The following is the third portion of the story Minimum Security, a tale concerning loneliness, insomnia, incarceration, Burmese Pythons, and Dadeland Mall. Previous episodes are here.
Hierarchy / Pájaro Libre / Julian(n)a
Even after four months at Dadeland I still wasn’t sure where I fit into the prison hierarchy. At a maximum-security prison the social pyramid would have been clearly delineated: the bank robbers and drug kingpins were on top and the rapists and child molesters were fending off shank attacks at the bottom, but we didn’t have any drug lords or pedophiles, no sex offenders of any kind, and the closest thing we had to a bank robber was Cedar Rapids Brinkley, who blew out the engine of his mom’s Oldsmobile Cutlass dragging an ATM down Kendall Drive.
At Johnny Rockets my position in the doo-wop singing hierarchy was better established. I was the bass, by virtue of my being the only one on staff who could hit the low E flat on “Blue Moon.” The eldest of the hedge fund-embezzling tenors sang lead, but you could tell the younger hedge fund-embezzling tenor wasn’t happy about it. His harmonies were always spiteful. The codeine-trafficking baritone, on the other hand, was a consummate professional. He had sung backup vocals in an all-Cuban Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band before the Feds caught wind of his improprieties with cough syrup. His band was called Pájaro Libre. They were planning on doing a reunion show when the baritone got out of prison and their original Ronnie Van Zant look-alike recovered from injuries suffered in a mango tree-climbing accident. Possible venues included a quinceañera, a corporate awards dinner, and a middle school dance.
For incarcerated felons, the embezzlers, the codeine-trafficker, and I were pretty decent doo-woppers. We sang all the standards: “Sh-Boom,” “Book of Love,” “Earth Angel,” “Duke of Earl.” But we also did originals—the younger embezzler, when not managing or mismanaging hedge funds, had been a quite prolific composer. All of his songs were about girls who had spurned his advances in high school, in alphabetical order. He was currently writing “Juliana.” “Julianna” was next.