Can Anybody Hear Me? ITFO Book Chapter

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

Last Note 2 sm


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

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

Dear Jamie,

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

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

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

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

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




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Circles inside circles

Chapter five


I have to close my eyes and think

To remember how life feels


Spread ’em and squat.” the guard told him through the open food slot. ” Lift ’em and cough.”

They said the same thing every time they came to take him out of his cell. Shower, rec or commissary were the only choices it could be. Humiliation was part of the game they played, enjoying the chance to abuse him and make sure he knew they were in control. Oh, he knew it. He learned that a long time ago.

“Yeah, we need to make sure you don’t have something shoved up your kiester.” The second guard laughed, thinking he was some kind of comedian.

He said the same stupid crack every time, thinking it was funnier each time he said it. No one ever accused these guards of being smart. If they were, they wouldn’t be working as prison guards for minimum wage. They probably flunked out of Car Wash Training and this was the only place they could get a job. To get stuck in a job with no air conditioning, in a broiling Texas prison, walking inmates back and forth from the shower all day was not exactly anyone’s dream job. It made them angry and it made them want to kick a dog. Inmates were dogs.

Sometimes men did have something to hide – contraband they weren’t supposed to have. A lot of it was brought in by guards the inmates were able to bribe. Those with money and connections. He wasn’t that stupid.

“Turn around and put your hands back out the slot.” The cuffs were tightened a little more than they needed to be.

He could feel his circulation stopping. It wasn’t bad enough to say anything. They’d just laugh. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Not with needing to be cuffed every time he was taken anywhere.

He heard the cell door open. He stepped through and stopped. He knew to go no farther if he didn’t want to get clubbed behind his knees. One guard grunted as he bent over to attach the leg chains that allowed him about a foot between steps. It would’ve be easier on the guard if his gut didn’t hang so far over his belt.

Today was shower day. He could already feel the water streaming down his body, washing a couple days sweat and grime down the drain. It was one of the only pleasures he had. He had clean clothes on for the day. Prison whites. Not really white, though. He didn’t think the prison used soap in the washers. Cut costs a little. They didn’t smell too good, neither.

Jamie preferred to wash his own clothes in the sink if he had enough soap. That was a big if. If he had money in his account for commissary purchases. Each month the prison gave them three of the tiniest bars of prison made lye soap and that had to cover all his cleaning needs. If it didn’t, tough .He could buy more if he had the money when they took him to the comm.

“Get a move on it, Cummings. You think you’re the only one we gotta babysit today?”

They got that right. Glorified babysitters is all they were. His shower boots and soap were rolled up in his towel, shoved under his arm as they started walking down the hall doing the prison shuffle.

<<< >>>

Dang these showers were grimy. Moldy. So many dudes had to use them between cleanings. As he got ready to step under the water he noticed the guards were talking to other men. If he was lucky they’d forget the time and let him have a longer shower.

Good thing he wasn’t a puny ass. Nobody would try to get over on him for sex. The smaller dudes always had trouble. It wasn’t because they were gay. Spend enough time in here and some didn’t care what sex you were if they wanted to get off. They weren’t past doing a gang rape or retaliation, either, if the guards intentionally looked the other way.

As the water passed over his body it felt like heaven. They were supposed to get three showers a week but it didn’t always happen. Guards were lazy. The heat got to them, too. He closed his eyes and started day dreaming, thinking about the past. . .

<<< >>>

Jamie didn’t know what he was going to do, now that he was free. It was all he’d thought about for four years. Now that it was here he realized he never thought past it. Freedom was his goal and sometimes he never thought he would have it again. After a few days his family went back to doin’ what they were doin’. The novelty of having him home had worn off. He didn’t really know his family anymore, or rather they didn’t know him. He wasn’t the same person he was when he went in.. Nobody was fixin’ to help him. Not in any real way.

Everyone grew up while he was in juvy. His older brother got married. His sister had her baby and another one. She had her own problems. His little brother didn’t have much to say at all. He didn’t hardly hear from anyone while he was gone. Mama was busy with everyone who always needed her for some reason or another. He thinks he only got four letters from her in four years. He’d been on his own to survive. No one knew what he’d been through and no one wanted to talk about it. What was done was done. No one wanted to talk about why he was there in the first place. It seemed to him like he gradually became guilty for what happened. It seemed easier to let sleeping dogs lay where they were. Wouldn’t do no good to try and make anyone understand.

He took to walking down the hill from his mama’s house to the convenience store at the corner. Behind it was a shabby little apartment complex for people down on their luck. Barely furnished apartments ironically nicknamed “Little New York” because it was similar to a one rough block in a not so nice part of NYC. Some people were okay but it mostly drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps.

He met a white girl named Morgan living with her soon to be ex-boyfriend and her two kids. She had moved here from California and her old boyfriend followed her here soon after, without asking her if she wanted him to come. She couldn’t kick him out because he had no money to get back. It didn’t last for long, though, and he was gone. He thinks she bought him a bus ticket and took him to the station until she saw him get on the bus and leave.

He liked her. She had quite away with herself. Sassy and confident. They hooked up. She had the most beautiful smile and he was horny. They got along – more than got along.

Right about then Hurricane Katrina crashed into Galveston and made is way up through East Texas, knocking out the electricity for weeks, tore off roofs and destroyed billboards like paper. Morgan and the kids went to stay at her grandmother’s house up the street from the apartments.

He tried to go see her but her dad, a dead beat dad who ignored her during all her growing up years, now thought he could tell her what to do today. He’d coming running out the house             yelling and waving his Bible, “Get the hell off our property or I’ll call the police.” That’s the last thing he needed – and this man was a long time druggie and alcoholic. It wasn’t like he had a problem with him being black. Morgan’s cousin married a black man – two of them – and had a set of mixed twin boys, and her brother had a daughter who was mixed. No, it was because they weren’t married and that was against the Bible. Born agains were the worst.

Morgan got pregnant. He was going to be a father. He wanted to dance he was so happy. But she wasn’t divorced. They filled out a common law marriage form but never filed it. It was still mixed up in his stuff from the jail before he was sent to the first prison. He stuff was mailed to her mom in the Keys. She told him years later she still had it.

Now her mom was flying here with her husband to visit with her daughter and grandkids. She didn’t know about him. She definitely didn’t know Morgan was pregnant. She said she didn’t want her mom to know yet. She couldn’t tell her face to face because she’d be upset.

“What were you thinking? Getting pregnant when you’re struggling to raise the two you already have,” she could hear her mom saying. Morgan decided to wait until a better time to tell her. Problem was, that time never came.

The town was torn apart by the storm. Flooding. No electricity for a couple weeks. Roofs torn off. Billboards ripped apart like pieces of paper. Motels had opened their doors for free to refugees fleeing the damage down south. They trashed their free lodging. Stole everything that wasn’t nailed down all over town. They even broke into the vending machines to steal all the snacks. They also took every available job in town which made it harder for him or any other local people looking for work.

Morgan nearly had to drag him to the hotel where her mom got a room. He didn’t believe her when she said her mom would like him. Why should she like him? He knocked up her daughter who was still married to someone else. We stood outside the motel room door. The kids were jumping up and down, banging on the door yelling, “Nana. Nana.”

When the door opened, the kids rushed in attaching themselves to a taller, thinner woman who didn’t look like Morgan in any way. The first thing she did was whip out a camera to take a picture of the first second of the visit. As the kids grabbed onto Morgan, she is laughing, I’m looking nervously at the floor, shifting my weight from one foot to the other. I wasn’t ready for this – a family photo.

“Look up at the camera, Jamie,” she asked, but I shook my head and stared at my feet.
“Come on, Jamie, look up and smile,” she teased. Not a chance, but at least I was smiling as I looked at my feet.

That was the picture Sonni kept. She told me she used it in blog posts when she wrote about me later. This was the exact moment our lives collided. Was it fate? I didn’t know – and I’m sure she didn’t know, either, how much it was going to matter. If by chance Sonni and I had never met, both our lives would be different today. It’s the little things, maybe even unimportant things we have to pay attention to that set our lives in different directions.

“Cummings. You think we got all day? Get dressed. We need to bring others down,” the guard said, breaking his thoughts in half.

It was okay. He’d been able to leave the prison for a little while and took a trip in his head. All was okay right now. They cuffed him and started the prison shuffle back to his cell. Even though everything didn’t work out okay, there were parts of things that brought a little smile to his face once in a while. He needed to remember that when he started to get down.

<<< >>>

The phone started ringing.  I answered it to hear, “Mom! Jamie was arrested,” Morgan cried into the phone, calling me in Key West. “I don’t know what do.” Stunned, I stood there, knowing things were going from bad to worse very fast.

“He went out with friends to party at an illegal gambling club. One of them had a gun in his backpack and tried to rob the place. Jamie ran but they caught him. He was driving my car and the police impounded it. I couldn’t get it out. I lost it.”

I never knew if I was getting the whole story from her. I thought it was probably common to not tell your parents everything going on your life. I know I didn’t, but this sounded like a story with another shoe to drop. Over the next few years I got different stories from three people about what happened that night and tried to piece it together as best I could. But if this news wasn’t bad enough, here was the other shoe.

“I’m pregnant.”

That comment sat me down on the edge of the bed with a shocked look on my face.

“How far?”

“Almost five months.” Okay, an abortion was out of the question.

“Is he going to get out?”

“I don’t think so, mom. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I don’t think so. He’s at Bartlet County jail waiting to find out. He’s been told it could take months to find out what’s next. But I don’t have months to wait. I can’t get to my doctor appointments. “She paused for a few seconds to let that sink in..

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I didn’t know how. I kept telling myself I was going to tell you tomorrow. The more time went by the harder it got. I knew you’d really be upset.” I stayed quiet and let her talk.

“It’s a boy, mom. I’m having a little boy. The doctor’s been watching my blood pressure because it’s been up and keeping an eye out to see if I’m having symptoms with eclampsia again, so I can’t not go to the doctor.”

Morgan had a grand mal seizure 24 hours after her last birth, as well as falling in the hospital and fracturing her back in three places. She didn’t find out about the fractures until long after they healed wrong. The hospital never took x-rays when she complained of pain. I had a right to be worried about a third pregnancy.

I had helped her get an apartment while I was visiting the past Thanksgiving. This was only a few months later. I didn’t know Jamie was living with her but she didn’t need my okay. She lost her waitress job at a local Mexican restaurant. The economics in town were bad after the hurricane and no one was going out to eat. The whole town was trying to help the families who were hurt by the storm. A lot of people were destitute, so the people who could afford to go out to eat, didn’t. They didn’t want to be seen spending money they could be using to help. Being pregnant and not feeling well, the restaurant let her go. She was going to find it hard to get another job for just a little while. No one was going to hire her. She was up against a wall.

“Was Jamie working?” I didn’t see how they were managing.

“No, but he gets a disability check for epilepsy.” I didn’t know enough to question that.

“He’d been helping me take care of the kids while I work and that helped me a lot to not have to pay someone to watch the kids.” It seemed logical. I knew how hard it was to find good childcare you could afford. It didn’t send up any red flags.

She went to her stay with her grandmother. She had a big house already full of other family members down on their luck. She would have helped if she could but she didn’t have room for her to stay. If she could stay with me it would be better. Only thing, it would take her away from Jamie.  She wouldn’t be able to see him for the rest of the pregnancy, or after. It wasn’t an easy decision.

“That’s when I got the courage to call you, mom.” As she talked, Megan was playing with a bright red pair of infant sneakers with a white Nike swoosh on the side. Jamie brought them home one day. “He was so happy he was having a baby. Now he won’t be there.” I could hear the sadness in her voice. What a hard place to be.

I knew nothing about our justice system. No experience to compare it to. It was a world apart from anything I ever had to live through. I did have to raise her and her brother alone the first half of their lives. I kicked their father out when I was pregnant with Morgan. He couldn’t take care of himself let alone kids. My mother came to visit for a couple weeks when Morgan was born and was in the delivery room with me just like I was in the delivery room when their son was born.

My mother instincts kicked in. The only important thing was making sure they were okay. I had a little dollhouse apartment attached to the back of my house. A small livingroom/bedroom, semi kitchen with a full fridge, microwave and single burner, and a full bath with a tub. There was a second floor loft with a wooden railing that looked out over the livingroom. The older kids could sleep up there. There was a wood boat ladder to climb up top.

It could work. As long as she was able she could work with me at my store, located where the cruise ships docked, she’d have money to live on.. Afterward, she could bring the baby to the store. I bought them bus tickets. Her grandmother packed enough sandwiches to feed the entire bus so she wouldn’t have to buy food along the way.

I never thought my daughter and I would live and work together or that I would be able to spend time with my grandchildren everyday.. We never see things coming that can direct our lives to go one way or another. Sometimes, inside a tragedy good things can still happen.

I’m glad I had a chance to meet Jamie before all this happened, when all he had to worry about was whether or not I would like him when we met, in seemingly simple times when he was too shy to look at the camera. But even simple times had worry underneath I didn’t know about. At Thanksgiving I didn’t know Morgan was pregnant. A long time later I found out he had no disability check to help support the family.  That was a twisting of the truth Morgan thought I didn’t need to know. All choices have effects and all causes have an effect of some kind.  All of this was the law of cause and effect at work.

Jamie called fairly often. He needed to talk to Morgan. He was scared and the thought of prison was horrible. Jail calls were expressive. Twenty-five dollars for fifteen minutes gouged the families who needed to talk to their loved one. I’d spend only a few seconds saying hi before getting Morgan to the phone. Fifteen minutes went by fast. After I got the first phone bill I had to ask him not to call quite so often.

Today I’d give anything to be able to talk to him. Over the years he became a special person in my life. Knowing him has changed my life. I hope I changed his. I didn’t know when I received that first letter from him, apologizing for calling so much what it was going to mean in the future. But right now . . . we had come full circle.


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Stay current on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build followers for Jamie with the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. It gives him a purpose when he gets out that he can help other lives. Much of the information is not on this blog and it’s important we reach people everywhere. We have a government now even more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years – making crimes out of things that were never crimes before to placate the prison corporations. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself, because, yes, it can happen to you, too.


( If you realize there has been a name change from Megan to Morgan from other chapters, my daughter didn’t want her real named used.  I was going to name her Morgan so we settled on using that)

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at:

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Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

I can’t make you do this. It is why you have car insurance even though you are a good driver – the other person who hit you, isn’t. Then you call your insurance company. That is why you NEED Legal Shield. If I didn’t think this was true I wouldn’t waste the space putting it here.

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield


2015 in review

Many many thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing, and to those who have written words of encouragement to Jamie. Just a little reminder, a few posts ago I mentioned that his birthday is coming up on the tenth of January.  He said is still in solitary it will probably be another year before they let him out.  He thinks they are going to move him to a different prison.  I don’t know now, when I go to visit him hopefully in March, if I will be able to take his son to see him.  I will visit him anywhere, but picking up his son and taking him might be difficult.  Texas is a big state.  He hasn’t been moved yet.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I want to Encourage you . . . To take the time . . . To Read

InsideOut, writing new book, JamieCummings,solitary confinement, prison industrial complex, Sonni Quick
We can dream great dreams. My book – InsideOut

This post is also the opening page to this blog for anyone who just uses the web address to come here. I decided today to also make it a post as there has been much more written that needed to be said. Thank you for your patience and interest to read What I have written.

If you were to open a book – in the middle – and read a page or two and then closed it, would it be enough for you to know if you were interested in knowing the rest of the story? With many blogs you can do that because each post stands alone. You can flip through an archive and read bits and pieces, and that is okay.

This blog, though, is different. It has a story, like chapters in a book. To understand what happens to a life in prison you need to go to the beginning. If you don’t know the beginning then the end doesn’t mean as much. I have gotten so many thoughtful posts from people that brought a tear to my eye. They understood and they understood Jamie. Those people read more of the blog than one or two pages. If you read a page and press “like” Then I can see you were here. If you read and leave no foot print I won’t know you were there. Also, don’t forget to rate it by clicking on the yellow stars Then other people will be more encouraged to also leave their rating. Feedback and personal communication, that’s the fun part of writing a blog – meeting the people who read it.


Many times people log into this site through an individual post, especially when a wordpress blogger sees it as a new post. But when you come here through another website, logging on for the first time then this is the page you will see. From there you should go to Jamie’s Prison and My Name is Jamie . You’ll understand more when you go back to the beginning by looking at the dropdown list called ‘earlier posts by the month. Also, near the top of the site is a little circle that says ‘menu’. This is where the ‘pages’ are. They are different than posts. Pages are not letters from Jamie nor are they part of the timeline. They are about issues relating to prisons. There are also writings in this section by Armando Macias who is on Death Row in San Quentin. You will also find different posts with piano music files. I write and record improvisational piano music. The most recent one can be found at Who Do You Have to Care about you day The title of the song is “Blindfolded Pain” played blindfolded. It has beautiful, dissonant notes.
After that, go the earliest post in ‘earlier posts by the month’. There is a history that progresses. 2010 is the earliest posted, but there will be more going back to 2006 as our relationship began. But if you read only one post, it is like opening up a book in the middle and then closing it. Jamie’s life is worth reading about as it will open your eyes to our prison injustice system, prison politics and the fact there really is no justice in prison, as well as the reasons why we have so many prisons stocked with so many black people. It is why we have the prison population we do. It isn’t that blacks commit more crimes, the reason is much more sinister than that, and walking while black is good enough to fill the demand for prisoners needed by the prison industrial complex. This labor force is needed and bid on.

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

Think of this as a serial. You can also follow it through email if you aren’t on WordPress. This way each new post shows in your inbox.On the right hand side if you scroll down you will find links that will take you off this site. They are links to websites with specific information. It could be about the juvenile population that is locked up, or about the elderly, or solitary confinement. They give you more information on different topics.

snoopy afalling asleep at typewriter, InSide Out,Inside the forbidden outside,Jamie Cummings,Sonni quick, Jpay,write letters to Jamie
I’ve done this many times!


When I began the blog it was because I wanted to write a book based on Jamie’s life and the issues concerning our injustice system and the lack of humanity in our prisons. I wanted to find out why we only have 5% of the world’s population but imprison 25% of the world’s prisoners. Does our country have more criminals or do we make a strong effort to criminalize as many actions as we can, and give extremely long sentences for a reason? This process of hunting down blacks and minority’s while attempting to use the media to convince the public that blacks commit more crimes, and are people to be a afraid of, has worked very well. People are indeed afraid that black people intend to do them harm if they even see them walking toward them on the street. And those who seek power and money has turned our prisons into money making machines who exact cruel and unusual punishment on many of the slaves imprisoned. It has warped the way our country does business by letting businesses bid on contracts using inmates to manufacture items we use every day.

My intention with my writing is to open the eyes of people who think we only imprison bad people. Yes, we do lock up bad people but we also lock up many more for small things we never locked people up for in the past. Crimes, that when committed by white people, don’t have nearly the same consequence. Six times more blacks have their neighborhoods invaded by police than white neighborhoods. That is a fact. As you read this and read through the pages found at the menu at the top of this site, you will begin to understand what kind of country we have become. This has been evident through much of our history, but has reached epidemic proportions and it needs to be stopped. These American companies need to be made public so we can see who represents what the past plantations owners started. You would be shocked if you saw the list. Why pay someone even minimum wage when you can get it made practically for free. Slavery never stopped. It just changed it’s form. Jamie’s story is a personal account of a life destroyed by intentionally being sucked into the school to prison pipeline because his body count means money for the corporation that owns the prison.

Many people in the past few years have grudgingly been released after decades of being locked up. Even when in inmate has been determined not guilty because of new evidence, they still don’t want to let him go, and in many cases will not compensate him for the loss of his life. Even when it became law that you can’t give a juvenile life without the possibility of parole, they don’t want to release the adults who were handed that verdict when they were young and are now in their 30’s and 40’s. The prisons fight their release. Don’t their count, too? The decades they already have been imprisoned for an immature wrong doing – don’t they a deserve to have a chance at having at least some of their life back , too, since it is now law.

I sincerely hope you come back often and share this blog on your own social media. If you leave thoughtful responses to Jamie in the comment section I copy and paste them to into emails I send him. He has to answer by longhand. I write to him through the website If you would like to write to him personally it is very easy to do. He is in the state of Texas and his full name is James Cummings. His ID is 1368189. That’s all the info you need. The website explains the process. Writing an email costs the same as sending a letter, the cost of a stamp. I can imagine now the look on his face to receive a reply from you. There is so little happiness where he is, so if what you read touches you in anyway please let him know. He would write back to you if you wanted.

I want to thank everyone so much for taking the time to leave the responses they have. It encourages me to keep writing.

Jamie’s story has been read in 120 countries so far and that just astounds me. There might only be one or two in some countries, and I haven’t even heard of some of them before, but it has truly made all of us one globe community. When Jamie gets out, sometime between 2016 and 2023, he will be seeing a world greatly changed, with people who care about him and many who don’t. I believe something very positive will come of this and you will know you helped to do something that affected the life of another human being who will go on to affect many more. Thank You !

“The only legacy anyone can really leave behind when they leave this earth, is the effect they had on other people’s lives. That is what lives on. The making of that cause will have an effect on your own life.” A way of ‘paying it forward.’

Thank you, Sonni