I’m Someone Time Forgot

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Busy busy busy. Life is full. I’m nearly done editing another chapter for my book. I will say this draft has been much more interesting to write than the first draft because I was writing in the dark for so long not knowing how I wanted to write the story – how to connect the dots. I’m still not sure if I have it right. Please feel free to tell me what you think about my writing style. What is right and what is wrong. Scroll down. All posts with partial chapters have a copy of the book cover at the top. Scroll down enough and I posted full chapters. 

My plan – when the book is published the digital album will be offered as a free download. Otherwise, the music can be bought at hopefully, a variety of sites including this one and my main music site at http://sonniquick.net 

The title of this blog post is an upcoming chapter. But what I will give you now is the music to listen to. I have to go back and forth between 3 main things but the all over lap.

One of the hardest parts of prison time for any inmate, and more so, the ones who have extended time is the loss of people. I think most believe their family and friends will be there for them when they need it. Friends disappear first and make new friends. Life goes on. Close family will be there until they aren’t. Even family has their breaking point on how much they will give of themselves before they stop.  Stop writing. Stop emotionally supporting. Stop financially helping. The more years that go by, the less they are there. There are excuses why they don’t write or visit. They have their own life to live, right? 

Jamie does feel forgotten. When he is remembered it  make him so happy and that is an emotion he rarely feels. This is why I could never let him down. I knew 12 years ago when I started writing that this would be a commitment I couldn’t break.  I don’t understand why it was so easy for other people. Maybe they thought no matter what they did, or didn’t do, he would always love them. But I have his letters. I know how much it has affected him

I wonder if they think about how that affects the person on the other end? 

1. Writing chapters ( and blog posts)

2. Recording music (and promoting it)

3. Researching how to make it all work together

If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to ITFO NEWS. I send out a newsletter about every 6 weeks. I shoot for 4 but I run out of time. So I DO NOT inundate your email box. I send new music and videos you might miss and info about what is going on.

I know you get asked to subscribe to a lot of places, but having a way to reach you as I build a list of people who like my music, and understand why I support Jamie and the needed changes to our prison system, is so important.

I am a very teeny tiny guppy in a huge ocean of experienced authors and musicians and the only thing that will get me a chance to get noticed is a mailing list. If I were to interest someone in helping me they will want to know how many people are on my mailing list.

For the last 4 years this has been my life and I promised Jamie I will find a way for him to finally have a life. He’s a good man. He’s worth it. So here is the link:

 

 

Crazy Dreams and Sleepless Nights – chapter

Time. More time. What does it mean, Jamie thought. So many countless hours of time were spent trying to figure that out. How does he use this time he was given as a sentence? Why is it called a sentence? Because there is an end? This was time stolen from him he can never get back. Never. Time that was meant for his son.
He didn’t have a record before this. It wasn’t like he had been in and out of jail. Juvenile detention didn’t count. He did that time for his brother to protect him. Yes, he was with the dude who had a gun and robbed a club, but he wasn’t the one who did it.
He panicked and ran and got caught. What was seventeen years in prison going to change? There was no point to this. Did it take that long to know he had to pick better friends?
He had no friends. He was never free long enough to make friends that mattered. There was only Morgan and the kids. That is why it mattered so much. She was the only one out there that had been part of his life except for his family. Now he was in here and he needed someone out there where he mattered, someone to come home to. He had to face it; she wasn’t going to be there because she went on with her life. To continue thinking about her being there was stupid and it always made him feel bad.
Jamie sat there with tears in his life, like he always sat there. He closed his eyes and rocked back and forth. He tried to think of something else, but he couldn’t. He was tired of thinking about his memories. They were worn out.

It wasn’t a good feeling knowing he was as a prisoner because they said he was a danger to society. His side of the story was pointless, so he was convicted and sentenced without anything from him. That’s how they do things.
So he guessed he was lost, hidden somewhere in this concept of time. Time to eat. Time to shower. Time spent on lockdown. Wasted time. Endless time. Time to sit and think. He didn’t have enough to do to fill the time.
Jamie spent a lot of time staring at the walls. Strange, when he thought about it. He spent his time like he was feeding coins into a vending machine.
Sometimes he kicked and beat his hands on the walls when he got fed up and wanted to lash out. It was how he handled frustration. But today he sat calmly on his bunk and stared at the wall, imagining a different world on the other side. He could see through it if he concentrated. When he focused, he could see his son playing outside and talking to his mom, asking where his daddy was and if he was ever going to come home. Thoughts like this killed him with pain, so why did he do it to himself, over and over?
Jamie remembered when he was young he wondered where his own father was, and why he was the only kid in the family who didn’t have one. He learned to not think about it because it didn’t do no good. He never got a real answer so he stopped asking. He didn’t want his son to go through the same thing he did, but he was and it hurt to know it was his fault.
How could he shake these feelings when they crept up on him and went round and round through his brain? Times like this he missed Morgan and his son the most. If only things could have been different.
The feeling of loss settled on his heart like a heavy blanket and suffocated him. He felt so alone.

How good it would be if he could sit and have a conversation with someone today, just to talk about stuff. No yelling to another cell, but a real talk. Yes, he had Sonni, and they talked. It helped a lot, but that could be him going crazy. He had to think about that. It wasn’t normal. If he told anyone they would for sure think he had lost it. But he hadn’t seen her in weeks. He hoped she was okay.
Jamie sighed. The more he tried to pass the time the slower it went. He laid on his bed and stretched out. Then he turned on his right side and curled into a fetal position. He wrapped his left arm around his knees so he had something to hold and put his other arm under his head. He laid there, slowly breathing, not moving.
When someone goes to prison his head changes. He’s not the same anymore, he knew that. He had to grow up, but without experiences that would teach him the right way to do things. He had little wisdom.
Will people he knew only see him as he was years ago? What if no one took the time to see who he became? Have they changed, too? There were so many things that happened since he got here that have shaped who he is today. More will happen.
Jamie hadn’t gotten used to the changes that happened to him during his four years in juvenile detention before he ended up here. What did he learn about life? He knew he didn’t have enough practice living on his own. Here he was, a grown man, and he hadn’t experienced yet how to take care of his own life and how to deal with the problems of everyday living without someone to lean on.
He might think he would be okay and make the right choices but he only knew what he knew. He didn’t know what he didn’t know, if that made any sense. Could he count on people helping him when they weren’t helping him now? One thing was certain, though. He didn’t have to wiry about it right now. He wasn’t going anywhere.
He spent far too much time with his own thoughts. Why did no one think he needed help to survive. He wasn’t thinking just about money. He needed to know he mattered. He wanted to knowWas he not worth it anymore just because he was in a prison?
No letters came asking him if he was okay. Did he need anything? Without Sonni . . . he left it at that. He didn’t know what he would do without her, and she was so sick. It wasn’t fair to expect her to be there.
If someone took the time to find out how he was, where did they take it? Did they leave it wherever they took it for someone else to find? Did it get lost, too? If it was found, would the time be added to the end of his sentence? He was losing it.
These were the thoughts that could drive a man crazy. When he left this prison one day he would not be the same person anymore. He would be a stranger to everyone.
He won’t have to worry about that for a long time because there was still a lot of time to go. Go where? Insane? Hurry up and wait.

This was how Jamie spent his lonely hours. No matter what, his mind never stopped. Time became the enemy and he wanted to scream, to prove to himself he still existed. No wonder so many dudes in here went crazy.
Doing time, that was how a prison sentence was described. “How much time did he get?” The more time you got told people how bad the crime was, whatever you did, or didn’t do. What was scary is you didn’t have to commit a crime to get a sentence of time to do. You only needed to be accused of something to get put in here and if you or your family didn’t have the money to pay for an attorney you could kiss a chunk of your life away. It affected poor people the most, Blacks and minorities. The kids all seemed to lose their dads at some point.
Someone might say he didn’t get enough time as if how much time he got could make a difference and make everything be okay again. But frankly no one cared how much time he had to do.
Doing time. How can you “do” time? What do you do when you do time. He almost laughed trying to come up with an explanation for that. He was bored. He had nothing to do. Maybe time will stop.

This was his life – every day. Every single damn day. This was how mental illness snuck up on you if weren’t careful. He tried not to have conversations with himself, speaking both sides as if he were talking to another person. What if someone listened?
He stopped placing and stood silent for a few seconds. Did anyone hear what he and Sonni talked about? They had to. But did they hear what she said? Or was it only in his head? Maybe he spoke both parts? That couldn’t be possible because he could hear her, and he didn’t know what she was going to say, did he? He didn’t dream up her part of the conversation. At least he didn’t think he did. No one ever said anything about hearing him talk to himself. That was too weird.
Then he remembered the first time she came to visit when he called the guard to his cell. He couldn’t see her, so he thought his secret was probably safe.
Jamie wished she would come+ again soon. It had been awhile. He hoped she was okay.

The holidays had finally passed, his birthday, too. He was glad of that. Get these depressing feel good days over with because they didn’t feel very good to him. Starting with Halloween, a kid ‘s fun time he will never get the chance to experience with his son.
Then came Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and his birthday. All that happened in a little over two months, bang, bang, bang, and it was depressing. Now he waited for Valentines Day. He knew by now he would spend it alone. It was just another day.
Laying there he fell asleep. He slept so much that one day an officer came by and asked him if he was okay. Sleeping was one way to pass the time, back and forth from reality.

Everyone dreams. . .

Jamie woke up and found himself walking down a driveway. “What the heck,” he murmered to himself as he looked around.
There was snow on the ground and the sidewalk that wound around to the front door of the residence had been shoveled and cleared. Funny, he should be cold because he was only wearing his prison whites, but he didn’t feel cold even though it was January. The air felt weird, like the time he went to the hospital. He wanted to experience it as long as he could.
Jamie had never been in snow before. The only snow he saw was in pictures. He glanced at the back of a car in the driveway next door and it had Pennsylvania plates. This must be Sonni’s house. He couldn’t see any other reason to be here.
He walked over to a mound of shoveled snow and kicked it. Snow went flying. Jamie laughed like a little kid. If anyone was looking, what would they see? Snow flying up like a breeze hit it? He bent down and gathered snow in his hands and formed it into a ball. Doing this impossible thing while in a dream was amazing. He threw the snowball and it shattered apart when it hit the tree.
The last time he came to see Sonni was because she was too sick to travel. He was afraid that was the reason she had not come to see him for so long. . .

End partial chapter. Subscribe to ITFO News to read the full chapter. Then email me at squick@mynameisjamie.net and I’ll email the chapter to you.

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Recent Letter From Jamie

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How is Jamie doing?

Sometimes it is hard to tell. I know he wants to show me he is doing okay so I don’t worry, but I don’t know how would fare having to live in circumstances like his.  How would you feel if you were never told anything and if you were you’d have to question if it was a lie or if he was just being given bull shit. How many years have I been dong this?

I know in April he comes up for parole again and he wants to be optimistic but nothing encouraging has happened. He actually has an uncle who is a parole officer in Huntsville, but I don’t think he has been in touch with him. So let me tell you what Jamie wrote.

Before I begin, I want to post an earlier piece – in case you might have missed it.

Good evening to you,

. . . .It is good to know you are still so much into your music. Not many people follow their passion. I can’t wait to hear the pieces you have made for me. I’m very thankful, not just for the music but for everything.

I know how things are on the outside with how bad it has gotten for black people just going into businesses and living their lives and white people calling the cops on them for stupid reasons. It is us who should be afraid of them, not them be afraid of us. They are the ones who are trying to kill us every chance they get. I hear it on the radio and read it in the newspapers that float around here at times.

When and if I ever get parole I know my family was trying to decide where I’m going and my brother said he would, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think I should try to go to a half way house. My family doesn’t know me anymore and hasn’t wanted to know how I’m doing and I don’t to be told what I have to do or be pressured. They don’t understand and there is too much that could go wrong if I’m not in the right situation. I have to make decisions for myself.

Thanksgiving, since I moved prisons again was different. Well, everything was the same but the chicken patty shocked me. Would you call Allred Unit and ask when they are going to send my property? I don’t have anything. You mentioned sending books so if you could, having something to read would be really good. I’m not going anywhere.

I’ll be here at Hughes Unit until I finish this program. After that I don’t know. I told Jamie jr. to never start something he can’t finish. This program is based on life and goals in life. Ho to deal with stress and depression and how deal with interaction after being seg for so long. But I have talked with the group yet. My case worker comes to my door to check up on me and talks to me about short term goals and long term goals. That is all I have done for four weeks now. There are four phases to the program and each phase is seven weeks long.

I can’t wait to hear back from you. It’s late so I better wrap this up. My love goes out to you like always.

<<< >>>

As hard as this has been for him, and I have been there through some pretty bad times and he through mine. I can only hope that having me there has helped him cope and gain wisdom about ho to deal with his life. But ultimately it has been responsibility to carry on with a positive attitude. I think he is doing that.

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Twitter @sonni-quick
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sonniquick.net      Main music website – YouTube videos and separate music tracks – subscribe to a separate mailing list for music. (The best place to go for all of the music and videos)
Watch and Whirl – my other blog

YouTube – Sonni Quick Piano Improv

Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart?

Listen to Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

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This is the most recent music recorded for Jamie’s book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.

This chapter is in the middle of the book at time when he is trying to really understand that he needed to give up hope that he had no family to go home to when he got out. He had tried to imagine for so long there was someone waiting for him and his family would be there but the kids would be grown and would his son accept him? Would he want to know him? He could talk to him. Even though he knew this already a part of him didn’t want to give up. The grief he experiences when he thinks of everything he lost he can never get back it is overwhelming.

Stay tuned! 

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I Can’t Believe it’s Been 13 Years – What’s Next?

 

This past year I’ve made a mad dash between Pa and the Florida Keys every month or so. Right now I’m fleeing the cold – again!

This is the most recent music at SoundCloud – Keeping Time

https://m.soundcloud.com/sonni-quick/keeping-time

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The book I’m writing about Jamie’s life finally starting looking like a book once I printed it out the mmanuscript.Now I can read one chapter after another to see how it reads. I’m sending it off to Jamie. He has the first 8 chapters. I’m sending 14 more. I still think I am about 60% done until it goes to the next step. This time in Pa I recorded more music and another music video. In between it is constant promoting and social media. All of this makes for a 12 hr day minimum, often 7 days a week. I am determined this is all for a reason and to be successful it has to be a priority.

How is Jamie doing? He has worked hard to keep his head on straight. Some days are harder than others. He was transferred to another prison to take part in a program that includes therapy with several other inmates but I don’t have the details yet of exactly what it is.

He comes up for parole again next April but if he were to get out right now he would unprepared to re enter society. It is like solders coming back after constantly being deployed in a war zone, dealing with death and trauma and then expected to walk back into the life they left. It’s not that easy. It is why the suicide rate and homelessness is so high for soldiers. So is lack of medical care. They receive 30 days of meds. Then what do they do? How does Jamie get his seizure meds in a timely manner?When an inmate has been locked in isolation for umpteen years, what is “normal” for them?

When he was moved to this prison they started feeding him the worst food – food loaf – mushed up garbage into a loaf that is sliced and fed to them. Under punishment the longest they can feed can it to them is 7 days so how do they get away with it?

This is why I’m selling T-shirts – pinned to the beginning of the blog. I’m on a fixed income. His yearly medical fee is coming up in Jan. It’s $100 I don’t have and buy food, too. I’m putting this out there in case anyone can help, even a little.

I think my train is getting closer to S. Fl. The leaves on the trees are green again. I’ll be here for 6 weeks then I’ll go home for a few weeks ( it will still be Jan!) And hop on another train. I have piano students in Florida so I can’t stay gone too long. It’s hard to get students these days. Nobody buys pianos. Kids are often not introduced to music in school. Parents buy electronic toys for their kids to learn on and they don’t sound or play the same.  But I have to keep trying to make money. 

 

Poetry and Chapter – Unintended Consequences (edited)

Unintended Consequences

I never thought I’d have to live
in such a lonely place
I touch the walls on either side
I never thought I’d call this home
Memories here I can’t erase
Two thousand people all alone

I never thought this was where I’d be
My life would work it out
I never dreamed my window
was the only way I’d see
the beauty of the world outside
How can I continue?

An unintended consequence
Not thinking what will be
the end result, not thinking through
Pretending I was being free
I didn’t think, I never thought
my careless choice I can’t undo

I never thought what would I crave
the most if taken away
The touch of skin, your silken breath?
Sends goosebumps up my spine
I shiver once and cry for more
“You didn’t think,” I heard you cry

I only have my memories now
To keep me warm at night
I wrap my arms around my head
Pretending you are touching me
It will be years, will you be gone?
Touching someone else instead

An unintended consequence
Not thinking what will be
the end result, not thinking through
Pretending I was living free
But I didn’t think, I never thought
It would mean losing you

 

Sonni Quick ©2018

It is a process, writing, editing, chapters, blog posts, music, videos and poetry. I love doing all of it. It would be great if I could split my brain in two and do two things at the same time.

Today as I went through my notes I realized I had a half finished poem. That chapter was published about 6 months ago. Today I will post part of it for those who want to read it. Please subscribe for full chapters. Afterward just drop me a message and I’ll email the complete chapter to you.

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

It was so hard to keep his head together. Jamie’s mind went all over the place. It was hard when there was no one to talk to. There was no reason to not let his mind wander anywhere it wanted to go. He was so alone. He could only talk to himself. He was in 24/7 lock up for a year.

Administrative segregation, or adseg, it was called. Solitary in other prisons. It was all the same thing. He had tried so hard to not let this happen. Did it matter if he tried or not? Why did he agonize over it. He tried to stay away from trouble but it always found him, anyway.
     Mentally, he felt himself going down and there was nothing to keep him from smashing headfirst onto the bottom. He didn’t know what was going on. But he tried to get it together. Before this happened he tried. He didn’t know if he could try anymore.
    Before he got sent to lock up he had made a change in his life. It was a pretty big one. He thought at the time that maybe it would help, maybe not. Some dudes he met told him about Islam. He decided to join with them. They still believed in God, or Allah they called him, but there were a lot of differences in what the two religions believed. There were a lot of Christians and a lot of Muslims all saying they were right and the other was evil. His can they both be right? Islam has been around longer he was told.
     These inmates weren’t like a lot of the other ones. They didn’t talk tough. Peace was way more important than violence, than who was bigger and badder.
    He decided to give it a try because everything he had learned through the Bible didn’t do anything to help him. It never changed anything for him, no matter how much he prayed. His prayers weren’t answered. It didn’t make any difference and he thought by now something would have happened to let him know God was at least thinking about helping him.
     One of them gave him a book about the Islamic faith so he would have something to read and study. It wasn’t and he was supposed to pray five times a day. He needed a prayer rug to do it right but he didn’t have a way to get one. Still, he tried to learn and went to their meetings.    Then this happened and he was more alone than ever.
     To have your life so controlled in prison was more than anyone could take without getting angry and wanting to bust everything up. How was he supposed to get rid of the anxiety? Eat now, sleep now, shower now, breathe now, take a crap now otherwise the toilet won’t flush and you have to look at and smell the shit all day. No, you can’t go to commissary. He couldn’t do anything unless it was at the right time that someone else determines.
     A year completely alone, meals alone and no one to talk to. It was too long. There was nothing to break the monotony, the boredom. Bits and pieces of thoughts swirled around in his brain and they wanted to make him crazy.
     Things were happening in his life on the outside he couldn’t control or fix. How could he deal with this confinement day after day and not be able to do anything about it?
     Not only that, he knew there was another man in Morgan’s life, but that had nothing to do with what they shared. But he couldn’t talk to her about it and it was killing him. He had to keep what they had separate from any other person. It was his sanity. The two ideas didn’t touch. He couldn’t handle thinking about it any other way.  They shared the treasure of a son together. Nothing could take that away. She wouldn’t be with this dude if he hadn’t screwed up. He needed to believe she was still waiting, but it was getting harder and harder to do that.
     It was his own fault – all of it. Trying to find the answer wasn’t easy and many days he wanted to crawl under the floor and give up – just cash it in. Stop thinking of the future. He might not make make it that far. He might not get out of here.
     He started and stopped hunger strikes. He would only pull himself out of a funk because he was afraid of what it would do to his son. How would he deal with his own life when he grew up if he knew his father gave up on his?

(End of partial chapter. Click subscribe to get full chapters)

 

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Eyes In The Back of My Head – ITFO Chapter

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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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What Does It Mean To Be Alone – ITFO Chapter

last-note-2-sm
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?

 

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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.

 

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Unintended Consequences – Chapter – ITFO

Last Note 2 sm

It was so hard to keep his head together. Jamie’s mind went all over the place. It was hard when there was no one to talk to. He was so alone. There was no one to talk to so he often carried on conversations with himself. He was in 24/7 lock-up for a year. Administrative segregation, or adseg, it was called. He didn’t leave his cell except fir showers and commissary once month. He had tried so hard to not let this happen. Staying away from trouble was his goal, but it always found him, anyway.  

     Mentally, he felt himself going down and there was nothing to keep him from smashing headfirst onto the bottom. He didn’t know what was going on, but he tried to get it together. Before this happened he tried so hard. He didn’t know if he could try anymore.
     Before he got sent to lock-up he had made a change in his life. It was a pretty big one. He thought at the time maybe it would help, maybe not. Some dudes he met told him about Islam. He decided to join with them. They still believed in God, or Allah they called him, but there were a lot of differences in how they practiced.
      They weren’t like a lot of the other dudes. They didn’t talk tough. Peace was way more important than violence, or who was bigger and badder or who did the worst crimes.
     He decided to give it a try because everything he had learned through the bible never changed anything for him. No matter how much he prayed his prayers weren’t answered. It didn’t make any difference and he thought by now something would have happened to let him know God was at least thinking about helping him.
     One of them gave him a book to read and study. It was hard because he was supposed to pray about it five times a day. He needed a prayer rug but he didn’t have a way to get one. Anyway, he tried to learn and went to their meetings. He enjoyed the conversations about life. Then something happened and he was locked up, more alone than ever.
     To have your life so controlled as this was more than anyone would be able to take without getting angry and wanting to break everything. He was tired of being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to breathe or take a crap. He couldn’t do anything unless it was the right time.
     A year completely alone; it was too long. There was nothing to break the monotony. Bits and pieces of thoughts swirled around in his brain and they wanted to make him crazy.
     Things were happening in his life on the outside he couldn’t control or fix. How could he deal with this confinement day after day and not be able to do anything about it?
     Not only that, he knew there was another man in Morgan’s life. He convinced himself it had nothing to do with what they shared together. The two ideas didn’t touch. He couldn’t handle thinking about it any other way. They shared the treasure of a son together. Nothing could take that away. She wouldn’t be with this dude if he hadn’t screwed up. He needed to believe she was still waiting for him, but it was getting harder and harder to do.
     It was his own fault – all of it. Trying to find the answer was not easy and many days he wanted to crawl under the floor and give up. Just give up. Stop thinking of the future. He might not make make it. He might not get out of here.
     He started and stopped eating. He would only pull himself out of a funk because he was afraid of what it would do to his son. How would he deal with his own life when he grew up if he knew his father gave up on his?
     Jamie Jr. couldn’t read or write yet and it would be some years before he’d be able to. He wouldn’t miss his father during his childhood because he had never been there to learn to miss him. He had never been there, and that was what ripped him up. It hurt badly if he thought about it too much.
     His son won’t understand why his father wasn’t around. He really didn’t even know he should be around. But most of all, Jamie was afraid his son won’t love him when gets out.
     Maybe his son will hate him. His son, his only child might not care. He might not want to see him and that would just kill him. How could he stop these thoughts from going around in his brain?
     If he wrote to him what could he say? He couldn’t explain that he was in prison. What’s that? Why was he there? What did he do? He could never explain how bad it was in here. He didn’t need to think about that. When he gets a lot older and can see him face to face, maybe then he could explain.
     What is he being told when he asks about his daddy? He probably doesn’t ask yet. Even if he did ask there is nothing positive that could be said. He could only hope he was told his daddy loved him very much. He could hope.

<<< >>>

This was not one of Jamie’s better days. He laid down on his bunk and placed his right arm over his eyes. Maybe he could sleep for awhile. He was laying on a metal frame covered only in a sheet and blanket.
     He had been here for a few weeks so far. All of his property had been taken away, even his mattress. He was supposed to get it back but he didn’t know when. Sharing the floor with roaches was not an option so he did the best he could to get comfortable.
     The days were long. They stretched on endlessly. He knew he wouldn’t set foot outside his cell today. It wasn’t a shower day, so there was nothing to break up the boredom.. He had nothing to read because they took his books. Sleep was the only thing he could do to pass the time.
     After an hour of trying to sleep he gave up. He got to his feet and did some stretches, trying to get the blood flowing. It was up to him to keep his body going as best he could. He had to try. It was harder now that he was in lock up. He was where they wanted him to be and they made sure he got there. He tried to mind his own business but trouble always found him.
     Jamie was hungry. When Jamie ha a little money in his account he could buy things like tuna or sardines, sandwhich spread and crackers and chips. But right ow they aren’t letting him go to commissary so he was stuck with what they fed him. They never gave him enough food. His stomach growled all the time. Even when they did bring food it was pretty bad. Bland, overcooked, tasteless and cold.  It was taken out of the freezers and thawed by the time it got to him, but it was never hot. It was hard to swallow but he had to eat something so he choked it down. It would be easier to eat if they put some jelly or honey on the breakfast pancakes so it wasn’t dry, but his comfort wasn’t something they cared about. Eat it or not, they didn’t care.
     He paced the length of his home, back and forth, over and over. Ten feet in one direction and ten feet in the other. Well, not really ten feet because his bunk took up some of the space.
     He couldn’t get Morgan out of his brain. Over and over he thought the words, “I’m thinking of you. I’m thinking of you. That’s all I can do.” Again. “I’m thinking of you. I’m thinking of you. That’s all I can do.” Again and again, like a broken record. As broken as he was broken and he cried.
     After rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands he bent down, opened his trunk and took out a couple sheets of paper. He laid them on the tiny stainless steel ledge attached to the toilet that served as his desk. Using the edge of an envelope he patiently drew lines across the paper so it looked like tablet paper. This way his sentences would be straight and easier to read. It also took up more time so he made the lines as carefully as he could.
     He began to write a letter to Sonni. She was the one person he could write to and explain what was going on in his head. If he kept everything bottled up it would make him crazy. Over and over he told himself, “I won’t be here forever. I won’t.” Fourteen more years out of seventeen.  It will feel like forever. Instead he tried to imagine the feeling of happiness when he walked out of the building, never looking back when it becomes time to start his life again.

 <<< >>>

 

Dec, 3, 2009

Dear Mom,                      
     I am sorry it has taken me so long to write back. Things are not so good on my end right now. I haven’t heard from Morgan in like a month.
     I’ve beat myself up about that. It has been almost four years since we were separated. The longest years of my life, including the years in juvenile detention and not letting me go for four years after promising me I would only have to stay nine months. They lied to me. Why mom? Why is this happening to me?
     My eyes are always full of tears, like blood from a wound that can never heal just thinking about life without her. I’m really hurting Mom.
     I’ve been in a fight. It happened a few weeks ago. I didn’t tell you. I’m on 24 hour lockdown now for a year. However, maybe it’s a good thing because there is really nothing to do where I can get into trouble. They don’t let us out of the cell for nothing. Everything comes to us unless we need to go to medical, and then we’re in handcuffs.
     Anyway, this is how I got into the fight. Me and some of the officers have had our run-ins. It just so happened that one of them was at the pill window when I went for my medications. Another dude who was in front of me started calling out the officer’s name. The officer came to me and wanted to write me up for it. I told him it wasn’t me. He said he didn’t believe me so we went back and forth about it. I didn’t tell him it was the dude in front of me. People have been known to get beat up bad for telling. I’m trying to stay out of trouble so I don’t point him out.
    Later I go to the dude and try to talk to him about it and he punches me in the mouth. I was shocked for a minute because all I wanted to do was talk. I let my anger get the best of me and fought back. I did that because in here, if you don’t fight when it comes your way everyone looks at it. Then it’s hell from then on if you know what I’m saying. Someone else will come at you.
     Afterward, the dude apologized and said he tried to take the case instead of me. The rage in me wanted to jump on him. I felt he took a lot from me because it was me who was put in lock-up, not him. I only had five months left to get my G2 classification and get contact visits. I could have held my family if they came to visit. If the came visit. He took that possibility away from me. Now I have to wait a year and a half. I’m now G5, adseg.
     They took my property from me. All I have now is my sheets, a blanket, tissue and a few bars of soap. My back is killing me. My books were taken away so I don’t have the study book for learning more about Islam r any other books.
     Now I just sit here and look at the walls. I can get more books if you send them; just regular books to help pass the time. It’s okay if you can’t. I don’t want to make you feel like you have to. I don’t have anyone else to ask.

Write back soon. Please Please
Love, Jamie

<<< >>>

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