A few years back, some asshole came up with the idea to hold a pedophile footrace around the track here at our facility. (Pedophiles are at the bottom of the food chain in prison; hated by all, guards and convicts alike.)
Originally, Whites, Blacks and Latinos were going to “encourage” a pedophile of their color to compete. As the ball got rolling, though, the idea snowballed into a crippled-pedophile footrace. There were no crippled black pedophiles, so the race was whittled down to two participants: a Mexican pedophile named “Caca” (Shit in Spanish) versus a white pedophile named “Train Wreck.”
Caca had A.L.S. or M.S. — one of those diseases that slowly destroys the body. Plus, he’d once fallen while climbing down from his top bunk and ruptured both his Achilles Tendons. He was forced to use a walker and was famous for leaving giant shits in the shower.
Train Wreck had raped a little girl and knew he was about to get caught so, preferring death to prison, he lit a cigarette and stood on a set of tracks in the middle of his home town and waited for the 8:15 train to kill him. He didn’t die, but he was definitely messed up. The train caved in his head, knocked out all his teeth, severed most of his fingers and almost all of one foot, and broke most of the bones in his body.
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Neither of them could walk very well, let alone run. Caca kind of shuffled along, one short step after another. It took him eight or nine steps to cover a couple of feet, while Train Wreck lurched forward, bent over like Quasimodo, dragging his right foot behind him. Lurch … drag. Lurch … drag. He would often tip over or fall flat on his face under the best of conditions.
The race had started out as a joke, just another way to dog a few pedophiles, but it quickly turned serious. Every day, for the two weeks leading up to the race, both groups had their crippled pedophile out on the track, or in the weight pit, or at the pull-up bars, training. The convicts training these guys were relentless. It had turned into a competition between the Whites and the Latinos. A lot of money was being bet in both directions.
As I walked out to the yard on the morning of the race, I felt, as I often do in prison, like I was in some Bizzaro universe. Almost everyone in the prison — staff and convicts alike — had turned out for the competition. The weather was nice and sunny with a slight breeze, a beautiful day for a race. The track, which is a half mile long and shaped like a bowtie, was lined with eight hundred or so convicts and forty or so staff members.
The Latinos were warming Caca up, while the Whites were telling Train Wreck that if he didn’t win they were going to fuck him in the ass. Convicts had brought bottles of pop and food with them, and the bookies were moving through the crowd taking bets. It was almost (almost) like attending an event in the free world.
I bet a pack of cigarettes an Train Wreck.
The race started with a fanfare, but after the first hundred yards or so, everyone present realized it was going to be a long (really long) race. Train Wreck burst out of the gates: lurch … drag, lurch … drag, like he was possessed. Not wanting a dick shoved up your ass is one hell of a motivator, but around the fifty foot mark he tumbled forward and crashed to the ground. Funny, it actually was a train wreck!
Normally, he required help getting up, but for the race it had been decided that the participants could receive no assistance of any kind or they’d be disqualified.
Train Wreck finally managed to climb to his feet, but in doing so he had squandered his lead. Caca had not only caught him, but had passed him by. I was reminded of the Turtle and the Hare.
Around the ball field they went, conquering one loop of the track’s “bowtie.” Both of them looked strong and full of energy. Train Wreck would gain the lead, then he’d become distracted by something or someone and fall over, and Caca would catch him with those slow steady shuffles; each one precise: lift walker, slide foot forward six inches, set walker back down, repeat. Over and over again.
It had taken them forty minutes to cover the first quarter mile, and in that time the sun had become hot, cooking off the morning dew, causing the air to grow thick and humid. For the second quarter mile, they were both exhausted. Caca had fallen behind and was having problems. The Latinos were walking along with him, cheering him on, while Train Wreck grew bold, confident in his lead. The Whites were hooting and hollering, positive they were about to win, that all their hard work and shit-talking was about to pay off.
Then, while waving to the crowd, probably feeling for the first time since coming to prison like he finally fit in, Train Wreck stepped into a narrow trench that the prison yard-crew liked to dig around the edges of the track. I’d often wondered what those trenches were for, they never really seemed to serve a purpose, but now, as I watched Train Wreck’s expression go from one of victory to one of fear, I knew. They’d been put there by some sadistic fuck as an ankle trap.
“Snap,” went Train Wreck’s ankle, and there went my pack of cigarettes.
To this day, I don’t know if the threats against Train Wreck were made good, but I had the sense that at least a couple of his “trainers” were looking forward to a loss.
Jerry Metcalf is serving 40 years in Michigan for second-degree murder.
Jerry Metcalf #251141
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Drive
Lapeer, Mich 48446