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