They have you sit for hours in a tiny exposed cell. Hours. It’s restlessly quiet, except for the opening and slamming of metal bar doors. The sound of it is jarring. These damn awful doors. The buzzing of the security system as they do, like late night corner stores when you buy a pack of smokes through a glass window. Makes you feel like a criminal. Which I am, I’ve been sitting here for hours while the olive suit wearing guard processes my paper work. How long can this take really, I mean don’t you just throw me in,and toss away the key? It’s too quiet in here. I shove my face into my arms,which are crossed over my knees, staring down at the greasy floor below. It’s gray, what isn’t in this barren place. Gray, gray, gray. Cold dripping agony, I hate it.
I’m jolted awake out of my daze when a guard yells..
“Sawatzky!!” throwing something at me, “A bundle.” I stare down at a forest green mass of clothes at my feet, a towel wrapped around it, holding it all together. He must have seen the confusion on my face..
“It’s your clothes, now you shower.” I nod my head, and pick up my new uniform.The shower is like some kind of shower you’d see in a horror movie. Dank, morbid and stinks of black mold. The curtain to shield my shame is thin and partly see through. Never mind the huge rip down the one side. It’s okay though, when I woke up this morning, I had wanted my nakedness to be displayed for all to see, especially to the overweight, jaded, muffin eating female guard standing 3 feet away from me. It’s not like I didn’t just perform the squat and cough at strip down for her, what difference is it, taking a shower in front of her now. She looks at me like I’m a useless waste of space, maybe I am.
I do my best to cover myself with my towel as I step into the shower, but it’s one of those tiny towels, you know the ones that only reach around half of your body.The tiny stupid ones that belong in your bathroom for guests to dry their hands. Yeah, one of those, it’s slips down regardless and I just give up. Shes seen me naked like a million times today, I’m done, shame washes over me. The shower is this rectangle box sitting on floor tiles. It actually sways back and forth with each one of my movements, and for a second I actually think it might tip over. Hilarious. Wouldn’t that mess this broad up, if I just go flying over and landing this stainless steel shower box right on top of her. Classic.
It doesn’t happen though, what a shame.
They gave me hotel soap. That’s it. Ever washed your hair with soap? it leaves this nasty film everywhere, and you feel like a savage. My new uniform consists of a sexy pair of forest green joggers, and a green sweatshirt. Can’t forget the granny panties and a dudes beater. I realize these underwear have probably been passed around between every female inmate in this place. I try not to vomit. I’m going commando here on in folks. I put my hair up with a rubber band the guard gave me from her desk. Well at least she did ONE nice thing for me. We proceed to leave the “take-in” area and head down a narrow and humid hallway. Her keys banging back and forth on her belt. Those huge damn awful keys. I hate them. This will be the sound I hear for the next 3 months. It will wake me up in the night, give me a jump when I get sent out to yard, and rise me awake every morning. I will develop a nervous twitch from here on in, anytime I hear that metal clanging sound, a unsettling chill down my spine…and I will clench my fists. Sweat will form on the inside of my hands and I will remember I can still breathe.
We continue down the corridor, metal door opening, metal door slamming closed. Keys clanging. Hands shaking. My heart is racing, I’m sweating, and I think at any given moment I may have a full blown panic attack. I’m doing my best to hide it.
I’m eighteen years old, and on my way to my first ever adult jail experience. I will be sharing a dorm room with twenty odd women who come from the depths of dark and gritty lives. All I’m thinking about is how I’m going to stay safe. I’m thinking of the movie, Shaw Shank Redemption, and wondering if I should just pick a fight right away and get it over with,but I know I won’t. Are you kidding. I’m pretty sure Ill get eaten alive in here.
We stop at the beginning of another long ass hallway. The guard stops for a minute, opens a door beside me and pulls out a mattress and pillow.
“Pick it up,” she bellows, ” You want a mattress, you carry it yourself.”
I look at it. What?
If you know me, you know one thing, I’m awkward. Especially when it comes to carrying mattresses. Ever moved? then you know I mean, unless your a big tall guy, it takes two to carry a mattress. So I feel like a complete ass trying to pick this thing up in front of her. Little do I know, I will also be passing ALL the male dorms on my way to the females. Which is at the very end of the hall. So I will be struggling, dragging my ass, carrying and dropping this stupid dirty mattress in front of say 200 convicts. My moment of glory.
Literally all the guys begin to line up along the plexi glass walls of the dorm rooms. Banging on the walls and yelling a barrage of perverted bullshit. I’m suddenly grateful for the female guard walking along beside me.
She can probably tell….I mean, I’m still a kid right?
I’m telling you right here and now, this was the longest walk of my life. It may have only been about 100 ft, but it may as well been a mile. How many times did the thought run through my head…what the f**k have I done. I’ve ruined my entire life. I’m gonna disappear in this place….
We finally stop at the end of the hallway, the dorm here is much quieter then the males. I can hear the t.v squawking out some foreign language. My head is down, I realize I should probably look up, find my inner actress and appear to have some confidence. I imagine the women smelling out my fear, like rabid dogs or wasps. I was right.
As I step inside my new home, and the guard reminds me to fight for bed space, I see this lanky, wiry woman hop down from the top bunk facing me. She has one eye that works, the color, blue. Her other eye is completely white, like Method Man in the video “Bring the Pain”. Seriously.
She swaggers over to me, one pant leg up like LL Cool J, seriously.
Corn rows and all, she spits out her mouth…
To Be Continued.