At the urging of Officer Metzger, in what can only be termed her ultimate medical wisdom- and the absence of a backbone on the part of Dr Kalevari- I was transferred from the medical unit, room 2M3, to E-module, cell 2E12, less than an hour later. The first “2” in 2E12, meant I was on the second floor; E referred to the module or rooming group; and 12 represented the cell number.
My days had become quite routine and comfortable on the medical ward and in a sense, I resented the change. New surroundings meant new people.That meant rule changes and new dangers. I especially resented the fact that the doctor had been bullied by a guard into making a negligent medical decision.The INR is a guage of someone’s bleeding tendency and an INR of 4.3 meant my bleeding time was 4.3 times normal. A sratch or a bruise could result in life-threatening bleeding. Out in the real world, under those circumstances, any doctor would have demanded hospitalization, not transfer to a less hospitable environment.
Officer Metzger appeared at the cell door and barked, “Mr. Adams, get your roll ready; they’re waiting for you at the end of the hall.” I wasn’t sure who they were, but I complied by quickly collecting my things and making as little eye contact with Metzger as possible.
Shariff sat on his bunk taking it all in, “At least she’s calling you Mister” he observed. I smiled. I knew her new posture represented more pathology, than apology. One could make the argument that she developed remorse for her earlier outburst, but only a fool would have counted on it. Metzger saw us as animals; any display of humaneness was for her colleagues, not the inmates. It was a display that she was in control. Deep inside, she knew she wasn’t. None of the guards are, and for all their bravado and frank meanness, they all knew it. The inmates run the asylum, make no mistake about that.
Officer Bottoms waited at the end of the hall. He was to escort me to the new module from the medical unit, and he presented himself as more than fair. As we walked toward E mod, he offered condolences and apologized for Metzger. I cut him off. The attitude of the guards was incredibly “tribal” and I didn’t want his sense of fairness to be overheard, misunderstood by members of his tribe or mine, and used against him, or me, at a later date. Nor, after a number of conversations with Shariff, did I want others to see Bottoms and I as chummy. He was the guard and I was the inmate; same game, different teams.
Because of my operation, my left leg was now considerably shorter -more than half an inch- than my right. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I found, very quickly, that if I wore only my left shoe, my body was balanced and I could walk. I didn’t put on the right shoe in order to balance my gait.
We continued down the hallway in silence – me carrying my bed roll and a brown paper bag containing a few books and toiletries. After approximately 50 feet, we made a right turn, walked another 50 feet or so, and made another right down another hall into E module. Again, I couldn’t help but feel we had taken an elaborate trip merely to disorient me. E-module had to be just next to the medical unit.
In the foyer of E-module, a female guard, an attractive older Black woman sat at a desk. She got up when we entered the room. I did not get her name and we were denied the opportunity to exchange pleasantries as they both got right to it. Corrections Officer Bottoms had me place my items on the floor and face the wall across from her desk with my back to them. Bottoms removed the chains and cuffs, exchanged some pleasantries with the female officer, and disappeared.
The female officer reviewed the papers on her desk and in a monotone devoid of any emotion, feeling or humanity whatsoever said, “You’ll go to cell twelve.” She pointed toward a glass wall, which served as the fourth wall of a large room. The room was very well lit, open, with seven stainless steel round tables and four stools secured to the underside of each table. Adjacent to the wall on the left was a stairway which led to the second level, much like the stairs to rooms you see in cheap roadside motels along the interstate freeways.
At the top of the stairs were seven doors which faced the glass wall numbered one through seven, and underneath these, on the ground floor were another set of doors numbered eight through 14. Each of the doors was painted dark green, which contrasted it with the lighter green walls, and had a vertical slit window measuring 24 inches in height and 5-6 inches in width. There were no bars.
The female officer reached for the handle of the glass door, a soft buzzer chimed, and she opened the door. She also had me get one of the plastic mattresses (in actuality it was more like the gray mats you see in gym classes) in the corner of the foyer, and stood at the doorway as I walked through the door toward cell 12. She did not follow. She shut the door once I was halfway across the room.
As I made my way toward cell12, I noticed a younger inmate, dressed exactly as me sweeping the floor. I walked by, our eyes met, but neither of us acknowledged the other. He kept sweeping, and I kept walking. I paused outside of door number 12, a soft buzzer sounded and the door swung open.
I stepped into the dimly lit, small room, which measured approximately six feet by 12 feet, and was 10 feet high. This was much smaller than the room I had vacated on the medical ward. The left wall was barren – a green cinder block cement wall, except for two metal covers: one was three by five inches in its dimensions, which was the light fixture, and the other was six inches square with a black knob in the upper left hand corner, the intercom.
Directly across from the door were bunk beds stacked on top of each other. The top bunk was occupied. The inhabitant didn’t move as the door slammed shut.
As most of the inmates do constantly, he was sleeping to help pass the time. You learn quickly to relax and forget where you are. With your eyes closed and your mind lost in a wonderful dream you can be anywhere you choose.
On the right wall was a two inch thick metal table. It was fastened to the wall and was without legs. It measured one foot wide by three feet in length. A stool, embedded in the floor in front of it, served as the chair for this combination table and desk. It also was filthy. Names and initials had been scratched into it. On top of the table sat a roll of toilet paper – an important commodity in jail – empty Styrofoam cups, an untouched, full cup of “Jim Jones” juice – the name given to the imitation fruit drink by the inmates which was dispensed at the jail for lunch and dinner, a bologna sandwich and two cookies in a clear plastic sandwich bag – more cups, toiletries, a bowl with a plastic lid, and a commissary slip.
In the corner of the room, adjacent to the right wall at the front of the cell sat the combination toilet, sink, and drinking fountain in all its stainless steel glory – the throne.
I walked to the bottom bunk, laid out my bedroll and sat my brown paper bag on the floor next to the bed. I inspected the metal slab that soon would be my bed. There was dust everywhere. I wiped it clear with toilet paper, laid out my plastic mattress, retrieved my bed sheet, tied knots at each end and around the mattress to make the sheet fitted again and then spread out the top sheet and blankets. I rolled my change of clothes – T-shirt, socks, underwear- into a ball to be used as a pillow.
With that done, I removed my shoes and the sock from my right foot only. Since my operation my left foot always seemed cold. I placed both shoes in front of my bed, and settled in to consider my predicament. As of right now, I was no longer on the medical ward, I was officially in jail.