Chapter – Waiting . . . Too Long

 

Last Note 2 sm

(Sonni’s note: This is another random chapter in the book I’m writing that is based on Jamie Cumming’s life. Some scenes have been enhanced.  This did happen, but exact conversations and actions are fictionalized for the sake of the story. Chapters are still being rewritten and music recorded. Publishing date not established yet)

WAITING . . . TOO LONG

Twelve years was a long time. It was hard for him to believe he had been here for so many years. A huge chunk of his life was flushed down the toilet. What a waste. He had been waiting . . . too long. Waiting for it to be over. Waiting to see his son. Waiting for someone to look him in the eye and realize he shouldn’t be here. It was a mistake. He wasn’t a danger to society. All he was doing was waiting, locked up in a cell by himself with no one to talk to.
     Jamie had been bused around to quite a few prisons during the years. Some prisons make you work the field tending acres of vegetables. Some rayuise pigs and other farm animals. They want to utilize the free labor as much as they can. If he went back to the beginning and counted how many prisons he’d been in, this was the eighth one. He had been in Allred Unit for three years now bafter being shuffled all over the state.
     The first prison he was sent to was in West Texas, a two day drive across the hottest, driest part of the state. Then he was sent to Southgb Texas near Brownsville. He was also in a unit in Huntsville in the middle of the state, and two more north of Houston. Now he was in northern part of the state, near Wichita Falls. There were a couple more prisons scattered somewhere in between.
     The last six years he was close enough to his family for them to visit, just an hour or two away, but only his mom came to see him a couple times. Some dudes in here had no family. Maybe it was better that way. They wouldn’t be disappointed because no one showed up.
     He was trying to let it go. It was hard. He couldn’t change it. He would get depressed thinking about it. His mom wouldn’t help him. She would tell him she would, but she never did. No one in his family cared enough to do a damn thing. It was hard to wrap his head around it, realizing this was the family he grew up with. After all this time. . .
     “Oh, stop it, Jamie,” he said outloud, talking to himself.
     “If they don’t want to see you, they don’t want to see you. You can’t do anything about it,”
     “Be patient,” he said to himself as he opened his locker and went through his books to see if there was something he could distract him.
     “This won’t last forever.” He found a book he had only read twice and settled on his bed to read the rest of the day away. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine a life outside these walls.
     Whenever he tried to put these issues out of his head they crept back up his neck and snuck into his brain when he wasn’t paying attention.
     He read for a couple hours and fell asleep with the book open on his chest. Even when he sleept he couldn’t get away from his thoughts. He woke thinking about Morgan. The thought of her being in his life sometime in the future was long past. But she will always be his son’s mother and he would always love her for that. They were so naive back then. Things don’t work out if you don’t plan for the right things to happen. Relying on luck wasn’t a good plan. Getting pregnant so fast before they knew each other probably wasn’t a good idea. He needed to know he could take care of a family and that meant going to school first so he could get a good job.
     Morgan went on with her life. That was okay. He wanted her to be happy. It made him sad but he couldn’t blame her for that. She ended up angry at him, though, because he wasn’t there to help her. A lot changed in twelve years.

<<<>>>

Jamie had countless hours to think every day. That was almost the only thing he did except sleep, or read. He loved it when Sonni sent new books. Sometimes he got ahold of a newspaper and found out what was happening in the free world. There was a lot of ‘not so good’ stuff going on out there that was affecting a lot of people.
     He heard about other prisons from some of the other dudes down the hall who had been bounced around like he was. They were all bad – corrupt. He knew deep down there was a bigger reason why a lot of them were locked up with long sentences. Destroying the lives of people like him also destroyed their families. That’s what the government wanted to do. He only had to look around to understand that. There was much he had learned since he came here. He wasn’t a young immature boy anymore.
     He wanted to forget what had happened. He preferred to close his eyes and think about a happier time. Maybe he couldn’t change where he was but these people didn’t have control over what he thought about. It saved his sanity more than once.

<<<>>>

A special memory was the first time he saw Morgan. It was a place he often went in his head to get out of here. Back then, in 2005, he had just gotten out of juvenile detention after four years. He had no idea what he was going to do with his life. He guessed his family was glad he was out but after a couple days the novelty of him being home had worn off. Everyone was busy with their own life and their own problems. They didn’t have time to help him with his.
     Since he had been gone for the rest of his teens years and then some, he had no experience living on his own and taking care of himself. He was twenty-one and that legally made him an adult so he should be able to figure it out. He was fixin’ to get a job somewhere, somehow, but he didn’t know what he could do.
     He didn’t have a clue how to get his life together so he started hanging out at an apartment complex known as “Little New York.” It catered to people who didn’t have their shit together. It was so scattered they couldn’t find it if they went looking for it. Low level drug dealers, users and prostitutes – people trying to survive in a day to day struggle, most of them losing. Still, it was someplace to go hang out. His shit wasn’t together, either.
     It was at that apartment complex where he saw Morgan for the first time. He thought that was his turning point and life was finally going to be good. After they got together he felt like he had a purpose. He had a family to take care of. He couldn’t believe how badly he screwed that up. Maybe that was why his family didn’t answer his letters. Maybe they thought he was a loser and didn’t want to bother with him. He wasn’t a loser, though. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that was all.
     The time he spent with Morgan was the only time in his life where it felt like he had possibilities for the future. He used to think maybe he’d be lucky when he finished these years in prison and he and Morgan could get back together. He didn’t want to give up. He needed to believe it wasn’t over or he wouldn’t be able to survive this place.           Thinking about her was the only thing that kept him going. Maybe if there were no more cases filed against him he would be able to get out early. He stopped thinking that a long time ago. They weren’t the same people anymore.
     When Jamie closed his eyes he could picture her in his head. He was attracted to her the instant he saw her. She was at the other side of the parking lot that day. He had never seen her before.
     The day was hot and humid. Texas summers re brutal. Leaning against a car, she was in a heated argument with some dude. He looked familiar but he didn’t think they had met. He said something that pissed her off. She looked mad enough to hit him. He could tell she wanted to, but she didn’t. She bowed up to him, though, like she was daring him to hit her. He watched them go back and forth for about five minutes wondering if he should walk over there. Maybe it would stop the argument. He could walk casually by the car like he wasn’t paying any attention to them.
     Jamie wondered where she came from. She didn’t grow up here. He didn’t remember seeing her around town. Did she live here? He started walking toward the car. He was determined to find out who she was before she she had a chance to take off.
     As he walked across the parking lot the man stomped off with his hands shoved in his pockets. He had an angry scowl on his face. Jamie wondered what was up between them because they sure didn’t look like a happy couple. As he closed the distance, she opened the car door and plopped down on the seat.
     “Goddamn asshole,” she said, loud enough for Jamie to hear. Both legs were out the door, one foot on the ground. She lifted her right leg and dangled it over the other knee. She turned and reached over to the radio with her right hand and turned on the music. Country. Her foot started moving with the beat.
     “Hi, you okay?” Jamie said as he walked up to the car door.
He couldn’t think of anything clever to say. Startled, she looked up at him, ready to cut him off from butting into her business. A couple seconds later the pissed off look on her face turned into a smile.
This might be interesting, Jamie thought. That was okay. He didn’t want to look like he wanted anything from her.
     “My boyfriend, or rather, my ex-boyfriend,” she emphasized, “as of right this minute needs to find a way out of town.
     “I’m Jamie,” he offered. “You live here?
     “My name’s Morgan,” she answered back.
     “You live here?” she asked.
     “At these apartments?” He shook his head no.            “Na. I come over here most times to hang with my friends. You?”
     She glanced around in the direction her boyfriend went. It looked like she was waiting for this dude to come back to the car any minute. He didn’t want to lose his chance to find out how he could see her again.
     “We rented an apartment here not long ago but it’s not working out.” She volunteered on her own, letting him know she would soon be available.
     She continued, “Getting a job hasn’t been on his list of things to do and I’m not going to support his ass.” Morgan added under her breath,”I didn’t want him here in the first place.”
     Jamie caught that and smiled a little.
     “Where didja come from?” He wanted to keep her talking. He found out later she used to live in California and met there. She broke up with him and moved to Texas to be near family and he followed her. He just showed up uninvited. She wasn’t happy about it but he had no place to go and had no money. What was she supposed to do? She had enough of his mooching off her, she had to kids to take care of.
     Before she could answer she glanced to the right and saw her boyfriend – ex-boyfriend – walking back to the car. Jamie decided that was his cue to leave. He didn’t want to blow it. He would see her again. He was sure of that.
     “I’ll see ya around.” He turned and started walking back to his friends. Halfway there he glanced over his shoulder to see if she was watching. She was. That put a smile on his face. She sure was pretty.
     It didn’t take long before her boyfriend was out of the picture. He claimed he couldn’t leave town because he didn’t he didn’t have no money, so Morgan bought him a bus ticket just to get rid of him. She went to the bus station to make sure he got on it, and waited until the bus left so she knew he didn’t sneak off. The next bus stop was too far away to walk back.
     Morgan and Jamie were good together. For the first time since he got out of juvy he was happy. His future had possibilities. Morgan had a boy and a girl. It made him feel like they were a family.
They weren’t always careful about having protected sex so it didn’t take long before Morgan was late with her period. She didn’t take a test but she was pretty certain after a few days. She was regular. But now she had a problem. Her mom was coming to visit.
     “How do we tell your mom?” Jamie wanted to know. “Will she be angry?”
     “She’ll kill me,” she told Jamie. “I can’t tell her right now.”
     “Because I’m black?” Jamie asked.
     “No, because I wasn’t careful.” Morgan said.              “She’ll say it’s hard enough raising two kids. What was I thinking? Besides, she doesn’t know about you yet. It would be kinda hard to lay all that on her at once.”
     After a five second pause,”I think she should meet you first.” Morgan added. “We’ll tell her later, after she goes home.”
     Her mom stayed for a week and he had a chance to meet with her twice. Her name was Sonni. She came with her husband from Key West. She helped Morgan rent an apartment because by then she was living at her grandmother’s house. After she left she didn’t know Jamie moved in, too.
     They never got around to telling her about the baby before Jamie got arrested. Morgan didn’t call her mom then, either. She had to figure things out. Could she get through the pregnancy on her own? She wanted to stay near Jamie so she could visit him at the jail. He was still waiting to be charged. There was no telling how long that would take. It could be months.
     Morgan had no car now and no way to get another one. Jamie had been driving it when he was arrested and it was impounded. The fines piled up fast before she could get the money together to pay it. How was she going to get to her doctor appointments, or anywhere else? 
     Her father’s family lived in town. They wouldn’t give her the help she needed. Between the kids and the pregnancy she needed more than they’d be willing to give.
     Now Morgan had no choice, she had to call her mom. She wasn’t just hoping her mom would be okay knowing she was pregnant again, she was hoping she would let her come to Key West and live with her and help her through the pregnancy.
She briefly thought about asking Jamie’s mom to help her but they didn’t know each other very well. She needed someone who could take her to her doctor appointments and help with her other two children. The longer she waited the harder it became.
     Finally, when she was almost five months along she called her mom and told her.
     “Mom, Jamie was arrested and I’m pregnant,” she said in a rush to get it out at once. There was dead silence on the other end of the call. Morgan told her the story about what happened. She didn’t come down on her. What was done was done. Her mom had always been there for her. All she said was, “Do you want to come here?”
     Bus tickets were purchased for her and the kids. Her grandmother helped her pack enough food for a two day bus trip. A very tired and worn out trio got off the bus at the greyhound terminal. Fifteen minutes later she was in the small, separate, two story dollhouse apartment attached to the back of her mother’s house, and the prologue of the story begins.

<<<>>>

Jamie opened his eyes. That part of his life seemed so long ago. Now the baby is twelve years old and he knew so little about him. What started out so happy came crashing down in a few short months. Was that the way his life was going to go, never working out? That caused him such pain.
     Morgan had been a good mom. He knew his son was well cared for. He hoped he would waiting for him to get out. His son was his reason for living – for making it through this.
     Back then Morgan talked about going back to school at Angelina Jr. College in Lufkin. She already had the certification to be a CNA – a certified nursing assistant. He could get his GED and go to college, too. It sounded so perfect.
     He thought they had a good relationship. At least for the few months they knew each other. What they didn’t have was time to get to know each other and have a strong enough bond to last. They did have a son that would tie them together no matter what.
     He didn’t think he would make it this far. Sometimes he wanted to give up. Sonni told him not to. She kept telling him he had value. He wasn’t sure about that, but it made a difference knowing someone cared.
     Jamie had wrestled with depression since he was a kid. It was hard having epilepsy and being different from the other kids. In prison, if you weren’t depressed when you got here you’d be depressed soon after. He was finally over halfway through his sentence. Only someone who had been inside could understand what that was like.
     Everyone was so aware of time in here. Everything was about time. Life was on a schedule that never changed. Everyone’s day evolved around how much time you had until you got out – or how much time you had to live because you were never getting out. Parole could still be possible. He needed to keep that dream alive in his head.
     Jamie had been keeping it alive since he walked in the door. He never got tired of playing these scenes in his head, over and over. He replayed every conversation he could remember, every nuance. He never got tired of reliving the first day he met Morgan. Things might not be good between them now but it want always like that.
     When he was waiting at the jail after he was sentenced he didn’t know what to expect. How long would they keep him? Was prison like jail? He had such anger and frustration. It often got him into trouble. He was tired of always having to pay the price for things he didn’t do. How long would they keep him in this limbo? He didn’t know what to do. His memories were all he had left.

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There Are Two Sides to Every Story

white guy newsTHE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

From the time we were born, the way we thought and the views we eventually held were drilled into us by family and friends in our community. We learned our truths by listening to the adults who cared for us. Their views about all aspects of life became our view8 until we were mature enough to form our own ideas.

Some people have a strong need to belong with a need for approval that can be stronger than the desire to think independently. Our personal ideas are pushed aside. Conforming to the people around you, reinforced by the news we read or the media we continually watched until it eventually gets imprinted on our brain as THE truth. The ONLY truth. It becomes safer to agree with those we are bonded to than to independently say, “But I read . . . and it makes sense that . . .”, because no one would have listened or thought our idea to be credible.

Is one truth right and the other wrong? Not necessarily, because many views about life are hypothetical, where realit only lives inside our mind. Our views are what we hope to be true. It gives us comfort. For example, is there such a place as heaven? How do you know one way or the other? You read about it in a book called the Bible, written by man? You have been told it is God’s word? Who says so? Man says it is God’s word. You believe it because you want to believe it, although there is no proof. You can believe it is true but that does not make it true. Other people who do not believe in God defend their right to believe something different. The have the right to their belief. If it goes against what some people think, it brings hostility, name calling, negative criticism and possibly the loss of family. Nothing is accomplished. No one has changed their mind.

Convincing someone to listen when they don’t want to hear your opinion can cause permanent rifts in your relationship. Inability to listen can keep you from developing your personality and stop you from openly exploring new ideas. What you think is only important to you and people who agree with you. It does not make you right nor give you right to impose what you believe on others.

What is right for one person might not be right for another. Problems emerge when parents or leaders of a community or country try to force people to accept only one truth and punish those who don’t adhere to that truth. Taking away someone’s individuality, or the freedom to decide what is right for them causes resentment and sometimes violence.

Raised with this attitude we often don’t learn there are two sides to every story. When we become convinced there is only one truth we don’t even want to learn there could be another possibility, because we think it couldn’t be true, so why hear it? If we begin to question what we believe to be true, we might have to ask questions from the people around us. It’s easier to go with the flow than rock the boat. There is often little respect or tolerance for people who don’t think the way we do, no matter whose “side” you are on.

This holds true for any idea that can be highly charged at the opposite ends of belief. When you think you are right; in fact, you know you are right, it leaves little room in your mind for discussion. You lose friends and alienate family members. How could they not believe everything you told them? How could you possibly sit at the same table and have a meal together if you both don’t believe the same thing?

Religion, politics, racial superiority or any controversial subject; no matter what we believe to be true, if confronted, we dig our heels in to uphold our truths, even at the risk of impacting our lives by losing people we love. But it’s their own fault, right? They could have listened to us and learned, we think, as we tell them how wrong they are.

If the media we watched or read only reinforced one side of the story over and over, not putting forth a balanced view, it becomes the only truth in our mind, whether it is true or not. Nothing else is worth hearing because we assume it is all lies. But if we don’t compare all sides of a story how can we discern the truth? Yet the person giving the other side is mocked and called names. Did they deserved that?

The people who originally left England, who later came by boat from Holland, left because of religious persecution. If you did not believe the truth of the Church of England you would be persecuted and likely killed. People believed out of fear and because they were avowed nothing else – until Martin Luther. People wanted the freedom to believe and practice what they chose to think of as truth, not be told what to believe or be burned at the stake as a heritic.

The Church of England used religion as a means of controlling the masses. It is disheartening to see America also use religion as a means of control, even to the point of some politicians wanting to instill biblical law over constitutional law. Do they actually know what they are proposing? Doubtful, but it sounds good to those who believe they follow God’s law. Imposing that on people who are not Christians is just as bad as what the politicians in England did trying to force everyone to follow the Church of England. It was horrible to hear a Republican Congressman say, during the Christmas season 2017, that he would gladly execute a homosexual.

Mistakes from the past have not been learned. Trying to force Christianity on the people by wanting to teach biblical ideas in schools regardless if the children come from homes who are Christian, is wrong. All other religions are not taught, yet all children are taught Christian ideas that is only right for Christians? Forcing it onto children for their own good? The push for Christianity through the government means it is not a government “For the People”. Only a segment of society is Christian and only a percentage of them do more than just say they believe in God but practice nothing. Most Christians couldn’t name the ten commandments. Religion is used by governments for control

People are taught and now think all Muslims are terrorists and many citizens have been harassed. Christians have terrorized and killed many but no one has implied all Christians are terrorists. When the media tells only one side of the story people think it is the whole truth. They buy the propaganda. People get hurt. Hate crimes increase – even by those who profess to be Christian.

There have always been Democrats and Republicans. People have always disagreed and believed only the party they were registered with. Taking an honest look at the other side instead of instantly believing only9 politicians of their party means they are not being loyal. Their own media presents only their side of the truth, which is usually not the while truth.

People won’t listen to anything except what sings to their own choir. Families are split. Friendships have been lost because emotionally, people are too angry over each other’s ignorance at not understanding the issues. Never in the history of America has there been as much violent disunity as in this Age of Trump.
                                                           <<< >>>
People are taught and have been taught for hundreds of years that black people are inferior. “White People” deserve more, based only on skin color. White people are smarter. They deserve a better education, the best jobs and they place higher on the social ladder, as if they are special people.

“Black People” they are taught, are prone to violence, commit more crimes, do more drugs and sell more drugs. All of this has been proven false white people are equally at fault for ask crimes, yet more black people are sentenced when they are innocent. Black people are scorned by many. Why? What are white people so afraid of? Many white people refuse to believe that and think black people are only in prison because they are guilty and only the guilty get sentenced – right? They refuse to believe racism against people of color exists or that black people are unfairly targeted.

Collectively, in families, neighborhoods and churches, people are taught to believe the same thing. Religion and politics are mashed together. Some preachers endorse politicians when they should be impartial What your preacher says is swallowed, hook, line and sinker. Anyone who doesn’t toe the line is ostracized.

Parents pass this way of thinking down to their children and instill it in them. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that white youth growing up today would embrace hurting black people for no other reason than the color of their skin. Young People join the KKK yet probably don’t understand it’s origins. Shame on the parents who teach this to their children. This way of thinking doesn’t make them superior, it makes them ignorant.

What is true is that white people have had the power and money to suppress anyone they wanted to, much the same way the rich feel they have the right to suppress anyone who doesn’t have the amont of money they have. Money is more important than humanity.

This power created an unequal social structure, which created an uneven educational system, which led to a prejudiced hiring market, which led to blacks having less money to purchase homes, and intentionally kept out of desirable housing markets that didn’t want black people living side by side with the so-called superior whites.

Police raided black communities and charged many with crimes they didn’t commit; suppressed evidence and filled the prisons, which made stock holders of prison corporations very rich. Making mone&y off the backs of black people had always been acceptable. Who was going too stop it? Elect more black politicians? It’s happening.?

Warping people’s minds into believing only one side of the truth is the whole truth has affected the pro choice/ no abortions allowed sensibility a well. It will never be solved or agreed upon. Forcing people to adhere to one side has never worked. Each side is absolutely right in their thinking. To sway an entire community means alternative reasons are never discussed. The entire country will never be swayed or made to obey. People will always find ways to have an abortion of needed, even if it kills them.

Politics and religion fights on their own side of the isle when it comes to LGBGT issues like there is only one right answer and everyone else is wrong. The emotion is high, so angry, that people are driven to commit hate crimes.

The truth is out there, but if you already believe you know the truth and believe certain people don’t deserve humanity or consideration, then society will continue on the path it is going – its own destruction. It will become too late to]0 change.

We all need to take a step back and realize we don’t have all the right answers. We need to question WHY we believe as we do? Who taught us what we believe to be right or wrong? Did we ever question it? Did we try to find the other side of the story?

 

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Chapter – Looking Into The Crystal Ball

Last Note 2 sm

(Sonni’s note:  It has been awhile since I posted any chapter edits so I thought for Christmas I would post one. This is fictionalized from the facts as I know them. The thoughts and descriptions are my own. Below is the music I posted earlier to go on the next album with this chapter. Subscribe to ITFO News to keep up with what is happening. Merry Christmas!)

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

Thoughts were racing through Jamie’s head. His court date was today and he didn’t have a clue what was going on. Didn’t he need an attorney? He couldn’t represent himself. What could they do to him? He had no idea but he had a feeling this was going to be a bad day. 
     A black man like him, born and raised in Texas would get as many years as they could give him. Racism is alive and well and Texas ranked with some of the worst. He had nothing to do but talk to other men waiting for their court date, too. Some had been waiting for years. He knew he was probably going to get locked up no matter what he said but he wanted a chance to tell the court his side of the story.
    Looking around the room at dozens of three tier bunks lined up across the floor it was easy to see there was more black skin than white. Maybe white men didn’t commit as many crimes in Harris county? That was a laugh.
     Jamie needed someone to talk to who would listen and help. He did not go out that night with his friends so he could rob a club. He went out to party and have a good time. He wasn’t the one who had a gun in his back pack. He didn’t even know this friend had a gun until he talked about it in the car. He thought it was a joke. He didn’t think the dude was serious. If only he had done something to stop him.
     Morgan wrote a while back and said she tried to get him a lawyer but it didn’t come through. She sent money to his brother who had a friend. He knew an attorney who would take a deposit and pay off what was owed. 
     It sounded kinda hokey to him. She they trust him or do nothing? They should have done nothing because the friend and the money disappeared. Morgan lost money she needed for herself and the kids. 
     He knew his mom didn’t have any money to help him, so Morgan sent money she earned working at her mom’s store.  He would feel better if he could at least see her. That wasn’t going to happen. She was too far away. 
     Jamie’s life was falling apart. He had no control over what happening. He wasn’t going to see his infant son when he was born. He wanted to be a father more than anything but he could kiss that goodbye. He wouldn’t be able to hold him or be the kind of dad he had wanted, too. He couldn’t break the cycle of being raised without a father.
     Life wasn’t supposed to be fair all the time, but he felt his life had never been fair from the time he was born. He grew up being told to believe in God. Everybody did, he guessed. It was the only thing to believe in and he didn’t know anyone who didn’t think  God was up there overseeing things. Have a blessed day and all that. He had no reason not to believe, but he didn’t think God had done much to bless him. He prayed desperately since this happened but it didn’t do no good. Tears began to well up in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks. 

“Choke it down, Jamie,” he told himself. “Don’t let it show.” If he started to cry he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop. 

“If anyone saw you they would gang up on you,” he whispered to himself. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
     Even though Jamie was supposed to be in court today nobody talked to him about it. He was scared. He could hear his heart beating in his head and it echoed in his ears. He leaned against the grate covering the window. Hooking his fingers into the metal he stared outside, looking down at the sidewalk where he saw Morgan that first day when she brought his meds. He watched the seconds and minutes of his life pass by. He could see people coming and going as if it was just a normal day. 
     Clouds were creeping across the blue sky. It wasn’t normal for Jamie. He wanted so bad to leave the building and walk out into the day and be free. Could he change what was happening? Not likely. It took all of his willpower not to hit the window with his fists.

<<< >>>

“Cummings, you have a visitor.” 
     Jamie was lost in his thoughts. He didn’t hear what was said. The guard raised his voice. “Cummings, wake up.” He almost yelled.
     Startled, Jamie whirled around to face him. He had a visitor? His first thought was of Morgan. Was she here?

“Your attorney is here. You have to come with me.”

“What attorney?” Jamie shot back.  “I don’t have no attorney.”

“You do now.”

     Jamie hesitated. Nobody told him someone was coming. Would he help him? There wasn’t much time. He had been in the jail for months, why was he coming to see him at the last minute? He slowly walked toward the guard.

“We don’t have all day.” The guard barked. “Get a move on it.” 

     Jamie turned around while he put cuffs on his wrists. There was no going anywhere outside this cell without cuffs.
     The guard gave him a small shove to get him walking. Looking down the hallway, the door to a small holding cell was standing open. When they walked inside, a man in a suit was waiting bedside a metal table bolted to the floor. Jamie didn’t remember ever seeing him before today.
     A skinny man with acne scars spread across his cheeks was waiting for him. He glared at Jamie with contempt in his eyes. His thinning hair combed over the top of his bald head was a poor attempt at looking like he had hair. Poor dude, it was no wonder he was a public defender.  Maybe this was the only job he could get. He didn’t seem too happy to be here.
     Jamie needed someone who could help him, but this man didn’t seem at all like he was in the helping mood. 
He swept his arm in a gesture over the table telling Jamie to sit down. 
     The man continued to stand and glare at him with his arms crossed over his chest with a ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude. It was a power trip to show he was the authority in the room.
     The guard removed his cuffs. Jamie sat and waited for the man to talk. He was uncomfortable with the silence but he wasn’t  going to let it show. The attorney took his time, letting his gaze wonder from Jamie’s head to his hands as if he expected him to jump up any minute and attack him.
      It wasn’t the first time a white man looked at him like that, assuming all black man were born violent. Jamie wasn’t a little man, but that didn’t mean he went around attacking people.

“You’re in deep trouble, son.” the attorney began his practiced speech. “You don’t have many options.”

     Son? He called him son? Was he talking down at him? Before he could say anything else Jamie chimed in. “I want to explain what happened. I didn’t . . .” 

     It was all he managed to get out before this man, whatever his name was, put both fists on the table, leaned over and looked him dead in the eyes. 

“I am not interested in hearing your story. I don’t care what you did or didn’t do. 

“I need to . . .”

“You don’t need to do anything.” The attorney paused for a few seconds. “You need to listen to me.”

“Tell your story to someone else,” he continued.

“All you need to know is . . . the District Attorney has an airtight charge against you and if you’re smart you’ll listen to what I have to say.” 
     The attorney paused again after he drilled that statement into Jamie’s head. He broke eye contact to open his briefcase and take out a few papers. He laid them on the table in front of Jamie.

“You need to sign your name admitting to guilt.” He put his finger on the line where Jamie was supposed to sign.

“I’m here to offer you a plea of forty years. You will only be going to court to admit to the judge you are guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”

     Jamie looked up and stared him, stunned. This man was trying to scare him and it worked. Was he serious? Forty years? No way would he agree to that.

“They have you dead to right. You ran out of a club after robbing it at gunpoint,” the attorney emphasized, rapping his knuckles on the table several times. 

“The money was found with your friend in the car you were driving. There is no defense for you.”

     Jamie stood. He could feel his anger rising. ” I am not going to agree to that.” It was hard to keep his voice from shaking. “I didn’t do it. I might have been there, but I did not have anything to do with what my friend did. That is why I ran.”

     He knew it didn’t matter. He had already been tried and found guilty. Nothing he said now would matter. Being there at the club made him an instant accomplice. But he couldn’t go down without a fight. Forty years would end his life.

“I want to go in front of the judge. I am not pleading guilty.” 

     The attorney put the unsigned papers back in his briefcase and closed it. Picking it up, he walked out. Jamie stared after him, speechless. 

“Now what?” he asked the guard who was leaning against the wall. He shrugged, but he didn’t make a move to take him back to the cell so Jamie sat down. There was no point trying to talk to the guard anyway. He didn’t know anything. They waited together in silence. The guard moved and stood at the open door. Twenty minutes later the attorney walked back in. 

“I have another option for you. I sincerely advise you to take it. It is the best you are going to get.” The attorney put his briefcase on the table, opened it and took out a different set of papers. “There won’t be another one,” he added.      
     It was obvious this attorney wasn’t going to waste anymore of his precious time. Most likely he had other inmates to intimidate. Jamie wondered if he got paid a flat fee for every signed plea deal he accomplished because he certainly wanted this signed and delivered as fast as he could. He didn’t care what was best for Jamie. His motivation was his paycheck.

“You’re lucky,” the man continued. “The DA must have a soft spot for you.” Sarcasm dripped from his words. Jamie took a second to wonder why he disliked him so bad, or did he talk like this to every client he was paid to intimidate?

“Seventeen years,” the attorney paused to let it sink in. “If you don’t take it, and insist on going to court and wasting everyone’s time and the state’s money, they will slap on extra charges. You’ll end up doing fifty to ninety-nine.”

“What charges?” Jamie demanded. The attorney ignored him.

Jamie was upset. “What about wasting years of my life?”
      He was being railroaded. He knew it and the attorney knew it. One case finished and on to the next sucker who couldn’t afford to pay a real attorney? Did he enjoy making sure every person assigned to him ended up pleading guilty?

“I need time to think about this,” Jamie told him. How could he agree to give up the rest of his youth in five minutes? He didn’t plan what his friend did at the club. Why should have to pay for it with so many years of his life? What would that prove? 
     There were four of them that went out to the club that night. If he had known what his friend planned to do he would not have gone. Yes, he and Morgan needed money but he just got out of juvenile detention that year after four years of being locked up. He didn’t want to get locked up again on a felony charge with a baby on the way. Did they offered all of them the same deal? He needed answers, but there was no one who was going to explain them.
     The dude who had the gun had been to prison before. He had a record so they probably went harder on him. Why did he go out that night? Why? If only he had stayed home.

“You have five minutes.” the attorney said. I’ll be back for your answer.”
      How was Jamie supposed to know what to do in five minutes? Where was the attorney going when he left the room? Who was he talking to? This was wrong. He didn’t know how to fight it. This man was the only attorney he had and it was obvious, defending him in court was something that was not going to happen no matter what he said in five minutes. Why? Wasn’t he supposed to defend him? Wasn’t that his job? He guessed not when the DA wanted it to end another way. This was justice?
     Right or wrong didn’t matter. No one was owed justice no matter what the wording said on the Bill of Rights. There was no way for him to come out of this without paying with many years of his life. He was screwed no matter what answer he gave. If he fights it, he loses more years.
      Jamie started to stand but the guard shook his head and glared at him with a look that said, ‘Don’t even try.’ He sat back down and waited for the attorney to return. His brain was going a hundred miles an hour. How long was seventeen years? He couldn’t imagine. It was almost as long as his whole life up till now.
     Should he take a chance and go to court? Maybe give up his whole life? At least he would know he tried. What other charges they could add? They could make up anything they wanted and knew he didn’t have an attorney who would fight them.
     Jamie closed his eyes and put his head back. He had no choice. His unborn son had no choice, either. He wouldn’t have a father. He would be giving up all thought of raising him. If he did all seventeen years he would be almost out of high school. They wouldn’t know each other, not really. 
     Morgan would go on and find someone else. It killed him to think about that. The pain ripped him in two. He couldn’t expect her to wait. Maybe he could get out early. Maybe he could get paroled. 
     So many unanswered questions were running through his head at the same time. His five minutes were over. He heard the heels of the attorney’s shoes as he neared the open door. As he walked back into the room he asked, “What’s your answer?”

Jamie looked down at the table, and at the same time reached out his hand for the papers. The attorney smiled.

wh jamie2

 

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Waiting Months to See a Dentist

Medical Treatment behind bars

Waiting months to see a dentist is not unusual. knowing you are crying in pain doesn’t phase them. Prison staff should be locked up to find out how that feels.

This is a repost from three years ago.  I have written recently about what is going on with Jamie medically and how I am trying to get a Power of Attorney to have something legally I can use to get his medical records. This is a common problem I have heard about with many inmates. If the medical corporations don’t treat the inmates it means more profit.

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(Sonni’s Note: Solitary confinement is nowhere anyone wants to be.  You have to find a way to cope with real life issues pertaining to where you are, and normal issues liked a bad tooth and you have no one on your side.  No one cares.  It makes you angry. Pain makes you angry. It makes you depressed.  You miss your family and you know they are going on without you.  Where do you put all of that bottle up emotion?  It’s hard to keep it together.  People are kept in solitary, AdSeg, G-5 far more than what they should.  It’s place to put them to cage them, so they only have to do the minimal to take care of them.  Yes, I know there are bad people in Prison, but there are good people there as well and there is nothing to differentiate between the two and the are all treated badly.)

Dear Sonni,

There are things I want my son to understand. I wrote to Megan about it. I want her to drive it into little Jamie’s head. I want Megan to tell him that I never meant for this to happen. I don’t want him to ends up here like me. I hope she tells him often. I told her it would be hard for me to get through to him by her reading him my letters. Don’t get me wrong, my letters are a good thing and they won’t stop. However, I told Megan when the time is right I need to see Jamie. I want to see him. He’s at an age where he understands. He and I need to meet face to face again. It’s been over three years now since I’ve seen him. That’s a good long stretch. (Sonni’s note: It ended up being five years before he saw him again)

I sent a letter to Megan to give to my mom. I don’t have an address for her. She moves around a lot. I asked her a lot of questions. I told her that no one is writing to me but you. I’m not trying to make her angry. Just something to think about. I’m trying to see if I can get some help from her. And I asked about my family. I also told her I was sorry I made things hard on her in the past. And I told her how I was doing right now, which was not too good.

I’m waiting to have surgery on my wisdom tooth. It’s infected and it’s hurting really bad. It gives me headaches and everything. I’ve been waiting two months now. They keep pushing my appointment back. They don’t care. They want me to go off. I tell then about the pain every day.

It’s been crazy in here the past few weeks. Well, it’s crazy every day but I try not to pay attention to it. I do my best to take my days one at a time. They got me on anti depression medication because they say something is wrong with me. I don’t take it ’cause nothing is wrong with me. I go on hunger strikes off and on. The longest I’ve stayed on is a week and a half. I just have those kinds of days. I don’t want to do this or that. It causes trouble sometimes. Oh well, I I just have that I don’t care feeling at times.

Me and everyone else have been getting into it with the officers. We’ve been without hot water for over a month. We’re also back on lockdown for 30 days. Once again only peanut butter. I guess it’s part of the punishment that we, as humans, get treated in situations like this.

Then, on top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot – on purpose. That’s the thing they open when they give us our food. He cut it open. A really deep cut. I made them take me to medial where they took a picture of it. I had to get an x-ray a few days later because it wouldn’t close. He told the sergeant he did it but that it was an accident. He said he didn’t mean to do it and he didn’t see my fingers. He lied. It wasn’t the first time he had tried to do that. I told him I wanted to talk to the lieutenant. This guy is the kind of dude that doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. But the Lt. told me to tell them to call him about moving me to another cell because also, the cell I’m in leaks water from the shower. One night I fell getting up to use the rest room. I hurt my ankle and had to go to Medical.

They’re trying to hurt me. I know they are. The cell I’m also leaks bad when it rains and they know it because an officer told me the dude who was in here before got moved because of it. The want me to fall their trap but I won’t. I’m writing up this officer who hurt me because I feel he is a threat to me. I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out I’m writing his a** up. To go through this whole process will take 60-120 days. Long huh ?

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

 

 

Wanna Trade Thanksgiving With Me?

HOLD.N.FF.JAILFOODWanna Trade Thanksgiving Dinner With Me?

Sonni, 

I got everything you sent to me. Thank you very much. I love those summer sausages and turkey bites you sent. Those were good. You asked me about the special diet I was on. It’s a low salt diet. It is another way they are messing with me by not bringing the right food. There are certain things we are allowed to request, like Jewish people asking for a kosher diet or diabetics requesting low sugar. It doesn’t mean they will do it.

There is too much salt in the regular diet of prison food and the salt will swell my legs and feet up. You may not believe me but I rinse a lot of my food off with water. Crazy, huh? The food I get on the special diet is baked. Everything. There is no getting around being fed pork unless I requested pork-free. Then they will give me two slices of cheese, a spoon of shredded cheese or a spoon of peanut butter. The main course will be beans – all the time.

Happy Thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is out and the sky is filled with puffy white clouds. It’s a beautiful day all the way around. I want to fill you in on how Thanksgiving was. Well, as far as the food anyway. For starters we get the same thing every year. We are given two trays for the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. We get chicken or BBQ on MLK Day and Spanish food on May 5th.

Anyway, Thanksgiving we get a hot tray and and cold tray. On the hot tray there was a ham roll, dressing with brown gravy, sweet potato, green beans and two cheese biscuits. On the cold tray was four different kinds of dessert – two oatmeal cookies, pumpkin pie, carrot cake and what they call a peach empanada. Then there was something that was supposed to be coleslaw, but it was nowhere near it. Pickles and jalapeno pepper slices. They usually give olives and onions but not this year. Last but not least was the coldest, driest piece of sliced turkey I ever ate – or tried to eat. I ate half. I was scared to eat the other half. It was BLACK. It had a piece of sliced cheese over it, I guess to hide it. I pulled the cheese off and cut around it.

Tell me about your Thanksgiving. What was cooked? You said Mike does the cooking for this meal so you can just relax and be waited on. You deserve it. I know you stress yourself with everything you are doing. Have patience. Everything takes time. I know it seemed like we got a lot of food, but getting enough to eat only a couple times a year doesn’t make up for the rest of the meals. Even though it is supposed to be a hot tray and a cold tray, everything is cold. Those that can go to chow get hot food. When they let me out of adseg hopefully in March I will be able to go to chow for my meals.

Thank you for the food box and money you sent through Texas Eccom. It’s good to have something different to eat that tastes good, especially when the food is really bad. I’m lucky. I love you for that. You didn’t cut out on me in all these years ago like my family did. So many men don’t have anyone, especially those who have been here a long time.
I better get this ready to send because they will be picking up soon.

Love, Jamie

 

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

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Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

 

Lockdown 24 Hours a Day

24 hour lockdown
source credit:
urbangifts.co.uk

This is a repost from my first year of blogging. Some things never change. This is one of them.

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Hello mom,                                                                                          April 20, 2015

I want to say I’m so sorry for the long wait. Things have been real crazy the last two and a half months.  I’m on a special cell punishment which was supposed to be a 30 day lockup.

(Sonni’s note:  Inmates aren’t allowed to argue with the guards.  They are always right and inmates are always wrong. A guard filed a false case on him, which they often do when they have a grudge.  When it came to court the guard could not be found for 3 days.  Instead of dropping the case they had someone else stand in for the guard who wasn’t there and Jamie was not allowed to attend.  So, of course they found him guilty and took away all of his very newly earned privileges, like being able to make a phone call.  He was able to get in one last call to tell me what happened.)

My date started on February 3rd.  I was supposed to get off on March 3rd.  However they have made me stay in lockup telling me they have no open bunks. No open bunks?  So I was told I might get shipped to another unit on the other side of Texas.  I’ve talked to everybody from the warden to the Major about getting moved to a G4 block.

( Sonni’s note: G5 is solitary confinement, G4 is one step ahead and at least you get to leave your cell for meals and very limited time in rec to watch TV.  No other privileges.  Last time they did this it took 2 more years to get to G2 where you can have a family visit that is not behind glass and you can make phone calls if someone registers their phone.  You can get put on a list to take your GED or other trades and they might find you an unpaid job in the laundry.)

As of right now I’m ending a second term of this punishment because I am trying to avoid being sent to another unit.  I have watched people come and go for three months.  What I need is someone to call the prison and get on these people about when I am supposed to get off this punishment on the 24th. Call the warden or call classification.  You’re going to have to pretend you’re my bio mom or they won’t talk to you.

I’m on lockdown 24 hours a day.  I only come out for showers 3 times a week.  No rec. I get jacked for it every week.  So I give them hell.  They are treating me wrong so I am treating them wrong. They hate to do paperwork so to hell with them.  I yelled all day, beat and kicked on shit and I’m still here.  I had a seizure.  A bad one and spent 9 hours in the hospital.  When the day comes and I’m not out of here I’m going to do this all over.  I will make them G5 me so at least I can go to rec and get some fresh air.  Back here we aren’t allowed to go outside.  They put us in a cage and we walk around in it.

I’m telling you this because I don’t want to let you down by going G5 again, but it’s really getting to me.  They put the same officer here had to deal with before  and he is (REALLY) working my nerves.  He’s doing crazy shit just to take away my rec because he can. They took away all of my things.  They let me have deodorant and my soap and paper, but they took away all my books.  Please help me get away from back here.  They will ship me to West Texas.  They been sending dudes there.  I don’t want to go back there.

I love you always

<<< >>>

(Sonni”s note: I wrote an immediate answer to try and help him get his head together.  He’s trying to fight a battle they will never let him win.  He’s playing into it. But after almost 3 months locked up again in solitary confinement –  only worse, because they have left him with nothing to do.  His magazines aren’t getting through and he can’t get to commissary.  He has tried so hard, but sometimes it seems hopeless and no matter how hard he tries there is some asshole guard who gets off on pushing the inmates until they lose it.  It is some sort of vile game with them.  People who have control over other people often abuse it, especially when their bosses give them the okay that it is okay.  I will call the prison on Monday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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Grabbing Hold of The Brass Ring

carosel
William Johnson Photography – San Diego, Ca. 2010

 

 

Waiting . . . Too Long – the first music video in a series, made for the chapters of a book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”

Grab hold of a brass ring. Don’t fear. Take risks. I have spent a long time not only writing the book, ” Inside the Forbidden Outside,” and re writing it, learning how to write it and researching the ins and outs of what makes a good book, I have added elements not commonly found when writing a book, if it has been before at all. 

If you’ve been to this blog in the past you know I create improvised piano music. Usually melancholy piano pieces with haunting melodies. I began recording music and inserting them into blog posts. I wanted to promote the music with the book. I then decided to produce an album with the same title as the book. Then I carried it a step farther. I started creating music for individual chapters. The titles of the music matched the titles of the chapters. I carried it further. As a musician I have several websites where you can find my music and have a couple websites that are just for promoting myself as a musician. 

One thing I needed to round out everything is a video – multiple videos. I decided to do a video for the music of chapters. This video is the first one. There is a chapter titled, “Waiting . . . Too Long.” I hope you like it enough to subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel, Sonni Quick Piano Improv.” It takes patience to get something new off the ground. It will help me promote the book when it is done and hopefully increase sales, which will help Jamie begin a life when he gets out.

Because of all the extra things I’m doing it has taken longer to finish the book than I hoped. It would be done if all I needed to do was write a book. Between it all are a zillion other things that need to be done at the same time.

But the main thing – my life with all my crazy dreams loaded with determination is a life I thoroughly enjoy. I can see the big picture coming together. We need to grab hold of that brass ring as the merry go round turns.

 

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

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Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

wh jamie2

Looking into the crystal ball. Don’t we wish we had one? When you listen to this music hear it through to the end. Listen to the story. There may be no words but the emotion will create it. There is a big difference in the tone quality if you listen to it with the speakers on your device or with good speakers or headphones, if you want to enjoy the music.

Two nights ago, long after I went to bed and after a long day working on many aspects of my writing and other projects that keep my life going in a forward motion. I sat up in bed thinking, ” I need to go play my piano.” I got out of bed and went into the living room and turned on my piano. It was late so I couldn’t turn the volume up out of respect for my neighbors so I plugged in headphones.  There was so much going on in my head.

I cleared a track so I could record. This music is what came out. It is the only thing I played.  I was feeling sad and overwhelmed. I don’t think about what I’m playing. My fingers transform the feelings running through me and turn it into music. When I was done playing I turned off my piano and went back to bed. The next day I played it back, and I played it again.  It was as if a knife sliced me open and a hand reached inside and grabbed hold of my heart and I cried. Tears rolled down my cheeks.  There is so much emotion wrapped up in all of this – “the projects” I call them, between writing the book, my blogs, newsletter and all of the social media and other connections, along with the music and promoting all of it.

So much depends on me doing a good job. This piece of music is just one example of tying my music and a chapter of the book together with the same title as I work on an album to promote as a soundtrack for the book. Jamie’s future, as well as mine are being be shaped by the things I do today.  If only I had a crystal ball.  I believe in the law of cause and effect.  The law of karma. Some call it, you reap what you sow. I take that very seriously.

I have also just begun making a video series based on the titles of the chapters in the book – one more project added to the mix. I hope to upload a new video each month.  I’d like to do more each month but there is a time factor and there is a cost.  The first one was uploaded to Jamie’s facebook page (link below) while I develop a YouTube artist channel.  When it is ready you will be the first to know.

I hope you enjoy.

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

 

New Book Cover Finished – Now Finish The Book!

Last Note 2 sm

No, my book isn’t ready to be published but I wanted to share the new book cover with you. I am very happy with this artists work. It was done by Adrijus at RockingBookCovers.com. I have been using a stand-in picture when I post anything about the book. An editor I’ve worked with told me if I’m going to promote my book people, needed to associate the correct picture with it instead of the wrong one or they won’t recognize it if they see it. I shouldn’t change it at the last minute. I’d like to know what you think.

I changed my original idea because I didn’t want it to look like a prison book. It is much more than that. It is our letters to each other that started this journey. I had no idea this was where it was headed when I wrote that first letter a decade ago. Because there are so many it takes time to go through them to find the one’s I want.

This gave me a reason to write and a reason to make music. It gave me the desire to play music after a long illness. When we don’t have a reason for why we do the things we do, then there is no reason to drag ourselves away from looking for entertainment to get through the day by wrapping our life around someone else fulfilling their dreams.

This has been the hardest thing to finish because it’s so important that I get it right. So much depends on doing the best I can. I always loved to write. It is why I started keeping journals 40 years ago. When I go back and read them I can see my emotional maturity grow through how I chose my words.

When I make a determination to do something, I have to do it. By letting the people around me see the progress it is like continually putting gas in my car. It gives me the extra push to keep going. One more hour of writing. Another hour of promoting music. One more hour of research. On and on in a cycle. If all I had to do was write the book it would have been done long ago.

Seventeen pieces of music were put into a digital album you can find on Soundcloud. “Stories Without Woods” The link is below. Now I am recording music for the chapters in the book. There is music for each chapter title. It isn’t all written yet. Some pieces I have posted in the past: Open the Cage and Fly, The Waking Hour, Inside The Forbidden Outside and others. There is also poetry written for some.

Sometimes I stay in my computer room/ bedroom for weeks, coming out only to cook/ play my piano or say hello to my husband who sits behind his computer, too. We take a break and watch a downloaded movie. This is many life today. When I’m done, things will change. A new phase of promotion will start. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep up on the progress.

 

itfo newsletter

SUBSCRIBE!!

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

Jamie’s Letters on Prison medical Care

Below are Jamie’s letters over the years on bad prison medical care. I wrote this a couple years ago taking excerpts from letters over at least six years.  It is part of the first draft of the book I’m writing.  It has taken me longer than I anticipating because of having to take care of so many other things that need writing – including my music. But when it is done it will all be worth it. When I read this today it reminded me how long Jamie has been dealing with bad medical care at the prisons. I sent him forms to sign to give me POA  and I’m not surprised it didn’t reach him, although it is against the law to mess with mail – even in the prisons. So I resent the forms certified, return receipt. That way I can verify that the prison received it.  They can’t open it unless it is in front of him.  If they stop it from being mailed back then that is an issue I will take up with the warden. There are laws the prisons have to follow.  They can’t make up their own. the problem is – people don’t know how to make them bide by the law.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

JAMIE’S LETTERS

It’s been crazy in here the past few weeks. Well, it’s crazy every day but I try not to pay attention to it.  I do my best to take my days one at a time.  They put me on anti-depression meds because they say something is wrong with me.  I don’t take it because nothing is wrong with me.  I think they want to keep me doped up.   I’ve gone on a few hunger strikes, off and on.  The longest I’ve stayed on one is a week and a half.   I just have those kinds of days.  I don’t want to do this or that.  It causes trouble sometimes.  Oh well, I just have that ‘I don’t care’ feeling at times.

     All of us have been getting into it with the officers. We’ve been without hot water for over a month.  We’re also back on lockdown for 30 days. Once again, the only thing they feed us is peanut butter.  I guess treating us like this is part of the punishment,  But I don’t remember being allowed to starve us was part of the sentence.  No one stops them.  There is no oversight.  The officers do what they want and get away with it.

     On top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot on the door – on purpose.  It was a really deep cut.  I made them take me to medical where they took a picture of it.  I had to get an x-ray a few days later because it wouldn’t close. He told the sargent he did it.  He said he didn’t mean to do it because he didn’t see my fingers.  That was a lie.  It wasn’t the first time he had tried to do that.  I told him I wanted to talk to the lieutenant.  This guy is the kind of dude who doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. 

     The lieutenant told me to tell the officers to call him about moving me to another cell. lt  leaks water from the shower.  One night I fell getting up to use the rest room.  I hurt my ankle and had to go to Medical about that, too.  They are trying to hurt me.  I know they are.  This cell also leaks bad when it rains, and they know it, because an officer told me the dude who was in here before got moved because of it. I’m writing up a grievance on this officer because I feel he is a threat to me.  I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out what I’m doing.  To go through this process will take 60-120 days. They make it long to discourage anyone from filing a complaint.  It goes into the guard’s file and keeps them from getting promoted.  Then the guard retaliates and makes life miserable.  Even if the inmates feel threatened it keeps a lot of them from trying to do anything about it.

     I’ve also been getting into it again with these people about my medications. They are trying to give me something and I don’t know what it is. Hell, they don’t even know what it is.  Two different nurses are telling me it is two different medications.  I’ve asked to speak to the doctor, but they won’t let me.  The pills are the same dosage, but they are two different colors.  Not only that, one has powder in the capsule and the other one is a hard pill.  Something is not right about this.  One of the nurses told me Huntsville uses us as lab rats to test medications from pharmaceutical companies.  Since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that, I stopped taking the ones that I’m not sure what they are.  I’m not going to be a guinea pig.

     Then they put me on a different anti-depressant.  A lot of people in here are taking them. They’ve had me on so many different meds it’s crazy.  I’ve been on about four or five different ones.  Now they have me on Thorazine.  I had to stop taking it.  It makes me dizzy, lightheaded.  I asked once if we could have a book on medications. The doctors are quick to put us on something and not tell us anything about it, except to say, “See if this helps.  If not, put in a sick call.” They are in such a rush to get us out of their office. These meds they put me on?  if it isn’t upsetting my stomach, it gives me terrible headaches.  One had me where I couldn’t use the bathroom.  I’m feeling bad all the time.  I recently had a bad ear infection and all they would give me was a Tylenol.  I laid on my bunk with my head and my ear hurting so bad, but they wouldn’t give me anything to help with the infection. 

     Sonni looked up one of the medications they gave me.  I asked the nurse how to spell it.   It’s a little brown pill.  I had already stopped taking it.  Some medications make you worse. The side effects make you sicker than you already are. That’s why I don’t take something they give me anymore if I don’t know what it is.  If I feel they are giving me too much of my seizure meds I won’t take them.  Too much will hurt me.  I don’t trust them to know what they are doing.  I go by how it makes me feel.

<<< >>>

     The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what the hell they are doing.  I have such a bad pain in my tooth I can’t think straight.  The first doctor I saw told me I had an infection when I told her about my pain.  Then I saw another doctor, and he told me I not only didn’t have an infection, he told me there was nothing was wrong with me!  I asked him if he thought I was lying about my pain because the pain had to be coming from somewhere.  I also told him the other doctor told me I had an infection.  I asked him if that lady was lying, and he said, ” I didn’t say that.”  So I told him that somebody was lying, and I knew it wasn’t me.  I could tell by his face he was mad.  Who gives a shit?  I’m in pain.  He didn’t care about that.  He just wanted to send me back to my cell. He’s here to waste time and get paid.

     The pain kept getting worse.  I had to wait two months before they decided it was okay to take me to a dentist to maybe have my wisdom tooth pulled.   Since they knew it had to be done, making me wait for two months was their way of torturing me.  They wanted me to be in pain.  No matter how many times I told them they ignored me. Later I was told there is a nerve that goes around the ear.  I wasn’t kidding about being in pain.  The dentist who tried to tell me there was nothing wrong with me had to know that or he wasn’t a real dentist.  That wouldn’t surprise me.  I think they only hire medical people who agree to not help people.  I wonder if they even have a license to practice. Maybe this dentist couldn’t get hired anywhere else because he was so bad. 

     The first week of this month I left on something called a medical chain.  I needed  to go to a unit in Huntsville that has a hospital.  It took two days to get there, even though it is only a couple hours away.  It takes that long because they pick up and drop off other inmates to different units along the way.  Texas has over a hundred and ten prisons. Sometimes we ride on a bus they call a Blue Bird, and sometimes we ride in a van.  I’ve ridden on both.  This time the trip was in the van.  It is so damned uncomfortable.  They make the trip as hard on us as possible.  We sit elbow to elbow in the van.  On the bus we are cuffed to someone else.  They pair everyone up.  If we have to relieve ourselves there is a toilet, but if someone has to go, the other one has to go.  So much for privacy if you have to do something other than pee.

     When I finally got to the hospital, I had to wait.  There was others in front of me.   It took two more days of waiting until it was my turn.  Now it’s been four days since we left and the pain was bad.  The gave me Tylenol with codeine and it helped some, but not enough. I’ve had about all I can take.  I wanted to lay down and cry. 

     Before I went in for the surgery they did x-rays.  The photos showed up on the computer so I could see it.  The one I was getting pulled was growing sideways and it was cutting my gums.  It was the top left tooth in the back.  When the dentist saw it he said, “Wow.” I asked what was wrong and he showed me the photo.  You could see all my teeth perfectly. He showed me the bad one, and it was flat!  The word he used was deformed.  He asked if I wanted it removed.  Of course I wanted it removed.  It was killing me.  I couldn’t keep it the way it was.  They don’t allow dentists to put us to sleep, even though this was a lot more than just pulling a tooth.  He was going to have to cut it out.  He was only allowed to numb it.  He was digging at it for two hours.  When he finally got it out, the tooth had four roots!  It came out in five different sized pieces.  All that pulling, pushing and drilling was bad.  I held on, but I almost passed out.  One of the bottom teeth needed work, too.  He had to do a little more cutting. I felt every minute of it.  He had to stop.  I was in so much pain and still am.  It took four days to get back to the unit I’m in.  The hospital gave me Tylenol with codeine during the surgery.  Now that I’m back in my own unit, their best med is Tylenol which isn’t doing much for the pain. 

     I’ve been sleeping a lot to get away from the pain. It hurts like hell to chew or drink because my tongue is swollen. I’m supposed to be on a soft diet, but the doctors here won’t give it to me.  The guards only bring me solid food, which sometimes I can eat and sometimes I can’t.   I try not to give these fools what they want so I just deal with it the best I can.  If the pain becomes too much I’m gonna try the right way first, to get help.  If I don’t get help, there is only one other way.

     On a brighter note, I think of the beautiful the days outside.  I imagine the sun, and taking a walk, and that really sounds good.  In my mind I can meet mom on the hill.  We both will walk until we ache too much.  Its cold down this way, as well.  A jacket would be nice.

<<< >>>

Sept  2012

     The unit is on the second week of lockdown. This is the hardest one I’ve gone through.  I’m hungry.  They are supposed to feed us a hot meal every three days but they do what they want to anyone wearing prison whites.  They feed us  a peanut butter sandwich with only a half spoon of peanut butter.  We are supposed to get a full spoon but on lockdown they only give us a half spoon.  It saves them money. 

     The food they serve is nasty.  They stretch it more by  also adding some really horrible soup or applesauce that makes me gag. I have to eat it or I get nothing.  I’ve heard  it costs $40,000 a year to keep each inmate in prison. Where does the money go?  It sure isn’t spent on food.  Once in a while we get a meat sandwich or cornbread, and sometimes prunes or raisins.  In the morning we get two biscuits with a half spoon of peanut butter or maybe two pancakes.  That’s why I have lost so much weight.  The food is worse when we are on lockdown.

<<< >>>

     It’s hard dealing with this.  It’s 2013 but it could be any year.  Nothing changes. Stress builds up inside me and it hurts. My head wants to explode into a million pieces. I had two more seizures, back to back, because of all the worrying.  I have had so many seizures in here.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being backed into a corner. Stress brings them on.  The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what they are doing. Why are they working here, instead of a real doctor’s office? Maybe it’s the only job they could get.  Everyone is always in a bad mood.  There is never a comforting touch or even a smile.

     I don’t think anyone in here would give a damn if the seizures killed me. If it happened to someone in their own family, they would be rushed to a hospital.  But I don’t matter.  I’m only a convict.

     The scary thing is, I don’t usually have seizures close together. I saw the doctor and she took some blood and said my level of seizure medication was in the toxic range. Did the last doctor give me too much? She took my meds down to a lower dose. It didn’t help, so she put me on a different one. I’m on two different meds. I’m not having the seizures as often but it’s not unusual to still have one or two a week.

     I had another seizure today. When I went to the medical unit I was told my sugar was low, 66. It’s supposed to be between 70-100.  I know I need to see the doctor a lot.  There is nothing I can do about that.  It’s not my fault.  It is the way it is.  Some inmates rarely have to go to medical.  It used to cost $3 to see the doctor or a nurse, but they changed all that. Now it costs $100 a year, whether you see a doctor one time or fifty times.  When I get money they take half until it’s paid.  Next year it starts all over.  Someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, if he need to see the doctor he probably won’t go.  Sometimes they get sicker and it spreads to other inmates. 

     Some people think we get medical care for free, but that’s not true.  This small amount of money might not seem like much to some people but to me its a lot.  I also wouldn’t call this medical care.  They won’t help so they don’t have to pay for anything.  Even things they can treat they won’t, and it gets worse until people die.  Diabetes, heart disease, cancer.  People die because they are left untreated.  They don’t care. The public doesn’t care.  They think we deserve it.  No one cares if we’re in pain.  They just ignore us.

itfo newsletter

SUBSCRIBE!!

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London