The Head Blue Boy in Charge (HBBIC) of the camp, ie., Officer Scalberino, was in a bad mood this morning. He took out his anger and frustration on two inmates. Inmates are easy targets. On this particular morning the victims were Teaneck Trouble and Biotech Blech. Teaneck Trouble is a guy by the name of Moshe. Moshe has a bad gambling addiction, which was the root of his crime spree in which he defrauded investors out of millions of dollars. Gambling is a mental defect that the government will not recognize as a disability. Teaneck Trouble was involved in so many scams that when he got busted he was surprised to learn that it was only one shady deal that he was being charged with. He got five years in Otisville.
Teaneck Trouble shared his cubicle with Biotech Blech, AKA David Blech. Most of the guys called him “DB.” DB also has a gambling addiction. Except he gambles on the stock market. He spent a good part of each day staring at stock prices on the television that is always tuned in to C-SPAN. DB also spent a good amount of time writing his book about the biotech industry in the 1980s. He carried around his notes and papers all day asking inmates to take a look. I never got a chance to read the draft of his book, but the inmates who read it gave it good reviews. He got busted for stock market manipulation. He is doing four years. He used to be worth close to a half a billion dollars, but is now down to his last million, more or less. If he keeps gambling on the stock market he may lose whatever he has left.
Teaneck Trouble and DB were the perfect match as bunkies. They both were very messy. The HBBIC was always yelling at them to clean up their cubicle. Teaneck Trouble was a big eater. He ate enough food in one day to feed ten guys, and yet was able to maintain a weight of 145 pounds. His diet consisted of junk food, meat, and soda. He kept a case of soda stored under his bed. Teaneck Trouble spent most of the day sleeping and most of the night watching television. DB spent most of the day watching the stock prices. DB was taking heavy meds. Meds can cut your prison sentence. You have no idea you are in prison half the time, so when you are released it doesn’t feel like you were locked up for so long.
DB and Teaneck Trouble didn’t do much work at the prison camp. Teaneck Trouble was the spoiled child. He was far too important to involve himself in manual labor. He was exempt from work. Another inmate must have taken over his work assignment, for either a fee or a favor.
The only time Teaneck Trouble came to life was on Shabbos. He sang the latest modern Orthodox hit songs he learned at NCSY events, sometimes to the consternation of the old world Satmars. He threw in a few Carlbach numbers. He also got guys to hum the Simon & Garfunkel tune, “Sounds of Silence” and convinced the Satmars it was an obscure niggun.
Teaneck Trouble was happy on Shabbos. He prayed and acted like a mentch on Shabbos. He kept a book of Psalms in his bed that he read each night. DB, in spite of being on heavy meds, had a real prison job. DB “worked” with me in the kitchen. I washed the dishes while DB came by every now and then and asked if I needed some help. I would tell him what to do and he would work for about five minutes and then walk away. I wouldn’t see him again until the next day.
Teaneck Trouble and DB were not happy when Officer Scalberino, the HBBIC, woke them up at 7 in the morning. After all, these two guys usually sleep half the day. The HBBIC confiscated a few items of unauthorized furniture from their cubicle. Teaneck Trouble woke up, eyes bloodshot, and started yelling “WTF” to the HBBIC. Not something you want to say to the HBBIC, unless you want to get thrown in the SHU (solitary confinement) for a few weeks. But Blueboy Scalberino has a sense of humor. He laughed it off, just another inmate having a nervous breakdown. Teaneck Trouble wasn’t afraid of going to the SHU. He has been locked up in the SHU before for prior infractions of prison policy. DB didn’t say much while his cubicle was being raided, he just shuffled away. By the end of the day the HBBIC let Teaneck Trouble take some of his stuff back. Just the HBBIC having some fun. You can’t blame the officers for trying to make their boring jobs a little bit more interesting…