Keeper of My Thoughts
The harder Jamie tried to stay out of trouble the more it came looking for him. The guards went out of their way to get in his face and push him to make him react. Why? Were they bored? Did they want to mess up his day or they we trained to be that way?
If the inmates were locked up the guards had more control over them and there was less they had to do. It was stressful for Jamie. He always felt like he was on the edge, waiting for them to file a case against him whether he did anything or not.
One of the hardest things for him to overcome was the instant anger that came over him before he had a chance to think. He expected people to do the right thing and that didn’t happen in here.
On the outside it was supposedly right and wrong that got you locked up, but once inside right and wrong had different meanings. When he spoke up for himself or tried to explain anything, it always got him in trouble. So right or wrong didn’t matter. Only who had the power mattered, and it was clear he didn’t have any. Guards didn’t like it if you called them out on anything. Getting bumped down in his line class was almost always because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Jamie didn’t want to lose the last of the privileges he had. The simple actions of being of being able to walk to chow or sit in the day room were hung over his head to keep him in control. If he lost these last privileges he would be confined to his cell.
He could learn to control his own actions but he couldn’t control what a guard did, so to lose these privileges he didn’t have to do anything. A guard in a bad mood could make up a charge and it would be his word against the guard and he would lose every time.
What a lousy night. Forget trying to sleep. It was too friggin’ hot and no way to cool down. Summer heat in a Texas prison was hard to get through but there was no choice. It was at least 90° and it was still the middle of the night.
Jamie’s little fan, pointed at his face barely moved the air it was so heavy with moisture. His skin stuck to the mattress so he took it off the bunk and tried to sleep on the metal slats beneath.
He ran the risk of a guard seeing his mattress off the bed. If he noticed it when he came around for his thirty minute check he might get yelled at to put it back on the bed. It was worth the risk but it didn’t work, anyway. It was a little cooler than the plastic but the metal didn’t make for good sleeping. Now he was tired and cranky with a bad headache.
In the morning a guard finally came and took him to the showers. It had been three days since his last one and he knew he didn’t smell very good. He craved the feeling of cold water streaming down his body. There was so little pleasure in this place and a shower ranked on the top of the short list of things that caused pleasure.
In the middle of his allotted five minutes, with soap on his body, the guard shut off the water.
“What the fu..” he started to say while turning around to face the guard.
“What did you do that for?” Jamie asked with a sharp tone in his voice. He could feel himself getting angry so he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and thought, “Not today. Don’t lose it today. Get a grip”
They stood there for a long second and stared at each other. All Jamie wanted to do was finish his shower and wash the soap off his skin. If he couldn’t do that the soap would dry on his skin. It would irritate it and make him itch. Add humidity to it and he’d be miserable.
The guard who took him to the showers wasn’t having a happy day, either. He didn’t enjoying babysitting this sorry bunch of men. He wanted to hurry Jamie so he could get on to the next smartass he had to bring here. The faster he got done, the faster he could get back to the air conditioned staff office and whatever porn magazine happened to be lying around.
This was a crappy job. He’d been here five years now and sometimes he felt like he was the one being sentenced. There weren’t any other good jobs in town that had benefits. He had a family to feed so beggars couldn’t be choosers. He had jumped at the chance to work here, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed it. They didn’t pay him well enough to have to watch these poor suckers get naked and whack off in the shower. He’d seen enough naked men to last a lifetime.
They could do whatever they wanted in their cells, even though he could write them up for that, too, but the poor bastards had to get off somehow. He wouldn’t turn a blind eye, though, if he caught them doing each other. That was a mortal sin. The bible was adamant about that. He knew what went on in the cells so he no tolerance for any of them and what they might do.
He had no tolerance for this one, either. He was going to hurry him up by turning off the water. He didn’t care if he didn’t get to rinse off the soap. He could plainly see it was all over his body. Serves him right for being here. That was his problem. He was the one in charge and he was calling the shots.
Jamie was angry enough to let loose and tell him what he was and wasn’t going to do and demand he turn the water back on. He hesitated. If he did that he might lose everything he had been working toward, over a stupid, lousy shower.
He told himself every day to stay in control of his mouth. He didn’t want to do something that would mess up his chances of going home. This would get him in trouble, probably get written up and lose his line class. That would put him in 24 hour lock up.
Was it worth it over a shower? No. He was angry because he couldn’t do anything about it. Right and wrong didn’t matter. He’d screw the last months he was trying to get through so he could get moved back up to population. He wanted to go to school so he could take care of his family when he got out. He had to remember that.
Jamie stopped and shut his mouth. He clamped his lips together and tried to think fast. He had two ways to go. Each one had a different result. Up till now he followed his instinct and let his anger speak for him. It never worked. Not once. He could do it different this time.
He reached for his towel and covered himself. He didn’t look at the guard in a confrontational way. He lowered his head and looked down. What did he really want here? He only wanted to finish his shower and he didn’t want no trouble. He didn’t need to let his pride stand in the way. He sure didn’t want a stand off with a guard that would only end one way – with him in lock up.
“Sir?” he said respectfully. “Could I have another minute . . . please . . . to rinse off?” Jamie waited. He said nothing else. It was the guards turn to talk. There was nothing he should find fault with.
“About time,” the guard thought to himself. He was being shown the respect he thought he deserved. Why he thought he deserved respect without earning it, because he was a guard, was at the root of the problem between inmates and guards. But Jamie appearing subservient felt good so thought he’d bestow a little kindness on him, like a man in authority should do.
“Okay, one minute,” he said as he flipped his fingers at him like he was brushing a fly away from his face.
“Make it snappy,” he added.
The guard turned the water back on and stood there and watched. You couldn’t be too careful with these morons. You never knew what they might do.
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