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 soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. Nevada in 1968. and drug addiction. Due to anger. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. bitterness. Dennis Forrest. 2007. On March 3. By the 8th grade. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. desires. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. my mother passed away from cancer. images. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. By 18. 51 Rosharon. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas. AZ I 19 .T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. living on many different bases. so I grew up as an Army brat. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. can be revealed to the world.
I rejoice in the art I produce. and their condition. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. Yet. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. I am aware of the way their covers feel. tomorrow. Listening now requires my full attention. When I do little jobs. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. For quite a while now. such as putting up books in the library.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. 20 N . I know I am finally awake to life. their heaviness. and I can look at them neutrally. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. listening. to search spiritually. day out. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. in a week. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. Today. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. and acting. freedom to expand my horizons. to develop boundaries. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present.
and Thich Nhat Hanh. love. I know I will. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. or spiritual. As a matter of fact. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. In closing. or strangers away. teachers. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. I can easily mix with just about anyone.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. mental. my learning continues. be they physical. and compassion and when they do. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. But for now. once I am given the chance. Yeshe. Lamas Rinpoche. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . find true freedom.
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. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony.” That same day. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. 18 Cheras. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. She had 22 M . I thought to myself. but didn’t join in the conversation. As I listened to my mom. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. I took in what the kids were saying. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions. Kuala Lumpur. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. She broke the news to me as best as she could. I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real. Prashant Devan Kumar.
It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. with life to go. That’s all we do in these cells: think. 23 hours a day. Seg. and wonder. TYC. I grew up in boys’ homes. imagine. You have to have 23 I . I remember sitting in the car. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. dream. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. their world becomes a mental one.). and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. juvie halls. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. feel. reflect. ponder. Every time I am taken out of my cell. not caring that there was no Santa. That day. confined to a one-man cell. Food is brought to me. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. only thinking about those fucking stickers. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. my hands are handcuffed behind my back.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. 24 Queens.
watching the clerk close up shop. The next day. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. I saw his point and I left things as they were. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. 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.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk. I was alone. I think now how naïve I was. In the end. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. but I wanted to spill my guts and apologize and explain to her that I never meant to kill him. It was supposed to be a quick robbery—take the money. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. I’d done it a dozen times. It was a robbery gone bad. It is something that I truly am sorry for. But to 24 . run. and everything went to shit from there. Trust me. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. and I got life in prison. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. There were three. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. I have no excuse or justification for what I did. staking out the store from across the street. and no one gets hurt. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do.
it’s not going anywhere. It’s a mess. in which the author served as part of the U.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. not benign crap. Holes everywhere. I’m keeping my pieces. if you’re lucky. Watch the crap. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. No way. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. all observant and such. and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. Crap is strewn everywhere. o. Yeah. I’m thinking. I mean.S. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. Watch the crap. right. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. I’m not moving. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. 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. I’m looking at this car. I think about that shit. Look at the car. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Big holes. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade.
cars now. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz.” or whatever you call it. Now. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. well. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again.P.I.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. hundreds of them. grenades. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. RPG rounds. Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives.I. 26 .—R. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. hold privates. with holes in them all. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright. right on the crap. How many days have I been awake? Damn. Good night. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. and mines scatter everywhere. K. I’m angry..A. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I curse myself for being so stupid. but I don’t care. with maybe a little inscription saying. I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. I’m sick of this crap. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere. Whoever’s firing those damn things. I’ve been so careful all of these months. from messing my mind up further. or tunnel vision. I didn’t even see this stuff. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I figured I’d hang on to something. this “Desert Storm. I’m holding my privates.
They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. I don’t want to look. They look like statues. I do. right? The ones I see are fresh. Damn. The pictures don’t lie. It was fun for a minute. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. The glazed eyes give it away. which reminds me of how happy I am that I discarded that hellish-looking Iraqi flamethrower I found earlier. Is 27 .T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. along with the gaping hole through the skull. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. I know I’m not dead. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. too. again. vehicles are everywhere. unless they shortened the fuses. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours. maybe. His ID card falls out. It’s hard to tell. I don’t want to end up like him. I don’t like the burned ones. but I don’t need any fuel on my back when I catch a stray round—from friend or foe—or fall down again in a pile of this crap that I can’t seem to stop stumbling over. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. but like some sick voyeur. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. No stench. Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty.
Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. McKenna Columbus. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. Mark D. his son—maybe even himself. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. we stepped 28 I . I want no part of it. They’ll never know me. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. If that’s heroism. The hero died with a scream on his lips. We’ll have that in common. They’ll never know what happened to him. hoping his son will return from down South. we will celebrate. and shackled. Probably not. “Yes. pictures don’t lie.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. One by one waist-chained. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. from that war. No. the Americans. handcuffed. Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. that damn war.
indeed. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. In retrospect. As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. The low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards. mountains. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. 29 . Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. 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. The restless. a psychological-emotional storm we would all come to know in the life-negating emptiness that awaited our arrival in the Security Housing Units (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight.
This is 30 M . a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. It’s a world of its own where. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. I found that I was not alone in this realization. in some cases. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. for most. refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber.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. While I was in there. Hector Gallegos Otisville. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts. and. sealed off from everything and everyone. a vacuum of uncertainty. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. but no one dared speak of them. boredom. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting.
and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. 24 Lawrence.. 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 have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. but I had no luck. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach.. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. 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. Will Ferrara. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. MA 31 . She has a son now. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me.
I grew up spoiled rotten. I was always sad. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. 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. flew to Florida. I escaped. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. After 15 years there. Three years later. I was arrested in Georgia and sent to the “Supermax” prison in Colorado—an Orwellian nightmare of razor wire and high-tech wizardry where the solitude and sensory deprivation were total. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . I always felt lonely. and began robbing banks. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. They never really understood that there was something wrong. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. where I am today. stole an airplane. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. but that made me feel worse.
the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away. and was put on progressively stronger medication. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me.T R U E S T O R I ES me. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. Momo. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. and I am doing a lot more for myself. I had friends and a boyfriend. It’s going to be hard to get better. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. but I was already highly unstable by then. I started therapy. 16 Richmond. Now. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. but only for a little while. 33 I . Cars speed by. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. so I always tried to help them. or mine. This year. Lights come on. but there was something missing. It wasn’t her fault. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. and then my house caught on fire. When I started middle school. This made me feel good.
I have been fortunate. many homeless people end up in jail. nowhere to sleep. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. You have nowhere to go. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide.100+ homeward bound. 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. Some of these individuals have not been able to come to grips with the overwhelming reality of serving life sentences that they don’t deserve. under the three strikes law. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. for one reason or another. It’s cold. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. no one to call.. G. your feet hurt. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. nothing to eat. God has been looking out for me. Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. I am still alive. I have met a variety of people in prison. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. This is why. you’re hungry.T.. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . You think to yourself.
my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. They say most 35 . So Joe walks free. During the car ride home. My husband and I filed a police report right away. My husband. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I immediately told my husband and we left. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. Nonetheless. I must have asked to be raped. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. I thought it was my husband. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. My husband and Joe came to blows 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. my case was thrown out of court. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. In their eyes. his brother. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. I brought it upon myself. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom. 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. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. and the rest of the family awoke. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. Without warning. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. We all had a few too many.
for all the good it’s doing me. trying to survive among savage men. I keep getting turned down for parole. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. and for the past 10 years. Zephyr Chicago. but I am always in a good mood. No one was hurt or kidnapped. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. I’ve been a model inmate. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. while the victims get a life sentence. Men ask me. I love to write books and short stories. or crooked politician. drug dealer. When I got locked up. My first eight years in prison were rocky. But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. We had six kids—with so many kids. and I made it without becoming one of them. you almost have to be a bank robber. I just took the money and ran. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer.
not die. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. laughter. At fourteen. Writing is like having an affair. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. I share love. like taste good food. I love writing. anger. the car. tears. they are good people with good hearts. my parents became legally separated. And it all transpired in 37 O . and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. and my innermost thoughts and desires. When I’m writing. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. That summer. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. 1982. and us three kids. flavors that today I’d die for—well. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. George Hughes. I turned fourteen. 63 Burkeville. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. but I put the truth out there for all to read. Mom got a new apartment. sadness. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. compassion. but all’s well in the end. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next.
On the very last day of summer. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. I went over to the shoe department. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. So I decided to steal. I wasn’t too concerned.100+ less than an hour. “Mom. at fourteen. looking down at my new wet shoes. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. Like an NFL running back. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . Then I put on all three new shirts. something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. and me. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. but here it was. sprinting as fast as possible. And by the age of eighteen. and put them on. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I burst through the front door. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. and inexplicably. not enough to panic. picked out a pair. I was in State Prison. In 1982. sister. Once inside. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. I took off like a bat out of hell. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. My friends would have surely made fun of me. Once outside. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. By fifteen.
I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. Six days later. they said. To my complete surprise. AZ Talk About a Bad Week am 18 years old and have been arrested twice in 6 days! I was arrested once for breaking into a house and restraining a man from moving off the ground. I asked why I was being arrested. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out.T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. When I was finished with him. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. 18 Mowrystown. Obviously shocked. OH 39 I . punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail.
I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. hitting and abusing her. though he never loved her. During my trial. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. but the fact is I did. I was ready to be judged and convicted. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. From then on. the others are there to pick him up. and soul. and when one falls. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. in the same room. I deserved to do some time and make amends. I felt that what I did was wrong. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. My mom’s eyes held a million words. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. 40 N . with a common goal. ignorance. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. my mom and dad came to visit me. Before. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. I killed someone. mind.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. how he cared for her. fights. and lack of feelings. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. and mean words. At nineteen. In the depths of my heart and soul. It was good to see them together. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. The judge gave me life without parole.
fleeting hope. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. Besides. I’m getting older. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. I need to budget. I have no friends in this new city. but I see only the negative things. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. I was naïve. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. Money never used to be an issue. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . but now everything seems tight. but my will to survive took over. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. smiles. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. Spoon Jackson. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. but they all have lives. 50 Represa. but I take no initiative to start the process.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. I came from the desert. and violent unrest.
Now that I can look back at my thoughts. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. mixed with big dreams of happiness. a dead father. In the few months that I’ve been writing. I’m not stuck in one place. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. go into a small. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me.100+ before I go to bed. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. inconspicuous notebook. For someone like me. Ontario. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. my pen is capturing everything. 27 Toronto. I even see things in a more positive light now. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. I see that in spite of my depression. the only escape that I found was with a knife. All of those negative ideas. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions. brought up in me. Idris Samuel. 42 I . but moving slowly in the right direction.
I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. a need for the chemicals in the formula. It had become a habit. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. it merely put them on hold. Due to the emotional drain of prison life.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. never directly addressed. As I look back on the role that the drug played. While on probation in 1995. new problems arose. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking. light-headedness. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. While incarcerated. While in prison. But then.
E. but my reaction to them is not the same. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. and once it does. Never waste life. Now the reality I face is my own life. Anonymous. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. Think about who really loves you. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. but I never thought it would result in depression.100+ stable. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Wantz Salem. much clearer. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. it’s too short and too precious. J. the present is much. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass. I’ve always had low self-esteem. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says. I am a different person. And the present is where I have to live. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. 13 44 I . you will be twice as strong.
writing helped. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. cultural arts centers. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. I ended up in prison for life. I began to start to feel differently about myself. Now I try. alcohol. After getting sober in 2001. 1958 in Elgin. and pornography. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. community centers. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. I have turned my attention back to God.T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. 45 G . Illinois. The son of a research chemist. 51 Corcoran. Thomas Michael Fox.
would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. Then. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. Mexican revolutionaries. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. vatos locos. at the age of 17. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner.100+ youth programs. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience. prison scenes. migrant workers. my name was called. my school sponsored an art contest. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . The second and third place runners-up were announced. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. This history. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. On the day the winner was to be announced. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message.and 12-year-olds. When I was in second grade. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. and indigenous themes.
a freehand artist second. Siquierod with Cisneros. a new tradition: poetical muralism. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. watching every move during a strip search. it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . José Boner Boscobel. Today. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. The guard was two feet in front of me. manufacturing the rope. Octavio with Orozco. And yet. cash. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. there was no turning back. camouflage the cut marks. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. and crazy juxtapositions. a hacksaw blade. and obtaining the other articles took time. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. I fuse images using words. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. I had to get in the same cage. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. metaphors. I consider myself first a poet. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. Securing the tools. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult.
I slung the rope over my shoulder. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. In a few minutes. There was no time for hesitation. or nerves. doubt. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I was balls-to-the-wall. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. but they could see every move I made. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. and I was sweating a puddle. The cage was shaking and rattling. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. I was going.100+ primitive. I could see everything. D-day. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. but the meshing distorted clear vision. my arms were screaming. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. I was through and bent back the bars. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. already packed with the gear. every muscle was taut. 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. My heart was in my throat as he locked the cuffs on. It was going according to plan 48 . crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top.
cages. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. Yet. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. from doubt. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. I should have made gloves. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. from regret and anxiety. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. I know I’ve never been freer. Babb Corcoran. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. free from fear. through what I’ve gained and learned since. needed more knots… whatever the problem. I know from consequential. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. It was too thin. I was lying on the rooftop. CA 49 . D. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued. guards. I’d escaped. but couldn’t move. outside the confines of the jail. But that feeling of open air on my skin. but now I would to fall to my death. I attempted to crawl away. The rope burned through my fingers. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. it was too late for solutions.
Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. no matter what.I. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment.s. which never came. Alcohol would always come first. There was no wake-up call. he just kept hitting rock bottom. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. not getting pancreatitis. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. not losing his license. I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him.U. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. He attempted to shut off the ignition. 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. One time. it was too late.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. and by the time I did. nothing. but the key was jammed. I thought I loved him.
and sexual predators committed. who in the present. free dope. Adela Tedesco. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. In my 33 years. thugs. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. To me. I had seen and done a lot. not a crime. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. I had lived an interesting life. the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. a man with a past. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . 23 Hollywood. Crimes were what thieves. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. simply liked the quick. Unfortunately. drugs were simply a hustle. victimless cash. that was for sure. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst.
CA 52 . tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism.” There are the pro-drug war.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. It helps those unable to defend themselves. I’m surely not the devil. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. at stake: my entire life. our families. I argued it at every level: in the media. things are different. it protects the innocent. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. at this fateful juncture of my life. either. and with whoever. not the solution. Yet. at the university. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. as an activist. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. this time. I’m arguing against it one more time. Then there are those of us. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. I understand the necessity for law and order. for all practical purposes. the entire world of academia. and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. Now. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. I participated in the discourse. While I’m no angel.
that nothing will ever happen to them. They destroy lives. There are always consequences. 24 Little Compton. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. I felt it starting at my feet. However. Lance Corson. One of the guards supplied it. my stomach and chest. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. So many people believe that they are invincible. until it took over my whole being. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. riding through space in 53 O . I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. even though they know that there are great risks. and nothing good ever comes of them. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. there are new users every day.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. coming up my legs.
dying for a fix. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. I walked around with my arms in front of me. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. My muscles 54 . I needed a fix. my back to the wall. I stood in the corner. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. I was terrified! I found myself falling. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. and I could feel the cramps coming. My body was curled. There were monsters with long tails down there. My stomach was cramping. across my stomach. The floor closed up as I hit it. Then I nodded off. holding on to my elbows. I began to shake all over. I was freezing all over. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. bad. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. my heart pounded violently. falling.100+ the dead of darkness. only inches left to stand on. falling. gritting their teeth.
2002. One day. to get a fix. not shoveling the sidewalk right. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. George Hughes. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. If I were on the street. wetting the bed. But I wasn’t. 66 Burkeville. There was no fix at hand. Mother. “No more. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. and 10. She opened the back door and said.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. lie. and sell anything and everything.” Now 55 . petty reasons. “Get out of my house.000 other small. I kicked at her. jumped out. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. My mother passed away on October 2nd. including their own souls. playing too loudly. steal. not cleaning the dishes right. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. got down on the floor and beat me with it. not scrubbing the floors right. Mom grabbed a frying pan. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. 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. God and I both love you.
Melvin William Joseph Vogt.100+ I can never say it to her. I don’t hate my mom. I don’t dislike her. I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. TX 56 . I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. 67 Amarillo.
Sex & Seduction .
This is what occurs at 18. Terri Giosia. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. But for the young woman. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. Québec.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. 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. and fulfillment after the first time. 45 Montreal. I 59 M . CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. an orgasm. it will occur over time.
When we were little.100+ beg to differ. not because he wants to. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. I will spare 60 I . We decided we were ready. that even though it’s your first time. Now. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. If you know your body. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. I always tell my friends. it won’t be your last. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. Momo. who are ready to lose their virginity. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. Don’t be scared. I did it for me. we had sex. 16 Richmond. people would assume we were twins. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner. At the beginning of high school. We have known each other since before we can remember. Do it because you want to.
at a “well-supervised” party. I grabbed her. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. Later in the evening. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. we said. and crying ensued. anyway.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. I ran into my best friend. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. he wields 61 I . squealing. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. that is not what is important. AK. Obviously laughter. Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. interesting story to tell. and we locked ourselves in. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. Almost at the same time.
but girly mags are his main source of info. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. tempt. However. NSW. the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . being sarcastic. if the woman is appealing enough. rubbing his feet and back. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. it’s like having a little harem. however. feeding him like a baby. He thinks he understands how to make women happy. “Colin” is 37 and has been paralyzed for seven years as a result of a car crash. and showering and grooming him. changing his urine bag. or backstabbing us to our bosses. he bombards her with flattery and wit and oozes charm until she treats him like royalty. He also has a terrible temper and roars like a bull if even the smallest mistake is made. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women.100+ considerable power by yelling. Christie. turning him over. 54 Sydney. He’s made the most of his unfortunate circumstances by having secret romances with his caretakers—all in his imagination— because life without them would be very boring. He basks in their attention.
45 Montreal. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is. Québec. this type of seduction is an illusion. it’s possible to seduce anyone. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. the golden rule for seduction. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. smile. 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. body language. Once that is accomplished. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. as upon sobering up. With a glance. It is not real. his complete awareness of 63 I . His hand rested on my forearm. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. It is stating the obvious. a look. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. a smile.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. Without confidence. one cannot seduce. However.
but my anticipation was no longer tender. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. In a shadowy whisper. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast. for they would make me look like a weakling. his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. True to their word. he breathed my name. My ways were haphazard. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. his lips fell on my hips. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. Windoftheclyde. 27 Santiago. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. I pleaded with them not to show up. Never had a burden been more welcome. On the brink of a thrust. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. Always the seeker. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. and revere his affections which lit up his eyes.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. I felt his back tensing against my hands. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. but my pretensions made no difference to them. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s.
Small Miracles .
As a person. but once inside my cell. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night.” Out there. At times. Late at night. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. I am human. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. I should hate the cell. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. I do my deepest thinking there. in the darkness. I’m locked in. I even welcome the closing of the door. rather familiar. 67 T . I know that no one can get in without the key. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. I’m on guard seven days a week. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. amongst the prison population. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion. I know I have to be locked in. It’s merely that while I’m in prison. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. It becomes routine. With a twist of a key. and often after a long day. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad.
Ironically. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. I’m alone. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. or write a letter to my family or a friend. read a book. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 . While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. yet. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. these sounds are tranquil. When the cell door shuts. the cell is a paradox because in reality. I don’t hear anyone talking. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. and I write my loved ones there. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. I have not experienced silence in years. It never is truly quiet here. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. The cell door is now closed. listen to the radio. The walls seem to hum. To the outside observer. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. The cell is a hellhole. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. while here in prison. To be honest. a melody of pleasant proportions. The cell is my castle until I reach home. despair. but I’m in good company. and loneliness.100+ I pray in the cell.
love. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. I expect that the day will somehow unfold and will end with the clang of the cell door—just as it did the night before. Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity. They looked invincible. think. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. though their faces were human-looking. in it were four angels. and I was filled with awe. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. and have the power to choose. “Let us show you the way. I also laugh. In a small. Michael McLean Beacon. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. 69 I . I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. we have been there before. I was lying in the dark. bleed.m. cry. I’m human: I feel. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. showing another dimension. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p.
Misty. I lived in a house for what seemed like years. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. there really wasn’t any time to react. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. Auckland. “Oh no.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. I thought to myself.100+ white. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. I saw a van coming straight towards me. guarded from dark forces. 54 North Shore City. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. circular spaceship. At that instant. knowing order reigned in the next world. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. 70 I . but time operates differently there. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. waiting to make a left turn. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast.
there was a pint of blackberry brandy. including me. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. 38 Methuen. “Wow. In the breast pocket of my jacket. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . As I popped a ‘Z’ pill. a brand new box of pills. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. I sat there thinking to myself. “Sorry about that. It is important to find the right place for an ending. Hey. Where we die should be no less important. but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. and in the hand-warmer pocket. I considered the importance of what I was doing. I chose Mount Sanitos. It was a very surreal experience. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. Ever since that day.
my hand slipped and I fell. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. then a shift. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. Blood was caked on my forehead. Necessary and common. dropping off my recycling.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. but they sensed me there. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I finally reached the top. I panicked. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. When the east finally began to warm. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. There were shapes of people around. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. The guardians were gone. closing my bank accounts. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. It was still night. things were… strange. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either.100+ someone else got hurt. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. There was a flash of light. Four pills left. On the far side of my fall. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house. thinking it could be the police. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. I must have blacked out. no one was looking for me. like someone hit the reset on my brain. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. “He’s here. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. I cowered. For a moment. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around.
and it’s doable. and then dragged myself towards it. I’ve been to zero. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. At one point. so I continued making the sandwiches. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I think of myself as having happily died that night. but I had never been depressed before either. hitting me on the left ankle. I also know that I’m never alone.T R U E S T O R I ES was. Then a second piece of bread fell. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . I realized it was just a stone. as I did. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. Three days later. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. When I got up in front of the cabin. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. it got so bad that I became depressed. It was the first time I had ever lived alone. That was my break-even point. I had never done that before. so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. I was living alone. Everything after that has been pure profit. I was making sandwiches. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely.
we got pregnant again. He is still there. whether we see Him or not. Jesus is always with us.” 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. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. Three months later. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again. “I am the bread of life. When I returned to the kitchen. Our little (well 74 I . I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think.” Two years ago. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage. but there was only one piece on the floor. so we should not be depressed. I was very puzzled. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. Needless to say. the day before Valentine’s Day. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said.100+ of bread. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason.
It was a good partnership. I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. Don’t get me wrong. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. And he is our own personal little miracle. I did not waste it on the bland mush. but left the bees plenty for the winter. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. Kelly. But this event puts it into a whole different light.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. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. 30 Martinsburg. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives. If he had come 13 minutes earlier. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . WV A Taste of Honey honey. we will always think about the baby that we lost.
I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. but it seemed to last an eternity. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. James Burns Gunnison. and the wildflowers. The other half I saved for later. the mountain laurel. I thought. knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. I had smelled the spruce. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. and also. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. For a moment there. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. I thanked God for a taste of honey. But man cannot live on honey alone. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. UT 76 .100+ tasted the honey as if for the first 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. I had been free.
He had a lighter. 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.” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. Gavai Kona.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. There was a spark in her eyes. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry. smoking saved his life. During a skirmish. Army during the Vietnam War. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. a pack of cigarettes. he got shot in the left side of his chest.S. her actions were terrible and painful. He may have survived the Vietnam War. Ironically. After years of alcohol abuse. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. Despite this miracle. I 77 I .
With powdered soap and water. the dress ended up on my face. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard. I walked to my closet. The next thing I knew. “Good night. reached for an empty hanger. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. That is when I saw the stain. 41 Bedford Hills. “Good night. as I put the dress on the hanger. Miriam. One day. Bardo.” He also told me that when I finished eating. when my brother Bardo and I got home. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. my mother called me. “You’re not the only one. and I did. and said. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. With tears in my eyes. NY 78 . Bardo came out.” he said. and hung up my dress. Miriam McKenzie. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. While he was hugging me. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. he looked at me. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon.” I said through my tears. I turned to go to my room. I heard him whisper. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. I tightly hugged him back. but she ignored me.
and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. no weight pile. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. a pipe with running water for a shower. When money arrived. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. cook what I wanted. built wooden bunks. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. No gym. the “buffaloes” roamed. But in Mexico. no track or ball field.T R U E S T O R I ES A Change In Outlook y stretch in a Mexican jail was just like the film Midnight Express. a stereo. An aisle ran the length of each building. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. There was no yard to speak of. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. bought a TV. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. Everything from 79 M . We installed a swamp cooler. I could wear my own clothes. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. I had conjugal visits. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. incoming calls only.
art supplies. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang. if I changed. prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. J.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store. I wanted out. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . and even prostitutes. I was allowed to keep my identity. for the right price. clothing. for anything else. A man could buy food. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. and it has. drugs. much like my thinking. lumber. the ontological slap in the face. and dangerous. booze. True. I arrived at the school cafeteria.C. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. in my head. but it was an identity that was poisonous. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. I reasoned that. What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. appliances.S. the world would reflect that change. filthy. Amberchele Canon City.
it stopped bothering me. I stood by my friend. Enrique M. encouraging him during the fight. my assailant approached me and apologized. I flirted with the idea of getting even. His father attended the hearing. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. When I did not press charges. In my mind. After that incident. When I saw my assailant in court. It had been an ironic twist of fate.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. I had been stabbed. my membership in the gang became obsolete. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. As we spoke. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand. the atmosphere was tense. But when others got involved. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. With time. however. FL 81 . I yelled for help. the judge dismissed the case. As I turned to look. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. his father embraced me in the hallway. That made all the difference in the world. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. Fernandez Miami. After the trial. a free-for-all ensued. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands.
Matters of the Heart .
was I wrong! I admire my first love. I could not 85 T . I have known my first love for more than a year. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. One would think that because I have experienced life. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. He is strong. I would have been in love before. I want to know everything he knows. the good and bad. no matter what answers you receive. He is smart. This is it! This is my first true love. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. He’s my first Jan Richards. I will accept all of him. my first true love. This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. Boy. I am 41 years old. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. I never get tired of listening to him. and I am in love. He is honest. 41 Dallas.
Suzy. he came back to me. Without her. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. Although we are divorced.100+ eat. I feel so alone. and that the connection will endure. 27 Tehran. it’s been like heaven. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. We both respect and value each other very much. I hope we will get married one day. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. she kissed me for the first time. I decided to visit her. The morning after I arrived. and the connection that we share. too. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. 59 Dayton. my first love. Mansour. I was browsing . I will never forget her. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. but now I want to leave him. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS).
There was something fascinating about this “older man. everything was great. At first. Shurley. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. If it were up to me. He was a tall. His name was Travis. slender.” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . I would never have gone out with him. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. He played with my head. brown-haired young man. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. Then within six months. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. and I am so jealous. and now all I have are insecurities. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. He stripped down my confidence. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. I worry all the time. and he was in fifth grade.
low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. threesomes. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. but what of the seldom spoken of illicit relationships that occur between male offenders and female correctional officers? Imagine for one second a single mother with two or more children. hotel.100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. My reflections of Travis developed years later. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. anal sex. 29 Hilo. With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. wanting him to protect me. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more . or inn in the continental United States. all in retrospect. She has little education. 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. and gangbangs—it all occurs. Kitty Mayo. Often. I just remember wanting to be near him.
I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. pay her rent.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. 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. 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. Hours seem like minutes. or risks. regulations. send her shopping. It comes like a thief in the night. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony. finances. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her. The attraction is mutual. The conversations flow smoothly. TX 89 . You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. The female is as rebellious as the offender. She needs no coercion or con. Sometimes personalities just click. who want to keep her hair and nails done. It’s an amazing thing. rules. The laughs come fast and free. housing. Love.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. religion. take care of her kids.
” I have no idea what he means.. We are in her attic bedroom. Outside her window. I told her I loved her. I wonder when. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . Boston College. she told me the same thing. Three months later. but I know I don’t want her to leave.100+ Four A. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. Skidmore College. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. on a tour of Oxford. I’m not sure she’s my other half.. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. One month later. and I told her she was strange. the tears pouring down her cheeks. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. And three months and two weeks later. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. Massachusetts. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. suitcase is a difficult feat. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. Two months later. She told me the upright bass was sexy. three floors down. the distance between her school. my tears will come. destined for Minneapolis. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. She’s packing her last suitcase. and yes. and if.M. we went out for coffee. and mine.
At four a. so I decided to go the subversive route.. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. 22 Amherst. she falls asleep. after another bottle of wine. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. At two a.. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day.” she says.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. until four a. and I had a crush on .m. after a bottle of wine. I walk her to the bus station.m. “I’ll miss you. And tears stream down my face.m. and I have to walk her to a bus station. I had written the poem already. and place it on the hood of his car. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. 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. still two bottles of wine later. write a love poem. comes. needless to say. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. At three a.m. Theoharides. Alexander J..
NH Love Is for yourself. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . needs. desires. Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone.100+ I sped away. I was 21 years old. 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. Scarlet Rose. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. and well-being. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. but because of them. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. 24 Lincoln. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Galilea. not despite of their shortcomings. Unfortunately. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. 28 Albuquerque.
he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics.T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L . PC. I imagined something romantic. making our relationship grow stronger. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. no? Saturday came. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. My love is with my best friend whom I had the chance to get to know first. We are the yin and yang for each other. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. It isn’t just for one man and one woman. As I was preparing to get out of the car and walk to the restaurant. As you can imagine. It can be between two men and between two women. 30 Arecibo. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. But a girl can dream.
and my life. I regret so many things. so I left everything behind: my career. so many mistakes. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I .100+ lifetime. and I live there now. A baby was on the way. and I tried to fight for my dreams. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. I love you. Mare. Michelle.” I told myself. “I did it for love. Life is not supposed to be this way. and so many tears. and you have always been the one. but he was mine. 36 Lennon. but he wasn’t in love with me. maybe he was strange. Maybe he was too old for me. I regret it. I tried to be perfect. the woman that he had been dreaming of. and we are raising a daughter as well. my family. and I thought I was immortal. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. I chose my hell. Our relationship is 15 years strong. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares.
I don’t know. but we’ll be living separate lives. Lately. 27 Athens. but as for love. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. we fell in love. The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. My ex and I are currently in high school. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. Yeyo. though. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. We now have a beautiful baby girl. but I can’t control it. 95 I .T R U E S T O R I ES life. and it lasted about a year and a half. We are going to graduate soon. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. but we’re not together anymore. 18 Olmito. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. If I were to start my life all over again. Kikis_fairytale. It’s a bad habit.
and I have no control over my actions. We spent my final day together. talent. I imagine the two of us together all the time. I gasp for air. 18 Brooklyn. looks. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. Although I didn’t know it at the time. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. I shake. yet doesn’t make me want to die. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. In the summer of 2009. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. We started talking and before long we just clicked. He was a southern gentleman with manners. but things had been slowly going downhill. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. but as much as I try to stop. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. “I may have a guy at home. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. Every time I see him. It is a scary feeling. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. it keeps growing. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. 96 M . I don’t want to. and a smile that could melt a heart. but it just happens. I thought to myself. Aila Balic.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive.
T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. Thanks. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. Why not have our cake and eat it. I couldn’t believe it was over. In life. 26 Acapulco. and it took all I had not to cry. and no hassle: just us. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We wanted . tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I went to say my goodbyes. no guests. but now it was time to make a big decision. family and friends can witness our marital union. I explored my options on the ride home. for showing me the truth about love. Ethan. Guerrero. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. too? Hayley. There weren’t any wedding planners. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical.
On March 27th. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. Some letters were erotic. as well as me. On May 15. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I guess. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. at age fifty-two. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. She was . It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. This story has the makings for a great ending. I will go home one day. I had not felt that way in years. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. Clearly magic was happening between us. For Louise. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. Louise had a heart attack and died at home. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. 2006. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. and made me happy in so many ways. 1997.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. was a devoted wife. but life is not fair. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path.
It would end up being cheaper than a wedding.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. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. 63 Burkeville. If we had to do it again. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. However. George Hughes. but for our family members. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. And in the end. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. DON’T. Farewell. Louise. I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. in August. We had a nice ceremony. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. I will miss you. beautiful flower arrangements. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. but we had our wedding 7 months later. VA A Joining of Two. Please save 99 M . Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done.000 on our wedding.
When we finally reached the priest. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. 100 A . This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. Even at 3.100+ your money because in the end. “Are you two getting married. too?” he asked. forest green dress. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. clad in a miniature tuxedo. When the time came to walk down the aisle. In the fall of 1987. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. the wedding doesn’t matter. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom. and burnt with a curling iron while strangers were trying to curl my “too-straight” three year-old hair. my voice echoing through the church. I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. On the day of the wedding. Priscilla. the rings were handed over. 29 Lowell. “NO!” I yelled at him. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers.
at some point. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. On the long list of things I hate.” When the doors opened. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. I was blinded by lights. until amorous love became filial affection. and I started to ignore 101 I . my cousin. not right before my eyes. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. I had gotten used to him and he to me. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security. 23 Somerville. The emails became short and purposeful. but before I knew it. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around. and I had no idea where to go. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. slowly and gradually. Finally. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. three of them will always be: priests. camera flashes. all I remember being told was. and forest green. Adelle Brown. not right away. MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved.
or lack thereof. I stopped caring about spending time together. I keep trying to push him away. I am not that person anymore. This mundane. I am content to just exist.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. nor is he. torturous waste of time. for him. but that memory is now alien to me. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. and started avoiding him. He was no longer my top priority. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. 102 I . January Paris. For now. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. I remember why I fell in love with him. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. I am not that unhappy. and let him do the same.
he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. I thought that if they divorced. I would have done so. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. Donna J. my parents did not divorce. St. which never came. Alas. They are still together. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. it would have been more difficult. Even if he hadn’t allowed it.T R U E S T O R I ES I was an only child and often felt overprotected and suffocated. VT 103 . and if I were allowed to live with my father. Johnsbury. and I’m glad they are.
Despite Diagnosis .
catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. Some don’t. leaving you there to bleed out. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . Prison is a sewer. then slips away unseen. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. cartwheeling. skidding. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. In prison. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. Sometimes it’s waistdeep. and dry yourself. and sometimes it’s over your head. sometimes it’s neck-deep. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. wash. Take showers in shifts. clean. and filth swimming and floating along with you. and when you get to the other side. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. bide your time. not let it get inside you. vermin. You are immersed in it. Wait till the “others” get out. not because of knives but for their germs. you can cast off your filthy clothes. you must wade carefully through the sewage. alone. go in with your homeboys. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard.T R U E S T O R I ES Fighting the Ninja rison showers can be scary places. carbon steel prison knife made in the furniture factory—and clued me in on watching my back and avoiding homosexuals in the shower. to survive it.
And they die. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. As the years passed. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. I was told I had a brain tumor. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. wondering if I will ever go home. I started having eye trouble. When I awoke. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. become a part of it. Charles P. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . meningitis. 59 Daytona Beach. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. Norman. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. Months later. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. I regained some of my physical strength. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again. The problem was not eradicated. take it all in. they inhale deeply. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. a cracked skull. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. so I went to an optometrist. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body.100+ of the prison sewer. As for me.
so in spite of having protected sex. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . and all came out negative. After 4 or so weeks. My cerebral fluid was not draining. Pete. Tasmania. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. 21 Devonport. 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. just to be sure. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. traveling all the way down to my elbows. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. Fueled by the media. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate.
so my body was dying. Every time a nurse would come in the room. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. but even that wasn’t enough. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. My father was the only one with the same blood type.100+ as well. so she took me to the doctor. Jolene. so he donated his blood. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. The day I turned five. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. 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. One time. 28 Portland. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W . my mom noticed my skin was yellow. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. I was constantly in the hospital. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. Throughout my childhood. For instance. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. We all had sad faces. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood).
and very pale. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. Five days later. the jail has delayed it. It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. and they both cried tears of joy. There is no kindness. nearly bald. fightingsurvivor19. the check-in nurse says. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. Three months later.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang. Maybe it’s not really me. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo.” When my chemo starts. I vomit constantly. I’m 15 pounds thinner. This never happened outside. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. the judge can expedite all he wants. my oncologist was determined 111 I . Today I am 19. hoping to get rid of me to save money. 19 Pembroke Pines. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. “Well. and 100% cured. in college. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself. At Perryville. I am back at Estrella Jail. Maybe it’s a nightmare.
I know I’m an inmate. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. An hour later. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. I vomit until there is nothing left. there is complete indifference. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting.100+ that my nausea be minimal. I am sent back to my room alone. I start the laborious grievance process. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. and then annually. begging for what I’m missing. No more nausea. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. Despite the rigid schedule. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. and nine months later. burning instead. When my treatment is over. but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. He recommends a tumor 112 . I have three more chemo sessions. Eventually. when I’m supposed to be healing. My chest is a mass of blisters and feels like a tiny fairy is dancing on it with razor blades on the soles of her shoes. But this protocol is not followed. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. He answers my questions. In here. the doctor comes in. My life is literally in their hands. then every six months for two years.
it still hasn’t happened. mismanaged. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. That’s really hard in here. All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. 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. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. AZ 113 . I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. That is why I am afraid. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. my life is in the hands of the State. no positive imagery can change my situation. and I am helpless against its inadequate. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. This is about the State. uncaring power. I can deal with that. incompetent. 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. Their stories touch me on so many levels. always look for a reason to be glad. As a result.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable.
I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. Despite all this. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. Dinorah Torres. but when he found out that treatment could last years. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. CA A 114 . That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight. making plans for the future. without even knowing it. he began to distance himself. Later. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. she was looking ahead. Two months after I started chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. 33 Santa Barbara. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. and I felt helpless all the time. A year into my treatment.
She was longdivorced. never had any kids. It just 115 I . My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58. shape. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. 18 Tacoma. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. One year she was cancer-free. Hayden. and had lived alone for decades. How sad. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape.T R U E S T O R I ES “Lights” Don’t Mean a Longer Life moking light cigarettes does not in any way. for an addict’s. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. The following year.” 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. for a smoker’s lungs.
He gave it up for her since the secondhand smoke would have been harmful to her. Most of those on medication are the effeminate “catchers” who are more likely to be tested because they admit their sexuality. Penzance. not even decades after giving up smoking. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. on the part of Texas officials. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes.G. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Cornwall. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. F. Whatever the percentage. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I .A. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked. not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. and now he could lose his own life because of them.
With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. 8. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. whether here or abroad. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 .T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 4. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. 3. 5. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. Separate gang members from non-gang members. sentence length. 7. You can see how dangerous it is. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. be as humane as possible. 9. Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. A few suggestions: 1. and typecrime. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. and house them accordingly. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 6. Classify prisoners by age. 2.
This could be a start. TX 118 .100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. 48 Huntsville. Daniel H. Harris.
The Transience of Permanence .
It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die.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. He desperately seeks some understanding. If I give him that. In the penitentiary. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. From what I’ve seen in here. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. In plain talk. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. He understands that my time with him is short. All is forgiven. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. 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. death out there now looks relatively easy. a last will and testament. discussions. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. some acceptance. or SSI. TX I 121 . especially on death row. Christopher Best Livingston. then the whole world has done the same. even inside me. I feel the dread on my flesh. death is merely a passage or rite. I’m a state-approved janitor. Some days. which has its effects on me as well as on him. maybe an estate. I swear. plans. Each morning when I arrive at work. For “free-world” folks.
and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. Light-headed. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. Very suspicious. Shit. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle.” “taking it to the vent. and it can be done right now.” or “moving on to the next phase. Shit. Fuck them. People in the day room are getting suspicious. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour.” And I’m not talking about parole. Suspicious. I choose not to spend another day in this place. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. 122 T .T. today. I’ll try again later. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. yet relieved that I took action. Fuck God. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life. I am feeling very ugly inside. G.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. It’s called “checking out. It isn’t working.
He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. 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. The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . but didn’t touch the live end so it wouldn’t complete the circuit. CA When I Ceased to Exist have come face to face with man’s greatest fear: the fear of death. but a symbolic one. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. 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. Mike Rothwell Ione. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth. After that. not in the clinical sense. The vast majority were done in by their own hand.T R U E S T O R I ES Sometimes I think about the guys that were with me when I first came into prison.
the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. in essence. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. the son he failed to be. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes. In this sense. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. killed that greater part of himself. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. and the person he never grew to become. Hector Gallegos Otisville. the father he cannot be. gold. my big fat Italian grandmomma. he may as well be dead. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. matriarch of the family. sterling silver.With his incarceration. year after year. pearls. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. The day her body is brought to the graveyard. diamonds. 124 N . the lover he wishes to be. In the world beyond prison walls. but life—even at 103—seems too short.100+ love of his family. He has. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed.
pre-WWII. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. blankets. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. except for a fundamental difference.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. necklaces. albums. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Mary Higgins Reading. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. The following day. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. and handcrafted dolls. dating from the roaring twenties. 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. 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. key chains. as if no one else is 125 D . she never wore it. Who would believe that a swastika. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now.
An ache settles in his belly. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. making it ominously quieter. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. TX 126 . In remembering. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. the officials are stoic and judgmental. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. At other times. such as his first pet.100+ there. Gene W. Hathorn Livingston. but the mind rebels. there are only four or five people. he realizes that all hope is gone. the fights he had in grade school. media representatives. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. survivors of the victim’s family. 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. It is like God’s “time-out” room. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is.
I saw no real reason for worry. he had become thin as a rail. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. really took it seriously. after a slew of “unreadable. “Every doctor has a different opinion. trying to get someone to do something.” “partial.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. and his memory showed signs of failure.” I forget why. he was barely over five feet tall.” Freddy complained to me one day. He was a genuine character. no one. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. In October 2004.” and “lost” test results. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). his body was covered in tattoos. Sleep came with great difficulty. Once muscular. including Freddy. Time was of the essence. a combination drug therapy. 127 E . Over a period of a year. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. Since he always complained. and his head was shaved clean. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. if at all. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. and they all tell you something different.
“By the time they did something. looking through the glass at our little one. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. and he was afraid. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. By October. 2005. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk.” There was no anger in his voice. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. but no treatment was administered. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. only resignation. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. They tried giving him formula. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. and now he’s dead.100+ Months passed. We named him William Kenrick. it was too late. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. Freddy was my friend. They killed me. massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. they probably could have saved me. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant.” he told me. CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. “If they got at me 18 months ago. but he threw it up. He vomited blood one morning.
At 1:30 a. Then I start crying again and eventually. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. a smile formed on his lips. But I swear. And for that. my first son. And oh.m. my first child. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. PHILIPPINES 129 . he went. the smell… His sweet. his heart rate slowed. I turn numb. I still think of him.. fight for it. I love him more and more each day. 32 Las Piñas City. I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. Despite the pain. as soon as I held him. Jenelleish. And I knew though he was gone. But I knew something wasn’t right. Someday. he had to undergo an operation. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. “Baby. only he was already lifeless. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. when I visited him. He will always be my first baby.” And as soon as everybody was there. only to realize that he’ll never come back. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. milky scent is still there. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. But if not. which was declared a success. just let go. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. The next day. if you can still make it. At 3 days old. NCR. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. and whispered.
I dreamed about him every single night. But as a father. and listening to music. in a better mood than usual. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. Facing the cell door. roller-skating. from denial to 130 I .100+ I Miss You. I was close to my father. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. yet his passing was significant to me. I went through many phases. fishing. But after 5 years of marriage. I didn’t shed one tear. I miss him deeply. Dad une 15. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. he died suddenly and tragically. My dad liked to sing and dance. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. But I didn’t cry. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23.m. After my dad’s death. he was really fantastic. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a.. enjoying the early morning light. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. Malachi Ephraim Florence.
hate to indifference.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. 45 Montreal. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. had no meaning. As a last minute thought. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. I am now 45. and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. the final and hardest phase arrived. How sad that now sounds. Québec. I drank to escape and forget. Terri Giosia. I sent my aunt. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. Life lost its luster. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude. her youngest 131 I . I realized that what happened was out of my control. After a long period of time. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. a Christmas card. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. However. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. happily single. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. with great parents and friends. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance.
she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . especially when you are only seven years old. For two years. To the academic world. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. my mom had been taken to the hospital. Soon after. my poem may mean nothing.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. she called every person she knew and read that poem.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. he said. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. Not only did she call him. many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. Dennis Forrest. The doctor gave her three months to live. 51 Rosharon. The night before. But after all the miserable hospital visits. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying.
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. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. the house. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. but to help them through things the best you can. My father continued hacking. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. My dad softly called me over. where it was warm. Aubrie. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. and even worked from home so he could be there. He took care of my mom.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. This experience has made me stronger. “Daddy. My life was changed forever. too weak to walk to her bedroom. and us. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . 16 Rexburg. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. It went on and on. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love.
I could tell. who knew my family well. I said things I’ve always regretted. I could see that you loved your father. I knew he wanted to say something. He looked at my brothers.” 134 . not speaking. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. I admire what you did. so I recognized it in both of you. waiting him out: “Charlie. collect. real sick. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death. You settled your differences. too. the reason I’m saying this.100+ asked. He said things. I had unfinished business with my father.” He was just twenty-four at the time. We feared lung cancer. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. but the last time inexorably approached. but he died before I got the chance. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. and that was a good thing. I wanted to make it up to him. Even when he was here last time. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. and he was gone. Don’t ever smoke them. but emphysema got him first. when I first met your family several years ago. from a prison payphone in the dark. as did my mother. You see. and he loved you. with complications from lupus. son. healing wounds. Over the past few years. exhaled. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. closed his eyes. I begged him to quit for years. so I stood there. There were hard feelings between us. like you did. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. A prisoner friend.
He had jumped off the tier headfirst. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. His tears soaked into my suit coat. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. Norman.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. FL Slash nstead of going to court. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. Charles P. While there. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. leaned his head on my shoulder. I decided to slash my wrist. that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. My cellie threw up. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. 59 Daytona Beach. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom. 135 I . I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. It was the least I could do.
and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. His eyes were half open. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed. Evidently. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life.100+ “Well. “Six months. I don’t anymore.T. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask. CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences.” G.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck.
there was only solemn silence. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. With a bit of a dramatic flair. “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. stood there for several seconds. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. But not at this moment. CA 137 . hung it back up on the wall. For the first time since I was there. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. It was so still. Even the crazy guys had shut up. 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. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. perhaps. Then. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. He had everyone’s complete attention. he turned towards the convicts in their cells.T R U E S T O R I ES was. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl.
Hidden & Forbidden .
I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. that it was a setup.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. sentenced to six years in prison.” As I say this. I want to be with a girl. Because she was white. it’s her roommate. and a ladies’ man. racism at its best. angrily. “I came to see my girl. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. we can have sex. I was convicted. a football player. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. not only to have fun. I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. I only saw what I wanted to see. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. 141 I . I want some sex. I say. “Your girl is not here. barging into her apartment. and I’m in college. my fraternity brothers. the white system. but also to pick up girls. but it’s not my girlfriend. and it was my word against hers. popular on campus. but I haven’t picked up a girl. if no one else is here.” I step towards her. I’m thinking. I was black. in front of a white jury. she was white. forcing myself in. it’s a habit of ours.” I say. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. she’s home alone. For twenty years. a member of a fraternity. It opens. I’m telling myself that she wants me. When it’s time to leave the club. I knock on the door. 1982. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. I’ve had fun.
was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. faithfully. The fantasy of grandchildren. I had known that I was a disappointment. a wife. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. for them. especially with men. forced attractions to women.100+ Today. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. two kids and a boring life in suburbia. I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. pure houseboat. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. if I were to have a place in this world.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . For sixteen years. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. So I tried. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that.
I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. alternating paragraphs with Nicholas. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. One day. 19 Hooksett. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. At seventeen. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . with whom I constantly fought and argued. And I knew. When I arrived. my sadness never faltered. So I confessed my truths. only for who I pretended to be. I am finally happy. having been to one or two of their small gatherings.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. I wrote a script. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. Daryl F. that my parents felt the same. all too well in fact. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality.. boring corduroy-wearers.
Kent. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. one male and one female. it was swallowed hook. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. Philippa. Nicholas. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. I was literally paralyzed. 30 Maidstone. We didn’t date. This brought about a case of stage fright. being a noble and resourceful man. carried on like a trooper. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. line. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. 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. but I always suspected that he was gay. He dated one girl 144 I .000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. especially for clothes. His self-confidence saved the day. and sinker. Knowing very little about astrology.
she was always a tomboy. My friends just did . She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. Waterville. When he told me he was gay. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. I didn’t really think anything of it. However. 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. but I never really suspected she was gay. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. Jayne L. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. As for my female friend. especially since I had always suspected it. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that.
gays and lesbians are persecuted. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said.100+ me. not me. As if things couldn’t get any worse. We feel the judge was very homophobic. If I were a man.” Within 10 days. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. who is from Peru. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. but I am a woman and therefore. Right now. After three years worth of evidence gathering. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years. too. They even sent me to a shrink.” I did. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin. and the shrink said that they needed therapy. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. I fear losing my partner. We are not giving it to her. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. “Never mind. 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. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother.” so we had to go back to court.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. knowing that if she 146 .
We lost everything.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. These days. the most effective teacher. TX 147 I . the Ultimate Truth. FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. no different than any other heterosexual couple. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing. Aileen Diaz. 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. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. 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. but we did not lose ourselves. Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. 35 Tampa. William Steed Kelley Huntsville.
MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. On the one hand. But on the other hand. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. Eloise Lebreton. The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. and I would never throw it in his face. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. better not to tempt fate. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. I feel like an idiot. Now. I probably would have been better off not knowing. gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was. You have to always be 148 C . My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. 30 Detroit. I still love and respect him.
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. No matter how upbeat you may feel. They help. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. It’s always going to be there. 149 A . My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. Mike Rothwell Ione. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down. so you better learn to keep it at bay. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. I was allowed to play with a friend. After church. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. I lived in Shreveport. But if someone’s determined to “check out. One way is to keep doing those pushups. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. 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.” then there’s not much they can do about it. Louisiana.
NC 150 . “You think this hurts motherf’er. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. her face contorted in rage. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. at my tender age. and abuse. She barged into the room screaming. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. 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. 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. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. My friend’s mother yelled. especially my mother. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. He screamed in agony. 47 Old Fort. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. Yurshta. another ultrafundamentalist sect. lit the gas stove. was too much to handle. I have been an atheist ever since. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. Christian Missionary Alliance.
at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. whether physical or emotional. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. I did not get angry with him. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . demeaning. I swear.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. I have never been physically beaten. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. Gaby Hermann. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. NETHERLANDS Harsh. 26 Essen. I had nine miscarriages. should not be tolerated. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. Any kind of abuse.
We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. Then one day. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life.100+ with me. Sonia. 36 New Delhi. I was forced to call the cops. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. INDIA 152 . Delhi.
Eerie Encounters .
Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. my 155 I . I can see the people.m. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. even Ghirardelli’s. 28 Salem. but I’m getting tired. although I’ve never seen one. just a quarter of a mile farther. In my nightmare. I listen for a moment to a strange. slight. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. Why would we want to be? Clarette. They are looking beyond me. Even our Milky Way Galaxy doesn’t amount to a grain of sand in the immensity of the universe. 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. We cannot be alone. swishing sound. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. Aquatic Park. I don’t need to see to believe. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. I keep swimming.
The waves crash. to the deep water. About 5 years later. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. I hear something in the distance calling me. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. Am I going crazy? Frank E. The walls murmur. 45 Delano. And about a week after that. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river.100+ arms are getting heavy. MA 156 T . I am silently alone. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. I awake. I’m only treading water. And then. I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. Foster. beginning to feel numb. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. summoning me. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. out beyond the breakers. 24 Lawrence. Will Ferrara. When I was 18. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters.
56 Alfonsine. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. at my uncle’s funeral. Shocked. Not long after. my mouth stopped bleeding. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer.T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. too. I immediately called home. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. showing us that we were right. While alive. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. In the dreams. a strange heat enveloped my body. In October. while still aboard. ITALY 157 I . He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. I felt sick and went to sleep. On our way to the hospital. One night. Almost twenty days later. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. From that moment on. and we had no choice but to drink it. I dreamt that I was in Italy. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. In the following days. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. Ravenna. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe.
19 Monaghan.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street. It was my dad! At that moment. but late for work! Paddy J. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. I was squinting. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. It was pitch black. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . as whatever I was looking at was far away. staring straight ahead. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. its feet dragging along the ground. It was then that I woke up. I remember shaking like a leaf. It was excruciating! Tears fell from my eyes as I let go of the pole and was pulled forward. I grabbed a light pole and tried to stop my legs. I landed at the feet of the creature. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed.. I stood up and looked at its face. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. but they continued moving and stretched me out. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole.
I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. One evening. thin man. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. Enrique M. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. my mind completely blank. echoes from long ago. As nighttime fell. the vision of a tall. 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. Fernandez Miami.” someone who knew the area told me. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. I was in the bathroom. It was at this moment that I saw. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. That left me speechless. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. I saw what seemed to be an apparition. 159 W .T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. thinking about nothing. Hiking along the trail. “That place is haunted. “I’ve been here before. When I turned to look.” I thought. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. it had disappeared. When I returned home. As I placed my canteen in the water.
I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. He walked towards me. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood. Devon. grey cloak that covered his entire body. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. Then. hooded. when I entered the King’s Chamber. I remembered being there before. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. and the vision was gone. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. His face was shrouded in darkness. I have not had any such vision since. still completely covered by the hood. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. standing in that same spot.100+ He was wearing a long. However. I have no idea what the vision meant. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I .
and don’t believe time is always linear. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. I came back to my present “reality. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well.” Now. 54 Auckland.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. During this moment of déjà vu. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. AK. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . and activated it. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose. transferred his intelligence into my brain. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. Then my former self stood in my body. This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. Misty.
59 West Roxbury. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. and a little less afraid. 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. a little more aware. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old.100+ broad daylight seemed real. a little more settled. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. They knew what was about to happen. 162 I . I’m 59 now. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. D. drifting like seaweed. In my dream. I’m willing to see where it takes me. Lonn. but I didn’t. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. facing myself.B. I woke up taking short gulps of air. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies.
I survived the accident with no major injuries. “I need to get back. I learned the term years later. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. I started to read a lot of books. which struck a barrier. when I moved 163 G . and we started to spin really quickly. I began flailing and screaming in my mind. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. ME A Different Level rowing up in Spain. I need to get back!” And then I suddenly returned to my body with a great suctioning sound and woke up. I watched shows on television. Since I was only 4 years old. Later. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. Jayne L. and quickly drifting away. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. as I had in Spain. After that. The driver lost control of the vehicle. Waterville. completely powerless to stop it. and then was finally able to label my experience. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. I had no fear at all that I was going to die.
it’s one of my many pastimes. SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. at my friend Viola’s insistence. A year later. There is only going to a different level. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . But for me. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. “I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. facing him.100+ to Massachusetts. 37 Madrid. I knelt down on a pew. but with no success. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. a few steps from the altar. Smiling kindly. he said. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. I got slowly closer. One night. just one year before meeting Gabriele. astonished and surprised to have the honor of being received by the Pope. The group has introduced me to new friends of varied personal and professional backgrounds with this shared interest. There is a general embarrassment in people who believe in this kind of thing. I tried to understand the meaning of this dream for almost a week. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me.
But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. we became involved. 56 Alfonsine. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. ITALY 165 . Then one night. Through telepathy. so I left. To be sure. I felt all his fear and pain. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. He finally confessed to me that he took drugs and that he was afraid that I would leave him because he hadn’t told me that his previous girlfriend had died of AIDS. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. Through telepathy. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. and I tried to help him. I dreamt again of the mournful guitar. Ravenna. While I stared at him. striking me like a storm. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. I told him not to joke. in January 1991. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. but he had terrible secrets. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. He vowed to marry me. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend. struck by his suffering.
He tipped his hat and smiled. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. Soon after. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. During the five trips I made out there. I invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. Then all of a sudden. Anonymous LA I was just six years old when I saw my first UFO Hunt a strong interest in the numerous UFO reports and the story of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience during that period. I was in my room crying by my door ‘cause I had just gotten in trouble. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. NH. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.100+ I See Spirits spirit. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. On some nights. I developed . where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly.
she suddenly pointed and yelled. strobe for 30 seconds. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. As I returned to where Betty was parked. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. but then.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. Other times. First. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block. who was also an amateur photographer. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. accompanied me. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. On one occasion. about 50 yards down the tracks. a state psychologist friend of mine. and then disappear. then they turned off. and into the sky. up a tree. MA 167 . We saw the usual lights in the sky. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. Later. and meet. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. fly to some central point. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier. On one of my last visits. 70 Waltham.
At Home & Abroad .
We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. not financial statements. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. as proof of dignity. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. but eventually we divorced. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . with a 3-year-old son. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother. but life had a different destination in mind for me. where all were welcome and. Russian caviar. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. or Puerto Rican dialect. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. had to show the INS hard-working hands. We married and had a daughter. I once had plans to live in London. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. and great America. German perfume. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. and completely broken by life.” My father used to talk of Hungary. Lately. Colombian. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban.
Mare. 54 Leominster. Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia.100+ Greece. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. on the contrary. while others are trying to cheat the system. 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. 36 Lennon. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Nidia F. 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. MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. we love Bach. We all suffer when this happens. it reminds us that this country is great. the Dolphins. We don’t feel less American because of that..S. Morales.
Then during the fall and winter months. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. D. illegally because. My father is Mexican. apart from being unconscionable. so I decided to move to his. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer. 27 Washington. Many times. cars. After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. I had family there.C. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. it would have been too dangerous. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant. while my 173 Every year from June until September. Later in the summer. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds.S.S. and migrant camps.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. harvesting crops. We lived in tents. my . we stayed in Livingston. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U.
However. School was a struggle from the beginning.100+ father worked for a local farmer. I was held back in kindergarten. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. Not only were the white students 174 . I was embarrassed by my first language. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. this was not a quick or easy transition. I realized that I was out of place in school. Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name.” “wet. Early on.” “greaser. In grammar school. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. our bathroom was an outhouse. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. mostly beans and tortillas.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me. Because of school.” or “spic. they had the opposite effect. read. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. However. we took our baths in a big washtub. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. halfway through my junior year. I struggled to learn to speak. This is where I went to school. In fact. Spanish. 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. they didn’t work. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. and write in English. In high school.
T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. and I had lost most of my Spanish. They will pay. you know. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. “Now don’t run away on me.” I remind myself. Although I was of Mexican descent. I wasn’t white. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. I wasn’t Mexican. but on the inside I acted like a white person. an enclave 175 I . I didn’t seem to fit in. a gringo wearing a tie. 50 Boston. a five sol coin and two half sol coins.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. in theory. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction.. the usual. Raul Ybarra. I was born and raised in the U. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer.S. “One hundred soles tonight. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. to the Mexican students. My private class is in La Rinconada. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. To white students. not even two dollars.
I sit at the kitchen table. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button. It’s ají amarillo. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. even your own paycheck. I eye the tamal on the counter. I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. Matt. with chicken bulging from its sides. If these families don’t find happiness here.” I say. I am cheered by the recognition. she told me to come inside and wait.” “I know she’s not here. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big.” “The señora is not here. Two maids. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. Remember. are washing dishes in the sink.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.” “That’s okay. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. I have classes with her kids.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons. never mind 176 . “She’s not here. as big as a sandwich. They don’t speak to me or to each other. No way. you are not Peruvian. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. I hear the buzzer and push open the door.
No way am I going home empty-handed. Mrs. others were given a song and dance. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. That is the hard part: hiding the need. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. 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. and we were all waiting for our first check. and springs out the door to the entrance. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Some received their checks. 40 Amesbury. Wipe any sign of need from your face. “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. It was the end of the month. I was told to come.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. payday. and I came. Matt Wirzburger. An hour later. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 177 . I hear three honks. They looked at each other to see who would answer. Chin up. “That’s what we all hope. The room grew eerily silent.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up.
It was then. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. The streets were numbered. NY 178 . yet spaced widely apart. I felt that I had “made it there. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. 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. I was in the city “on business. It was well worth it. the city awoke and came to life. After the much-anticipated grilling session. I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there.100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I wasn’t alone. the whole city was there. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. As dusk turned to darkness. With briefcase in hand. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. Karen Manhattan. and only then.
and sophisticated. and you must learn the difference between lager. 4) Beer drinking is an art. Welsh. real ale. bitter. dry. 12) It’s not the “U. sarcastic. it’s “America. Scottish. 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. we don’t. etc.” “Pop Idol. Irish. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing. they helped a great deal. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them.S..” or “Yankland”. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.e.”. The 179 . but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.A. 7) Humour is subtle.” “The States.” or “U. French. 10) The English.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. 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable.S. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy. and stout.
it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed).. and body weight is stated in stones. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. 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!). 23 Jacksonville.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. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian.m. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. not pounds. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts. or any other English-speaking foreigner. apologise profusely for it. FL 180 .100+ Beatles. Rolling Stones. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. Pink Floyd). Canadian. South African. they’ll take the non-Yank. 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. If caught being rude. 24) Tea time does not mean “time for drinking tea”. 20) Women are on a social par with men (especially when it comes to pissing it up). Gavin S. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media.
It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet. We discovered Diamond Head. Pearl Harbor. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day. my parents and I arrived at . We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. Although decades have passed. Native and unique to Hawaii. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel.” which spans in black swirls over the island. tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of 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. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. and Waikiki Beach. crimson berries. We took off from the claustrophobic. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday.
29 Tultitlán.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . B. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. I remember wanting to return… H. Estado de México. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless. ovular. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country.100+ large. Gutierrez.” Despite my pitiful German. I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling.
To them. checked 183 In late October 1998.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. we were the enemy. eerie feeling. I knew it was war. but never forgotten. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. however unfounded that emotion may be. Marien’s church in Lübeck. However. destruction everywhere. Gisela. I packed up my leased . For the first time since the early eighties. I even felt a bit guilty. 21 Lübeck. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. crying. Standing in St. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. I imagined civilians screaming. Schleswig-Holstein. and running in all directions. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. that it was them or us. I experienced an unexpected. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West. green hills and plains. Along the road. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven.
and visited various museums. I spent days at the Pueblo.100+ into small motels. delightful little restaurants. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. There is always a scent of sage in the air. TN 184 . I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. and it is easy to understand why an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe would move out there to produce some of her most remarkable paintings.
The Toughest Job in the World .
For child number two.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. For our first child. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me. after being able to share this special bond. I knew what to expect. my husband and I went to the doctor’s. We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. we did not make it to the hospital. I planned a Caesarean. so on the 20th. he did just that. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. So. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. At 3:30 a. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. Krista.. I was awakened abruptly by contractions.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice .m. He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. My due date of June 19th came and went. Needless to say. We were told that I could be induced at this point. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital. which is about 45 minutes away. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery.
wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. bacon. but fairly frequently. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. the smells of biscuits. Not every week. prop himself up on his elbows. and my mother would call us for breakfast. and Tarzan of the Apes. All was good in the world. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. My . causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. Dan and Tom). Friday evenings were always a thrill. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. It was just the three of us. Alley Oop. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. not working as he was the rest of the week. I had no concept of rent. grocery bills. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. and two more on the way (my brothers. By then. Daddy would get out. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. Joe Palooka. The car would stop. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. take out the Sunday comics. lie down. The Texarkana Gazette. He’d take off the rubber band. He’d slowly read the comics to me. car payments. spread them open on the wood floor. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. and read each one aloud.
I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. and his weight. Charles P. but I never realized it. I felt desperate. Finally. Not with . He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. 189 The first time I saw my son. They said he was beautiful. 59 Daytona Beach. 1. or at least pretend to. I cried. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. (On Friday evenings. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.T R U E S T O R I ES him. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. Sebastian. Norman. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. and lights. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. I went to a place filled with noise. begging him for a ride in the new car. a frown on her face. Times were hard.) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby.220 grams. but because I thought I had failed. tubes.
He was so fragile and exposed.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. I was discharged. and hope flooded me. and I prayed. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. wanting to 190 I . Sebastian exceeded all expectations. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. 36 North Andover. After a week. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. Outside. patience. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. I gained knowledge. I began to sob. I talked to him. Over time. leaving my baby behind. Relief. I cried. I’m too afraid of screwing up. and mourning. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. besieged by guilt. I ached to still be pregnant. I sang to him. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. pride. fear. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. At long last. I became determined to care for him. Lisa. Each week. and confidence. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet.
I remember what I was like as a teenager and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle my wouldbe children when they become teenagers. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. driving to our new “hunting spot. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. and I 191 I . pet. or getting into drinking. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer.m. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away. I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. and I was twelve years old. Suzanne. Though I was only twelve. At about 3 a.. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. drugs. or having trouble with the police.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. we weren’t there to look at. or gangs. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. my father and I were in his truck. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. I don’t have any desire to find out. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. or feed the deer. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse. But tonight. Right now. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes.
It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. . they were already there. I took my spot and waited. We drank beer on the way home. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. By the time he got there.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. Steven Small. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. 43 Jessup. and I didn’t get smacked around for at least a week or better. and then drove up the fence line with his lights off. with the click of a camera. I snuck up to the fence line. checked for traffic. You can take a picture and freeze time. I didn’t even have to call the deer. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. a second of your life. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph.
But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. sipping a chocolate shake. I cherish every moment captured. 30 Martinsburg. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. but something was unleashed in me. Part of me wanted to pull her away. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. I didn’t expect much. New moments are constantly being created. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. without a care in the world. I 193 M . moments are forgotten. and sadly. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. WV Shame ama always took me with her to pick up her paycheck at the café on Wednesday afternoons.T R U E S T O R I ES captured in a picture. but those moments stay behind. Life goes on. Kelly. Sitting on a stool at the counter. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean. 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.
Mama’s check didn’t amount to much. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. Everyday.” she said with tears 194 . he left. I was proud to be her son. “Those aren’t for spending. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. I couldn’t take it anymore. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. “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. John. Those are old coins. and a few coins went into my piggybank. collectables. Someday they’ll put you through college. “I did my best. I rushed home with some questions for Mama. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. It was in seventh grade. One day. the afternoon waitress. Dorothy.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. without any explanation.” One day.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. Her green eyes sparkled. Mama was beautiful. “Your Mama works for tips.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. She quit school to marry him. Some streetwise kids set me straight. and well fitting. crisp. I do my best. He had promised to take care of us. my first year in middle school.
shame for having a waitress for a Mama. that’s what it was. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money.. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. But something was missing from my letters. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. After it was over. She’d died of breast cancer. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. shame for having no Daddy. Something with angels on it. Mama wrote every day. There was just nothing I could respect about her. not love. They let me go home for the funeral. I wrote back. Mama was gone. TX 195 . Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. One day. Oh sure. Before she died. Respect..T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks. I wouldn’t need it. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. My middle-school friends had seen to that. Mama asked if I needed anything. shame for being poor. All my love turned into shame. I didn’t go to college after high school. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. a letter came from Dorothy. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Mama’s friend at the café. Mama sent cookies.” John Yarbrough Rosharon.
and headed back to my mom’s apartment. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. but her face wore the same void expression.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. When outside. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . I opened the glove compartment. we got into the boiling car. I looked at the gas gauge and said. sit back down. and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. and devoured them one by one. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. “Last case for today. Finally. put them in my lap. She would fill out some papers. map. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. no books. Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. but there were no magazines. “Mom. “An abortion. When I did. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. and wait to be called into another room. a man or woman would call out a number. In the front. “Mom. I pulled out all the papers. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. She must have known that I would see it. she answered. Occasionally. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head.S. a lady came out and said. no television.
Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. 37 Mitchellville. when I was ten. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth. you’re just like Auntie Doll. No. sat down beside me and said “Hello.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. she yelled. It wasn’t the welfare office. When she turned to look at me. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. “Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. or the bills. IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. lack of food. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . but someone else. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. I was sitting outside on the front steps. Yvette Louisell. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. everybody in the world. 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. for me.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection.
“You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. When I told Ma and her boyfriend. Ma smiled and hugged me. The next thing I knew. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. what had happened. She said love makes you do crazy things. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. got a damp washcloth. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. but Ma said she would handle it herself. I got home empty-handed. both became angry. Needless to say. “Green house. After twenty minutes. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. I took Ma’s hand. That little girl was no fool. Then. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. “Down the block. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. She 198 . and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. “No. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. Big John. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. When I gave the note to her father he got angry.100+ girl in the world.” she said. Big John wanted to go down there. I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door.
snatched the bag. warning him not to touch us again. screaming. “You like to beat up on women and kids. 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. His wife. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter. Ma ran to him. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. “My God. “Take it! It’s all there. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet.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. but we laughed and laughed like never before. VA 199 . are you all right?” He nodded. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. we got the jewelry back. Then he walked over to the counter. who had been putting away groceries. we got a smile. 66 Burkeville. and left. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. Meanwhile. George Hughes. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. stood by the refrigerator.
you scared the poor boy. one of Michael’s many siblings. he leaned over me. “Now run on home. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. look what you did. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it. screaming. “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. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. but my dad sat her back down.” the man screamed at me. you made him cry. I hit the ground again. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. and look. With the fork in one hand. saying. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. more surprised than hurt.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. saying. you little sissy.” 200 O . “Don’t look to your folks for help. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. “Oh it’s all right. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. I looked over. My mother had gotten to her feet. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death.
clothes to wear. She almost whispered. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. trying not to look at me. Later. I ran to my room. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. More mad than sad.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. Hours later. I think. “No more with the neighbors.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. help Grandma eat this. just thinking.” I’ll ever forget what he said. but sternly. at the dinner table. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. new shoes every fall. and a warm. dry house to live in. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed. My job is to make sure you have food to eat. “My little wunderkind. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. and offered me cookies. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. One of these days. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling.” she said as she dried my tears. Grandma Berg was inside. 201 . my little lipschkin. Peck was yelling at me. I can’t be there to save you. Very calmly.” I answered.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. I said. I looked at her then at my father. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. “Thinking.
My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. Thomas Michael Fox. Your father. In the classroom. Sun coming soon. CA The Sand Dollar by time. As I scanned the newspaper. a name leapt at me. They remain frozen in my subconscious.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. and intelligence. Dream the dreams boys dream. Too much thinking for one so young. He also loved conflict. He got to me like no other student that year. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. He was full of jokes. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby. songs. You must be sleeping now. In casual and cruel black and white print. Quiet now. chores to doing. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. I received a devastating student update.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. unchanged . as the elementary students they were. 51 Corcoran. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. Grandma is old woman. tomorrow is better day. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin. but Grandma knows things. no more you thinking.
I always wondered if I got through to him. Reading the article through blurred eyes. Now one found me. He wasn’t my first lost boy. so much lost. I stormed down the beach. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. smile broadly. no one got to me like him. Then the ocean placed a perfect. I was mad. cursing him. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. But even now. just a headstone. He would nod. an 11-year-old in leather. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. He could always make people smile.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. I smashed my heels in the sand. and dance away. I saw I hadn’t. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. So much wasted. I hadn’t found one for years. I knew his story now. Stacey Curran Conway. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. but he was the star. 36 Wakefield. 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 . MA If Not Me.
and administrators with agendas.” Back then. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. sworn at. college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. I think. In some pretty tough school districts. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. of the students who might never make it to college without help. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I have stood in line. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. who trusted what would later come to fruition. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. and kept students in line. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. Finally. living wages. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). I have come to the end of myself. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. Surprisingly. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. students with social problems. I sit 204 . I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. pooh-poohed.100+ of what my students can become. RIF’d. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. and rehired. I’ve been insulted. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. however.
and 8th graders. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. much less trusting. not a real course. Zora. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Unruly students aside.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. I would be mortified. at the school where I taught. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. Spanish was seen as an elective. 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. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . more wary.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. MA Unsung Heroes profession. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. for a new vision. Unfortunately. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. 34 Framingham. 7th.
silence. Most were sensible enough to sit. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. This was Hades and he was Cerberus. the vicious three-headed hellhound. If I could survive this class. I could survive the duration of this profession. Ted continued to wander about. Julia Perez. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . I hope that someday. remnants of a continuous high. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. and schoolwork were not his hobbies. At the start of a usual class. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. Attempting to gain control. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. His eyes were constantly glazed over. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. Sitting. They were the most hellish group ever assembled. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. 29 Norwich. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve.100+ those who do.
Enjoy guarding hell.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job.” the child said confidently. “Okay Ted.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move. Wait. I decided on the only rational thing. dejectedly back to his seat with his three heads low to the ground. Now the class waited for Cerberus’s move. As the class waited for my reaction. I have to call the principal to come get you. “Take your best shot. After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. His bark was mighty. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless. I had stunned the high right out of him.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for. MO 207 .” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. but how was his bite? Move he did.
47 Balic. 145 Donna J. 166 Ephraim. 96 Anonymous. 19. 132 Babb. José. 79 Anonymous . 51. 70 Best.. 122. 127 Diaz. Sue Ellen. 172 Allen. Stacey.. 135 Christie. 33. Cynthia.. 95 Barchard. Aila. Eugene Alexander. 22 Aubrie. D. Fernanda. 100 Burns. 45 Brame. Christopher. Lance.. James. G.T. 102 Elliott. 53 Curran Conway. J. Robert Hal.C. Matthew. 60 Aleman. Malachi. 166 Antzes. 37. 111 Amberchele. 61 Clarette.. 130 . 44 Anonymous.Author Index AK. 202 Daryl F. 142 Dey. Tom “Wolf ”. Aileen. 75 Carrillo. Adelle. 32 Brown. 121 Boner. 155 Corson.
B. Spoon. 125 Hayden. William Steed. Daniel H. 162 Jenelleish. 179 Giosia. H. 80. 17. 30. 177 Kelley. Thomas Michael. 197 Jackson. 123 Gavai.. 110 Forrest. 164 F.. 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 101 Jayne L. 62. George. 200 Galilea. 155 Fox.. 192 Kikis_fairytale. 97 Hermann. 40 January. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. Pilar. 115 Hayley. 53. 59. 45. 94 .. 28. Hector. 128 Jolene. Enrique M.. 116 Hathorn. 109 Karen. 115 Fernandez. 151 Higgins. 77 Gavin S. 158 Ferrara. 74.. Mary. 144. 181 Harris. 163 Gutierrez. 157. Dennis. 92 Gallegos. 98. Gaby.A.G. 124 Hughes. 130 Gisela. 131 Foster. Elisabetta.Errani Emaldi. Terri. Gene W. Frank E.. Will. 147 Kelly. 36..
Miriam. 85 Rose. 205 Pete. 73 Lebreton. Norton. Ricky. Julia. 92 Perez. 21 LeBeau. 122. 141 Redfearne. 158 Pauli. 187 Kumar. Mike. Eloise. 86 Mare. 99 Quarles. Yvette. 69. 25 McKenzie. 93.. Byron. 108 Philippa. Brigitte. 87 McKenna. Santonio. 161 Loomer. 172 Mayo. Kitty. 171 Murff. Nidia F. 23 . 88 Norman. 133. 91 Rothwell. Mark D. Zachary.. Jan. 148 Lisa. 206 Louisell. 188 Paddy J. 67 Misty. D.B. 143 Priscilla. Michael.. 20. Charles P. 136. 71 Richards. 107. 59 Morales. Prashant Devan. 160 Momo. Scarlet. Gary. 32.Krista. 77 McLean... 196 Mansour. 183 PC. 189 Lonn. 148 Salinas.
Melvin William Joseph. 42 Windoftheclyde. 39 Yurshta. 55 von Fuller. Dinorah. 34 Zora. Raul. 151 Suzanne. 149 Zephyr. Alexander J. 191 Sonia. 63 Wirzburger. Adela. 15.E. John. 190 Suzy. 114 Vogt. 87 Small.. 203 . Bronwyn. Kurt.. Idris. Agatha. 90 Torres. 50 Theoharides. J. 159 Wantz.Samuel. 95 Yochum. 41 Shelly. 16 Shurley. Steven. 175 Yarbrough. 193 Ybarra. Matt. 173 Yeyo. 85 Tedesco.
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