This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
2007. 51 Rosharon. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Nevada in 1968. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. so I grew up as an Army brat. images. can be revealed to the world. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. bitterness. and drug addiction.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. AZ I 19 . Due to anger. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. By 18. my mother passed away from cancer. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. On March 3. living on many different bases. desires. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. By the 8th grade. Dennis Forrest.
to develop boundaries. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. and I can look at them neutrally. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. their heaviness. I rejoice in the art I produce.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. freedom to expand my horizons. to search spiritually. and their condition. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. such as putting up books in the library. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. For quite a while now. listening. 20 N . in a week. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I know I am finally awake to life. Today. Yet. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. day out. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. When I do little jobs. I am aware of the way their covers feel. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. and acting. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. tomorrow. Listening now requires my full attention.
once I am given the chance. love. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. Yeshe. or strangers away. and Thich Nhat Hanh. I know I will. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I can easily mix with just about anyone. But for now. or spiritual. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. be they physical. In closing. my learning continues.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. find true freedom. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . Lamas Rinpoche. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. and compassion and when they do. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. mental. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. teachers. As a matter of fact.
Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. As I listened to my mom. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. but didn’t join in the conversation. 18 Cheras. She had 22 M . I took in what the kids were saying. She broke the news to me as best as she could. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. Kuala Lumpur.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. Prashant Devan Kumar. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. I thought to myself. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about.” That same day.
I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. only thinking about those fucking stickers. feel.). my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. Every time I am taken out of my cell. confined to a one-man cell. You have to have 23 I . I remember sitting in the car. reflect. 24 Queens. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. Seg. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. juvie halls. I grew up in boys’ homes. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. 23 hours a day. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. imagine. That day. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. their world becomes a mental one. with life to go. TYC. ponder. dream. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. and wonder. not caring that there was no Santa. That’s all we do in these cells: think. Food is brought to me.
I saw his point and I left things as they were. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. There were three. But to 24 . I think now how naïve I was. watching the clerk close up shop. It was a robbery gone bad. run. and no one gets hurt. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. and everything went to shit from there.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. Trust me. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. In the end. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. I was alone. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. I’d done it a dozen times. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. The next day. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. and I got life in prison. staking out the store from across the street.
right. Crap is strewn everywhere. it’s not going anywhere. I’m not moving. Big holes. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. I mean. It’s a mess. Watch the crap. Watch the crap. o. Holes everywhere. Yeah. in which the author served as part of the U. I’m keeping my pieces. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. all observant and such. not benign crap. if you’re lucky. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. No way. Look at the car.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. I think about that shit. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces.S. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. I’m looking at this car. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. I’m thinking. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today.
100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. this “Desert Storm. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. with holes in them all. I figured I’d hang on to something. hundreds of them.A. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. I curse myself for being so stupid. with maybe a little inscription saying. 26 .I.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. RPG rounds. Good night. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. hold privates.P. grenades. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. but I don’t care. I’m angry. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. I’m sick of this crap. Now. I didn’t even see this stuff. I’ve been so careful all of these months.” or whatever you call it. from messing my mind up further. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. cars now. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again.I. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I’m holding my privates. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’m waiting for the lights to go out.. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. How many days have I been awake? Damn. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. or tunnel vision. well. Whoever’s firing those damn things. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. K. and mines scatter everywhere. right on the crap.—R.
which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. along with the gaping hole through the skull. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. They look like statues. right? The ones I see are fresh. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. maybe. I know I’m not dead. The glazed eyes give it away. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. No stench. Is 27 .T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I do. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I don’t like the burned ones. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. but like some sick voyeur. The pictures don’t lie. I don’t want to end up like him. His ID card falls out. unless they shortened the fuses. It was fun for a minute. again. vehicles are everywhere. It’s hard to tell. I don’t want to look. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. too. Damn. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground.
We’ll have that in common. hoping his son will return from down South. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. pictures don’t lie.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. McKenna Columbus. we stepped 28 I . Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Probably not.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. the Americans. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. and shackled. “Yes. They’ll never know me. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. handcuffed. his son—maybe even himself. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. Mark D. that damn war. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. One by one waist-chained. They’ll never know what happened to him. The hero died with a scream on his lips. No. If that’s heroism. from that war. I want no part of it. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. we will celebrate.
T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. mountains. The restless. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. In retrospect. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. indeed. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. 29 . the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight.
but no one dared speak of them. in some cases. sealed off from everything and everyone. a vacuum of uncertainty. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. for most. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. and.100+ Looking around me. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. Hector Gallegos Otisville. boredom. the lunacy of a previous occupant. This is 30 M . refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. It’s a world of its own where. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. I found that I was not alone in this realization. While I was in there. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts.
but I had no luck. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. We used to have a very healthy relationship. She has a son now. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me.. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. MA 31 . Will Ferrara. 24 Lawrence. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate.. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex.
I was always sad. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. where I am today.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I always felt lonely. stole an airplane. I grew up spoiled rotten. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. Three years later. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. After 15 years there. flew to Florida. I escaped. They never really understood that there was something wrong. and began robbing banks. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. but that made me feel worse.
I had friends and a boyfriend. It wasn’t her fault. and then my house caught on fire. When I started middle school. 33 I . but I was already highly unstable by then. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. Momo. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. and I am doing a lot more for myself. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. Now. It’s going to be hard to get better. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. I started therapy. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. or mine. but only for a little while. Lights come on. 16 Richmond. so I always tried to help them. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. but there was something missing. This year. This made me feel good.T R U E S T O R I ES me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. Cars speed by.
There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . you’re hungry. no one to call. your feet hurt. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes.. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.. You think to yourself. This is why. under the three strikes law. many homeless people end up in jail. I have been fortunate. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. I am still alive. I have met a variety of people in prison. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. for one reason or another. G.100+ homeward bound. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. You have nowhere to go. it’s only a matter of time before a person seeks food or shelter on his own terms… I am serving 39 to life under California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. nothing to eat. God has been looking out for me. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. It’s cold. nowhere to sleep.T. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs.
I must have asked to be raped. I brought it upon myself. my case was thrown out of court. We all had a few too many. So Joe walks free. Without warning. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. his brother. and the rest of the family awoke. Nonetheless. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. My husband and Joe came to blows again. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. During the car ride home. In their eyes. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I thought it was my husband. My husband. They say most 35 . My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. My husband and I filed a police report right away. I immediately told my husband and we left. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same.
No one was hurt or kidnapped. My first eight years in prison were rocky. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I love to write books and short stories. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. Men ask me. I keep getting turned down for parole. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. When I got locked up. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I’ve been a model inmate.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. drug dealer. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. you almost have to be a bank robber. for all the good it’s doing me. and I made it without becoming one of them. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. We had six kids—with so many kids. Zephyr Chicago. while the victims get a life sentence. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. or crooked politician. but I am always in a good mood. I just took the money and ran. and for the past 10 years. trying to survive among savage men.
like taste good food. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. but all’s well in the end. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. sadness. That summer. I share love. compassion. 63 Burkeville. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. When I’m writing. At fourteen. And it all transpired in 37 O . flavors that today I’d die for—well. they are good people with good hearts. I turned fourteen. but I put the truth out there for all to read.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. Writing is like having an affair. and us three kids. tears. I love writing. George Hughes. 1982. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. and my innermost thoughts and desires. my parents became legally separated. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. Mom got a new apartment. not die. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. the car. anger. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. laughter. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t.
I was in State Prison. sprinting as fast as possible. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. Once inside. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. In 1982. “Mom. My friends would have surely made fun of me. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. Then I put on all three new shirts. By fifteen. picked out a pair. So I decided to steal.100+ less than an hour. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . looking down at my new wet shoes. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I wasn’t too concerned. at fourteen. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. and me. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. And by the age of eighteen. On the very last day of summer. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. and inexplicably. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. not enough to panic. but here it was. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I went over to the shoe department. sister. I took off like a bat out of hell. Like an NFL running back. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. and put them on. I burst through the front door. Once outside.
I asked why I was being arrested. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. To my complete surprise. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. 18 Mowrystown. OH 39 I . Six days later. Obviously shocked. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. When I was finished with him. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. they said.
with a common goal. though he never loved her. mind. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. and soul. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. how he cared for her. I was ready to be judged and convicted. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. During my trial. and mean words. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. the others are there to pick him up. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. fights. From then on. Before. I felt that what I did was wrong. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. ignorance. and lack of feelings. At nineteen. my mom and dad came to visit me. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. in the same room. hitting and abusing her. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. In the depths of my heart and soul. My mom’s eyes held a million words. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. It was good to see them together.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I killed someone. but the fact is I did. I deserved to do some time and make amends. The judge gave me life without parole. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. 40 N . and when one falls.
but I take no initiative to start the process. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. I have no friends in this new city. but my will to survive took over.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. but now everything seems tight. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I’m getting older. Besides. fleeting hope. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. but I see only the negative things. and violent unrest. I came from the desert. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. I need to budget. 50 Represa. but they all have lives. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. Spoon Jackson. smiles. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. Money never used to be an issue. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. I was naïve.
My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. go into a small. 27 Toronto. Ontario. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. inconspicuous notebook. brought up in me. my pen is capturing everything. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. but moving slowly in the right direction. In the few months that I’ve been writing. I even see things in a more positive light now. For someone like me. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. the only escape that I found was with a knife. mixed with big dreams of happiness. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. Idris Samuel. a dead father. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. I see that in spite of my depression.100+ before I go to bed. 42 I . All of those negative ideas. I’m not stuck in one place. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me.
It had become a habit. While incarcerated. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. While in prison. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. As I look back on the role that the drug played. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. light-headedness. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. new problems arose. While on probation in 1995. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. it merely put them on hold. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. But then. never directly addressed. a need for the chemicals in the formula.
but I never thought it would result in depression.E. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. much clearer. I am a different person. Think about who really loves you. you will be twice as strong. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Wantz Salem. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. I’ve always had low self-esteem. Now the reality I face is my own life. Never waste life. 13 44 I . I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. Anonymous. but my reaction to them is not the same. the present is much. it’s too short and too precious. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. and once it does. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. J. And the present is where I have to live. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey.100+ stable.
alcohol. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. cultural arts centers. Now I try. The son of a research chemist. I have turned my attention back to God. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. Thomas Michael Fox. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. writing helped. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. After getting sober in 2001.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. and pornography. Illinois. community centers. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. 1958 in Elgin. 45 G . 51 Corcoran. I began to start to feel differently about myself. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I ended up in prison for life.
the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. When I was in second grade. Mexican revolutionaries. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. prison scenes. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. This history. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. migrant workers. The second and third place runners-up were announced. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . vatos locos. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. my school sponsored an art contest. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. at the age of 17. On the day the winner was to be announced. my name was called. Then. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age.and 12-year-olds. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. and indigenous themes.100+ youth programs.
creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. and crazy juxtapositions. camouflage the cut marks. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. Siquierod with Cisneros. a new tradition: poetical muralism. I consider myself first a poet. The guard was two feet in front of me. a freehand artist second. there was no turning back.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. a hacksaw blade. Today. metaphors. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. and obtaining the other articles took time. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. manufacturing the rope. José Boner Boscobel. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. Securing the tools. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. I had to get in the same cage. watching every move during a strip search. Octavio with Orozco. I fuse images using words. cash. And yet. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult.
I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. doubt. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. D-day. already packed with the gear. I could see everything. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. I was going. and I was sweating a puddle. I was through and bent back the bars.100+ primitive. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. I was balls-to-the-wall. It was going according to plan 48 . There was no time for hesitation. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. or nerves. my arms were screaming. every muscle was taut. In a few minutes. but they could see every move I made. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. The cage was shaking and rattling. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I slung the rope over my shoulder. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on.
from regret and anxiety. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. The rope burned through my fingers. Babb Corcoran. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. It was too thin. D. Yet. through what I’ve gained and learned since. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. outside the confines of the jail. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. I attempted to crawl away. from doubt. needed more knots… whatever the problem. free from fear. cages. CA 49 . I’d escaped. but now I would to fall to my death. I should have made gloves. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. I was lying on the rooftop. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. but couldn’t move. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. But that feeling of open air on my skin. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. I know from consequential. it was too late for solutions. guards. I know I’ve never been freer.
I. and by the time I did. One time. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. not losing his license.s. I thought I loved him. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. There was no wake-up call. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.U.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. nothing. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. Alcohol would always come first. no matter what. but the key was jammed. He attempted to shut off the ignition. not getting pancreatitis.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. which never came. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . it was too late. he just kept hitting rock bottom. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.
the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. and sexual predators committed.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. simply liked the quick. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. free dope. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. In my 33 years. victimless cash. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. that was for sure. I had lived an interesting life. Adela Tedesco. drugs were simply a hustle. I had seen and done a lot. not a crime. 23 Hollywood. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. Crimes were what thieves. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. a man with a past. who in the present. thugs. To me. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . Unfortunately.
it protects the innocent. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. I understand the necessity for law and order. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. either. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. at this fateful juncture of my life. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. I argued it at every level: in the media. not the solution. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. at stake: my entire life. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. at the university.” There are the pro-drug war. as an activist. the entire world of academia. While I’m no angel. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. for all practical purposes. CA 52 . I’m surely not the devil. our families. Then there are those of us. Now. I’m arguing against it one more time. things are different. It helps those unable to defend themselves. and with whoever. I participated in the discourse. this time. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. Yet.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism.
I felt it starting at my feet. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. there are new users every day. They destroy lives. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. coming up my legs. One of the guards supplied it. even though they know that there are great risks. However. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. Lance Corson. until it took over my whole being. 24 Little Compton. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. So many people believe that they are invincible. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. that nothing will ever happen to them. riding through space in 53 O . my stomach and chest. There are always consequences. and nothing good ever comes of them. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil.
peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. bad. My muscles 54 . dying for a fix. only inches left to stand on. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. holding on to my elbows. and I could feel the cramps coming. I walked around with my arms in front of me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. I needed a fix. across my stomach. There were monsters with long tails down there. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. Then I nodded off. My body was curled. gritting their teeth. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. I began to shake all over.100+ the dead of darkness. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. my heart pounded violently. my back to the wall. falling. I stood in the corner. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. falling. My stomach was cramping. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The floor closed up as I hit it. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. I was terrified! I found myself falling. I was freezing all over.
2002. not cleaning the dishes right. steal. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. not shoveling the sidewalk right. petty reasons. George Hughes. Mom grabbed a frying pan. got down on the floor and beat me with it. 66 Burkeville. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. There was no fix at hand. God and I both love you. and 10. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things.T R U E S T O R I ES exploded with cramps and I fell from the cross as convulsions wore me to a thin frazzle. If I were on the street. jumped out. playing too loudly. Mother. “Get out of my house. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies.” Now 55 . I kicked at her. One day. to get a fix. She opened the back door and said. My mother passed away on October 2nd. including their own souls. not scrubbing the floors right. You want to be a tough guy then make it on your own and get out!” So from 9 to 19½ I lived on the streets. wetting the bed. “No more. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. But I wasn’t. and sell anything and everything.000 other small. lie.
100+ I can never say it to her. 67 Amarillo. TX 56 . I don’t hate my mom. I don’t dislike her. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her.
Sex & Seduction .
They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. But for the young woman. Terri Giosia. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. I 59 M . and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. 45 Montreal. Québec. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. it will occur over time. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. an orgasm. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. This is what occurs at 18. and fulfillment after the first time.
I will spare 60 I . When we were little. people would assume we were twins. we had sex. it won’t be your last. not because he wants to. If you know your body. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. who are ready to lose their virginity. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike.100+ beg to differ. that even though it’s your first time. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. We have known each other since before we can remember. Now. I always tell my friends. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. Do it because you want to. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. Momo. I did it for me. At the beginning of high school. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. Don’t be scared. 16 Richmond. We decided we were ready. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive.
Almost at the same time. we said. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. and crying ensued. that is not what is important. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. AK. at a “well-supervised” party. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. Obviously laughter. anyway. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. he wields 61 I .T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. and we locked ourselves in. interesting story to tell. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. I ran into my best friend. squealing. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. I grabbed her. Later in the evening.
changing his urine bag. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. but girly mags are his main source of info. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. and showering and grooming him. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. turning him over. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. or backstabbing us to our bosses. He basks in their attention. it’s like having a little harem. NSW. if the woman is appealing enough. However. rubbing his feet and back. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. Christie. being sarcastic. tempt. 54 Sydney. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. feeding him like a baby. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. however. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. He thinks he understands how to make women happy.100+ considerable power by yelling.
ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. Québec. beyond a shadow of a doubt. With a glance. this type of seduction is an illusion. it’s possible to seduce anyone. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. His hand rested on my forearm. as upon sobering up. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. a look.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. Without confidence. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward. It is stating the obvious. Once that is accomplished. 45 Montreal. That is. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. smile. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. It is not real. his complete awareness of 63 I . a smile. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. However. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. the golden rule for seduction. one cannot seduce. body language.
Never had a burden been more welcome. 27 Santiago. Windoftheclyde. but my pretensions made no difference to them. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. In a shadowy whisper. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. he breathed my name. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. My ways were haphazard. On the brink of a thrust. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. but my anticipation was no longer tender. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. I felt his back tensing against my hands. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. for they would make me look like a weakling. True to their word. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. his lips fell on my hips. I pleaded with them not to show up. Always the seeker. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms.
Small Miracles .
As a person. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound.” Out there. With a twist of a key. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. I’m locked in. Late at night. 67 T . I know that no one can get in without the key. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. and often after a long day. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I even welcome the closing of the door. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I should hate the cell. I do my deepest thinking there. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. I know I have to be locked in. amongst the prison population. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. At times. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. in the darkness. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. rather familiar.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I’m on guard seven days a week. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. It becomes routine. I am human. but once inside my cell.
” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. It never is truly quiet here. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. but I’m in good company. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. The walls seem to hum. The cell is a hellhole. The cell door is now closed.100+ I pray in the cell. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. I have not experienced silence in years. these sounds are tranquil. or write a letter to my family or a friend. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. I don’t hear anyone talking. while here in prison. Ironically. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. yet. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. a melody of pleasant proportions. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. despair. To be honest. I’m alone. the cell is a paradox because in reality. read a book. The cell is my castle until I reach home. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. When the cell door shuts. and loneliness. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. and I write my loved ones there. listen to the radio. To the outside observer. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance.
a sphere formed at the end of the bed. bleed. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. we have been there before. In a small. I’m human: I feel. think. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. 69 I . NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. though their faces were human-looking. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. They looked invincible. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I also laugh.m. Michael McLean Beacon. love. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. in it were four angels.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. and I was filled with awe. cry. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. I was lying in the dark. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. and have the power to choose. showing another dimension. “Let us show you the way.
I saw a van coming straight towards me. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. 54 North Shore City. guarded from dark forces. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. there really wasn’t any time to react. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. I thought to myself. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. but time operates differently there. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb.100+ white. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. This was a kingdom on a large sun. knowing order reigned in the next world. At that instant. Auckland. “Oh no. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. Misty. 70 I . I lived in a house for what seemed like years. circular spaceship. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. waiting to make a left turn.
there was a pint of blackberry brandy. In the breast pocket of my jacket. Ever since that day. “Wow. I sat there thinking to myself. I chose Mount Sanitos.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. It is important to find the right place for an ending. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. “Sorry about that. It was a very surreal experience. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. I considered the importance of what I was doing. and in the hand-warmer pocket. including me. Where we die should be no less important. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. Hey. 38 Methuen. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. a brand new box of pills.
One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. There was a flash of light. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. Necessary and common. When the east finally began to warm.100+ someone else got hurt. There were shapes of people around. no one was looking for me. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. then a shift. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. things were… strange. I finally reached the top. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I cowered. closing my bank accounts. but they sensed me there. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. dropping off my recycling. Blood was caked on my forehead. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . The guardians stayed with me until dawn. thinking it could be the police. It was still night. like someone hit the reset on my brain. I must have blacked out. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. Four pills left. For a moment.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. On the far side of my fall. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. “He’s here. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. The guardians were gone. I panicked. my hand slipped and I fell. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone.
so I continued making the sandwiches. Everything after that has been pure profit. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. I had never done that before. I was living alone. Then a second piece of bread fell. At one point. it got so bad that I became depressed. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off.T R U E S T O R I ES was. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. but I had never been depressed before either. as I did. Three days later. and it’s doable. and then dragged myself towards it. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I realized it was just a stone. I was making sandwiches. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. When I got up in front of the cabin. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I think of myself as having happily died that night. I also know that I’m never alone. That was my break-even point. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . hitting me on the left ankle. I’ve been to zero.
“I am the bread of life. When I returned to the kitchen.” He had come to me just as I had asked Him to three days before! I interpreted this phenomenon as follows: when the bread cannot be seen. I was very puzzled. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. Needless to say. He is still there. we got pregnant again. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. whether we see Him or not.” Two years ago. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. but there was only one piece on the floor. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.100+ of bread. so we should not be depressed. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. the day before Valentine’s Day. Three months later. Our little (well 74 I . Jesus is always with us. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened.
When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. but left the bees plenty for the winter. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. But this event puts it into a whole different light. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. Kelly. WV A Taste of Honey honey. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. I did not waste it on the bland mush. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. 30 Martinsburg.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. It was a good partnership. And he is our own personal little miracle. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. Don’t get me wrong. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . we will always think about the baby that we lost. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. If he had come 13 minutes earlier.
James Burns Gunnison. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. I thanked God for a taste of honey. and also. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. But man cannot live on honey alone. The other half I saved for later. but it seemed to last an eternity. For a moment there. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. UT 76 . I had been free. the mountain laurel. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I had smelled the spruce. and the wildflowers. I thought. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener.
Army during the Vietnam War. He may have survived the Vietnam War. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. but it ultimately killed him. smoking saved his life. Gavai Kona. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. During a skirmish.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. There was a spark in her eyes. a pack of cigarettes. After years of alcohol abuse. he got shot in the left side of his chest. her actions were terrible and painful. Despite this miracle. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. Ironically. I 77 I .S. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. He had a lighter.
Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. NY 78 . While he was hugging me. and said. “Good night. One day. That is when I saw the stain. With powdered soap and water. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. I heard him whisper. reached for an empty hanger. Miriam. when my brother Bardo and I got home. “You’re not the only one. and hung up my dress.” I said through my tears. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. I turned to go to my room. With tears in my eyes. my mother called me.” he said. and I did. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Miriam McKenzie. Bardo. “Good night. he looked at me. I walked to my closet. I tightly hugged him back. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper.” He also told me that when I finished eating. 41 Bedford Hills. The next thing I knew. Bardo came out. as I put the dress on the hanger. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. but she ignored me. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. the dress ended up on my face.
There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. But in Mexico. Everything from 79 M . I could wear my own clothes. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. I had conjugal visits.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. a stereo. a pipe with running water for a shower. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. no weight pile. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. no track or ball field. the “buffaloes” roamed. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. When money arrived. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. bought a TV. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. We installed a swamp cooler. An aisle ran the length of each building. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. built wooden bunks. There was no yard to speak of. cook what I wanted. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. No gym. incoming calls only. Each building contained its own separate shantytown.
and even prostitutes. and dangerous. I arrived at the school cafeteria. if I changed. lumber. the ontological slap in the face. filthy. True. I wanted out.S. drugs. booze.C. in my head.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. I reasoned that. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. for the right price. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. art supplies. J. clothing. the world would reflect that change. but it was an identity that was poisonous. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. I was allowed to keep my identity. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. appliances. much like my thinking. Amberchele Canon City. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. A man could buy food. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. and it has. for anything else. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I .
It had been an ironic twist of fate. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. That made all the difference in the world. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. his father embraced me in the hallway. Fernandez Miami. FL 81 . But when others got involved. As I turned to look. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. With time. His father attended the hearing. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. I had been stabbed. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. I flirted with the idea of getting even. encouraging him during the fight. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. I yelled for help. As we spoke.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. my assailant approached me and apologized. it stopped bothering me. the judge dismissed the case. In my mind. When I did not press charges. a free-for-all ensued. When I saw my assailant in court. After that incident. the atmosphere was tense. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. After the trial. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. however. Enrique M. I stood by my friend. my membership in the gang became obsolete.
Matters of the Heart .
41 Dallas. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. my first true love. I could not 85 T . I want to know everything he knows. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I am 41 years old. no matter what answers you receive.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. He is strong. He is honest. I never get tired of listening to him. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. He’s my first Jan Richards. One would think that because I have experienced life. This is it! This is my first true love. the good and bad. I will accept all of him. I have known my first love for more than a year. Boy. and I am in love. I would have been in love before. He is smart.
We both respect and value each other very much. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. I was browsing . Mansour. I will never forget her. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Although we are divorced. I feel so alone. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). and the connection that we share. I decided to visit her. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. Suzy.100+ eat. too. my first love. 59 Dayton. he came back to me. it’s been like heaven. I hope we will get married one day. she kissed me for the first time. The morning after I arrived. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and that the connection will endure. but now I want to leave him. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. 27 Tehran. Without her.
T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. There was something fascinating about this “older man. slender.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. I worry all the time. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. and now all I have are insecurities. His name was Travis. everything was great. and I am so jealous. brown-haired young man. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. Shurley. and he was in fifth grade. Then within six months. I would never have gone out with him. At first. He played with my head. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. He was a tall. If it were up to me. He stripped down my confidence. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set.
or inn in the continental United States. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. I just remember wanting to be near him. Often. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . 29 Hilo. anal sex. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. Kitty Mayo. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. and gangbangs—it all occurs. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. wanting him to protect me. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. My reflections of Travis developed years later. hotel. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. She has little education. all in retrospect. threesomes.
or risks. The laughs come fast and free. It’s an amazing thing. regulations.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. take care of her kids. Only the restraints of the environment and the consequences keep it subdued like a lid on the pot until want turns to need and a window of opportunity opens for the lid to be lifted. Sometimes personalities just click. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. Hours seem like minutes. She needs no coercion or con. The attraction is mutual. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. send her shopping. The female is as rebellious as the offender. Love. It comes like a thief in the night. The conversations flow smoothly. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. rules. TX 89 . Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. pay her rent. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. I can name a few females on this very unit who have been terminated for improprieties and braved embarrassment and dirty looks to return to visit their “friends. religion. finances.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. who want to keep her hair and nails done. housing.
Two months later. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. We are in her attic bedroom. destined for Minneapolis. suitcase is a difficult feat.. Three months later. She told me the upright bass was sexy. and I told her she was strange. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. the distance between her school. three floors down. my tears will come. I’m not sure she’s my other half.. we went out for coffee. but I know I don’t want her to leave. she told me the same thing. and mine.” I have no idea what he means. and yes. on a tour of Oxford. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. She’s packing her last suitcase. Outside her window.100+ Four A. Massachusetts. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. the tears pouring down her cheeks.M. And three months and two weeks later. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. Boston College. Skidmore College. One month later. I told her I loved her. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. I wonder when. and if. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on .
m. still two bottles of wine later. At four a. And tears stream down my face.m. until four a. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. I walk her to the bus station. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. I had written the poem already. write a love poem..m.. and I had a crush on . 22 Amherst. Alexander J. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. and I have to walk her to a bus station. At two a. and place it on the hood of his car. after another bottle of wine. needless to say.m.” she says. At three a.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. Theoharides. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. after a bottle of wine. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates.. so I decided to go the subversive route. she falls asleep. comes. “I’ll miss you. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old.
Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. desires. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. 28 Albuquerque. and well-being. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. Galilea. but because of them. I never had the guts to go up to him and tell him how I felt so nothing ever became of my “love” from afar. 24 Lincoln. needs. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the .100+ I sped away. Unfortunately. not despite of their shortcomings. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. NH Love Is for yourself. Scarlet Rose. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. I was 21 years old.
My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. I imagined something romantic. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. We are the yin and yang for each other. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. But a girl can dream. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. no? Saturday came. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. 30 Arecibo. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . making our relationship grow stronger. It can be between two men and between two women. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. PC. As you can imagine. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner.
my family. and so many tears. and I tried to fight for my dreams. and I thought I was immortal. but he was mine. A baby was on the way. and you have always been the one. and we are raising a daughter as well. Michelle. but he wasn’t in love with me. Maybe he was too old for me. 36 Lennon. “I did it for love. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I love you. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I regret so many things. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. Life is not supposed to be this way. so I left everything behind: my career. I chose my hell. Mare. and my life. the woman that he had been dreaming of. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . maybe he was strange. and I live there now. I regret it. Our relationship is 15 years strong. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life.100+ lifetime. so many mistakes. I tried to be perfect.” I told myself. an innocent victim of the lost paradise.
T R U E S T O R I ES life. If I were to start my life all over again. but we’ll be living separate lives. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. but as for love. though. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. we fell in love. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. We are going to graduate soon. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. My ex and I are currently in high school. We now have a beautiful baby girl. and it lasted about a year and a half. Lately. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. I don’t know. but we’re not together anymore. Kikis_fairytale. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. It’s a bad habit. but I can’t control it. 18 Olmito. Yeyo. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. 95 I . 27 Athens.
and I have no control over my actions. “I may have a guy at home. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. yet doesn’t make me want to die. 18 Brooklyn. Although I didn’t know it at the time. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. I don’t want to. but as much as I try to stop. He was a southern gentleman with manners. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. We started talking and before long we just clicked. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. but it just happens. it keeps growing. In the summer of 2009. I gasp for air. We spent my final day together. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. 96 M . I shake. I imagine the two of us together all the time. Every time I see him. talent. It is a scary feeling. I thought to myself. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. and a smile that could melt a heart. Aila Balic. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. but things had been slowly going downhill. looks. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years.
tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. 26 Acapulco. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. and it took all I had not to cry. but now it was time to make a big decision.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. Why not have our cake and eat it. I went to say my goodbyes. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Guerrero. Ethan. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. We wanted . I couldn’t believe it was over. too? Hayley. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. In life. no guests. family and friends can witness our marital union. for showing me the truth about love. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. Thanks. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. I explored my options on the ride home. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. There weren’t any wedding planners. and no hassle: just us.
but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. at age fifty-two. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. 2006. For Louise. She was . It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. I will go home one day. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. I guess. On May 15. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. was a devoted wife. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. Clearly magic was happening between us. and made me happy in so many ways. as well as me. but life is not fair. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. I had not felt that way in years. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. This story has the makings for a great ending. Some letters were erotic. 1997.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. On March 27th. Louise had a heart attack and died at home.
and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. Farewell. but for our family members. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. beautiful flower arrangements. I will miss you. George Hughes. 63 Burkeville. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. We had a nice ceremony. Louise. VA A Joining of Two. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. DON’T. However.000 on our wedding. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. If we had to do it again. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. but we had our wedding 7 months later.T R U E S T O R I ES life and made me a better man by helping me see the light when I lived in darkness. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. And in the end. in August. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. Please save 99 M . Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves.
I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. the rings were handed over. “NO!” I yelled at him. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. forest green dress. the wedding doesn’t matter. When we finally reached the priest. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. my voice echoing through the church. 29 Lowell. clad in a miniature tuxedo. 100 A . What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. Even at 3. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. In the fall of 1987. too?” he asked. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding.100+ your money because in the end. On the day of the wedding. “Are you two getting married. Priscilla. When the time came to walk down the aisle. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair.
T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. until amorous love became filial affection. three of them will always be: priests. On the long list of things I hate. and I had no idea where to go. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. I was blinded by lights. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. at some point. 23 Somerville.” When the doors opened. I had gotten used to him and he to me. my cousin. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. The emails became short and purposeful. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. slowly and gradually. not right before my eyes. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. not right away. and forest green. camera flashes. all I remember being told was. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. Adelle Brown. Finally. and I started to ignore 101 I . and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. but before I knew it.
I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. January Paris. I keep trying to push him away. I am content to just exist. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. He was no longer my top priority. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. for him. and started avoiding him. torturous waste of time. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I am not that person anymore. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. and let him do the same. nor is he.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. 102 I . This mundane. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I remember why I fell in love with him. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. but that memory is now alien to me. or lack thereof. For now. I am not that unhappy. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems.
Even if he hadn’t allowed it. VT 103 . as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. Alas. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. and I’m glad they are. I thought that if they divorced. it would have been more difficult. St. and if I were allowed to live with my father. They are still together. which never came. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. my parents did not divorce. I would have done so. Donna J. Johnsbury.
Despite Diagnosis .
and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. and filth swimming and floating along with you. then slips away unseen. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. wash.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. vermin. and sometimes it’s over your head. bide your time. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. go in with your homeboys. alone. cartwheeling. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Prison is a sewer. Take showers in shifts. you can cast off your filthy clothes. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. and when you get to the other side. you must wade carefully through the sewage. and dry yourself. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. You are immersed in it. to survive it. clean. not let it get inside you. Wait till the “others” get out. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. not because of knives but for their germs.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. leaving you there to bleed out. skidding. In prison. sometimes it’s neck-deep. Some don’t.
100+ of the prison sewer. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. As the years passed. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. wondering if I will ever go home. take it all in. a cracked skull. I started having eye trouble. When I awoke. The problem was not eradicated. they inhale deeply. Norman. As for me. I regained some of my physical strength. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. I was told I had a brain tumor. so I went to an optometrist. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. And they die. Charles P. become a part of it. Months later. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . 59 Daytona Beach. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. meningitis.
I have had a few AIDS tests in my life.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . so in spite of having protected sex. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. Pete. Fueled by the media. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. 21 Devonport. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. After 4 or so weeks. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I had to endure antibiotics being pumped into me for a number of weeks through a PICC line in my arm and I was on these for many days once I returned home. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. and all came out negative. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. traveling all the way down to my elbows. Tasmania. just to be sure.
One time. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. so my body was dying. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. Jolene. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). My father was the only one with the same blood type. Every time a nurse would come in the room. The day I turned five. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. Throughout my childhood.100+ as well. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. but even that wasn’t enough. so he donated his blood. so she took me to the doctor. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. 28 Portland. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . I was constantly in the hospital. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. For instance. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. We all had sad faces.
Today I am 19. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. There is no kindness. nearly bald. hoping to get rid of me to save money. and they both cried tears of joy. Five days later. my oncologist was determined 111 I . Maybe it’s a nightmare. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. “Well.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. At Perryville. Maybe it’s not really me. 19 Pembroke Pines. I’m 15 pounds thinner. and very pale. This never happened outside. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. the jail has delayed it. and 100% cured. in college. the judge can expedite all he wants. the check-in nurse says. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. fightingsurvivor19. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. I vomit constantly. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me.” When my chemo starts. I am back at Estrella Jail. Three months later.
and then annually. the doctor comes in. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I know I’m an inmate. when I’m supposed to be healing. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. No more nausea. I start the laborious grievance process. burning instead. and nine months later. I vomit until there is nothing left. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. In here. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting.100+ that my nausea be minimal. begging for what I’m missing. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. He recommends a tumor 112 . but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. When my treatment is over. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. But this protocol is not followed. Eventually. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. Despite the rigid schedule. there is complete indifference. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I am sent back to my room alone. He answers my questions. My life is literally in their hands. An hour later. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I have three more chemo sessions. then every six months for two years.
many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. always look for a reason to be glad. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. I can deal with that. Their stories touch me on so many levels. Six months later. no positive imagery can change my situation. That is why I am afraid. my life is in the hands of the State. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. uncaring power. and I am helpless against its inadequate. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. incompetent. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. That’s really hard in here. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. This is about the State. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. it still hasn’t happened. AZ 113 . Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. mismanaged. As a result. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test.
Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. she was looking ahead. Dinorah Torres. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. making plans for the future. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. Despite all this. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. 33 Santa Barbara. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. and I felt helpless all the time. Later. CA A 114 . without even knowing it. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. he began to distance himself. A year into my treatment. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Two months after I started chemotherapy. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. but when he found out that treatment could last years. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. My boyfriend was very supportive at first.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me.
He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. 18 Tacoma. How sad. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. One year she was cancer-free. Hayden. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58.” What kind of doctor says something like that to a patient? That’s like telling an intravenous drug-user that his/her veins and liver are in good shape. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. shape. It just 115 I . The following year. She was longdivorced. never had any kids.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. for an addict’s. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. and had lived alone for decades. for a smoker’s lungs.
Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis.G.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Cornwall. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. Penzance. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. not even decades after giving up smoking. on the part of Texas officials. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked.A. Whatever the percentage. He lost his wife to cigarettes. and now he could lose his own life because of them. F. his oldest daughter to cigarettes.
You can see how dangerous it is. 7. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. 4. sentence length. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 2. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. and house them accordingly. be as humane as possible. 6. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 9. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. 5. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. and typecrime. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 3. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. whether here or abroad. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. A few suggestions: 1. Classify prisoners by age. 8. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge.
100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. This could be a start. Harris. 48 Huntsville. Daniel H. TX 118 .
The Transience of Permanence .
death is merely a passage or rite. death out there now looks relatively easy. discussions. He understands that my time with him is short. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. Some days. I feel the dread on my flesh. which has its effects on me as well as on him. especially on death row. plans. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. From what I’ve seen in here. I swear. For “free-world” folks. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. a last will and testament. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. TX I 121 .T R U E S T O R I ES LIVE from Texas Death Row! ’m a Texas prisoner and I work on death row. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. Each morning when I arrive at work. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. or SSI. I’m a state-approved janitor. then the whole world has done the same. some acceptance. All is forgiven. He desperately seeks some understanding. In plain talk. maybe an estate. even inside me. In the penitentiary. If I give him that. Christopher Best Livingston.
I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. Light-headed. Fuck them. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. It’s called “checking out. today. I am feeling very ugly inside.T. and it can be done right now.” or “moving on to the next phase. I’ll try again later. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. G. People in the day room are getting suspicious. Very suspicious. Shit. It isn’t working. 122 T . Fuck God.” “taking it to the vent.” And I’m not talking about parole. Suspicious. yet relieved that I took action. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Shit. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I wrap the cut in toilet paper.
but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. Mike Rothwell Ione. After that. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . a neighbor of mine in Folsom. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. but a symbolic one. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. not in the clinical sense. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison.
sterling silver. and the person he never grew to become. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. In the world beyond prison walls. diamonds. in essence. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. Hector Gallegos Otisville. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. killed that greater part of himself. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. 124 N . he may as well be dead. pearls. the son he failed to be. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. gold. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. my big fat Italian grandmomma. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. we return home and open her jewelry boxes.100+ love of his family. but life—even at 103—seems too short. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. In this sense. the lover he wishes to be. He has. the father he cannot be. matriarch of the family. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. year after year.With his incarceration.
Mother airs out the house to get rid of Nonna’s scent! I’d have always thought one would cherish the smell of one’s dear momma. except for a fundamental difference. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. Who would believe that a swastika. key chains. necklaces. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. pre-WWII. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. blankets.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. she never wore it. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. albums. Mary Higgins Reading. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. The first thing one notices is the quiet. as if no one else is 125 D . was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. and handcrafted dolls. The following day. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. dating from the roaring twenties. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. all the clothing in my nonna’s wardrobe is folded into garbage bags and given away except for a gorgeous full-length Persian lamb coat that is given to my sister-in-law who wears it so well.
An ache settles in his belly. In remembering. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. Gene W. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. but the mind rebels. such as his first pet.100+ there. the fights he had in grade school. TX 126 . making it ominously quieter. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. It doesn’t bother them that a human being is sitting in the cell thinking of events or people from the past that made him happy. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. Hathorn Livingston. media representatives. It is like God’s “time-out” room. he realizes that all hope is gone. there are only four or five people. At other times. the officials are stoic and judgmental. survivors of the victim’s family. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is.
” Freddy complained to me one day. Sleep came with great difficulty. He was a genuine character. he was barely over five feet tall.” “partial. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. In October 2004. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. and they all tell you something different. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. I saw no real reason for worry. Once muscular. trying to get someone to do something. Since he always complained. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. including Freddy. Over a period of a year. really took it seriously. if at all. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). and his head was shaved clean. and his memory showed signs of failure. after a slew of “unreadable. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. Time was of the essence.” and “lost” test results. 127 E . no one. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy.” I forget why. he had become thin as a rail. his body was covered in tattoos. a combination drug therapy. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. “Every doctor has a different opinion.
Freddy died alone the night of December 29. 2005. only resignation. they probably could have saved me. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. By October. it was too late. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. “By the time they did something. looking through the glass at our little one. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.100+ Months passed. They killed me. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . Freddy was my friend. They tried giving him formula. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. He vomited blood one morning. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. “If they got at me 18 months ago. and now he’s dead. and he was afraid. but he threw it up.” he told me. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime.” There was no anger in his voice. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. but no treatment was administered. We named him William Kenrick.
But I swear. fight for it. But I knew something wasn’t right. he had to undergo an operation. only he was already lifeless. Then I start crying again and eventually. And I knew though he was gone. when I visited him. And for that. my first son. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. he went. And oh. a smile formed on his lips. The next day. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. as soon as I held him.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. which was declared a success. At 1:30 a.. Despite the pain. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. “Baby. his heart rate slowed. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Someday. my first child. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated.” And as soon as everybody was there. if you can still make it. At 3 days old. I still think of him. But if not. 32 Las Piñas City. Jenelleish. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. PHILIPPINES 129 . Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. and whispered. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. I turn numb. I love him more and more each day. the smell… His sweet. only to realize that he’ll never come back. He will always be my first baby. just let go. NCR.m. milky scent is still there.
I dreamed about him every single night..100+ I Miss You. My dad liked to sing and dance. he died suddenly and tragically. I was close to my father. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. Facing the cell door. But as a father. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. in a better mood than usual. yet his passing was significant to me. But after 5 years of marriage.m. and listening to music. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. he was really fantastic. enjoying the early morning light. roller-skating. I went through many phases. But I didn’t cry. I didn’t shed one tear. fishing. Malachi Ephraim Florence. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. Dad une 15. from denial to 130 I . I gazed at the prison-grey walls. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I miss him deeply. After my dad’s death.
I sent my aunt. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. the final and hardest phase arrived. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. with great parents and friends. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. I realized that what happened was out of my control. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. a Christmas card. I drank to escape and forget. As a last minute thought. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. Life lost its luster. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. happily single. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. had no meaning. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. Terri Giosia. After a long period of time. However. How sad that now sounds. hate to indifference. 45 Montreal. her youngest 131 I . and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. I am now 45. Québec.
my poem may mean nothing. For two years. my mom had been taken to the hospital. Dennis Forrest. he said. Soon after. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. 51 Rosharon. she called every person she knew and read that poem. But after all the miserable hospital visits. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . To the academic world. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. Not only did she call him. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. especially when you are only seven years old. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. The doctor gave her three months to live.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. The night before. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions.
T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. 16 Rexburg. but to help them through things the best you can. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. the house. My dad softly called me over. where it was warm. This experience has made me stronger. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. Aubrie. He took care of my mom. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. and us. My father continued hacking. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. “Daddy. It went on and on. too weak to walk to her bedroom. and even worked from home so he could be there. My life was changed forever.
He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I could see that you loved your father. from a prison payphone in the dark. You see. A prisoner friend. but the last time inexorably approached. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. waiting him out: “Charlie.100+ asked. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. not speaking. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. I said things I’ve always regretted. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. too. I begged him to quit for years. Over the past few years.” He was just twenty-four at the time. exhaled. and he was gone. but he died before I got the chance. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. son. healing wounds. You settled your differences. when I first met your family several years ago. I admire what you did. with complications from lupus. I could tell. who knew my family well. closed his eyes. like you did. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. He looked at my brothers. Even when he was here last time. He said things. I wanted to make it up to him. There were hard feelings between us. and that was a good thing. the reason I’m saying this. real sick. We feared lung cancer. and he loved you. so I recognized it in both of you. but emphysema got him first. as did my mother. I had unfinished business with my father. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years.” 134 . collect. Don’t ever smoke them. so I stood there. I knew he wanted to say something.
FL Slash nstead of going to court. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. Charles P. My cellie threw up. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. Norman. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. While there. 135 I . It was the least I could do. leaned his head on my shoulder. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. I decided to slash my wrist. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. 59 Daytona Beach. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. His tears soaked into my suit coat. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself.
he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in.” “What are you facing?” I asked him.100+ “Well. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. “Six months. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. Evidently. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity.T.” G.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. I don’t anymore. His eyes were half open. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.
slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. there was only solemn silence. perhaps. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot.T R U E S T O R I ES was. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. For the first time since I was there. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. stood there for several seconds. Was he going to say a few kind words about the recently deceased? Maybe warn us about the dangers of unchecked depression? A short lecture. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. With a bit of a dramatic flair. CA 137 . “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. Then. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. He had everyone’s complete attention. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. Even the crazy guys had shut up. But not at this moment. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. It was so still. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. hung it back up on the wall. before he walked away laughing with his buddy.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. and it was my word against hers. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I was black. in front of a white jury. barging into her apartment. Because she was white. 141 I . and a ladies’ man. 1982. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. the white system. I want some sex. a member of a fraternity. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. racism at its best. I’m telling myself that she wants me.” As I say this.” I say. not only to have fun. When it’s time to leave the club. I knock on the door.” I step towards her. angrily. but I haven’t picked up a girl. if no one else is here. but it’s not my girlfriend. forcing myself in. It opens. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. “I came to see my girl. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. I only saw what I wanted to see. I want to be with a girl. and I’m in college. I say. it’s a habit of ours. but also to pick up girls. that it was a setup. “Your girl is not here. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. I was convicted. sentenced to six years in prison. she’s home alone. my fraternity brothers. she was white. I’ve had fun.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. a football player. For twenty years. I’m thinking. we can have sex. it’s her roommate. popular on campus.
I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. a wife.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . forced attractions to women. especially with men.100+ Today. For sixteen years. So I tried. The fantasy of grandchildren. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. pure houseboat. faithfully. for them. I had known that I was a disappointment. if I were to have a place in this world.
. boring corduroy-wearers. I am finally happy. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. my sadness never faltered. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. with whom I constantly fought and argued. And I knew. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. only for who I pretended to be. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. Daryl F. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. When I arrived. One day. that my parents felt the same. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. So I confessed my truths. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. 19 Hooksett. At seventeen. all too well in fact. I wrote a script.
Kent. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. especially for clothes. being a noble and resourceful man. one male and one female. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. I was literally paralyzed. 30 Maidstone. His self-confidence saved the day. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. carried on like a trooper. and sinker. it was swallowed hook. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. line. Nicholas. The audience was riveted by his magnetic personality and his cultured accent even when he said the Sun makes a revolution around the Earth every 25. We didn’t date. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. This brought about a case of stage fright.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. He dated one girl 144 I . Philippa.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. but I always suspected that he was gay. Knowing very little about astrology.
My friends just did . I didn’t really think anything of it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. but I never really suspected she was gay. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. However. When he told me he was gay. Waterville. she was always a tomboy. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. As for my female friend.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. especially since I had always suspected it. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. Jayne L.
As if things couldn’t get any worse. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. not me. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. We feel the judge was very homophobic. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation.” so we had to go back to court. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay.” I did. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. gays and lesbians are persecuted. knowing that if she 146 . We are not giving it to her.” Within 10 days. “Never mind. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. Right now. After three years worth of evidence gathering. too. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. I fear losing my partner.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time.100+ me. who is from Peru. If I were a man. They even sent me to a shrink. but I am a woman and therefore. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said.
has taught me compassion. but we did not lose ourselves. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. the most effective teacher. If anything. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. 35 Tampa. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. TX 147 I . FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. These days. the Ultimate Truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. Aileen Diaz. We lost everything. she would be detained upon walking off the plane for speaking out against the homophobic Peruvian government and their police brutality! We are going through some tough times right now.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported.
Now. better not to tempt fate. and I would never throw it in his face. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. Eloise Lebreton. But on the other hand. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. I still love and respect him. You have to always be 148 C . MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. I feel like an idiot. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. I probably would have been better off not knowing. 30 Detroit. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. On the one hand.
T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. I was allowed to play with a friend. Louisiana. One way is to keep doing those pushups. Mike Rothwell Ione. I have told few people of an incident that has caused me to despise myself for being a coward as well as Christianity and all its hypocrisy. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual.” then there’s not much they can do about it. But if someone’s determined to “check out. After church. so you better learn to keep it at bay. 149 A . I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. It’s always going to be there. They help. No matter how upbeat you may feel. I lived in Shreveport. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong.
100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. lit the gas stove. was too much to handle. I have been an atheist ever since. at my tender age. another ultrafundamentalist sect. She barged into the room screaming. and abuse. My friend’s mother yelled. 47 Old Fort. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. molestation. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. He screamed in agony. her face contorted in rage. Christian Missionary Alliance. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. NC 150 . She dragged my friend to the kitchen. Yurshta. especially my mother. “You think this hurts motherf’er. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad.
T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. Any kind of abuse. demeaning. I had nine miscarriages. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. whether physical or emotional. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. should not be tolerated. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . 26 Essen. I have never been physically beaten. Gaby Hermann. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I did not get angry with him. I swear.
He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. INDIA 152 . What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life.100+ with me. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. 36 New Delhi. Then one day. Delhi. Sonia.
Eerie Encounters .
I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special.m. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. just a quarter of a mile farther. slight. We cannot be alone. although I’ve never seen one. In my nightmare. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. They are looking beyond me. even Ghirardelli’s. I don’t need to see to believe. Aquatic Park. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. Why would we want to be? Clarette. but I’m getting tired. my 155 I . Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. 28 Salem. swishing sound. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I can see the people. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. I listen for a moment to a strange.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. I keep swimming.
And about a week after that. MA 156 T . beginning to feel numb. summoning me. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. The walls murmur. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. The waves crash. 45 Delano. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. to the deep water. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. Foster. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. And then. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver.100+ arms are getting heavy. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. out beyond the breakers. Will Ferrara. I am silently alone. About 5 years later. Am I going crazy? Frank E. I awake. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. I hear something in the distance calling me. 24 Lawrence. I’m only treading water. When I was 18.
I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. In the following days. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. I dreamt that I was in Italy. and we had no choice but to drink it. While alive. In October. 56 Alfonsine. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. I immediately called home. One night. Shocked. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. too. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. On our way to the hospital. I felt sick and went to sleep. my mouth stopped bleeding. while still aboard. Almost twenty days later. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. showing us that we were right. From that moment on. Not long after. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. at my uncle’s funeral. Ravenna. ITALY 157 I . In the dreams.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. a strange heat enveloped my body.
It was then that I woke up. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. but late for work! Paddy J. I was squinting. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed.. but they continued moving and stretched me out. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. I landed at the feet of the creature. I stood up and looked at its face. 19 Monaghan. It was pitch black. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I remember shaking like a leaf. staring straight ahead. It was my dad! At that moment. as whatever I was looking at was far away. its feet dragging along the ground. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean.
I saw what seemed to be an apparition. One evening. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. thin man. When I turned to look. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. As I placed my canteen in the water. Enrique M. thinking about nothing. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. the vision of a tall. I was in the bathroom.” I thought. Hiking along the trail. my mind completely blank. “I’ve been here before. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. “That place is haunted. echoes from long ago. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. Fernandez Miami. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. 159 W . As nighttime fell. When I returned home. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life.” someone who knew the area told me. That left me speechless. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. it had disappeared. It was at this moment that I saw. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives.
the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. I remembered being there before. However. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. grey cloak that covered his entire body. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. hooded.100+ He was wearing a long. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. and the vision was gone. His face was shrouded in darkness. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. when I entered the King’s Chamber. I have no idea what the vision meant. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. He walked towards me. Then. Devon. I have not had any such vision since. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. standing in that same spot. still completely covered by the hood.
AK. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. During this moment of déjà vu. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. and activated it. Then my former self stood in my body. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. Misty. leaving the center in which I stood untouched.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. 54 Auckland. transferred his intelligence into my brain.” Now. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. I came back to my present “reality. and don’t believe time is always linear.
D. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. but I didn’t. 162 I . a little more aware. facing myself. 59 West Roxbury. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.100+ broad daylight seemed real. drifting like seaweed. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. I’m 59 now. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen. I’m willing to see where it takes me. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. They knew what was about to happen. Lonn. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. I woke up taking short gulps of air. and a little less afraid. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. In my dream.B. a little more settled. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation.
and we started to spin really quickly. I survived the accident with no major injuries. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. completely powerless to stop it. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I started to read a lot of books. as I had in Spain. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. but with a different outlook on life–and death. and then was finally able to label my experience. After that. Since I was only 4 years old.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. The driver lost control of the vehicle. when I moved 163 G . “I need to get back. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. Later. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. Jayne L. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. which struck a barrier. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. Waterville. I watched shows on television. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I learned the term years later. and quickly drifting away.
just one year before meeting Gabriele. it’s one of my many pastimes. But for me. facing him. 37 Madrid. at my friend Viola’s insistence. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. a few steps from the altar. A year later. There is only going to a different level. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989.100+ to Massachusetts. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I got slowly closer. One night. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. he said. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. I knelt down on a pew. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. Smiling kindly. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. but with no success.
Through telepathy. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. Through telepathy. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. so I left. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. I told him not to joke. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. While I stared at him. but he had terrible secrets. He vowed to marry me. we became involved. Then one night. and I tried to help him. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. 56 Alfonsine. striking me like a storm.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. ITALY 165 . Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. struck by his suffering. Ravenna. in January 1991. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. To be sure. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. I felt all his fear and pain. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS.
I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I developed . we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. He tipped his hat and smiled.100+ I See Spirits spirit. Then all of a sudden. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. NH. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. On some nights. During the five trips I made out there. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. Soon after.
and into the sky. a state psychologist friend of mine. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. then they turned off. On one occasion. accompanied me. As I returned to where Betty was parked. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. Other times. and then disappear. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. Later. fly to some central point. MA 167 . We saw the usual lights in the sky. and meet. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. On one of my last visits. strobe for 30 seconds. 70 Waltham. up a tree.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. but then. she suddenly pointed and yelled. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. who was also an amateur photographer. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. First. about 50 yards down the tracks. I saw small strobe lights among the trees.
At Home & Abroad .
My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. We married and had a daughter. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. Colombian. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. and completely broken by life.” My father used to talk of Hungary. had to show the INS hard-working hands. not financial statements. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. with a 3-year-old son. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. or Puerto Rican dialect. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. Russian caviar.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. as proof of dignity. where all were welcome and. and great America. I once had plans to live in London. German perfume. but eventually we divorced. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. but life had a different destination in mind for me. Lately. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I .
MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. we love Bach. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Mare. We don’t feel less American because of that. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U.100+ Greece. Nidia F. We all suffer when this happens. 36 Lennon.S. on the contrary. it reminds us that this country is great. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. the Dolphins. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. 54 Leominster.. while others are trying to cheat the system. Morales.
Later in the summer. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. it would have been too dangerous.S. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. I had family there. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. illegally because. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. My father is Mexican. Then during the fall and winter months.C.S. so I decided to move to his. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. D. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. my . Many times. We lived in tents. while my 173 Every year from June until September.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. harvesting crops. and migrant camps. we stayed in Livingston. 27 Washington. cars. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. apart from being unconscionable. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico.
100+ father worked for a local farmer. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. they had the opposite effect. they didn’t work. I realized that I was out of place in school. I was held back in kindergarten. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Early on. I struggled to learn to speak. In high school.” or “spic. read. In grammar school. This is where I went to school.” “greaser. Because of school.” “wet. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. we took our baths in a big washtub. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. this was not a quick or easy transition. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. Not only were the white students 174 . our bathroom was an outhouse. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. In fact. Spanish. mostly beans and tortillas. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. However. However. halfway through my junior year. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. School was a struggle from the beginning. I was embarrassed by my first language. and write in English.
“Now don’t run away on me. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. I wasn’t Mexican. My private class is in La Rinconada. an enclave 175 I . a gringo wearing a tie.” I remind myself. They will pay. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. “One hundred soles tonight. Raul Ybarra.S. I wasn’t white. you know. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. I was born and raised in the U. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. in theory. Although I was of Mexican descent. but on the inside I acted like a white person. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. 50 Boston.. to the Mexican students.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. To white students.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. and I had lost most of my Spanish. I didn’t seem to fit in. not even two dollars. the usual.
A broke American is beyond their comprehension. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. with chicken bulging from its sides.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. No way. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. I am cheered by the recognition. “She’s not here.” “That’s okay. If these families don’t find happiness here. I eye the tamal on the counter. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. as big as a sandwich. They don’t speak to me or to each other. Matt. she told me to come inside and wait. It’s ají amarillo. Remember. never mind 176 . are washing dishes in the sink.” “The señora is not here. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. Two maids.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.” I say. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. you are not Peruvian. I sit at the kitchen table. I have classes with her kids.” “I know she’s not here. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. even your own paycheck.
T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. and we were all waiting for our first check. others were given a song and dance. Some received their checks. Chin up. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. I hear three honks. Mrs. The room grew eerily silent. They looked at each other to see who would answer. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. and springs out the door to the entrance. No way am I going home empty-handed. It was the end of the month. payday. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 177 . I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Matt Wirzburger. An hour later. 40 Amesbury. That is the hard part: hiding the need. MA My Nibble Out of The Big Apple I was wearing an almost-designer-brand business suit I arrived at Penn Station with admirable resolve. Wipe any sign of need from your face. and I came. “That’s what we all hope. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. I was told to come.
I wasn’t alone. After the much-anticipated grilling session. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. The streets were numbered. NY 178 . I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I felt that I had “made it there. the whole city was there. It was well worth it.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. Karen Manhattan. yet spaced widely apart.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. the city awoke and came to life. It was then. I was in the city “on business. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. With briefcase in hand. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. As I again made my way down the grid streets. and only then. As dusk turned to darkness.
5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. Irish.” or “U. 10) The English. it’s “America. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. they helped a great deal. The 179 . and you must learn the difference between lager. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic.” or “Yankland”. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. and sophisticated. bitter. dry. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.A. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. and stout. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing..” “Pop Idol. Scottish. sarcastic. 4) Beer drinking is an art.T R U E S T O R I ES What I Learned from the British 1) Petrol stations are found at supermarkets and adverts before films.S.e. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 12) It’s not the “U. real ale. Welsh. we don’t.”.S.” “The States. etc.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. 7) Humour is subtle. French.
. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. they’ll take the non-Yank. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). Canadian. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. If caught being rude. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. apologise profusely for it. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). Rolling Stones. FL 180 . and body weight is stated in stones.m. not pounds. Gavin S. or any other English-speaking foreigner.m. Pink Floyd). 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 23 Jacksonville. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. South African.100+ Beatles.
We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. and Waikiki Beach. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. crimson berries. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. We took off from the claustrophobic. Native and unique to Hawaii. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. We discovered Diamond Head. Although decades have passed. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. Pearl Harbor. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. my parents and I arrived at . the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety.” which spans in black swirls over the island.
only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. 29 Tultitlán. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding.100+ large. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. Estado de México. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. I remember wanting to return… H. Gutierrez.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . ovular. B.” Despite my pitiful German. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me.
Along the road. However. crying. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. I knew it was war. I packed up my leased . eerie feeling. I even felt a bit guilty. 21 Lübeck. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. Marien’s church in Lübeck. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. To them. Schleswig-Holstein. checked 183 In late October 1998. Standing in St. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. and running in all directions. destruction everywhere. but never forgotten.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. Gisela. For the first time since the early eighties. I experienced an unexpected. however unfounded that emotion may be. green hills and plains. that it was them or us. I imagined civilians screaming. we were the enemy.
Brigitte Pauli Memphis. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. I spent days at the Pueblo. delightful little restaurants. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. TN 184 . I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing.100+ into small motels. There is always a scent of sage in the air. and visited various museums. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures.
The Toughest Job in the World .
” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. We were told that I could be induced at this point. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. we did not make it to the hospital. At 3:30 a. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. I planned a Caesarean. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. So. Needless to say. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. so on the 20th. My due date of June 19th came and went. I was awakened abruptly by contractions.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. after being able to share this special bond. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. Krista. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I knew what to expect. For our first child. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me.m. For child number two. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. he did just that. which is about 45 minutes away.. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning.
By then. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. but fairly frequently. The Texarkana Gazette. spread them open on the wood floor.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. and Tarzan of the Apes. Joe Palooka. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. Dan and Tom). I had no concept of rent. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. Daddy would get out. bacon. and two more on the way (my brothers. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. He’d take off the rubber band. grocery bills. Friday evenings were always a thrill. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. lie down. All was good in the world. car payments. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. Not every week. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. and my mother would call us for breakfast. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. and read each one aloud. It was just the three of us. take out the Sunday comics. He’d slowly read the comics to me. Alley Oop. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. the smells of biscuits. not working as he was the rest of the week. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. prop himself up on his elbows. My . The car would stop.
Not with . I was recovering from an emergency C-section. They said he was beautiful. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. Times were hard.220 grams. 189 The first time I saw my son. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. Finally. but because I thought I had failed. but I never realized it. I cried.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Sebastian. Charles P. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. tubes. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. begging him for a ride in the new car. Norman. 59 Daytona Beach. and lights. I felt desperate. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. (On Friday evenings. or at least pretend to. and his weight. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. 1. a frown on her face. I went to a place filled with noise. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. the used car lot would repossess the car he had.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby.
and I prayed. At long last. I ached to still be pregnant. Outside. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. I’m too afraid of screwing up. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. and mourning. wanting to 190 I . I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. fear. I talked to him. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. and hope flooded me. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I began to sob. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. Relief. Each week. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. patience. pride. I became determined to care for him. 36 North Andover. Lisa. Over time. I sang to him. besieged by guilt. and confidence. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. He was so fragile and exposed. After a week. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. I gained knowledge. I cried. leaving my baby behind. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. I was discharged.
or having trouble with the police. we weren’t there to look at. or getting into drinking. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. But tonight. or feed the deer. Though I was only twelve. At about 3 a. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. drugs. I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. Right now. pet. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. and I was twelve years old. Suzanne.. driving to our new “hunting spot. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. my father and I were in his truck. I don’t have any desire to find out. or gangs. and I 191 I . It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer.m.
My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. a second of your life. By the time he got there. Steven Small. checked for traffic. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. . The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. with the click of a camera.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. 43 Jessup. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. I didn’t even have to call the deer. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. We drank beer on the way home. I snuck up to the fence line. I took my spot and waited. You can take a picture and freeze time. they were already there. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot.
so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. 30 Martinsburg. New moments are constantly being created. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. Sitting on a stool at the counter. moments are forgotten. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. I 193 M . Life goes on. Part of me wanted to pull her away. but those moments stay behind. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. Kelly. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. and sadly. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. I cherish every moment captured. I didn’t expect much. sipping a chocolate shake. without a care in the world. but something was unleashed in me. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives.
Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. I do my best. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. he left. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change.” One day. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Mama was beautiful. He had promised to take care of us. and a few coins went into my piggybank. the afternoon waitress. Someday they’ll put you through college. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. She quit school to marry him.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Her green eyes sparkled. “Your Mama works for tips. crisp. Those are old coins.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. I was proud to be her son.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. my first year in middle school. “I did my best. and well fitting. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. One day. John. without any explanation. It was in seventh grade. I couldn’t take it anymore. Some streetwise kids set me straight. Dorothy. “Those aren’t for spending.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. collectables. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Everyday.” she said with tears 194 . I rushed home with some questions for Mama.
There was just nothing I could respect about her.. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Something with angels on it. Mama wrote every day. All my love turned into shame. She’d died of breast cancer. Mama was gone.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. shame for being poor. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. Mama asked if I needed anything. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. My middle-school friends had seen to that.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. not love. Mama sent cookies. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. They let me go home for the funeral. Respect. I wouldn’t need it. that’s what it was. One day. But something was missing from my letters. I didn’t go to college after high school. I handed the money back to Dorothy. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. After it was over. I wrote back. a letter came from Dorothy. Mama’s friend at the café. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Before she died.. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. Oh sure. shame for having no Daddy. TX 195 .
she answered.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. When outside. I looked at the gas gauge and said. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. “Mom. I opened the glove compartment. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. no books. I pulled out all the papers. a man or woman would call out a number. Finally. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. map. Occasionally. She must have known that I would see it.S.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. In the front. put them in my lap.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. we got into the boiling car. She would fill out some papers. no television. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. “An abortion. and wait to be called into another room. sit back down. “Last case for today. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. but her face wore the same void expression. but there were no magazines. and devoured them one by one. When I did. “Mom. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. a lady came out and said. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms.
It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. When she turned to look at me. she yelled. when I was ten. but someone else. lack of food. No.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. you’re just like Auntie Doll. It wasn’t the welfare office. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. or the bills. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. 37 Mitchellville. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. for me. sat down beside me and said “Hello. I was sitting outside on the front steps.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. Yvette Louisell. everybody in the world. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block.
Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. Big John. She said love makes you do crazy things. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped.” she said. After twenty minutes. I got home empty-handed. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. but Ma said she would handle it herself. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. I took Ma’s hand. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. Big John wanted to go down there. The next thing I knew. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. got a damp washcloth. “Down the block. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. both became angry. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. She 198 . Ma smiled and hugged me. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted.100+ girl in the world. Needless to say. “Green house. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. That little girl was no fool. Then. what had happened. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. “No.
stood by the refrigerator. “My God. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. we got a smile. and left. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. warning him not to touch us again. Ma ran to him. VA 199 . are you all right?” He nodded. George Hughes. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh.T R U E S T O R I ES looked at me through tear-stained eyes and pulled me into her arms and held me for quite a while. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. snatched the bag. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. who had been putting away groceries. “Take it! It’s all there. Then he walked over to the counter. we got the jewelry back. “You like to beat up on women and kids.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. but we laughed and laughed like never before. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. screaming. His wife. Meanwhile. 66 Burkeville.
All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. he leaned over me.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. one of Michael’s many siblings. you scared the poor boy. more surprised than hurt. and look. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. I looked over. I hit the ground again. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. “Now run on home. look what you did.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. you made him cry. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. screaming.” 200 O . but my dad sat her back down. you little sissy. My mother had gotten to her feet. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. saying. “Don’t look to your folks for help. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. With the fork in one hand. “Oh it’s all right.” the man screamed at me. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. saying. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby.
“You didn’t do anything when Mr.” I’ll ever forget what he said. new shoes every fall.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. trying not to look at me. More mad than sad. I can’t be there to save you. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. just thinking. Grandma Berg was inside. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. but sternly. clothes to wear.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. and offered me cookies.” she said as she dried my tears. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked.” I answered. One of these days. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. Hours later. She almost whispered. at the dinner table. “No more with the neighbors. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. I looked at her then at my father. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. help Grandma eat this. I ran to my room. Very calmly. dry house to live in. I said. my little lipschkin. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. 201 . I think. “Thinking. Later. Peck was yelling at me. and a warm. “My little wunderkind.
Too much thinking for one so young. 51 Corcoran. He also loved conflict. I received a devastating student update. In the classroom. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. as the elementary students they were. They remain frozen in my subconscious. Your father. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. no more you thinking. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. In casual and cruel black and white print. He got to me like no other student that year. Quiet now.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. Sun coming soon. Grandma is old woman. but Grandma knows things. chores to doing. songs. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. Dream the dreams boys dream. You must be sleeping now. Thomas Michael Fox. CA The Sand Dollar by time. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. tomorrow is better day. As I scanned the newspaper. unchanged . and intelligence. He was full of jokes. a name leapt at me. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby.
I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. I saw I hadn’t. I knew his story now. but he was the star. Now one found me. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. But even now. I stormed down the beach. smile broadly. so much lost. I was mad.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. 36 Wakefield. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I hadn’t found one for years. I always wondered if I got through to him. Then the ocean placed a perfect. and dance away. MA If Not Me. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. cursing him. So much wasted. an 11-year-old in leather. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. He would nod. just a headstone. Stacey Curran Conway. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I smashed my heels in the sand. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . no one got to me like him. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. Reading the article through blurred eyes. He could always make people smile. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets.
college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. sworn at. and kept students in line. and administrators with agendas. I have stood in line. living wages. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. In some pretty tough school districts. I think. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. Surprisingly.” Back then. students with social problems. I’ve been insulted. I have come to the end of myself. Finally. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. RIF’d.100+ of what my students can become. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. who trusted what would later come to fruition. however. and rehired. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I sit 204 . pooh-poohed. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made.
not a real course. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. for a new vision. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. Unfortunately. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . 7th. more wary. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. Zora. much less trusting. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. at the school where I taught. I would be mortified. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Spanish was seen as an elective. and 8th graders.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. Unruly students aside. 34 Framingham.
he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Most were sensible enough to sit. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Sitting. Attempting to gain control. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. Julia Perez. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. silence. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. I hope that someday. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration.100+ those who do. At the start of a usual class. If I could survive this class. I could survive the duration of this profession. 29 Norwich. remnants of a continuous high. His eyes were constantly glazed over. Ted continued to wander about. the vicious three-headed hellhound.
” the child said confidently. but how was his bite? Move he did. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I decided on the only rational thing.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. Enjoy guarding hell. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. MO 207 . I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. As the class waited for my reaction.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “Take your best shot. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. I had stunned the high right out of him. His bark was mighty.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. “Okay Ted. Wait. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I have to call the principal to come get you.
19. D. 37. Stacey. 53 Curran Conway. 96 Anonymous.T.. José.C. 122. 130 . Lance. Eugene Alexander.. 145 Donna J.Author Index AK. 172 Allen. 44 Anonymous. Cynthia. 102 Elliott. Matthew. 202 Daryl F. Robert Hal.. 60 Aleman. 75 Carrillo. 79 Anonymous . 70 Best. 95 Barchard. Sue Ellen. 51. 166 Ephraim. J. James. 22 Aubrie. 132 Babb. Tom “Wolf ”. 166 Antzes. Aila.. 32 Brown. 155 Corson.. 121 Boner. 61 Clarette. Christopher. Malachi. 111 Amberchele. 142 Dey. G. 100 Burns. 33. 127 Diaz. 135 Christie. 47 Balic. Adelle. 45 Brame. Fernanda. Aileen.
80. 28. 131 Foster.G. 130 Gisela. Elisabetta. Thomas Michael. 36. Daniel H.A. 181 Harris. 182 Gonzalez-Caro..Errani Emaldi. 98. Spoon. 197 Jackson. 123 Gavai. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 144. 177 Kelley. 147 Kelly. 92 Gallegos. George. 109 Karen. 45. Pilar. Dennis. 77 Gavin S. Frank E. 158 Ferrara. 62.B. 116 Hathorn. William Steed. 155 Fox. 110 Forrest. Terri.. Mary. 151 Higgins. 74. 157.. H.. 40 January. 163 Gutierrez. 17. 53. 115 Hayley.. 128 Jolene. 125 Hayden. 179 Giosia. 97 Hermann. Gaby. 164 F. Will. Gene W. 162 Jenelleish.. 200 Galilea. 115 Fernandez. 94 . Hector. Enrique M.. 124 Hughes. 59. 30. 192 Kikis_fairytale.. 101 Jayne L.
93. 20.. 188 Paddy J. 91 Rothwell. 141 Redfearne. Zachary. 86 Mare. 67 Misty. D. Norton. Charles P. 136. Jan. 32. 73 Lebreton. Ricky. Santonio. Julia. 160 Momo. Mike. 205 Pete. Eloise. Scarlet. 148 Salinas. 158 Pauli. 107.... 85 Rose. 196 Mansour.Krista.B. Nidia F. 133. 148 Lisa. 88 Norman.. 161 Loomer. Yvette. 92 Perez. Byron. 171 Murff. 77 McLean. Brigitte. 172 Mayo. 122. Michael. 71 Richards. 25 McKenzie. 99 Quarles. 189 Lonn. 69. 187 Kumar. Miriam. Prashant Devan. 206 Louisell. 87 McKenna. 59 Morales. 21 LeBeau. Mark D. Gary. Kitty. 108 Philippa. 143 Priscilla. 23 . 183 PC.
15. Matt. 114 Vogt. 63 Wirzburger. 55 von Fuller.. Kurt. 50 Theoharides. 175 Yarbrough. 203 . 151 Suzanne.. 41 Shelly. 159 Wantz. 190 Suzy. 16 Shurley. 42 Windoftheclyde. Dinorah. Steven. Alexander J. 90 Torres. Idris. 191 Sonia. Raul. 149 Zephyr. 193 Ybarra. 87 Small. 95 Yochum. 85 Tedesco. 173 Yeyo.E. J. Adela. Bronwyn. 34 Zora. Agatha. 39 Yurshta.Samuel. Melvin William Joseph. John.
Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. 60 Island Street Lawrence. 2009. U. Inc. Inc. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. MA 01840 .S. Massachusetts.100 Plus True Stories.A.
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com $19. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www.” “. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. but with a different outlook on life–and death.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world.100plusts.. Many people are telling their true stories. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.com. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. who were eager to share their experiences. Upon being published. and remember.100plusts. anecdotes. reflect. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.” “A week before my 26th birthday... The best stories were selected for this book. written as memoirs.. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. These are true stories told by people like you.. facing myself. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard.100plusts. These firsthand accounts.99 9 781598 351095 .” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. Now you are invited to do the same. cry. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. or confessions.. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. floating in the air. illustrate life’s many. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.com. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.