couple of uneventful days pass, and then a Deputy with his
arm in the air twirling a set of handcuffs yells: "Flagstone
Walker, come with me."
hauls a bunch of chains out of a box and shackles me all
over serial-killer style. We pass through the steel door
and outside into the blazing sunlight, where an armored
vehicle ships me off to SF General for a chest X-ray, ordered
up on the basis of a skin test the previous day in the Medical
pod indicating positive for TB. I'm informed the skin test
results mean I'm susceptible to getting TB and may or may
not have it.
the hospital, additional news: I'm told an "aberration"
has been spotted on my X-ray. Unlikely it's TB, but a pack
a day for 40 years makes me a good candidate for lung cancer.
I'm waiting for the doctor to examine the X-ray and make
as I've decided life has meaning I conclude I'm faced with
two prospects: The impending sentence coming down from the
bench of Wonder Woman 2 or slow death by cigarettes.
I'd be mortified waiting to find out what the aberration
will yield. But now: Three cheers for lung cancer! Mutate
on! Surely the judge will only slap me with probation knowing
I've only got about four months to a couple of years remaining.
What little money I have left I'll spend in sushi bars,
stuffing myself with unagi and yellowtail while the Big
C eats away my lungs. And how wonderful knowing approximately
how many days remain. I'll have time to get my affairs in
order before facing infinity eyeball-to-eyeball.
free, I'll play my trump card: Vietnam. At last, those days
I spent in the Asian shithole will pay off. I'll hobble
onto the #38 bus, coughing and hacking all the way to the
VA hospital, working those Camel Lights to the bitter end.
along with lung cancer, I'll end up with a triple bypass
and the prostate humdinger for good measure. Fort Miley
never looked so good, like a sanitarium on a magic mountain.
A real nice view of the Bay out there. I can sit in a red
plastic chair with a shawl over my shoulders and read books
until the final Camel casts me down into Dante's sixth ring
of Hell, a trench filled with shit where the Big District
Attorney in the Sky sends all the pimps and panderers.
"He hauls a bunch
of chains out of a box and shackles me
all over serial-killer style."
returns, informs me the aberration means nothing at all,
but assures me worms and flies will be all over future X-rays
if I don't stop smoking. I'm reshackled and returned to
F-pod, where Slicer and Slinky are doubled over in laughter,
their right fists with thumbs and forefingers in circles
slashing through the air like piston rings stroking along
imaginary three-foot cocks protruding from their orange
crotches. This mock masturbatory exercise, directed toward
Queen Gene in a cubicle on the opposite side of the pod,
is a continual source of gratification for these two characters.
on, Slicer and Slinky mumble short phrases, sometimes mixed
with rap, keeping their voices low so the Deputies won't
hear them. "Yo, butt boy, watch out... backyard boogie...suck-o,
suck-o, suck-o, dough, dough, doughnut hole...5-shot on
Polk Street...Faggotstein...butt pirate, prepare to board...Git
the one-eyed trouser trout..."
high-school dropouts in their early twenties, they are high-tetosterone
hets who strike me as gay-nervous rather than gay haters.
Slinky, 6'4," rail-thin, runway-model mixed-race face, hopes
to score with his raps when he gets out. He's in for assault,
a first offense made nastier when his steel-toed boot slammed
into the side of his opponent, who was flat on his back.
Slicer, a white guy with a pug nose and a cliché
mobster scar on his cheek, got busted for selling crack
around 16th and Mission.
Gene has not been attacked by anybody in F-pod, but Slicer,
Slinky, and many others subject him to verbal abuse and
limped-wrist gestures, though always at a distance. Hardly
anybody talks to the gay man. Neither do I. Slicer says
he was in a cell with Queen Gene before they were transferred
to F-pod. He claims the gay man lay naked on his top bunk
and committed the crime of self-abuse in full view of all
those in the cell. I doubt this is true, but it provides
the basis for much snickering. And the man ostracized.
Slicer, homosexuals are not revolting, merely remote as
Martians, a species doing things with their bodies beyond
comprehension. At the same time, Slicer tells me he seeks
out gays on Polk Street, pretending he's a male hooker.
He's selective, picks only men driving expensive new cars.
After agreeing to $20 for a blow job, Slicer draws a knife
from his boot, assures his prey he will neither suck him
off nor hurt him, but will slice up the upholstery if the
twenty is not handed over. No cut cars to date. Slicer exits
with the money. "Easy targets," he says with a shrug.