Although this is my latest post, it is not, technically, new work. I wrote this over a year ago towards the middle of my stay at JAIL. A few weeks before this shit came out of my head, I had hit the book-cart lottery and came across a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. It was such an amazing stroke of luck that I find it difficult to convey the excitement I felt at that time. In a claustrophobic world dominated by westerns, romance novels, fuck-books (slang for romance novels with explicit sex scenes), YA literature, outdated technical manuals (MS-DOS programming anyone?), and bottom of the barrel science fiction; finding The Crossing was the most merciful event I experienced since I had been incarcerated. However, I was about a third of the way into a novel of my own at the time and a few months later it became apparent that multiple readings of McCarthy’s work had negatively effected my own. I couldn’t help but notice that my novel had turned into a cheap imitation of Mr. McCarthy’s style. In response, I wrote this as an exercise to regain my natural voice. For lack of better terms, I would say that what came out was simply a dictation of a hallucinatory daydream and although not purely stream of conscious, I engaged in a very minimal amount of editing. I thought it was decent enough to copy and mail to a friend to see what he thought of it. Continue reading
Category Archives: Jail
Of late, I haven’t been able to write. I suppose you could label it a writer’s block – or what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block” – but the reality of the situation is more convoluted than what that simple term seems to suggest: that the inability to commit words to paper is, in itself, the root of the problem and not a symptom of something a little deeper and more complex. As if “writer’s block” is some grossly unthinking virus; something you catch like bad luck or the flu. Something that happens to you through no fault of your own. I wish that were the case, for it would seem to indicate an easy “recovery” – as if the block would effortlessly dissipate as easily as it came on. I know that is not going to happen. Because it isn’t something that just happened, but something I myself cultivated with weariness and hate and disillusion. It is a symptom of a deep attitudinal sickness that creeped in so slowly I hardly noticed it until it was in full bloom.
I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was sick again. AM sick. Sick of acquaintances playing the role of “friend.” Sick of fellow commuters and their petty anger. Sick of playing the dominance game with other men. Sick of bosses and their entitlement to my free time. Sick of probation officers with their suspicion and mock concern. Sick of a society that while screwing you demands the facade of a good attitude (It’s cool. I UNDERSTAND I am often going to be forcibly penetrated from time to time. It is what it is. But don’t hold me down and fuck me and then tell me we’re making love.) I am sick of pretending as if I am not nauseated by everything. Continue reading
Officer Steve, possibly the most hated correctional officer of the Lake County Correctional Facility, leads Fred Dewitt, an ex-alcoholic laborer, in his mid-50’s, down a concrete block corridor, past the protective custody cells (one of which houses a mouse of a man whom to Fred looks more like a pedophile than anyone he has ever seen – although the man’s actual charges are unknown to him. The other is occupied by a large pool of vomit. The vomit is composed entirely of baby-shit-colored stomach bile in which the solids have congealed into a single pulpy mass, the liquid having run off in a stream that creeps steadily towards the cell door. Fred estimates that 80% of the countie’s inmates are junkies in on heroin related charges) and then to the door of the visiting room. C.O. Steve radios the control tower and there is an audible click as the steel door unlocks. Steve gestures for Fred to enter and he does. Continue reading
A Preamble and Explanation:
It is often a habit of those who have had an extended stay in jail and/or prison to talk excessively about jail and/or prison. (I’ve only been to county thank god and I owe this mostly to Judge “Go-Home” Gibson’s thought process: Well… he’s seems smart, shows genuine remorse, and is… WHITE. Time served and 2 years intensive felony probation! …sound of gavel slamming on wood…) Obviously, there can be a multitude of reasons for this disquieting behavior, but one of the most fundamental is that it is an important and indelible time in anyone’s life. Perhaps not a positive experience, but memorable nonetheless. One of the most striking is jail’s unique juxtaposition of long stretches of utter boredom interspersed with moments of intense action and violence. The only other experience with comparable attributes is war. Or so I’ve heard. (Obviously, I am not comparing them in terms of danger and honor but only in their experiential reality.) Also, there is the preconceived notion most people have about jail as something to be feared, somewhere they hope to never wake up at. And once one makes it through such an experience there is a sort of relief, an awe at having been there and survived. In Down and Out In London and Paris, George Orwell explores this thought process (as regards abject poverty) and sums it up nicely (I’m paraphrasing here) as something you have always feared so much so – wondering how you would handle it – that when it finally comes about there is almost a feeling of elation at having been through it and survived. It’s something akin to the way junkies, active and recently recovered, pervert their shame into a sort of competitive pride as regards their level of degradation: “I had a gram-a-day habit man…” “Okay, dude, but have you ever SHOT crack before?” Obviously not anything anyone should be proud of, but, amongst the initiated, they function as war-stories. A way to brag about just how far over the edge you’ve been. Continue reading