12th Sept 04
A minority of my neighbours, around four out of twenty, talk until two or three in the morning. From behind the safety of their locked doors theses cell warriors keep the rest of us awake. Listening to their nonsense for hours on end is tantamount to Chinese water torture. Here is a small dose from last night’s session.
Some prison slang translations:
ESE/HOMEY/HOMES/HOMEBOY: a buddy/pal, especially a fellow gang member
GABACHO: pejorative term for a white man, equivalent to gringo
ORALE: okay, it’s all good, hell yeah, right on eg) orale, homes. Pass the J, ese
PINCHE: fucking eg) pinche gabacho
VATO: male individual, man, dude eg) yo soy un vato loco
RUCA: woman, girlfriend, true love
“Any vato can have a fully-automatic weapon, homey,” Diego said extra loudly, so that his voice would carry to Manny’s cell, situated further down the run.
“Listen, homes, those pinche vatos – the ATF – will kick yer fuckin’ door down if they find out,” said Manny equally loudly.
“You listen, ese, if you have a Class 2 weapons licence, you can have one,” Diego said.
“That’s bullshit, dawg!” Manny said.
“Those fuckin’ militia groups have 'em,” Diego said.
“What’s a fuckin’ militia group, ese?”
“Those left wing vatos, homes. Like that gabacho, David Koresh.”
“Izzat right, ese?”
“If yer not NATO certified you can’t have a fully-automatic weapon!” interjected Tommy - a gabacho – in a booming New York accent.
“What about those militia vatos?” Diego asked.
“Dey fuckin’ steal 'em,” Tommy said with an air of authority.
“Homeboy here is sayin’ that no one can get 'em,” Diego said.
“Dey gotta be NATO certified,” Tommy said.
“It’s legal, dawg, if you go through the right bullshit,” Diego said.
“It’s not legal under the Brady Bill,” Tommy said.
“Is that the bill that they are introducing this November to stop fully-automatic-weapon sales?” Manny asked.
“No, ese. The Brady Bill is from when the president – Reagan – and his homeboy got shot by some crazy fool, and then they stopped fully-automatic-weapon sales unless you have the Class 2 licence,” Diego said triumphantly.
“Nah, listen up,” Tommy said, “Reagan and Brady got shot and then they changed the law so that you have to fill out an application and wait for ten days to get yer gun.”
“I don’t give a fuck, dawg,” Diego said, his voice becoming louder and more insistent. “I learnt all of my gun shit from a comic book called The Punisher."
“Izzat right, ese? Orale!” Manny said.
“Orale!” Diego said.
On and on the conversation went, dying out and coming back to life again, like a fire on the wane that some wind hits every ten minutes rekindling the flames.