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