I had been in prison for a period of months and had developed a reputation for no bulls--t. This was called into question by someone in a very public setting, and in a manner showing the worst form of disrespect.
People in prison are grouped according to many varied criteria: Some are hustlers, some are muscle, some are freeloaders; the majority are consumers, also known as suckers.
I fell into the hustler group, and this person fell into the muscle/freeloader group. These types use their physical size and willingness to fight, along with their affiliations within the system as leverage to muscle in on other people's hustles and income streams. They are not above causing pain, threatening violence, and in most cases outright extortion.
I am not a victim and was not about to be seen as one. Since the disrespect was a public show of force, and an attempt to humiliate me, I felt I had no choice. We were scheduled to work together the following night in the Officer's Dining Room, and I was in charge of the deep fryer. Use your imagination, and be assured I used mine.
Prisoners who live and work together can sense their environments in incredibly perceptive details ... It is not unusual for someone to figure out what is about to happen, even when nothing has been said, or otherwise signaled. More so when they are a witness to a triggering event.
An inmate who was unknown to me, and a little bit older, came up to me after the incident, and again on the following day, and slowly changed my mind about what I was thinking about doing to the moron. He pointed out the fact that I had a son waiting for me to come home, that the walking dead man had six children of his own, and most importantly, he reminded me that God would never forgive me for such an act.
He knew how serious I was, and somehow took a substantial risk of his own to try and talk me out of the impending murder.
It worked: Despite an avalanche of anger, and substantial resolve to do something about it, I let it go.
The next evening, the guy that had signed his own death warrant came up to me and apologized. We discussed the fact that his apology was in private, but the insult was in public. I told him that I was over it, but that if he was truly remorseful, he could state his apology to the whole crew, and that would make everything square. (I have cleaned up that exchange for public consumption.)
To my surprise, he did so at the next break, and explained to everyone how he had been getting hate mail from home and was under a lot of stress. He apologized to the whole crew.
The man that had talked to me about the mistake I was about to make, was on the verge of going home, and he took the risk of interfering in something that was none of his business. He did so out of kindness for me, and for my potential victim. He saved us both, and I am forever grateful for that.
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