrespect through regulations was a mistake. So when an officer spoke to me he used the title of courtesy Mister. “Come here, Mister Waid,” he’d say, then he might even offer a please. There was nothing wrong with that. Inmates responded positively, tried to live up to the billing. But the State of Florida doesn’t feel the same way, so the “hey, inmate!” system broke down long ago, manifesting itself predictably in way too many cases. 

“Hey, asshole! Hey, fuckboy! Hey, you! Hey, this! Hey that! Hey, Boy!” 

Which is the reason I felt comfortable calling Michael Moore a duck fucker a few stories back, and now I get to call Sgt. Rogers a silly name relating to elimination. Quid pro quo. 

But this report isn’t about Rogers. And he wasn’t the only moon pie at River Junction that had a personal relationship with unhappiness and spite and chickenshit. We had some black ladies who defined the word chickenshit. 

During that time when Mr. Mian was trying to pray while eating daily doodoo, I had run-ins with Griffin, Rogers, and their boss, Lt. Lanier, and it was then that these strange black ladies garnered my attention. One of them was Officer Barbara Dudley, a woman whose shoulder chip compared to Rogers’, but who came, let’s say, from the other side of town. 

Racist, sexist question: Why is it that in every Florida prison I visited, the black men were often among the best of the officers, while some of the black women were aligned with the worst? 

As it happened, Officer Dudley played a minor role in the conspiracy to stop me from being allowed to wake up before work. Her purpose was unclear—it may have been to help Griffin and Rogers, or it may have been just kicks. But as I later found out, I was small potatoes. Her great joy in life was to cause disruption for everybody, and sew anger through confrontation with all the inmates and staff on her list. In company with her confederates (most notably Ms. White, the unrepentant, shrieking sow of B-dorm), she maintained the pursuit with lumpish ignorance and a non-existent sense of absurdity that contradicted and confounded, and forced inmates to record her excesses, flooding the front office with grievances, making her madder, more spiteful, threatening vengeance on the elusive perpetrators of ethereal prisoner conspiracies to get her, sometimes even managing to force some sort of circle of resolve in which everyone got hurt and an angry upswelling of polarization constantly pissed the River Junction universe off for no reason whatsoever. 

I’ll explain in a minute, but first I should take this opportunity to define the word Chickenshit: Chickenshit is petty harassments, power trips, useless scrimmages and pick plays. It’s sadism disguised as job performance. It’s a military term I discovered reading Steven Ambrose, who explains chickenshit as what lousy officers get fragged for. He quotes a man named Paul Fassell, writing about the military in WW2:  
    “Chickenshit can be recognized immediately because it never has anything to do with winning the war.”  
Sometimes chickenshit can manifest itself in simple rudeness, sometimes in on-the-spot misinterpretation of trivial regulations, and sometimes it can be dangerous, such as at South Florida Reception Center, where the inmates are made to spend every day on the yard, a policy which the warden must think is instructive. The problem is that hats are not issued, neither are the men allowed to wear their T-shirts over their freshly shaved heads. There is actually a phenomenon that originated at SFRC that I’d heard called horning, and afflicted inmates were sometimes said to be bulldogged. The thing involves leaving the inmate, a white guy, out in the South Florida summer sun all day, causing massive blistering on the head. The blisters would swell and join together except along the top ridge of the head, and the two distinct cushions of fluid would look like horns. By the second or third day gravity would force these bifurcated suitcases to migrate south past the ears to the jaw, which swelled and bagged as on a bulldog. Or eyes would swell shut to effectively blind a man. Ha-ha. A couple years back there was an “accident” severe enough so that the DOC had to report it to the FDLE. Shade pavilions were soon mandated, but at last report the DOC had only constructed 4, each about the size of an average carport. For 800 men. My neighbor at RJWC told me he watched a man die of heat stroke during his stay back in July of 2000.

“The guy’s lying there, Waid,” he said, “the other inmates are yelling for someone to do something. Finally here comes medical and they’re pushing a shock cart. The nurse puts the paddles on the man’s chest, yells ‘clear!’, and they throw the switch. Nothing happened—the battery was dead, so they cleared the inmates away, rolled the dead guy onto a stretcher and took him away, fuck it.”  

Chickenshit no-hat rules at SFRC are killers. In my humble opinion the warden should have been arrested for murder. 

But as Florida DOC camps went, River Junction was not a chickenshit camp. It couldn’t have been; it was a Work Release prep facility for older guys (the age limit was recently lowered to 40 to fill out the work squads), and if the officers all gave out DR’s for looking cross-eyed, no one would have been able to leave. 

Speaking of looking, it’s a universal rule that guards, when they walk onto a compound, are the subject of unending scrutiny. Convicts examine their keepers tirelessly. Some guards don’t deal with it well. Officer Dudley, for instance, was comical. So she was unusually aggressive in the face of studied appraisal. She even jumped on me one day in the midst of an uncomprehensible harangue: 

“Why you look at me like dat?!” 

I stood confused for a moment. “Penis envy,” I finally mumbled under my breath. 

I shall now explain what it’s like to be a chickenshitter’s target in prison. I’ll use an example from the outside world: 

Pretend you’re in the grocery store standing at the fruits and vegetables. 

There’s a sign on the cantaloupes that says Only Three to a Customer, Please, but you don’t see the sign and put four cantaloupes into your cart. The store manager has been spying on you, following you around because he’s sure you’re up to no good. When he sees your crime he leaps forward, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and smashes your face into the sign. You try to explain but he shouts you down. “Liar!” he screams. You struggle briefly, so he summons three of his security squad and they throw you to the floor, sit on you, cuff you, shackle your legs, beat you about the face and body, strip you and do a body cavity search with a trenching tool, sic the attack dogs on you, cut off your right hand just below the elbow, blind you with a red-hot poker, tattoo your forehead, then parade you up Main Street to the open pit in front of the alligator pen. 

Would you say this was an overreaction? 

Would such an absurdity color your perceptions, make you angry, force you to do things differently in the grocery store from that day forward? Would it turn you into a POTENTIAL HOMICIDAL MANIAC? 

During count time at River Junction the inmates were supposed to sit quietly on their bunks. I once watched Officer Dudley give a man a DR for reading during count. She’d passed out the mail and the guy had gotten a letter. It was lying unopened on his bed. As he sat there he glanced at the address. For this vile and willful act, Dudley tried to 1, ruin his chances at Work Release or a transfer closer to home; 2, make him do 30 additional days in prison; and 3, send him to the box for a month or so. Two weeks went by before the inmate was told by staff that his DR paperwork had been “misplaced”, but Dudley’s overreaching had done damage for sure. The inmate spent a little quality time on tenterhooks, worried about what would happen to his eligibility for the aforementioned programs. Dudley’s behavior was a phenomenon I was unequipped to understand and am now unequipped to explain. She boggled the mind. The misappropriation of rules and the sheer weight of ebonic flummery was excruciating. One day she tried to write a guy up for scratching his head. The sergeant on duty stopped her. 

“But he ‘pose da sit up an’ not move,” she complained. “Ain’t ‘pose da move durin’ count!” 

Presumably if you were sitting in your drawers and your dick was accidentally hanging out, you’d have to wait until count was over to adjust yourself. If you ever argued she screamed. If you said anything she’d scream. She was the screamingest wacko I’d ever encountered. 

And she was stupid. Did I say that? It’s true, she was. She wrote up a man for tying his shoe one afternoon, and the papers read: “Inmate P_____ was tien his shoe lace…” Tien is not a word, at least not an English word. It’s Tibetan, maybe, I think. Means to drag your knuckles on the sidewalk. In China it’s the word for, like, duh. 

One more example should be enough here. This is one of the really cool examples that quickly metastasized like a disease and spread throughout the River Junction body. And it began so stupidly, too. On our first chilly night last November, Dudley came on duty at 4:00 P.M. and promptly shut every window in the house, throwing the main breaker controlling all the vent fans so we’d have no air circulation. “Dis my dorm,” she shouted, “an’ I be cold!” Suddenly there were 140 men, practically hugging each other in a confined space, farting, coughing, exhaling and purging and expelling their gassy atomizations into each other’s unhappy faces. 

I won’t go into all that happened. Suffice it to say that it took three weeks of prisoner effort, letters to the DOC Health Director in Tallahassee, superior-officer recriminations, reissuing of official memos, more prisoner letters and grievances, officers taking sides for-or-against, angry speeches by lieutenants that Dudley ignored, more and more operettas on the soon-to-be tubercular stage set, so that finally a team of air-quality technicians was brought in to make the calculations and advise the staff to crack open some of the windows and use some of the vent fans like we’d been doing in the first place. Through the worst of it even the late-night ladies, rarely sympathetic with Dudley’s exegetic hubris, began sneaking the windows shut and turning the vent fans off so that we all could deny there was any sort of TB epidemic in America’s prisons. The lieutenants had to come through the dorm on patrol and admonish our keepers. Through it all, Dudley was unapologetic. She’d never heard of respiratory diseases incubated by closed, hot, humid, malodorous spaces, and no amount of written clarification could dissuade her from the notion that in her dorm she could do what she wanted. “I be cold!” became a battle cry for knuckleheads. 

Are you getting the picture here? Life with Dudley was a struggle. Not just for the prisoners, but for everyone. And recalling more episodes here would be pointless, so I’m not gonna do it. Most of them aren’t very funny, anyway. 

Okay, Waid, but what does Officer Dudley look like? Give us an anchor here, to base our imaginings on. 

Ahem . . . this ain’t very polite. I mean it’s best not to say anything if you’ve got nothing good to say, and nobody I talked with had anything good to say. To tell the truth, the first time I beheld the little piggy, I looked down at her and thought, "My god, I wonder if there’s a slot in her back for depositing coins.” Dudley did not conform. My notes say that I asked my pal Ernie for his comments. This is what he said: 

“Thar she blows!” 

Pretty funny, but not entirely accurate. Actually Ms. Dudley was short and, let’s see, circular. Not as fat as some; not as clumsy as some; short and, hmm, circular. And she wore those DOC paratrooper pants pulled high over her belly. They tapered dramatically, then bloused and tucked into her little black shoes, the image of solidity exacerbating an already unfortunate optical perspective that said, uh, circular—I mean round. 

See Dudley, think round. 

But there’s more. Her wide mouth failed to cover teeth that were spaced like fence pickets, angled outwards like unhappy prisoners trying to flee. Her little head was neck-deprived and cheeky and rotated robotically back and forth on her shoulders, which created the eerie illusion of separation or maybe decapitation, as if her torso were a great spherical clothed mass and her face a bug riding on top. I remember years ago I spent some time in Africa. While there I had a casual familiarity with and respect for that continent’s extra large brand of tumble bug, or Dung Beetle, so named because they eat dung. In Africa they eat elephant dung, which is similar to cop flop except bigger. An African tumble bug will spy a likely loaf, claim it for herself, then tumble it around and roll it up in a big ball, like a softball-sized entrée, working her six legs frantically, balancing, finally rolling lunch home for the kids as a lumberjack rolls logs. I have this picture in my mind of a round shiny brown beetle sitting atop her round pile of shit, looking at me. “Hello, Ms. Dudley,” I say. “How’s tricks?” 

Wait! Just stop! What a nasty person you are, Waid! Why you gotta write such awful stuff? 

I cannot tell a lie. She told me to. During the great ventilation crisis I just reported, I was one of the first to be screamed at (she actually summoned me from the shower), and when I tried to explain the prisoners’ position she told me forcefully that I had nothing to say and that I had better shut up or I’d be locked up. She threw a couple grievance forms in my face and said, “If you don’ likes it, you jus’ g’wan write it up!” I didn’t then, too many others were scribbling. I reserved the invitation till now. 

Good thing I did, too, because later on something happened to reveal a different, kinder gentler Officer Dudley. And none of us would have known about her vulnerable side except she accidentally pierced the balloon herself. 

I myself was shocked at her overtness, but who has a right to judge when human emotions are involved? Events happened as they did, and whether it was because of a lack of things to do in the dorm that evening, or the phase of the moon, or maybe Ms. Dudley upon reflection decided to trek into previously uncharted territory. Whatever the reason, Ms. D took it upon herself to spend a quality half-hour or so being nice to one Gary Baker, then of C-Dorm, now, alas, a traveling victim of love’s fickle embrace. 

She flirted with him. 

And during the weeks that followed, she kept flirting with him… 

…until Gary caught on and decided what the hell, let’s go with this thing and see what happens. 

Actually, Gary Baker seemed to be a straight-up guy, hail fellow well met, spoke with a certain amount of panache, comported himself like a gentleman of some education. 

Dudley, as you know by now, was more earthy. No one on the compound could understand the attraction. Cast as Romeo and Juliette they would have been the odd couple: 

Gary- “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Ms.Dudley is the sun!” 

Ms. D- “Who dat?” 

“Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon, already sick and pale with—“ 
“Dat you, Gary? What de hell you g’wan sneakin’ in de bushes fo?” 

“that thou, her maid art far more fair—“ 

“Aw, hush, you big puss puss. Dis be crazy—“ 

“She speaks! Hooray! O’ speak again, bright angel!” 

“Tee hee. O’ Gary’o, Gary’o, wherefo’ you be, big Gary’o?” 

Get the picture? Gary was being coyly responsive, and suddenly Ms. D. was imbued with a calculable, quantitative amount of the incalculable. Oh, Halcyon Days! Amour de deux! Joie de vivre between the iron bunks! Love in the ashes of prison! A short little shitball and a tall elixir, and the tincture of romance crept through two heretofore opposite thinking minds, padding in on little cat feet (please excuse my fog, Mr. Frost), installing itself indelibly so that hearts afire would cloud judgment even more, and create for the inmates of River Junction Work Camp a story that was at once a lifespring of hope and a well of tragedy you betcha. 

The relationship might have broadened and deepened for months or years, had not the calendar conspired with Hallmark Cards to undo the pair. I can’t believe what happened next. Ms. Dudley, forgetting her position as house mother of C-Dorm, gave Gary Baker a pair of Valentine’s Day cards. 

Yes she did. 


A pink one and a yellow one. She had seen Gary in her dreams—lying in the road, so to speak—and had decided to roll him up in a ball and tumble him home. 

Note: It is way against the rules for hacks to fraternize with the inmates. Relationships are strictly prohibited and any manifestation of a relationship is or should be taken very seriously. One of the things that is important for female guards to remember is that encouraging an inmate in any way will get you fired. They’re told, I’m told, that except for strictly procedural pat-downs, even touching an inmate can lead to complications. And look at it from the inmates’ perspective: A guy’s been down for years. A woman touches him, no matter she looks like piles, the poor guy gets a woodie like a hammer handle in the blink of an eye. 

Of course Gary Baker was probably just amused when he got the first card. And when he opened it and read these words (approximately), he was probably even more amused: 

“Gary, if friends were like a box of choclate (sic), you wood (sic) be the one I wood (sic) pick to eat.” 

Sonnets From the Portuguese it ain’t. Yet other than borrowing a simile from Forest Gump, the writer did an admirable job in conveying her desires. The card was signed “Guess Who?” But a careful investigation discovered there was no postmark, no stamp, no address, and Ms. Dudley had deposited the blank, pink envelope on Gary’s pillow with a girlish flush as she went about giving the rest of the prisoners their mail. It gets worse, though, because the next day she gave him the other card, which I will not quote here due to its personal, private nature, a nature so personal and, uh, you know, private, that, like, I can’t in good conscious repeat such, geez, such personal and private stuff. Gary Baker also realized it was personal and private, so he only showed the second card to fifty or sixty of his most trusted pals. 

Ahem—I cannot divulge whom these pals might have been, either, but one of them quickly realized that a pair of Valentines written and delivered by the evil fat harridan of C-Dorm was not just a pair of Valentines, no it wasn’t. 

It was also a ticket to… 

Get Back City! 
Sadly, the guy snitched Dudley out before you could say Jack Robinson… 
…and the elephant dung hit the fan and scattered, no matter that the fan was undoubtedly unplugged. 

I shall report here all that I know, which isn’t much, and some things that are conjecture and educated guesswork from my tireless staff of investigators. 

At first the tumult was predictable. While Gary Baker was toiling at his job the next day, a duo of rather frosty guards opened his locker (without him being there, which is against the rules), and went through his stuff. They removed one pink and one yellow card. After a preliminary pow wow, all Gary’s things were bagged up and taken away, and we never saw his smiling face again. 

In the wicker that evening a frantic Ms. D. kept her own counsel for approximately two minutes, before her squad of confederated chickenshitters convened to boldly map out a strategy based loosely on the Bill Clinton defense, or as we used to say at River Junction, “Who dat?” All evening I watched through the glass as Ms. Dudley, pen in fist, tongue lolling, eyebrows compressed, tried to draft a response to the nasty inmate lies. 

The next day another group of officers convened in the wicker to make suggestions, and one of them, a black man known around RJ as a straight-up guy, was heard asking Dudley this: 

“How could you be so dumb?” 

To which she replied, “Well . . . I done it, but I dint sign it!” 

Her statement didn’t really answer the question, though, did it? 

During the days that followed, Ms. Dudley rarely came out of her office. It was wonderful. Everybody could relax. We all were especially proud of Gary Baker, and when I wondered aloud what would happen to him, an inmate better versed in procedures than me explained the likely scenario that was taking place in lockdown over at ACI. “Legally,” he said, Gary’ll be fine. He’s short, be out soon. And they’re probably trying to convince him not to talk. They’d have to use evidence of wrongdoing and make suppositions based on officer statements. They’d have to bust Dudley to do Gary. Neat, huh?” 

So except for open admissions in front of inmates (guards forget we have ears), and between her and her pals, Dudley refused to admit that she was guilty and denied any sort of tumble bug, proprietary interest in any damn inmate. She claimed for the record that all inmates were dirty liars. As far as I know she got away with it, too, because the administration took no steps and raised a blind eye in the face of wrongdoing by Dudley. 

Good thing she wasn’t an inmate. Lying to staff is a 60 day ride in the box, plus loss of all gain time. 

Surely, though, Barbara Dudley’s tenure as self-righteous straw-boss of C-Dorm was forever tainted by her brush with illicit love. She queered her chances at promotion, too, I hope, and any show of respect the inmates might show her will be just a shine. Now if the inmates at RJWC could figure out how to get back at that fat, pugnacious windbag Ms. White in B-Dorm, the place would resound with the collective exhalations of 400 happy men. 

I need to say one more thing here before I’m finished. Please don’t get the idea that all black lady guards I had dealings with in Florida’s prisons behaved like Officer Dudley. Many did, it’s true, but at River Junction we had plenty of capable black female officers doing what has to be one of the most boring jobs in America and doing just fine. The late-shift ladies, the no-bullshit day shift, etc… On weekends Ms. McKinnon ran C-Dorm and she was polite and smart and did her job. She worked with Ms. Hogan, who was also a good officer (and she was gorgeous, too, by the way, possessing the sort of rare beauty one associates with exotic locales. Hmm, I see her bathing in the Nile, or maybe leading a pride of lions out on the veldt). So, …but anyway, don’t come at me with that “it’s a hard job” stuff or try to paint me as a race baiter. Dudley was (and still is no doubt) a fool. A married fool, too, which means she shouldn’t have been composing box-of-chocolate epistles to inmates. 

And hey! Where’s my Valentine’s Day Card? Fair is fair, right? I love you, Ms. D! J’taime, baybee… Let’s frig! C’mon, lady, roll me up in a big ol’ ball! 

Gary Waid, ex-prisoner,
Recuperating nicely on the beach.

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