This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
and drug addiction. living on many different bases. Due to anger. By the 8th grade. desires. my mother passed away from cancer. By 18. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. so I grew up as an Army brat. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. Dennis Forrest. can be revealed to the world. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. On March 3. bitterness. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. Nevada in 1968. 2007. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. AZ I 19 . 51 Rosharon. images. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life.
All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. 20 N . and I can look at them neutrally. tomorrow. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. When I do little jobs. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I am aware of the way their covers feel.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. Yet. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. I rejoice in the art I produce. Today. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. such as putting up books in the library. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. and acting. freedom to expand my horizons. in a week. Listening now requires my full attention. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. For quite a while now. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. to search spiritually. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. I know I am finally awake to life. day out. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. to develop boundaries. their heaviness. and their condition. listening. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures.
As a matter of fact. In closing. be they physical. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. and compassion and when they do. Lamas Rinpoche. I know I will. or strangers away. I can easily mix with just about anyone. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. love. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. teachers. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. my learning continues. mental. or spiritual. and Thich Nhat Hanh.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. But for now. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. find true freedom. Yeshe. once I am given the chance. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil.
Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. She broke the news to me as best as she could. 18 Cheras. As I listened to my mom. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Kuala Lumpur. I took in what the kids were saying. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. I thought to myself. but didn’t join in the conversation. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. She had 22 M .100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. Prashant Devan Kumar. 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.” That same day. 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.
NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. and wonder. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. TYC. their world becomes a mental one. ponder. with life to go. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. dream. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. You have to have 23 I . I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. feel. imagine. Seg. not caring that there was no Santa. Every time I am taken out of my cell. juvie halls. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. I remember sitting in the car. only thinking about those fucking stickers. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. Food is brought to me.). That day. reflect. 24 Queens. That’s all we do in these cells: think. I grew up in boys’ homes. confined to a one-man cell.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. 23 hours a day.
and I got life in prison. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. watching the clerk close up shop. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. There were three. run. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. I’d done it a dozen times. staking out the store from across the street. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. and no one gets hurt. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I saw his point and I left things as they were. Trust me. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. I have no excuse or justification for what I did.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. and everything went to shit from there. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. It is something that I truly am sorry for. I think now how naïve I was. I was alone. The next day. In the end. But to 24 . I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. It was a robbery gone bad.
I’m thinking. Look at the car. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. I also find myself thinking about the victim’s son—who was eight years old at the time—and calculating how old he’d be today. Watch the crap. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. all observant and such. Holes everywhere. if you’re lucky. It’s a mess. I think about that shit. Watch the crap. I’m looking at this car. I mean. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Big holes. I’m keeping my pieces.S. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. Crap is strewn everywhere. Yeah. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. No way. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. o. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . not benign crap. right.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I’m not moving. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. in which the author served as part of the U. it’s not going anywhere.
I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. RPG rounds. How many days have I been awake? Damn. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. hundreds of them. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I’m angry. Good night. cars now. I’ve been so careful all of these months. this “Desert Storm. grenades. well.. with holes in them all. I didn’t even see this stuff.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. I figured I’d hang on to something. I’m sick of this crap. from messing my mind up further. and mines scatter everywhere. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.I. I curse myself for being so stupid. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. Now. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. K.” or whatever you call it. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. or tunnel vision. with maybe a little inscription saying. Whoever’s firing those damn things.P. I’m holding my privates. right on the crap. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. 26 . hold privates. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. but I don’t care.—R.I. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing.A. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives.
but like some sick voyeur. No stench. Damn. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. It’s hard to tell. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. I don’t want to end up like him. I don’t like the burned ones. too. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. again. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. unless they shortened the fuses. right? The ones I see are fresh. I know I’m not dead. It was fun for a minute. I don’t want to look.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. They look like statues. along with the gaping hole through the skull. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. vehicles are everywhere. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Is 27 . The pictures don’t lie. His ID card falls out. maybe. I do. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. The glazed eyes give it away. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim.
He’ll think of his son every day and cry. handcuffed. the Americans. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. I want no part of it. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. Mark D.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. and shackled. If that’s heroism. The hero died with a scream on his lips. we will celebrate. They’ll never know what happened to him.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. No. One by one waist-chained. his son—maybe even himself. we stepped 28 I . from that war. pictures don’t lie. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Probably not. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. that damn war. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. “Yes.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. hoping his son will return from down South. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. They’ll never know me. We’ll have that in common. McKenna Columbus.
There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. indeed. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. mountains. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. In retrospect. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. 29 .T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. 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. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. The restless. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom.
the lunacy of a previous occupant. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. While I was in there. Hector Gallegos Otisville. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. a vacuum of uncertainty. I found that I was not alone in this realization. This is 30 M . in some cases. boredom. but no one dared speak of them. for most. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. and.100+ Looking around me. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. It’s a world of its own where. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. sealed off from everything and everyone. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting.
She has a son now. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did.. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. We used to have a very healthy relationship. Will Ferrara. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. MA 31 . She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. but I had no luck. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. 24 Lawrence. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay.. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time.
where I am today. stole an airplane. flew to Florida.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. Three years later. 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. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. After 15 years there. and began robbing banks. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. I escaped. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . I always felt lonely. I grew up spoiled rotten. They never really understood that there was something wrong. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. I was always sad. but that made me feel worse. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I was at last transferred to Central Florida.
I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. It’s going to be hard to get better. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. This year. but I was already highly unstable by then. It wasn’t her fault. 33 I . Cars speed by. Now. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. but there was something missing. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. 16 Richmond. but only for a little while. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. and was put on progressively stronger medication. and I am doing a lot more for myself. so I always tried to help them.T R U E S T O R I ES me. or mine. Momo. I had friends and a boyfriend. I started therapy. and then my house caught on fire. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. This made me feel good. When I started middle school. Lights come on.
many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. 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. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. for one reason or another. your feet hurt. under the three strikes law. no one to call.100+ homeward bound. God has been looking out for me. I am still alive. many homeless people end up in jail. 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. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.. I have met a variety of people in prison. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . nowhere to sleep. I have been fortunate. nothing to eat. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. It’s cold. G. You think to yourself.. You have nowhere to go. you’re hungry. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. This is why.T. “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.
his brother.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. Nonetheless. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. My husband and Joe came to blows again. I must have asked to be raped. My husband and I filed a police report right away. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. My husband. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. So Joe walks free. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. I brought it upon myself. In their eyes. We all had a few too many. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. They say most 35 . my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. I thought it was my husband. my case was thrown out of court. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. I immediately told my husband and we left. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. and the rest of the family awoke. Without warning. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. 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. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. During the car ride home.
Men ask me. and for the past 10 years. and I made it without becoming one of them. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I keep getting turned down for parole. No one was hurt or kidnapped. drug dealer. or crooked politician. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. but I am always in a good mood. I just took the money and ran. for all the good it’s doing me. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. I love to write books and short stories. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. Zephyr Chicago. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. I’ve been a model inmate. you almost have to be a bank robber. We had six kids—with so many kids. My first eight years in prison were rocky. When I got locked up. while the victims get a life sentence.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. trying to survive among savage men. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . I have always been respectful to the guards and staff.
When I’m writing. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. I turned fourteen. That summer. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. and us three kids. I share love. compassion. sadness. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. and my innermost thoughts and desires. not die.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. my parents became legally separated. the car. Mom got a new apartment. laughter. tears. they are good people with good hearts. 1982. At fourteen. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. George Hughes. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. like taste good food. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. I love writing. anger. but all’s well in the end. flavors that today I’d die for—well. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. but I put the truth out there for all to read. And it all transpired in 37 O . 63 Burkeville. Writing is like having an affair.
not enough to panic. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. So I decided to steal. looking down at my new wet shoes. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. and inexplicably. picked out a pair. I wasn’t too concerned. And by the age of eighteen. Like an NFL running back. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . By fifteen. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. I took off like a bat out of hell. sprinting as fast as possible. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. and put them on. Then I put on all three new shirts.100+ less than an hour. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I burst through the front door. I was in State Prison. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. sister. I went over to the shoe department. Once outside. My friends would have surely made fun of me. Once inside. In 1982. but here it was. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. and me. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. “Mom. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. On the very last day of summer. at fourteen. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts.
Obviously shocked. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. Six days later. To my complete surprise. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I asked why I was being arrested. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. When I was finished with him. 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. they said. OH 39 I . “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. 18 Mowrystown.
I could not feel the unity through the beatings. and lack of feelings. From then on. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. I deserved to do some time and make amends. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. mind. My mom’s eyes held a million words. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. At nineteen. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. I was ready to be judged and convicted. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. but the fact is I did. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. the others are there to pick him up. I killed someone. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. and soul. During my trial. how he cared for her. 40 N . The judge gave me life without parole. Before. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. with a common goal. I felt that what I did was wrong. It was good to see them together. in the same room. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. though he never loved her. hitting and abusing her. In the depths of my heart and soul. and when one falls. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. ignorance. fights. my mom and dad came to visit me. There is nothing to compare it to other than death.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. and mean words.
I learned quickly to keep my laughter. but they all have lives. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. Spoon Jackson. Besides. smiles. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I need to budget. I have no friends in this new city. but my will to survive took over. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. I’m getting older. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but now everything seems tight. but I take no initiative to start the process. 50 Represa. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . Money never used to be an issue. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I was naïve. fleeting hope. I came from the desert. but I see only the negative things. and violent unrest. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends.
It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. my pen is capturing everything. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. but moving slowly in the right direction. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. 42 I . I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. In the few months that I’ve been writing.100+ before I go to bed. the only escape that I found was with a knife. Idris Samuel. 27 Toronto. inconspicuous notebook. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. I even see things in a more positive light now. Ontario. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. mixed with big dreams of happiness. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. brought up in me. I’m not stuck in one place. go into a small. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. For someone like me. a dead father. I see that in spite of my depression. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. All of those negative ideas.
T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. new problems arose. While incarcerated. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. While in prison. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. a need for the chemicals in the formula. It had become a habit. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. it merely put them on hold. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. light-headedness. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. But then. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. As I look back on the role that the drug played. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. never directly addressed. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . While on probation in 1995. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me.
much clearer. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain.E. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. I’ve always had low self-esteem. it’s too short and too precious. and once it does. you will be twice as strong. Think about who really loves you. 13 44 I . I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. Never waste life. J. but I never thought it would result in depression.100+ stable. Anonymous. but my reaction to them is not the same. And the present is where I have to live. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. the present is much. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. I am a different person. Wantz Salem. Now the reality I face is my own life. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says.
alcohol. community centers. I ended up in prison for life. Thomas Michael Fox. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. 1958 in Elgin. cultural arts centers. After getting sober in 2001. writing helped. The son of a research chemist. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. 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. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. I have turned my attention back to God. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. Now I try. I began to start to feel differently about myself. 51 Corcoran. Illinois. 45 G . CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.
The second and third place runners-up were announced. When I was in second grade. Then. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. vatos locos. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. migrant workers. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. my school sponsored an art contest. On the day the winner was to be announced. at the age of 17. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight.and 12-year-olds. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. my name was called. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. prison scenes.100+ youth programs. and indigenous themes. This history. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. Mexican revolutionaries.
The guard was two feet in front of me. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. I had to get in the same cage. a new tradition: poetical muralism. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. and crazy juxtapositions.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. I consider myself first a poet. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. cash. Securing the tools. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. José Boner Boscobel. And yet. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. camouflage the cut marks. manufacturing the rope. I fuse images using words. Siquierod with Cisneros. there was no turning back. a freehand artist second. Today. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. watching every move during a strip search. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. and obtaining the other articles took time. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. metaphors. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Octavio with Orozco. a hacksaw blade.
D-day. and I was sweating a puddle. I was balls-to-the-wall. I was through and bent back the bars. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. or nerves. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I was going. but the meshing distorted clear vision. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. The cage was shaking and rattling. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I slung the rope over my shoulder. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. It was going according to plan 48 . Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I could see everything. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. In a few minutes. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. There was no time for hesitation. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. my arms were screaming. doubt. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. already packed with the gear. every muscle was taut.100+ primitive. but they could see every move I made.
outside the confines of the jail. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. Yet. from regret and anxiety. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. The rope burned through my fingers. D. from doubt. I know I’ve never been freer. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. I should have made gloves. but now I would to fall to my death. CA 49 . I know from consequential. But that feeling of open air on my skin. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. I attempted to crawl away. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. It was too thin. Babb Corcoran. but couldn’t move. it was too late for solutions.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. cages. needed more knots… whatever the problem. I’d escaped. guards. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. free from fear. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. through what I’ve gained and learned since. I was lying on the rooftop. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued.
it was too late. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. I thought I loved him. not losing his license. nothing. Alcohol would always come first.I. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . There was no wake-up call. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. and by the time I did. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. One time. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. He attempted to shut off the ignition. he just kept hitting rock bottom. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. but the key was jammed. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. no matter what. which never came.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain.U. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.s. not getting pancreatitis.
simply liked the quick. who in the present. I had lived an interesting life. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. To me. Unfortunately. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. drugs were simply a hustle. thugs. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. a man with a past. In my 33 years. that was for sure. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. not a crime. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. Crimes were what thieves. 23 Hollywood. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Adela Tedesco. victimless cash. and sexual predators committed. free dope. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I .T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I had seen and done a lot. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made.
Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. not the solution. I’m arguing against it one more time. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. this time. and with whoever. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. for all practical purposes. either.” There are the pro-drug war. our families. at stake: my entire life. While I’m no angel. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. I’m surely not the devil. Then there are those of us. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. as an activist. it protects the innocent. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. things are different. CA 52 . at the university. the entire world of academia. I participated in the discourse. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. I understand the necessity for law and order. Yet. at this fateful juncture of my life. Now. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. I argued it at every level: in the media. It helps those unable to defend themselves.
RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. So many people believe that they are invincible. coming up my legs. even though they know that there are great risks. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. Lance Corson. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. There are always consequences. One of the guards supplied it. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. there are new users every day. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. my stomach and chest. I felt it starting at my feet. 24 Little Compton. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. and nothing good ever comes of them. They destroy lives. However. that nothing will ever happen to them. until it took over my whole being.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. riding through space in 53 O .
across my stomach. falling. only inches left to stand on. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. holding on to my elbows. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. I was terrified! I found myself falling. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. my back to the wall. I walked around with my arms in front of me. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. My muscles 54 . My body was curled.100+ the dead of darkness. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. Then I nodded off. There were monsters with long tails down there. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. I was freezing all over. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. The floor closed up as I hit it. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. falling. and I could feel the cramps coming. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. dying for a fix. I needed a fix. I began to shake all over. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. my heart pounded violently. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I stood in the corner. gritting their teeth. bad. My stomach was cramping.
She opened the back door and said. I kicked at her. playing too loudly. not scrubbing the floors right. not cleaning the dishes right. 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. 2002. My mother passed away on October 2nd. steal. One day. and sell anything and everything. George Hughes. Mom grabbed a frying pan. jumped out. got down on the floor and beat me with it. and 10.” Now 55 . My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. God and I both love you. 66 Burkeville. There was no fix at hand. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. But I wasn’t. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies.000 other small. lie. to get a fix.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. Mother. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. including their own souls. not shoveling the sidewalk right. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. petty reasons. “Get out of my house. “No more. wetting the bed. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. If I were on the street.
I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. TX 56 . Melvin William Joseph Vogt. 67 Amarillo.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t dislike 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. I don’t hate my mom.
Sex & Seduction .
Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. Québec. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. But for the young woman. Terri Giosia. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. an orgasm. 45 Montreal. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. and fulfillment after the first time. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. it will occur over time. I 59 M . He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. This is what occurs at 18.
If you know your body. it won’t be your last. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I always tell my friends. people would assume we were twins. Momo. that even though it’s your first time. When we were little. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. At the beginning of high school. Don’t be scared. I will spare 60 I . The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. 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.100+ beg to differ. Now. We have known each other since before we can remember. We decided we were ready. Do it because you want to. who are ready to lose their virginity. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. 16 Richmond. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. we had sex. I did it for me. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys.
squealing. and crying ensued. interesting story to tell. and we locked ourselves in. he wields 61 I . It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. I ran into my best friend. Obviously laughter. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. I grabbed her. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. AK. at a “well-supervised” party. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. that is not what is important. Later in the evening. anyway. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Almost at the same time. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. we said. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices.
or backstabbing us to our bosses. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. Christie. changing his urine bag. He basks in their attention. tempt. if the woman is appealing enough.100+ considerable power by yelling. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. NSW. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. 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. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. turning him over. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. it’s like having a little harem. but girly mags are his main source of info. However. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. rubbing his feet and back. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. and showering and grooming him. being sarcastic. however. 54 Sydney. feeding him like a baby.
Once that is accomplished. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. beyond a shadow of a doubt. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. However. His hand rested on my forearm. his complete awareness of 63 I . ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. It is not real. Without confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. With a glance. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. as upon sobering up. That is. Québec. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. it’s possible to seduce anyone. body language. 45 Montreal. 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. smile. the golden rule for seduction. this type of seduction is an illusion. It is stating the obvious. one cannot seduce. a smile. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. a look.
A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. My ways were haphazard. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. for they would make me look like a weakling. I felt his back tensing against my hands. but my pretensions made no difference to them. but my anticipation was no longer tender. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. 27 Santiago. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. his lips fell on my hips. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. Windoftheclyde. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 .100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. I pleaded with them not to show up. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. On the brink of a thrust. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. he breathed my name. In a shadowy whisper. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. True to their word. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. Never had a burden been more welcome. Always the seeker.
Small Miracles .
I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. I am human. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. It becomes routine. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I know I have to be locked in. and often after a long day. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I should hate the cell. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. but once inside my cell. As a person. 67 T . I know that no one can get in without the key. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. I even welcome the closing of the door. in the darkness. Late at night. rather familiar. amongst the prison population. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. At times.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I’m locked in. With a twist of a key. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I’m on guard seven days a week.” Out there. I do my deepest thinking there.
The cell door is now closed. the cell is a paradox because in reality. a melody of pleasant proportions. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears.100+ I pray in the cell. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. yet. The cell is my castle until I reach home. and I write my loved ones there. but I’m in good company. I don’t hear anyone talking. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. To the outside observer. I’m alone. while here in prison. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. read a book. or write a letter to my family or a friend.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. despair. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. I have not experienced silence in years. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. When the cell door shuts. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . listen to the radio. It never is truly quiet here. The walls seem to hum. these sounds are tranquil. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. Ironically. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. and loneliness. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. The cell is a hellhole. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. To be honest.
“Let us show you the way. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly.m. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. 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. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. though their faces were human-looking. I’m human: I feel. showing another dimension. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. They looked invincible. I was lying in the dark. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. 69 I . One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. and I was filled with awe. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. cry. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I also laugh. and have the power to choose.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. In a small. love. we have been there before. think. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. Michael McLean Beacon. bleed. in it were four angels. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly.
Misty. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. I thought to myself. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. guarded from dark forces. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. waiting to make a left turn. but time operates differently there. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. there really wasn’t any time to react.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. At that instant. I saw a van coming straight towards me. circular spaceship. “Oh no. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast.100+ white. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. Auckland. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. knowing order reigned in the next world. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. 54 North Shore City. 70 I .
Where we die should be no less important. I considered the importance of what I was doing. It was a very surreal experience. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . It is important to find the right place for an ending. In the breast pocket of my jacket. including me. I sat there thinking to myself. I chose Mount Sanitos. a brand new box of pills. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. 38 Methuen. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. Ever since that day. “Sorry about that. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. “Wow. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. and in the hand-warmer pocket. there was a pint of blackberry brandy.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. Hey. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire.
thinking it could be the police. For a moment. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. I finally reached the top. Four pills left. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. There were shapes of people around. There was a flash of light. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. but they sensed me there. my hand slipped and I fell. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. I cowered. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. then a shift. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . When the east finally began to warm.100+ someone else got hurt. Necessary and common. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. On the far side of my fall. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. dropping off my recycling. no one was looking for me. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. I must have blacked out. closing my bank accounts. like someone hit the reset on my brain. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. Blood was caked on my forehead. “He’s here. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. I panicked. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. The guardians were gone. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. things were… strange. It was still night.
I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. Then I saw the trail a little to my right.T R U E S T O R I ES was. as I did. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. I also know that I’m never alone. I think of myself as having happily died that night. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I’ve been to zero. and then dragged myself towards it. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I was living alone. I had never done that before. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. At one point. That was my break-even point. Then a second piece of bread fell. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. hitting me on the left ankle. it got so bad that I became depressed. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . and it’s doable. Three days later. When I got up in front of the cabin. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I realized it was just a stone. I was making sandwiches. so I continued making the sandwiches. but I had never been depressed before either. Everything after that has been pure profit.
I was very puzzled. Needless to say. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. so we should not be depressed. whether we see Him or not. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. When I returned to the kitchen. the day before Valentine’s Day. Jesus is always with us. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. but I dismissed it and went into the other room.” Two years ago. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. He is still there. we got pregnant again. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think.” He had come to me just as I had asked Him to three days before! I interpreted this phenomenon as follows: when the bread cannot be seen. “I am the bread of life. Our little (well 74 I . but there was only one piece on the floor. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. Three months later. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage.100+ of bread.
I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. I did not waste it on the bland mush. 30 Martinsburg. Kelly.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. It was a good partnership. Don’t get me wrong. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. but left the bees plenty for the winter. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. But this event puts it into a whole different light. And he is our own personal little miracle. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. we will always think about the baby that we lost. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . WV A Taste of Honey honey.
UT 76 . but it seemed to last an eternity. I had smelled the spruce. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. and the wildflowers. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. 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. The other half I saved for later. I had been free. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. But man cannot live on honey alone.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. and also. For a moment there. I thanked God for a taste of honey. 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. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. James Burns Gunnison. the mountain laurel. I thought.
and a mirror in his left breast pocket. Ironically. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. Gavai Kona. her actions were terrible and painful. There was a spark in her eyes. He had a lighter. but it ultimately killed him. a pack of cigarettes. During a skirmish. he got shot in the left side of his chest. Army during the Vietnam War. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. smoking saved his life. His doctors surmised that he became infected with hepatitis via a blood transfusion he received in Vietnam when he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound. After years of alcohol abuse. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. Despite this miracle. He may have survived the Vietnam War. I 77 I . HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry.S.
we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes.” he said. With tears in my eyes. and said. I walked to my closet. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. but she ignored me. “Good night. NY 78 . One day. and hung up my dress. as I put the dress on the hanger. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I turned to go to my room. Miriam. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. “You’re not the only one. my mother called me.” I said through my tears. when my brother Bardo and I got home. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. Bardo. “Good night.” He also told me that when I finished eating. That is when I saw the stain. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I heard him whisper. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. 41 Bedford Hills. Miriam McKenzie. I tightly hugged him back. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. the dress ended up on my face. and I did. he looked at me. While he was hugging me. Bardo came out. With powdered soap and water. The next thing I knew. reached for an empty hanger.
Everything from 79 M . no weight pile. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. No gym. the “buffaloes” roamed. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. built wooden bunks. bought a TV. 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. There was no yard to speak of. a stereo. incoming calls only. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. 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. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. cook what I wanted. no track or ball field. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. I had conjugal visits. I could wear my own clothes. An aisle ran the length of each building. But in Mexico. When money arrived. We installed a swamp cooler.
appliances. much like my thinking. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. but it was an identity that was poisonous. for the right price. clothing. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call.S. the world would reflect that change. I wanted out. for anything else. A man could buy food. and it has. Amberchele Canon City. filthy. I arrived at the school cafeteria. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . True. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. drugs. I reasoned that. in my head. if I changed. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. J. booze. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. I was allowed to keep my identity. the ontological slap in the face. lumber.C. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. and even prostitutes. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. and dangerous. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. art supplies.
I yelled for help. With time. I had been stabbed. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. Enrique M. It had been an ironic twist of fate. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. After that incident. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. encouraging him during the fight. my assailant approached me and apologized. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. a free-for-all ensued. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. FL 81 . In my mind. I stood by my friend. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. That made all the difference in the world. the atmosphere was tense. When I did not press charges. As I turned to look. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. it stopped bothering me. After the trial. When I saw my assailant in court. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. however. As we spoke.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. I flirted with the idea of getting even. the judge dismissed the case. But when others got involved. my membership in the gang became obsolete. His father attended the hearing. his father embraced me in the hallway. Fernandez Miami.
Matters of the Heart .
and I am in love.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. I have known my first love for more than a year. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. the good and bad. my first true love. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I would have been in love before. was I wrong! I admire my first love. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. He is strong. He is honest. One would think that because I have experienced life. He is smart. I will accept all of him. He’s my first Jan Richards. Boy. I want to know everything he knows. I am 41 years old. no matter what answers you receive. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I never get tired of listening to him. I could not 85 T . 41 Dallas. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. This is it! This is my first true love.
and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. and the connection that we share. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). 59 Dayton. The morning after I arrived. too. she kissed me for the first time. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. and that the connection will endure. Mansour. I will never forget her. Without her. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. 27 Tehran. Although we are divorced. I feel so alone. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. he came back to me. my first love. Suzy. I decided to visit her. but now I want to leave him. I was browsing .100+ eat. I hope we will get married one day. it’s been like heaven. We both respect and value each other very much.
everything was great. Shurley. and now all I have are insecurities. I worry all the time. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. If it were up to me. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. and he was in fifth grade. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. I would never have gone out with him. At first. and I am so jealous. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. Then within six months. brown-haired young man. He played with my head. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He was a tall. His name was Travis.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. There was something fascinating about this “older man. slender. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . He stripped down my confidence.
I just remember wanting to be near him. anal sex.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. 29 Hilo. all in retrospect. My reflections of Travis developed years later. and gangbangs—it all occurs. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Kitty Mayo. or inn in the continental United States. Often. hotel. wanting him to protect me. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. threesomes. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. She has little education. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. 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. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel.
Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. housing. 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. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. send her shopping. It’s an amazing thing. regulations. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. pay her rent. Hours seem like minutes. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. rules. The attraction is mutual. or risks. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. finances. The female is as rebellious as the offender. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. take care of her kids. religion. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. 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. It comes like a thief in the night. She needs no coercion or con. Love. who want to keep her hair and nails done.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. TX 89 .T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. The conversations flow smoothly. Sometimes personalities just click. The laughs come fast and free.
she brushed her right hand against the small of my back.” I have no idea what he means. We are in her attic bedroom. Two months later. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. She told me the upright bass was sexy. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. Skidmore College. I wonder when. And three months and two weeks later.. and if. and I told her she was strange. I’m not sure she’s my other half.100+ Four A. the tears pouring down her cheeks. I told her I loved her. three floors down.M.. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. and mine. Outside her window. the distance between her school. on a tour of Oxford. Massachusetts. destined for Minneapolis. 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 I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. She’s packing her last suitcase. my tears will come. she told me the same thing. Boston College. suitcase is a difficult feat. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. we went out for coffee. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . I first met her at Heathrow Airport. and yes. Three months later. One month later. but I know I don’t want her to leave. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom.
so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. I walk her to the bus station. she falls asleep. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. At three a. after another bottle of wine. and I had a crush on . and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. And tears stream down my face. write a love poem. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. after a bottle of wine.m.. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. Theoharides. comes. needless to say.. Alexander J.m.” she says.m. and I have to walk her to a bus station. and place it on the hood of his car. 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. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. so I decided to go the subversive route. until four a. 22 Amherst.m. still two bottles of wine later. “I’ll miss you. At four a. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. I had written the poem already. At two a.. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag.
desires. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. needs. Unfortunately. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. but because of them.100+ I sped away. not despite of their shortcomings. Galilea. NH Love Is for yourself. 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. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. I was 21 years old. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . 24 Lincoln. and well-being. Scarlet Rose. 28 Albuquerque.
As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. As you can imagine. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. I imagined something romantic. 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. no? Saturday came. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. making our relationship grow stronger. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. We are the yin and yang for each other. But a girl can dream. It can be between two men and between two women. PC. 30 Arecibo.
and you have always been the one. so I left everything behind: my career. my family. I tried to be perfect. “I did it for love. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. Maybe he was too old for me. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. Mare.” I told myself. A baby was on the way. and my life. Life is not supposed to be this way. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. and we are raising a daughter as well.100+ lifetime. Our relationship is 15 years strong. I regret so many things. I regret it. Michelle. 36 Lennon. I love you. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. but he wasn’t in love with me. and so many tears. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. so many mistakes. and I tried to fight for my dreams. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and I live there now. I chose my hell. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. and I thought I was immortal. maybe he was strange. but he was mine.
I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. 27 Athens. but I can’t control it. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. we fell in love. My ex and I are currently in high school. Kikis_fairytale. We now have a beautiful baby girl. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but as for love. 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. We are going to graduate soon. and it lasted about a year and a half. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. Yeyo. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. but we’ll be living separate lives. 95 I .T R U E S T O R I ES life. 18 Olmito. If I were to start my life all over again. Lately. It’s a bad habit. though. I don’t know.
and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. Every time I see him. talent. “I may have a guy at home. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. it keeps growing. It is a scary feeling. looks. Aila Balic. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. but things had been slowly going downhill. I shake. I thought to myself. I gasp for air. but as much as I try to stop. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. I don’t want to. and a smile that could melt a heart. He was a southern gentleman with manners. but it just happens. We spent my final day together. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. and I have no control over my actions. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. In the summer of 2009. We started talking and before long we just clicked. 96 M . my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. 18 Brooklyn. Although I didn’t know it at the time. yet doesn’t make me want to die. I imagine the two of us together all the time.
tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I explored my options on the ride home. for showing me the truth about love. but now it was time to make a big decision. There weren’t any wedding planners.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. and no hassle: just us. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. I couldn’t believe it was over. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We wanted . family and friends can witness our marital union. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Ethan. Guerrero. I went to say my goodbyes. too? Hayley. Why not have our cake and eat it. In life. Thanks. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. 26 Acapulco. no guests. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. and it took all I had not to cry.
but life is not fair. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. Some letters were erotic. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. I guess. was a devoted wife. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. at age fifty-two. Clearly magic was happening between us. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. On March 27th. 1997. and made me happy in so many ways. For Louise. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. This story has the makings for a great ending. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. as well as me. I will go home one day. I had not felt that way in years. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. On May 15. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. 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. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. 2006. She was .
Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. If we had to do it again.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. I will miss you. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. We had a nice ceremony. George Hughes. Louise. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. And in the end. but for our family members.000 on our wedding. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. VA A Joining of Two. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. Farewell. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. Please save 99 M . I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. However. in August. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. 63 Burkeville. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. DON’T. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. beautiful flower arrangements. but we had our wedding 7 months later.
I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. Priscilla.100+ your money because in the end. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. too?” he asked. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. the rings were handed over. 29 Lowell. When we finally reached the priest. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. When the time came to walk down the aisle. the wedding doesn’t matter. “NO!” I yelled at him. “Are you two getting married. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. Even at 3. On the day of the wedding. forest green dress. In the fall of 1987. my voice echoing through the church. 100 A . clad in a miniature tuxedo.
On the long list of things I hate. The emails became short and purposeful. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. and I had no idea where to go. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. until amorous love became filial affection. and I started to ignore 101 I .T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. slowly and gradually. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. but before I knew it. Adelle Brown. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. Finally. and forest green. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. not right away. not right before my eyes. my cousin. I had gotten used to him and he to me. all I remember being told was.” When the doors opened. camera flashes. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. I was blinded by lights. three of them will always be: priests. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. at some point. 23 Somerville.
I am not that person anymore. I am content to just exist. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. I stopped caring about spending time together. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. and started avoiding him. but that memory is now alien to me. or lack thereof. This mundane. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. for him.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. For now. 102 I . I keep trying to push him away. January Paris. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. 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. and let him do the same. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. torturous waste of time. I remember why I fell in love with him. I am not that unhappy. He was no longer my top priority. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. nor is he.
T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. I would have done so. I thought that if they divorced. VT 103 . Donna J. They are still together. and if I were allowed to live with my father. my parents did not divorce. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. Alas. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. it would have been more difficult. Johnsbury. and I’m glad they are. St. which never came.
Despite Diagnosis .
In prison. you must wade carefully through the sewage. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. Prison is a sewer. wash. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P .T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. Wait till the “others” get out. vermin. You have to slowly navigate through the rats.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. alone. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. skidding. then slips away unseen. and when you get to the other side. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. and sometimes it’s over your head. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Take showers in shifts. sometimes it’s neck-deep. leaving you there to bleed out. bide your time. cartwheeling. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. go in with your homeboys. and filth swimming and floating along with you. not let it get inside you. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. not because of knives but for their germs. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. to survive it. Some don’t. You are immersed in it. and dry yourself. you can cast off your filthy clothes. clean. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it.
59 Daytona Beach. As the years passed. Charles P. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. take it all in. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. wondering if I will ever go home. When I awoke. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. And they die. become a part of it. As for me. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. so I went to an optometrist. I regained some of my physical strength. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. they inhale deeply. Months later. I started having eye trouble. I was told I had a brain tumor. Norman. The problem was not eradicated.100+ of the prison sewer. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. meningitis. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. 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 told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. a cracked skull. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach.
T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. and all came out negative. Pete. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. so in spite of having protected sex. 21 Devonport. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. After 4 or so weeks. 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. Tasmania. Fueled by the media. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. My cerebral fluid was not draining. 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. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. just to be sure. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature.
I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . My father was the only one with the same blood type. 28 Portland. so my body was dying. so she took me to the doctor. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. We all had sad faces. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. I was constantly in the hospital. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. Throughout my childhood. Every time a nurse would come in the room. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. The day I turned five. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. but even that wasn’t enough.100+ as well. Jolene. One time. so he donated his blood. For instance. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria.
Maybe it’s a nightmare. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. I am back at Estrella Jail. the check-in nurse says. and 100% cured. and very pale. Maybe it’s not really me. I’m 15 pounds thinner. At Perryville. fightingsurvivor19. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. Today I am 19. Five days later.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. 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.” When my chemo starts. There is no kindness. nearly bald. my oncologist was determined 111 I . the jail has delayed it. 19 Pembroke Pines. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. the judge can expedite all he wants. I vomit constantly. “Well. This never happened outside. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. in college. and they both cried tears of joy. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. Three months later. hoping to get rid of me to save money.
I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. He answers my questions. when I’m supposed to be healing. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. then every six months for two years. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. the doctor comes in. I start the laborious grievance process. burning instead. 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. When my treatment is over. My life is literally in their hands. Despite the rigid schedule. I have three more chemo sessions. and nine months later. and then annually. I vomit until there is nothing left. I know I’m an inmate. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Eventually. In here. But this protocol is not followed. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. begging for what I’m missing. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. I am sent back to my room alone. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. An hour later. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. No more nausea. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical.100+ that my nausea be minimal. He recommends a tumor 112 . there is complete indifference.
T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I can deal with that. and I am helpless against its inadequate. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. That is why I am afraid. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. Six months later. AZ 113 . incompetent. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. 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. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. no positive imagery can change my situation. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. That’s really hard in here. my life is in the hands of the State. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. As a result. always look for a reason to be glad. uncaring power. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. mismanaged. 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. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. Their stories touch me on so many levels. This is about the State. it still hasn’t happened.
she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. 33 Santa Barbara. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. without even knowing it. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. Later. she was looking ahead. A year into my treatment. he began to distance himself. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. Dinorah Torres. and I felt helpless all the time. but when he found out that treatment could last years. CA A 114 . Two months after I started chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. making plans for the future. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. Despite all this.
He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. One year she was cancer-free. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. never had any kids. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. The following year. How sad. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. for an addict’s. and had lived alone for decades. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. 18 Tacoma. It just 115 I . so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. shape. Hayden. She was longdivorced. for a smoker’s lungs. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape.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.” 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.
Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. F. Cornwall. his oldest daughter to cigarettes.A. Whatever the percentage. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. Penzance. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. on the part of Texas officials.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. not even decades after giving up smoking.G. and now he could lose his own life because of them.
You can see how dangerous it is. 5. Classify prisoners by age.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. 2. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. whether here or abroad. sentence length. 8. be as humane as possible. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. 6. and house them accordingly. 3. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. and typecrime. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 9. 7. A few suggestions: 1. 4. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 .
Daniel H. 48 Huntsville. TX 118 . Harris.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. This could be a start.
The Transience of Permanence .
death out there now looks relatively easy. He desperately seeks some understanding. Christopher Best Livingston. In plain talk. a last will and testament. maybe an estate. 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. especially on death row. 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. For “free-world” folks. then the whole world has done the same. which has its effects on me as well as on him. plans. discussions. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. I feel the dread on my flesh. I’m a state-approved janitor. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. some acceptance. In the penitentiary. Each morning when I arrive at work. even inside me. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. Some days. All is forgiven. From what I’ve seen in here. If I give him that. death is merely a passage or rite. or SSI. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. TX I 121 . I swear.
I wrap the cut in toilet paper. G. Light-headed. yet relieved that I took action. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison.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. today. 122 T . It’s called “checking out. Suspicious. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. Fuck God. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. I’ll try again later. Very suspicious. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. It isn’t working.” or “moving on to the next phase. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I am feeling very ugly inside.” And I’m not talking about parole. Shit.” “taking it to the vent. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. and it can be done right now.T. Fuck them. Shit.
T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. He had rather ingeniously figured out how to wrap himself up in a way that didn’t trip the circuit breaker as he was gradually cooked. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. After that. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . Mike Rothwell Ione. not in the clinical sense. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. but a symbolic one. a neighbor of mine in Folsom.
We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. he may as well be dead. the son he failed to be. He has. 124 N . we return home and open her jewelry boxes. Hector Gallegos Otisville. matriarch of the family.100+ love of his family. the lover he wishes to be. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. year after year. in essence. sterling silver. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. the father he cannot be. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. but life—even at 103—seems too short. gold. pearls. and the person he never grew to become. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. killed that greater part of himself. In this sense. In the world beyond prison walls. my big fat Italian grandmomma.With his incarceration. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. diamonds. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind.
key chains. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. necklaces. albums. she never wore it. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. The following day. 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. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. dating from the roaring twenties. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. except for a fundamental difference. as if no one else is 125 D . 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. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Mary Higgins Reading. Who would believe that a swastika. and handcrafted dolls. blankets. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. The first thing one notices is the quiet. pre-WWII. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes.
Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. In remembering. It is like God’s “time-out” room. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. An ache settles in his belly. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. the fights he had in grade school.100+ there. At other times. TX 126 . although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. media representatives. Gene W. such as his first pet. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. the officials are stoic and judgmental. but the mind rebels. making it ominously quieter. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. there are only four or five people. 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. Hathorn Livingston. 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. he realizes that all hope is gone. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials.
Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Sleep came with great difficulty. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. I saw no real reason for worry. a combination drug therapy. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. no one. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). after a slew of “unreadable. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. He was a genuine character. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. including Freddy. his body was covered in tattoos.” Freddy complained to me one day. and they all tell you something different. Time was of the essence. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. and his head was shaved clean.” “partial.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Over a period of a year. Once muscular. Since he always complained. 127 E . In October 2004. and his memory showed signs of failure.” and “lost” test results. he was barely over five feet tall. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. trying to get someone to do something. really took it seriously.” I forget why. he had become thin as a rail. if at all.
They tried giving him formula. and he was afraid. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. 2005. “If they got at me 18 months ago. looking through the glass at our little one.” he told me. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. and now he’s dead. “By the time they did something. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. but no treatment was administered. they probably could have saved me. Freddy was my friend.100+ Months passed.” There was no anger in his voice. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. it was too late. They killed me. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. By October. only resignation. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. but he threw it up. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . He vomited blood one morning. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. We named him William Kenrick.
just let go. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. “Baby. And oh. my first child. I love him more and more each day. his heart rate slowed. Someday. PHILIPPINES 129 . carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. fight for it. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. 32 Las Piñas City. The next day.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. But I swear. milky scent is still there. a smile formed on his lips. he went.. NCR. But if not. only he was already lifeless. I turn numb.m. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. Jenelleish. And for that. Despite the pain. my first son. he had to undergo an operation. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. At 1:30 a. if you can still make it. At 3 days old. which was declared a success. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. Then I start crying again and eventually. But I knew something wasn’t right. only to realize that he’ll never come back. And I knew though he was gone. as soon as I held him. the smell… His sweet.” And as soon as everybody was there. He will always be my first baby. I still think of him. and whispered. when I visited him.
I didn’t shed one tear. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. in a better mood than usual. yet his passing was significant to me. I was close to my father. But after 5 years of marriage.m. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. After my dad’s death. But as a father. Facing the cell door. roller-skating. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker.. But I didn’t cry. My dad liked to sing and dance. Malachi Ephraim Florence. he was really fantastic. Dad une 15. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. enjoying the early morning light. I went through many phases. I dreamed about him every single night. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch.100+ I Miss You. and listening to music. from denial to 130 I . fishing. I miss him deeply. he died suddenly and tragically.
45 Montreal. Terri Giosia. How sad that now sounds. However. Québec. As a last minute thought. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. Life lost its luster. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. had no meaning. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I am now 45. her youngest 131 I . hate to indifference. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. the final and hardest phase arrived. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I sent my aunt. After a long period of time. a Christmas card. with great parents and friends. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. I drank to escape and forget. I realized that what happened was out of my control. happily single. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died.
Soon after. 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.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. my poem may mean nothing. The night before. my mom had been taken to the hospital. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. Not only did she call him. 51 Rosharon.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. But after all the miserable hospital visits. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. Dennis Forrest. To the academic world. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. he said. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. especially when you are only seven years old. The doctor gave her three months to live. For two years.
I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. and us. but to help them through things the best you can. the house. This experience has made me stronger. It went on and on. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. and even worked from home so he could be there. 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 dad softly called me over.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. 16 Rexburg. My father continued hacking. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. 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. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. where it was warm. too weak to walk to her bedroom. “Daddy. He took care of my mom. Aubrie.
He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. healing wounds. so I recognized it in both of you. but he died before I got the chance. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. and he loved you. We feared lung cancer. real sick. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. and he was gone. I could see that you loved your father. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. exhaled. so I stood there. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. but the last time inexorably approached. You see. I wanted to make it up to him. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. Even when he was here last time. as did my mother. There were hard feelings between us.” He was just twenty-four at the time. with complications from lupus. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. son. closed his eyes. when I first met your family several years ago. collect. Don’t ever smoke them. not speaking. but emphysema got him first. too. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. You settled your differences.” 134 . I had unfinished business with my father. I could tell. the reason I’m saying this. like you did.100+ asked. He said things. I admire what you did. Over the past few years. who knew my family well. from a prison payphone in the dark. and that was a good thing. He looked at my brothers. I knew he wanted to say something. I begged him to quit for years. A prisoner friend. I said things I’ve always regretted. waiting him out: “Charlie. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy.
He had jumped off the tier headfirst. It was the least I could do. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. 135 I . I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. My cellie threw up. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. While there. His tears soaked into my suit coat. Norman. I decided to slash my wrist. 59 Daytona Beach.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. FL Slash nstead of going to court. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. Charles P. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. leaned his head on my shoulder.
and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in.T.100+ “Well. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. “Six months. Evidently.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. 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.” G. I don’t anymore. His eyes were half open.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .
Even the crazy guys had shut up. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. there was only solemn silence. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. But not at this moment. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. perhaps. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. For the first time since I was there. CA 137 . hung it back up on the wall. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. stood there for several seconds. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. It was so still. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. 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. Then. He had everyone’s complete attention. With a bit of a dramatic flair.T R U E S T O R I ES was. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. I want to be with a girl. For twenty years. I want some sex. but it’s not my girlfriend. angrily. but also to pick up girls. “I came to see my girl. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. I was black. I was convicted. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. forcing myself in. and I’m in college. in front of a white jury. she’s home alone. Because she was white. 1982. I’m thinking. popular on campus. sentenced to six years in prison. my fraternity brothers. barging into her apartment. 141 I . I say. it’s her roommate. I knock on the door. a member of a fraternity. the white system. it’s a habit of ours. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. a football player.” As I say this. we can have sex. “Your girl is not here. if no one else is here. but I haven’t picked up a girl. she was white. that it was a setup.” I say. When it’s time to leave the club. not only to have fun. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. I’ve had fun. and a ladies’ man. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I only saw what I wanted to see. and it was my word against hers. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. racism at its best. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. It opens. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining.” I step towards her.
The fantasy of grandchildren. for them. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. if I were to have a place in this world. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. For sixteen years. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. I had known that I was a disappointment. So I tried. faithfully. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. forced attractions to women.100+ Today.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. pure houseboat. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. a wife. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. especially with men. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that.
One day. 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. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. all too well in fact. my sadness never faltered.. only for who I pretended to be. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. When I arrived. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. boring corduroy-wearers. At seventeen. with whom I constantly fought and argued.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. So I confessed my truths. I wrote a script. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. 19 Hooksett. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . that my parents felt the same. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. I am finally happy. Daryl F. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. And I knew.
30 Maidstone. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. Nicholas. Kent. being a noble and resourceful man. Philippa.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. and sinker. We didn’t date. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. This brought about a case of stage fright. I was literally paralyzed. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. Knowing very little about astrology. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. His self-confidence saved the day.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. carried on like a trooper. line. He dated one girl 144 I . but I always suspected that he was gay. 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. it was swallowed hook. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. especially for clothes. one male and one female.
Jayne L. she was always a tomboy. When he told me he was gay.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. 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. 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. As for my female friend. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. Waterville. However. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. especially since I had always suspected it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. I didn’t really think anything of it. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. My friends just did .
he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. not me.” I did. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. knowing that if she 146 . I fear losing my partner. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. gays and lesbians are persecuted. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. We are not giving it to her. and the shrink said that they needed therapy.100+ me. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. As if things couldn’t get any worse. After three years worth of evidence gathering. too. If I were a man. “Never mind. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. They even sent me to a shrink. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system.” Within 10 days. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle. but I am a woman and therefore. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. We feel the judge was very homophobic. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. who is from Peru. Right now.” so we had to go back to court.
the Ultimate Truth.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. 35 Tampa. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. 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. has taught me compassion. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. but we did not lose ourselves. If anything. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. We lost everything. Aileen Diaz. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. the most effective teacher. TX 147 I . These days.
my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I still love and respect him. and I would never throw it in his face. 30 Detroit. I probably would have been better off not knowing. But on the other hand. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. Eloise Lebreton. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. Now. On the one hand. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. I feel like an idiot. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. You have to always be 148 C . better not to tempt fate. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell.
I lived in Shreveport. 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. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. 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.” then there’s not much they can do about it. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. After church. Louisiana. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. I was allowed to play with a friend. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. Mike Rothwell Ione. so you better learn to keep it at bay. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. But if someone’s determined to “check out. 149 A . It’s always going to be there. No matter how upbeat you may feel. They help. One way is to keep doing those pushups.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.
and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. another ultrafundamentalist sect. was too much to handle.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. Yurshta. NC 150 . Christian Missionary Alliance. 47 Old Fort. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. I have been an atheist ever since. She barged into the room screaming. “You think this hurts motherf’er. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. her face contorted in rage. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. My friend’s mother yelled. especially my mother. and abuse. 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. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. lit the gas stove. molestation. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. at my tender age. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing.
not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . 26 Essen. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. Gaby Hermann. NETHERLANDS Harsh. whether physical or emotional. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. I swear. demeaning. I did not get angry with him. I had nine miscarriages. should not be tolerated. Any kind of abuse. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. I have never been physically beaten. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged.
INDIA 152 . 36 New Delhi. Sonia. I was forced to call the cops. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.100+ with me. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. Delhi. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Then one day.
Eerie Encounters .
until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. although I’ve never seen one. We cannot be alone. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. I don’t need to see to believe. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. In my nightmare. 28 Salem. swishing sound. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. even Ghirardelli’s. I can see the people.m. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Aquatic Park. slight. my 155 I . The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. I keep swimming. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. Why would we want to be? Clarette. but I’m getting tired. They are looking beyond me. just a quarter of a mile farther. I listen for a moment to a strange. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe.
I awake. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. summoning me. I hear something in the distance calling me. The waves crash. I am silently alone. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I’m only treading water. 24 Lawrence. The walls murmur. beginning to feel numb. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. out beyond the breakers. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. MA 156 T .100+ arms are getting heavy. And then. to the deep water. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. When I was 18. Foster. Am I going crazy? Frank E. About 5 years later. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. And about a week after that. Will Ferrara. 45 Delano.
In the following days. From that moment on. too. Shocked. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. and we had no choice but to drink it. a strange heat enveloped my body. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. 56 Alfonsine. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. at my uncle’s funeral. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. I felt sick and went to sleep. Ravenna. ITALY 157 I . while still aboard. I dreamt that I was in Italy. Almost twenty days later. I immediately called home. showing us that we were right. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. Not long after. In October. On our way to the hospital. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. In the dreams.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. my mouth stopped bleeding. While alive. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. One night.
as whatever I was looking at was far away. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. but late for work! Paddy J. I stood up and looked at its face. I remember shaking like a leaf. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. its feet dragging along the ground. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. I was squinting.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I landed at the feet of the creature. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. staring straight ahead. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. It was then that I woke up. 19 Monaghan. It was my dad! At that moment. but they continued moving and stretched me out. It was pitch black.. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed.
” someone who knew the area told me.” I thought. it had disappeared. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. I was in the bathroom. As I placed my canteen in the water. As nighttime fell. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. That left me speechless. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. Enrique M.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. echoes from long ago. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. One evening. When I returned home. “I’ve been here before. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. When I turned to look. the vision of a tall. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. 159 W . “That place is haunted. my mind completely blank. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. It was at this moment that I saw. Hiking along the trail. Fernandez Miami. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. thin man. thinking about nothing.
and the vision was gone. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. I have not had any such vision since. He walked towards me.100+ He was wearing a long. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. hooded. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. grey cloak that covered his entire body. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. I remembered being there before. However. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. His face was shrouded in darkness. Devon. standing in that same spot. Then. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. when I entered the King’s Chamber. still completely covered by the hood. I have no idea what the vision meant. but somehow I knew that he was bearded.
There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. and don’t believe time is always linear. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. transferred his intelligence into my brain. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken.” Now. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . leaving the center in which I stood untouched. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. Then my former self stood in my body. I came back to my present “reality. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. During this moment of déjà vu.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. 54 Auckland. and activated it. AK. Misty.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections.
I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation.100+ broad daylight seemed real. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. I’m willing to see where it takes me. facing myself. a little more aware. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old.B. In my dream. Lonn. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. and a little less afraid. D. I’m 59 now. 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. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. I woke up taking short gulps of air. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. a little more settled. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. They knew what was about to happen. 162 I . 59 West Roxbury. drifting like seaweed. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. but I didn’t. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad.
when I moved 163 G .T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Jayne L. but with a different outlook on life–and death. “I need to get back. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. I started to read a lot of books. I learned the term years later. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. 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. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I watched shows on television. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. completely powerless to stop it. I survived the accident with no major injuries. which struck a barrier. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. and then was finally able to label my experience. Later. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. Waterville. The driver lost control of the vehicle. and quickly drifting away. Since I was only 4 years old. as I had in Spain. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. After that.
at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is only going to a different level. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them.100+ to Massachusetts. facing him. a few steps from the altar. I got slowly closer. A year later. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. just one year before meeting Gabriele. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. 37 Madrid. I knelt down on a pew. One night. Smiling kindly. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. it’s one of my many pastimes. he said. but with no success. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. But for me.
in January 1991. Then one night.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. and I tried to help him. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. we became involved. Through telepathy. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. 56 Alfonsine. While I stared at him. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. To be sure. struck by his suffering. He vowed to marry me. Through telepathy. but he had terrible secrets. Ravenna. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. I felt all his fear and pain. so I left. striking me like a storm. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. I told him not to joke. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. ITALY 165 .
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. On some nights. Then all of a sudden. During the five trips I made out there. He tipped his hat and smiled. NH. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time.100+ I See Spirits spirit. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. Soon after. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. I developed .
“Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. a state psychologist friend of mine. but then. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. We saw the usual lights in the sky. she suddenly pointed and yelled. who was also an amateur photographer. As I returned to where Betty was parked. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. On one occasion. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. strobe for 30 seconds.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. First. up a tree. and meet. fly to some central point. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. On one of my last visits. MA 167 . accompanied me. Later. and then disappear. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. 70 Waltham. about 50 yards down the tracks. Other times. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. then they turned off. and into the sky.
At Home & Abroad .
My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. where all were welcome and. and completely broken by life. Russian caviar. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. Lately. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. I once had plans to live in London. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . Colombian. We married and had a daughter. as proof of dignity. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. had to show the INS hard-working hands. but eventually we divorced. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. but life had a different destination in mind for me. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. with a 3-year-old son. and great America.” My father used to talk of Hungary. or Puerto Rican dialect. not financial statements. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. German perfume.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira.
We don’t feel less American because of that. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. the Dolphins. Nidia F. we love Bach. while others are trying to cheat the system.100+ Greece. We all suffer when this happens. on the contrary. it reminds us that this country is great.. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. 36 Lennon. Morales. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Mare. 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. 54 Leominster.S. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. 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.
a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. while my 173 Every year from June until September. cars. Later in the summer. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. it would have been too dangerous.C. so I decided to move to his.S. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. My father is Mexican. and migrant camps. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. We lived in tents. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. apart from being unconscionable. my . I had family there. illegally because.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. harvesting crops. 27 Washington.S. Many times. we stayed in Livingston. Then during the fall and winter months. D.
my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. Spanish.100+ father worked for a local farmer. they didn’t work. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. I was embarrassed by my first language.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. Because of school. we took our baths in a big washtub. Not only were the white students 174 . I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback.” “wet. In grammar school. halfway through my junior year. I struggled to learn to speak. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. School was a struggle from the beginning. they had the opposite effect. I was held back in kindergarten. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. I realized that I was out of place in school. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. read. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. and write in English. In fact.” or “spic. In high school. However.” “greaser. This is where I went to school. our bathroom was an outhouse. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. Early on. mostly beans and tortillas. However. this was not a quick or easy transition.
Although I was of Mexican descent. Raul Ybarra. an enclave 175 I . but on the inside I acted like a white person. They will pay. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. the usual. 50 Boston. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. I didn’t seem to fit in. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. I wasn’t Mexican. I wasn’t white. My private class is in La Rinconada.S. you know. in theory. to the Mexican students. a five sol coin and two half sol coins.” I remind myself. and I had lost most of my Spanish.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. I was born and raised in the U. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. To white students. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. not even two dollars. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico.. a gringo wearing a tie. “One hundred soles tonight. “Now don’t run away on me. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house.
100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. Remember. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. They don’t speak to me or to each other.” I say. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate.” “The señora is not here. you are not Peruvian. never mind 176 . I have classes with her kids. are washing dishes in the sink.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.” “I know she’s not here. I sit at the kitchen table. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. she told me to come inside and wait. with chicken bulging from its sides. If these families don’t find happiness here. Matt. “She’s not here.” “That’s okay. No way. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. It’s ají amarillo. Two maids. I am cheered by the recognition. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. as big as a sandwich. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. even your own paycheck. I eye the tamal on the counter.
and we were all waiting for our first check. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. and springs out the door to the entrance. and I came. 177 . “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. I hear three honks. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. Matt Wirzburger. Chin up. Wipe any sign of need from your face. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. The room grew eerily silent. payday. 40 Amesbury. No way am I going home empty-handed. others were given a song and dance. “That’s what we all hope. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. 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. Some received their checks. They looked at each other to see who would answer. That is the hard part: hiding the need. 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.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. I was told to come. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. An hour later. It was the end of the month. Mrs. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day.
” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. It was well worth it. As I again made my way down the grid streets. and only then.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. With briefcase in hand. It was then. the whole city was there. I wasn’t alone. Karen Manhattan. yet spaced widely apart. I felt that I had “made it there. As dusk turned to darkness. 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. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. the city awoke and came to life. NY 178 . I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. I was in the city “on business. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. After the much-anticipated grilling session. The streets were numbered.
and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic.” or “Yankland”.S. 12) It’s not the “U. real ale. The 179 .S.. bitter. etc.” or “U.”. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. Scottish. and sophisticated. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.” “The States. and you must learn the difference between lager.A. 7) Humour is subtle. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Welsh.” “Pop Idol. it’s “America. we don’t. 4) Beer drinking is an art. dry. sarcastic. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. and stout. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. French.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. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.e. 10) The English. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. they helped a great deal. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. Irish.
100+ Beatles. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. apologise profusely for it. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. FL 180 . Gavin S. Pink Floyd). 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. 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!). they’ll take the non-Yank.. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts.m. or any other English-speaking foreigner. not pounds. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). and body weight is stated in stones.m. 23 Jacksonville. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. If caught being rude. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. Rolling Stones. South African. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. Canadian. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p.
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. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. my parents and I arrived at . We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. We took off from the claustrophobic. Native and unique to Hawaii. crimson berries. Pearl Harbor. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. We discovered Diamond Head. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990.” which spans in black swirls over the island. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. and Waikiki Beach. Although decades have passed.
Gutierrez. ovular.” Despite my pitiful German. B. Estado de México. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. 29 Tultitlán. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.100+ large. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. I remember wanting to return… H. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.
I knew it was war. I even felt a bit guilty. however unfounded that emotion may be. checked 183 In late October 1998. To them. Schleswig-Holstein. However. but never forgotten. green hills and plains. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. eerie feeling. crying. Gisela. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I packed up my leased . and running in all directions. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. Along the road. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. destruction everywhere. we were the enemy. I imagined civilians screaming. Standing in St. I experienced an unexpected. that it was them or us. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. Marien’s church in Lübeck. For the first time since the early eighties.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. 21 Lübeck.
TN 184 . Brigitte Pauli Memphis. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. 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.100+ into small motels. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. delightful little restaurants. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. There is always a scent of sage in the air. I spent days at the Pueblo. and visited various museums. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity.
The Toughest Job in the World .
We were told that I could be induced at this point. we did not make it to the hospital. For our first child. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. after being able to share this special bond. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. So. which is about 45 minutes away. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. I planned a Caesarean. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him.m. I knew what to expect. so on the 20th.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. Needless to say. At 3:30 a. 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. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital.. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. For child number two. Krista. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. My due date of June 19th came and went. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way.
The car would stop. Joe Palooka. and Tarzan of the Apes. the smells of biscuits. Not every week. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. spread them open on the wood floor. I had no concept of rent. and two more on the way (my brothers. Friday evenings were always a thrill. The Texarkana Gazette. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. By then. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and my mother would call us for breakfast. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. and read each one aloud. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. He’d slowly read the comics to me. It was just the three of us. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. lie down. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. car payments. not working as he was the rest of the week. Daddy would get out. Alley Oop. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. grocery bills. Dan and Tom).100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. but fairly frequently. prop himself up on his elbows. take out the Sunday comics. He’d take off the rubber band. All was good in the world. My . bacon.
Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. and his weight. They said he was beautiful. Not with . Finally. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. 59 Daytona Beach. but I never realized it. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. Times were hard. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. I felt desperate. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. or at least pretend to. Charles P. Sebastian.T R U E S T O R I ES him. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. 1. but because I thought I had failed.220 grams. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. a frown on her face. (On Friday evenings. tubes. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. begging him for a ride in the new car. and lights. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. I cried. 189 The first time I saw my son. Norman. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I went to a place filled with noise.
I ached to still be pregnant. I was discharged. I became determined to care for him. 36 North Andover. Over time. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. wanting to 190 I . fear. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. He was so fragile and exposed. At long last. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. and mourning. and confidence. I’m too afraid of screwing up. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. and hope flooded me. and I prayed. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Relief. I gained knowledge. I sang to him. Each week. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. I began to sob. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. After a week. pride. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. I talked to him. Outside. patience. leaving my baby behind. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. I cried. Lisa. besieged by guilt. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be.
or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. I don’t have any desire to find out. and I was twelve years old.m. Right now. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. Though I was only twelve. 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. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. or having trouble with the police. driving to our new “hunting spot. Suzanne. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. At about 3 a. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. we weren’t there to look at. But tonight. or getting into drinking. drugs. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. pet. my father and I were in his truck. and I 191 I . I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. or gangs. or feed the deer.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary..
I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. I didn’t even have to call the deer. . GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. checked for traffic. I took my spot and waited. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. I snuck up to the fence line. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. a second of your life. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. By the time he got there. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Steven Small. You can take a picture and freeze time. they were already there. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. with the click of a camera.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. We drank beer on the way home. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. 43 Jessup. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles.
New moments are constantly being created. and sadly. sipping a chocolate shake. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. I cherish every moment captured. but those moments stay behind. moments are forgotten. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. 30 Martinsburg. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. Life goes on. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. Kelly. Sitting on a stool at the counter.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. I didn’t expect much. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. I 193 M . My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. without a care in the world. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. but something was unleashed in me. Part of me wanted to pull her away. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was.
crisp. She quit school to marry him. “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. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. Mama was beautiful. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. and well fitting. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. he left. Some streetwise kids set me straight. Someday they’ll put you through college.” One day. “Your Mama works for tips.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. John. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. It was in seventh grade. the afternoon waitress.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. I was proud to be her son. my first year in middle school.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. He had promised to take care of us. Everyday. “Those aren’t for spending. collectables. without any explanation. I couldn’t take it anymore. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Dorothy.” she said with tears 194 . Those are old coins. “I did my best. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. Her green eyes sparkled. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. One day. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. I do my best.
not love. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. They let me go home for the funeral. Mama wrote every day. shame for being poor. I wouldn’t need it.. shame for having no Daddy. I wrote back. a letter came from Dorothy.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. Mama asked if I needed anything. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. Something with angels on it. One day. All my love turned into shame. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money.. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. TX 195 . Before she died. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. But something was missing from my letters. After it was over. There was just nothing I could respect about her. Respect. Mama sent cookies. My middle-school friends had seen to that. She’d died of breast cancer. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. Oh sure. I handed the money back to Dorothy. I didn’t go to college after high school. that’s what it was. Mama’s friend at the café. Mama was gone.
She must have known that I would see it. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. but her face wore the same void expression. “Last case for today. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. Finally. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. sit back down. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve.” My mom stood up and walked to the window.S. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. I looked at the gas gauge and said.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. “Mom. I opened the glove compartment. map. When I did. no books. and wait to be called into another room. and devoured them one by one. I pulled out all the papers. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. a lady came out and said. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. a man or woman would call out a number. “An abortion. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. we got into the boiling car. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. but there were no magazines. she answered. In the front. put them in my lap. Occasionally. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. “Mom. She would fill out some papers.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. When outside. no television. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital.
you’re just like Auntie Doll. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. lack of food. but someone else. It wasn’t the welfare office. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. when I was ten. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. she yelled. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. sat down beside me and said “Hello. I was sitting outside on the front steps. everybody in the world. Yvette Louisell.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. or the bills. 37 Mitchellville. No.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. for me. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. When she turned to look at me.
I got home empty-handed. That little girl was no fool.100+ girl in the world. “No. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. 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 kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. both became angry. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. Big John. The next thing I knew. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. but Ma said she would handle it herself. Big John wanted to go down there. Then. After twenty minutes. “Down the block. got a damp washcloth. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. She said love makes you do crazy things. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. Needless to say. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put.” she said. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. She 198 . Ma smiled and hugged me. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. I took Ma’s hand. what had happened. “Green house. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away.
do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. warning him not to touch us again. snatched the bag. “You like to beat up on women and kids.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. screaming. Then he walked over to the counter. who had been putting away groceries. Meanwhile. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. “Take it! It’s all there. but we laughed and laughed like never before. His wife. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. are you all right?” He nodded. Ma ran to him. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. and left. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. George Hughes. 66 Burkeville.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. stood by the refrigerator. VA 199 . we got the jewelry back. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. we got a smile. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. “My God. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh.
” the man screamed at me. saying. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. I hit the ground again. you made him cry. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. screaming. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. look what you did. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. I looked over.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. “Have you not got anything to say?” I began to cry as I stood up and looked at my folks just sitting there on our porch. more surprised than hurt. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. “Now run on home. and look. you scared the poor boy. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. “Don’t look to your folks for help. My mother had gotten to her feet.” 200 O . Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. you little sissy. one of Michael’s many siblings. he leaned over me. saying. but my dad sat her back down. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. With the fork in one hand. “Oh it’s all right.
She almost whispered. More mad than sad.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house.” I’ll ever forget what he said.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. dry house to live in. I can’t be there to save you. new shoes every fall. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. I ran to my room. clothes to wear. Peck was yelling at me. Very calmly. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. One of these days. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. and a warm. trying not to look at me. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. “My little wunderkind. I looked at her then at my father. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. Hours later. just thinking.” she said as she dried my tears. Later. and offered me cookies. Grandma Berg was inside. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. my little lipschkin.” I answered. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. but sternly.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. “No more with the neighbors. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. I think. at the dinner table. 201 . I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. help Grandma eat this. I said. “Thinking.
They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. chores to doing. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. Quiet now. as the elementary students they were. He was full of jokes. He got to me like no other student that year. CA The Sand Dollar by time. Sun coming soon. I received a devastating student update. Grandma is old woman. and intelligence. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Too much thinking for one so young.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. As I scanned the newspaper. tomorrow is better day. In the classroom. They remain frozen in my subconscious. He also loved conflict. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. but Grandma knows things. Your father. no more you thinking.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. a name leapt at me. Dream the dreams boys dream. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. unchanged . Thomas Michael Fox. 51 Corcoran. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. In casual and cruel black and white print. You must be sleeping now. songs.
T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I knew his story now. MA If Not Me. 36 Wakefield. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. I hadn’t found one for years. He wasn’t my first lost boy. smile broadly. so much lost. and dance away. He would nod. But even now. no one got to me like him. cursing him. I stormed down the beach. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. Stacey Curran Conway. He could always make people smile. I saw I hadn’t. Reading the article through blurred eyes. Now one found me. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. an 11-year-old in leather. but he was the star. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. So much wasted. just a headstone. I was mad. I smashed my heels in the sand. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. Then the ocean placed a perfect. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . I always wondered if I got through to him.
and administrators with agendas. and rehired. I have come to the end of myself. pooh-poohed. who trusted what would later come to fruition. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. students with social problems. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). however. I think. I’ve been insulted. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I sit 204 . I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations.100+ of what my students can become.” Back then. Surprisingly. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. I have stood in line. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. RIF’d. Finally. sworn at. In some pretty tough school districts. living wages. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. and kept students in line. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up.
Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. MA Unsung Heroes profession. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. for a new vision. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Unfortunately. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . more wary. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. I would be mortified. at the school where I taught. and 8th graders. I remember having to call up a mother after her son made a comment to the class about having me perform oral sex on him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Spanish was seen as an elective.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. 34 Framingham. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. Unruly students aside. Zora. much less trusting. 7th. not a real course.
29 Norwich. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. If I could survive this class. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught.100+ those who do. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. remnants of a continuous high. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. the vicious three-headed hellhound. At the start of a usual class. Julia Perez. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . I threatened detentions for students not in seats. Sitting. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. Most were sensible enough to sit. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. Attempting to gain control. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. Ted continued to wander about. I hope that someday. silence. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. I could survive the duration of this profession. His eyes were constantly glazed over. and schoolwork were not his hobbies.
I had stunned the high right out of him.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. His bark was mighty. Enjoy guarding hell. I have to call the principal to come get you. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job.” the child said confidently. “Take your best shot. Wait. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. As the class waited for my reaction. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. “Okay Ted. I decided on the only rational thing. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. but how was his bite? Move he did. MO 207 . Norton Loomer Saint Louis.
. Tom “Wolf ”. 47 Balic. 135 Christie. 37. 44 Anonymous.. 102 Elliott. Aileen. 19. 70 Best.T. Fernanda. 22 Aubrie. 166 Ephraim. 33. Malachi. Eugene Alexander. D. 45 Brame.. 145 Donna J. 95 Barchard. 132 Babb. Sue Ellen. 166 Antzes. 127 Diaz. 111 Amberchele. 100 Burns. J. Robert Hal. James. 51. 79 Anonymous . Lance. José. 96 Anonymous. Matthew. 130 . 61 Clarette. 122. 32 Brown. Adelle. G. 60 Aleman. Christopher. 75 Carrillo. 142 Dey. 155 Corson. Aila. Stacey. 53 Curran Conway. 121 Boner... 172 Allen.C. Cynthia.Author Index AK. 202 Daryl F.
George. 97 Hermann. 116 Hathorn... Hector. Terri. 115 Hayley. 162 Jenelleish.. 123 Gavai. 181 Harris. Mary. 101 Jayne L. 124 Hughes. Elisabetta.Errani Emaldi. 17. Frank E. 131 Foster.. 128 Jolene. 164 F. H. Will. 59. Spoon. 30. 179 Giosia. 157. 130 Gisela. 94 . 77 Gavin S. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 109 Karen. 200 Galilea. 144.B. 151 Higgins. 28. 36. 147 Kelly.G. 74. 80.. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 53. William Steed. 177 Kelley. Thomas Michael. 98. 163 Gutierrez. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 62. Gaby. 197 Jackson.. Dennis.A. 158 Ferrara. Pilar. 155 Fox. Enrique M. Gene W. 115 Fernandez. 40 January. 125 Hayden.. Daniel H.. 110 Forrest. 45. 92 Gallegos.
161 Loomer. 92 Perez. 23 . 189 Lonn.. 71 Richards. 141 Redfearne. 171 Murff. 108 Philippa. 32. 25 McKenzie. Santonio. 93. 21 LeBeau. Gary. 196 Mansour. Brigitte. 73 Lebreton. 136.. 205 Pete. 160 Momo. 187 Kumar. 133.. Eloise. Yvette. D. 59 Morales.B. Charles P. 158 Pauli. 67 Misty. Prashant Devan. Mike. Ricky.Krista.. 183 PC. Nidia F. 122. 148 Lisa. Scarlet. 86 Mare. Michael. 143 Priscilla. 172 Mayo. 99 Quarles. Kitty. 87 McKenna. 91 Rothwell. Zachary. 69. 85 Rose. Mark D. 206 Louisell.. 107. Jan. 148 Salinas. 77 McLean. Julia. 20. 188 Paddy J. 88 Norman. Byron. Miriam. Norton.
Kurt. 63 Wirzburger. Bronwyn. 193 Ybarra. 114 Vogt. 95 Yochum.. 191 Sonia. 149 Zephyr.. Adela.Samuel. 50 Theoharides. 39 Yurshta. Agatha. 15. Dinorah. Melvin William Joseph. Raul. 16 Shurley. 159 Wantz. 151 Suzanne. 55 von Fuller.E. 34 Zora. John. 42 Windoftheclyde. Steven. Idris. 175 Yarbrough. 90 Torres. Matt. 87 Small. 85 Tedesco. 173 Yeyo. Alexander J. 203 . J. 190 Suzy. 41 Shelly.
A. U. 60 Island Street Lawrence. Inc. 2009.100 Plus True Stories. MA 01840 . Inc. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse.S. Massachusetts. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse.
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anecdotes.” “.com.. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. or confessions.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. illustrate life’s many.100plusts.. These are true stories told by people like you. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.com.com $19.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. These firsthand accounts. reflect. but with a different outlook on life–and death. no more than a few miles away across the inlet.100plusts.. written as memoirs. cry. 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. The best stories were selected for this book. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh.100plusts. Many people are telling their true stories. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. floating in the air.” “A week before my 26th birthday. Upon being published.99 9 781598 351095 . facing myself.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. and remember. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.. who were eager to share their experiences. Now you are invited to do the same. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.
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