Seize The Day – ITFO Chapter

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SEIZE THE DAY

As Jamie slowly gained consciousness he realized his face was smack against the cement floor and his mouth hurt. Keeping his eyes closed he took an internal counting of his body parts. Anything else broken or bleeding? What the . . 

d      Waking up on the floor was not a good sign.

      He couldn’t move. It took too much effort to try. His body felt as though huge bricks were holding him down. Every muscle felt like it had been run over by a truck, more than once. He’d been through this before – too many times. He knew he’d had a seizure.
     A voice behind him said, “Should we take him to medical?”
     Jamie wanted to shout, “Of course you need to take me to medical,” but his mouth betrayed him and refused to form the words he could hear in his head.
     His blood needed to be checked. Was the right level of seizure medication going through his veins?
     Probably not. He had skipped too many days. What bullshit story would the doctor tell him this time? He usually ended up telling him to file a case if he felt he wasn’t being treated right, but he knows how that goes. It will get lost somehow and won’t get filed. They’ll lie. He wouldn’t know if it was filed or trashed.
     It was this kind of stuff that discouraged anyone from even trying to make them do their job because nothing ever came of it. Free medical care in prison? Not if they can help it. People in the free world didn’t have a clue how they are badly they were treated in here.
     The nurse had a bad habit of skipping over him when it was time to hand out meds. That happened more times than he could count. The medical staff conveniently turned into deaf and dumb mutes when he asked where his meds were. They wanted him to have a seizure, or at the very least didn’t care if he did.
     How do people get like that and turn a blind eye knowing they are hurting someone? He knows he’s not the only one. Surely they didn’t go into the medical field with the intention of hurting people. What happened to them?
     These thoughts went through his head at lightening speed. They were no different from all the other times he questioned if the prison staff was indifferent to whether or not they ended up killing him. After all, how many seizures can a brain handle before it gets fried?
     Jamie ran his tongue over his teeth and found one tooth broken off. It was sharp. The taste of blood was in his mouth so he must have banged his mouth on something when he fell off his bunk. It wouldn’t be the first time, or the last.

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When he’s seizing, he is never conscious of what is happening to him. He learned to roll with it a long time ago because fighting it was useless.
     Seeing someone have a seizure often freaked people out. They didn’t know what to do so they usually stood there and gawked at him with their mouths open. Afterward he usually needed to sleep for a few hours because it knocked him sideways. It often took hours to recuperate.
     Deliberately keeping his seizure meds from him, which didn’t stop them completely, but at least slowed them down, was cruel. How many other inmates suffered because the medical unit jacked with their meds? Probably a lot. It saved the prison a ton of money. He couldn’t see any other reason why they would do it. He didn’t matter to them. He was just a criminal in their eyes, and someone’s back to make money off. They thought he deserved it. He was just a loser in their eyes.
     Watching someone have a seizure would be freaky if you had never seen one. You wouldn’t know what to do. When you see it happening to someone your whole life, like his family did, you don’t feel any sympathy. It’s a fact of life. No big deal. “Jamie’s having a seizure,” someone would call out, then continue doing what they were doing.
     When he was a little kid and felt one coming on he got scared. He’d run down the hall and hide in the closet thinking it wouldn’t find him. Feeling a seizure coming on was like a boogie man chasing him. He hated it.
     Since he was born having a seizure, there was no time in his life when the next one wasn’t there, just waiting to jump him, never knowing when it was going to happen or how bad it was going to be.
     One time, he remembered, he tried to jump up and hold on to his mama, but she didn’t know why so she brushed him off and he fell to the floor.
     Another time he fell down the stairs, onto a glass coffee table and smashed it with his face. He still had the scars to prove it. He hated having seizures. Why him? No one could understand what it was like. What did he do to deserve it? Why did all this bad stuff happen to him? He thought he was a good person yet it kept happening. It was time for something good to happen.

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His mouth was still bleeding a little from where the broken tooth dug into the inside of his cheek. But there was no sharp tooth pain so he didn’t think it hit the nerve. They weren’t going to get him down to medical, anyway.
     “If we take him down to medical do YOU want to do the paperwork?” the other guard asked, “because I sure don’t. It can wait.”
     “Our shift is almost over,” he added. “Leave it for the next guys.” Jamie realized then there were at least two guards in his cell. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet, letting then think he was still passed out.
     “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” the other one said as he shrugged his shoulders. “There’s no reason why someone else couldn’t do the paperwork.
     “No one would know exactly when this went down,” the other one reasoned. “This inmate isn’t going anywhere to talk to anyone.”
     Jamie was fairly conscious by now, but he couldn’t move. He was being restricted, realizing his wrists were cuffed behind his back and his ankles were shackled.
     “What the fuck,” he started muttering as he tried to
sit up. He felt bad and his head was pounding.
     “Watch yer mouth,” the voice behind him said with a threat in his voice.
     “Are ya gonna be still now, or are ya gonna keep kicking,” one guard said, not really wanting to get in the middle of anything that would need explaining.
     Didn’t these dumb asses know he had a seisure, Jamie thought? He wasn’t just kicking because he felt like it. He knew he must’ve been out cold on the floor for awhile, long enough for them to chain him up. Maybe his legs were still twitching so they cuffed him. That happened sometimes with a seizure. But if he had had another seizure cuffed like he was now he could have broken some bones. Then they would have had some explaining to do.
     “My head is killing me,” Jamie said. “I need some water, and I need to go to medical,” he emphasized. When he got no response he spoke a little louder. “I didn’t do anything to deserve these cuffs.”
     He took a couple deep breaths and calmed himself down, “Please, take them off.” They obviously didn’t know what they were doing.
     “Now you’re talkin’ with a little respect,” one of them said and unlocked his wrists and ankles. Without another word both of them left the cell and the door locked behind them. They were going to leave him there without helping him? He wasn’t surprised. Closing his eyes, still laying on the floor, he rested.

Jamie sat up after awhile and rotated his head, stretching his neck muscles to ease the tension. He sat like that for a few minutes before pulling himself together and getting off the floor.
     Damn, he had wet himself. Sometimes he lost control of his bladder when he had a seizure. The guards didn’t notice it and he was glad for that. They would have laughed and make fun of him later – to his face – and would probable tell everyone on this block. So what? He took enough teasing from kids all his life. If the guards were THAT bored it was their damn problem. Dumb ass guards.
     There was nothing clean to change into. He’d have to pull it together, wash his pants and hang them to dry.
     “Now what?” Jamie said to thin air, with his hands raised. He wasn’t expecting any answer to miraculously come to him. What was there to believe in, anyway?      Counting on something up in the universe to see his problem and care about fixing it for him didn’t leave him feeling optimistic. How can you have faith in something you don’t even know is there? If there was something up there who cared about him like the h uBible said, he wouldn’t have let all this shit happen to him. He didn’t see any of his prayers being answered.
     Sonni told him more than once everything happened for a reason. Well, what was the reason then? He couldn’t figure it out. How does he change it? How do things happen for a better reason. Life was slapping him around and he couldn’t control it. There has to be a better way than to just wait for the next bad thing to happen.

Sleep was what he wanted. Then he wouldn’t have to think. Getting up and washing his pants wasn’t something he wanted to do. He had no choice if he didn’t want to stink. What he really wanted was to be anywhere other than where he was.
     Jamie had no idea how long he’d be here before anyone else came. After the shift changed he’d put in a sick call, but he’s wasn’t sure of the time. When did he eat last? Did he miss a meal? He didn’t care about that. He wasn’t hungry, but if he put in a call for medical he didn’t want these same guards coming back.
     Sleep was what he really needed. That wasn’t going to happen until he washed out his clothes, even if it meant later putting them back on wet. He pulled himself up onto his knees and pushed down the waistband of his white pants.
     Jamie rested on the edge of his bunk for a few minutes before taking them the rest of the way off. Standing at his small sink he began washing and rinsing his pants. He did have clean boxers in his locker so at least he wouldn’t be sitting there naked.
     Being inside this box gave him a jaded view of humanity. He saw the worst side of people, how jaded they become when they are allowed to abuse others with no consequences. If he learned nothing else from this experience but this, he knew what kind of person He didn’t want to be.
     Men built this system enslaving their fellow Americans for profit. It was a hideous side of human nature. They made everyone think prison is only a bad place with bad people. Yes, there were bad people in here, that’s the truth, and there were also many who shouldn’t be here or their sentence far outweighed whatever they did.
     Most people have a distorted view of what prison is like by watching TV and movies, but the reality of prison is by far much worse than anything that is shown to the public. If everyone knew the truth maybe someone would be able to change things. The real question is, would people believe the truth? 

 

 

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How Do I Find My Way – ITFO Chapter

Last Note 2 sm

 How Do I Find My Way

Later: that afternoon, after Jamie got back from the showers, he sat on the edge of his bunk and opened his locker. He took out a stack of letters he had saved. They had been read so many times the creases from folding and unfolding were getting weak.
      These letters were all he had to connect him to the free world. Other inmates knew when you got letters and knew you had someone on the outside. Many men had no one, especially those who had been locked up for a long time.
      Family or friends who wrote when you were first locked up often slowly stopped writing. Maybe they ran out of things to say or got tired of writing. Life went on for them but it stopped for those inside.
      One sure fire way to stop them from writing was to ask if they could send money. No one wanted to support someone inside. Many didn’t have the money. Jamie knew Morgan could barely made enough to take care of the children. She couldn’t support him. But there was no way to get any of the things he needed unless he asked for help. The prison didn’t provide things like deodorant and other hygiene products, stamps, paper or envelopes. He’d like to be able to get some food items and maybe a radio but the other items had to come first.
      If there was no one to put money on your books for commissary you had to find another way to trade for what you needed. That could get you into a lot of trouble if you got caught. If inmates could get paid for work they did they would have a little money to to spend at the commissary. He didn’t mean housekeeping or laundry jobs, but the jobs where they made things for corporations to sell. Inmates didn’t get paid for those jobs, either.
      Texas prisons didn’t pay anyone for working although most states did. Even though the pay might only be twenty cents an hour they could still accumulate twenty to thirty dollars in a month. Texas said they give time off your sentence for good behavior but they always find a way to take it away from you.
      Jamie rarely heard from anyone in his family, although he did in the beginning. He made himself believe they were busy and he would get a letter soon. But that day rarely arrived and it was hard to deal with it sometimes. If he didn’t have Sonni’s letters he didn’t know if he would make it through with his sanity in one piece.
      Every day he listened at mail call to hear if his name was called. What if she stopped writing? She said she would always write but he was still afraid her last letter might really be her last letter.
      Finally, Jamie got up the courage to ask her if she could send a little money. He told her over and over it was okay if she couldn’t. He didn’t want her to think he was using her for money. It was hard waiting to get a letter back after that one. He was afraid he had blown it and she would be upset.
      She wasn’t. She wrote back and asked him how to send it. He sent her a slip to fill out and told her to send it back with a money order. Jamie was relieved.
    Letters from Morgan came with longer silences in between. She finally wrote and told him there was a new man in her life. He wasn’t happy about it. In fact, it ripped him up, but he knew she needed to go on with her life. He couldn’t blame her for that, but it also meant he would learn less and less about his son. Sonni helped fill in the gaps but it was never enough.
      That did not mean he expected someone else should take care of his family. Sitting in here year after year was pointless when he should be home talking care of them himself. It was hard for Morgan to take care of three kids by herself.
      He didn’t know what to do to make things better for her. He wanted to help but there was nothing he could do. He felt like was letting all of them down. He should be able to do something, but he couldn’t.
      Jamie carefully arranged his letters in piles by who wrote them and the date, the oldest ones on the bottom. This way he could read everything in order from each person. There were not many piles. He passed the rest of the afternoon by reading letters.

As he read he realized his day today could have ended up a whole lot different than it did. He had a short fuse. He knew that. He had no patience with people who had the authority to mistreat people just because they were locked up and they felt like it. Inmates could not fight back. If they argued because of being mistreated they paid a price for it.
      During the shower when the guard cut off the water, if Jamie hadn’t stopped himself from reacting in anger, the guard could have written up a case on him. It could have taken a couple years or more to turn that around. He was supposed to take the abuse because he was the inmate and had no rights, at least none they would let him use.
      From the time he was seventeen and spent four years in juvenile detention, being lied to over and over, he learned to have no patience with guards and staff who treated people with disrespect.

    Jamie pushed those thoughts out of his head and opened a letter from Sonni. Even though he had read her letters over and over, sometimes a sentence jumped out that made sense in a way he didn’t catch before.
   “Don’t believe something is the truth just because someone told you it was the truth.” That made sense, but what truth was she talking about?
      “It’s easy to believe something when you’ve been told the same thing over and over, but that doesn’t mean it is true.” She must have been answering something he had written to her in his letter. What was it? He could not remember.
   “Everything in your life happens for a reason. Something caused it. Things do not happen out of the blue just because you can’t figure out what you did to cause it.” All of this made sense but he had never thought about it like this.
      No one had ever talked to Jamie about why things happened in his life. He handled things in his day as they happened. He knew he needed to have more self control over his anger because he learned it could mess up his day.
     Jamie never thought much about these things up until now because he was always busy trying to dig himself out from under some problem. He didn’t always think about why it happened.
      The main problem was he didn’t think about what caused his problems until it was too late. What was done was done. It was hard to wrap his head around figuring out why it happened.

Sometimes one thing led to another and that made something else happen. He could see it looking back but he couldn’t see it looking ahead. But it made sense if he made different decisions it would cause different outcomes. But how was he supposed know what to decide in a split second when there was no time to think about how it might work out?
      Sonni’s letters made him think about things he never thought about. He didn’t know to think about his life in a deeper way. He was told God oversaw everything and he tried to pray for the right thing to happen. He could plan and change things in anyone’s life if he wanted to. He could bless people with good things. His family was not the type who went to church every week or anything like that, but he assumed everyone believed in God and would go to heaven.
      He always began or ended a letter hoping the receiver would be blessed or that he had been blessed. He didn’t think about what he was writing. It was automatic thing he wrote in his letters.
     If everything happened for a reason, then what could he do to change all of this for himself so he could go home? How could he know what to do?
      Jamie repeated this over and over in his head. It was like one big giant puzzle. It was starting to make his head hurt. All along did he deserve to be in here? From the time he was born it was God’s plan? Did God plan some things but not all things. That didn’t make sense so he didn’t think so.
      Did he have a choice or was he supposed to end up in prison no matter what he did? He was told God gave people free will. What happened if that messed up His plan. Did He have to make a new one – for everyone? He was expected to believe things that didn’t make much sense. But that was faith, right? He believed because it was all he knew.
      Having so much time to think about this yet have no one to talk to is difficult. Jamie was brought up to believe in God and you were supposed to pray to him when life got rough. Did God want his life to be this way? This was too many questions.
      You reap what you sow. That phrase was in the Bible, but he never really thought about it. Growing up they weren’t really a Bible reading family. The pastor here said he should trust God to take care of everything. These two ideas were so opposite from each other.
      Jamie went to church every week. He was trying to do the right thing. He wanted to hear the message. Did it change anything? He believed in God because it was what he was told to believe by people who were smarter than him. He didn’t think to question it.
      Going to church didn’t change anything in his life. The prison chaplain pushed it on the men. In reality, this man wasn’t very nice to those who said they didn’t believe and didn’t want go to church. That seemed hypocritical to him.
      So why did he believe in God? What did that belief do for him that made his life better? What prayers did God answer that he could say for sure happened because God made it happen? Growing up, hearing God made the world, and when we die we go to heaven is a pretty powerful reason to want to believe. If everyone learned the same thing it was easy to go along with it. No one had any different ideas. Believe, or not believe, was pretty much it.
      Where would he be if he wasn’t in prison? Jamie would like to believe he would be home taking care of his family. He would have a job, but he didn’t have any idea what that would be or what he was qualified for. He did have a job for a while. He worked for a cleaning company that cleaned offices and schools. One day cleaning supplies came up missing. He got blamed and was fired. He didn’t do it, but that didn’t matter. They had someone to blame. Why would he risk his job by stealing cleaning supplies? No one thought about that.

     He went to church every Sunday. He even sent off for Bible studies. He didn’t go to church just to get of his cell. He wanted to hear the message. He was searching for answers, trying hard to figure things out. He wanted to make sense of things, but somehow it wasn’t working.
      Not knowing what was going on at home was getting to him. Day after day he waited and prayed a letter would come, and it rarely did. But then, just when he was ready to give up, he would hear the mail person call his name. A letter would come, his mind was eased, and he would feel better for a while. The emotional seesaw took its toll.
      Soon the cycle would start again and his anxiety would slowly build until he couldn’t sleep. Weeks and months went by. The hardest part about this was not knowing what was happening.. Why was he kept in the dark? His mom said some things at her last visit about maybe being sick but she didn’t exactly say what was wrong, or if anything definite was wrong. He had no way to find out.
      Jamie was scared to death something was going to happen to his mom. He didn’t think he could handle that in here. His mind was thinking crazy thoughts. He couldn’t think straight.
      On top of that he was worried about his own family. It was all his own fault. He wasn’t doing so good. This was all because he wasn’t around. No one thought he needed to know anything. So he sat and stressed every day and could not stop himself. He wrote this letter to Sonni:

<<< >>>

Hello Mom, 8/20/09

First I want to thank you for the love and support you’ve given me even though you didn’t have to. I’m real thankful for it. Well, I’ll get to the point of what I’m saying. It’s rough when I sit here waiting for mail and I don’t get any from nobody but you. So I’ve made up my mind to just do this time and put everything else behind me. This way I won’t have to stress myself out. I’m not giving up on my family. I just have to do this because I’m hurting myself. I know something is wrong. I can feel it.
I’m not saying I’m going to go off and get in trouble. I’m going to end my letter here. But before I do I want you to know I’m still going to keep my promise and stay out of trouble. And thank you for the book, mom. It was good.

Love, Jamie.

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Living in silence was hard for Jamie. He couldn’t deal with it. It made no sense. When it became too much for him he lashed out. Depression surfaced easily. Maybe his family thought if he didn’t know what was going on he wouldn’t worry. It was just the opposite. He did worry, because he didn’t know. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. He wrote many letters hoping he would get an answer back but no one wrote. Sonni’s letters were all he had to lean on. They were his lifeline. She promised she wouldn’t disappear.

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Keeper My Thoughts – Chapter in ITFO

Last Note 2 sm

 

Keeper of My Thoughts

 

The harder Jamie tried to stay out of trouble the more it came looking for him. The guards went out of their way to get in his face and push him to make him react. Why? Were they bored? Did they want to mess up his day or they we trained to be that way?
      If the inmates were locked up the guards had more control over them and there was less they had to do. It was stressful for Jamie. He always felt like he was on the edge, waiting for them to file a case against him whether he did anything or not.
      One of the hardest things for him to overcome was the instant anger that came over him before he had a chance to think. He expected people to do the right thing and that didn’t happen in here.
      On the outside it was supposedly right and wrong that got you locked up, but once inside right and wrong had different meanings. When he spoke up for himself or tried to explain anything, it always got him in trouble. So right or wrong didn’t matter. Only who had the power mattered, and it was clear he didn’t have any. Guards didn’t like it if you called them out on anything. Getting bumped down in his line class was almost always because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
      Jamie didn’t want to lose the last of the privileges he had. The simple actions of being of being able to walk to chow or sit in the day room were hung over his head to keep him in control. If he lost these last privileges he would be confined to his cell.
      He could learn to control his own actions but he couldn’t control what a guard did, so to lose these privileges he didn’t have to do anything. A guard in a bad mood could make up a charge and it would be his word against the guard and he would lose every time.

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What a lousy night. Forget trying to sleep. It was too friggin’ hot and no way to cool down. Summer heat in a Texas prison was hard to get through but there was no choice. It was at least 90° and it was still the middle of the night.
      Jamie’s little fan, pointed at his face barely moved the air it was so heavy with moisture. His skin stuck to the mattress so he took it off the bunk and tried to sleep on the metal slats beneath.
      He ran the risk of a guard seeing his mattress off the bed. If he noticed it when he came around for his thirty minute check he might get yelled at to put it back on the bed. It was worth the risk but it didn’t work, anyway. It was a little cooler than the plastic but the metal didn’t make for good sleeping. Now he was tired and cranky with a bad headache.
      In the morning a guard finally came and took him to the showers. It had been three days since his last one and he knew he didn’t smell very good. He craved the feeling of cold water streaming down his body. There was so little pleasure in this place and a shower ranked on the top of the short list of things that caused pleasure.
In the middle of his allotted five minutes, with soap on his body, the guard shut off the water.
      “What the fu..” he started to say while turning around to face the guard.
      “What did you do that for?” Jamie asked with a sharp tone in his voice. He could feel himself getting angry so he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and thought, “Not today. Don’t lose it today. Get a grip”
      They stood there for a long second and stared at each other. All Jamie wanted to do was finish his shower and wash the soap off his skin. If he couldn’t do that the soap would dry on his skin. It would irritate it and make him itch. Add humidity to it and he’d be miserable.
      The guard who took him to the showers wasn’t having a happy day, either. He didn’t enjoying babysitting this sorry bunch of men. He wanted to hurry Jamie so he could get on to the next smartass he had to bring here. The faster he got done, the faster he could get back to the air conditioned staff office and whatever porn magazine happened to be lying around.
      This was a crappy job. He’d been here five years now and sometimes he felt like he was the one being sentenced. There weren’t any other good jobs in town that had benefits. He had a family to feed so beggars couldn’t be choosers. He had jumped at the chance to work here, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed it. They didn’t pay him well enough to have to watch these poor suckers get naked and whack off in the shower. He’d seen enough naked men to last a lifetime.
      They could do whatever they wanted in their cells, even though he could write them up for that, too, but the poor bastards had to get off somehow. He wouldn’t turn a blind eye, though, if he caught them doing each other. That was a mortal sin. The bible was adamant about that. He knew what went on in the cells so he no tolerance for any of them and what they might do.
      He had no tolerance for this one, either. He was going to hurry him up by turning off the water. He didn’t care if he didn’t get to rinse off the soap. He could plainly see it was all over his body. Serves him right for being here. That was his problem. He was the one in charge and he was calling the shots.
      Jamie was angry enough to let loose and tell him what he was and wasn’t going to do and demand he turn the water back on. He hesitated. If he did that he might lose everything he had been working toward, over a stupid, lousy shower.
      He told himself every day to stay in control of his mouth. He didn’t want to do something that would mess up his chances of going home. This would get him in trouble, probably get written up and lose his line class. That would put him in 24 hour lock up.
      Was it worth it over a shower? No. He was angry because he couldn’t do anything about it. Right and wrong didn’t matter. He’d screw the last months he was trying to get through so he could get moved back up to population. He wanted to go to school so he could take care of his family when he got out. He had to remember that.
      Jamie stopped and shut his mouth. He clamped his lips together and tried to think fast. He had two ways to go. Each one had a different result. Up till now he followed his instinct and let his anger speak for him. It never worked. Not once. He could do it different this time.
      He reached for his towel and covered himself. He didn’t look at the guard in a confrontational way. He lowered his head and looked down. What did he really want here? He only wanted to finish his shower and he didn’t want no trouble. He didn’t need to let his pride stand in the way. He sure didn’t want a stand off with a guard that would only end one way – with him in lock up.
      “Sir?” he said respectfully. “Could I have another minute . . . please . . . to rinse off?” Jamie waited. He said nothing else. It was the guards turn to talk. There was nothing he should find fault with.
      “About time,” the guard thought to himself. He was being shown the respect he thought he deserved. Why he thought he deserved respect without earning it, because he was a guard, was at the root of the problem between inmates and guards. But Jamie appearing subservient felt good so thought he’d bestow a little kindness on him, like a man in authority should do.
      “Okay, one minute,” he said as he flipped his fingers at him like he was brushing a fly away from his face.
      “Make it snappy,” he added.
      The guard turned the water back on and stood there and watched. You couldn’t be too careful with these morons. You never knew what they might do.

 

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New YouTube Music Video For Jamie’s Book

I recently posted the chapter, poetry and music for the title, “Can Anybody Hear Me?” , one of the chapters in the book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” Last night I uploaded the music video. Little by little I work through finishing all the parts.  I can actually see light at the end of the tunnel ( way down at the end and around a corner.)

 

I have posted some chapters over time of the rewrite, but I haven’t given links to be able to read them with any continuity. I’m going to post them so anyone who wants to can read the early part of the book, to hopefully create enough interest to want the finished product when it is completed.  You can subscribe to ITFO News at the and get info on other chapters and music published.  I will depending on readers to help share what they like. 50% of the profits go to Jamie sso when he gets out of prison he will have a cushion to help get his life started and also to help write sequel to this book.

This book will end before he is released. The sequel will about the process of getting, and the difficulties, mentally, emotionally and actually living in a society who has already prejudged him as a person.  Our society is not very welcoming. There is often so little we can do to help the people who have been abused in our prisons.

But the one thing people can is to support the efforts being made to help them be able to stand up when they get out.  If I thought for one minute that he was a threat to society in any way I would not be doing this.

These chapters do not start at the beginning, and don’t entail what happened to put him in Juvenile detention from late 16’s through 21.

Waiting . . . too long

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

How Much More Can I Take?

The Falling Rain

The Smith Unit – Prison #1

Can Anybody Hear Me?  ( The post before this one )

 

 

Can Anybody Hear Me? ITFO Book Chapter

Anyone who is reading this chapter, I have favor ask you. I’d like feedback from you. I can tell how many times this post has been opened but I can’t tell if it as been read or what you think, except for just the wordpress bloggers who “like” it, but I don’t know why. I need good honest critique. What you like about my writing or about the story and what you don’t like. I spend a lot of time looking at it from every angle, but fresh eyes see things I don’t. When it is time to be read for professional editing, I want it in the best possible shape. If you can PLEASE comment. If you are coming from Facebook, leave a comment there if you want. Chapters are often shared with Facebook – tell me why. If you see it on my newsletter in April you can comment there. If you have read other chapters, tell me. If you think you might buy the book and music when it’s done, I’d love know. Are you a first time reader? Do you want to read more? Would you like to a beta reader and read everything? In your opinion, what can I do better?

Last Note 2 sm

CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

“Put your shirt back on,” a female guard barked at him. Jamie and other inmates were being led back inside after working in the fields. “You can’t walk around like that.”

     “I need to cool down. I’m on seizure medication,” Jamie tried to tell her so she would understand. She cut him off mid sentence.
     “I don’t give a crap what your excuse is,” she fired back. “Put your goddamn shirt back on,” then turned and started in on another inmate.
     “Yes ma’am,” he replied with all the respect he could muster. No point in pissing off a guard. He couldn’t win that fight. He was learning he had to show respect and not expect any in return.
     Jamie continued down the hall until he reached his cell and went inside hoping his cellmate wasn’t there. He wanted to get some rest. His cell door was unlocked during the day, but in the evening all the doors were locked at the same time after the guards did the count to make sure they weren’t missing anyone. They needed to know everyone was in their cell and no one was someplace they shouldn’t be.
     He knew there were inmates who sold drugs and hid it in places outside their cell so they couldn’t get caught with it. Sometimes it was the guards who smuggled it in for them. You could get any kind of drug you wanted. Hooch was made, too. They could distill just about anything and make it into alcohol. Most of it tasted pretty nasty, but if it got you drunk that was all that mattered.
     He tried it a couple times but it wasn’t for him. If they got caught making it, so what. They were already locked up. They might do some time in solitary, but it was worth the chance if they wanted to get a buzz.
     General population – gen pop – his classification, meant he wasn’t confined to his cell and had more liberties than other classifications. G2,G4, G5, ad seg and solitary got lower and lower with less and less liberties. Some of the dudes couldn’t even leave their cell to go to chow, and had to be cuffed and in leg chains if they went anywhere. That wasn’t fun. They had a food tray shoved through a slot in their door. He never wanted it to get that bad. He needed to be able to at least walk around.
     It could be dangerous outside his cell, but it could be dangerous in his cell, too, if someone had a beef with him and came looking for him. He could never let his guard down. Having eyes in the back of your head could save your life.
     Prison rules about how to show someone respect wasn’t the same in here as it was in the free world. Some of the dudes were lifers and had nothing to lose if they hurt you. He always had to be careful. Someone could be carrying a shank. There were lots of things that could be turned into a knife. Stabbings weren’t uncommon, especially among the gangs.
     He could go hang out in the day room if he wanted, but he was too tired to do that right now. Besides, he was really grungy and needed to clean up. It was hot and stuffy, but it was like that anywhere he went.
His cellmate wasn’t there and Jamie was glad. They pretty much ignored each other. It was easier that way. He didn’t want to get to know him or be friends. He was an asshole with a bad attitude most of the time. He did nothing but complain and Jamie was tired of hearing him blame everything that happened in his life on someone else.
     He stripped off his clothes and wet his towel in the sink. He did his best to wash down his body using a small piece of soap he had left. Not until after the first of the month would he be given the meager supplies the prison was obligated to give him.
     They gave him a small tube of toothpaste each month, and every three months they gave him a new cheap toothbrush with bristles that fell out. It only had a three inch handle so it would be hard to file down into a blade. Much too small for a man’s hand, too.
     He got three little soaps, smaller than the soap you got in a motel room. It was made here in the prison and had lard and lye in it. It could take your skin off if you left it on too long. These the bars had to take care of all his cleaning. His body, the clothing he handwashed or cleaning his cell. It didn’t last long. Right now he needed to clean up as best he could. His skin was sticky with sweat. He felt dirty.
     Jamie would sweat rivers down his chest when he was outside. In this heat and humidity he was always soaked. Working out in the fields was some of the worst heat he ever felt.
     It was back-breaking work even on a cool day. Constantly bending over and pulling up vegetables was hard as hell on his back. He was constantly bending backward and rubbing the muscles in the small of his back. He never got used to it.
      When he bent over and his head hung down, the sweat ran into his eyes, and it stung. He tied a piece of cloth around his forehead but once it was soaked the sweat dripped anyway. It was hot and humid in East Texas, but West Texas was a different kind of hot. It sure felt like the sun had to be closer to the earth. When it beat down on you, and you got fried crispy like piece of chicken.
     Jamie knew what the slaves must’ve gone through long ago when they were forced to work the fields. Prison guards, slave owners, they were probably the same.
   Funny, now that he thought about it. They had overseers that probably walked the fields with whips and dogs just like the guards, except the guards had guns. Slave owners wouldn’t shoot their slaves because they paid a lot of money for them, like cattle. They needed their money’s worth out of them.
     All of them here in this prison were owned, just like slaves were. There was little difference between now and then except the slaves had their women to go to at the end of the day for comfort and he didn’t, not that he’d want Morgan to be here. But he did wish he could see her and little Jamie once in a while.
      “Stop it,” he argued with himself under his breath. “Just stop it.” He tried not to think about her all the time because it made him depressed. He tried to push it out his head.
     Jamie rinsed out his towel and hung it to dry by putting it over the round metal stool bolted to floor near the toilet. He stretched out on the lower bunk with his feet hanging over the end.
      Because of his epilepsy he wasn’t supposed to work in the sun. There were side effects from the medicine that sometimes made him feel bad. When he was overheated it could bring on a seizure. He wanted to be able to go outside so he rarely talked about it. Outside he could pretend he wasn’t here. In his mind he was able to start walking and keep on going. For a short while he was free.
    Jamie had felt like he was about to keel over and needed to cool down. That was why he had taken off his shirt. And he wasn’t naked, neither, no matter what she thought. He still had on his tank which was completely soaked.
      Coming inside wasn’t much relief. There was no air conditioning. If it was 105° outside, it was going to be 95° inside. All he could do was sweat. Playing cards or watching TV made him sweat.
     He wrote to his mom to see if she would send some money so he could buy a fan, but he didn’t hear back. Maybe she’ll send a letter later, sometime next week. It was always next week. He gave her excuses why she didn’t write. He never gave up hope. He didn’t care if she sent any money or not, he just wanted to hear from her. Was she okay? He loved his mama whether she wrote or not. He wished she would write.
    The field he worked in was huge. They grew a lot of different vegetables. Guards rode around on horses holding rifles. It looked like a different time in history. They had attack dogs walking around with them, too, in case one of them tried to run, which would be really stupid. There was no place to run except across the field and no way could anyone outrun those dogs in this heat. They’d probably drop dead of heat stroke.
       Even though it was stifling hot he still liked to go outside. As long as he could see the sky he felt free. He knew Morgan was seeing the same sky he was. Maybe they were both looking up at the same time. That was a new thought. He’d have to ask her to look up at a certain time. It was one thing they could do together.
       He had been here now for close to two years. In a way it seemed the time had gone by fast, and other times it crawled in slow motion. He tried to stick to himself and stay out of trouble. All he had to break up the boredom were Morgan’s letters. He daydreamed a lot. He would picture walking out of the prison and walking up to her with open arms. She was his family, her and the kids. They were all he had. To be honest he felt unloved by his family. He felt they didn’t want anything to do with him and that made him depressed and stressed out.
    Now, maybe it was his imagination but it seemed Morgan wasn’t writing back as much, and was taking longer between letters. He knew she was busy and all, taking care of three kids wasn’t easy, but she used to always find time, even if it was just a few lines.
     Maybe he was reading too much into it. He was afraid of losing her. What if it was over between them and he was by himself. What if he had no one to go home to? Sometimes when he thought about the years ahead he wanted to give up, but he couldn’t. And he had to make it. No matter who leaves him he always had his son. He couldn’t give up on him.
     His head started to pound. It was rocking back and forth between his temples. With one hand on either side if his head, he pressed. Not knowing what was going on really screwed with his head. He curled over and put his head on his knees. The pounding blood only made his head hurt worse. This is why some dudes went batshit crazy when they were locked up.
     Was anybody out there? Did anyone think about him in here all alone with nobody? Did anybody care? If he screamed would anybody hear?
      Today was his son’s birthday. Jamie bit his lower lip to keep himself together. It was heartbreaking to not be there. He never got to hold him. He would never get this time back.
     Jamie managed a smile as he pictured his son in his head. But why hadn’t she written back yet? He was starting to get worried. He sent a birthday card and put a letter for her inside. This was probably the longest he had gone without hearing from her. Maybe she had something she wanted to tell him but didn’t want to say it. Maybe she was seeing someone.
     Even though it scared him to think he would lose her, he understand the reality of how many years he could be gone. He had a meeting with the parole board when he reached five years, but if he didn’t get it they would probably put him off for another five.
     Jamie couldn’t give up on the hope of being released. But if he wasn’t, he knew he would be locked up too long to expect anyone to wait for him. Why would anyone else commit to being alone if they didn’t need to? It was a long time to ask someone to wait. He told Morgan in a letter she could talk to him about anything. If she wanted to move forward with her life he would understand. They could still write to each other and she could tell him about Jamie. But to not at least write? He couldn’t stand that.
     He thought he was the type of man who would want the mother of his son to be happy, not depressed and stressing. He wanted her to leave the stressing to him. But if she did find someone else he wanted her to say goodbye, not just stop writing and make him worry.
     It was easy to let his mind go crazy with all the possibilities that could go wrong with him locked up. It was hard to stop thinking about it.
     He closed his eyes. He was all twisted up inside worrying about not knowing what was going on in the world outside. There was nothing he could do about it. Not even make a phone call to find out. He had no numbers to call. No one registered their phone because it was too expensive, he guessed. He just had to wait.
      He fell asleep. He let go of the worry. His brain stopped spinning and he relaxed.
   “Mail,” the sound bounced inside his head.  “Mail.” Jamie was suddenly wide awake, listening. He didn’t jump up, but he still hoped there was mail for him. His head felt better. The pressure was gone. He could hear the cart being wheeled down the hall and soon come to a stop at his cell door.
     “Cummings,” was called out. “James Cummings, here’s your mail.” The inmate who delivered the mail reached in and handed him a letter. Then he turned to continue walking down the hall.
     “Thanks,” Jamie called out after him and looked down at the letter. He had expected it to be from Morgan, but it wasn’t. It was from her mom. Her mom?
     He sat down on the bed and stared at it for a few seconds. Why did she write? She had never written to him before this. Was it bad news? It had to be bad news. Did Morgan get her mom to write and break up with him? It looked like a card, but it wasn’t a holiday or anything. Finally, he ran out of excuses and starting opening the envelope.
     At that moment, before he had a chance to finish opening it, his cellmate walked in, pissed off and cussing up a storm. Jamie didn’t know why and wasn’t interested in finding out. The sound of his voice was instantly bringing his headache back again. He had to get out of here.
     He got up and headed down to the day room, hoping to find an empty table. He wanted some privacy to read and think. There were two tvs tuned to separate sports stations. If it wasn’t sports it was soap operas. They loved the soaps. People got hurt if they tried to change the channel. It wasn’t worth it. The old timers always got first dibs.
       He found a table and set the envelope in front of him. He looked at it again, front and back. She sent it from Key West. It was a card. A generic one. Nothing special. Did she just sign her name or did she say anything? He opened the card to see she wrote up the whole inside. He settled back to read:

Dear Jamie,

I should have written before, but time flies so fast some days. I have been very busy at the store. I thought of you many times these last couple years. I should have written before now. Morgan fills me in with how you are when I ask her. I know it has been very rough for you and I’m sorry you were moved so far away from your family. It would be easier if you could see them.

I miss not have Morgan and the kids here. Little Jamie had only turned one year old when they left. One day they were here and the next day they were gone. I asked her for your address.

I know she wants to come see you but she can’t afford it. Traveling with the kids would be hard. I told her if she could find someone to go with her I would pay her expenses and also pay for a motel. She asked your mom to go with her and she said yes. I’m sure she will write and tell you the weekend they are coming. You will finally get to see your son.

Write back if you want and I’ll answer your letter.
Take care, Sonni

Jamie sat there not knowing what to think. He closed his eyes and one tear rolled down his cheek.

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How Much More Can I Take – ITFO Book Chapter

Last Note 2 sm

How Much More Can I Take

Jamie lost track of time. He tried to mark the days by tearing threads out of his blanket, but he no longer knew what a day was. When did it begin and when did it end? It felt like he had been in the hole for a lot longer than he probably was. There was no way to know the time of day. That was intentional, adding to his disorientation by deliberately keeping him off balance. If the system could break him mentally it was an added bonus for them. People who work in a miserable setting enjoyed causing misery to others.
     The grunge on the tiny window high up on the wall only let greasy light through. It was worse than the times he spent in solitary when he was in juvenile detention, and that was hard to deal with. He didn’t know how to process what they did to him. If adults can’t wrap their head around that kind of deprivation, how could a kid?     

Those memories and the scars it created were carved images in his head he could never forget. This time he felt like there was no hope, like everything good in his life was gone and he was never getting out. He wanted to crawl inside himself. The feeling of despair was complete.
     The only thing that broke up his day was when they brought food. Most of it was the same, and too awful to eat. He didn’t eat. He didn’t know if he was being served breakfast or dinner and doubted it was being given to him at normal eating hours. No one answered his questions or told him what time it was. He gave up asking.
     Jamie laid there. He knew he lost weight and he also knew he stank pretty bad. Showers were out of the question. He wasn’t sure which smelled worse, him or the room itself.
     One day it was over. Just like that. He had no idea they were going to let him out. He heard the lock turn in the door and it opened. They said his time was done. The guard threw clean clothes at him and he was taken to the shower. Afterward he was taken to a dorm similar to the one he was in before, but smaller. A bunk was pointed out. He guessed he wouldn’t be beating up anyone else after this.

<<< >>>

A few months later, a guard came to the cell door and called out his name. His son has been born on July 7th, 2006, at 4:20 A.M. Finally, his son was here and he was okay. He was relieved.
     He knew it was going to be a boy and that his name would be James. Jamie might be in a bad place right now being locked up, but the day he found out his son was born felt like the happiest day he ever had in his entire life. He was beaming.  He was a father! That caused a smile to spread over his entire face. Jamie laughed. He couldn’t help himself. His cheeks hurt from grinning so big.
     Morgan had sent him one of those pictures they take at doctor appointments of the baby when it’s still inside. Jamie knew his son would be beautiful, because Morgan was beautiful. She also sent him a picture with her big tummy. Sometimes he took out the picture and stroked the growing mound with his finger, wishing he could feel the baby move and stretch. It made him realize how much he was missing.
     He might not be able to be the kind of father he wanted to be, but he would do his best. He tried not to think about that. Not today. He was going to be happy on this day.
Little Jamie was planned to be born on July 7th. Morgan and her mom drove to Miami the day before and got a hotel room because they had to be at the hospital early in the morning. After taking her to a room on the labor and delivery floor, one of the nurses gave her a medicine to start the labor. The medicine didn’t work. More than twelve hours later Jamie Jr. showed no sign of being born.
     The hospital where the doctor worked was a four hour drive from Key West. Morgan didn’t want to go into labor and not be able to make it to her doctor. If she had the baby in the Key West hospital she would get the doctor on call. Someone she didn’t know. She had problems with the delivery of her last baby. If there were more problems with this one they would fly her by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital, which wasn’t the right hospital, either.
     Jamie didn’t realize how tense he was about the upcoming birth until it was over and he was able to relax. Not knowing what was happening and being out of the loop was the hardest to deal with.
     A lot of the dudes in his dorm were grinning and quite a few congratulations were going around. Even a couple of the guards congratulated him. That surprised him. He guessed hearing about a new baby allowed them to act human for a change.
     Jamie told everyone. This day would never come again and he wanted to make the most of it. It was the first time in more than seven months he had something, anything, to be happy about. Good things didn’t happen very often when you were locked up. Any reason you had to smile was a big deal, even if that reason belonged to someone else.
     He thought about his family. He missed them. He couldn’t share this with them. He was gone for four years when he was in juvenile detention and he did those years alone. He hadn’t been free for long before this happened. They weren’t there for him then, either. He didn’t feel like he was a part of his family for a long, but he still missed them. He wanted them to miss him, too. He felt like an outsider. Nobody told him nothing about what was going on in their lives.
     He needed his family to help him get hygiene and stamps and other things because he was not able to get any kind of job to make money. They don’t have jobs at jails. Not ones that pay you. All you do is wait, sometimes for years. But maybe when he gets sent off and settled they’ll give him a job.
     Jamie didn’t care what the job was, he didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. Even if it only paid twenty- two cents as hour, like he heard many jobs in prison did, it would still add up to dollars he could spend.

<<<  >>>

Some dudes had problems with their baby mamas and couldn’t see their kids. Jamie was glad it wasn’t like that with him and Morgan. She would never keep Jamie Jr. from him. He didn’t have to worry about that.
     Since he was let out of solitary and back in a dorm he was able to make a phone call to Morgan. She told him all about their baby. He stood there, still grinning, listening to all the details. He wasn’t happy, though, hearing how hard it was for her in the delivery room.
     “It wasn’t easy, Jamie.” Morgan told him quietly. “I had to have a c-section at the last minute. The doctor found the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times. They didn’t know that until they tried to take him out. That’s why he wouldn’t go down the birth canal. His vitals were dropping. The doctor had never seen a cord wrapped around a neck like that. Without surgery he would have died. He was lucky. We were all lucky”
     Morgan sounded tired. He wished he could’ve been there with her. She must have been scared. Healing from surgery, taking care of a newborn by herself, as well as the other kids, would wear her out. He was glad she was with her mom so she could help her. Now more than ever he realized how much he screwed up by going out that night.
     “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you,” he spoke quietly. Jamie’s regrets would become a pain that never healed.
     “More than anything,” he said, “I wish I could be there with you right now. Hold you in my arms with little Jamie between us. I want to protect both of you, and I can’t.” The anguish in his voice made his throat tighten.
     A fifteen minute jail call goes by too fast. There was never enough time to say all you wanted to say. The sadness in his heart after he hung up overshadowed the happiness he felt when he dialed her number.
     Reality hit hard. He didn’t want to think he wouldn’t be able to raise his son. He would miss every first – first laugh, first step, first tooth, first birthday, second birthday and more after that. He would miss it all. And little Jamie would miss having a daddy.

<<< >>>

He found out he was finally being moved. They couldn’t have sent him any farther away from home. Was it on purpose? There were a hundred prisons they could have sent him to. They had to choose one that was clear across the state where no one could visit if they wanted to? East Texas, where he was from, was had hills, pine trees and red dirt. West Texas was flat, a desert.
     There was no way now his family could come and see him. They had the perfect excuse. Making the drive in one day was impossible, especially with kids in the car. It looked like he was on his own for sure.
     Texas was a huge state to travel across. He had never been any farther west than Huntsville. Now he was being to sent to Smith Unit in Lamesa. By car it took about eighteen hours. By prison bus it would probably take four days. They wouldn’t take a direct route. They’d zigzagged to different prisons, picking up inmates and dropping others off. It would be a trip through hell.

It was summer and scorching hot. Even though there was air conditioning on the bus, it wasn’t strong enough to keep it cool from the heat of the sun scorching the metal of the bus. Having so many unwashed bodies inside that stank didn’t help, either.
     Through the entire trip across the state, Jamie wore the same white shirt and baggy elastic waist pants he put on the day they loaded up the men who were being transferred. He wouldn’t be able to take another shower until after he was processed when the bus arrived at the prison. No one cared if the inmates missed a shower, and no one cared how they felt about riding on the uncomfortable metal seats on the bus. Suffering was part of their sentence. They deserved it, right?
     After all the red tape was taken care of and he was assigned to a cell block, he should be able to make a phone call to Morgan and see how she and little Jamie were doing. He didn’t know then it would be weeks before he was allowed to make that call.
     Prison was going to be a lot different than jail. Jamie didn’t know how different, but he was going to do his best to do it right so maybe he could get out early. He also hoped maybe after awhile he could request to be moved closer to his family. If Morgan moved back to Texas he would do that for sure.
     Seated on the bus, the inmates were separated from the guard and driver up front. There was another guard and a dog in the back to keep them in line if needed. The guard had to deal with the stink right along with them.
     Guards and drivers changed a few times when they stopped at prisons along the way, exchanging some prisoners for others. The guards got to walk around and stretch their legs. The prisoners weren’t so lucky.
     The men had to sit silently and wait for the driver of the bus to start the engine again. He wasn’t allowed to let the engine idle if the guards weren’t onboard. They were standing outside having a smoke. The AC wouldn’t go on again until the engine kicked over. Jamie felt sweat drip down the side of his face. It was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride.
     The seats on the bus were hard like a city bus, not a Greyhound bus. There was no padding anywhere. The seats didn’t go back to make it possible to sleep or even relax. They were straight up and only came as high as his shoulder blades. There was no way he was getting comfortable. No way to sleep without dropping his chin to his chest. Because he was a big guy he couldn’t move his arms. either. The bus was made to make sure the men would be miserable.
     It was impossible for Jamie to stretch out his legs, so circulation was cut off at the knee. He couldn’t even cross a leg over his knee to get in a different position, and relieve one foot from hanging straight down. He knew his ankles and feet would swell. The heat made it worse.
     The guards were never amused by complaining. It was pointless, anyway. There was nothing they could do. He knew it was going to get worse the farther west they drove, when it became a drier heat. It sucked all the moisture out of his mouth and throat. He felt dehydrated and craved water. They weren’t given enough water. Less bathroom breaks that way, he guessed. But if anyone asked for water they just might make them wait even longer. Anything to make them feel worse.
     It was impossible to do more than doze off for a few minutes of light sleep. The whirring sound of the tires, as they turned on a road that was hot enough to melt rubber, was enough to lull the men into a stupor. Problem was, if they started falling to one side, the person next to them would give them a shove with their shoulder to tell them to straighten up.
     Jamie was cuffed to the man beside him. “I gotta piss.” The man nudged him. “We gotta get up,” he said almost in a whisper. This wasn’t their first trip to the toilet.
     “Guard, we need to go to the back of the bus,” he said loudly over his shoulder.
     If one man needed to use the john, they both had to go. Peeing was one thing, but it wasn’t much fun if you needed to sit and take a shit. No matter how hard they tried not to, sooner or later they all had to take a turn sitting on the seat.
     The guard came and unlocked them from the bus seat, but not from each other. It was hard for two connected people to do anything that took co-ordination.
     The guard returned to the back of the bus and stood near the door-less restroom. There was no privacy. Jamie and this other prisoner made their way to the back by walking sideways past the seats. When the other inmate stood inside the small closet-sized restroom, Jamie stood outside the doorway, and looked away, with his arm inside attached wrist to wrist down near this dudes privates. He was trying to give him a little privacy. He didn’t want to picture his wrist and hand participating with this stranger relieving himself.
     “Damn, it stinks in here.” Jamie muttered under his breath, trying not to cough as the dude finished up. Since they were all cuffed no one could easily clean up after themselves. There was pee on the floor, and anywhere else it splashed. The toilet seat was kept up out of respect for those who needed to sit, but it was still a mess. Forget washing your hands. How could you? After a couple days the smell was overwhelming. All they did was spray Lysol around the cubicle. Mixing with it was the heavy odor of a port-a-potty type toilet, along with body odor, making it hard to breathe. The men sitting in the back had it the roughest.
     Jamie desperately wanted to wash up. Splash water on his face and neck. Put on deodorant to mask his smell. He wished he had his property. That was supposed to arrive in a later bus, he was told, so no one else had any deodorant, either.

The only good thing about traveling on this bus was being able to see outside. There wasn’t much to look at but he could still see the horizon pass by. He supposed some people liked living in the West Texas desert but it sure looked boring to him.
     It was almost exciting to see a billboard and read the advertisement of some business trying to sell something. Insurance, an attorney office or a number to call if you feel suicidal. But there was also a high point knowing you were outside the walls and you could watch the day go from morning to night.
     Once he got to the Smith Unit he would be on the inside, and the outside became forbidden territory. The free world. A place he wouldn’t be able to live in again for a long time.
     “Hey, you got any family?” Jamie whispered to the dude next to him.
     “Shut up. No talking,” came from somewhere behind him.
     After a minute or so he heard a whisper, “Two girls. Three and five. You?”
     “Baby boy,” he whispered back. He glanced to the right and saw him nod. “Sorry, man.” He knew Jamie would miss the time of his baby being a baby.

     It felt to Jamie as though they were never going to get to the other side of Texas. It felt like an old Twilight Zone TV show where a scene was supposed to be real life, but you found out at the end it wasn’t. You never got to where you were going. The bus kept traveling down the highway. It didn’t get anymore unreal than that.

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Remembering My Life – New YouTube Video

This is the newest music video for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life and his experience in prison. I have been recording piano improv for each chapter as a soundtrack. Music in a movie enhances our experience while we watch. It helps create emotions. A movie with no music can be dry and have the feeling of a documentary. Having music to listen while you read, knowing it was written for the main character in the book, I hope will add to the experience. I haven’t seen this done before. I’d like your opinion. If you know of any examples please let me know.

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Below are the websites and blogs where you will find my writing or my music. I have been concentrating lately at Reverbnation which is a great place to find new music and artists) and my personal website (where you can subscribe to music and book info) and to ITFO News (which is largely prison and inmate news) You can subscribe to one or both.

In the next couple weeks I’ll be monetizing my music sites so you can purchase – or download music you like. I’m determined to give Jamie the opportunity he deserves to have a life. That takes money. I need to start now or he will have nowhere to go when he gets out and no way to survive while he figures out how to live. Many inmates end up in shelters or on the street when they don’t have a supportive family. He definitely doesn’t.

Please share this video so more people learn who Jamie Cummings is.

Looking Into the Crystal Ball – Chapter

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This is a random chapter in the early part of book, when Jamie was forced to take a plea deal or have more charges added and never get out. No one should ever be put in that position and make a decision against their own best interest with no attorney willing to do the right thing.

<<< >>>

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

One after another, thoughts kept racing through Jamie’s head. What was going to happen to him? Life would never be the same. His court date was today and he didn’t have a clue what was going on. Didn’t he need an attorney? He couldn’t represent himself. How many years could they give him? He had no idea but he had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a good day.
     A black man like him, born and raised in Texas would get as many years as they could possibly give him. Racism is alive and well and Texas ranked with some of the worst. They would lock him up whether he deserved it or not.
     Depending on your race, the same crime gets different sentencing. Looking around the room at the dozens of three tier bunks lined up across the floor it was easy to see there was more black skin than white. Maybe white men didn’t commit as many crimes in Harris county. That was a laugh.
     Jamie needed someone to talk to. Somebody on his side who would listen and help. He wanted to explain he did not go out that night with his friends so he could rob a club. He wasn’t the one who had a gun in his back pack. He didn’t even know the guy had a gun until he talked about it in the car. It sounded like he was joking. He didn’t think the dude was serious. If only he did something to stop him things would be different right now.
    Morgan wrote him a while back and said she tried to get him a lawyer but it didn’t come through. She sent money to his brother who had a friend who knew an attorney who would take a deposit. Payments could be made on the balance.
     It sounded kinda hokey to him but it was the only thing he had to hope for. Trust him or do nothing. They should have done nothing because the money disappeared. Morgan lost money she could have used herself for the kids.
     He knew his mom didn’t have any money to help him. Morgan sent money she made working at her mom’s store. He knew he was on his own. He would feel better if he could at least see her, but that wasn’t going to happen. She was too far away.
     Jamie’s life was falling apart. How could he control what was happening? He was never going to see his son be born. He wanted go be a father but he could kiss that goodbye. There would be no holding him or being the kind of dad he never had. The cycle of being raised without a father wasn’t going to be broken.
     Life wasn’t supposed to be fair all the time, but he felt his life had never been fair from the time he was born. He grew up being told to believe in God. Have a blessed day and all that. There was no reason not to believe, but he didn’t think God had done much to bless him lately. He prayed desperately since this happened but it didn’t do much good. Tears began to well up in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks.
   “Choke it down, Jamie,” he told himself. “Don’t let it show.” If he started to cry he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop.
     “If anyone saw you they would think you weak,” he whispered under his breath. They would gang up on him to make him their whipping boy. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
     Today was supposed to be his day in court but nobody talked to him about it. He was scared. Hs heart was beating in his head and it echoed in his ears.

      Jamie leaned against the grate covering the window and hooked his fingers into the metal and stared outside, watching the day as the seconds and minutes of his life passed by. Everything outside looked normal. He could see people coming and going.
     Clouds were creeping across the blue sky as if today were a normal day like all the rest. It wasn’t normal for him. He wanted so bad to leave the building and walk out into that day and be free. Could he change what was happening? Not likely. It took all his willpower not to scream.
     “Cummings, you have a visitor.”
    Jamie was lost in his thoughts. He didn’t hear what was said. The guard raised his voice. “Cummings, wake up.” He almost yelled when he repeated it.
     Startled, Jamie whirled around to face him. He had a visitor? His first thought was of Morgan. Was she here?
     “Your attorney is here. You have to come with me.”
     “What attorney? Jamie shot back. “I don’t have no attorney.”
     “You do now.”
    Jamie was apprehensive. His mind began to race. Nobody told him someone was coming. Shouldn’t he have been told? How would he have time to help him now? There wasn’t time. He had been in here waiting for months. Why was he only coming to see him at the last minute? He hesitated before he began walking toward the guard.
    “We don’t have all day.” The guard insisted. ” Get a move on it.” Jamie turned around and let the guard cuff his wrists. There was no going anywhere outside this cell without cuffs. There were some men who would try to hurt the guard or anyone else on staff just for the fun of it.
He half stumbled when the guard gave him a small shove to start him walking. Down the hallway past three closed doors, the door to a small windowless room was standing open. When they walked inside, a man in a suit was waiting bedside a metal table bolted to the floor. Jamie didn’t remember seeing him before.
     He was a skinny man with acne scars spread across his cheeks. He glared at Jamie with contempt in his eyes. His thinning hair combed over the top of his bald head was a poor attempt at pretending he had hair. Poor dude. Jamie was sure he the public defender assigned to him. Maybe this was the only lawyer job he could get. He didn’t seem too happy to be here.
     Jamie needed someone who could help him, but this man didn’t seem like he enjoyed his job very much. He swept his arm in a gesture over the table which told Jamie to sit down.
    The man continued to stand and glare at him with his arms crossed over his chest with a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. It was a power move to show he was the authority in the room.
    The guard removed his cuffs. Jamie sat and waited for the man to talk. He was uncomfortable but he wasn’t going to let it show. The attorney took his time, letting his gaze slowly wander from his head to his hands as if he expected Jamie to jump up real quick and attack him.
It wasn’t the first time a white man looked at him like that, assuming he would be violent if given the chance. Jamie wasn’t a little man, but that didn’t mean he went around attacking people.
     “You’re in deep trouble, son,” the attorney began his practiced spiel.”You don’t have many options.” Son? He called him son? Was that his way of sounding superior?”
    How many times had this man repeated the same line, Jamie thought. Before he could continue, Jamie tried to talk. “I want to explain what happened. I didn’t . . .”
      That was all he managed to get out before this man, put both fists on the table, leaned over and looked him dead in the eyes.
      “I’m not interested in hearing your story. I don’t care what you did or didn’t do.
       “I need to . . .”
      “You don’t need to do anything. I said . . .” He hesitated for a few seconds, “I’m not interested. Tell your story to someone else. All you need to know is, the District Attorney has a case against you and your only option is to plead guilty.”
    He paused for a moment as he drilled that statement into Jamie’s head. He broke eye contact to take a few papers out of his brief case and lay them on the table.
     “You need to sign these papers admitting to guilt. I’m here on behalf of the DA who is offering you a plea deal of forty years. I advise you to take it.”
     Jamie stared him, stunned. What the hell? He was trying to scare him and it was working, Was he serious? Forty years? No way would he agree to that.
     “They have you dead to5th right, running out of a club after robbing it,” the attorney emphasized, rapping his knuckles on the table several times.
     “The money was found on your friend, in the car you were driving. There is nothing to defend.”
     Jamie stood. He could feel his anger rising. He was being railroaded. One case finished, on to the next sucker who couldn’t afford to pay for an attorney?
     “I’m not going to agree to that. I didn’t do it. I might have been there, but I didn’t have anything to do with what my friend did.” He knew it didn’t matter. Being there made him an accomplice. But he couldn’t go down without a fight. Forty years was beyond anything he thought could happen. “I want to go in front of the judge. No way am I pleasing guilty.”
     “Have it your way.” He put the unsigned papers back in his briefcase and closed it. Picking it up, he walked out.
     Jamie stared after him, speechless. “Now what?” he asked the guard who was leaning against the wall watching this while thing go down.
He shrugged. He didn’t make a move to take him back to the cell so Jamie sat down, waiting to see where this was going. There was no point in trying to talk to the guard. Twenty minutes later the attorney walked back in. 

     “I have another option for you and I advise you to take it,” the attorney instructed impatiently. He began tapping the toe of his shoe on the floor. “There won’t be another one.”
     It was obvious he wanted this signed and done. He didn’t want to waste any more of his day on Jamie.
     “You’re lucky.” He continued. “The DA must have a soft spot for you.”
Sarcasm dripped from his words. Jamie wondered what he did to make him dislike him so bad. He obviously didn’t want to defend him even thought it was his job. How many other people had he already said this to today?
     “Seventeen years,” the attorney paused to let it sink in. “If you don’t take it, and insist on going to court and wasting everyone’s time, they will slap on extra charges. You’ll end up doing fifty to ninety-nine.”
    “What charges?” Jamie demanded. He slammed his hands down o.k. the table. The attorney ignored him. “What about wasting years of my life?” he added.
     “I need time to think about this,” Jamie told him. How could he agree to give up the rest of his youth without a fight? He didn’t plan what his friend did at the club. Why should have to pay for it with so many years of his life? What would that prove?
      There were four of them that went out to the club that night. He had no idea what they were going through. Were they offered the same deal? He needed answers but there was no one who was going to give them to him.

     The dude who had the gun had been to prison before. He had a record so they probably went harder on him. Why did he go out that night? Why? If only he had stayed home.
     “You have five minutes.” the attorney told him. I’ll be back for your answer.”
<<< >>>
How was Jamie supposed to know what to do in five minutes? This was wrong. He didn’t know how to fight it. This man was the only attorney he had and it was obvious, defending him in court was something he had no interest in doing. Why? Isn’t he supposed to defend him? Wasn’t that his job? He guessed not when the DA wanted it to end another way.
     Right and wrong didn’t matter. There was no such thing as justice. Another body to fill a prison bed. The only thing that mattered was locking up as many people as they could. Not just any people – black people. They went after Hispanics and other minorities, too.
     The government wanted to fill the prisons with poor people who couldn’t afford to protect themselves or pay for a real attorney. Racism toward blacks keeps growing. Why? Because they think black people wanted to knock white people off their pedestal of superiority? But most blacks and minorities only wanted to survive and raise their families. They wanted equality. They weren’t going to get it.
     Jamie didn’t understand it? He didn’t know all the history. He did know what he witnessed, though, and he heard the stories people told about why they were in jail.
     There was no way for him to come out on top of this. He was screwed no matter what he did. If he fights he loses.
     Jamie started to stand up but the guard glared at him with a look that said, “Don’t even try.” He sat back down and waited for the attorney to return. His brain was going a hundred miles an hour. How long would seventeen years feel. It was almost as long as his whole life up till now. He was only twenty- one.
     Should he take a chance and go to court? Possibly give up his entire life? He didn’t know what other charges they could add. They could make up anything they wanted.
     He closed his eyes and put his head back. He had no choice. His unborn son had no choice, either. He wouldn’t have a father. He would be giving up ask thought of raising his son. If he did all seventeen years he would be almost out of high school. They wouldn’t know each other.
     Morgan would have to go on and find someone else. It killed him to think about that. The pain ripped him in two. He couldn’t expect her to wait. Maybe he could get out early. Maybe he could get parole.
     So many unanswered questions running through his head at the same time. His five minutes are over. He heard the door handle click when it unlocked. The attorney stepped back into the room.
     “What’s your answer?” Jamie looked down, reached out his hand and signaled with his fingers for the papers.

 

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Help support Jamie. Share his story. Subscribe to keep up on the progress of the book and to read news about the prison industry. I also print the stories of other inmates that need telling if you have a story to tell.

When you subscribe and share other people have the opportunity to learn about the book being written which will help Jamie start a life when he is released. He needs your support.

Sharing is a great way to do that. If you are new to this blog read his story on the blog beginning with the ones at the top. Early posts found inn the archived will also help you get tho know him. The story begins 19 years ago when the the kids in the family defended their mother from a racist cop who forced his way into their house. Jamie was put in juvenile detention. His story needed telling.

Sonni Quicks Piano Improv – YouTube channel of the music videos being created for “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” New videos released as they are made.

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Skunk Radio – Indie radio out of London. My personal page

Soundcloud – all of my music can be found here plus music I have personally liked from other musicians that can be played. You can also play my album “Stories without Words”

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the worldS

Improv Piano music of Sonni Quick – at Facebook . . . music news and other musicians

Twitter – My Name is Jamie

Watch and Whirl – Sonni Quick.   This is my other blog. An odd assortment of rants and raves on a variety of subjects and music info, too.

 

The Falling Rain – Chapter from Inside The Forbidden Outside

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THE FALLING RAIN

“You need to flush the goddamn toilet. You can’t leave it like that,” Jamie exploded. He raised his voice louder than the sound in the room, yelling at the man walking away from him.
     He was tired of smelling everyone’s crap. Some men have the worst toilet habits like they we’re raised by animals. They can’t flush or wipe the seat if they mess it up. The next man has to clean it, if it matters enough to him.
     Jamie bit his lower lip between his teeth, forcing himself to not throw another insult at the man walking across the room, through the isles of stacked beds. Low man on the totem pole, a newcomer to this dormitory, he got stuck in the back of the room near the toilets. The only other overwhelming smell was pungent disinfection. It got poured on everything.
     Being here was getting to him. It was too soon to let it affect his behavior. He had too find a way to keep it together. The thought of not breathing free air for seventeen years was depressing beyond words. Knowing the woman he loved was getting bigger, waiting for the birth of a son he would not be able to see, was the cruelest joke life could play on him.
       This was only the beginning of his sentence. He didn’t know how he was going to get through to the end. He was tired of this crazy old asshole coming to the back of the dorm which held dozens of bunks with men reading, sleeping or playing cards, and then leave a dump for him and everyone else to smell.
     Jamie’s bunk was in the back near the toilets, and they smelled ungodly rank. If someone was going to take a dump they’d better have the decency to flush. He was losing his tolerance for ignorance as well as losing his emotional self control. He was often angry. Angry about being here. Angry because he couldn’t change it and angry at himself for screwing up.
      It wasn’t as if the janitor came in to clean every day, or even every week. No one wanted to get up and flush the damn toilet for someone else. Some dudes think they can intimidate weaker ones as if they were some stinking ‘King of the Hill’ in a child’s game. Jamie had had enough.
      “Didn’t yo’ mama ever teach you no manners?” Jamie yelled sarcastically across the room, deliberately provoking him.
      “Oh, yeah?” This dude was clearly not liking that Jamie had the guts to get in his face. He turned around and started strutting toward him with the bowed legs of a gorilla, acting as if he thought his shit didn’t stink. “You have anything else you wanna say about my mama?”
     Jamie immediately felt sorry for the woman who gave birth to this lowlife. He must have been a joy as a kid. He clearly wanted to use this as a reason to pound somebody’s head in and thought Jamie was his next likely victim. He didn’t know what a mistake that was gonna be.
     “Da-amn,” Jamie muttered under his breath in two syllables. He was going to have to make good on what he said. He got himself together and slowly stood up. He wasn’t going to get caught off-guard sitting down.
     “Oh well.” It hadn’t been a good day so far, anyway. He might as well make it worse.

     “Oh, and you think I need to flush the toilet?” He laughed. Jamie smiled.

     As he closed the gap he spoke these words with a pause between each word. In a menacing way he walked toward him with slow, deliberate steps, trying to look more dangerous than he was capable of pulling off. Maybe ten years ago he could have, but not now. He might have scared some of the smaller men but he didn’t scare Jamie. 
     “Make me,” the man taunted him.
     He had the look of injecting too many steroids a couple decades ago and the hard muscles were turning to flab.
     “You and who else?” he demanded from Jamie. He looked like he had been in a few too many bar brawls already. Jamie didn’t care. He was strong and he knew how to take care of himself. Besides, he already had a seventeen year sentence. They couldn’t do much more to him they haven’t already done.
     The man walked over to a mop sticking up from a rolling bucket someone had left propped up and leaning against the wall. He grabbed the stick at both ends and broke it in half over his thigh. He raised the stick in his right hand, ready to swing it at Jamie’s head when he got closer.
     “Come on, mama’s boy,” the man bent forward and growled at him. “Show me what ya got.” He motioned with his fingers to come and get him.

The man would sorely regret those words. He lunged at Jamie, who beat the crap out of him all the way from the toilets, through the overcrowded room, past the open mouths of men on the bunks who were startled out of their boredom, to the locked door that led to the hall.
     Once Jamie got started he lost control and took all of his pent up frustration out on that loudmouthed son of a bitch who was never taught any manners by his mama. He knew some now, that was for sure.

Jamie didn’t quit beating him until the guards pulled him off. An ambulance arrived at the jail and took the man to a hospital. Jamie was taken to solitary confinement.
     “He’s the one who came at me,” Jamie tried to explain to the guard who cuffed his wrists behind his back and walked him to his new living quarters. The guard didn’t give a shit who started the fight.
      “So you decided to put him in the hospital?”
     “Maybe he’ll learn some manners in there, like knowing when to flush a toilet,” Jamie said under his breath.
      “What did you just say?” the guard snapped back.
      Jamie shook his head, “Nothin’.”
     “I didn’t think so,” the guard replied with as much sarcasm as he could muster.
    “You’re gonna to be staying here in this hotel room until you’re moved.” He seemed to take great pleasure in saying this to Jamie, but Jamie didn’t get upset.
     “How long will that be?” Jamie asked.
     “Where will they be sending me?” he added.
     His questions hung in the air unanswered. The guard probably didn’t know where he would be sent so it was pointless to ask again. He walked out of the cell and slammed the door. Jamie heard the sound of the lock turning. He motioned for him to back up to the small opening in the door and stick his wrists out so his cuffs could be unlocked. A second guard stood right outside the cell door making sure nothing happened.
     Jamie rubbed his wrists to get the circulation going. The cuffs had been put on as tight as possible. They wanted him to know they could do anything to him they wanted and he could do nothing about it. They weren’t going to take any chances  now they knew he had a temper.             

Jamie hadn’t meant to hurt the dude so bad. He couldn’t stop once he got started. The anger for everything that happened had been building up with no way to release it. He had to get it out.
     He had been in this jail for months waiting to see what was going to happen next. Nobody told him nothing. It was like they didn’t want to let him know what was going on. Keep him in the dark. He got some letters from Morgan who told him how his family was doing. He didn’t hear much from them himself. He did in the beginning. They were probably afraid he would ask them for money for the commissary. If they didn’t write to him they couldn’t say no. Their silence told him a lot. He was on his own.

    Morgan told him over and over she would wait for him. It was the only hope he had and he was hanging on to it for dear life. If he lost her and the baby he would have nothing to live for. He waited for every letter like it was the last letter he would get, afraid she would go on without him. Every day that passed with no letter broke him into smaller pieces. When his name was called a mail time it gave him a reason to hang on. One day at a time. That’s all he had. It wasn’t much.
     On the far end of Jamie’s 5′ by 9′ cell was a raised cement slab with no mattress that was supposed to be his bed. Not even a two inch piece of foam covered it. A folded, rancid smelling blanket was at one end. He doubted it had ever been washed. It was another way to break the inmates. Take away their humanity until they feel worthless. There was a toilet with no lid and a sink with only cold running water. A nearly empty roll of toilet paper balanced on the edge.
     If he thought the toilets smelled bad in the dormitory, that wasn’t even close to the smell in here. There was a permanent smell of piss and Lysol with the added odor of vomit and a backed up toilet that had never been cleaned. He was pretty anal about being clean, especially in this place, so this smell was an insult to his senses. 
    There was a grimy piece of polished steel for a mirror, screwed to the wall above the sink. Someone must have punched it. It was so scratched and dented it was almost impossible to see his reflection.
    A bare lightbulb stuck out from the wall next to the sink. He supposed that light was never turned off so the guards on the outside could look inside and check up on whoever was there. They didn’t have any privacy. They could watch you take a crap if they wanted to, just to embarrass you. It was a low wattage bulb, hardly enough to read by, if he had anything to read. So far no one brought him his stuff. How long would they keep him in here?
     Maybe he was better off here for awhile. Give him time to think. He needed to get his head together and figure out how he was going to handle this sentence. He couldn’t be fixin’ to beat the crap out of everyone who pissed him off. Besides, maybe if he was really good and caused no trouble they would let him out early.
     Jamie went over to the cement slab and laid down, folding his arms behind his head. There was nowhere else to sit but the floor and he didn’t think he wanted to get that close to it.
     He looked up to see a vertical, narrow window too high up to stand and look out, and too grimy to see anything. The light let him know it was still daytime. It was never daytime inside. In solitary you never knew if out was night or day if there wasn’t a window. That added to confusion and a feeling of being off balance.
     He could hear the sound of rain beating against the wire-enforced glass. When he closed his eyes and listened, the sound of the rain relaxed him. It was peaceful against the thoughts and emotions still raging through his brain. It helped clear the bad thoughts away and he felt himself begin to drift off to sleep.
     Jamie couldn’t stop his raw emotions from coming to the surface. One tear fell down the side of his face to his ear. The wetness joined with the sound of the rain running down the window pane.

 

 

itfo newsletter

SUBSCRIBE

Help support Jamie. Share his story. Subscribe to keep up on the progress of the book and to read news about the prison industry. I also print the stories of other inmates that need telling.

Sonni Quicks Piano Improv – YouTube videos of the music soundtrack for Inside The Forbidden Outside. New videos released as they are made. When you subscribe and share, other people have the opportunity to learn about the book being written which will help Jamie start a life when he is released. He needs your help. If you have read his story on the blog you understand why. Thank you.

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Skunk Radio – Indie radio out of London. My personal page

Soundcloud – all of my music can be found here plus music I have personally liked from other musicians that can be played. You can also play my album “Stories without Words”

Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the worldS

Improv Piano music of Sonni Quick – at Facebook . . . music news and other musicians

Twitter – My Name is Jamie

Watch and Whirl – Sonni Quick.   This is my other blog. An odd assortment of rants and raves on a variety of subjects and music info, too.

 

Chapter – Waiting . . . Too Long

 

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(Sonni’s note: This is another random chapter in the book I’m writing that is based on Jamie Cumming’s life. Some scenes have been enhanced.  This did happen, but exact conversations and actions are fictionalized for the sake of the story. Chapters are still being rewritten and music recorded. Publishing date not established yet)

WAITING . . . TOO LONG

Twelve years was a long time. It was hard for him to believe he had been here for so many years. A huge chunk of his life was flushed down the toilet. What a waste. He had been waiting . . . too long. Waiting for it to be over. Waiting to see his son. Waiting for someone to look him in the eye and realize he shouldn’t be here. It was a mistake. He wasn’t a danger to society. All he was doing was waiting, locked up in a cell by himself with no one to talk to.
     Jamie had been bused around to quite a few prisons during the years. Some prisons make you work the field tending acres of vegetables. Some raised pigs and other farm animals. They want to utilize the free labor as much as they can. If he went back to the beginning and counted how many prisons he’d been in, this was the eighth one. He had been in Allred Unit for three years now after being shuffled all over the state.
     The first prison he was sent to was in West Texas, a two day drive across the hottest, driest part of the state. Then he was sent to South Texas near Brownsville. He was also in a unit in Huntsville in the middle of the state, and two more north of Houston. Now he was in northern part of the state, near Wichita Falls. There were a couple more prisons scattered somewhere in between.
     The last six years he was close enough to his family for them to visit, just an hour or two away, but only his mom came to see him a couple times. Some dudes in here had no family. Maybe it was better that way. They wouldn’t be disappointed because no one showed up.
     He was trying to let it go. It was hard. He couldn’t change it. He would get depressed thinking about it. His mom wouldn’t help him. She would tell him she would, but she never did. No one in his family cared enough to do a damn thing. It was hard to wrap his head around it, realizing this was the family he grew up with. After all this time. . .
     “Oh, stop it, Jamie,” he said out loud, talking to himself.
     “If they don’t want to see you, they don’t want to see you. You can’t do anything about it,”
     “Be patient,” he said to himself as he opened his locker and went through his books to see if there was something he could distract him.
     “This won’t last forever.” He found a book he had only read twice and settled on his bed to read the rest of the day away. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine a life outside these walls.
     Whenever he tried to put these issues out of his head they crept back up his neck and sneaked into his brain when he wasn’t paying attention.
     He read for a couple hours and fell asleep with the book open on his chest. Even when he slept he couldn’t get away from his thoughts. He woke thinking about Morgan. The thought of her being in his life sometime in the future was long past. But she will always be his son’s mother and he would always love her for that. They were so naive back then. Things don’t work out if you don’t plan for the right things to happen. Relying on luck wasn’t a good plan. Getting pregnant so fast before they knew each other probably wasn’t a good idea. He needed to know he could take care of a family and that meant going to school first so he could get a good job.
     Morgan went on with her life. That was okay. He wanted her to be happy. It made him sad but he couldn’t blame her for that. She ended up angry at him, though, because he wasn’t there to help her. A lot changed in twelve years.

<<<>>>

Jamie had countless hours to think every day. That was almost the only thing he did except sleep, or read. He loved it when Sonni sent new books. Sometimes he got ahold of a newspaper and found out what was happening in the free world. There was a lot of ‘not so good’ stuff going on out there that was affecting a lot of people.
     He heard about other prisons from some of the other dudes down the hall who had been bounced around like he was. They were all bad – corrupt. He knew deep down there was a bigger reason why a lot of them were locked up with long sentences. Destroying the lives of people like him also destroyed their families. That’s what the government wanted to do. He only had to look around to understand that. There was much he had learned since he came here. He wasn’t a young immature boy anymore.
     He wanted to forget what had happened. He preferred to close his eyes and think about a happier time. Maybe he couldn’t change where he was but these people didn’t have control over what he thought about. It saved his sanity more than once.

<<<>>>

A special memory was the first time he saw Morgan. It was a place he often went in his head to get out of here. Back then, in 2005, he had just gotten out of juvenile detention after four years. He had no idea what he was going to do with his life. He guessed his family was glad he was out but after a couple days the novelty of him being home had worn off. Everyone was busy with their own life and their own problems. They didn’t have time to help him with his.
     Since he had been gone for the rest of his teens years and then some, he had no experience living on his own and taking care of himself. He was twenty-one and that legally made him an adult so he should be able to figure it out. He was fixin’ to get a job somewhere, somehow, but he didn’t know what he could do.
     He didn’t have a clue how to get his life together so he started hanging out at an apartment complex known as “Little New York.” It catered to people who didn’t have their shit together. It was so scattered they couldn’t find it if they went looking for it. Low level drug dealers, users and prostitutes – people trying to survive in a day to day struggle, most of them losing. Still, it was someplace to go hang out. His shit wasn’t together, either.
     It was at that apartment complex where he saw Morgan for the first time. He thought that was his turning point and life was finally going to be good. After they got together he felt like he had a purpose. He had a family to take care of. He couldn’t believe how badly he screwed that up. Maybe that was why his family didn’t answer his letters. Maybe they thought he was a loser and didn’t want to bother with him. He wasn’t a loser, though. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that was all.
     The time he spent with Morgan was the only time in his life where it felt like he had possibilities for the future. He used to think maybe he’d be lucky when he finished these years in prison and he and Morgan could get back together. He didn’t want to give up. He needed to believe it wasn’t over or he wouldn’t be able to survive this place.           Thinking about her was the only thing that kept him going. Maybe if there were no more cases filed against him he would be able to get out early. He stopped thinking that a long time ago. They weren’t the same people anymore.
     When Jamie closed his eyes he could picture her in his head. He was attracted to her the instant he saw her. She was at the other side of the parking lot that day. He had never seen her before.
     The day was hot and humid. Texas summers re brutal. Leaning against a car, she was in a heated argument with some dude. He looked familiar but he didn’t think they had met. He said something that pissed her off. She looked mad enough to hit him. He could tell she wanted to, but she didn’t. She bowed up to him, though, like she was daring him to hit her. He watched them go back and forth for about five minutes wondering if he should walk over there. Maybe it would stop the argument. He could walk casually by the car like he wasn’t paying any attention to them.
     Jamie wondered where she came from. She didn’t grow up here. He didn’t remember seeing her around town. Did she live here? He started walking toward the car. He was determined to find out who she was before she she had a chance to take off.
     As he walked across the parking lot the man stomped off with his hands shoved in his pockets. He had an angry scowl on his face. Jamie wondered what was up between them because they sure didn’t look like a happy couple. As he closed the distance, she opened the car door and plopped down on the seat.
     “Goddamn asshole,” she said, loud enough for Jamie to hear. Both legs were out the door, one foot on the ground. She lifted her right leg and dangled it over the other knee. She turned and reached over to the radio with her right hand and turned on the music. Country. Her foot started moving with the beat.
     “Hi, you okay?” Jamie said as he walked up to the car door.
He couldn’t think of anything clever to say. Startled, she looked up at him, ready to cut him off from butting into her business. A couple seconds later the pissed off look on her face turned into a smile.
This might be interesting, Jamie thought. That was okay. He didn’t want to look like he wanted anything from her.
     “My boyfriend, or rather, my ex-boyfriend,” she emphasized, “as of right this minute needs to find a way out of town.
     “I’m Jamie,” he offered. “You live here?
     “My name’s Morgan,” she answered back.
     “You live here?” she asked.
     “At these apartments?” He shook his head no.            “Na. I come over here most times to hang with my friends. You?”
     She glanced around in the direction her boyfriend went. It looked like she was waiting for this dude to come back to the car any minute. He didn’t want to lose his chance to find out how he could see her again.
     “We rented an apartment here not long ago but it’s not working out.” She volunteered on her own, letting him know she would soon be available.
     She continued, “Getting a job hasn’t been on his list of things to do and I’m not going to support his ass.” Morgan added under her breath,”I didn’t want him here in the first place.”
     Jamie caught that and smiled a little.
     “Where did you come from?” He wanted to keep her talking. He found out later she used to live in California and met there. She broke up with him and moved to Texas to be near family and he followed her. He just showed up uninvited. She wasn’t happy about it but he had no place to go and had no money. What was she supposed to do? She had enough of his mooching off her, she had to kids to take care of.
     Before she could answer she glanced to the right and saw her boyfriend – ex-boyfriend – walking back to the car. Jamie decided that was his cue to leave. He didn’t want to blow it. He would see her again. He was sure of that.
     “I’ll see ya around.” He turned and started walking back to his friends. Halfway there he glanced over his shoulder to see if she was watching. She was. That put a smile on his face. She sure was pretty.
     It didn’t take long before her boyfriend was out of the picture. He claimed he couldn’t leave town because he didn’t he didn’t have no money, so Morgan bought him a bus ticket just to get rid of him. She went to the bus station to make sure he got on it, and waited until the bus left so she knew he didn’t sneak off. The next bus stop was too far away to walk back.
     Morgan and Jamie were good together. For the first time since he got out of juvy he was happy. His future had possibilities. Morgan had a boy and a girl. It made him feel like they were a family.
They weren’t always careful about having protected sex so it didn’t take long before Morgan was late with her period. She didn’t take a test but she was pretty certain after a few days. She was regular. But now she had a problem. Her mom was coming to visit.
     “How do we tell your mom?” Jamie wanted to know. “Will she be angry?”
     “She’ll kill me,” she told Jamie. “I can’t tell her right now.”
     “Because I’m black?” Jamie asked.
     “No, because I wasn’t careful.” Morgan said.              “She’ll say it’s hard enough raising two kids. What was I thinking? Besides, she doesn’t know about you yet. It would be kinda hard to lay all that on her at once.”
     After a five second pause,”I think she should meet you first.” Morgan added. “We’ll tell her later, after she goes home.”
     Her mom stayed for a week and he had a chance to meet with her twice. Her name was Sonni. She came with her husband from Key West. She helped Morgan rent an apartment because by then she was living at her grandmother’s house. After she left she didn’t know Jamie moved in, too.
     They never got around to telling her about the baby before Jamie got arrested. Morgan didn’t call her mom then, either. She had to figure things out. Could she get through the pregnancy on her own? She wanted to stay near Jamie so she could visit him at the jail. He was still waiting to be charged. There was no telling how long that would take. It could be months.
     Morgan had no car now and no way to get another one. Jamie had been driving it when he was arrested and it was impounded. The fines piled up fast before she could get the money together to pay it. How was she going to get to her doctor appointments, or anywhere else? 
     Her father’s family lived in town. They wouldn’t give her the help she needed. Between the kids and the pregnancy she needed more than they’d be willing to give.
     Now Morgan had no choice, she had to call her mom. She wasn’t just hoping her mom would be okay knowing she was pregnant again, she was hoping she would let her come to Key West and live with her and help her through the pregnancy.
She briefly thought about asking Jamie’s mom to help her but they didn’t know each other very well. She needed someone who could take her to her doctor appointments and help with her other two children. The longer she waited the harder it became.
     Finally, when she was almost five months along she called her mom and told her.
     “Mom, Jamie was arrested and I’m pregnant,” she said in a rush to get it out at once. There was dead silence on the other end of the call. Morgan told her the story about what happened. She didn’t come down on her. What was done was done. Her mom had always been there for her. All she said was, “Do you want to come here?”
     Bus tickets were purchased for her and the kids. Her grandmother helped her pack enough food for a two day bus trip. A very tired and worn out trio got off the bus at the greyhound terminal. Fifteen minutes later she was in the small, separate, two story dollhouse apartment attached to the back of her mother’s house, and the prologue of the story begins.

<<<>>>

Jamie opened his eyes. That part of his life seemed so long ago. Now the baby is twelve years old and he knew so little about him. What started out so happy came crashing down in a few short months. Was that the way his life was going to go, never working out? That caused him such pain.
     Morgan had been a good mom. He knew his son was well cared for. He hoped he would waiting for him to get out. His son was his reason for living – for making it through this.
     Back then Morgan talked about going back to school at Angelina Jr. College in Lufkin. She already had the certification to be a CNA – a certified nursing assistant. He could get his GED and go to college, too. It sounded so perfect.
     He thought they had a good relationship. At least for the few months they knew each other. What they didn’t have was time to get to know each other and have a strong enough bond to last. They did have a son that would tie them together no matter what.
     He didn’t think he would make it this far. Sometimes he wanted to give up. Sonni told him not to. She kept telling him he had value. He wasn’t sure about that, but it made a difference knowing someone cared.
     Jamie had wrestled with depression since he was a kid. It was hard having epilepsy and being different from the other kids. In prison, if you weren’t depressed when you got here you’d be depressed soon after. He was finally over halfway through his sentence. Only someone who had been inside could understand what that was like.
     Everyone was so aware of time in here. Everything was about time. Life was on a schedule that never changed. Everyone’s day evolved around how much time you had until you got out – or how much time you had to live because you were never getting out. Parole could still be possible. He needed to keep that dream alive in his head.
     Jamie had been keeping it alive since he walked in the door. He never got tired of playing these scenes in his head, over and over. He replayed every conversation he could remember, every nuance. He never got tired of reliving the first day he met Morgan. Things might not be good between them now but it want always like that.
     When he was waiting at the jail after he was sentenced he didn’t know what to expect. How long would they keep him? Was prison like jail? He had such anger and frustration. It often got him into trouble. He was tired of always having to pay the price for things he didn’t do. How long would they keep him in this limbo? He didn’t know what to do. His memories were all he had left.

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