20-4

The next morning at “unlock,” Sean, my colleague from the cell next door, sat down at the table in front of my door facing the television. In a whisper he began, “Dude,” he said to me, “Did you hear that last night?”

Did I hear it? Who could not?  It began as a single thump that shook the walls. The pounding was initially paced so far apart that they would be mistaken for the normal pongs and wants of the building. “Yeah, I did,” I said. “What was up with that? I thought it was coming from the cell next to me but there’s no one there. The restroom is being used as a community facility.”

“I thought it was you,” he said. “I thought, oh fuck, Adams has let me down and lost it like the rest of these knuckleheads. I was standing in the dark feeling the walls trying to figure out where it was coming from.”

“Me, too; I thought it was coming from above us, but not from this module.”

“No,” he said, “I think it’s coming from downstairs.”

Downstairs,” I thought. “There’s nothing directly below us but admission and holding cells.” Though that is what might explain it. Cats are very angry when they first come in, but this one, “Harvey Wallbanger”, as I’ve come to call him, was amongst the all-time greats. Throughout the night, both the intensity and the rate increased until it was a crescendo where you could imagine someone trying to dig out of here.

At any rate, we were both pleased to discover that it was neither of us who had lost it. There still, at least in our minds, was some semblance of sanity here on H-mod. Although on the TV Sean’s celly, Lewis was watching Maury, smiling with a satisfaction that could only be described as disturbing. Sean just shook his head. “If you think that’s bad,” he offered, “try sleeping in the same room with the guy.”

Checkmate! Point well made and we both just let it go. Harvey Wallbanger was more than enough insanity for one day. You had to be here, in a sense, but you didn’t have to accept it. I know I didn’t.

That night, or perhaps I should say, the next morning, it was approximately 0400, Harvey Wallbanger returned; only this time he added vocals to his repertoire. It was most disturbing because this level of frustration and agony sets a horrible tone in which to start the day.

At medication rounds, I asked Officer Stewart about it. He had heard it too, though only recently, and not all night like the rest of us. His concern was that if it was coming from downstairs, it was coming from minimum – housing for the less criminally inclined – and that meant someone had, in a sense, slipped through the system. Screamers and bangers weren’t offered that status. At any rate he vowed to look into it, and over the months I’ve found Stewart to be true to his word.

I’ve also actually started to allow myself to think about being released. It’s coming up on eight months and that has to mean that I’m on the back nine. I will admit that I use to force it out of my mind, leaving Solano County. Counting the days makes slow time move even more slowly. I have learned to busy my mind with reading and planning and allowing the day to pass as quickly as possible.

I’m really not sure how I feel about it. My mom has begun to prepare for all the things we can do together – she’s already RSVP’d a friend of hers that both my sister and I would attend her friend’s daughter’s wedding. That’s all fine. I cancertainly do that for her. We are closer now – and honestly it’s a really good feeling – but I think I want my life back. There are still a lot of things that I want to do in my life. I will not leave them undone.

I do plan to spend more time, weekends and holidays, with friends and family. I should see both Nazz and Noel at least three or four times a year. I hardly know their children, and I desperately want to know them. I also want to know my own, though I’m starting to realize that the dream I had of a wife and family, was just that, a dream. It perhaps was never right for me. I’ve come to believe it’s the result of a wall I’ve put around myself. There was never the inclination to celebrate a victory; there was always that next mountain to climb. It’s left a lot of things unsaid and a lot of things undone.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Do not live your life as if you had a thousand years to live,” or something like that. I’ve never done that, at least I’d like to think so, but perhaps I have put a lot of things on the shelf that needed my attention most. I’m resolving here and now not to do that.

I haven’t talked to Steve Crisman in a while. I miss him. Steve introduced me originally to Thom who produced “Plastic Surgery: Before and After” on Discovery Health. They had some kind of falling out. I think Steve felt he should have had a piece of the show because of the introduction. It didn’t happen and we all seemed to drift apart. It all seems so silly and trivial now. I know Steve was sick and I’ve tried a number of times to contact him, but the truth of the matter is I need to try harder.

I also put in an inmate request form to classification to see if I was eligible to work off some of my time, again. I’ve already been refused twice – supposedly as a result of medical issues – but who knows the third time may be the charm. One thing for sure, nothing happens here unless you keep on asking. Nothing takes the first time in here.

Besides, if I get a chance to see more of Solano County, it’ll give me an opportunity to tell you more about the goings on here. It’s really a win-win situation for me; more to do, which seems to make the time pass quicker, and the stay, shorter.

A while back the sergeant took my request to retrieve my heel lifts. I’m pleased to inform you that nothing’s happened since. It’s been about a month.

It’s strange to be thinking (and talking) about work, any kind of work. It’s a subject I started thinking about a number of times over the last few months. What am I going to do when I get out of here? I’m determined to summon up the courage to do something I could be happy at. One thing’s for sure – I’m never going to allow things to go back to the way they were. I want to help people but not at the expense of losing myself. That cost is much too high.

I’ve certainly done my share of work with medical school, residency, and trying to build a practice. The sad part is that it never really got anywhere, no matter what people think. I was chasing bills like everybody else. I guess working all the time is what made it tolerable. I believed I was right. I believed that if I did this one last thing it would all come together. I’ve pretty much lived my life telling myself that all I had to do was get through next month or next year. But time sneaks up on you and now I’m desperate to get there with what can only be described as the little time I have left. Marcus Aurelius was right: “life has to be lived with a little sense of urgency”.

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