Sunday, November 17, 2013

Let's take a break...

...from high school football. Here are the next two excerpts from My Road Home.

Thursday July 19th

No writing today, simply not up to it... too depressed.

Friday July 20th

A month ago today, I was sentenced! While I never want to relive that day, and yes, there have been some horrible moments in between, the time has gone quickly. Already a month down. I sit here in my cell anxiously awaiting my next and final destination, a bus ride somewhere up north, where exactly I have no idea. The question is; how much longer will I remain in this hellhole. From what I hear the veteran prisoners say, once you get to your permanent housing facility (sounds so much nicer than prison, doesn't it) life becomes a whole lot smoother, easier to handle. They say the guards are more laid back, there is all sorts of Rec available, free time to go running, walking, weight lifting, basketball, the library, etc, etc. I doubt it's as rosy as all that, but anything would be an improvement over this place.

The CO's here take absolutely no shit, none at all. I thought the guards at Rikers were brutal, well compared to these guys, they are like choirboys. You could be on deaths door here and it would not mean shit to these dudes. In fact if you die, the only thing they'd be upset about would be the paperwork that needed to be filled out.

Inmates get shuffled around constantly. In the brief time I've been, two new faces have come & gone in the cell next to mine. As I peer through the tiny slot of my cells heavy steel door, I witness my new neighbor checking in. Sounds kind of like a hotel, doesn't it. Immediately I can tell this guy is no stranger to prisons; not a shred of panic on his face, a swagger that exudes "gangsta." Also referred to as the pimp role. You would have thought the cat was walking into a restaurant or nightclub the way he carried himself. What really is the dead give away is that all the other inmates surrounding his cell seemed to know him, from the "hood" or some place like that. It was like a homecoming. I heard shouts of, "Yo, Big Dog, what up my man." Or "Big Dog be in the house!" Looking at him I'd say he was about 6'8", 300 pounds easily. Someone yells out, "Big Dog, what they get you for?" He screams back, "I didn't do shit, these crackers accuse me of murder and kidnapping." Lovely I thought, here's my new neighbor for the foreseeable future. When you are called out for meals you have to line up single file, one cell mate next to another. So this means Big Dog will be in back of me as we proceed to the mess hall, and will be seated right next to me during all our meals. He's looking at life imprisonment, do you think he'll insist on taking my food? Do you think it will matter if I tell him no? Do you think he'll simply ring my neck one day?

Compared to Rikers, the food here is a major step up. I can actually eat it, and there have been a few times, not that I would be allowed to, that I have actually wanted seconds. The portions are tiny and you have ten minutes to eat. Upon leaving the mess hall you deposit your plastic "spork" (combo fork & spoon) into the trash, place your tray on the conveyor belt, and get back in line. The guards are of course watching your every move. No food is allowed out of the mess hall with the exception of the 4 slices of white bread you receive. I always take my bread, mostly so I can feed the geese that gather outside my window. I can entertain myself for a few hours doing this. I have to be careful however, if caught a trip to the box would most likely be the result.

I made my first visit to the library today. Calling it a library is certainly a bit of a stretch, but it did have books, and that was good enough for me. It had about 200 old and tattered paperbacks, the newest one probably at least 5 years old. The most up to date newspaper was from over two weeks ago. In searching I managed to find a book by one of my favorite authors, William Goldman, called "The Color of Light." Normally I would tear through this in a day, but not this time, I needed to treasure it, for who knows when I'll be able to get back in the library. I'd scoop up ten books if I could, but you're only allowed one at a time.

I find manners here to be nonexistent. Something as simple and common as a "thank you" or "please" would be seen as a sign of weakness. Since I'm in the habit of saying these words I have to learn to refrain from using them. Already, the first sign of my being forced to alter my demeanor so as I can 'fit in.'

There is a father & son here. Yes, can you imagine the heartache of being in prison with your son? Apparently the entire family was busted on some extortion charges. The son, who is a few cells away from me doesn't appear to be all that bothered with his circumstances, he's actually been quite boastful. I have to keep reminding myself that I am in another world at the moment; one that is so incredibly foreign. But one I must adapt to.

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