This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
2007.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. my mother passed away from cancer. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Nevada in 1968. Due to anger. Dennis Forrest. so I grew up as an Army brat. can be revealed to the world. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. AZ I 19 . I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. and drug addiction. By the 8th grade. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. 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. By 18. bitterness. On March 3. living on many different bases. desires. images. 51 Rosharon.
The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. their heaviness. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. in a week. Yet. When I do little jobs. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. to develop boundaries. Today.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. Listening now requires my full attention. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. I rejoice in the art I produce. such as putting up books in the library. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. and their condition. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. freedom to expand my horizons. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. For quite a while now. I am aware of the way their covers feel. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. tomorrow. and I can look at them neutrally. listening. 20 N . for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. to search spiritually. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. day out. I know I am finally awake to life. and acting.
or spiritual. Yeshe. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. and compassion and when they do. find true freedom. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. and Thich Nhat Hanh. As a matter of fact. teachers. love. I can easily mix with just about anyone. I really salute Malaysians 21 P .T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. mental. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. be they physical. my learning continues. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. But for now. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I know I will. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. or strangers away. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. Lamas Rinpoche. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. once I am given the chance. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. In closing. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it.
yet being able to live in peace and harmony. I thought to myself. She had 22 M . I took in what the kids were saying. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. 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. 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. She broke the news to me as best as she could. Kuala Lumpur. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. As I listened to my mom. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. but didn’t join in the conversation. 18 Cheras.” That same day. Prashant Devan Kumar. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real.
Every time I am taken out of my cell. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. feel. That’s all we do in these cells: think. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. That day. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. juvie halls. dream. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. 23 hours a day. confined to a one-man cell. You have to have 23 I . ponder. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. their world becomes a mental one. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. TYC. with life to go. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. I remember sitting in the car. imagine. reflect.). 24 Queens. and wonder. Food is brought to me. only thinking about those fucking stickers.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. Seg. I grew up in boys’ homes. not caring that there was no Santa.
Trust me. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I saw his point and I left things as they were. 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. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. and no one gets hurt. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. There were three. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. I’d done it a dozen times.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. staking out the store from across the street. and everything went to shit from there. In the end. The next day. But to 24 . and I got life in prison. watching the clerk close up shop. run. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. It was a robbery gone bad. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. I think now how naïve I was. I was alone.
but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. Big holes. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. not benign crap. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. it’s not going anywhere. if you’re lucky. Watch the crap. all observant and such. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. o. Watch the crap. I mean. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. Crap is strewn everywhere. I’m keeping my pieces. It’s a mess. right. in which the author served as part of the U.S. Yeah. I think about that shit. No way. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. I’m thinking.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I’m looking at this car. I’m not moving. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. 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. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Holes everywhere.
or tunnel vision. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I curse myself for being so stupid. Good night. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I’ve been so careful all of these months. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. I didn’t even see this stuff. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. hold privates. with holes in them all. this “Desert Storm.—R. with maybe a little inscription saying. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. K.I. but I don’t care. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. hundreds of them. cars now. I’m holding my privates. from messing my mind up further. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. RPG rounds. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. grenades.I. How many days have I been awake? Damn. I’m angry.” or whatever you call it. Whoever’s firing those damn things. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. I figured I’d hang on to something. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war.P. well.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. right on the crap. I’m sick of this crap. 26 . and mines scatter everywhere. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades.A. Now. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I kick and sling explosive everywhere..
vehicles are everywhere. but like some sick voyeur. I do. No stench. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. right? The ones I see are fresh. maybe. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. It’s hard to tell. Is 27 . 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. It was fun for a minute. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I know I’m not dead. too. I don’t like the burned ones. I don’t want to look. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. The glazed eyes give it away. They look like statues. The pictures don’t lie. Damn. I don’t want to end up like him. again. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. His ID card falls out. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. unless they shortened the fuses.
Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. “Yes. Mark D. the Americans.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. Probably not. One by one waist-chained. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. hoping his son will return from down South. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. They’ll never know me. No. McKenna Columbus. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. and shackled. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. handcuffed. We’ll have that in common. They’ll never know what happened to him. The hero died with a scream on his lips. we will celebrate. from that war. pictures don’t lie.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. that damn war. we stepped 28 I .100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. his son—maybe even himself. I want no part of it. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. If that’s heroism.
As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. The restless. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. indeed. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. In retrospect. mountains.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. 29 . and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. 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.
the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. and. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. for most. but no one dared speak of them. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. Hector Gallegos Otisville. the lunacy of a previous occupant. I found that I was not alone in this realization.100+ Looking around me. 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. boredom. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. It’s a world of its own where. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. This is 30 M . sealed off from everything and everyone. a vacuum of uncertainty. While I was in there. in some cases. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty.
and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. MA 31 .T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary.. 24 Lawrence. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.. She has a son now. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. but I had no luck. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. We used to have a very healthy relationship. 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. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. Will Ferrara. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay.
They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I escaped. I always felt lonely. Three years later. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. 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. where I am today.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. 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. After 15 years there. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I was always sad. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. stole an airplane. I grew up spoiled rotten. but that made me feel worse. flew to Florida. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. and began robbing banks.
but I was already highly unstable by then.T R U E S T O R I ES me. so I always tried to help them. or mine. This made me feel good. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. but only for a little while. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. I had friends and a boyfriend. 33 I . I started therapy. and then my house caught on fire. It wasn’t her fault. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. 16 Richmond. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. Now. but there was something missing. Lights come on. and I am doing a lot more for myself. Cars speed by. This year. When I started middle school. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. Momo. It’s going to be hard to get better. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me.
. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . you’re hungry. nowhere to sleep. 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. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. You think to yourself. 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. You have nowhere to go. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. your feet hurt. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. G. many homeless people end up in jail. no one to call. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. God has been looking out for me. I have been fortunate. I have met a variety of people in prison. nothing to eat. It’s cold. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide.100+ homeward bound.T. for one reason or another. I am still alive. under the three strikes law. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. This is why..
They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. and the rest of the family awoke. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. So Joe walks free. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. My husband and Joe came to blows again. I thought it was my husband. I must have asked to be raped. I immediately told my husband and we left. We all had a few too many. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. Without warning. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. Nonetheless. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind.” 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 he will never see or speak to his brother again. I brought it upon myself. my case was thrown out of court. My husband. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. My husband and I filed a police report right away. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. 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. In their eyes. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. During the car ride home. his brother. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. They say most 35 . Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me.
she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I just took the money and ran. I love to write books and short stories. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . for all the good it’s doing me.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. and I made it without becoming one of them. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I’ve been a model inmate. and for the past 10 years. When I got locked up. Men ask me. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I keep getting turned down for parole. We had six kids—with so many kids. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. Zephyr Chicago. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. but I am always in a good mood. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. My first eight years in prison were rocky. or crooked politician. you almost have to be a bank robber. drug dealer. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. while the victims get a life sentence. trying to survive among savage men.
Mom got a new apartment. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. That summer. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. anger. 1982. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. like taste good food. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. George Hughes. but I put the truth out there for all to read. Writing is like having an affair. compassion. flavors that today I’d die for—well. And it all transpired in 37 O . and us three kids.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. 63 Burkeville. I turned fourteen. tears. sadness. but all’s well in the end. the car. I love writing. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. 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. When I’m writing. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. they are good people with good hearts. I share love. At fourteen. my parents became legally separated. laughter. and my innermost thoughts and desires. not die.
I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. looking down at my new wet shoes.100+ less than an hour. and inexplicably. sister. I burst through the front door. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I was in State Prison. at fourteen. My friends would have surely made fun of me. Once outside. I wasn’t too concerned. Once inside. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. On the very last day of summer. I went over to the shoe department. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. and me. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . picked out a pair. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. I took off like a bat out of hell. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. Like an NFL running back. but here it was. And by the age of eighteen. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. and put them on. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. sprinting as fast as possible. In 1982. So I decided to steal. Then I put on all three new shirts. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. By fifteen. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. not enough to panic. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. “Mom.
T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. OH 39 I . punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. they said. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. Six days later. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. 18 Mowrystown. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. Obviously shocked. When I was finished with him. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. To my complete surprise. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. I asked why I was being arrested.
I was ready to be judged and convicted. with a common goal. and when one falls. though he never loved her. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. and lack of feelings. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. ignorance. At nineteen. the others are there to pick him up. and mean words. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. how he cared for her. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. 40 N . Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. in the same room. mind. In the depths of my heart and soul. fights. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. During my trial. Before. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. but the fact is I did. I killed someone. My mom’s eyes held a million words. hitting and abusing her. It was good to see them together. my mom and dad came to visit me. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I felt that what I did was wrong. The judge gave me life without parole. I deserved to do some time and make amends. and soul. From then on.
I came from the desert. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. I’m getting older. but I take no initiative to start the process. but my will to survive took over. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. Spoon Jackson. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. I have no friends in this new city. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I was naïve.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. and violent unrest. Money never used to be an issue. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. but they all have lives. but I see only the negative things. but now everything seems tight. I need to budget. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . fleeting hope. 50 Represa. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. Besides. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. smiles. I learned quickly to keep my laughter.
Now that I can look back at my thoughts. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. inconspicuous notebook. a dead father. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. Ontario. 42 I . CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. brought up in me.100+ before I go to bed. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. I’m not stuck in one place. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. but moving slowly in the right direction. the only escape that I found was with a knife. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. In the few months that I’ve been writing. Idris Samuel. 27 Toronto. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. I see that in spite of my depression. For someone like me. mixed with big dreams of happiness. my pen is capturing everything. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. All of those negative ideas. I even see things in a more positive light now. go into a small.
Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. But then. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. it merely put them on hold. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. new problems arose. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. never directly addressed. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. While on probation in 1995. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. It had become a habit. While in prison. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. a need for the chemicals in the formula. light-headedness. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. As I look back on the role that the drug played. While incarcerated.
you will be twice as strong.100+ stable. but I never thought it would result in depression. Anonymous. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. I’ve always had low self-esteem. but my reaction to them is not the same. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. Never waste life. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. Now the reality I face is my own life. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. Think about who really loves you. 13 44 I . J. and once it does. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. the present is much. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. And the present is where I have to live. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. I am a different person. it’s too short and too precious. much clearer.E. Wantz Salem.
After getting sober in 2001. writing helped. cultural arts centers. I began to start to feel differently about myself. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. alcohol. community centers. I have turned my attention back to God. and pornography. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. The son of a research chemist. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. 51 Corcoran. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. 1958 in Elgin. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. Illinois. I ended up in prison for life. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. 45 G . through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. Thomas Michael Fox. Now I try.
I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. Then. and indigenous themes. Mexican revolutionaries. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . migrant workers. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio.and 12-year-olds. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. my school sponsored an art contest. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. This history. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. my name was called. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. When I was in second grade. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium.100+ youth programs. On the day the winner was to be announced. vatos locos. at the age of 17. The second and third place runners-up were announced. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. prison scenes.
and obtaining the other articles took time. Siquierod with Cisneros. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . manufacturing the rope. and crazy juxtapositions.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. And yet. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. there was no turning back. Octavio with Orozco. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. a new tradition: poetical muralism. camouflage the cut marks. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. Today. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. I consider myself first a poet. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. a freehand artist second. The guard was two feet in front of me. cash. I had to get in the same cage. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. I fuse images using words. watching every move during a strip search. metaphors. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. Securing the tools. José Boner Boscobel. a hacksaw blade. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption.
or nerves. I could see everything. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. It was going according to plan 48 . I was balls-to-the-wall. I was going. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. I was through and bent back the bars. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. The cage was shaking and rattling.100+ primitive. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. doubt. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. but they could see every move I made. In a few minutes. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I slung the rope over my shoulder. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. already packed with the gear. There was no time for hesitation. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. every muscle was taut. my arms were screaming. but the meshing distorted clear vision. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. D-day. and I was sweating a puddle. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants.
I know from consequential. I’d escaped. through what I’ve gained and learned since. from doubt. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. from regret and anxiety. cages. CA 49 . Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. Yet. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. Babb Corcoran. But that feeling of open air on my skin. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. I was lying on the rooftop. but couldn’t move. It was too thin. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. but now I would to fall to my death. D. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. I know I’ve never been freer. guards. I attempted to crawl away. outside the confines of the jail. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. The rope burned through my fingers. it was too late for solutions. free from fear. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. needed more knots… whatever the problem. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. I should have made gloves.
not losing his license. Alcohol would always come first.s. but the key was jammed. not getting pancreatitis. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment.I. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. There was no wake-up call. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. no matter what. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. One time. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. I thought I loved him. it was too late. nothing. He attempted to shut off the ignition. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant.U. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . which never came. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. he just kept hitting rock bottom. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. and by the time I did.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais.
and sexual predators committed. I had lived an interesting life. Unfortunately. not a crime. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. a man with a past.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. In my 33 years. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. simply liked the quick. victimless cash. To me. that was for sure. 23 Hollywood. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. thugs. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . who in the present. Adela Tedesco. Crimes were what thieves. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. drugs were simply a hustle. I had seen and done a lot. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. free dope. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life.
and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. and with whoever. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. not the solution. I understand the necessity for law and order. It helps those unable to defend themselves. this time. at the university. our families. for all practical purposes. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. I participated in the discourse. the entire world of academia. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. Now. it protects the innocent. either. Then there are those of us. things are different. at stake: my entire life. While I’m no angel. I’m surely not the devil. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed.” There are the pro-drug war. I’m arguing against it one more time. Yet. I argued it at every level: in the media. CA 52 . at this fateful juncture of my life. as an activist. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity.
T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. One of the guards supplied it. and nothing good ever comes of them. coming up my legs. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. However. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. Lance Corson. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. riding through space in 53 O . What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. even though they know that there are great risks. that nothing will ever happen to them. So many people believe that they are invincible. They destroy lives. I felt it starting at my feet. my stomach and chest. There are always consequences. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. until it took over my whole being. there are new users every day. 24 Little Compton.
bad. I needed a fix. falling. My body was curled. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I began to shake all over. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. There were monsters with long tails down there. falling. My stomach was cramping. dying for a fix. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. my back to the wall. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. I walked around with my arms in front of me. holding on to my elbows. I was freezing all over. only inches left to stand on. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers.100+ the dead of darkness. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. gritting their teeth. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. my heart pounded violently. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. I was terrified! I found myself falling. Then I nodded off. across my stomach. The floor closed up as I hit it. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. My muscles 54 . and I could feel the cramps coming. I stood in the corner. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus.
including their own souls. not cleaning the dishes right. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. God and I both love you. got down on the floor and beat me with it. jumped out.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. playing too loudly. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. 66 Burkeville. “No more. But I wasn’t. One day. not scrubbing the floors right. lie. My mother passed away on October 2nd.” Now 55 . You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. There was no fix at hand. “Get out of my house. to get a fix. wetting the bed. Mother. 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. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. George Hughes. I kicked at her. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. steal. She opened the back door and said. and sell anything and everything.000 other small. petty reasons. Mom grabbed a frying pan. not shoveling the sidewalk right. and 10. 2002. If I were on the street.
67 Amarillo.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hate my mom. I don’t dislike her. TX 56 . Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life.
Sex & Seduction .
you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. I 59 M . 45 Montreal. and fulfillment after the first time. This is what occurs at 18. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. 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. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. Québec. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. an orgasm. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. it will occur over time. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. But for the young woman. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman.
we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. Now. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. We decided we were ready. Don’t be scared. it won’t be your last. that even though it’s your first time. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. I will spare 60 I . Momo. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. not because he wants to. I always tell my friends. we had sex. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. 16 Richmond. Do it because you want to. I did it for me.100+ beg to differ. When we were little. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. who are ready to lose their virginity. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. We have known each other since before we can remember. At the beginning of high school. people would assume we were twins. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. If you know your body.
“I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. we said. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. Almost at the same time. Obviously laughter. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. I ran into my best friend. he wields 61 I . Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. I grabbed her. and we locked ourselves in. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. squealing. at a “well-supervised” party. AK. that is not what is important. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. anyway. interesting story to tell. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. Later in the evening. and crying ensued. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them.
it’s like having a little harem. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. 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. turning him over. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. Christie. rubbing his feet and back. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. NSW. but girly mags are his main source of info. if the woman is appealing enough. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. changing his urine bag. tempt. However. and showering and grooming him. feeding him like a baby. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. He basks in their attention. or backstabbing us to our bosses. however. being sarcastic. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. 54 Sydney.100+ considerable power by yelling.
ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. one cannot seduce. Without confidence. it’s possible to seduce anyone. this type of seduction is an illusion. beyond a shadow of a doubt. as upon sobering up. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. 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. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. 45 Montreal. Once that is accomplished. It is stating the obvious. body language.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. Québec. With a glance. the golden rule for seduction. smile. However. It is not real. a smile. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. his complete awareness of 63 I . That is. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. a look. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. His hand rested on my forearm. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us.
My ways were haphazard. 27 Santiago. On the brink of a thrust. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . for they would make me look like a weakling. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. In a shadowy whisper. his lips fell on my hips. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. but my anticipation was no longer tender. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. I felt his back tensing against my hands. I pleaded with them not to show up. but my pretensions made no difference to them. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. he breathed my name. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. Windoftheclyde. True to their word. Always the seeker. Never had a burden been more welcome. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me.
Small Miracles .
in the darkness. I know I have to be locked in. I know that no one can get in without the key. but once inside my cell. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I cry in the cell where no one can see me.” Out there. I am human. I even welcome the closing of the door. As a person. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. It becomes routine. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. rather familiar. With a twist of a key. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I’m on guard seven days a week. I should hate the cell. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell.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. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. 67 T . and often after a long day. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. amongst the prison population. I’m locked in. At times. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. I do my deepest thinking there. Late at night. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell.
While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. I don’t hear anyone talking. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. The walls seem to hum. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. I’m alone. It never is truly quiet here. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. The cell door is now closed. or write a letter to my family or a friend. The cell is a hellhole. and loneliness. but I’m in good company. When the cell door shuts. The cell is my castle until I reach home. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. despair.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. I have not experienced silence in years. while here in prison. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. and I write my loved ones there. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . a melody of pleasant proportions. Ironically. read a book. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. yet. the cell is a paradox because in reality. these sounds are tranquil. listen to the radio. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom.100+ I pray in the cell. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. To be honest. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. To the outside observer. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears.
m. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. Michael McLean Beacon. In a small. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. we have been there before. I was lying in the dark. I also laugh. though their faces were human-looking. 69 I . bleed. “Let us show you the way. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. and have the power to choose. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I ultimately decide to give power to despair.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. cry. and I was filled with awe. think. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. in it were four angels. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. showing another dimension. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. love. They looked invincible. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I’m human: I feel.
I lived in a house for what seemed like years. there really wasn’t any time to react. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. waiting to make a left turn. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. Misty. knowing order reigned in the next world. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. Auckland. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. 54 North Shore City. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. “Oh no. 70 I . I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. At that instant. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped.100+ white.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. but time operates differently there. circular spaceship. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I thought to myself. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. guarded from dark forces.
what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. “Sorry about that. In the breast pocket of my jacket. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. and in the hand-warmer pocket. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . I sat there thinking to myself. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. 38 Methuen. including me. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. Where we die should be no less important. “Wow. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. a brand new box of pills. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. Ever since that day. Hey. I chose Mount Sanitos. It was a very surreal experience. I considered the importance of what I was doing. It is important to find the right place for an ending. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said.
The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. like someone hit the reset on my brain. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. but they sensed me there. Necessary and common. dropping off my recycling. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. There were shapes of people around. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. When the east finally began to warm. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. It was still night. The guardians were gone. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. On the far side of my fall. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. Blood was caked on my forehead. I panicked. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. There was a flash of light. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . closing my bank accounts. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. then a shift. For a moment. I finally reached the top. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. Four pills left. until I realized no one was reading me my rights.100+ someone else got hurt. thinking it could be the police. things were… strange. “He’s here. I must have blacked out. my hand slipped and I fell. no one was looking for me. I cowered. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house.
I was living alone. That was my break-even point. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I was making sandwiches. I’ve been to zero. and it’s doable. When I got up in front of the cabin. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I also know that I’m never alone. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . it got so bad that I became depressed. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I think of myself as having happily died that night. Then a second piece of bread fell. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. At one point. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. and then dragged myself towards it.T R U E S T O R I ES was. 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. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. I had never done that before. Three days later. Everything after that has been pure profit. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. hitting me on the left ankle. so I continued making the sandwiches. as I did. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. but I had never been depressed before either.
I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think.” 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. Three months later. “I am the bread of life. the day before Valentine’s Day. Needless to say. we got pregnant again. When I returned to the kitchen. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. whether we see Him or not. Jesus is always with us. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.100+ of bread.” Two years ago. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. so we should not be depressed. but there was only one piece on the floor. He is still there. Our little (well 74 I . Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. I was very puzzled. but I dismissed it and went into the other room.
T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. WV A Taste of Honey honey. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. 30 Martinsburg. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. Kelly. 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. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. we will always think about the baby that we lost. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. But this event puts it into a whole different light. I did not waste it on the bland mush. And he is our own personal little miracle. It was a good partnership. but left the bees plenty for the winter. Don’t get me wrong. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year.
but it seemed to last an eternity. For a moment there. and also. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. James Burns Gunnison. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I had smelled the spruce. UT 76 .100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. I thought. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. I had been free. I thanked God for a taste of honey. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. But man cannot live on honey alone. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. The other half I saved for later. the mountain laurel. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. 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. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. and the wildflowers.
Despite this miracle. a pack of cigarettes. He had a lighter. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.S. but it ultimately killed him. her actions were terrible and painful. He may have survived the Vietnam War. Gavai Kona. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. Army during the Vietnam War. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. During a skirmish. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. and a mirror in his left breast pocket.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. he got shot in the left side of his chest. I 77 I . Ironically. smoking saved his life. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. After years of alcohol abuse. 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. There was a spark in her eyes. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes.
41 Bedford Hills. With tears in my eyes. I walked to my closet. Bardo. The next thing I knew. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. Miriam McKenzie.” I said through my tears. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Miriam. my mother called me.” He also told me that when I finished eating. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. While he was hugging me. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I turned to go to my room. That is when I saw the stain. “Good night. I tightly hugged him back. and I did. when my brother Bardo and I got home. but she ignored me. “You’re not the only one. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. reached for an empty hanger.” he said.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. as I put the dress on the hanger. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. One day. to throw the paper out the bathroom window.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. the dress ended up on my face. With powdered soap and water. and said. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. Bardo came out. “Good night. and hung up my dress. I heard him whisper. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. he looked at me. NY 78 .
and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. There was no yard to speak of. I could wear my own clothes. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. No gym. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. the “buffaloes” roamed. cook what I wanted. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. I had conjugal visits. An aisle ran the length of each building.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. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. no track or ball field. a stereo. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. bought a TV. Everything from 79 M . only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. no weight pile. But in Mexico. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. We installed a swamp cooler. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. a pipe with running water for a shower. incoming calls only. built wooden bunks. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. When money arrived.
and dangerous. I was allowed to keep my identity. but it was an identity that was poisonous. Amberchele Canon City. I reasoned that. art supplies. for anything else. if I changed. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. A man could buy food. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. in my head. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. I arrived at the school cafeteria. and even prostitutes. J. filthy. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. the ontological slap in the face. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. I wanted out. drugs. lumber. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. and it has. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . the world would reflect that change. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. much like my thinking. for the right price.C. appliances.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store.S. True. clothing. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. booze.
As I turned to look. When I did not press charges. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. FL 81 . his father embraced me in the hallway. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. my membership in the gang became obsolete. But when others got involved. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. It had been an ironic twist of fate. I yelled for help. I flirted with the idea of getting even. With time. After that incident. a free-for-all ensued. I stood by my friend. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. When I saw my assailant in court. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. As we spoke. however. encouraging him during the fight. His father attended the hearing. the judge dismissed the case. That made all the difference in the world. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. Fernandez Miami. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. my assailant approached me and apologized. After the trial. I had been stabbed. it stopped bothering me. In my mind. Enrique M. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. the atmosphere was tense.
Matters of the Heart .
but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. 41 Dallas. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. He is smart. I am 41 years old. I never get tired of listening to him. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. This is it! This is my first true love.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. He is honest. my first true love. I will accept all of him. I could not 85 T . Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. and I am in love. I want to know everything he knows. One would think that because I have experienced life. Boy. no matter what answers you receive. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. was I wrong! I admire my first love. the good and bad. I would have been in love before. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. I have known my first love for more than a year. He’s my first Jan Richards. He is strong.
IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. my first love. and that the connection will endure. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). The morning after I arrived. he came back to me. 27 Tehran. Mansour. We both respect and value each other very much. I feel so alone. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. but now I want to leave him. too. Suzy. I hope we will get married one day. she kissed me for the first time. I decided to visit her. I will never forget her.100+ eat. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I was browsing . I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. Although we are divorced. Without her. and the connection that we share. it’s been like heaven. 59 Dayton.
and I am so jealous. He played with my head. and now all I have are insecurities. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. I worry all the time. If it were up to me. He stripped down my confidence. His name was Travis. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. slender. At first.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. Shurley. Then within six months. He was a tall.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. brown-haired young man. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. everything was great. There was something fascinating about this “older man. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I would never have gone out with him. and he was in fifth grade.
29 Hilo. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. She has little education. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Kitty Mayo. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. or inn in the continental United States. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. I just remember wanting to be near him.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . hotel. threesomes. and gangbangs—it all occurs. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. all in retrospect. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. My reflections of Travis developed years later. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. wanting him to protect me. anal sex. Often.
regulations. rules. Hours seem like minutes. The laughs come fast and free. It comes like a thief in the night. She needs no coercion or con. TX 89 . who want to keep her hair and nails done. The attraction is mutual. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. finances. housing.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. 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. or risks.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. religion. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. It’s an amazing thing. Love. Sometimes personalities just click. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. pay her rent. send her shopping. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. take care of her kids. I can name a few females on this very unit who have been terminated for improprieties and braved embarrassment and dirty looks to return to visit their “friends. The female is as rebellious as the offender. The conversations flow smoothly.
we went out for coffee. I told her I loved her. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. Three months later. Boston College. and mine. Two months later.100+ Four A. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . Massachusetts. and yes. three floors down. suitcase is a difficult feat.” I have no idea what he means.. and if. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. destined for Minneapolis. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. the tears pouring down her cheeks. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. Outside her window. and I told her she was strange. One month later. I wonder when. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. We are in her attic bedroom.M. I’m not sure she’s my other half. my tears will come. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. she told me the same thing. She’s packing her last suitcase. And three months and two weeks later. but I know I don’t want her to leave.. on a tour of Oxford. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Skidmore College. the distance between her school. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way.
m.m.m. “I’ll miss you. I walk her to the bus station. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. so I decided to go the subversive route. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. I had written the poem already.. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. and I had a crush on . and I have to walk her to a bus station. 22 Amherst.. until four a. Alexander J. still two bottles of wine later. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. comes. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. she falls asleep. and place it on the hood of his car.. And tears stream down my face. after another bottle of wine. At four a. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. write a love poem. 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. Theoharides. At three a. needless to say. after a bottle of wine.m. At two a.” she says.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening.
but because of them. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. and well-being. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. desires.100+ I sped away. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. Scarlet Rose. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. 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. Unfortunately. Galilea. NH Love Is for yourself. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. needs. 28 Albuquerque. 24 Lincoln. not despite of their shortcomings. I was 21 years old.
he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. As you can imagine. no? Saturday came. 30 Arecibo. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . It can be between two men and between two women. making our relationship grow stronger. But a girl can dream. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. PC. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. I imagined something romantic.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. We are the yin and yang for each other. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life.
A baby was on the way. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. Michelle.100+ lifetime. 36 Lennon. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I tried to be perfect. so I left everything behind: my career. I chose my hell. I regret it. Our relationship is 15 years strong. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and I live there now. but he was mine. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and I tried to fight for my dreams. so many mistakes. Life is not supposed to be this way. I regret so many things. maybe he was strange. and so many tears. but he wasn’t in love with me. “I did it for love. Maybe he was too old for me. I love you. Mare.” I told myself. and my life. and we are raising a daughter as well. my family. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. and I thought I was immortal. and you have always been the one. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares.
T R U E S T O R I ES life. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. If I were to start my life all over again. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. Lately. but we’re not together anymore. 27 Athens. We now have a beautiful baby girl. but as for love. Yeyo. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. we fell in love. Kikis_fairytale. but I can’t control it. It’s a bad habit. I don’t know. though. We are going to graduate soon. 95 I . The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. My ex and I are currently in high school. but we’ll be living separate lives. and it lasted about a year and a half. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. 18 Olmito. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl.
and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. I shake. yet doesn’t make me want to die. Aila Balic. 18 Brooklyn. It is a scary feeling. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. I thought to myself. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. but as much as I try to stop. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. I imagine the two of us together all the time.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. 96 M . In the summer of 2009. I gasp for air. and I have no control over my actions. it keeps growing. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. and a smile that could melt a heart. Every time I see him. looks. I don’t want to. but things had been slowly going downhill. He was a southern gentleman with manners. talent. “I may have a guy at home. but it just happens. We started talking and before long we just clicked. We spent my final day together. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. Although I didn’t know it at the time.
We wanted . Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. but now it was time to make a big decision. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. family and friends can witness our marital union. Why not have our cake and eat it. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. Guerrero. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. and it took all I had not to cry. 26 Acapulco. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. I explored my options on the ride home. for showing me the truth about love. There weren’t any wedding planners. Thanks.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. In life. Ethan. and no hassle: just us. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. I went to say my goodbyes. no guests. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. too? Hayley. I couldn’t believe it was over.
was a devoted wife. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. On May 15. She was . but life is not fair. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. On March 27th. I guess. and made me happy in so many ways. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. as well as me. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. I will go home one day. at age fifty-two. 2006. Clearly magic was happening between us. Some letters were erotic. I had not felt that way in years. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. This story has the makings for a great ending. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. For Louise. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. 1997.
I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. Farewell. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. in August. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. beautiful flower arrangements. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. George Hughes.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.000 on our wedding. I will miss you. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. We had a nice ceremony. And in the end. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. If we had to do it again. Louise. Please save 99 M . VA A Joining of Two. However. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. 63 Burkeville. DON’T. but we had our wedding 7 months later. but for our family members.
When the time came to walk down the aisle. 29 Lowell. “Are you two getting married. In the fall of 1987. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. too?” he asked. Priscilla. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. forest green dress. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. my voice echoing through the church.100+ your money because in the end. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. the rings were handed over. the wedding doesn’t matter. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. “NO!” I yelled at him. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. When we finally reached the priest. 100 A . Even at 3. clad in a miniature tuxedo. On the day of the wedding.
I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. Adelle Brown. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. all I remember being told was. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. and I had no idea where to go. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. Finally.” When the doors opened. camera flashes. The emails became short and purposeful. I had gotten used to him and he to me. my cousin. not right before my eyes. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. but before I knew it. and forest green. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. I was blinded by lights. three of them will always be: priests. at some point. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. On the long list of things I hate. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. slowly and gradually. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. and I started to ignore 101 I . MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. until amorous love became filial affection. not right away. 23 Somerville. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair.
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 keep trying to push him away. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. I remember why I fell in love with him. I stopped caring about spending time together. This mundane. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. 102 I . nor is he. and started avoiding him. torturous waste of time. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. For now. or lack thereof. I am content to just exist.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. I am not that person anymore. 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. and let him do the same. for him. January Paris. I am not that unhappy. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. He was no longer my top priority.
T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. St. my parents did not divorce. and if I were allowed to live with my father. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. VT 103 . and I’m glad they are. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. which never came. it would have been more difficult. Donna J. Johnsbury. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. Alas. They are still together. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. I thought that if they divorced. I would have done so.
Despite Diagnosis .
catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. wash. Take showers in shifts. to survive it. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. sometimes it’s neck-deep. go in with your homeboys. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. not let it get inside you. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. clean. and filth swimming and floating along with you. cartwheeling. not because of knives but for their germs. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. In prison. alone. and sometimes it’s over your head. vermin. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Prison is a sewer. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . bide your time. skidding. Some don’t. you must wade carefully through the sewage. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. You are immersed in it. you can cast off your filthy clothes. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. leaving you there to bleed out. then slips away unseen. Wait till the “others” get out. and dry yourself. and when you get to the other side.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places.
so I went to an optometrist. meningitis. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. When I awoke. take it all in. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. they inhale deeply. wondering if I will ever go home. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. Months later. 59 Daytona Beach. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I regained some of my physical strength. Norman. The problem was not eradicated. And they die. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. I started having eye trouble. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. Charles P. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. As the years passed. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. I was told I had a brain tumor. become a part of it. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery.100+ of the prison sewer. As for me. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. a cracked skull.
to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. so in spite of having protected sex. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. 21 Devonport. After 4 or so weeks. Pete. just to be sure. Fueled by the media. 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. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. Tasmania. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. and all came out negative. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . My cerebral fluid was not draining.
100+ as well. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . For instance. so he donated his blood. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. but even that wasn’t enough. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. I was constantly in the hospital. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. Every time a nurse would come in the room. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. so my body was dying. Jolene. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. My father was the only one with the same blood type. 28 Portland. We all had sad faces. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. so she took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). The day I turned five. One time. Throughout my childhood. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying.
that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. “Well. the judge can expedite all he wants. the check-in nurse says. in college. I vomit constantly. Today I am 19. hoping to get rid of me to save money. Five days later. I’m 15 pounds thinner. There is no kindness.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. Maybe it’s a nightmare. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. At Perryville. I am back at Estrella Jail. 19 Pembroke Pines. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. This never happened outside. fightingsurvivor19. and 100% cured. my oncologist was determined 111 I . There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. and they both cried tears of joy. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. the jail has delayed it. and very pale. nearly bald. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. Maybe it’s not really me. Three months later.” When my chemo starts.
100+ that my nausea be minimal. burning instead. I know I’m an inmate. He recommends a tumor 112 . but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. when I’m supposed to be healing. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. I vomit until there is nothing left. My life is literally in their hands. the doctor comes in. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. Despite the rigid schedule. there is complete indifference. and nine months later. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. I have three more chemo sessions. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. 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. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. When my treatment is over. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. then every six months for two years. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. An hour later. I am sent back to my room alone. But this protocol is not followed. I start the laborious grievance process. In here. No more nausea. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. 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. Eventually. He answers my questions. and then annually.
and I am helpless against its inadequate. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. As a result. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. I will use my fear to strengthen my resolve and use the Glad Game to strengthen my joy and maintain my balance in the midst of chaos. AZ 113 . Their stories touch me on so many levels. I can deal with that. no positive imagery can change my situation. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. mismanaged. That is why I am afraid. always look for a reason to be glad. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. my life is in the hands of the State. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. Six months later. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. it still hasn’t happened. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. uncaring power. incompetent. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. This is about the State. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. That’s really hard in here.
she was looking ahead. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. Dinorah Torres.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. Despite all this. A year into my treatment. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. CA A 114 . and I felt helpless all the time. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. without even knowing it. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. he began to distance himself. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. but when he found out that treatment could last years. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. making plans for the future. 33 Santa Barbara. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. Later.
How sad. It just 115 I . shape. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. never had any kids. for an addict’s. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter.” What kind of doctor says something like that to a patient? That’s like telling an intravenous drug-user that his/her veins and liver are in good shape. for a smoker’s lungs. She was longdivorced. 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. and had lived alone for decades. One year she was cancer-free. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. Hayden. The following year.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. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. 18 Tacoma. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life.
on the part of Texas officials. 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. F.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Penzance. Cornwall.G. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked.A. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Whatever the percentage. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . his oldest daughter to cigarettes. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. and now he could lose his own life because of them.
Classify prisoners by age. You can see how dangerous it is. and house them accordingly. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. 4. 5. whether here or abroad. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. and typecrime. A few suggestions: 1. Separate gang members from non-gang members. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 3. 2. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. 6. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. sentence length. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. 9. 7. 8. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. be as humane as possible.
Daniel H. Harris.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. TX 118 . This could be a start.
The Transience of Permanence .
Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. In plain talk. I feel the dread on my flesh. which has its effects on me as well as on him. If I give him that. death is merely a passage or rite. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. I’m a state-approved janitor. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. some acceptance. then the whole world has done the same. Each morning when I arrive at work. For “free-world” folks.T R U E S T O R I ES LIVE from Texas Death Row! ’m a Texas prisoner and I work on death row. plans. Some days. TX I 121 . maybe an estate. discussions. Christopher Best Livingston. He desperately seeks some understanding. I swear. a last will and testament. In the penitentiary. death out there now looks relatively easy. especially on death row. All is forgiven. He understands that my time with him is short. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. From what I’ve seen in here. or SSI. even inside me. 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. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes.
I’ll try again later.” or “moving on to the next phase.” And I’m not talking about parole. and it can be done right now. Very suspicious. I choose not to spend another day in this place. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. today.T.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I am feeling very ugly inside. yet relieved that I took action. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” “taking it to the vent. Shit. It’s called “checking out. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. Fuck God. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. G. Suspicious. 122 T . I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. It isn’t working. Light-headed. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. Fuck them. Shit.
not in the clinical sense. but a symbolic one. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. 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. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. After that. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. 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. Mike Rothwell Ione. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . The vast majority were done in by their own hand. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked.
the son he failed to be. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. sterling silver. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. the lover he wishes to be. In this sense. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. the father he cannot be. but life—even at 103—seems too short.With his incarceration. killed that greater part of himself. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. gold. diamonds. 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. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. year after year. He has. matriarch of the family. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed.100+ love of his family. he may as well be dead. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. In the world beyond prison walls. Hector Gallegos Otisville. in essence. 124 N . my big fat Italian grandmomma. pearls. and the person he never grew to become.
albums. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. as if no one else is 125 D . blankets. necklaces. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. The following day. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. except for a fundamental difference. pre-WWII. Mary Higgins Reading. Who would believe that a swastika. key chains. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. dating from the roaring twenties. 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. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. 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. she never wore it. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. The first thing one notices is the quiet. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. and handcrafted dolls.
While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row.100+ there. such as his first pet. survivors of the victim’s family. but the mind rebels. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. media representatives. TX 126 . he realizes that all hope is gone. An ache settles in his belly. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. In remembering. It is like God’s “time-out” room. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. the officials are stoic and judgmental. making it ominously quieter. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. Gene W. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. Hathorn Livingston. there are only four or five people. At other times. the fights he had in grade school. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. 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. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full.
he had become thin as a rail. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. In October 2004. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Over a period of a year. and they all tell you something different. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. He was a genuine character. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. Once muscular. Time was of the essence. after a slew of “unreadable. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. trying to get someone to do something. Sleep came with great difficulty. he was barely over five feet tall.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. and his memory showed signs of failure. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. really took it seriously. his body was covered in tattoos. Since he always complained. no one.” Freddy complained to me one day. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin.” “partial.” and “lost” test results. and his head was shaved clean. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. I saw no real reason for worry. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. a combination drug therapy. including Freddy.” I forget why. if at all. 127 E .
” There was no anger in his voice. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. Freddy was my friend. “By the time they did something. but no treatment was administered. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. and he was afraid. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. but he threw it up. By October.100+ Months passed. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. and now he’s dead. they probably could have saved me. it was too late. looking through the glass at our little one. They killed me. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. 2005. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. only resignation. They tried giving him formula. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. “If they got at me 18 months ago.” he told me. He vomited blood one morning. We named him William Kenrick.
And oh. Jenelleish. a smile formed on his lips. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. he had to undergo an operation. And I knew though he was gone. Despite the pain. just let go. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. the smell… His sweet. my first child. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. But if not. But I swear. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. milky scent is still there. I turn numb. At 1:30 a. when I visited him. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. if you can still make it. He will always be my first baby. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. At 3 days old.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. “Baby. his heart rate slowed. I still think of him. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less.m. PHILIPPINES 129 . I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. only he was already lifeless. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. And for that. as soon as I held him. 32 Las Piñas City. and whispered. The next day. Then I start crying again and eventually. only to realize that he’ll never come back.. I love him more and more each day. Someday.” And as soon as everybody was there. But I knew something wasn’t right. he went. fight for it. NCR. which was declared a success. my first son. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories.
and listening to music. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch.100+ I Miss You. I was close to my father. Facing the cell door. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. from denial to 130 I . he was really fantastic. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. But after 5 years of marriage. enjoying the early morning light. he died suddenly and tragically.. After my dad’s death. But as a father. I didn’t shed one tear. I dreamed about him every single night. My dad liked to sing and dance. Dad une 15. I went through many phases. I miss him deeply. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. fishing. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. Malachi Ephraim Florence.m. yet his passing was significant to me. But I didn’t cry. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. roller-skating. in a better mood than usual.
CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. had no meaning. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. How sad that now sounds. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I sent my aunt. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. Life lost its luster. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. As a last minute thought. the final and hardest phase arrived. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. her youngest 131 I . I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. I realized that what happened was out of my control. Québec. 45 Montreal. Terri Giosia. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. hate to indifference. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. After a long period of time. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. happily single. I drank to escape and forget. I am now 45.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. However. a Christmas card. with great parents and friends.
Dennis Forrest. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. especially when you are only seven years old. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. 51 Rosharon. To the academic world. Soon after. The doctor gave her three months to live. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my poem may mean nothing. But after all the miserable hospital visits. my mom had been taken to the hospital. he said. For two years. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. she called every person she knew and read that poem.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. Not only did she call him. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. The night before.
I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. and us. It went on and on. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. and even worked from home so he could be there. the house. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I .T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. too weak to walk to her bedroom. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. He took care of my mom. “Daddy. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. My father continued hacking. 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. My life was changed forever. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. Aubrie. but to help them through things the best you can. where it was warm. This experience has made me stronger. My dad softly called me over. 16 Rexburg.
offered me his condolences the best he knew how. but the last time inexorably approached. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. Over the past few years. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. so I stood there. Don’t ever smoke them. son.100+ asked. I wanted to make it up to him. and that was a good thing. You see. You settled your differences. waiting him out: “Charlie. when I first met your family several years ago. but emphysema got him first. from a prison payphone in the dark. I had unfinished business with my father. and he loved you. healing wounds. I knew he wanted to say something. I admire what you did. as did my mother. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. A prisoner friend. the reason I’m saying this. collect. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. like you did. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. Even when he was here last time. real sick. exhaled. There were hard feelings between us. who knew my family well. not speaking. We feared lung cancer. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. He looked at my brothers. I said things I’ve always regretted. too. but he died before I got the chance. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. and he was gone. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I begged him to quit for years. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. I could see that you loved your father.” 134 . closed his eyes. with complications from lupus. I could tell. He said things.” He was just twenty-four at the time. so I recognized it in both of you.
135 I . While there. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. 59 Daytona Beach. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. It was the least I could do. Charles P. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. My cellie threw up. Norman. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. leaned his head on my shoulder. I decided to slash my wrist. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. His tears soaked into my suit coat. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand.
Evidently. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. 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. “Six months.100+ “Well. His eyes were half open. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.T.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .” “What are you facing?” I asked him.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. I don’t anymore.” G. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences.
Then. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. For the first time since I was there. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. 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. stood there for several seconds. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. CA 137 . there was only solemn silence. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor.T R U E S T O R I ES was. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. But not at this moment. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. With a bit of a dramatic flair. Even the crazy guys had shut up. perhaps. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. hung it back up on the wall. It was so still. He had everyone’s complete attention. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them.
Hidden & Forbidden .
sentenced to six years in prison. but I haven’t picked up a girl. she’s home alone. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. For twenty years. it’s her roommate. a football player. I was black. I only saw what I wanted to see. I want to be with a girl. I say. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. 1982. “I came to see my girl. that it was a setup. we can have sex. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. my fraternity brothers. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride.” As I say this. I’ve had fun. popular on campus. and a ladies’ man. I want some sex. I was convicted.” I step towards her. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. in front of a white jury.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. “Your girl is not here. but it’s not my girlfriend. I’m thinking. racism at its best. I’m telling myself that she wants me.” I say. a member of a fraternity. if no one else is here. 141 I . barging into her apartment. It opens. but also to pick up girls. she was white. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. and I’m in college. Because she was white. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. not only to have fun. the white system. forcing myself in. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. angrily. I knock on the door. When it’s time to leave the club. it’s a habit of ours. and it was my word against hers.
100+ Today. For sixteen years. if I were to have a place in this world. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. a wife. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. for them. So I tried. The fantasy of grandchildren. forced attractions to women.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. especially with men. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. faithfully. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. I had known that I was a disappointment. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. pure houseboat. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence.
and the burden of hiding was spirited away. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. only for who I pretended to be. with whom I constantly fought and argued. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. all too well in fact.. I wrote a script. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. At seventeen. One day. When I arrived. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. And I knew. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. boring corduroy-wearers. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. So I confessed my truths. I am finally happy. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. my sadness never faltered. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. Daryl F. 19 Hooksett. that my parents felt the same.
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. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. carried on like a trooper. especially for clothes. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. I was literally paralyzed. His self-confidence saved the day. being a noble and resourceful man.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. This brought about a case of stage fright. one male and one female. Knowing very little about astrology. We didn’t date. and sinker. it was swallowed hook. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. 30 Maidstone. Philippa. line. Nicholas.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. Kent. but I always suspected that he was gay. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. He dated one girl 144 I .
My parents said I was not gay and that they were going to send me to an island where nuns and priests would “fix” me. but I never really suspected she was gay. 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. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. When he told me he was gay. Waterville. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. Jayne L. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. she was always a tomboy. I didn’t really think anything of it. As for my female friend. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. However. especially since I had always suspected it. My friends just did . Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual.
not me. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation.100+ me.” I did. gays and lesbians are persecuted. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. but I am a woman and therefore. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. I fear losing my partner. who is from Peru. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years.” so we had to go back to court.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. We feel the judge was very homophobic. As if things couldn’t get any worse. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. Right now. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. too. They even sent me to a shrink. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. If I were a man. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. knowing that if she 146 . We are not giving it to her. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. “Never mind. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. After three years worth of evidence gathering.” Within 10 days. 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.
Aileen Diaz. TX 147 I . has taught me compassion. she would be detained upon walking off the plane for speaking out against the homophobic Peruvian government and their police brutality! We are going through some tough times right now. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. 35 Tampa. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. the Ultimate Truth. We lost everything. no different than any other heterosexual couple. These days.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. the most effective teacher. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. but we did not lose ourselves. If anything. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. William Steed Kelley Huntsville.
and I would never throw it in his face. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. You have to always be 148 C . I feel like an idiot. I still love and respect him.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. But on the other hand. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. better not to tempt fate. 30 Detroit. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. Eloise Lebreton. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. I probably would have been better off not knowing. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. On the one hand. 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. Now.
They help. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. After church.” then there’s not much they can do about it. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. Louisiana. so you better learn to keep it at bay. 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 don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I was allowed to play with a friend. Mike Rothwell Ione. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. One way is to keep doing those pushups. No matter how upbeat you may feel. But if someone’s determined to “check out. 149 A . I lived in Shreveport.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. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. 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. It’s always going to be there. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable.
My friend’s mother yelled. lit the gas stove. especially my mother. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. NC 150 . Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. Christian Missionary Alliance. at my tender age. She barged into the room screaming. He screamed in agony. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. was too much to handle. her face contorted in rage. molestation. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. Yurshta. another ultrafundamentalist sect. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. I have been an atheist ever since. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. and abuse. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. “You think this hurts motherf’er. 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. 47 Old Fort.
I have never been physically beaten. Gaby Hermann. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. should not be tolerated.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. 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. whether physical or emotional. I did not get angry with him. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . NETHERLANDS Harsh. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. I swear. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. Any kind of abuse. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. I had nine miscarriages.
We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. Sonia. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. 36 New Delhi. INDIA 152 . I was forced to call the cops.100+ with me. Then one day. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. Delhi.
Eerie Encounters .
I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it.m. Why would we want to be? Clarette. slight. even Ghirardelli’s. I don’t need to see to believe.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. my 155 I . In my nightmare. Aquatic Park. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I can see the people. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. We cannot be alone. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. They are looking beyond me. just a quarter of a mile farther. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. although I’ve never seen one. I keep swimming. 28 Salem. but I’m getting tired. I listen for a moment to a strange. swishing sound.
I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. The walls murmur. When I was 18. 24 Lawrence. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. summoning me. MA 156 T . beginning to feel numb. And about a week after that. out beyond the breakers. I awake. Am I going crazy? Frank E. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. 45 Delano. About 5 years later. I am silently alone. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. Foster. And then. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. I’m only treading water. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. to the deep water. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I hear something in the distance calling me.100+ arms are getting heavy. The waves crash. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. Will Ferrara.
potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. While alive. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. while still aboard. In the following days. my mouth stopped bleeding. Ravenna. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. I dreamt that I was in Italy. In October. I felt sick and went to sleep. a strange heat enveloped my body. and we had no choice but to drink it. On our way to the hospital. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. Not long after. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. too. ITALY 157 I . I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. 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. I immediately called home. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. Shocked. 56 Alfonsine. From that moment on. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. Almost twenty days later. In the dreams. showing us that we were right. at my uncle’s funeral. One night.
I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. but late for work! Paddy J. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. It was then that I woke up. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. 19 Monaghan. It was pitch black.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I stood up and looked at its face. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. I was squinting. staring straight ahead. I remember shaking like a leaf. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. its feet dragging along the ground. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. but they continued moving and stretched me out. I landed at the feet of the creature. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. It was my dad! At that moment. as whatever I was looking at was far away..
“I’ve been here before. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. echoes from long ago. Hiking along the trail. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. When I returned home.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. One evening. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. my mind completely blank. I was in the bathroom. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. As nighttime fell. As I placed my canteen in the water. the vision of a tall. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. Enrique M. 159 W . FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. It was at this moment that I saw. Fernandez Miami. “That place is haunted. thinking about nothing. That left me speechless. When I turned to look. it had disappeared. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface.” I thought. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives.” someone who knew the area told me. thin man.
and the vision was gone. still completely covered by the hood. I have not had any such vision since. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. He walked towards me. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. I have no idea what the vision meant. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Devon. UK Between Time and Space n 1980.100+ He was wearing a long. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. when I entered the King’s Chamber. standing in that same spot. Then. 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. His face was shrouded in darkness. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. However. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . hooded.
transferred his intelligence into my brain. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. and don’t believe time is always linear. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. AK. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. Then my former self stood in my body. and activated it. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. I came back to my present “reality. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis.” Now. During this moment of déjà vu. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . 54 Auckland. Misty. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well.
and a little less afraid. but I didn’t. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. D. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. facing myself. Lonn. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I’m willing to see where it takes me. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. drifting like seaweed. They knew what was about to happen.100+ broad daylight seemed real. 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. In my dream. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. I’m 59 now. a little more aware. a little more settled. I woke up taking short gulps of air. 162 I . 59 West Roxbury. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation.B.
It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. as I had in Spain. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. “I need to get back. Jayne L. completely powerless to stop it. Waterville. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. and then was finally able to label my experience. I watched shows on television. Later. when I moved 163 G . I learned the term years later. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I survived the accident with no major injuries.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. After that. Since I was only 4 years old. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. The driver lost control of the vehicle. and we started to spin really quickly. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. and quickly drifting away. but with a different outlook on life–and death. which struck a barrier. I started to read a lot of books.
There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I knelt down on a pew. but with no success. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. facing him. at my friend Viola’s insistence. a few steps from the altar.100+ to Massachusetts. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. it’s one of my many pastimes. just one year before meeting Gabriele. I got slowly closer. One night. Smiling kindly. There is only going to a different level. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . he said. 37 Madrid. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. A year later. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. But for me. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week.
But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. I told him not to joke. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. striking me like a storm. Then one night. struck by his suffering. and I tried to help him. To be sure. While I stared at him. ITALY 165 . so I left. I felt all his fear and pain. Through telepathy. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. He vowed to marry me. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. we became involved. 56 Alfonsine. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. but he had terrible secrets.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. Ravenna. 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. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. in January 1991.
Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. He tipped his hat and smiled. During the five trips I made out there. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. On some nights. 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. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. 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 witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. I developed . Soon after.100+ I See Spirits spirit. Then all of a sudden. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. NH.
On one occasion. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. We saw the usual lights in the sky. who was also an amateur photographer. about 50 yards down the tracks. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. up a tree. accompanied me. On one of my last visits. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. Other times. a state psychologist friend of mine. but then. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. MA 167 . It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. strobe for 30 seconds. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. and meet. Later. and into the sky.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. As I returned to where Betty was parked. First. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. then they turned off. she suddenly pointed and yelled. fly to some central point. 70 Waltham. and then disappear.
At Home & Abroad .
with a 3-year-old son. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. as proof of dignity. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. not financial statements. Russian caviar. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. or Puerto Rican dialect. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. but life had a different destination in mind for me. where all were welcome and. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. but eventually we divorced. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. We married and had a daughter. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. and great America.” My father used to talk of Hungary. I once had plans to live in London. and completely broken by life. Colombian.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. Lately. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. had to show the INS hard-working hands. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. German perfume.
Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. Morales.. 54 Leominster.S. 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. Mare.100+ Greece. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. 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. on the contrary. Nidia F. it reminds us that this country is great. 36 Lennon. We all suffer when this happens. we love Bach. while others are trying to cheat the system. the Dolphins. We don’t feel less American because of that.
illegally because.S.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. Many times. 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. Later in the summer. my . my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. 27 Washington. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant.C. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. Then during the fall and winter months. and migrant camps. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. We lived in tents. I had family there. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. so I decided to move to his. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. we stayed in Livingston. cars. My father is Mexican.S. harvesting crops. apart from being unconscionable. D. it would have been too dangerous.
halfway through my junior year. read. they didn’t work. our bathroom was an outhouse. This is where I went to school. Not only were the white students 174 . my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. mostly beans and tortillas.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. Because of school. However. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could.” “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. clothes passed down to me from my older brother.100+ father worked for a local farmer. In grammar school. Spanish. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. In fact. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me.” or “spic. they had the opposite effect. Early on. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. and write in English. I was held back in kindergarten. I struggled to learn to speak. I was embarrassed by my first language.” “greaser. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. we took our baths in a big washtub. However. I realized that I was out of place in school. In high school. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. School was a struggle from the beginning. this was not a quick or easy transition. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback.
a five sol coin and two half sol coins. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. not even two dollars. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. I wasn’t white. to the Mexican students. I didn’t seem to fit in.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. They will pay. but on the inside I acted like a white person. Although I was of Mexican descent. “One hundred soles tonight.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook.” I remind myself. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. you know. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. To white students. in theory. My private class is in La Rinconada. the usual. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. I wasn’t Mexican. “Now don’t run away on me. an enclave 175 I .S. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. and I had lost most of my Spanish. I was born and raised in the U.. 50 Boston. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. a gringo wearing a tie. Raul Ybarra.
Two maids.” “The señora is not here. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books.” “I know she’s not here. you are not Peruvian. even your own paycheck. I eye the tamal on the counter. she told me to come inside and wait. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. I have classes with her kids. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. I sit at the kitchen table. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. never mind 176 . Matt. with chicken bulging from its sides. Remember. “She’s not here. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. I am cheered by the recognition.” “That’s okay. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. are washing dishes in the sink. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.” I say. No way. as big as a sandwich. If these families don’t find happiness here. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. It’s ají amarillo. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. They don’t speak to me or to each other.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.
and we were all waiting for our first check. That is the hard part: hiding the need. It was the end of the month. 40 Amesbury. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. payday. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. and I came. Mrs. An hour later. No way am I going home empty-handed.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. They looked at each other to see who would answer. I hear three honks. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 177 . The room grew eerily silent. Matt Wirzburger. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. “That’s what we all hope. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. and springs out the door to the entrance. I was told to come. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. others were given a song and dance. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. Wipe any sign of need from your face. Chin up.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. 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. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Some received their checks.
I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. and only then. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. It was then. A few blocks seemed all the further with my high heels already torturing me and the nerves regarding the pending interrogation nagging at the nucleus of my psyche.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. As I again made my way down the grid streets. yet spaced widely apart. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. With briefcase in hand. As dusk turned to darkness. I wasn’t alone. the city awoke and came to life. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. the whole city was there. The streets were numbered. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. Karen Manhattan. NY 178 . I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I was in the city “on business. It was well worth it. I felt that I had “made it there.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. After the much-anticipated grilling session.
French. etc. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. it’s “America.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. 12) It’s not the “U. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them.” or “Yankland”. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. The 179 .” “Pop Idol. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. 7) Humour is subtle. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. and you must learn the difference between lager. we don’t. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.” “The States.”. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.S. they helped a great deal.. and sophisticated.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. Irish.” or “U. dry. 10) The English. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing.A. Scottish. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. and stout.S. Welsh. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. 4) Beer drinking is an art. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. bitter.e. sarcastic. real ale.
Rolling Stones. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. Gavin S. they’ll take the non-Yank. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). Canadian. Pink Floyd).m. not pounds. FL 180 . apologise profusely for it. 23 Jacksonville. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. and body weight is stated in stones. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian.m. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. If caught being rude. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. South African.100+ Beatles. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p.. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p.
Native and unique to Hawaii. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. We took off from the claustrophobic. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. 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. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. crimson berries. We discovered Diamond Head. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. Although decades have passed. and Waikiki Beach. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. Pearl Harbor. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday.” which spans in black swirls over the island. my parents and I arrived at . We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. 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. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle.
orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country.” Despite my pitiful German. Estado de México. 29 Tultitlán. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. I remember wanting to return… H. Gutierrez. B. ovular. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to .100+ large. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.
eerie feeling. I experienced an unexpected. we were the enemy. I even felt a bit guilty. Along the road. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. green hills and plains. I knew it was war. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. that it was them or us. Marien’s church in Lübeck. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. crying. I packed up my leased . I imagined civilians screaming. destruction everywhere. Gisela. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. however unfounded that emotion may be. For the first time since the early eighties. To them. and running in all directions. Standing in St. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. but never forgotten. Schleswig-Holstein. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. 21 Lübeck. checked 183 In late October 1998. However.
Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I spent days at the Pueblo. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. and visited various museums. There is always a scent of sage in the air. delightful little restaurants. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate.100+ into small motels. TN 184 . and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries.
The Toughest Job in the World .
I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way.. after being able to share this special bond. At 3:30 a.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. I knew what to expect. Krista. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. so on the 20th.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. For child number two. which is about 45 minutes away. I planned a Caesarean.m. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. he did just that. My due date of June 19th came and went. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . we did not make it to the hospital. Needless to say. For our first child. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. We were told that I could be induced at this point. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. So.
grocery bills. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. I had no concept of rent. He’d take off the rubber band. prop himself up on his elbows. He’d slowly read the comics to me. The Texarkana Gazette. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. and read each one aloud. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. The car would stop. My . not working as he was the rest of the week. spread them open on the wood floor. Dan and Tom). causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. By then. Friday evenings were always a thrill. Joe Palooka. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. and Tarzan of the Apes. All was good in the world. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. Alley Oop. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. car payments. lie down. take out the Sunday comics. the smells of biscuits.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. bacon. and two more on the way (my brothers. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. Daddy would get out. and my mother would call us for breakfast. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. Not every week. but fairly frequently. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. It was just the three of us. waiting for Daddy to come home from work.
I felt desperate. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. Sebastian. begging him for a ride in the new car. or at least pretend to. Finally. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.T R U E S T O R I ES him. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. but because I thought I had failed. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. I cried. Not with . Charles P. tubes. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. 59 Daytona Beach. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. 1. I went to a place filled with noise.220 grams. 189 The first time I saw my son. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. and his weight. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. Times were hard. Norman. (On Friday evenings. and lights. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. They said he was beautiful. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. but I never realized it. a frown on her face.
The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. 36 North Andover. and I prayed. fear. Relief. After a week. I sang to him. patience. I began to sob. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. Each week. At long last. leaving my baby behind. pride. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. I talked to him. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. Over time. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. and mourning. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. He was so fragile and exposed. wanting to 190 I . I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. I gained knowledge. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. Outside. Lisa. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. I cried. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. and hope flooded me. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. I was discharged. and confidence. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I ached to still be pregnant. besieged by guilt. I became determined to care for him.
or feed the deer. and I 191 I . I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. we weren’t there to look at. But tonight. pet. At about 3 a. I don’t have any desire to find out. Though I was only twelve. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. and I was twelve years old. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. 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.m. drugs. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. or gangs.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house.. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. 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. or getting into drinking. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. my father and I were in his truck. driving to our new “hunting spot. or having trouble with the police. Suzanne. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine.
Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. checked for traffic. with the click of a camera. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. Steven Small. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. I snuck up to the fence line. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. they were already there. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. By the time he got there. I didn’t even have to call the deer. You can take a picture and freeze time. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. We drank beer on the way home. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. . GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. a second of your life. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. 43 Jessup. I took my spot and waited.
T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. Part of me wanted to pull her away. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. 30 Martinsburg. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. but something was unleashed in me. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. but those moments stay behind. and sadly. I didn’t expect much. moments are forgotten. Kelly. Life goes on. I 193 M . she was so excited that she leapt for joy. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. New moments are constantly being created. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. Sitting on a stool at the counter. without a care in the world. I cherish every moment captured. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. sipping a chocolate shake.
Mama was beautiful. Everyday. my first year in middle school. One day.” One day. “Your Mama works for tips. and a few coins went into my piggybank. “I did my best. Some streetwise kids set me straight.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Those are old coins.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. I couldn’t take it anymore. Someday they’ll put you through college. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. I do my best. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. I was proud to be her son. “Those aren’t for spending. without any explanation. the afternoon waitress.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. He had promised to take care of us. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. collectables. “Why didn’t you finish school so you could get a good job? Are you always gonna work in a café?” It all traced back to Daddy. She quit school to marry him. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Her green eyes sparkled. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. he left. It was in seventh grade.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. crisp. and well fitting.” she said with tears 194 . Dorothy. John.
not love. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. But something was missing from my letters. Mama sent cookies. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. One day. I wrote back. Respect. shame for being poor. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. After it was over. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. that’s what it was. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Oh sure.. I didn’t go to college after high school. shame for having no Daddy. She’d died of breast cancer. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. TX 195 . Mama wrote every day. Before she died. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Something with angels on it. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night.” John Yarbrough Rosharon.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. They let me go home for the funeral. Mama’s friend at the café. a letter came from Dorothy. All my love turned into shame. Mama asked if I needed anything.. Mama was gone. I wouldn’t need it. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. There was just nothing I could respect about her.
but there were no magazines. I looked at the gas gauge and said. we got into the boiling car. put them in my lap. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. no television. no books. I pulled out all the papers. I opened the glove compartment. a man or woman would call out a number. She would fill out some papers. map. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. she answered.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. “Last case for today. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. Finally. In the front.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. Occasionally. When I did. “Mom. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. “An abortion. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. but her face wore the same void expression. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. and wait to be called into another room. and devoured them one by one. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. When outside. a lady came out and said. sit back down. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital.S. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. She must have known that I would see it. “Mom.
37 Mitchellville. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. 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. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. When she turned to look at me. sat down beside me and said “Hello. It wasn’t the welfare office. she yelled. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. lack of food. No. for me. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. everybody in the world. Yvette Louisell.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. I was sitting outside on the front steps. but someone else. you’re just like Auntie Doll. or the bills.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.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. when I was ten. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block.
got a damp washcloth.” she said. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. Ma smiled and hugged me. “Green house. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. “Down the block. After twenty minutes. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. Needless to say. She said love makes you do crazy things. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. Then. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. “No. The next thing I knew. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. Big John. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. but Ma said she would handle it herself. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. She 198 . the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding.100+ girl in the world. That little girl was no fool. I got home empty-handed. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. I took Ma’s hand. both became angry. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. what had happened. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. Big John wanted to go down there. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her.
Ma ran to him. warning him not to touch us again. and left. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. 66 Burkeville. screaming. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. we got the jewelry back. “My God. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. 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. stood by the refrigerator. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. but we laughed and laughed like never before. snatched the bag. Meanwhile. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. who had been putting away groceries.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. we got a smile. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. “Take it! It’s all there. VA 199 .” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. His wife. Then he walked over to the counter. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. George Hughes. are you all right?” He nodded.
All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. you scared the poor boy. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. My mother had gotten to her feet. but my dad sat her back down. “Now run on home. you little sissy. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. saying. you made him cry. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. “Oh it’s all right. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. I looked over. screaming.” the man screamed at me.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. one of Michael’s many siblings. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. With the fork in one hand. “Don’t look to your folks for help. more surprised than hurt. and look. he leaned over me. look what you did.” 200 O .100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. saying. I hit the ground again.
You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. Hours later. trying not to look at me. I said. Peck was yelling at me. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. One of these days. I ran to my room. just thinking. and offered me cookies. Very calmly. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. I looked at her then at my father. Grandma Berg was inside. clothes to wear. new shoes every fall.” I answered. at the dinner table. “My little wunderkind. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. Later. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food.” she said as she dried my tears. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. help Grandma eat this. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. I can’t be there to save you.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. “No more with the neighbors. “Thinking. dry house to live in. but sternly. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble.” I’ll ever forget what he said. 201 . as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. I think. More mad than sad.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. and a warm. my little lipschkin. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. She almost whispered.
He also loved conflict. As I scanned the newspaper. Your father. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. CA The Sand Dollar by time. Quiet now. In the classroom. Thomas Michael Fox. unchanged . Dream the dreams boys dream. chores to doing. I received a devastating student update.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. no more you thinking. a name leapt at me. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. He got to me like no other student that year. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. They remain frozen in my subconscious. You must be sleeping now. Sun coming soon. In casual and cruel black and white print. but Grandma knows things. He was full of jokes. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. 51 Corcoran. Too much thinking for one so young. tomorrow is better day. Grandma is old woman. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. as the elementary students they were. and intelligence. songs.
I always wondered if I got through to him. I saw I hadn’t. MA If Not Me. but he was the star. smile broadly. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. I smashed my heels in the sand. cursing him. I stormed down the beach. But even now. He would nod. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. Then the ocean placed a perfect. Now one found me. no one got to me like him. I was mad. 36 Wakefield. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. an 11-year-old in leather. Reading the article through blurred eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. So much wasted. He could always make people smile. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. just a headstone. 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 . Stacey Curran Conway. so much lost. I knew his story now. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I hadn’t found one for years. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. and dance away.
I’ve been insulted. In some pretty tough school districts. and rehired. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. and administrators with agendas. I sit 204 . RIF’d. I have come to the end of myself. I have stood in line. who trusted what would later come to fruition. sworn at.” Back then. and kept students in line. however. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. students with social problems. Finally. living wages. of the students who might never make it to college without help. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I think. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. pooh-poohed. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair.100+ of what my students can become. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. Surprisingly.
Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. MA Unsung Heroes profession. 34 Framingham. not a real course. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. for a new vision. Unfortunately. and 8th graders. at the school where I taught. Zora. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. 7th.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. much less trusting. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Spanish was seen as an elective. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. I would be mortified. Unruly students aside. more wary.
all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. the vicious three-headed hellhound. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. remnants of a continuous high.100+ those who do. I hope that someday. If I could survive this class. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. Sitting. silence. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. Ted continued to wander about. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. 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. 29 Norwich. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. Julia Perez. I could survive the duration of this profession. Most were sensible enough to sit. Attempting to gain control. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . His eyes were constantly glazed over. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration.
you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. I decided on the only rational thing. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. “Okay Ted. As the class waited for my reaction.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.” the child said confidently. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. MO 207 . I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. His bark was mighty. “Take your best shot. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. but how was his bite? Move he did. Wait. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I had stunned the high right out of him. I have to call the principal to come get you. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. Enjoy guarding hell.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for.
166 Ephraim. 145 Donna J. 33. José. 44 Anonymous. 19. James. 111 Amberchele. 37. 22 Aubrie. 95 Barchard. Christopher. Aila. Matthew.T. 130 .. Malachi. 53 Curran Conway. 45 Brame. D. Sue Ellen. 122. 61 Clarette. 51. Robert Hal. 142 Dey. 127 Diaz. 135 Christie. Aileen. 75 Carrillo. 121 Boner. 96 Anonymous.C. 70 Best. Stacey. 79 Anonymous . 32 Brown. G. 172 Allen. Cynthia. 155 Corson. J... 47 Balic. Eugene Alexander. Tom “Wolf ”. Adelle. 100 Burns. Fernanda.. Lance. 132 Babb. 60 Aleman. 202 Daryl F.Author Index AK.. 166 Antzes. 102 Elliott.
53.G.. 200 Galilea. Gaby. 98. 62. 157. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 144.. Spoon. 115 Fernandez. Enrique M. 151 Higgins. 163 Gutierrez. 147 Kelly. 123 Gavai. 155 Fox. 30. 128 Jolene.. 28.. 59. Pilar. Hector.. Dennis. Elisabetta. 164 F. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 179 Giosia. 158 Ferrara. 124 Hughes. Mary. 94 . 45. 80. Will.A. 177 Kelley. 97 Hermann. William Steed. Frank E. Gene W. 74.Errani Emaldi. 181 Harris. Thomas Michael. 92 Gallegos. H. 110 Forrest. 162 Jenelleish.B. 125 Hayden. 130 Gisela. Terri. 101 Jayne L... 36. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. George. 77 Gavin S. 197 Jackson. 17. 116 Hathorn. Daniel H. 115 Hayley. 131 Foster.. 40 January. 109 Karen.
171 Murff. 196 Mansour. 77 McLean. 20. 136. 67 Misty. 161 Loomer. 85 Rose. Brigitte. 25 McKenzie. 71 Richards. Kitty. 188 Paddy J. Ricky. 59 Morales. 21 LeBeau. Santonio. Prashant Devan. Mark D. Zachary. 92 Perez. 143 Priscilla. 206 Louisell. 133. 93.B. 148 Lisa. Eloise. 99 Quarles. 108 Philippa.. 189 Lonn. Julia. 73 Lebreton. Nidia F.. 141 Redfearne. Miriam. 69. 158 Pauli. 32. 183 PC. 148 Salinas.Krista. 88 Norman. Jan. Byron. 122.. 91 Rothwell. 23 . 187 Kumar. Charles P. Michael. D. 160 Momo. Mike. Norton.. Scarlet. 205 Pete. 86 Mare. 172 Mayo. Gary.. 87 McKenna. Yvette. 107.
Idris... 41 Shelly. J. Dinorah. John. 50 Theoharides. Melvin William Joseph. 159 Wantz. 149 Zephyr. 85 Tedesco. 63 Wirzburger. 203 . 190 Suzy. Steven. Raul. Agatha. 55 von Fuller. Alexander J. 87 Small. 34 Zora. Matt. 90 Torres. 114 Vogt. Bronwyn.E. 175 Yarbrough. 95 Yochum. 15. 173 Yeyo. 39 Yurshta.Samuel. 151 Suzanne. 191 Sonia. 193 Ybarra. 42 Windoftheclyde. Adela. 16 Shurley. Kurt.
60 Island Street Lawrence. MA 01840 . Inc. Inc. Massachusetts. U.100 Plus True Stories.A. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse.S. 2009. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse.
has created the imprint CBH Books to support excellence in literature. We publish all genres. in all languages.com .CBHBooks.The publishing house Cambridge BrickHouse. Inc. Publish your book with CBH Books. www.
. no more than a few miles away across the inlet..100plusts. The best stories were selected for this book.com $19. I was diagnosed with breast cancer.” “A week before my 26th birthday.com. who were eager to share their experiences. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch.” “.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www.99 9 781598 351095 . Now you are invited to do the same.. These are true stories told by people like you. but with a different outlook on life–and death. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. or confessions. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. floating in the air. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.100plusts. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. Upon being published. Many people are telling their true stories. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view.. illustrate life’s many. cry. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt.. anecdotes. facing myself. reflect.com. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. These firsthand accounts.. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. and remember. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. written as memoirs.100plusts.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.