In my 21 years of incarceration I have seen every hustle that you can think of- from smuggling hot pockets to cell phones, to selling ass to selling cash. And if it wasn’t nailed down then it was up for grabs.
But, there was one celly of mine that exceeded them all. His name was R.L. R.L. was a pretty boy white guy that came from a middle class family. In the pursuit of money he murdered a guy, chopped him into pieces and drove him across state lines with the hopes of burning and burying his body. For whatever reasons, the prosecution did not seek the death penalty and he was the first person to be sentenced to Life Without Parole in Texas.
R.L. came to prison with the same hustle mentality that got him into prison. He used his charm and intelligence to win over officers and have them bring him things into prison. I met R.L. after he was upgraded from a lower custody level after he was caught with some cash money. He was actually a pretty decent guy with a killer (no pun intended) tattoo game. We hit it off right away, because we both had time to do and didn’t want to do it at the bottom of the barrel.
After a few days of R.L. getting to know me and seeing how my character was he decided to take some trust in me and revealed he had a cell phone. When he first showed it to me, I think he was a bit disappointed that I didn’t jump out my boots at the sight of it.
Cell phones were nothing new to me and I had become so efficient with them that at my old unit they called me “The Internet Bandit.” By the end of the day I was showing him how to open email accounts and web-pages on social media sites. I became his beloved new celly.
The only real downside to R.L. was he loved the flash. He liked to be “The Guy.” But, in prison that’s a no-no. If you tell 2 guys your business you can bet by the end of the day 10 will know, which means the Administration knows. And sure enough they knew R.L.’s business. And sure enough they came to pay us a visit.
Early one morning around 1 am the Run-In Team came to pay us a visit, and this Run-In Team wasn’t the kind you wanted to play with. They usually came in a 4 or 5 Team and when they came to your cell they didn’t come to play. You were ordered to strip out and stay away from the toilet. Any move towards the toilet would ignite a bum rush with you usually ending up nose first into the concrete. When you were “in the game” you knew to be ready with a watch-out always looking out the door or a quick stash spot for your contraband. Since it was R.L.’s phone he ran the show and he assured me that if the Team ever came that he had a quick-ready spot for the phone. I noticed that the phone was very small- about the size of a Twinkie, so I figured he had prepared a hole in the wall or floor somewhere.
When the Team came that morning we was actually just finishing a night of riding on the chat lines and we were about to call it a night. We both had just jumped in our bunks when the door popped open and the Team members yelled- “Get the fuck up and get out of ’em.” We knew the routine. We always tied the members up in idle talk just to make a stall time for each other in case we need to make a quick tuck. R.L. was doing his usual tirade of- “You muthafuckers are always harassing me. I ain’t got shit.” I did the same in case he needed the time delay. R.L. went through the motions of a full strip search and was escorted out the cell in handcuffs. I went next.
For 2 hours they tore our cell from top to bottom. Apparently, R.L. had been successful in his tucking because the Team members emerged from the cell and called us back in. There were no words extended. They came up empty-handed and we knew they’d be back. We were placed back in the cell and I began cleaning up the mess. I looked around the bunks, under everything and I didn’t see the damn phone. I looked around, looked at R.L. and just threw my hands up in wonder. R.L. looked a bit apprehensive, but said “Turn around.” I gave him the look like I was going to turn around and grab a shank, but he put his hands in front of him and said- “Trust me, man. just trust me.” Reluctantly I did so and after about 5 seconds I heard a “Ploppp” sound. “OK,” goes R.L., and I turn around. There’s the phone in his hand. Like I had seen a leprechaun appear in in the middle of our cell; I was in pure shock.
“Alright, explain that one” I said.
R.L. paced and then he began his spiel- “Bro, it’s like this. I have a lot of time to do. I know I have to improve on being so cocky, but even still I don’t trust anyone. So, when push comes to shove, if I have to…I keister. These mutha-fuckers are going to have to work for my shit. Just as hard as I work to get it.”
Regardless of the difference in our styles I couldn’t help but to respect his dedication to not get caught. I was still standing there looking stunned when R.L. said- “Well??”
Letting out a sigh I couldn’t suppress the laugh when I said- “I don’t know how the hell I’m going to put that thing to my ear now.” R.L. let out a laugh of relief and that would be the beginning of a very long relationship of hustling in the Texas penitentiary.
After the things R.L. and I had gone through he knew that I was not only trustworthy, but, as they say, “about that life.” So, R.L. began to incorporate me in some of his hustles. Sometimes I picked up packages for him, other times I dropped them off. This time he needed me a bit closer and he asked me to go to visit with him to watch out for him while he picked up a new package. “What’s this ‘new’ thing you got going,” I asked R.L.
Rubbing his hands like a Gotham villain he said “It’s called K2.” While I was familiar with the synthetic marijuana he began explaining to me the different potencies of it. All he needed from me at visit was at the point of needing to…do his thing…he needed me to walk up to the guard and ask a question. All he needed was a moment of distraction to… tuck his package.
We was all in. Our visits came on time. Luck was in our favor and our tables were near each other and the play was set in motion. When he gave me the wink I got up and went to the officer’s station and asked an off the wall question. Things worked out even better when the nosy guards began asking where my visitor was from. They had noticed her accent. I took it as a chance to buy R.L. plenty of time, so I explained how she was from France and how we met etc… After 5 minutes I went back to my chair. I looked over at R.L. and he was smiling popping Hot Cheetos in his mouth. I took it as a sign of victory. But after about 30 minutes into the visit something was wrong. I noticed R.L. squirming and fanning himself.
I was trying not to bring attention to his table, but he was doing a fine job of that himself. Then all of a sudden my visitor said- “Isn’t that your friend getting up?”
With eyes as big as potato pies I said “Yeah. (WHAT THE HELL)?” R.L. left the visit and his visitor followed. I didn’t know what to do so I finished my visit. I didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention. Sudden moves makes missions lose- I stayed the course. I didn’t have but about 30 minutes left anyhow.
I was walking with urgency back to my building- While I didn’t know what was up I couldn’t help that I was slightly pissed off. I get to my cell and was let in by the guard in the picket. When I walked in the cell R.L. was lying in a pool of water with his fan blowing high on him. I looked ever to the table and I saw a big white bowl almost filled to the top with what I assumed was K2. SO instead of kicking R.L. in the face I said- “Soooo, once again would you like to explain this one?”
R-L- lifted up and like he was telling a ghost story. With wide eyes he said, “Man) everything was going great. I made the move” – he made his gesture towards his behind and I .-just rolled my eves- “but after about 25 minutes I just started feeling these hot flashes. At first I thought it was the snuff I had did before we went to visit, but it started from down here”- he gestured towards his butt again, and again I rolled mv eyes- “and I knew it was the “issue.” Then it just got worse and it was like I started to hallucinate.
I thought I might be having one of those K2 episodes, so before it got out of hand I told my sister to leave. I jumped up and ended the visit. I got back and got it out of there as quick as I could. This is why,” R-L- held up a condom. Condoms are thin and latex.
“She didn’t use the balloons like I told her. This shit is strong- It seeped through,” With eyes like they had a little bit of fear in them, R.L. dropped back to the ground and breathed in and out heavily.
So, are you ready to give the ol’ keist a retire?” I asked with a grin on my face.
But, like he heard the Team coming, R.L. shot up and howled- “Hell to the NO! Did you see inside that bowl? We about to be MILLIONAIRES! Long live The Keist!” And with 2 fingers shooting in the air like a prostate exam we both broke out laughing.
I couldn’t help but to repeat it- “Long live The Keist!”
Kenneth Foster is serving LIFE for Capital Murder in Texas.
Kenneth Foster, Jr. #1451768
Alfred Hughes Unit
Route 2, Box 4400
Gatesville, TX 76597