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
or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. AZ I 19 . My father was a career serviceman in the Army. images. 2007. By 18. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. By the 8th grade. On March 3. living on many different bases. can be revealed to the world. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. bitterness. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Dennis Forrest. and drug addiction. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. so I grew up as an Army brat. Malachi Ephraim Florence. my mother passed away from cancer. Nevada in 1968. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Due to anger. 51 Rosharon. desires.
20 N . and their condition. I am aware of the way their covers feel. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. day out. Yet. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. to search spiritually. their heaviness. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. Today. Listening now requires my full attention. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. I know I am finally awake to life. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. in a week. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. freedom to expand my horizons. listening. such as putting up books in the library. When I do little jobs. and I can look at them neutrally. tomorrow. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. to develop boundaries. For quite a while now. and acting. I rejoice in the art I produce.
be they physical. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. But for now. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I can easily mix with just about anyone. mental. I know I will.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. Yeshe. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. once I am given the chance. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. Lamas Rinpoche. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. or strangers away. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. or spiritual. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. and compassion and when they do. As a matter of fact. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . In closing. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. find true freedom. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. and Thich Nhat Hanh. love. teachers. my learning continues.
I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. She broke the news to me as best as she could. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. Kuala Lumpur. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center.” That same day. I took in what the kids were saying. 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. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. As I listened to my mom. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. but didn’t join in the conversation. Prashant Devan Kumar. 18 Cheras. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. She had 22 M . I thought to myself.
with life to go. Seg. I grew up in boys’ homes. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. their world becomes a mental one. confined to a one-man cell. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. not caring that there was no Santa. TYC. 24 Queens. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. juvie halls. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. only thinking about those fucking stickers. That day.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. I remember sitting in the car. ponder. reflect. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. dream. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. feel. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. You have to have 23 I . imagine.). Food is brought to me. 23 hours a day. Every time I am taken out of my cell. and wonder. That’s all we do in these cells: think.
it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. run. I think now how naïve I was. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. I saw his point and I left things as they were. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. 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. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. But to 24 . It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. watching the clerk close up shop. The next day. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. There were three. It was a robbery gone bad. I was alone. and I got life in prison. staking out the store from across the street. I’d done it a dozen times.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. and no one gets hurt. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. Trust me. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. In the end. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. It is something that I truly am sorry for. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. and everything went to shit from there. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk.
Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. Watch the crap. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. Holes everywhere. It’s a mess. I’m keeping my pieces. right. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. I think about that shit. it’s not going anywhere.S. in which the author served as part of the U. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. Yeah. Crap is strewn everywhere. I’m thinking. not benign crap. all observant and such. Big holes. o. I’m looking at this car. I’m not moving. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. Look at the car. Watch the crap. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. No way. 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. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. I mean. if you’re lucky. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S .
I kick and sling explosive everywhere. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. Whoever’s firing those damn things. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. I didn’t even see this stuff. grenades. Good night. How many days have I been awake? Damn.P. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. this “Desert Storm. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car.” or whatever you call it. and mines scatter everywhere. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I’m holding my privates. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. hundreds of them. well. Now. I’m sick of this crap. RPG rounds. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. I figured I’d hang on to something. 26 .I. Henceforth see potential to be blown up.I. from messing my mind up further. with maybe a little inscription saying. but I don’t care. with holes in them all. I’ve been three steps ahead all along.—R. hold privates.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. K. I’m angry.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. right on the crap. cars now.A. I’ve been so careful all of these months. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I curse myself for being so stupid. or tunnel vision.. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again.
I don’t like the burned ones. but like some sick voyeur. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. Damn. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I do. I know I’m not dead. right? The ones I see are fresh. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. They look like statues. maybe. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. unless they shortened the fuses. No stench. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. again. It was fun for a minute. Is 27 .T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. too. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. 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. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I don’t want to look. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. His ID card falls out. It’s hard to tell. I don’t want to end up like him. vehicles are everywhere. The glazed eyes give it away. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. The pictures don’t lie. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids.
I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. We’ll have that in common. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. If that’s heroism. I want no part of it. They’ll never know what happened to him. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. handcuffed. that damn war. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. One by one waist-chained. Mark D. we stepped 28 I . “Yes. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. the Americans. and shackled.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. They’ll never know me.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. we will celebrate. The hero died with a scream on his lips. hoping his son will return from down South. No. Probably not. from that war.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. McKenna Columbus. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. pictures don’t lie.
apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. 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. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. mountains. 29 . dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. The restless. In retrospect. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. 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. indeed. 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. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. 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.
This is 30 M . sealed off from everything and everyone. the lunacy of a previous occupant. for most.100+ Looking around me. While I was in there. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. I found that I was not alone in this realization. boredom. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. but no one dared speak of them. It’s a world of its own where. and. in some cases. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. a vacuum of uncertainty. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. Hector Gallegos Otisville.
. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. Will Ferrara. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. MA 31 . I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. but I had no luck. 24 Lawrence. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. She has a son now. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay.. 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.
100+ Staying Sane n 1983. but that made me feel worse. 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. I escaped. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. I was always sad. where I am today. and began robbing banks. 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. flew to Florida. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . After 15 years there. Three years later. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. I always felt lonely. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. stole an airplane. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. They never really understood that there was something wrong.
or mine. so I always tried to help them. but there was something missing. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. This made me feel good. Now. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. and I am doing a lot more for myself. When I started middle school. It’s going to be hard to get better. I had friends and a boyfriend. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. but I was already highly unstable by then. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. 16 Richmond. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. and then my house caught on fire. 33 I . It wasn’t her fault. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. This year. Cars speed by. but only for a little while. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. I started therapy. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on.T R U E S T O R I ES me. Lights come on. Momo.
nothing to eat. I have been fortunate. your feet hurt. for one reason or another. You have nowhere to go. under the three strikes law. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. God has been looking out for me. nowhere to sleep.T. I have met a variety of people in prison. G. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. many homeless people end up in jail. You think to yourself. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A .. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. It’s cold. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes.. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. 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. I am still alive.100+ homeward bound. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. This is why. no one to call. you’re hungry.
Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. his brother. and the rest of the family awoke. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. My husband and I filed a police report right away. 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. So Joe walks free. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. I thought it was my husband. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. They say most 35 . and he will never see or speak to his brother again. In their eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. During the car ride home. We all had a few too many. I brought it upon myself.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. 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. Without warning. I immediately told my husband and we left. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. My husband and Joe came to blows again. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. Nonetheless. my case was thrown out of court. My husband. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law.
I keep getting turned down for parole. Zephyr Chicago. We had six kids—with so many kids. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. but I am always in a good mood. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. or crooked politician. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. trying to survive among savage men. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. you almost have to be a bank robber. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I love to write books and short stories. I’ve been a model inmate. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. My first eight years in prison were rocky. Men ask me. When I got locked up. I just took the money and ran. drug dealer. for all the good it’s doing me.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. while the victims get a life sentence. and for the past 10 years. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. and I made it without becoming one of them.
but all’s well in the end. laughter. they are good people with good hearts. Mom got a new apartment. That summer. flavors that today I’d die for—well. When I’m writing. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. anger. I share love. And it all transpired in 37 O . and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. my parents became legally separated. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. and us three kids. like taste good food. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. I turned fourteen. and my innermost thoughts and desires. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. Writing is like having an affair. but I put the truth out there for all to read. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. George Hughes.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. the car. not die. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. tears. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. compassion. At fourteen. 63 Burkeville. 1982. I love writing. sadness.
I burst through the front door. Then I put on all three new shirts. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. looking down at my new wet shoes. and inexplicably.100+ less than an hour. I wasn’t too concerned. sister. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. In 1982. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. not enough to panic. Once outside. Once inside. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. sprinting as fast as possible. but here it was. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. So I decided to steal. I took off like a bat out of hell. and put them on. On the very last day of summer. I was in State Prison. picked out a pair. “Mom. Like an NFL running back. at fourteen. By fifteen. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I went over to the shoe department. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. And by the age of eighteen. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. and me. My friends would have surely made fun of me. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on.
Obviously shocked. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. When I was finished with him. I asked why I was being arrested. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. OH 39 I . To my complete surprise. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. Six days later. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. 18 Mowrystown. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. 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. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. they said. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out.
It was good to see them together. and when one falls. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. though he never loved her. mind. fights. my mom and dad came to visit me. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. in the same room. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. 40 N . My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. During my trial. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. My mom’s eyes held a million words. with a common goal. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. At nineteen. I felt that what I did was wrong. I was ready to be judged and convicted. ignorance. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. and lack of feelings. I deserved to do some time and make amends. I killed someone. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. From then on. and mean words. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. Before. but the fact is I did. hitting and abusing her. how he cared for her. In the depths of my heart and soul. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. and soul. the others are there to pick him up. The judge gave me life without parole. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness.
and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. Money never used to be an issue.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. but my will to survive took over. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. Spoon Jackson. 50 Represa. I was naïve. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. and violent unrest. I have no friends in this new city. I need to budget. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but they all have lives. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. fleeting hope. I came from the desert. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. but I see only the negative things. I’m getting older. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. but I take no initiative to start the process. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Besides. but now everything seems tight. smiles.
Ontario. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. mixed with big dreams of happiness. All of those negative ideas. For someone like me. I’m not stuck in one place. my pen is capturing everything. but moving slowly in the right direction. go into a small. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. brought up in me. the only escape that I found was with a knife. In the few months that I’ve been writing. Idris Samuel. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. I’ve still been able to grow as a person.100+ before I go to bed. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. I even see things in a more positive light now. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. 42 I . I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. I see that in spite of my depression. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. inconspicuous notebook. 27 Toronto. a dead father.
Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. never directly addressed. new problems arose. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. While on probation in 1995. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. a need for the chemicals in the formula. light-headedness.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. it merely put them on hold. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. While in prison. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. As I look back on the role that the drug played. But then. While incarcerated. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. It had become a habit. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. Due to the emotional drain of prison life.
Now the reality I face is my own life. Anonymous. Wantz Salem. J. and once it does. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. but I never thought it would result in depression. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says.100+ stable. I’ve always had low self-esteem. it’s too short and too precious. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. you will be twice as strong. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. I am a different person. 13 44 I . And the present is where I have to live. but my reaction to them is not the same. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor.E. Never waste life. much clearer. Think about who really loves you. the present is much.
my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. I began to start to feel differently about myself. cultural arts centers. I have turned my attention back to God. The son of a research chemist. writing helped. After getting sober in 2001. Thomas Michael Fox. and pornography. community centers. I ended up in prison for life. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. 45 G . through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. 1958 in Elgin. Illinois. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. alcohol. Now I try. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. 51 Corcoran.
The second and third place runners-up were announced. prison scenes. On the day the winner was to be announced. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. Then. vatos locos. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. at the age of 17. my name was called. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. This history.and 12-year-olds. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. When I was in second grade. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. my school sponsored an art contest. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. Mexican revolutionaries.100+ youth programs. migrant workers. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. and indigenous themes. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11.
cash. Octavio with Orozco. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. a hacksaw blade. Today. I had to get in the same cage. I consider myself first a poet. The guard was two feet in front of me. and crazy juxtapositions. manufacturing the rope. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. there was no turning back. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. and obtaining the other articles took time.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. camouflage the cut marks. watching every move during a strip search. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. a new tradition: poetical muralism. Siquierod with Cisneros. Securing the tools. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. metaphors. I fuse images using words. And yet. José Boner Boscobel. a freehand artist second. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I .
I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. doubt. There was no time for hesitation. my arms were screaming. I was going. I was through and bent back the bars. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof.100+ primitive. and I was sweating a puddle. I could see everything. I was balls-to-the-wall. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. In a few minutes. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. but the meshing distorted clear vision. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. 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. but they could see every move I made. every muscle was taut. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. or nerves. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. already packed with the gear. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I slung the rope over my shoulder. D-day. The cage was shaking and rattling. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. It was going according to plan 48 . I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down.
My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I attempted to crawl away. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. It was too thin. I’d escaped. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. but couldn’t move. Yet. guards. D. but now I would to fall to my death. from regret and anxiety. needed more knots… whatever the problem. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. from doubt. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. cages. The rope burned through my fingers. Babb Corcoran. CA 49 . with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. free from fear. But that feeling of open air on my skin. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. I should have made gloves. I was lying on the rooftop. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. it was too late for solutions. outside the confines of the jail. through what I’ve gained and learned since. I know I’ve never been freer. I know from consequential.
He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. Alcohol would always come first. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. nothing. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. One time. but the key was jammed.U. 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. I thought I loved him. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.I. not losing his license.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. and by the time I did. no matter what. it was too late.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. He attempted to shut off the ignition. he just kept hitting rock bottom. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . not getting pancreatitis. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him.s. which never came. There was no wake-up call. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him.
I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. free dope. I had seen and done a lot. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Crimes were what thieves. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. not a crime. and sexual predators committed. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. drugs were simply a hustle. I had lived an interesting life. that was for sure. victimless cash. 23 Hollywood. In my 33 years. simply liked the quick. Adela Tedesco. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. who in the present. thugs. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. Unfortunately. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. a man with a past. To me.
as an activist. at stake: my entire life. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. at the university. I’m arguing against it one more time. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. Then there are those of us. not the solution. While I’m no angel.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. our families. I’m surely not the devil. either. CA 52 . things are different. It helps those unable to defend themselves. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. it protects the innocent. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. the entire world of academia. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. I participated in the discourse. at this fateful juncture of my life. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. Now. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. I argued it at every level: in the media. and with whoever. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity.” There are the pro-drug war. this time. I understand the necessity for law and order. Yet. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. for all practical purposes.
no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. until it took over my whole being. even though they know that there are great risks. However. They destroy lives.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. that nothing will ever happen to them. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. 24 Little Compton. my stomach and chest. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. there are new users every day. riding through space in 53 O . I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. I felt it starting at my feet. coming up my legs. So many people believe that they are invincible. There are always consequences. Lance Corson. and nothing good ever comes of them. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. One of the guards supplied it.
There were monsters with long tails down there. gritting their teeth. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. and I could feel the cramps coming.100+ the dead of darkness. holding on to my elbows. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. I walked around with my arms in front of me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I needed a fix. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. I began to shake all over. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. The floor closed up as I hit it. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. my heart pounded violently. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. across my stomach. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. bad. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. falling. I stood in the corner. I was freezing all over. Then I nodded off. My stomach was cramping. dying for a fix. My muscles 54 . My body was curled. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. falling. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. only inches left to stand on. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. I was terrified! I found myself falling. my back to the wall.
I kicked at her. lie. got down on the floor and beat me with it. wetting the bed. not scrubbing the floors right. “Get out of my house. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. Mother. Mom grabbed a frying pan. If I were on the street. and 10. and sell anything and everything. not cleaning the dishes right. petty reasons. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. including their own souls. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. playing too loudly. She opened the back door and said. steal. One day. “No more. There was no fix at hand. not shoveling the sidewalk right. 2002. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things.T R U E S T O R I ES exploded with cramps and I fell from the cross as convulsions wore me to a thin frazzle.000 other small. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. God and I both love you. But I wasn’t. jumped out. to get a fix. George Hughes. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. 66 Burkeville. My mother passed away on October 2nd. 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.” Now 55 .
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 dislike her. I don’t hate my mom. TX 56 . 67 Amarillo. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her.
Sex & Seduction .
when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. it will occur over time. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. and fulfillment after the first time. I 59 M . 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. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. Terri Giosia. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. Québec. But for the young woman. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. 45 Montreal. This is what occurs at 18. an orgasm.
I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. I always tell my friends. At the beginning of high school. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. that even though it’s your first time. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. it won’t be your last. people would assume we were twins. not because he wants to. We have known each other since before we can remember. Don’t be scared. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. We decided we were ready. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. If you know your body. When we were little. Now.100+ beg to differ. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. Do it because you want to. I will spare 60 I . I did it for me. 16 Richmond. we had sex. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. Momo. who are ready to lose their virginity.
T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. anyway. interesting story to tell. AK. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. we said. that is not what is important. I grabbed her. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. Almost at the same time. Obviously laughter. at a “well-supervised” party. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. Later in the evening. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. I ran into my best friend. and crying ensued. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. squealing. and we locked ourselves in. he wields 61 I .
NSW. feeding him like a baby. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. turning him over. Christie. However. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. or backstabbing us to our bosses. but girly mags are his main source of info.100+ considerable power by yelling. if the woman is appealing enough. and showering and grooming him. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. tempt. rubbing his feet and back. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. being sarcastic. however. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. 54 Sydney. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. He basks in their attention. it’s like having a little harem. changing his urine bag. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T .
we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. it’s possible to seduce anyone. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. Québec. a smile. That is. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. beyond a shadow of a doubt. However. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. a look.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. his complete awareness of 63 I . His hand rested on my forearm. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. Without confidence. It is not real. 45 Montreal. With a glance. body language. 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. Once that is accomplished. smile. the golden rule for seduction. as upon sobering up. this type of seduction is an illusion. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. one cannot seduce. It is stating the obvious.
As my collarbone waited in anticipation. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. his lips fell on my hips.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. I felt his back tensing against my hands. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. I pleaded with them not to show up. My ways were haphazard. True to their word. 27 Santiago. for they would make me look like a weakling. but my pretensions made no difference to them. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. Always the seeker. In a shadowy whisper. Never had a burden been more welcome. On the brink of a thrust. he breathed my name. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. Windoftheclyde. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . they only found solace when we smiled at each other. but my anticipation was no longer tender.
Small Miracles .
” Out there. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. and often after a long day. in the darkness. With a twist of a key. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. 67 T . I know that no one can get in without the key. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I am human. Late at night. I do my deepest thinking there. rather familiar. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. but once inside my cell. I’m locked in. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I’m on guard seven days a week. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I even welcome the closing of the door. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I know I have to be locked in. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I should hate the cell. As a person. At times. It becomes routine. amongst the prison population.
while here in prison. To be honest. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. and loneliness. despair. I don’t hear anyone talking. and I write my loved ones there. yet. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. The walls seem to hum. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 .” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. the cell is a paradox because in reality. When the cell door shuts. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. The cell is my castle until I reach home. The cell is a hellhole. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. The cell door is now closed. but I’m in good company. a melody of pleasant proportions. To the outside observer. It never is truly quiet here. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. or write a letter to my family or a friend. Ironically. these sounds are tranquil. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. listen to the radio. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. I have not experienced silence in years. read a book.100+ I pray in the cell. I’m alone. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket.
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. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. and I was filled with awe. “Let us show you the way. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. I also laugh. cry. in it were four angels. bleed. think. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. love. showing another dimension. They looked invincible. though their faces were human-looking. we have been there before. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock.” 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. I’m human: I feel. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I was lying in the dark. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. Michael McLean Beacon. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure.m. and have the power to choose. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. In a small. 69 I .
I saw a van coming straight towards me. there really wasn’t any time to react. waiting to make a left turn. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. knowing order reigned in the next world. Misty. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. “Oh no. but time operates differently there.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. 70 I . I lived in a house for what seemed like years. Auckland. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. This was a kingdom on a large sun. circular spaceship. At that instant.100+ white. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. guarded from dark forces. I thought to myself. 54 North Shore City.
“Sorry about that. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. Where we die should be no less important. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. It was a very surreal experience. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W .T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. It is important to find the right place for an ending. I chose Mount Sanitos. “Wow. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. Hey. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. a brand new box of pills. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. Ever since that day. In the breast pocket of my jacket. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. I sat there thinking to myself. including me. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. 38 Methuen. I considered the importance of what I was doing. and in the hand-warmer pocket. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. there was a pint of blackberry brandy.
but they sensed me there. no one was looking for me. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. my hand slipped and I fell. On the far side of my fall. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. closing my bank accounts. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either.100+ someone else got hurt. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. There was a flash of light. things were… strange. There were shapes of people around. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. Four pills left. Necessary and common. “He’s here. then a shift. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. It was still night. I cowered. I panicked. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. The guardians were gone. I finally reached the top. thinking it could be the police. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. like someone hit the reset on my brain.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. When the east finally began to warm. Blood was caked on my forehead. I must have blacked out. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. For a moment. dropping off my recycling. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip.
a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. it got so bad that I became depressed. I had never done that before. That was my break-even point. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. hitting me on the left ankle. but I had never been depressed before either. and then dragged myself towards it. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D .T R U E S T O R I ES was. I also know that I’m never alone. When I got up in front of the cabin. so I continued making the sandwiches. 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. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. Everything after that has been pure profit. At one point. as I did. Then a second piece of bread fell. Three days later. I think of myself as having happily died that night. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. and it’s doable. I was living alone. I was making sandwiches. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. I realized it was just a stone.
Three months later. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I was very puzzled. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. Our little (well 74 I . He is still there.” 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. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.100+ of bread. Jesus is always with us. we got pregnant again. the day before Valentine’s Day. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. so we should not be depressed. whether we see Him or not. “I am the bread of life. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Needless to say. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. When I returned to the kitchen. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.” Two years ago. but there was only one piece on the floor.
I did not waste it on the bland mush. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. And he is our own personal little miracle. But this event puts it into a whole different light. we will always think about the baby that we lost. 30 Martinsburg. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. Don’t get me wrong. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . Kelly. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. WV A Taste of Honey honey. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. but left the bees plenty for the winter. It was a good partnership.
The other half I saved for later. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. I had been free. UT 76 . when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. But man cannot live on honey alone. James Burns Gunnison. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. but it seemed to last an eternity. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. and the wildflowers. and also. 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. 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. I thought. the mountain laurel. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I thanked God for a taste of honey. 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.
he got shot in the left side of his chest. Gavai Kona. During a skirmish.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. There was a spark in her eyes. but it ultimately killed him. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry.S. He may have survived the Vietnam War. Army during the Vietnam War. After years of alcohol abuse. her actions were terrible and painful. Despite this miracle. smoking saved his life. 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. I 77 I . a pack of cigarettes. He had a lighter. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. Ironically. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters.
I tightly hugged him back. While he was hugging me. The next thing I knew. and said. reached for an empty hanger.” He also told me that when I finished eating. NY 78 . and I did. Bardo came out.” he said. Miriam. With tears in my eyes. I turned to go to my room. my mother called me. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. Bardo. That is when I saw the stain. when my brother Bardo and I got home. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. With powdered soap and water.” I said through my tears. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. “You’re not the only one. as I put the dress on the hanger. “Good night. One day.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. I walked to my closet. and hung up my dress. 41 Bedford Hills. the dress ended up on my face. Miriam McKenzie. I heard him whisper. but she ignored me. he looked at me. “Good night. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts.
bought a TV. no track or ball field. the “buffaloes” roamed. I could wear my own clothes. built wooden bunks. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. We installed a swamp cooler. cook what I wanted. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. When money arrived. But in Mexico. I had conjugal visits. An aisle ran the length of each building. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. There was no yard to speak of. Everything from 79 M . and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. No gym. incoming calls only. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. a stereo. a pipe with running water for a shower. no weight pile.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 even prostitutes. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. filthy. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. lumber. if I changed. Amberchele Canon City. but it was an identity that was poisonous. and dangerous. I wanted out.S. the world would reflect that change. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. A man could buy food. art supplies. I was allowed to keep my identity. booze. for the right price. in my head. for anything else. I arrived at the school cafeteria. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. the ontological slap in the face. True. and it has. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. I reasoned that.C. appliances. J. much like my thinking. drugs. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. clothing.
When I did not press charges. my membership in the gang became obsolete. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. After the trial. But when others got involved. In my mind. the judge dismissed the case. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. I yelled for help. the atmosphere was tense.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. I flirted with the idea of getting even. His father attended the hearing. encouraging him during the fight. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. As we spoke. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. I had been stabbed. It had been an ironic twist of fate. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. Enrique M. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. When I saw my assailant in court. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. Fernandez Miami. That made all the difference in the world. With time. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. After that incident. FL 81 . a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. it stopped bothering me. a free-for-all ensued. his father embraced me in the hallway. my assailant approached me and apologized. however. As I turned to look. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. I stood by my friend.
Matters of the Heart .
But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. He’s my first Jan Richards. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I want to know everything he knows. my first true love. He is strong. the good and bad. One would think that because I have experienced life. 41 Dallas. no matter what answers you receive. He is honest. and I am in love. I am 41 years old. Boy. He is smart. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I would have been in love before. I never get tired of listening to him. I have known my first love for more than a year. I will accept all of him. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. This is it! This is my first true love. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I could not 85 T .
I will never forget her. I hope we will get married one day. she kissed me for the first time. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. he came back to me. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. Suzy. and that the connection will endure. and the connection that we share. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. The morning after I arrived. too. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers.100+ eat. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. my first love. it’s been like heaven. Without her. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. We both respect and value each other very much. I was browsing . 27 Tehran. Mansour. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. 59 Dayton. but now I want to leave him. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. I decided to visit her. I feel so alone. Although we are divorced. After two years of online chatting and phone calls.
he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I would never have gone out with him. At first. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. Then within six months. His name was Travis.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. He stripped down my confidence. He was a tall. and now all I have are insecurities. everything was great. brown-haired young man. I worry all the time. If it were up to me. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He played with my head. slender. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. Shurley. and he was in fifth grade. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. There was something fascinating about this “older man. and I am so jealous.
all in retrospect. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. threesomes. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. hotel. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. I just remember wanting to be near him. Often. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . 29 Hilo. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. Kitty Mayo. She has little education. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. and gangbangs—it all occurs. My reflections of Travis developed years later. 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. anal sex. or inn in the continental United States. wanting him to protect me.
TX 89 . rules. The conversations flow smoothly.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. Sometimes personalities just click. regulations. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. She needs no coercion or con. 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. housing. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. who want to keep her hair and nails done. or risks. It comes like a thief in the night. finances. It’s an amazing thing. 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. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. send her shopping. 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. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. The female is as rebellious as the offender. religion. take care of her kids. Hours seem like minutes. The attraction is mutual. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. Love. The laughs come fast and free. pay her rent.
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. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. the tears pouring down her cheeks. I wonder when. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. I told her I loved her.. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. And three months and two weeks later. on a tour of Oxford.” I have no idea what he means. She’s packing her last suitcase. She told me the upright bass was sexy. she told me the same thing. Three months later. We are in her attic bedroom. three floors down. Outside her window. and I told her she was strange. suitcase is a difficult feat.100+ Four A. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. the distance between her school. we went out for coffee. and mine. I’m not sure she’s my other half. and if. my tears will come. 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. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . and yes. Two months later. Boston College. destined for Minneapolis. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom.. Skidmore College.M. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. One month later. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back.
“I’ll miss you.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. At four a. until four a.. and I had a crush on .” she says. 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. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. I walk her to the bus station. so I decided to go the subversive route. 22 Amherst. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. Alexander J. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. and I have to walk her to a bus station. At two a... she falls asleep. comes. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag.m. At three a. and place it on the hood of his car. still two bottles of wine later. needless to say.m. after another bottle of wine.m. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. I had written the poem already. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. Theoharides. after a bottle of wine.m. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. And tears stream down my face. write a love poem.
NH Love Is for yourself. Galilea. and well-being. but because of them. needs. 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. not despite of their shortcomings.100+ I sped away. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . 24 Lincoln. desires. I was 21 years old. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Scarlet Rose. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. 28 Albuquerque. Unfortunately. 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.
PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . As you can imagine. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. 30 Arecibo. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. no? Saturday came. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. It can be between two men and between two women. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. PC. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. making our relationship grow stronger. But a girl can dream. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. We are the yin and yang for each other. I imagined something romantic.
I tried to be perfect.100+ lifetime. and I tried to fight for my dreams. A baby was on the way. and my life. Life is not supposed to be this way. Our relationship is 15 years strong. maybe he was strange. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . and you have always been the one. Michelle. my family. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. the woman that he had been dreaming of. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I regret so many things. I regret it. “I did it for love. so many mistakes. but he was mine. I love you. so I left everything behind: my career. Mare.” I told myself. and I live there now. 36 Lennon. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. Maybe he was too old for me. I chose my hell. and we are raising a daughter as well. but he wasn’t in love with me. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. and so many tears. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and I thought I was immortal.
My ex and I are currently in high school. but I can’t control it. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. We are going to graduate soon. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. If I were to start my life all over again. 18 Olmito. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. We now have a beautiful baby girl. but we’re not together anymore. 27 Athens.T R U E S T O R I ES life. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but as for love. 95 I . Yeyo. and it lasted about a year and a half. we fell in love. Kikis_fairytale. though. It’s a bad habit. but we’ll be living separate lives. Lately. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. I don’t know. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly.
it keeps growing. Every time I see him. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. but as much as I try to stop. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. yet doesn’t make me want to die. but things had been slowly going downhill. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. talent. 96 M . He was a southern gentleman with manners. Aila Balic. In the summer of 2009. I imagine the two of us together all the time. 18 Brooklyn. It is a scary feeling. “I may have a guy at home. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. We started talking and before long we just clicked. Although I didn’t know it at the time. and a smile that could melt a heart. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. but it just happens.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. I shake. I gasp for air. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. I thought to myself. looks. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. and I have no control over my actions. We spent my final day together. I don’t want to.
I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. Ethan. for showing me the truth about love. I went to say my goodbyes. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. I couldn’t believe it was over. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Why not have our cake and eat it. 26 Acapulco. There weren’t any wedding planners. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. We wanted .T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. family and friends can witness our marital union. and it took all I had not to cry. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I explored my options on the ride home. but now it was time to make a big decision. too? Hayley. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. no guests. and no hassle: just us. In life. Thanks. Guerrero.
Some letters were erotic. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. at age fifty-two. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. Clearly magic was happening between us. I will go home one day. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. On March 27th. 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. but life is not fair. 2006. as well as me. On May 15. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. This story has the makings for a great ending. and made me happy in so many ways. 1997. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. She was . I guess. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. For Louise. was a devoted wife. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years.
we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. but for our family members. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. However. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. Please save 99 M . I will miss you. George Hughes. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. Louise. in August. If we had to do it again. beautiful flower arrangements.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. 63 Burkeville. DON’T. And in the end. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. but we had our wedding 7 months later. VA A Joining of Two. We had a nice ceremony.000 on our wedding. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. Farewell.
On the day of the wedding. the wedding doesn’t matter. 29 Lowell. forest green dress. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. Even at 3.100+ your money because in the end. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. clad in a miniature tuxedo. “NO!” I yelled at him. my voice echoing through the church. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. 100 A . too?” he asked. In the fall of 1987. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. When we finally reached the priest. When the time came to walk down the aisle. the rings were handed over. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. “Are you two getting married. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. Priscilla.
The emails became short and purposeful. not right before my eyes. On the long list of things I hate. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. and forest green. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. at some point. not right away. I had gotten used to him and he to me. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. camera flashes. but before I knew it. slowly and gradually. Finally. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. and I started to ignore 101 I . 23 Somerville. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. until amorous love became filial affection. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved.” When the doors opened.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. I was blinded by lights. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. all I remember being told was. and I had no idea where to go. my cousin. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. Adelle Brown. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. three of them will always be: priests.
I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. He was no longer my top priority.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. I am not that person anymore. and let him do the same. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. and started avoiding him. nor is he. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. but that memory is now alien to me. torturous waste of time. for him. 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 now. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. This mundane. I remember why I fell in love with him. or lack thereof. I am not that unhappy. January Paris. 102 I . yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. I keep trying to push him away. I am content to just exist. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less.
They are still together. it would have been more difficult. my parents did not divorce. Johnsbury. Alas. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. I would have done so.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. St. which never came. and if I were allowed to live with my father. VT 103 . as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. and I’m glad they are. Donna J. I thought that if they divorced.
Despite Diagnosis .
Wait till the “others” get out. and when you get to the other side. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. bide your time. You are immersed in it. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. leaving you there to bleed out. go in with your homeboys. Take showers in shifts. and sometimes it’s over your head. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. alone. to survive it. wash. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. you must wade carefully through the sewage. Prison is a sewer. vermin.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. and filth swimming and floating along with you. skidding. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. not because of knives but for their germs. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. sometimes it’s neck-deep. then slips away unseen. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. In prison. and dry yourself. cartwheeling. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. not let it get inside you. Some don’t. you can cast off your filthy clothes. clean.
become a part of it. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. take it all in. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. 59 Daytona Beach. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . Norman. Charles P. I was told I had a brain tumor. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. I regained some of my physical strength. The problem was not eradicated. they inhale deeply.100+ of the prison sewer. a cracked skull. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. As the years passed. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. so I went to an optometrist. And they die. meningitis. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. As for me. I started having eye trouble. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. Months later. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. When I awoke. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. wondering if I will ever go home.
so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. 21 Devonport. Pete. 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. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. and all came out negative.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. After 4 or so weeks. Fueled by the media. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. so in spite of having protected sex. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. 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. just to be sure. My cerebral fluid was not draining. 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. Tasmania. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . traveling all the way down to my elbows.
One time.100+ as well. but even that wasn’t enough. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. so she took me to the doctor. We all had sad faces. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. Jolene. For instance. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. so my body was dying. My father was the only one with the same blood type. I was constantly in the hospital. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. 28 Portland. Throughout my childhood. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. so he donated his blood. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. Every time a nurse would come in the room. The day I turned five. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old.
in college. fightingsurvivor19.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I vomit constantly. hoping to get rid of me to save money.” When my chemo starts. 19 Pembroke Pines. Three months later. This never happened outside. Five days later. and they both cried tears of joy. Maybe it’s not really me. the judge can expedite all he wants. There is no kindness. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. and very pale. nearly bald. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. “Well. I’m 15 pounds thinner. Today I am 19. the jail has delayed it. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. the check-in nurse says. At Perryville. and 100% cured. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. I am back at Estrella Jail. my oncologist was determined 111 I . Maybe it’s a nightmare.
In here. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. I know I’m an inmate. there is complete indifference. An hour later. My life is literally in their hands. No more nausea. then every six months for two years. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. when I’m supposed to be healing. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. I start the laborious grievance process. When my treatment is over. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. burning instead. I have three more chemo sessions. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. and then annually. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. Eventually. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. He answers my questions.100+ that my nausea be minimal. begging for what I’m missing. I am sent back to my room alone. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. I vomit until there is nothing left. But this protocol is not followed. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. the doctor comes in. He recommends a tumor 112 . and nine months later. Despite the rigid schedule.
No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. my life is in the hands of the State. That’s really hard in here. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. Their stories touch me on so many levels. AZ 113 . How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. uncaring power. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. and I am helpless against its inadequate. no positive imagery can change my situation. Six months later. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. I can deal with that. This is about the State. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. mismanaged. incompetent. That is why I am afraid. it still hasn’t happened. always look for a reason to be glad.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. As a result.
With an innocent gleam in her eyes. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. CA A 114 . Dinorah Torres. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. he began to distance himself. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. 33 Santa Barbara. without even knowing it. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. and I felt helpless all the time. she was looking ahead. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. Later. A year into my treatment. but when he found out that treatment could last years. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. Despite all this. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. making plans for the future.
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. One year she was cancer-free. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. Hayden. and had lived alone for decades. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. She was longdivorced. shape. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. 18 Tacoma. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter.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. The following year. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. How sad.” 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. for an addict’s. It just 115 I . so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life.
Penzance. He lost his wife to cigarettes.G. Cornwall. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. not even decades after giving up smoking. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. Whatever the percentage. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. F.A. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. on the part of Texas officials. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I .
A few suggestions: 1. 9. Separate gang members from non-gang members. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. 2. and house them accordingly. whether here or abroad. 4. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. You can see how dangerous it is. 7. Classify prisoners by age. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. be as humane as possible. sentence length. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. 6. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. 3.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. and typecrime. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. 5. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . 8.
This could be a start.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. TX 118 . Daniel H. Harris. 48 Huntsville.
The Transience of Permanence .
especially on death row. In plain talk. If I give him that. maybe an estate. discussions. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. TX I 121 . plans. Christopher Best Livingston. 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. Each morning when I arrive at work. which has its effects on me as well as on him. I’m a state-approved janitor. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. He desperately seeks some understanding. or SSI. All is forgiven. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die.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. In the penitentiary. For “free-world” folks. He understands that my time with him is short. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. a last will and testament. death is merely a passage or rite. some acceptance. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. I feel the dread on my flesh. death out there now looks relatively easy. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. then the whole world has done the same. I swear. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. From what I’ve seen in here. Some days. even inside me.
Shit. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison.T. It’s called “checking out.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. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve.” or “moving on to the next phase. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. Very suspicious. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. Light-headed. It isn’t working. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. G. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. 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 them. Shit. and it can be done right now. I’ll try again later. 122 T . Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. yet relieved that I took action. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain.” And I’m not talking about parole.” “taking it to the vent. today. Fuck God. Suspicious. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I am feeling very ugly inside.
Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Mike Rothwell Ione. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. not in the clinical sense. After that.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. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . but a symbolic one.
He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. in essence. gold. the lover he wishes to be. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. Hector Gallegos Otisville. but life—even at 103—seems too short. pearls. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. matriarch of the family. the son he failed to be. he may as well be dead. killed that greater part of himself. In the world beyond prison walls. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. the father he cannot be.100+ love of his family. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell.With his incarceration. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. In this sense. and the person he never grew to become. my big fat Italian grandmomma. He has. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. 124 N . sterling silver. year after year. diamonds.
as if no one else is 125 D . except for a fundamental difference. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. pre-WWII. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. and handcrafted dolls. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. blankets. Mary Higgins Reading. necklaces. key chains. she never wore it. 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. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. dating from the roaring twenties. The first thing one notices is the quiet. 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. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. Who would believe that a swastika. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. albums. The following day. It brings fresh tears to my eyes.
He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. there are only four or five people. It is like God’s “time-out” room. he realizes that all hope is gone. TX 126 . Hathorn Livingston. such as his first pet.100+ there. 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. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. An ache settles in his belly. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. At other times. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. but the mind rebels. the fights he had in grade school. media representatives. In remembering. the officials are stoic and judgmental. survivors of the victim’s family. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. making it ominously quieter. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. Gene W.
Once muscular. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). really took it seriously. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. no one. and his memory showed signs of failure.” “partial. Sleep came with great difficulty. including Freddy. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. He was a genuine character. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Since he always complained. he was barely over five feet tall. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. his body was covered in tattoos. In October 2004. a combination drug therapy. Over a period of a year. and they all tell you something different. trying to get someone to do something. I saw no real reason for worry. after a slew of “unreadable. Time was of the essence. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. if at all.” I forget why.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy.” Freddy complained to me one day. and his head was shaved clean. 127 E . A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. he had become thin as a rail. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors.” and “lost” test results. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.
William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. 2005. and he was afraid. By October. They killed me. We named him William Kenrick.” he told me. He vomited blood one morning. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. and now he’s dead. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours.100+ Months passed. but no treatment was administered. only resignation. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. they probably could have saved me. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. They tried giving him formula. “By the time they did something. Freddy was my friend. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. “If they got at me 18 months ago. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. but he threw it up. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. Freddy died alone the night of December 29.” There was no anger in his voice. it was too late. looking through the glass at our little one.
.” And as soon as everybody was there. PHILIPPINES 129 . if you can still make it. milky scent is still there. And oh. The next day. He will always be my first baby. as soon as I held him. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. which was declared a success. only he was already lifeless. At 3 days old. just let go. Jenelleish. I still think of him. a smile formed on his lips. he had to undergo an operation.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. And I knew though he was gone. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. Despite the pain. his heart rate slowed. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. But if not. NCR. 32 Las Piñas City. the smell… His sweet. And for that. Someday. At 1:30 a. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. I turn numb. But I swear. when I visited him. and whispered. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade.m. fight for it. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. only to realize that he’ll never come back. my first son. I love him more and more each day. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. But I knew something wasn’t right. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. Then I start crying again and eventually. my first child. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. he went. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. “Baby.
Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. After my dad’s death. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. I miss him deeply. My dad liked to sing and dance. he was really fantastic. fishing. he died suddenly and tragically. Facing the cell door. I didn’t shed one tear. in a better mood than usual. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I dreamed about him every single night. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. I went through many phases. from denial to 130 I . But I didn’t cry. roller-skating. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. Dad une 15. yet his passing was significant to me.100+ I Miss You.. enjoying the early morning light.m. But as a father. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. I was close to my father. and listening to music. Malachi Ephraim Florence. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. But after 5 years of marriage.
I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. a Christmas card. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. Terri Giosia. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I sent my aunt. Québec. had no meaning. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. happily single. After a long period of time. I realized that what happened was out of my control. hate to indifference. However. the final and hardest phase arrived. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. As a last minute thought. How sad that now sounds. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. her youngest 131 I . Life lost its luster. with great parents and friends. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. 45 Montreal. I am now 45. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I drank to escape and forget.
especially when you are only seven years old.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. Dennis Forrest. Not only did she call him. To the academic world. my poem may mean nothing. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. she called every person she knew and read that poem. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . he said. The night before. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. Soon after.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. For two years. my mom had been taken to the hospital. 51 Rosharon. The doctor gave her three months to live. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. But after all the miserable hospital visits. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain.
My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. My dad softly called me over. My life was changed forever. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . 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. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. Aubrie. It went on and on. “Daddy. but to help them through things the best you can. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. too weak to walk to her bedroom. 16 Rexburg. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. the house. He took care of my mom. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. My father continued hacking. and even worked from home so he could be there. and us. This experience has made me stronger. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. where it was warm.
healing wounds. from a prison payphone in the dark. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. but he died before I got the chance. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. I said things I’ve always regretted. Don’t ever smoke them. collect. as did my mother. Even when he was here last time.” He was just twenty-four at the time. There were hard feelings between us. and that was a good thing. not speaking. Over the past few years. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I could tell. waiting him out: “Charlie. the reason I’m saying this. I knew he wanted to say something. I begged him to quit for years. when I first met your family several years ago. exhaled. He looked at my brothers. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. with complications from lupus. but emphysema got him first. too. so I stood there. who knew my family well. but the last time inexorably approached. He said things. You settled your differences. You see. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan.” 134 . I admire what you did. I could see that you loved your father. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. A prisoner friend. closed his eyes. son. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. I wanted to make it up to him.100+ asked. and he loved you. We feared lung cancer. real sick. like you did. I had unfinished business with my father. and he was gone. so I recognized it in both of you. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business.
leaned his head on my shoulder. Charles P. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. Norman. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. FL Slash nstead of going to court.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. 135 I . I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. While there. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. My cellie threw up. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. His tears soaked into my suit coat. I decided to slash my wrist. It was the least I could do. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. 59 Daytona Beach. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down.
” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. “Six months. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. 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. I don’t anymore.T. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. His eyes were half open. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. Evidently.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.100+ “Well.” G.” “What are you facing?” I asked him.
I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull.T R U E S T O R I ES was. 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. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. It was so still. hung it back up on the wall. CA 137 . stood there for several seconds. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. there was only solemn silence. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. Then. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. For the first time since I was there. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. perhaps. But not at this moment. With a bit of a dramatic flair. Even the crazy guys had shut up. He had everyone’s complete attention.
Hidden & Forbidden .
it’s a habit of ours. and it was my word against hers. I want to be with a girl. Because she was white. popular on campus. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. but I haven’t picked up a girl. I say. and a ladies’ man. barging into her apartment. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. 1982. but it’s not my girlfriend. I knock on the door. I was convicted. and I’m in college. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining.” I say. For twenty years. we can have sex. “Your girl is not here. It opens. the white system. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. she’s home alone. that it was a setup.” I step towards her. in front of a white jury. but also to pick up girls.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. a member of a fraternity. sentenced to six years in prison.” As I say this. not only to have fun. forcing myself in. a football player. I want some sex. I’ve had fun. it’s her roommate. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. 141 I . I only saw what I wanted to see. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. my fraternity brothers. I was black. When it’s time to leave the club. angrily. racism at its best. if no one else is here. she was white. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I’m thinking. “I came to see my girl. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape.
for them.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. especially with men. pure houseboat. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. The fantasy of grandchildren.100+ Today. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. I had known that I was a disappointment. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. faithfully. So I tried. a wife. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. if I were to have a place in this world. forced attractions to women. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. For sixteen years. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape.
At seventeen. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. boring corduroy-wearers. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. So I confessed my truths. I wrote a script. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. that my parents felt the same. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . And I knew. only for who I pretended to be. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. my sadness never faltered.. Daryl F. all too well in fact. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. I am finally happy. with whom I constantly fought and argued.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. One day. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. When I arrived. 19 Hooksett.
Nicholas. and sinker. carried on like a trooper. Knowing very little about astrology. line.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. This brought about a case of stage fright. He dated one girl 144 I . he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. being a noble and resourceful man. 30 Maidstone. We didn’t date. Kent. one male and one female. Philippa. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. His self-confidence saved the day. I was literally paralyzed. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. but I always suspected that he was gay. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. especially for clothes. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. 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. it was swallowed hook. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.
Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. When he told me he was gay. 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. but I never really suspected she was gay. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. My friends just did . Jayne L. 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. she was always a tomboy. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. especially since I had always suspected it. I didn’t really think anything of it. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. As for my female friend. However. Waterville.
He had no concern for my partner’s safety. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. As if things couldn’t get any worse. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. knowing that if she 146 . the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. If I were a man. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. not me. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. too. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. 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. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. We feel the judge was very homophobic. After three years worth of evidence gathering. We are not giving it to her.” so we had to go back to court.” I did. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. who is from Peru. gays and lesbians are persecuted.” Within 10 days. They even sent me to a shrink.100+ me. but I am a woman and therefore. “Never mind. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. Right now. I fear losing my partner.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays.
TX 147 I . If anything.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. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. the Ultimate Truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. but we did not lose ourselves. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. These days. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. the most effective teacher. Aileen Diaz. We lost everything. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. has taught me compassion. 35 Tampa. 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.
Now. 30 Detroit. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. On the one hand. I feel like an idiot. I probably would have been better off not knowing. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. You have to always be 148 C . Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. better not to tempt fate. I still love and respect him. Eloise Lebreton. But on the other hand. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. and I would never throw it in his face.
No matter how upbeat you may feel. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. But if someone’s determined to “check out. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. After church. It’s always going to be there.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. I lived in Shreveport. 149 A . They help.” then there’s not much they can do about it. Mike Rothwell Ione. One way is to keep doing those pushups. so you better learn to keep it at bay. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. 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. Louisiana. I was allowed to play with a friend.
NC 150 . was too much to handle. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. and abuse. I have been an atheist ever since. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. another ultrafundamentalist sect. Christian Missionary Alliance. He screamed in agony. 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. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. lit the gas stove. her face contorted in rage. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. at my tender age. She barged into the room screaming.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. 47 Old Fort. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. “You think this hurts motherf’er. especially my mother. My friend’s mother yelled. molestation. Yurshta. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church.
but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. whether physical or emotional. 26 Essen. I have never been physically beaten. I swear.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. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . NETHERLANDS Harsh. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. I had nine miscarriages. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. demeaning. should not be tolerated. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. I did not get angry with him. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. Any kind of abuse. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Gaby Hermann. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse.
What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Then one day. Sonia. INDIA 152 . so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. I was forced to call the cops.100+ with me. Delhi. 36 New Delhi. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.
Eerie Encounters .
just a quarter of a mile farther. swishing sound. In my nightmare. my 155 I . until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. although I’ve never seen one. I listen for a moment to a strange. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. Why would we want to be? Clarette. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. Aquatic Park. I don’t need to see to believe. We cannot be alone. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. 28 Salem. slight.m. I can see the people. even Ghirardelli’s. but I’m getting tired. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. They are looking beyond me. I keep swimming.
I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. to the deep water. MA 156 T . Am I going crazy? Frank E. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. out beyond the breakers. The waves crash. I hear something in the distance calling me. Will Ferrara. I am silently alone. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. And about a week after that. The walls murmur. Foster. I’m only treading water. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. summoning me. And then. When I was 18. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. beginning to feel numb. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. 45 Delano. About 5 years later.100+ arms are getting heavy. I awake. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. 24 Lawrence.
My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. Ravenna. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. Not long after. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. my mouth stopped bleeding. In the dreams. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. and we had no choice but to drink it. Almost twenty days later. On our way to the hospital. ITALY 157 I . I immediately called home. while still aboard. From that moment on. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. In October. at my uncle’s funeral. a strange heat enveloped my body. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. While alive. I felt sick and went to sleep. 56 Alfonsine. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. too. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. Shocked. I dreamt that I was in Italy. One night. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. In the following days. showing us that we were right.
It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. staring straight ahead. I stood up and looked at its face.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground.. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. It was then that I woke up. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. 19 Monaghan. but they continued moving and stretched me out. It was pitch black. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. It was my dad! At that moment. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I was squinting. but late for work! Paddy J. its feet dragging along the ground. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I landed at the feet of the creature. as whatever I was looking at was far away. I remember shaking like a leaf.
One evening. That left me speechless. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. thin man. As I placed my canteen in the water. the vision of a tall. 159 W . It was at this moment that I saw. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. thinking about nothing. “I’ve been here before. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. When I returned home. Enrique M. my mind completely blank. echoes from long ago. “That place is haunted.” I thought. Hiking along the trail. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore.” someone who knew the area told me. As nighttime fell. I was in the bathroom. When I turned to look. Fernandez Miami. it had disappeared. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface.
And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. I have no idea what the vision meant. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. I have not had any such vision since. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. He walked towards me. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle.100+ He was wearing a long. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. Devon. Then. grey cloak that covered his entire body. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. His face was shrouded in darkness. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . but somehow I knew that he was bearded. and the vision was gone. standing in that same spot. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. still completely covered by the hood. I remembered being there before. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. However. when I entered the King’s Chamber. hooded.
I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. 54 Auckland. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . AK. Misty. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.” Now. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. I came back to my present “reality. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. Then my former self stood in my body. and activated it.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. and don’t believe time is always linear. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. During this moment of déjà vu. transferred his intelligence into my brain.
More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I’m willing to see where it takes me. In my dream. drifting like seaweed. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. Lonn. and a little less afraid. D.100+ broad daylight seemed real. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen. I woke up taking short gulps of air. I’m 59 now. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. 162 I . MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. They knew what was about to happen. but I didn’t. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies.B. facing myself. a little more aware. 59 West Roxbury. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. a little more settled.
Waterville. as I had in Spain. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. After that. Since I was only 4 years old. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. but with a different outlook on life–and death. and we started to spin really quickly. I watched shows on television. and then was finally able to label my experience. The driver lost control of the vehicle. and quickly drifting away. Jayne L. “I need to get back. Later. which struck a barrier. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I learned the term years later.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. completely powerless to stop it. I survived the accident with no major injuries. when I moved 163 G . I started to read a lot of books.
I knelt down on a pew. 37 Madrid. but with no success. a few steps from the altar. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. just one year before meeting Gabriele. There is only going to a different level. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. Smiling kindly. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. at my friend Viola’s insistence. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I got slowly closer. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. One night.100+ to Massachusetts. But for me. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. he said. it’s one of my many pastimes. A year later. facing him. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope.
in January 1991.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. 56 Alfonsine. Through telepathy. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. Ravenna. He vowed to marry me. ITALY 165 . I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. we became involved. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. While I stared at him. I felt all his fear and pain. Through telepathy. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. I told him not to joke. 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. Then one night. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. striking me like a storm. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. To be sure. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. struck by his suffering. but he had terrible secrets. so I left. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. and I tried to help him. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain.
Soon after. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. 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. Then all of a sudden. I developed . I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. During the five trips I made out there. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. On some nights. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly.100+ I See Spirits spirit. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. He tipped his hat and smiled. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble.
On one of my last visits. and then disappear. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. about 50 yards down the tracks. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. Later. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. On one occasion. Other times. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. First. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. and meet. We saw the usual lights in the sky. up a tree. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. 70 Waltham. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. but then. and into the sky. strobe for 30 seconds. who was also an amateur photographer. As I returned to where Betty was parked. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. accompanied me. a state psychologist friend of mine. MA 167 . then they turned off. fly to some central point.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. she suddenly pointed and yelled.
At Home & Abroad .
but eventually we divorced. and completely broken by life. We married and had a daughter. German perfume. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. or Puerto Rican dialect.” My father used to talk of Hungary. Lately. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. where all were welcome and. not financial statements. but life had a different destination in mind for me. Colombian. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. as proof of dignity. I once had plans to live in London. had to show the INS hard-working hands. and great America. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. Russian caviar. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . with a 3-year-old son. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world.
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. We don’t feel less American because of that. Morales. 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.S. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. the Dolphins. We all suffer when this happens. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . 36 Lennon.. while others are trying to cheat the system.100+ Greece. it reminds us that this country is great. Mare. Nidia F. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. 54 Leominster. we love Bach. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo.
T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. cars.C. and migrant camps.S. My father is Mexican. illegally because. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. 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. Many times. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. it would have been too dangerous. my . Then during the fall and winter months. harvesting crops.S. Later in the summer. We lived in tents. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. while my 173 Every year from June until September. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. apart from being unconscionable. I had family there. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. so I decided to move to his. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. we stayed in Livingston. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. 27 Washington. D.
Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. Because of school. they didn’t work. I struggled to learn to speak. this was not a quick or easy transition. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me.” or “spic. 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. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. our bathroom was an outhouse. I was embarrassed by my first language. we took our baths in a big washtub. mostly beans and tortillas. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. halfway through my junior year. In grammar school. read. School was a struggle from the beginning.100+ father worked for a local farmer.” “wet. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Early on. and write in English. Spanish. I was held back in kindergarten. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. In fact. they had the opposite effect. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. However. Not only were the white students 174 . In high school. I realized that I was out of place in school. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate.” “greaser. This is where I went to school. However.
not even two dollars.” I remind myself. 50 Boston. I wasn’t white. the usual. To white students. They will pay. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. My private class is in La Rinconada. “One hundred soles tonight. Raul Ybarra. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. and I had lost most of my Spanish. you know. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. to the Mexican students. in theory.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. a gringo wearing a tie.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook.. an enclave 175 I . I wasn’t Mexican. “Now don’t run away on me. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. 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. I was born and raised in the U.S. Although I was of Mexican descent. I didn’t seem to fit in.
Two maids. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. are washing dishes in the sink.” “The señora is not here. “She’s not here. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. as big as a sandwich. I am cheered by the recognition.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. I sit at the kitchen table. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. I have classes with her kids. she told me to come inside and wait. with chicken bulging from its sides. If these families don’t find happiness here. Matt. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. They don’t speak to me or to each other. you are not Peruvian.” “I know she’s not here.” “That’s okay. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. I eye the tamal on the counter. never mind 176 . dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher.” I say. No way. It’s ají amarillo.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. Remember. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. even your own paycheck. I hear the buzzer and push open the door.
I hear three honks. An hour later. Mrs. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. and we were all waiting for our first check. payday.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. I was told to come. The room grew eerily silent. They looked at each other to see who would answer. others were given a song and dance. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. It was the end of the month. “That’s what we all hope. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. and springs out the door to the entrance. Chin up.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. 177 . Matt Wirzburger. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. That is the hard part: hiding the need. No way am I going home empty-handed. Wipe any sign of need from your face. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Some received their checks. 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. 40 Amesbury. and I came. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow.
It was then. With briefcase in hand. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. Karen Manhattan. I felt that I had “made it there. As I again made my way down the grid streets. and only then. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. I wasn’t alone. the whole city was there.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. 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. As dusk turned to darkness. NY 178 . yet spaced widely apart.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. the city awoke and came to life. The streets were numbered. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. It was well worth it. After the much-anticipated grilling session. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I was in the city “on business.
etc. 7) Humour is subtle. Irish.” “The States. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. sarcastic. 10) The English.. real ale. and stout. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. 12) It’s not the “U. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. and you must learn the difference between lager. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. bitter. The 179 . (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. Scottish.”.S. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. French. 4) Beer drinking is an art. they helped a great deal.A.” or “Yankland”.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole.” or “U. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. and sophisticated. we don’t. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. Welsh. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English.” “Pop Idol.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. it’s “America. dry.S.e.
15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 23 Jacksonville. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. FL 180 .m. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. If caught being rude. South African. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. Pink Floyd). or any other English-speaking foreigner. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”.. and body weight is stated in stones. Gavin S. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. they’ll take the non-Yank. not pounds. Canadian. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. apologise profusely for it. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 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!). 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you.100+ Beatles. Rolling Stones. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies.m.
” which spans in black swirls over the island. 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. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. Native and unique to Hawaii.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. We discovered Diamond Head. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. my parents and I arrived at . tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. 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. Although decades have passed. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We took off from the claustrophobic. crimson berries. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. and Waikiki Beach. Pearl Harbor. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii.
ovular. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. Estado de México. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.” Despite my pitiful German. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. I remember wanting to return… H. Gutierrez. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. B. 29 Tultitlán.100+ large. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to .
Standing in St. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. For the first time since the early eighties. crying. I experienced an unexpected. Schleswig-Holstein. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. we were the enemy. but never forgotten. I imagined civilians screaming. destruction everywhere. eerie feeling. I knew it was war. and running in all directions. I even felt a bit guilty. However. however unfounded that emotion may be. To them. green hills and plains. Gisela. I packed up my leased . this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. that it was them or us. 21 Lübeck. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. checked 183 In late October 1998. Along the road. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor.
the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. and visited various museums. delightful little restaurants. There is always a scent of sage in the air. 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. TN 184 . I spent days at the Pueblo.100+ into small motels. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity.
The Toughest Job in the World .
he did just that.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. which is about 45 minutes away. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. We were told that I could be induced at this point. Krista. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. My due date of June 19th came and went. I planned a Caesarean. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. For child number two. Needless to say. so on the 20th.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth.. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way.m. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. we did not make it to the hospital. I knew what to expect. after being able to share this special bond. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . So. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. At 3:30 a. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. For our first child.
and read each one aloud. He’d take off the rubber band. The car would stop. and my mother would call us for breakfast. grocery bills. bacon. spread them open on the wood floor. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. Alley Oop. take out the Sunday comics. The Texarkana Gazette. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. Not every week. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. but fairly frequently. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. I had no concept of rent. It was just the three of us. Daddy would get out. Friday evenings were always a thrill. Dan and Tom). wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. and Tarzan of the Apes. Joe Palooka. lie down. the smells of biscuits.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. All was good in the world. car payments. By then. He’d slowly read the comics to me. and two more on the way (my brothers. My . and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. not working as he was the rest of the week. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. prop himself up on his elbows.
Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. or at least pretend to. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. tubes. I went to a place filled with noise. a frown on her face. Finally. Sebastian. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. They said he was beautiful. I cried. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. and his weight. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. 1.T R U E S T O R I ES him.220 grams. Not with . Charles P. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. but because I thought I had failed. begging him for a ride in the new car.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. 189 The first time I saw my son. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. 59 Daytona Beach. and lights. Times were hard. but I never realized it. I felt desperate. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. (On Friday evenings. 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. Norman.
He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. and I prayed. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. Outside. Relief. At long last. patience. leaving my baby behind. I cried. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. 36 North Andover. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. and confidence. I ached to still be pregnant. Each week. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. pride. I talked to him. and hope flooded me. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. wanting to 190 I . and mourning. I was discharged. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. After a week. He was so fragile and exposed. I sang to him. besieged by guilt. Over time.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. I gained knowledge. I became determined to care for him. fear. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. I began to sob. Lisa.
Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. At about 3 a. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. or gangs. my father and I were in his truck. Suzanne. or having trouble with the police.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. and I 191 I . Right now. drugs. But tonight. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. or feed the deer. 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. I don’t have any desire to find out. driving to our new “hunting spot. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. Though I was only twelve. and I was twelve years old. we weren’t there to look at. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. or getting into drinking. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine.m. pet. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger..
checked for traffic. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. By the time he got there. with the click of a camera. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. Steven Small. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. You can take a picture and freeze time. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. . they were already there. We drank beer on the way home. I didn’t even have to call the deer. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. I snuck up to the fence line. 43 Jessup.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. a second of your life. I took my spot and waited. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole.
I didn’t expect much. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. but something was unleashed in me. 30 Martinsburg. Kelly. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. sipping a chocolate shake. I 193 M . just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. Sitting on a stool at the counter. without a care in the world. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. Part of me wanted to pull her away. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. but those moments stay behind. and sadly. I cherish every moment captured.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. Life goes on. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. New moments are constantly being created. moments are forgotten.
Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. my first year in middle school. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. One day. he left. and well fitting. Her green eyes sparkled. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Some streetwise kids set me straight. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. the afternoon waitress. Everyday. and a few coins went into my piggybank. She quit school to marry him. “Those aren’t for spending. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. He had promised to take care of us.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. “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. without any explanation. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Those are old coins. John.” One day.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. Mama was beautiful. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. collectables. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. “I did my best. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. I was proud to be her son. Dorothy. “Your Mama works for tips.” she said with tears 194 . crisp. Someday they’ll put you through college. I do my best. It was in seventh grade. I couldn’t take it anymore.
Before she died.. Mama was gone. One day. My middle-school friends had seen to that. She’d died of breast cancer. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. not love. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Respect. Something with angels on it. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. But something was missing from my letters. There was just nothing I could respect about her. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. I wouldn’t need it. that’s what it was. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. a letter came from Dorothy. Mama sent cookies. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Mama asked if I needed anything. shame for being poor. I didn’t go to college after high school. All my love turned into shame. Oh sure. After it was over.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. shame for having no Daddy. Mama wrote every day.” John Yarbrough Rosharon.. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. They let me go home for the funeral. I wrote back. Mama’s friend at the café. TX 195 .
and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. Finally. “An abortion. but there were no magazines. but her face wore the same void expression.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. sit back down.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. put them in my lap. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. When I did. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. “Mom.S. I pulled out all the papers. map. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. “Last case for today. Occasionally. She must have known that I would see it. she answered. and devoured them one by one. and wait to be called into another room. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. no books. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. no television. In the front. “Mom.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. we got into the boiling car. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. She would fill out some papers. When outside. I opened the glove compartment. a lady came out and said. I looked at the gas gauge and said. a man or woman would call out a number.
She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. everybody in the world. 37 Mitchellville.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. lack of food. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. when I was ten. you’re just like Auntie Doll. No. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. she yelled. When she turned to look at me.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. Yvette Louisell. for me. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. or the bills. 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. sat down beside me and said “Hello. I was sitting outside on the front steps. but someone else. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. It wasn’t the welfare office.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me.
She 198 . Then. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. Ma smiled and hugged me. Needless to say. both became angry. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. Big John wanted to go down there. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. but Ma said she would handle it herself. She said love makes you do crazy things. what had happened. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. “Green house. got a damp washcloth. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. After twenty minutes. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. I took Ma’s hand. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. “Down the block. Big John. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love.” she said. The next thing I knew. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip.100+ girl in the world. That little girl was no fool. “No. I got home empty-handed. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding.
Meanwhile. Then he walked over to the counter. stood by the refrigerator. we got the jewelry back. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. 66 Burkeville. Ma ran to him. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. His wife. George Hughes. and left. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. screaming. warning him not to touch us again. we got a smile.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. “My God. are you all right?” He nodded. VA 199 . When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. who had been putting away groceries. “Take it! It’s all there. but we laughed and laughed like never before. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. 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. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. “You like to beat up on women and kids.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. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. snatched the bag.
My mother had gotten to her feet.” 200 O . “Don’t look to your folks for help. “Now run on home. you made him cry. saying. more surprised than hurt. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. you scared the poor boy. I hit the ground again. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. he leaned over me. you little sissy. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. With the fork in one hand. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. saying. I looked over. look what you did. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. “Oh it’s all right. screaming. but my dad sat her back down. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around.” the man screamed at me. one of Michael’s many siblings. “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. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. and look. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard.
“You didn’t do anything when Mr.” I answered. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. “Thinking. new shoes every fall. She almost whispered. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. I ran to my room. at the dinner table. just thinking. clothes to wear. Later. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. and a warm.” she said as she dried my tears. trying not to look at me. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. One of these days. “My little wunderkind. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. I think. but sternly. and offered me cookies. 201 . dry house to live in.” I’ll ever forget what he said. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. More mad than sad. Very calmly. my little lipschkin. help Grandma eat this. I can’t be there to save you. Grandma Berg was inside. Peck was yelling at me. Hours later.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. “No more with the neighbors. I said. I looked at her then at my father. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble.
They remain frozen in my subconscious. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. I received a devastating student update. CA The Sand Dollar by time. You must be sleeping now. As I scanned the newspaper.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. He was full of jokes. and intelligence. In casual and cruel black and white print. unchanged . Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. chores to doing. He also loved conflict. songs. tomorrow is better day. Too much thinking for one so young. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Thomas Michael Fox. Quiet now. no more you thinking. 51 Corcoran. but Grandma knows things. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. He got to me like no other student that year. In the classroom. Your father. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. a name leapt at me. Sun coming soon. Grandma is old woman.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. as the elementary students they were. Dream the dreams boys dream.
so much lost. cursing him. Then the ocean placed a perfect. just a headstone. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. 36 Wakefield. But even now. smile broadly. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. 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 saw I hadn’t. He would nod. I stormed down the beach. Stacey Curran Conway. Reading the article through blurred eyes. He wasn’t my first lost boy. no one got to me like him. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. I hadn’t found one for years. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I always wondered if I got through to him. I was mad. and dance away. Now one found me. but he was the star. So much wasted. MA If Not Me. I smashed my heels in the sand. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. an 11-year-old in leather. I knew his story now.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. He could always make people smile. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks.
I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student.” Back then. of the students who might never make it to college without help. sworn at. pooh-poohed. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding.100+ of what my students can become. I have stood in line. In some pretty tough school districts. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. Finally. and kept students in line. living wages. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. RIF’d. Surprisingly. I think. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I’ve been insulted. who trusted what would later come to fruition. however. students with social problems. I have come to the end of myself. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). and administrators with agendas. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I sit 204 . and rehired. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations.
what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. at the school where I taught. I would be mortified. 7th. Unfortunately. 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. 34 Framingham. Unruly students aside. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. and 8th graders. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. Zora. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. much less trusting. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . Spanish was seen as an elective. MA Unsung Heroes profession. not a real course. for a new vision. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. more wary.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait.
Sitting. silence. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. 29 Norwich. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. His eyes were constantly glazed over. Attempting to gain control. Ted continued to wander about. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. I hope that someday. Most were sensible enough to sit. remnants of a continuous high. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. the vicious three-headed hellhound. Julia Perez. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. At the start of a usual class. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers.100+ those who do. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. I could survive the duration of this profession. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. If I could survive this class. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . It takes a special kind of person to teach children.
I have to call the principal to come get you. “Take your best shot. His bark was mighty. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. As the class waited for my reaction.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Wait. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. Enjoy guarding hell. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. “Okay Ted.” the child said confidently. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. I had stunned the high right out of him. I decided on the only rational thing.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. but how was his bite? Move he did. MO 207 .” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.
45 Brame.. D. Adelle. 44 Anonymous. 47 Balic. 22 Aubrie. Aila.Author Index AK. Sue Ellen. 166 Antzes. 61 Clarette. Christopher. Eugene Alexander. 32 Brown. 51. 135 Christie. Tom “Wolf ”. 53 Curran Conway. 96 Anonymous. 70 Best. 202 Daryl F. Fernanda. 127 Diaz. 19. 132 Babb. J. 37.T. 130 . 145 Donna J. 155 Corson. James.. 33.. 60 Aleman. 166 Ephraim. 142 Dey. 172 Allen. 111 Amberchele. Lance.. Malachi.C. Aileen. Stacey. José. Cynthia.. 100 Burns. 75 Carrillo. Robert Hal. 95 Barchard. 121 Boner. 79 Anonymous . 102 Elliott. G. Matthew. 122.
Will. 92 Gallegos. William Steed. 192 Kikis_fairytale.. 164 F. Frank E. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 97 Hermann. 131 Foster. 62. Thomas Michael..Errani Emaldi. 151 Higgins..A. 147 Kelly. H.. 123 Gavai. 179 Giosia. 162 Jenelleish. 115 Fernandez. 59. 45. 125 Hayden. 53.B. 40 January. Dennis. 128 Jolene. 30. 157. Enrique M. 181 Harris. 115 Hayley. 98. Gene W. 109 Karen. 144. 101 Jayne L. 36. 28.G... 124 Hughes. 130 Gisela. Gaby. Terri. Elisabetta. 163 Gutierrez. Hector. 177 Kelley. 77 Gavin S. 94 .. Daniel H. 80. 74. 110 Forrest. Spoon. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 116 Hathorn. 17. 200 Galilea.. 197 Jackson. 158 Ferrara. George. Pilar. Mary. 155 Fox.
Norton. 99 Quarles.. Prashant Devan. 85 Rose. Mark D. 23 . 93. 189 Lonn. Jan. Charles P. D. 143 Priscilla. 183 PC. 188 Paddy J. 133. 59 Morales. 87 McKenna. 205 Pete.. 148 Salinas. 21 LeBeau. 171 Murff. Ricky. 92 Perez. 69. Yvette. 67 Misty.. 25 McKenzie. 136. 88 Norman. 71 Richards. 160 Momo. 148 Lisa. 107. Kitty. 158 Pauli. 206 Louisell. 172 Mayo. Mike. 141 Redfearne.Krista. 20. Gary. 196 Mansour. 122. 108 Philippa. Miriam. Michael. 91 Rothwell. Zachary. 77 McLean.. 86 Mare. Nidia F. Byron. Eloise.B.. Santonio. Julia. 187 Kumar. Brigitte. Scarlet. 32. 73 Lebreton. 161 Loomer.
191 Sonia. 41 Shelly.E.. Idris. John. 63 Wirzburger. 193 Ybarra. J. 159 Wantz. 90 Torres. Alexander J. Kurt. 203 . 190 Suzy. Dinorah. Bronwyn. 50 Theoharides. 114 Vogt. Raul. Melvin William Joseph. 16 Shurley. 39 Yurshta. Adela. 95 Yochum. 175 Yarbrough. Matt. 15.Samuel. 42 Windoftheclyde. 85 Tedesco. 149 Zephyr. 34 Zora. 55 von Fuller. Agatha. 87 Small. Steven. 173 Yeyo. 151 Suzanne..
Inc.100 Plus True Stories. U. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. Massachusetts.S. 60 Island Street Lawrence.A. Inc. MA 01840 . Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. 2009.
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illustrate life’s many. reflect.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. written as memoirs..” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. and remember. Upon being published.com. Now you are invited to do the same.100plusts. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. anecdotes.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. who were eager to share their experiences... The best stories were selected for this book. floating in the air.99 9 781598 351095 . no more than a few miles away across the inlet.com. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. These firsthand accounts.. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.com $19. cry. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. Many people are telling their true stories. These are true stories told by people like you. facing myself. or confessions.100plusts. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt.100plusts.” “..” “A week before my 26th birthday. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. but with a different outlook on life–and death. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world.. I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
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