22-3

H mod was now being run – again – with eight guys sleeping on cots on the floor in the day room. If that wasn’t bad enough, Officer Weary then attempted to add one more to the mix: the mod workers carried in a plastic bed and she…yes she…walked beside them, supervising the move. I wasn’t the first one to see her. Niko, who had heard the commotion outside, said to me, “Come here. You need to take a look at this.”

I did, and there “she” was in all her glory. “She” was approximately 5’10” to 6’0’ tall, slim with very dark smooth skin. Her posture was perfect.  Her chest was raised and her shoulders pulled back. Her hair was immaculate, not a strand out of place and the “bun” on the top sat like a rose with every petal open to receive the sun.

She surveyed the room, looking for the optimum place to put down her belongings. Every eye in the place was on her.

The problem of course: she was not a she; she was a he; and it took the animals of H mod less than 10 seconds to size him up and tear into him from the nickel seats, otherwise known as the upper tier.

“Hey, Weary,” it began, “Wrong mod; that one needs to go to I mod.”

“He can’t stay here, Weary,” came another scream.

“Get him out of here.”

It was brutal and it was mean. It was also to be expected and you would have thought Weary would have known that. She lasted thirty seconds and the catcalls from the lower tier and floor were even meaner. Weary ended up taking him to G mod, to administration segregation. The inmates had won out.

Now I understand you have to be who you are, but it haunted me that this guy would show up to jail with his hair styled like that. It was like screaming, “abuse me.”

There is no political correctness in here. There is only hatred, meanness, stupidity, fake pride, and violence. I actually felt bad for her, but not that bad. I wouldn’t go to a Ku Klux Klan rally – that is unless I was keynote speaker and given free leeway to make my point – but that’s beside the point. You just have to ask yourself, that having seen this guy, what were he and the jailers thinking?

I thought a lot about Corey for the remainder of theday too. Perhaps there is no one really to take Corey’s place. He is an individual, and what we know of him, good and bad, endearing and annoying, is just him. I truly hope NAPA state Hospital is a better place for him. I hope he finds himself some peace.

Somewhere in this facility is a most tortured soul. I can not exactly pinpoint his location, but I hear him screaming almost every night. I’m certain it is the same person; I just can’t pinpoint his location. Everyone else hears him also. I pray that life is not like that for Corey.

It reminds me of the noise that woke me the morning of the Northridge earthquake in Southern California some years ago. I woke to the sound of an oncoming train that seemed to be coming directly at me. As it got louder, I could feel its intensity but the closer it got the more difficult it became to ascertain from what direction it was coming. And then, in a flash, it was all around me. I was engulfed by the roar, and consumed by the shaking.

His screams are much like that, consuming. It is impossible to block him out. Not so much because of the loudness of his screams – in fact, they are considerably muffled – it’s more the desperation. The recognition of a soul that is lost and somehow trying to find its way back to something, anything that is familiar, is haunting.

Perhaps it is that his screams represent a part of all of us that makes his cries so haunting. I know my soul screams in silence for some direction. Where does life go from here? How do I pick back up on the dreams that once used to drive me? In the cynicism that grips me now, how do I find purpose?

A guard, who I had never seen before, accompanied the medication nurse this morning. She carried so much anger with her. It was palpable. Officer Bruno, I think, is her name, and her rounds this morning were defined by her barking at everyone she passed, including the eight guys, or especially the eight guys she passed sleeping on the day room floor. It was 3:30 in the morning and she seemed to enjoy waking them all up.

I noticed her in particular, because I have some empathy for a woman working in a man’s world, particularly this man’s world. The guards are pigs, plain and simple. I suspect she is harassed by her coworkers, and the male locker room mentality, every day. That explains a great deal of her overcompensation. But this morning she seemed especially gnarly, and it was after she left that I, and the others in the module, began to notice our colleague’s screams.

I’m convinced the guards set the tone of the module, but once done, it’s infectious and the inmates take over. It’ll be interesting to see if unlock is colored with nasty attitudes. At last, a prospective study!

In the meantime, I think I’ll go back to bed and see if I can restart the day on a better note. Sooner or later, my colleague has to get tired of screaming.

Because of the bricks and cement and steel and air conditioning, it’s always so cold in the cell. I’ve learned to sleep with my entire body covered, including my head with only a small opening in the sheets for my nostrils to poke out and pull in air. Necessity is the mother of invention.

There is some solace under there too. The entire world is shut out, the noise settles. There is some peace even for an inmate, at least some peace for an inmate from Solano County. Unfortunately, though, much like the screamer, we carry our worst enemies inside us, and there are periods when it is quite difficult to turn him off.

To be honest, there must be something in the air, and the facility must be incredibly overcrowded. Not only are there inmates sleeping on the floor, but another transvestite was now being housed in H mod. I hadn’t seen “her” come in, there had not been as much fanfare, but this one created even more of a stir, and frankly, I didn’t know why until dinner call.

Standing directly behind me was a woman; a petite brunette with pouty lips.

The complete impact of her presence wasn’t felt however, until “unlock”. The most effected initially were the Latino guys sleeping in the day room. More than cultural she challenged their machismo because frankly, this was a woman. She was attractive and it was not because we have all been in here too long. At any bar, in any city, without any alcohol on board, the alpha male present would have approached this woman. That is what haunted my Latino brothers. Unlike what you see in most transgenders, this person had eliminated all maleness. Even Niko, who is relatively quiet anyway, commented on “her” look. “My goodness” he said, “she’s prettier than my wife”.

Everyone stared at “her” without trying to stare. You could see them all analyzing her features. It was uncanny. This was a woman. It was also true that “she” loved all the attention as “she” knowingly, but desperately tried to ignore all the eyes undressing “her”, so to speak.

“She” also knew Joey well, which spoke of previous incarcerations or a stent at the state hospital (though I guess it’s fair to say that Joey most certainly had a life before all this). Joey smiled his hello and sat down at the table with “her” immediately. I let them be alone and sat at an adjacent table to watch TV.

I was glad Joey took the initiative to diffuse the whole thing. His familiarity with “her” calmed a lot of the “predators. People went about doing the things they would normally do at “unlock”. That’s the dichotomy with most of these guys. They’re all fucked up; and all have issues and yet, there is that touch of humanity that always reminds you the world just might be OK.

“She” survived the unlock with Joey’s help, but she was bunking with Danny V and I was taking bets that after two hours of this arrangement, Danny V, (at least after he got over his initial fear) would declare he was gay and start the transformation process into becoming a woman.

“She” called herself Christina. I learned that as one of the younger studs introduced himself to “her”, and then high-fived the Latino guy in the bunk next to him. Christina had to know she was an oddity. In jail, survival was dependent upon your manhood. If you didn’t demonstrate that you would be willing to fight, these guys would eat you alive. Here he was embracing, no declaring and flaunting, his feminine side. Frankly I feared for “her”safety. Gang rape was certainly in her future.

What was interesting though was the posturing that took place around “her”. Christina was maneuvering to get herself a “man”. “She knew the ropes and was looking for that “relationship”, hopefully with an alpha male, which would stop the remaining “suitors” from victimizing her. Despite the fact that she represented everything each of us was trying to conceal, weakness, as an oddity she was accepted into the fold. Guys would desert the shower area to give “her” privacy. It was weird.

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