For the last nine years I have been keeping in contact with two of my best friends who are currently serving time in the California State Prison. Carlos, who calls me his big brother even though we are not related, is going on his ninth year on a thirty-eight year sentence. I met Carlos when I was five and he was four, our brothers belonged to the gang that he and I would eventually join.
Alfred was kind of like my coach in living the cholo lifestyle. He taught me how to measure drugs how to clean guns and how to make money. Most importantly Alfred always wanted me to go to school and would hand me books to read. I learned so many bad things from him, but he also taught me that there was more to life than this. Alfred is currently serving a life sentence in the most violent prison in California, Pelican Bay where he is serving a six year term in solitary confinement.
The last nine years has been hard for me without my closest friends, they are my family. They tell me I am their eyes and ears of the free world. There are times when I think to myself that I don’t belong out here, that I belong in prison right next to them, as stupid as that sounds it’s a real feeling. They encourage me to continue to do well and not to have negative thoughts like that. I have worked so hard to have what I have now and I wouldn’t jeopardize that for anyone. I made a commitment to them to continue to be their eyes and ears out here and I am a man of my word. So I have Carlos, aka Big Pelon, and Alfred, aka Big Champ, tattooed on my right shoulder so they could experience life as I am experiencing it, then I write them about it!
Since being an inactive gang member I have concentrated more on my career as an author and an auditor in the energy lighting industry, but most importantly, as a mentor to troubled youth.
by Rolando Ortiz