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31st December 2012

* Write Obama a letter and tell him My Bad and ask for a pardon
* Make The Don trim those hairs sticking out of his ears.
* Stop downloading Miley Cyrus and Jessie J songs.
* Write a full-scale novel and two more chapbooks.
* Have Francisco teach me about international drug trafficking in case the three books that I write suck.
* Dodge the stun grenade when the gun tower throws it (and the bullets if they fire them).
* Meet a girl from England or France that doesn't work in the banking industry and who likes cheeky felons.
* Read "We Are Glass" by the author u.v. ray.
* Stop asking the Voodoo community to cast spells on my former attorney.
* Find a cell mate that doesn't have a gastric condition.
* Buy Workie Workie some shoes that fit.
* See if the Bureau of Prisons will pay for testosterone reduction surgery.
* Learn two new mouse-based recipes for my cats.
* Sue somebody. Preferably a prison official.
* Stay in prison.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

25th December 2012

There is no nativity scene in prison. No manger, no Mary and Joseph, No baby Jesus, and I'll give you my last Ramen noodle soup if you can find me one wise man in this joint, let alone three. The closest thing we've got to a wise man is This Fucking Guy. That's the name that I've given to a particular individual back here because he seems to know something about everything. Just ask him. Every time I see him he's up to something outrageous and I'll say to whoever I'm with, Will you look at This Fucking Guy? But even though there's no nativity scene back here, amazingly, some pieces of the authentic manger found their way behind the wall to USP Lewisburg this year via my friend Don Corleone. Here's how it happened.

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem in a manger around 2000 years ago. This is pretty well documented, established, and accepted as fact. Some of us white folk have turned Jesus into a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed cherub and have the manger looking like a room at Motel 6, but the Caucasians' interpretation of pigmentation and domestication doesn't change the basic fact of the coming of Salvation. (That was my Christmas gift to you Jesse Jackson.) And it goes without saying that the predominant religion in the United States is Christianity. But America is a melting pot of religions and beliefs and federal prison reflects this. Back here behind the wall there's Christians and Muslims; Moorish Science Temple; Jehovah's Witnesses; Santeria, and even Voo Doo that all use the same chapel to worship in. And the Native Americans have dug a pit out back that they burn coals in and have put a tee pee over and use as a sweat lodge. But even though there's all kinds of religions back here, and that all of these religions may not necessarily believe in Jesus, everybody back here celebrates Christmas in one way or another.

I was sitting cross-legged on my bunk writing my girl Veronikah, wearing a pair of gray sweats and a long-sleeved crisp white tee shirt, a gray skully, and I was listening to Bruce Springsteen sing, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" on my MP3 when Wadoo Scary appeared like a mist in front of my bars. I've christened him with this name because he's been down over 25 years and anything out of the norm freaks him out. He has surly white hair that shoots off of his head like fireworks, an unruly white beard, and he wears dark glasses all the time. He looks like a cross between Ray Charles and Moses. When I looked up and saw him holding onto my bars and staring into my cell I jumped. He looked back and forth down the tier like he was getting ready to tell me who shot JFK, then he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper and asked, "Did you hear? They're not serving ice cream for Christmas this year." Then he shook his head and added, "And ever since Obama made all of those promises and got reelected, they haven't been serving ice cream like they did during his first term" I stared at him trying to connect his dots and trying to figure out what to say. In the end I did what I do to most people that I want to get the hell away from me...I told him what he wanted to hear." In a disgusted voice I said, "Those lying-ass Democrats." Obviously pleased at having his insanity validated he nodded and said, "Yep" and disappeared like a wisp of smoke. I hopped off my bunk and went straight to my bars and slid them to the slide and poked my head out and looked up and down the tier, but he was nowhere to be seen. I shook my head and wondered, How's he do that? I had to go to the laundry to pay my tailor for a couple of things I'd had sewn, so I got dressed and got ready to swing by The Don's house to take him along. In prison we tend to travel like girls in a nightclub do as they go to the bathroom-with a friend or in packs.

I came out of my house and slid my bars shut as I left and as I made my way down the tier I passed my white supremacist neighbor's cell, White Wally, and he yelled, "Hey Bank Robber! May all your Christmases be White!!!" and started laughing and stomping his foot. As I came to the end of the tier I heard "Christmas In Hollis" by Run DMC blaring from the shower so I poked my head in to see what was going on in there. In the common area in front of the showers, Ghetto Boy was on his knees in the corner shaking a pair of dice above his head and getting ready to toss them against the wall as a crowd of guys stood around him placing bets with each other on his upcoming throw. I backed out and kept on going. When I hit the stairwell Workie Workie was posted up against the wall on the stoop between the second and third floor wearing a humongous gray sweatshirt and busting a sag in a pair of Hunter Green pants as he sang along to Feliz Navidad and tapped an over-sized shoe to the beat.

As I came down Don Corleone's tier he was sitting in his plastic Wal-Mart lawn chair in front of his house reading a book. As I walked up he yelled, "FUCKING SCUMBAG!!!" and I saw that he was reading the book I'd gotten him on The Witness Protection Program. I said, "C'mon, take a ride to the laundry with me." He threw the book on the tier and as we walked off he started carrying on about how "That cocksucker Vinny who told on Petie's cousin Jimmy Brown Eyes' best friend's brother in law Carlo is in one of those fucking Cheese Factories." Blah, blah, blazio. The Don goes on every day about somebody who got ratted out like it's something new and he's surprised by it. People have been ratting since Judas Iscariot snitched out Jesus.

As we came out of the cell block and cleared the metal detector and cruised down the main corridor that runs through the middle of the prison we saw Chief Smith & Wesson talking to another Indian. They were both wearing blue and white head bands that held their long black hair off of their face. The kid that the Chief was talking to is a young buck that The Don calls "Two Fingers Digging" because every time we see him he's picking his nose. Sometimes we'll see him and bet each other on how long it will be before he goes rooting around in his snout. The Don is a degenerate gambler and will bet on anything. When I told him that one time he replied, "I'll bet you I'm not." Before we got too close to them The Don grabbed my arm and pulled me against the stone wall and said, "I got five packs a tuna fish that says Two Fingers takes a trip to the booger factory within the next three minutes." Figuring that it was at least a possibility that The Don had things fixed and that the kid was going to get two packs of tuna fish to go digging in his nose in about a minute and a half I said, "I don't have time for this. Let's go." As we walked by them The Kid buried the index finger of his right hand so far up his nose that I thought his eyeball was going to pop out.

The laundry is down a tunnel that's two stories underground. It's lit by dim light bulbs in cages that hang down from the ceiling every 25 feet or so. The tunnel is about 10 feet wide and the ceiling has steam pipes running the length of it. There are other tunnels that cut off of this tunnel but entrance to these tunnels is prevented by barred gates. These tunnels are not lit. As we came down the steps, This Fucking Guy was standing in front of the gate to one of these tunnels talking to a group of about five people whose eyes were fixed on him in rapt attention. They reminded me of a group of Chihuahuas perched up on their hind legs waiting on a treat. Always up for a good show, The Don and I stopped and listened.

As he held onto one of the bars of the gate, This Fucking Guy looked down into the dark tunnel and said, "Most people think that Jesus was born in a manger inside of a barn...but that's not exactly true." I groaned and said, "Now he's This Fucking Theologist!" The Don brushed against me and said, "Shhh, let's listen to him. He's got em eating out of the palm of his hand." With the authority of a cardiologist discussing a heart transplant, he continued to explain that, "Jesus was actually born in a cave," and then he paused for effect and pointed down the tunnel and softly said, "Much like this." His circle of sycophants swayed like a Baptist choir and leaned forward in unison peeking down the tunnel hoping to get a glimpse of the Christ Child. Hell, I even looked. The Don whispered, "This Fucking Guy is good." Like a clove of garlic simmering in olive oil, I could smell his brain cooking up a scheme. One of the clueless coterie reverently asked, "How do you know these things, sir?" This Fucking Guy paused and then dropped his voice and octave and said, "I've led several trips to the Holy Land, and I don't like to tell a lot of people this, but my great great grandfather Moshe Rosenbloom was a world-famous rabbi." When I heard this I threw my hands up and said, "Oi Vay!!! Can you believe This Fucking Guy?" The Don said, "It looks like you might have to start calling him This Fucking Jew." Disgusted, I said, "Let's go. I have to drop these fish off to my tailor." As I said this I patted my pocket where the fish were and felt that they were gone. I yelled, "Hey!!! Where's my fish?" I looked down and saw them in The Don's hand and grabbed them back. He said, "While you were trying to find Jesus you got clipped. You gotta tighten up, you're getting slow." As we headed down the tunnel to the laundry the last thing we heard This Fucking Guy say to his brain-dead audience was, "When I need answers I often consult the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Hours later I was sitting in my green plastic lawn chair in front of my house reading LONELY NO MORE by Seymour Shubin and I decided to go down to The Don's cell. As I walked in he had "Jingle Bell Rock" by Frank Sinatra flowing through the speakers of his radio, and he had a broom handle that he'd broken into little pieces and he was dipping them one at a time into a cup full of soy sauce to give them a darker color. Then he would tape the dried piece of wood to a little pre-cut piece of white cardboard that he'd drawn a little cross on. I asked, "What the hell are you doing?" He replied, "I'll not have blasphemy in this house. I'm on a holy mission." I looked down at his production line and asked him, "What kind of racket you got going here, Don Corleone?" As he dipped another wood chip into the cup of soy sauce he said, "We're gonna sell these as authentic pieces of the manger that were imported from Bethlehem." I asked, "Why?" He blew on the newly-minted relic in his hand to dry it and then taped it to a square of cardboard and said, "I'm making a hundred pieces and we're gonna sell them for a dollar a piece. Then we're gonna take the money and put it on Alabama in the BCS Championship game." I knew there was a reason that The Don wanted to stop and listen to This Fucking Guy...besides so he could brush against me and pick my pocket. A thought occurred to me and I said, "Isn't Alabama playing Notre Dame?" He said, "Yeah. Why?" I replied, "So let me get this straight. You're going to sell fake pieces of the manger that Jesus was born in and use the profits to bet against the predominant, and I might add undefeated, Catholic college football team in the country? And you're Catholic?" He proudly replied, "You got it." I shook my head and said, "You're going to hell." He gathered up some of the finished pieces and shoved them into my hands and said, "Well at least I'll know somebody because you're gonna help me sell these. Now go find those five sheep that That Fucking Guy was talking to and shear them.

I may just be some dummy that society doesn't want hanging around their banks, and someone whose light at the end of his tunnel is most likely a train, but even I have limits. There was no way I was going to walk around a prison at Christmas time and sell fake pieces of the manger that Jesus was supposedly born in.

So I contracted the job out to Workie Workie. It took him an hour to sell out and he doesn't even speak a lick of English.

I passed him in the stairwell and he had packs of tuna fish scattered at his feet and he was was holding up a piece of The Blessed Broomstick in one hand and pointing to it with the other and he was saying, "Si, senor. Uno tuna for uno baby Jesus." What a sales pitch. Only in Prison. The championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame isn't until till January and I didn't tell The Don, but took my portion of the Manger Money and put it on Notre Dame. It's Christmas time so decided to go with Providence. I like to hedge my bets...both spiritually and financially.

I'll let you know what happens. Merry Christmas.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

23rd December 2012

It's 2 a.m. as I write this and I can't sleep. I miss my mom. She died on July 6, 2012 and I never got to tell her goodbye or hug her one last time. I received an email from my sister telling me to call her, and when I did she told me she was gone. Just like that.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is from when I was about five years old and she'd sing and dance with me holding my hands while she laughed. Neither one of us could sing or dance but we sure had fun not being able to sing or dance.
My mother was a good woman. She was married to my father for 50 years and as a housewife she devoted all of her time and all of herself to raising me and my sister. The title of "Housewife" and "Stay At Home Mom" is so under-rated. She was a nurse when she met my dad and she gave up her career to devote all of her time to her marriage and family. When she was 50 years old she went back to school and obtained a bachelor's degree. I used to think that she did it just to make me look like an underachieving loser.

My mother didn't speak to me for the last 12 years of her life because she couldn't deal with the fact that I became a criminal. She internalized my behavior as a failure of parenting on her part instead of realizing that the mental health and resulting substance abuse issues I had were the result of genetics, and not bad parenting. She just didn't know how to deal with the tragedy that my life had become. Like all of us, she was just doing the best she could with what she had when it came to coping with things. When I realized this, and realized that I didn't do too well at coping with things myself, it was easy for me to forgive her for shutting me out of her's and my dad's life.
It's hard to love someone who won't love you back. But I learned. For years, I wrote her once a month or so from various prison cells. Sometimes I'd have to put the curtain up over my bars for privacy while I wrote her because my eyes would leak water. In those letters I gave her the one thing that I'd denied her all those years...myself. My love.

So now it's 2 a.m. and I'm all alone in this cell missing and loving my mom. I just got done bumping into my locker and my bunk as I danced to Katy Perry. The feds may have my body in this Alcatraz-looking prison, but my spirit is thousands of miles from here soaring. Hoping. Dancing. Waiting until the day that I can hold my mom's hands again and dance with her and watch her laugh.
I love you mom. And I always will. It never stops.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

17th December 2012

10) The guy in the cell next to me blasts his "Christmas With Yanni" tape 24/7.
9) I tried to sneak out to Best Buy to go shopping and the guys in the gun tower took a shot at me.
8) A guard seized my cardboard Christmas tree as contraband.
7) Prison egg nog gives me the wind.
6) The Black Muslims won't exchange gifts with me.
5) My Christmas package had coal in it...again.
4) All the carolers sound like 50 Cent.
3) The Warden acts a lot like The Grinch.
2) All of the elves have shanks.
And the number one reason that I hate Christmas in prison is...
1) Santa's too scared to stop here.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

10th December 2012

It's Friday night and I'm just hanging around my house and doing nothing except reading and trying to stay to myself. I think that the more time I do the more anti-social I become because I find myself putting my curtain on the inside of my bars up and just staying in my cell hoping that no one comes to my house. Nine out of ten of the people who come by want something anyway. And ten out of ten that stop by are freaks. This place is definitely a freak show.

Like this morning. I was sitting on the bottom step at 6:15 am waiting for them to call breakfast so I could go run down a lead I had on some lasagna. I was listening to Takin' Pills by Pistol Annies and I was staring at this goofy looking black dude. He's tall and skinny and sinewy with a bald head and bulgy eyes that dart around like he's waiting for a grenade to go off. He's wearing gray shorts and tan work boots and a white wife beater. He looks just like one of those Somali pirates. As I listen to Miranda and stare at him I can picture him pulling up in a Jon boat and screaming something in Swahili while he's pumping his AK-47 above his head. He's staring at a flyer on the bulletin board for a parenting class that they're offering (Baby Daddy 101). He must've felt me staring at him because he turned and looked at me and he got a look like this :0. I kept staring because I could tell that it made him uncomfortable and this pleased me. You could tell that he was paranoid because he darted around the corner to get away from me. I kept staring at the last place on the wall that I saw his head disappear, and sure enough, in about two minutes he poked his head back around the corner to see if I was still staring at him. I was. He took off running. I didn't see him for the rest of the morning and I'm not sure where he went. Probably to wherever Somali pirates go to hide. A cove? Who knows. Who cares. If they would've had a picture of this guy behind the counter in any one of those banks that I visited with a caption beneath his photo that said, "If you rob this bank and are caught, you could be sentenced to go live in a prison with THIS dude," I probably would've turned around and went and got a job.

So much of this wasn't in the Thug Life video. Somali pirates definitely weren't.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

7th December 2012

This is Jeff's MSP editor cutting in for a brief post.
Before BANK ROBBER'S BLOG, we're going to be releasing the chapbook ONE CRAZY DAY in February 2013. It'll be around 50 pages and the story won't be available anywhere else.
Back to Jeff, folks.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog

4th December 2012

I'm sitting at a picnic table out on the yard that's made of steel mesh and is painted bright yellow. I'm wearing Hunter Green pants and tan work boots, a Hunter Green jacket that has my name and number printed on a laundry tag on the left chest, and I have on a gray knit cap that's sticking straight up off my head and the cords from my black ear buds are running out from underneath it. I'm wearing black sunglasses. The table I'm sitting at is under a gun tower on a piece of dirt where dozens of people have undoubtedly been killed over the years and where Al Capone very likely sat when he did time here back in the 1930s. And I'm listening to Justin Bieber on my MP3. Does it get any gayer than hanging out on the yard of the federal pen blowing up The Bieb? I sure hope not.

On the table in front of me is a 9x6 Manila envelope filled with Christmas cards that I'm getting ready to fill out for Don Corleone. He wanted to get them done early this year and we decided to do them outside in the crisp fall air. I look up and see The Don ambling his way under the pavilion over the weight pile shaking hands and slapping backs like he's running for Mayor. The Don is about 5'10 with Olive skin and has gray hair combed straight back. He wears glasses set in black frames that have the traditional gangsteresque dark tint. As he finally makes it to the table I raise my sunglasses up on my forehead and shut off my MP3 and say, "Did I ever tell you that those glasses make you look like a thug?"

He says, "What am I supposed to look like, a shoe salesman?" then adds, "Did you bring the cards and the list?"
I reply, "Yeah, I got it all right here" and I pull out the list and the cards and reach inside my shirt pocket and come out with a Blue Bic pen.
"Okay, this is how we're gonna do it" The Don says, "I'll tell you what to write and then you write it down and then I'll sign it. You're the fucking scribe. Now who's first?"
I look down at the list and say, "Ritchie Eyebrows."
"Ritchie!!" The Don says happily, and then immediately shifts gears and says, "Merry Christmas you fucking scumbag! I'm still waiting for my piece for that thing out in Brooklyn. I'm not dead, I'm in the can. You better remember who your friends are, Ritchie." Then he asks, "Did you get all that?"
I say, "Yeah, I got all that."
The Don asks, "Who's next?"
"Joey Lump Lump."
"Joey!!!" The Don yells, then says, "Merry Christmas you cocksucker!!! What ever happened to my end for that thing out in Yonkers? Tony and I shoulda never let you outta the fucking trunk. Make this thing right or Santa won't be the only one who comes down your chimney."
I look up and say, "You can't say that."
The Don says, "I'm not. YOU are. Now put it down on the fucking card."
I shrug and say, "What's one more indictment" and write it down. I pull out another card and The Don asks, "Who's next?"
I reply, "Tony The Hat."
"Tony!!!" he yells like he's right there in front of us. Then he says, "Merry Christmas, my friend. I hope all is well with you, your wife and those two beautiful little girls of your's. I need you to do me a favor. Go find Joey and put him back in the trunk until I get home."
I groan and set the pen down and start rubbing my eyes and say, "That sounds a lot like 'Count 2" of my new indictment."
The Don says, "You weren't scared robbing all those banks. Just write it down."
I do. Then I say, "Okay. Rose Benignetti's next." Rose Benignetti From The Bronx is the love of The Don's life and he speaks of her with the reverence of The Virgin Mary. Whenever her name is even mentioned he starts cooing like a pigeon. Today is no exception.
He runs his hand through his hair and in Italian says, "Caro mio Rosa."
I look up and ask, "Does my name look like Rosetta Stone? Speak English."
Staring into the sky with his hand on his chin he croons, "My dear, Rose. Every day when the sun rises and brings its beauty to the world...is one more day that I long for you."
I say, "Stop it. I'm getting an erection."
"Fuck you. Now you've ruined my train of thought," then he asks, "What should I put next?"
"Uh...how about Merry Christmas?"
The Don thinks about it for a minute and then says, "Yeah, fuck it, Merry Christmas is good."
I finish Rose's card and say, "Okay, one left. It's Babalou." Babalou is The Don's 400 lb bookie. He laughs and excitedly says, "Babalou!!!" like it's the first time he's his name in years, and then he says, "Merry Christmas you fat fuck!!! I like Alabama all the way this year, points or no points."

The Don signs the cards and I put them and the list back into the envelope. He goes into his pocket and pulls out a deck of cards in the package and holds them up and says, "Since we got a table, you wanna play some Gin for a nickel a point?"
I say, "Let me check the seal on that deck, Don Corleone. Call me crazy, but I don't trust people who wear dark glasses and hang out with guys named Tony The Hat."
The Don puts his arms up to his sides, palms up, and says, "What? You don't trust me? I'm a nice guy."
"Yeah, when you're not stuffing people into the trunks of cars. Now let me see that deck." As I reach for it he shoves it back into his right pocket and comes out with a different deck out of his left pocket and tosses it onto the table. As he grins he says, "Here, let's use this deck instead."

Yeah, my buddy is definitely no shoe salesman. I check the seal and then break it by sliding by thumbnail across it. Then I slide my shades back down on my face and click on my MP3 and catch "Please Don't Go Girl" by New Kids On The Block. It quite possibly just got gayer than The Bieb. As the gun tower looks down on us, I shuffle the cards and deal to The Don.

It's just another holiday season in the can.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog