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Authors: Sue Stauffacher

Harry Sue

BOOK: Harry Sue
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For more than forty years,
Yearling has been the leading name
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For my dear friend, Suzie MacKeigan, whose
generous spirit has embraced many a girl like
Harry Sue

All you fish, listen up
. I'm talking to you. While you're sitting there, cooling your heels in the tank, you might as well know the story of Harry Sue. Everything moves slower here. It's like walking underwater. Time, my friend, is something you have too much of, and you'll learn that a story well told—even if it's full of joint jive you can't fully comprehend—is worth more than all the personals you collected on the outs. Especially if it lifts you out of your skin.

You got a lot to learn if you intend to survive the joint, and finding the right teacher is no easy matter. Everyone wants to play you on the inside. Maybe you think the cast-off child of two convicted felons is not a good bet. Well, you'll soon find that on the inside, up is down and left is right.

Or maybe you're a buster, the kind who raises
his hand and says, “I'm no fish, Harry Sue. What are you on about?”

My answer to that is plain and simple: “Yes, you are.” I don't mean
fish
, fish, fool. I mean fish. New to the system. And if you still don't follow me, go on and look it up on the next page so you don't fall behind.

Now I know I can count on at least one water-head to say, “There must be some mistake, Harry Sue. I have no intention of getting on the wrong side of the law, let alone being sent to the joint.”

Whoever said it was a choice?

It's time you learned something for real. Not all prisons have four concrete walls and a steel bunk. I say prison is a lot like home. It all depends on where your heart is.
Language gets out of prison every day, Fish. You may already know some slammer slang from your life on the outs. But just in case you get tangled, here it is:

Harry Sue's Joint Jive Glossary

all day:
going to prison for life

backstory:
the story of how you got to prison

bug:
go crazy

bumpin' your gums:
talking too much

burn the spot:
ruin the moment

buster:
a jerk

Category J
or
J-Cat:
a person who is or acts crazy

catnap:
a short prison sentence

cell warrior:
a con who talks a good game from his cell but backs down outside it

change:
some part of a year

cheese eater:
a tattletale. What eats cheese? A rat, of course.

click:
to gang up on someone. “Click up” means to join a gang.

con:
a male convict, prisoner

conette:
a female convict

Conglish:
a combination of joint jive and English

cooling your heels:
waiting

couple up for count:
an order to prisoners to pair up to be counted

crew:
the gang you hang with

crumb snatcher:
little kid, toddler, child

deuce:
a two-year prison sentence

dime:
a ten-year prison sentence

ding wing:
the mental ward

direct order:
a command from an officer

doing time:
living out your sentence in prison

down letter:
letter saying you don't get parole

dragon's tongue:
the overcooked roast beef they serve in the prison cafeteria

drop a dime:
tell on another con

dry up and blow:
disappear

ear hustle:
eavesdrop

eight ball:
an eight-year prison sentence

eyeball:
when a con stares down a guard. It's a bad idea.

eye hustle:
see something you're not supposed to

fish:
a new prisoner

flat-talkin' fool:
a con or conette who talks nonsense

foo foo:
anything that makes you smell sweet, like aftershave or perfume

funky:
smelly

gas house:
prison bathrooms

get shanked:
get wounded by a shank

give it up:
share information

gladiator fight:
a fight to entertain the other cons and show you're tough

green light:
when a prisoner is marked for death by other prisoners

hack:
a prison guard

hard time:
a long, hard sentence, usually for cons who don't play by the rules

hog:
a prisoner who won't back down from a fight

hole:
solitary confinement in prison

home release:
when you get out of prison for a little while

homes
or
homey:
short for “homeboy” or friend

inside:
in prison

it's on:
a challenge, a call to fight

joint:
prison

joint jive:
prison language

joint mentality:
so used to being bossed around, you don't try to fight

KO:
knockout

lay it down:
start a fight

lockdown:
when prisoners have to stay in their cells during a crisis

low pro:
keep a low profile, keep it secret, between two road dogs

mad-dog:
mess with by insulting

MCC:
Metropolitan Correction Center, a big-city prison. If you have a choice, don't go here.

monkey:
another name for a guard

nick:
a nickname for “nickname” … get it?

nut up:
go crazy

on the low:
keep it to yourself, a secret

outs:
life on the outside

PC up:
when a con or conette asks to be put in protective custody because he or she's afraid

personals:
your stuff

play you:
fool you

put grass under your feet:
walk away from a conversation

R & D:
receiving and departure—coming in and going out of prison

rap sheet:
a list of your crimes

rat:
a tattletale

retired:
a life sentence without a chance of getting sprung

road dogs:
the friends you know you can count on

roadkill:
cigarette butts cons pick up by the side of the road when they're part of a cleanup crew

sent up:
sent to prison (in some parts of the country, it's “sent down”)

shake the spot:
leave

shank:
a homemade knife or other homemade weapon

shower hawk:
a con who gets you in the shower

signifying:
showing your gang colors

snitch:
a tattletale

special-handling unit (SHU):
pronounced “shoe.” Solitary confinement.

sprung:
get out of jail; be released

super-max:
joints with the most security—“super-maximum”

tailor-made joe:
a brand-name cigarette

tangled:
confused

tank:
a holding pen where new prisoners are held

tat-sleeved:
arms covered with tattoos

tight crew:
same as road dogs. Your closest friends.

T-Jones:
a prisoner's parents

toss out:
search a prison cell

waterhead:
a prisoner who says stupid things

yard:
a place outside for prisoners to get exercise

yellow brick road:
the yellow line that marks the edge of the yard. Cross it and you might look like Swiss cheese.

yoked:
prisoners with lots of muscles; built

yokin' up:
lifting weights

Part 1
Revenge

The Wicked Witch was so angry when she saw her black bees in little heaps like fine coal that she stamped her foot and tore her hair and gnashed her teeth. And then she called a dozen of her slaves, who were the Winkies, and gave them sharp spears, telling them to go to the strangers and destroy them.


The Wizard of Oz

Chapter
1

Harriet Susan Clotkin is not the sort of name you'd imagine for the first lady president of the United States. That's just fine by me, as I never had designs on running for political office but planned instead on following in the family tradition: a career of incarceration. As soon as I was old enough, I was headed for the joint. First I had to have the required fourteen to sixteen years of rotten childhood. So far, I had only served eleven years and change.

Time was running out on my becoming a juvenile delinquent. The really impressive cons started their rap sheets by nine or ten. Unfortunately, I had a heart condition that needed fixing before I could begin a serious crime spree.

Yes, Fish, my heart was as lumpy and soft as a rotten tomato. I couldn't stand to see things hurt, especially anything weak and defenseless. Watching Jolly Roger and his road dogs pull the legs off a spider made me grind my teeth down worse than if I slept with a mouth full of sandpaper. When those boys clicked the little kids on the bus, I had to sit on my hands just to keep from breaking theirs.

In the joint, where I was headed, I'd need a heart filled with cement and covered in riveted steel. I was working on it. But so far, I wasn't making much progress.

Now, there's a thing or two you need to know if you want to do time with Harry Sue. First off, you got to keep it real. Most everybody I know, they just see what they want to see. Aside from my road dogs, the people I have to deal with—including my teacher, Ms. Lanier, and that bunch over at Granny's Lap—they just see my mask.

BOOK: Harry Sue
3.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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