Standing next to the door of his cell, Jamie leaned his back against the wall. He stared at a cockroach walking across the floor, seemingly without a care in the world. He wondered what its plan was. Where was it going? He read somewhere that roaches had been around since the dinosaurs. The world could blow up from a nuclear bomb and the roaches would be the only living creatures that survived. He used to smash them for having the nerve to walk over his body, but there really was no point in doing that. There were a million more where that one came from.
He felt the same way about the guards. They were like cockroaches. They crawled out of the cracks in the walls looking for someone to walk on. What was the point of hating one and wanting to get even for the way they treated the inmates, when there was an endless supply of new guards getting younger and younger every year, replacing the ones who got burnt out and quit.
Some of them were barely eighteen, right out of school. They got maybe six weeks training trailing older guards around the prison before they were released to do whatever damage they could do on their own. They were put up against men in cells who were two- three times their age who had years of experience dealing asshole guards.
These young ones thought being a smartass was part of the job. The trouble was, they had a lot to learn. The men here had ways of getting even with guards who disrespect them for no reason.
One day there was an arrogant, new guard. A tough kid who today was helping bring lunch trays to the cells. Couldn’t be more than nineteen. He thought he would show off and spit on Jamie’s food before putting it through the open slot. He laughed after he did it, with an expression of “eat that, sucker.”
That was one meal Jamie didn’t eat. It pissed him off. This wasn’t the first time a guard intentionally ruined his meal and it probably wouldn’t be the last, and if this kid was doing the same thing to food trays of other men, he’ll learn his lesson the hard way.
He’d seen it enough times. The men will collect piss and shit. On a certain day and time they’ll catch this guard in the hall and shower him with the waste they had saved up. Even some women guards got nailed.
Man, you should hear the screams as all the stink landed on them. They couldn’t get away. Going back or forward, someone was gonna nail ’em. Jamie shook his head and gave a little chuckle at what the men have to do for a little amusement around here.
The free-for-all stink bombs did make for some heavy duty, eye-watering fumes in the unit, and inmates had to clean up the mess, but how exactly were the guards going to punish men who were already in 24/7 lock-up? They could take away their personal property for awhile, but it was worth it.
In defense, the kid tried to keep up his shitty attitude on his face to show he didn’t care, but it couldn’t keep the embarrassment from showing through pink skin as each man going down the corridor laughed at him. The young guard also learned that day not be so blatantly stupid.
Some of the men locked up in here weren’t wound too tight. Maybe they kept them in adseg too long. Some cracked and couldn’t take it anymore. There wasn’t enough mental health people to take care of them. They needed the right meds they weren’t getting.
You really had to have your shit together to not lose it. Too much isolation was hard, but no one who worked here gave a damn if it was right or wrong. Inmates became punching bags.
Most everybody got out of here sooner or later but some didn’t leave being able to survive on the outside and ended up coming back from no family or friends to help them.
Most of the teenage guards the prison hired were hyped up with making steady money but most didn’t make it past a year before they were fed up with the working conditions and quit. More took their place.
Jamie had just finished his breakfast of three small, cold pancakes with a spoon of peanut butter, cold coffee and an apple. It was still dark outside. Another long day stretched ahead of him
He tried, sometimes to put a schedule together of things to do to fill the day. It was hard to keep to it. He had never developed the discipline to keep to a schedule. Keep it loose, but keep the day going.
The workout room, where there were weights and equipment was off- limits to him. All he could do was what he could mange in his tiny space, like push ups, sit ups and squats. He had to tire himself out or he laid awake at night.
The guards constantly woke them up all night anyway, making sure they didn’t escape, which was a joke. It was just another form of torture. If the guards had to be awake and miserable, so did they.
Two weeks earlier he got his property back. Having all your things taken away really messes with your head. There was so little he could call his own that reminded him that being an inmate here was his only identity. Not having his pictures to look at or old letters to read again made him feel more alone than he was, if that were possible. These things, along with books and magazines made him feel human, and a human being had things, as few as they were. Did the prison want him to feel grateful for getting back these few personal items? It worked. Being able to see his son’s face, Morgan and his family made him feel less lonely, but it also made him feel depressed because he was away from them.
“Okay,” he said out loud. “Don’t let it suck you in or it won’t let you go all day.” There have been enough days like that and they were miserable, “Get a grip.”
Shaking it off, he went through the titles of his books, running his hands over the covers. When they take your stuff you don’t always get it back, or what used to work, like a fan, might be replaced with one not working.
All his books on Islam were there. Guess nobody wanted those, so he tried to do some studying, and his prayers. He needed a way to focus on the positive parts of his life and trying to do these prayers every day would help him learn discipline. Five times a day, though, was hard.
An hour later, looking through the slots in the wall that passed for a window, he could tell it was morning. He didn’t think the sun was out and it was already hot enough to know he would really be sweating in a couple hours.
Summer was almost over according to the calendar, and he was glad about that, but Texas in the summer lasted a lot longer than it did in other states. It wouldn’t start cooling down until mid October. These thick walls trapped the heat and turned it into an oven.
He kept himself busy by doing a little cell cleaning. It would make him feel better. Being moved around to different pods on different floors he found most cells were so filthy you didn’t want to touch anything. The little bars of lye soap the prison gave him each month had to do all of his cleaning including his body, the cell and his clothing. He kept his space as clean as he could. If he had a little money in his account that Sonni sent he could buy a bar of soap but mostly he used it for stamps, hygiene and food.
It was time for lunch so he didn’t pay much attention to the noises he heard in the hall until they were at his door. He was on his hands and knees, looked up and saw it was the sergeant, with two guards. This man didn’t usually come unless it was something important. Was he in more trouble he didn’t know about? Again, he was trying to keep his nose clean of any problems, but that didn’t mean anything here. Trouble found him easy enough no matter what he did.
“James Cummings?” The officer asked, glancing around the cell.
“Yes, sir,” he answered with suspicion in his voice and got to his feet.
Jamie’s eyebrows knit together. Standing up he walked closer to the door, but not too close. This man knew who he was. He didn’t have to ask.
There was a clipboard in his left hand. He glanced at it and let it hang by his side. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the sweat from his forehead. The sergeant hated – hated coming into the adseg pods of the unit, especially in the summer. They smelled like an open sewer covered up in Lysol, which it was. Jamie could tell this was an official visit of some sort.
“You’re being transferred.”
Jamie lit up. “Transferred?” Maybe he’d be moved closer to home.
“Where to?” He didn’t want to show his excitement.
“McConnell Unit,” the sergeant answered. “in Beeville.”
“Contact your family if you want to.” Then he turned away and walked toward the end of the hall with the two guards walking behind him.
Jamie walked over and sat down on his bunk. Putting his elbows on his knees and the palms of his hands together in a picture of prayer, he sat there tapping his fingers against his chin. He had to think. Why were they moving him? He hadn’t ask to be moved. He had thought about putting in for a medical transfer but he hadn’t done anything about it.
They were moving him clear back across the state, way south, near Brownsville which was near the Mexican border. He would still be too far away for anyone to visit in one day so he’d be in the same boat he was in right now. And it would be just as stinking hot, if not more so. He was sure if he were close enough his family would come to see him regularly, or at least sometimes. They shouldn’t move people so far away from family. It makes it worse for them. Wasn’t locking them up enough punishment? Did they have to keep family away, too?
He knew about McConnell Unit. He talked to a dude in the day room a while back who used to be there. He had nothing good to say about it, but was there anything good to say about any prison? A lot of inmates died there. He would do as best as always to stay out of trouble if he could.
Going back across the state would be just as long and boring as it was getting here a few years ago. He was naive back then and thought if he were good he could get out early. Now he just wanted to get out in one piece. The trip will be several uncomfortable days on the road, but he’d be out of here. He’ll be able to look out the window and see life, sky and birds. Cars on the road passing others who were going places. They probably didn’t understand how precious their life was and how easily it could be taken from you.
This was another sharp turn to the left. Where would this take him?
ITFO news is a variety of things. Published about once month unless I get too far behind or traveling and skip a month. I don’t inundate you inbox, I only like to keep you informed on how the writing, music and videos are coming alone.
I sometimes publish someone’s story that needs telling or other news in the prison industry that I didn’t put at Jamie’s Facebook page. It’s a way to keep you in the loop. You can follow my music and videos at my website. You have a wonderful day.
Jamie’s New Merchandise
I am raising much needed funds. For two main reasons. Jamie has some legal expenses that are connected to the lack of medical care he isn’t receiving for epilepsy that has caused him to have more seizures I am using legal means to force the issue. My second reason is the funds needed to keep the ball rolling in producing the book/music I am writing. I want to do a good job. The proceeds from this will help him get his life started when he gets out.
50% of the profit from initial sales will be used for jamie’s personal needs such as stamps, hygiene and items he can get at the commissary. This is the first time I have for outside help from anyone who can. I survive on a disability check and trying to take care of these things has become more difficult as expenses have risen.
Adult XX light weight cotton