THE FALLING RAIN
“You need to flush the goddamn toilet. You can’t leave it like that,” Jamie exploded. He raised his voice louder than the sound in the room, yelling at the man walking away from him.
He was tired of smelling everyone’s crap. Some men have the worst toilet habits like they we’re raised by animals. They can’t flush or wipe the seat if they mess it up. The next man has to clean it, if it matters enough to him.
Jamie bit his lower lip between his teeth, forcing himself to not throw another insult at the man walking across the room, through the isles of stacked beds. Low man on the totem pole, a newcomer to this dormitory, he got stuck in the back of the room near the toilets. The only other overwhelming smell was pungent disinfection. It got poured on everything.
Being here was getting to him. It was too soon to let it affect his behavior. He had too find a way to keep it together. The thought of not breathing free air for seventeen years was depressing beyond words. Knowing the woman he loved was getting bigger, waiting for the birth of a son he would not be able to see, was the cruelest joke life could play on him.
This was only the beginning of his sentence. He didn’t know how he was going to get through to the end. He was tired of this crazy old asshole coming to the back of the dorm which held dozens of bunks with men reading, sleeping or playing cards, and then leave a dump for him and everyone else to smell.
Jamie’s bunk was in the back near the toilets, and they smelled ungodly rank. If someone was going to take a dump they’d better have the decency to flush. He was losing his tolerance for ignorance as well as losing his emotional self control. He was often angry. Angry about being here. Angry because he couldn’t change it and angry at himself for screwing up.
It wasn’t as if the janitor came in to clean every day, or even every week. No one wanted to get up and flush the damn toilet for someone else. Some dudes think they can intimidate weaker ones as if they were some stinking ‘King of the Hill’ in a child’s game. Jamie had had enough.
“Didn’t yo’ mama ever teach you no manners?” Jamie yelled sarcastically across the room, deliberately provoking him.
“Oh, yeah?” This dude was clearly not liking that Jamie had the guts to get in his face. He turned around and started strutting toward him with the bowed legs of a gorilla, acting as if he thought his shit didn’t stink. “You have anything else you wanna say about my mama?”
Jamie immediately felt sorry for the woman who gave birth to this lowlife. He must have been a joy as a kid. He clearly wanted to use this as a reason to pound somebody’s head in and thought Jamie was his next likely victim. He didn’t know what a mistake that was gonna be.
“Da-amn,” Jamie muttered under his breath in two syllables. He was going to have to make good on what he said. He got himself together and slowly stood up. He wasn’t going to get caught off-guard sitting down.
“Oh well.” It hadn’t been a good day so far, anyway. He might as well make it worse.
“Oh, and you think I need to flush the toilet?” He laughed. Jamie smiled.
As he closed the gap he spoke these words with a pause between each word. In a menacing way he walked toward him with slow, deliberate steps, trying to look more dangerous than he was capable of pulling off. Maybe ten years ago he could have, but not now. He might have scared some of the smaller men but he didn’t scare Jamie.
“Make me,” the man taunted him.
He had the look of injecting too many steroids a couple decades ago and the hard muscles were turning to flab.
“You and who else?” he demanded from Jamie. He looked like he had been in a few too many bar brawls already. Jamie didn’t care. He was strong and he knew how to take care of himself. Besides, he already had a seventeen year sentence. They couldn’t do much more to him they haven’t already done.
The man walked over to a mop sticking up from a rolling bucket someone had left propped up and leaning against the wall. He grabbed the stick at both ends and broke it in half over his thigh. He raised the stick in his right hand, ready to swing it at Jamie’s head when he got closer.
“Come on, mama’s boy,” the man bent forward and growled at him. “Show me what ya got.” He motioned with his fingers to come and get him.
The man would sorely regret those words. He lunged at Jamie, who beat the crap out of him all the way from the toilets, through the overcrowded room, past the open mouths of men on the bunks who were startled out of their boredom, to the locked door that led to the hall.
Once Jamie got started he lost control and took all of his pent up frustration out on that loudmouthed son of a bitch who was never taught any manners by his mama. He knew some now, that was for sure.
Jamie didn’t quit beating him until the guards pulled him off. An ambulance arrived at the jail and took the man to a hospital. Jamie was taken to solitary confinement.
“He’s the one who came at me,” Jamie tried to explain to the guard who cuffed his wrists behind his back and walked him to his new living quarters. The guard didn’t give a shit who started the fight.
“So you decided to put him in the hospital?”
“Maybe he’ll learn some manners in there, like knowing when to flush a toilet,” Jamie said under his breath.
“What did you just say?” the guard snapped back.
Jamie shook his head, “Nothin’.”
“I didn’t think so,” the guard replied with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
“You’re gonna to be staying here in this hotel room until you’re moved.” He seemed to take great pleasure in saying this to Jamie, but Jamie didn’t get upset.
“How long will that be?” Jamie asked.
“Where will they be sending me?” he added.
His questions hung in the air unanswered. The guard probably didn’t know where he would be sent so it was pointless to ask again. He walked out of the cell and slammed the door. Jamie heard the sound of the lock turning. He motioned for him to back up to the small opening in the door and stick his wrists out so his cuffs could be unlocked. A second guard stood right outside the cell door making sure nothing happened.
Jamie rubbed his wrists to get the circulation going. The cuffs had been put on as tight as possible. They wanted him to know they could do anything to him they wanted and he could do nothing about it. They weren’t going to take any chances now they knew he had a temper.
Jamie hadn’t meant to hurt the dude so bad. He couldn’t stop once he got started. The anger for everything that happened had been building up with no way to release it. He had to get it out.
He had been in this jail for months waiting to see what was going to happen next. Nobody told him nothing. It was like they didn’t want to let him know what was going on. Keep him in the dark. He got some letters from Morgan who told him how his family was doing. He didn’t hear much from them himself. He did in the beginning. They were probably afraid he would ask them for money for the commissary. If they didn’t write to him they couldn’t say no. Their silence told him a lot. He was on his own.
Morgan told him over and over she would wait for him. It was the only hope he had and he was hanging on to it for dear life. If he lost her and the baby he would have nothing to live for. He waited for every letter like it was the last letter he would get, afraid she would go on without him. Every day that passed with no letter broke him into smaller pieces. When his name was called a mail time it gave him a reason to hang on. One day at a time. That’s all he had. It wasn’t much.
On the far end of Jamie’s 5′ by 9′ cell was a raised cement slab with no mattress that was supposed to be his bed. Not even a two inch piece of foam covered it. A folded, rancid smelling blanket was at one end. He doubted it had ever been washed. It was another way to break the inmates. Take away their humanity until they feel worthless. There was a toilet with no lid and a sink with only cold running water. A nearly empty roll of toilet paper balanced on the edge.
If he thought the toilets smelled bad in the dormitory, that wasn’t even close to the smell in here. There was a permanent smell of piss and Lysol with the added odor of vomit and a backed up toilet that had never been cleaned. He was pretty anal about being clean, especially in this place, so this smell was an insult to his senses.
There was a grimy piece of polished steel for a mirror, screwed to the wall above the sink. Someone must have punched it. It was so scratched and dented it was almost impossible to see his reflection.
A bare lightbulb stuck out from the wall next to the sink. He supposed that light was never turned off so the guards on the outside could look inside and check up on whoever was there. They didn’t have any privacy. They could watch you take a crap if they wanted to, just to embarrass you. It was a low wattage bulb, hardly enough to read by, if he had anything to read. So far no one brought him his stuff. How long would they keep him in here?
Maybe he was better off here for awhile. Give him time to think. He needed to get his head together and figure out how he was going to handle this sentence. He couldn’t be fixin’ to beat the crap out of everyone who pissed him off. Besides, maybe if he was really good and caused no trouble they would let him out early.
Jamie went over to the cement slab and laid down, folding his arms behind his head. There was nowhere else to sit but the floor and he didn’t think he wanted to get that close to it.
He looked up to see a vertical, narrow window too high up to stand and look out, and too grimy to see anything. The light let him know it was still daytime. It was never daytime inside. In solitary you never knew if out was night or day if there wasn’t a window. That added to confusion and a feeling of being off balance.
He could hear the sound of rain beating against the wire-enforced glass. When he closed his eyes and listened, the sound of the rain relaxed him. It was peaceful against the thoughts and emotions still raging through his brain. It helped clear the bad thoughts away and he felt himself begin to drift off to sleep.
Jamie couldn’t stop his raw emotions from coming to the surface. One tear fell down the side of his face to his ear. The wetness joined with the sound of the rain running down the window pane.
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