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
51 Rosharon. Due to anger. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. images. bitterness. my mother passed away from cancer. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. living on many different bases. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Dennis Forrest. By the 8th grade. By 18. 2007. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. On March 3. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. so I grew up as an Army brat. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. can be revealed to the world. desires. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. Nevada in 1968. and drug addiction. AZ I 19 .T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas.
I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. to meditate and simply spend time with myself.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. When I do little jobs. Yet. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. Listening now requires my full attention. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. and I can look at them neutrally. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. and acting. Today. I am aware of the way their covers feel. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. freedom to expand my horizons. For quite a while now. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. their heaviness. and their condition. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. 20 N . day out. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. listening. in a week. tomorrow. to search spiritually. to develop boundaries. I rejoice in the art I produce. I know I am finally awake to life. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. such as putting up books in the library.
I really salute Malaysians 21 P . teachers. But for now. I know I will. I can easily mix with just about anyone. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. love. or strangers away. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. mental. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. find true freedom. Lamas Rinpoche. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. As a matter of fact. once I am given the chance. and compassion and when they do.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. be they physical. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. my learning continues. In closing. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. or spiritual. Yeshe. and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. 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.” That same day. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. I thought to myself. She broke the news to me as best as she could. As I listened to my mom. Kuala Lumpur. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. 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. but didn’t join in the conversation. She had 22 M . I took in what the kids were saying. Prashant Devan Kumar. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. 18 Cheras. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about.
feel. That’s all we do in these cells: think. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that.). 24 Queens. I grew up in boys’ homes. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. confined to a one-man cell. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. their world becomes a mental one. only thinking about those fucking stickers. Food is brought to me. reflect. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. ponder. 23 hours a day. Every time I am taken out of my cell. Seg.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. imagine. I remember sitting in the car. dream. not caring that there was no Santa. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. TYC. That day. juvie halls. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. with life to go. and wonder. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. You have to have 23 I .
I was alone. watching the clerk close up shop. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. Trust me. But to 24 .100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. run. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. The next day. I’d done it a dozen times. There were three. I think now how naïve I was. and everything went to shit from there. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. In the end. It was a robbery gone bad. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. staking out the store from across the street. and I got life in prison. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. and no one gets hurt. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. 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. I saw his point and I left things as they were. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
It’s a mess. all observant and such. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. Watch the crap. right. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. I’m keeping my pieces. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. o. I think about that shit. it’s not going anywhere. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life.S. Watch the crap. I’m thinking. Look at the car. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. Holes everywhere. if you’re lucky. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. I’m looking at this car. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. No way. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. in which the author served as part of the U. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. 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. Yeah. not benign crap. I’m not moving. Crap is strewn everywhere. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . I mean. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. Big holes.T R U E S T O R I ES this day.
I’m waiting for the lights to go out. K. this “Desert Storm. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. How many days have I been awake? Damn. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. hundreds of them. grenades.A. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’m sick of this crap. with maybe a little inscription saying. with holes in them all. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. Now. I figured I’d hang on to something.. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it.—R. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again.I. I’m holding my privates. I’m angry. well. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. or tunnel vision.” or whatever you call it. and mines scatter everywhere.P. but I don’t care. Whoever’s firing those damn things. from messing my mind up further. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. cars now. I didn’t even see this stuff. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it.I. I’ve been so careful all of these months. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. hold privates. Good night. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. right on the crap. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. RPG rounds. 26 . I curse myself for being so stupid.
but like some sick voyeur. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. Is 27 . Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. I don’t want to look. too. It’s hard to tell. It was fun for a minute. along with the gaping hole through the skull. 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. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. maybe. right? The ones I see are fresh. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. I don’t want to end up like him. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. I don’t like the burned ones. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. again. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. No stench. The pictures don’t lie. Damn. They look like statues. unless they shortened the fuses. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. The glazed eyes give it away. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I do. His ID card falls out. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. vehicles are everywhere. I know I’m not dead.
” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. I want no part of it.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. and shackled. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. handcuffed. McKenna Columbus. hoping his son will return from down South. No. We’ll have that in common. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. from that war. we stepped 28 I . He’ll think of his son every day and cry. They’ll never know what happened to him. pictures don’t lie. They’ll never know me. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. the Americans. Mark D. Probably not. “Yes. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. that damn war. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. One by one waist-chained. If that’s heroism. The hero died with a scream on his lips. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. we will celebrate.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. his son—maybe even himself.
The restless.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. 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. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. indeed. mountains. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. In retrospect. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. 29 . 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. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. 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. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred.
There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. boredom. for most. It’s a world of its own where. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. This is 30 M . in some cases. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. I found that I was not alone in this realization. the lunacy of a previous occupant. but no one dared speak of them. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking.100+ Looking around me. 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. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. and. sealed off from everything and everyone. a vacuum of uncertainty. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. Hector Gallegos Otisville. While I was in there.
She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. We used to have a very healthy relationship. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. 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. but I had no luck. She has a son now.. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. MA 31 . I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. 24 Lawrence. Will Ferrara.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me..
Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. I always felt lonely. and began robbing banks. I escaped. but that made me feel worse. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . where I am today. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. After 15 years there. 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. I grew up spoiled rotten. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. flew to Florida. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. stole an airplane. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. I was always sad. Three years later. 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.100+ Staying Sane n 1983.
When I started middle school. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. I started therapy. but there was something missing. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. This made me feel good. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. Now. 16 Richmond. but I was already highly unstable by then. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. and then my house caught on fire. and I am doing a lot more for myself.T R U E S T O R I ES me. and was put on progressively stronger medication. Cars speed by. It wasn’t her fault. I had friends and a boyfriend. Momo. so I always tried to help them. 33 I . Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. but only for a little while. It’s going to be hard to get better. Lights come on. or mine. This year.
I am still alive. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. under the three strikes law. I have met a variety of people in prison. many homeless people end up in jail. God has been looking out for me. I have been fortunate. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. It’s cold.100+ homeward bound. for one reason or another. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. your feet hurt. 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. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . nowhere to sleep.. you’re hungry. 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.. G. no one to call. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. You have nowhere to go. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. You think to yourself. nothing to eat. This is why. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.T.
my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. So Joe walks free. I thought it was my husband. I brought it upon myself. Without warning. My husband and I filed a police report right away. My husband. During the car ride home. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. 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. My husband and Joe came to blows again. I immediately told my husband and we left. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. Nonetheless. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. his brother. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. We all had a few too many. and the rest of the family awoke.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. I must have asked to be raped. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. In their eyes. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. They say most 35 . I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. my case was thrown out of court.
for all the good it’s doing me. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I just took the money and ran. trying to survive among savage men. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. We had six kids—with so many kids. No one was hurt or kidnapped. My first eight years in prison were rocky. and for the past 10 years. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. while the victims get a life sentence.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. but I am always in a good mood. 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. I keep getting turned down for parole. When I got locked up. and I made it without becoming one of them. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. Men ask me. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I’ve been a model inmate. I love to write books and short stories. or crooked politician. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. drug dealer. Zephyr Chicago. you almost have to be a bank robber.
Writing is like having an affair. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. Mom got a new apartment. and my innermost thoughts and desires. not die. like taste good food. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. 63 Burkeville. 1982. but I put the truth out there for all to read. tears. That summer. At fourteen. and us three kids. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. And it all transpired in 37 O . laughter. George Hughes. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. When I’m writing. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. compassion. I turned fourteen. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. they are good people with good hearts. flavors that today I’d die for—well. I love writing. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. but all’s well in the end. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. sadness.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. I share love. anger. the car. my parents became legally separated.
But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . but here it was. sprinting as fast as possible. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. On the very last day of summer. Like an NFL running back. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I burst through the front door. not enough to panic. I took off like a bat out of hell. Then I put on all three new shirts. “Mom. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. picked out a pair. In 1982. looking down at my new wet shoes. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. and put them on. Once inside. I was in State Prison. at fourteen. And by the age of eighteen. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. So I decided to steal. and inexplicably. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. By fifteen. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action.100+ less than an hour. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. Once outside. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. My friends would have surely made fun of me. I went over to the shoe department. sister. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I wasn’t too concerned. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. and me. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief.
This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. OH 39 I . I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. 18 Mowrystown. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. Obviously shocked. When I was finished with him. they said. 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. Six days later. 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 would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. To my complete surprise.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. 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. I asked why I was being arrested. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary.
one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. It was good to see them together. From then on. fights. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. and lack of feelings. and when one falls. in the same room. 40 N . There is nothing to compare it to other than death. At nineteen. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I felt that what I did was wrong. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. I was ready to be judged and convicted. The judge gave me life without parole.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. how he cared for her. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. my mom and dad came to visit me. though he never loved her. hitting and abusing her. I killed someone. During my trial. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. In the depths of my heart and soul. ignorance. but the fact is I did. with a common goal. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. and mean words. the others are there to pick him up. mind. My mom’s eyes held a million words. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. and soul. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. I deserved to do some time and make amends. Before.
Spoon Jackson. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Money never used to be an issue. I was naïve. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. but they all have lives. I’m getting older. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but I see only the negative things. I came from the desert. smiles. and violent unrest. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. I need to budget. Besides. but now everything seems tight. fleeting hope.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. but my will to survive took over. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. I have no friends in this new city. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. but I take no initiative to start the process. 50 Represa. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time.
inconspicuous notebook. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. For someone like me. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. go into a small. brought up in me. a dead father. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. 27 Toronto.100+ before I go to bed. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. my pen is capturing everything. Ontario. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. I’m not stuck in one place. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. I even see things in a more positive light now. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. Idris Samuel. but moving slowly in the right direction. In the few months that I’ve been writing. 42 I . and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. mixed with big dreams of happiness. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. I see that in spite of my depression. the only escape that I found was with a knife. All of those negative ideas.
A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . new problems arose. While in prison. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. it merely put them on hold.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. While on probation in 1995. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. But then. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. 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. While incarcerated. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. It had become a habit. a need for the chemicals in the formula. light-headedness. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. As I look back on the role that the drug played. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. never directly addressed.
unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. but I never thought it would result in depression. I’ve always had low self-esteem. And the present is where I have to live. Never waste life. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression.E. it’s too short and too precious. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me.100+ stable. Think about who really loves you. Now the reality I face is my own life. J. Wantz Salem. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. 13 44 I . I am a different person. you will be twice as strong. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. the present is much. much clearer. Anonymous. but my reaction to them is not the same. and once it does. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass.
51 Corcoran. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. and pornography. The son of a research chemist. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. I have turned my attention back to God. Illinois. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. cultural arts centers. Thomas Michael Fox. I began to start to feel differently about myself. I ended up in prison for life. 1958 in Elgin. alcohol. Now I try. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. community centers. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. writing helped. After getting sober in 2001. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. 45 G .
written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. at the age of 17. migrant workers. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. Mexican revolutionaries. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. my name was called. and indigenous themes. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. Then. This history. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life.and 12-year-olds. When I was in second grade.100+ youth programs. prison scenes. The second and third place runners-up were announced. my school sponsored an art contest. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. vatos locos. On the day the winner was to be announced.
metaphors. a freehand artist second. cash. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. I fuse images using words. Octavio with Orozco. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. I consider myself first a poet. a new tradition: poetical muralism. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. a hacksaw blade. manufacturing the rope. and obtaining the other articles took time. And yet. Securing the tools. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. Today. I had to get in the same cage. watching every move during a strip search. and crazy juxtapositions. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Siquierod with Cisneros. José Boner Boscobel.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. camouflage the cut marks. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. there was no turning back. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. The guard was two feet in front of me. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain.
doubt. The cage was shaking and rattling. or nerves. In a few minutes. but they could see every move I made. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. every muscle was taut. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap.100+ primitive. already packed with the gear. D-day. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I was through and bent back the bars. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. It was going according to plan 48 . crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. There was no time for hesitation. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. my arms were screaming. I was balls-to-the-wall. 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. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I slung the rope over my shoulder. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. and I was sweating a puddle. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I was going. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I could see everything.
I’d escaped. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. guards. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. I know from consequential. cages. D. The rope burned through my fingers. Yet. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. through what I’ve gained and learned since. needed more knots… whatever the problem. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. I should have made gloves. CA 49 . But that feeling of open air on my skin. Babb Corcoran. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. it was too late for solutions. from doubt. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. but now I would to fall to my death. I attempted to crawl away. outside the confines of the jail. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. free from fear. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. I know I’ve never been freer. from regret and anxiety. I was lying on the rooftop. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. It was too thin. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. but couldn’t move.
I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. but the key was jammed. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. which never came. 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. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. There was no wake-up call. One time. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety.I. He attempted to shut off the ignition. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. and by the time I did.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic.U. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais.s. no matter what. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. it was too late. not losing his license. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. Alcohol would always come first. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. he just kept hitting rock bottom. not getting pancreatitis. nothing. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. I thought I loved him.
I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Unfortunately. victimless cash. a man with a past. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. who in the present. thugs. not a crime. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. To me. drugs were simply a hustle. simply liked the quick. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . Crimes were what thieves. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. I had lived an interesting life. In my 33 years. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. Adela Tedesco. I had seen and done a lot. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. that was for sure. and sexual predators committed. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. free dope. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. 23 Hollywood.
this time. and with whoever. Now. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. our families. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. I participated in the discourse. I argued it at every level: in the media. for all practical purposes. things are different.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. at stake: my entire life. It helps those unable to defend themselves. I’m arguing against it one more time. I’m surely not the devil. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. either. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. at this fateful juncture of my life. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. I understand the necessity for law and order. Then there are those of us. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. the entire world of academia. CA 52 . it protects the innocent. While I’m no angel. at the university. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. as an activist. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity.” There are the pro-drug war. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. not the solution. Yet.
Lance Corson. However. until it took over my whole being. and nothing good ever comes of them. coming up my legs. 24 Little Compton.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. One of the guards supplied it. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. riding through space in 53 O . that nothing will ever happen to them. So many people believe that they are invincible. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. I felt it starting at my feet. They destroy lives. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. my stomach and chest. even though they know that there are great risks. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. There are always consequences. there are new users every day.
I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. across my stomach. gritting their teeth. There were monsters with long tails down there. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. The floor closed up as I hit it. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. I needed a fix. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. dying for a fix. My body was curled. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I was terrified! I found myself falling. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. My muscles 54 . bad. my back to the wall. Then I nodded off. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. I was freezing all over. I walked around with my arms in front of me. falling. and I could feel the cramps coming. only inches left to stand on. my heart pounded violently. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. I began to shake all over. holding on to my elbows.100+ the dead of darkness. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. My stomach was cramping. falling. I stood in the corner. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me.
There was no fix at hand. including their own souls. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. I kicked at her. “Get out of my house. got down on the floor and beat me with it. If I were on the street. Mother. not shoveling the sidewalk right. One day. Mom grabbed a frying pan. petty reasons. 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. George Hughes. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside.000 other small. “No more. My mother passed away on October 2nd. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. steal. not cleaning the dishes right. not scrubbing the floors right.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. lie. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. jumped out. God and I both love you. 2002. and 10. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. playing too loudly. She opened the back door and said. 66 Burkeville. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach.” Now 55 . wetting the bed. and sell anything and everything. But I wasn’t. to get a fix.
I don’t hate my mom. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I don’t dislike her. TX 56 . Melvin William Joseph Vogt. 67 Amarillo.
Sex & Seduction .
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. and fulfillment after the first time. But for the young woman. Québec. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. 45 Montreal. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. it will occur over time. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. This is what occurs at 18. Terri Giosia. an orgasm. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. I 59 M .
Don’t be scared. I will spare 60 I . despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. people would assume we were twins. At the beginning of high school. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. we had sex. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. I did it for me. We decided we were ready. not because he wants to. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. it won’t be your last. If you know your body. Momo. who are ready to lose their virginity. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. We have known each other since before we can remember. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend.100+ beg to differ. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. When we were little. 16 Richmond. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I always tell my friends. that even though it’s your first time. Now. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. Do it because you want to.
but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. and we locked ourselves in. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. that is not what is important. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. interesting story to tell. at a “well-supervised” party. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. he wields 61 I . I grabbed her. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. AK. anyway. I ran into my best friend.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. Later in the evening. we said. Almost at the same time. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Obviously laughter. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. squealing. and crying ensued.
He basks in their attention. 54 Sydney. or backstabbing us to our bosses. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. rubbing his feet and back. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. However. however. and showering and grooming him. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. tempt. turning him over. 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. if the woman is appealing enough. being sarcastic. changing his urine bag. NSW. it’s like having a little harem. Christie. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. but girly mags are his main source of info. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women.100+ considerable power by yelling. feeding him like a baby. even though he has no feeling from the neck down.
With a glance. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. his complete awareness of 63 I . That is. a smile. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. body language. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. It is not real. smile. beyond a shadow of a doubt. Once that is accomplished. 45 Montreal. Without confidence. the golden rule for seduction. a look. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. Québec. as upon sobering up. 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. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. His hand rested on my forearm. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. one cannot seduce. this type of seduction is an illusion. However. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. It is stating the obvious. it’s possible to seduce anyone.
they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. Always the seeker. for they would make me look like a weakling. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. On the brink of a thrust. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. he breathed my name. 27 Santiago. I pleaded with them not to show up. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. Windoftheclyde. Never had a burden been more welcome. but my pretensions made no difference to them. True to their word. I felt his back tensing against my hands. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. My ways were haphazard. his lips fell on my hips. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. but my anticipation was no longer tender. In a shadowy whisper.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window.
Small Miracles .
I cry in the cell where no one can see me. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I even welcome the closing of the door. I’m on guard seven days a week. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. As a person. I’m locked in. I know I have to be locked in. 67 T . rather familiar. Late at night.” Out there. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head.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. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. With a twist of a key. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. in the darkness. I should hate the cell. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I do my deepest thinking there. I am human. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. but once inside my cell. At times. It becomes routine. and often after a long day. I know that no one can get in without the key. amongst the prison population.
While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. When the cell door shuts. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. yet. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. The cell is my castle until I reach home. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . listen to the radio. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. despair. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. The cell door is now closed. To be honest.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. and loneliness. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. a melody of pleasant proportions. but I’m in good company. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. The walls seem to hum. The cell is a hellhole. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. and I write my loved ones there. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. read a book. I don’t hear anyone talking. It never is truly quiet here. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. these sounds are tranquil. Ironically. or write a letter to my family or a friend. the cell is a paradox because in reality. while here in prison. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance.100+ I pray in the cell. I have not experienced silence in years. To the outside observer. I’m alone. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination.
we have been there before. bleed.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. They looked invincible. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. a sphere formed at the end of the bed.m. though their faces were human-looking. I was lying in the dark. showing another dimension. I also laugh. in it were four angels. I’m human: I feel. In a small. cry. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. think. love. 69 I . 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. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. “Let us show you the way. and have the power to choose. Michael McLean Beacon. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. and I was filled with awe.
70 I . At that instant. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. guarded from dark forces. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. Auckland. waiting to make a left turn. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. there really wasn’t any time to react. 54 North Shore City. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. Misty. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. knowing order reigned in the next world.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. “Oh no. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. circular spaceship. This was a kingdom on a large sun. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. but time operates differently there.100+ white. I thought to myself.
and in the hand-warmer pocket. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. It is important to find the right place for an ending. Ever since that day. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. I sat there thinking to myself. a brand new box of pills. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. In the breast pocket of my jacket. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. I considered the importance of what I was doing. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. I chose Mount Sanitos. “Sorry about that. including me. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. 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. 38 Methuen. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . “Wow. It was a very surreal experience. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. Where we die should be no less important. Hey. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill.
There was a flash of light. “He’s here. For a moment. I finally reached the top. Necessary and common. It was still night. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. until I realized no one was reading me my rights.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. Four pills left. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. On the far side of my fall. thinking it could be the police. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. I cowered. and rescuers would be a lot more excited.100+ someone else got hurt. things were… strange. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. When the east finally began to warm. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. I must have blacked out. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. but they sensed me there. I panicked. closing my bank accounts. my hand slipped and I fell. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . dropping off my recycling. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. There were shapes of people around. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. then a shift. The guardians were gone. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. like someone hit the reset on my brain. no one was looking for me. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. Blood was caked on my forehead.
I was living alone. Everything after that has been pure profit. but I had never been depressed before either. as I did. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I had never done that before. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. it got so bad that I became depressed. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . Then a second piece of bread fell. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. hitting me on the left ankle. I realized it was just a stone. That was my break-even point. so I continued making the sandwiches. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. I’ve been to zero. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. At one point. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. Three days later. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. and then dragged myself towards it. I think of myself as having happily died that night. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I was making sandwiches. When I got up in front of the cabin. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. I also know that I’m never alone. and it’s doable.
Then we had ourselves a little miracle. Our little (well 74 I .” Two years ago. Needless to say. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. He is still there. we got pregnant again. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. Jesus is always with us. “I am the bread of life.” 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. but there was only one piece on the floor. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. so we should not be depressed. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. Three months later. the day before Valentine’s Day. I was very puzzled. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. When I returned to the kitchen. whether we see Him or not.100+ of bread. 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.
We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. Don’t get me wrong. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. It was a good partnership. WV A Taste of Honey honey. But this event puts it into a whole different light. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. 30 Martinsburg. we will always think about the baby that we lost. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. I did not waste it on the bland mush. And he is our own personal little miracle. Kelly. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. but left the bees plenty for the winter. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted .
I thought. I had smelled the spruce. 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. and the wildflowers. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. But man cannot live on honey alone.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. and also. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I thanked God for a taste of honey. but it seemed to last an eternity. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had been free. the mountain laurel. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. For a moment there. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. James Burns Gunnison. The other half I saved for later. 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. UT 76 .
the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. He may have survived the Vietnam War. Ironically. During a skirmish. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. After years of alcohol abuse. he got shot in the left side of his chest.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. but it ultimately killed him. Gavai Kona. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. 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. Despite this miracle. a pack of cigarettes. smoking saved his life. He had a lighter. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. There was a spark in her eyes. I 77 I .” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes.S. Army during the Vietnam War. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. her actions were terrible and painful. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes.
My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. when my brother Bardo and I got home. With tears in my eyes. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Miriam. I tightly hugged him back. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. “Good night. While he was hugging me.” I said through my tears. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. That is when I saw the stain.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks.” he said. and I did.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I turned to go to my room. Bardo came out. “You’re not the only one.” He also told me that when I finished eating. The next thing I knew. and hung up my dress. NY 78 . my mother called me. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. “Good night. the dress ended up on my face. 41 Bedford Hills. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. Bardo. but she ignored me. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. reached for an empty hanger. I heard him whisper. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. he looked at me. One day. and said. I walked to my closet. Miriam McKenzie. With powdered soap and water. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. as I put the dress on the hanger.
There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. a pipe with running water for a shower. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. I could wear my own clothes. no weight pile. the “buffaloes” roamed. bought a TV. When money arrived. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. a stereo. no track or ball field. But in Mexico. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. incoming calls only. An aisle ran the length of each building. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. There was no yard to speak of. cook what I wanted. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. Everything from 79 M . We installed a swamp cooler.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. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. No gym. I had conjugal visits. built wooden bunks.
A man could buy food. I was allowed to keep my identity. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. J. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. and even prostitutes. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. I reasoned that. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. drugs. and dangerous. Amberchele Canon City. clothing. for the right price.S. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. but it was an identity that was poisonous. booze. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. much like my thinking.C. and it has. art supplies. the ontological slap in the face. True. filthy. if I changed. lumber. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. in my head. I arrived at the school cafeteria.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. the world would reflect that change. for anything else. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. I wanted out. appliances. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day.
That made all the difference in the world. I flirted with the idea of getting even. the atmosphere was tense. Enrique M. Fernandez Miami. FL 81 . When I did not press charges. it stopped bothering me.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. the judge dismissed the case. After the trial. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. His father attended the hearing. In my mind. After that incident. I stood by my friend. his father embraced me in the hallway. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. my assailant approached me and apologized. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. my membership in the gang became obsolete. As I turned to look. I yelled for help. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. As we spoke. With time. It had been an ironic twist of fate. But when others got involved. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. encouraging him during the fight. When I saw my assailant in court. I had been stabbed. however. a free-for-all ensued.
Matters of the Heart .
and I am in love. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I have known my first love for more than a year. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. I am 41 years old. my first true love. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I will accept all of him. He is smart. I never get tired of listening to him. I want to know everything he knows. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. the good and bad. I could not 85 T . He’s my first Jan Richards. Boy. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. This is it! This is my first true love. no matter what answers you receive. He is strong. One would think that because I have experienced life. He is honest. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I would have been in love before. 41 Dallas.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love.
27 Tehran. Mansour. too. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). Without her. and the connection that we share. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. my first love. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. it’s been like heaven. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID.100+ eat. she kissed me for the first time. but now I want to leave him. 59 Dayton. Suzy. The morning after I arrived. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Although we are divorced. he came back to me. I hope we will get married one day. I was browsing . We both respect and value each other very much. I feel so alone. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. I decided to visit her. I will never forget her. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. and that the connection will endure.
He played with my head. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. slender. At first. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. Then within six months. and he was in fifth grade. He stripped down my confidence. everything was great. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. and now all I have are insecurities. There was something fascinating about this “older man. I would never have gone out with him. I worry all the time. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. He was a tall. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. brown-haired young man. and I am so jealous.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. His name was Travis. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. If it were up to me. Shurley. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years .
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. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . She has little education. and gangbangs—it all occurs. I just remember wanting to be near him. hotel. all in retrospect. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. wanting him to protect me. anal sex. or inn in the continental United States. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Often. threesomes. Kitty Mayo. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. My reflections of Travis developed years later. 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. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. I have no doubt that he was my first crush.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. 29 Hilo.
housing. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. The conversations flow smoothly. The female is as rebellious as the offender. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. who want to keep her hair and nails done. rules. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. It’s an amazing thing. Love. The laughs come fast and free. 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. It comes like a thief in the night. TX 89 . religion. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. regulations.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. send her shopping. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. pay her rent. Sometimes personalities just click. or risks. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. Hours seem like minutes. finances. The attraction is mutual. take care of her kids. 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. She needs no coercion or con.
” I have no idea what he means. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. she told me the same thing.. the distance between her school. and yes.M. Skidmore College. we went out for coffee. the tears pouring down her cheeks. Outside her window. and if. on a tour of Oxford. Three months later. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. my tears will come. three floors down. I’m not sure she’s my other half. We are in her attic bedroom.100+ Four A.. I wonder when. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. She told me the upright bass was sexy. and mine. but I know I don’t want her to leave. Massachusetts. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. and I told her she was strange. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. 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. One month later. And three months and two weeks later. Two months later. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. destined for Minneapolis. She’s packing her last suitcase. I told her I loved her. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . Boston College. suitcase is a difficult feat.
and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I had written the poem already. and I had a crush on . 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 went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. At two a. comes. until four a.. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old.m. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. needless to say. and place it on the hood of his car.m. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. At three a. At four a. write a love poem. after a bottle of wine.m.” she says. 22 Amherst. 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. still two bottles of wine later. “I’ll miss you. after another bottle of wine. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. Theoharides. And tears stream down my face. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.m.. I walk her to the bus station.. so I decided to go the subversive route. she falls asleep. Alexander J.
100+ I sped away. 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. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. not despite of their shortcomings. and well-being. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. but because of them. I was 21 years old. Galilea. needs. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. desires. Scarlet Rose. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . Unfortunately. NH Love Is for yourself. 24 Lincoln. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. 28 Albuquerque.
As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. 30 Arecibo. But a girl can dream. no? Saturday came. PC. As you can imagine. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. making our relationship grow stronger. 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. I imagined something romantic. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It can be between two men and between two women.
my family. I chose my hell. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I love you. Maybe he was too old for me. I regret so many things. and you have always been the one. Our relationship is 15 years strong. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time.” I told myself. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. Mare. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. and I thought I was immortal. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . 36 Lennon. and I live there now. “I did it for love. and so many tears. maybe he was strange. Michelle. and my life. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. but he was mine. and we are raising a daughter as well. A baby was on the way. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and I tried to fight for my dreams. but he wasn’t in love with me. Life is not supposed to be this way. so I left everything behind: my career. I regret it. so many mistakes.100+ lifetime. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. I tried to be perfect. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood.
We now have a beautiful baby girl. We are going to graduate soon. I don’t know. though. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. 95 I . but we’ll be living separate lives. It’s a bad habit. but I can’t control it. and it lasted about a year and a half. Lately. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter.T R U E S T O R I ES life. but we’re not together anymore. but as for love. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. Kikis_fairytale. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. If I were to start my life all over again. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. we fell in love. 27 Athens. 18 Olmito. Yeyo. My ex and I are currently in high school.
He was a southern gentleman with manners. but as much as I try to stop. and a smile that could melt a heart. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. I thought to myself. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. We spent my final day together. We started talking and before long we just clicked. “I may have a guy at home. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. In the summer of 2009. 96 M . Although I didn’t know it at the time. talent. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. I imagine the two of us together all the time. I gasp for air. Aila Balic. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. 18 Brooklyn.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. yet doesn’t make me want to die. Every time I see him. I don’t want to. but things had been slowly going downhill. but it just happens. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I shake. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. It is a scary feeling. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. looks. it keeps growing. and I have no control over my actions. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings.
I explored my options on the ride home. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. but now it was time to make a big decision. 26 Acapulco. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. We wanted . MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Why not have our cake and eat it. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. I went to say my goodbyes. for showing me the truth about love. and it took all I had not to cry. and no hassle: just us. family and friends can witness our marital union. no guests. In life. I couldn’t believe it was over. There weren’t any wedding planners. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. Thanks. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. Ethan. Guerrero. too? Hayley. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic.
On May 15. at age fifty-two. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. This story has the makings for a great ending.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. Clearly magic was happening between us. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. and made me happy in so many ways. 1997. For Louise. On March 27th. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. 2006. She was . I guess. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. but life is not fair. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. Some letters were erotic. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. I had not felt that way in years. was a devoted wife. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. I will go home one day. as well as me.
the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. in August. And in the end. but for our family members. I will miss you. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. 63 Burkeville. However. If we had to do it again. Louise. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. VA A Joining of Two. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. but we had our wedding 7 months later. We had a nice ceremony. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. DON’T. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. beautiful flower arrangements. George Hughes.000 on our wedding. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. Farewell. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001.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. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. Please save 99 M .
and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. 29 Lowell. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. When we finally reached the priest. “NO!” I yelled at him. Priscilla. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. In the fall of 1987. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. the wedding doesn’t matter. my voice echoing through the church. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. On the day of the wedding. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. forest green dress.100+ your money because in the end. When the time came to walk down the aisle. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. Even at 3. 100 A . I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. clad in a miniature tuxedo. “Are you two getting married. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. the rings were handed over. too?” he asked.
and I had no idea where to go. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. The emails became short and purposeful. not right before my eyes. my cousin. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. slowly and gradually. camera flashes. but before I knew it. I was blinded by lights. I had gotten used to him and he to me. Adelle Brown. until amorous love became filial affection. all I remember being told was. not right away.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. and I started to ignore 101 I . All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. 23 Somerville. three of them will always be: priests. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face.” When the doors opened. at some point. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. and forest green. On the long list of things I hate. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. Finally. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around.
For now. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. and let him do the same. He was no longer my top priority. I keep trying to push him away. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. January Paris. This mundane. nor is he. and started avoiding him. I am content to just exist. but that memory is now alien to me. torturous waste of time. or lack thereof. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I am not that person anymore. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. I remember why I fell in love with him. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. 102 I . I am not that unhappy. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. 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. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I stopped caring about spending time together.
and I’m glad they are. Donna J. VT 103 . which never came. I would have done so. and if I were allowed to live with my father. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. my parents did not divorce. Johnsbury. Alas. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. They are still together. it would have been more difficult. I thought that if they divorced.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. St. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted.
Despite Diagnosis .
Prison is a sewer. vermin. to survive it. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . and dry yourself. you must wade carefully through the sewage. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. wash. Some don’t. Wait till the “others” get out. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. leaving you there to bleed out.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. You are immersed in it. and filth swimming and floating along with you. Take showers in shifts. not let it get inside you. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. alone. and sometimes it’s over your head. In prison. go in with your homeboys. skidding. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. bide your time. not because of knives but for their germs. sometimes it’s neck-deep. then slips away unseen. cartwheeling. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. clean.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. and when you get to the other side. you can cast off your filthy clothes.
And they die. I was told I had a brain tumor. 59 Daytona Beach. take it all in. I regained some of my physical strength. As the years passed. they inhale deeply. I started having eye trouble. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. Norman. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. 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 told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. meningitis.100+ of the prison sewer. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . When I awoke. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. The problem was not eradicated. a cracked skull. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. As for me. become a part of it. Months later. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. Charles P. wondering if I will ever go home. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. so I went to an optometrist.
but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. Fueled by the media. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. Pete. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. so in spite of having protected sex. After 4 or so weeks. 21 Devonport. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. Tasmania. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. 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. traveling all the way down to my elbows. and all came out negative. just to be sure.
herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. but even that wasn’t enough.100+ as well. so he donated his blood. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. We all had sad faces. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. so she took me to the doctor. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. The day I turned five. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). For instance. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. I was constantly in the hospital. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. Every time a nurse would come in the room. My father was the only one with the same blood type. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. 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. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. Throughout my childhood. Jolene. 28 Portland. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . so my body was dying. One time.
I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. the check-in nurse says. my oncologist was determined 111 I . Five days later. There is no kindness. Today I am 19. Maybe it’s not really me. This never happened outside. “Well. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. I am back at Estrella Jail. the jail has delayed it. nearly bald. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. in college. and 100% cured. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. fightingsurvivor19. and they both cried tears of joy.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. I vomit constantly. At Perryville.” When my chemo starts. I’m 15 pounds thinner. the judge can expedite all he wants. 19 Pembroke Pines. Three months later. Maybe it’s a nightmare. hoping to get rid of me to save money. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. and very pale.
the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. the doctor comes in. He recommends a tumor 112 . but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. My life is literally in their hands. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I have three more chemo sessions. Eventually. I know I’m an inmate. when I’m supposed to be healing. Despite the rigid schedule. there is complete indifference. and nine months later. I am sent back to my room alone. burning instead. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. then every six months for two years. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. 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 annually. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. No more nausea. I vomit until there is nothing left.100+ that my nausea be minimal. An hour later. He answers my questions. I start the laborious grievance process. In here. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. begging for what I’m missing. But this protocol is not followed. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. When my treatment is over. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical.
the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I can deal with that. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. mismanaged. it still hasn’t happened. incompetent. That is why I am afraid. and I am helpless against its inadequate. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. Their stories touch me on so many levels. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. Six months later. 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. AZ 113 . many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. uncaring power. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. This is about the State. As a result. That’s really hard in here. always look for a reason to be glad. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. 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. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. my life is in the hands of the State. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. no positive imagery can change my situation.
a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. making plans for the future. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. Dinorah Torres. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. without even knowing it.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. 33 Santa Barbara. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Despite all this. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. CA A 114 . she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. he began to distance himself. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. but when he found out that treatment could last years. Later. and I felt helpless all the time. she was looking ahead. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. Two months after I started chemotherapy. A year into my treatment.
She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. How sad. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. Hayden. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. The following year. shape.” 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. She was longdivorced. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. for an addict’s. for a smoker’s lungs. never had any kids. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. and had lived alone for decades. 18 Tacoma.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. One year she was cancer-free. It just 115 I .
100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. on the part of Texas officials.A. not even decades after giving up smoking. Penzance. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Cornwall. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. his oldest daughter to cigarettes.G. Whatever the percentage. He lost his wife to cigarettes. F. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality.
You can see how dangerous it is. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 3. sentence length. 8. 6. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. and typecrime. Classify prisoners by age. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. be as humane as possible.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 9. A few suggestions: 1. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. 2. 5. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. and house them accordingly. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . whether here or abroad. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 4. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. 7.
100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. Daniel H. TX 118 . This could be a start. Harris.
The Transience of Permanence .
discussions. Some days. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. TX I 121 . some acceptance. All is forgiven. I’m a state-approved janitor. For “free-world” folks. which has its effects on me as well as on him. I swear. From what I’ve seen in here. or SSI. He understands that my time with him is short. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. especially on death row. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. Each morning when I arrive at work. In plain talk. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. death out there now looks relatively easy. even inside me. a last will and testament.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. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. death is merely a passage or rite. maybe an estate. then the whole world has done the same. In the penitentiary. 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. If I give him that. I feel the dread on my flesh. plans. Christopher Best Livingston. He desperately seeks some understanding. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest.
It’s called “checking out.” “taking it to the vent. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I am feeling very ugly inside. 122 T . today. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. Fuck God. and it can be done right now.T. G. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. 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. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain.” or “moving on to the next phase. Light-headed. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I’ll try again later. Fuck them. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. Very suspicious. It isn’t working. Suspicious. yet relieved that I took action. Shit.” And I’m not talking about parole. Shit. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve.
he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. Mike Rothwell Ione. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben.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. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. not in the clinical sense. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. After that. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. 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. but a symbolic one.
the son he failed to be. gold.With his incarceration. diamonds. the lover he wishes to be. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. 124 N . and the person he never grew to become. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. matriarch of the family. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. my big fat Italian grandmomma. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. He has. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. he may as well be dead. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. killed that greater part of himself. In this sense. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. the father he cannot be. but life—even at 103—seems too short. pearls. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. Hector Gallegos Otisville. In the world beyond prison walls. in essence.100+ love of his family. sterling silver. year after year.
MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. key chains. The following day.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. necklaces. as if no one else is 125 D . albums. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. pre-WWII. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. she never wore it. blankets. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Who would believe that a swastika. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. dating from the roaring twenties. Mary Higgins Reading. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. and handcrafted dolls. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. 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. 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. except for a fundamental difference.
media representatives. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. but the mind rebels. At other times. 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. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. the officials are stoic and judgmental. 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. In remembering. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. he realizes that all hope is gone. TX 126 . It is like God’s “time-out” room. Hathorn Livingston. such as his first pet. survivors of the victim’s family. the fights he had in grade school. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. Gene W. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. An ache settles in his belly. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. there are only four or five people.100+ there. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end.
Once muscular. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). In October 2004. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary.” Freddy complained to me one day. if at all.” and “lost” test results.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. he had become thin as a rail. and his head was shaved clean. 127 E . Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. and his memory showed signs of failure. he was barely over five feet tall. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. trying to get someone to do something. after a slew of “unreadable. no one. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Since he always complained. Over a period of a year. a combination drug therapy. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. Time was of the essence. and they all tell you something different. including Freddy. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. his body was covered in tattoos. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. really took it seriously. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. “Every doctor has a different opinion.” “partial. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. He was a genuine character. I saw no real reason for worry. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. Sleep came with great difficulty.” I forget why.
He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. They killed me. looking through the glass at our little one. and he was afraid. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville.” There was no anger in his voice.100+ Months passed. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. but no treatment was administered. They tried giving him formula. it was too late. He vomited blood one morning. 2005. Freddy was my friend. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. We named him William Kenrick. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. they probably could have saved me. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. and now he’s dead. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . but he threw it up. By October. “By the time they did something. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. “If they got at me 18 months ago. only resignation. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door.” he told me.
“Baby. Someday. He will always be my first baby. But I knew something wasn’t right. he had to undergo an operation. I love him more and more each day. which was declared a success. NCR. Jenelleish. my first son. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. But if not. only to realize that he’ll never come back. And I knew though he was gone. his heart rate slowed. a smile formed on his lips. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. At 1:30 a. PHILIPPINES 129 . And for that. And oh.” And as soon as everybody was there. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated.. my first child. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. The next day. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers.m. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. the smell… His sweet. Then I start crying again and eventually. only he was already lifeless.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. when I visited him. I turn numb. just let go. But I swear. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. as soon as I held him. I still think of him. fight for it. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. Despite the pain. and whispered. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. At 3 days old. milky scent is still there. 32 Las Piñas City. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. he went. if you can still make it.
I dreamed about him every single night. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. he was really fantastic. yet his passing was significant to me.. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. But as a father. My dad liked to sing and dance. in a better mood than usual. I went through many phases. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. I miss him deeply. But after 5 years of marriage. and listening to music. Facing the cell door. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. fishing.m. enjoying the early morning light. But I didn’t cry. I didn’t shed one tear. he died suddenly and tragically. 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. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. After my dad’s death. from denial to 130 I . 2008: I awoke today around 5 a.100+ I Miss You. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was close to my father. Dad une 15. roller-skating.
her youngest 131 I . Terri Giosia.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. However. After a long period of time. I sent my aunt. had no meaning. a Christmas card. 45 Montreal. happily single. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. As a last minute thought. Québec. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. 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. hate to indifference. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. How sad that now sounds. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I drank to escape and forget. the final and hardest phase arrived. Life lost its luster. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I am now 45.
TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. he said. To the academic world. But after all the miserable hospital visits. The doctor gave her three months to live.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. The night before. my poem may mean nothing. especially when you are only seven years old. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. For two years. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. she called every person she knew and read that poem. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. my mom had been taken to the hospital. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W .” is one of the worst ways to wake up. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. Soon after. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. Dennis Forrest. Not only did she call him. 51 Rosharon. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written.
ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. “Daddy. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. 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. Aubrie. This experience has made me stronger. the house. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. My life was changed forever. too weak to walk to her bedroom. My dad softly called me over. My father continued hacking. and us. and even worked from home so he could be there. It went on and on. 16 Rexburg. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. He took care of my mom. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. but to help them through things the best you can. where it was warm.
Even when he was here last time. I knew he wanted to say something. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. healing wounds. I could see that you loved your father. Don’t ever smoke them. He looked at my brothers. when I first met your family several years ago. not speaking. You see. I had unfinished business with my father. exhaled. A prisoner friend. and he was gone. I begged him to quit for years. I admire what you did. real sick. There were hard feelings between us.” He was just twenty-four at the time. the reason I’m saying this. but he died before I got the chance. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. as did my mother. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. closed his eyes. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. like you did. Over the past few years. who knew my family well. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. but emphysema got him first. and that was a good thing. so I stood there. too. waiting him out: “Charlie. I wanted to make it up to him. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. with complications from lupus. so I recognized it in both of you. from a prison payphone in the dark. I said things I’ve always regretted. son. and he loved you. He said things. We feared lung cancer. You settled your differences. collect. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I could tell.” 134 . but the last time inexorably approached.100+ asked.
“Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. My cellie threw up. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. Charles P. 59 Daytona Beach. Norman. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. 135 I . that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. It was the least I could do. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. leaned his head on my shoulder. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. I decided to slash my wrist.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. While there. His tears soaked into my suit coat.
” G. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .T. 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. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. “Six months. Evidently.100+ “Well. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I don’t anymore. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. His eyes were half open.
It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. Then. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. there was only solemn silence. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. But not at this moment. CA 137 . He had everyone’s complete attention. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. perhaps. For the first time since I was there. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. Even the crazy guys had shut up. With a bit of a dramatic flair.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. It was so still. 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. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. stood there for several seconds. hung it back up on the wall. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. that it was a setup.” As I say this. the white system.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. angrily. racism at its best. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. but also to pick up girls. I was black. I want some sex. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. but I haven’t picked up a girl.” I step towards her. a football player. I say. I’ve had fun. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. I was convicted. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. When it’s time to leave the club. barging into her apartment. I only saw what I wanted to see. forcing myself in. not only to have fun. and it was my word against hers. if no one else is here. For twenty years. Because she was white. It opens. a member of a fraternity. it’s her roommate. it’s a habit of ours. and a ladies’ man. I knock on the door. my fraternity brothers. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. she was white. “I came to see my girl. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. in front of a white jury. sentenced to six years in prison. we can have sex. and I’m in college. 1982.” I say. I’m thinking. she’s home alone. “Your girl is not here. 141 I . but it’s not my girlfriend. popular on campus. I want to be with a girl. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off.
a wife.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . two kids and a boring life in suburbia. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. I had known that I was a disappointment. faithfully. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. especially with men. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. for them. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. For sixteen years. So I tried. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography.100+ Today. if I were to have a place in this world. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. pure houseboat. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. The fantasy of grandchildren. forced attractions to women.
At seventeen. When I arrived. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. So I confessed my truths.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. I am finally happy. that my parents felt the same. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. 19 Hooksett. all too well in fact. with whom I constantly fought and argued. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. boring corduroy-wearers. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. And I knew. only for who I pretended to be. Daryl F. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents.. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. I wrote a script. One day. my sadness never faltered.
it was swallowed hook.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. being a noble and resourceful man.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. I was literally paralyzed. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. one male and one female. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. 30 Maidstone. 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. This brought about a case of stage fright. line. but I always suspected that he was gay. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. carried on like a trooper. especially for clothes. He dated one girl 144 I . I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. We didn’t date. Philippa. and sinker. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. His self-confidence saved the day. Nicholas. Kent. Knowing very little about astrology.
Waterville. I didn’t really think anything of it. especially since I had always suspected it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. she was always a tomboy. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. However. 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. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. Jayne L. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. but I never really suspected she was gay. As for my female friend. 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. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. When he told me he was gay. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. My friends just did . Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever.
So I distanced myself emotionally from my family.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. 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. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. If I were a man. too. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. We feel the judge was very homophobic.100+ me. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. After three years worth of evidence gathering. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. He had no concern for my partner’s safety.” so we had to go back to court. who is from Peru.” I did. “Never mind. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. not me. Right now. They even sent me to a shrink. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. gays and lesbians are persecuted. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. As if things couldn’t get any worse. knowing that if she 146 . We are not giving it to her. I fear losing my partner. but I am a woman and therefore.” Within 10 days. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin.
but we did not lose ourselves. the most effective teacher. has taught me compassion. no different than any other heterosexual couple. If anything. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. 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. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. TX 147 I .T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. Aileen Diaz. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. the Ultimate Truth. We lost everything. These days. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. 35 Tampa. 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.
The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. I feel like an idiot. I probably would have been better off not knowing. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. 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. better not to tempt fate.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. 30 Detroit. Now. But on the other hand. I still love and respect him. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. On the one hand. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. Eloise Lebreton. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. and I would never throw it in his face. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again.
It’s always going to be there. They help. I was allowed to play with a friend. Louisiana. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. One way is to keep doing those pushups. But if someone’s determined to “check out. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. so you better learn to keep it at bay. 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. 149 A . Mike Rothwell Ione. No matter how upbeat you may feel. After church. I lived in Shreveport. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable.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.” then there’s not much they can do about it. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5.
He screamed in agony. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. another ultrafundamentalist sect. was too much to handle. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. 47 Old Fort.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. and abuse. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. her face contorted in rage. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. She barged into the room screaming. at my tender age. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. lit the gas stove. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. Yurshta. NC 150 . My friend’s mother yelled. Christian Missionary Alliance. molestation. I have been an atheist ever since. 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. “You think this hurts motherf’er. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. especially my mother. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like.
Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. whether physical or emotional. Any kind of abuse. demeaning. NETHERLANDS Harsh. I have never been physically beaten. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. should not be tolerated. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. I swear. 26 Essen. Gaby Hermann. I had nine miscarriages. I did not get angry with him.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.
Sonia. Then one day. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. Delhi. 36 New Delhi. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. I was forced to call the cops.100+ with me. INDIA 152 . We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce.
Eerie Encounters .
slight. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. swishing sound. I don’t need to see to believe. I listen for a moment to a strange. my 155 I . I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. although I’ve never seen one. but I’m getting tired. They are looking beyond me. just a quarter of a mile farther. Why would we want to be? Clarette.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. In my nightmare. I keep swimming. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. We cannot be alone. 28 Salem. Aquatic Park. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.m. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. I can see the people. even Ghirardelli’s.
My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. When I was 18. 24 Lawrence. I awake.100+ arms are getting heavy. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. And then. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. beginning to feel numb. I hear something in the distance calling me. The waves crash. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. I’m only treading water. 45 Delano. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. summoning me. And about a week after that. MA 156 T . out beyond the breakers. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. The walls murmur. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. About 5 years later. I am silently alone. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. to the deep water. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. Will Ferrara. Am I going crazy? Frank E. Foster.
From that moment on. While alive. In the dreams. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. Almost twenty days later.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. while still aboard. In the following days. In October. I felt sick and went to sleep. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. and we had no choice but to drink it. On our way to the hospital. I dreamt that I was in Italy. ITALY 157 I . potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. One night. my mouth stopped bleeding. 56 Alfonsine. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. too. Ravenna. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. at my uncle’s funeral. Shocked. Not long after. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. I immediately called home. a strange heat enveloped my body. showing us that we were right. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth.
but late for work! Paddy J. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . its feet dragging along the ground. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean.. It was my dad! At that moment. I landed at the feet of the creature. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I remember shaking like a leaf. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I was squinting.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. 19 Monaghan. as whatever I was looking at was far away. It was pitch black. but they continued moving and stretched me out. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. staring straight ahead. 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 stood up and looked at its face.
I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. As I placed my canteen in the water. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. echoes from long ago. it had disappeared. thin man. Fernandez Miami. Hiking along the trail. As nighttime fell.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. the vision of a tall. It was at this moment that I saw. That left me speechless. thinking about nothing. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. One evening. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. When I turned to look.” I thought. 159 W . I was in the bathroom.” someone who knew the area told me. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. “That place is haunted. “I’ve been here before. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. my mind completely blank. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. Enrique M. When I returned home. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface.
but somehow I knew that he was bearded. still completely covered by the hood. hooded. and the vision was gone. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. I have not had any such vision since. Devon. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. He walked towards me. Then. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. However. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. His face was shrouded in darkness. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. when I entered the King’s Chamber. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. standing in that same spot. I have no idea what the vision meant. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle.100+ He was wearing a long.
AK. 54 Auckland. During this moment of déjà vu. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. transferred his intelligence into my brain.” Now. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I came back to my present “reality. and don’t believe time is always linear. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. and activated it. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. the kind of dream that even in 161 W .T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. Misty. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. Then my former self stood in my body.
More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. a little more settled. I woke up taking short gulps of air. They knew what was about to happen. 59 West Roxbury.100+ broad daylight seemed real. a little more aware. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. facing myself. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. I’m 59 now. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. D.B. 162 I . and a little less afraid. 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. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. drifting like seaweed. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. In my dream. Lonn. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. I’m willing to see where it takes me. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. but I didn’t.
I learned the term years later. which struck a barrier. completely powerless to stop it. Waterville. The driver lost control of the vehicle. and then was finally able to label my experience. I watched shows on television.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. Jayne L. Later. I survived the accident with no major injuries. “I need to get back. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. Since I was only 4 years old. and we started to spin really quickly. and quickly drifting away. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. as I had in Spain. After that. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I started to read a lot of books. when I moved 163 G .
But for me. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. 37 Madrid.100+ to Massachusetts. but with no success. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. I got slowly closer. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. a few steps from the altar. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. Smiling kindly. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. he said. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. I knelt down on a pew. it’s one of my many pastimes. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. A year later. One night. just one year before meeting Gabriele. There is only going to a different level. at my friend Viola’s insistence. facing him.
Through telepathy. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. we became involved. so I left. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. struck by his suffering. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. ITALY 165 . I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. He vowed to marry me. To be sure. but he had terrible secrets. I felt all his fear and pain. While I stared at him. Through telepathy.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. 56 Alfonsine. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. and I tried to help him. I told him not to joke. Then one night. in January 1991. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. striking me like a storm. Ravenna. 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. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend.
Then all of a sudden. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. During the five trips I made out there.100+ I See Spirits spirit. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I developed . On some nights. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Soon after. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. NH. 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. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. He tipped his hat and smiled. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day.
On one of my last visits. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. As I returned to where Betty was parked. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. We saw the usual lights in the sky. accompanied me. Other times. and then disappear. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. MA 167 . On one occasion. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. up a tree. strobe for 30 seconds. and into the sky. but then. she suddenly pointed and yelled. First. Later. fly to some central point. a state psychologist friend of mine. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. and meet. who was also an amateur photographer. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. 70 Waltham. about 50 yards down the tracks. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. then they turned off.
At Home & Abroad .
Russian caviar. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. where all were welcome and. and completely broken by life. with a 3-year-old son. I once had plans to live in London. as proof of dignity. or Puerto Rican dialect. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. We married and had a daughter. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. and great America. but life had a different destination in mind for me. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. not financial statements. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. but eventually we divorced.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira.” My father used to talk of Hungary. Lately. German perfume. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. had to show the INS hard-working hands. Colombian.
100+ Greece. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. we love Bach. Nidia F.S. while others are trying to cheat the system. Morales. We don’t feel less American because of that. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. 36 Lennon. on the contrary. 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. 54 Leominster. We all suffer when this happens. 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. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. it reminds us that this country is great. Mare.
27 Washington. illegally because.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. apart from being unconscionable.S. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. I had family there. D. Then during the fall and winter months. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.C. my . and migrant camps. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer.S. cars. We lived in tents. while my 173 Every year from June until September. Later in the summer. we stayed in Livingston. 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. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. harvesting crops. My father is Mexican. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. Many times. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. so I decided to move to his. it would have been too dangerous.
I struggled to learn to speak. However. I realized that I was out of place in school.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. In high school. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. they didn’t work. Early on. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. 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. our bathroom was an outhouse. School was a struggle from the beginning. read. halfway through my junior year. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. they had the opposite effect. In grammar school. Spanish. this was not a quick or easy transition. Not only were the white students 174 .” or “spic. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. clothes passed down to me from my older brother.100+ father worked for a local farmer. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. I was held back in kindergarten.” “wet.” “greaser. I was embarrassed by my first language. and write in English. This is where I went to school. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. mostly beans and tortillas. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. Because of school. we took our baths in a big washtub. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. In fact. However. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English.
MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. I wasn’t Mexican. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. but on the inside I acted like a white person. an enclave 175 I . I was born and raised in the U.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. Raul Ybarra. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. a gringo wearing a tie. “One hundred soles tonight. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. and I had lost most of my Spanish. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. My private class is in La Rinconada. Although I was of Mexican descent. you know. “Now don’t run away on me. to the Mexican students. I didn’t seem to fit in. To white students. in theory. the usual. They will pay. I wasn’t white. 50 Boston.S.” I remind myself. not even two dollars. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously.
100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. They don’t speak to me or to each other. even your own paycheck. If these families don’t find happiness here. “She’s not here. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything.” “I know she’s not here. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books.” I say. I sit at the kitchen table. Two maids. Remember. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. It’s ají amarillo. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. with chicken bulging from its sides. Matt. she told me to come inside and wait. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. I have classes with her kids. I am cheered by the recognition.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. as big as a sandwich.” “The señora is not here. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. you are not Peruvian. No way. never mind 176 . I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. I eye the tamal on the counter. I hear the buzzer and push open the door.” “That’s okay. are washing dishes in the sink. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons.
A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. The room grew eerily silent. No way am I going home empty-handed. It was the end of the month. Some received their checks. I hear three honks. payday. and springs out the door to the entrance. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. I was told to come. 177 . 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. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 40 Amesbury. “That’s what we all hope. Chin up. and I came. An hour later. and we were all waiting for our first check. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. others were given a song and dance. They looked at each other to see who would answer. Matt Wirzburger.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. That is the hard part: hiding the need. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Wipe any sign of need from your face. Mrs.
The streets were numbered.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. As dusk turned to darkness. I was in the city “on business. With briefcase in hand. It was then. yet spaced widely apart. NY 178 . 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. It was well worth it.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I wasn’t alone. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. After the much-anticipated grilling session. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. the city awoke and came to life. I felt that I had “made it there. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. the whole city was there.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. Karen Manhattan. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. and only then. As I again made my way down the grid streets.
” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. 10) The English.” or “U.S. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. French. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. it’s “America. etc. real ale. and stout. they helped a great deal. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.” “The States.” or “Yankland”.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. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing..”. and you must learn the difference between lager. 12) It’s not the “U. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. and sophisticated. bitter. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 4) Beer drinking is an art. Welsh.” “Pop Idol. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.S.A. dry. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. we don’t. Scottish.e. sarcastic. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. Irish. 7) Humour is subtle. The 179 .
100+ Beatles. apologise profusely for it. not pounds. 23 Jacksonville. Canadian. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). Rolling Stones. South African. 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). Pink Floyd).. 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!). 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. FL 180 . or any other English-speaking foreigner. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. Gavin S.m. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p.m. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. If caught being rude. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. and body weight is stated in stones. they’ll take the non-Yank. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone.
” which spans in black swirls over the island. my parents and I arrived at . I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. and Waikiki Beach. Native and unique to Hawaii. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. Although decades have passed. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. We discovered Diamond Head. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. 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. crimson berries. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. We took off from the claustrophobic. Pearl Harbor. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. 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.
I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. Gutierrez. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. Estado de México. B.” Despite my pitiful German. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck.100+ large. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. 29 Tultitlán. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. ovular. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. I remember wanting to return… H. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree.
I imagined civilians screaming. However. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. we were the enemy. Standing in St. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. Marien’s church in Lübeck. however unfounded that emotion may be. Schleswig-Holstein. eerie feeling. For the first time since the early eighties. Gisela. that it was them or us. destruction everywhere. green hills and plains. Along the road. I even felt a bit guilty. I knew it was war. 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 took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. I packed up my leased . crying.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. and running in all directions. but never forgotten. To them. 21 Lübeck. I experienced an unexpected. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. checked 183 In late October 1998. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government.
delightful little restaurants. TN 184 . I spent days at the Pueblo. There is always a scent of sage in the air. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. and visited various museums. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries.100+ into small motels. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. 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.
The Toughest Job in the World .
For child number two..T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. he did just that. Krista. At 3:30 a. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. For our first child. My due date of June 19th came and went. I planned a Caesarean.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. Needless to say. we did not make it to the hospital. after being able to share this special bond. so on the 20th. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery.m. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. which is about 45 minutes away. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I knew what to expect. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. So.
Joe Palooka. and read each one aloud. My . waiting for Daddy to come home from work. Not every week. He’d take off the rubber band. The car would stop. Dan and Tom). I’d lie beside him in the same pose. the smells of biscuits. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. but fairly frequently. car payments. take out the Sunday comics. and Tarzan of the Apes. All was good in the world. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. By then. The Texarkana Gazette.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. and my mother would call us for breakfast. I had no concept of rent. spread them open on the wood floor. It was just the three of us. bacon. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. He’d slowly read the comics to me. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. grocery bills. Daddy would get out. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and two more on the way (my brothers. Friday evenings were always a thrill. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. lie down. 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. Alley Oop. prop himself up on his elbows.
the used car lot would repossess the car he had.220 grams. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. tubes. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. They said he was beautiful. 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. Times were hard. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Norman. I felt desperate. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. or at least pretend to. Not with . 189 The first time I saw my son. Finally. I cried. Charles P. but because I thought I had failed. (On Friday evenings. but I never realized it. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. Sebastian. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I went to a place filled with noise. begging him for a ride in the new car. and lights.T R U E S T O R I ES him. 59 Daytona Beach. 1. and his weight. a frown on her face.
I talked to him. Each week. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. and hope flooded me. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Relief. I cried. I began to sob. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. I sang to him. and I prayed. He was so fragile and exposed. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. I gained knowledge. I was discharged. At long last. Lisa. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. besieged by guilt. Outside.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. Over time. pride. After a week. fear. leaving my baby behind. I became determined to care for him. wanting to 190 I . and mourning. patience. and confidence. 36 North Andover. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. I ached to still be pregnant. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer.
But tonight. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. driving to our new “hunting spot. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. pet. or gangs. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. Suzanne. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. or feed the deer.m. or having trouble with the police. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. drugs. we weren’t there to look at. 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.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. or getting into drinking. my father and I were in his truck. Though I was only twelve. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. and I was twelve years old. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. Right now. I don’t have any desire to find out. and I 191 I .. At about 3 a. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger.
You can take a picture and freeze time. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. with the click of a camera. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. I snuck up to the fence line. I didn’t even have to call the deer. a second of your life.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. 43 Jessup. they were already there. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. I took my spot and waited. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. . Steven Small. checked for traffic. We drank beer on the way home. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. By the time he got there. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends.
Kelly. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. but something was unleashed in me. 30 Martinsburg. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. Sitting on a stool at the counter. and sadly. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. Part of me wanted to pull her away. I didn’t expect much. I cherish every moment captured. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. but those moments stay behind. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. without a care in the world. moments are forgotten. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. New moments are constantly being created. Life goes on. sipping a chocolate shake. I 193 M .T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. Don’t we all wish we could be this free.
Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. “Those aren’t for spending.” One day. Mama was beautiful. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. without any explanation. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. He had promised to take care of us. One day. I do my best.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. John. he left. the afternoon waitress. It was in seventh grade. and well fitting. Her green eyes sparkled. my first year in middle school. “Your Mama works for tips. “I did my best. Dorothy.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. Those are old coins. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. crisp. I was proud to be her son. Someday they’ll put you through college. collectables. I couldn’t take it anymore.” she said with tears 194 .” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. “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. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Everyday. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. She quit school to marry him. Some streetwise kids set me straight.
She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. I didn’t go to college after high school. I wouldn’t need it. They let me go home for the funeral. Respect. Mama wrote every day.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. She’d died of breast cancer.. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. Mama sent cookies. Mama was gone. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. shame for being poor. Oh sure. shame for having no Daddy. My middle-school friends had seen to that. a letter came from Dorothy. Mama’s friend at the café.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. There was just nothing I could respect about her. Before she died. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. After it was over. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. All my love turned into shame. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. TX 195 . I handed the money back to Dorothy.. Mama asked if I needed anything. I wrote back. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. not love. But something was missing from my letters. One day. that’s what it was. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. Something with angels on it.
When I did. we got into the boiling car. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. put them in my lap. “Mom.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. a lady came out and said. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. Finally. but there were no magazines. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. I pulled out all the papers. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. Occasionally. I opened the glove compartment. she answered. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. I looked at the gas gauge and said.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. When outside. In the front. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. a man or woman would call out a number.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. and wait to be called into another room. She must have known that I would see it. “An abortion. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census.S. no books. but her face wore the same void expression. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. “Mom. map. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. no television. sit back down. and devoured them one by one. “Last case for today. She would fill out some papers. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every .
I was sitting outside on the front steps. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. lack of food. you’re just like Auntie Doll. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. but someone else. sat down beside me and said “Hello. 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. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block.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 . Yvette Louisell. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. everybody in the world. when I was ten. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. It wasn’t the welfare office.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. 37 Mitchellville. she yelled. No. When she turned to look at me. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. for me. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. or the bills. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody.
and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. Big John. Big John wanted to go down there. Needless to say. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. “Green house. I got home empty-handed. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. She said love makes you do crazy things. what had happened. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. but Ma said she would handle it herself. “No. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. Then. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. “Down the block. She 198 . She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. I took Ma’s hand. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed.” she said.100+ girl in the world. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. That little girl was no fool. After twenty minutes. Ma smiled and hugged me. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. got a damp washcloth. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. both became angry. The next thing I knew. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away.
but we laughed and laughed like never before. “You like to beat up on women and kids. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet.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. are you all right?” He nodded. stood by the refrigerator. Meanwhile. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. George Hughes. His wife. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. snatched the bag. screaming. 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. “Take it! It’s all there. and left. we got the jewelry back. VA 199 . warning him not to touch us again. 66 Burkeville. Then he walked over to the counter. Ma ran to him. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. we got a smile. who had been putting away groceries. “My God.
you scared the poor boy. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. “Now run on home. I looked over. “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. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. “Don’t look to your folks for help.” 200 O . more surprised than hurt. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. but my dad sat her back down. you little sissy. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. My mother had gotten to her feet. screaming.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. one of Michael’s many siblings. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. and look. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. you made him cry. With the fork in one hand. he leaned over me. I hit the ground again. look what you did. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything.” the man screamed at me. saying. “Oh it’s all right. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. saying.
Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. help Grandma eat this. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. my little lipschkin. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. “Thinking.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry.” I’ll ever forget what he said. “My little wunderkind. “No more with the neighbors. Peck was yelling at me. just thinking. Very calmly. dry house to live in. I looked at her then at my father. Later.” she said as she dried my tears. More mad than sad. I think.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. Hours later. 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. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. at the dinner table. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. 201 . I said. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. One of these days. I can’t be there to save you. and a warm. new shoes every fall. She almost whispered. and offered me cookies. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich.” I answered. I ran to my room. clothes to wear. Grandma Berg was inside. trying not to look at me. but sternly. “You didn’t do anything when Mr.
songs. Quiet now. a name leapt at me. I received a devastating student update. Too much thinking for one so young. no more you thinking. He also loved conflict.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. He was full of jokes. Grandma is old woman. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. As I scanned the newspaper. chores to doing. Thomas Michael Fox. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. but Grandma knows things. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. They remain frozen in my subconscious. 51 Corcoran. CA The Sand Dollar by time. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. Sun coming soon. You must be sleeping now. He got to me like no other student that year. as the elementary students they were. Dream the dreams boys dream. tomorrow is better day. In casual and cruel black and white print. unchanged . Your father. In the classroom. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. and intelligence.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers.
I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I knew his story now. Reading the article through blurred eyes. But even now. He could always make people smile. no one got to me like him. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I hadn’t found one for years. smile broadly. 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 . I stormed down the beach. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. and dance away. cursing him. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. I saw I hadn’t. but he was the star. I always wondered if I got through to him. Stacey Curran Conway. an 11-year-old in leather. 36 Wakefield. Then the ocean placed a perfect. I smashed my heels in the sand. So much wasted. MA If Not Me. I was mad. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. He would nod. so much lost. Now one found me.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. just a headstone. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream.
living wages. I think. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. and administrators with agendas. I have stood in line. Surprisingly. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. I’ve been insulted. sworn at. I have come to the end of myself.” Back then. who trusted what would later come to fruition. students with social problems. of the students who might never make it to college without help. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. and rehired. pooh-poohed. I have helped a teenager learn how to read.100+ of what my students can become. I sit 204 . Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. and kept students in 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. Finally. however. RIF’d. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. In some pretty tough school districts. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream.
The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Zora. 7th. Unruly students aside. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. MA Unsung Heroes profession. not a real course. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. for a new vision. 34 Framingham. more wary. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. Unfortunately. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. and 8th graders. at the school where I taught. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Spanish was seen as an elective. I would be mortified. much less trusting. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. 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. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher.
29 Norwich. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. Sitting. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. Most were sensible enough to sit. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. I hope that someday. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. remnants of a continuous high. At the start of a usual class. I could survive the duration of this profession. Ted continued to wander about. Julia Perez. His eyes were constantly glazed over. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. If I could survive this class.100+ those who do. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. the vicious three-headed hellhound. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Attempting to gain control. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. silence.
As the class waited for my reaction. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. MO 207 . His bark was mighty.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. Wait. “Take your best shot. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. Norton Loomer Saint Louis.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. I have to call the principal to come get you. I decided on the only rational thing. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. I had stunned the high right out of him.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. Enjoy guarding hell.” the child said confidently. “Okay Ted. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. but how was his bite? Move he did. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for.
Tom “Wolf ”. G. José. 32 Brown. 202 Daryl F.. Malachi. 102 Elliott. 51. 95 Barchard. 111 Amberchele.C. 53 Curran Conway. 142 Dey. 22 Aubrie. 100 Burns. 70 Best. 121 Boner. 79 Anonymous . 166 Ephraim. J. 96 Anonymous. 172 Allen. 33. 130 . 61 Clarette. Christopher. Cynthia. 60 Aleman. 166 Antzes. 75 Carrillo.. 122. 145 Donna J. Aila. 45 Brame. 37. Sue Ellen. 155 Corson.Author Index AK.. 132 Babb. 135 Christie. Fernanda. Eugene Alexander. Adelle. Robert Hal..T. Aileen. D. 127 Diaz. 44 Anonymous. Stacey. 47 Balic. 19. Matthew.. James. Lance.
157. 45.. 116 Hathorn.. 92 Gallegos.Errani Emaldi.. 101 Jayne L. 181 Harris.G. 74. 97 Hermann. 115 Hayley. Daniel H. William Steed. Elisabetta. 77 Gavin S. 110 Forrest. Gaby. 164 F. 158 Ferrara.. 59. Will.. 147 Kelly. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 17. 179 Giosia. Enrique M. 163 Gutierrez. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. H. Dennis. 200 Galilea. 125 Hayden. 130 Gisela. 98. 177 Kelley. 115 Fernandez. 144. Spoon. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 62.B. 40 January. 131 Foster. 94 . 162 Jenelleish. George. 36. 80.A. Frank E. 30.. 109 Karen. 151 Higgins. Gene W. Hector. Thomas Michael. 28.. Mary. 197 Jackson. 53. 155 Fox. 124 Hughes. 123 Gavai. 128 Jolene. Pilar. Terri..
187 Kumar. D. 32. Byron. 91 Rothwell. 206 Louisell. 183 PC. 143 Priscilla. 108 Philippa. 59 Morales.Krista. 23 . Jan. Julia. 107. 136. Kitty. Prashant Devan. 87 McKenna. Ricky. Mark D. Scarlet. 25 McKenzie. 71 Richards.. 20. 92 Perez. 189 Lonn. Santonio.. 93. Charles P. 99 Quarles. 158 Pauli. 67 Misty. Michael. 85 Rose. 73 Lebreton. 196 Mansour. 77 McLean. 148 Salinas. Gary. Eloise. Norton. 141 Redfearne. 133. Brigitte. 88 Norman. 86 Mare. 160 Momo. 122. 172 Mayo.. Zachary. 171 Murff. 69. Mike. Yvette.. Nidia F.B. Miriam. 205 Pete. 148 Lisa.. 161 Loomer. 21 LeBeau. 188 Paddy J.
149 Zephyr. 203 . 85 Tedesco. 175 Yarbrough. 41 Shelly..Samuel. 34 Zora. J. John.E. 50 Theoharides. 193 Ybarra. 15. Bronwyn. 39 Yurshta. 90 Torres. Steven. 159 Wantz. Raul. Idris. 173 Yeyo. 191 Sonia.. 16 Shurley. 114 Vogt. 55 von Fuller. 87 Small. 151 Suzanne. Adela. 63 Wirzburger. 42 Windoftheclyde. 190 Suzy. Kurt. Agatha. Dinorah. Matt. Alexander J. 95 Yochum. Melvin William Joseph.
100 Plus True Stories.S. Inc. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. MA 01840 .A. Inc. U. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. Massachusetts. 2009. 60 Island Street Lawrence.
Publish your book with CBH Books. in all languages.com . We publish all genres. has created the imprint CBH Books to support excellence in literature.CBHBooks. Inc. www.The publishing house Cambridge BrickHouse.
. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. These are true stories told by people like you. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. Many people are telling their true stories.com $19. or confessions. The best stories were selected for this book.” “A week before my 26th birthday. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. floating in the air. but with a different outlook on life–and death.” “.. Upon being published. written as memoirs. illustrate life’s many. These firsthand accounts.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. who were eager to share their experiences.com..99 9 781598 351095 . Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. cry. anecdotes.com. Now you are invited to do the same. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. facing myself.. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.. and remember.100plusts.100plusts.100plusts. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. reflect..
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