Yesterday was pretty wasted.
Started with me missing the first bus. This was always the norm. And it is always 100 yards in front of me. I might be capable of running a 9.5 100 yards in street clothes but I’ve done it a couple of times in the past and still had the bus pull away while I was pounding on the door. So I took the doctor;y advice thing and just waited for the next one.
I went to apply for food stamps. Forty bucks a week would make a difference between surviving and not. It gets adjusted for income when I start working. Probably down to $20 a week. I could use it.
Anyway I looked up the address on the internet. It was downtown. I took the bus and was surprised that the fair hadn’t gone up in two years. Cool.
Walked to the office and was told that this was the wrong office the one I wanted was about two miles away. So I walked there.
At the correct office I was told that YES, they do food stamp apps there every day of the week except Wednesday . . . and Saturday and Sunday.
Tomorrow will be filled with doctors and medications so I plan to go on Friday.
I picked up another newspaper and there were no new job ads.
I got home drenched in sweat. No problems though. I was surprised I fell asleep for a good 90 minutes. That’s odd for me to do.
I’ve been sleeping in two hour spurts, then the pain in my shoulder wakes me. Today I noticed a new twist to the shoulder pain. If I tweak it to the point of bad pain the arm becomes weak and useless. I can’t even lift it off of my leg. It then takes about twenty minutes for strength and feeling to come back.
June 23, 2009
It was dawn and I was watching the flock of birds groom the grass looking for what food I couldn’t imagine. I just enjoyed watching them search and move.
The nurse came in. They did a blood glucose test. It was the first time. I wondered if the social worker, Bob Moriarity, had said something.
The blood sugars were not too bad. High, especially considering that the prison food was rotten and inedible. They gave me an orange. When I peeled it it was black inside.
As the nurse left a guard came into my cell. “Get your s___ together. You’re moving. Hurry it up f___head. We don’t got all day!”
We walked the corridors. Each corridor ended in a circular room. In the middle of the circle was a control tower. From the tower they would open every door at the end, beginning or in the middle of the corridor.
It was too byzantine a course for me to keep track of where I was heading. I could keep the compass points in my head but not the orientation.
Finally we came to the “range”, the “cell block”. I was put into cell number 2.
The range was a cavern. A twenty foot ceiling and about 1,000 unused square feet. There’s four one piece picnic table style things made of steel. At the end of them is the cell block. Sixteen cells in two floors. Opposite the cells are three cheap black metal desks grouped together. That’s the guard station. The desks are sloppy, dirty. There’s a PC with an expensive monitor sitting on the last one.
The cell had an eight foot ceiling. It was eight paces long and three and a half paces wide. In the far left corner was a solid steel bunk bed. It was bolted to the wall.
The bottom bunk was flush to the floor. It had a two inch thick blue tick mattress. The upper bunk had an industrial green colored plastic coated foam mattress. A not too clean sheet and stained blanket were on the upper bunk.
Opposite the bunks was a “table. It was a single sheet of steel anchored to the wall. Both the bunk and table were roughly painted dark green. Both paint jobs were marred and badly smeared.
The walls were a bilious yellow green while the steel door and door frames and hangings were a revolting pink.
The floor was bare concrete, cracked and slanted. Bolted to the floor was a tin can that was meant to act as a stool. It was not well positioned for using the table but close enough to assume that was the intent. I was surprised there was only one stool. I was to find it was just another of the tactics used to foment dissension and inmate violence.
In the narrow wall opposite the door there was a window; 6 inches wide and about 4 feet tall. It was bisected by an iron bar. From it I could see about 10 feet of grass, then a five foot asphalt path, then grass and the 20 foot chain link fence, topped with razor wire. The fence was strung with thick cable. I watched a smaller musk rat crawl back and forth under the fence. When he touched the fence it caused a manned van to appear in the asphalt path outside the fence. The thick cable were clearly motion detectors.
About 30 yards past the outer path was a rail road track. Long trains rumbled past there constantly.
The cell was filthy. In need of washing as well as sweeping.
Scratched deep into the door was a recognizable cartoon road runner. On its chest it read, “The Guelph Boyz”.
This was my home.
As I thought about that and let myself get encompassed in the impotent rage, frustration and seeming unfairness of the situation I felt the pain in my shoulder peak. Breakfast came.
They had me on a diabetic diet now. At least thats what the tag said. It wasn’t.
Breakfast was half a cup of Rice Krispies, a pouch of milk and two slices of bread with butter and jam. There was also a rotten apple.
I got a 5 oz styrofoam cup, a packet of Maxwell House instant coffee and a pouch of Equal. You had to rest your cup on the hatch, stand far back and wait for the guard to fill it with luke warm water. (The cell doors all had a hatch. This was a 14 inch by 5 inch door in the 6 inch thick door.)
I ate what I could and felt the pain in my shoulder expand. I recognized it as the same way my original heart attacks had started. I sat on the stool and looked out the little window trying to calm myself down. They had given me my nitroglycerin spray. I used it. A spray under the tongue. The pain abated somewhat but then came rushing back harder and meaner than before.
I tried to calculate five minutes and gave myself a second blast of nitro. It reduced the pain but I noticed I was soaked in a clammy sweat. I could feel the weight on my chest grow heavier and heavier as the pain became a solid thing I could touch.
While I was waiting for 5 minutes to give myself another does it became hard to breathe. My breath was coming in short ragged spurts. I took the third blast of nitro. I remembered that’s all you’re allowed. If after 3 the pain doesn’t vanish you’re supposed to dial 911.
The pain wouldn’t reduce. I tried to stop things. I concentrated on my heart and tried to demand it slow down. My heart ignored me.
I managed to walk to the cell door. I banged on it as hard as I could. I don’t know how long I was pounding but I kept at it until the guard finally showed. Safe guess it was about a ten to fifteen minute wait.
I said, “I need to see a doctor. I’m having a heart attack.”
They never open the cell door so she looked at me through the lucite window for a second and said, “Oh, f___ off.” And she walked away.
I couldn’t move well. The pain was worse and more consuming than the heart attack that took me to the hospital. I wedged my body in the cell door frame and closed my eyes.
The pain was terrible. I still didn’t think I was dying but I had this morbid fear that this wasn’t a heart attack but a stroke and that I was suddenly going to collapse and wake up a half paralyzed vegetable.
I tried to meld with the pain, feel as if the cold sweat was a normal part of life and nothing to be afraid of. I stayed like that for over an hour. I would have stayed like that for I don’t know how long when the door was abruptly opened. Bob Moriarity, the social worker, had come to see me. I sort of stumbled and fell across a table they had out there.
As I stumbled Bob was talking. He said, “Your dog is safe. I spoke to your friend and she was shocked to discover where you were. Hey, are you okay?”
I remember only croaking, thinking I was saying thank you. I remember feeling free of the tiny cell and being able to breathe easier. Then the only thing I remember was trying to walk. People were trying to help and I was resisting, trying to walk on my own.
We ended up someplace I didn’t know. There was a grotty nurse there I did recognize. They took my BP – 151 over 96 with a 98 pulse rate. The grotty nurse declared that I was just fine.
They told me I had to relax.
I said, “I’m in prison and I haven’t done anything. Haven’t even had a trial. Relax?”
The nurse started to ratchet at me; “If you’re feeling like this it is your responsibility to tell a guard. We can’t be responsible otherwise.”
“I did tell a guard, back when it was starting and felt worse,” I said.
“That’s not true,” said the nurse, “no one said anything to me!”
“The guard told me to f___ off.”
They walked me back to my cell. I wanted to talk to the social worker. I wanted details. Instead I just lingered in my cell and felt gritty, sore and diminished.
Suddenly the cell door opened. “You got a visitor.”
I followed the silent guard down all the corridors. I finally saw my friend. Seeing her I felt dirty. I was unshaved and unwashed. No showers allowed until tomorrow.
We had to sit behind glass and talk through a scratchy telephone. We didn’t get to say much. Maplehurst Prison only allows 20 minute visits twice a week!
I’ve visited guys on remand for murder. I’ve visited murderers in Arizona State Prison. I got to sit in the same room with them and always got at least one hour, often longer. I was still bewildered by this harsh inhumane treatment.
It was good to see my friend. I tried to look strong even though I felt sick. When our 20 minutes were up she had to leave. I got to see her exit on the CCTV system. She looked good. She looked strong.
I was still feeling so off that it wasn’t until I got back to my cell that I realized how near miraculous it was that she was there.
I was hoping she might even come back tomorrow when the female guard opened the hatch and started yelling at me. She was mad. I was indifferent at first to her feelings.
“Why did you tell them what I said to you. If you want to play like that I can play it better than you can. You asked to see the chaplain and I told you to fill out a request.”
“A chaplain? Look, I said doctor you herd Chaplain. You said fill out a request I heard f___ off. Leave it off.”
“You’re going to learn what it means to be an offender.” She spun around in a huff.
I thought she really was a most unattractive girl. Why would any girl want to be a prison guard? I also wondered who said anything to her and why she cared. I didn’t make anything of her threat. That was a mistake on my part because tomorrow I got to meet Bad Boy Billy.