Seize The Day – The Music

Listen to Seize the Day by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

 

 

 

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I finally recorded the music for the chapter in “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. Sometimes the music feels more right than others. I’ve gone through many changes in my music writing the past few years as I’ve experimented with sound and recording layers instead of just piano. It has been a learning process. It isn’t easy to lay one improv layer over an improv and then adding one or two more on top of that. I don’t know anything about playing other instruments such as flute or strings to know how it feels when you play them. It might not be appropriate to that instrument.  It is also next to impossible to make a flute breathe when it is played on a keyboard. So it is a learning experience.

I don’t play blues or jazz or other genres I enjoy listening to. I consider myself a classical musician who no longer plays the classics, but the training is there. So I play “myself.” and how I hear the music that comes out of my fingers. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I do.

At SoundCloud I have a playlist of just the music recorded for the book. At this time there are 25 pieces. There is other music there as well. I am also writing chapter 21. Starting over last January on a complete rewrite has been daunting but I’m now about 58,000 words into it.

When this is done it needs a story editor, to make sure it’s all connected and a line editor. Then I can set a publishing date and work like hell on promotion. The sequel, “Open the Cage and Fly” is already in promotional story planning because it covers from 2016 through Jamie ‘s reentry into the world. He has already lived a couple of those years.

The story of being in prison is only half of the story.  How he survives is also important. I have a catch up post to do on him yet because a lot has happened this past year I haven’t written about because of all the rest of the work that needs doing.

If you subscribed to the newsletter thank you so much. It’s the only way to let people know what is going on who don’t follow me regularly. It is so important to its success. Having a mailing list opens doors that otherwise wouldn’t give me the time of day. I’m so late at getting the next ITFO News out simply because I only have one set of hands. But there will be one out soon that brings it all up today plus a little extra. So those who have subscribed thank you very much.

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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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My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me – ITFO Chapter and Music

 

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“I would enjoy riding my bike with you on a beautiful day,” Jamie called out into the universe with a slightly raised voice. He wondered if his words would reach Sonni and make her show up in his cell. He was lonely and desperately wanted someone to talk to.

     If anyone had been passing by his cell door at that moment they would probably think he was losing it. Other dudes down the hall probably heard him call out but they were used to hearing strange things being said by men locked in isolation, away from others. Most of them talked to themselves, too.

    “You ride your bike to the hill on one side and I’ll ride my bike from the other direction,” Jamie said, gesturing his arms to the right and left like he was directing traffic.  It was such a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue with puffy clouds passing over the sky. He stood and watched them for awhile. The green grass was the color of new springtime grass with dandelions growing randomly all over the hill.

     A thought came into his head – a memory, but he didn’t think it was his memory. That was strange. Maybe Sonni was in his head because he was seeing little girls with dandelions playing in a backyard. He was remembering children picking dandelions and holding them under each others chin. If there was a yellow glow on the skin it meant they were made of butter. A young child’s memory.

     Jamie had stuffed so many of his own memories into the back of his brain he had trouble remembering anything good. Sonni asked him to write down what he remembered as a child because she was thinking about starting a blog about him. Why would anyone want to read a blog about him? He was nothing special and hadn’t done anything special so He was curious about what she saw in him.

     He wrote to her about a couple things he remembered. They went to the zoo and his mom wouldn’t go in the snake house. That was funny, and they went to a pond to feed ducks. They were also going to see fireworks one July and he and his little brother had matching clothes for the special day. At the last minute his mom said they couldn’t go. That upset him but he was only eight years old and didn’t understand grown up stuff. So he sat on the steps of a house and listened to the boom! boom! He saw a glow in the sky, but he couldn’t see the fireworks. He remembered how deeply disappointed he was that night. He had been so excited about seeing the bright colors exploding in the sky. To this day, going to see fireworks was one of his favorite things to do.

     Picturing the serenity in his mind as he rode his bicycle to the hill was a way of getting out of his stark gray cell and into the warmth and colors produced by the sun. A nice cool breeze rustled the grass. The tree at the top would be great if it had a tree house. The thick branches would make climbing easy. He pictured a treehouse with a rope ladder. Little Jamie was standing at the door waving to him below. He waved back. He could hear a train blowing it’s horn in the distance. It had been so long since he had seen a day like this.

     With that picture in his head he closed his eyes and smiled. He pretended Sonni was standing there with him in this beautiful place even though he was really standing in his cell.

     “We’ll meet at the hill and climb to the top.” He told her. Even though it was only in his imagination, it lifted his spirits when he thought about the day he was creating.
     “Let’s bring a picnic of our favorite food and talk about how the future will be.”      

     Whenever Jamie thought of the future, his son was there and they would be playing together, whatever little Jamie wanted to do. They would both be happy and laughing. He knew there was more to reality than that, but he only wanted to have happy thoughts.
It was hard to develop a relationship with someone you never got to see or talk to. Did his son think about him? He was still very young, only five years old. He bonded to his oldest brother who was ten years older than him. He didn’t understand what prison was or why his father was there. He wouldn’t understand until he was older. He didn’t want him to be hurt by this, but there was no way it wouldn’t leave scars that needed to heal.

     An occasional picture was all he received from Morgan. It was never enough to quiet the pain. He couldn’t join him for birthdays or Christmas. He wouldn’t be in his son’s memories at all when he grew up and thought about his childhood, except to remember his daddy was never there. All Jamie could do was imagine what it would be like and that always left a huge hole in his heart. When would he see his son again?
     “Things aren’t going so good for me,” he said, still talking to the universe.
     “I’m doing my best, but I’m not getting nowhere.” He got to his feet and slowly walked five feet toward the cell door, turned around and walked back. He repeated the pattern over and over.
     “I know you have been very sick and can’t write me all the time,” he said as he paced, pretending she was there, “but to tell you the truth it hurts me when I don’t hear from you.”
     “That’s because you’re the only one I’m used to hearing from,” his mouth turned into a downward smile. “So when I don’t hear from you it worries me and I think I won’t hear from you again.”
     “Sometimes I think you’re mad at me,” he said quietly to the empty air.
     He closed his eyes.” My mind is playing tricks on me.”

“I told you I wouldn’t give up on you,” her voice came from out of the blue. ” I’m not going to go away.”
     “I got your letter yesterday,” he heard her say. “I told Jamie happy birthday for you.”
The unexpected sound of her voice made him jump.
     “He is getting so big.” Sonni smiled, and held up her hand to show how tall he was getting.
     “Geez, give me a little forewarning,” he said with a startled look on his face which settled into a smile. He was sure she wouldn’t be coming today. He never knew when she was going to pop in.
     Jamie’s days were long and boring, Sonni knew that. When all you have to look forward to is the possibility of a letter, your happiness rides on getting that letter, looking to see who sent it and feeling connected to reality that lives in the outside world. Letters are like gold and so many receive none. They keep you sane. Prison screws up many heads. She would never stop writing to him.
     “Does it take awhile to get my messages, and leave to get here?” he asked, “or is it like the old TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, and you zap yourself here with your arms crossed in front of you and a nod of your head?” He knew he sounded a little crazy, but then maybe he was a little crazy by now. How DID she get here?
     “Okay Jamie,” he said quietly to himself, “remember, her physical body is not really in this room.”
     He laughed at himself.

Jamie was relieved. He needed to see her, real or not. She had a way of helping him make sense of his life so he could learn to let his anger go. Yeah, he still had problems controlling it and it got him in trouble. Sometimes he started yelling and kicking the door trying to get rid of his anger.
     Sometimes he got into it with the guards because he was tired of being disrespected over every little thing. They tried to press his buttons to set him off. Sometimes they succeeded and he got angry. They could be such dicks.
     The guards often did things that would be considered criminal on the outside. They also do things to the inmates. They get hurt or killed. Although he hasn’t mentioned it much there was sex going all around him. Sometimes it’s between the guards and the inmates and sometimes it’s abusive. The guards bring in drugs and cell phones and set themselves in business. You couldn’t stop what is going on, but when you get hurt you need a way fight back against the abuse.
     No matter how wrong they were you couldn’t win. If he filed a grievance against a guard, the guard would retaliate. As prisoners they were supposed to have certain rights and being able to file a grievance because of mistreatment was one of them. It was pointless. The system was set up so prisoners would fail. Nothing good came of it when the guards had ways of getting back at them if they filed against them.
     It was more than that when it came to grievances. It is what the system was set up to do if you filed that grievance and went through the process, like a rat’s maze, chasing after a piece of cheese and finding out it was really arsenic with no way to save you.
     Most dudes, if they have been here for awhile don’t file grievances. After trying a couple times and getting denied you figure, what’s the use? Those who think they legally have a good case because what the guard did needed to be reported, might try to finish the process.
     The grievance process is set up so only filing a lawsuit will settle the grievance. You can’t win by just filing a grievance and hoping the right person read it and thought you needed to have justice. That wasn’t going to happen. You can only win if you have solid evidence that the officer was in the wrong. There would have to be evidence from a camera that the officer did what you claim.
     No officer will go against another officer even if he saw the officer doing it. If he did, the officers would retaliate against him. So if he wants to keep his job he needs to keep his mouth shut.
     If an inmate filed step one he’d have to wait 30 – 45 days to get it back – denied. Then he’d have to file step 2 and wait another 4 to 6 weeks to get that one back – denied. That is 2-3 months total. Step 2 along with step 1 is then filed in Huntsville with the TDCJ, for Texas prisons. If Huntsville sends it back not doing anything to correct the problem they will send all the paperwork back to him. If he wanted to continue the process he’d have to fill out a 1983 form for a lawsuit. He would have to take the officer to court and if he lost, because he didn’t have proof, then he’d owe the state $350. And since phones are illegal in prison, having proof by means of a cellphone is getting someone in serious trouble.
     This is a way to get more money out of the inmates and their families and it gives the officers time to get their stories straight.
     What good was having rights if you couldn’t act on them? It looked right on paper and that is what the outside world learned if they looked it up. Some people thought they had it pretty good inside – free healthcare, free food, free education, a free roof over their heads. They thought everything was handed to them on a silver platter without working for it. They even said prisoners wanted to come back to prison because they had it so good in here. What a joke. You had to be here to understand the truth of this place.

The end of this partial chapter

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Circles Inside Circles – music and ITFO

Listen to Circles Inside Circles by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

The partial chapter below was posted about 6 months ago. I included it again to give context to the music. When someone is trying to figure out up from down and what makes sense to them about why their life is the way it is, it is confusing and leaves you feeling out of control. You want to change but you don’t know what the truth is – so you search. You try things. You listen. There is more than one path to happiness, but some ways make more sense than others. Blind faith with no consistent proof is the hardest – at least it is for me.

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Jamie was trying. He couldn’t try any harder. He wanted to understand how he could turn his life around and make it through these years in one piece. If he didn’t, the years would be wasted and he’d be a mess when he got out of prison. He couldn’t afford that. He had to make up for a lot of lost time.
     This is what happened when you felt you had endless time on your hands. It was hard to fill the empty spaces. Jamie sat on his bed. He stared at the wall and lost track of time. It had no meaning. He spaced out thinking about his life and what he could have done different. Sometimes he got tired of trying and wanted to melt into the wall and disappear.
    How was anyone supposed to live in conditions like this, then get out and have an okay life? How could he get over it as though it never happened and be happy? It was hard to remember what that was.
     Jamie never had a real chance to find out what he was good at. He wasn’t blaming anyone, the right circumstances were never there. No one taught him how to make something of himself. He just followed along with whatever happened at the moment. He didn’t know how to have a dream. He needed to figure out how to do that.         All he knew for sure was the values he believed in didn’t seem to have the power to get him where he wanted to go.
     Maybe he needed to deepen his faith in God. Study more. Quite a few of the inmates also went to church. There were quite a few screwed up people who found religion after they were sentenced, and some went to church because it was something to do that got you out of your cell. Jamie really wanted to make it work but how were you supposed to know if it was making a difference in his life because nothing had changed for the better.
     He had the bible studies he sent for and was trying to study on his own. He hoped it would help. He had a lot of time to think about what he read. Still, it made no difference. He wasn’t giving up, but what could he do that would actually change things into a better direction instead of going in a circle that only went round and round? He wanted to learn something that would give him hope he was doing the right thing.

End partial chapter

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Watching The Inside World – ITFO Chapter

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WATCHING THE INSIDE WORLD

 

Jamie was laying naked on the cement floor. Summer hit in full force. Sweat was dripping down every crease in his skin. He didn’t know how he was going to make it through another summer, and there were many more to go.
     After midnight when heat trapped inside the walls began to cool, the cement floor seemed appealing. He stripped off his whites and stretched out hoping it would bring relief.
     He had already passed out twice so far this summer from the intense heat, and had one seizure. The only good thing that happened was being taken to the medical unit which had air conditioning. It was a small reprieve but it only made it worse when he was returned to his cell.
     He needed more water, good water. He was dehydrated and was afraid to drink too much of the water that came out of the faucet. There was an odor to it and sometimes it wasn’t exactly clear. There was a brown tint to it, some days were worse than others. Would it make him sick? He sweat so much he knew he needed to replace the minerals, like the ones in sports drinks, but he didn’t have any. They sell it at commissary but it was sometimes a month or more before he was taken there.
     There was no energy in him to move, and no reason to move. His body felt so heavy. His blood pressure was pounding in his head. How could the warden do this to everyone? He had to know how much they were suffering. Was this his way of rehabilitating them? Yeah, they were learning things; how to hate the prison and everyone in it.

How much anyone suffered depended on what level they were on. There were three levels in adseg. There was no power and no AC on level three. They even covered the vents to cut off any possibility of air circulation. That was a good punishment wasn’t it? If you owned one of the little fans they sell in the commissary you were out of luck because it didn’t work on level three.
     Jamie thought they were trying to teach them a lesson about how screwed they were. Whoever created these punishments had be masochistic.
     If he was level two he would have power and it would be cooler than level three, but not by much. That was the level he was on before the knife was planted. He had to do thirty days now to get back to level two and sixty days to get to level one. Three more months total. During summer that was a lifetime. He heard it took 90 days at level one to get moved to G4 where he could go to chow, but he wasn’t sure about that.
     He knew the guards didn’t like him. Not for any real reason. They hated most everyone in here. They didn’t take this job because they were interested in doing guard duty. There wasn’t much else in town for a steady job.
     They found a way to put him in adseg, but it wasn’t because of anything he did, he was set up. He did react back and that was his fault. If the guards didn’t like you they found a way to mess you up. It didn’t matter that he was trying to play by the rules, not if he didn’t get along with one of them. This one guard, Rodrigues* was an asshole, always making sarcastic remarks trying to piss him off, and sometimes succeeding. Then they’d write up a case on him. He needed to learn to keep his mouth shut.
     The unit went on lockdown. The guards were going from pod to pod ripping up everything. They tore apart the cells looking for weapons, drugs and cellphones.
     While the guards had fun destroying their property, the inmates were locked in cages barely bigger than a phone booth. There was a ledge they could sit on to wait until they were done. Then they had to go back and clean up the mess. Most of it was unnecessary. The guards destroyed things because they could.
     The guard who had consistently harassed Jamie “found” a homemade knife sitting on the edge of his sink. He tried to make it look like Jamie was stupid enough to leave a three inch piece of sharpened metal laying out in the open, even though he knew they were coming to toss the cells. If the sergeant believed that, then he must have been in on it. It was his word against theirs and there was no way he could win that argument.
     He had been fixing to get his level one. The weapons charge knocked him back down to level three. The main office for Texas prisons, TDCJ, in Huntsville, was contacted and the knife was sent to them. This was one way they added extra years to someone’s sentence. He only needed one more major offense for that to happen. At the least it would now take longer to get out of adseg.
     He didn’t even own a knife. It made sense now what the guard said when he was sitting in the cage. He walked by, then stopped and smiled at him.
     “What are you smiling at?” Jamie asked.
     “You’ll see,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.
     Jamie knew then he was the one who planted the knife. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything, but then he got angry defending himself. He played into their hands. He needed to stop reacting and think before he spoke.
     They sprayed him with chemicals. It was the first time. It felt like his skin was burning off. Three days he lived with it before it started wearing off. When he tried washing it off it made it worse. Being burned in a fire had to feel like this, only you couldn’t see anything on his skin except a little redness. Was it legal to use that kind of chemicals on people? Probably not, but who was going to stop them?
     No one would do that to an animal. The guards plotted a way to lower his level in adseg and then punished him with cruelty that was beyond inhumane. It was the guards who needed to be sprayed so they could feel what they we’re doing. There was nothing he could do about it now but someday they will get it back.

Today was July 12, 2011. Jamie’s son was five years old. He sat on his bunk and sang Happy Birthday to him with a heavy heart. He wished he could see him right now. He wanted to put his arms around him and hold him.
     “Morgan said he seems happier now,” Sonni said said as she sat down next to him. Little Jamie had been acting out with tantrums.
     “We all been mad at the world a few times,” he nodded in agreement as he glanced at her and smiled a sad smile.
     Jamie was still convinced he was losing his mind each time she came to talk. Sometimes it was days or weeks before he saw her again and thought maybe those were times when she, too, was feeling bad.
     Sonni was on the liver transplant list and had moved to Pa to be close to a good hospital and her family, but her family didn’t care about her. It was hard on a person when they realized they didn’t mean much to people who they thought loved them. This is why she understood how much it hurt when no one answered his letters or came to visit. It hits you from out of the blue. A lot of dudes in here had to go it alone for many reasons. It wasn’t easy and it made it hard to survive when they got out.
     She recently sent him some money for commissary and ordered a magazine subscription. He had nothing to read and was really bored. Time dragged. Every bit of kindness meant something to him. Nothing was taken for granted.
     “Once a week the guards are supposed to give us one hour of dayroom time,” he told her, “but they are too lazy.”
     “It’s easier to provoke someone and make him mad so they have a reason to not take them and call it a punishment,” Jamie added.
     “They do the same thing when it’s time to take us to shower. It’s crazy back here and that’s just half of it.”
     When he had passed out from the heat and had the seizure they took him to medical. Then they took money out of his commissary and paid themselves for the effort.
     “They cause the problem then take what little money I have because it made me sick.” He knows he doesn’t have to tell her everything. She seems to know what he’s thinking.
     “They probably look forward to the hot months,” she said back, “because of the extra money.”
     If he didn’t have any money in his account they would wait until she sent some, and then take it out.
     “To tell you the truth there is not a day goes by I’m not worried,” he continued.
     “I never know what’s going to happen or when it will happen,” he said starting to get an upset edge to his voice.
     “That is why I cry when I think about the visits.”
     “No one in my life knows what happens to me.” Jamie stood up and turned his back to her so she wouldn’t see his face.
     “And I don’t know what’s happening with them,” he sighed. “I worry about my mom and nobody tells me nothing.”
     “Do they think I don’t want to know?”
     “Since I’m big I’m supposed to be tough and take no shit from anyone,” he said, lowering his voice.
     “My family is not seeing this inside world the way I do,” he tried to explain. “They don’t have to watch it happening, so they don’t have to worry.”
     “Yeah, I know they are going through some stuff, too, but not like this.” Jamie paced back and forth.
     “They don’t understand how bad this is. They have never been through it and I wouldn’t want them to.”
     Jamie stopped talking to think for a minute. “I don’t think they care enough to even try to understand,” he frowned.
     “Not that I can tell.” He turned to face her again.
     “If I’m not sleeping, I’m day dreaming,” he said.
     “Playing old moments in my thoughts are like movies in my head, imagining where those movies would have taken my life if I wasn’t here.”
     “I know for a fact me and Morgan would live closer to you. I don’t know if she ever told you, but she tried to get me to fly down to visit you. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I’ve never been on a plane. Driving there was too far. I’ve never left Texas. I didn’t know the freeways. I wish now I would’ve come to see you.”
     Sonni stood there silently listening.
     “I’m sure you got upset with me when I told you I was fixing to get locked down again,” Jamie began again.
     “Stop right there,” she said, putting her hand up to quiet him.
     “I am not upset with you, about anything,” she said softly, putting her arm back down by her side.
     “You have not done anything,” she explained. “These people have been determined to punish you. Some people enjoy causing others to feel pain.”
     “You have not been trying to hurt people, and I know there are people here who do, who think this is their castle and they are going to rule it.” She moved closer and looked him in the eye.
     “That would be different,” she told him. “But that is not you. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was.
     “And I’m not going anywhere,” she added sternly.
     “I’m not going away. I am not everybody else.” she wanted him to believe it.
     “Even when you don’t see me, I’m not far away.”
     Jamie could feel tears behind his eyes so he closed them. When he opened them she was gone.

*Rodrigues – not the real name of the guard

<<< >>>

Almost everything in this  chapter was taken word for word from letters Jamie wrote in 2011, broken down to create dialogue. Background Description is added to better understand his environment. Some incorrect English is kept in the dialogue because it gives a more accurate feel for his state of mind. As years go by and he reads more his use of words and phrases improves. None that has anything to do with intelligence, but rather the lack of basic education.

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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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Am I Too Broken To Mend -ITFO Chapter, Poetry and Music

 

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Fractures from falling
Invisible pain
Counting the minutes
Like drops in the rain
It runs down my body
Soothing my skin
Gathers the heartbeats
Holding them in

Imagine forever
Time without rest
The passing of memories
My hand on my breast
Feeling my heartbeat
Wanting to end
I’m broken in pieces
Too many to mend?

You get back what you give
No more, nothing less
Trace the wound with your finger
A tiny caress
Time doesn’t linger
Waiting to heal
The pieces of you
That forgot how to heal

This is a partial chapter. To read complete chapters subscribe to ITFO News below. Any new subscribers from this date I will automatically send the current chapter. If you have already subscribed to ITFO News and would like it, drop me an email at squick@mynameisjamie.net and type – Please send Too Broken To Mend” in the email subject line and I’ll send it to you. 

 

Am I Too Broken To Mend

 

Jamie reached his hands out and braced them on the wall. This was bullshit. He was tired of being on the receiving end of being ignored. What was the point? He tried hard to let it pass over him but today it got to him. He knew they were trying to make him angry. If they succeeded they could write up another case on him.
     Being in adseg was deliberate, they didn’t want to let him out of here, but he was determined to make his way back to G2 so he could go to school. He needed to take care of his family when he got out and that won’t happen if he didn’t have schooling and learn to do something that made enough money. Right now he couldn’t make enough money to take care of himself. If that happened what would he do? Would his family take care of him? For how long?
     The warden wanted him right where he was. Guards had an easy job when the men were locked up in their cells so they did whatever they could to make sure that happened. It didn’t help him none when he burst out with anger. He needed to learn to control his emotions.
     Once again the nurse pretended he wasn’t there when she made her rounds giving out meds. As she continued walking past him down the hall he yelled, “My meds, where are they? It’s been three days.”
     To top it off she turned around and gave him a cocky, know-it-all smile.IHer actions were deliberate. She knew he was supposed to get his seizure medication. Most likely she was told to skip him again. It didn’t make sense until he realized how much money the medical unit made by shorting inmates. He knew he wasn’t the only one being skipped. It didn’t matter what illness you had, they were going to short your meds. Who were you going to complain to?
     “I want to talk to an officer,” he yelled as the bars at the end of the hallway door slid open and clanked shut as she walked through.
   “I want to file a grievance,” he yelled louder, even though she was now beyond being able to hear him.
      It was pointless to file. No good ever came of it. He hadn’t heard of even one person saying they had filed one and it worked. The prison wasn’t going to stop because a complaint was filed. If anything, they would retaliate so you better think about how worth it was. The staff always got away with anything they did to the inmates. Nobody cared.
     He knew the chances of having more seizures increased every time they skipped his meds. They probably wrote in his file that they gave it to him so it would be his word against theirs. Maybe he should write it all down so if it was ever checked he’d have proof on his end, if that helped.

<<< >>>

Jamie turned around, put his back against the wall and slid down until he was squatting on the floor. He folded his arms across his knees and lowered his forehead until it rested on his arms. He was tired; tired of doing nothing.
He stayed that way for a long time thinking about how seizures had messed up his life and his helplessness at not being able to control them. It was a weakness they could take advantage of and there was nothing he could do about it.
     As a child he knew he was different from three other kids. His mama made him stay close to her. He want allowed to go outside and run around with the misc in the neighborhood. She checked on him a lot at night, afraid he would have a seizure when he was sleeping and she wouldn’t be there to help him through it. 
     As he got older the seizures got worse. When he was twelve he had brain surgery. He was having non-stop headaches and his mom was worried. The doctor said there was bleeding on his brain and he wanted to see if he could stop it.
     “So what did they do?”
     At the sound of her voice Jamie jerked his head up. He had been almost asleep. Maybe he was still asleep. He pinched himself, but it didn’t change anything. He had been half expecting her to come back and at the same time realized that if she did, it could mean he was starting to lose it. He slowly turned his head and looked at her.
     There she was, sitting besides him on the floor, looking over at him just as casual as she could be, smiling, like it was a normal thing to be sitting next to him on the floor of a men’s prison. What should he do? He smiled back.
     “Better get used to it,” he mumbled to himself under his breath. He had a feeling this was just the beginning.
   “What did they do,” she repeated, as though she had been sitting beside him all along listening to the thoughts in his head. How long had she been sitting there? Could she hear what he was thinking, too? If she could that would be scary.
     Okay, if they were going to do this again, so be it. He wasn’t going to call the guard this time to see if he could see her, too. He didn’t want to get locked up with the crazies. He’d never get another hour of sleep. They scream and moan all night. What was he thinking? He must be nuts. No one would believe him if he told them. He closed his eyes and answered her question. “I don’t think I was ever so scared, even when I was arrested.” 
     “I was having a lot of seizures. They made me feel sick. My mom was really worried.”
     “What caused them,” she asked.
     “People have them for different reasons,” he told her.
    “Sometimes, during their life they had a head a head injury, maybe in some sort of accident. Sometimes it takes years to have the first seizure.”
    “But there was no explanation for mine.” he added.
    “They were always there, from the very beginning, as soon as I was being born.”

End of partial chapter . . .

 

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What Goes Around Comes Around – ITFO Chapter

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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

 

Startled, Jamie woke up when he heard the food cart coming down the hall with breakfast. He sat up quickly and looked around. It took a few seconds to get his bearings. He half expected Sonni to be there waiting for him to wake up. What had happened earlier? It was confusing. It happened so fast he didn’t have time to put it all together.
     Did he dream the whole thing? He could have. He shook his head back and forth as if trying to clear the picture in his brain. It was surreal, like no dream he ever had before. He would like to think it was real, that Sonni had actually been standing next to him in his cell but that was crazy.
    Loneliness got to him. He heard some of the dudes who had been locked up by themselves for a long time sometimes talked to people they thought they saw in their cells but he knew he wasn’t that far gone.
     If he told anyone what he saw they would think he was nuts. He should write to her today and tell her what happened last night. She’d get a kick out of it. It did seem kinda funny looking back at it. That guard probably thought he’d gone off the deep end, unless he dreamed the whole thing. Jamie could laugh about it now, but last night he really thought he was going crazy.

<<< >>>

It was still dark when his breakfast tray was slid through the food slot. There wasn’t enough light to read or write letters so he laid down and went back to sleep.
     Later in the day he took some paper out of his locker and began drawing the lines going across like a writing tablet. He did it slowly. You could hardly tell it want printed on the paper. He stopped every few minutes and laughed a little as he tried to frame the words of the story he wanted to tell her. After that there was something else he needed to write about. She wanted to know more about the night he was arrested. He didn’t want to dredge it up but she needed to know from him what had happened.
     That’s the bad thing about storytelling. Everyone had their own opinion about what happened and why. A story can grow legs until the truth is barely there. She had heard more than one version of that night and he was the one to tell it. He lived it.
     People remembered what they wanted to remember and when they told a story they added their own details until it sounds like a different story. This was why he needed to write it out once and for all.
     There was one main thing he wanted Sonni to know, and it was important to him. It wasn’t his intention to get mixed up in a robbery that night. He was going out to party with a few other dudes. Morgan lost her car that night. It got impounded. He wouldn’t have done that. He was only guilty of not having good judgement about the people he hung with.
     After four years in juvenile detention from age seventeen to twenty one, Jamie didn’t know how to make the right friends. Everyone he knew was on the verge of becoming an adult felon when they got out. If kids were sent to juvy and shouldn’t be there they had to learn how to survive somehow. . . 

<<<>>>

The rest of the chapter is available to anyone who subscribes to ITFO News. You can leave me a comment and ask me to email it, send me a Facebook message or send an email to squick@mynameisjamie.net. I do not swamp your inbox. Promise. I’d like a way to reach you when it’s ready to publish, and any further ( hopefully ) books I write. A sequel it’s planned for this book. This book will end before he is released.

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Ghosts In My Head – ITFO Chapter

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A few months ago I posted the music and music video for this chapter. I’m posting it again so you can hear the music with the story.

Only part of the chapter is here. Subscribe to ITFO News below to receive the entire chapter. In the notes section where it asks if you have anyone inside, simply write the word ‘chapter’ and I’ll send it ahead of the next newspaper publication.


 

GHOSTS IN MY HEAD

 

Jamie sat there, mouth open, immediately speechless. What the heck, was he asleep? Was he dreaming? Or maybe someone put mushrooms in his food and he was hallucinating? His food did taste a little funny.
     Scooting back on the mattress until he was sitting flat against the wall, he stared intently at the woman in front of him. He was afraid to say anything for fear it would make her disappear and he didn’t want that to happen. Why she was in his cell? How did she get here? People didn’t go around appearing in someone’s cell out of the blue, did they?
     Was being locked up in this place finally getting to him? He heard some men lost it and went crazy. Sometimes he could hear them screaming all night to be let out. No one ever went into their cell. At least he didn’t think they did.
     Honestly, he was a little scared. He didn’t believed in ghosts, but was this a ghost? That would mean she was dead, right? He didn’t want that. What else could he call it – her, or whatever she was? A spirit maybe?
     He had the cell to himself. He got locked up by himself a couple months ago. It was exactly what he didn’t want, but there was no way around it. If the guards wanted you locked up they made it happen. So there was nobody else in his cell he could ask if they saw her, too. This was weird and he didn’t know what to think.
     They stared at each other for a few seconds waiting for the other to speak. This couldn’t be happening, could it? No one, especially a woman, could get in here unnoticed. She would have to be let in by a guard.
     How many people would they have to go by who could see them? It didn’t make sense. Someone else would have seen her and that meant he should be hearing other dudes going nuts about it.
     Jamie knew he couldn’t be seeing what he was seeing. It wasn’t possible. Did he mentally go off the deep end, straight into crazy? If other dudes saw her and knew there was a woman in here she wouldn’t be safe. They’d riot to get at her. But no one was making a sound or yelling anything at all. It was quiet so he could safely think no one knew.
     If he didn’t know better, he’d swear it was Sonni sitting beside him – smiling at him no less. But she lived in Pennsylvania and he was in Texas. She moved there last year from Key West. How did she get here? Had she ever been inside a prison? He didn’t think so.
     He shook his head and rubbed his eyes trying to make the vision go away. It didn’t work. He hadn’t seen her face to face in a long time, almost six years. It was before he was arrested when she came to Texas to see Morgan and the kids. It was her, though. He was sure of it.
     She had been real good to him. She wrote letters when no one else would and she helped him get things he needed. Most of all she encouraged him and made him feel he could make it through these years. Sometimes just knowing she was out there made him try harder to do the right thing. After all, she was a grandmother to his son. As weird as this was he was really glad to see her.
     “How did you get in here?” he asked at last. “Is it really you, I mean, no tricks or anything?”
     “I’m not sure about tricks,” she laughed. “I don’t know how I got here, but yeah, I think it’s really me.”

<<< >>>

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Life is a Merry-go-Round

This is my newest piano piece – You’ll find it later on one of the chapters to my book. One by one the chapters are rewritten, music is recorded and videos are made.

Read some of the chapters. They are easy to find. They have a picture of the book cover at the top. “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” 

Leave feedback! I want to know what you think. Subscribe to my newsletter and most of all – share, as I build a following. This is to help Jamie when he is released from prison, which is getting closer and closer. Only a little over 4 years to go! Also, go to sonniquick.net to hear all of the music and videos done so far.

This is the most important projects of my life. Years of learning to play the piano, performing and writing. But most of all it is for someone else – to help his life. To be there for someone that most everyone has forgotten.

How we treat people shows us what kind of person wee are. The golden rule, no matter what your philosophy or religion is: treat people the way you want to be treated. If everyone kept that in mind, the crisis America – and the world – is going through would make or lives better. That is all I’m trying to do. 

For those who follow me – or find me by accident – thank you very much. Come to my other social media and say hi.

sonni hat

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