Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Scout Master

The Scout Master
(A Short Story)
Allen Masterson

A prison dormitory is obviously filled with all manner of deviants; murderers, rapists, robbers, thieves, and of course, child molesters. When it comes to the prison caste system, child molesters are at the very bottom, to put it mildly. They are considered less than human amongst peers that are primarily looked upon from the outside world as scum to begin with. Child molesters actually raise the self-esteem of all other convicts; even the despicable serial rapist can look down on the molester with a feeling of superiority in a prison dichotomy.

I had found myself in a prison rumored to have a high percentage of sex offenders. This prison was affectionately referred to as “The Farm” because it was once a labor camp that raised and slaughtered farm animals. I thought that the old style brick buildings and the concentration camp atmosphere deserved a more suiting name like “The Slaughterhouse”, but I’m sure the state of Indiana wanted to paint a picture in the mind’s of a convict’s family of rolling green fields and a soft touch of Mother Nature’s rehabilitative hand. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Farm was rumored to have upwards of thirty to forty percent sex offenders. The joke among non-sex offenders was that you couldn’t throw a packet of Top Ramen without hitting a child molester upside the head; such was the density of sex offenders in any given dormitory.

Dormitories usually housed about one-hundred-forty convicts divided into “cubes” consisting of both bunk beds and single beds. To get a single bed was the luck of the draw, and I was shit out of luck. I shared a bunk with a dim-witted white trash guy that liked to rock himself to sleep like a muscle bound baby with autism and a severe meth addiction. The worst thing about having a top bunk was I could see most everything going on in the dorm, and everyone in the dorm could see me perched and on display. It took months for me to get used to the constant barrage of crazed stares and probing eyes.

Having a few sex offenders in one’s cube was pretty much a given, but the oddities of child molesters varied. A habitual drunk driver, or child support dodger, could often be mistaken for a child molester at first encounter. The state of Indiana had come up with a way of protecting child molesters by giving them fake documents showing convictions for drunk driving. When a molester was confronted and asked what he was in for, he could pull out said documents to prove he didn’t compulsively diddle little kids as past time, but liked to get wasted and drive a vehicle like any relatively normal red blooded American. A really resourceful molester would even get into the role of drunk driver and act indignant about the disproportionate punishment for a few drunk driving convictions. The cunning of a deviant can be boundless in a prison environment.

This brings me to the subject of Roger, a child molester of mythic proportions. Of all the molesters I ran across in my over three years of incarceration, Roger was by far one that stands heads above all others in my memory (even though he was a little fifty-five year old butter ball of about five-foot-four in height).

Roger had a head full of short, poorly cropped, white hair and a waddle quality to his gate that would have been endearingly comical if not for the fact that he was a notorious sexual predator. He was for the most part quiet, but if one were to engage him in small talk, he had a tone in his voice similar to a very young child of around eight years of age. It was evident to most that Roger was simple in the mental department. He had a single bunk almost directly across from me, so in the six months I resided in this particular dorm, I saw Roger the majority of my waking life.

Roger was one of the first inmates to engage me upon my arrival to the dorm. I was green as a convict, but had already done six months in a county jail awaiting sentencing for a robbery charge involving a pharmacy, and my penchant for Xanax that transcended social norms such as a doctor’s prescription and the traditional exchange of money for product. I had already been briefed by seasoned cons in the county jail on what to expect if I were unlucky enough to be sent to The Farm. Ironically, a robbery conviction could be worn almost like a badge of honor among inmates, and was nothing to be ashamed of within the walls of prison. I made sure everyone in ear shot knew what I was convicted of right away so as not to be labeled a possible sex offender. I’m a clean cut white guy with no tattoos, so I fit the initial description of a child molester. Roger was actually the first to ask what I was in for.

“Robbery. I robbed a pharmacy for pills. I was pretty messed out of my mind on Xanax, and can hardly remember even doing it, man.” I responded. Which was the truth. It had all been like a foggy nightmare that seemed to have no end.

“What are you in for?” I asked, but I already knew the drunk driving scenario, so I wasn’t surprised with his response.

“Drunk driving…. I got four drunk driving tickets,” he said with his eyes darting quickly to the ground. I didn’t probe any further, but I did hear a soft chuckle a few bunks away.

I looked up to find the source and a younger black guy was grinning at me and softly said, “Fuckin’ chomo.”

The term, “chomo” is common slang for child molester in prison. It is more phonetically pleasing than “chester” or “baby raper”, but no less derogatory.

“I’m no chomo! Here… I have my paperwork to prove I’m a drunken driver.” Roger emphatically stated while a quiver crept into his voice.

“That’s okay, man. I don’t need to see anybody’s paperwork.”

I didn’t need to get into a debate about whether or not someone was a chomo in the first few minutes of my arrival. I quickly turned to unpacking my few items and grabbed a book to keep me occupied until chow time. But as I opened the first page of a worn out paperback of “The Winter of Our Discontent” by John Steinbeck, I heard “Psssst” from the direction of the young black gentlemen a few bunks over. I looked his way and he whispered, “He’s the scout master, “ and grinned a Cheshire grin of knowing something evil that he would be fill me in on in due time; which of course, we had plenty of….

About a week passed relatively uneventful. The acclimation process in a new prison environment can be painstaking at best, but after being cooped up in a county jail not knowing my fate for over six months, my spirits were higher than they had been in more than a year. I no longer wished for death to pay me a visit in my sleep, and I began exercising regularly which helped to keep melancholy at bay.

I had some money on my books for commissary. A prison commissary consists of mostly junk food and toiletries the state doesn’t provide. Most of these luxuries, if one were lucky enough to have money, are used in bartering, or gambling. I rarely bartered, and never gambled. I had seen too many bad situations go down in the county jail already to know to keep dealings with other convicts down to a minimum, but there were always a plethora of beggars asking for things on commissary day, which happened once a week.

On this particular commissary day, I somewhat splurged and had plenty of Top Ramen and Little Debbie to fill the emptiness of boredom. The big problem with getting commissary is having to tote all the goodies through the entire dormitory in a clear plastic bag. The predator/victim relationship is more pronounced on these days, and debts are skirted, and conflicts erupt sporadically throughout the day, and well into the evening hours.

As I unloaded my groceries into my property box, the young black fellow a few bunks down gave me the “pssst” again. I knew he hadn’t gone to get any commissary and probably thought I was green enough that he could score something off me relatively easy.

I looked over knowingly, but he seemed to already have anticipated my irritation because he held up his hands and proclaimed, “It’s all good my man. I’ll make you a deal. You toss me a shot of coffee and a soup, and I’ll give you the full lowdown on that little roly-poly child molestin’ motherfucker across from you.”

Roger was still at the commissary building and may not be back for a while. I had already figured he was a molester, but I had heard a few comments that could use some qualifying so I went ahead and made the deal.

The youngster called himself C Murder (I didn’t inquire how he got his nickname). C Murder came over to claim his end of the bargain and proceeded to posture himself for the tale of the Scout Master.

“Look here, man, you ever see that little fat retarded motherfucker at the urinal pissing?”

Now that he mentioned it, I hadn’t.

“That’s because he doesn’t have a dick, man. He chopped it off with a pair of scissors!”

I looked at him incredulously, but he reiterated, and went on with the rest of his story.

“Word has it, this cat was all over the news. He molested five little kids on a cubs scout camping trip. When his ass got caught, he begged the judge not to send him to prison, but castrate him. That’s right
his crazy ass would have rather had his dick taken off than to go to prison!

“Well, of course the judge told him no and that the state didn’t do shit like that. So, this retarded motherfucker takes a pair of scissors and chops his own dick off hoping he gets out of it. They couldn’t put the thing back on! His chomo ass has to pee sitting down like a girl. He gets up at four in the morning to take a shower, even. Sometimes, when he’s nappin’, he’ll just piss all over hisself! It’s crazy shit, man! Crazy shit!”

I started feeling pretty queasy, but I vaguely remembered hearing about a guy self castrating himself to try and get out of going to prison for molestation, but it was still difficult to process.

“How much time did he get?”

“He got ten years do five, but he only has a couple left if he gets his GED, but he’s still in the first level classes because he’s a retard, man.”

“So that’s why you called him the scout master…. Jesus, that’s some brutal shit.”

“Hell yeah, it is. Goofy bastard chops his own willy off and still gets time. That drunk driving trick is played out by those chomos. All a dude has to do is call home and have somebody look up a guy’s name on the internet to find out what he’s in for. The state’s just tryin’ to cover their asses because so many chomos were getting beat up. The thing is, there’s so many of those sick mothafuckas in here, that it’s pointless to beat one up. Another one will just tell, and you’ll lose time. But everybody still tries to make it hell on them, though. Especially Roger. You’ll see…”

Six months later, I was transferred to an honor dorm for keeping my nose clean. In the six months I shared a cube with the Scout Master I witnessed several confrontations involving him and usually a newcomer that couldn’t help but to call him out on his sick crimes against children. None of these confrontations resulted in anything physical. Roger would usually pick up a coffee cup and draw back stating, “I’ll hit you! I’ll do it!” loud enough for one of the corrections officers strolling the dormitory to hear. The antagonist would usually break into laughter and call Roger any number of molester references.
I kept communication with Roger to a minimum, but occasionally I would stroll through the cube and ask how he was fairing. Most times he would be perched up on his cot like a child concentrating heavily on third grade math with his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth like he was doing a monumental task with a number two pencil. He would look up at me briefly and say, “I’m just doing my math! I’m getting better!” But to me it looked like he may as well have been working on string theory. I secretly hoped he would never get his GED so he would have to do every bit of his mild prison sentence.

Any time I would feel the slightest bit of sympathy for Roger, I would imagine his victims going through life completely ruined for any kind of healthy human interaction past a certain degree of intimacy. I imagined those child’s parents paying for countless hours of therapy to try and insure their child wouldn’t turn around and victimize the child of someone else, which was a statistical reality.

Convicts would occasionally urinate in Roger’s property box, or spray shaving cream in his shoes in the middle of the night. Roger took these acts in stride and seemed to have the memory of a lap dog, or alley cat, because his response was always scripted and rote. “Who did this? I’m gonna tell the CO!” he would yell, red faced at no specific person. It seemed that his whole life consisted of eating, drinking coffee, doing simple math, and trying not to piss his pants (which he failed at almost as much as he failed to get his math problems right). The saddest thing was, Roger’s acts of molestation were not the worst, not even close. There were several monsters in my dorm alone whose horrific acts pushed the boundaries of a rational human being’s ability to conceive them.

It seemed I was being shown a world behind the curtain. A world society tries to keep out of site. Human dirt swept under a rug. As the days piled up, I became more and more callus. My view of humanity as a whole changed dramatically during my incarceration. Upon my release, I looked at every white clean cut male over thirty as a potential child molester.

I’ve been free for seven years now. I no longer look at the world like I did when I was locked up. But I do tell the story of the Scout Master from time to time to give some of my friends a good example of the depravity I experienced in prison. Most are shocked, but seem to like my prison anecdotes and encourage me to tell more. I guess it takes a lot these days to shock your average person. The real damage is done with daily doses of eye contact with the madness of what humans can potentially be. No animal on this planet can wreak as much havoc as a little, fat, simple old man in a cub scout uniform.

Roger is probably out there strolling around with his dark complicated secret buried in his defective brain, but I’d like to think he’s dead. I imagine that one of the many violent youngsters in our dormitory that had murder in his eyes ran across Roger on the street one fine Summer day and waited for the opportune time to pounce. I see predator eating predator, and it helps me deal with being a part of a race of creatures whose level of perversion and cruelty cannot be quantified. And maybe, just maybe, two negatives can equal a positive…. for the sake of us all.

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