She knocks me in the shoulder with her beat up slender hand. It`s that moment. That moment where your blood starts to pump faster. You can feel it…the rush of it flowing through your veins, and you get a little dizzy. Where thoughts run through super speed in your brain, and in a matter of seconds, your trying to figure out your game plan. Knock her out, say something smart, then throw her down,or, both. You can feel the eyes in the room, waiting in anticipation, adding to the already frantic state.
Remember I`m still holding on to the mattress. Clutching onto it like it`s some special stuffed animal I adore. I let go and it drops to the ground with a thud. At that very moment, I hear…
“Enough,“ My heart stops. I look for the voice. It`s bellowing from one of the bottom bunks on the right side of the dorm. She sitting crossed legged, lowering a paper back novel from her eyes and getting up.
“ Stop f**cking around. The kid just got here.“
Corn Rows proceeds to tell her she was just messing around for a laugh. Funny. I`m still shaking. I look towards my saviour, shes stone cold. Gives me a blank stare. You’d expect some kind of warmth, not in this place. It is what it is. Even though she just put out a blazing fire for me, there is no night in shining armour act here.
“Pick up your mattress, you can sleep in the back there.“ She points to the last row of bunks toward the back wall. They`re all full. I turn back to her…. I`m sure I looked like some lost little girl looking back to find her mother…she rolls her eyes.
“Hey You!! Out!!“she yells. I watch as the inmate scrambles to remove all her shit off the bottom bunk. The one in the back. As she struggles with her blanket, pillow and mattress. No one getting up to help her, not even me, the one who’s about to steal her bed. Once it`s all clear, I walk over and drop this damn dirty mattress where hers was, not even two seconds ago. I realized in that moment… I just got hooked up. It might seem like a small thing, the back bunk. It would be on the outside. Not here.
Because the metal bunk beds are all in rows, the last bunk is the most sheltered. Also, the most comfortable being it`s up against a wall. It will bring me a very small comfort. But one, I appreciate none the less. I decide to stay there for the rest of the night and just keep my mouth shut. Little did anyone else know, what I really wanted to do was curl up in my single thin blanket, shove my face in the pillow and scream. I want a minute of solitude, to try and process this nightmare, but every time I lift my face I see a room filled with women I never want to be like.Women that I would`t even notice if I were walking down the streets of our city. The kind of women who act like men, who’s hands have become thick and worn from years on the street. Women that have forgotten what beauty is, and have become hardened and stale. I look down at my hands, still soft and angular like a woman’s should be, and promise myself, I`m never gonna be like them. I`m kind of a judgemental bitch.
Nighttime in jail, is the quietest place in the world.
Once the lights are out you find yourself wide awake, well I was anyways. I can tell you, that first full week in prison, I did not sleep. Like, at all. This kind of stress runs through your veins. It`s like a toxic poison, causing your body to ache and your head to create a fever. Where the pain, fear and anger takes on a life of it`s own, and has no where to go, so it just wrecks havoc on your body. I suppose it`s a process of transition, the acceptance that this is where you are. That your not going anywhere `till the man in black says you can. That yes, this is how it`s gonna be, and you`d better figure it out on the inside, if you know what`s good for you. I guess my body did that by not sleeping. `Cause one night, I just passed out, and could sleep from there on in. Had to get my feel about the place I suppose.
Mornings I was roused by the sound of the radio blasting. Back when The Bear was still around and hadn’t prostituted itself to Virgin Radio. Most of the chicks would clean…I figured why bother, were in jail, but hey, seeing as most of these women were homeless prostitutes, maybe this place WAS better then their actual life outside. Let `em clean then.
Breakfast consisted of Cream of Wheat and soggy toast. Oh, and a mini bag of milk…some of the women would stoosh this in the toilet water, yeah toilet water, to keep it cold so they could drink it later. I decided not so much, I don’t care if it`s protected, that`s still toilet water man. Anyway, boring stuff, bla bla bla. I wanna get to a particular event that happened that day. Yard.
So, everyone who`s ever watched a jail movie, or was hooked on OZ like I once was, know one thing about yard. It`s kinda scary.
It`s probably the one place you could get stabbed or beat up, and it`ll take the guards a little bit longer to make it to you. In the movies, they always show that lone inmate walking around the yard nervous, sketchy and afraid. It comes with it`s own eerie soundtrack too. You see dude`s lifting weights, and swaggering around looking for a scrap, or for someone to give them that look. The look that gives them the excuse to wreck your face. Thank God I`m a chick. Plus, I`m lucky man, the woman who saved my ass last night, has asked me to walk with her today. I`ll have back.
At one point she (well call her Bones)will tell me I remind her of her daughter, and everything will make sense. Not to mention the fact, that from the day I entered this world, God has gone to great and glorious lengths to keep my ass safe. All the glory to you Father. Bones walks with strength, her hands shoved into her pockets and she casually glides along beside me. She continuously looks over shoulder, makes sure the guards aren`t watching, and that no one else is coming up close behind us. In the middle of the basket ball court I see a sock, the sock is filled with a toilet paper roll. She tells me it`s our basket ball. I laugh.
Bones tells me to keep it on the down low, but she has someone she`s meeting between fences. The males high security dorm gets yard at the same time we do. High Security means the violent offenders, the guys that have killed people and aren’t getting out until their two years is up here, and they will be sent to the Kingston Pen. We stop at the fence, there`s a small opening in between our side, and the high security side. Bones starts to quietly talk. I`m just standing there keeping watch for her. I`m not trying to listen to their conversation, but it`s kinda hard not to. To this day I wish I hadn’t heard a damn thing they said. The man who`s talking to her has a voice like someone who`s been smoking crack and cigarettes for a couple decades. His throat wheezing and cracking as he tries to push out his words. He makes me nervous, and for good damn reason. Bones asks him how his morning has been. He proceeds to tell her it`s the best he`s had since he`s been here. You see, his cell mate had committed suicide the night before. Yes, killed himself. Crack Voice slowly spits out the gritty, disturbing details. How he watched as this broken man wrapped a sheet around his neck and hung himself from his bunk. How he had sipped on coffee while he witnessed in quiet satisfaction as the breath disappeared from this man`s lungs. How his body had slowly turned blue and lost all life. That Crack Voice was well pleased with this display, and now was going to have a good memory for a while. Something to feed his rage and sick sick mind. I`m suddenly overwhelmingly grateful for the fence that separates us, and my eighteen year old mind is breaking. I’m literally one foot away from evil. REAL EVIL. This isn`t a Saturday night horror movie on channel 6. This is my morning walk. It`s in this moment I realize that Satan lives. That people can turn into verified monsters, and take pleasure in human suffering. That someone may even crave death, like I crave love….you should of heard the underlying emotion in this mans voice. The controlled excitement welling up in him as he stops to breath in the details that will fill his mind for months. Like a serial rapist who goes over photographs and panties of his victims. Sick, sick, sick…he’s left a bad taste in my mouth for eternity. I am forever cut by this dark and twisted monologue….
Bones tells me he`s a friend she keeps her eye on, `cause he owes her a favour. Shit man, I don`t wanna know. She hands me a tobacco stained rolled cigarette, I notice the smoke stained skin of her yellowed fingers….I reach for it and take a puff, as I realize Crack Voice was the supplier…I just took a rolled smoke from the devil.