This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
” “I would like to help others learn from my experience.”
“I think of myself as having happily died that night.”
“I want my legacy to live on in the pages of a book.” “I want to share my happiness with the world.” Can you identify with any of these statements? You probably have a story that you have yearned to share, but could not because you did not know when, how, or with whom. The people in this book let out their secrets through their writing. Sometimes simply listening to others who have had similar experiences can be more beneficial than turning to religious texts, self-help books, or professional advice. Finding that we are not the only one who has lived through an experience, and that others share our desires and fears, helps us overcome feelings of being misunderstood or lonely. Our unique ability to identify with and accept others makes us understand ourselves.
“Prison with cancer takes fear to a new level.”
“After 5 years of marriage he died suddenly and tragically.”
100 Plus True Stories
Copyright ©2009 Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. All rights reserved. www.cbhbooks.com Managing Editor: Heidie German Editors: Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colón Designer: Ricardo Potes Correa Cambridge BrickHouse, Inc. 60 Island Street Lawrence, MA 01840 U.S.A. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 100 plus true stories : anthology / [editors, Alison Keating, David Mallick, Priscilla Colon]. -- 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 (alk. paper) 1. Biography--Anecdotes. 2. Social history--20th century--Anecdotes. 3. Social history--21st century--Anecdotes. I. Keating, Alison. II. Mallick, David. III. Colón, Priscilla. IV. Title: One hundred plus true stories. CT105.A135 920.009’04--dc22 2009 2009052511
First Edition Printed in the U.S.A. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
100 Plus True Stories
BH Books would like to extend a very special thank you to the PEN Prison Writing Program, especially to Coordinator Eric Taylor and Director Jackson Taylor, for sharing the true stories of inmates incarcerated in prisons throughout the United States. We also thank the authors for sharing their experiences with those of us on the “outside.” The PEN Prison Writing stories may be read in their entirety by clicking on the Prison Writing Program link on PEN American Center’s web site: www.pen.org
Table of Contents
Paradise Lost & Found ...............................13
Homeless at Nine ........................................................................ 15 From Chaos to College ............................................................... 16 A Prison Poet............................................................................... 17 Seeing the Light .......................................................................... 19 Buddhism Behind Bars ............................................................... 20 Proud to be a Chindian ............................................................... 21 There Is No Santa ........................................................................ 22 The Man Scribbles of Big G ........................................................ 23 Pictures Don’t Lie ........................................................................ 25 Species of a Lesser God ............................................................. 28 Stripped of My Masculinity.......................................................... 30 Staying Sane ............................................................................... 32 Nobody’s Fault ............................................................................ 32 Hopelessness for the Homeless.................................................. 33 My Rapist Walks Free .................................................................. 34 Lifer.............................................................................................. 36 One Bad Decision ....................................................................... 37 Talk About a Bad Week ............................................................... 39 I Am a Murderer ........................................................................... 40 A Step in the Right Direction ....................................................... 41 Freedom From Addiction............................................................. 42 This Too Shall Pass ..................................................................... 44 Hope in the Written Word ............................................................ 45 Poetical Muralism ........................................................................ 45 Escape from Maximum-Security ................................................. 47 I Thought I Could Fix Him............................................................ 50 A Three-Strikes Sojourn .............................................................. 51
There Are Consequences ............................................................ 53 Withdrawal................................................................................... 53 My Regret .................................................................................... 55
Sex & Seduction .........................................57
First-Time Fizzle .......................................................................... 59 Do It For You................................................................................ 59 A Special Bond ............................................................................ 60 A Man Can Always Dream........................................................... 61 But a Glance Away ...................................................................... 62 Sexual Fantasy ............................................................................ 63
Small Miracles .......................................... 65
When the Cell Door Closes ......................................................... 67 Visited by Angels ......................................................................... 69 Someone Saved My Life ............................................................. 70 The Day I Died ............................................................................. 71 We Are Not Alone ........................................................................ 73 Everything Happens for a Reason............................................... 74 A Taste of Honey ......................................................................... 75 Smoking Saved His Life .............................................................. 77 Someone Knew My Pain ............................................................. 77 A Change in Outlook ................................................................... 79 Being Stabbed Saved Me ........................................................... 80
Matters of the Heart .................................. 83
My First at 41............................................................................... 85 Nowhere to Go ............................................................................ 85 An Undeniable Connection ......................................................... 86 I Just Want to Forget ................................................................... 87 An Older Man .............................................................................. 87 The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit ...................................................... 88
Four A.M ...................................................................................... 90 Love Advice from a Magazine ..................................................... 91 Love Is ......................................................................................... 92 The Prince Who Turned into a Frog............................................. 92 In Love with Another Woman ...................................................... 93 Aphrodite Gone Wrong................................................................ 94 Living Separate Lives .................................................................. 95 I Fantasize about My Teacher...................................................... 95 My Mississippi Man ..................................................................... 96 Cake in Acapulco ........................................................................ 97 Farewell ....................................................................................... 98 A Joining of Two, Not Two Hundred ............................................ 99 When “Going Green” Gets Painful ............................................ 100 Falling Out of Love .................................................................... 101 The Divorce That Never Was ..................................................... 102
Despite Diagnosis ....................................105
Fighting the Ninja ...................................................................... 107 A Tumor at 18 ............................................................................ 108 You Never Know ........................................................................ 109 The Scar of Life ......................................................................... 110 Fear ........................................................................................... 111 She Gave Me Hope ................................................................... 114 “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life ............................................ 115 The Slow and Silent Killer.......................................................... 115 Stopping the Spread of STDs ................................................... 116
The Transience of Permanence ................ 119
LIVE from Texas Death Row ...................................................... 121 To Die or Not To Live ................................................................. 122 Check Out Day .......................................................................... 122 When I Ceased to Exist ............................................................. 123
Deconstructing Nonna .............................................................. 124 The Final Countdown ................................................................ 125 A Requiem for Freddy ............................................................... 127 I Lost My Baby Boy ................................................................... 128 I Miss You, Dad ......................................................................... 130 Accepting He’s Gone ................................................................ 130 A Parting Gift ............................................................................. 131 Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining ................................................ 132 Making Amends ........................................................................ 133 Slash .......................................................................................... 135 Death Mask ............................................................................... 136
Hidden & Forbidden ................................139
Admitting I Am a Rapist............................................................. 141 I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted .............................................. 142 My Most Embarrassing Moment ............................................... 143 Two Sides to Every Coin............................................................ 144 My Struggles ............................................................................. 145 The Truth ................................................................................... 147 Better Off Not Knowing ............................................................. 148 Keeping the Demons at Bay...................................................... 148 For Love or Religion .................................................................. 149 Words Speak Louder ................................................................. 151 After a Decade........................................................................... 151
Eerie Encounters ..................................... 153
Who Wants to Be Alone? .......................................................... 155 Drowning ................................................................................... 155 Dreams Reflect Reality .............................................................. 156 The Warnings ............................................................................ 157 The Monster in My Dreams ....................................................... 158 I’ve Been Here Before ............................................................... 158
No Grim Reaper ........................................................................ 159 Between Time and Space ......................................................... 160 I Saw It Happen ......................................................................... 161 Back to My Body ....................................................................... 162 A Different Level ........................................................................ 163 The Mournful Guitar .................................................................. 164 I See Spirits ............................................................................... 166 UFO Hunt .................................................................................. 166
At Home & Abroad ...................................169
Creating Our Own Melting Pot .................................................. 171 Do It the Legal Way ................................................................... 172 Patience is a Virtue .................................................................... 172 In Limbo..................................................................................... 173 You’re Not Peruvian ................................................................... 175 My Nibble Out of The Big Apple................................................ 177 What I Learned from the British ................................................ 179 Return to Paradise .................................................................... 181 The Other Emerald “Isle” ........................................................... 182 Taking It All In ............................................................................ 183
The Toughest Job in the World ................185
The Best Laid Plans .................................................................. 187 Through the Eyes of a Child ...................................................... 188 I Thought I Had Failed ............................................................... 189 Afraid to Be a Mom ................................................................... 190 The Hunt .................................................................................... 191 Moments Frozen in Time ........................................................... 192 Shame ....................................................................................... 193 The Glove Compartment ........................................................... 196 Standing Up for Me and Ma ...................................................... 197 No More with the Neighbors ..................................................... 200
The Sand Dollar ......................................................................... 202 If Not Me, Then Who? ............................................................... 203 Unsung Heroes.......................................................................... 205 The Taming of Cerberus ............................................................ 206
Paradise Lost & Found
T R U E S T O R I ES
Homeless at Nine
was born on the 18th of December 1941. At the tender young age of nine, I ran away from home for the first time. I lived on the streets of Baltimore between the ages of nine and 20, sleeping wherever I felt safe from the perverted child molesters who seemed to prey on runaway children. I survived the best way I could: stealing milk, orange juice, donuts, and raisin bread from people’s porches and doorsteps. I also ate out of garbage cans. For three years, I slept and lived in a Salvation Army clothing donation box, wearing the clothes people would throw into it. I always left the box each morning as I heard people drive up and would arrive at my “home” after the store closed. I also slept in many a doghouse, most of the time with dogs, too. At 20, I pulled my first burglary because I was starving for food. I was caught and sent to Jessup’s Maryland Prison Patuxent. At 21, I met the love of my life, but I was too immature at the time to realize, so she married someone else, a better person than I was. Today I am in a Texas State Prison because I stole a little less than $50 in change from a bar. The love of my life is back, and she feels as I do, that God brought us back together for a reason. I am not a violent individual, never have been, never will be. I was nothing more than a small-time, uneducated thief who broke into bars only to survive and eat. Due to my lack of education, I couldn’t find or hold a job, so I did what I had to do. They were and are
100+ all dumb decisions on my part. Since my incarceration in 1992, I have gone to school and got myself pretty well educated. I am proud of my accomplishments. My only desires today are to hopefully be paroled and find a good job, and to spend the rest of my life as God allows me to live, with my first love, and to die a free man, not in one of these human zoos, in these human cages, where no one gives a damn if a con lives or dies. Melvin William Joseph Vogt, 67 Amarillo, TX
From Chaos to College
hen I was 19 years old, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. From that point on, I was in and out of the hospital, my grades started to go down, and I started to feel anxious and without hope. I always thought I was living the distress of yesterday, the stress of today, and the anxiety of tomorrow, but I came to find that my story would have a happy ending. I started to take notes on my feelings and typing them into my cell phone. I told my caseworker about them. She thought they were really good and showed them to several people. Some people liked my poems because they could identify with them. Some of them were going or had gone through the same experiences. I kept writing to let people know what it’s like to live
T R U E S T O R I ES
with mental illness. People like me have to work extra hard to achieve their goals and end the stigma of mental illness. But the terrible burden of having to go through life feeling like a nobody is coming to an end and my hard work is finally paying off. I was finally rewarded for suffering so much. My book of poetry is about to be published! I recently enrolled in college and I’m working toward becoming a writer. Even though I am only 22 I think that my life will have a happy ending. I’d like to encourage people like me not to be afraid and to smile. Agatha Shelly, 22 Lawrence, MA
A Prison Poet
cannot imagine anyone in their right mind saying that they enjoy being incarcerated. Prison is a horrible place. It is not so much being told what, when, and how to live: the food is not that bad; you are provided with health care; you can avoid the violence most of the time; and there is usually something interesting to read if you look around. No, the horror, to me, is that I am thought of as being less than human. To the prison administration, we are only numbers wearing white. They train their guards to distrust us in an effort to keep a wall between grey and white—a wall that is called hate. We, the incarcerated, counter this type of
100+ psychological oppression in many different ways, some good, and some bad. Once inside, I learned quickly to let go of the past and to concentrate on making the best of the present. What could I do to make this time mean something, to make this nightmare work in my favor? Finally, I set my sights on the educational programs offered. I was a high school dropout and thought this would be a great opportunity to get that GED I had been putting off for the past twenty years. I got it, and then some. I worked my way through the system for nine years and was eventually blessed with an M.A. in Literature, an accomplishment I am sure I would have never achieved in the outside world. And as a bonus, along the way, I discovered the wondrous world of poetry. For the past few years, reading and writing poetry and literary criticism has dramatically changed how I view this world and all its complexities, good and bad. There is something about combining imagination and memories to create images that live in our subconscious that exhilarates me; it is like painting with words. But even more than that, my poems define me as being something other than a number. When I get a bogus case by some hate-filled guard, they can take away my privileges, but they can’t put me on poetry restriction—poetry is my lifeline to sanity, in an insane environment. Twenty-eight months to go and I’ll be eligible to reenter society. But I’ll have something I’ve never had before: new eyes with which to maneuver through life; a new addiction if you will, a new journey that I have begun inside this cave. I have entered a place in the mind that I like to call the “poetry dimension.” It’s like
I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. images. By the 8th grade. and drug addiction. bitterness. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. AZ I 19 . Nevada in 1968. Due to anger. 2007. 51 Rosharon. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. desires. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. my mother passed away from cancer. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. living on many different bases. so I grew up as an Army brat. can be revealed to the world. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. By 18. On March 3. Malachi Ephraim Florence. Dennis Forrest. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express.
to meditate and simply spend time with myself. to develop boundaries. I rejoice in the art I produce. When I do little jobs. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. to search spiritually. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. Yet. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. tomorrow.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. Today. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. Listening now requires my full attention. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. For quite a while now. such as putting up books in the library. and acting. I am aware of the way their covers feel. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. day out. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. 20 N . Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. and their condition. and I can look at them neutrally. freedom to expand my horizons. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. I know I am finally awake to life. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. in a week. their heaviness. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. listening.
TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. As a matter of fact. teachers. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. love. or strangers away. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. once I am given the chance.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. Lamas Rinpoche. my learning continues. But for now. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. In closing. I can easily mix with just about anyone. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. Yeshe. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. or spiritual. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. and compassion and when they do. I know I will. be they physical. find true freedom. and Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. mental. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu.
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. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. She had 22 M . but didn’t join in the conversation. Kuala Lumpur. She broke the news to me as best as she could. MALAYSIA There Is No Santa y first grade class was in the courtyard getting ready to assemble into lines and walk into school when I heard a few kids talking about how there was no Santa Claus. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I took in what the kids were saying.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. 18 Cheras. As I listened to my mom.” That same day. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony. I thought to myself. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Prashant Devan Kumar.
with life to go. Food is brought to me. juvie halls. I grew up in boys’ homes. confined to a one-man cell. I remember sitting in the car.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. only thinking about those fucking stickers. imagine. and wonder. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. That’s all we do in these cells: think. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. dream.). 24 Queens. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. You have to have 23 I . 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. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. their world becomes a mental one. reflect. feel. That day. 23 hours a day. Every time I am taken out of my cell. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. my hands are handcuffed behind my back. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. Seg. ponder. TYC. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad.
the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. staking out the store from across the street. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. I think now how naïve I was. It is something that I truly am sorry for. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. I saw his point and I left things as they were. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. and everything went to shit from there. I’d done it a dozen times. and I got life in prison. In the end. watching the clerk close up shop. I was alone. But to 24 . Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. and no one gets hurt. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. 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. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I remember his wife testifying at my trial—the State sought the death penalty—and it broke me apart inside to see her like that. Trust me. The next day. It was a robbery gone bad. There were three. run. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder.
I think about that shit. Yeah. Crap is strewn everywhere. Look at the car. I’m keeping my pieces. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. I’m thinking. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Watch the crap. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. I’m not moving. 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. o. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. in which the author served as part of the U. It’s a mess. all observant and such. right. not benign crap. No way.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. Holes everywhere. Big holes. if you’re lucky. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. I mean. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Watch the crap. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up.S. it’s not going anywhere. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. I’m looking at this car.
P. grenades. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand.I. hold privates. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright.I.—R. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. I figured I’d hang on to something. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. RPG rounds. I didn’t even see this stuff.” or whatever you call it. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. well. Good night. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. 26 . K. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. cars now. or tunnel vision. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. with holes in them all. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. with maybe a little inscription saying. but I don’t care. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. I’m holding my privates. How many days have I been awake? Damn.A.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. I’m angry. I’m sick of this crap. this “Desert Storm..100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. Whoever’s firing those damn things. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. right on the crap. I curse myself for being so stupid. hundreds of them. I’ve been so careful all of these months. from messing my mind up further. Now. and mines scatter everywhere.
Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. I know I’m not dead. unless they shortened the fuses. Is 27 . Damn.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. too. again. but like some sick voyeur. right? The ones I see are fresh. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. vehicles are everywhere. I don’t like the burned ones. I do. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. along with the gaping hole through the skull. They look like statues. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. The glazed eyes give it away. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. I don’t want to end up like him. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. The pictures don’t lie. No stench. I don’t want to look. It was fun for a minute. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. maybe. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. It’s hard to tell. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. His ID card falls out.
McKenna Columbus. The hero died with a scream on his lips. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. that damn war. They’ll never know me. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. pictures don’t lie. “Yes. hoping his son will return from down South. I want no part of it. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. the Americans. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here. Mark D. We’ll have that in common. handcuffed. we will celebrate.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. and shackled. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. Probably not. If that’s heroism. No. his son—maybe even himself.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. from that war. One by one waist-chained. They’ll never know what happened to him. we stepped 28 I .100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again.
It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. 29 . the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. The restless. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. mountains. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. 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. In retrospect. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. indeed. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. 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.
sealed off from everything and everyone. in some cases. While I was in there. but no one dared speak of them. and. Hector Gallegos Otisville. for most. boredom. It’s a world of its own where. This is 30 M . a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty.100+ Looking around me. the lunacy of a previous occupant. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. 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. a vacuum of uncertainty. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. I found that I was not alone in this realization. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking.
My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. We used to have a very healthy relationship. 24 Lawrence. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. She has a son now. MA 31 .. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. but I had no luck. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. 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. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones.. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. Will Ferrara.
I was always sad. I grew up spoiled rotten. Three years later. where I am today. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . and began robbing banks. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. I always felt lonely. After 15 years there.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. but that made me feel worse. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. I escaped. stole an airplane. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. 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. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. flew to Florida. Robert Hal Brame Coleman.
I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. 33 I . Momo. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. but I was already highly unstable by then. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. Cars speed by. and I am doing a lot more for myself. When I started middle school. so I always tried to help them. Lights come on. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. This year. Now. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. but only for a little while.T R U E S T O R I ES me. 16 Richmond. and then my house caught on fire. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I had friends and a boyfriend. but there was something missing. This made me feel good. It wasn’t her fault. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. or mine. It’s going to be hard to get better. I started therapy.
. G. your feet hurt. nothing to eat. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics.T. no one to call. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. I have been fortunate.100+ homeward bound. You have nowhere to go. under the three strikes law. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. you’re hungry. nowhere to sleep. for one reason or another. God has been looking out for me. It’s cold. many homeless people end up in jail.. You think to yourself. This is why. I am still alive. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. 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. 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. I have met a variety of people in prison.
Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law thought that I must have provoked it somehow—their beloved Joe would never do something like that… I was the slut. I brought it upon myself. I immediately told my husband and we left. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. So Joe walks free. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. We all had a few too many. I must have asked to be raped. My husband. My husband and I filed a police report right away. In their eyes. They say most 35 . but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. my case was thrown out of court.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. and the rest of the family awoke. During the car ride home. My husband and Joe came to blows again. Nonetheless.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. I thought it was my husband. his brother. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. Without warning.
drug dealer. you almost have to be a bank robber. I’ve been a model inmate. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . for all the good it’s doing me. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. Zephyr Chicago. and I made it without becoming one of them. When I got locked up. or crooked politician. trying to survive among savage men. and for the past 10 years. Men ask me. but I am always in a good mood. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. while the victims get a life sentence. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I keep getting turned down for parole. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I love to write books and short stories. No one was hurt or kidnapped.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. We had six kids—with so many kids. I just took the money and ran. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars.
T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. And it all transpired in 37 O . They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. I turned fourteen. and my innermost thoughts and desires. I love writing. Mom got a new apartment. not die. Writing is like having an affair. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. George Hughes. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. When I’m writing. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. but all’s well in the end. anger. flavors that today I’d die for—well. laughter. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. they are good people with good hearts. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. tears. like taste good food. 63 Burkeville. 1982. That summer. sadness. but I put the truth out there for all to read. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. my parents became legally separated. the car. compassion. At fourteen. and us three kids. I share love.
I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. and inexplicably. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. sister. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. On the very last day of summer. I took off like a bat out of hell. at fourteen. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. I went over to the shoe department. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. Then I put on all three new shirts. I burst through the front door. but here it was. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. My friends would have surely made fun of me. and put them on. and me. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. By fifteen. In 1982. I wasn’t too concerned. not enough to panic. “Mom. sprinting as fast as possible. Like an NFL running back. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. picked out a pair. Once outside. Within six months I was using drugs regularly.100+ less than an hour. looking down at my new wet shoes. And by the age of eighteen. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. I was in State Prison. So I decided to steal. Once inside.
punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. they said. 18 Mowrystown. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. When I was finished with him. Obviously shocked. Six days later. To my complete surprise. OH 39 I . I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I asked why I was being arrested.
I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. My mom’s eyes held a million words. The judge gave me life without parole. mind. how he cared for her. From then on. hitting and abusing her. and when one falls. in the same room. I felt that what I did was wrong. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. It was good to see them together. but the fact is I did. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. During my trial. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. fights. my mom and dad came to visit me. At nineteen. I deserved to do some time and make amends.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. the others are there to pick him up. though he never loved her. and lack of feelings. 40 N . one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. ignorance. I killed someone. and soul. In the depths of my heart and soul. with a common goal. I was ready to be judged and convicted. and mean words. Before.
the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. 50 Represa.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. Money never used to be an issue. fleeting hope. and violent unrest. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . I have no friends in this new city. Besides. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but I see only the negative things. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. smiles. I need to budget. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. Spoon Jackson. but I take no initiative to start the process. I came from the desert. I’m getting older. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. I was naïve. but my will to survive took over. but now everything seems tight. but they all have lives.
my pen is capturing everything. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. I’m not stuck in one place. 42 I .100+ before I go to bed. For someone like me. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. go into a small. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. Ontario. the only escape that I found was with a knife. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. All of those negative ideas. but moving slowly in the right direction. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. Idris Samuel. a dead father. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. 27 Toronto. In the few months that I’ve been writing. brought up in me. I even see things in a more positive light now. inconspicuous notebook. I see that in spite of my depression. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. mixed with big dreams of happiness. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions.
How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. But then. never directly addressed. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . light-headedness. While incarcerated. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. a need for the chemicals in the formula. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. It had become a habit. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. While in prison. new problems arose. While on probation in 1995. As I look back on the role that the drug played. it merely put them on hold. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression.
100+ stable. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Now the reality I face is my own life. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Never waste life. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. but I never thought it would result in depression. Think about who really loves you. the present is much. you will be twice as strong. much clearer. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. it’s too short and too precious. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. I’ve always had low self-esteem. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. Anonymous. I am a different person. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. but my reaction to them is not the same. 13 44 I .E. J. Wantz Salem. And the present is where I have to live. and once it does. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression.
my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. alcohol. and pornography. The son of a research chemist. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. community centers. 51 Corcoran. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. 1958 in Elgin. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. writing helped. Thomas Michael Fox. cultural arts centers. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. I ended up in prison for life.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I have turned my attention back to God. 45 G . Now I try. I began to start to feel differently about myself. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. After getting sober in 2001. Illinois.
and 12-year-olds. This history. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. at the age of 17. migrant workers. Mexican revolutionaries. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. prison scenes. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. The second and third place runners-up were announced. my name was called. Then. and indigenous themes. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. When I was in second grade. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. vatos locos. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11.100+ youth programs. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. On the day the winner was to be announced. my school sponsored an art contest. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner.
The guard was two feet in front of me. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. metaphors.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. cash. Siquierod with Cisneros. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. José Boner Boscobel. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. and obtaining the other articles took time. a freehand artist second. a new tradition: poetical muralism. watching every move during a strip search. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. Securing the tools. Octavio with Orozco. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. camouflage the cut marks. Today. I fuse images using words. And yet. I consider myself first a poet. there was no turning back. manufacturing the rope. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. a hacksaw blade. I had to get in the same cage. and crazy juxtapositions.
My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. There was no time for hesitation. already packed with the gear. my arms were screaming. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. I was going. D-day. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. and I was sweating a puddle. The cage was shaking and rattling. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. or nerves. It was going according to plan 48 . 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. doubt. I was balls-to-the-wall. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. but the meshing distorted clear vision. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. I slung the rope over my shoulder.100+ primitive. every muscle was taut. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I was through and bent back the bars. In a few minutes. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. I could see everything. but they could see every move I made.
My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I attempted to crawl away. free from fear. I know from consequential. outside the confines of the jail. But that feeling of open air on my skin. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. it was too late for solutions. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. CA 49 . Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. from regret and anxiety. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. I know I’ve never been freer. D. Babb Corcoran. I was lying on the rooftop. needed more knots… whatever the problem. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. The rope burned through my fingers. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. through what I’ve gained and learned since. from doubt. cages. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. I’d escaped. I should have made gloves. It was too thin. but couldn’t move. Yet. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. but now I would to fall to my death. guards.
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. Alcohol would always come first. not losing his license. not getting pancreatitis. One time. which never came. nothing. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety.s. no matter what. it was too late. He attempted to shut off the ignition.I.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic. There was no wake-up call.U. and by the time I did. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. he just kept hitting rock bottom. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. but the key was jammed. I thought I loved him. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. 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 pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight.
T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. Adela Tedesco. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. and sexual predators committed. In my 33 years. 23 Hollywood. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. Unfortunately. a man with a past. free dope. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. Crimes were what thieves. simply liked the quick. victimless cash. I had lived an interesting life. drugs were simply a hustle. I had seen and done a lot. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. who in the present. that was for sure. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. thugs. not a crime. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. To me.
either. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. things are different. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. CA 52 . I argued it at every level: in the media. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. this time. I participated in the discourse. I’m surely not the devil. Yet. at stake: my entire life. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. While I’m no angel. Now. Then there are those of us. and with whoever. the entire world of academia. it protects the innocent. I’m arguing against it one more time. not the solution. as an activist.” There are the pro-drug war. It helps those unable to defend themselves. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. at the university. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. for all practical purposes.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. I understand the necessity for law and order. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. at this fateful juncture of my life. our families.
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. I felt it starting at my feet. Lance Corson. There are always consequences. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. until it took over my whole being. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. my stomach and chest. coming up my legs. even though they know that there are great risks. They destroy lives. One of the guards supplied it. riding through space in 53 O . 24 Little Compton. there are new users every day. that nothing will ever happen to them. However. So many people believe that they are invincible. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil.
and I could feel the cramps coming. My body was curled. falling. There were monsters with long tails down there.100+ the dead of darkness. I was terrified! I found myself falling. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. I began to shake all over. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. I was freezing all over. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. across my stomach. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. I stood in the corner. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. gritting their teeth. Then I nodded off. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. only inches left to stand on. My muscles 54 . For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. dying for a fix. falling. my back to the wall. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. My stomach was cramping. my heart pounded violently. I needed a fix. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. holding on to my elbows. I walked around with my arms in front of me. bad. The floor closed up as I hit it. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me.
VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. petty reasons. I kicked at her. 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. and 10. One day. not scrubbing the floors right. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. 2002. George Hughes. “No more. and sell anything and everything. If I were on the street.T R U E S T O R I ES exploded with cramps and I fell from the cross as convulsions wore me to a thin frazzle. But I wasn’t. My mother passed away on October 2nd. 66 Burkeville. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. lie. not shoveling the sidewalk right.” Now 55 . such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. including their own souls. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. Mom grabbed a frying pan. She opened the back door and said. God and I both love you.000 other small. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. jumped out. wetting the bed. steal. not cleaning the dishes right. Mother. got down on the floor and beat me with it. “Get out of my house. playing too loudly. There was no fix at hand. to get a fix. and grabbed a wooden broom and told 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. TX 56 .100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. 67 Amarillo. I don’t hate my mom. I don’t dislike her. Melvin William Joseph Vogt.
Sex & Seduction .
when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. Terri Giosia. This is what occurs at 18. it will occur over time. 45 Montreal. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. I 59 M . What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. and fulfillment after the first 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. an orgasm. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. But for the young woman. Québec.
and one day when my parents were out to dinner. it won’t be your last. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. people would assume we were twins. Now. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. If you know your body. We decided we were ready. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. who are ready to lose their virginity. I did it for me. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. At the beginning of high school. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars.100+ beg to differ. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. Momo. Do it because you want to. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. we had sex. that even though it’s your first time. Don’t be scared. We have known each other since before we can remember. I will spare 60 I . When we were little. 16 Richmond. not because he wants to. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. I always tell my friends.
It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. Later in the evening. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. Obviously laughter. squealing. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. and we locked ourselves in. anyway. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. that is not what is important. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. at a “well-supervised” party. interesting story to tell. I grabbed her.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. I ran into my best friend. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. AK. he wields 61 I . we said. and crying ensued. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Almost at the same time.
the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . 54 Sydney. turning him over.100+ considerable power by yelling. or backstabbing us to our bosses. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. However. NSW. but girly mags are his main source of info. being sarcastic. changing his urine bag. it’s like having a little harem. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. tempt. Christie. if the woman is appealing enough. rubbing his feet and back. He basks in their attention. feeding him like a baby. 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. however. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. and showering and grooming him. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made.
we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. smile. 45 Montreal. Québec. as upon sobering up. It is not real. it’s possible to seduce anyone. 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. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. the golden rule for seduction. one cannot seduce. With a glance. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. It is stating the obvious. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. Without confidence. beyond a shadow of a doubt. this type of seduction is an illusion. However. That is. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. His hand rested on my forearm. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. a smile. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. a look. body language. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. his complete awareness of 63 I . Once that is accomplished.
for they would make me look like a weakling. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. Windoftheclyde. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. I pleaded with them not to show up. Always the seeker. his lips fell on my hips. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. 27 Santiago. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . On the brink of a thrust. True to their word. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. In a shadowy whisper. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. but my anticipation was no longer tender. I felt his back tensing against my hands. My ways were haphazard. he breathed my name.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. but my pretensions made no difference to them. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. Never had a burden been more welcome.
Small Miracles .
I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. in the darkness. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. As a person. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I do my deepest thinking there. I even welcome the closing of the door. With a twist of a key. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. At times. It becomes routine. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I should hate the cell. but once inside my cell. rather familiar. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night.” Out there. I’m on guard seven days a week. I know I have to be locked in. 67 T .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. Late at night. and often after a long day. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I’m locked in. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. amongst the prison population. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. I am human. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. I know that no one can get in without the key.
The cell door is now closed. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. I have not experienced silence in years. or write a letter to my family or a friend. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. I don’t hear anyone talking.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. When the cell door shuts.100+ I pray in the cell. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. I’m alone. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. but I’m in good company. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . while here in prison. and I write my loved ones there. despair. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. listen to the radio. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. these sounds are tranquil. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. The cell is a hellhole. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. yet. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. and loneliness. It never is truly quiet here. the cell is a paradox because in reality. Ironically. The cell is my castle until I reach home. The walls seem to hum. read a book. a melody of pleasant proportions. To be honest. To the outside observer. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life.
and have the power to choose. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. and I was filled with awe. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. think. 69 I . I also laugh. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. In a small. love. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. in it were four angels. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. I was lying in the dark. cry. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. They looked invincible. I’m human: I feel. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. Michael McLean Beacon.m.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. showing another dimension. “Let us show you the way. bleed. though their faces were human-looking. we have been there before. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity.
I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. but time operates differently there.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. there really wasn’t any time to react. Auckland. 70 I . waiting to make a left turn. knowing order reigned in the next world. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. “Oh no. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators.100+ white. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I thought to myself. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. This was a kingdom on a large sun. guarded from dark forces. circular spaceship. At that instant. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. 54 North Shore City. Misty. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe.
This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. Hey. I sat there thinking to myself. and in the hand-warmer pocket. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. including me. a brand new box of pills.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. Ever since that day. In the breast pocket of my jacket. “Wow. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. I chose Mount Sanitos. It was a very surreal experience. Where we die should be no less important. I considered the importance of what I was doing. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. “Sorry about that. 38 Methuen. It is important to find the right place for an ending.
things were… strange. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. There was a flash of light. “He’s here. On the far side of my fall. I cowered. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. I must have blacked out. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. thinking it could be the police. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. Four pills left. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. Necessary and common. my hand slipped and I fell. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. no one was looking for me. For a moment. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. closing my bank accounts. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. Blood was caked on my forehead.100+ someone else got hurt. but they sensed me there. like someone hit the reset on my brain. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I panicked. There were shapes of people around. It was still night. dropping off my recycling. I finally reached the top. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either. then a shift. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. When the east finally began to warm. The guardians were gone. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared.
I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. Everything after that has been pure profit. but I had never been depressed before either. I was living alone. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. At one point. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I was making sandwiches. hitting me on the left ankle. and then dragged myself towards it. Then a second piece of bread fell. and it’s doable. as I did. 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 . so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. it got so bad that I became depressed. so I continued making the sandwiches. I had never done that before. That was my break-even point. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. I also know that I’m never alone. Three days later.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. I’ve been to zero. When I got up in front of the cabin. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. I realized it was just a stone. I think of myself as having happily died that night.
” Two years ago. I was very puzzled. Three months later. He is still there. we got pregnant again. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. so we should not be depressed. Our little (well 74 I . we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage.100+ of bread. Jesus is always with us. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. but there was only one piece on the floor.” 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. the day before Valentine’s Day. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. When I returned to the kitchen. Needless to say. “I am the bread of life. whether we see Him or not. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason.
Kelly. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. If he had come 13 minutes earlier.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. I did not waste it on the bland mush. 30 Martinsburg. Don’t get me wrong. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. we will always think about the baby that we lost. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. It was a good partnership. but left the bees plenty for the winter. WV A Taste of Honey honey. But this event puts it into a whole different light. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . And he is our own personal little miracle.
I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. I thanked God for a taste of honey.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. and the wildflowers. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. so I carefully squeezed half of the honey in that small package onto my one slice of bread—careful not to spill a single drop. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I thought. But man cannot live on honey alone. For a moment there. and also. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. UT 76 . I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. the mountain laurel. The other half I saved for later. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. James Burns Gunnison. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. but it seemed to last an eternity. I had been free. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had smelled the spruce.
he got shot in the left side of his chest. Gavai Kona. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. Army during the Vietnam War. There was a spark in her eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. Despite this miracle. He had a lighter.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. 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. but it ultimately killed him. a pack of cigarettes.S. I 77 I . After years of alcohol abuse. During a skirmish. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. Ironically. He may have survived the Vietnam War. her actions were terrible and painful. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. smoking saved his life. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises.
I turned to go to my room. Bardo came out. “You’re not the only one. when my brother Bardo and I got home. as I put the dress on the hanger. and hung up my dress. NY 78 . My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper.” he said. Miriam McKenzie. “Good night. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. and said. I walked to my closet. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts.” I said through my tears. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. but she ignored me.” He also told me that when I finished eating. Miriam. That is when I saw the stain. I heard him whisper. The next thing I knew. 41 Bedford Hills. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. One day. With tears in my eyes. the dress ended up on my face. he looked at me. With powdered soap and water. While he was hugging me.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. reached for an empty hanger. my mother called me. “Good night. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. Bardo. and I did. I tightly hugged him back.
the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. cook what I wanted. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. the “buffaloes” roamed. bought a TV. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. Each building contained its own separate shantytown.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. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. I could wear my own clothes. No gym. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. Everything from 79 M . no weight pile. When money arrived. no track or ball field. There was no yard to speak of. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. I had conjugal visits. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. a stereo. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. We installed a swamp cooler. a pipe with running water for a shower. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. incoming calls only. built wooden bunks. But in Mexico. An aisle ran the length of each building.
prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. I arrived at the school cafeteria. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I .S. lumber. I wanted out. the ontological slap in the face. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. if I changed. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. art supplies. clothing.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. for anything else. and it has. booze. drugs. but it was an identity that was poisonous. I was allowed to keep my identity. much like my thinking. filthy. I reasoned that. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. for the right price.C. and dangerous. J. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. True. and even prostitutes. the world would reflect that change. in my head. appliances. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. Amberchele Canon City. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. A man could buy food.
As we spoke. my membership in the gang became obsolete. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. Enrique M. the judge dismissed the case. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. FL 81 . however. With time. It had been an ironic twist of fate.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. After the trial. it stopped bothering me. In my mind. his father embraced me in the hallway. His father attended the hearing. When I did not press charges. When I saw my assailant in court. But when others got involved. I flirted with the idea of getting even. the atmosphere was tense. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. I stood by my friend. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. Fernandez Miami. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. encouraging him during the fight. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. my assailant approached me and apologized. As I turned to look. I yelled for help. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. That made all the difference in the world. a free-for-all ensued. I had been stabbed. After that incident. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand.
Matters of the Heart .
41 Dallas. I never get tired of listening to him. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. This is it! This is my first true love. was I wrong! I admire my first love. my first true love. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. One would think that because I have experienced life. I want to know everything he knows. I could not 85 T . I would have been in love before. no matter what answers you receive. He is honest. and I am in love. He’s my first Jan Richards. He is strong. He is smart. I am 41 years old. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. I have known my first love for more than a year. the good and bad. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. Boy. I will accept all of him.
it’s been like heaven. I was browsing . and the connection that we share. but now I want to leave him. Mansour. 59 Dayton. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). Without her. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. 27 Tehran. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. my first love. We both respect and value each other very much. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I hope we will get married one day. she kissed me for the first time. Although we are divorced. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. Suzy. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. too. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. I feel so alone. The morning after I arrived. I will never forget her.100+ eat. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and that the connection will endure. I decided to visit her. he came back to me.
I worry all the time. and he was in fifth grade. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. and now all I have are insecurities. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. His name was Travis.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. He was a tall. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. At first. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. slender. Shurley. and I am so jealous. I would never have gone out with him. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He played with my head. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. He stripped down my confidence. everything was great.” 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. There was something fascinating about this “older man. Then within six months. If it were up to me.
100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. all in retrospect. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. sexuallycharged atmosphere for 12 hours a day to supervise thousands of the very same scantily clad bad boys that she’s grown up lusting after most of her life. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. She has little education. or inn in the continental United States. Kitty Mayo. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . wanting him to protect me. threesomes. anal sex. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. I just remember wanting to be near him. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. and gangbangs—it all occurs. hotel. 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. Often. My reflections of Travis developed years later. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. 29 Hilo. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous.
Hours seem like minutes. religion. regulations.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. rules. It comes like a thief in the night. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. The female is as rebellious as the offender. The attraction is mutual. pay her rent. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. who want to keep her hair and nails done.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. finances. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. It’s an amazing thing. 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. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. 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. TX 89 . and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. She needs no coercion or con. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. Sometimes personalities just click. The conversations flow smoothly. send her shopping. or risks. housing. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. take care of her kids. Love. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. The laughs come fast and free.
I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. Two months later. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on .. I told her I loved her. and I told her she was strange. destined for Minneapolis.” I have no idea what he means. the tears pouring down her cheeks. the distance between her school. Massachusetts. we went out for coffee. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom..M. Skidmore College. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. Three months later. but I know I don’t want her to leave. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. One month later. on a tour of Oxford. I’m not sure she’s my other half. and if. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. three floors down. and mine. 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. Outside her window. suitcase is a difficult feat. She told me the upright bass was sexy. I wonder when.100+ Four A. my tears will come. And three months and two weeks later. We are in her attic bedroom. Boston College. she told me the same thing. She’s packing her last suitcase. and yes. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field.
and place it on the hood of his car.m. 22 Amherst.. Theoharides. “I’ll miss you. and I have to walk her to a bus station. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. after a bottle of wine.m. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. and I had a crush on . I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. And tears stream down my face. At four a. write a love poem. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates. Alexander J. At two a.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. I walk her to the bus station. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. so I decided to go the subversive route. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates.” she says.m. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. still two bottles of wine later. I had written the poem already. needless to say.m... she falls asleep. after another bottle of wine. until four a. comes. At three a.
NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. Unfortunately. 28 Albuquerque.100+ I sped away. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . Galilea. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. desires. Scarlet Rose. and well-being. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. needs. NH Love Is for yourself. but because of them. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. I was 21 years old. 24 Lincoln. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. not despite of their shortcomings. 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.
the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. We are the yin and yang for each other. PC. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. As you can imagine. no? Saturday came. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. But a girl can dream. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. I imagined something romantic. It can be between two men and between two women. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. making our relationship grow stronger.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. 30 Arecibo. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see.
” I told myself. I tried to be perfect. so I left everything behind: my career. and I tried to fight for my dreams. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. “I did it for love. A baby was on the way. my family. but he wasn’t in love with me. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . and I thought I was immortal. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. Mare. Michelle. 36 Lennon. Maybe he was too old for me. Life is not supposed to be this way. and my life. maybe he was strange. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. Our relationship is 15 years strong. and so many tears. I regret so many things. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. but he was mine. so many mistakes. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. and we are raising a daughter as well. I love you. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. the woman that he had been dreaming of. I regret it. and I live there now. I chose my hell. and you have always been the one.100+ lifetime.
but as for love. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. If I were to start my life all over again. we fell in love. I don’t know. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. but we’re not together anymore. 95 I . and it lasted about a year and a half. 18 Olmito. It’s a bad habit. but we’ll be living separate lives. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. Yeyo. though. We are going to graduate soon. Kikis_fairytale. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. Lately. but I can’t control it. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. 27 Athens. My ex and I are currently in high school.T R U E S T O R I ES life. We now have a beautiful baby girl.
96 M . It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. talent. it keeps growing. I thought to myself. Every time I see him. He was a southern gentleman with manners. 18 Brooklyn. I gasp for air. looks. We spent my final day together. His grin always seemed to catch my eye.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. but as much as I try to stop. In the summer of 2009. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. but it just happens. “I may have a guy at home. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. I shake. I don’t want to. yet doesn’t make me want to die. I imagine the two of us together all the time. Although I didn’t know it at the time. and I have no control over my actions. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. Aila Balic. We started talking and before long we just clicked. but things had been slowly going downhill. and a smile that could melt a heart. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. It is a scary feeling. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth.
MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. I couldn’t believe it was over. Thanks. no guests. In life. too? Hayley. for showing me the truth about love. family and friends can witness our marital union. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I explored my options on the ride home. and it took all I had not to cry.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. I went to say my goodbyes. Ethan. and no hassle: just us. We wanted . Guerrero. 26 Acapulco. There weren’t any wedding planners. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. but now it was time to make a big decision. Why not have our cake and eat it. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years.
2006. On March 27th. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. On May 15. This story has the makings for a great ending. I guess. but life is not fair. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. Some letters were erotic. at age fifty-two. and made me happy in so many ways. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. was a devoted wife. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. as well as me. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. 1997. I will go home one day. She was . Clearly magic was happening between us. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. I had not felt that way in years. For Louise. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. I actually felt like someone worthy of living.
but we had our wedding 7 months later. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world.000 on our wedding. Please save 99 M . So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. but for our family members. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. in August. However. 63 Burkeville. George Hughes. DON’T. I will miss you. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. VA A Joining of Two. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Louise. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. And in the end. Farewell. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. We had a nice ceremony. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. If we had to do it again. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated.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. beautiful flower arrangements.
having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. On the day of the wedding. “Are you two getting married. my voice echoing through the church. When we finally reached the priest. the rings were handed over. 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. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. “NO!” I yelled at him. Priscilla. 100 A . forest green dress. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. When the time came to walk down the aisle.100+ your money because in the end. In the fall of 1987. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. Even at 3. the wedding doesn’t matter. clad in a miniature tuxedo. too?” he asked. 29 Lowell. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom.
and forest green. not right away. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. and I had no idea where to go. not right before my eyes. my cousin. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. all I remember being told was. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. slowly and gradually. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. I was blinded by lights. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. On the long list of things I hate. Finally. and I started to ignore 101 I . and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. but before I knew it. until amorous love became filial affection. camera flashes. I had gotten used to him and he to me. The emails became short and purposeful. at some point. 23 Somerville.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception.” When the doors opened. three of them will always be: priests. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. Adelle Brown. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security.
I remember why I fell in love with him. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. January Paris.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. or lack thereof. This mundane. 102 I . I am not that unhappy. I keep trying to push him away. He was no longer my top priority. I stopped caring about spending time together. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. and let him do the same. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. I am not that person anymore. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. For now. and started avoiding him. I am content to just exist. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. torturous waste of time. for him. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. nor is he. 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. but that memory is now alien to me.
Donna J. I would have done so. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. St.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. my parents did not divorce. They are still together. Johnsbury. VT 103 . it would have been more difficult. and if I were allowed to live with my father. I thought that if they divorced. Even if he hadn’t allowed it. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. and I’m glad they are. Alas. which never came.
Despite Diagnosis .
clean.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. bide your time. sometimes it’s neck-deep. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. Prison is a sewer. wash. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. cartwheeling. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. and filth swimming and floating along with you. not let it get inside you. alone. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. leaving you there to bleed out. to survive it. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. and dry yourself. not because of knives but for their germs. Some don’t. In prison. then slips away unseen. Wait till the “others” get out. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. You are immersed in it. go in with your homeboys. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. skidding. and sometimes it’s over your head. and when you get to the other side. Take showers in shifts. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. vermin. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. you must wade carefully through the sewage. you can cast off your filthy clothes.
I was told I had a brain tumor. Months later. become a part of it. Norman. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. The problem was not eradicated. they inhale deeply. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. wondering if I will ever go home. I started having eye trouble. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. As for me. 59 Daytona Beach.100+ of the prison sewer. a cracked skull. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. so I went to an optometrist. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. meningitis. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. When I awoke. And they die. Charles P. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. As the years passed. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. I regained some of my physical strength. take it all in.
After 4 or so weeks. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . and all came out negative. Pete. Tasmania. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. My cerebral fluid was not draining. Fueled by the media. just to be sure. 21 Devonport. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. 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. so in spite of having protected sex. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS.
28 Portland.100+ as well. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. so she took me to the doctor. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. but even that wasn’t enough. Every time a nurse would come in the room. Jolene. One time. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . The day I turned five. Throughout my childhood. For instance. I was constantly in the hospital. My father was the only one with the same blood type. so he donated his blood. so my body was dying. We all had sad faces. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood.
nearly bald. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. hoping to get rid of me to save money. There is no kindness. Maybe it’s not really me. in college.” When my chemo starts. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. At Perryville. my oncologist was determined 111 I . and they both cried tears of joy. I am back at Estrella Jail. I’m 15 pounds thinner. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. I vomit constantly. the check-in nurse says. and very pale. This never happened outside. Five days later. fightingsurvivor19. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. Maybe it’s a nightmare. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. the judge can expedite all he wants. Today I am 19. the jail has delayed it. “Well. Three months later. 19 Pembroke Pines.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. and 100% cured.
Despite the rigid schedule. and then annually. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. I know I’m an inmate. My life is literally in their hands. But this protocol is not followed. I have three more chemo sessions. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. An hour later. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. I vomit until there is nothing left. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. 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. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. When my treatment is over. then every six months for two years. when I’m supposed to be healing. In here. Eventually. No more nausea. and nine months later. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. He answers my questions. burning instead.100+ that my nausea be minimal. there is complete indifference. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. begging for what I’m missing. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. He recommends a tumor 112 . the doctor comes in. I am sent back to my room alone. I start the laborious grievance process. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting.
and I am helpless against its inadequate. That’s really hard in here. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. incompetent. uncaring power. Their stories touch me on so many levels. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. it still hasn’t happened. always look for a reason to be glad. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. 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. Six months later. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. my life is in the hands of the State. This is about the State. I can deal with that. That is why I am afraid. no positive imagery can change my situation. As a result. AZ 113 . mismanaged.
I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. he began to distance himself.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. but when he found out that treatment could last years. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. she was looking ahead. without even knowing it. CA A 114 . That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. A year into my treatment. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. 33 Santa Barbara. Despite all this. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. making plans for the future. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. Later. and I felt helpless all the time. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. Dinorah Torres.
never had any kids. She was longdivorced. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. One year she was cancer-free. for an addict’s. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. It just 115 I . and had lived alone for decades. shape.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. 18 Tacoma. Hayden. for a smoker’s lungs. The following year. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. How sad.” 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. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer.
not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. F. not even decades after giving up smoking. Cornwall. and now he could lose his own life because of them. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I .100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. on the part of Texas officials.A. He lost his wife to cigarettes. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. Whatever the percentage. He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis.G. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. Penzance.
You can see how dangerous it is. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 9. be as humane as possible. 4. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . and house them accordingly.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. whether here or abroad. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. 6. Classify prisoners by age. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. A few suggestions: 1. 5. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. 2. 8. and typecrime. 3. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 7. Separate gang members from non-gang members. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. sentence length.
Daniel H. Harris. TX 118 .100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. This could be a start. 48 Huntsville.
The Transience of Permanence .
plans. He desperately seeks some understanding. which has its effects on me as well as on him. some acceptance. a last will and testament. discussions. then the whole world has done the same. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. especially on death row. Most people have the freedom to push life’s most sensitive and controversial issue out of their minds or at least deal with it conventionally and on their own terms: family tradition. even inside me. From what I’ve seen in here. Christopher Best Livingston.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. I feel the dread on my flesh. If I give him that. or SSI. All is forgiven. In the penitentiary. TX I 121 . Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. I swear. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. He understands that my time with him is short. For “free-world” folks. In plain talk. death is merely a passage or rite. I’m a state-approved janitor. death out there now looks relatively easy. Each morning when I arrive at work. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. Some days. maybe an estate. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate.
today. I am feeling very ugly inside. It’s called “checking out. It isn’t working.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 make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell.T. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. yet relieved that I took action. Shit. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” or “moving on to the next phase. I choose not to spend another day in this place. Fuck them. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I’ll try again later. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. Shit. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle.” And I’m not talking about parole. Light-headed. Very suspicious. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour.” “taking it to the vent. G. 122 T . I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. People in the day room are getting suspicious. Fuck God. Suspicious. and it can be done right now.
He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. The vast majority were done in by their own hand. 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. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. Mike Rothwell Ione. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. but a symbolic one. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I .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. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. After that. but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. not in the clinical sense.
he may as well be dead. and the person he never grew to become. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. the son he failed to be. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. in essence. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. He has. pearls. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. diamonds. In this sense. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. Hector Gallegos Otisville. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. sterling silver. my big fat Italian grandmomma. but life—even at 103—seems too short. gold. 124 N . matriarch of the family. In the world beyond prison walls. the lover he wishes to be.100+ love of his family.With his incarceration. year after year. the father he cannot be. 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. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever.
and handcrafted dolls. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Mary Higgins Reading. except for a fundamental difference. 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. pre-WWII. she never wore it. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. key chains. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. 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. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. blankets. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Who would believe that a swastika. as if no one else is 125 D . albums. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. dating from the roaring twenties. The following day. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. necklaces.
TX 126 . a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. the officials are stoic and judgmental.100+ there. An ache settles in his belly. there are only four or five people. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. In remembering. Hathorn Livingston. such as his first pet. media representatives. but the mind rebels. the fights he had in grade school. Gene W. It is like God’s “time-out” room. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. 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. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. making it ominously quieter. he realizes that all hope is gone. At other times. survivors of the victim’s family. 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. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams.
Since he always complained. including Freddy. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. trying to get someone to do something. no one. and they all tell you something different. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy.” I forget why. Time was of the essence. and his head was shaved clean. after a slew of “unreadable. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. He was a genuine character. if at all. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Once muscular. he had become thin as a rail.” Freddy complained to me one day. a combination drug therapy. In October 2004. really took it seriously. I saw no real reason for worry.” and “lost” test results. “Every doctor has a different opinion. Sleep came with great difficulty. Over a period of a year. 127 E . and his memory showed signs of failure.” “partial. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. his body was covered in tattoos. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. he was barely over five feet tall. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery.
looking through the glass at our little one. and now he’s dead. Freddy was my friend. it was too late. We named him William Kenrick. they probably could have saved me. They killed me. “By the time they did something.” There was no anger in his voice. 2005. and he was afraid. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect.100+ Months passed. only resignation. but no treatment was administered.” he told me. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. By October. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. but he threw it up. “If they got at me 18 months ago. They tried giving him formula. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . He vomited blood one morning. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours.
But I swear. Jenelleish. At 3 days old. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. Someday. The next day. when I visited him. as soon as I held him. PHILIPPINES 129 . he had to undergo an operation. only to realize that he’ll never come back. “Baby. just let go. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. my first child. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. At 1:30 a. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. my first son. milky scent is still there. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. Then I start crying again and eventually. And for that.. He will always be my first baby. if you can still make it. 32 Las Piñas City. Despite the pain. a smile formed on his lips. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet.” And as soon as everybody was there. I turn numb. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. which was declared a success. only he was already lifeless. But if not. he went. I still think of him. NCR. and whispered. fight for it. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. his heart rate slowed.m. And I knew though he was gone. But I knew something wasn’t right. the smell… His sweet. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. And oh. I love him more and more each day.
2008: I awoke today around 5 a. yet his passing was significant to me. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. Malachi Ephraim Florence. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. roller-skating. I didn’t shed one tear. After my dad’s death. My dad liked to sing and dance. But I didn’t cry. enjoying the early morning light. fishing. I dreamed about him every single night. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. But as a father. Dad une 15. and listening to music. he was really fantastic. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. Facing the cell door. he died suddenly and tragically. I went through many phases. But after 5 years of marriage.. from denial to 130 I . His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music.100+ I Miss You.m. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. I miss him deeply. I was close to my father. in a better mood than usual.
I realized that what happened was out of my control. Québec.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. After a long period of time. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. with great parents and friends. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. However. I sent my aunt. hate to indifference. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. How sad that now sounds. had no meaning. I drank to escape and forget. 45 Montreal. a Christmas card. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. As a last minute thought. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. happily single. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. Terri Giosia. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. the final and hardest phase arrived. her youngest 131 I . Life lost its luster. I am now 45.
51 Rosharon. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. For two years. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. But after all the miserable hospital visits. Not only did she call him. To the academic world. my mom had been taken to the hospital. The night before. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. she called every person she knew and read that poem. my poem may mean nothing. The doctor gave her three months to live. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. he said. especially when you are only seven years old. Soon after. Dennis Forrest. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W .100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. “They took your mom away in an ambulance.
“Daddy. where it was warm. My life was changed forever. and even worked from home so he could be there. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. too weak to walk to her bedroom. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. It went on and on. My father continued hacking. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. and us. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. Aubrie. He took care of my mom. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . 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. This experience has made me stronger. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. My dad softly called me over. the house. 16 Rexburg. but to help them through things the best you can.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months.
I could see that you loved your father. I knew he wanted to say something. Even when he was here last time. with complications from lupus. I admire what you did. so I stood there. but he died before I got the chance. son. Over the past few years. We feared lung cancer. but emphysema got him first. closed his eyes. I begged him to quit for years. There were hard feelings between us. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. real sick. I said things I’ve always regretted. You settled your differences.” He was just twenty-four at the time. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. too. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. waiting him out: “Charlie. I wanted to make it up to him. He looked at my brothers. and he was gone. I had unfinished business with my father. like you did. A prisoner friend. I could tell. but the last time inexorably approached. not speaking. collect. offered me his condolences the best he knew how.100+ asked. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy.” 134 . and that was a good thing. and he loved you. You see. who knew my family well. when I first met your family several years ago. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. Don’t ever smoke them. He said things. exhaled. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. so I recognized it in both of you. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. healing wounds. from a prison payphone in the dark. the reason I’m saying this. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. as did my mother.
Charles P. 135 I . I decided to slash my wrist.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. My cellie threw up. 59 Daytona Beach. Norman. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. FL Slash nstead of going to court. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. leaned his head on my shoulder. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. His tears soaked into my suit coat. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. While there. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. 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. It was the least I could do. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him.
Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life.” G.100+ “Well. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. I don’t anymore.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.T. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. 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. Evidently.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F .” “What are you facing?” I asked him. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. “Six months. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. His eyes were half open. but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.
he turned towards the convicts in their cells. He had everyone’s complete attention. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. With a bit of a dramatic flair. hung it back up on the wall. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. For the first time since I was there. perhaps. “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. Even the crazy guys had shut up.T R U E S T O R I ES was. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. stood there for several seconds. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. CA 137 . It was so still. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. there was only solemn silence. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. 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. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. But not at this moment. Then.
Hidden & Forbidden .
and it was my word against hers. barging into her apartment.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. she’s home alone. “I came to see my girl. I’ve had fun. sentenced to six years in prison. I’m telling myself that she wants me. Because she was white. angrily. 141 I . I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. not only to have fun. a member of a fraternity. I’m thinking. but also to pick up girls. I was convicted. I say. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. but I haven’t picked up a girl. racism at its best.” I say. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. and a ladies’ man. For twenty years. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. it’s her roommate.” I step towards her. if no one else is here. it’s a habit of ours. in front of a white jury. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. she was white. It opens. I want to be with a girl. I want some sex. popular on campus. I was black. that it was a setup. my fraternity brothers. When it’s time to leave the club. the white system. and I’m in college. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival.” As I say this. a football player. we can have sex. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. but it’s not my girlfriend. “Your girl is not here. I only saw what I wanted to see. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. I knock on the door. forcing myself in. 1982.
a wife. especially with men. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. I had known that I was a disappointment. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. The fantasy of grandchildren. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. faithfully. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers.100+ Today. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. forced attractions to women. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. For sixteen years. for them. if I were to have a place in this world. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. pure houseboat. So I tried.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life.
only for who I pretended to be. One day. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. all too well in fact. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. At seventeen. boring corduroy-wearers. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. So I confessed my truths.. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. I am finally happy. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. When I arrived. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. and the burden of hiding was spirited away.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. I wrote a script. that my parents felt the same. And I knew. my sadness never faltered. 19 Hooksett. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . with whom I constantly fought and argued. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. Daryl F. having been to one or two of their small gatherings.
Nicholas. 30 Maidstone. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. being a noble and resourceful man. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. but I always suspected that he was gay. His self-confidence saved the day. We didn’t date. 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. This brought about a case of stage fright. I was literally paralyzed. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. and sinker. Philippa. He dated one girl 144 I .000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. carried on like a trooper. Kent. it was swallowed hook. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. one male and one female. Knowing very little about astrology. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. line. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. especially for clothes.
She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. Waterville. However. My friends just did . He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. As for my female friend. Jayne L. she was always a tomboy. but I never really suspected she was gay. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. When he told me he was gay. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. 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. especially since I had always suspected it. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. I didn’t really think anything of it.
knowing that if she 146 . If I were a man. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin.” I did. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. Right now. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported.” so we had to go back to court. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. gays and lesbians are persecuted. After three years worth of evidence gathering. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. As if things couldn’t get any worse.100+ me. “Never mind. We are not giving it to her. but I am a woman and therefore. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. 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.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. not me. too. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. I fear losing my partner. who is from Peru. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. We feel the judge was very homophobic. They even sent me to a shrink.” Within 10 days.
We lost everything. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. Aileen Diaz. 35 Tampa. the Ultimate Truth. has taught me compassion. she would be detained upon walking off the plane for speaking out against the homophobic Peruvian government and their police brutality! We are going through some tough times right now. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. no different than any other heterosexual couple. TX 147 I . it has made us stronger and brought us closer. but we did not lose ourselves.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. the most effective teacher. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. especially for those among us who will come and go without catching a glimpse at something far greater than satisfaction of appetites and egos. If anything. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. These days.
but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. But on the other hand. On the one hand. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. You have to always be 148 C . my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. Eloise Lebreton. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. I probably would have been better off not knowing. Now. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. 30 Detroit. better not to tempt fate. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. and I would never throw it in his face. I still love and respect him. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. I feel like an idiot.
They help. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. 149 A . It’s always going to be there. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable.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. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. After church. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I have told few people of an incident that has caused me to despise myself for being a coward as well as Christianity and all its hypocrisy. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. No matter how upbeat you may feel.” then there’s not much they can do about it. Louisiana. One way is to keep doing those pushups. My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. so you better learn to keep it at bay. I was allowed to play with a friend. But if someone’s determined to “check out. Mike Rothwell Ione. I lived in Shreveport.
lit the gas stove. My friend’s mother yelled. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. “You think this hurts motherf’er. NC 150 . She barged into the room screaming. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. and abuse. I have been an atheist ever since. He screamed in agony. 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. was too much to handle. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. another ultrafundamentalist sect. 47 Old Fort. molestation. 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. Christian Missionary Alliance. her face contorted in rage. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. Yurshta. at my tender age. especially my mother. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. She dragged my friend to the kitchen.
at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. Gaby Hermann. 26 Essen. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Any kind of abuse. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. whether physical or emotional. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. should not be tolerated. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. I swear. I did not get angry with him. NETHERLANDS Harsh. demeaning.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 had nine miscarriages. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . I have never been physically beaten.
He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. Delhi.100+ with me. Then one day. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. 36 New Delhi. Sonia. I was forced to call the cops. INDIA 152 .
Eerie Encounters .
just a quarter of a mile farther. Why would we want to be? Clarette. In my nightmare. I listen for a moment to a strange. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. swishing sound. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. Aquatic Park. my 155 I . I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. I keep swimming. even Ghirardelli’s. 28 Salem. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. slight. We cannot be alone.m. but I’m getting tired. I don’t need to see to believe. although I’ve never seen one. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. They are looking beyond me. I can see the people. I sit up in bed and listen to the peaceful quiet that only descends upon this place in these wee hours. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it.
When I was 18. Foster. Will Ferrara. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. beginning to feel numb. I am silently alone. 24 Lawrence. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. And about a week after that. MA 156 T . My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. summoning me. About 5 years later. Am I going crazy? Frank E. 45 Delano. out beyond the breakers. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold.100+ arms are getting heavy. And then. The walls murmur. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. I awake. I’m only treading water. to the deep water. The waves crash. I hear something in the distance calling me.
too. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. while still aboard. at my uncle’s funeral. and we had no choice but to drink it. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. my mouth stopped bleeding. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. showing us that we were right. In the dreams. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. Ravenna. I felt sick and went to sleep. On our way to the hospital. One night. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. Not long after. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. Shocked. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. I dreamt that I was in Italy. 56 Alfonsine. Almost twenty days later. While alive. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. ITALY 157 I . In the following days. In October. I immediately called home. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. a strange heat enveloped my body. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. From that moment on.
as whatever I was looking at was far away. It was pitch black. its feet dragging along the ground. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I landed at the feet of the creature. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. staring straight ahead. It was my dad! At that moment. but they continued moving and stretched me out. 19 Monaghan. I remember shaking like a leaf. It was then that I woke up. I was squinting. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing.. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed. I stood up and looked at its face. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. but late for work! Paddy J. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time.
When I returned home. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. “That place is haunted. As nighttime fell. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. “I’ve been here before.” I thought. 159 W . the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. the vision of a tall. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. It was at this moment that I saw. it had disappeared. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. Hiking along the trail. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. my mind completely blank. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. I was in the bathroom. thinking about nothing.” someone who knew the area told me. As I placed my canteen in the water. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. thin man. Enrique M. One evening. When I turned to look. That left me speechless. Fernandez Miami. echoes from long ago.
However. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. hooded. when I entered the King’s Chamber. standing in that same spot. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper.100+ He was wearing a long. I remembered being there before. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. Then. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. and the vision was gone. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. Devon. still completely covered by the hood. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . He walked towards me. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. I have no idea what the vision meant. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. His face was shrouded in darkness. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I have not had any such vision since.
54 Auckland. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. AK. Then my former self stood in my body. Misty. During this moment of déjà vu. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. transferred his intelligence into my brain.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections.” Now. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. I came back to my present “reality. and don’t believe time is always linear. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. and activated it. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares.
a little more aware. and a little less afraid. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. I’m 59 now. D. 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. facing myself. I woke up taking short gulps of air. but I didn’t. Lonn. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. drifting like seaweed. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. I’m willing to see where it takes me. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. They knew what was about to happen. In my dream.B.100+ broad daylight seemed real. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. 162 I . slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies. 59 West Roxbury. a little more settled. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet.
It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. After that. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. Later. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. when I moved 163 G . completely powerless to stop it. which struck a barrier. and quickly drifting away. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Jayne L. and we started to spin really quickly. I watched shows on television. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. and then was finally able to label my experience. I started to read a lot of books. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. but with a different outlook on life–and death. as I had in Spain. “I need to get back. I survived the accident with no major injuries.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I learned the term years later. Waterville. Since I was only 4 years old. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities.
but with no success. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. A year later. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. at my friend Viola’s insistence. There is only going to a different level. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I got slowly closer. 37 Madrid. One night. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me. he said. But for me. just one year before meeting Gabriele. a few steps from the altar. Smiling kindly. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. I knelt down on a pew. it’s one of my many pastimes. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week.100+ to Massachusetts. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. facing him.
I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. and I tried to help him. While I stared at him. ITALY 165 . But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. Ravenna. Through telepathy. striking me like a storm. 56 Alfonsine. struck by his suffering. I felt all his fear and pain. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. To be sure. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. we became involved. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. He vowed to marry me. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. But he continued smoking and drinking too much.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. Then one night. in January 1991. Through telepathy. I told him not to joke. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. so I left. but he had terrible secrets. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend.
During the five trips I made out there. He tipped his hat and smiled. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. NH. Then all of a sudden. On some nights. 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.100+ I See Spirits spirit. 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. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Soon after. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. I developed . I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly.
On one of my last visits. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. then they turned off. First. Later. fly to some central point. about 50 yards down the tracks. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. MA 167 . It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. and then disappear. We saw the usual lights in the sky. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. 70 Waltham. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. strobe for 30 seconds. and meet. and into the sky. but then. Other times.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. As I returned to where Betty was parked. she suddenly pointed and yelled. who was also an amateur photographer. accompanied me. up a tree. a state psychologist friend of mine. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. On one occasion. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing.
At Home & Abroad .
Colombian. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. German perfume. but eventually we divorced. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. and completely broken by life. but life had a different destination in mind for me. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. We married and had a daughter. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. not financial statements.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture.” My father used to talk of Hungary. or Puerto Rican dialect. Lately. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I once had plans to live in London. with a 3-year-old son. had to show the INS hard-working hands. and great America. as proof of dignity. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. Russian caviar. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban. where all were welcome and.
it reminds us that this country is great. We don’t feel less American because of that. 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. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia. on the contrary. Nidia F. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. 36 Lennon.. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Morales. the Dolphins. we love Bach. We all suffer when this happens. while others are trying to cheat the system.S. Mare. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. I believe that there are a lot of hard-working people that are trying to do the right thing by busting their butt to get into the U.100+ Greece. 54 Leominster.
apart from being unconscionable. We lived in tents. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. My father is Mexican. and migrant camps.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. it would have been too dangerous. Later in the summer. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. illegally because. so I decided to move to his. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. 27 Washington. my . a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. cars. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. Then during the fall and winter months.S. while my 173 Every year from June until September. Many times. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.C.S. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. I had family there. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. we stayed in Livingston. D. harvesting crops.
My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. this was not a quick or easy transition. This is where I went to school. they had the opposite effect. mostly beans and tortillas.” “greaser. our bathroom was an outhouse. read. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. In high school. Spanish. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback.” “wet. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico.” or “spic. halfway through my junior year. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I realized that I was out of place in school. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. However. However. Because of school. and write in English. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. Not only were the white students 174 . I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. I was held back in kindergarten.100+ father worked for a local farmer. I was embarrassed by my first language. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. Early on. I struggled to learn to speak. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. In fact. School was a struggle from the beginning. In grammar school. we took our baths in a big washtub. they didn’t work. 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.
tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. you know. in theory. I wasn’t Mexican.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. I was born and raised in the U. an enclave 175 I .. but on the inside I acted like a white person. “Now don’t run away on me. a gringo wearing a tie. Raul Ybarra. Although I was of Mexican descent. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. My private class is in La Rinconada.” I remind myself. I didn’t seem to fit in.S. and I had lost most of my Spanish. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. I wasn’t white. To white students. “One hundred soles tonight.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. 50 Boston. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer. They will pay. to the Mexican students. a five sol coin and two half sol coins. not even two dollars. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. the usual. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.
” I say. I have classes with her kids. never mind 176 . I eye the tamal on the counter. are washing dishes in the sink. Remember. as big as a sandwich.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. even your own paycheck. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. They will not associate my asking for food with begging.” “That’s okay. you are not Peruvian. she told me to come inside and wait. I hear the buzzer and push open the door.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. I am cheered by the recognition. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. “She’s not here. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. I sit at the kitchen table. No way. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. If these families don’t find happiness here. Matt. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. Two maids. They don’t speak to me or to each other.” “The señora is not here.” “I know she’s not here. It’s ají amarillo. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. with chicken bulging from its sides.
“When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. No way am I going home empty-handed. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. That is the hard part: hiding the need. 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. Wipe any sign of need from your face. An hour later. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. 40 Amesbury. Chin up. The room grew eerily silent. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. and we were all waiting for our first check. Mrs. It was the end of the month. “That’s what we all hope. I hear three honks. and springs out the door to the entrance. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. They looked at each other to see who would answer. and I came. payday. Some received their checks. 177 . I was told to come. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. others were given a song and dance. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow.
and only then. I wasn’t alone. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. With briefcase in hand. It was well worth it. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. the city awoke and came to life.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. yet spaced widely apart. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. 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. After the much-anticipated grilling session. I felt that I had “made it there. NY 178 . As dusk turned to darkness. The streets were numbered.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. 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. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. the whole city was there. I was in the city “on business. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. 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. Karen Manhattan.
dry. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality. and sophisticated. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category.” or “U. 4) Beer drinking is an art. Scottish. 7) Humour is subtle. The 179 . 12) It’s not the “U. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.S. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. French. they helped a great deal. and stout. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. Irish. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion..A. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. real ale. etc. bitter. and you must learn the difference between lager. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. we don’t. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.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.”. Welsh.” or “Yankland”. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. it’s “America. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” “Pop Idol.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. sarcastic. 10) The English.e.S.” “The States.
apologise profusely for it. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). Pink Floyd). 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed). 23 Jacksonville. FL 180 . 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”.100+ Beatles. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. and body weight is stated in stones. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. South African. they’ll take the non-Yank.. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up).m. Gavin S. If caught being rude. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. Canadian. not pounds. 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media.m. 18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. Rolling Stones.
I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. We took off from the claustrophobic.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. 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. Pearl Harbor. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. Native and unique to Hawaii. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. crimson berries. We discovered Diamond Head.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Although decades have passed. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. and Waikiki Beach. my parents and I arrived at . We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport.
ovular. B. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. 29 Tultitlán. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. I remember wanting to return… H.” Despite my pitiful German. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. Gutierrez. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language.100+ large. Estado de México. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.
checked 183 In late October 1998. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. and running in all directions. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. Standing in St. 21 Lübeck. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. However. eerie feeling. crying. destruction everywhere. however unfounded that emotion may be. we were the enemy. Schleswig-Holstein. I experienced an unexpected. To them.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. Along the road. that it was them or us. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. I knew it was war. I packed up my leased . Marien’s church in Lübeck. For the first time since the early eighties. green hills and plains. but never forgotten. I imagined civilians screaming. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. I even felt a bit guilty. Gisela. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66.
TN 184 . The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. Brigitte Pauli Memphis.100+ into small motels. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. and visited various museums. 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. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. I spent days at the Pueblo. There is always a scent of sage in the air. delightful little restaurants.
The Toughest Job in the World .
I planned a Caesarean. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. Krista.m. I knew what to expect.. he did just that. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. My due date of June 19th came and went. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. Needless to say. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. So. we did not make it to the hospital. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . after being able to share this special bond. For child number two. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. which is about 45 minutes away. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. For our first child. At 3:30 a. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. so on the 20th.
and Tarzan of the Apes.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. the smells of biscuits. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. Friday evenings were always a thrill. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. The Texarkana Gazette. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. prop himself up on his elbows. Alley Oop. He’d take off the rubber band. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. By then. The car would stop. and two more on the way (my brothers. lie down. Not every week. but fairly frequently. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. It was just the three of us. I had no concept of rent. grocery bills. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. and my mother would call us for breakfast. spread them open on the wood floor. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. not working as he was the rest of the week. Joe Palooka. All was good in the world. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. car payments. Dan and Tom). I’d lie beside him in the same pose. bacon. My . He’d slowly read the comics to me. and read each one aloud. Daddy would get out. take out the Sunday comics.
I was recovering from an emergency C-section. Times were hard. but because I thought I had failed. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. They said he was beautiful.T R U E S T O R I ES him. begging him for a ride in the new car. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Not with . (On Friday evenings. I cried. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. Sebastian. tubes. and lights.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. 59 Daytona Beach. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. a frown on her face. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. and his weight. Finally. but I never realized it. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. 1. or at least pretend to. I went to a place filled with noise.220 grams. I felt desperate. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. Charles P. 189 The first time I saw my son. Norman.
I sang to him. and mourning.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. 36 North Andover. and hope flooded me. patience. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. I ached to still be pregnant. I began to sob. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I talked to him. Outside. I cried. wanting to 190 I . I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I was discharged. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. fear. and I prayed. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. Relief. pride. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. and confidence. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. I gained knowledge. Each week. I became determined to care for him. He was so fragile and exposed. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. besieged by guilt. At long last. After a week. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. leaving my baby behind. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. Lisa. Over time.
Though I was only twelve. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. driving to our new “hunting spot. or getting into drinking. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. and I 191 I . or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. At about 3 a. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. Right now.. pet. or having trouble with the police.m. and I was twelve years old. or gangs. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. I don’t have any desire to find out. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand.” 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. drugs. or feed the deer. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. Suzanne. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. But tonight. my father and I were in his truck. we weren’t there to look at.
I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. checked for traffic. I snuck up to the fence line. Steven Small. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. . Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. I didn’t even have to call the deer. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. I took my spot and waited. We drank beer on the way home. You can take a picture and freeze time.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. they were already there. 43 Jessup. By the time he got there. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. with the click of a camera. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. a second of your life. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better.
but those moments stay behind. and sadly. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. I 193 M . New moments are constantly being created. but something was unleashed in me. without a care in the world. I cherish every moment captured. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. Part of me wanted to pull her away. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons. Life goes on. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. moments are forgotten. sipping a chocolate shake. Kelly. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. I didn’t expect much. Sitting on a stool at the counter. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. 30 Martinsburg.
Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. he left. She quit school to marry him. Someday they’ll put you through college. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Mama was beautiful.” One day. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. I was proud to be her son. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. John.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. crisp. Those are old coins.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done.” she said with tears 194 . I do my best. He had promised to take care of us. and a few coins went into my piggybank. and well fitting. my first year in middle school. “I did my best. It was in seventh grade. “Those aren’t for spending. I rushed home with some questions for Mama.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. Some streetwise kids set me straight. the afternoon waitress. Everyday. without any explanation. “Your Mama works for tips. collectables. Dorothy. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Her green eyes sparkled. One day. “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 couldn’t take it anymore. She seemed like the ultimate success to me.
you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. not love. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. I wrote back. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. Mama asked if I needed anything. After it was over. Before she died.. that’s what it was. Something with angels on it. Mama sent cookies. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. I wouldn’t need it.. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. shame for being poor. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money.” John Yarbrough Rosharon. They let me go home for the funeral. Mama was gone. Mama’s friend at the café. But something was missing from my letters. She’d died of breast cancer. a letter came from Dorothy. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama wrote every day. One day. I handed the money back to Dorothy. All my love turned into shame. shame for having no Daddy. There was just nothing I could respect about her. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. TX 195 . Oh sure. I didn’t go to college after high school. Respect. My middle-school friends had seen to that.
She would fill out some papers. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. we got into the boiling car. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. I pulled out all the papers. “Mom.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. “Last case for today. a man or woman would call out a number. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. no books. she answered. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. and wait to be called into another room.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. “Mom. “An abortion. no television. In the front. a lady came out and said. but there were no magazines. but her face wore the same void expression. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. put them in my lap.S. When outside. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. map. I looked at the gas gauge and said. Finally. sit back down. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. Occasionally. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . and devoured them one by one. When I did. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. I opened the glove compartment. She must have known that I would see it. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms.
always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. for me. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. No. she yelled. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. when I was ten. you’re just like Auntie Doll. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. It wasn’t the welfare office. everybody in the world.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . but someone else. When she turned to look at me. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. 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. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. 37 Mitchellville.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. I was sitting outside on the front steps. sat down beside me and said “Hello. lack of food. Yvette Louisell. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. or the bills.
100+ girl in the world. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. Big John wanted to go down there. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. She said love makes you do crazy things. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. got a damp washcloth. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. but Ma said she would handle it herself. After twenty minutes. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. The next thing I knew. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. “Down the block. I took Ma’s hand. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. Needless to say. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. what had happened. Ma smiled and hugged me. That little girl was no fool. She 198 . She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. Big John. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. “Green house. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. Then. “No. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. both became angry.” she said. I got home empty-handed.
George Hughes. “Take it! It’s all there. who had been putting away groceries. are you all right?” He nodded.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. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. Meanwhile. stood by the refrigerator. VA 199 . 66 Burkeville. warning him not to touch us again. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. we got the jewelry back. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Ma ran to him. but we laughed and laughed like never before. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. Big John kicked in the front door of the green house with the white shutters and caught the little redhead’s father in the kitchen. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. snatched the bag. Then he walked over to the counter. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. “My God. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. we got a smile. and left. screaming. His wife. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt.
I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. one of Michael’s many siblings. My mother had gotten to her feet. “Don’t look to your folks for help. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. screaming. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. saying.” the man screamed at me. “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.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. look what you did. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. and look. he leaned over me. I hit the ground again. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. you little sissy. you scared the poor boy. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. I looked over. With the fork in one hand. “Oh it’s all right. more surprised than hurt. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. saying. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. “Now run on home.” 200 O . I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. you made him cry. but my dad sat her back down. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby.
but sternly. and offered me cookies. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. “No more with the neighbors. Peck was yelling at me.” she said as she dried my tears. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. One of these days. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling. Grandma Berg was inside. She almost whispered. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. and a warm. Hours later.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. Later. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. I looked at her then at my father. My job is to make sure you have food to eat.” I answered. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. at the dinner table. I ran to my room. I said. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. just thinking. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. I can’t be there to save you. help Grandma eat this. 201 . “Thinking. trying not to look at me. new shoes every fall. I think.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. “My little wunderkind. More mad than sad. clothes to wear. dry house to live in.” I’ll ever forget what he said. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. my little lipschkin. Very calmly.
chores to doing. Your father. 51 Corcoran. He also loved conflict.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. no more you thinking. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. He was full of jokes. as the elementary students they were. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. songs. Quiet now. Too much thinking for one so young. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. and intelligence. tomorrow is better day.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. but Grandma knows things. CA The Sand Dollar by time. In casual and cruel black and white print. They remain frozen in my subconscious. a name leapt at me. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. I received a devastating student update. Grandma is old woman. unchanged . In the classroom. Sun coming soon. You must be sleeping now. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. Thomas Michael Fox. He got to me like no other student that year. Dream the dreams boys dream. As I scanned the newspaper. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams.
unbroken sand dollar at my feet. 36 Wakefield. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. But even now. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. no one got to me like him. So much wasted. He could always make people smile. Reading the article through blurred eyes. I hadn’t found one for years. Then the ocean placed a perfect. I was mad. so much lost. just a headstone. smile broadly. I knew his story now. I always wondered if I got through to him. an 11-year-old in leather. but he was the star. Now one found me. cursing him. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . I stormed down the beach. MA If Not Me. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. Stacey Curran Conway. and dance away. He wasn’t my first lost boy.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. He would nod. I saw I hadn’t. I smashed my heels in the sand. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks.
In some pretty tough school districts. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. I have stood in line. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. Finally. I have come to the end of myself. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. Surprisingly. I think. I’ve been insulted. sworn at. I sit 204 . pooh-poohed. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student.” Back then. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. and administrators with agendas. RIF’d. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. and rehired. however. students with social problems.100+ of what my students can become. of the students who might never make it to college without help. and kept students in line. living wages.
Zora.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. Unfortunately. I would be mortified. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. for a new vision. MA Unsung Heroes profession. and 8th graders. not a real course. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. 7th. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. at the school where I taught. Spanish was seen as an elective. much less trusting. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. Unruly students aside. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. 34 Framingham.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. more wary. 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.
100+ those who do. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . If I could survive this class. Ted continued to wander about. Most were sensible enough to sit. the vicious three-headed hellhound. I could survive the duration of this profession. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. I hope that someday. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. 29 Norwich. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. Attempting to gain control. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. silence. remnants of a continuous high. At the start of a usual class. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. Sitting. Julia Perez. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. His eyes were constantly glazed over.
“I’m gonna kick you in the balls.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. I decided on the only rational thing. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. “Take your best shot. Enjoy guarding hell. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. Wait.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. I have to call the principal to come get you. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. “Okay Ted. MO 207 . After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. I had stunned the high right out of him. but how was his bite? Move he did.” the child said confidently.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. As the class waited for my reaction. His bark was mighty. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.
155 Corson. 102 Elliott.T. 61 Clarette. 19. 100 Burns.. James. 172 Allen.. Aileen. 51. 135 Christie. 70 Best. 53 Curran Conway. Malachi. 166 Ephraim. Stacey. 44 Anonymous. 95 Barchard. 37.. Lance. 32 Brown. Tom “Wolf ”. 47 Balic. Sue Ellen. Robert Hal.C. 142 Dey. 45 Brame. 111 Amberchele. 130 . 145 Donna J. 22 Aubrie. José. 127 Diaz. 202 Daryl F. Matthew. 132 Babb. 166 Antzes. 122. J. G. 60 Aleman. Adelle. Cynthia. Christopher. 75 Carrillo. 96 Anonymous. Eugene Alexander. Aila. 79 Anonymous .. 33.Author Index AK.. Fernanda. 121 Boner. D.
45. 98. 151 Higgins. Dennis. Hector. 124 Hughes. H. Elisabetta. 123 Gavai. 177 Kelley.A. 158 Ferrara. Enrique M. 200 Galilea. Gene W. 97 Hermann. 192 Kikis_fairytale.. Pilar. 162 Jenelleish. William Steed. 59. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. 197 Jackson. 116 Hathorn. 92 Gallegos. 80. 156 fightingsurvivor19 .. 109 Karen. Frank E.B. 181 Harris. 131 Foster. Mary. George. 40 January. Will.. 115 Hayley. Thomas Michael. 77 Gavin S. 147 Kelly. 28. 101 Jayne L. 53.G.. 157. 125 Hayden. 17. 74. 94 . 110 Forrest. 128 Jolene.. Spoon. 163 Gutierrez.. 155 Fox. 164 F.. Gaby. Terri. 130 Gisela. 144. 30.Errani Emaldi. Daniel H.. 62. 179 Giosia. 36. 115 Fernandez.
Michael. Yvette. 160 Momo. Brigitte. 93. 108 Philippa. 20. Julia. D. 73 Lebreton. Nidia F. 189 Lonn. 161 Loomer. 158 Pauli. Gary. Santonio. 141 Redfearne. Zachary. 206 Louisell. Scarlet. 87 McKenna. Ricky.. 23 . 122.. 133. 136. 71 Richards. 67 Misty. Mark D. 69.. 21 LeBeau. 85 Rose. 196 Mansour. 172 Mayo. 77 McLean. Prashant Devan. 59 Morales. Charles P. Kitty. Eloise. Norton. 188 Paddy J. 148 Salinas.Krista. Jan. 107. Miriam. 86 Mare. 143 Priscilla. 187 Kumar. 99 Quarles. Byron. Mike. 171 Murff. 25 McKenzie. 205 Pete. 32. 183 PC.. 92 Perez.. 91 Rothwell. 148 Lisa.B. 88 Norman.
Agatha. Steven. Idris. J.. 63 Wirzburger. 15. 50 Theoharides. 175 Yarbrough. Alexander J. Kurt. Melvin William Joseph. John. 95 Yochum. 41 Shelly. Bronwyn. 39 Yurshta. 159 Wantz. Raul. 149 Zephyr.Samuel. Matt. 85 Tedesco. 190 Suzy. 90 Torres. 193 Ybarra. 173 Yeyo. 87 Small. 203 . 191 Sonia. 16 Shurley.E. 55 von Fuller. 42 Windoftheclyde. 114 Vogt.. Dinorah. 151 Suzanne. 34 Zora. Adela.
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Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. or confessions.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www. who were eager to share their experiences. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch. Upon being published. Now you are invited to do the same. anecdotes.. floating in the air. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. These firsthand accounts. Many people are telling their true stories. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. reflect. facing myself.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www.. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. but with a different outlook on life–and death. illustrate life’s many. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The best stories were selected for this book.99 9 781598 351095 .” “..com $19. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries.com.I will never be able to look at him the same way again.100plusts. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world.. These are true stories told by people like you.” “A week before my 26th birthday.com. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends.100plusts. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. cry.100plusts... written as memoirs. and remember.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.
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