Many people have followed me, Sonni Quick, on this journey I’m taking, writing about the life of Jamie Cummings. “Inside the Forbidden Outside”. chapter one which had the previous title of “Inside Out”. You’ve encouraged me and told me to keep writing. Some of you have given me guidance and writing tips as a new book author. You told me it was a story that should be told. Some of you have told me you cried tears. You had no idea what being in prison really meant, because only knowing what TV and movies portray is not the whole story. Only people who have been where Jamie is will know for sure that what I say here is the truth.
Tears weren’t cried because Jamie is in prison. Tears were cried because his anguish was felt; his loneliness and depression. The loss of his family and his son from his life, with no one making the effort to bring him to visit. It is easy to see what he is going through through in his head, trying to understand what happened to his life that brought it to a screeching halt inside the thick prison walls.
Over the nine years I’ve known him, trying to hold him up, made me want to reach through the prison bars and wrap myself around him and hold him him, telling him it would be over someday. Reading and knowing about the stripping away of human dignity is hard to read.
There are many different reasons why people are put in prison. The reasons for what they did, and having those reasons used for corporate gain has put millions of dollars into many people’s pockets. Now American private prisons are spreading outside our borders and we are teaching other countries how they,too, can exploit their citizens the same way we do.
Imagine yourself in his circumstances. You can’t say it will never happen to you, because it can, easily, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These are the things you seldom read or hear about in the media. The government has to justify why there is no money for education, yet hundreds of millions of dollars are available to build new prisons to satisfy the unending thirst of American corporations that want to use prison labor to manufacture their products. Lower taxes for the rich will not create jobs for the people, but it will provide more prisons to house more inmates to manufacture items that are available on our store shelves. Inmates also produce a great many items our police force and military needs to continue to do what they do. A subject to explore at a later time.
I posted a two minute video recently. It is not of Jamie, but it is of a man who spent 18 1/2 years in a solitary cell not unlike the cell Jamie has spent years of his own life. Jamie’s sentence is 17 years and he has done more than 9 so far. Not all of it has been in an ad seg unit (administrative segregation), but it has been determined the human mind can only safely stay in deprivation like that for 15 days before there are possible alterations in the mind. There was a politician about a year ago who voluntarily went into a solitary cell for ONE DAY and wrote about how horrible it is. I say, stay in for 15 days. Maybe then some laws will change. Keep him there for a month, not even
years which is so common, and he will be screaming to be let out just like all the others.
Even though I believe what happened to Jamie’s life, beginning at a young age, was unfair, coming to life through racial inequalities, life isn’t fair. I also believe if he had not been with this particular group of friends that got busted that night, which you can read about in Jamie’s Prison or read the post Juvy to Prison. Something else would have happened to produce the same result. He didn’t learn the life skills he needed. He needed to “belong”, and was easily swayed by the wrong people.
So, what to do about all of this now? How do we make something positive from something negative? The change in the life of a single human being can change the world. Because there are 10 strikes against any person getting out of prison, beginning with of the lack of acceptance by society, it is extremely difficult for them to survive and create a life of value. No one wants to employ an ex-offender and no one wants to rent an apartment to them, either. Many of these people, men and women, have families they love and need to take care of. They paid their price to society and have earned the right, at the very least, to gain their self respect. Society wants to keep punishing them for the rest of their lives. Ask yourself why? For this reason many ex-felons have to resort to other ways to make money, because they have no other way. Our prisons didn’t teach any way. Do you understand the dichotomy of the situation?
What happens to an x-offender, who, from his teen years has not been able to get an education? When he is finally released in his mid to late 30’s, or older, and has no work history, but wants to work, where is he going to find that job in a unwelcoming society who is afraid of him simply because he has been to prison? God forbid, he could be dangerous!There are many people who have never been to prison who can’t find work. If they have a hard time, how does an ex-offender find work? Many of these people, who haven’t been incarcerated apply for government assistance, live in public housing or section 8 housing, get disability, or use WIC (Women, Infants and Children) or food stamps to help supplement the rising cost of food. Most people don’t go to the government for help because they are lazy, but because they have no other choice, as the media would like you to believe. NONE of these options are even available for an ex-offender. Jamie won’t even be able to apply for disability because of epilepsy until he has been out for one year. How does he survive that year?
Jamie is black. I am white. We are connected by the blood of his son, my grandson. He is part of my family. he calls me ‘mom’. Because I have taken the time to be his family andf because he let me inside his head to feel the pain as he tries to understand the causes he made for his life to produce the sharp left turns that led to prison.
What should he and I do with this knowledge? I believe it can and should be used to help people. Help kids understand what the end of the path leads to if they choose to go down the wrong one. Young people have no wisdom to draw on. They can’t understand something no one has taught them. There are many ‘Jamies’ out there. His life story can also help educate people so they can have a better understanding of our prison system and why America has only 5% of the world’s population but imprisons 25% of the world’s inmates. His life story can also help inmates who want to do better, to understand their lives have value. It’s all about choices. Cause and effect. Not all inmates are inherently broken. Some just made a bad choice and have paid for that mistake. Many deserve a second chance and need our help, even if that help is only having a better understanding and acceptance of their value as a human being.
This is what I need from you that would help me in my quest. Please, go to different posts and pages on this website http://mynameisjamie.net and post them to your own social media. Go to posts that talk about the book and send them out. The category still says “Insideout” for now uieven though the title has changed to “Inside the Forbidden Outside”. Encourage people to fill out the contact form to be on the mailing list for the book. If you don’t use social medial there is a tab where you can send out emails.
I have a dream. That dream is watching Jamie have the kind of life he can be proud of and being a father to his son. Will you help me help Jamie? My dream is that this book will sell, but I can’t do it by myself. It will be book sales that will enable Jamie to survive in this society he will hopefully, someday, in the near future, enter into. Inside the Forbidden Outside is still being written. There is still a lot of work to be done, but when you self publish writing and promoting have to go hand in hand.
I know I’m asking a lot from you, You have my sincere appreciation.
(Sonni’s note: This post was written in 2012 when I was at a different blog site and it never got the attention it deserved. The things prison guards do to the inmates that cause the inmates to have a life of hell needs to be known. There are different types of prisons. Minimum security. medium security and high security prisons. Inside that you have solitary confinement,(ad seg) the G4, and G2. You have to be G2 to have phone privileges, have a job, which in Texas all labor is unpaid, go to the library or apply for any kind of class or trade. prison guards make sure you stay down, even if they have to invent something and it is your word against theirs. It brings out the worst in their nature, knowing they can pretty much do anything and there will be no repercussions. So I decided to re-blog this post today.)
I’m trying to hold on to this roller coaster ride, but the speed is gettin’ too high for me. Not everyone can make it through life by themselves with so much pressure on them. When you have so much build up there’s no telling what will set you off at any given time. It’s just like with these officers. Yes, they take my food, and it pisses me off because I try my hardest to stay focused to succeed and be successful at getting out of this place. But it’s a no-win thing here. The system is built to help officers only. If we, as inmates, would have the system on our side Texas would owe a lot of money for lawsuits due to officers beating up on inmates and going against policy. We go on a 45 day lock down next week. If they take any food from me again I’m going to lose my level and start from the ground up again. I’m going to write my brother. Lord knows I don’t want to, but I got to see if he will send some money before Thursday because it will be out last commissary before lockdown. Due to the fact that I am in Ad Seg, we go on lockdown four times a year. Every 90 days and 180 days. The rest of the unit goes on lockdown every 180 days. Like I said, the system is built to help the officers. All they have to do is babysit 4 days on and 4 days off. They make $2,300 to 2,400 a month. All they have to do is feed chow and run showers and rec. But they are so lazy, when we do get rec they only run 4-5 people in each section and there are 6 sections. It’s 84 cells in all. Then, when they stop everything, that’s it. No one gets nothing, not even showers. All they get is chow. Get this, they are so lazy they will give dudes an extra tray of food to keep them from having to make the effort to do their job and take them to shower and rec. It’s because they just want to sit there on their asses. Look, I put all this in this letter because I feel that you out of all people would understand me. If I went too far please let me know. I just wanted to express some of what I’ve been holding in. And no, I don’t get anuff to eat, mom. Sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands.
( Sonni’s note: November 1, 2014. Not everyone reads from the beginning of the archive of posts, so you may not realize that Jamie calls me mom it is because that is what I have been to him for the past 8 years. Sometimes the difference between making it and not making it is knowing that there is someone on the outside who cares about you. The above letter about treatment of the guards is a recurring theme in many of his letters. There are good and bad guards and there are good and bad inmates. If I can affect his life in a positive way then all of this has been worth it. When we die, the only real legacy we have to leave behind is the effect we have had on other people, good and bad. I may not be read about in history books, but who I am will be passed down in the book of life.)
It was quite awhile after I wrote the above before I began to write the book about his life. It started out with the title of InsideOut, but was recently changed to the working title of “Inside the Forbidden Outside” There are 3 random chapters posted here on this website and you can find one here. Please let me know what you think. Your support is vital to it’s success, which means success for Jamie when he gets out.
I originally posted this a year ago. When I see what is happening in America through the course of this presidential election year, I’m scared. People who would have previously denied being racist are being led by the excitement of the pack and are punching people in the face, for no more reason than being black or because they have been given license to be hateful and proud of it. The damage this is doing to our society will show up as effects in our near future because some things can’t be taken back. I am so ashamed of people who now use hate as their motto. The follow a hateful man who says he doesn’t promote hate while he tells his follows to hurt people – and they do.
All people are equal and racism is no more. Is that a dream we can turn into reality? I know it takes many people to make that dream come true. It being equal is against all odds, given our history, but do we have to give in to that? Do we have to continue what our ancestors started? Do we want to survive as a species with so much negativity in our hearts?
I have a dream, my book, that I pour my heart and life into: Inside the Forbidden Outside, will get published, will be a success, and will affect the minds of people who will begin to understand our Injustice System and the way it preys on minorities for profit. I spend so much of my day a day writing, researching, learning the business of writing, blogging, social media, searching, praying, and focusing on my dream. It would be great if I made a lot of money from it, but that isn’t the purpose. I don’t want to only say it is important to help change the views of people wh0 insist on being racist
I want to help do something about it.I want to help change the course of the life of this young man, Jamie Cummings, who I believe deserves the chance of a free life in the outside world. Freedom to love. Freedom to be a father to my grandson. Freedom to educate his mind and also freedom to discover his talents. He can use his experience to help other people who are going through what he has, and to help the families who are affected with the same circumstances of having been branded a slave by our society and not worthy of the freedoms we have. Why will all of this happen? Because it is my determination to find a way, and I have a dream.
Racism is alive and well. The branding of a slave and using him for profit started centuries to ago. Black people understand deeply the struggle they have had since the 1500’s to be seen of people with value, who bleed red blood, who have hopes and dreams for their children, who have great minds and have fought to be equal in a society with an ego who sees themselves as superior, and has yet to fully recognize them as equal human beings. This is because people in high places are still determined to use them as fodder. They know the average man is easily swayed to believe they are better because media continually tells them it is so.
So, I have a dream, of helping to make a difference; helping people understand. Trying to change hearts and minds that have been broken since birth to think the black man to be less of a man than the white man, who clearly has white privilege. I have white privilege. My son has white privilege. My son, walking down the street would not be looked at as suspicious of doing, wanting to do, or even thinking about doing a crime. He would not be pulled over, searched and humiliated – because HE IS WHITE.
I know these atrocities have been done to more than just the black man. Looking at what we have done to other people, the American Indians and Hispanics who are looked down as having lesser worth than white people and have to fight so hard for survival. There is little respect for their humanity or their heritage. They know when we, the white man, look at them with disdain, it is because they are not white – like us. They are lesser than us. They didn’t have the good fortune to be born in this free and wonderful society with streets paved of gold and the American dream (they thought) existed. They will never have have white privilege, as long as we think we are better than they are.
Here is a very telling video of a woman who accidentally had a black child and how it affected her selfish life in a negative way, because now what will her family and neighbors think? You can view the video here: The Value of Whiteness stating that her neighborhood is racially intolerant. She cries through the film because it’s unfair and doesn’t want other women to have to go through what she has. She “bonded easily with her daughter but she is obviously mixed race.” She’s going to have to face her daughter one day for that remark. Oh! The horror of what she had to go through now to raise her! Will she be able to take her out in public? Will her friends shun her now? I hope someone had to guts to slap her. Racism it’s most finest.
Most people will not admit they are racist in public because they don’t want to be looked at as a terrible person, but in their minds, they know they, too, are swayed by media and believe the stories that are slanted to make them believe the black man is dangerous, commits more crimes, and has a basic innate nature that wants to hurt people, much more than white people do. I see it on my facebook page on a continual basis. Jamie’s facebook page you can also follow, and read other articles about prisons and our injustice system.
You learn from the media that blacks do more drugs, collect more welfare than white people and commit more crimes because that is exactly what the media wants you to believe. It is by no means true. This media is owned by very powerful white men in high places who benefit greatly by you keeping that mindset. They benefit greatly by the slave trade inside the prisons. So your racism is needed by them and is locked away in your mind when a black man comes toward you on the street and they have a hidden fear that he will want to hurt you. It allows cops to shoot them even if they aren’t armed and it allows the average citizen to kill them because of the racism and fear locked in his minds that he is doing something suspicious. The law allows you to “stand your ground” and kill without repercussion. You can’t stop that feeling because you have been indoctrinated in it since birth. Yes, racism is alive and well. And yes, black people are very angry over the negativity caused by the color of their skin.
I have a dream, that my grandsons, who are black and white and brown will have the chances in life that I have, that they won’t be judged by the color of their skin, and the possibilities of that happening frightens me. So I have to fight for my dream with everything I have. It drives me forward into the wee hours of the morning. It is my passion. It is my legacy. I don’t mean a money legacy – but a real legacy, because the only legacy I can leave behind that has real value, is the affect I have had on other people who carry on the change they learned.
I have a dream, that you will recognize the power you have to help me with this dream, and share my posts with other people. I have a dream that you will want to stay interested in the book I’m writing and add your name to my email list at the bottom of the post. I have a dream there are other people who believe as I do who want a book like this published. That growing list is what spurs me on. It shows me that people care enough and my words are not falling on deaf ears. I have had wonderful feedback from many people who have expressed caring for this man, so I know his story is one that needs to be told.
Because being outside of a prison, for many, is only a dream. for some it will never be a reality. We also hear frequently that many men, mostly black, are being let go because it has been found they really were innocent all along, after they have spent, 20, 30 or 40 years behind bars. We, as a country should be ashamed for allowing that to happen. The prosecutors and judges who have been so determine to lock up every black man they can find and force them to be guilty.
Speaking today, in 2016, a woman I have recently met online, Pamela
They never learned how to make it a reality. Why? Because the prison system is set up for failure and the outside world is very unforgiving and does it’s very best to make it hard for parolees and those who have lived out their sentences to get a job, rent an apartment and are looked down on as people to be feared and people of no value. They don’t want to take a chance because they think every person getting out of prison is a danger to them. Unfortunately, in some cases it is true, so it is understandable to have that fear. But there is little said or written that distinguishes these people, so all are feared. Our government has laws that makes it hard for any person who has paid his price to have a life on the outside. The laws work against it. Should there be help from the government who imposed harsher sentencing for the black man for the same crimes the white man committed, instead of making it harder to live and eat and feed his family? Help for the person who is trying to have a better life? Does anyone care? No, not anyone with power who profits from his failure.
There will be a second book written about the outside world after the day comes when Jamie is paroled, whenever that is.. We will see then what reality is.
I wrote back about what I’ve learned through the research I’ve done into many areas concerning our prison injustice system. The things I didn’t know scared me. My only knowledge came from TV shows like Prison Break or Orange is the New Black. Since those shows are for entertainment purposes it doesn’t come close to telling you the truth. The attitude our country has about our inmates and how our justice system combined with the Prison Industrial Complex, which leads to how the lives of the inmates are impacted needs to change. I learned that people and organizations have being working to change this system but the government has created a monster it doesn’t know how to put down, and many unnecessary people have to pay the price for that.
Prison itself, in the solitary units, has created so many mentally ill people, who were functioning human beings when they first set foot into a solitary. Sometimes it is the infraction of a rule or the guard doesn’t like you and creates a case against you. Sometimes it is for “your own protection”, like a teenager certified as an adult and is preyed on by men who want to abuse them. That teenager could spend years alone in that cell – for his own good, of course. Solitary cells ruin people. It is over used and abused. They are left inside for too long and it destroys their mind. They usually end up hurting themselves by cutting open their veins, trying to bleed out, trying to commit suicide. Staff take them out of their cell, sends other inmates into the cells to clean up the blood from cut arteries, they sew them up the hurt inmate, put them back in their cell and double their sentence. They do it over and over. A three month sentence can easily turn into a year or two or ten. When that person is eventually released back into society, and most of them are if they don’t die inside, they are completely unable to take care of themselves and if they do have family they are often unrecognizable. They don’t know them anymore. Brothers and sisters are strangers. I strongly urge you to watch this: The Stickup Kid I have gotten to know this young man and we speak on a daily basis. He has a facebook page you can fain by searching his name. He is in bad need of friends to talk to. Also, he write powerful poetry explaining his life.
It has been determined that 15 days is all person can take without probable psychological damage. When they finally get out they often end up trying to kill someone else. They are nuts. So where do they put the mentally ill person they created? Back into a solitary cell. There are many of these cases of these people who are put down like dogs by guards, with the prison looking the other way, making excuses and defending the guards who do it. The harshest punishment for prison guard brutality is possibly getting fired, or sent to another prison unit. No real repercussion. The crimes guards commit have no consequences, yet these guards would have to be mentally. They are let out of the prison after every shift and allowed to live among the people. He could be your neighbor. Would you want him near you/ near your family? Do the guards have family? What do they say when they get home or talk to their friends? “Oh, today I murdered a person by putting him in a shower and turned on scalding hot water for hours, listened to him scream and scream until he died and his skin peeled off his body. True story. Another inmate was sent clean up the shower and he knew what he was looking at was the dead man’s skin. His file said he died of a heart attack. No crime was committed. The prison needs to protect themselves. Examples of three murders can be found at: Looking From The Other Side of The Prison Cell door – part two
Jamie has spent about 4 years in solitary confinement, which is also called Ad Seg. Two times of two years each, not far apart, and each one was a lie from a guard. One was a guard finding a knife on his sink when they were shaking down cells. A knife the guard put there. Even if Jamie had a knife, would you leave it on the sink when you know they are shaking down cells? The second time was because a big fat ugly female guard said he blew her a Kiss, and that is a crime because you are trying to consort with a guard. He was standing lion for his medications when he was looking around and saw the guard. Period. The he gets slapped with a case. What inmate in his right mind would blow a guard a kiss? I saw this guard when I visited with him in Oct 2013. You would not have blown her a kiss.
On another note, I am putting together an email to send to Jamie right now and putting in comments people have made. I have told him there are people who care. We have the ability to leave our house and talk to people. We still might not have anyone who cared how our day went, and those people become depressed and lonely and probably drink or take pills to get through their day. But Jamie knows there are people whose hearts have been touched. People who care. He is a good man. I want people to know him. People who care if he’s okay. That goes a long way in keeping his depression away. The post I wrote, In Prison Who Do You Have to Care About Your Day? is very real. How would you feel if you thought there was no one who cared about you, you saw no one, talked to no one, or had communication from anyone? What if no one even cared if you alive or dead? On the outside we have people I’d like for him to answer these comments so I can add them to the comment section.
You can send any words of encouragement to him at email@example.com and I will send it to him. Each and every comment is a bright spot in his day.
There are so many people who have a misconception about prison and think they are only there to lock up bad people. That is only one reason. Our government needs to keep the prisons full, (while telling the public they are try to reduce their arrests) because of the huge demand in the public sector, the American companies who bid on prison labor, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. So there may be fewer arrest this year but the sentences will be longer and the percentage of those paroled are fewer. Once in awhile a good thing happens and people cheer, but they really don’t know what is going on. A great many prison are owned privately through companies like Corcoran and CCA – there are more. The Prison Industrial Complex. They offer to help the states with their budget problems and if they take over the prison they will have more money for roads and education BUT they have to keep the prisons 90-100% full or the government has to pay them for the empty beds. This is why the US has the highest prison population in the world 500 out of every 100,000 people, and since approximately 65% of those are black people, there are entire towns that have 50% of there town locked up – for “walking while black”. But the media portrays it as though black people do more crimes, which they don’t. Black neighborhoods are patrolled for people to arrest. Are many of those arrest legitimate? Of course. But many of them aren’t. White people can be picked up doing the very same crime, yet they don’t end up in prison because of it.
Pa recently announced the building of a brand new $400 million SHU – solitary housing unit. Only for solitary confinement. They are also closing many schools for lack of funding. Can you figure out why there is a lack of funding? The US has also made it very clear to the world they do not use solitary confinement like this – as torture. They intend on locking people up for years, decades. You read that in the media and believe it. You believe black people are more dangerous than white people. Black people do more drugs and commit more crimes. This is all hogwash. This is the media making you believe what they want you to believe. Thank goodness there are many people who are not blinded by this garbage and know what is going on. Many people and organizations trying to change this conception. I am one of those people.
@Manuchettan, I realize I have written much more than a reply! I get on a roll sometimes and the words spill out. I go on a rant and get intense. I think I will turn this reply into a post – “Up Front and Personal”
I can’t thank you enough for reading these posts. It means a lot to me, Sonni
Thank you for your words. It’s hard,though, to get an accurate picture of the US through Hollywood, as you have to do in India. I am going to look for the prison movie you talked about, “Death Warrant”. Then I can tell you if it accurate. The thing, though, that you are very right about is that the atrocities don’t stop. Because of the things they do to inmates, an inmate learns to be very subservient, because if they aren’t, they pay for it. But even if the inmate is very docile and does nothing to provoke the guard, it doesn’t stop them from writing up false cases on them or from doing things like spitting in their food, or not letting them shower. Humanistic things.
When a human being finally gets out of prison, they don’t know how to act around people again. One woman told me her son even asked if it was okay to go use the bathroom. going outside is too much stimulus for them. Go to the blog “Breaking Free”. http://breakingfree.com and read about the communication between a mother and a son.
Reintegration to society is hard if you don’t have someone guiding you. Sometimes that doesn’t even work. At the 5 year mark after parole 71% of parolees are back in prison. For a variety of reasons. My concentration with Jamie has been to build his self confidence, his value as a human being. Keeping him from slipping into depression or keep thoughts of suicide away, which he tried when it was unbearable, has taken much effort. If I hadn’t been there, I don’t know what state of mind he would have. When someone has spent the years he has locked up in a a cell 23 hours a day it makes most men mentally ill.
If you have read any of the chapters I posted about the book Inside The Forbidden Outside, here is a sample chapter. Inside The Forbidden Outside . Fill Out the contact form below if you want to be on the mailing list for updates or other chapters posted.
When I started writing to Jamie 8 years ago, after he had been in for a year, I knew I was taking on a lifetime responsibility with a willing heart. I was not going to be able to just say hi and ask how he was doing and then not continue to write. He has no one else who writes to him. If he ever hears from a family member, it is usually a catch up about what is going on in the family, not a letter of caring how he was doing. Never a question of, “Is there anything you need or anything I could do to help”. Not even from his own mother. I know she loves him. I talked to her once. She’s okay with him calling me mom and is glad I’m there for him – but she isn’t there for him.
If you’d like to find out what solitary confinement, go to http://solitarywatch.com. Armando is one of the most interesting men I’ve known. Solitary confinement actually rehabilitated him. It was a benefit for him. His transformation is nothing short of incredible. He will never be released, but he is fighting to have a better life inside the prison walls, based on his conduct inside his 5×8′ cell. He is still a human being. yes, he did a horrible crime. He is paying for it. His behavior deserves what they call “program”. where can do art, or take classes. Why would someone on death row want to continue to learn anything? Because he is alive and he is human. His major crime now is that he is Hispanic. They have a special way of dealing with Hispanics. If the prisons say the want the inmates to be rehabilitated, which they really don’t, then he should at least have his accomplishments come with a few benefits for that. There is no reason for inhumane treatment. Common decency rewards. He is in for a contract murder. Goggle his name and read the articles written about the murder. He grew up in a violent family and lived in a violent community. It was all he knew. He was never taught right from wrong. Never thought about the consequences of his actions. He lived in the moment with the rewards his crimes brought to him. In prison he had to start all over and learn what what right and wrong was. Through the study of Buddhism he found out who he was, and found out what his life meant and what he needed to to change. When someone is never taught these things and the people around them all behave in a certain way, how can you not follow what that teaches you? This arrest was not his first murder and it was at the end of many crimes. It was his life and he knew nothing else. That is not Armando Macias today. I hope someday I can actually meet him.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it is long. Please comment about how you feel, even if it is criticism. I want to have a discussion with those who have something to say. Please
It’s 2011. He got a letter from Mom the other day. He loved to get her letters because she wrote long ones. If he read slow and then read it through again it could take up a good bit of time. He usually read her letters over and over. Just knowing she was there thinking about him helped him get through some of the bad days. She never lost hope in him and he couldn’t let her down. He tried to pray but it really didn’t seem to do much for him.
If he did happen to get a letter from his brother or his cousin, which didn’t happen very often, they never really said much. Mostly newsy things about the family but nothing of any real substance. His mom never wrote. She just don’t. She hardly wrote when he was in juvy, either. Said she was too busy, and she was. She couldn’t write because it hurt her too much he was on there. Hurt her? She was raising his sisters kids and working two jobs. He said he understood. That’s okay. That’s how family letters are. But the family he never hears from, he’s done waiting for them. He keeps giving them ultimatums in his head. when he doesn’t hear from them he makes new ultimatums.
“If they don’t write back to me by next week then I’m just going to take them off my visitors list.”
He’s threatened that one more than once. Of course, they never knew it and they never wrote back anyway. Everyone just goes on with their lives while he sits here year after year. Except for Sonni, his mom. These are the thoughts that go through his mind, over and over:
“They never come and see me so why am I supposed to care any anymore about them?”
“Let them come and find they can’t get in. Serves them right”. He was steaming now.
” When has anyone cared enough to come and find out how I am?”
“They don’t know what it’s like to know your family doesn’t care about you”
“Why did they stop loving me?”
“Why won’t Morgan bring my son so I can see him – at least once in awhile? Is she trying to punish me for not being there? Has she forgotten about him completely.”
“Paybacks are a bitch. Someday they might need me and I won’t be there for them.”
But he knows that not true. That’s not the way he is. He’s just angry and hurt. He’s the most hurt by Morgan. He never did nothing for her to treat him the way she does. Takes his son away from him? Brush him out of her life like he’s some kind of dead fly.
“Why is she keeping my son from me? Is she trying to hurt me?” He yelled at the walls. “If she is, she’s succeeding!” He added. “It’s my son, too!” Every time he thought about that, it started to make his blood boil. He started to breathe faster. The words caught in his throat.
“Is he calling some other man, daddy?” When he gets out and sees his son and Morgan tells him that some other man asked his son to call him ‘daddy’ it would rip his heart out. He’s the only thing he ever did in his life that gave him any value for his existence was this little boy. That bothered him more than anything else, losing his son, and his son calling another man, daddy. It was so frustrating not being able to do anything about it. She rarely wrote to him so he could know how he is. He knew mom got on her case to write and send pictures. Then sometimes she did. He didn’t know if she would it at all if she wasn’t made to feel guilty.
He stopped, walked over to look out the window and whispered the words, “He might be too old to want to call me daddy. He night be in high school before I get out.” Those words crushed his soul. Tears started running down his face.
“What if he doesn’t want me around?” He paused. “What if he says it’s too late. It’s been too long?”
He pulled his lips in and bit down on them, thinking, ” He could tell me to look at my own life and see how bad I screwed it up, so who am I tell him what he should and shouldn’t do?” It worried him, thinking his son may not think he had any worth as a dad or maybe didn’t want to know him. He was four years old now. He was missing all the good parts of his childhood.
He left the window to go sit on his bed, rocking back and forth, thinking what the worst thing was that could happen. “What if he ends up in here just like me”.
He laid back on his bed, waiting for food, and closed his eyes to think.
He knew what the statistics were. He knew black people got locked up six times more than anyone else. He knew the newspapers and TV tried to make people believe black people were mostly all losers and they did more crimes than white people did because they weren’t smart enough to get jobs. They were just lazy and drug addicts all high on crack.
He knew there was a lot of white people who thought they were smarter that black people. He knew a lot of blacks get pulled over and their only crime was, ‘Driving while black’ or ‘Walking while black or they had a sweatshirt on with a hoodie and that made them suspicious of doing crimes. He knew white people weren’t picked up nearly so much. Cops probably didn’t even go into white people’s neighborhoods. They didn’t cruise white people’s corners. He knew that for a fact. (2) No white business man or attorney or banker was going to let one of their precious kids go to jail. They had too much money to let any of their kids pay for the they things they did. But it was okay to send black kids and rip up their families.
White kids in their fancy cars drive into black neighborhoods to buy their drugs. They bust the black people who sell it but they don’t stop the white people in the cars that buy it. Oh, the poor white people went to jail, too, and other minorities, because they didn’t have any attorneys, too. but not better off neighborhoods. They had the money to pay their way out of their kids having the same punishment. And because of what gets put on TV and the paper, they made white people afraid of black people, like they were all trying to get them somehow. White people were scared of black people. Just walk by a white person and you can see the look in their eyes that wonders if they’re going to be safe on the same sidewalk as you.
Only black people did things like that. Ha! Cops didn’t need no reason to yank anyone off the sidewalk, slam them against a wall and tell them to put their hands up on the wall, kick their legs apart and search them. Threaten them. Punch them, throw them to the ground and kick them. Cuff them and have them sit on the curb. Haul them down to the police station and get harassed. They didn’t need a reason. Just being black was guilty enough for them. If wearing a hoodie was all it took to become a criminal, nobody but black people must wear hoodies.
When he got out of Juvy when he was 21, His mama came and picked him up. They were going to have a party for him at home that night but it was after 10:00 when they got there. The juvy they put him in was far away from home. Too far for anyone to visit and he only saw his mama one time in four years. By the time they got home most everyone had left accept for a few cousins and an old friend. But guess this, I went to a cousins house that same night. I visited for awhile and then started walking home. In the apartment complex my cousin stay in they have guards after 10:00 and they stopped me. I explain to them I was visiting my cousin but I’m on way way home. The next thing I know I’m in the back seat of a patrol car for tresspassing ( walking while black). I had to stay in this jail for two days, and I had only been out of juvy for less than 24 hours when this happened and I’m back in jail again. My mom came and got me out.
I went to the court for the case and guess who I ending up seeing? I saw the lawyer who was my lawyer four years ago, only he was now a judge. He didn’t know who I was at first.
He asked me, “what’s your name,” and I told him.
He asked me, “who’s your mother?” I told him. It hit him then who I was, so he said,
“How have you been doing?”
“I just got home from TYC, ” I told him. ( Texas Youth Comission} He looked at me crazy.
I said to him, “You lied to me. Why did I have to lose my life?” I continued. “I was sixteen going on seventeen and I was sent to TYC. I was told I had to do nine months?” It was hard to keep my voice even. “I was lied to by the court. I ended up having to stay there four years.” The charges were dropped and I got to go home.
But really, no joking, he knows the chances are of getting picked up and taken to jail for doing nothing wrong at all. You are guilty of doing nothing. People try to say this country was becoming less racist. That’s a joke. You only have to be black to know that. Nobody admits to be being racist. They want other people to think they’re fair to everyone, no matter what the color of their skin was. The problem is that it’s actually becoming worse, not better, at the same time the media tries to make you believe other wise. Black people aren’t so stupid. They know and feel the racism every day. But it can also be racism by blacks against whites, but that comes from being mistreated so much. Blacks are fighting back and the whites don’t like it. Blacks can be racist, too. They’re pissed.
OK, not everyone is racist, but when something is ground into you when you are young, just wanting to not be racist doesn’t mean you aren’t. It’s like whatever your religion is. People think the truth is what you were told over and over. It’s not so easy to think different from how you were raised. If your parents talked bad about blacks when you’re growing up then that is what you’re going to think, too. He laid his head back, waiting for food to arrive and he started thinking about how different it was for black people than it was for white people.
Let’s say you’re a middle aged white woman walking down a street and a black teenager, wearing a hoodie, with it pulled up over his head, is walking toward you coming the opposite way. No matter how much you think you aren’t racist, the first thought shooting through your head is fear. You can’t help yourself.
“Is he going to try to rob me? Maybe try to grab my purse and run?” You start to get concerned because throughout your life, the media, movies and TV has mostly shown you that black people aren’t as smart as white people. It’s not their fault, so they do more drugs. And, they kill more people, and they’re lazy. They just keep having more kids so the government will give them more free things other people have to work for, like food and housing and even medical care. They even teach their own kids to do the same thing. She knew it was true.
She watched Fox news. They blame black people for everything and said because of them we need to have that stop and frisk law. Fox also said that black people were the cause of the financial meltdown the country was going through.(1) She knew Fox news wouldn’t lie about things like this. It was the only News station she knew she could trust to tell the truth. So she knew she could be the next victim. He could be out to hurt me.
Rapidly, you think what to do.
“Should I cross the street and just make it look casual, like I was meaning to cross the street, anyway?” Your mind works fast searching for the right thing to do.
You have a little gun in your purse. You bought it couple months ago. You didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t their business to know that. You went to a store in another town so no one would recognize you. One couldn’t be too careful, you know. You have to protect yourself from all those other crazy people out there who want to hurt you. You have to be prepared. It was just common sense in this day and age. She even looked up a place where there was a gun range so someone could show her how to shoot it – if she needed to, never thinking that it wouldn’t do any good unless the person she wanted to shoot agreed to stand still long enough so she could try to aim. She’d probably shoot off her own foot. But you aren’t thinking any of that. You’re just frightened.
“I’m not so young anymore.” She told herself. “I don’t have a man to protect me.”
“I wouldn’t be able to fight him off if he attacked me.” She had heard stories about people who got attacked just walking down the street minding their own business. You don’t know who might be carrying a gun.
Everyone is so scared everyone else has a gun, so they bought one, too. A lady has the right to protect yourself, you know. All those crazy people carrying guns, not realizing that you’re actually one of these crazy people yourself. You casually slip your hand into your purse, just in case.
He’s about ten seconds away now. Your heart starts to beat a little faster. What to do? What to do? There’s a door to the left. Good. You can pretend you’re going there. You turn toward it, making it look like it was your destination. You pretend you’re searching for your keys, but your hand is really around the gun, slipping your finger to take the safety to take it off, ready to pull your hand out if he starts to step in your direction. God, he might even want to try to rape her!
You don’t look at him again, pretending everything is okay. You try to steal a look at him through the side of your eye, trying to make like you aren’t looking right at him just in case he sees you doing it. You want to make him believe you aren’t a scared racist, but that is exactly what you are, whether you want to believe it or not.
When you reach for the door handle, this scary looking black teenager just continues to walk on by without even looking at you, or even wondering what you’re thinking.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to search through his Itunes so he could play one. Reaching further into his pocket, he felt for his headphones so he could plug them into his phone. He was in the mood for a little Bob Marley, wanting to hear some tunes off the “Songs From Freedom” album. He sang about the down trodden people in all the corners of the world and about passing the love around.
Later that day, that same woman would be calling her friends and telling them about the close call she had with this black man she thinks wanted to hurt her, but she was ready. Now she tells them about the gun and how she had her finger of the trigger and was about to pull it out when something frightened him away.
“Oh!” They all say. You were so lucky you got away. You must have been so scared!
“Did you call the police?” one woman asked. “No.” she replied. “Since he didn’t get a chance to hurt me, I didn’t want the people in the neighborhood to have the cops arrive and wanting to talk to everyone. They would have kept me there, too, and I had other things to do.” she added.
“That’s using common sense, but I bet you could have gotten on TV, though. Then everyone could’ve seen you.”
“I never thought of that.” You always think of things like when it was too late. ” Oh well. I’m just glad I got away.” The conversation ended.
Let’s go back for a minute to the would be almost criminal this woman was so glad she had the insight and courage to get away from. What he was really doing was walking to his gramma’s house. He was a good kid, always came when she asked. They’d been real close every since he was little. Did good in school. He wanted to be an architect and was going to start college in the Fall. He was a bright spot in her life, the only grandchild that lived close to her. All the others moved away. She called him because she needed him to help get some boxes down in the garage. He told her she wasn’t to climb her little ladder anymore, and to call him if she ever needed any help. She’s 82. She already fell one time and he was worried she might fall again and get really hurt this time. He loves his gramma. So when she called a little while ago asking him if he could come over and help her, he grabbed his sweatshirt and phone and started walking over to her house. It was only a few blocks away. The weather was nice. He could even stop at the little store along the way and grab a pack of smokes at the same time. He wasn’t even paying attention to the lady he passed. He reached into his pocket to get his phone out, searching for the tunes he wanted to play.
But someone else was watching. The lady across the street who was peering through her lace curtains. This kid looked real suspicious, she decided. What was he up to? It sure looked like was pulling a gun out of his pocket. She didn’t have her faraway glasses on, but that black thing sure did look like a gun to her. She thought he might be trying to rob that lady walking down the street. She called 911.
“911, is this an emergency? If not please, call the regular number for the station.” the woman started to say on the other end of the line.
“Yes.” She said a little breathlessly. There’s this teenager outside and it looks like wanting to to rob someone. He kept looking at this lady and she got away from him. He pulled a gun out of his pocket”
“You saw this gun ma’am?” she was asked. “Yes. With my own eyes”
“Let me have your location ma’am and what direction he’s heading in. And I’ll send a police car right away” the 911 operator told her. She gave her the address and cross street.
“Thank goodness. Hurry. I just saw him heading into this convenience store down the block. An old man works there and he might get hurt. This man might try to rob him.”
“Stay inside your house. They’ll be there in a few minutes,” and hung up.
Two minutes later, two cop cars come speeding down the street. They pull up in front of the convenience store, puled out their guns and started to walk toward the store. When one of them gets inside the store, the owner of the store saw them and had a sprised look on his face. There was a teenage black boy with his hand out toward the old man behind the counter. It appeared that he was demanding money. He pulled something black out of his pocket.
The cop stood in the doorway and yelled “Freeze and drop the gun!” The boy was confused. Was he talkling to him? He didn’t have a gun. He turned around, with his black cell phone still in his hand. The cop shot him 3 times in the gut because he didn’t drop the gun. He didn’t drop his cell phone. The money for the cigarettes was on the counter.
“Shit”, the cop said. We’re going to have to make this look legit he said quietly when he walked over to the other cop. We have to make people believe he was committing a crime. Not once did either of them go over to the boy and see if he could be saved. They justlet him lay there and bleed to death. If they had called immediately for help he might have been saved. But the cop couldn’t have this come back on him. He was just doing his job.
“Hey, old man”, he asked the man behind the counter.”Was he threatening to you in any way? Was he trying to steal the cigarettes or make you give him money in your register?”
“No”, he’s been in here before. “Polite young man. You killed him!” He was visibly shaken.
“Woman down the street said he tried to rob a woman and thought he was coming in here to rob you next. He tried to grab her bag.” The old man didn’t know what to think.
The two women involved got their fifteen minutes of fame talking to police officers, and news papers reporters and even had a little spot on the evening news. The woman behind the curtain told them it certainly looked like a gun in his hand and tried to grab the woman’s purse and she fought him off. She could see how scared the woman was. She was sure he was going to rob the store. She did a good thing reporting it to the police and get one more of those black thugs off the street. With each telling the story got a little bigger.
Later when the woman walking down the street told her story it got a little grander with each telling. That night, she went to church and talked to all her lady friends at the pot luck dinner. By then she had a big audience who wanted to hear every word she had to say. Everyone knew she was a good Christian and she would never lie. She was a hero who had barely escaped death.
They all said, “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! He protects those who have faith in him!” they cried. “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
“Yes, that was surely it. Praise the Lord.” She told them he was really a mean looking kid. He had a scowl on his face. When he passed her on the street she said he looked at her really ugly and said, “What’re you lookin’ at bitch.”
Not one person suggested they should pray for the boy or his family. No one thought of, or even knew of his grandmother who was grieving for the loss of her grandson, for the loss of the life of one more black boy who had his life taken away by an overzealous cop.
The police had their story down flat. They reported they had entered the store fully expecting him to have a gun and when he didn’t drop it and turn around, they had no choice but to get ready to shoot. So when he did finally turn, still holding his black cell phone, they shot him three times in the gut before he could shoot them. They were just doing their job. Protecting the people. Of curse, they were found innocent of any wrong doing
The black community now had more reason to be angrier at the injustice and racism.
Bang! The wheels of the food cart rammed the steel door! “Cummings! Food!” the guard yelled. Jamie woke up with a start and sat up, startled. He’d fallen asleep. He heard the lock turning in his food slot and the door opened up and a tray slid through. He didn’t even bother to look to see what it was. He knew it was a little carton of milk, a biscuit and a spoon of peanut butter. When he gets out of here he never wants to see another spoon of peanut butter for the rest of his life.
(1) links to the Fox News Youtube sites saying these very things
(2) link to Youtube site
In addition to being a writer, I am foremost a musician. My instrument is piano and I have played for 53 of my 60 years, and have taught for 42 years. I spent years singing and playing piano in piano bars and with various bands. I had to give that up 13 years ago due to health problems, but after that, my music changed. I no longer played what other people have written and play only what comes from me. I only improvise, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a way to record it when I’m playing at home. I still stop at every piano I see in any club or piano setting and play for free. Now I write music for this website. Music is on some of the posts. I like to close my eyes, preferably in a pitch dark room so I have no distractions and play whatever emotion I’m feeling. To me, it’s not only about the notes you hear being played, but also the spaces in between where the sound of the notes come together.
Then I don’t listen to it for a few days. When I play it back and I am sometimes amazed by what I hear because the emotion is there. I can’t repeat anything I record. I would just sit and play something else. Here is a link to the last post that has my most recent recording: https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/02/08/in-prison-who-do-you-have-to-care-about-your-day/ There is a link at the menu button on the top of the main page https://mynameisjamie.net/ that has a link that says piano music links. After that, the most important post to read starts with “I want to encourage you. . .” the entrance to the blog that tells you how to navigate it..
When my book, InsideOut, is released, I want to include with it, a CD of the music I have written and posted on this site. It is strange knowing that more people have heard the music of Sonni Quick this past year on the internet then they ever did before when I was playing live. Maybe it is my second chance. For quite a long time, I thought my identity was gone. Not being able perform and spend time in recording studios anymore was a loss where I felt much grief, as if a leg had been cut off. For so many years my identity was that of a musician and I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself that anymore. Who was I? It was a difficult question to answer. It has taken awhile to realize that identity didn’t disappear, it was just hiding until I found it again.
After nearly losing my life due to liver disease and cancer, making the most of my life now has changed my perspective. Jamie helped me through that illness and recuperation and being confined to my bed for nearly three years. His letters of encouragements were something I looked forward to. As soon as I was well enough and I could type again. ( I had to relearn many things) I started writing http://mynameisjamie.net and also http://watchandwhirl.com. My music has all been inspired by my feelings when I write about Jamie. Many are sad because it sometimes gets overwhelming when the writing gets heavy. That is when I go to the piano and play. Now I can just plug my piano into my computer instead of putting my Nook near the speaker, and the quality of the recording is better. The music and the blog go together.
Aren’t there sometimes people who come into your life and you feel like you’ve known them forever, and there is a bond there that feels different from the way you feel about other people you meet? You feel there is a reason they came into your life? People come and people go out of our lives. Why is it that some people become special?
Please leave a response, and use the yellow stars. In a club people can clap and tell me personally what they think. Now your written response is all I have. All criticism is also welcome. If you want to join other people who want to know how the book, InsideOut, is coming along, with the possibility of future purchase, please fill out the comment form below.
(Sonni’s note: This is a re post. I wanted to bring it back into the picture. It was originally written early last year. It will help those who don’t know the story of Jamie and what happened in the year between being finally let out of juvy and ending up in prison. It was during this year he met my daughter and they had a baby who was born 7 months later. My daughter tried to be there for him but she was young and in her 20’s and knowing it would be a long time before he got out, she eventually went on to live her life. It left Jamie with no one. Because there was no one else to love, that last image of her he has carried with him as if it were yesterday. His own family has contacted him very infrequently and for a very long time it was just he and I, trying to get through his years of solitary confinement, also called ad seg or G5, as he was helping me get through years of extreme illness.
I found him to be a gentle soul, that due to circumstances, never had a chance to find out who he was. This is why I started the blog and why I started writing the book InsideOut, to validate his existence and try to turn these years from something negative to something positive. You can find two of the chapters of the book at the end of the paragraph. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you’d like to leave, and if you want to be on the mailing list for the book fill out the contact page at the bottom and state that it is for the book, as other contact forms are out there for other reasons..https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/27/insideout/ and https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/02/26/insideout-chapter-nightmares/
Ahhh. . . The moon. It was a beautiful sight. However, I’ve been moved to another cell. I can no longer see outside. But I can still see the moon in my mind. Such a beautiful sight to see, it is. Sometimes my memories are the only thing standing in the way to insanity. Today it is my memory of the moon. It makes me want to write a poem.
Being alone so much there isn’t anything else to do but just sit and think. It makes me think a lot about my past. You told me it is foolish to get upset when I think about my past, but I think otherwise. When I sit back and read over old things I’ve done or remember things I really don’t want to, it hurts. I don’t need anymore pain. I realize now that I’ve been locked up most my life.
I loved the year I was home. I really enjoyed it. The mistake I made is that I passed up an opportunity. It hurts. When I got out of juvy I went to stay with my uncle, and I know for a fact if I had stayed with him I would not be here now. But I wanted to go back to Nacogdoches. My home. I think so much about that chance I passed up and it hurts me. I know I had a chance for a better life. Foolish, yes, indeed. But would something else have happened in Dallas? Was it my karma to be locked up?
If a cause had been made for that to happen sometime in my life, even if I don’t remember what it was, wouldn’t the effect happen no matter where I was? A person can’t run away from the the causes they make. It follows them. There is always cause and effect for everything. Things don’t happen for no reason. There can’t be an effect without a cause, and we can’t go somewhere else and expect things to be different. There is something inside of us we have to change first. I have to understand what that is. But still, I think of my life and it makes me sad. Almost like I wasted it. I have to find a way to do better.
Life inside these walls are more like death than life. No one was ever meant to live like this. I know I did something wrong but this kind of punishment far exceeds the crime. What people don’t know is there is so much that goes on in here that the world doesn’t know about. I really don’t see how the guards can go about their life knowing what goes on in here and the things that happen and then go on about their day pretending that what they do is okay. I think a lot of them like having control over other people. It brings out the worst in them. Who knows, maybe they get off on it.
(Sonni’s note: In Nichiren Buddhism there are different life conditions that a person has and one is called “the world of animality”. It’s also called “kick the dog syndrome” That means that someone who is crapped on by their boss goes home and takes it out on his wife and kid who goes over and kicks the dog. Each person wants to get over on the person beneath him so that he can feel in control. But how can these guards go home to their families and pretend their life is okay? What do they tell their kids about what they did at work that day? Do they want anyone to know how they mistreat people? I don’t see how they would. I think in the beginning that many of people who work here start out okay. They applied for a job that pays good and has benefits. They were probably never inside a prison before. It changes them. They lose the ability to have compassion. They don’t see inmates as human beings who have value. I can’t imagine what they say to each other. They get mean. They start to enjoy causing misery. It may not happen to everyone who works here, but I think it happens to many.)
There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t get any help. If I try to say anything it just comes back on me so I stay quiet most of the time. There is no place I can complain where anyone would listen, that’s for sure, and if I could it would just get me in trouble. I can’t win in here.
(Backstory: For those not familiar with the book it is a being written about Jamie Cummings, who is currently being held at Huntsville Prison in Texas. He has completed 9 of a 17 year sentence. This is a random chapter. This story is based on his life using hundreds of letters written to each other during these years. If you wish to read Chapter one you can find it here https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/27/insideout
If you would like to be on the mailing list to receive any other future posts or information about “Inside the Forbidden Outside” please fill out the comment form below.
In some ways Jamie feels like he’s back at the beginning and opening his eyes for the first time to this nightmare. He was trying to wake himself up, having that same dream again. He was having this same dream over and over and it was beginning to freak him out. If he could just go back to sleep and wake up again, maybe he’d be in a different place, in some other person’s dream. Anyone’s dream would do.
“Maybe all this really did just happened yesterday,” Jamie mused. ” Maybe he hasn’t been here forever, it just feels like forever. Wouldn’t that be something?”
“Or maybe I’ve been been here forever.” he thought, “It’s my own personal version of hell.”
“Maybe that’s it. Everybody was really in a different kind of hell just for them. Everyone’s hell was different.” Now he’s beginning to think for real that he’s starting to go crazy. He didn’t believe in all that nonsense of heaven and hell, anyway. He thought all that got started just to scare people into believing it. It was just as nutty as his nightmares.
“That would be a really awful possibility,” he thought. A nightmare that just went round and round in circles like a merry-go-round, except, there was no way you could ever get off. The longer you were on it, the faster it would go, until you were hanging onto the neck of the horse with both arms wrapped around the head. Sometimes he felt like he was hanging onto that horse by a thread and the thread was starting to break.
“Sounds like that old time TV series, Twilight Zone,” he mumbled. He’d seen reruns of it as a kid and some of them really creeped him out.
Maybe this was the way being crazy started. The way your mind turned on you and made you think things in your head was real and you heard things you didn’t want to hear. Crept up on you real slow until it had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go. He needs to stop thinking this crap.
“Maybe I’m dead and this is hell.” He laughed, seriously a little crazy this time. “If I knew this was hell,” he thought. “I could probably deal with it better, knowing for sure this was it, I could stop wondering if I was ever going to get out. I wouldn’t have to worry no more about getting out of here.”
He wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. He’d just have to come up with a better plan for his days because right now he wasn’t dealing with this solitary crap very well. You’d think he’d know the ropes by now. No use about complaining. They’d only turn on him more if he did that.
“If eternity was going to be just like this, then accepting it is all anyone could do, or go crazy” he thought out loud.
“Problem is, it feels like an eternity already.” He was crazy for sure, having this dialogue with himself, but if he didn’t talk to himself, then he really wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Being alone is being alone. People don’t understand how alone, alone really is. The guards didn’t want to have conversations with you. Probably told not to. You know you’re in bad shape when even having a conversation with a guard sounds good. He got up and started pacing the floor. Three steps up and three steps back. Three steps up and three steps back. He really wished he could go outside and run. Just run until he was tired. Run until he was out of breath.
“Don’t make friends with the inmates.” That’s what they probably taught the guards, although they most likely don’t use as nice a word as calling them inmates.
“Make them as miserable as you can, they were taught.” I think they take that part of their job really seriously.
One of guards said to them, “If any of you have a smile on your face then I’m not doing a good job.” They probably laughed with each other as they talked about the ways they had fun making them as miserable as they could.
He knew they tried to make people on the outside think it was all the inmates who do wrong and the guards would never did anything really bad, but he knew better. There was good guards and there was bad guards. To him it seemed the bad guards outnumbered the good guards. Only when one really slipped up and someone died did it bring any notice to the prison, but they always managed to find a way not to take responsibility. If a dude has a heart attack from the torture they did, then the heart attack was how he died, and the torture never becomes a part of it. He knew it was worse in some states than others. There were lots worse places than Texas, so maybe he should be glad he was here and not in a state like Alabama. That was worse.
“How long is an eternity supposed to feel like?” he thought, looking up at the ceiling, as if looking toward heaven was going to give him any answers.
“Probably the guys on death row have a better answer because they know there is no way, for any reason, they were ever going to get out of there.” They might keep them there for decades until they died, but they ain’t ever getting out of their one man cell.
“At least I know I’m going to get out someday,” he hoped. “Someday”
Besides, maybe outside was the real hell. He had no idea what he was going to do. It scared him. How did he know how he was going to be able to take care of himself? He didn’t even know how to do anything to take care of himself like most people already knew at his age. He didn’t even know how to get his lights turned on in a new apartment.
What if he did something without even meaning to and they picked him up again, not even giving him a chance? They wanted to make sure they got the inmates back. They owned you.
He knew, even when you’re on parole, they still own you. You’re still on paper. You still belong to them and they controlled your life. They really don’t want you to make it out there and they set you up to fail. Nine years inside and they make it so he can’t even get his GED. If he makes parole in 2016 they know he doesn’t have any way to take care of himself. Why else would he see the same people coming back again after they left?
It’s just their way of filling the prison through the back door. Pretend they were all for you getting out of there and having a life, and it’s all bullshit. No one is honest with you here about that. If he got caught walking crooked they’d probably say he was on drugs and lock him up, even if there was no drugs in him, it would be his words against theirs. They’d be the one to make it true.
Just like it was in here. People lie an getting people wrote up that wasn’t guilty of anything at all just so they could have someone owe them a favor. The truth doesn’t matter much in here, or out there. And he knew what it was like out there. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick up blacks and charge them with things and try to make them guilty of something they didn’t even do. He heard the stories. He heard the guys when they were brought back in again because they did something that broke their parole.
But it makes you think, “What’s the truth? Nobody knows what the truth is and nobody seems to care, neither.” He pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead, pressing on the tightening of his skin that was turning into a headache. He was getting himself worked up about things he couldn’t do nothing about.
“Damn, it’s depressing,” he said out loud. “Or it’s enough to make you depressed if you thought about it enough.”
Yeah, some of them that got paroled got into things they shouldn’t, so it was their own fault. He wasn’t going to do that. He had his son to think about. But the cops didn’t need a reason. And just like in here, where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, he was sure it was the same out there. He needed to get out of Texas. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick you up and put cuffs on you and throw you in jail. He wasn’t going to be like all the others and get picked up and brought back here again.
But how could he leave Texas with his son here? He’ll have to think about that later. First things first. He had to get to prove he didn’t belong here. Not on his son’s life would he do anything to end up back in here again.
“I have to keep my eye on the end game,” he determined. ” Maybe other people didn’t have a reason to change things, but he did, and he needed to remember that and not get all caught up on maybes and what ifs.”
Crazy thoughts were always shooting through his brain like this. He had way too much time to think. He had trouble remembering a time when he could laugh and smile. It was forever ago, like some repressed dream that came to the surface and he found himself inside a nightmare he couldn’t get out of. Bits and pieces of things he could make whole stories out of, if he wanted to. But he needed something positive to do.
Sometimes it seemed as if the dream was something that didn’t happened ‘to’ him, but instead he walked into a theatre into the middle of a movie where he never saw the beginning, and fell asleep before he got to the end. It was the kind of dream where you could feel yourself falling and you knew if you hit the ground you were going to die, and woke up startled and scared and afraid to go back to sleep again. When he was little and had bad dreams he used to think of cartoons and tried to stay awake. There were no cartoons in here.
Sometimes he had this dream over and over. Like it was a premonition of some sort making him feel like it was going to come true. But there was a hazy part he just couldn’t see quite clear. He would lay there for hours and think about it, but it was no use.
“I have to snap myself out of this,” he thought. “I have to write a letter or something and get my head together.” He’s been here long enough, and has been through other times like this, and he knew it was easy to spiral out of control.
He lived that movie in his head over and over, never knowing if he was going to die at the end. It never felt like it was okay. He never felt any hope, only despair. Every time he went to sleep he was afraid he would see it again and most always, he did. He had no one he could talk to about it and he just got more depressed every day.
When he woke in his dream he was running. Running so fast. His heart was beating so fast, knowing without a doubt that he was in a place that felt so wrong. It was hell. It was hell and he couldn’t change it. So many times he woke up crying. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. And it was never, ever, going to be over. He was lost forever. It felt like forever. He was never going home. He buried his head in his pillow and he wept.
This is what drove men mad. This is what solitary confinement did to the mind. He spent more than 4 years in here. He should be crazy, too, and probably would be if it weren’t for Mom. She held on and wouldn’t let go. Two years each time. All for lies. The hopelessness. He knew there were men who were kept in places like this sometimes for decades. His sentence was only seventeen years, if the word ‘only’ means anything.
There are men here only because they’re mentally ill and there is nowhere else to put them so they lock them up in prison. They can’t survive around other people and being in solitary made it even worse. They lock them up for their own protection, they say, but that only gives them the right to abuse them, and to laugh at them and to do things to them that would be a crime on the outside. Sometimes they die because of the way they are treated. Out there these guards would be locked up because sane men didn’t do the things they did to people in here. In this place, people don’t have the rights of a dog. In fact, dogs have more rights because they’d haul you off to jail for torturing animals.
They torture the men. In the real sense. Physically torture them and some of them die. Because these men couldn’t stand being locked up, they would do things to themselves. He heard the stories. No one deserved to end up like the men in solitary confinement.
They would try to kill themselves by cutting their veins and smearing the blood all over the window in their door, and all over their walls and floor, trying to bleed out. They would take these men to medical and sew them up and instead of getting them help, they would double their time in solitary and it would happen all over again. They make them crazier and then punish them more because they got crazier.
Does that make sense to you? Now they just don’t know what to do with these men. They can’t let them out of their cell because they would probably try to kill someone. They’re completely loony. Maybe they should’ve thought of that before they destroyed the rest of their minds.
He remembers what it was like in solitary when he was in the juvy system. It was no picnic then, either. It wasn’t any different now. Alone is alone, no matter what age you are. A person can only take so much. He was so young then. Just seventeen. What did he know about being locked up like that? He got mad. They said he could go home after he did nine months and when he was packed, they wouldn’t let him go home.
They said “No, you can’t leave. You didn’t make your line class.”
“What line class?” He said. “You never told me about nothing about no line class” They lied to him! He got mad. He went to his room and started punching the walls. They were the liars! They put him in solitary for that. It was no picnic then, neither. It wasn’t any different now.
Oh, he didn’t want to think about this right now. He had taken so much already for too long. What had he ever done in his life to deserve this? They put him on antidepressants. Every time they saw him he was sleeping. Clearly depressed. Who wouldn’t be? All he wanted to do was sleep now.
All this thinking was starting to make his head hurt. Either that or maybe he was hungry. He was always hungry. Maybe he could pretend his peanut butter tonight was a piece of apple pie!
“Maybe I can dream about apple pie tonight,” he laughed and cried, and lay down on his bed.
“I’ll take a nap and see if I can figure all this out while I’m sleeping.” Even that bit of laughter made him feel little better. He has to be careful… It’s so easy to get your head in a funk and it drags down the whole day.
He pulled a letter out of a book. It was one of mom’s letters. He was using it as a bookmark. He kept it in the book he was reading so he could take it out and read it when he wanted. He read lots of her letters over and over. When he’s finally able to make phone calls it sure will be nice to talk to her.
She had written some stuff in this letter that looked like gobbledy gook to him. She said it was Japanese. She wrote these letters down ‘nam myoho renge kyo’ Weird. He had no clue how to say it or what it meant. She said it didn’t matter, just try to say it the way it looked. He had no idea what it meant but he tried anyway because he said he would. She’ll tell him more about it later. Maybe she was crazy, too, because she told him if he said it over and over he could be happy.
“What do I have to lose?” he laughed again. “Nobody else had any better suggestion, so I guess it can’t hurt.” He fell asleep thinking about all of these things in his head. He even had a dream about apple pie, but tasted just like peanut butter, what they give him every day for meals.
When I write to Jamie I often write to him through an email system http://jpay.com. I can send him an email letter or send him money. I also buy the “stamps” it takes to send the letter that are the same cost of a regular stamp and it costs the same as a regular stamp cost and changes when stamp costs changes, although none of this money goes to the government. You can buy books of stamps of just a few up to 40 stamps. If anyone were to want to send him an email his prison number is #1368189 and he is in Texas. I know he would be very surprised, and when other people have written to at different occassions, he has written back.
I was going through old letter that I wrote him and I came upon this one written 3 1/2 years ago. i thought it was interesting because it was the first time I talked to him about writing a book. The idea of this blog hadn’t entered my head yet, but at this point we did have five years of of letters accumulated. i haven’t even gone back into these letters yet because they are in a box in my garage and it is way too freezing cold to go look for them. Besides, I still have letters I haven’t gone through. It don’t think when I took it on how much work it was going to be. I also didn’t know what a labor of love it was going to be, or the possible impact it was going to have on his life. I don’t regret a minute of it.
I will be going through more of my letters to him to find ones that are relevant to letters He wrote to me – since these are letters “shared” between us as the tag line goes. It took a lot to get him to start opening up more and talking about things that are private. He also wasn’t used to anyone thinking his life was special in any way. he was more embarrassed or ashamed of being there. That has been awhile back now. he’s dome a long way and has grown into a person I am proud to know.
From: Sonni Quick
Date: 7/18/2011 7:27:19 PM
Sent To: JAMES CUMMINGS
Hello my son. I just wanted to make sure that you knew I put more money in your acct. Also, I ordered the mag sub and bought you a new book from Amazon. It’s being sent from Texas by a company that sells new books, but I just thought of something. Even though it is new the box won’t say Amazon. So you might not get it. Will they let you know at least? If they won’t let you have it then I’ll get another one for you from Amazon.
I have an idea that I want to do so let me know what you think. It will take a lot of work from you. I want to write the story of your life – from as far back as you remember. All the details of who you are and what it was like growing up. All the truth. If you give me the facts I will write the story. You might not think you have anything worth saying, but I do. You’ve had a hard life. I’ve done some research and there isn’t much out there that explains how someone gets to where you are. I think we could write an interesting book ( The beginning of Inside Out) and who knows where it might lead to. I have someone who is going to help me because there are lots of rules to writing. Maybe it could help your parole. It would also give you something to do with your time. Think about it and tell me what you think. There are some things I know about you but there is a lot I don’t know. Take care. Love, Mom
Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.
If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. Call me, email me, msg me at fb. It’s that easy. You can also contact me here:Legal Shield
“Inside The Forbidden Outside” This is the new working title of the book I am writing about Jamie Cummings. At first I wanted to write a book because he has a story to tell, but decided to first write a blog. I needed a way to categorize his letters. He talked about the same issue sometimes in different letters and I still have many letters and I haven’t had a chance yet to add. I realized there was enough for me to begin writing this book. Sometimes you will read incorrect grammar and phrasing. Jamie has had little education and has been unable to even take a GED course. In many cases I keep it true to his thinking and writing although I often correct things that might be confusing. I also change the names of some people and leave out passage here and there if it may be confusing.
I want to present this book to the parole board It may help in their determination. I am then determined to have it published by the time he is released. I believe his story about his life and the state of the inhumanity at the juvenile detention institutes as well as the prisons, has value for those who are going through the system, and if they don’t change, they will end up where he is. There are inmates in other prisons who also have set up ways to help and mentor the kids. Jamie was part of the “school to prison pipeline”, a phrase that was coined in the past year or so to represent the kids who, often unjustly, get caught up in the system. Solitary Watch is a very good website to read about about the lives of other men who have been in solitary confinement and also has many good resource links.
I understand many of these men have done horrible things, but there are just as many men who haven’t, and many who are locked up simply because they are mentally ill and there is nowhere to put them. They are in solitary for “their own protection.” Regardless, the inhumane conditions they live in were not part of the sentence the judge passed down
Jamie still has 8 out of 17 years of his sentence left and prisons do not like to give parole. The owners of the private prisons have not hid the fact that they have given millions of dollars to politicians for their campaigns on the condition that they keep the prisons 90-100% full and vote with their best interests in mind. Money talks. Politics is all about money and power. It is a battle to fight the slave state set up for profit. It is an expansion of the southern plantations whose owners thought they had the right to own a person of color for fincial gain. White privilege. The fact that there are six times more blacks and minorities in prison does not mean that these people did more crimes, it means there are more things that are a crime, if you are black
Please read this and tell me what you think. Please fill out the form below to keep up on the progress, even if you are following this blog, because this will be the reader list I show to agents to prove this book has value. The sale of this book could be what gives him the monetary advantage to succeed when he is released into a very unwelcoming society. You will also to receive notice of any other chapters I post here. Your info will remain private. You can also leave a comment for other readers or follow the entire blog through WordPress or email as each post is added. Don’t forget to check the yellow stars and rate it Any and all criticism is welcomed and lets other people know what you think. Who better to ask than the readers? Will you do that for me – for Jamie? Will you share this on your own social media? Your help would be so greatly appreciated. If you have taken the time to read this . . . please add your voice. If you want to read another random chapter go to Nightmares
———————————————————————————— Inside The Forbidden Outside
Sorry for taking so long to write. I hope all is well with you. Is been a rough day today. Sometimes I want to give up. Ill try to tell you what is happening.I remember taking a deep breath before I even opened my eyes. Something woke me up. That happens a lot, day or night. It was probably someone down the hall. There’s lots of people here with major problems in the head. Some can’t cope with being here anymore, when all forms of human contact are taken away. Dudes start crying and banging on the door with their fists and feet. Sometimes they find ways to cut themselves or even commit suicide because they can’t stand it anymore. Being alone inside a solitary cell will suck the life out of even the strongest man.
I know the craving to feel the skin of another human being touching you, and holding you with kindness. It’s worse than withdraw from addiction to drugs. This is the hell of incessant suffering. Sometimes I wish I could die, but I can’t. Some men claw at themselves and make themselves bleed. They talk to the voices in their heads that laugh at them, taunting them. Sometimes they’ll open a vein, capture the blood and pour it on their head. These are the things that can happen when you are more alone than a human is supposed to. How can I keep it together when so many people around me are losing it? There is a man down the hall who thinks he can’t possibly stay in here one . . more . . minute, so he screams and screams and nobody hears him. He’s not screaming loud enough for anyone to do anything about it. He doesn’t exist anymore.
I’ve heard the stories. I heard about the guards who would get feces and piss thrown on them because someone had been saving it up, waiting for him to come close enough so he could throw it on him. Word gets around. It gets pretty noisy during the day when everyone starts talking and yelling. We can’t see each other, but we can talk to each other..
A person can only take so much deprivation before it gets to him. He gets disoriented because he don’t know what time of day it is. Sometimes, once that happens, paranoia sets in. He’s used to hearing it. No one will go in and help these men who are losing their minds. No one wants to go inside those cells. There could be shit smeared on the walls and everywhere else. And lord knows the last time he might have showered. But if he won’t put his hands out the slot in the door so they could cuff him, the guards put on their riot gear and get the tear gas and the tasers ready to subdue him.
Guards are often rougher than they need to be. Most of them are bullies? Well, let’s just say this is the perfect job for people like them. The inmates here aren’t dogs. We’re still human beings, but we aren’t treated like we are. The guards are brutal. So, unless an inmate threatens to hurt himself, they’ll just walk on, continuing their babysitting job, not caring that the person on the other side of the prison cell door is actually a man.
The prisons created this problem. Now they don’t like how it takes so much money to take care of the dudes with medical problems, so they don’t. They ignore calls for help. Sometimes, they just let them die. A lot of these men in lockup shouldn’t even be here. They were crazy to start with but there was no place for them to go. Mental hospitals closed and they were kicked to the curb. They ended up homeless and cops picked them up. I try not to think about it too much. I have to put it out of my head, or it’ll start to drive me crazy, too. I know you don’t want to hear about this stuff but I have to tell someone.
I’m not sleeping too good. Most nights I don’t. I Toss and turn all night most of the time because I’m freezing. Right now I ache so much because I’m tired. Not only am I skinny because because they don’t give us enough food, I’m losing muscle from not moving around much. My knee and leg are all swelled up again. It goes up and down. It’s been like this for over a month now. I asked the doctor if it was fluid on his knee because it really hurts to touch it. I asked if maybe it needed to be drained. She said no. It would never get approved. Things like costs them money. Who cares if I’m in pain. So lay down and try to sleep. I try to remember the good parts of my life and play it over and over in my head.
Sometimes I can make myself believe I’m not here. I’m back home with Morgan and my son is there. It makes me want to cry. I messed things up so bad. It would be so easy to lose myself, give up and join the people in this hell they are in. Sometimes, the mistakes I made, come back to me every day. It’s hard to keep it away when the brain has so much time to think.
It’s easy to lay here and think of how much I love her. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love her. I have no memories of anyone else. I wasn’t out in the real world long enough, since he was a kid, so how am I supposed to know if what I’m feeling is real or not? When I met her I fell hard. I didn’t have anything to compare it to, except loving my mama, or my aunts and I don’t think that’s the same thing. I need to keep my love for her alive in my mind to save my sanity. She has no idea how much my love for her keeps me from losing it.
He couldn’t lose it. There’s no way coming back from that. They’d never let him go then. He had to stay focused on getting out of here some day. The only way he could that was to make himself believe she still loved him as much as he loved her. Yeah, times change. They aren’t the same people anymore. At least in his dreams he could pretend it was real. Time stopped. It was still 2006. Reality, he knew, was proving to be another matter altogether.
Pulling his hand out from under the one thin blanket he had to cover himself, he tried it cover his face with it and breath warm air. It was cold in here and it was the only thing he had to stay warm. The blanket was thin and worn. How many other inmates had used it before it was given to him? The thought of getting under a nice warm comforter was almost to much to bear.
Jamie rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision enough to see if it was close to sun up. He put on his glasses. He turned his head to look out the window. He wasn’t sure. The window was pretty grimy. He opened his mouth into a big yawn, trying to wake up. He read somewhere, when you yawn, your body is trying to get more oxygen. All he knew is that the oxygen in this room was pretty damn cold. He thought he could almost see his breath. Anything to torture the tortured.
But at least he had a window in this cell. He was moved around a lot. Different levels on different blocks in different prisons. He couldn’t count how many times he’d been told to pack up his shit. And he’d been in … trying to count on his fingers, naming off six different prison units they’d transferred him to, all over the state. When they transfer you, you can’t trust the guards. One time a whole bunch of his stuff had been stolen. Pictures, books, letters and a new stack of writing tablets he’d just been sent. He tried put in a complaint but he knew it would come to nothing. How was he supposed to prove his stuff was gone when now he was in another prison and there was no proof he owned it in the first place?
He was still tired but he knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep. It wouldn’t really matter anyway. He slept off and on all day. Sometimes, if he slept too much they’d send someone around to make sure he was still breathing. Most days he was so depressed it didn’t matter if he was asleep or awake. It was the best way he knew to pass the time. He has a few books. He’s read each of them several times. He’ll probably read them a few more times, too.
Sometimes, in his dreams he could see his son as if he were standing right here beside him. God, he missed him so much. The thought of putting his arms around him and feeling his body against his, a deep wrenching pain started in his chest as he tried to fight back the tears. He didn’t want anyone to hear him crying. He heard crying often enough as men lost control and despair spilled out their guts.
He pulled a worn picture out from under his pillow. He kept it close. He lightly touched the picture with the tips of his fingers, caressing her face. She was beautiful. He closed his eyes and sighed. He could still feel her warmth as he pictured her lying next to him. And his son? It still amazed him that this boy came from him. It was the one good thing he had done that gave his life value.
Holding the picture made him feel as if his family were right there next to him. He wondered if his son ever dreamed about him? Six years old now and growing up without a dad, just like he did. He wondered if Morgan even thought about him at all. He hoped so, even though she did go on with her life. He couldn’t expect her to wait for him all these years, even though, in the beginning she said she would.
After awhile her letters came less and less and she had excuses why she couldn’t write. Her boyfriend always found the letters and threw them away, was her main excuse. He couldn’t blame her. She wanted a man in her life who was going to be there, and he was definitely not there, that’s for sure. But he was going to make it up to them some day, if he could. If they let him. So much time has gone by he could never get back again. He was sorry. He was so, so sorry. He had really screwed things up. He didn’t mean to.
He looked over toward the window again. It was still pretty dark outside, that much he could tell. They kept the lights on all the time to screw you up. Made you crazy not knowing what time it was. Daytime, nighttime, those lights were always on. The lights made it damn hard to go to sleep. What was the point of that anyway? There was no point, that’s the point. They just wanted to fuck with you. The lights, though, seemed to affect a lot of dudes here. Especially the ones who were on the edge.
Most of the meals were the same, too, so you couldn’t judge by that, neither. Two busquits and tablespoon of peanut butter, or two little pancakes with peanut butter. All he knew was he was never, ever, going to eat peanut butter again, for the rest of his life, once he got out of here.
Once you got disoriented and didn’t know what time it was it became it harder and harder to pull your mind together. The harder you try the worse it gets, and it will make you nuts. He’s heard it happen. You can tell when someone starting to lose it. It starts out with threats to the guards and threats of what they’ll do to themselves. then they started screaming to be let out. Yelling and screaming they can’t take it anymore, with an insane edge to it. He was not going to let them screw him up. He had to admit, though, he had hard days, too. Days that would be easy to just crawl up inside himself and not come out.
He sat up in his bed, thinking, he had to find a way to get through this even though there days he didn’t want to get off his bed because there really was no reason to. some days he held on by the skin of his teeth. “One more day. Just one more day”, he spoke out loud as he sat there, rocking back and forth with the rhythm of repeating it over and over..
“I’m going to have to get up and pee,” he said to no one in particular. “No way around that.”
He moved his feet around in circles trying to get the blood flowing, and slowly stretched out his legs. He carefully put the picture back under his pillow and swung his legs off the side of the thin mattress and put his feet on the floor. He was glad he had socks on because the cement floor sure was cold. He reached his hand out and grabbed the sink to help him stand up. He could hear his joints creak, when he tried to move, from laying in one place for too long, protesting at being made to move. If he wanted to, he could stretch his arms out from his sides and easily touch both walls of his 5X8 feet cement box. The toilet was connected to the sink, really close to the edge of his bed, with a piece of metal sticking out to the side that served as his table. There was a little stool connected to it that couldn’t be moved.
He was wearing every stitch of clothing he owned, which wasn’t much, just a white jumpsuit, trying to stay warm. In the summer, during the intense Texas heat, he sometimes took off his clothes in the evening and lay down on that same cement floor trying to feel a little coolness. There were only a few months out of the year that either weren’t too hot or too cold. He was wearing white. Everything he owned was white. It got dirty so fast but he guessed that being white they could bleach the hell out of it to get out the stench of an unwashed body who was out of deodorant.
Jamie looked down at himself. He really needed to get him some new clothes. But that costs money so he was stuck with what they gave him. He had lost so much weight with them starving him half to death that and had trouble keeping his pants up. He used to be a pretty big guy. He definitely used to have some meat on his bones, but not anymore. Not that he looked bad, but he didn’t like often he had to hear his stomach growl because they only gave him enough food to barely keep him alive. What he wouldn’t give for a big plate of bacon and eggs with home fries, and a big glass of orange juice. Maybe two. That was one of his dreams, he thought, as he laughed out loud. Dreaming about food.
He stretched and reached over and grabbed hold of the sink to steady himself, which was above the toilet bowl, so he could relieve himself. He washed his face with the little piece of soap he had left and drank a little water out of the sink. He was real hesitant to do that because the water had a brownish tint to it, so who knows where it came from or what the pipes were like it had to travel through. He didn’t have much choice. It was the only water there was. This prison was pretty old.
People on the outside had no clue what it was like in here. All they know is what they see on TV and that never really showed it like it was. Once the channel changes they don’t think about it, unless they find themselves in here, or until someone they know or love gets caught in the system. When the system gets you they don’t like to let you go unless they have to, and even then they make it hard for you to make it out there. They make too much money off you. They own you.
He knew it must still must be pretty early because there weren’t too many sounds yet coming from down the hall. It won’t be for long though. All that banging on the walls and people yelling, upset at something or nothing at all would start pretty soon. He couldn’t blame them. It was the only way to get their pain out. Some cried just to make sure they were still alive. If someone were to describe hell, it would look and sound an awful lot like this place.
This day would end up being exactly like thousands before it. He walked the few steps to the window to see if he could tell yet what kind of day it was going to be. At least he had window. Not all the cells had windows. There were small things to be thankful for.