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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What Goes Around Comes Around – Poetry

For the chapter and music with the same title for my hocking Book Inside The Forbidden Outside. One of the themes that is stressed throughout the book is the law of cause and effect. Where we are at any moment is the effect of the causes we put in motion

What Goes Around Comes Around.

What goes around comes around
Outside looking in
Not understanding what we’ve done
When new effects begin

What goes around comes around
Inside looking out
Not understanding it’s already done
We can’t change what life’s about

Hands on a clock telling time
Counting minutes into years
The music playing in my head
Turns fears into falling tears

The universe lit up with stars
Spinning around the sun
To let us know as it slowly turns
A new day has begun

What goes around comes around
It’s written, carved in stone
We bear the fruit of who we are
From all things that we’ve done

My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me – ITFO Chapter and Music

 

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“I would enjoy riding my bike with you on a beautiful day,” Jamie called out into the universe with a slightly raised voice. He wondered if his words would reach Sonni and make her show up in his cell. He was lonely and desperately wanted someone to talk to.

     If anyone had been passing by his cell door at that moment they would probably think he was losing it. Other dudes down the hall probably heard him call out but they were used to hearing strange things being said by men locked in isolation, away from others. Most of them talked to themselves, too.

    “You ride your bike to the hill on one side and I’ll ride my bike from the other direction,” Jamie said, gesturing his arms to the right and left like he was directing traffic.  It was such a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue with puffy clouds passing over the sky. He stood and watched them for awhile. The green grass was the color of new springtime grass with dandelions growing randomly all over the hill.

     A thought came into his head – a memory, but he didn’t think it was his memory. That was strange. Maybe Sonni was in his head because he was seeing little girls with dandelions playing in a backyard. He was remembering children picking dandelions and holding them under each others chin. If there was a yellow glow on the skin it meant they were made of butter. A young child’s memory.

     Jamie had stuffed so many of his own memories into the back of his brain he had trouble remembering anything good. Sonni asked him to write down what he remembered as a child because she was thinking about starting a blog about him. Why would anyone want to read a blog about him? He was nothing special and hadn’t done anything special so He was curious about what she saw in him.

     He wrote to her about a couple things he remembered. They went to the zoo and his mom wouldn’t go in the snake house. That was funny, and they went to a pond to feed ducks. They were also going to see fireworks one July and he and his little brother had matching clothes for the special day. At the last minute his mom said they couldn’t go. That upset him but he was only eight years old and didn’t understand grown up stuff. So he sat on the steps of a house and listened to the boom! boom! He saw a glow in the sky, but he couldn’t see the fireworks. He remembered how deeply disappointed he was that night. He had been so excited about seeing the bright colors exploding in the sky. To this day, going to see fireworks was one of his favorite things to do.

     Picturing the serenity in his mind as he rode his bicycle to the hill was a way of getting out of his stark gray cell and into the warmth and colors produced by the sun. A nice cool breeze rustled the grass. The tree at the top would be great if it had a tree house. The thick branches would make climbing easy. He pictured a treehouse with a rope ladder. Little Jamie was standing at the door waving to him below. He waved back. He could hear a train blowing it’s horn in the distance. It had been so long since he had seen a day like this.

     With that picture in his head he closed his eyes and smiled. He pretended Sonni was standing there with him in this beautiful place even though he was really standing in his cell.

     “We’ll meet at the hill and climb to the top.” He told her. Even though it was only in his imagination, it lifted his spirits when he thought about the day he was creating.
     “Let’s bring a picnic of our favorite food and talk about how the future will be.”      

     Whenever Jamie thought of the future, his son was there and they would be playing together, whatever little Jamie wanted to do. They would both be happy and laughing. He knew there was more to reality than that, but he only wanted to have happy thoughts.
It was hard to develop a relationship with someone you never got to see or talk to. Did his son think about him? He was still very young, only five years old. He bonded to his oldest brother who was ten years older than him. He didn’t understand what prison was or why his father was there. He wouldn’t understand until he was older. He didn’t want him to be hurt by this, but there was no way it wouldn’t leave scars that needed to heal.

     An occasional picture was all he received from Morgan. It was never enough to quiet the pain. He couldn’t join him for birthdays or Christmas. He wouldn’t be in his son’s memories at all when he grew up and thought about his childhood, except to remember his daddy was never there. All Jamie could do was imagine what it would be like and that always left a huge hole in his heart. When would he see his son again?
     “Things aren’t going so good for me,” he said, still talking to the universe.
     “I’m doing my best, but I’m not getting nowhere.” He got to his feet and slowly walked five feet toward the cell door, turned around and walked back. He repeated the pattern over and over.
     “I know you have been very sick and can’t write me all the time,” he said as he paced, pretending she was there, “but to tell you the truth it hurts me when I don’t hear from you.”
     “That’s because you’re the only one I’m used to hearing from,” his mouth turned into a downward smile. “So when I don’t hear from you it worries me and I think I won’t hear from you again.”
     “Sometimes I think you’re mad at me,” he said quietly to the empty air.
     He closed his eyes.” My mind is playing tricks on me.”

“I told you I wouldn’t give up on you,” her voice came from out of the blue. ” I’m not going to go away.”
     “I got your letter yesterday,” he heard her say. “I told Jamie happy birthday for you.”
The unexpected sound of her voice made him jump.
     “He is getting so big.” Sonni smiled, and held up her hand to show how tall he was getting.
     “Geez, give me a little forewarning,” he said with a startled look on his face which settled into a smile. He was sure she wouldn’t be coming today. He never knew when she was going to pop in.
     Jamie’s days were long and boring, Sonni knew that. When all you have to look forward to is the possibility of a letter, your happiness rides on getting that letter, looking to see who sent it and feeling connected to reality that lives in the outside world. Letters are like gold and so many receive none. They keep you sane. Prison screws up many heads. She would never stop writing to him.
     “Does it take awhile to get my messages, and leave to get here?” he asked, “or is it like the old TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, and you zap yourself here with your arms crossed in front of you and a nod of your head?” He knew he sounded a little crazy, but then maybe he was a little crazy by now. How DID she get here?
     “Okay Jamie,” he said quietly to himself, “remember, her physical body is not really in this room.”
     He laughed at himself.

Jamie was relieved. He needed to see her, real or not. She had a way of helping him make sense of his life so he could learn to let his anger go. Yeah, he still had problems controlling it and it got him in trouble. Sometimes he started yelling and kicking the door trying to get rid of his anger.
     Sometimes he got into it with the guards because he was tired of being disrespected over every little thing. They tried to press his buttons to set him off. Sometimes they succeeded and he got angry. They could be such dicks.
     The guards often did things that would be considered criminal on the outside. They also do things to the inmates. They get hurt or killed. Although he hasn’t mentioned it much there was sex going all around him. Sometimes it’s between the guards and the inmates and sometimes it’s abusive. The guards bring in drugs and cell phones and set themselves in business. You couldn’t stop what is going on, but when you get hurt you need a way fight back against the abuse.
     No matter how wrong they were you couldn’t win. If he filed a grievance against a guard, the guard would retaliate. As prisoners they were supposed to have certain rights and being able to file a grievance because of mistreatment was one of them. It was pointless. The system was set up so prisoners would fail. Nothing good came of it when the guards had ways of getting back at them if they filed against them.
     It was more than that when it came to grievances. It is what the system was set up to do if you filed that grievance and went through the process, like a rat’s maze, chasing after a piece of cheese and finding out it was really arsenic with no way to save you.
     Most dudes, if they have been here for awhile don’t file grievances. After trying a couple times and getting denied you figure, what’s the use? Those who think they legally have a good case because what the guard did needed to be reported, might try to finish the process.
     The grievance process is set up so only filing a lawsuit will settle the grievance. You can’t win by just filing a grievance and hoping the right person read it and thought you needed to have justice. That wasn’t going to happen. You can only win if you have solid evidence that the officer was in the wrong. There would have to be evidence from a camera that the officer did what you claim.
     No officer will go against another officer even if he saw the officer doing it. If he did, the officers would retaliate against him. So if he wants to keep his job he needs to keep his mouth shut.
     If an inmate filed step one he’d have to wait 30 – 45 days to get it back – denied. Then he’d have to file step 2 and wait another 4 to 6 weeks to get that one back – denied. That is 2-3 months total. Step 2 along with step 1 is then filed in Huntsville with the TDCJ, for Texas prisons. If Huntsville sends it back not doing anything to correct the problem they will send all the paperwork back to him. If he wanted to continue the process he’d have to fill out a 1983 form for a lawsuit. He would have to take the officer to court and if he lost, because he didn’t have proof, then he’d owe the state $350. And since phones are illegal in prison, having proof by means of a cellphone is getting someone in serious trouble.
     This is a way to get more money out of the inmates and their families and it gives the officers time to get their stories straight.
     What good was having rights if you couldn’t act on them? It looked right on paper and that is what the outside world learned if they looked it up. Some people thought they had it pretty good inside – free healthcare, free food, free education, a free roof over their heads. They thought everything was handed to them on a silver platter without working for it. They even said prisoners wanted to come back to prison because they had it so good in here. What a joke. You had to be here to understand the truth of this place.

The end of this partial chapter

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Circles Inside Circles – music and ITFO

Listen to Circles Inside Circles by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

The partial chapter below was posted about 6 months ago. I included it again to give context to the music. When someone is trying to figure out up from down and what makes sense to them about why their life is the way it is, it is confusing and leaves you feeling out of control. You want to change but you don’t know what the truth is – so you search. You try things. You listen. There is more than one path to happiness, but some ways make more sense than others. Blind faith with no consistent proof is the hardest – at least it is for me.

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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.

End partial chapter

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Music For “Watching The Inside World”

Barbed wire

This is the music for the post of the previous chapter. Later I will do the video. This music quickly became my fastest rising music at SounCloud. This is the player at reverbnation where I have my website. You can steam my music there and also subscribe to my music mailing list. I might send as email once a month with new info.

Promotion is extremely time consuming. It’s hard to write music and chapters at the same time but I gradually move it forward more every week.

Watching The Inside World – ITFO Chapter

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WATCHING THE INSIDE WORLD

 

Jamie was laying naked on the cement floor. Summer hit in full force. Sweat was dripping down every crease in his skin. He didn’t know how he was going to make it through another summer, and there were many more to go.
     After midnight when heat trapped inside the walls began to cool, the cement floor seemed appealing. He stripped off his whites and stretched out hoping it would bring relief.
     He had already passed out twice so far this summer from the intense heat, and had one seizure. The only good thing that happened was being taken to the medical unit which had air conditioning. It was a small reprieve but it only made it worse when he was returned to his cell.
     He needed more water, good water. He was dehydrated and was afraid to drink too much of the water that came out of the faucet. There was an odor to it and sometimes it wasn’t exactly clear. There was a brown tint to it, some days were worse than others. Would it make him sick? He sweat so much he knew he needed to replace the minerals, like the ones in sports drinks, but he didn’t have any. They sell it at commissary but it was sometimes a month or more before he was taken there.
     There was no energy in him to move, and no reason to move. His body felt so heavy. His blood pressure was pounding in his head. How could the warden do this to everyone? He had to know how much they were suffering. Was this his way of rehabilitating them? Yeah, they were learning things; how to hate the prison and everyone in it.

How much anyone suffered depended on what level they were on. There were three levels in adseg. There was no power and no AC on level three. They even covered the vents to cut off any possibility of air circulation. That was a good punishment wasn’t it? If you owned one of the little fans they sell in the commissary you were out of luck because it didn’t work on level three.
     Jamie thought they were trying to teach them a lesson about how screwed they were. Whoever created these punishments had be masochistic.
     If he was level two he would have power and it would be cooler than level three, but not by much. That was the level he was on before the knife was planted. He had to do thirty days now to get back to level two and sixty days to get to level one. Three more months total. During summer that was a lifetime. He heard it took 90 days at level one to get moved to G4 where he could go to chow, but he wasn’t sure about that.
     He knew the guards didn’t like him. Not for any real reason. They hated most everyone in here. They didn’t take this job because they were interested in doing guard duty. There wasn’t much else in town for a steady job.
     They found a way to put him in adseg, but it wasn’t because of anything he did, he was set up. He did react back and that was his fault. If the guards didn’t like you they found a way to mess you up. It didn’t matter that he was trying to play by the rules, not if he didn’t get along with one of them. This one guard, Rodrigues* was an asshole, always making sarcastic remarks trying to piss him off, and sometimes succeeding. Then they’d write up a case on him. He needed to learn to keep his mouth shut.
     The unit went on lockdown. The guards were going from pod to pod ripping up everything. They tore apart the cells looking for weapons, drugs and cellphones.
     While the guards had fun destroying their property, the inmates were locked in cages barely bigger than a phone booth. There was a ledge they could sit on to wait until they were done. Then they had to go back and clean up the mess. Most of it was unnecessary. The guards destroyed things because they could.
     The guard who had consistently harassed Jamie “found” a homemade knife sitting on the edge of his sink. He tried to make it look like Jamie was stupid enough to leave a three inch piece of sharpened metal laying out in the open, even though he knew they were coming to toss the cells. If the sergeant believed that, then he must have been in on it. It was his word against theirs and there was no way he could win that argument.
     He had been fixing to get his level one. The weapons charge knocked him back down to level three. The main office for Texas prisons, TDCJ, in Huntsville, was contacted and the knife was sent to them. This was one way they added extra years to someone’s sentence. He only needed one more major offense for that to happen. At the least it would now take longer to get out of adseg.
     He didn’t even own a knife. It made sense now what the guard said when he was sitting in the cage. He walked by, then stopped and smiled at him.
     “What are you smiling at?” Jamie asked.
     “You’ll see,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.
     Jamie knew then he was the one who planted the knife. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything, but then he got angry defending himself. He played into their hands. He needed to stop reacting and think before he spoke.
     They sprayed him with chemicals. It was the first time. It felt like his skin was burning off. Three days he lived with it before it started wearing off. When he tried washing it off it made it worse. Being burned in a fire had to feel like this, only you couldn’t see anything on his skin except a little redness. Was it legal to use that kind of chemicals on people? Probably not, but who was going to stop them?
     No one would do that to an animal. The guards plotted a way to lower his level in adseg and then punished him with cruelty that was beyond inhumane. It was the guards who needed to be sprayed so they could feel what they we’re doing. There was nothing he could do about it now but someday they will get it back.

Today was July 12, 2011. Jamie’s son was five years old. He sat on his bunk and sang Happy Birthday to him with a heavy heart. He wished he could see him right now. He wanted to put his arms around him and hold him.
     “Morgan said he seems happier now,” Sonni said said as she sat down next to him. Little Jamie had been acting out with tantrums.
     “We all been mad at the world a few times,” he nodded in agreement as he glanced at her and smiled a sad smile.
     Jamie was still convinced he was losing his mind each time she came to talk. Sometimes it was days or weeks before he saw her again and thought maybe those were times when she, too, was feeling bad.
     Sonni was on the liver transplant list and had moved to Pa to be close to a good hospital and her family, but her family didn’t care about her. It was hard on a person when they realized they didn’t mean much to people who they thought loved them. This is why she understood how much it hurt when no one answered his letters or came to visit. It hits you from out of the blue. A lot of dudes in here had to go it alone for many reasons. It wasn’t easy and it made it hard to survive when they got out.
     She recently sent him some money for commissary and ordered a magazine subscription. He had nothing to read and was really bored. Time dragged. Every bit of kindness meant something to him. Nothing was taken for granted.
     “Once a week the guards are supposed to give us one hour of dayroom time,” he told her, “but they are too lazy.”
     “It’s easier to provoke someone and make him mad so they have a reason to not take them and call it a punishment,” Jamie added.
     “They do the same thing when it’s time to take us to shower. It’s crazy back here and that’s just half of it.”
     When he had passed out from the heat and had the seizure they took him to medical. Then they took money out of his commissary and paid themselves for the effort.
     “They cause the problem then take what little money I have because it made me sick.” He knows he doesn’t have to tell her everything. She seems to know what he’s thinking.
     “They probably look forward to the hot months,” she said back, “because of the extra money.”
     If he didn’t have any money in his account they would wait until she sent some, and then take it out.
     “To tell you the truth there is not a day goes by I’m not worried,” he continued.
     “I never know what’s going to happen or when it will happen,” he said starting to get an upset edge to his voice.
     “That is why I cry when I think about the visits.”
     “No one in my life knows what happens to me.” Jamie stood up and turned his back to her so she wouldn’t see his face.
     “And I don’t know what’s happening with them,” he sighed. “I worry about my mom and nobody tells me nothing.”
     “Do they think I don’t want to know?”
     “Since I’m big I’m supposed to be tough and take no shit from anyone,” he said, lowering his voice.
     “My family is not seeing this inside world the way I do,” he tried to explain. “They don’t have to watch it happening, so they don’t have to worry.”
     “Yeah, I know they are going through some stuff, too, but not like this.” Jamie paced back and forth.
     “They don’t understand how bad this is. They have never been through it and I wouldn’t want them to.”
     Jamie stopped talking to think for a minute. “I don’t think they care enough to even try to understand,” he frowned.
     “Not that I can tell.” He turned to face her again.
     “If I’m not sleeping, I’m day dreaming,” he said.
     “Playing old moments in my thoughts are like movies in my head, imagining where those movies would have taken my life if I wasn’t here.”
     “I know for a fact me and Morgan would live closer to you. I don’t know if she ever told you, but she tried to get me to fly down to visit you. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I’ve never been on a plane. Driving there was too far. I’ve never left Texas. I didn’t know the freeways. I wish now I would’ve come to see you.”
     Sonni stood there silently listening.
     “I’m sure you got upset with me when I told you I was fixing to get locked down again,” Jamie began again.
     “Stop right there,” she said, putting her hand up to quiet him.
     “I am not upset with you, about anything,” she said softly, putting her arm back down by her side.
     “You have not done anything,” she explained. “These people have been determined to punish you. Some people enjoy causing others to feel pain.”
     “You have not been trying to hurt people, and I know there are people here who do, who think this is their castle and they are going to rule it.” She moved closer and looked him in the eye.
     “That would be different,” she told him. “But that is not you. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was.
     “And I’m not going anywhere,” she added sternly.
     “I’m not going away. I am not everybody else.” she wanted him to believe it.
     “Even when you don’t see me, I’m not far away.”
     Jamie could feel tears behind his eyes so he closed them. When he opened them she was gone.

*Rodrigues – not the real name of the guard

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Almost everything in this  chapter was taken word for word from letters Jamie wrote in 2011, broken down to create dialogue. Background Description is added to better understand his environment. Some incorrect English is kept in the dialogue because it gives a more accurate feel for his state of mind. As years go by and he reads more his use of words and phrases improves. None that has anything to do with intelligence, but rather the lack of basic education.

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Am I Too Broken To Mend -ITFO Chapter, Poetry and Music

 

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Fractures from falling
Invisible pain
Counting the minutes
Like drops in the rain
It runs down my body
Soothing my skin
Gathers the heartbeats
Holding them in

Imagine forever
Time without rest
The passing of memories
My hand on my breast
Feeling my heartbeat
Wanting to end
I’m broken in pieces
Too many to mend?

You get back what you give
No more, nothing less
Trace the wound with your finger
A tiny caress
Time doesn’t linger
Waiting to heal
The pieces of you
That forgot how to heal

This is a partial chapter. To read complete chapters subscribe to ITFO News below. Any new subscribers from this date I will automatically send the current chapter. If you have already subscribed to ITFO News and would like it, drop me an email at squick@mynameisjamie.net and type – Please send Too Broken To Mend” in the email subject line and I’ll send it to you. 

 

Am I Too Broken To Mend

 

Jamie reached his hands out and braced them on the wall. This was bullshit. He was tired of being on the receiving end of being ignored. What was the point? He tried hard to let it pass over him but today it got to him. He knew they were trying to make him angry. If they succeeded they could write up another case on him.
     Being in adseg was deliberate, they didn’t want to let him out of here, but he was determined to make his way back to G2 so he could go to school. He needed to take care of his family when he got out and that won’t happen if he didn’t have schooling and learn to do something that made enough money. Right now he couldn’t make enough money to take care of himself. If that happened what would he do? Would his family take care of him? For how long?
     The warden wanted him right where he was. Guards had an easy job when the men were locked up in their cells so they did whatever they could to make sure that happened. It didn’t help him none when he burst out with anger. He needed to learn to control his emotions.
     Once again the nurse pretended he wasn’t there when she made her rounds giving out meds. As she continued walking past him down the hall he yelled, “My meds, where are they? It’s been three days.”
     To top it off she turned around and gave him a cocky, know-it-all smile.IHer actions were deliberate. She knew he was supposed to get his seizure medication. Most likely she was told to skip him again. It didn’t make sense until he realized how much money the medical unit made by shorting inmates. He knew he wasn’t the only one being skipped. It didn’t matter what illness you had, they were going to short your meds. Who were you going to complain to?
     “I want to talk to an officer,” he yelled as the bars at the end of the hallway door slid open and clanked shut as she walked through.
   “I want to file a grievance,” he yelled louder, even though she was now beyond being able to hear him.
      It was pointless to file. No good ever came of it. He hadn’t heard of even one person saying they had filed one and it worked. The prison wasn’t going to stop because a complaint was filed. If anything, they would retaliate so you better think about how worth it was. The staff always got away with anything they did to the inmates. Nobody cared.
     He knew the chances of having more seizures increased every time they skipped his meds. They probably wrote in his file that they gave it to him so it would be his word against theirs. Maybe he should write it all down so if it was ever checked he’d have proof on his end, if that helped.

<<< >>>

Jamie turned around, put his back against the wall and slid down until he was squatting on the floor. He folded his arms across his knees and lowered his forehead until it rested on his arms. He was tired; tired of doing nothing.
He stayed that way for a long time thinking about how seizures had messed up his life and his helplessness at not being able to control them. It was a weakness they could take advantage of and there was nothing he could do about it.
     As a child he knew he was different from three other kids. His mama made him stay close to her. He want allowed to go outside and run around with the misc in the neighborhood. She checked on him a lot at night, afraid he would have a seizure when he was sleeping and she wouldn’t be there to help him through it. 
     As he got older the seizures got worse. When he was twelve he had brain surgery. He was having non-stop headaches and his mom was worried. The doctor said there was bleeding on his brain and he wanted to see if he could stop it.
     “So what did they do?”
     At the sound of her voice Jamie jerked his head up. He had been almost asleep. Maybe he was still asleep. He pinched himself, but it didn’t change anything. He had been half expecting her to come back and at the same time realized that if she did, it could mean he was starting to lose it. He slowly turned his head and looked at her.
     There she was, sitting besides him on the floor, looking over at him just as casual as she could be, smiling, like it was a normal thing to be sitting next to him on the floor of a men’s prison. What should he do? He smiled back.
     “Better get used to it,” he mumbled to himself under his breath. He had a feeling this was just the beginning.
   “What did they do,” she repeated, as though she had been sitting beside him all along listening to the thoughts in his head. How long had she been sitting there? Could she hear what he was thinking, too? If she could that would be scary.
     Okay, if they were going to do this again, so be it. He wasn’t going to call the guard this time to see if he could see her, too. He didn’t want to get locked up with the crazies. He’d never get another hour of sleep. They scream and moan all night. What was he thinking? He must be nuts. No one would believe him if he told them. He closed his eyes and answered her question. “I don’t think I was ever so scared, even when I was arrested.” 
     “I was having a lot of seizures. They made me feel sick. My mom was really worried.”
     “What caused them,” she asked.
     “People have them for different reasons,” he told her.
    “Sometimes, during their life they had a head a head injury, maybe in some sort of accident. Sometimes it takes years to have the first seizure.”
    “But there was no explanation for mine.” he added.
    “They were always there, from the very beginning, as soon as I was being born.”

End of partial chapter . . .

 

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What Goes Around Comes Around – ITFO Chapter

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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

 

Startled, Jamie woke up when he heard the food cart coming down the hall with breakfast. He sat up quickly and looked around. It took a few seconds to get his bearings. He half expected Sonni to be there waiting for him to wake up. What had happened earlier? It was confusing. It happened so fast he didn’t have time to put it all together.
     Did he dream the whole thing? He could have. He shook his head back and forth as if trying to clear the picture in his brain. It was surreal, like no dream he ever had before. He would like to think it was real, that Sonni had actually been standing next to him in his cell but that was crazy.
    Loneliness got to him. He heard some of the dudes who had been locked up by themselves for a long time sometimes talked to people they thought they saw in their cells but he knew he wasn’t that far gone.
     If he told anyone what he saw they would think he was nuts. He should write to her today and tell her what happened last night. She’d get a kick out of it. It did seem kinda funny looking back at it. That guard probably thought he’d gone off the deep end, unless he dreamed the whole thing. Jamie could laugh about it now, but last night he really thought he was going crazy.

<<< >>>

It was still dark when his breakfast tray was slid through the food slot. There wasn’t enough light to read or write letters so he laid down and went back to sleep.
     Later in the day he took some paper out of his locker and began drawing the lines going across like a writing tablet. He did it slowly. You could hardly tell it want printed on the paper. He stopped every few minutes and laughed a little as he tried to frame the words of the story he wanted to tell her. After that there was something else he needed to write about. She wanted to know more about the night he was arrested. He didn’t want to dredge it up but she needed to know from him what had happened.
     That’s the bad thing about storytelling. Everyone had their own opinion about what happened and why. A story can grow legs until the truth is barely there. She had heard more than one version of that night and he was the one to tell it. He lived it.
     People remembered what they wanted to remember and when they told a story they added their own details until it sounds like a different story. This was why he needed to write it out once and for all.
     There was one main thing he wanted Sonni to know, and it was important to him. It wasn’t his intention to get mixed up in a robbery that night. He was going out to party with a few other dudes. Morgan lost her car that night. It got impounded. He wouldn’t have done that. He was only guilty of not having good judgement about the people he hung with.
     After four years in juvenile detention from age seventeen to twenty one, Jamie didn’t know how to make the right friends. Everyone he knew was on the verge of becoming an adult felon when they got out. If kids were sent to juvy and shouldn’t be there they had to learn how to survive somehow. . . 

<<<>>>

The rest of the chapter is available to anyone who subscribes to ITFO News. You can leave me a comment and ask me to email it, send me a Facebook message or send an email to squick@mynameisjamie.net. I do not swamp your inbox. Promise. I’d like a way to reach you when it’s ready to publish, and any further ( hopefully ) books I write. A sequel it’s planned for this book. This book will end before he is released.

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Life is a Merry Go Round – youTube Video

I completed a new music video today. I really like the melody of this one. The video begins like it would be a light video at a carnival but it really represents the prisons when they movie inmates all over the state on a moments notice often destroying the ability of family and friends being able to visit. I always lived far away and visiting Jamie at the prison even once every year or two can be hard on limited income.

Through the friend of a friend of a friend I “met” a man named Melvin who began going to the prison he was in about once a month. It was wonderful for Jamie to have someone to look forward to visiting with. He have a friend, an older man, to talk to and get encouragement. TDCJ moved him with no notice. It was a longer drive in a different direction but Melvin was still able to visit. But later they moved him again – to Allred Unit where he is now. It was too far for Melvin to drive there and back in one day. It was a disappointment.

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and lastly . . .

Here is a link to the page that will show you Jamie’s T-shirt and tote bag you can purchase. I started a special for the month of September. All subscribers to ITFO News get a $5 discount on any merchandise. There is always free shipping. Send me an email at squick@mynameisjamie.net about how to take off the discount. Even my daughter purchased an adult small of Jamie’s 12 year old son.

Since they have the same name I think he will be really happy to wear it. Why is she buying it? Because the purpose of selling them is to help me with the expenses of taking care of him. Commissary, food box every 3 months, books, medical fee and legal paperwork

 

Ghosts In My Head – ITFO Chapter

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A few months ago I posted the music and music video for this chapter. I’m posting it again so you can hear the music with the story.

Only part of the chapter is here. Subscribe to ITFO News below to receive the entire chapter. In the notes section where it asks if you have anyone inside, simply write the word ‘chapter’ and I’ll send it ahead of the next newspaper publication.


 

GHOSTS IN MY HEAD

 

Jamie sat there, mouth open, immediately speechless. What the heck, was he asleep? Was he dreaming? Or maybe someone put mushrooms in his food and he was hallucinating? His food did taste a little funny.
     Scooting back on the mattress until he was sitting flat against the wall, he stared intently at the woman in front of him. He was afraid to say anything for fear it would make her disappear and he didn’t want that to happen. Why she was in his cell? How did she get here? People didn’t go around appearing in someone’s cell out of the blue, did they?
     Was being locked up in this place finally getting to him? He heard some men lost it and went crazy. Sometimes he could hear them screaming all night to be let out. No one ever went into their cell. At least he didn’t think they did.
     Honestly, he was a little scared. He didn’t believed in ghosts, but was this a ghost? That would mean she was dead, right? He didn’t want that. What else could he call it – her, or whatever she was? A spirit maybe?
     He had the cell to himself. He got locked up by himself a couple months ago. It was exactly what he didn’t want, but there was no way around it. If the guards wanted you locked up they made it happen. So there was nobody else in his cell he could ask if they saw her, too. This was weird and he didn’t know what to think.
     They stared at each other for a few seconds waiting for the other to speak. This couldn’t be happening, could it? No one, especially a woman, could get in here unnoticed. She would have to be let in by a guard.
     How many people would they have to go by who could see them? It didn’t make sense. Someone else would have seen her and that meant he should be hearing other dudes going nuts about it.
     Jamie knew he couldn’t be seeing what he was seeing. It wasn’t possible. Did he mentally go off the deep end, straight into crazy? If other dudes saw her and knew there was a woman in here she wouldn’t be safe. They’d riot to get at her. But no one was making a sound or yelling anything at all. It was quiet so he could safely think no one knew.
     If he didn’t know better, he’d swear it was Sonni sitting beside him – smiling at him no less. But she lived in Pennsylvania and he was in Texas. She moved there last year from Key West. How did she get here? Had she ever been inside a prison? He didn’t think so.
     He shook his head and rubbed his eyes trying to make the vision go away. It didn’t work. He hadn’t seen her face to face in a long time, almost six years. It was before he was arrested when she came to Texas to see Morgan and the kids. It was her, though. He was sure of it.
     She had been real good to him. She wrote letters when no one else would and she helped him get things he needed. Most of all she encouraged him and made him feel he could make it through these years. Sometimes just knowing she was out there made him try harder to do the right thing. After all, she was a grandmother to his son. As weird as this was he was really glad to see her.
     “How did you get in here?” he asked at last. “Is it really you, I mean, no tricks or anything?”
     “I’m not sure about tricks,” she laughed. “I don’t know how I got here, but yeah, I think it’s really me.”

<<< >>>

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