Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Charm City Correctional Facility was on lockdown for the next three weeks. I spent every day of that time worrying about Eddie. As soon as the killing happened both Eddie and Fennell were dragged from their cell and taken off the tier to segregation. Investigators from the internal Criminal Investigation Division and the state police had all of us 2C inmates down to the third floor conference room for questioning, one by one, while they searched each cell for evidence. When my turn came I was escorted down to the conference room and I saw Eddie in passing. He was chained up for segregation and he looked scared. It scared me to see Eddie looking scared.

I knew who had killed Puckett. Everyone on the tier within earshot knew who killed Puckett. Eddie certainly knew. By knowing, we were all in danger. I also knew that the person in the most danger would be the person who flipped and talked first. It was just a matter of time.

When the lockdown ended I talked the chaplain into letting me go up to the tiers to collect the inmate request slips. It didn't require much convincing. When I got to the segregation tier I nodded to the post officer, who nodded back and went back to eating Dorritos. I popped open the plywood sick call box and scooped out the slips, then glanced back over at the c.o. to make sure he was still oblivious. I made my way back to Eddie's cell and gave a short low whistle to get his attention. He looked like he hadn't been eating well and I doubted he had come out to shower. He came to the door and squeezed the bars tight enough to drive the blood from his fingers. His blurry blue-inked line tattoos stood out against his pale white hands. He was losing his zen bigtime.

"They took him away. Fennell. The police," he said, too scared and shakey to put words together into a coherent sentence. I took it for granted he was talking about the state police. "I been hearing the brothers talking at night. Fennell flipped. He gave them up. They're after him and his kid."

I let the words hang in the air between us. They're after his kid. People who go after kids are bad, bad men.

"Sit tight, Eddie. Just sit tight and shut up. I'm trying to get you moved back with me." I didn't relish the idea of celling with Eddie, but it was the only way I could think of to keep him safe. Once I got him back with me I could sit on him or duct tape his mouth shut or do whatever I had to do to keep him from talking and keep him alive. If only he would listen to me.

"They say they can get me out of here, get me to the Feds," he said.

"That's bullshit Eddie and you know it. They had their crack at you and they turned it down. They don't want you. Besides, they're gangs everywhere. You think they can't find you? Just shut up. Please please just shut up and let me help you." Eddie's last offense was a robbery of a convience store off of the Baltimore-Washington International Parkway. What he didn't know was that the Parkway was Federal property. Initially charged in Federal district court, he was tossed back to the state once the Federal prosecutors read his charging document. They were after drug kingpins, white collar criminals and terrorists. He'd have to rob a few banks across jurisdictional lines before they'd care about him.

The best I could get Eddie to do was to promise not to contact investigators until I got back to him. The c.o., done with the Dorritos, hollered at me to back off from the cell and get off his tier. I left.

I got him moved three days later but three days was too long for Eddie---too much time to think, too much time to be scared. By the time he was moved into my cell he had already flipped.

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