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
AZ I 19 . the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. desires. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. can be revealed to the world. my mother passed away from cancer. and drug addiction. By the 8th grade. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. Dennis Forrest. images. Nevada in 1968. By 18. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. 51 Rosharon. living on many different bases. On March 3.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Due to anger. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. bitterness. so I grew up as an Army brat. 2007.
their heaviness. listening. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. I know I am finally awake to life. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. Listening now requires my full attention. and acting. Today. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. 20 N . and I can look at them neutrally. For quite a while now. such as putting up books in the library. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. to search spiritually. freedom to expand my horizons. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. to develop boundaries. and their condition. Yet. in a week. I am aware of the way their covers feel. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. 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. When I do little jobs. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. day out. I rejoice in the art I produce. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. tomorrow.
find true freedom. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. But for now. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. and Thich Nhat Hanh. Lamas Rinpoche. my learning continues. mental. Yeshe. I know I will. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. once I am given the chance.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. or strangers away. As a matter of fact. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. In closing. be they physical. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. love. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. teachers. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. or spiritual. I can easily mix with just about anyone. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. and compassion and when they do. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it.
MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. Kuala Lumpur. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. but didn’t join in the conversation. I took in what the kids were saying. yet being able to live in peace and harmony.” That same day. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. She broke the news to me as best as she could. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. 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. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. Prashant Devan Kumar. 18 Cheras. As I listened to my mom.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. I thought to myself. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. She had 22 M . I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real.
Every time I am taken out of my cell. That day. reflect. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. feel.). only thinking about those fucking stickers. That’s all we do in these cells: think. TYC. and wonder. Seg. I grew up in boys’ homes. Food is brought to me. 23 hours a day. juvie halls. 24 Queens. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. 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. imagine. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. not caring that there was no Santa. You have to have 23 I . Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. their world becomes a mental one. confined to a one-man cell. ponder. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. I remember sitting in the car. dream. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. with life to go. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities.
It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. and everything went to shit from there. There were three. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. I saw his point and I left things as they were. and no one gets hurt. 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. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. I’d done it a dozen times. and I got life in prison. I think now how naïve I was. In the end. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. run. It is something that I truly am sorry for. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. But to 24 . Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. 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. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. watching the clerk close up shop. Trust me. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. The next day. It was a robbery gone bad. staking out the store from across the street. I was alone.
I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. I’m keeping my pieces. Yeah. not benign crap. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today. Look at the car. I’m thinking.S. I’m not moving. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. in which the author served as part of the U.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. Watch the crap. all observant and such. Big holes. I mean. right. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. Watch the crap. Holes everywhere. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. if you’re lucky. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. it’s not going anywhere. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. No way. It’s a mess. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. I think about that shit. Crap is strewn everywhere. I’m looking at this car. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. o.
stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. RPG rounds. grenades. well.. or tunnel vision. I’m angry. this “Desert Storm. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. with holes in them all.” or whatever you call it. with maybe a little inscription saying.P.I. Henceforth see potential to be blown up.I. hold privates.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. Whoever’s firing those damn things. right on the crap. Now. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. Good night. from messing my mind up further. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I’m sick of this crap. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.A. I curse myself for being so stupid. I’ve been three steps ahead all along.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. but I don’t care. I’m holding my privates. How many days have I been awake? Damn. and mines scatter everywhere. I’ve been so careful all of these months. I didn’t even see this stuff. I figured I’d hang on to something. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. hundreds of them. cars now. 26 . K.—R. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.
again. 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. The glazed eyes give it away. The pictures don’t lie. No stench. but like some sick voyeur. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. I know I’m not dead. right? The ones I see are fresh. I do. Is 27 . Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. too. I don’t like the burned ones. I don’t want to look. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. His ID card falls out. I don’t want to end up like him. maybe. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. Damn. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. vehicles are everywhere. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. It was fun for a minute. It’s hard to tell. unless they shortened the fuses. They look like statues. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. 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. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me.
No. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. the Americans. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. from that war. we will celebrate. McKenna Columbus. “Yes. We’ll have that in common. hoping his son will return from down South. They’ll never know what happened to him. Probably not.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. his son—maybe even himself. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. pictures don’t lie. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. handcuffed. and shackled. I want no part of it. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. Mark D. If that’s heroism. that damn war. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. One by one waist-chained. The hero died with a scream on his lips. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. we stepped 28 I . They’ll never know me.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places.
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. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. mountains. indeed. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. In retrospect. The restless. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. 29 . the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life.
100+ Looking around me. Hector Gallegos Otisville. a vacuum of uncertainty. but no one dared speak of them. and. While I was in there. sealed off from everything and everyone. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. I found that I was not alone in this realization. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. the lunacy of a previous occupant. This is 30 M . It’s a world of its own where. in some cases. boredom. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. for most.
My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. Will Ferrara. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. We used to have a very healthy relationship. but I had no luck. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. 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. 24 Lawrence. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. 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. She has a son now.. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. MA 31 . She injected me with what I believe were female hormones..
stole an airplane. After 15 years there. 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. 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 always felt lonely. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. where I am today. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . 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. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I escaped. I grew up spoiled rotten. Three years later. and began robbing banks. flew to Florida. but that made me feel worse.
Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. It’s going to be hard to get better. I started therapy. When I started middle school. This year. and was put on progressively stronger medication. Cars speed by. so I always tried to help them. and then my house caught on fire. I had friends and a boyfriend. or mine.T R U E S T O R I ES me. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. Momo. Now. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. It wasn’t her fault. and I am doing a lot more for myself. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. 33 I . CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. but only for a little while. but I was already highly unstable by then. 16 Richmond. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. but there was something missing. This made me feel good. Lights come on.
. nowhere to sleep. God has been looking out for me. It’s cold. many homeless people end up in jail. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. no one to call. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . under the three strikes law. You think to yourself. for one reason or another. your feet hurt. I have been fortunate. I have met a variety of people in prison. G. I am still alive.T.. This is why. you’re hungry. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide.100+ homeward bound. You have nowhere to go. 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. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. nothing to eat. 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.
My husband. They say most 35 . but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. During the car ride home. his brother. So Joe walks free. Without warning. In their eyes. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. Nonetheless. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. My husband and Joe came to blows again. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. I brought it upon myself. We all had a few too many. I thought it was my husband. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. My husband and I filed a police report right away. 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 must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. and the rest of the family awoke.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. I must have asked to be raped. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. my case was thrown out of court. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. I immediately told my husband and we left. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat.
she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. while the victims get a life sentence. and I made it without becoming one of them. but I am always in a good mood. Zephyr Chicago. No one was hurt or kidnapped. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . or crooked politician. Men ask me.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. you almost have to be a bank robber. We had six kids—with so many kids. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I love to write books and short stories. I keep getting turned down for parole. I just took the money and ran. trying to survive among savage men. I’ve been a model inmate. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. When I got locked up. “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 believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. and for the past 10 years. drug dealer. for all the good it’s doing me. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun.
63 Burkeville. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. compassion. but I put the truth out there for all to read. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. When I’m writing. but all’s well in the end. That summer. I turned fourteen. not die.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. George Hughes. they are good people with good hearts. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. At fourteen. anger. Writing is like having an affair. tears. I love writing. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. 1982. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. Mom got a new apartment. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. And it all transpired in 37 O . laughter. and my innermost thoughts and desires. I share love. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. flavors that today I’d die for—well. sadness. the car. like taste good food. my parents became legally separated. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. and us three kids.
“Mom. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . I took off like a bat out of hell. and inexplicably. looking down at my new wet shoes.100+ less than an hour. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. picked out a pair. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. I went over to the shoe department. I burst through the front door. In 1982. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. By fifteen. not enough to panic. My friends would have surely made fun of me. So I decided to steal. but here it was. sister. sprinting as fast as possible. On the very last day of summer. and me. Once outside. Once inside. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. Like an NFL running back. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. at fourteen. I wasn’t too concerned. Then I put on all three new shirts. I was in State Prison. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. And by the age of eighteen. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. and put them on. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts.
I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I asked why I was being arrested. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. When I was finished with him. Six days later. Obviously shocked. 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. OH 39 I . I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. To my complete surprise. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. 18 Mowrystown. they said.
but the fact is I did. and when one falls. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. how he cared for her. the others are there to pick him up. in the same room. Before. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. and mean words. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. At nineteen.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. I felt that what I did was wrong. During my trial. In the depths of my heart and soul. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. mind. with a common goal. my mom and dad came to visit me. It was good to see them together. hitting and abusing her. The judge gave me life without parole. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. From then on. fights. ignorance. I killed someone. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. 40 N . though he never loved her. My mom’s eyes held a million words. I was ready to be judged and convicted. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. and lack of feelings. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. I deserved to do some time and make amends. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. and soul.
I need to budget. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I have no friends in this new city.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. but I see only the negative things. but they all have lives. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Spoon Jackson. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. but now everything seems tight. I was naïve. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. but my will to survive took over. I’m getting older. I came from the desert. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. 50 Represa. but I take no initiative to start the process. Money never used to be an issue. Besides. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. fleeting hope. smiles. and violent unrest. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells.
I’ve still been able to grow as a person. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. inconspicuous notebook. 42 I . Now that I can look back at my thoughts. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’m not stuck in one place. my pen is capturing everything. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. I even see things in a more positive light now. the only escape that I found was with a knife.100+ before I go to bed. I see that in spite of my depression. go into a small. brought up in me. a dead father. Ontario. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. mixed with big dreams of happiness. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. Idris Samuel. All of those negative ideas. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. 27 Toronto. For someone like me. but moving slowly in the right direction. In the few months that I’ve been writing.
continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . But then. light-headedness. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. While incarcerated. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. While in prison. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. It had become a habit. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. it merely put them on hold. As I look back on the role that the drug played.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. a need for the chemicals in the formula. While on probation in 1995. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. new problems arose. never directly addressed. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent.
the present is much. Now the reality I face is my own life. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. much clearer. And the present is where I have to live. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Anonymous. 13 44 I .E. and once it does. you will be twice as strong. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. it’s too short and too precious. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. I am a different person. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. I’ve always had low self-esteem. J. but my reaction to them is not the same. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. Never waste life. but I never thought it would result in depression. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain.100+ stable. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. Think about who really loves you. Wantz Salem.
Now I try. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. I ended up in prison for life. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. I began to start to feel differently about myself. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. 1958 in Elgin. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. cultural arts centers. community centers. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. 51 Corcoran. I have turned my attention back to God. writing helped. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Illinois. Thomas Michael Fox. alcohol. After getting sober in 2001. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. 45 G . The son of a research chemist. and pornography.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.
vatos locos. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. Mexican revolutionaries. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. 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. my name was called. prison scenes. my school sponsored an art contest. On the day the winner was to be announced.100+ youth programs. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. migrant workers. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. at the age of 17. This history. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. The second and third place runners-up were announced. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. When I was in second grade. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. and indigenous themes. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. 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. Then.and 12-year-olds. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight.
And yet. manufacturing the rope. Octavio with Orozco. and obtaining the other articles took time. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. I consider myself first a poet. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. José Boner Boscobel. camouflage the cut marks. Today. and crazy juxtapositions. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. a new tradition: poetical muralism. a freehand artist second. Siquierod with Cisneros. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. Securing the tools. I had to get in the same cage. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. I fuse images using words. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. cash. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. there was no turning back. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. a hacksaw blade. The guard was two feet in front of me. metaphors. watching every move during a strip search.
I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. I was going. 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. I was through and bent back the bars. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. or nerves. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. doubt. every muscle was taut. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. and I was sweating a puddle. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. There was no time for hesitation. my arms were screaming. but they could see every move I made. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I was balls-to-the-wall. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. The cage was shaking and rattling. I could see everything. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. I slung the rope over my shoulder. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on.100+ primitive. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. but the meshing distorted clear vision. already packed with the gear. In a few minutes. It was going according to plan 48 . full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. D-day. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring.
Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. cages. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. I should have made gloves. Babb Corcoran. CA 49 . I attempted to crawl away. The rope burned through my fingers. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. I know from consequential. I’d escaped. it was too late for solutions. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. Yet. guards. through what I’ve gained and learned since. But that feeling of open air on my skin. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. free from fear. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. It was too thin. needed more knots… whatever the problem. outside the confines of the jail.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I was lying on the rooftop. D. from regret and anxiety. I know I’ve never been freer. but couldn’t move. from doubt. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. but now I would to fall to my death. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal.
but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. he just kept hitting rock bottom.U. not losing his license. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. not getting pancreatitis. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. 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. which never came. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind.s. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. no matter what. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated.I. Alcohol would always come first. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. and by the time I did. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. I thought I loved him.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. There was no wake-up call.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. One time. but the key was jammed. He attempted to shut off the ignition. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. it was too late. nothing. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us.
23 Hollywood. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. Crimes were what thieves. victimless cash. that was for sure. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Unfortunately. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. and sexual predators committed. drugs were simply a hustle. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. To me. thugs. I had seen and done a lot. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . who in the present. I had lived an interesting life. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. In my 33 years. Adela Tedesco. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. a man with a past. not a crime. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. simply liked the quick.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. free dope.
I’m surely not the devil. at the university. this time. it protects the innocent. and with whoever. It helps those unable to defend themselves. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. I’m arguing against it one more time. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. Now. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. I understand the necessity for law and order. While I’m no angel. as an activist. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. the entire world of academia. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. for all practical purposes. Yet.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. either. I argued it at every level: in the media. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. not the solution. things are different. Then there are those of us. at stake: my entire life. CA 52 . I participated in the discourse.” There are the pro-drug war. our families. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. at this fateful juncture of my life.
They destroy lives. there are new users every day.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. One of the guards supplied it. I felt it starting at my feet. So many people believe that they are invincible. and nothing good ever comes of them. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. However. riding through space in 53 O . RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. 24 Little Compton. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. even though they know that there are great risks. Lance Corson. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. until it took over my whole being. coming up my legs. my stomach and chest. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. There are always consequences. that nothing will ever happen to them.
gritting their teeth. The floor closed up as I hit it. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. My body was curled. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. My stomach was cramping. dying for a fix. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. I began to shake all over. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. There were monsters with long tails down there. I was freezing all over. My muscles 54 . my back to the wall. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. my heart pounded violently. I was terrified! I found myself falling. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs.100+ the dead of darkness. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I needed a fix. holding on to my elbows. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. Then I nodded off. I walked around with my arms in front of me. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. across my stomach. bad. only inches left to stand on. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. and I could feel the cramps coming. falling. I stood in the corner. falling. 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. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end.
petty reasons. Mom grabbed a frying pan. steal. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. 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. There was no fix at hand. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. George Hughes. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. jumped out. God and I both love you. She opened the back door and said. My mother passed away on October 2nd. 2002. “Get out of my house. Mother. I kicked at her. 66 Burkeville. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies.” Now 55 . got down on the floor and beat me with it. lie. One day.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. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. If I were on the street. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. and sell anything and everything.000 other small. to get a fix. wetting the bed. including their own souls. But I wasn’t. not shoveling the sidewalk right. playing too loudly. not cleaning the dishes right. not scrubbing the floors right. and 10. “No more.
I don’t dislike her.100+ I can never say it to her. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. 67 Amarillo. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. TX 56 . I don’t hate my mom. Melvin William Joseph Vogt.
Sex & Seduction .
45 Montreal. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. it will occur over time. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. Québec. Terri Giosia. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. This is what occurs at 18.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. I 59 M . CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. so after 20 seconds it was all over! You’re never told that a young man of the same age is not going to give you an orgasm. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. an orgasm. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. 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. and fulfillment after the first time.
sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. it won’t be your last. Don’t be scared. If you know your body. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. Momo. At the beginning of high school. who are ready to lose their virginity. we had sex. I will spare 60 I .100+ beg to differ. I did it for me. people would assume we were twins. Do it because you want to. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. that even though it’s your first time. Now. When we were little. 16 Richmond. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. We decided we were ready. not because he wants to. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. I always tell my friends. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. We have known each other since before we can remember.
squealing. I ran into my best friend.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. and we locked ourselves in. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. Later in the evening. I grabbed her. at a “well-supervised” party. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. anyway. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Obviously laughter. he wields 61 I . It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. Almost at the same time. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. AK. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. that is not what is important. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. we said. and crying ensued. interesting story to tell. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom.
He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. NSW. it’s like having a little harem. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. tempt. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. feeding him like a baby. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. and showering and grooming him. or backstabbing us to our bosses. 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. if the woman is appealing enough. 54 Sydney. but girly mags are his main source of info. being sarcastic. He basks in their attention. changing his urine bag. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. turning him over. however. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. However. Christie. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. rubbing his feet and back.100+ considerable power by yelling.
T R U E S T O R I ES confident. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. It is not real. this type of seduction is an illusion. body language. However. Without confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. as upon sobering up. His hand rested on my forearm. That is. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. a look. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. beyond a shadow of a doubt. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. it’s possible to seduce anyone. one cannot seduce. It is stating the obvious. With a glance. Once that is accomplished. a smile. Québec. the golden rule for seduction. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. 45 Montreal. his complete awareness of 63 I . smile.
for they would make me look like a weakling. True to their word. I felt his back tensing against my hands. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. he breathed my name. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. Never had a burden been more welcome. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . but my pretensions made no difference to them. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. In a shadowy whisper. Always the seeker. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. On the brink of a thrust. I pleaded with them not to show up. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. his lips fell on my hips. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. Windoftheclyde. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. My ways were haphazard. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. but my anticipation was no longer tender. 27 Santiago. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair.
Small Miracles .
I should hate the cell.” Out there. and often after a long day. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. It becomes routine. 67 T . I am human. 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. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I know I have to be locked in. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. I do my deepest thinking there. With a twist of a key. Late at night. At times. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. rather familiar. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I’m on guard seven days a week. in the darkness. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. As a person. I even welcome the closing of the door. but once inside my cell. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. amongst the prison population. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I know that no one can get in without the key. I’m locked in.
I don’t hear anyone talking. read a book. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. and loneliness. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination.100+ I pray in the cell. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. these sounds are tranquil. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. while here in prison. The walls seem to hum. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. The cell door is now closed. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. The cell is my castle until I reach home. or write a letter to my family or a friend. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. When the cell door shuts. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. I’m alone. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. I have not experienced silence in years. listen to the radio. despair. To the outside observer. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. but I’m in good company. the cell is a paradox because in reality. yet. It never is truly quiet here.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. a melody of pleasant proportions. To be honest. Ironically. and I write my loved ones there. The cell is a hellhole.
though their faces were human-looking. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. 69 I . bleed. I also laugh. “Let us show you the way. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. we have been there before. In a small. love. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. They looked invincible.m. think. cry. and have the power to choose. in it were four angels. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. 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. showing another dimension. I’m human: I feel. I was lying in the dark. Michael McLean Beacon. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. and I was filled with awe. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal.
but time operates differently there. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. At that instant.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. guarded from dark forces. Auckland. 54 North Shore City. knowing order reigned in the next world. waiting to make a left turn. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. “Oh no. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I thought to myself. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. circular spaceship. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. there really wasn’t any time to react. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along.100+ white. 70 I . which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. Misty. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning.
a brand new box of pills. I chose Mount Sanitos. “Sorry about that. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . It is important to find the right place for an ending. and in the hand-warmer pocket. It was a very surreal experience. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. Hey. 38 Methuen. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. I considered the importance of what I was doing. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. In the breast pocket of my jacket. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. “Wow. Where we die should be no less important. Ever since that day. including me. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. I sat there thinking to myself.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash.
For a moment. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. then a shift. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. thinking it could be the police. but they sensed me there. I cowered. There were shapes of people around. “He’s here. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. It was still night. The guardians were gone.100+ someone else got hurt. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. There was a flash of light. Four pills left. no one was looking for me. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. I must have blacked out. Necessary and common. my hand slipped and I fell. When the east finally began to warm. closing my bank accounts. I panicked. On the far side of my fall. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. Blood was caked on my forehead. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. things were… strange.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. like someone hit the reset on my brain. dropping off my recycling. I finally reached the top.
I was living alone. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Everything after that has been pure profit. it got so bad that I became depressed. I’ve been to zero. and then dragged myself towards it. so I continued making the sandwiches. and it’s doable. Three days later. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. but I had never been depressed before either. Then a second piece of bread fell. I think of myself as having happily died that night. as I did. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I realized it was just a stone. That was my break-even point. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. At one point. hitting me on the left ankle. I was making sandwiches. I also know that I’m never alone. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . When I got up in front of the cabin. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. I had never done that before. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get.T R U E S T O R I ES was. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me.
Three months later. Our little (well 74 I . Needless to say. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. but there was only one piece on the floor. I was very puzzled. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. we got pregnant again. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. He is still there. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Then we had ourselves a little miracle.” 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. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. “I am the bread of life.100+ of bread. the day before Valentine’s Day. When I returned to the kitchen. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. whether we see Him or not. Jesus is always with us. so we should not be depressed.” Two years ago.
I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. WV A Taste of Honey honey. And he is our own personal little miracle. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. but left the bees plenty for the winter. I did not waste it on the bland mush. But this event puts it into a whole different light. Kelly. Don’t get me wrong. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. It was a good partnership. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. 30 Martinsburg. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. we will always think about the baby that we lost. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday.
My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. I had been free. I thanked God for a taste of honey. UT 76 . I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. James Burns Gunnison. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. the mountain laurel. For a moment there. 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. I thought.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I had smelled the spruce. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. and also. but it seemed to last an eternity. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. The other half I saved for later. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. But man cannot live on honey alone. and the wildflowers.
S. a pack of cigarettes. After years of alcohol abuse. he got shot in the left side of his chest. Army during the Vietnam War. her actions were terrible and painful. Ironically. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. 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. He may have survived the Vietnam War. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. but it ultimately killed him. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. There was a spark in her eyes. Despite this miracle. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. I 77 I . This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. During a skirmish. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. Gavai Kona. smoking saved his life. He had a lighter. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes.
Miriam McKenzie.” He also told me that when I finished eating. I heard him whisper. and hung up my dress. and said. While he was hugging me. One day. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. but she ignored me. Bardo came out. “You’re not the only one. I turned to go to my room. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. “Good night. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. With tears in my eyes. I walked to my closet. the dress ended up on my face. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. Bardo. when my brother Bardo and I got home. NY 78 . I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I tightly hugged him back. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. my mother called me. reached for an empty hanger. The next thing I knew.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. “Good night. and I did. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. he looked at me. as I put the dress on the hanger. Miriam. That is when I saw the stain. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. 41 Bedford Hills.” I said through my tears.” he said. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. With powdered soap and water.
and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. an old metal hotel phone with no dial.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. But in Mexico. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. No gym. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. a pipe with running water for a shower. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. a stereo. cook what I wanted. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. Everything from 79 M . I had conjugal visits. An aisle ran the length of each building. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. built wooden bunks. There was no yard to speak of. When money arrived. no track or ball field. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. bought a TV. the “buffaloes” roamed. incoming calls only. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. no weight pile. I could wear my own clothes. We installed a swamp cooler.
and it has. much like my thinking. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. I arrived at the school cafeteria. and dangerous. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. the world would reflect that change. drugs. for anything else.S. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . A man could buy food. but it was an identity that was poisonous. in my head. booze. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. I wanted out. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. if I changed. for the right price.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. lumber. I was allowed to keep my identity. appliances. and even prostitutes. art supplies. I reasoned that. J. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. filthy. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. clothing. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. True. the ontological slap in the face. Amberchele Canon City.C.
With time. I flirted with the idea of getting even. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. It had been an ironic twist of fate. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. As I turned to look. the atmosphere was tense. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. When I did not press charges. encouraging him during the fight. FL 81 . When I saw my assailant in court. it stopped bothering me. After the trial. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. however. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. After that incident. Enrique M. his father embraced me in the hallway. In my mind.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. But when others got involved. I had been stabbed. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. His father attended the hearing. Fernandez Miami. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. That made all the difference in the world. my assailant approached me and apologized. I yelled for help. my membership in the gang became obsolete. the judge dismissed the case. As we spoke. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. a free-for-all ensued. I stood by my friend.
Matters of the Heart .
This is it! This is my first true love. He is strong. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. my first true love. He is honest. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. the good and bad. I could not 85 T .T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. I will accept all of him. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. One would think that because I have experienced life. I have known my first love for more than a year. I am 41 years old. was I wrong! I admire my first love. I never get tired of listening to him. I want to know everything he knows. and I am in love. 41 Dallas. He’s my first Jan Richards. no matter what answers you receive. Boy. He is smart. I would have been in love before. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce.
TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. I was browsing . she kissed me for the first time. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Suzy. 59 Dayton. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. Mansour.100+ eat. I feel so alone. it’s been like heaven. I will never forget her. We both respect and value each other very much. and the connection that we share. and that the connection will endure. 27 Tehran. too. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. Without her. but now I want to leave him. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. I hope we will get married one day. Although we are divorced. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. he came back to me. my first love. I decided to visit her. The morning after I arrived.
and I am so jealous. slender. He was a tall. I would never have gone out with him. everything was great. He played with my head. At first. Shurley. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence.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 . brown-haired young man. I worry all the time. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. There was something fascinating about this “older man. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. and he was in fifth grade. He stripped down my confidence. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. and now all I have are insecurities. If it were up to me. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. Then within six months. His name was Travis. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set.
hotel. wanting him to protect me. or inn in the continental United States.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. She has little education. 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. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. I just remember wanting to be near him. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. 29 Hilo. and gangbangs—it all occurs. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. all in retrospect. 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. 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. My reflections of Travis developed years later. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. threesomes. Kitty Mayo. Often.
regulations. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. housing. religion. It comes like a thief in the night.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. Hours seem like minutes. TX 89 . or risks. The attraction is mutual. send her shopping. finances. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. rules. pay her rent. 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. Love. The conversations flow smoothly. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. take care of her kids. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. The laughs come fast and free. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. Sometimes personalities just click. It’s an amazing thing. The female is as rebellious as the offender. who want to keep her hair and nails done. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. She needs no coercion or con. Only the restraints of the environment and the consequences keep it subdued like a lid on the pot until want turns to need and a window of opportunity opens for the lid to be lifted. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises.
but I couldn’t stop looking at her. we went out for coffee. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. three floors down. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. the tears pouring down her cheeks. suitcase is a difficult feat. on a tour of Oxford. and mine.” I have no idea what he means. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. We are in her attic bedroom. I wonder when.M. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. Boston College. Two months later. Outside her window. And three months and two weeks later. I told her I loved her. I’m not sure she’s my other half. but I know I don’t want her to leave. 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. and if.. and I told her she was strange. Massachusetts. and yes. the distance between her school. One month later. she told me the same thing. destined for Minneapolis. Skidmore College.100+ Four A. my tears will come. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . She’s packing her last suitcase. Three months later. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way..
comes.m. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. At two a.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening.m.. so I decided to go the subversive route. until four a. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates. I walk her to the bus station. and I have to walk her to a bus station. I had written the poem already. after a bottle of wine.m. Alexander J..m. At four a. write a love poem. At three a. 22 Amherst.. she falls asleep.” she says. still two bottles of wine later. after another bottle of wine. Theoharides. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. “I’ll miss you. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. needless to say. And tears stream down my face. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. and I had a crush on . and place it on the hood of his car.
NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. not despite of their shortcomings. Galilea. needs. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. I was 21 years old. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. 28 Albuquerque. Unfortunately. Scarlet Rose. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. desires. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . 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.100+ I sped away. 24 Lincoln. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. but because of them. NH Love Is for yourself. and well-being. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults.
It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . making our relationship grow stronger. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. 30 Arecibo. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. I imagined something romantic.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It can be between two men and between two women. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. But a girl can dream. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. no? Saturday came. PC. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. As you can imagine. We are the yin and yang for each other. 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 I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant.
maybe he was strange. and I live there now.100+ lifetime. so many mistakes. Michelle. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I love you. I regret so many things. A baby was on the way. and my life. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. and you have always been the one. I chose my hell. Life is not supposed to be this way. 36 Lennon. but he wasn’t in love with me. I regret it. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. so I left everything behind: my career. and I thought I was immortal. Our relationship is 15 years strong. my family.” I told myself. and we are raising a daughter as well. I tried to be perfect. but he was mine. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and I tried to fight for my dreams. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. and so many tears. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. Mare. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. “I did it for love. the woman that he had been dreaming of. Maybe he was too old for me.
and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. We now have a beautiful baby girl. but we’ll be living separate lives. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. My ex and I are currently in high school. though. Yeyo. and it lasted about a year and a half. 27 Athens. we fell in love. but I can’t control it. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. We are going to graduate soon. Kikis_fairytale. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. I don’t know. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. but we’re not together anymore. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. If I were to start my life all over again.T R U E S T O R I ES life. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but as for love. 95 I . It’s a bad habit. 18 Olmito. Lately.
but it just happens. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. and I have no control over my actions. He was a southern gentleman with manners. I gasp for air. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. but as much as I try to stop. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I imagine the two of us together all the time. We started talking and before long we just clicked. Although I didn’t know it at the time. talent. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. Every time I see him. it keeps growing. yet doesn’t make me want to die. 96 M . but things had been slowly going downhill. We spent my final day together. I don’t want to. It is a scary feeling. I thought to myself. “I may have a guy at home. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. In the summer of 2009. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. and a smile that could melt a heart. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. looks. 18 Brooklyn. Aila Balic. I shake.
tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. 26 Acapulco. In life. There weren’t any wedding planners. and no hassle: just us. Thanks. family and friends can witness our marital union. I went to say my goodbyes. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. but now it was time to make a big decision. too? Hayley. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. for showing me the truth about love. and it took all I had not to cry. no guests. Guerrero. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We wanted . I explored my options on the ride home. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Ethan. Why not have our cake and eat it. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. I couldn’t believe it was over.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning.
We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. Clearly magic was happening between us. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. This story has the makings for a great ending. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. at age fifty-two. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. On March 27th. She was . On May 15. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. was a devoted wife. I will go home one day. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. 2006. For Louise. 1997. and made me happy in so many ways. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. Some letters were erotic. but life is not fair. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. as well as me. I had not felt that way in years. I guess. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did.
we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. George Hughes. beautiful flower arrangements.000 on our wedding. Farewell. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. We had a nice ceremony. Please save 99 M . She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. VA A Joining of Two.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. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. I will miss you. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. in August. 63 Burkeville. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. However. If we had to do it again. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. but for our family members. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. DON’T. And in the end. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. but we had our wedding 7 months later. Louise.
When the time came to walk down the aisle. forest green dress. On the day of the wedding. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. the wedding doesn’t matter. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. 29 Lowell. “NO!” I yelled at him. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. my voice echoing through the church.100+ your money because in the end. clad in a miniature tuxedo. too?” he asked. Even at 3. 100 A . Priscilla. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. In the fall of 1987. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. the rings were handed over. “Are you two getting married. When we finally reached the priest.
nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. and I started to ignore 101 I . All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. until amorous love became filial affection. not right away. On the long list of things I hate. camera flashes.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. I was blinded by lights. three of them will always be: priests. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. and forest green. The emails became short and purposeful. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin.” When the doors opened. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. and I had no idea where to go. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. Finally. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. I had gotten used to him and he to me. Adelle Brown. 23 Somerville. not right before my eyes. my cousin. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. but before I knew it. all I remember being told was. slowly and gradually. at some point.
and started avoiding him. torturous waste of time. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. He was no longer my top priority. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. nor is he. I am not that unhappy. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. and let him do the same. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. I remember why I fell in love with him. I am content to just exist. For now. This mundane. I am not that person anymore. or lack thereof. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. I keep trying to push him away. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. January Paris. but that memory is now alien to me. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. 102 I . I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. for him.
VT 103 .T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. my parents did not divorce. I thought that if they divorced. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. Alas. Donna J. I would have done so. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. Johnsbury. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. and I’m glad they are. They are still together. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. and if I were allowed to live with my father. St. which never came. it would have been more difficult.
Despite Diagnosis .
not because of knives but for their germs.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . clean. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. you must wade carefully through the sewage. not let it get inside you. Wait till the “others” get out.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. sometimes it’s neck-deep. you can cast off your filthy clothes. In prison. and filth swimming and floating along with you. and when you get to the other side. Take showers in shifts. bide your time. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. and sometimes it’s over your head. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. cartwheeling. go in with your homeboys. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. leaving you there to bleed out. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. and dry yourself. vermin. Prison is a sewer. skidding. to survive it. then slips away unseen. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. You are immersed in it. wash. alone. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. Some don’t.
Charles P. become a part of it. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. I started having eye trouble. And they die. Norman. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . and that I had been in a coma for about a week. The problem was not eradicated. a cracked skull. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. meningitis. wondering if I will ever go home. When I awoke. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. 59 Daytona Beach. so I went to an optometrist. take it all in. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. I was told I had a brain tumor. As for me. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. As the years passed. I regained some of my physical strength. Months later. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. 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. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. they inhale deeply.100+ of the prison sewer.
traveling all the way down to my elbows. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. Pete. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. so in spite of having protected sex. 21 Devonport. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. just to be sure. After 4 or so weeks.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. My cerebral fluid was not draining. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. 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 have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. Tasmania. Fueled by the media. and all came out negative. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind.
For instance. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. Throughout my childhood. I was constantly in the hospital. 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 . drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. so she took me to the doctor. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. Every time a nurse would come in the room. but even that wasn’t enough. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. The day I turned five. We all had sad faces. Jolene.100+ as well. One time. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. so he donated his blood. 28 Portland. so my body was dying. My father was the only one with the same blood type.
There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. Maybe it’s not really me. and they both cried tears of joy. “Well. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. Today I am 19. I am back at Estrella Jail. the judge can expedite all he wants. I’m 15 pounds thinner. This never happened outside. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. and 100% cured.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. hoping to get rid of me to save money. the check-in nurse says. At Perryville. Maybe it’s a nightmare. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. Five days later. nearly bald. in college. and very pale. fightingsurvivor19. There is no kindness. Three months later. 19 Pembroke Pines.” When my chemo starts. the jail has delayed it. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. I vomit constantly.
In here. I am sent back to my room alone. Despite the rigid schedule. No more nausea. when I’m supposed to be healing. I start the laborious grievance process. He recommends a tumor 112 . burning instead. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. But this protocol is not followed. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I vomit until there is nothing left. I have three more chemo sessions. Eventually.100+ that my nausea be minimal. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. begging for what I’m missing. An hour later. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. the doctor comes in. and then annually. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. and nine months later. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. there is complete indifference. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. I know I’m an inmate. When my treatment is over. My life is literally in their hands. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. then every six months for two years. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. He answers my questions.
many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. Their stories touch me on so many levels. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. no positive imagery can change my situation.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. AZ 113 . uncaring power. Six months later. I can deal with that. That is why I am afraid. incompetent. This is about the State. and I am helpless against its inadequate. mismanaged. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. always look for a reason to be glad. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. it still hasn’t happened. As a result. 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. That’s really hard in here. 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.
my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Later. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. Two months after I started chemotherapy.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. she was looking ahead. CA A 114 . Dinorah Torres. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. making plans for the future. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. he began to distance himself. 33 Santa Barbara. and I felt helpless all the time. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Despite all this. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. A year into my treatment. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. but when he found out that treatment could last years. without even knowing it.
or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. Hayden. She was longdivorced. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. The following year. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. for a smoker’s lungs. How sad. for an addict’s. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. 18 Tacoma.” 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. One year she was cancer-free. It just 115 I . shape. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. never had any kids. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. and had lived alone for decades.
G. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. on the part of Texas officials.A. Cornwall. and now he could lose his own life because of them. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. Penzance. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I .100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. He lost his wife to cigarettes. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. Whatever the percentage. F. not even decades after giving up smoking.
Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. be as humane as possible. and typecrime. and house them accordingly. You can see how dangerous it is. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 7. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 8. sentence length. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. 4. A few suggestions: 1. 5. 3. 9. 2. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. Classify prisoners by age. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. whether here or abroad. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Separate gang members from non-gang members. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. 6.
This could be a start. Harris. TX 118 . 48 Huntsville. Daniel H.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes.
The Transience of Permanence .
In plain talk. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. TX I 121 . or SSI. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. He understands that my time with him is short.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. 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. plans. Some days. He desperately seeks some understanding. which has its effects on me as well as on him. For “free-world” folks. maybe an estate. Each morning when I arrive at work. a last will and testament. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. death out there now looks relatively easy. If I give him that. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. I feel the dread on my flesh. especially on death row. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. I’m a state-approved janitor. Christopher Best Livingston. even inside me. discussions. then the whole world has done the same. some acceptance. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. From what I’ve seen in here. All is forgiven. death is merely a passage or rite. I swear.
T. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. People in the day room are getting suspicious. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Suspicious. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did.” or “moving on to the next phase. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. Light-headed. It isn’t working. It’s called “checking out. Shit. Shit.” “taking it to the vent. Fuck God. 122 T . Very suspicious. and it can be done right now. I am feeling very ugly inside. I choose not to spend another day in this place. yet relieved that I took action. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. G. today.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. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. Fuck them. I’ll try again later.” And I’m not talking about parole.
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. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. not in the clinical sense. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . The vast majority were done in by their own hand. Mike Rothwell Ione. After that. but a symbolic one. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit.
The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. He has. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. killed that greater part of himself. Hector Gallegos Otisville. he may as well be dead. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. diamonds. in essence. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. but life—even at 103—seems too short. the father he cannot be. In the world beyond prison walls. year after year.With his incarceration. the lover he wishes to be. and the person he never grew to become. pearls. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. The day her body is brought to the graveyard.100+ love of his family. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. sterling silver. my big fat Italian grandmomma. matriarch of the family. the son he failed to be. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. gold. In this sense. 124 N . He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind.
T R U E S T O R I ES watches. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. she never wore it. Who would believe that a swastika. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. Mary Higgins Reading. The following day. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. pre-WWII. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. necklaces. The first thing one notices is the quiet. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. except for a fundamental difference. as if no one else is 125 D . blankets. 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. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. 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. albums. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. and handcrafted dolls. dating from the roaring twenties. key chains.
He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. survivors of the victim’s family. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. 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. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. An ache settles in his belly. there are only four or five people. It is like God’s “time-out” room. At other times. media representatives. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. the officials are stoic and judgmental. such as his first pet. he realizes that all hope is gone. Hathorn Livingston. making it ominously quieter. Gene W.100+ there. In remembering. the fights he had in grade school. but the mind rebels. 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.
an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. no one. and his head was shaved clean. Since he always complained. if at all. really took it seriously. Once muscular. he was barely over five feet tall. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. including Freddy. his body was covered in tattoos.” I forget why. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. 127 E . a combination drug therapy.” Freddy complained to me one day. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. In October 2004. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. he had become thin as a rail. and his memory showed signs of failure. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. and they all tell you something different. Time was of the essence. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver.” and “lost” test results. Sleep came with great difficulty. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. He was a genuine character.” “partial. I saw no real reason for worry. trying to get someone to do something. Over a period of a year.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. after a slew of “unreadable. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. but no treatment was administered. and now he’s dead. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. They tried giving him formula. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. but he threw it up. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville.” he told me. “By the time they did something.100+ Months passed. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. They killed me. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. Freddy was my friend. it was too late. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect.” There was no anger in his voice. only resignation. We named him William Kenrick. He vomited blood one morning. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. and he was afraid. they probably could have saved me. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. looking through the glass at our little one. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. 2005. By October. “If they got at me 18 months ago.
At 1:30 a. just let go. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. milky scent is still there. At 3 days old. he went. “Baby. Then I start crying again and eventually. Despite the pain. which was declared a success. But I swear. The next day. 32 Las Piñas City. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. his heart rate slowed. Someday. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. I turn numb. But I knew something wasn’t right. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. And for that.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. I love him more and more each day. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy.” And as soon as everybody was there. as soon as I held him. fight for it. He will always be my first baby. only he was already lifeless. a smile formed on his lips. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. my first son. the smell… His sweet. my first child. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. NCR.m. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time.. only to realize that he’ll never come back. he had to undergo an operation. And I knew though he was gone. PHILIPPINES 129 . Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. And oh. when I visited him. Jenelleish. if you can still make it. But if not. and whispered. I still think of him.
Facing the cell door. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. and listening to music. roller-skating. Dad une 15. I dreamed about him every single night. But I didn’t cry. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. from denial to 130 I . I was close to my father. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker.. in a better mood than usual. I didn’t shed one tear. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. yet his passing was significant to me. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. fishing. he died suddenly and tragically. he was really fantastic. I miss him deeply. enjoying the early morning light. But after 5 years of marriage. But as a father. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. My dad liked to sing and dance. Malachi Ephraim Florence. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. After my dad’s death. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me.100+ I Miss You. I went through many phases.m.
who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. I realized that what happened was out of my control. a Christmas card. After a long period of time. I am now 45. However. had no meaning.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. As a last minute thought. Life lost its luster. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. 45 Montreal. I drank to escape and forget. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. Terri Giosia. happily single. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. Québec. the final and hardest phase arrived. How sad that now sounds. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I sent my aunt. hate to indifference. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. her youngest 131 I . with great parents and friends.
He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. For two years. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. The doctor gave her three months to live.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. she called every person she knew and read that poem. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my poem may mean nothing. he said. 51 Rosharon. my mom had been taken to the hospital. Dennis Forrest. especially when you are only seven years old. The night before. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. But after all the miserable hospital visits. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . Not only did she call him. Soon after. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. To the academic world. “They took your mom away in an ambulance.
but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. This experience has made me stronger. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. “Daddy. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . and even worked from home so he could be there. too weak to walk to her bedroom. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. My life was changed forever. It went on and on. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. the house. He took care of my mom. and us.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. I learned about the will to live and the value of life from my mom who wanted to hold on long enough for us to remember her. My father continued hacking. My dad softly called me over. but to help them through things the best you can. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. 16 Rexburg. where it was warm. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. Aubrie.
with complications from lupus. but he died before I got the chance. and he was gone. real sick.” 134 . and he loved you. I had unfinished business with my father. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. Even when he was here last time. A prisoner friend. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. not speaking. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. I could see that you loved your father. collect. Don’t ever smoke them. the reason I’m saying this. closed his eyes. who knew my family well. but the last time inexorably approached. We feared lung cancer. son. like you did. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I said things I’ve always regretted. from a prison payphone in the dark. I admire what you did. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. I knew he wanted to say something. healing wounds. but emphysema got him first. as did my mother.100+ asked. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. I could tell. I wanted to make it up to him. There were hard feelings between us. waiting him out: “Charlie. You see. when I first met your family several years ago. exhaled. and that was a good thing.” He was just twenty-four at the time. He said things. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. Over the past few years. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. I begged him to quit for years. so I stood there. too. You settled your differences. He looked at my brothers. so I recognized it in both of you.
“Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. While there. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. I decided to slash my wrist. FL Slash nstead of going to court. Charles P. It was the least I could do. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. 135 I .T R U E S T O R I ES Then. leaned his head on my shoulder. His tears soaked into my suit coat. My cellie threw up. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. 59 Daytona Beach. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. Norman. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy.
” “What are you facing?” I asked him. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in.T. “Six months. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. Evidently. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences.” G. I don’t anymore.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. His eyes were half open.100+ “Well. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.
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. It was so still. He had everyone’s complete attention. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. Then. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. With a bit of a dramatic flair. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. hung it back up on the wall. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. For the first time since I was there. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. CA 137 . But not at this moment. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. there was only solemn silence. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. he turned towards the convicts in their cells.T R U E S T O R I ES was. perhaps. Even the crazy guys had shut up. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. stood there for several seconds. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I only saw what I wanted to see. popular on campus. that it was a setup. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. Because she was white. I say. sentenced to six years in prison. she was white.” I step towards her. angrily. and it was my word against hers. barging into her apartment. I’m telling myself that she wants me. forcing myself in. she’s home alone. It opens. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. I was black. I’ve had fun. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride.” I say. racism at its best. a member of a fraternity. and a ladies’ man. but I haven’t picked up a girl. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. “I came to see my girl.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. we can have sex. When it’s time to leave the club. and I’m in college. it’s a habit of ours. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. 1982. “Your girl is not here. 141 I . if no one else is here. For twenty years. in front of a white jury.” As I say this. but it’s not my girlfriend. I was convicted. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. my fraternity brothers. not only to have fun. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. I knock on the door. it’s her roommate. a football player. I want some sex. I’m thinking. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. I want to be with a girl. but also to pick up girls. the white system.
but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. faithfully. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. The fantasy of grandchildren. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. especially with men. So I tried.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. I had known that I was a disappointment. for them. forced attractions to women. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. if I were to have a place in this world. pure houseboat. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. a wife.100+ Today. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. For sixteen years.
At seventeen. I wrote a script. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. that my parents felt the same. So I confessed my truths. my sadness never faltered. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. I am finally happy. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. boring corduroy-wearers. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. all too well in fact. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . 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. Daryl F. And I knew. When I arrived. One day.. with whom I constantly fought and argued. 19 Hooksett. only for who I pretended to be. having been to one or two of their small gatherings.
I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. line. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. and sinker. I was literally paralyzed. it was swallowed hook. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. 30 Maidstone. especially for clothes.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. His self-confidence saved the day.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. The audience was riveted by his magnetic personality and his cultured accent even when he said the Sun makes a revolution around the Earth every 25. being a noble and resourceful man. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. Kent. We didn’t date. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. one male and one female. but I always suspected that he was gay. Nicholas. Philippa. carried on like a trooper. This brought about a case of stage fright. He dated one girl 144 I . He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. Knowing very little about astrology.
Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. I didn’t really think anything of it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. As for my female friend. but I never really suspected she was gay. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. My friends just did . Waterville. 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. When he told me he was gay. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from 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. Jayne L. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. However. she was always a tomboy.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. especially since I had always suspected it. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual.
the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. I fear losing my partner. Right now. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. but I am a woman and therefore.” I did.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. If I were a man. too. 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 we had to go back to court. who is from Peru. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. We feel the judge was very homophobic. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. After three years worth of evidence gathering. knowing that if she 146 . We are not giving it to her. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. As if things couldn’t get any worse. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years.100+ me. They even sent me to a shrink. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. not me. “Never mind.” Within 10 days. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. gays and lesbians are persecuted. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system.
no different than any other heterosexual couple. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. the most effective teacher. We lost everything. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. 35 Tampa. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. TX 147 I . These days. If anything. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. the Ultimate Truth. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. has taught me compassion. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. Aileen Diaz. 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. but we did not lose ourselves.
I probably would have been better off not knowing. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. and I would never throw it in his face. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. I still love and respect him. On the one hand. But on the other hand. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. You have to always be 148 C . 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. I feel like an idiot. 30 Detroit. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. better not to tempt fate. Now. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again.
I lived in Shreveport. No matter how upbeat you may feel. 149 A . CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5.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. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm.” then there’s not much they can do about it. so you better learn to keep it at bay. They help. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. Mike Rothwell Ione. Louisiana. 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. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. But if someone’s determined to “check out. It’s always going to be there. After church. One way is to keep doing those pushups. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. I was allowed to play with a friend.
She barged into the room screaming. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. Yurshta. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. molestation. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. her face contorted in rage. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. 47 Old Fort. I have been an atheist ever since.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. at my tender age. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. Christian Missionary Alliance. “You think this hurts motherf’er. My friend’s mother yelled. He screamed in agony. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. especially my mother. NC 150 . and abuse. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. lit the gas stove. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. was too much to handle. another ultrafundamentalist sect.
I did not get angry with him. Any kind of abuse. NETHERLANDS Harsh. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. I have never been physically beaten. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. whether physical or emotional. Gaby Hermann. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. I swear. demeaning. should not be tolerated. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. I had nine miscarriages. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. 26 Essen.
36 New Delhi. INDIA 152 . What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Delhi.100+ with me. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. Sonia. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. Then one day. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.
Eerie Encounters .
my 155 I . I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. In my nightmare. Why would we want to be? Clarette. slight. We cannot be alone. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special.m. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I can see the people. just a quarter of a mile farther. I don’t need to see to believe. 28 Salem. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. They are looking beyond me. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. but I’m getting tired. I keep swimming.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. although I’ve never seen one. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. I listen for a moment to a strange. Aquatic Park. swishing sound. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. even Ghirardelli’s.
Foster. I awake. Will Ferrara. And then. When I was 18. I hear something in the distance calling me. to the deep water. beginning to feel numb. I am silently alone. 45 Delano. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. Am I going crazy? Frank E. summoning me. The walls murmur. And about a week after that. The waves crash. About 5 years later. MA 156 T . I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. 24 Lawrence. I’m only treading water. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay.100+ arms are getting heavy. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. out beyond the breakers. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter.
potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. while still aboard. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. 56 Alfonsine. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. ITALY 157 I . I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. my mouth stopped bleeding. While alive. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. On our way to the hospital. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. and we had no choice but to drink it. I felt sick and went to sleep. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. Not long after. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. showing us that we were right. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. at my uncle’s funeral. a strange heat enveloped my body. Ravenna. Almost twenty days later. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. Shocked. I dreamt that I was in Italy. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. too. One night. I immediately called home. In the dreams. In the following days. From that moment on. In October.
. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. It was my dad! At that moment. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. It was pitch black. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . its feet dragging along the ground. but late for work! Paddy J. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I stood up and looked at its face. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. as whatever I was looking at was far away. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I was squinting. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I remember shaking like a leaf. 19 Monaghan. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. It was then that I woke up. staring straight ahead. I landed at the feet of the creature. but they continued moving and stretched me out.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street.
I saw what seemed to be an apparition. it had disappeared. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. echoes from long ago. “That place is haunted. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. Fernandez Miami.” someone who knew the area told me. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. I was in the bathroom. the vision of a tall. That left me speechless. It was at this moment that I saw. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. One evening.” I thought. my mind completely blank. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. thinking about nothing. 159 W . Enrique M. As I placed my canteen in the water. When I returned home.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. thin man. When I turned to look. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. “I’ve been here before. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. Hiking along the trail. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. As nighttime fell.
He walked towards me. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. His face was shrouded in darkness. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. still completely covered by the hood. However. I have not had any such vision since. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . I remembered being there before. Then. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. I have no idea what the vision meant. Devon. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu.100+ He was wearing a long. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. when I entered the King’s Chamber. standing in that same spot. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. hooded. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. and the vision was gone.
AK. I came back to my present “reality. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. Misty. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. 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. Then my former self stood in my body. transferred his intelligence into my brain. and activated it. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. During this moment of déjà vu. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares.” Now. the kind of dream that even in 161 W .” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. and don’t believe time is always linear. 54 Auckland. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. leaving the center in which I stood untouched.
I woke up taking short gulps of air. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. and a little less afraid. D. a little more aware.100+ broad daylight seemed real. facing myself. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. drifting like seaweed. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. a little more settled. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. 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. 59 West Roxbury. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. Lonn. I’m 59 now. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion.B. They knew what was about to happen. I’m willing to see where it takes me. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. 162 I . but I didn’t. In my dream.
I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I survived the accident with no major injuries. Since I was only 4 years old. I learned the term years later. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. “I need to get back. completely powerless to stop it. and then was finally able to label my experience. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. Jayne L. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Waterville. which struck a barrier. and we started to spin really quickly. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. I watched shows on television. as I had in Spain. when I moved 163 G . I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. After that. Later. and quickly drifting away. I started to read a lot of books. The driver lost control of the vehicle. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable.
Smiling kindly. One night. just one year before meeting Gabriele. he said.100+ to Massachusetts. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. 37 Madrid. But for me. There is only going to a different level. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. a few steps from the altar. I got slowly closer. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. but with no success. I knelt down on a pew. A year later. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. facing him. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. at my friend Viola’s insistence. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. it’s one of my many pastimes.
Through telepathy. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. struck by his suffering. I felt all his fear and pain. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. but he had terrible secrets. we became involved. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. Then one night. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. While I stared at him. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. Ravenna. and I tried to help him. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. striking me like a storm. I told him not to joke. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. in January 1991. To be sure. ITALY 165 . But he continued smoking and drinking too much.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. so I left. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. Through telepathy. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. 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. 56 Alfonsine. He vowed to marry me.
Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. On some nights. I developed . NH. He tipped his hat and smiled. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. During the five trips I made out there. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Soon after. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. Then all of a sudden. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston.100+ I See Spirits spirit.
On one occasion. who was also an amateur photographer. about 50 yards down the tracks. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. strobe for 30 seconds. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. then they turned off. Later. but then. she suddenly pointed and yelled. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. and then disappear. On one of my last visits. 70 Waltham. up a tree. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. and into the sky. We saw the usual lights in the sky. fly to some central point. a state psychologist friend of mine. Other times. As I returned to where Betty was parked. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. First. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. MA 167 . and meet. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. accompanied me.
At Home & Abroad .
Lately. and great America. I once had plans to live in London. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. but eventually we divorced. German perfume. as proof of dignity.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. not financial statements. Russian caviar. or Puerto Rican dialect. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. and completely broken by life. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. Colombian. with a 3-year-old son. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. had to show the INS hard-working hands. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. where all were welcome and. but life had a different destination in mind for me. We married and had a daughter.” My father used to talk of Hungary. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world.
54 Leominster. 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. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . we love Bach.100+ Greece. Nidia F. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U.S. We don’t feel less American because of that. on the contrary. it reminds us that this country is great. We all suffer when this happens. the Dolphins. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. 36 Lennon. Mare. Morales.. while others are trying to cheat the system.
We lived in tents.S. my . After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. apart from being unconscionable.S. My father is Mexican. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.C. Many times. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. cars. I had family there. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. harvesting crops. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. it would have been too dangerous. Later in the summer. we stayed in Livingston. so I decided to move to his. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. D. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. illegally because.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. Then during the fall and winter months. 27 Washington. while my 173 Every year from June until September. and migrant camps.
School was a struggle from the beginning. I was embarrassed by my first language. they didn’t work. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” “wet. this was not a quick or easy transition. In high school. and write in English. In fact. Spanish.” or “spic. they had the opposite effect. This is where I went to school. halfway through my junior year. read. I struggled to learn to speak. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. mostly beans and tortillas. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. I realized that I was out of place in school.100+ father worked for a local farmer. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. However. we took our baths in a big washtub. Not only were the white students 174 . clothes passed down to me from my older brother. Because of school. However.” “greaser. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I was held back in kindergarten. 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. our bathroom was an outhouse. In grammar school. Early on.
“Now don’t run away on me. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. 50 Boston. Although I was of Mexican descent. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. I wasn’t white. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. not even two dollars. to the Mexican students. but on the inside I acted like a white person. the usual. you know. and I had lost most of my Spanish. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. To white students. a gringo wearing a tie.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. in theory. I wasn’t Mexican. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. I was born and raised in the U. My private class is in La Rinconada.S. They will pay.. an enclave 175 I . Raul Ybarra. “One hundred soles tonight. I didn’t seem to fit in.” I remind myself.
They’ll pass it off as an American informality. Matt.” “The señora is not here. I eye the tamal on the counter. even your own paycheck. I hear the buzzer and push open the door.” “That’s okay. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. I have classes with her kids. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. They don’t speak to me or to each other. If these families don’t find happiness here. It’s ají amarillo. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. she told me to come inside and wait. as big as a sandwich. you are not Peruvian. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. I am cheered by the recognition. “She’s not here. Remember. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. Two maids. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option.” I say. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” “I know she’s not here. are washing dishes in the sink. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. No way. with chicken bulging from its sides. never mind 176 . I sit at the kitchen table.
I was told to come. and springs out the door to the entrance. and we were all waiting for our first check. Wipe any sign of need from your face. That is the hard part: hiding the need. Chin up. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. Some received their checks. and I came. No way am I going home empty-handed. others were given a song and dance.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. They looked at each other to see who would answer. I hear three honks. Mrs. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. “That’s what we all hope. 40 Amesbury. 177 . Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. The room grew eerily silent. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. An hour later. payday. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. Matt Wirzburger. 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. It was the end of the month.
100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. I wasn’t alone. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. Karen Manhattan. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. and only then. the city awoke and came to life. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. It was then. the whole city was there. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. 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 streets were numbered. I was in the city “on business. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. NY 178 . After the much-anticipated grilling session. As dusk turned to darkness. As I again made my way down the grid streets. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. With briefcase in hand.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. yet spaced widely apart. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. I felt that I had “made it there. It was well worth it.
Welsh. sarcastic. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.” “Pop Idol. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i.A. 4) Beer drinking is an art. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. and stout. Scottish. 12) It’s not the “U.S. 10) The English. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing.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. The 179 .e. dry. it’s “America. bitter. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. they helped a great deal. etc. French.” “The States. real ale. and sophisticated. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. and you must learn the difference between lager. 7) Humour is subtle. Irish. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. we don’t.”.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole.. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable.” or “Yankland”.S. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.” or “U.
it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. Canadian. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up).m.100+ Beatles. FL 180 . Gavin S. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. they’ll take the non-Yank. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. not pounds. Pink Floyd). and body weight is stated in stones. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed).. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 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!). 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. Rolling Stones. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”.m. 23 Jacksonville. If caught being rude. South African. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). or any other English-speaking foreigner. apologise profusely for it.
I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety.” which spans in black swirls over the island. We took off from the claustrophobic. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. Pearl Harbor. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. and Waikiki Beach. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. Although decades have passed. We discovered Diamond Head. Native and unique to Hawaii. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. crimson berries. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. my parents and I arrived at .
I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. Gutierrez. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning.” Despite my pitiful German. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich.100+ large. ovular. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. I remember wanting to return… H. 29 Tultitlán. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. Estado de México. B.
and running in all directions.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I even felt a bit guilty. I knew it was war. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. Gisela. that it was them or us. I imagined civilians screaming. I experienced an unexpected. however unfounded that emotion may be. Standing in St. 21 Lübeck. However. Schleswig-Holstein. we were the enemy. crying. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. destruction everywhere. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. For the first time since the early eighties. but never forgotten. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. Along the road. checked 183 In late October 1998. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. green hills and plains. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. eerie feeling. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. To them. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I packed up my leased .
and visited various museums. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. delightful little restaurants.100+ into small motels. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. I spent days at the Pueblo. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. There is always a scent of sage in the air. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. TN 184 . 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. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing.
The Toughest Job in the World .
which is about 45 minutes away. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. Needless to say. after being able to share this special bond. My due date of June 19th came and went. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. I planned a Caesarean.m. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. For our first child. We were told that I could be induced at this point. my husband and I went to the doctor’s.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. So. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. I knew what to expect. At 3:30 a. so on the 20th. Krista. we did not make it to the hospital.. For child number two. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. he did just that. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. 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 . I was awakened abruptly by contractions.
Friday evenings were always a thrill. It was just the three of us. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. By then. I had no concept of rent. Alley Oop. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. lie down. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. bacon. The Texarkana Gazette. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. grocery bills. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. Not every week. and two more on the way (my brothers. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. prop himself up on his elbows. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. My . Joe Palooka. Daddy would get out. He’d take off the rubber band. take out the Sunday comics. and Tarzan of the Apes. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. He’d slowly read the comics to me. but fairly frequently. car payments. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. spread them open on the wood floor. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and read each one aloud. and my mother would call us for breakfast. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. The car would stop. not working as he was the rest of the week. All was good in the world. Dan and Tom). the smells of biscuits.
I cried. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. Not with . They said he was beautiful. begging him for a ride in the new car. I went to a place filled with noise. but because I thought I had failed. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. Norman. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. Finally. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment.220 grams. 189 The first time I saw my son. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. (On Friday evenings. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. Charles P.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Sebastian. or at least pretend to. tubes. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. 59 Daytona Beach. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. I felt desperate. 1. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. but I never realized it. and lights.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. Times were hard. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. a frown on her face. and his weight.
Relief. At long last. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. I talked to him. I’m too afraid of screwing up. patience. and hope flooded me. besieged by guilt. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. I cried. fear. I began to sob. I was discharged. Each week. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. and confidence. and mourning. I sang to him. After a week. I became determined to care for him. Over time. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. wanting to 190 I .100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. and I prayed. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. 36 North Andover. I ached to still be pregnant. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. leaving my baby behind. He was so fragile and exposed. I gained knowledge. Lisa. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. Outside. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. pride.
or feed the deer.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. driving to our new “hunting spot. Suzanne.m. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. or gangs. 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. Right now. or having trouble with the police. and I was twelve years old. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. drugs. pet. we weren’t there to look at.. Though I was only twelve. and I 191 I . which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. At about 3 a. or getting into drinking. my father and I were in his truck. I don’t have any desire to find out. But tonight.
It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. a second of your life. I snuck up to the fence line. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. with the click of a camera. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. We drank beer on the way home. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. they were already there. . GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. You can take a picture and freeze time. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. I didn’t even have to call the deer. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. checked for traffic. By the time he got there. Steven Small.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. 43 Jessup. I took my spot and waited. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe.
but those moments stay behind. but something was unleashed in me. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. and sadly. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. New moments are constantly being created. I didn’t expect much. I 193 M . Don’t we all wish we could be this free. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. moments are forgotten. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. Part of me wanted to pull her away. Life goes on. I cherish every moment captured. 30 Martinsburg. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. Sitting on a stool at the counter. Kelly. without a care in the world. sipping a chocolate shake. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one.
Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done.” One day. One day. “Your Mama works for tips. I was proud to be her son. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. collectables. John.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. “I did my best. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. Mama was beautiful. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Dorothy. He had promised to take care of us. and well fitting. “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. the afternoon waitress.” she said with tears 194 . Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. my first year in middle school. Some streetwise kids set me straight. and a few coins went into my piggybank. I couldn’t take it anymore.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. he left. Everyday. Someday they’ll put you through college.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. She quit school to marry him.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. I do my best. without any explanation. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. It was in seventh grade. Those are old coins. Her green eyes sparkled. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. “Those aren’t for spending. crisp. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change.
shame for having a waitress for a Mama. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. not love. Respect. I wrote back. Mama was gone. All my love turned into shame. TX 195 . Before she died. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. that’s what it was. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. shame for being poor. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. They let me go home for the funeral.. One day. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. I handed the money back to Dorothy. After it was over. Something with angels on it. Mama wrote every day. shame for having no Daddy. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. I wouldn’t need it. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. But something was missing from my letters. I didn’t go to college after high school.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Mama’s friend at the café. There was just nothing I could respect about her.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about.. a letter came from Dorothy. Oh sure. She’d died of breast cancer. Mama asked if I needed anything. Mama sent cookies.
I pulled out all the papers. “Mom. and wait to be called into another room. a lady came out and said. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. no television. She must have known that I would see it.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. but her face wore the same void expression. no books. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. When outside. Finally. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. and devoured them one by one. a man or woman would call out a number. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. I looked at the gas gauge and said. When I did. she answered. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. “An abortion. I opened the glove compartment.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. “Last case for today. sit back down. but there were no magazines.S. we got into the boiling car. Occasionally. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. put them in my lap. map. “Mom. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . In the front. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. She would fill out some papers. and headed back to my mom’s apartment.
” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. she yelled. Yvette Louisell.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. or the bills. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. When she turned to look at me. It wasn’t the welfare office. everybody in the world. lack of food. you’re just like Auntie Doll. for me. but someone else. when I was ten. No. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. 37 Mitchellville.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. 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. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. sat down beside me and said “Hello. I was sitting outside on the front steps.
she up and kissed me right on the mouth. I got home empty-handed. The next thing I knew. Big John wanted to go down there. Needless to say.100+ girl in the world.” she said. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. what had happened. She 198 . and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. After twenty minutes. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. That little girl was no fool. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. “No. “Down the block. Big John. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. “Green house. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. but Ma said she would handle it herself. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. She said love makes you do crazy things. Then. both became angry. I took Ma’s hand. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. Ma smiled and hugged me. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. got a damp washcloth.
and left. screaming.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. who had been putting away groceries. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Meanwhile. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. George Hughes. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. 66 Burkeville. but we laughed and laughed like never before. warning him not to touch us again. “My God. Then he walked over to the counter. are you all right?” He nodded. “Take it! It’s all there. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. Ma ran to him. we got a smile. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. His wife. we got the jewelry back.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. VA 199 . snatched the bag. stood by the refrigerator.
My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything.” 200 O .” the man screamed at me. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. look what you did. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. I looked over. “Now run on home. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. I hit the ground again. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. but my dad sat her back down. you made him cry. saying. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. one of Michael’s many siblings. My mother had gotten to her feet. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. more surprised than hurt. screaming. “Oh it’s all right. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. you scared the poor boy. and look. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. you little sissy. “Don’t look to your folks for help. he leaned over me. With the fork in one hand.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. saying.
and a warm. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. “Thinking. Hours later. “My little wunderkind. trying not to look at me. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. I think. help Grandma eat this.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. More mad than sad. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. my little lipschkin. “No more with the neighbors. at the dinner table. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. I said. I looked at her then at my father. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. I ran to my room. just thinking. and offered me cookies. Grandma Berg was inside.” I answered. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. dry house to live in. She almost whispered. but sternly. clothes to wear. I can’t be there to save you. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. Later. new shoes every fall. Peck was yelling at me. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. One of these days. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble.” I’ll ever forget what he said. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. 201 .” she said as she dried my tears. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. Very calmly. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk.
but Grandma knows things. and intelligence. Dream the dreams boys dream. 51 Corcoran. He also loved conflict. CA The Sand Dollar by time. Grandma is old woman. Sun coming soon. In the classroom. He got to me like no other student that year. They remain frozen in my subconscious.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. You must be sleeping now. He was full of jokes. no more you thinking. tomorrow is better day. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. As I scanned the newspaper. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. songs. Your father. I received a devastating student update. unchanged . a name leapt at me. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. In casual and cruel black and white print. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. Too much thinking for one so young. Thomas Michael Fox. Quiet now. as the elementary students they were. chores to doing. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking.
Then the ocean placed a perfect. smile broadly. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I smashed my heels in the sand. He could always make people smile. So much wasted. 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 . just a headstone. Now one found me. I stormed down the beach. cursing him. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. but he was the star. But even now. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. Stacey Curran Conway. I always wondered if I got through to him. I hadn’t found one for years. Reading the article through blurred eyes. an 11-year-old in leather. 36 Wakefield. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. no one got to me like him. so much lost. I was mad. I saw I hadn’t. and dance away.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. He would nod. I knew his story now. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. MA If Not Me. He wasn’t my first lost boy.
of the students who might never make it to college without help.100+ of what my students can become. students with social problems. I have come to the end of myself. RIF’d. I sit 204 . and kept students in line. I think. who trusted what would later come to fruition. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. In some pretty tough school districts. I’ve been insulted. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. Finally. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. pooh-poohed. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. Surprisingly. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. I have stood in line. however. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up.” Back then. living wages. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. and administrators with agendas. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. sworn at. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. and rehired.
The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . for a new vision. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. much less trusting. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. and 8th graders. at the school where I taught. not a real course. MA Unsung Heroes profession. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Spanish was seen as an elective. 34 Framingham. Unruly students aside. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. 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. Unfortunately. more wary.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. I would be mortified. Zora. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. 7th.
At the start of a usual class. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. I could survive the duration of this profession. His eyes were constantly glazed over. silence. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. Most were sensible enough to sit. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. Sitting. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. I hope that someday. Attempting to gain control. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. If I could survive this class.100+ those who do. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. Julia Perez. remnants of a continuous high. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. the vicious three-headed hellhound. Ted continued to wander about. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. 29 Norwich.
After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. His bark was mighty. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. Wait. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took.” the child said confidently. but how was his bite? Move he did. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “Take your best shot. “Okay Ted.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. I decided on the only rational thing.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. Enjoy guarding hell. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. MO 207 . As the class waited for my reaction. I had stunned the high right out of him. I have to call the principal to come get you. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move.
Christopher. Cynthia.. 111 Amberchele. Aila. 53 Curran Conway. 60 Aleman. D. Matthew. 79 Anonymous . Eugene Alexander. 127 Diaz. 166 Antzes.. 166 Ephraim. Stacey. 32 Brown. 47 Balic. James. Aileen. Tom “Wolf ”. Fernanda. 130 . 155 Corson. 70 Best. 95 Barchard. 135 Christie.. 19. 51.Author Index AK. Lance. Malachi. 22 Aubrie. 142 Dey. Robert Hal. J. 202 Daryl F. Sue Ellen. G. Adelle. 33. 96 Anonymous. 121 Boner.C. 61 Clarette.. 75 Carrillo. 102 Elliott. 45 Brame. José. 132 Babb. 122..T. 145 Donna J. 44 Anonymous. 100 Burns. 37. 172 Allen.
G. 97 Hermann.. 157.. 115 Hayley. 80. George. H. 94 . 62. 30. 147 Kelly. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. Hector..Errani Emaldi. 151 Higgins. Enrique M. Gaby. 130 Gisela. 155 Fox. 128 Jolene. 17. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . Will. 177 Kelley. 28. 124 Hughes. Gene W. 40 January. 131 Foster. Spoon. Terri.. 163 Gutierrez.. Daniel H. Pilar. 125 Hayden. 101 Jayne L. 98. 74.. Elisabetta. 110 Forrest. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 200 Galilea. Thomas Michael. 109 Karen. Mary. 92 Gallegos. 181 Harris.. 59. 116 Hathorn. 144. Frank E. 179 Giosia. 115 Fernandez. Dennis. 45. 197 Jackson.A. 53.. William Steed. 164 F. 162 Jenelleish. 77 Gavin S. 158 Ferrara.B. 36. 123 Gavai.
87 McKenna. Prashant Devan. Norton. Julia. 73 Lebreton. 91 Rothwell. 99 Quarles. 148 Lisa. 206 Louisell.. 32. Scarlet. 59 Morales. 86 Mare. 196 Mansour. 85 Rose. 107. 187 Kumar. 23 . 108 Philippa. 188 Paddy J. Jan. Kitty.... 171 Murff. 205 Pete. 136. 160 Momo. Byron. Nidia F. 92 Perez. 148 Salinas. Brigitte. 93. 183 PC. Yvette. Miriam. Charles P. 122.. Ricky. 158 Pauli. 69. Santonio. 161 Loomer. 25 McKenzie. Zachary. Mark D. 143 Priscilla. 141 Redfearne. Mike.Krista. 88 Norman. Eloise. 71 Richards. 67 Misty. 189 Lonn. Michael. 20. 133. 172 Mayo. Gary. 77 McLean. 21 LeBeau.B. D.
63 Wirzburger. 41 Shelly.. 190 Suzy. 193 Ybarra. 16 Shurley. Kurt. 159 Wantz. 114 Vogt. Matt. Melvin William Joseph. Bronwyn. 42 Windoftheclyde. 149 Zephyr. 39 Yurshta. Raul. Steven. 50 Theoharides. 203 . Agatha. Adela. 15. 151 Suzanne. 191 Sonia. 175 Yarbrough. Alexander J. 87 Small. 85 Tedesco. 55 von Fuller.E. Dinorah. J. 90 Torres.. John. 95 Yochum. 173 Yeyo. Idris. 34 Zora.Samuel.
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100plusts. who were eager to share their experiences. and remember..com.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.” “A week before my 26th birthday.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. or confessions. cry. facing myself.” “. Now you are invited to do the same. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.100plusts.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. The best stories were selected for this book. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.99 9 781598 351095 . illustrate life’s many.I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. reflect. Upon being published.... floating in the air.com.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. anecdotes. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. written as memoirs.com $19.100plusts. These are true stories told by people like you. These firsthand accounts. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. but with a different outlook on life–and death. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. Many people are telling their true stories. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by... Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch.