Andy (excerpt)

[A guy in his forties sweeps in a corridor at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. He talks to his detail partner.]
For $5.50 an hour? For $5.50 an hour I’ll stay in here! They had me on parole, workin’ in a McDonalds for $5.50 an hour. I’m doin’ the usual thing, workin’, you know. Someone comes up and orders a Big Mac and a large fries and a Coke, or they order a 20 piece McNuggets and three small fries and four Cokes or shakes or somethin’. Right? But there’s these old people. I mean they’re not like dyin’ or nothin’, but they’re like, fuckin’ senior citizens you know? And they come up to the counter and they order a coffee right? But the thing is, they’re takin’ six fuckin’ hours to order one coffee. And I’m like, Hello! What the fuck is it that you want? It’s like, they’re standin’ there, doin’ some detailed thing here in the fuckin’ place. Meanwhile, behind them, there’s seventy-five people that are gonna order a hundred filets of fishes and ninety-five McRibs and they’re gonna take two seconds. But you got these people with their fuckin’ coffee.

And they come up to the counter like I’m gonna rob them or somethin’. Hello! I’m a drug addict, not a thief. You know? If I wanted to rob you, would I be standing there behind the counter in my McDonalds fuckin’ costume, asking for your fuckin’ order?! Huh? Would I? I’m like, just order your coffee, pay your fifty-two cents and leave-me-alone. But see, they gotta give me this whole fuckin’ thing, like they gotta have it a certain way, and they don’t want nothin’ in it. I tell’em, look, I’m not doin’ nothin’ to the coffee, it’s black, you could have all the creams and sugars you want, and here’s five stirrers. But no, because that’s not good enough for them either, cause they got a heart condition or somethin’, like I give a fuckin’ shit! I got AIDS, you wanna compete with me, you wrinkled fuckin’ Sun Maid raisin’ motherfuckers?

This one guy comes back three hours later, complainin’ about the coffee that he already fuckin’ drank, that it tasted like shit, or like pis or whatever. I said, what the fuck you want me to do asshole? What?! You want more choices? Go to Starbucks, you fuck! Don’t fuckin’ bother me! He says, “Oh, you’re not treating me like a customer should be treated! What about the rights of the customer? This is America, I’m the customer!” I said, Yeah? Fuck you customer! Fuck-You-Customer! Then he starts complainin’ to the manager that I’m a fuckin’ asshole. Psst, yeah. For $5.50 an hour I’d rather stay right here in jail, thank you very much.

[To another guy.] ..Hey what’s up Mauricio, how you feelin’? You workin’ commissary today? ..Don’t pick your nose next to the food, huh? Ya fuck.

[Back to the first guy.] ..Plus, at least in here I get medical attention for my fuckin’ AIDS. You think McDonalds is gonna pay for it? Yeah, Ronald McDonald doo doo doo doo, “Here’s $200,000 for your medication sir, french fries with that?” Yeah, what a fuckin’ joke.

..Huh? Ah, I know, alotta the guys can’t tell that I got it. Well fuck, nobody can! I gotta watch out for the TB though. Cause these kids their shippin’ up here from Riker’s, I heard half of them got it cause the ventilation’s fucked up down there. And it’s no better in here. And me, I got no fuckin’ immune system and shit. They’re feedin’ us this crap in here, it’s all starchy shit. It lowers your immune system. We might as well be eatin’ at fuckin’ McDonalds. .. No, when I was outside, I was eatin’ all organic food, everything organic. ..I was shootin’ heroin, but I was eatin’ organic. Cause the chemicals they spray the food with, and the drugs that they grow it with, it fucks up your immune system man. It stresses you out too. It keeps you down. It makes you depressed. And the doctor said I can’t afford to get depressed. He said I gotta keep a optimistic attitude about life. I think I’m doin’ a pretty good job. ..No, I feel really enthusiastic about a lot of shit sometimes. ..What? I don’t know really.

Like when they serve carrots in the mess. I fantasize that they’re organic, and they’re not overcooked and soaked in rancid butter and Percodan, it makes me smile. Or when they show Gilligan’s Island on TV. Oh, I love that show. The Skipper, that’s my motherfuckin’ man! I love that motherfucker! ..I don’t know, for some reason I relate to like his plight, you know? It’s like he’s stuck on this island with all these stupid ..fuckin’ nuts. I mean, he’s not too bright if ya think about it. Actually, he’s a fuckin’ dummy. But I don’t relate to that part. Like when he suffers, I relate to that. Like this one time, Gilligan finds this shrine of coconuts on the beach, that belong to these headhunters. So what does he do, the schmuck he is? He starts kickin’ the coconuts all over the fuckin’ beach, like soccer. So of course the headhunters get pissed off and tie everybody up and they’re gonna burn’em and kill’em. So the Skipper’s like, “Gilligan, why’d you kick the coconuts?! You stupid schmuck bastard asshole!!!” I mean he didn’t say that on the show, but that was his subtext. I relate to his plight, his anger. But ya know, I mean… it’s just a show.

What I’m sayin’ is, I just try to engage myself in shit to stay up. So I don’t get bored. Like I like to have meaningful conversations with people. Like with you. You’re not stupid. You can carry a conversation. Not like some people, can’t complete a sentence, they gotta talk with their hands. You wanna have a conversation with them, you gotta have a fuckin’ fight.

You know Sharif? The Imam, the guy that runs the Muslim services? That guy can have a conversation. Oh yeah, we debate for hours about shit. He’s a friend of mine. He got sent up a week after me. We play chess in lower rec.

Check this out. Like a month ago, Me and Sharif are sittin’ in the rec. The guys are watchin’ TV, and the Martin Lawrence comes on, and it’s everyone’s favorite show. So in this episode, Martin is takin’ his girl out for a night on the town. So they get all dressed up nice and shit, and they go to this fancy club. So he’s at the bar gettin’ her a drink. She’s at the table, sittin’ there, and this guy walks up and starts talkin’ to her. Hey baby, you’re lookin’ good tonite, whatever whatever. What’s your phone number etcetera. But this guy’s a clown. His hair is like three times the size of Ronald McDonald and Snuffaluffugus put together, and he’s got like juice drippin’ off it, like orange juice, or jeri juice, whatever the fuck he put in it. And he’s got about 25 gold chains around his neck, with like a dick on it or somethin’. And he’s wearin’ a Gucci jumpsuit with Gucci shorts, or like a Gucci ski-suit or somethin’. But it’s the same guy- it’s Martin! They did like a camera trick, you know, the way they filmed it or whatever. So he’s boppin’ around, “Hey baby what’s the matter, you don’t like my style?”, he says. Heheh.

So everybody’s crackin’ up except this one kid. This fish. Just got sent up for murder. He can’t be more than 19 years old the kid. So the kids sittin’ there like this, lookin’ at Martin like this… All angry and shit. All the sudden, he gets out of his chair, he goes, “Fuck that nigga!” ..So Sharif tells him he can’t use that word. Cause, you know, even if you’re Black, you can’t use it, cause the Muslims’ll discipline ya. The kid goes, “I don’t care, fuck the Muslims, and fuck that nigga Martin Lawrence!” I say to myself, ya know ..uh oh! Uh oh! Then everybody starts lookin’ at eachother, like…

He walks up to the TV screen, and he says, “Can’t you see, can’t you see? He’s darker than he was before! Like he put make-up on, so he would look darker to play the buffoon guy with the nest on his head and whatever. So now everybody starts lookin’ at eachother again. Like — you know, all like whaoa, confused and shit.

I mean, we’re a bunch of locked motherfuckers in jail, one second I’m sittin’ with the guys watchin’ the Martin Lawrence show, then this kid’s about to get fucked up, and then we’re like.. huh? You can imagine… the complexness, it’s just this completely rare bugged out fuckin’ situation taking place. Anyway, then the kid starts talkin’ about Al Jolson and whoever. He’s givin’ a history speech the kid. He says, “Ah fuck Martin, what’s he puttin’ Black on his face for- he’s already Black and stupid.” I said– uhoh, uhoh!

He goes, “It’s fucked up for him to be doin’ that.” So I try to calm things down, ya know. I said, whoa, take it easy. It’s fucked up for him to be doin’ that? Look at where he is, and look where you are! He’s ridin’ around in limousines, gettin’ paid millions of dollars a year for whatever the fuck he’s doin’, and you’re locked up my friend, with your teeth knocked out at 19 years old and a scar from your earlobe to your fuckin’ mouth. It’s fucked up for him to be doin’ that? The kid’s goes- “I don’t care, fuck that, fuck you, somebody should complain, somebody should write a letter.” [Andy looks perplexed.]

So then Sharif says, and this is why I love Sharif, cause he’s like a fuckin’ lawyer sometimes. I mean he’s not, he’s an inmate, but anyway he says, “Somebody should write a letter? You don’t like it? You write a letter you little smart-mouth fuck.” So the kid says, “For what?, I’m in jail.” So Sharif says, “Oh yeah, if you weren’t in jail, you’d write a letter? You’d be sittin’ at home, laughin’ at Martin all fuckin’ night.” Like the rest of you motherfuckers. But see, now he’s locked up the kid, he’s got all this time on his hands, he starts thinkin’ about shit. He caught some second degree charge, he’ll be out in 2014. You know what I said? I said to him, I said, hey, if I was you I’d write a lot of fuckin’ letters. Ha! Ha ha. ..It was funny, you had to be there.

I mean, everybody was laughin’. But the kid started cryin’. So I felt bad. I pulled him aside, I said look my friend, you made a mistake. I made a mistake, a lot of us made mistakes. But you better not cry in jail, cause you’re gonna be in here for a long time. I told him, look, honestly? Maybe if he was sittin’ at home, he would write a letter. Me personally? Martin Lawrence doesn’t really piss me off. He makes me wanna shoot up fuckin’ heroin, actually. I mean the guy’s bouncin’ all over the fuckin’ screen for a half hour, ya know? Relax man. Slow down. Whoa!

But get this. Now he can’t get enough envelopes the kid! He comes by my cell askin’ if I got extras. He shows me the letters. “Dear Fox, I think Martin Lawrence is fucked up. Ricki Lake, you’re full of shit. Peter Jennings, Fuck You.” I mean, he explains more, but you know, I’m summarizing. But this is the new millenium! What do you want me to tell ya? I mean, me? I’m gonna die in here. But this shit. This kinda shit excites me. It gets me pumped.

Last week I’m lookin’ at one of his letters, he asks me, how come a White guy got AIDS? I mean he knows I’m a shooter, but if it’s a conspiracy to kill the Blacks, and the gays, and all the other undesirables, how come I got it? I mean, obviously, I’m not… and I’m also not… ya know… huh, fuck. You know what I told him? It’s a calculated loss, that’s why. No, lemme tell ya. I was a medic in the army. I saw these guys they’d bring into the tents in Vietnam. A bunch of dead motherfuckers. Anyway, the point is, when you got a war, when you wage a war against a people or a nation or whoever, you always calculate how many losses you’re gonna have of your own. It’s called a calculated loss. Look it up in any military dictionary. It’s just numbers. Like me in here, I’m just one of two and a half million locked up motherfuckers. So are you. You don’t mean nothin’. You’re just a number on a fuckin’ page. People don’t understand that though.

I’m watchin’ TV last week, this woman’s sittin’ in her living room somewhere in the suburbs, moanin’, “Oh, my son was killed in Desert Storm, oh I’m so sad and lonely and whatever..” This other one’s cryin’,“oh, my husband, now he got chemical warfare syndrome- he can’t talk properly, he shits in his pants.” You know what? FUCK YOU! Before, you were wavin’ your fuckin’ flag around all proud patriotic, right? “Slam Saddam!”, and shit. And now you want me to feel sorry for you, cause you’re such a victim? I’M SO SORRY FOR YOU, YOU FUCKS! You’re a calculated loss! You’re a number and that’s all you’re gonna be!

This lady wants money for her son, who’s dead? I’m alive! There’s only so much to go around. But she don’t care if I’m on the street. Where it’s dirty. Where maybe I’ll shoot up. Maybe I’ll shoot her. At least in here I might get counseling, if they answer my fuckin’ requests. I might get experimental drugs for my AIDS if they ever read my goddamn letters. No, this lady wants me out there, servin’ society, servin’ my country. And then one sunny day she strolls into my McDonalds and expects me to just serve her and listen to her bullshit, like she deserves to be served! Lemme tell ya somethin’, I SERVED! I served in Vietnam and I served in McDonalds, and I’m servin’ sweepin’ this fuckin’ room all day every fuckin’ day sweepin’ NOTHIN’! And I want SERVICE! I want SERVICES because I’m DYING! I’M DYING IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER! [A beat.]

[to a C.O.] Ey, everything’s all right over here. Don’t push the button, Hal. There’s no problem, see, we’re just talkin’. Hey Hal, you don’t gotta push the button, see? [He goes back into his monotonous sweeping routine, humming.] Doo doo doodoo. [The C.O. comes over. Andy hits the floor in a spread position.] Go ‘head. Search me. You wanna search me? No problem. I told ya, there’s nothin’ wrong. No fightin’, just got a little excited. See? You don’t gotta push the button. [He gets up and continues the sweeping routine.] See? No problem. I just got a little depressed there. I told ya, I can’t eat the shit they’re feedin’ us. See, if I eat it, I get depressed I die. If I don’t eat it, I get depressed I fuckin’ die. Yeah, it’s funny, keep laughin’. It’s a joke. Hey Mauricio. We got carrots today? ..No? ..Good.