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
my mother passed away from cancer. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. By the 8th grade. can be revealed to the world. By 18. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. On March 3. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. images. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. living on many different bases. Due to anger. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. so I grew up as an Army brat. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. 2007. Malachi Ephraim Florence. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. Dennis Forrest. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. bitterness. Nevada in 1968. desires. 51 Rosharon. and drug addiction. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. AZ I 19 . the eldest child of one brother and two sisters.
day out. I know I am finally awake to life. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. I rejoice in the art I produce.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. their heaviness. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. Yet. When I do little jobs. in a week. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. to develop boundaries. such as putting up books in the library. For quite a while now. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. 20 N . I am aware of the way their covers feel. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. and acting. to search spiritually. listening. and I can look at them neutrally. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Listening now requires my full attention. and their condition. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. freedom to expand my horizons. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. Today. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. tomorrow.
communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. teachers. Lamas Rinpoche. In closing. But for now. find true freedom. my learning continues. As a matter of fact. and Thich Nhat Hanh. Yeshe. 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. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. be they physical. I can easily mix with just about anyone. mental. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. or strangers away. I know I will. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. once I am given the chance. love. or spiritual. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . and compassion and when they do. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed.
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. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur. I thought to myself. but didn’t join in the conversation. I took in what the kids were saying.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. She broke the news to me as best as she could. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. As I listened to my mom. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. Prashant Devan Kumar. 18 Cheras. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real.” 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. She had 22 M . Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center.
I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. and wonder. their world becomes a mental one. I grew up in boys’ homes. Seg. ponder.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. reflect. I remember sitting in the car. TYC. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. That’s all we do in these cells: think. feel. with life to go. imagine. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. not caring that there was no Santa. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. only thinking about those fucking stickers. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now.). dream. That day. Every time I am taken out of my cell. You have to have 23 I . and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. Food is brought to me. juvie halls. confined to a one-man cell. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. 23 hours a day. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. 24 Queens.
There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. and everything went to shit from there. It is something that I truly am sorry for. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. and I got life in prison. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. Trust me. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. and no one gets hurt. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. The next day. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I was alone. It was a robbery gone bad. I’d done it a dozen times. There were three. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. I saw his point and I left things as they were. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. run. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. watching the clerk close up shop. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. But to 24 . I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I think now how naïve I was. staking out the store from across the street. In the end.
It’s a mess. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Crap is strewn everywhere. It looks like a spaghetti strainer.S. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. No way. in which the author served as part of the U. I’m thinking. I’m keeping my pieces. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. not benign crap. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. if you’re lucky. Look at the car. Big holes.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. I mean. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. Holes everywhere. I’m not moving. Watch the crap. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. I think about that shit. right. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . Watch the crap. it’s not going anywhere. 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. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. o. Yeah. I’m looking at this car. all observant and such.
RPG rounds.I. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. with holes in them all.I. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I curse myself for being so stupid. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. Now. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. but I don’t care. this “Desert Storm. right on the crap. I’m sick of this crap. 26 . I’m holding my privates.P. hold privates. grenades. with maybe a little inscription saying. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. or tunnel vision.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. I didn’t even see this stuff. Henceforth see potential to be blown up.” or whatever you call it. from messing my mind up further.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. Whoever’s firing those damn things. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. well. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. hundreds of them. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I’ve been so careful all of these months. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives.A. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. Good night. How many days have I been awake? Damn.. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. cars now.—R. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I figured I’d hang on to something. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. and mines scatter everywhere. K. I’m angry.
vehicles are everywhere. The pictures don’t lie. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. They look like statues. I know I’m not dead. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. His ID card falls out. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. I do.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. No stench. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. I don’t want to end up like him. maybe. It was fun for a minute. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. too. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. It’s hard to tell. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. right? The ones I see are fresh. but like some sick voyeur. The glazed eyes give it away. unless they shortened the fuses. again. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. Is 27 . but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. along with the gaping hole through the skull. Damn. I don’t want to look. I don’t like the burned ones.
He’ll think of his son every day and cry. we will celebrate. They’ll never know what happened to him. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. “Yes. and shackled. handcuffed.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. We’ll have that in common. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. the Americans. that damn war.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. One by one waist-chained. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. I want no part of it. No. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. we stepped 28 I . They’ll never know me. The hero died with a scream on his lips. If that’s heroism. pictures don’t lie. his son—maybe even himself. from that war. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Mark D. hoping his son will return from down South. Probably not. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. McKenna Columbus.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places.
Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. mountains.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. 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. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. 29 . tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. indeed. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. In retrospect. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. The restless. 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.
a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. in some cases. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. the lunacy of a previous occupant. I found that I was not alone in this realization. This is 30 M . What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. 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. sealed off from everything and everyone. for most. Hector Gallegos Otisville. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God.100+ Looking around me. a vacuum of uncertainty. and. It’s a world of its own where. but no one dared speak of them. While I was in there. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. boredom.
but I had no luck. 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. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. Will Ferrara. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. 24 Lawrence. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. We used to have a very healthy relationship. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay.. MA 31 . My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time.. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. She has a son now.
I always felt lonely. I grew up spoiled rotten. stole an airplane. where I am today. 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. and began robbing banks. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. They never really understood that there was something wrong. flew to Florida. Three years later. I was always sad. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. but that made me feel worse. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. I escaped. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . After 15 years there. I was at last transferred to Central Florida.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day.
It’s going to be hard to get better. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on.T R U E S T O R I ES me. but I was already highly unstable by then. but only for a little while. It wasn’t her fault. and then my house caught on fire. Lights come on. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. This year. Now. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. Cars speed by. but there was something missing. I started therapy. so I always tried to help them. 16 Richmond. 33 I . Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. Momo. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. When I started middle school. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. and I am doing a lot more for myself. or mine. I had friends and a boyfriend. This made me feel good.
I am still alive. You think to yourself. many homeless people end up in jail. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. You have nowhere to go. I have met a variety of people in prison. I have been fortunate. your feet hurt. It’s cold. 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... “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. God has been looking out for me. for one reason or another. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. G.T. This is why. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. 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. under the three strikes law. nothing to eat. you’re hungry. nowhere to sleep. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.100+ homeward bound. no one to call. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A .
I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. My husband and Joe came to blows again. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. I brought it upon myself. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. my case was thrown out of court. My husband. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. In their eyes. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. I immediately told my husband and we left. I thought it was my husband. My husband and I filed a police report right away. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. So Joe walks free. I must have asked to be raped. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. and the rest of the family awoke. We all had a few too many. They say most 35 . They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. Nonetheless. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. his brother. During the car ride home. Without warning.
Men ask me. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. for all the good it’s doing me. When I got locked up. but I am always in a good mood. We had six kids—with so many kids. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I keep getting turned down for parole. trying to survive among savage men. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. drug dealer. you almost have to be a bank robber. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I love to write books and short stories. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. and for the past 10 years.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. while the victims get a life sentence. No one was hurt or kidnapped. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . My first eight years in prison were rocky. I just took the money and ran. I’ve been a model inmate. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. or crooked politician. and I made it without becoming one of them. Zephyr Chicago. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer.
and my innermost thoughts and desires. That summer. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. George Hughes. 63 Burkeville. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. At fourteen. not die. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. laughter. I love writing. but I put the truth out there for all to read. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. the car. compassion. like taste good food. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. anger. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. they are good people with good hearts. Writing is like having an affair. Mom got a new apartment. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. And it all transpired in 37 O . When I’m writing. flavors that today I’d die for—well. but all’s well in the end. and us three kids. I turned fourteen. my parents became legally separated. sadness. 1982. I share love. tears.
My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. and put them on. I burst through the front door. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. at fourteen. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. not enough to panic. picked out a pair. Like an NFL running back. And by the age of eighteen. So I decided to steal. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I took off like a bat out of hell. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. On the very last day of summer. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. I went over to the shoe department. Then I put on all three new shirts. sprinting as fast as possible. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. In 1982. Once inside. but here it was. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. sister. and me. I was in State Prison. “Mom.100+ less than an hour. Once outside. My friends would have surely made fun of me. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. and inexplicably. By fifteen. I wasn’t too concerned. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. looking down at my new wet shoes. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom.
When I was finished with him. they said. Obviously shocked. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. 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. 18 Mowrystown. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. OH 39 I . Six days later. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I asked why I was being arrested. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. To my complete surprise. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out.
Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. in the same room. I deserved to do some time and make amends. ignorance. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. mind. and soul. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. 40 N . The judge gave me life without parole. From then on. though he never loved her. and when one falls. In the depths of my heart and soul. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. My mom’s eyes held a million words. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. I killed someone. how he cared for her. my mom and dad came to visit me. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. and mean words. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. I felt that what I did was wrong. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. At nineteen. fights. with a common goal. I was ready to be judged and convicted. but the fact is I did. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. the others are there to pick him up. It was good to see them together. and lack of feelings. Before. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. hitting and abusing her. During my trial.
smiles. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. but they all have lives. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Spoon Jackson. but I see only the negative things. but now everything seems tight. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . Besides. I need to budget. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. fleeting hope. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Money never used to be an issue. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. I’m getting older. but my will to survive took over. and violent unrest. I have no friends in this new city. I learned quickly to keep my laughter.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. but I take no initiative to start the process. 50 Represa. I was naïve. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. I came from the desert.
I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. I see that in spite of my depression. Ontario. mixed with big dreams of happiness. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. Idris Samuel. 27 Toronto. All of those negative ideas. inconspicuous notebook. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. For someone like me. brought up in me. go into a small. I even see things in a more positive light now. I’m not stuck in one place. the only escape that I found was with a knife. but moving slowly in the right direction. In the few months that I’ve been writing. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. a dead father. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. my pen is capturing everything. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age.100+ before I go to bed. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. 42 I .
I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. a need for the chemicals in the formula. it merely put them on hold. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. As I look back on the role that the drug played. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. While on probation in 1995. While in prison. While incarcerated. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. But then. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. never directly addressed. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. new problems arose. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. light-headedness. It had become a habit.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve.
unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. 13 44 I . I’ve always had low self-esteem. but I never thought it would result in depression. Never waste life. 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. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain.100+ stable. Anonymous. much clearer. the present is much. J. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Now the reality I face is my own life. Think about who really loves you.E. I am a different person. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Wantz Salem. you will be twice as strong. it’s too short and too precious. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. but my reaction to them is not the same. and once it does. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. And the present is where I have to live.
and pornography. cultural arts centers. writing helped. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. community centers.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. 51 Corcoran. I began to start to feel differently about myself. Thomas Michael Fox. I have turned my attention back to God. After getting sober in 2001. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I ended up in prison for life. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. Now I try. 1958 in Elgin. 45 G . Illinois. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. alcohol. The son of a research chemist.
and 12-year-olds. my school sponsored an art contest. The second and third place runners-up were announced. migrant workers. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. prison scenes. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. my name was called. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. Then. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. at the age of 17. This history. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. Mexican revolutionaries. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. vatos locos. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age.100+ youth programs. On the day the winner was to be announced. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. When I was in second grade. and indigenous themes. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 .
metaphors. The guard was two feet in front of me. And yet. Securing the tools. I had to get in the same cage.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. manufacturing the rope. a hacksaw blade. I fuse images using words. cash. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . and sixty feet of rope to the roof. a freehand artist second. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. and crazy juxtapositions. José Boner Boscobel. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. a new tradition: poetical muralism. there was no turning back. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. and obtaining the other articles took time. Siquierod with Cisneros. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. Octavio with Orozco. I consider myself first a poet. camouflage the cut marks. Today. watching every move during a strip search.
The cage was shaking and rattling. every muscle was taut. There was no time for hesitation. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. I was using a Vaseline-type ointment on the three-inch blade to reduce friction and the blade was burning hot from the frantic sawing. I was going. I slung the rope over my shoulder. and I was sweating a puddle. I could see everything. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. doubt. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. It was going according to plan 48 . Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side.100+ primitive. but they could see every move I made. but the meshing distorted clear vision. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. already packed with the gear. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I was balls-to-the-wall. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. I was through and bent back the bars. D-day. In a few minutes. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. or nerves. my arms were screaming.
I’d escaped. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. outside the confines of the jail. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. Yet. The rope burned through my fingers. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. D. from regret and anxiety. I was lying on the rooftop. CA 49 . I should have made gloves. but now I would to fall to my death. it was too late for solutions. Babb Corcoran. guards. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. but couldn’t move. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. I attempted to crawl away. needed more knots… whatever the problem. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. I know I’ve never been freer. But that feeling of open air on my skin. from doubt. cages. through what I’ve gained and learned since. free from fear. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. It was too thin. I know from consequential.
By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W .U. I thought I loved him. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. He attempted to shut off the ignition.s. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. he just kept hitting rock bottom. Alcohol would always come first. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. I was scared to death that someone was going to come running out of the house or that a cop would pull up beside us. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. not losing his license. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. and by the time I did. There was no wake-up call. but the key was jammed. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. which never came. One time.I. it was too late.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. not getting pancreatitis. nothing. no matter what. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat.
victimless cash. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. and sexual predators committed. 23 Hollywood. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. thugs. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. not a crime. a man with a past. I had seen and done a lot. simply liked the quick. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. I had lived an interesting life. Unfortunately. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. that was for sure. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. Crimes were what thieves. To me. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. drugs were simply a hustle. who in the present. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. Adela Tedesco. In my 33 years.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. free dope. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I .
it protects the innocent. this time. at the university. CA 52 . tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. either. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. While I’m no angel. and with whoever. for all practical purposes. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. I’m arguing against it one more time. at this fateful juncture of my life. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. as an activist. not the solution. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. the entire world of academia.” There are the pro-drug war. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. I understand the necessity for law and order. Now. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. our families. I’m surely not the devil.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. It helps those unable to defend themselves. I participated in the discourse. Yet. things are different. Then there are those of us. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. I argued it at every level: in the media. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. at stake: my entire life.
They destroy lives. However. So many people believe that they are invincible. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. my stomach and chest. even though they know that there are great risks. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. that nothing will ever happen to them. One of the guards supplied it. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. riding through space in 53 O . there are new users every day. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. There are always consequences. I felt it starting at my feet. 24 Little Compton. coming up my legs. Lance Corson. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. and nothing good ever comes of them. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. until it took over my whole being. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein.
and I could feel the cramps coming. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. I stood in the corner. my back to the wall. My stomach was cramping. My body was curled. I began to shake all over. My muscles 54 . My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The floor closed up as I hit it. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. my heart pounded violently. I walked around with my arms in front of me. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. bad. I needed a fix. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. falling. falling. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. only inches left to stand on. Then I nodded off. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. dying for a fix. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. across my stomach. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. There were monsters with long tails down there. I was freezing all over.100+ the dead of darkness. gritting their teeth. I was terrified! I found myself falling. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. holding on to my elbows. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes.
She opened the back door and said. George Hughes. including their own souls. got down on the floor and beat me with it. But I wasn’t. If I were on the street. and 10.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. 2002. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. and sell anything and everything. I kicked at her. not shoveling the sidewalk right. My mother passed away on October 2nd. not scrubbing the floors right.000 other small. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. wetting the bed. jumped out.” Now 55 . There was no fix at hand. One day. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. “Get out of my house. 66 Burkeville. petty reasons. Mother. “No more. Mom grabbed a frying pan. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. steal. 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. not cleaning the dishes right. lie. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. to get a fix. playing too loudly. God and I both love you.
TX 56 . 67 Amarillo. I don’t hate my mom. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. Melvin William Joseph Vogt.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I don’t dislike her.
Sex & Seduction .
and fulfillment after the first time. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. Québec. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. it will occur over time. 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. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. Terri Giosia. This is what occurs at 18. I 59 M . But for the young woman. an orgasm. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. 45 Montreal.
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. people would assume we were twins. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. If you know your body. Do it because you want to. I always tell my friends. Momo. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. we had sex. it won’t be your last. At the beginning of high school. who are ready to lose their virginity. and one day when my parents were out to dinner.100+ beg to differ. Now. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. that even though it’s your first time. I did it for me. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. Don’t be scared. not because he wants to. When we were little. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. We have known each other since before we can remember. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. 16 Richmond. We decided we were ready.
that is not what is important. AK. interesting story to tell. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. at a “well-supervised” party. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. I grabbed her. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. Obviously laughter. and we locked ourselves in. we said. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. he wields 61 I . squealing. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends.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 have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. I ran into my best friend. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. Almost at the same time. Later in the evening. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. anyway. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. and crying ensued.
he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. feeding him like a baby. rubbing his feet and back. He basks in their attention. and showering and grooming him. tempt. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. but girly mags are his main source of info. Christie. or backstabbing us to our bosses. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. changing his urine bag. 54 Sydney. 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. NSW. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. if the woman is appealing enough. however. turning him over. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . it’s like having a little harem. being sarcastic. However.100+ considerable power by yelling.
unless a lot of alcohol is involved. body language. beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is. yet the very mysterious secret about “how to be more seductive” lies within you: it is how you feel about yourself and what you look like and having that emanate outward. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. smile. the golden rule for seduction. It is stating the obvious. However. Once that is accomplished. this type of seduction is an illusion.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. as upon sobering up. It is not real. one cannot seduce. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. a smile. it’s possible to seduce anyone. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. Without confidence. 45 Montreal. a look. his complete awareness of 63 I . With a glance. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. Québec. His hand rested on my forearm. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden.
and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. Never had a burden been more welcome. his lips fell on my hips.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. In a shadowy whisper. but my anticipation was no longer tender. My ways were haphazard. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. 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. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. Always the seeker. he breathed my name. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. I felt his back tensing against my hands. for they would make me look like a weakling. Windoftheclyde. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. but my pretensions made no difference to them. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. True to their word. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. 27 Santiago. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 .
Small Miracles .
amongst the prison population. As a person. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. but once inside my cell. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. and often after a long day. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. With a twist of a key.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. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. It becomes routine. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. in the darkness. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. 67 T . Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I know that no one can get in without the key. Late at night. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. rather familiar. I’m on guard seven days a week. I do my deepest thinking there. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. I know I have to be locked in. It’s merely that while I’m in prison.” Out there. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I am human. I’m locked in. I even welcome the closing of the door. I should hate the cell. At times.
and I write my loved ones there. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. but I’m in good company. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. The cell is a hellhole.100+ I pray in the cell. a melody of pleasant proportions. and loneliness. When the cell door shuts. or write a letter to my family or a friend. the cell is a paradox because in reality. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. yet. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. I’m alone. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. Ironically. The walls seem to hum. The cell is my castle until I reach home. It never is truly quiet here. despair. these sounds are tranquil. The cell door is now closed. To be honest. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. To the outside observer. listen to the radio. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. I don’t hear anyone talking. while here in prison. read a book. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. I have not experienced silence in years. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 .
m. I was lying in the dark. in it were four angels. I’m human: I feel.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. “Let us show you the way. think. 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. though their faces were human-looking. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. showing another dimension. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. love. They looked invincible. and have the power to choose. bleed. cry. I also laugh. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. In a small. we have been there before. 69 I . Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. Michael McLean Beacon. and I was filled with awe.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. a sphere formed at the end of the bed.
circular spaceship. but time operates differently there. 54 North Shore City. guarded from dark forces. knowing order reigned in the next world.100+ white. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. “Oh no. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. Auckland. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. I thought to myself. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. At that instant. This was a kingdom on a large sun. waiting to make a left turn. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. I saw a van coming straight towards me. there really wasn’t any time to react. 70 I . I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. Misty. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. I lived in a house for what seemed like years.
a brand new box of pills. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. It is important to find the right place for an ending. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. I chose Mount Sanitos. “Sorry about that. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. and in the hand-warmer pocket. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. including me. I sat there thinking to myself. I considered the importance of what I was doing. “Wow. It was a very surreal experience. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. In the breast pocket of my jacket. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. Hey. 38 Methuen. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. Ever since that day.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. Where we die should be no less important. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W .
I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. The guardians were gone. I finally reached the top.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. closing my bank accounts. When the east finally began to warm. For a moment. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. I must have blacked out. my hand slipped and I fell. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. like someone hit the reset on my brain. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. but they sensed me there.100+ someone else got hurt. thinking it could be the police. I panicked. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. “He’s here. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. There was a flash of light. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. There were shapes of people around. On the far side of my fall. Blood was caked on my forehead. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. no one was looking for me. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . Four pills left. It was still night. I cowered. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. then a shift. Necessary and common. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. dropping off my recycling. things were… strange.
I was living alone. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . it got so bad that I became depressed. Three days later. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. but I had never been depressed before either. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I’ve been to zero. I also know that I’m never alone. so I continued making the sandwiches. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. and it’s doable. I realized it was just a stone. I had never done that before. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. At one point. and then dragged myself towards it. Then a second piece of bread fell. hitting me on the left ankle. When I got up in front of the cabin. Then I saw the trail a little to my right.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I was making sandwiches. as I did. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Everything after that has been pure profit. That was my break-even point. I think of myself as having happily died that night.
” 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. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. so we should not be depressed.100+ of bread. but there was only one piece on the floor. Needless to say. I was very puzzled. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. the day before Valentine’s Day. When I returned to the kitchen. Our little (well 74 I . Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason. “I am the bread of life. He is still there. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. we got pregnant again. whether we see Him or not. Jesus is always with us. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. Three months later.” Two years ago.
30 Martinsburg. but left the bees plenty for the winter. I did not waste it on the bland mush. But this event puts it into a whole different light. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. And he is our own personal little miracle. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. we will always think about the baby that we lost. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. It was a good partnership. WV A Taste of Honey honey. Kelly. Don’t get me wrong. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted .
but it seemed to last an eternity. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I thought. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. James Burns Gunnison. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. I thanked God for a taste of honey. and also. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. The other half I saved for later. 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. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. But man cannot live on honey alone. I had been free. 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. the mountain laurel. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. and the wildflowers. I had smelled the spruce. For a moment there. UT 76 .
a pack of cigarettes. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. After years of alcohol abuse. I 77 I . 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. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. During a skirmish. smoking saved his life. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. but it ultimately killed him. Army during the Vietnam War. Despite this miracle. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. Ironically. Gavai Kona. he got shot in the left side of his chest. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. He may have survived the Vietnam War. There was a spark in her eyes. He had a lighter. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. her actions were terrible and painful.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes.S.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U.
to throw the paper out the bathroom window. While he was hugging me. reached for an empty hanger. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. and I did. That is when I saw the stain. I turned to go to my room. With powdered soap and water. The next thing I knew. One day. With tears in my eyes. when my brother Bardo and I got home.” He also told me that when I finished eating.” I said through my tears. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. he looked at me. 41 Bedford Hills. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. but she ignored me. Miriam. and said. I heard him whisper.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. Bardo came out. NY 78 . my mother called me. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I tightly hugged him back. as I put the dress on the hanger. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. Bardo. Miriam McKenzie. “You’re not the only one.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. I walked to my closet. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. the dress ended up on my face. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes.” he said. and hung up my dress. “Good night. “Good night.
the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. no track or ball field. There was no yard to speak of. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs.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. a stereo. Everything from 79 M . I had conjugal visits. I could wear my own clothes. We installed a swamp cooler. no weight pile. bought a TV. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. incoming calls only. cook what I wanted. the “buffaloes” roamed. No gym. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. built wooden bunks. a pipe with running water for a shower. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. When money arrived. But in Mexico. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. An aisle ran the length of each building.
in my head. but it was an identity that was poisonous. drugs. True. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. the ontological slap in the face. and even prostitutes. and dangerous. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. lumber. for anything else. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. filthy. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. appliances. I wanted out. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. J. art supplies. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call.S. much like my thinking. clothing. I arrived at the school cafeteria. Amberchele Canon City. if I changed. I reasoned that. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . A man could buy food. for the right price. and it has. the world would reflect that change. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. I was allowed to keep my identity. booze.C.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store.
As we spoke. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. encouraging him during the fight. it stopped bothering me. my membership in the gang became obsolete. When I did not press charges. I stood by my friend. FL 81 . Enrique M. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. As I turned to look. my assailant approached me and apologized. After that incident. In my mind. I had been stabbed. When I saw my assailant in court. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. the judge dismissed the case. Fernandez Miami. his father embraced me in the hallway. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. After the trial. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. a free-for-all ensued. the atmosphere was tense. It had been an ironic twist of fate. however. His father attended the hearing. I flirted with the idea of getting even. That made all the difference in the world. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. I yelled for help. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. With time. But when others got involved.
Matters of the Heart .
no matter what answers you receive. I never get tired of listening to him. One would think that because I have experienced life. I will accept all of him. He is smart. Boy. my first true love. He is strong. I am 41 years old. was I wrong! I admire my first love. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. He is honest. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I have known my first love for more than a year. I would have been in love before. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I want to know everything he knows. and I am in love. 41 Dallas.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. He’s my first Jan Richards. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. the good and bad. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I could not 85 T . This is it! This is my first true love.
27 Tehran. too. and the connection that we share. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. it’s been like heaven. he came back to me. my first love. I was browsing . I feel so alone. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. I will never forget her. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. 59 Dayton. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. We both respect and value each other very much. Although we are divorced. I hope we will get married one day. The morning after I arrived. I decided to visit her. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS).100+ eat. and that the connection will endure. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. Without her. Suzy. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. she kissed me for the first time. Mansour. but now I want to leave him. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that.
T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . brown-haired young man. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. Then within six months. At first. His name was Travis. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. He played with my head. and now all I have are insecurities. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. everything was great. slender. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. and I am so jealous. I would never have gone out with him. Shurley. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. I worry all the time. He was a tall. There was something fascinating about this “older man. If it were up to me. He stripped down my confidence. and he was in fifth grade. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget.
Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. and gangbangs—it all occurs. My reflections of Travis developed years later. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. wanting him to protect me. threesomes. all in retrospect. Kitty Mayo. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. 29 Hilo. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. anal sex. or inn in the continental United States. 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. hotel. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. I just remember wanting to be near him. Often.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. She has little education. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more .
Hours seem like minutes. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. The laughs come fast and free. who want to keep her hair and nails done. The conversations flow smoothly. 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. take care of her kids. send her shopping. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. TX 89 . rules. She needs no coercion or con. 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. housing. finances. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. It’s an amazing thing. It comes like a thief in the night. Love. religion. or risks. pay her rent. regulations.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. The female is as rebellious as the offender. Sometimes personalities just click. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. The attraction is mutual.
One month later. Massachusetts. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. 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. suitcase is a difficult feat. I wonder when. she told me the same thing. and I told her she was strange. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. the tears pouring down her cheeks. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. on a tour of Oxford. the distance between her school. Boston College. Three months later. She told me the upright bass was sexy. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. my tears will come.100+ Four A. destined for Minneapolis. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field.. we went out for coffee. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. and if. And three months and two weeks later. but I know I don’t want her to leave. I told her I loved her.” I have no idea what he means.M.. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. She’s packing her last suitcase. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . and yes. Skidmore College. three floors down. I’m not sure she’s my other half. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. Two months later. and mine. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. We are in her attic bedroom. Outside her window.
I walk her to the bus station. so I decided to go the subversive route. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car.m. and I have to walk her to a bus station.m. Alexander J. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. still two bottles of wine later..m. comes. needless to say. At three a. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. 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. after another bottle of wine. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. after a bottle of wine. 22 Amherst. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed.. At two a. and I had a crush on . “I’ll miss you. Theoharides. At four a. write a love poem.m.” she says. And tears stream down my face. until four a. and place it on the hood of his car. she falls asleep.. I had written the poem already.
28 Albuquerque. NH Love Is for yourself. needs. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. 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. 24 Lincoln. Unfortunately. I was 21 years old. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. and well-being. not despite of their shortcomings. Galilea. but because of them. Scarlet Rose.100+ I sped away. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. desires. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it.
As you can imagine.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. making our relationship grow stronger. I imagined something romantic. no? Saturday came. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . But a girl can dream. We are the yin and yang for each other. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. PC. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. 30 Arecibo. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. It can be between two men and between two women.
and I thought I was immortal. and you have always been the one. I regret so many things. but he wasn’t in love with me. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. I love you. “I did it for love. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives.” I told myself. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. 36 Lennon. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and I tried to fight for my dreams. so many mistakes. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. and I live there now. Our relationship is 15 years strong. my family. and we are raising a daughter as well. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . so I left everything behind: my career.100+ lifetime. I regret it. I tried to be perfect. Mare. A baby was on the way. maybe he was strange. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I chose my hell. Life is not supposed to be this way. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. but he was mine. and my life. Michelle. and so many tears. Maybe he was too old for me.
95 I . If I were to start my life all over again. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise.T R U E S T O R I ES life. we fell in love. It’s a bad habit. I don’t know. but we’ll be living separate lives. Yeyo. but we’re not together anymore. We are going to graduate soon. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. 18 Olmito. but I can’t control it. though. Kikis_fairytale. but as for love. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. and it lasted about a year and a half. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. My ex and I are currently in high school. 27 Athens. Lately. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. We now have a beautiful baby girl.
and a smile that could melt a heart. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. I gasp for air. it keeps growing.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. but it just happens. looks. Every time I see him. Aila Balic. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. I shake. I thought to myself. “I may have a guy at home. We started talking and before long we just clicked. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. Although I didn’t know it at the time. yet doesn’t make me want to die. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. but as much as I try to stop. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. and I have no control over my actions. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. but things had been slowly going downhill. 18 Brooklyn. I don’t want to. We spent my final day together. talent. I imagine the two of us together all the time. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. In the summer of 2009. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. He was a southern gentleman with manners. 96 M . It is a scary feeling.
With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. and no hassle: just us. We wanted .T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. Why not have our cake and eat it. I explored my options on the ride home. for showing me the truth about love. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I went to say my goodbyes. There weren’t any wedding planners. Thanks. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I couldn’t believe it was over. family and friends can witness our marital union. Ethan. and it took all I had not to cry. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. In life. but now it was time to make a big decision. 26 Acapulco. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. no guests. too? Hayley. Guerrero. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents.
Some letters were erotic. was a devoted wife. as well as me. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. Clearly magic was happening between us. I had not felt that way in years. On March 27th. and made me happy in so many ways. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. On May 15. I will go home one day. I guess. She was . but most were about our past and our dreams for the future.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. 2006. This story has the makings for a great ending. For Louise. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. but life is not fair. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. 1997. at age fifty-two. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart.
Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. beautiful flower arrangements. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about.000 on our wedding. but for our family members. I will miss you. George Hughes. However. We had a nice ceremony. in August. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. Farewell. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. And in the end. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. Please save 99 M .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. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. 63 Burkeville. VA A Joining of Two. but we had our wedding 7 months later. Louise. If we had to do it again. DON’T. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding.
I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. clad in a miniature tuxedo. 29 Lowell. the wedding doesn’t matter. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. On the day of the wedding. Even at 3. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. In the fall of 1987. When we finally reached the priest. “Are you two getting married. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. too?” he asked. Priscilla. 100 A . I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. forest green dress. When the time came to walk down the aisle. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. my voice echoing through the church. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin.100+ your money because in the end. “NO!” I yelled at him. the rings were handed over.
Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. all I remember being told was. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. and I had no idea where to go. and I started to ignore 101 I . until amorous love became filial affection. slowly and gradually. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. three of them will always be: priests. and forest green. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. On the long list of things I hate. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. I was blinded by lights. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. not right before my eyes. 23 Somerville. The emails became short and purposeful.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception.” When the doors opened. at some point. but before I knew it. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. Finally. I had gotten used to him and he to me. not right away. camera flashes. Adelle Brown. my cousin. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation.
I am not that person anymore. For now. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. I keep trying to push him away. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. 102 I . and let him do the same. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. I am not that unhappy. I remember why I fell in love with him. for him. This mundane. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. January Paris. or lack thereof. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. nor is he. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. 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 started avoiding him. I stopped caring about spending time together.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. I am content to just exist. torturous waste of time. but that memory is now alien to me. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. He was no longer my top priority.
VT 103 . I would have done so. Donna J. I thought that if they divorced. They are still together.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. Johnsbury. Alas. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. my parents did not divorce. and I’m glad they are. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. and if I were allowed to live with my father. which never came. St. it would have been more difficult. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working.
Despite Diagnosis .
not let it get inside you. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . and filth swimming and floating along with you. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. bide your time. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. and when you get to the other side. skidding. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. not because of knives but for their germs. leaving you there to bleed out. clean. In prison. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. Some don’t. Take showers in shifts. to survive it. then slips away unseen.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. vermin. and sometimes it’s over your head. you can cast off your filthy clothes. wash. You are immersed in it. alone. Prison is a sewer. sometimes it’s neck-deep. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. and dry yourself. Wait till the “others” get out. cartwheeling. go in with your homeboys. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. you must wade carefully through the sewage.
who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. As for me. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. Norman. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. I was told I had a brain tumor. meningitis. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. take it all in. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. And they die. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. I started having eye trouble. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. Months later. wondering if I will ever go home. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. 59 Daytona Beach. I regained some of my physical strength. Charles P. become a part of it. so I went to an optometrist. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. The problem was not eradicated. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . As the years passed. When I awoke. they inhale deeply.100+ of the prison sewer. a cracked skull.
Fueled by the media. just to be sure. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. Pete. so in spite of having protected sex. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . 21 Devonport. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. 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. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. Tasmania. 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. After 4 or so weeks. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. and all came out negative. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out.
100+ as well. so she took me to the doctor. We all had sad faces. I was constantly in the hospital. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. Every time a nurse would come in the room. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. so he donated his blood. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. 28 Portland. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. so my body was dying. 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. One time. For instance. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. Jolene. Throughout my childhood. but even that wasn’t enough. The day I turned five.
Maybe it’s not really me. the check-in nurse says. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life.” When my chemo starts. nearly bald. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. Five days later. “Well. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. Three months later. and 100% cured. I’m 15 pounds thinner. and very pale. I vomit constantly. hoping to get rid of me to save money. At Perryville. There is no kindness. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. my oncologist was determined 111 I . I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. fightingsurvivor19. in college. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. the jail has delayed it. the judge can expedite all he wants. 19 Pembroke Pines. I am back at Estrella Jail. and they both cried tears of joy. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. Today I am 19. This never happened outside. Maybe it’s a nightmare.
but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. and then annually. My life is literally in their hands. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. there is complete indifference. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. begging for what I’m missing. I vomit until there is nothing left. When my treatment is over. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. then every six months for two years. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. An hour later. I have three more chemo sessions. and nine months later. 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. I know I’m an inmate. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. I am sent back to my room alone. He answers my questions. Despite the rigid schedule. But this protocol is not followed. I start the laborious grievance process. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. Eventually. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. He recommends a tumor 112 . In here.100+ that my nausea be minimal. when I’m supposed to be healing. No more nausea. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. burning instead. the doctor comes in.
an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. it still hasn’t happened. As a result. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. my life is in the hands of the State. That is why I am afraid. AZ 113 .T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. uncaring power. incompetent. and I am helpless against its inadequate. no positive imagery can change my situation. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. I can deal with that. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. always look for a reason to be glad. 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. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. That’s really hard in here. 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. mismanaged. This is about the State. Six months later. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. Their stories touch me on so many levels. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna.
she was looking ahead.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. without even knowing it. Dinorah Torres. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. he began to distance himself. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. and I felt helpless all the time. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. A year into my treatment. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. 33 Santa Barbara. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. CA A 114 . Two months after I started chemotherapy. making plans for the future. Later. Despite all this. but when he found out that treatment could last years. 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 felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable.
One year she was cancer-free. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news.” What kind of doctor says something like that to a patient? That’s like telling an intravenous drug-user that his/her veins and liver are in good shape. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. for a smoker’s lungs. for an addict’s. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. The following year.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. It just 115 I . or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. Hayden. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. 18 Tacoma. never had any kids. and had lived alone for decades. shape. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. She was longdivorced. How sad.
not even decades after giving up smoking. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. Whatever the percentage.A.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. Cornwall.G. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. on the part of Texas officials. and now he could lose his own life because of them. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. He lost his wife to cigarettes. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. F. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . his oldest daughter to cigarettes. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. Penzance.
Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. and typecrime. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 3. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. 9. 8. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. whether here or abroad. You can see how dangerous it is. 4. be as humane as possible. 2. A few suggestions: 1. Classify prisoners by age. Separate gang members from non-gang members. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. 5. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. sentence length. 7. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. and house them accordingly. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 6.
TX 118 . 48 Huntsville.100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. Harris. Daniel H. This could be a start.
The Transience of Permanence .
Some days. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. death is merely a passage or rite. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. From what I’ve seen in here. TX I 121 . I swear. especially on death row. Christopher Best Livingston. then the whole world has done the same. maybe an estate. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. He desperately seeks some understanding. plans. or SSI. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. death out there now looks relatively easy. I’m a state-approved janitor. He understands that my time with him is short. a last will and testament. In plain talk. In the penitentiary. All is forgiven. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. For “free-world” folks. I feel the dread on my flesh. some acceptance. even inside me. which has its effects on me as well as on him. If I give him that. Each morning when I arrive at work.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. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. discussions. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate.
I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. People in the day room are getting suspicious.” And I’m not talking about parole. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.T. yet relieved that I took action. Light-headed.” or “moving on to the next phase. Shit. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. G. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. and it can be done right now. Fuck them. 122 T . Shit. It isn’t working. I am feeling very ugly inside. I choose not to spend another day in this place.” “taking it to the vent.100+ To Die or Not To Live hope I’ve found a vein large enough to keep bleeding as long as I run hot water over the wound. I’ll try again later. It’s called “checking out. Suspicious. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. today. Fuck God. Very suspicious.
CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. but a symbolic one. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. After that. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison. not in the clinical sense. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . 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 slugged the other half into the wall socket. Mike Rothwell Ione. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together.
the lover he wishes to be. my big fat Italian grandmomma. gold. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. the son he failed to be. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. but life—even at 103—seems too short. He has. In the world beyond prison walls. in essence. he may as well be dead. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. year after year. Hector Gallegos Otisville. sterling silver. matriarch of the family. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. pearls. we return home and open her jewelry boxes.With his incarceration. 124 N . diamonds. the father he cannot be. and the person he never grew to become. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. killed that greater part of himself. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed.100+ love of his family. In this sense. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell.
Mary Higgins Reading. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. pre-WWII. Mother airs out the house to get rid of Nonna’s scent! I’d have always thought one would cherish the smell of one’s dear momma. albums. key chains. The first thing one notices is the quiet. The following day. Who would believe that a swastika. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. necklaces. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. 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. and handcrafted dolls. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. It brings fresh tears to my eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. blankets. she never wore it. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. except for a fundamental difference. dating from the roaring twenties. as if no one else is 125 D .
the fights he had in grade school. Hathorn Livingston. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. An ache settles in his belly. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. Gene W. but the mind rebels. making it ominously quieter. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. In remembering. he realizes that all hope is gone. TX 126 . and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways.100+ there. the officials are stoic and judgmental. It is like God’s “time-out” room. At other times. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. such as his first pet. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. media representatives. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. 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. survivors of the victim’s family.
and his head was shaved clean.” and “lost” test results. and his memory showed signs of failure. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. he had become thin as a rail.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. 127 E . A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. a combination drug therapy. In October 2004. after a slew of “unreadable. Since he always complained. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal.” “partial. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.” I forget why. no one. his body was covered in tattoos. I saw no real reason for worry. He was a genuine character. and they all tell you something different. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. he was barely over five feet tall. trying to get someone to do something. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Sleep came with great difficulty. if at all. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). including Freddy. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. Once muscular. Time was of the essence. really took it seriously. Over a period of a year.” Freddy complained to me one day.
it was too late.” There was no anger in his voice. but he threw it up. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk.100+ Months passed.” he told me. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. We named him William Kenrick. “If they got at me 18 months ago. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. only resignation. 2005. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. “By the time they did something. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. Freddy was my friend. but no treatment was administered. By October. and he was afraid. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . looking through the glass at our little one. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. they probably could have saved me. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. He vomited blood one morning. They killed me. and now he’s dead. They tried giving him formula. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours.
he had to undergo an operation. Someday. which was declared a success. as soon as I held him. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. NCR.” And as soon as everybody was there.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. and whispered. But if not. Then I start crying again and eventually. I still think of him. At 1:30 a. He will always be my first baby.. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. fight for it. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. only he was already lifeless.m. he went. the smell… His sweet. milky scent is still there. At 3 days old. only to realize that he’ll never come back. 32 Las Piñas City. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Jenelleish. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. if you can still make it. And oh. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. I love him more and more each day. And for that. Despite the pain. I turn numb. The next day. my first child. PHILIPPINES 129 . But I knew something wasn’t right. And I knew though he was gone. “Baby. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. my first son. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. But I swear. his heart rate slowed. when I visited him. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. just let go. a smile formed on his lips.
he died suddenly and tragically. But after 5 years of marriage. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. My dad liked to sing and dance. But as a father.m. I miss him deeply. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch.100+ I Miss You. I was close to my father. fishing. roller-skating. and listening to music. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. I dreamed about him every single night. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. After my dad’s death. But I didn’t cry.. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. he was really fantastic. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. Dad une 15. enjoying the early morning light. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Facing the cell door. from denial to 130 I . AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. yet his passing was significant to me. I didn’t shed one tear. I went through many phases. in a better mood than usual.
but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. I am now 45. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. I realized that what happened was out of my control. Terri Giosia. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. As a last minute thought. I sent my aunt. How sad that now sounds. her youngest 131 I . had no meaning. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. However. Life lost its luster. the final and hardest phase arrived. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. After a long period of time. 45 Montreal. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. happily single. I drank to escape and forget.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. Québec. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. hate to indifference. with great parents and friends. a Christmas card.
she called every person she knew and read that poem. my poem may mean nothing. Not only did she call him. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. my mom had been taken to the hospital. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. he said.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. For two years. The doctor gave her three months to live. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. But after all the miserable hospital visits.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. The night before. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. Soon after. To the academic world. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . especially when you are only seven years old. 51 Rosharon. Dennis Forrest.
This experience has made me stronger. too weak to walk to her bedroom. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. the house.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. He took care of my mom. but to help them through things the best you can. and even worked from home so he could be there. My life was changed forever. My dad softly called me over. where it was warm. 16 Rexburg. and us. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. Aubrie. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. My father continued hacking. It went on and on. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. “Daddy. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. 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.
from a prison payphone in the dark. and he loved you. collect. not speaking. I said things I’ve always regretted. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. There were hard feelings between us. healing wounds. We feared lung cancer. so I recognized it in both of you. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. Over the past few years. exhaled. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. but he died before I got the chance.100+ asked. waiting him out: “Charlie. like you did. and that was a good thing. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. too. real sick. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. Even when he was here last time. You settled your differences. so I stood there. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. Don’t ever smoke them. You see. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. I admire what you did. when I first met your family several years ago. He said things. and he was gone. son. I knew he wanted to say something. I begged him to quit for years. closed his eyes. but emphysema got him first. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. but the last time inexorably approached.” 134 .” He was just twenty-four at the time. with complications from lupus. I could tell. as did my mother. who knew my family well. the reason I’m saying this. I had unfinished business with my father. He looked at my brothers. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. A prisoner friend. I could see that you loved your father. I wanted to make it up to him.
It was the least I could do.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. Charles P. leaned his head on my shoulder. 135 I . and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. FL Slash nstead of going to court. Norman. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. 59 Daytona Beach. His tears soaked into my suit coat. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. My cellie threw up. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. I decided to slash my wrist. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. While there.
” “What are you facing?” I asked him. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck.100+ “Well. 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.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. “Six months. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask.T. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet.” G. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. Evidently. His eyes were half open. I don’t anymore.
before he walked away laughing with his buddy. Even the crazy guys had shut up. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. Then. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. But not at this moment.T R U E S T O R I ES was. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. It was so still. With a bit of a dramatic flair. perhaps. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. He had everyone’s complete attention. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. stood there for several seconds. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. 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. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. there was only solemn silence. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. 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. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. CA 137 . who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. hung it back up on the wall.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I say. my fraternity brothers. but also to pick up girls. she’s home alone. “Your girl is not here. she was white. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. forcing myself in. not only to have fun. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. racism at its best. we can have sex. sentenced to six years in prison.” As I say this. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. angrily. but I haven’t picked up a girl. it’s her roommate. When it’s time to leave the club. I’m telling myself that she wants me. but it’s not my girlfriend. Because she was white. it’s a habit of ours. and I’m in college. I want some sex. and it was my word against hers. For twenty years. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. “I came to see my girl. popular on campus. barging into her apartment. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. 141 I . 1982. and a ladies’ man. a member of a fraternity. It opens. I was black. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. in front of a white jury. I only saw what I wanted to see. if no one else is here. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. that it was a setup. I’ve had fun. I was convicted.” I say. the white system. I want to be with a girl.” I step towards her. I’m thinking. I knock on the door. a football player.
and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. Ricky Quarles Vacaville.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. especially with men.100+ Today. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. a wife. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. pure houseboat. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. forced attractions to women. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. The fantasy of grandchildren. faithfully. for them. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. For sixteen years. So I tried. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. if I were to have a place in this world. I had known that I was a disappointment. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence.
I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. One day. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. And I knew. my sadness never faltered. only for who I pretended to be. When I arrived. I am finally happy. Daryl F. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. that my parents felt the same. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked.. boring corduroy-wearers. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. At seventeen. all too well in fact. So I confessed my truths. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. I wrote a script.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. with whom I constantly fought and argued. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . having been to one or two of their small gatherings. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. 19 Hooksett.
We didn’t date. Knowing very little about astrology. especially for clothes. This brought about a case of stage fright. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. being a noble and resourceful man. His self-confidence saved the day. one male and one female. and sinker. Philippa. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. Nicholas. it was swallowed hook. carried on like a trooper. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. He dated one girl 144 I . but I always suspected that he was gay. I was literally paralyzed. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. Kent. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. line. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. The audience was riveted by his magnetic personality and his cultured accent even when he said the Sun makes a revolution around the Earth every 25. 30 Maidstone. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion.
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. she was always a tomboy. especially since I had always suspected it. I didn’t really think anything of it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. As for my female friend. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. My friends just did . It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. However. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. Jayne L. 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. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. Waterville. but I never really suspected she was gay. When he told me he was gay. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends.
My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. but I am a woman and therefore. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. If I were a man. knowing that if she 146 . we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay.” Within 10 days. who is from Peru. After three years worth of evidence gathering. We are not giving it to her. too. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. They even sent me to a shrink. Right now. We feel the judge was very homophobic. As if things couldn’t get any worse. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. not me. I was also advised by the dean at my junior high school to quit school and get a GED since the “students were not prepared for my lifestyle. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. gays and lesbians are persecuted. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time.” so we had to go back to court. “Never mind.100+ me.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays.” I did. I fear losing my partner.
I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. the Ultimate Truth. has taught me compassion. but we did not lose ourselves. 35 Tampa. the most effective teacher. If anything. These days. We lost everything. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. 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. Aileen Diaz. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. TX 147 I . 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 just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. it has made us stronger and brought us closer.
my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I still love and respect him. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. 30 Detroit. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. and I would never throw it in his face. I probably would have been better off not knowing. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. Eloise Lebreton. I feel like an idiot.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. But on the other hand. You have to always be 148 C . better not to tempt fate. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. On the one hand. Now. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again.
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. I was allowed to play with a friend. One way is to keep doing those pushups. But if someone’s determined to “check out.” then there’s not much they can do about it. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. They help. Mike Rothwell Ione. It’s always going to be there.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. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. so you better learn to keep it at bay. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. 149 A . After church. No matter how upbeat you may feel. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. Louisiana. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual.
NC 150 . lit the gas stove. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. I have been an atheist ever since. My friend’s mother yelled. her face contorted in rage. Christian Missionary Alliance. especially my mother. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. 47 Old Fort. He screamed in agony. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. “You think this hurts motherf’er. She barged into the room screaming. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. at my tender age. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. molestation. Yurshta. was too much to handle. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. and abuse. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. another ultrafundamentalist sect.
Any kind of abuse. I have never been physically beaten. Gaby Hermann. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. demeaning. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. whether physical or emotional. should not be tolerated. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. I did not get angry with him. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I .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. NETHERLANDS Harsh. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. 26 Essen. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. I had nine miscarriages. 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.
Delhi. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. INDIA 152 . Then one day. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. 36 New Delhi. Sonia.100+ with me. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. I was forced to call the cops. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life.
Eerie Encounters .
slight. We cannot be alone. but I’m getting tired. my 155 I . The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. In my nightmare. I don’t need to see to believe. Aquatic Park.m. 28 Salem. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. although I’ve never seen one. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. just a quarter of a mile farther. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. They are looking beyond me. I can see the people. I listen for a moment to a strange. Why would we want to be? Clarette.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. I keep swimming. even Ghirardelli’s. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. swishing sound. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block.
Foster. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. 24 Lawrence. And then. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. The waves crash. The walls murmur. 45 Delano. I am silently alone. to the deep water. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. I hear something in the distance calling me. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. MA 156 T . Will Ferrara.100+ arms are getting heavy. And about a week after that. About 5 years later. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. Am I going crazy? Frank E. out beyond the breakers. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. When I was 18. beginning to feel numb. I’m only treading water. I awake. summoning me.
T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. Almost twenty days later. From that moment on. ITALY 157 I . potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. Not long after. In the following days. In the dreams. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. Ravenna. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. while still aboard. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. 56 Alfonsine. On our way to the hospital. at my uncle’s funeral. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. too. While alive. I dreamt that I was in Italy. and we had no choice but to drink it. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. I immediately called home. a strange heat enveloped my body. One night. Shocked. I felt sick and went to sleep. my mouth stopped bleeding. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. showing us that we were right. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. In October.
And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. but late for work! Paddy J. I stood up and looked at its face.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. staring straight ahead. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . It was my dad! At that moment. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. its feet dragging along the ground. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. It was pitch black. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. I was squinting. I remember shaking like a leaf. but they continued moving and stretched me out. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. I landed at the feet of the creature.. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. It was then that I woke up. 19 Monaghan. as whatever I was looking at was far away.
When I returned home. When I turned to look. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. As I placed my canteen in the water. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. I was in the bathroom. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. As nighttime fell. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. Enrique M. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. “That place is haunted. One evening. Hiking along the trail. That left me speechless. 159 W . my mind completely blank. the vision of a tall. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. “I’ve been here before. Fernandez Miami. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. It was at this moment that I saw. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. echoes from long ago. it had disappeared. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives.” someone who knew the area told me. thinking about nothing.” I thought.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. thin man.
He walked towards me. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. standing in that same spot. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. Devon. I remembered being there before. I have no idea what the vision meant. hooded. Then. when I entered the King’s Chamber. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. His face was shrouded in darkness. However. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding.100+ He was wearing a long. and the vision was gone. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. grey cloak that covered his entire body. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. I have not had any such vision since. still completely covered by the hood.
54 Auckland. transferred his intelligence into my brain. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. I came back to my present “reality. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. During this moment of déjà vu. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . and don’t believe time is always linear. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares.” Now. Misty. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. AK. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. Then my former self stood in my body. and activated it.
and a little less afraid. facing myself. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. 59 West Roxbury. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. I woke up taking short gulps of air. but I didn’t. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. drifting like seaweed. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. a little more settled. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. D. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. They knew what was about to happen. 162 I . 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.100+ broad daylight seemed real.B. Lonn. a little more aware. I’m willing to see where it takes me. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. I’m 59 now. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. In my dream.
I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I started to read a lot of books. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. I learned the term years later. but with a different outlook on life–and death. After that. The driver lost control of the vehicle. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. which struck a barrier. Since I was only 4 years old. and we started to spin really quickly. Later. and quickly drifting away.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Jayne L. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. and then was finally able to label my experience. as I had in Spain. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I survived the accident with no major injuries. Waterville. when I moved 163 G . I watched shows on television. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. completely powerless to stop it. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. “I need to get back.
facing him. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. 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. One night. he said. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. it’s one of my many pastimes. just one year before meeting Gabriele. but with no success. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. But for me. at my friend Viola’s insistence. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. A year later. Smiling kindly. a few steps from the altar. I knelt down on a pew.100+ to Massachusetts. 37 Madrid. I got slowly closer. There is only going to a different level. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week.
he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. Then one night. but he had terrible secrets. I told him not to joke. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. we became involved. striking me like a storm. I felt all his fear and pain. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. ITALY 165 . I dreamt again of the mournful 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. While I stared at him. 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. so I left. Through telepathy. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. 56 Alfonsine. To be sure. struck by his suffering. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. Ravenna. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. in January 1991. Through telepathy. and I tried to help him. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. He vowed to marry me.
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.100+ I See Spirits spirit. He tipped his hat and smiled. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. I developed . where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Soon after. On some nights. Then all of a sudden. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. 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. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. NH. During the five trips I made out there.
“Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. and meet. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. On one occasion. 70 Waltham. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. Other times. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. a state psychologist friend of mine. We saw the usual lights in the sky. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. who was also an amateur photographer. accompanied me. and into the sky. fly to some central point. up a tree. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. On one of my last visits. As I returned to where Betty was parked. strobe for 30 seconds. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. she suddenly pointed and yelled. and then disappear. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. then they turned off. First. but then. about 50 yards down the tracks. Later. I saw small strobe lights among the trees.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. MA 167 . I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing.
At Home & Abroad .
Colombian. and completely broken by life. Russian caviar. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. had to show the INS hard-working hands. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. or Puerto Rican dialect. but eventually we divorced. I once had plans to live in London. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover.” My father used to talk of Hungary. We married and had a daughter. with a 3-year-old son. as proof of dignity. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . 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. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. Lately. German perfume. where all were welcome and. not financial statements. and great America. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela.
S. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I .100+ Greece. 54 Leominster. the Dolphins. on the contrary. Morales. Nidia F. while others are trying to cheat the system.. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. 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. 36 Lennon. Mare. it reminds us that this country is great. we love Bach. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U. We all suffer when this happens. We don’t feel less American because of that. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia.
C. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. D.S. my . we stayed in Livingston. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. so I decided to move to his. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. illegally because. 27 Washington. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. cars. and migrant camps.S. while my 173 Every year from June until September. it would have been too dangerous. Then during the fall and winter months. We lived in tents. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. harvesting crops. apart from being unconscionable. I had family there. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. Later in the summer. Many times. My father is Mexican.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U.
our bathroom was an outhouse. School was a struggle from the beginning. I was held back in kindergarten. mostly beans and tortillas. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. In fact. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. they didn’t work.” “wet. In grammar school. read. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. I was embarrassed by my first language.” or “spic. and write in English. we took our baths in a big washtub. this was not a quick or easy transition. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. halfway through my junior year. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. Early on. I struggled to learn to speak. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. Because of school.100+ father worked for a local farmer. This is where I went to school. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate.” “greaser. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. In high school. However. However. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. Spanish. Not only were the white students 174 . I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. I realized that I was out of place in school. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. they had the opposite effect.
and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. I wasn’t Mexican. “Now don’t run away on me. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. I didn’t seem to fit in. They will pay. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. To white students. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. 50 Boston. Raul Ybarra. “One hundred soles tonight. in theory. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously.S. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes.” I remind myself. and I had lost most of my Spanish. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. I wasn’t white. Although I was of Mexican descent. not even two dollars. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. My private class is in La Rinconada. you know. I was born and raised in the U. a gringo wearing a tie. but on the inside I acted like a white person.. the usual. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. to the Mexican students. an enclave 175 I .
Remember.” “That’s okay. I sit at the kitchen table. If these families don’t find happiness here. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. Matt. you are not Peruvian. They don’t speak to me or to each other. she told me to come inside and wait. I have classes with her kids.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. I am cheered by the recognition. as big as a sandwich. It’s ají amarillo.” “I know she’s not here.” I say. with chicken bulging from its sides. Two maids. No way. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. are washing dishes in the sink. I eye the tamal on the counter. even your own paycheck. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. “She’s not here. never mind 176 . They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” “The señora is not here. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. They’ll pass it off as an American informality.
An hour later. I hear three honks. No way am I going home empty-handed. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. Wipe any sign of need from your face. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. payday. That is the hard part: hiding the need. “That’s what we all hope. Some received their checks. They looked at each other to see who would answer. Matt Wirzburger. MA My Nibble Out of The Big Apple I was wearing an almost-designer-brand business suit I arrived at Penn Station with admirable resolve. It was the end of the month. and springs out the door to the entrance. and we were all waiting for our first check. Mrs. others were given a song and dance. and I came. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. The room grew eerily silent. 177 . 40 Amesbury. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. Chin up.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. I was told to come. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again.
the city awoke and came to life. It was then. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. With briefcase in hand.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. 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.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. yet spaced widely apart. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. the whole city was there.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. and only then. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I felt that I had “made it there. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. NY 178 . 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. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. I wasn’t alone. After the much-anticipated grilling session. It was well worth it. I was in the city “on business. As dusk turned to darkness. Karen Manhattan. The streets were numbered.
” or “U.. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable.S.e.S. 4) Beer drinking is an art.”. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. bitter. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. and stout. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. we don’t. Irish. dry. 7) Humour is subtle. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. they helped a great deal.” or “Yankland”. real ale. 10) The English. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. Scottish.T R U E S T O R I ES What I Learned from the British 1) Petrol stations are found at supermarkets and adverts before films. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. 12) It’s not the “U. sarcastic. The 179 .” “The States. etc. French. it’s “America. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. and sophisticated.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. Welsh. and you must learn the difference between lager.A. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic.” “Pop Idol. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English.
FL 180 . and body weight is stated in stones. not pounds. 23 Jacksonville. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). Pink Floyd).100+ Beatles. 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!). 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. apologise profusely for it. South African. Canadian. 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..m. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. or any other English-speaking foreigner.m. Gavin S. they’ll take the non-Yank. Rolling Stones. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. If caught being rude. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed).
I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. Although decades have passed. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet. We took off from the claustrophobic. 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. 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. crimson berries. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. Native and unique to Hawaii. We discovered Diamond Head. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. and Waikiki Beach. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Pearl Harbor. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. my parents and I arrived at . I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990.
” Despite my pitiful German. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language.100+ large. Gutierrez. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. ovular. B. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. I remember wanting to return… H. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. Estado de México. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. 29 Tultitlán.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.
we were the enemy. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. that it was them or us. 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 imagined civilians screaming. I knew it was war. Gisela. I packed up my leased . I even felt a bit guilty. and running in all directions. To them. Schleswig-Holstein. green hills and plains. However. eerie feeling. 21 Lübeck. destruction everywhere. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. but never forgotten. For the first time since the early eighties. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. checked 183 In late October 1998. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. Marien’s church in Lübeck. I experienced an unexpected.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. however unfounded that emotion may be. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. Along the road. crying. Standing in St.
I spent days at the Pueblo. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. delightful little restaurants. TN 184 . and visited various museums. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing.100+ into small motels. 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. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. There is always a scent of sage in the air. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. 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 .
which is about 45 minutes away. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. My due date of June 19th came and went. At 3:30 a. Needless to say.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. We were told that I could be induced at this point. Krista. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. For child number two. For our first child.. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . so on the 20th. he did just that. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. So. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me.m. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. we did not make it 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. I knew what to expect. after being able to share this special bond. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. I planned a Caesarean.
and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. Friday evenings were always a thrill. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. Joe Palooka. bacon. By then. Alley Oop. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. and two more on the way (my brothers. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. All was good in the world. grocery bills. but fairly frequently. waiting for Daddy to come home from work.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. take out the Sunday comics. prop himself up on his elbows. and my mother would call us for breakfast. He’d slowly read the comics to me. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. Not every week. not working as he was the rest of the week. Daddy would get out. He’d take off the rubber band. lie down. and Tarzan of the Apes. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. It was just the three of us. spread them open on the wood floor. My . The Texarkana Gazette. and read each one aloud. Dan and Tom). I had no concept of rent. car payments. the smells of biscuits. The car would stop.
Finally.220 grams. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. but I never realized it. tubes. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. and his weight. They said he was beautiful. I felt desperate. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. a frown on her face. 59 Daytona Beach. Norman. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. and lights. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. Sebastian.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. 1. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. (On Friday evenings. 189 The first time I saw my son. Not with . I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. Charles P. begging him for a ride in the new car. or at least pretend to. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. I went to a place filled with noise.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. but because I thought I had failed. Times were hard. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. I cried.
besieged by guilt. Outside. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. After a week. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. I ached to still be pregnant. 36 North Andover. Each week. I gained knowledge. At long last. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. and hope flooded me. I’m too afraid of screwing up. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. and mourning. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. fear. I became determined to care for him. He was so fragile and exposed. wanting to 190 I . he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. patience. leaving my baby behind. and confidence. Relief. and I prayed. I was discharged.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. I sang to him. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. I cried. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. I began to sob. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. I talked to him. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. Over time. pride. Lisa. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer.
we weren’t there to look at. or feed the deer. and I was twelve years old. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. or gangs. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. Right now.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. 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. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. Though I was only twelve. or getting into drinking. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand..m. pet. drugs. driving to our new “hunting spot. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. At about 3 a. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. I don’t have any desire to find out. and I 191 I . or having trouble with the police. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. my father and I were in his truck. Suzanne. But tonight. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life.
My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. with the click of a camera. I took my spot and waited. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. I snuck up to the fence line. checked for traffic. You can take a picture and freeze time. We drank beer on the way home. . they were already there. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. 43 Jessup. a second of your life. Steven Small. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. I didn’t even have to call the deer.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. By the time he got there. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot.
Don’t we all wish we could be this free. sipping a chocolate shake. Kelly. 30 Martinsburg. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. My photographs hold a special place in my heart.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. New moments are constantly being created. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. and sadly. but those moments stay behind. moments are forgotten. I 193 M . I didn’t expect much. Life goes on. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. I cherish every moment captured. Sitting on a stool at the counter. Part of me wanted to pull her away. without a care in the world. but something was unleashed in me. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. she was so excited that she leapt for joy.
my first year in middle school. crisp. without any explanation.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Those are old coins. One day. he left. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. I couldn’t take it anymore. Some streetwise kids set me straight.” One day. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Her green eyes sparkled. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. “I did my best. She quit school to marry him. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. He had promised to take care of us. John. “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. I was proud to be her son. I do my best. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Dorothy. Mama was beautiful. Someday they’ll put you through college.” she said with tears 194 . It was in seventh grade. the afternoon waitress.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. “Those aren’t for spending. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. and well fitting. and a few coins went into my piggybank. “Your Mama works for tips. collectables. Everyday.
Mama sent cookies. that’s what it was. There was just nothing I could respect about her.. TX 195 . shame for having no Daddy. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Before she died. Something with angels on it. I wrote back. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. One day.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. Mama asked if I needed anything.. Oh sure. Mama wrote every day. shame for being poor. Mama’s friend at the café. Respect. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. not love. I didn’t go to college after high school. But something was missing from my letters. All my love turned into shame. a letter came from Dorothy. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. I wouldn’t need it. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. She’d died of breast cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. After it was over. They let me go home for the funeral. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Mama was gone. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. shame for having a waitress for a Mama.
and devoured them one by one. She would fill out some papers. no books. put them in my lap.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. In the front. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head. I opened the glove compartment. I looked at the gas gauge and said. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. and wait to be called into another room. a man or woman would call out a number. she answered. but there were no magazines. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. I pulled out all the papers. Finally. When outside. Occasionally. map. we got into the boiling car. sit back down. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms. but her face wore the same void expression. a lady came out and said. She must have known that I would see it. “An abortion. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. “Mom. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. “Mom.S. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . no television. When I did. “Last case for today. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room.
Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. for me.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O .T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. 37 Mitchellville. Yvette Louisell. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. when I was ten. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. sat down beside me and said “Hello.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. but someone else. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. or the bills. you’re just like Auntie Doll. lack of food. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. When she turned to look at me. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. I was sitting outside on the front steps. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. 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. she yelled. everybody in the world. It wasn’t the welfare office. No.
When I gave the note to her father he got angry. Big John wanted to go down there. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. That little girl was no fool. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. what had happened. Needless to say. “Down the block. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. both became angry. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. got a damp washcloth. She said love makes you do crazy things. I got home empty-handed. Then. 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 up and kissed me right on the mouth. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. She 198 . Ma smiled and hugged me. The next thing I knew.” she said. but Ma said she would handle it herself.100+ girl in the world. After twenty minutes. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. I took Ma’s hand. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. “Green house. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. Big John. “No. When I told Ma and her boyfriend.
Ma ran to him. we got the jewelry back. 66 Burkeville. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. warning him not to touch us again. “Take it! It’s all there.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. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. are you all right?” He nodded. “My God. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. Meanwhile. and left.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. but we laughed and laughed like never before. snatched the bag. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. His wife. VA 199 . Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. Then he walked over to the counter. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. we got a smile. George Hughes. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. screaming. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. “You like to beat up on women and kids. stood by the refrigerator. who had been putting away groceries.
She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started.” 200 O . one of Michael’s many siblings. saying. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. you scared the poor boy. 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. With the fork in one hand. you little sissy. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. “Oh it’s all right.” the man screamed at me. I looked over. My mother had gotten to her feet. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. I hit the ground again. screaming. and look. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. “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. he leaned over me. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. look what you did. “Don’t look to your folks for help. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. saying.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. “Now run on home. but my dad sat her back down. you made him cry. more surprised than hurt.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way.
I looked at her then at my father. clothes to wear. I said. 201 . you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. Very calmly. I think. trying not to look at me. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. I can’t be there to save you. “No more with the neighbors. One of these days. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. help Grandma eat this. Hours later. More mad than sad. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. new shoes every fall. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. but sternly.” I answered. and offered me cookies. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. “Thinking.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. I ran to my room. and a warm.” she said as she dried my tears. “My little wunderkind. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. at the dinner table. Grandma Berg was inside. dry house to live in. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son.” I’ll ever forget what he said. Peck was yelling at me. Later.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. just thinking. She almost whispered. my little lipschkin.
a name leapt at me. Too much thinking for one so young. Dream the dreams boys dream. Sun coming soon. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. Quiet now. Grandma is old woman. He was full of jokes. In the classroom. 51 Corcoran. I received a devastating student update. songs. chores to doing. as the elementary students they were. no more you thinking. Thomas Michael Fox. You must be sleeping now. They remain frozen in my subconscious. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. CA The Sand Dollar by time.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. In casual and cruel black and white print. and intelligence. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. unchanged . He got to me like no other student that year. Your father. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. As I scanned the newspaper. but Grandma knows things. tomorrow is better day. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. He also loved conflict.
He could always make people smile. I hadn’t found one for years. so much lost. smile broadly. Reading the article through blurred eyes. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I smashed my heels in the sand. I knew his story now. He wasn’t my first lost boy. just a headstone. cursing him. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. no one got to me like him. an 11-year-old in leather. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. 36 Wakefield. Then the ocean placed a perfect. He would nod. but he was the star. and dance away. I stormed down the beach. But even now. I always wondered if I got through to him. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. Stacey Curran Conway. I was mad. I saw I hadn’t. 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 . Now one found me. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. MA If Not Me. So much wasted.
I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I sit 204 . I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. Finally. 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. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain.100+ of what my students can become. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. In some pretty tough school districts. and rehired. and kept students in line. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I think. Surprisingly. sworn at. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. I have come to the end of myself. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have stood in line. pooh-poohed. living wages. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. RIF’d. however. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects.” Back then. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I’ve been insulted. and administrators with agendas.
what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. 7th. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . Unruly students aside. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. MA Unsung Heroes profession. for a new vision. 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. much less trusting.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. not a real course. Zora. Spanish was seen as an elective. Unfortunately. at the school where I taught. more wary. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. 34 Framingham. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. I would be mortified. and 8th graders.
especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. Sitting. remnants of a continuous high. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. silence. If I could survive this class.100+ those who do. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. Julia Perez. I hope that someday. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. the vicious three-headed hellhound. At the start of a usual class. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. Most were sensible enough to sit. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. His eyes were constantly glazed over. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. I could survive the duration of this profession. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. Ted continued to wander about. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. 29 Norwich. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. Attempting to gain control. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration.
I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. MO 207 . “Okay Ted. Enjoy guarding hell. I decided on the only rational thing. but how was his bite? Move he did. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. I had stunned the high right out of him. As the class waited for my reaction. I have to call the principal to come get you. Wait. “Take your best shot. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground.” the child said confidently. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. His bark was mighty.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls.
Eugene Alexander.T. 155 Corson. Matthew. 22 Aubrie. 122. Robert Hal. 132 Babb. 51. Tom “Wolf ”. J. 130 . D. 33. 45 Brame. 102 Elliott..C. 166 Ephraim. Fernanda. 19. Adelle. 75 Carrillo. 44 Anonymous.. Lance. 100 Burns. 53 Curran Conway. 127 Diaz. 96 Anonymous. 121 Boner. 47 Balic. 37. José. 70 Best. 111 Amberchele. 32 Brown.Author Index AK. Aileen.. Christopher. 61 Clarette. 202 Daryl F. 95 Barchard. G. 145 Donna J. Stacey.. 172 Allen.. 166 Antzes. 79 Anonymous . James. 142 Dey. 135 Christie. Cynthia. Aila. 60 Aleman. Sue Ellen. Malachi.
Elisabetta. Enrique M. 62. 151 Higgins. 130 Gisela. 158 Ferrara. 162 Jenelleish. Frank E. 164 F. H. 53.B. Spoon. 116 Hathorn. 74. 115 Fernandez. 45. 128 Jolene. 157. Hector. 59. Daniel H. 181 Harris. 98. 30.. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 177 Kelley. 77 Gavin S. 92 Gallegos. 94 . 28. 144. 17. Pilar. 97 Hermann.A.. 124 Hughes. 147 Kelly. 115 Hayley. 110 Forrest. Thomas Michael.. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 163 Gutierrez.G... 197 Jackson. Terri.. 80. William Steed. 155 Fox. 109 Karen.. 123 Gavai. 40 January. 131 Foster. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 179 Giosia. 125 Hayden. Mary. 101 Jayne L. Gene W. Will. Dennis. Gaby. 36. 200 Galilea.Errani Emaldi. George..
. 85 Rose. 69. Nidia F. 196 Mansour. 32. Jan. 161 Loomer.B. 187 Kumar. 141 Redfearne. 108 Philippa. Scarlet. 77 McLean. 205 Pete. Brigitte.. 93. Santonio. 99 Quarles. 189 Lonn. 171 Murff. Prashant Devan. D. Yvette. 188 Paddy J. Norton. 87 McKenna. 91 Rothwell. 71 Richards. Miriam. 148 Lisa. 183 PC. 148 Salinas. Byron. 23 . Zachary. 107. 172 Mayo. 86 Mare. 136. Michael.Krista. 25 McKenzie. 73 Lebreton.. 67 Misty. Mike. Kitty. 21 LeBeau. Gary. 133. 206 Louisell. 20. 158 Pauli.. 143 Priscilla. Eloise. 160 Momo. Ricky. 59 Morales. 88 Norman. Julia. 92 Perez. 122.. Mark D. Charles P.
Kurt. Raul. Agatha. 159 Wantz. 190 Suzy. Dinorah. 39 Yurshta. 191 Sonia. 149 Zephyr. John.E. 16 Shurley. Idris. Melvin William Joseph. 90 Torres. J. 15. 85 Tedesco.Samuel. 87 Small. Matt. 114 Vogt. Bronwyn.. 151 Suzanne. 41 Shelly. 42 Windoftheclyde. 34 Zora. 63 Wirzburger. 50 Theoharides. 95 Yochum. 193 Ybarra. 203 .. 55 von Fuller. Adela. 173 Yeyo. 175 Yarbrough. Steven. Alexander J.
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What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.com. and remember. reflect.99 9 781598 351095 .. written as memoirs. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. The best stories were selected for this book.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. cry.com $19. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world.100plusts.” “. 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.100plusts. Now you are invited to do the same. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. or confessions. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. illustrate life’s many. These firsthand accounts.com.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. facing myself. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. Upon being published.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body... floating in the air. but with a different outlook on life–and death. These are true stories told by people like you. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s.. I was diagnosed with breast cancer.” “A week before my 26th birthday. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.. Many people are telling their true stories. who were eager to share their experiences. anecdotes.100plusts. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.
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