THE CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS don’t like the inmates to loiter in the cafeteria. The sooner they can lockup, the sooner they can get back to smoking cigarettes, and surfing porn sites.

We get roughly 15 minutes to eat before officers start stomping between the rows of formica tables snapping, “Wrap it up! Eat and get out!” Then they’ll point to inmates halfway through their spaghetti or taco and bark, “You! You’re done, get out!” 

IT WAS “HAMBURGER DAY,” sometime in early 2014 and the cafeteria was packed. Every federal prison in the country serves hamburgers and French fries on Wednesdays—it may be prison, but it’s still America.

My regular table was taken, so I ended up sitting with a group of serious looking guys. The type of inmates I don’t typically hangout with. The type of inmates that dump their “problems” off in the Everglades or in a deep hole. The type of inmates that other inmates refer to as “convicts,” out of respect or fear.

One of the convicts occupying the table—the only guy without tattoos—was Michael M. Hudson. A sixty-two-year-old cocaine cowboy out of Miami with Clint Eastwood eyes and a gunny sergeant flattop. I’d seen Hudson around, but I’d never talked to him. He looked too pissed off. Too aggressive. Too dangerous. Nothing about him said “approachable.”

A CO (Correctional Officer) started yelling for everyone to finish up and two of the guys got up, but Hudson kept eating. Slowly shoveling fries between his weathered lips. I sped up the pace and Hudson growled, “Fuck that screw, take your time.”

I was more worried about looking like a coward in front of Hudson than the officer screaming at me, so I slowed down. Within two minutes the place was half empty and another CO began yelling for everyone to hurry up. He turned to Hudson and me and barked, “You two, wrap it up!”

Hudson glared sideways at him and growled, “You’re talkin’ to the wrong dope smugglin’ contract killer if you think you’re chasing me outta here before I’m done eatin’!”

The officer froze, they stared at one another for a second, and the CO said, “Alright Mike, take your time.”     

I would never talk to an officer like that. Never! Right then I thought, I gotta start hanging out with this guy.

Over the next year, I began periodically sitting with Hudson; and I picked up on bits and pieces of his story. His mother’s massive smuggling operation, Hudson’s stint with the Dirty Dozen outlaw biker club, and his brother’s multiple prison escapes. The drugs. The money and the murders.

Eventually, I approached him regarding writing his story. It was far more interesting than I’d originally thought.