Looking Into the Crystal Ball – Chapter

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I decided to publish this chapter again for people who are new to Jamie’s story – as I continue to work on the second draft – to create interest. This is the first chapter after the prologue as he learns, from jail  about his public defend and his sentence.

There are other chapters and partial chapters available to read as well as music and videos finished that are for the chapters that have the same title. You can find the music and videos at my website sonniquick.net. This is the video and music for this chapter.

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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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Glimpse Into Book Two – Where is Jamie Today?

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This is not a book chapter. This time period takes place about the time book 1 of Inside The Forbidden Outside ends. Book 1 will not go to the end of his sentence. The sequel begins in 2016 and finishes his incarceration,  his experience of getting out and what happens next. Where does he go? How does he experience freedom and what is his relationship with his family, most of all his teenage son?

This is a glimpse into Book 2

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It was almost the end of 2018 and Jamie was glad to get out of Allred Unit. There had to be a better prison than this to finish his time in. It was okay at first. They seemed more respectful of the fact that they were human beings, but it didn’t last.

It was pretty clear they weren’t gonna to be letting him out of adseg.  He had never been in regular population, but they had classified him as a threat to other inmates. That was their last reason for not moving him out of adseg and he knew it was an excuse.

It was a desperate move he made to get transferred out of Wynne Unit in 2014. He felt the threat of constant physical violence from the guards and he had no protection from them. It was hard to keep his anger in check. The pushed and pushed, trying to get him to retaliate. Having five guards pick him up and slam his head into a wall was only one thing they did. Beating him up in the hall after being allowed to make an emergency call to his mother when she was in the hospital was another. The list was a long one.

He was in G5, (Adseg.) and that was nothing new. He had spent most of his time in state prison in this bottom rung of the prison. A majority of inmates stay in population. Their time is not fun, either, but it is not the hell of segregation. The loneliness alone will get you if the smell doesn’t choke you.

Before he was moved from Wynne he had done the required years of adseg, locked down 23/7 and allowed no freedom unless you considered being shackled and taken to commissary once a month, showers or being to go to the medical unit – if they took him – to be a benefit of freedom. But he wasn’t safe. He tried to stay clear of the guards. They were supposed to move him up to the level classification of G4 but was told there wasn’t an empty bed.

The best thing about G4 is he could walk to chow for his meals, but always with eyes open in the back of his head. All he had to do was look someone in the eye for a knife to get stuck in him somewhere by someone who was told to stick him. He had no friends – and he wanted no friends. You didn’t know who you could trust. He only wanted to get through his time in one piece.

He was in limbo, being kept in solitary confinement. They took away his property, sometimes even his mattress. He had a cellmate for awhile and he let him borrow his mattress if he wasn’t using it.

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You will read about this in more detail later in the book chapter of that year. Currently I am writing about 2012 and a lot happens in between then and now. Subscribe to ITFO NEWS below to read about the progress of the book and soundtrack.

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Jamie had to get out of Wynne and the only way to do that was to threaten a guard with harm. It worked. They moved him to Allred. The punishment he received was a year in adseg, but when he got there he was told he had to do two years. It was their protocol. The more men they had in adseg the less men they had to deal openly in other parts of the prison where the could congregate.

After two years they wouldn’t release him and said, “Next year we’ll let you out,” so he waited.

At three years they wouldn’t release him and said, “In six months we’ll let you out,” indicating if he could continue to have no write-ups in his file the would get moved – so he waited a little longer.

At three years and six months he had a hearing and was turned down again, but they said, “If there are no problems, for sure you’ll be getting out in six months.” Jamie felt good about that. It felt like a sure thing the way they said it – they were going to let him out. He wanted desperately for that to happen. He was at his breaking point. The next level above G4 was G2. Then he could get a job, probably janitorial, and he could apply for a class to study for his GED and possibly a trade.

Six months came around – the four year mark and he felt good about it. He didn’t allow anything to get in his way and screw things up. He kept a positive attitude. When he went to his meeting they told him, “We’re sorry, but we still aren’t going to let you out. We think you’re a threat to the population.”

Jamie was dumb-founded. He stood there, shocked and speechless. He wanted to show his anger. It took every ounce of self control he had to keep his not shut. They had to know he would be angry and were watching to see what he did. There was so much he wanted to say but he knew arguing with them or saying anything would look bad. He silently went back to his cell.

He wrote a letter to me and said, “You would have been so proud. I would not give them what they wanted.” How could they say he was a danger to population? He had never been in the general population since he got there four years ago. Population is G2.

Besides, Jamie wasn’t a trouble maker. He minded his own business. It was the guards who didn’t mind their own business. But there was a real danger in G2, too. A lot of dudes had weapons and they used them if they thought they needed to, or if they just didn’t like you. Maybe their mental illness got the best of them that day. There were also gangs and lots of drugs. But there was also the library and classes so he could prepare himself for the outside, so that is where he needed to be. He had made it to G2 once before but the guards set him up by planting a knife in his cell and back to adseg he went. He had applied to study for his GED but that is a far as it got.

One day he heard about a program at a different prison, Hughes Unit, between Austin and San Antonio. It was a 35 week program, 5 – 7 week steps of therapy. Talking about goals and anger management. It could good for him. It would get him around people, too. He was starved for people to talk to where he didn’t have to yell to another cell to talk. Maybe this could be the start of something good.

He was accepted and transferred – with only the clothes on his back. He had to leave his property behind. His books and letters and everything he saved would take a couple months to catch up to him. He really bored and had nothing to read. Was this was going to be worth it.?

He wrote to me and asked, “Books, could you please send me some books?”  I  have a favorite place where I buy books for him and I have used them for years. It’s book store in Texas  imailtoprizons.com that is approved by the TDCJ – The Texas department of criminal justice. They sell new books and used books, single books, and book lots. 3′ of books, about 30 books for $35. It’s good deal. But I can buy 1-3 books, too.

You can’t choose the books you want in the big lot of 30 books, but when you’re locked up, you don’t care what it is, you’ll read anything – over and over. You can barter the ones you don’t want to read again for things you need – if they don’t catch you because it is a punishable offense. These books come in grab bags. You can choose between women’s stories or just an odd collection of other books. Jamie likes westerns. These grab bags are more quantity than quality but there many good titles, too. It will give him a month of new reading. A book a day. They also sell game books like soduko crosswords and word search.

They also have women’s lingerie magazines. I’ve gotten him a few of these. They aren’t naked. No porn,  but it is pretty women in sexy lingerie and gives them something to use with their imagintion. Being locked up for years as a straight male in the prime hornyness years, it must be extremely frustrating. That is why men who are totally straight end up having sex with each other because the lack of sex drives them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It becomes normalized because they are so far outside normal society.

“And food, could you send me a food box? They are feeding me food loaf and it is made from spoiled food. I can’t eat it and I’m hungry.”

I was allowed to send a box, picked from a small selection of commissary food. $60 value every 90 days. About 60 cents a day. Raman noodles, instant rice, noodles, instant refried beans, oat meal, coffee. There was junk, but I tried to buy things to fill him up, mostly starches with empty calories which promote diabetes –  rampant in prisons.

To be continued. . .

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I went through earlier music I recorded, going back a few years, before I started recording for the book. I was back on my feet after a liver transplant and rewarded myself with a new piano. I hadn’t learned yet what it could do, and was only beginning to learn the style I play in now – improvisation. I had always structured and written music before this – wrote the chord charts and even hand charted piano arrangements ( before computers did it for you.) Improvising is as different as boogie woogie and Classical. To play improv, I believe you need a good understanding of music theory like you need to know the structure of language before you can write a book. They both have a learning process to go through to free your mind to write. If you don’t know music theory you’re flying blind and any good musician will hear, you don’t know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, most musicians who think they are free styling improv music sound like amateur musicians. I thought I would add one of those early piano pieces here. This was not recorded for the book:

Listen to One in a Million by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick/one-in-a-million

 

 

The Reason For My Youtube Videos

I have made quite a few YouTube videos over the past year. Almost all of them are for the music I have recorded for my book, Inside The Forbidden Outside. Not everyone reads the description under the videos so I thought I’d do one explaining what they are about.

The comments I receive at the sites where you stream my music has been more than awesome. There have been many that say something like, “I love your music,” but there are even more that that go into great detail about why they love the music. Feedback about the upcoming book has been tremendous.

I know it seems like I’ve been writing this book forever, and it has taken longer than I expected, but it takes so much time to promote every piece of music and then communicate while I research “the letters” and write the next chapter.

I edit the chapters more than if I were submitting the entire manuscript to be edited because I post partial chapters, sometimes entire chapters, on my blog to be read. I won’t develope interested readers with poor writing and grammar so I correct it too the best of my abilities, because I want you to share it.

So the going is not a breakneck speed. I see the ads, “Write a book in 90 days!” and laugh. Really? Good luck with that.

Back to my chapter. Thanks to all of you who have been to my various sites. YOU are SO appreciated!

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Jamie’s Backstory For New Readers

Lately I have been getting questions about why Jamie is in prison and what happened. There are so many posts on this site it is hard to find the ones that explain his story. I fyou read the earliest posts by going to the archive you will find more of his early letters as he is trying to figure out how he is going to  make it through 17 years. So I thought I would write a synopsis that tells his story n a nutshell.  Thank you for reading. I have been writing this blog for him for nearly 4 years.

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earlyjamie
Last moments of being free

I met Jamie Cummings in November 2005 when I went to Texas to visit my daughter and her two children. She brought Jamie to meet me. We talked that evening and again the following morning when I took everyone to breakfast. A quiet, shy man who was very polite. The following month he was arrested and that started the incarceration he is completing now. He has been inside so far for 12 1/2  very hard years. Most of it has been spent in adseg, which is another name for solitary confinement. It has been over 5 years since I received a phone call.  I try to see him every year now, but it isn’t always possible because of the expense.

Jamie is the stereotype of a majority of those incarcerated. Black, no father – might be in prison himself. No communication with him. He lived in the lower income section of town in East Texas with a hardworking mother raising four children. No woman can be a mother and a father. I know that from raising my own children who had a deadbeat dad.

Black children and teenagers are harassed by the police just about everywhere in this country. Black children are more often suspended from school and have teachers who treat them differently than white kids.  More black kids than white kids are sent to juvenile detention for the same offenses in schoool. Jamie went through a typical time of many teenagers getting into minor trouble and pushing the limits. He also had to deal with having epilepsy. In 9th grade he spent a year living with an uncle because he was given probation for something – I don’t know what. He went back home to start 10th grade.

That year he and his older brother got into a fight outside his home which their mother broke up and made them go inside. Someone called the police and they ended up on their doorstep. When their mother answered the door she told the police (2) everything was under control and he could see the boys sitting on the couch. He insisted on going into the house. There was no probably cause. The boys had done nothing wrong. There was no crime. When she said again that everything was under control he pushed his way into the house, knocked her down and her wrist broke when she fell. The oldest boy made a move toward the police and got pepper sprayed. Jamie and his sister went to aid their mother. The little brother, a child, picked up a broom and swung it at one of the cops on the arm with the straw end and scratched it. The only thing he know was this cop had hurt his mother and he was going to defend her. Now, there was no longer an issue of illegal entry and causing a broken bone – it was now assaulting an officer of the law. Now the cops had a reason to arrest someone.

Jamie was the only one who went to jail. His older brother was over 18 and no crime was committed to charge him with. The little boy was too young and his sister was pregnant. Jamie was the only one left they could pin anything on, even though he had not done anything. In court the attorney asked Jamie to do his brothers time in juvenile detention. He could take care of himself. It was a 9 month sentence and the attorney promised him he’d be out and could go back to school. Jamie agreed to do it. But after nine months they wouldn’t let him go – for four years. Jamie became a very angry young man. When he was finally released, he was only home for a few hours and when returning home from a cousins house, he was arrested for walking and because he looked suspicious. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Three days later he was taken in front of the judge – who was the attorney who had told him he only had to do 9 months. He had been given a judgeship. He didn’t know Jamie had never been let out.  He dismissed the current charges.

A few months later he met my daughter. She became pregnant. One night he went out with friends to party, normal for a 21 year old man. He didn’t choose his friends wisely. One of them had a gun in his backpack and robbed the club they had gone to.  Jamie ran, but not fast enough.  He said, “Friends don’t leave friends,” although I’m sure he feels differently today. There is much wisdom he didn’t learn being locked up during his teen years.                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn’t matter if you are the one who commits the crime.  If you are there then you are associated with it and will get the same charges. He never saw these friends again.

My daughter went on with her life raising their son. For a variety of reasons she didn’t take their son to see his father except in the beginning. No one else took his son in to see him, either. It’s been years since anyone in his family has gone to see him   except when I fly to Texas. On a rare occasion he’ll get a letter from someone, but no one answers the letters he sends.

This is not uncommon.  Just like someone who is housebound dude to illness or disability, people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing. Although he has no way of getting any money to buy what he needs at the commissary – hygiene products, stamps, underwear or shoes or even paying the yearly medical fee of $100 that Texas demands. Because of his medical issues he needs to be under a dr’s care but the care he gets is a joke. They often withhold his seizure medication.

I can’t begin to explain in a paragraph the treatment he has gotten and the abuse he has taken. Being kept in adseg means she can’t go to school or use the library. He is in cell 23/7 and often 24/7.

I am the only person who has consistently been there for him trying to provide the necessary things he needed along with books. I have paid legal fees to have papers drawn up to get them to stop messing with his medication by getting a medical POA designed for the prisons. Here is where it gets tricky. I have only a disability check of $1009 a month because of a series of difficult medical issues.  I have worked hard in my life and working harder to get my life back.

This is why I am writing a book about Jamie’s life and his growth as a human being. It is why I write the music I do to go with the book, determined to make this successful. He is worth the effort.  Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take care of somethings that could make his life better.  50% of the profit will go to help him build his life – and to help mine as well. Jamie gave me a reason to fight for my life. Now he gives me a reason to write music. I get up every day thinking of what I will do to affect the lives around me in a better way.

IMG_20180324_211754_745

 

I had T-shirts made hoping that sales would help me provide for him. Thank you to those who have purchased. I need help to help him from people who are able to, who have followed Jamie’s story, or maybe read some of the chapters I’ve posted or listened to the music. I know how much this has encouraged him – and I know how much it has encouraged me to continue on.

In addition to the merchandise there is a donation button where you can donate from $1 and can change the donation to anything with the up and down arrows next to it. I don’t know how I can say thank you enough for any help you can give.

 

 

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Seize The Day – ITFO Chapter

last-note-2-sm

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.

<<< >>>

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.

<<< >>>

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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Unintended Consequences – Chapter – ITFO

Last Note 2 sm

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

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

<<< >>>

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

 <<< >>>

 

Dec, 3, 2009

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

Write back soon. Please Please
Love, Jamie

<<< >>>

Hopefully you’ve seen the new t- shirts I’m selling with Jamie’s face and name. I’m trying to raise much needed money to help him. So many have read his story and listened to the music for the book. Help spread the word by sharing, subscribing to the YouTube channel – Sonni Quick Piano Improv – to watch New music videos and also to the newsletter – ITFO NEWS. There are multiple ways to help support.

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CIRCLES INSIDE CIRCLES – Chapter Rewrite

Last Note 2 sm

 

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

<<<>>>

Later that night, getting up for a drink, he fell and twisted his knee. It was swollen and hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. It was worse when he put his weight on it the next morning. It was so swollen he could hardly bend it. He put in for a medical call. A guard came get him with a wheelchair because there was no way he would be able to walk there.
     “What did you do?” the nurse asked after the guard helped him up onto the examining table.
     “Damn that hurts,” slipped out of Jamie’s mouth before he could stop it. He didn’t like to cuss around women.
     “I slipped on the carpeting,” he joked and tried to laugh.
     “No, really, my knee buckled. I went down and landed hard on the side of my knee and it twisted.” Jamie winced as he attempted to change position.
     “I’ve had problems with this knee before,” he told her.
     “I’ll have x- ray take a picture,” she concluded. “Make sure it isn’t fractured.
     The nurse pressed gently on different parts of the knee. “This feels like fluid, “she commented, “not just swelling from the damage caused by twisting it.”
     “Can the doctor do something? Could it be drained?” Jamie thought it would make his knee feel better if they were able to get the swelling down. Right now he could only bend it a couple inches.
     “No.” It only took a second for the nurse to answer.”The doctor won’t do it. The Medical Unit would never okay that kind of procedure.”
     The nurse stopped for a few seconds and thought carefully. “They’ll say it’s not medically necessary,” she finished saying, almost under her breath.
     She saw inmates all day long who had medical conditions that needed treatment, and she knew they would never receive it, or they would get the barest minimum care. She’d placate them making them think something would be done. Chronic illnesses with simple, effective treatments that could make their lives easier to bear would most likely be denied. Conditions got worse that could be fixed. Inmates paid precious dollars out of their accounts to be seen by a doctor and were usually given the runaround. They would receive token or incorrect treatments and blood tests might even be taken, but getting the right diagnoses and proper medication were much more difficult to get. This wasn’t the reason she became a nurse.
     Inmates coming into the prison with a known condition who had a history of medication had a better chance of receiving it, but if other conditions developed there was a good chance it wouldn’t be addressed. She did what she could.
     “Every day, try to work the knee by sitting on the edge of your bed and straightening your leg up and out and hold for a few seconds,” she instructed. “Then lower it down slowly.”
    “Its a simple exercise but it will help keep your knee muscles from locking up.”
     This was the reality of medical care in prisons and they got away with it. It didn’t matter what treatment would be best for him. It mattered what the medical corporation could provide without it costing them.
     The lack of quality care caused damage to those inside. Pain and suffering, mental and physical were common and it sometimes caused death. It was inhumane. Fluid on Jamie’s knee wouldn’t kill him, but it was painful moving around or standing, and would take a good while to heal itself.
     So why did they take an x-ray if they wouldn’t treat the problem? So they could show they provided adequate care? That was the law. The prisons had to provide care but they were never told what adequate care was, so they could do anything and say they treated him.
     The nurse would tell him to drink more water and take Tylenol and say in his file it was adequate medical care for anything that was wrong. It was the standard treatment for what he needed so it was a waste of money for most inmates to call and ask to go to the medical unit. If an inmate had the flu or anything catchy, the whole prison would get sick.
     Jamie was tired of being treated as though he didn’t matter, but what could he do about it? He did the best he could to win over his negative thoughts. Sometimes it wasn’t possible. He absolutely did the best he could, he thought to himself. He tried to keep the stress under control. Seizures were going to happen when they screwed up his medication or said he forgot to tell them to reorder it like that was his job. Sometimes they hit fast and he falls and gets banged up, and sometimes he falls off the bunk from thrashing about in his sleep.
     He laid down on his side and brought his knees up to his chest. He felt less vulnerable and less alone inside his circle of comfort.

<<<>>>

Day after day routines never changed. It was hard to remember what day it was. One of the hardest things about being in prison is the boredom. There wasn’t enough to do. Nothing new was added to think about, so his mind goes through the same circles of memory over and over again.
     Jamie was trying so hard to not let anything get to him where he would lash out in anger. He was feeling confident he had that under control. But if he couldn’t get out of his cell sometimes he knew he would go crazy.
     He needed to keep his privileges. He was feeling irritated today and he knew it, so he had to work harder to stay in control. It wouldn’t take much, so he stayed by himself.

Writing letters that were never answered was frustrating. It was a waste of precious stamps. He wrote because he thought people would want to know how he was doing, but he seldom got a letter back about how they were doing. He felt forgotten by everyone. There were probably new kids in his family he didn’t even know about. Children of cousins who probably didn’t have any idea about who he was. He was an outsider now. Not a happy thought.
     It had been almost three months since a letter came from anyone besides Sonni. She became his family so he usually called her Mom. She said he was like a son. She called him that because she said he needed family.
     Going to the day room was a good way to pass the time. He tried to enjoy it as best he could. Watching TV let him pretend he wasn’t here. It usually kept his mind off things for a short while. It worked sometimes and sometimes it didn’t. Time wasn’t exactly flying.
     It was summer, 2009, three and a half years since he was arrested. He was getting close to being one fourth through his sentence.
     Jamie decided to write to Sonni. She often asked him questions about what it was like in here. He opened his locker and took out a couple pieces of paper and sat down at the steel table that was connected to the toilet. He began drawing lines from top to bottom to look like lined tablet paper. 
     “Rec hours rotate,” he began writing. “We get four hours all total. Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening between the hours of 6 -10 AM and 12- 4 PM. After that I’m in my cell the rest of the day.”
     He went on to explain that his custody level was G4 line 3. If he caught another case he would go down to G5 which was also adseg. He was almost to the point of being in 24 hour lockdown for a year if he didn’t cool it and control his anger. It was so hard to not get pissed off at things that went on in here, inmates and guards. But if he wanted to work his way back to population he needed to be G2 so he had to stay good with no new cases for seven more months.
     “There’s a lot more stuff I can do in population, like go to school and take trades,” he wrote. “I could also go to the library and have contact visits instead of visiting behind glass.” 
     Another reason he was trying hard to not get anymore write-ups was he wanted to apply for a hardship classification. Then he could ask to be moved closer to home because of a medical reason or a close family member who was sick.
     There was no reason for them to put him a prison that was a thousand miles away from home. He thought he was sent to West Texas as a way to punish him more by separating him from his family. But he would need their help to make it happen and that didn’t seem likely, at least not right now.
     It would be too easy to let depression take over if he thought too much about the free world and the things he’d like to see happen that were unlikely to happen. He needed to think of how to get through his time and not think about everything else he couldn’t change. He couldn’t even have a conversation with anyone to move it along.
     Jamie closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep now so he didn’t have to think about any of this. He put his paper and pen aside until later. In a few minutes, as he felt himself drift off he heard, “James Cummings, mail.”

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I Will Not Let Them Break Me

 

wh jamie2I’d like to bring you up to date with the writing of my book, Inside the Forbidden Outside, because I sure have been writing it for a long time. It should be 500 pages by now!

I have read ads that say ” Write a book from start to finish in 30 days!” Really? I guess you could if you had a vivid imagination creating stories, edited it yourself and did no rewriting. But I am not creating this story out of thin air and the writing has taken time because the story is important and I really knew nothing about being a writer, except for blog posts.

My first draft, and those chapters can be read going back I the archives to 2016, was like a book of blog posts. The chapters didn’t connect as a story. So I went back to the drawing board and started over while talking a couple writing courses.

Writing the music for the chapters, poetry, and music videos is also very time consuming so it all goes forward at a slower pace. The music was written because of the letters I read from him. They were often sad and melancholy. The music is the emotion just like music sets the stage for movies to create an emotion.

I wanted to tell you what I’m doing now to bring authenticity to what T am doing. The first two years he was inside we didn’t write. I only heard what was happening through my daughter. That is why I sent the first card.  He told me about his life until that point. I had to take actual events and create story around it. In the narrative I reached the point where we are writing. After reading his letters I felt I had to write his story.  Not because it was happening to him, but because it is a common story shared by many. America still isn’t listening and many believe the propaganda they read in the news saying black people are bent to be criminals and they need to locked up.  They don’t belong in restaurants, coffee shops, on the street, the mall or in any store among “us”, the white people. Call the cops. Have them arrested. They don’t deserve to breathe “our” air. Go away. Shame on any American who believes that. Unfortunately, the number of people like this outnumber the people who are actually human and don’t feel entitled because of the color of our skin.

I recently unpacked two boxes that hold hundreds of letters Jamie wrote me began sorting them by the prison and then putting them in date order. Most of my letters to him are online at a website called Jpay. But many early letters we’re handwritten so I have no record of those. As time went on I almost always used Jpay because many handwriting can get illegible when I write fast.

I have just spent 28 hours over two days reading every letter he wrote, and mine in between and pieced the narrative together. The story that emerged with the dialogue already written made me cry. The pain of coping in such an inhumane existence with the authority of the prisons dishing out, with pleasure, anything they wanted to ensure the prisoners know their lives are meaningless. Their only value is to enough various corporations who use them for profit, much the way plantations did for 400 years. Free labor on top of everything.  Of course they want the prisons to be full. Jamie did not deserve what they have done to him, and continue to do, but of course, he is black so it doesn’t matter.

Countless times over the years they have denied Jamie his seizure medication for epilepsy. They also often deny him being able to see a doctor, unless he is bleeding from falling and cutting himself when he has a seizure. So often the medical unit would lie to me about what condition he is in.

Think about this – Allred prison has approximately 3500 inmates. Let’s say half of them take one pill of a prescription each day.  That is an extremely low estimate. Now, lets say that each of those inmates were skipped one day a month and not given one pill.  That equals 1750 pills. What is the financial value to the medical corporation by holding back one pill each month? Since pills are often given in multiples twice a day and inmates often take more than one medicine, what is the real number? Jamie is often skipped for days at a time, not one pill on one day. So he has more epileptic seizures they rarely monitor. And yet people get sarcastic online quipping about the wonderful free medical care inmates get which is better than what they get. Propaganda can be very powerful in forming your indignant opinions for you. Anyone want to sign up for prison healthcare?

But he is a fighter, pulling himself out of depression when he hits rock bottom over and over again. The last time, in March when he was denied – again – being let out of adseg, he was told he wasn’t ready. Ready in what way? They didn’t manage to break him yet? Over three years, this time, and they said he wasn’t ready. He went into depression again, but fought back with a vengeance. “I will not let them break me!”

I have now everything I need to finish writing, with notes from every letter. This is the story of man who was intentionally fed to the system, while they have done everything they could to render him unable to survive.

He entered the system a Christian because it was all he knew. He then tried becoming a Muslim, a tight-knit community inside that teaches peace and discipline. No, it isn’t the picture our media and government portrays that to be Muslim means you are a terrorist. He reached the point where he said. “Religion has done nothing to help me in here. No amount of praying to God or having faith that things will get better has helped anything get better.” He thought his faith should have some effect, and it didn’t.

It was then, when he was of options that I began teaching him the philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. It put the responsibility of his life and understanding it squarely where it belonged. In his own hands and mind. This is where he got the strength to say, “They will not break me.” He wasn’t asking anything outside himself to fix his problems. He took responsibility.

This is a story of a man who is making his way through this system and growing as an individual instead of feeling he is a victim. I hope you continue to read about the progress of writing this and listen to the music I’ve recorded to be his soundtrack. Subscribe to ITFO News to not miss anything.

Last, I am having T- shirts made with the silhouette at the top of the post and his signature beneath. I need to raise money to help him. I have been using legal measures to fight some of what they are doing and those things are being put in place right now. Legal documents cost money.  Attorney consultations cost money. Enforcing those documents cost even more. But every bit of medical care they deny him puts more money in their pocket.

I’m hoping that people who know his story will want to help if they can. This is my first time of asking for help and I am the only one who supports him. In the next few weeks when the t-shirts come in I will write again. Thanks for reading. I couldn’t do this without you and the encouragement you’ve given me.

 

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How Much More Can I Take – ITFO Book Chapter

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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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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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