Eyes In The Back of My Head – ITFO Chapter

last-note-2-sm

 

Eyes in The Back of My Head

 

There was a murder in the shower. A dude was stabbed twenty-seven times by his cellmate. Jamie was blown away. It was going too far. This could happen to anyone in here if they got on the wrong side of someone else. Punishment was dished out the way anyone thought it should be. Lots of these dudes had been screwed by the justice system, so they were going to give justice the way they saw fit.
     There was so much violence in this prison. No prison is a good prison but he heard dudes talk about this prison being one of the worst. The guards were corrupt and in business with the gangs. They make the inmates fight each other and bet on who will be left standing. He should be getting used to this by now, but he wasn’t. He didn’t want to get mixed up in it but they don’t let that happen. He was a big guy and he knew how to fight. He tried to stay by himself as much as possible. The last thing he wanted was to get more time added to his sentence, and they would do that in a heart beat if the wrong person saw a fight going down.
     Eyes in the back of his head were what he needed. He couldn’t trust nobody to have his back. More than half the dudes in here had some sort of weapon and they wouldn’t hesitate to use it if they felt threatened.
     Drugs were involved in everything. It’s how money was made on both sides of the fence. The quantity and variety of drugs coming through here was crazy. Pills, weed, heroin; you name it, it’s in here. There was more drugs in here than a crack house on a street corner, and just as easy to get – if you have the money. If you don’t, and you don’t pay up, that could get you killed.
     It comes in packed along with supplies and the staff that worked in the kitchen or handled other supplies for the prison made sure it got to the right people. That wasn’t the only way it came in. Visitors smuggled it in, too. Some got caught and some didn’t. It’s not worth the risk. If you were an addict you’d probably think different.
     On top of that, some of the men made their own wine. Five dudes recently got caught who were stupid drunk on their assess. Getting drunk wasn’t worth the possibility of getting caught with it, trying to escape reality. Whether inside or out when you didn’t like your life, drugs and alcohol gave you a false sense of a better world for a short time. Then you come down and you’re still living in the same screwed up place. People die of overdosing in here the same as on the street. He wasn’t tempted to do drugs, at least chemical ones that mixed with his seizure meds. That was dangerous. He didn’t mind a little weed, though, but in here you don’t know what you’re getting and there is some bad shit going around that really messes you up. The dude who killed his cellie in the shower was drunk when he did it. What happened that he needed to kill him over it? This wasn’t like the free world. No one thought about consequences. They reacted to what happened right that minute and didn’t care because they were already locked up.
     Without a courtroom the men acted as the judge, jury and executioner in a much worse way than the courts could impose. It took very little for someone to decide you needed to die and you ended up with a knife across your throat. He wanted to be transferred somewhere else, but he didn’t see that coming anytime soon. In the meantime he needed to be careful.

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Jamie was lucky. He had a window in this cell. sometimes he didn’t and never what time of day it was. It was suffocating. Sometimes he went a long time without breathing any fresh air. He couldn’t see much of anything out the window. He doubted if it had ever been cleaned. Still, when he closed his eyes he could feel light on his face when he closed his eyes and he could pretend he was anywhere but where he was.
     Summer would be on them really quick. Right now it was the time of year when it wasn’t to hot or too cold. It wouldn’t last. In Texas the summers were killers, and every year more people died. There was always talk about how that needed to be fixed, usually around an election time, but nothing was ever done about it. They weren’t going to spend money they would rather put in their pockets.
     It was going to be hard. There was nothing he could do but try to get through it. He dreaded this time of year. He had lived in Texas his whole life so he should be used to it. The difference was he couldn’t step through a door into air conditioning and find relief, except if he had to go to the medical unit.
     Things weren’t looking up for him. He feels like he’s in a no-win situation between a few of the guards and inmates. If he wasn’t careful it could get him getting killed in the shower, too.
     He had reason to be scared because these guards will let the inmates beat you up, or beat you up themselves. There was a fine line between guards and criminals that was crossed all the time. So it was really not guaranteed he would someday go home. He tried not to think about that, but it could happen.
     Wanting to be with his family was the only thing that got him through the day. He promised himself he would never give up, even though he was hurting inside. There were a lot of corners to turn and hills to climb but that it was part of his life now and he had to find a way to get through it.

Jamie decided to stay in his cell today. He had little to do except have conversations with himself. He was doing his best to stay away from trouble but it managed to find him if he left his cell. He didn’t have anything to read he hadn’t read countless times already. He was restless. Sitting on his bunk he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep for awhile and kill some time.
     “It’s hard sometimes, isn’t it?” Jamie kept his eyes closed and smiled. He was starting to like this. It was good timing, he needed someone to talk to.
     He cocked his head to the right and opened his eyes.
     “I can only take so much,” he said, answering her question.
     Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail that went almost to her waist. It looked good on her. She stood there looking at him, wearing jeans and her hands were on  her hips. She was smiling. He never realized before how valuable a smile was ’cause he sure didn’t get many. She might be Morgan’s mom but they sure didn’t look anything alike. They were both beautiful in their own way.
     Suddenly he realized, if he was making all this up in his head he sure did have a good imagination, didn’t he? In a way he wished others could see her, to prove he wasn’t nuts, but maybe it was better this way.
     Jamie thought about the three years they had been writing.  He never really understood why she started writing to him after he had been inside almost two years, but he was glad she did. When he asked her, she said he was family, but after getting to know her she knew no one else was writing to him, so she did.
     She sent books, a little money, and their friendship grew from there. He hated to ask her for money, but she was the only one who would help him. She didn’t make him feel like he was begging. He was grateful for everything she did, but he didn’t want anyone to think he was using her, especially Morgan. She told him not to feel like that. She helped him out because she wanted to. She sends what she can when she can.
     Her letters kept him going. She was his connection to the outside world. He didn’t know if he would make it if she stopped writing. He knew people had their own lives and were busy surviving. He didn’t blame them for not having time for him. He didn’t need anyone to write all the time. The occasional letter he did get was about what was happening to whom, but no one asked him how he was doing or if he needed anything. If you don’t ask you don’t know. Gradually even those letters faded away .
     Jamie needed her, and she knew it. When she wrote it was like a conversation back and forth. She cared how he was doing. Apart from the mental need, if she didn’t help him get things like stamps and hygiene he’d have to find some other way to get them. He might end up owing someone and maybe that would not end too good. In addition, she was a sight for sore eyes, even if she wasn’t real.
     “I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to handle the situations I have on my hands right now and what to do about it.” Jamie told her.
     “What’s the problem?” she asked.
     “I can’t sit in my cell 24/7. In fact, I’m not going to,” he said, making up his mind.
     “Why do you think you need to stay in your cell?” not understanding the problem.
     “If I can’t talk to these dudes about the problem we’re having then there’s only one solution.
     She wasn’t going to like this. “I hate to go back down that road but I might have to. I’ve had two fights already and the way things are going there could be plenty more to come.”
     “That’s what they do in here – fight,” he told her.
She paused for a few seconds and frowned.
     “That’s the way karma works,” she began.
     “Causes made in the past come into play today, or in your future,” she gently explained. “When a cause is made there is going to an effect at some point, for all the good and all the bad that has happened. The same is true for everyone. No one – gets away – with anything.”
     Jamie got up and went to his locker. He sorted through a stack of letters until he found the one he was looking for.
     Taking it out of the envelope and reading through it, he stopped and looked at her, “It’s true what you said,” he paused.

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Tears For All The Years That Passed

Tears For All The Years  by Sonni Quick copyright 2016

I wrote this poem in 2012 and the music recently.  It was published on my other blog about and month and a half ago. Today I decided to re-blog it. During this time period in 2012, when I wrote this poem, there were many letters between Jamie and I. I had to type with one finger because I lost the ability to hold a pen. I had trouble holding a fork, too. With liver failure protein builds in the brain and motor skills don’t work and confusion sets in. I knew he was having trouble with me being so sick and not being able to do anything.

He and I have things in common and one of those things is a family who doesn’t know how to care. I had moved to Pa to have a liver transplant and I was close to losing the battle. I also had liver cancer and more infections than I thought possible for one person to have, but that is what happens when your body starts shutting down. I have a lot of family that live close but not one person ever called to even see if I was dead. As you can probably tell, I still have trouble dealing with it, because in the years since then nothing changed. I have better friends all over the world that I met through blogging and I am so grateful for that. I never could understand my family.

In a letter I got from Jamie yesterday he talks about the same thing – a family who never cared about him the past ten years who can’t bother to even send a birthday card, let alone send a book to read or money to buy a bar of soap. He writes about how hard it is, and that he tries to keep it out of his head because it brings him down. He loves his mother. He can’t bring himself to say anything bad about her, and I hope he finds a way some day to tell her how much she has hurt him. He says it’s hard to know he doesn’t have her support in any way. That is heartbreaking, too. It is one reason why I tried to fill the void. After ten years of filling that void it is much more than that, but I just don’t understand why people, who say they love you don’t ever do anything to actually show it. I had my transplant in 2012 soon after I wrote this poem. It really explains how I felt about my life because I thought I was losing it.

As a Nichiren Buddhist, I look at life different that most of you. I don’t think life begins when we are born or ends when we die and I don’t think we go to some magical place called heaven where all are problems are gone and all we do is worship a god. I believe the people in our lives we have been with before. Sometimes we feel a connection with people and sometimes we don’t, and those people you do, you’ve been with before, although not in the same context. How many times in our lives have we said to someone, “I feel like I’ve known you forever,” and you become instant friends?

We work through our problems in life, and we do it over and over until we get it right. We live in heaven on earth and we live in hell on earth. It isn’t somewhere we go when we die. Jamie is in my life for a reason and I am in his life for a reason. I wouldn’t want to imagine his life now had I NOT been in his life these past ten years. That was my purpose. He fell in love with my daughter and had a son he can’t be with, but that happened because he needed to meet me, because he needed me to teach him the things he needed to learn to get through these years. I may not be making much sense to some people, but when you learn what the meaning of cause and effect is, you gradually learn what the meaning of your life is. It learning the entire meaning of “You reap what you sow” instead of it just being a phrase you were taught.  You have to actually live it to understand it.  Why do you reap what you sow?  What happens when you don’t like what you reap?  What do you do about it?  Your faith should enable you to have a happy life, no matter where you are – in a prison cell or a hospital room. If you aren’t, then you have to examine what it is you actually believe.

Jamie is reaping what he sowed and so am I.  Different religion say the exact same thing but we don’t take it seriously.  We have to take responsibility to change what we sow because we are to blame for every single thing that happens to us – good and bad. No one is testing us. It is no one else’s will that we suffer or be happy.  Everything is our own fault.  We have to change things, not think something outside ourselves will change it, no matter what you were taught.  We have to take control of our lives.  When you understand that, your life opens to greater possibilities.

Please make sure you follow this to the other blog and finish reading the poem.

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Sonni Quick

im crying, sonni quick. karma, liver transplant photo source: crazy4images.com

I’m crying
Why can’t the world hear my crying?
Tears for all the years that passed
seeing dreams that never last.
beyond the time you can see
and when you open up your eyes
the dream has passed
It’s now too late
to dream that dream again
my heart is torn it can not mend.
My dreams are dying
and I’m crying
for all I have that’s left is pain
I lost it all with none to gain
I look in the mirror, I see myself
hoping to see where the years have gone
I made the cause, I was so young
Sharp turns to the left
that way was wrong.
tears fall, say please
as they stream down your face.
a longing look at the piano keys
I wrap my arms around my knees,
Crying tears of loss
Crying tears of pain
No one takes a…

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In Prison There is No Way To Win From Losing

“Sending All My Love to You” is the latest piece I’ve written and recorded”

December, 2015

seizure webmdcom
photo source: webmd.com

Hello mom,
How are you? Fine and in the best of heath I hope. As for me, things are crazy here as always. On Friday Dec 11 I had to go to the hospital. I had a seizure while I was asleep. I’m okay, I just hurt my left shoulder. It hurts here and there. They took x-rays and said I’ll be fine. I’m still not getting the medication for my heart. Nothing new with these people.

( Sonni’s note: That makes me so angry that they are allowed to do this. Why is that even the rights the inmates are supposed to have, the prisons don’t have to follow, People in our government know they aren’t being followed, and people get hurt or die because of their negligence. I don’t get it.)

The medication for my seizures was changed. They can’t stop giving me that one. They can’t screw with that diagnoses and say I don’t that medication. With the change in this medication, I’ll see if it helps. the other medication was giving me bad headaches. I was taken off it. So far so good.

Oh, just so you know I received all the books you sent me except for one. Something with the subject matter they didn’t like. It’s okay. There’s a lot of good books here.

( Sonni’s note: I sent him 30 books from an website that sends books to inmates. http://imailtoprisons.com.   You can send new books and used books and its already approved by the prisons. Who cares if they are used? It will keep him reading for quite awhile and then he’ll read them all again. He asked if I could send him some Westerns. He had never said he was interested in that. Why not? Fortunately there were some Westerns in the lot. He said he was going to save them for last. I guess it is like eating dessert last. Save the best until last. I got a laugh out of that.)

I also got the big envelope with the book chapters you wrote for Inside The Forbidden Outside. I’m waiting to get some stamps so I can answer your questions. I also received a few letters from people who read the blog. It was really good to hear from other people. It makes me feel as though there are people who care and I didn’t feel so alone.  I got a couple letters from a woman named Leah.  She said she talks to you a lot online.  Another lady is Kelly Sherrell.  I’m waiting to get stamps so I can write back to them.

I really enjoy everything you sent in the big envelope.  That is some strong stuff you are writing. You know, it always good to hear when you are doing good.  But remember some things can be fixed and some things can’t.  Just like with these guards with the way they treat me  me and the shit I give them back.  It’s wrong on both our ends.  Someone has to be the bigger person and I see it’s going to have to be me, because the system doesn’t care nor do the people who works for them.  I’ve been through a lot and I’m tired, so I want you to know something.  This might upset you a bit, however I think this is the best thing for me, okay? I’ve been placed back in ad seg (another term for solitary confinement)  As of right now I’m waiting to be sent to another unit because they don’t have ad seg here – only G5 (that is really no different either.  It’s a classification, but you are still in lock down 23 hours a day and get served your meals through a slot in the door and have no communication with anyone. ) So I’m waiting to leave.  Please don’t be mad.  I could still make parole in ad seg, but I have to get my line class back and that will take a year.  Also inmates that go to ad seg get a lot help as far as programs and school when we get out.  I feel this will be a new start and I will get a lot out of this, mom, really.

solitary confinement, Jamie Cummings, ad seg, behind glass visitation
Jamie Cummings in Prison Whites

I’ve sat here and read your letter over and over about how to keep my mouth shut, however it was already too late.  I did this to myself and it hurts me to tell you I’m going back to ad seg. because I know it is something you don’t want.  I understand if you want to stop writing to me. (fat chance of that happening!)  Just know that I will try and I’ll keep trying, okay?  I won’t give up.

Please give me a little time.  I will beat this.  I’m going to overcome myself.  I feel that this would help me more.  They offer a lot to us when we get out of the seg program.  I know I can do it.  I’ve done it before.

One of the officers broke my ID so I can’t go to commissary and it will take me three weeks to get another one.  One of the dudes in here got some stuff for me that I needed, and I will be able to get it back to him when I get my new ID.

I won’t give up.  Like you always said, it’s two steps forward and 1 1/2 steps back.  Everything happens for a reason.  It is what I learn about myself that counts.  Sometimes when something looks like a bad thing, there is something good inside it to learn.  I have to learn  how to overcome my anger.  I know I get angry fast and if I don’t learn why it happens and how to control it, it will get me into trouble when I get out.  I want to have a good life when I get out, so I have to work on these things now.  There is a reason for this.  I can’t blame nobody else but myself.  Like you said many times, to be happy I need to understand cause and effect.  I need to make better causes to get better effects.

I need to get this in the mail.  I love you, mom.  I love you always

Jamie    Merry Christmas

(Sonni’s note:  my response to this will be in another post)

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

About SoundCloud – Click on my face to bring up all 12 music pieces. Use headphones to listen in you can or you lose the richness of the piano tones. Otherwise it sounds tinny.  My Newest piece is titled “Sending All My Love To You” It should be at the top of the list. I am using Soundcloud now instead of inserting a music player. I only ask that if you like it, let me know.  I only know by the stats, just like blogging. Share it or like it or leave a comment if you want. Getting feedback helps me a lot and when someone is a newbie at a site like this it encourages others to listen as well. There are 12 music pieces there. I put them on my first CD for my mother to play and share with friends. When you aren’t a computer person it doesn’t help to tell someone to go to a computer to listen to it! I enjoy creating music. I hope you enjoy listening to it.