Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Warden's Birthday Party

The warden’s birthday is by the most eagerly anticipated event on the Mahomesh Men’s Medium Security Detention Facility’s fall calendar. The races mix in a way you just don’t see the rest of the year. The Aryan Brotherhood will invite a motherfucker from MS-13 to have brunch with them. Motherfuckers from the Mexican Mafia play squash with members of one of the several Asian triads. Motherfuckers usually content to slob around in T-shirts, PJ bottoms, and flip-flops suddenly find cigarettes and crack with which to bribe motherfuckers who work in the laundry to launder and press their dress chartreuses to perfection. Even the surliest correctional officers have smiles on their faces.
This year, some of the motherfuckers with musical talent decided it would be fun to put a band together to play at the warden’s birthday party. The warden is known to love The Eagles, Tom Petty, and Public Enemy, and the idea was to learn maybe a dozen of those acts’ biggest hits. D’Mock Ra-C and LaDrayvon Willis, from the Crips, were the obvious choices to play drums and bass, respectfully, as they’d backed a popular Beyonce imitator in Los Angeles. Gonsalvo Gutierrez — Double-G to his “homies”— came in on trumpet.

No fewer than four members of the Brotherhood, the Scrodham twins, Feekle and Aynl, Butch Whatever (I suspect not even the Department of Corrections knows his last name), and Butch’s “girlfriend”, Leon(a) Willits, all wanted to play guitar. The chaplain, who’d been put in the charge of the project on the strength of having been an assistant choirmaster at of Texas’s biggest megachurches, thought four guitarists was probably two too many, but Butch pointed out that many of the most popular Southern rock bands of the 1970s and ‘80s — Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Gypsy Kings, et al — had as many as half a dozen guitarists, usually with really hideous hair — and the chaplain demurred.
Early rehearsals were disheartening. None of the four guitarists actually knew how to tune his (or, in Leon(a)’s case, “her”) Telecaster, Gonsalvo seemed to think of himself as the Latin Dizzy Gillespie, and never shut up, and the Crips rhythm section’s disdainful sneering hurt his and the white musicians’ feelings, to the point at which Butch Whatever tried to cram one of D’Mock's drumsticks where the sun don’t shine, and was expelled from the band.
To everyone’s surprise, the warden himself wanted to replace him as the band’s lead singer. He claimed that whenever he performed at a karaoke bar, everyone just loved it, but it must have been because he was heavily armed. Feekle Scrodham was overheard to remark to Leon(a), “Motherfuck couldn’t carry a tune in a Department of Corrections bus.” Thinner-skinned than is a good idea in the entertainment industry, the warden ordered that Feekle’s execution be fast-tracked for two weeks sooner than originally scheduled.
Tom Petty himself sounded pretty feeble in the chorus of his hit Free Fallin’, with an apostrophe, barely winging the first note {“free”) in passing. Far better that, though, than the warden seeming to decide that the chorus should be sung not only in a key at odds with the rest of the song, but heretofore unknown. “Yo,” LaDrayvon chuckled after the group’s first run-through of the song, “we be in G. You in H.” The warden made some calls and got him too fast-tracked for execution, though insider trading had never been before been punished by death in Minnesota.