Eyes in The Back of My Head
There was a murder in the shower. A dude was stabbed twenty-seven times by his cellmate. Jamie was blown away. It was going too far. This could happen to anyone in here if they got on the wrong side of someone else. Punishment was dished out the way anyone thought it should be. Lots of these dudes had been screwed by the justice system, so they were going to give justice the way they saw fit.
There was so much violence in this prison. No prison is a good prison but he heard dudes talk about this prison being one of the worst. The guards were corrupt and in business with the gangs. They make the inmates fight each other and bet on who will be left standing. He should be getting used to this by now, but he wasn’t. He didn’t want to get mixed up in it but they don’t let that happen. He was a big guy and he knew how to fight. He tried to stay by himself as much as possible. The last thing he wanted was to get more time added to his sentence, and they would do that in a heart beat if the wrong person saw a fight going down.
Eyes in the back of his head were what he needed. He couldn’t trust nobody to have his back. More than half the dudes in here had some sort of weapon and they wouldn’t hesitate to use it if they felt threatened.
Drugs were involved in everything. It’s how money was made on both sides of the fence. The quantity and variety of drugs coming through here was crazy. Pills, weed, heroin; you name it, it’s in here. There was more drugs in here than a crack house on a street corner, and just as easy to get – if you have the money. If you don’t, and you don’t pay up, that could get you killed.
It comes in packed along with supplies and the staff that worked in the kitchen or handled other supplies for the prison made sure it got to the right people. That wasn’t the only way it came in. Visitors smuggled it in, too. Some got caught and some didn’t. It’s not worth the risk. If you were an addict you’d probably think different.
On top of that, some of the men made their own wine. Five dudes recently got caught who were stupid drunk on their assess. Getting drunk wasn’t worth the possibility of getting caught with it, trying to escape reality. Whether inside or out when you didn’t like your life, drugs and alcohol gave you a false sense of a better world for a short time. Then you come down and you’re still living in the same screwed up place. People die of overdosing in here the same as on the street. He wasn’t tempted to do drugs, at least chemical ones that mixed with his seizure meds. That was dangerous. He didn’t mind a little weed, though, but in here you don’t know what you’re getting and there is some bad shit going around that really messes you up. The dude who killed his cellie in the shower was drunk when he did it. What happened that he needed to kill him over it? This wasn’t like the free world. No one thought about consequences. They reacted to what happened right that minute and didn’t care because they were already locked up.
Without a courtroom the men acted as the judge, jury and executioner in a much worse way than the courts could impose. It took very little for someone to decide you needed to die and you ended up with a knife across your throat. He wanted to be transferred somewhere else, but he didn’t see that coming anytime soon. In the meantime he needed to be careful.
Jamie was lucky. He had a window in this cell. sometimes he didn’t and never what time of day it was. It was suffocating. Sometimes he went a long time without breathing any fresh air. He couldn’t see much of anything out the window. He doubted if it had ever been cleaned. Still, when he closed his eyes he could feel light on his face when he closed his eyes and he could pretend he was anywhere but where he was.
Summer would be on them really quick. Right now it was the time of year when it wasn’t to hot or too cold. It wouldn’t last. In Texas the summers were killers, and every year more people died. There was always talk about how that needed to be fixed, usually around an election time, but nothing was ever done about it. They weren’t going to spend money they would rather put in their pockets.
It was going to be hard. There was nothing he could do but try to get through it. He dreaded this time of year. He had lived in Texas his whole life so he should be used to it. The difference was he couldn’t step through a door into air conditioning and find relief, except if he had to go to the medical unit.
Things weren’t looking up for him. He feels like he’s in a no-win situation between a few of the guards and inmates. If he wasn’t careful it could get him getting killed in the shower, too.
He had reason to be scared because these guards will let the inmates beat you up, or beat you up themselves. There was a fine line between guards and criminals that was crossed all the time. So it was really not guaranteed he would someday go home. He tried not to think about that, but it could happen.
Wanting to be with his family was the only thing that got him through the day. He promised himself he would never give up, even though he was hurting inside. There were a lot of corners to turn and hills to climb but that it was part of his life now and he had to find a way to get through it.
Jamie decided to stay in his cell today. He had little to do except have conversations with himself. He was doing his best to stay away from trouble but it managed to find him if he left his cell. He didn’t have anything to read he hadn’t read countless times already. He was restless. Sitting on his bunk he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep for awhile and kill some time.
“It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it?” Jamie kept his eyes closed and smiled. He was starting to like this. It was good timing, he needed someone to talk to.
He cocked his head to the right and opened his eyes.
“I can only take so much,” he said, answering her question.
Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail that went almost to her waist. It looked good on her. She stood there looking at him, wearing jeans and her hands were on her hips. She was smiling. He never realized before how valuable a smile was ’cause he sure didn’t get many. She might be Morgan’s mom but they sure didn’t look anything alike. They were both beautiful in their own way.
Suddenly he realized, if he was making all this up in his head he sure did have a good imagination, didn’t he? In a way he wished others could see her, to prove he wasn’t nuts, but maybe it was better this way.
Jamie thought about the three years they had been writing. He never really understood why she started writing to him after he had been inside almost two years, but he was glad she did. When he asked her, she said he was family, but after getting to know her she knew no one else was writing to him, so she did.
She sent books, a little money, and their friendship grew from there. He hated to ask her for money, but she was the only one who would help him. She didn’t make him feel like he was begging. He was grateful for everything she did, but he didn’t want anyone to think he was using her, especially Morgan. She told him not to feel like that. She helped him out because she wanted to. She sends what she can when she can.
Her letters kept him going. She was his connection to the outside world. He didn’t know if he would make it if she stopped writing. He knew people had their own lives and were busy surviving. He didn’t blame them for not having time for him. He didn’t need anyone to write all the time. The occasional letter he did get was about what was happening to whom, but no one asked him how he was doing or if he needed anything. If you don’t ask you don’t know. Gradually even those letters faded away .
Jamie needed her, and she knew it. When she wrote it was like a conversation back and forth. She cared how he was doing. Apart from the mental need, if she didn’t help him get things like stamps and hygiene he’d have to find some other way to get them. He might end up owing someone and maybe that would not end too good. In addition, she was a sight for sore eyes, even if she wasn’t real.
“I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to handle the situations I have on my hands right now and what to do about it.” Jamie told her.
“What’s the problem?” she asked.
“I can’t sit in my cell 24/7. In fact, I’m not going to,” he said, making up his mind.
“Why do you think you need to stay in your cell?” not understanding the problem.
“If I can’t talk to these dudes about the problem we’re having then there’s only one solution.
She wasn’t going to like this. “I hate to go back down that road but I might have to. I’ve had two fights already and the way things are going there could be plenty more to come.”
“That’s what they do in here – fight,” he told her.
She paused for a few seconds and frowned.
“That’s the way karma works,” she began.
“Causes made in the past come into play today, or in your future,” she gently explained. “When a cause is made there is going to an effect at some point, for all the good and all the bad that has happened. The same is true for everyone. No one – gets away – with anything.”
Jamie got up and went to his locker. He sorted through a stack of letters until he found the one he was looking for.
Taking it out of the envelope and reading through it, he stopped and looked at her, “It’s true what you said,” he paused.
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