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
By 18. can be revealed to the world. Dennis Forrest. my mother passed away from cancer. On March 3. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. images.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. desires. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. Due to anger. Malachi Ephraim Florence. 51 Rosharon. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. Nevada in 1968. so I grew up as an Army brat. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. living on many different bases. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. bitterness. By the 8th grade. and drug addiction. 2007. AZ I 19 . I was drinking and using drugs regularly.
and their condition. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. tomorrow. in a week. 20 N . to meditate and simply spend time with myself. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. Yet. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. For quite a while now.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. their heaviness. Listening now requires my full attention. I rejoice in the art I produce. day out. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. to develop boundaries. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. When I do little jobs. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. such as putting up books in the library. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. and acting. to search spiritually. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. I am aware of the way their covers feel. Today. freedom to expand my horizons. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. and I can look at them neutrally. I know I am finally awake to life. listening.
or spiritual. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I know I will. I can easily mix with just about anyone. find true freedom. But for now. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. once I am given the chance. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. and Thich Nhat Hanh. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. teachers. As a matter of fact. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. and compassion and when they do. my learning continues. In closing. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. Lamas Rinpoche. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. or strangers away. be they physical. Yeshe. mental. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . love. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling.
Kuala Lumpur. She had 22 M . I took in what the kids were saying. MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. 18 Cheras. She broke the news to me as best as she could.” That same day. 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. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Prashant Devan Kumar. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. I thought to myself. but didn’t join in the conversation.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. As I listened to my mom. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year.
Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. confined to a one-man cell. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. juvie halls. not caring that there was no Santa. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. That’s all we do in these cells: think. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. imagine. only thinking about those fucking stickers. feel. their world becomes a mental one. ponder. Every time I am taken out of my cell. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm.). TYC. 23 hours a day. You have to have 23 I . I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. reflect. 24 Queens.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. Food is brought to me. Seg. with life to go. I grew up in boys’ homes. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. I remember sitting in the car. dream. That day. and wonder.
I saw his point and I left things as they were. and everything went to shit from there. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. and no one gets hurt. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. watching the clerk close up shop. There were three. 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. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. run. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. It is something that I truly am sorry for. But to 24 . and I got life in prison. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I’d done it a dozen times. In the end. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. I think now how naïve I was. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. Trust me. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. I was alone. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. It was a robbery gone bad. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. staking out the store from across the street. The next day. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder.
in which the author served as part of the U. right. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. I think about that shit. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. Holes everywhere. Watch the crap. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . all observant and such.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I’m not moving. I’m looking at this car. not benign crap. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. No way. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. I’m keeping my pieces. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. Crap is strewn everywhere. it’s not going anywhere. Big holes. I mean. I’m thinking. Yeah. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. It’s a mess. Watch the crap. 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. Look at the car. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. if you’re lucky.S. o.
“Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. Whoever’s firing those damn things. hold privates.. Now. hundreds of them. from messing my mind up further. K. 26 . How many days have I been awake? Damn.I. I’ve been so careful all of these months. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.A.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I curse myself for being so stupid. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I’m sick of this crap. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. Good night. this “Desert Storm. I didn’t even see this stuff. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. and mines scatter everywhere. right on the crap.—R. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again.P. I’m holding my privates. I’m angry. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. cars now.” or whatever you call it. with maybe a little inscription saying. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. well.I. grenades. but I don’t care. or tunnel vision. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. RPG rounds. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. I figured I’d hang on to something. with holes in them all. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it.
along with the gaping hole through the skull. I don’t want to look. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. maybe. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. vehicles are everywhere. again. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. I do. but like some sick voyeur. Is 27 . Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. The pictures don’t lie. Damn. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. The glazed eyes give it away. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. unless they shortened the fuses. too. I don’t want to end up like him. No stench. 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. His ID card falls out. They look like statues.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. It was fun for a minute. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I know I’m not dead. right? The ones I see are fresh. It’s hard to tell. I don’t like the burned ones.
One by one waist-chained. handcuffed. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. No. I want no part of it. The hero died with a scream on his lips. If that’s heroism. Probably not. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. pictures don’t lie. that damn war. They’ll never know me. we will celebrate. hoping his son will return from down South. the Americans. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. They’ll never know what happened to him. We’ll have that in common.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. McKenna Columbus. and shackled. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. his son—maybe even himself. from that war. we stepped 28 I . Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. “Yes. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Mark D. He’ll think of his son every day and cry.
tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. mountains. The restless. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. indeed. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. 29 . apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. 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. 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. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. In retrospect. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm.
boredom. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. Hector Gallegos Otisville. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. sealed off from everything and everyone. While I was in there. the lunacy of a previous occupant. a vacuum of uncertainty. and. but no one dared speak of them. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. in some cases. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. This is 30 M . It’s a world of its own where. I found that I was not alone in this realization.100+ Looking around me. for most.
I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. Will Ferrara. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. 24 Lawrence.. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.. but I had no luck. MA 31 . She injected me with what I believe were female hormones.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. She has a son now. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. 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. We used to have a very healthy relationship. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex.
My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. I grew up spoiled rotten. They never really understood that there was something wrong. stole an airplane.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. flew to Florida. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. After 15 years there. I was always sad. Three years later. where I am today. I escaped. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. I always felt lonely. and began robbing banks. but that made me feel worse. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Momo. Now. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. This made me feel good. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. I had friends and a boyfriend. but only for a little while. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. 16 Richmond. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. I started therapy. but there was something missing. When I started middle school. This year. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. or mine. and I am doing a lot more for myself. It’s going to be hard to get better. and was put on progressively stronger medication. Lights come on.T R U E S T O R I ES me. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. Cars speed by. It wasn’t her fault. so I always tried to help them. and then my house caught on fire. but I was already highly unstable by then. 33 I .
. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. G. You have nowhere to go. no one to call. I am still alive. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. God has been looking out for me. You think to yourself. This is why.100+ homeward bound. 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. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk.. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. 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 been fortunate.T. nothing to eat. many homeless people end up in jail. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. under the three strikes law. It’s cold. nowhere to sleep. your feet hurt. for one reason or another. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. you’re hungry. I have met a variety of people in prison. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.
but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut. So Joe walks free. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. and he will never see or speak to his brother again.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. Nonetheless. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. I must have asked to be raped. During the car ride home. We all had a few too many. My husband and Joe came to blows again. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. my case was thrown out of court. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. his brother.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. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. I thought it was my husband. and the rest of the family awoke. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. I immediately told my husband and we left. In their eyes. Without warning. I brought it upon myself. They say most 35 . but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. My husband. My husband and I filed a police report right away. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table.
while the victims get a life sentence. and I made it without becoming one of them. No one was hurt or kidnapped. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. or crooked politician. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. When I got locked up. I’ve been a model inmate. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. I just took the money and ran. Men ask me. for all the good it’s doing me. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. but I am always in a good mood. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. trying to survive among savage men. Zephyr Chicago. I love to write books and short stories. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I keep getting turned down for parole.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. My first eight years in prison were rocky. drug dealer. you almost have to be a bank robber. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. We had six kids—with so many kids. and for the past 10 years.
compassion. they are good people with good hearts. like taste good food. At fourteen. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. and us three kids. I turned fourteen. but I put the truth out there for all to read. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. Mom got a new apartment. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. I share love. sadness. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. and my innermost thoughts and desires. 63 Burkeville. That summer. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. Writing is like having an affair. And it all transpired in 37 O . not die. the car. I love writing. When I’m writing. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. my parents became legally separated. 1982. but all’s well in the end. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. laughter. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. flavors that today I’d die for—well. anger. George Hughes. tears.
I went over to the shoe department. not enough to panic. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. “Mom. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. Like an NFL running back. and inexplicably. sister. So I decided to steal. looking down at my new wet shoes. By fifteen. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. sprinting as fast as possible. My friends would have surely made fun of me. Then I put on all three new shirts. And by the age of eighteen. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. and put them on. I was in State Prison.100+ less than an hour. Once inside. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. picked out a pair. On the very last day of summer. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. In 1982. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. I took off like a bat out of hell. Once outside. I burst through the front door. I wasn’t too concerned. at fourteen. and me. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. but here it was. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face.
OH 39 I . I asked why I was being arrested. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. they said. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. Obviously shocked. 18 Mowrystown. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. 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. To my complete surprise. “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. Six days later. When I was finished with him. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence.
In the depths of my heart and soul. At nineteen. ignorance. the others are there to pick him up. and when one falls. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. hitting and abusing her. I felt that what I did was wrong. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. mind. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. and soul. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. 40 N . I deserved to do some time and make amends. though he never loved her. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. Before. my mom and dad came to visit me. with a common goal. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. and lack of feelings. My mom’s eyes held a million words. and mean words. fights. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I was ready to be judged and convicted. how he cared for her. It was good to see them together. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. During my trial. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. but the fact is I did. The judge gave me life without parole. in the same room. From then on. I killed someone. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy.
I’m getting older. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. I have no friends in this new city. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I was naïve. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. Money never used to be an issue. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Besides. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. Spoon Jackson. but I see only the negative things. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. 50 Represa. but they all have lives. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . but I take no initiative to start the process. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. I came from the desert. and violent unrest. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. I need to budget. but now everything seems tight. smiles. fleeting hope. but my will to survive took over.
Idris Samuel. brought up in me. but moving slowly in the right direction. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. 27 Toronto. I even see things in a more positive light now. Now that I can look back at my thoughts.100+ before I go to bed. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. In the few months that I’ve been writing. inconspicuous notebook. my pen is capturing everything. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. a dead father. For someone like me. go into a small. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. I’m not stuck in one place. I see that in spite of my depression. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. All of those negative ideas. 42 I . Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. the only escape that I found was with a knife. mixed with big dreams of happiness. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. Ontario.
and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. As I look back on the role that the drug played. But then. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. it merely put them on hold. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. It had become a habit.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. new problems arose. light-headedness. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. While incarcerated. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. a need for the chemicals in the formula. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. While on probation in 1995. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. never directly addressed. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. While in prison. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years.
unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. 13 44 I . you will be twice as strong. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Think about who really loves you. but I never thought it would result in depression. J. I am a different person. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. And the present is where I have to live. Anonymous. the present is much. Wantz Salem. Now the reality I face is my own life. much clearer. Never waste life.100+ stable. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. Although the future is less than rosy to look at.E. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. but my reaction to them is not the same. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. I’ve always had low self-esteem. it’s too short and too precious. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. and once it does. It has been hard… It all started with bullying.
51 Corcoran. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. Thomas Michael Fox. Illinois. 45 G . The son of a research chemist. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. After getting sober in 2001. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. 1958 in Elgin. I began to start to feel differently about myself. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. writing helped. alcohol. cultural arts centers. community centers. I ended up in prison for life. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. and pornography. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. Now I try. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16.
Then. This history. vatos locos. prison scenes. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. When I was in second grade. The second and third place runners-up were announced. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. On the day the winner was to be announced. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. Mexican revolutionaries. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. at the age of 17.100+ youth programs.and 12-year-olds. my school sponsored an art contest. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. migrant workers. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. and indigenous themes. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . my name was called.
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. a freehand artist second. a new tradition: poetical muralism. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. José Boner Boscobel. metaphors. and crazy juxtapositions. I consider myself first a poet. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. I had to get in the same cage. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. Securing the tools. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. Octavio with Orozco. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. cash. there was no turning back. and obtaining the other articles took time. And yet. manufacturing the rope. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. Siquierod with Cisneros. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. I fuse images using words. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. camouflage the cut marks. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. watching every move during a strip search. The guard was two feet in front of me. Today. a hacksaw blade.
There was no time for hesitation. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. already packed with the gear. The cage was shaking and rattling. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten.100+ primitive. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I was through and bent back the bars. every muscle was taut. I slung the rope over my shoulder. 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. It was going according to plan 48 . doubt. I was balls-to-the-wall. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. D-day. I was going. and I was sweating a puddle. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I could see everything. In a few minutes. my arms were screaming. but they could see every move I made. or nerves.
D. The rope burned through my fingers. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. Babb Corcoran. through what I’ve gained and learned since. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. but couldn’t move. I attempted to crawl away. from regret and anxiety. CA 49 . The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. I was lying on the rooftop. I should have made gloves. it was too late for solutions. from doubt. cages. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. Yet. but now I would to fall to my death. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. I’d escaped. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. outside the confines of the jail. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. needed more knots… whatever the problem. free from fear. I know from consequential. It was too thin. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. guards. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I know I’ve never been freer. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. But that feeling of open air on my skin. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side.
he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. no matter what. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. There was no wake-up call. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . nothing. not getting pancreatitis. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant.U.I. which never came. Alcohol would always come first. he just kept hitting rock bottom. not losing his license.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. I thought I loved him. it was too late. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him.s. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. One time. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. but the key was jammed. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. He attempted to shut off the ignition. and by the time I did. 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.
23 Hollywood. free dope. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. I had seen and done a lot. In my 33 years. victimless cash. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. To me. Unfortunately. not a crime. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. I had lived an interesting life. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. a man with a past. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. thugs. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. simply liked the quick. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . who in the present. Crimes were what thieves.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. and sexual predators committed. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. that was for sure. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. drugs were simply a hustle. Adela Tedesco.
at the university. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. Then there are those of us. for all practical purposes. at stake: my entire life. CA 52 . I participated in the discourse. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. the entire world of academia.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. While I’m no angel. I’m surely not the devil. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. I understand the necessity for law and order. not the solution.” There are the pro-drug war. and with whoever. either. our families. I’m arguing against it one more time. at this fateful juncture of my life. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. this time. as an activist. it protects the innocent. I argued it at every level: in the media. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. things are different. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. It helps those unable to defend themselves. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. Now. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. Yet.
riding through space in 53 O .T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. until it took over my whole being. that nothing will ever happen to them. I felt it starting at my feet. There are always consequences. Lance Corson. 24 Little Compton. However. coming up my legs. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. One of the guards supplied it. They destroy lives. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. my stomach and chest. So many people believe that they are invincible. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. even though they know that there are great risks. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. and nothing good ever comes of them. there are new users every day.
The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end.100+ the dead of darkness. across my stomach. I began to shake all over. The floor closed up as I hit it. Then I nodded off. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. bad. only inches left to stand on. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. I was terrified! I found myself falling. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. My muscles 54 . The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. my back to the wall. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. gritting their teeth. My body was curled. I needed a fix. holding on to my elbows. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. I walked around with my arms in front of me. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. dying for a fix. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. falling. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. My stomach was cramping. and I could feel the cramps coming. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. my heart pounded violently. falling. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. I stood in the corner. There were monsters with long tails down there. I was freezing all over. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high.
66 Burkeville. “Get out of my house. Mother. and 10. 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. petty reasons. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. There was no fix at hand. If I were on the street. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. including their own souls. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. and sell anything and everything. She opened the back door and said. “No more. to get a fix. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. My mother passed away on October 2nd. not shoveling the sidewalk right. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. got down on the floor and beat me with it. steal.” Now 55 . Mom grabbed a frying pan. One day. 2002. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. lie. playing too loudly. jumped out. God and I both love you. But I wasn’t.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. I kicked at her. George Hughes. not scrubbing the floors right. not cleaning the dishes right. wetting the bed.000 other small.
I don’t dislike her. 67 Amarillo. Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. TX 56 .100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hate my mom.
Sex & Seduction .
T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. an orgasm. and fulfillment after the first time. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. Québec. This is what occurs at 18. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. 45 Montreal. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. it will occur over time. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. I 59 M . 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. Terri Giosia. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. But for the young woman.
We have known each other since before we can remember. not because he wants to. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. I did it for me. Do it because you want to. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. When we were little. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. If you know your body. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. who are ready to lose their virginity. At the beginning of high school. Now. 16 Richmond. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. I always tell my friends. We decided we were ready. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. people would assume we were twins. Don’t be scared. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. Momo. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. we had sex. I will spare 60 I . The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. it won’t be your last.100+ beg to differ. that even though it’s your first time.
I ran into my best friend. that is not what is important. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. and we locked ourselves in. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. at a “well-supervised” party. Almost at the same time. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. squealing. anyway. Later in the evening. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. he wields 61 I .T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. I grabbed her. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. we said. Obviously laughter. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. AK. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. interesting story to tell. and crying ensued. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection.
He thinks he understands how to make women happy. 54 Sydney. however. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. NSW. rubbing his feet and back. changing his urine bag. being sarcastic. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. or backstabbing us to our bosses. tempt. feeding him like a baby. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. However. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. He basks in their attention. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. it’s like having a little harem. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. turning him over. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. and showering and grooming him. but girly mags are his main source of info. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . if the woman is appealing enough. Christie.100+ considerable power by yelling.
a look. smile. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. Once that is accomplished. Without confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. His hand rested on my forearm. this type of seduction is an illusion. 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. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. It is stating the obvious. the golden rule for seduction. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. his complete awareness of 63 I .T R U E S T O R I ES confident. it’s possible to seduce anyone. one cannot seduce. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. 45 Montreal. body language. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. It is not real. Québec. With a glance. However. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. beyond a shadow of a doubt. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. as upon sobering up. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. a smile. That is.
I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. 27 Santiago. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. True to their word. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. Never had a burden been more welcome. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. his lips fell on my hips. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. Windoftheclyde. On the brink of a thrust. they only found solace when we smiled at each other.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. Always the seeker. but my anticipation was no longer tender. I felt his back tensing against my hands. I pleaded with them not to show up. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. In a shadowy whisper. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. he breathed my name. but my pretensions made no difference to them. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. for they would make me look like a weakling. My ways were haphazard.
Small Miracles .
” Out there. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. in the darkness. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. rather familiar. and often after a long day. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. amongst the prison population.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I’m locked in. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I should hate the cell. With a twist of a key. I even welcome the closing of the door. I am human. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. Late at night. I know that no one can get in without the key. but once inside my cell. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. 67 T . As a person. I know I have to be locked in. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. At times. I do my deepest thinking there. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. It becomes routine. I’m on guard seven days a week.
There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. but I’m in good company. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. the cell is a paradox because in reality. these sounds are tranquil. or write a letter to my family or a friend. The cell is a hellhole.100+ I pray in the cell. while here in prison. and loneliness. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. To the outside observer. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . I’m alone. To be honest. Ironically. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. When the cell door shuts. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. The cell is my castle until I reach home. The walls seem to hum. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. I have not experienced silence in years. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. I don’t hear anyone talking. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. listen to the radio. despair. The cell door is now closed. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. a melody of pleasant proportions. and I write my loved ones there. yet. read a book. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. It never is truly quiet here.
love. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. They looked invincible. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. bleed. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. In a small. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. though their faces were human-looking.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. 69 I . we have been there before. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. I was lying in the dark.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. “Let us show you the way. and I was filled with awe. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. in it were four angels. and have the power to choose. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. I’m human: I feel.m. Michael McLean Beacon. I also laugh. think. showing another dimension. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. cry.
Misty. Auckland. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I thought to myself. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. but time operates differently there. waiting to make a left turn. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. circular spaceship. there really wasn’t any time to react. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. 70 I . which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb.100+ white. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. At that instant. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. knowing order reigned in the next world. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. 54 North Shore City. guarded from dark forces. “Oh no. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning.
you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. Ever since that day. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. I chose Mount Sanitos. Hey. In the breast pocket of my jacket. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. “Sorry about that. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. I sat there thinking to myself. a brand new box of pills. and in the hand-warmer pocket. 38 Methuen. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. Where we die should be no less important. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. I considered the importance of what I was doing. including me.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. It is important to find the right place for an ending. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. It was a very surreal experience. “Wow. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break.
I panicked. like someone hit the reset on my brain. “He’s here. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. no one was looking for me. thinking it could be the police. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. Necessary and common.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. The guardians were gone. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. but they sensed me there. things were… strange. I must have blacked out. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat.100+ someone else got hurt. dropping off my recycling. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. On the far side of my fall. Four pills left. For a moment. Blood was caked on my forehead. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. I finally reached the top. When the east finally began to warm. then a shift. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. There were shapes of people around. I cowered. It was still night. There was a flash of light. my hand slipped and I fell. closing my bank accounts. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either.
T R U E S T O R I ES was. I think of myself as having happily died that night. hitting me on the left ankle. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. but I had never been depressed before either. I had never done that before. and then dragged myself towards it. so I continued making the sandwiches. as I did. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I was making sandwiches. At one point. Three days later. That was my break-even point. and it’s doable. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. I’ve been to zero. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I also know that I’m never alone. When I got up in front of the cabin. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . I was living alone. it got so bad that I became depressed. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. Everything after that has been pure profit. Then a second piece of bread fell. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I realized it was just a stone.
Three months later. I was very puzzled. “I am the bread of life. Our little (well 74 I . That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage.” 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.100+ of bread. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. He is still there. Needless to say. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. we got pregnant again. When I returned to the kitchen. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. so we should not be depressed. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Two years ago. the day before Valentine’s Day. Jesus is always with us. whether we see Him or not. but there was only one piece on the floor.
It was a good partnership. WV A Taste of Honey honey. 30 Martinsburg. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. But this event puts it into a whole different light. but left the bees plenty for the winter. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. I did not waste it on the bland mush. And he is our own personal little miracle. we will always think about the baby that we lost. Don’t get me wrong. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. Kelly. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn.
Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. and the wildflowers.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I thought. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. UT 76 . I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. For a moment there. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. and also. the mountain laurel. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had been free. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. But man cannot live on honey alone. I had smelled the spruce. The other half I saved for later. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I thanked God for a taste of honey. but it seemed to last an eternity. James Burns Gunnison. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time.
HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters.S. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. He had a lighter. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. I 77 I . a pack of cigarettes. Gavai Kona. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. Ironically. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. During a skirmish. he got shot in the left side of his chest. smoking saved his life. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. After years of alcohol abuse.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. but it ultimately killed him. Army during the Vietnam War. her actions were terrible and painful. There was a spark in her eyes. Despite this miracle. He may have survived the Vietnam War.
the dress ended up on my face. One day. Miriam. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. and I did. “You’re not the only one. as I put the dress on the hanger. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. my mother called me. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her.” He also told me that when I finished eating. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. Bardo came out.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. but she ignored me. I walked to my closet. I tightly hugged him back. With powdered soap and water. With tears in my eyes. 41 Bedford Hills.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. when my brother Bardo and I got home. While he was hugging me. and said. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. That is when I saw the stain. I turned to go to my room. reached for an empty hanger. “Good night. I heard him whisper. The next thing I knew. “Good night. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. Bardo.” I said through my tears. and hung up my dress. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Miriam McKenzie. he looked at me.” he said. NY 78 .
no track or ball field. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. the “buffaloes” roamed. I had conjugal visits. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. No gym. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards.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. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. a pipe with running water for a shower. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. An aisle ran the length of each building. Everything from 79 M . the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. a stereo. But in Mexico. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. When money arrived. no weight pile. bought a TV. built wooden bunks. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. cook what I wanted. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. I could wear my own clothes. There was no yard to speak of. We installed a swamp cooler. incoming calls only.
art supplies. I was allowed to keep my identity. lumber. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. the ontological slap in the face. I wanted out. J. the world would reflect that change. clothing. and even prostitutes. Amberchele Canon City. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. and it has. drugs. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . I reasoned that.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. for anything else. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. for the right price. and dangerous. A man could buy food. booze. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. in my head.C. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. filthy. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. but it was an identity that was poisonous. I arrived at the school cafeteria. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. if I changed. appliances.S. much like my thinking. True.
my membership in the gang became obsolete. his father embraced me in the hallway. the atmosphere was tense. When I did not press charges. Fernandez Miami. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. As we spoke. I had been stabbed. After that incident. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. When I saw my assailant in court. I yelled for help. With time.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. After the trial. That made all the difference in the world. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. I stood by my friend. I flirted with the idea of getting even. the judge dismissed the case. it stopped bothering me. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. His father attended the hearing. FL 81 . All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. Enrique M. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. however. As I turned to look. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. In my mind. encouraging him during the fight. my assailant approached me and apologized. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. It had been an ironic twist of fate. But when others got involved. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. a free-for-all ensued.
Matters of the Heart .
Boy. He’s my first Jan Richards. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. One would think that because I have experienced life. I am 41 years old.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. and I am in love. was I wrong! I admire my first love. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. This is it! This is my first true love. I have known my first love for more than a year. I would have been in love before. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. my first true love. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. He is smart. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I could not 85 T . I never get tired of listening to him. 41 Dallas. I will accept all of him. He is honest. the good and bad. no matter what answers you receive. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. He is strong. I want to know everything he knows.
We both respect and value each other very much. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. but now I want to leave him. 59 Dayton. Suzy. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. and that the connection will endure. I decided to visit her. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. too. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. Without her. I feel so alone. Mansour. I was browsing . It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that.100+ eat. she kissed me for the first time. and the connection that we share. 27 Tehran. I hope we will get married one day. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. it’s been like heaven. The morning after I arrived. he came back to me. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. my first love. Although we are divorced. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. I will never forget her. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS).
and now all I have are insecurities. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. and I am so jealous. He played with my head. At first.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . There was something fascinating about this “older man. His name was Travis. and he was in fifth grade. Then within six months. everything was great.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. Shurley. He stripped down my confidence. brown-haired young man. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. I would never have gone out with him. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. He was a tall. I worry all the time. slender. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. If it were up to me.
29 Hilo. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. and gangbangs—it all occurs. all in retrospect. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. My reflections of Travis developed years later. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . 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. or inn in the continental United States. wanting him to protect me. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. 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. I just remember wanting to be near him. anal sex. Kitty Mayo. Often. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. She has little education.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. hotel. threesomes. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.
pay her rent. The attraction is mutual. 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. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. The female is as rebellious as the offender. religion. 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. Sometimes personalities just click. finances. The conversations flow smoothly. Love. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. who want to keep her hair and nails done.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. regulations. send her shopping. TX 89 . She needs no coercion or con. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. Hours seem like minutes. It comes like a thief in the night. or risks. The laughs come fast and free. rules. take care of her kids. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. It’s an amazing thing. 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. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted.
I wonder when. She’s packing her last suitcase. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . but I couldn’t stop looking at her. 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. the tears pouring down her cheeks. my tears will come. and if. Massachusetts. and mine. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. I first met her at Heathrow Airport.M. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. One month later. Three months later. the distance between her school.. we went out for coffee. And three months and two weeks later. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Outside her window.100+ Four A. Two months later. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. she told me the same thing. Boston College. destined for Minneapolis. We are in her attic bedroom. I told her I loved her. and yes. I’m not sure she’s my other half.” I have no idea what he means. suitcase is a difficult feat. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back.. on a tour of Oxford. Skidmore College. three floors down. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. and I told her she was strange. but I know I don’t want her to leave.
I walk her to the bus station. she falls asleep. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day.” she says. and place it on the hood of his car. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. 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. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. “I’ll miss you.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening.. Alexander J.. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. needless to say. after another bottle of wine. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. and I had a crush on . I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. until four a. At four a. after a bottle of wine. still two bottles of wine later. so I decided to go the subversive route. I had written the poem already. comes.m. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. write a love poem. 22 Amherst. At two a. and I have to walk her to a bus station.m. Theoharides.m. And tears stream down my face. At three a..m.
Scarlet Rose.100+ I sped away. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. 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. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . not despite of their shortcomings. I was 21 years old. and well-being. 28 Albuquerque. Unfortunately. desires. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Galilea. NH Love Is for yourself. 24 Lincoln. but because of them. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. needs. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating.
As you can imagine. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. We are the yin and yang for each other.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. making our relationship grow stronger. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. It can be between two men and between two women. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. PC. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. 30 Arecibo. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . But a girl can dream. no? Saturday came. I imagined something romantic. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant.
I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. but he wasn’t in love with me. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I tried to be perfect. Maybe he was too old for me. I regret so many things. A baby was on the way. maybe he was strange. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and so many tears. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. Life is not supposed to be this way. Michelle. and we are raising a daughter as well. my family.” I told myself. and I thought I was immortal. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. Our relationship is 15 years strong. the woman that he had been dreaming of. so I left everything behind: my career. I love you. but he was mine. so many mistakes. “I did it for love. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. Mare. I regret it. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and you have always been the one. and I tried to fight for my dreams.100+ lifetime. I chose my hell. and my life. and I live there now. 36 Lennon.
but I can’t control it. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. I don’t know. My ex and I are currently in high school. Yeyo. though. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. If I were to start my life all over again. Lately. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. We now have a beautiful baby girl. 27 Athens. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but we’re not together anymore. but as for love. We are going to graduate soon. and it lasted about a year and a half. It’s a bad habit. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly.T R U E S T O R I ES life. Kikis_fairytale. but we’ll be living separate lives. 95 I . 18 Olmito. we fell in love.
yet doesn’t make me want to die. We spent my final day together. looks.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. talent. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. and a smile that could melt a heart. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. it keeps growing. but things had been slowly going downhill. I shake. but it just happens. “I may have a guy at home. It is a scary feeling. Aila Balic. but as much as I try to stop. Although I didn’t know it at the time. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. I don’t want to. and I have no control over my actions. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. In the summer of 2009. We started talking and before long we just clicked. I gasp for air. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. I imagine the two of us together all the time. 96 M . Every time I see him. I thought to myself. He was a southern gentleman with manners. 18 Brooklyn.
Ethan. and it took all I had not to cry. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. In life. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. family and friends can witness our marital union. I explored my options on the ride home. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. no guests. for showing me the truth about love. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I couldn’t believe it was over. Guerrero. 26 Acapulco. and no hassle: just us. but now it was time to make a big decision.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. There weren’t any wedding planners. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. We wanted . yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. I went to say my goodbyes. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Thanks. Why not have our cake and eat it. too? Hayley.
the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. She was . at age fifty-two. I will go home one day. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. Some letters were erotic. Clearly magic was happening between us. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. but life is not fair. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. On May 15. and made me happy in so many ways. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. For Louise. On March 27th. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. 1997. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. This story has the makings for a great ending. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. was a devoted wife. I had not felt that way in years.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. I guess. 2006. as well as me.
Louise. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. 63 Burkeville. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. George Hughes. And in the end. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. DON’T.000 on our wedding. VA A Joining of Two. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. If we had to do it again. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. Please save 99 M . Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. in August. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. but we had our wedding 7 months later. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. We had a nice ceremony. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves.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. beautiful flower arrangements. Farewell. but for our family members. However. I will miss you. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams.
Even at 3. 29 Lowell. “NO!” I yelled at him. 100 A . and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom.100+ your money because in the end. On the day of the wedding. When we finally reached the priest. In the fall of 1987. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. the wedding doesn’t matter. When the time came to walk down the aisle. my voice echoing through the church. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. clad in a miniature tuxedo. “Are you two getting married. forest green dress. Priscilla. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. the rings were handed over. too?” he asked.
and I had no idea where to go. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. Adelle Brown. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. On the long list of things I hate. but before I knew it. Finally.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. and forest green. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. three of them will always be: priests. not right before my eyes.” When the doors opened. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. all I remember being told was. The emails became short and purposeful. and I started to ignore 101 I . The reasons I had married him were no longer there. not right away. slowly and gradually. at some point. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. camera flashes. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. I had gotten used to him and he to me. I was blinded by lights. my cousin. 23 Somerville. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. until amorous love became filial affection.
or lack thereof.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. For now. and let him do the same. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. but that memory is now alien to me. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. torturous waste of time. for him. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I am content to just exist. I keep trying to push him away. nor is he. I remember why I fell in love with him. January Paris. I am not that unhappy. 102 I . 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. I am not that person anymore. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. and started avoiding him. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. This mundane. He was no longer my top priority.
and if I were allowed to live with my father. St. my parents did not divorce. and I’m glad they are. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. I thought that if they divorced. VT 103 . They are still together. it would have been more difficult. I would have done so. which never came. Johnsbury. Donna J. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. Alas.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce.
Despite Diagnosis .
always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. leaving you there to bleed out. wash. then slips away unseen. to survive it. cartwheeling. You are immersed in it. In prison. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. Some don’t. vermin. you must wade carefully through the sewage. and filth swimming and floating along with you. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. Prison is a sewer. not because of knives but for their germs. and dry yourself. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . bide your time. and when you get to the other side. alone. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. go in with your homeboys. not let it get inside you. you can cast off your filthy clothes. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. and sometimes it’s over your head. clean. Wait till the “others” get out.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. sometimes it’s neck-deep. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. skidding. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. Take showers in shifts. Sometimes it’s waistdeep.
take it all in. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. a cracked skull.100+ of the prison sewer. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I was told I had a brain tumor. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. Months later. When I awoke. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . meningitis. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. so I went to an optometrist. As the years passed. The problem was not eradicated. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. become a part of it. As for me. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. Charles P. And they die. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. Norman. wondering if I will ever go home. I regained some of my physical strength. I started having eye trouble. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. they inhale deeply. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. 59 Daytona Beach. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains.
I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. 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. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . traveling all the way down to my elbows. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. Tasmania.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. Fueled by the media. so in spite of having protected sex. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. just to be sure. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. After 4 or so weeks. 21 Devonport. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. Pete. and all came out negative.
OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. so she took me to the doctor. Throughout my childhood. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood.100+ as well. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. so my body was dying. The day I turned five. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. We all had sad faces. 28 Portland. One time. For instance. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. Jolene. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). but even that wasn’t enough. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. My father was the only one with the same blood type. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . Every time a nurse would come in the room. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. so he donated his blood. I was constantly in the hospital. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful.
but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. I am back at Estrella Jail. This never happened outside. Three months later. Maybe it’s a nightmare. hoping to get rid of me to save money. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. There is no kindness. and 100% cured. fightingsurvivor19. and very pale. At Perryville. Maybe it’s not really me. I’m 15 pounds thinner. and they both cried tears of joy. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. nearly bald. the jail has delayed it. Five days later. “Well. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. in college. 19 Pembroke Pines. Today I am 19. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. my oncologist was determined 111 I . that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. I vomit constantly. the check-in nurse says. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. the judge can expedite all he wants.” When my chemo starts.
I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. I have three more chemo sessions. An hour later. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. My life is literally in their hands. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. begging for what I’m missing. the doctor comes in. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. then every six months for two years.100+ that my nausea be minimal. I know I’m an inmate. In here. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. He recommends a tumor 112 . Eventually. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. When my treatment is over. there is complete indifference. I am sent back to my room alone. and nine months later. burning instead. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. and then annually. But this protocol is not followed. He answers my questions. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. when I’m supposed to be healing. I start the laborious grievance process. I vomit until there is nothing left. No more nausea. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Despite the rigid schedule.
always look for a reason to be glad. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. my life is in the hands of the State. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. AZ 113 . 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. That is why I am afraid. That’s really hard in here. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. As a result. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. Six months later. This is about the State. I can deal with that. 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. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. mismanaged. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. and I am helpless against its inadequate. it still hasn’t happened. uncaring power. incompetent. no positive imagery can change my situation.
That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. she was looking ahead. CA A 114 . and I felt helpless all the time. A year into my treatment. Two months after I started chemotherapy. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. Despite all this. without even knowing it. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. Dinorah Torres. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. he began to distance himself. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. making plans for the future. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. Later. 33 Santa Barbara.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. but when he found out that treatment could last years.
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. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. never had any kids. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. The following year. Hayden. 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. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. How sad. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. It just 115 I . He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. and had lived alone for decades. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. for a smoker’s lungs. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. shape. 18 Tacoma. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. She was longdivorced. for an addict’s.
F. Penzance. his oldest daughter to cigarettes.G. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . Whatever the percentage. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. on the part of Texas officials.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. He lost his wife to cigarettes. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex.A. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. not even decades after giving up smoking. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. Cornwall.
I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . 6. You can see how dangerous it is. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 8. A few suggestions: 1. whether here or abroad. 9. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. 5. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Classify prisoners by age. and house them accordingly. be as humane as possible. 3. sentence length.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. and typecrime. 2. 4. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. 7.
TX 118 . 48 Huntsville. Harris. This could be a start.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. Daniel H.
The Transience of Permanence .
In the penitentiary. death is merely a passage or rite. Some days. or SSI. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. I feel the dread on my flesh. then the whole world has done the same. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. In plain talk. Each morning when I arrive at work. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. plans. From what I’ve seen in here. even inside me.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. I swear. For “free-world” folks. maybe an estate. especially on death row. discussions. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. I’m a state-approved janitor. He understands that my time with him is short. some acceptance. He desperately seeks some understanding. which has its effects on me as well as on him. All is forgiven. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. TX I 121 . death out there now looks relatively easy. a last will and testament. Christopher Best Livingston. If I give him that.
I wrap the cut in toilet paper. Very suspicious. Light-headed.T. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. People in the day room are getting suspicious. G. yet relieved that I took action. Fuck God. I am feeling very ugly inside.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.” or “moving on to the next phase. Fuck them. Shit. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. Shit. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. I’ll try again later. and it can be done right now. It’s called “checking out.” “taking it to the vent. today. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I choose not to spend another day in this place. Suspicious.” And I’m not talking about parole. 122 T . CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. It isn’t working.
but a symbolic one. After that. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. 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. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. 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. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. not in the clinical sense. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. Mike Rothwell Ione. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death.
he may as well be dead. He has. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. gold. In this sense. pearls. year after year. sterling silver. but life—even at 103—seems too short. and the person he never grew to become. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. In the world beyond prison walls.100+ love of his family. in essence.With his incarceration. Hector Gallegos Otisville. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. diamonds. my big fat Italian grandmomma. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. the lover he wishes to be. 124 N . we return home and open her jewelry boxes. the son he failed to be. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. the father he cannot be. matriarch of the family. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. killed that greater part of himself.
It brings fresh tears to my eyes. 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. key chains. pre-WWII. as if no one else is 125 D . and handcrafted dolls.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. albums. blankets. The first thing one notices is the quiet. she never wore it. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. 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. The following day. necklaces. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Mary Higgins Reading. dating from the roaring twenties. Who would believe that a swastika. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. 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. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. except for a fundamental difference.
the officials are stoic and judgmental. 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. such as his first pet. media representatives. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. there are only four or five people.100+ there. he realizes that all hope is gone. In remembering. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. making it ominously quieter. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. survivors of the victim’s family. Gene W. It is like God’s “time-out” room. the fights he had in grade school. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. TX 126 . a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. At other times. Hathorn Livingston. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. but the mind rebels. An ache settles in his belly.
he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). and they all tell you something different. and his head was shaved clean. Since he always complained.” Freddy complained to me one day. Once muscular. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. really took it seriously. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.” and “lost” test results. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Time was of the essence. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. he was barely over five feet tall.” I forget why. if at all. I saw no real reason for worry. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. and his memory showed signs of failure.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Sleep came with great difficulty. In October 2004. Over a period of a year. “Every doctor has a different opinion. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver.” “partial. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. he had become thin as a rail. He was a genuine character. including Freddy. trying to get someone to do something. 127 E . no one. after a slew of “unreadable. his body was covered in tattoos. a combination drug therapy.
They killed me. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. looking through the glass at our little one. “By the time they did something. 2005. “If they got at me 18 months ago. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . They tried giving him formula. it was too late. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. and now he’s dead. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. but he threw it up. By October. but no treatment was administered. Freddy was my friend. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. We named him William Kenrick. they probably could have saved me.” There was no anger in his voice. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation.” he told me. and he was afraid. He vomited blood one morning. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. only resignation.100+ Months passed.
The next day. my first son. the smell… His sweet. when I visited him. a smile formed on his lips. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. just let go. he had to undergo an operation. He will always be my first baby. At 1:30 a. fight for it. I love him more and more each day. NCR. Someday. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Despite the pain. his heart rate slowed. as soon as I held him. But I knew something wasn’t right. which was declared a success.” And as soon as everybody was there. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. 32 Las Piñas City. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. I still think of him. if you can still make it. Jenelleish. milky scent is still there. only to realize that he’ll never come back. Then I start crying again and eventually. And for that.. my first child. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. At 3 days old.m. he went. PHILIPPINES 129 . And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. But if not. But I swear. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. And oh. and whispered. only he was already lifeless. And I knew though he was gone. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. I turn numb. “Baby. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less.
He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. I went through many phases. I didn’t shed one tear. But I didn’t cry.100+ I Miss You. fishing. Malachi Ephraim Florence. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. My dad liked to sing and dance. and listening to music. roller-skating. Facing the cell door. After my dad’s death. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. he died suddenly and tragically.m. Dad une 15. he was really fantastic. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. But as a father. I was close to my father. from denial to 130 I . enjoying the early morning light. yet his passing was significant to me. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. I miss him deeply. in a better mood than usual.. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. But after 5 years of marriage. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. I dreamed about him every single night.
I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. Life lost its luster. had no meaning. I sent my aunt. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. her youngest 131 I . I realized that what happened was out of my control. happily single. Terri Giosia. hate to indifference. 45 Montreal. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. As a last minute thought.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I drank to escape and forget. I am now 45. the final and hardest phase arrived. However. a Christmas card. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. How sad that now sounds. Québec. After a long period of time. with great parents and friends. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. who had just been diagnosed with cancer.
she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. Soon after. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. she called every person she knew and read that poem. Not only did she call him. But after all the miserable hospital visits. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. For two years. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. he said. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. To the academic world. The night before. 51 Rosharon. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. The doctor gave her three months to live. Dennis Forrest. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . my poem may mean nothing. my mom had been taken to the hospital. especially when you are only seven years old.” is one of the worst ways to wake up.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter.
but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. He took care of my mom. and us. 16 Rexburg. This experience has made me stronger. My life was changed forever. “Daddy. My father continued hacking. but to help them through things the best you can. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. the house. It went on and on.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . too weak to walk to her bedroom. and even worked from home so he could be there. My dad softly called me over. where it was warm. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. Aubrie. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry.
A prisoner friend. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. He looked at my brothers. and he loved you. Don’t ever smoke them. and that was a good thing. too. son. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. but he died before I got the chance. Even when he was here last time. when I first met your family several years ago. real sick. not speaking. closed his eyes. so I stood there. who knew my family well. I could tell. as did my mother. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings.” He was just twenty-four at the time. but emphysema got him first.100+ asked. but the last time inexorably approached. with complications from lupus. healing wounds. We feared lung cancer. You settled your differences. I had unfinished business with my father. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. waiting him out: “Charlie. I could see that you loved your father. the reason I’m saying this. Over the past few years. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. I said things I’ve always regretted. There were hard feelings between us. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. and he was gone. I begged him to quit for years. I wanted to make it up to him. You see. so I recognized it in both of you. I admire what you did. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. collect. He said things.” 134 . like you did. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. I knew he wanted to say something. exhaled. from a prison payphone in the dark.
that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. 135 I . I decided to slash my wrist. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. FL Slash nstead of going to court. 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. 59 Daytona Beach. Charles P. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. It was the least I could do. His tears soaked into my suit coat. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. While there. leaned his head on my shoulder. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. Norman. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. My cellie threw up. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping.
I don’t anymore.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. His eyes were half open. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. “Six months.T. Evidently. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask.” “What are you facing?” I asked him.” 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. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck.” G. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck.100+ “Well.
It was so still. perhaps. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. Even the crazy guys had shut up. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. But not at this moment. Then. For the first time since I was there. Was he going to say a few kind words about the recently deceased? Maybe warn us about the dangers of unchecked depression? A short lecture. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. With a bit of a dramatic flair. there was only solemn silence. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. He had everyone’s complete attention. just one word bellowed out of his mouth.T R U E S T O R I ES was. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. CA 137 . “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. stood there for several seconds. hung it back up on the wall. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. but it’s not my girlfriend.” I step towards her. I was black. forcing myself in. she’s home alone. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. racism at its best. that it was a setup. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. “I came to see my girl. “Your girl is not here. I was convicted. not only to have fun. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. 1982. but also to pick up girls. It opens. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. and it was my word against hers. if no one else is here.” I say. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. but I haven’t picked up a girl. a member of a fraternity. Because she was white. it’s her roommate. and a ladies’ man. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. she was white. a football player. For twenty years. I knock on the door. angrily. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. I want to be with a girl. I say. the white system. I want some sex. I’ve had fun. in front of a white jury. I’m thinking. I only saw what I wanted to see. When it’s time to leave the club. barging into her apartment.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. 141 I .” As I say this. and I’m in college. we can have sex. popular on campus. sentenced to six years in prison. my fraternity brothers. it’s a habit of ours.
So I tried. For sixteen years. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. forced attractions to women. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. a wife. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. pure houseboat. if I were to have a place in this world. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. faithfully. I had known that I was a disappointment. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. The fantasy of grandchildren. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . for them. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers.100+ Today. especially with men.
all too well in fact. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. that my parents felt the same. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. 19 Hooksett. I wrote a script. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. my sadness never faltered. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. At seventeen. with whom I constantly fought and argued.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. I am finally happy. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. And I knew. One day. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. When I arrived. Daryl F. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. So I confessed my truths. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I .. only for who I pretended to be. boring corduroy-wearers.
but I always suspected that he was gay. one male and one female. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. 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. being a noble and resourceful man. and sinker. I was literally paralyzed. carried on like a trooper. Nicholas. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. We didn’t date. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. His self-confidence saved the day. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. He dated one girl 144 I . Knowing very little about astrology. line. 30 Maidstone. especially for clothes. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. Kent. it was swallowed hook. Philippa. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. This brought about a case of stage fright.
she was always a tomboy. My friends just did . Jayne L. When he told me he was gay. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. I didn’t really think anything of it.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. Waterville. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. but I never really suspected she was gay. However. As for my female friend. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. especially since I had always suspected it.
we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. but I am a woman and therefore. knowing that if she 146 .” I did. and the shrink said that they needed therapy.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said.100+ me. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. not me. who is from Peru. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. We are not giving it to her. We feel the judge was very homophobic. After three years worth of evidence gathering. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. I fear losing my partner. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. gays and lesbians are persecuted. Right now. too. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. “Never mind. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle.” Within 10 days. If I were a man. As if things couldn’t get any worse.” so we had to go back to court. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. They even sent me to a shrink.
We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. the Ultimate Truth. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. We lost everything. but we did not lose ourselves. has taught me compassion. no different than any other heterosexual couple. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. Aileen Diaz. These days. 35 Tampa. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. the most effective teacher. 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. If anything.
but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. and I would never throw it in his face. I probably would have been better off not knowing. You have to always be 148 C . I still love and respect him. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. But on the other hand. 30 Detroit. Eloise Lebreton. On the one hand. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. Now.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. I feel like an idiot. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. better not to tempt fate.
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. 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 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. They help. I was allowed to play with a friend.” then there’s not much they can do about it.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. Louisiana. I lived in Shreveport. 149 A . After church. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. One way is to keep doing those pushups. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. Mike Rothwell Ione. It’s always going to be there. 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. No matter how upbeat you may feel. But if someone’s determined to “check out. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5.
and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. He screamed in agony. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. “You think this hurts motherf’er. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. 47 Old Fort. at my tender age.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. her face contorted in rage. 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. NC 150 . Christian Missionary Alliance. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. especially my mother. another ultrafundamentalist sect. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. I have been an atheist ever since. molestation. She barged into the room screaming. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. My friend’s mother yelled. Yurshta. was too much to handle. lit the gas stove. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. and abuse.
whether physical or emotional.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. Any kind of abuse. I had nine miscarriages. should not be tolerated. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. I swear. I did not get angry with him. Gaby Hermann. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. I have never been physically beaten. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. NETHERLANDS Harsh. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. 26 Essen. demeaning. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I .
INDIA 152 . What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. 36 New Delhi. Delhi.100+ with me. Then one day. Sonia. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.
Eerie Encounters .
I keep swimming. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. swishing sound. Why would we want to be? Clarette. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. I can see the people. but I’m getting tired. I listen for a moment to a strange.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. my 155 I . even Ghirardelli’s. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. although I’ve never seen one. I don’t need to see to believe. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. Aquatic Park. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. They are looking beyond me.m. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. just a quarter of a mile farther. In my nightmare. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. slight. We cannot be alone. 28 Salem.
when I notice that I am looking down at myself. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. When I was 18. 24 Lawrence. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. MA 156 T . Will Ferrara. And about a week after that. Am I going crazy? Frank E. And then. About 5 years later. Foster. The waves crash. summoning me. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. out beyond the breakers. The walls murmur. beginning to feel numb. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. I’m only treading water.100+ arms are getting heavy. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. I hear something in the distance calling me. I am silently alone. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. I awake. 45 Delano. to the deep water.
In the dreams. I felt sick and went to sleep. On our way to the hospital. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. and we had no choice but to drink it. Ravenna. I dreamt that I was in Italy. too. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. a strange heat enveloped my body. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. showing us that we were right. Almost twenty days later. my mouth stopped bleeding. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. at my uncle’s funeral. I immediately called home. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. Not long after. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. One night. while still aboard. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. In October. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. While alive. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. 56 Alfonsine. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. ITALY 157 I . Shocked. From that moment on. In the following days.
It was pitch black. staring straight ahead. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . I was squinting.. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. its feet dragging along the ground. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I remember shaking like a leaf. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. as whatever I was looking at was far away. 19 Monaghan. I landed at the feet of the creature. but they continued moving and stretched me out. I stood up and looked at its face. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. but late for work! Paddy J. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. It was my dad! At that moment. It was then that I woke up.
Hiking along the trail.” someone who knew the area told me. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. When I returned home. One evening. thin man. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. As I placed my canteen in the water. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. I was in the bathroom. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. echoes from long ago. my mind completely blank. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. It was at this moment that I saw. 159 W . Fernandez Miami. That left me speechless. As nighttime fell. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. the vision of a tall. “That place is haunted. When I turned to look. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. thinking about nothing. Enrique M.” I thought. “I’ve been here before. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. it had disappeared.
I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. standing in that same spot. He walked towards me. Then. still completely covered by the hood. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. when I entered the King’s Chamber. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. His face was shrouded in darkness. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . and the vision was gone. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. I have not had any such vision since. However. his head slowly transformed into a single flame.100+ He was wearing a long. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. hooded. Devon. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. I have no idea what the vision meant.
54 Auckland. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. and don’t believe time is always linear. I came back to my present “reality. Misty. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. AK. transferred his intelligence into my brain. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school.” Now. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. 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. and activated it. During this moment of déjà vu. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. Then my former self stood in my body.
I didn’t raise my hand to tell him.100+ broad daylight seemed real. I’m 59 now. and a little less afraid. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. Lonn. More and more debris ruptured from every direction.B. 59 West Roxbury. a little more settled. I woke up taking short gulps of air. 162 I . I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. In my dream. a little more aware. but I didn’t. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. D. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. They knew what was about to happen. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. facing myself. drifting like seaweed. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I’m willing to see where it takes me. 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.
which struck a barrier. Waterville. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I started to read a lot of books. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I learned the term years later. Later. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. The driver lost control of the vehicle. I survived the accident with no major injuries. Jayne L.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. I watched shows on television. when I moved 163 G . Since I was only 4 years old. completely powerless to stop it. and then was finally able to label my experience. and quickly drifting away. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. After that. as I had in Spain. “I need to get back. and we started to spin really quickly. but with a different outlook on life–and death. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body.
“I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. A year later. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. at my friend Viola’s insistence. But for me. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. There is only going to a different level. I got slowly closer. he said. but with no success. a few steps from the altar. it’s one of my many pastimes. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. just one year before meeting Gabriele. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . I knelt down on a pew. 37 Madrid.100+ to Massachusetts. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. Smiling kindly. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. One night. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. facing him.
but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. Then one night. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. Through telepathy. 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. Ravenna. and I tried to help him. Through telepathy. in January 1991. striking me like a storm. I felt all his fear and pain. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. I told him not to joke. ITALY 165 . He vowed to marry me. While I stared at him. To be sure. so I left. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. struck by his suffering. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. but he had terrible secrets. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. 56 Alfonsine. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. we became involved.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar.
Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. He tipped his hat and smiled. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps.100+ I See Spirits spirit. Then all of a sudden. 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. I developed . During the five trips I made out there. Soon after. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. NH. On some nights. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly.
and into the sky. Other times. First. about 50 yards down the tracks. On one of my last visits. and then disappear. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. 70 Waltham. up a tree. who was also an amateur photographer. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. fly to some central point. MA 167 . We saw the usual lights in the sky. a state psychologist friend of mine. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. Later. and meet. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. accompanied me. On one occasion. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. As I returned to where Betty was parked. but then. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. then they turned off. strobe for 30 seconds. she suddenly pointed and yelled.
At Home & Abroad .
” My father used to talk of Hungary. or Puerto Rican dialect. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. Colombian. as proof of dignity. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. where all were welcome and. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. but life had a different destination in mind for me.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. Russian caviar. German perfume. and completely broken by life. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. I once had plans to live in London. but eventually we divorced. with a 3-year-old son. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. and great America. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. Lately. had to show the INS hard-working hands. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. We married and had a daughter. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. not financial statements. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world.
Nidia F. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . on the contrary. the Dolphins. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. We don’t feel less American because of that. 36 Lennon. while others are trying to cheat the system. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. We all suffer when this happens. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U.S. we love Bach. Mare. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. 54 Leominster. it reminds us that this country is great.100+ Greece.. Morales.
so I decided to move to his. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. my . My father is Mexican. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. cars. Then during the fall and winter months. We lived in tents. apart from being unconscionable. illegally because. I had family there. it would have been too dangerous.S. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. Many times.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman.C. 27 Washington. Later in the summer. while my 173 Every year from June until September. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. harvesting crops. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. and migrant camps. D. we stayed in Livingston. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U.S. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant.
halfway through my junior year.100+ father worked for a local farmer. In grammar school. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” or “spic. Not only were the white students 174 . I realized that I was out of place in school. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. our bathroom was an outhouse. and write in English. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. In fact. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. Early on. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. I was held back in kindergarten. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. Because of school. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. we took our baths in a big washtub. they didn’t work. mostly beans and tortillas. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. read. However. I struggled to learn to speak. they had the opposite effect. Spanish. School was a struggle from the beginning.” “wet. 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. this was not a quick or easy transition. In high school.” “greaser. I was embarrassed by my first language. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. This is where I went to school. However.
but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. the usual. a gringo wearing a tie. They will pay. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. Although I was of Mexican descent. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. My private class is in La Rinconada.” I remind myself. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside.S. but on the inside I acted like a white person. 50 Boston.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. I wasn’t white. I didn’t seem to fit in. “One hundred soles tonight. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. “Now don’t run away on me. I wasn’t Mexican. and I had lost most of my Spanish.. an enclave 175 I . To white students. to the Mexican students. Raul Ybarra. you know. I was born and raised in the U. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. not even two dollars.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. in theory. a five sol coin and two half sol coins.
It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher.” “The señora is not here. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. “She’s not here. Two maids. never mind 176 . then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. I eye the tamal on the counter. If these families don’t find happiness here.” “I know she’s not here. as big as a sandwich. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. she told me to come inside and wait. even your own paycheck. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. No way. I am cheered by the recognition. I sit at the kitchen table. They don’t speak to me or to each other.” “That’s okay. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. are washing dishes in the sink. Remember. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” I say.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. Matt. with chicken bulging from its sides. I have classes with her kids.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. you are not Peruvian. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. It’s ají amarillo.
“When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 177 . “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. No way am I going home empty-handed. and I came. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. and springs out the door to the entrance. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. 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. and we were all waiting for our first check. Wipe any sign of need from your face. It was the end of the month. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. Chin up. Matt Wirzburger. The room grew eerily silent. others were given a song and dance. I was told to come. 40 Amesbury. Mrs. Some received their checks. I hear three honks. “That’s what we all hope. That is the hard part: hiding the need. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. payday. They looked at each other to see who would answer. An hour later.
the city awoke and came to life.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. the whole city was there. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. It was then. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I was in the city “on business. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. With briefcase in hand. I felt that I had “made it there. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. After the much-anticipated grilling session. It was well worth it. The streets were numbered. and only then. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. I wasn’t alone. NY 178 . I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. As dusk turned to darkness. As I again made my way down the grid streets. 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. Karen Manhattan. yet spaced widely apart.
sarcastic. it’s “America.” or “U. they helped a great deal.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 7) Humour is subtle. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category.S. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.e. and you must learn the difference between lager. 12) It’s not the “U. 10) The English. real ale. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.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. bitter. Irish. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. etc. dry.”. Welsh. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing.S. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 4) Beer drinking is an art..” or “Yankland”. and sophisticated. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. French. The 179 . Scottish. and stout.” “The States. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. we don’t.” “Pop Idol.A.
South African. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. Canadian. 23 Jacksonville. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p.m. Rolling Stones. not pounds. Gavin S. Pink Floyd). 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. 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!). 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian..100+ Beatles. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). apologise profusely for it. and body weight is stated in stones. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. If caught being rude. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone.m. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. they’ll take the non-Yank. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. FL 180 . 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media.
tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. Native and unique to Hawaii.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Although decades have passed. 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. crimson berries. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. Pearl Harbor. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. and Waikiki Beach. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. 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. We took off from the claustrophobic. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. We discovered Diamond Head. my parents and I arrived at .T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle.
Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. Gutierrez. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.” Despite my pitiful German.100+ large. Estado de México.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . 29 Tultitlán. I remember wanting to return… H. ovular. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. B. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. 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. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree.
I experienced an unexpected. but never forgotten. I packed up my leased . Gisela. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. we were the enemy. however unfounded that emotion may be. and running in all directions. To them. destruction everywhere. eerie feeling. Standing in St. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I even felt a bit guilty. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. For the first time since the early eighties. I imagined civilians screaming. Along the road. crying. green hills and plains. Schleswig-Holstein. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. 21 Lübeck. I knew it was war. checked 183 In late October 1998. that it was them or us. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. However. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government.
100+ into small motels. delightful little restaurants. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. 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. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. and visited various museums. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I spent days at the Pueblo. TN 184 . There is always a scent of sage in the air.
The Toughest Job in the World .
Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it.m. At 3:30 a. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . we did not make it to the hospital. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. Needless to say. so on the 20th. after being able to share this special bond.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. For child number two. So. For our first child. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. I knew what to expect. My due date of June 19th came and went. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I planned a Caesarean. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning.. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. which is about 45 minutes away.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. Krista. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. he did just that.
Not every week. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. The Texarkana Gazette. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. and my mother would call us for breakfast. The car would stop. Alley Oop. and two more on the way (my brothers. the smells of biscuits. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. but fairly frequently. All was good in the world. Dan and Tom). and read each one aloud. I had no concept of rent. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. It was just the three of us. car payments. take out the Sunday comics. spread them open on the wood floor.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. not working as he was the rest of the week. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. Daddy would get out. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. lie down. prop himself up on his elbows. Joe Palooka. Friday evenings were always a thrill. grocery bills. He’d take off the rubber band. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. He’d slowly read the comics to me. bacon. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. My . By then. and Tarzan of the Apes.
I felt desperate. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. Not with .220 grams. Charles P. or at least pretend to. and his weight. Norman. 189 The first time I saw my son. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. Finally. but because I thought I had failed. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. a frown on her face. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. 1. 59 Daytona Beach. (On Friday evenings. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. tubes.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Sebastian. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. and lights. They said he was beautiful. I cried. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. I went to a place filled with noise. but I never realized it. begging him for a ride in the new car. Times were hard. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby.
MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. 36 North Andover. pride. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Lisa. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. patience. besieged by guilt. At long last. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. Each week. and hope flooded me. After a week. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. Relief. wanting to 190 I . Outside. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. and mourning. I cried. and confidence. I was discharged. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I ached to still be pregnant. He was so fragile and exposed. I gained knowledge. I became determined to care for him. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. leaving my baby behind. I began to sob. I sang to him. Over time. and I prayed. fear. I talked to him.
. But tonight. or feed the deer. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. we weren’t there to look at. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. or having trouble with the police. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. pet. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. and I 191 I .T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. I don’t have any desire to find out. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine.m. At about 3 a. or gangs. driving to our new “hunting spot. Though I was only twelve. Suzanne. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. or getting into drinking. 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. Right now. drugs. and I was twelve years old. my father and I were in his truck.
I didn’t even have to call the deer. 43 Jessup. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. with the click of a camera. . I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. a second of your life. By the time he got there. You can take a picture and freeze time. Steven Small. We drank beer on the way home. I took my spot and waited. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. I snuck up to the fence line. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. checked for traffic. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. they were already there.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer.
so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. New moments are constantly being created. Part of me wanted to pull her away. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. I cherish every moment captured. Kelly. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. and sadly. 30 Martinsburg. moments are forgotten. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. sipping a chocolate shake. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. without a care in the world. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. but something was unleashed in me. but those moments stay behind. Sitting on a stool at the counter. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. I didn’t expect much. I 193 M . Life goes on.
would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. I was proud to be her son. One day. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Her green eyes sparkled. It was in seventh grade. He had promised to take care of us. Mama was beautiful. “I did my best.” she said with tears 194 . after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. She quit school to marry him. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. John. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. the afternoon waitress.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. Those are old coins. and well fitting. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. without any explanation. I rushed home with some questions for Mama.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. Someday they’ll put you through college. I do my best. “Your Mama works for tips. “Those aren’t for spending. crisp. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. Everyday. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. and a few coins went into my piggybank. he left. my first year in middle school. Dorothy.” One day. Some streetwise kids set me straight.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. collectables. I couldn’t take it anymore.
Before she died. But something was missing from my letters. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. Something with angels on it. TX 195 . Mama’s friend at the café. Mama was gone. Mama asked if I needed anything. One day. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam.. shame for being poor. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. Respect. I wrote back. There was just nothing I could respect about her. I wouldn’t need it. that’s what it was. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. Mama wrote every day. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. not love. shame for having no Daddy.. She’d died of breast cancer. I handed the money back to Dorothy. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. I didn’t go to college after high school. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. a letter came from Dorothy. After it was over. They let me go home for the funeral. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Oh sure. Mama sent cookies. All my love turned into shame. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that.
no television. “Mom. she answered. “Last case for today. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. “Mom. When outside. put them in my lap. When I did. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. no books. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. In the front. and wait to be called into another room. but there were no magazines. map.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. a lady came out and said. I opened the glove compartment. and headed back to my mom’s apartment.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. I looked at the gas gauge and said. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every .” My mom stood up and walked to the window.S. but her face wore the same void expression. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. She must have known that I would see it. a man or woman would call out a number. She would fill out some papers. “An abortion. we got into the boiling car. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. sit back down. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. and devoured them one by one. Finally. Occasionally. I pulled out all the papers.
everybody in the world. 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. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. but someone else. she yelled.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. when I was ten. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. sat down beside me and said “Hello.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. for me. I was sitting outside on the front steps. you’re just like Auntie Doll. or the bills. lack of food. Yvette Louisell. When she turned to look at me. No. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. It wasn’t the welfare office. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. 37 Mitchellville.
She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. I took Ma’s hand. I got home empty-handed. what had happened. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. Needless to say. Big John wanted to go down there. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. but Ma said she would handle it herself. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. The next thing I knew. “No. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. That little girl was no fool. Big John. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her.” she said. both became angry. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. “Green house. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. Then. got a damp washcloth. She said love makes you do crazy things. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. “Down the block. After twenty minutes.100+ girl in the world. She 198 . Ma smiled and hugged me.
Then he walked over to the counter. “My God. we got a smile. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. are you all right?” He nodded. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. 66 Burkeville. Ma ran to him. “You like to beat up on women and kids. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. warning him not to touch us again. 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. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. His wife. stood by the refrigerator. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. who had been putting away groceries. VA 199 . Meanwhile. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. but we laughed and laughed like never before. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. screaming. we got the jewelry back. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. snatched the bag. and left.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. George Hughes. “Take it! It’s all there.
Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. “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 mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. saying. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. “Now run on home. screaming. you scared the poor boy.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way.” the man screamed at me.” 200 O . Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. With the fork in one hand. “Oh it’s all right. one of Michael’s many siblings. My mother had gotten to her feet. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. and look. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. more surprised than hurt. but my dad sat her back down. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. look what you did. you made him cry. he leaned over me. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. saying. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. “Don’t look to your folks for help. you little sissy. I looked over. I hit the ground again.
“My little wunderkind. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. “No more with the neighbors. Grandma Berg was inside.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. just thinking. I think. I said. I looked at her then at my father. dry house to live in. and offered me cookies.” she said as she dried my tears. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. I can’t be there to save you.” I’ll ever forget what he said. “Thinking. clothes to wear. and a warm. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. Very calmly. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. trying not to look at me. new shoes every fall. I ran to my room.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. One of these days. but sternly. 201 . help Grandma eat this. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. Later. Hours later. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. Peck was yelling at me. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. at the dinner table.” I answered. my little lipschkin. She almost whispered. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. More mad than sad.
Your father. Quiet now. In the classroom. You must be sleeping now. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. He also loved conflict. a name leapt at me. as the elementary students they were. tomorrow is better day.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. As I scanned the newspaper. chores to doing. songs. They remain frozen in my subconscious. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. I received a devastating student update. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. He was full of jokes. Too much thinking for one so young. He got to me like no other student that year. 51 Corcoran. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. Sun coming soon. CA The Sand Dollar by time. Thomas Michael Fox. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. but Grandma knows things. Grandma is old woman. Dream the dreams boys dream. no more you thinking. and intelligence. In casual and cruel black and white print.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. unchanged .
His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. But even now. an 11-year-old in leather. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . I hadn’t found one for years. MA If Not Me. So much wasted. He would nod. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. no one got to me like him. and dance away. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. I stormed down the beach. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. but he was the star. Then the ocean placed a perfect. Now one found me. 36 Wakefield. smile broadly. so much lost. I always wondered if I got through to him. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. Reading the article through blurred eyes. I knew his story now. Stacey Curran Conway. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. I was mad. He could always make people smile. cursing him. I smashed my heels in the sand. just a headstone. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I saw I hadn’t.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage.
I’ve been insulted. Surprisingly. students with social problems. I think. and administrators with agendas. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. In some pretty tough school districts. RIF’d. of the students who might never make it to college without help. Finally.100+ of what my students can become. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. and kept students in line. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. I sit 204 . Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have come to the end of myself. I have stood in line. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. living wages. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. who trusted what would later come to fruition.” Back then. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. however. pooh-poohed. and rehired. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. sworn at. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects.
not a real course. for a new vision. much less trusting. and 8th graders. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . Unfortunately. at the school where I taught. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. Unruly students aside.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. Zora. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. 34 Framingham. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. I would be mortified. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Spanish was seen as an elective. 7th. more wary. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade.
Attempting to gain control. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. At the start of a usual class. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. Ted continued to wander about. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. silence.100+ those who do. His eyes were constantly glazed over. I hope that someday. If I could survive this class. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . 29 Norwich. Most were sensible enough to sit. Sitting. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. I could survive the duration of this profession. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. the vicious three-headed hellhound. remnants of a continuous high. Julia Perez. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve.
MO 207 .” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. “Okay Ted.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. but how was his bite? Move he did. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. As the class waited for my reaction.” the child said confidently. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I decided on the only rational thing.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. I have to call the principal to come get you. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. His bark was mighty. I had stunned the high right out of him. Enjoy guarding hell. “Take your best shot. Wait. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took.
44 Anonymous. 122. 51. Stacey. 132 Babb. 33. J. 100 Burns. Cynthia. 166 Ephraim. Robert Hal. Christopher. 70 Best. 127 Diaz. 135 Christie. Fernanda. 60 Aleman.T. 53 Curran Conway. 130 . G.. 32 Brown. 172 Allen. 45 Brame. Sue Ellen. Aila. Aileen. Malachi.. José. Matthew. 102 Elliott. 155 Corson. James.C. 142 Dey. Lance. 75 Carrillo.. 61 Clarette. Eugene Alexander. 79 Anonymous . 145 Donna J. D. 19.. 47 Balic. 95 Barchard.. 166 Antzes. 121 Boner. 96 Anonymous. Adelle. 202 Daryl F.Author Index AK. 22 Aubrie. Tom “Wolf ”. 37. 111 Amberchele.
Elisabetta. 115 Fernandez. 40 January. 115 Hayley. 110 Forrest. 94 . 109 Karen. Daniel H. 97 Hermann. William Steed.B. 192 Kikis_fairytale.. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . Gaby. 17. Dennis.. Mary. 124 Hughes.G. 163 Gutierrez.Errani Emaldi. 36. 59. 125 Hayden. 162 Jenelleish. Gene W. 158 Ferrara. 123 Gavai. 80. 164 F.. 147 Kelly. Hector. 144. 101 Jayne L. 177 Kelley. 155 Fox. 151 Higgins.. Frank E. Will. 157.. 98. 131 Foster.. 74. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 77 Gavin S. 116 Hathorn.A. Spoon. 130 Gisela.. Terri. 28. 181 Harris. Thomas Michael. 53. 62. 92 Gallegos. 200 Galilea. 179 Giosia. 30. Enrique M. H. 128 Jolene. 197 Jackson.. Pilar. George. 45.
Zachary. 92 Perez. 59 Morales. 171 Murff. 133. Yvette. 143 Priscilla. Mike. 148 Lisa. Charles P. Ricky. Jan. Eloise. Brigitte. 71 Richards. Norton. Mark D. 158 Pauli. 67 Misty.Krista. Julia. Miriam. 205 Pete. 108 Philippa. 77 McLean. 122. 93. 88 Norman. 23 . 69. 73 Lebreton. Michael. 161 Loomer. 136. 99 Quarles. 21 LeBeau.. Scarlet.. 85 Rose. 32. Gary. 86 Mare. 107. 25 McKenzie. 148 Salinas. Byron. 187 Kumar. Nidia F. 206 Louisell. 172 Mayo. 189 Lonn. 91 Rothwell. 188 Paddy J. Prashant Devan. Kitty. 183 PC. D. 196 Mansour. 141 Redfearne. 87 McKenna..B. 20. Santonio... 160 Momo.
151 Suzanne. Dinorah. 175 Yarbrough. John. Alexander J. J. 63 Wirzburger. 16 Shurley. 15.Samuel. 34 Zora. 95 Yochum. 173 Yeyo. 159 Wantz. Agatha. 190 Suzy. 85 Tedesco. 39 Yurshta. 114 Vogt. 87 Small. 203 . Raul. Adela. Steven.. Kurt.. 90 Torres. 42 Windoftheclyde.E. 41 Shelly. Matt. 193 Ybarra. Bronwyn. 50 Theoharides. 55 von Fuller. 149 Zephyr. 191 Sonia. Idris. Melvin William Joseph.
Inc.A.100 Plus True Stories. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. 60 Island Street Lawrence. U.S. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse. MA 01840 . Massachusetts. 2009. Inc.
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Now you are invited to do the same.100plusts.100plusts. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. and remember. or confessions.. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.com.99 9 781598 351095 ..” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.” “A week before my 26th birthday. These firsthand accounts. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt.. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh..” “. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. illustrate life’s many. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.com.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. facing myself. who were eager to share their experiences. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. Upon being published. The best stories were selected for this book.com $19. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. but with a different outlook on life–and death. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. anecdotes. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. These are true stories told by people like you. floating in the air. written as memoirs.. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. reflect.. cry.100plusts. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. Many people are telling their true stories.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.
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