2H- 11 (5)

I was alone again with no prospects in sight. I put the notion of my next bunky out of my mind; it would happen when it happened, and it would be with whoever it would be. I hope it’s a really pretty girl who studies physics and likes to discuss politics. And yeah, let her have long shapely lets, a narrow waist, and big breasts.

Today actually was a rather long day. I couldn’t seem to concentrate on the work I wanted to accomplish, and perhaps it’s simply that I needed a break. There are no Saturdays or Sundays in here, it’s all Wednesdays and the need to keep yourself busy can direct you towards burnout at light speed.

I was lying down earlier trying to put all that in perspective, when I heard a familiar voice. At first I thought, “Man, I must be losing it”, but sure enough: Corey was back. It’s like he runs the place and moves from suite to suite – think cell to cell – when he pleases. At any rate, the mod workers have informed me that I was correct, he’s really back. The disturbance I heard was him making his grand entrance.

At the next “unlock” there, sure enough, was Cory shuffling around. I joked with the guard that at least now I know who to take my complaints to, I know who runs the place. He didn’t get the joke. He made some comment like “the man who signs my checks,” but in reality, he was unhappy to have him back because he knew sometime during the evening Corey was going to decompensate and force him, the guard, to deal with it.

The first thing Corey said to me: “You got any coffee, can I have a shot?”

Things were back pretty much to normal.

At midnight – and don’t ask me why it always happens at midnight – for the first time in three days I got a new bunky. He was tall, about six feet five inches, and looked like one of the Nigerians you see on the corners in New York City selling fake Rolex watches. He said not a word. He quietly made it to the top bunk, climbed in, and went to sleep. I rolled back over and went to sleep myself.

The following morning he did not get out of bed for breakfast, or for lunch, or for dinner. It’s interesting to witness people’s reactions upon their arrival and the expressions they get when that door closes with its audible thump and then a click. Some look relieved, and some look afraid, but they all retreat to bed. I suspect it’s the warmth and safety under the covers which attracts you, but the feeling of helplessness and being alone is undeniable.

The Nigerian slept literally sixteen straight hours. Sometimes I think I would love to do that, but I wake up hurting after five; by sixteen my body would be too stiff to walk. Youth is wasted on the young.

Corey got a roommate that night too, and he seemed a whole lot happier than me. In a way, it’s sad to think that a grown man – if you can really call him that – is afraid to be alone, afraid of the dark. It reminds you of just how young, mentally, he is. His roommate was an Indian, from India and not the wild, wild west, and displayed an air of feminism that was a little too much for me, but he and Corey both seemed happy to have the company.

I’m starting to think more and more about a release date. The novelty of the experience has gotten somewhat tiresome. I am, however, developing a lot more empathy for the guards. It’s not so much that I understand their job, as I’ve come to accept some of them simply for who they are. Most are just simple guys trying to make it and find some meaning in this thing we call life? A few I’ve actually come to be happy to see. Knowing they are there means you’re not going to be approached by someone on a ridiculous power trip and within this bunch a few are actually pleasing to speak with, that is within the bounds that you are allowed to have communications with them.

I think my impatience is because I’ve come to understand how people, an inmate, could spend a lifetime in here. You pick your niche and decide who you want to be – just like in polite society – and you live each day. Although no one on the outside likes to think about it, even there, you settle into a routine and live within certain parameters that are outside of your power to control. The frightening ingredient about being in here is that a lot of the stress, a lot of the worry is gone. You don’t think about house payments, car payments, or bills of any kind, but the flip side is you don’t get to hug the people you love. But, along the same lines, you find yourself making new friends.

Dallas, a young black kid who has been here longer than me, and who is presently involved in a murder trial, has kind of grown on me. He’s the product of a rough neighborhood, but he certainly doesn’t strike you as particularly tough. He’s thin, and gangly like most 18 year olds. He shot and killed another kid who apparently was trying to shoot him. I asked him why he had a gun anyway, and he casually answered that “everybody in his neighborhood had a gun”. And,” if he didn’t have one, he and his girl (think girlfriend) would probably be dead now”.

Dallas is addicted to children’s TV, and races to get to the remote during the “unlock”. Its Sponge Bob, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy until the other guys can out-vote him for what to watch. I have to shake my head and laugh. He’s funny and watching him provides more laughs than the TV. Yet underneath, just beneath that funny kid, is a child looking at life in prison. On a good note is the fact that the DA is trying to make a deal with him because his lawyer has provided witnesses who confirm his conduct was self defense. He’s not getting away with gun possession, though, so no matter what, there is some jail time in his future.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with him at first – he seemed too juvenile – but guess what, that’s exactly what he is. I expected to see men, but what you really see in here is a lot of young boys, a lot of kids in really big bodies.

Nonetheless, the issue at hand was my new bunky. It wasn’t that he slept all day; it wasn’t that he didn’t eat breakfast, nor lunch, nor dinner; it wasn’t even that at unlock he sat in a corner, mute, staring at people; it was all of it. Red flags were going off everywhere and finally I couldn’t ignore it.

“Are you OK?” I asked. “Can I get you something?” He looked me straight in the eye, and then slowly closed his eyes as if I somehow was going to disappear. I allowed for thirty seconds to pass, and then I said, “Are you trying to make me believe you don’t hear me? What’s wrong with you?”

No response; but to my luck the tower called him to let him know he had a visitor. When he left KC, the mod worker walked by and I called him over. “Do you know this guy?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah, Bro,” he said, “he’s been here about three or four times. He’s very strange.”

“You’re telling me. I get it. I’m in here with him.”

“Well, you know,” he added. “Some of these guys come in here, they’ve been smoking crack or whatever and they can’t…their bodies just can’t take the adjustment. He’s probably a parole violator on his way to Quentin.”

“I’m not sure I want to sleep with that cat above me.”

“Man, you’ve been getting them, haven’t you, Bro? Let’s see…I’ve been here eight years, and Tyler…my bunky…he’s been here a while too. We get along so that’s why we bunk together.”

I was still stuck on the eight years. KC is the Latin kid, maybe 22 or 23 max. If he’s been here for eight years, it had to start when he was sixteen. What on earth could he have done? He’s the mod worker; the clean-cut kid who exercises and organizes Bible study.

“Well…don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some characters… I recognize this is not the Waldorf Hotel; it’s a jail; but I’m not sleeping with this guy above me.”

“You may not have to…he’s out there now cussing and fighting with the guards. I think they confronted him about not eating all day. They put all that kind of stuff in the computers. They’ll call you on it.”

I went back to reading and KC went back to cleaning. A few minutes later my bunky returned, followed by a sergeant and two guards. He gathered up his bedroll and was gone.

“What’s this about?” I said to the sergeant.

“A lot of people in here have something wrong with them,” he said with a shrug. He closed the cell door and he too was gone.

“Wow,” I thought. “Confrontation avoided. Maybe I would get a good night’s sleep after all.”

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