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
desires.T R U E S T O R I ES a kingdom of words in which my ideas. can be revealed to the world. living on many different bases. Due to anger. I was drinking and using drugs regularly. bitterness. By the 8th grade. 2007. By 18. my mother passed away from cancer. I’ve committed many crimes and spent many years behind bars. and hopes that all humans possess but cannot always express. Malachi Ephraim Florence. and drug addiction. 51 Rosharon. images. Nevada in 1968. Dennis Forrest. the eldest child of one brother and two sisters. or at least the world that each of us as individuals lives in. My father was a career serviceman in the Army. so I grew up as an Army brat. Her death has caused me to see the “light of reality” as I now await my release in the fall of 2008. I was in prison and have been locked up about half my life. AZ I 19 . On March 3. I soon joined a gang and started a life of crime. TX Seeing the Light was born in Las Vegas.
Today. When I do little jobs. listening. after all my travel and exposure to foreign cultures.100+ Buddhism Behind Bars othing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of prison and its crazy rules. How do I know? There are subtle differences in my thinking. I have discovered true freedom in this place: freedom from attachment. I am aware of the way their covers feel. Nothing could have prepared me for the grub they serve here. Listening now requires my full attention. I am able to enjoy—or suffer—the present. tomorrow. to develop boundaries. All of these things I never had time for as I jetted from one meeting to another. to meditate and simply spend time with myself. I know I am finally awake to life. Yet. and their condition. 20 N . freedom to expand my horizons. I have been aware of my thoughts as they come up. I spend my free time studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism. and I can look at them neutrally. The obsessive worrying about what is going to happen in one hour. their heaviness. and I am finally on my way to enlightenment. in a week. For quite a while now. or at the next parole hearing or when I get out… all that is gone. for the humiliation and for the monotony of being stuck in the same surroundings day in. I am no longer running through this life without noticing the small miracles around me. such as putting up books in the library. to search spiritually. I rejoice in the art I produce. day out. I see the doves and hear the birds in the yard. and acting.
My background has never been a drawback nor kept friends. I make the best of every moment I am given in this small world. teachers. I always feel special and unique living in Malaysia because we’re very blessed. I would have seen so much more and enjoyed it. Lamas Rinpoche. communicate with my Indian friends in Tamil. find true freedom. In closing. I’m Chindian and I am proud to say so. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. As a matter of fact. be they physical. a short prayer: May all of those in the prisons of the world. But for now. Thanks to the writings of the Dalai Lama. once I am given the chance. TN Proud To Be a Chindian eople often mistake me for either Malay or Chinese. or strangers away. and compassion and when they do. mental. I don’t blame them because I do have traits of both races. I can speak Chinese dialects with the Chinese community. and even interact with my Malay associates just as well in Bahasa Melayu. may their love and compassion reach others who so desperately need it. I can easily mix with just about anyone. or spiritual. my learning continues. Yeshe. I know I will.T R U E S T O R I ES If I had been this awake when I was traveling. I really salute Malaysians 21 P . love. and Thich Nhat Hanh.
I thought about the stickers I had received a few years earlier. As I listened to my mom. Prashant Devan Kumar. “These kids don’t know what they’re talking about. 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. I had asked Mom how Santa knew my name and how he had written it on the stickers. Kuala Lumpur. Think about it: Where else in the world can you find an Indian marrying a Chinese person and producing a Chindian son like me? Growing up in this nation has really taught me to appreciate the gift of peace and harmony. I thought to myself. She broke the news to me as best as she could. I asked my mom if Santa Claus was real.” That same day. She told me that she loved me very much and that she was the one who put the gifts under the tree each year. She had 22 M . but didn’t join in the conversation. Each was in the shape of a pencil and had “MATTHEW” written in the center. I took in what the kids were saying. yet being able to live in peace and harmony. Even foreign travelers admire the unity in our society and this makes them feel safe in Malaysia. 18 Cheras.100+ for being made up of numerous races and religions.
only thinking about those fucking stickers. NY The Man Scribbles of Big G ’ve been in prison for almost 11 years now. feel. and wonder. I grew up in boys’ homes. their world becomes a mental one. Every time I am taken out of my cell. 23 hours a day. juvie halls. That’s all we do in these cells: think. You have to have 23 I . That day. It’s a lonely life and—in my professional opinion—when human beings are isolated like that. and all kinds of state juvenile facilities. I remember sitting in the car. I’m a dude from the ‘hood. TYC.T R U E S T O R I ES said that the elves made them just for me in Santa’s workshop. 24 Queens. reflect. my hands are handcuffed behind my back.). with life to go. Seg. dream. I’m in Administrative Segregation (Ad. Food is brought to me. I’m a dude who grew up in the early 90’s when gangbanging took America by storm. I loved those stickers and tried to avoid the temptation of using any of them because they were so special to me. not caring that there was no Santa. Did this mean that the elves never made them? Matthew Antzes. imagine. I had always imagined the little hands of the elves dressed in green and wearing red triangle hats making them on some assembly line. ponder. confined to a one-man cell.
I have no excuse or justification for what I did. run. I’ve seen with my own eyes dudes driven to madness back here. and no one gets hurt. In the end. It was a robbery gone bad. He said I’d have so many charges and restraining orders brought against me so fast that I wouldn’t know what hit me. watching the clerk close up shop. and everything went to shit from there. But I went into the store and there was not one clerk.100+ a strong mind to survive this type of living. Not only because I’ve ruined my own life. staking out the store from across the street. There were three. 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. and I got life in prison. the jury cited my young age—18 at the time—as the reason they did not sentence me to die. But my lawyer told me that was the stupidest thing I could do. I think now how naïve I was. I was alone. but also because I sincerely do regret the pain and suffering I caused that dude’s family as well. It is something that I truly am sorry for. It was by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I saw his point and I left things as they were. I’d done it a dozen times. I called my attorney and asked him if there was any way I could write a letter to the dude’s wife. I’m serving a life sentence for capital murder. Trust me. it came out in the paper that the victim’s family wanted me to die. There’s not a single day that passes that I don’t think about what I’ve done. 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. The next day. But to 24 .
and hoping and wishing that he is on a positive and successful path in his life. if you’re lucky. I’m looking around wondering if somebody’s gonna put a round through my skull. It’s a mess. Yeah. It looks like a spaghetti strainer. I mean. or maybe I’ll carelessly blow myself up. but I don’t realize I’m not moving or breathing 25 S . I think about that shit. it’s not going anywhere. Watch the crap. right. TX Pictures Don’t Lie Note: The following incident occurred in Northwestern Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. No way. “What’s up with this?” I’m holding my rifle in my hands like Dudley Doright. Holes everywhere. I’m thinking.S. o. Look at the car. you step on this crap and you’ll go home in pieces. all observant and such. but I don’t hunch down because I’m already hunched down and I don’t even realize it.T R U E S T O R I ES this day. Big holes. Army’s 89th Military Police Brigade. Look at the car… A giant BOOM shatters my eardrums every few minutes. I’m looking at this car. not benign crap. Gary Salinas Iowa Park. Crap is strewn everywhere. 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 keeping my pieces. Watch the crap. I’m not moving. in which the author served as part of the U.
I’m so transfixed to the point that I fall down again. I can’t tell if the pins are in those grenades. RPG rounds. Now.. hundreds of them. cars now. I kick and sling explosive everywhere. I don’t know—keeps firing somewhere.I. I’m holding my privates. How many days have I been awake? Damn. I didn’t even see this stuff. Good night. 26 . Some other explosive devices are packed in the sand. is my heart bleeding? I can’t hear myself breathing. and mines scatter everywhere. and I’m exhausted— “hallucination tired” is more like it. from messing my mind up further. I’m floating around in explosive crap wondering if this is it. I curse myself for being so stupid. One of the few sorry losers to get whacked in this war. but a thunderous BOOM and a thick rising mushroom cloud ahead sobers the buzz. I’m sick of this crap.100+ because an AK47—or maybe two. I’ve been three steps ahead all along. “Here lies Surefoot—the dumbass who kept stepping on explosives. I’m angry. right on the crap. grenades. hold privates.” or whatever you call it.” I thrash about like a drowning man wanting air. a custom I quickly acquired in the combat zone. I figured I’d hang on to something.A. with maybe a little inscription saying.P.—R. well. K. I’ve been so careful all of these months. this “Desert Storm.I. with holes in them all. or tunnel vision. Stupid! Stupid! So I fall again. but I don’t care. stop for one damn minute! I’m looking at the car. I’m waiting for the lights to go out. Whoever’s firing those damn things. Henceforth see potential to be blown up. I’m doing a Fred Astaire routine trying to stay upright.
I do. Who keeps doing that? Most of them are dead. right? The ones I see are fresh. again. too. Hello! Wake up already! But they don’t hear me. I wonder what they’re thinking right now. along with the gaping hole through the skull. It’s hard to tell. I don’t like the burned ones. Maybe they were sharing pictures of their kids. The pictures don’t lie. I’m rifling through this dead guy’s pockets for some ID and the photos pop out. swapping funny stories about little Abdul or Hakim. but like some sick voyeur. I don’t want to end up like him. then… I can’t concentrate with all those damn explosives rattling the ground. Or maybe they were talking about looking up an old girlfriend or something. No stench. maybe. It was fun for a minute. I didn’t trigger any of the explosive devices though knowing this means nothing. Damn. I know I’m not dead. 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. His ID card falls out. Is the pin in that grenade? I’ve got eight seconds. 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. unless they shortened the fuses. vehicles are everywhere. They were cruising northward leaving Kuwait talking about what they were gonna do with all the loot they stole. Is 27 . Unexploded cluster bombs are nasty. Did their entire army stop and dump every explosive device they had in their arsenal? Or maybe some of this crap is ours.T R U E S T O R I ES I’m afraid. I don’t want to look. They look like statues.
from that war. I want no part of it. hoping his son will return from down South. I can remember being herded onto the “Grey Gooses. We’ll have that in common. we will celebrate his bravery and good service—yes. One by one waist-chained. He’ll think of his son every day and cry. They’ll never know what happened to him. Maybe his father will stand outside each night watching.100+ Momma wringing her hands while Daddy reassures everyone Abdul will be home soon? His last letter is read again. Where’s the glory? Where’s the honor? This ain’t Hollywood out here.” as the prison transportation buses are commonly referred to throughout the California Penal System. McKenna Columbus. “Yes. Maybe his name will be inscribed on a wall somewhere in Baghdad. the Americans. we stepped 28 I . Maybe he’ll curse Saddam. we will celebrate. pictures don’t lie. and shackled. handcuffed. No. Mark D. If that’s heroism. The hero died with a scream on his lips. his son—maybe even himself.” they all say while I’m looking at this guy burnt crispy in places. GA Species of a Lesser God ndelibly etched in the canyons of memory. They’re unaware that I’m hunched over him thinking of them and his dead carcass. Probably not. They’ll never know me. that damn war.
As the bus roared angrily down Highway 101. tinted windows of the anonymous Grey Goose and as swiftly as the life I had led thus far. dismal chimes of shackles and chains broke me away from the melancholy spell I had fallen under. it seems ironic and rather sadistic that it was the “in your face” moments such as these that served as a reminder of the cynical path that fate had paved before me. There was an ominous silence that hung thickly in the air like a heavy dark cloud forecasting a vicious storm. mountains.T R U E S T O R I ES into the belly of the Grey Goose. the tranceinducing drone of the big diesel engine lulled me into reflections of my life. That same anxiousness was apparent in the cold. who would periodically bark out verbal threats simply to emphasize the inevitability of our plight. Memories that had soared past me like the scenery flying by outside the barred. and there followed the sudden realization that the world of oceans. It projected the coming of a tempest that would progressively descend upon my life. The restless. and landscapes would all soon be but a memory of another lifetime. In retrospect. 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 low drone of the bus’s engine anxiously hummed its readiness to transport our bodies to the godforsaken temple of doom. The heat inside the bus was as stifling as the tension that lingered in the surrounding atmosphere. indeed. 29 . apathetic stare of the armed transportation guards.
refuge can only be found through a dreamless state of slumber. There is a look in the SHU prisoner’s eyes that is haunting. the doctors decided that it was best for me to receive an injectable form of the medication I was taking. but no one dared speak of them. It’s a world of its own where. in some cases. boredom. I found that I was not alone in this realization.100+ Looking around me. the lunacy of a previous occupant. sealed off from everything and everyone. eyes that have looked far into the abyss of emptiness… eyes belonging to a species of a lesser God. a vacuum of uncertainty. a foreboding look from eyes that have themselves stared into the eyes of madness and human cruelty. Hector Gallegos Otisville. and. What awaited us at the Pelican Bay SHU with its eerily silent corridors was a purgatory of sorts. This is 30 M . While I was in there. a place where one is virtually entombed in a concrete vault with scarred and pitted walls depicting the idleness. NY Stripped of My Masculinity y mother put me in a mental hospital because she was going through a bad time. for most. for the other prisoners there seemed to be entertaining similar thoughts.
MA 31 .. but I had no luck. My girlfriend broke up with me on several occasions because I was completely impotent and feminine. 24 Lawrence. It pains me to think that some things are so temporary. I never would have known had I not felt it and had she not dropped the cover of the other secret needle. My relationship with my girlfriend has been nearly destroyed. who I think was conceived during those times when she broke up with me.T R U E S T O R I ES when the nurse did what she did. We used to have a very healthy relationship. I can’t go one day without hearing someone calling me gay. My eyes now have this weird feminine shape to them that I absolutely hate. and I have also developed small breasts from time to time. I felt two injections on my left butt cheek while lying on my stomach. Will Ferrara.. It was of a different color and size than the one she showed me. She has a son now. I have been sterile and stripped of my ability to have sex. She injected me with what I believe were female hormones. And this all happened from one day to the next! The experiences that I have gone through have changed my perception of gender and the fleeting sensation of love. I tried to have a child with my girlfriend. I hope that someday I can prove this happened and bring up criminal charges against the nurse. But this is not the bad part… Ever since then. I have tried to figure out what was in the needle that the nurse gave me.
Three years later. I was always sad.100+ Staying Sane n 1983. The few friends I had were less fortunate than 32 F . stole an airplane. I was at last transferred to Central Florida. Five years of high living and more than 100 banks later. Robert Hal Brame Coleman. flew to Florida. I was convicted of bank fraud and sent to a chain gang high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I always felt lonely. where I am today. They never really understood that there was something wrong. I grew up spoiled rotten. FL I Nobody’s Fault or as long as I can remember. My parents grew up in the days where depression just meant you were having a bad day. and where the connecting of words on paper was the only thing that kept me from connecting my neck to the ceiling by way of a knotted sheet. and began robbing banks. 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. but that made me feel worse. After 15 years there. I escaped.
I didn’t think there was anything wrong until my sophomore year in high school. and was put on progressively stronger medication. This made me feel good. Seeing how badly my relatives treated my family made the feelings of depression even worse. That was what made my mother and me realize what was going on. but it will be worth it to not ever have to hear my mom ask where she went wrong. and then my house caught on fire. I began realizing that my lack of self-esteem brought on from no one “liking” me was actually killing me. Momo. Lights come on. 16 Richmond. When I started middle school. and I am doing a lot more for myself. This year.T R U E S T O R I ES me. It’s going to be hard to get better. I had friends and a boyfriend. but only for a little while. I’m in a better relationship with a guy who says only good things about me. CA Hopelessness for the Homeless magine yourself standing on the street as the temperature drops. It wasn’t her fault. so I always tried to help them. 33 I . Cars speed by. I started therapy. but I was already highly unstable by then. or mine. but there was something missing. I was hospitalized for depression and several suicide attempts. Now. the only person in my life willing to get close to me moved away.
Once the feeling of hopelessness sets in. This is why. It’s cold. for one reason or another. God has been looking out for me. under the three strikes law. nothing to eat. many of whom are serving life sentences for petty crimes. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. I am still alive. most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. I have met a variety of people in prison. 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. you’re hungry. G.100+ homeward bound. many homeless people end up in jail. “Where am I going to sleep tonight?” So you walk. I have been fortunate. Homelessness is an insane situation from which many people try to escape through drinking and drugs. Those are the ones who “self-parole”: they commit suicide. CA My Rapist Walks Free ccording to statistics. 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. your feet hurt.T. You have nowhere to go.. nowhere to sleep.. You think to yourself. There is no doubt in my mind as to who my assailant was: it was 34 A . no one to call.
So Joe walks free. 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. Nonetheless. but to my horror and disgust it was Joe. and he will never see or speak to his brother again. I brought it upon myself. and my lawyer’s appeal was ignored. My husband and Joe came to blows again. My husband pulled the car over and dragged his brother out of the back seat. During the car ride home. Without warning. and the rest of the family awoke.” They didn’t find sperm because the act didn’t last more than a few seconds. his brother. my case was thrown out of court. I pushed him away and began screaming and crying. They say most 35 . I thought it was my husband. They beat each other bloody before Joe wandered off… That night. My husband and I filed a police report right away. he was sitting behind me and kept trying to grope me. I must have made the rape up to cover up an affair with my brother-in-law. I immediately told my husband and we left. I was the laughingstock of the local police station. I awoke to someone penetrating me from behind. We all had a few too many.T R U E S T O R I ES my husband’s brother. My husband. I must have asked to be raped. and I had gone to a bar to celebrate Independence Day. my husband’s relationship with his parents will never be the same. Joe wouldn’t stop bothering me. In their eyes. my brother-in-law (whom I will refer to as “Joe”) started rubbing my leg under the table. but nothing came of it due to “lack of physical evidence. just as my husband ran in from the bathroom.
But I didn’t even get the satisfaction of seeing my attacker behind bars. I keep getting turned down for parole. I was a good father and husband to the woman I lived with for eighteen years. IL Lifer am a 63-year-old lifer. while the victims get a life sentence. and I made it without becoming one of them. for all the good it’s doing me. When I got locked up.100+ rapists get a few years in prison. drug dealer. Men ask me. My first eight years in prison were rocky. I just took the money and ran. I believe the Parole Board has traded rehabilitation for warehousing human beings. I’ve been a model inmate. she dumped me like yesterday’s tuna fish. I have always been respectful to the guards and staff. and for the past 10 years. I love to write books and short stories. Zephyr Chicago. you almost have to be a bank robber. or crooked politician. “At your age how do you cope with all the time you have left and still be happy?” How do I cope? By writing. I have been incarcerated eighteen years for several bank robberies with a plastic toy gun. No one was hurt or kidnapped. It is an escape from the darkness in my life that 36 I . We had six kids—with so many kids. but I am always in a good mood. trying to survive among savage men.
I love writing. sadness. When I’m writing. and us three kids. and my characters can go places and do things I can’t. I turned fourteen. the car. but I’d let you slap me around for a home-cooked meal. and my innermost thoughts and desires. laughter. Writing is like having an affair. tears. 63 Burkeville. But I was soon to learn how things can abruptly change for the worse. which are locked away deep inside me only to be shared with those who are worthy. my parents became legally separated. My world was governed by my mother and financed by my father. compassion. VA One Bad Decision n July 8. Fiction is fun and non-fiction at times makes my eyes tear up. At fourteen.T R U E S T O R I ES otherwise would haunt me from one day to the next. flavors that today I’d die for—well. I share love. they are good people with good hearts. My characters have adventures and walk on the razor’s edge of danger. They even rob banks and find redemption! My characters have a piece of me inside of them. but all’s well in the end. 1982. like taste good food. George Hughes. but I put the truth out there for all to read. Mom got a new apartment. And it all transpired in 37 O . That summer. I knew almost nothing about the “real” world. anger. not die.
sprinting as fast as possible. placing my old pair on the shelf as if it were the normal thing to do. I was a gang member and quite a prolific thief. only 5 minutes from our apartment complex. looking down at my new wet shoes. Once inside. running as fast as my legs would carry me to the nearest clothing store. I burst through the front door. By fifteen. not enough to panic. Once outside. Within six months I was using drugs regularly. I took off like a bat out of hell. I burst into our apartment and went straight to my bedroom. And by the age of eighteen. sister. I calmly picked out two pairs of pants and three new shirts. and me. My friends would have surely made fun of me. picked out a pair.100+ less than an hour. but here it was. My mother’s silence told me that I would have to fend for myself. So I decided to steal. and inexplicably. I wasn’t too concerned. “Mom. I was wondering about new school clothes for my brother. I was in State Prison. Like an NFL running back. I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school in clothes too small and shoes with holes. and put them on. Then I put on all three new shirts. No one spoke to me as I sat on my bed. the last day of summer and tomorrow would be the first day of school. at fourteen. where are my new school clothes?” I saw the quick wince upon her face. But as I stare at the ceiling of my 38 . something came over me that propelled me into decisive action. I went over to the shoe department. I went inside the dressing room and put on both pairs of pants under the old pair I already had on. On the very last day of summer. In 1982.
T R U E S T O R I ES prison cell. I am now facing two Felony 5 charges. punishable by up to 12 months in a state penitentiary. Obviously shocked. Six days later. I asked why I was being arrested. When I was finished with him. 18 Mowrystown. 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. This was by far the worst week of my life! Kurt Yochum. I was sent to jail for about 7 hours before being bailed out. I would have gone to school in those old clothes with gratitude for all the things I did have! Malachi Ephraim Florence. OH 39 I . they said. I was in my bank depositing a check when two detectives grabbed my shoulder and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I walked around the corner to find guns pointed at my chest by several police officers. I only have one wish: I wish that I could go back to that summer. To my complete surprise. “For stealing other people’s money!” So I spent another 7 to 8 hours in jail.
I killed someone. At nineteen. There is nothing to compare it to other than death. 40 N . I was ready to be judged and convicted. and lack of feelings. fights. The judge gave me life without parole. my mom and dad came to visit me. It was good to see them together. I could not see from the way my dad treated my mother. mind. and soul. and when one falls. with a common goal. I never lost sight of this truth: we were family. I could see in my parents’ eyes that one of their own had fallen. you better pray!” And I did pray that night and for many nights after. I could not feel the unity through the beatings. From then on. I felt that what I did was wrong. but the fact is I did. the others are there to pick him up. My mom’s eyes held a million words. During my trial. one cannot grasp the depth of a life sentence. Perhaps it was the first time I had really looked at my parents. In the depths of my heart and soul. ignorance. how he cared for her. Incarceration brought the fact that my parents truly did want the best for me into full bloom in my heart. hitting and abusing her.100+ I Am a Murderer ot long after graduation. though he never loved her. My dad said one of the longest sentences I’d ever heard him speak: “Boy. I did not set out to kill anyone that night. and mean words. Before. I could not see the family unity due to my own uselessness. It was certainly the first time I recognized that no one could get me out of the trouble I was in now. in the same room. I deserved to do some time and make amends.
I was naïve. I’m getting older. but my will to survive took over. Money never used to be an issue. and I’m not sure I remember how to make them. I came from the desert. Silence and dead-eyed frowns kept the strangers and guards at bay. Besides. Spoon Jackson. what cause was there for smiles or laughter? I had killed someone. I learned quickly to keep my laughter. and my thoughts—my negative thoughts—are my only company… My only saving grace is that I write every night 41 A . fleeting hope. but I take no initiative to start the process. but they all have lives. and feelings inside and hidden behind a mask. I imagined doing what I loved for the rest of my life. smiles. My coworkers are the closest things I have to friends. I have no friends in this new city. but now everything seems tight. CA A Step in the Right Direction fter finishing school. but I see only the negative things. 50 Represa. the natural world—purple and red clay mountains and open spaces—and there was nothing natural about cells. I need to budget. Now I’m working in my field and being presented with opportunities all the time. and violent unrest.T R U E S T O R I ES I was ignorant to the prison way of life. Even the air was tainted and twisted with unreality.
I even see things in a more positive light now. but moving slowly in the right direction. a dead father. CANADA Freedom From Addiction began cutting myself as a teenager. this is as close as it gets to opening up to another person. mixed with big dreams of happiness. and abominable sexual thoughts about other boys my age. my pen is capturing everything. go into a small. I’ve become more expressive and understanding of myself. the only escape that I found was with a knife. Idris Samuel. For someone like me. All of those negative ideas. inconspicuous notebook. I’ve still been able to grow as a person. Now that I can look back at my thoughts. I’m calmer and have more patience with what life throws at me. I’m not stuck in one place. brought up in me. My adolescent rebellion was against the unwanted emotions that a broken home. 42 I . Ontario. Depression and confusion drove me into despondency. It’s a therapeutic process that requires only my presence and my honest opinions.100+ before I go to bed. I see that in spite of my depression. As I’m finishing one thought and moving into another. 27 Toronto. In the few months that I’ve been writing. My self-mutilation continued until the age of 18 when I was convicted of my first felony.
As I look back on the role that the drug played. it merely put them on hold. While on probation in 1995.T R U E S T O R I ES The depression. Paxil had not solved any of the key issues. a need for the chemicals in the formula. It had become a habit. How else would severe withdrawal reactions be explained every time I forgot to take my pills? These reactions included nausea. light-headedness. I found escape by using a pair of fingernail clippers to pierce my skin and draw blood. new problems arose. Within weeks of beginning the daily Paxil regimen. continued to build like a pressure cooker without a release valve. I was finally forced to deal with the underlying causes of my depression. it became a hindrance when I was 43 . I was offered the opportunity to take part in a study to test the effectiveness of the antidepressant Paxil on criminals like me. I was noticeably less gloomy and despondent. All the signs of substance abuse seemed to be present. I see much to be alarmed at and thankful for. other unanticipated problems began to arise… My body seemed to develop a dependency. But then. I am free of Paxil for the first time in ten years. While in prison. A drug that was meant to be a stopgap emergency measure had become a lifestyle. never directly addressed. I began requesting increases in my dosage several times in the first year. and a strobe-like effect on my optical nerve. Although Paxil was beneficial when my mental and emotional life was in turmoil. Due to the emotional drain of prison life. While incarcerated. This medication was to help me in the areas of depression and obsessive-compulsive thinking.
And the present is where I have to live. but I never thought it would result in depression. I’ve always had low self-esteem. The tendencies towards depression and obsessive compulsive thinking remain. I am only 13 and have tried many different medications. but my reaction to them is not the same. I am a different person. I just want to tell everyone who is struggling with this illness that no matter what anyone says.100+ stable. The masochistic teenager and the self-destructive twentyyear-old are behind me. J. it’s too short and too precious. Anonymous. It has been hard… It all started with bullying. Wantz Salem. Think about who really loves you. Now the reality I face is my own life. this is an illness like the flu and like the flu it will pass.E. I have met a lot of different and special people along my journey. unaided or suppressed by a chemical inhibitor. Although the future is less than rosy to look at. much clearer. 13 44 I . and once it does. OR This Too Shall Pass struggle with depression. Never waste life. the present is much. you will be twice as strong.
51 Corcoran. community centers. and pornography. in the hope of finding my way behind these walls. The son of a research chemist. 45 G .T R U E S T O R I ES Hope In the Written Word was born Baby Boy Nickel on June 16. Finding hope again in my faith as a Catholic. CA I Poetical Muralism rowing up in the aftermath of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. I began to start to feel differently about myself. I ended up in prison for life. After getting sober in 2001. 1958 in Elgin. Thomas Michael Fox. cultural arts centers. alcohol. through my job in the Education Department here in my prison. I have turned my attention back to God. By writing about my experiences I hope to help other avoid the pitfalls of drugs. Illinois. Now I try. Turning to drugs and alcohol in early childhood to try and deal with an assortment of problems. I moved to California with my family in 1966 at the age of eight. my generation and I were the beneficiaries of an abundance of free Chicano health clinics. to help others get their GED and High School Diploma. writing helped.
It was the powerful poeticism of Chicano writers like Luis Valdez that influenced me to finally withdraw from gang life. prison scenes. my school sponsored an art contest. at the age of 17. I won! I stood before the whole school and accepted my award to great applause. many of whom had already embarked upon promising careers as graffiti artists around the barrio. I remember thinking that there was no way my drawing could stand up next to the work of some of the 11. When I was in second grade. it was poetry that saw me through those formative years 46 . All students from grades K through six were to submit an 8 x 10 freehand drawing with an anti-drug message. The winner’s drawing would become a full-scale color mural on school’s north wall. migrant workers. Then. my name was called. written on the walls in blood and sacrifice. would influence me to take up drawing at an early age. Mexican revolutionaries. and just as I was preparing to clap for the winner. the entire school was assembled in the gym—our impoverished school couldn’t afford an auditorium. The second and third place runners-up were announced.100+ youth programs. vatos locos. in the most unlikely of places—prison—I began to write poetry. These were giant murals covering large walls in brilliant colors with low-rider cars. and indigenous themes. On the day the winner was to be announced. and hundreds of murals depicting scenes of the Mexican experience.and 12-year-olds. I knew my first artistic triumph at the age of eight. such as pyramids and Aztec warriors. hardcore Chicano spoken word poetry that resonated with reality and the rhythm of resistance. This history.
it was slight-of-hand magic at its most 47 I . Securing the tools. WI Escape from Maximum-Security t took six months to inconspicuously saw through the thick gauge wire of the one-man recreation cage. a freehand artist second. a hacksaw blade. Octavio with Orozco. Once the day was decided and the final cuts were made. The guard was two feet in front of me. my muralist roots have not been forsaken—as I write. placing a cholo next to a Chichimeca chieftain. uniting Diego Rivera with Carlos Fuentes. camouflage the cut marks. creating in and of itself a fresh juxtaposition. watching every move during a strip search. I fuse images using words. and sixty feet of rope to the roof. a new tradition: poetical muralism.T R U E S T O R I ES and in the end. and obtaining the other articles took time. metaphors. it was poetry that would emerge as my redemption. there was no turning back. cash. manufacturing the rope. and ultimately smuggle street clothes. and crazy juxtapositions. Siquierod with Cisneros. José Boner Boscobel. Getting the gear up to the roof was a heady experience in itself. Hiding the stuff was even more difficult. I consider myself first a poet. I had to get in the same cage. Today. And yet.
In a few minutes. every muscle was taut.100+ primitive. There was no time for hesitation. It was going according to plan 48 . D-day. I slipped through onto the fencing and peered over the side. The cross meshing of the cages created an optical illusion from the guard’s station. already packed with the gear. I hoped that the noise from huge air conditioner units on top of the roof would cover the commotion. Two minutes more and I was through the regular gauge fencing that covers the roof. my arms were screaming. I was balls-to-the-wall. Two hundred general population inmates were cordoned off from the highpower cages. 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. and I could hear everything yet I blocked extraneous distractions out. I was going. but they could see every move I made. I could see everything. but the meshing distorted clear vision. and I was sweating a puddle. doubt. I just hoped the weight of the rope didn’t pull my pants down. I was through and bent back the bars. crawled out of the cage and shimmied up the side to the top. It appeared that he could see into the cages down the row of ten. I had to go on faith that they’d keep their mouths shut and quit staring. or nerves. full-tilt sawing on those bars like a wolf gnawing off its own leg to get free from a trap. The cage was shaking and rattling. I slung the rope over my shoulder. After the search I simply baited and switched to a different pair of pants.
the exhilaration of the execution of such an impossible plan. I was lying on the rooftop. Yet. with nothing but open sky above and a sixty-foot drop. I should have made gloves. no matter where you are… to drink in life in huge cupfuls. I attempted to crawl away. But that feeling of open air on my skin. The last-minute frenzy of sawing had left ointment residue on my hands and my muscles fatigued.T R U E S T O R I ES mostly. so close to perfection… incomprehensibly satisfying. from regret and anxiety. I know from consequential. I know I’ve never been freer. D. I’d escaped. but now I would to fall to my death. needed more knots… whatever the problem. The rope burned through my fingers. free from fear. There’s no greater freedom than the freeing of one’s mind from the restraint of selfimposed limits. CA 49 . Free to discover untapped potential and develop absolute belief in oneself and apply that to all aspects of life. cages. Almost immediately I began slipping on the rope… then sliding uncontrollably. My freedom had lasted only a few moments. I secured the rope on a previously located drainpipe and slid over the side. yet it was eerily bizarre and surreal. it was too late for solutions. through what I’ve gained and learned since. guards. deeper introspections that my physical freedom was not meant to be that day. from doubt. but couldn’t move. outside the confines of the jail. It was too thin. Babb Corcoran.
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. but I just feared the thought of someone else reaping the benefits of his sobriety. I felt that if I were to forgo my “investment. The second incident occurred when we drove to a Chinese restaurant. which never came.U. But nothing could get him to stop drinking: not multiple D. One time. nothing. Two outrageous incidents stick out in my mind. He attempted to shut off the ignition. but the key was jammed.I. There was no wake-up call.s. no matter what. My boyfriend insisted on entering the restaurant and getting even more intoxicated on Mai Tais. not getting pancreatitis. I was finally forced to give up on him and 50 W . I didn’t realize that he was drunk when I got into the car with him. it was too late. Alcohol would always come first.” all the months I had devoted to making him a better person would have been in vain. he was driving intoxicated with me in the passenger seat. I thought I loved him. not losing his license. He pulled up in front of a house with an enormous front lawn and proceeded to urinate on it in broad daylight. and by the time I did. Why did I stay with him? I saw the relationship as an investment. By the time we exited the restaurant the car had overheated. he just kept hitting rock bottom. I didn’t leave him because I thought I could “fix” him.100+ I Thought I Could Fix Him e were only 3 weeks into the relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was an alcoholic.
Crimes were what thieves. and sexual predators committed. 23 Hollywood. Unfortunately. a man with a past. thugs. Adela Tedesco. to a college-educated writer and businessman once I calmed down. I just happened to sell drugs as an added economic bonus that brought with it an incredibly expensive tax: my life. who in the present. simply liked the quick. To me. drugs were simply a hustle. I received the mandatory term of 25 years to life in prison per California’s ultra-harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing law. Facing a life sentence for a minor drug crime has made me mad rather than sad. For a so-called civilized society to funnel astronomical 51 I . the heartless drug-war zealots didn’t share my enthusiasm. not a crime.T R U E S T O R I ES never look back. I went from an absolutely fearless thug in my insane youth. After having been found guilty by a jury for a felony drug charge. that was for sure. free dope. In my 33 years. I had seen and done a lot. I had lived an interesting life. victimless cash. CA A Three-Strikes Sojourn liked the easy money. I was a nefarious entrepreneur at worst. Leaving him was the best decision I ever made. and loose women associated with the illegal drug trade.
While I’m no angel. tough-on-crime allies of law enforcement and prison industrialism. I participated in the discourse. I’m surely not the devil. at the university. I argued it at every level: in the media. at stake: my entire life.” There are the pro-drug war. CA 52 . and a very limited and powerless group of left-leaning liberaltypes who disagree with the 30-year drug war. the criminal justice system’s status quo is skewed. Then there are those of us. either. Ever since “Three Strikes” entered the national arena of debate ten years ago. but it should never be used to guard one from oneself. for all practical purposes.100+ numbers of people through this for a nonviolent offense is a crime against humanity. Despite my rebellious attitude and anarchist’s disdain for the nation’s drug laws. our families. and with whoever. at this fateful juncture of my life. It helps those unable to defend themselves. things are different. who believe that maintaining the status quo is an absolute necessity. the entire world of academia. I understand the necessity for law and order. this time. Now. Bring it on! Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. There are two primary schools of thought on “Three Strikes. as an activist. It doesn’t matter what philosophical spin warmongers place on it. Anyone who advocates overly harsh methodologies in order to maintain the status quo is simply part of the problem. Yet. it protects the innocent. I’m arguing against it one more time. not the solution.
until it took over my whole being. I started shooting heroin at age 16 when I was in reform school. Lance Corson. 24 Little Compton. and nothing good ever comes of them. that nothing will ever happen to them. So many people believe that they are invincible. However. I was floating in the air on a magic carpet. no matter how much “education” people receive regarding the effects of drugs. my stomach and chest.T R U E S T O R I ES There Are Consequences rugs are evil. RI D Withdrawal ne thing a drug addict never does is set out to become one. We as human beings are inevitably curious and many feel the need to try dangerous things. What a wonderful place the world would be without alcohol and drugs! If only humans weren’t addiction-prone. there are new users every day. They destroy lives. One of the guards supplied it. coming up my legs. I felt it starting at my feet. riding through space in 53 O . even though they know that there are great risks. I could feel the heroin rush when I shot it into my vein. There are always consequences. but so many of us tend to forget or ignore that.
my back to the wall. There were monsters with long tails down there. My muscles 54 . My stomach was cramping. across my stomach. The delirium made me crazy at times and I saw all sorts of things that were never there. falling. I needed a fix. I was hurting! Hurting! Hurting! The center of the floor began to crumble away like wet cardboard and flames shot up beneath it.100+ the dead of darkness. It was cold and I was walking through heavy snow with no shoes. head bowed forward and my arms tucked under my legs. I walked around with my arms in front of me. The floor closed up as I hit it. I was freezing and sweating snowflakes. My body was curled. I was freezing all over. The fire didn’t seem to hurt them as the floor fell away. The sweat came and turned hot and burned my skin. My body trembled as a battle inside took place for hours on end. I began to shake all over. The physical withdrawal symptoms were killing me. The snow was up to my knees and I could hardly move my legs. holding on to my elbows. gritting their teeth. The planets were caressing each other and pairing off like a love song. legs bent and drawn towards my chest. Then I nodded off. my heart pounded violently. only inches left to stand on. The hurt was like someone hammering inside me. falling. dying for a fix. peaceful-like… When I came down from the high. My muscles tightened up and split open in the centers. I was terrified! I found myself falling. bad. and I could feel the cramps coming. I stood in the corner. For a time I was the thief on the cross next to Jesus. I lay in my own defecation and urine and ate nothing.
Mom grabbed a frying pan. not shoveling the sidewalk right. She beat me mercilessly over the smallest things. lie. But I wasn’t. “No more. One day. playing too loudly. You will not beat me anymore!” My mother’s face turned white as the snow outside. My mother passed away on October 2nd. “Get out of my house. God and I both love you. 66 Burkeville. 2002.” Now 55 . If I were on the street.000 other small. George Hughes. and 10. steal. wetting the bed. I could have done what other addicts did: cheat. and sell anything and everything. She opened the back door and said. Mother. VA My Regret My mother was mean as hell with sadistic tendencies. such as stealing a slice of bread or a cookie to feed an empty stomach. not cleaning the dishes right. There was no fix at hand.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. not scrubbing the floors right. got down on the floor and beat me with it. My biggest regret in life is that I never said to my mother “I forgive you. and grabbed a wooden broom and told Mom. jumped out. including their own souls. 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. I kicked at her. petty reasons. to get a fix.
Melvin William Joseph Vogt. I love and forgive her and I pray she is at last at peace with herself or her demons or whatever tormented her life. I don’t hate my mom.100+ I can never say it to her. TX 56 . I don’t hold hard feelings toward her. I don’t dislike her. 67 Amarillo.
Sex & Seduction .
and fulfillment after the first time. an orgasm.T R U E S T O R I ES First-Time Fizzle had so many expectations about my first sexual experience. We should tell our youth that it’s pleasure for the man instantly. 45 Montreal. and that you should be with a person who’s ready to play and revel in discovering your pleasure points. Stamina? For the poor guy it was his first time as well. it will occur over time. They believe doing it for the status and temporary affections of guys will make things better. What I thought and felt afterwards was plain and simple: disappointment. This is what occurs at 18. CANADA I Do It For You any girls my age are sexually active for the wrong reasons. Québec. when you’ve read one too many Harlequin romances and Danielle Steele novels. He will have one—great for him— yet as a woman. Reading too many novels as a teen led me to expect fireworks. you’re left feeling empty and with many insecurities. I 59 M . 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. But for the young woman. Terri Giosia.
16 Richmond. that even though it’s your first time. Now. who are ready to lose their virginity. We decided we were ready. despite the fact that we think we do not look alike. It’s experiences like this that I’ll never forget because I never did it for my partner.100+ beg to differ. I always tell my friends. Do it because you want to. I will spare 60 I . not because he wants to. and one day when my parents were out to dinner. sex can be just as good for girls as it can be for guys. I became completely infatuated with my boyfriend of several months. Don’t be scared. Oral sex is definitely one of my favorite things to give and receive. we had sex. it won’t be your last. At the beginning of high school. We have known each other since before we can remember. we can go for months without talking but somehow still know what is going on in each other’s lives. I think it has to do with my very giving nature. I did it for me. When we were little. The most romantic place I’ve ever had sex was in a gorgeous park under a big beautiful tree and the stars. people would assume we were twins. If you know your body. Momo. CA A Special Bond always knew I was very connected to my best friend.
Few best friends can boast such a special closeness. squealing. we blurted out that we had just had sex with our boyfriends. interesting story to tell. Later in the evening. and we locked ourselves in.T R U E S T O R I ES all of the unremarkable details for interest’s sake. AK. we said. at a “well-supervised” party. or maybe she dragged me into the bathroom. It was unbelievable that we had lost our virginity within an hour of each other. but we still laugh about this particularly strange connection. and crying ensued. But I dread going to one of the tetraplegics because he is quite mean. I grabbed her. along with a whole range of teenage displays of emotion that are now lost to me. 25 MA A Man Can Always Dream work as a caregiver for the seriously injured. anyway. “I have to tell you something!” Both thinking we had the more important. Things have happened since that also show we are alike in personality and make similar choices. We had even both brought the used condoms to the party to throw away so as not to risk our parents finding them. I ran into my best friend. Almost at the same time. that is not what is important. he wields 61 I . Obviously laughter. Even though he is flat on his back and can only move his head and one forearm.
the first rule before engaging in anything is being self62 T . He believes he still has what it takes to seduce women. and seduce with desire… Just the words alone conjure images in our minds. 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. AUSTRALIA But a Glance Away o entice. He basks in their attention. but girly mags are his main source of info. even though he has no feeling from the neck down. and showering and grooming him. Christie. feeding him like a baby. 54 Sydney. however. rubbing his feet and back. However. or backstabbing us to our bosses. turning him over. tempt. if the woman is appealing enough. it’s like having a little harem. 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. NSW. This way he can be surrounded by a bevy of nice-looking women around the clock who tend to his every need. 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. changing his urine bag. being sarcastic.100+ considerable power by yelling.
this type of seduction is an illusion. That is. Once that is accomplished.T R U E S T O R I ES confident. 45 Montreal. seriousness had ensnarled my frolicsome streak when I looked straight into his eyes for the third time. the golden rule for seduction. a smile. you will be a living magnet when you couple that with charisma. which lowers one’s inhibitions and makes one able to seduce with greater ease. It is not real. That je ne sais quoi quality is powerful and attainable if you so want to achieve it! Your confidence. ability to build rapport is all tied in with your charisma. it’s possible to seduce anyone. unless a lot of alcohol is involved. one cannot seduce. CANADA Sexual Fantasy t was all fun and games until all of a sudden. smile. Québec. However. His hand rested on my forearm. 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. his complete awareness of 63 I . With a glance. beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is stating the obvious. and the ability to seduce anyone you desire is but a glance away! Terri Giosia. a look. we realize that the vodka gave us the courage and confidence that’s lacking within us. Without confidence. body language. as upon sobering up.
his curiosity crept under my sleeve until it became acquainted with my shoulder. As my collarbone waited in anticipation. and he licked them off with meticulous care as he rested his wearied body on mine. I wanted to wrap my legs around his waist and ask him to lay his head on my chest to caress his hair. but my anticipation was no longer tender. 27 Santiago. A few tears had expressed their desire to accompany me. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 64 . and revere his affections which lit up his eyes. his lips fell on my hips. but something about the occasion made me want to go slowly: soul-kiss the hopes and dreams on his forehead. but my pretensions made no difference to them. I pleaded with them not to show up. they streamed down my face and wetted my Love’s. True to their word. My ways were haphazard. Never had a burden been more welcome. they only found solace when we smiled at each other. Windoftheclyde. Our bed sheets were wrinkled and hardly a light shone through our window. which disoriented whatever strategy I had conceived to stay sane. In a shadowy whisper. squeeze the life out of the fears that tormented his breast.100+ how his fingers embroidered a million brooks on my skin disembogued in my heart and described the lines of my arms. for they would make me look like a weakling. I had never wanted to dissolve into a man’s body so much. Not an iota of his desire did I wish to leave unsatisfied. Always the seeker. I felt his back tensing against my hands. On the brink of a thrust. he breathed my name.
Small Miracles .
It’s merely that while I’m in prison. I need rest and time to unwind from the toil of the day and the madness of the “beast. I never know what thoughts will surface when the cell door shuts. in the darkness. but it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten. 67 T . I should hate the cell. I am human. I’m locked in. Even though I temporarily live in a cage like an animal. With a twist of a key. even the most brutal gangster prisoner sheds his macho mask to purge pent up tears. At times. I know I have to be locked in. I even welcome the closing of the door. I experience a feeling of safety and comfort even if my perceived comfort is a self-induced illusion.” Out there. but once inside my cell. I know that no one can get in without the key. and often after a long day. therefore I realize I’m relatively safe within the confines of my cell. I do my deepest thinking there. but for now it’s the place where I rest my head. The clanging door feeds my ears an all too familiar sound. I cry in the cell where no one can see me. As a person. amongst the prison population. nothing out of the ordinary pops into a prisoner’s head. Late at night. It becomes routine. I’m on guard seven days a week.T R U E S T O R I ES When the Cell Door Closes he cell door shuts with a bang that echoes throughout my shoebox of a cell. I can’t deny the fact that the cell is my pad. I’m in my inmate cage for yet another solitude-filled night. In no way do I confuse welcoming the closing of the door with actually liking the cell. rather familiar.
I’m alone. When compared to the day’s inevitable racket. despair. Ironically. and loneliness. The cell is my castle until I reach home. While all these feelings and images are a part of a prisoner’s life. a melody of pleasant proportions. It never is truly quiet here. but new doors open for me in the form of my thoughts and imagination. and there is always the reverberating sound of something mechanical in the distance. a man in a prison cell calls forth an image of gloom. these sounds are tranquil. The cell is a hellhole. yet. and I write my loved ones there. but I’m in good company. I don’t hear anyone talking. The cell door is now closed. I can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. It’s no picnic sleeping two feet from where I relieve my bowels. the cell is a paradox because in reality. The swarming troops of roaches are unwelcome houseguests. read a book. it’s the very place I would hope to escape from. To the outside observer. The walls seem to hum. my cell is one of my best “buddies” in prison. There is always some noise filling the air and permeating my ears. listen to the radio.100+ I pray in the cell. but it’s also a think tank and entertainment center. To be honest. The cage is itsy-bitsy small for my six-feet-fourinch frame. I have not experienced silence in years. the cell becomes the oasis that allows me to temporarily “pseudo-escape. Nighttime has melted onto Sing Sing’s perpetual grey existence. When the cell door shuts. Those pillars of crisscrossed iron are not aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. or write a letter to my family or a friend.” When I sleep here I can dream myself anywhere. while here in prison. they don’t necessarily latch onto the prisoner like 68 .
Black horizontal lines formed across it slowly. I know they were angels because they looked very ethereal. and went to bed alone at about 11 o’clock. One touched my shoulder and without speaking said. I truly thank God for blessing me in spite of the wretched conditions of incarceration that have befallen me. and have the power to choose. I’m human: I feel.” after which I slid out of my physical body into my etheric double and into the round cavity.T R U E S T O R I ES barnacles to a ship. I also laugh. think. NY Visited by Angels arrived in Cairo at about 7:30 p. bleed. though their faces were human-looking. in it were four angels. cry. 69 I . They looked invincible. Michael McLean Beacon. and my heart is susceptible to pain and sadness. I ultimately decide to give power to despair. we have been there before. In a small. “Let us show you the way. thinking about what sights to see the next day when suddenly. showing another dimension. What will tomorrow bring? I’m not sure. 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.m. a sphere formed at the end of the bed. I’ve decided not to play along with these rancid feelings. love. and I was filled with awe. I was lying in the dark.
guarded from dark forces. At that instant. I’m going to get hit!” It happened so fast. Auckland. This was a kingdom on a large sun. I felt safe and secure when I came back in the morning. “Oh no. knowing order reigned in the next world. with no known entry point from the rest of the universe. there really wasn’t any time to react.000 people into an inner chamber where I met Jesus. I saw a van coming straight towards me. I felt my foot being pushed to the pedal. NEW ZEALAND Someone Saved My Life was driving along. Misty. I remembered being in a fancy hall walking up an aisle with my twin soul past a crowd of about 5. I lived in a house for what seemed like years.100+ white. and I came to an intersection where the car in front of me was stopped. circular spaceship. I learned about Jesus ruling the universe and what roles others had as administrators. 54 North Shore City. I proceeded to go around the car when all of a sudden. which sped my car up and brought me up onto the curb. but time operates differently there. obviously attempting to make a left turn in front of me. 70 I . waiting to make a left turn. I went through a wormhole to the center of the universe and Jesus’ Kingdom. I thought to myself.
but I was in such a fog that I sent him off. a brand new box of pills.T R U E S T O R I ES avoiding what I thought was an inevitable crash. “Wow. and in the hand-warmer pocket. I considered the importance of what I was doing. This wasn’t a selfish act—it needed doing before 71 W . I have no doubt that there are forces beyond our realm. what just happened?” Anyone in that situation. there was a pint of blackberry brandy. MA The Day I Died here we are born is an identifier we carry with us all our lives. Angels—or whatever you want to call them—are real and are here to help us! Cynthia Barchard. The driver of the van got out and came over to me and said. not to mention step on the gas! I knew at that moment that something or someone had just helped me. Hey. It was a very surreal experience. In the breast pocket of my jacket. It is important to find the right place for an ending. including me. Ever since that day. I chose Mount Sanitos. you are a really good driver by the way!” He offered to pay for my damaged tire. Where we die should be no less important. would not even have had time to put his or her foot on the break. 38 Methuen. I sat there thinking to myself. “Sorry about that. As I popped a ‘Z’ pill.
no one was looking for me. I placed them all on my tongue and worked the rest of the brandy down my throat. like someone hit the reset on my brain. There were shapes of people around. Necessary and common. my hand slipped and I fell. passing on “he’s here” to each new arrival. It was still night. The guardians stayed with me until dawn. I panicked. As I reached onto a flat-topped rock beside me. things were… strange. but they sensed me there. there was no reason to make a big deal out of it. and rescuers would be a lot more excited. I’d spent the afternoon riding my mountain bike around town. then a shift. “He’s here. hoping he found the note I left with the registration slip. There was a flash of light. The others—I’ll call them guardians—crowded around. I couldn’t get away because my ankle was jammed in a crevice and possibly broken. I was now staggering to clamber over slick limestone. until I realized no one was reading me my rights. On the far side of my fall. I managed to pull my foot loose by abandoning the boot with a loud yelp. Four pills left. I finally reached the top. When the east finally began to warm. thinking it could be the police. dropping off my recycling. For a moment.100+ someone else got hurt. I must have blacked out. One spotted me wedged between two rocks and calmly declared. closing my bank accounts. and I had no idea where the trail 72 . I cowered. The guardians were gone. and dropping off my car at a friend’s house.” I was sure this was some kind of vision. Blood was caked on my forehead. My arm wouldn’t take any weight either.
and then dragged myself towards it. it got so bad that I became depressed. I also know that I’m never alone. Three days later. Everything after that has been pure profit. as I did. When I got up in front of the cabin. I was making sandwiches. I realized it was just a stone. hitting me on the left ankle. I crawled around until I saw a stone cabin. Then a second piece of bread fell.T R U E S T O R I ES was. I stooped down gingerly to pick up the two pieces 73 D . so I called out for Jesus to come and comfort me. so I continued making the sandwiches. At one point. I had never done that before. Clumsy me! I did not stoop to pick it up because I had sprained my back severely. That was my break-even point. I was living alone. Zachary Redfearne Canon City. I think of myself as having happily died that night. and it’s doable. a piece of bread fell to the kitchen floor. I’ve been to zero. but I had never been depressed before either. CO We Are Not Alone uring the mid-‘90s. Then I saw the trail a little to my right. Despite the obvious hallucination theories. I slid myself right over the middle of it and the first person to come along was a doctor on his day off. I’m free to do whatever good I can without worrying about what I get. It was the first time I had ever lived alone.
When I returned to the kitchen. I never thought that I would ever see Valentine’s Day the same way again.100+ of bread. whether we see Him or not. but I dismissed it and went into the other room. “I am the bread of life. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. so we should not be depressed. Byron LeBeau NY Everything Happens for a Reason think that Marilyn Monroe said it best: “I believe everything happens for a reason.” Two years ago. Needless to say. Three months later. I knew that it would be a constant reminder of what happened. we got pregnant again. I suddenly spied the second piece of bread right in front of me! I did not know what to think. I was very puzzled. the day before Valentine’s Day. Then we had ourselves a little miracle. That’s when it dawned on me that Jesus once said.” 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. He is still there. Our little (well 74 I . but there was only one piece on the floor. Jesus is always with us. we found out that we lost a baby to a miscarriage.
30 Martinsburg. I did not waste it on the bland mush. WV A Taste of Honey honey. My little Marshall turned one year old exactly one month ago today. almost exactly 1 year after we lost our baby. If he had come 13 minutes earlier.T R U E S T O R I ES not so little) Marshall Thomas was born the day after Valentine’s Day. It was a good partnership. he would have been born on Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that so amazing? Now we associate Valentine’s Day with his birthday. When they shoved a tray of mush under the door one morning. But this event puts it into a whole different light. And he is our own personal little miracle. There in my hand that morning was a wee package of liquid gold. I gingerly placed one drop on my forefinger and 75 It had been a long time since I had seen or tasted . I used to help with the harvesting every autumn. but left the bees plenty for the winter. I looked at the clear plastic package on my tray like Midas looked at a solid gold bar. Don’t get me wrong. we will always think about the baby that we lost. Kelly. We gathered enough honey from one harvest to last us the whole year. My grandfather and father had many honeybee hives.
knowing that a cup of hot tea will taste better with this heavenly sweetener. 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. A deluge of memories came rushing into my mind: memories of days when life was simpler. I had looked into the eyes of loved ones and heard their gentle voices. UT 76 . I thanked God for a taste of honey. I don’t know how long it actually took me to devour my honey and bread. when I was a child growing up on a farm in the western mountains of North Carolina. The other half I saved for later. I had held my children and swung them in circles in the sunshine. Honey must surely come from Heaven and the bees are fuzzy little angels. I had been free. I had smelled the spruce. I thought. and also. and the wildflowers. but it seemed to last an eternity. I had roamed the forests and fields of my mountain home. When I emerged from my honey-induced trance the guards were opening the doors to retrieve my tray and it was time to start the workday. I had walked through a familiar field to harvest honey with my father one more time. Each bite was accompanied by more pleasant memories of time spent in freedom with family and friends. For a moment there. I knelt and prayed that the next few months until I was released would pass quickly.100+ tasted the honey as if for the first time. My taste buds were in pure ecstasy. the mountain laurel. James Burns Gunnison. But man cannot live on honey alone.
” Once that spark burst in my mother’s eyes. I 77 I . my uncle was diagnosed with hepatitis and diabetes. Army during the Vietnam War. a pack of cigarettes. 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. During a skirmish. he got shot in the left side of his chest.T R U E S T O R I ES Smoking Saved His Life y uncle served as a captain in the U. This spark looked like a tiny star that had burst in one of her irises. Despite this miracle. After years of alcohol abuse. Gavai Kona. enough to stop it from piercing his heart by mere millimeters. There was a spark in her eyes. and a mirror in his left breast pocket. her actions were terrible and painful. These three items slowed the velocity of the bullet that hit him. Ironically. HI M Someone Knew My Pain could always tell when my mother was angry.S. the repercussions of the war were longstanding and were felt decades after it ended. He may have survived the Vietnam War. smoking saved his life. it’s what I call the “spark of hate. He had a lighter. but it ultimately killed him.
Bardo. Miriam. reached for an empty hanger. While he was hugging me.” He also told me that when I finished eating. and hung up my dress. “You’re not the only one. “Under the bed I put some food wrapped in a piece of paper. One day. as I put the dress on the hanger. “Good night. I watched my mom make a paste over the stain on the dress. She threw the dress at me and told me to scrub that spot hard.” And as more tears formed in my eyes and fell down my cheeks. to throw the paper out the bathroom window. I turned to go to my room.” he said. The next thing I knew. My mother told me to sit down on the floor in front of her. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed until my fingers were red and stiff. we had to get out of our best clothes and hang them up. my mother called me. he looked at me.” I said through my tears. NY 78 . but she ignored me. With powdered soap and water. and I did.100+ remember the first time I saw that spark … Every afternoon. “Good night. Bardo came out. and said. 41 Bedford Hills. My mother finally told me to take the dress and put it in the hamper. I heard him whisper. With tears in my eyes. I returned to ask my mother if I could have something to eat. I looked up at her and that’s when I saw that spark bursting in her eyes. when my brother Bardo and I got home. Miriam McKenzie. Once I finished putting on my raggedy shirt and shorts. That is when I saw the stain. I tightly hugged him back. the dress ended up on my face. I walked to my closet.
no track or ball field. one hundred ten men in each sweltering building with an eight-inch hole in the cement for a toilet. When money arrived. a pipe with running water for a shower. move freely throughout the prison without the humiliation of patsearches and strip-outs. We installed a swamp cooler. I had conjugal visits. and on either side were the plywood and cardboard shacks—“houses” for the “rich”—while in the aisle. bought a TV. incoming calls only. an old metal hotel phone with no dial. Everything from 79 M .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. I could wear my own clothes. There was no yard to speak of. An aisle ran the length of each building. the “buffaloes” roamed. Each building contained its own separate shantytown. and an ice cooler for the occasional beer we scored from the guards. so crowded at rec hours one could scarcely move. We hired a cook and a laundry man and paid a trustee to run errands between cell houses during lock-up. a stereo. cook what I wanted. the down-and-out who paced all day and slept at night wherever they stopped. and one telephone for nearly a thousand men. built wooden bunks. my fall-partner and I built a plywood house on stilts. There were ancient stone walls and windowless gun towers. Should a man’s luck run out—the dreaded medical emergency—there was a small clinic with one nurse. No gym. only a cement patio called a loma fronting the cell blocks. no weight pile. But in Mexico.
prison to provide the ultimate wake-up call. the ontological slap in the face. True. I arrived at the school cafeteria. I reasoned that. Amberchele Canon City. art supplies. A man could buy food. lumber. there were kids with bikes outside the front gate who would shop at the local mercado or any restaurant in town. drugs. and dangerous. the world would reflect that change. filthy. if I changed. I wanted out. for anything else. The direction was clear: freedom was in here. and even prostitutes. CO Being Stabbed Saved Me played the role of a tough guy in my late teens. I was out of touch with reality when I joined a gang.C. J. booze. It took this long stretch of psychological deprivation in a U. where the scene was set for a showdown between my best 80 I . What I had been yearning for all along was not a change in location but a change in outlook. What a mistake that turned out to be… One day. much like my thinking. appliances. Mexico showed me the worst: it was crowded. I was allowed to keep my identity. but it was an identity that was poisonous. But nothing I could buy could change the loathing I felt.100+ tacos to toilet paper was sold at the prison store.S. and it has. in my head. clothing. for the right price.
however. the judge dismissed the case. I had been stabbed. Enrique M. As we spoke. my membership in the gang became obsolete. He believed that I had done the right thing by not being vindictive. It had been an ironic twist of fate. That made all the difference in the world. All of a sudden I felt something pinch me in the back. my assailant approached me and apologized. When I saw my assailant in court.T R U E S T O R I ES friend and a rival gang member. I could have sent him to jail if I wanted. his father embraced me in the hallway. Getting over being stabbed took a lot of selfrestraint. but I felt like a snitch pointing my finger at him. I flirted with the idea of getting even. When I did not press charges. it stopped bothering me. As I turned to look. encouraging him during the fight. His father attended the hearing. a free-for-all ensued. I stood by my friend. a set of circumstances that allowed me to rectify myself after losing my way down the wrong path. the atmosphere was tense. With time. though I believe he got probation—a slap on the wrist in comparison to the amount of damage he had caused. Jesus had taken a far worse beating and He pardoned His assailants. and those around me pressed my shoulders to close the wound and stop the bleeding. After that incident. I yelled for help. knowing the fate of his son was in my hands. Fernandez Miami. In my mind. But when others got involved. FL 81 . After the trial. I saw my assailant running away from the scene with a bloody knife in his hand.
Matters of the Heart .
I never get tired of listening to him. was I wrong! I admire my first love. He is honest. I will accept all of him. TX Nowhere to Go he most difficult time for me was when my husband asked me for a divorce. I have known my first love for more than a year. my first true love.T R U E S T O R I ES My First at 41 love. He is smart. But I have to admit it: I was one of the young ones who thought I was in love on at least two occasions. He is strong. no matter what answers you receive. but I still feel like there are many other things about him I still want to know. This is it! This is my first true love. I could not 85 T . This almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. I want to know everything he knows. Then he met a woman who asked him to come and stay with her. Boy. 41 Dallas. and I am in love. I would have been in love before. Love is the desire to want to know more and be accepting. I am 41 years old. the good and bad. One would think that because I have experienced life. He’s my first Jan Richards.
I was browsing . I feel so alone. 59 Dayton. The morning after I arrived. 27 Tehran.100+ eat. it’s been like heaven. I will never forget her. TN An Undeniable Connection Yahoo Chat when I found a girl with a cute Yahoo ID. She offers me emotional support and the strength to go on in spite of my illness (MS). She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and without her. Although we are divorced. he came back to me. too. she kissed me for the first time. IRAN 86 It was the summer of 2005. and that the connection will endure. and I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. but now I want to leave him. Suzy. I was shocked because it was my first time and hers. I have to stay here because I have nowhere to go. my first love. It was then that I started thinking about the love that had finally come after waiting for so long! After that. We both respect and value each other very much. After two years of online chatting and phone calls. I decided to visit her. Without her. Mansour. and the connection that we share. life would be impossible! I’m in love with her and she is in love with me. I hope we will get married one day.
” although I couldn’t 87 It was the spring of 1984 and I was four years . and now all I have are insecurities. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because he didn’t trust me. He played with my head. He was a very sexual person and I wasn’t. I worry all the time. His name was Travis. and it’s taking a lot of hard work to regain my pride and confidence. 18 FL They say your first love is supposed to be An Older Man old. Then within six months. brown-haired young man.T R U E S T O R I ES I Just Want to Forget something meaningful and inspiring. everything was great. slender. and he was in fifth grade. and I am so jealous. Sometimes your first love is someone you just want to forget. Shurley. At first. There was something fascinating about this “older man. He stripped down my confidence. he got very demanding and wanted everything his way. If it were up to me. I just remember being taken with him as I observed him swinging on a swing set. I would never have gone out with him. but mine was something I just wanted to forget. He was a tall.
With women! The topic of homosexuality in prisons has been covered to death. I’ve borne witness to it all: Oral copulation. as I found him pleasing to the eye yet didn’t feel sad when he was gone. Imagine her being placed in a dangerous. 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. threesomes. Imagine her being able to pick and choose from hundreds of suitors 88 Society would be appalled to realize that more .100+ possibly have conceived so advanced an ideology at that young age. I have no doubt that he was my first crush. or inn in the continental United States. Kitty Mayo. low selfesteem and comes from a poverty-stricken environment. hotel. 29 Hilo. Often. HI The Ultimate Forbidden Fruit relationships are consummated in prison than in any motel. 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. I just remember wanting to be near him. all in retrospect. She has little education. My reflections of Travis developed years later. wanting him to protect me. anal sex.
Love. pay her rent. I know of a couple secret lovers that have since married. religion. stealing your heart away and bestowing it upon another before you even become truly aware of where that feeling of euphoria is coming from. True love can and does blossom between male offenders and female officers. The passion boils slowly like stewing vegetables. The female is as rebellious as the offender. or risks. Hours seem like minutes. The attraction is mutual. I know of quite a few acquaintances who have gotten out and taken up with their once-forbidden fruit. who want to keep her hair and nails done. TX 89 . regulations. 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.” The truth of the matter is: love couldn’t care less about color. Sometimes personalities just click. You can begin to understand just how prevalent these “sexcapes” are and how often the forbidden fruit is tasted. Only the restraints of the environment and the consequences keep it subdued like a lid on the pot until want turns to need and a window of opportunity opens for the lid to be lifted. The laughs come fast and free. Santonio Murff Tennessee Colony.T R U E S T O R I ES with pretty words and promises. It comes like a thief in the night. send her shopping. The conversations flow smoothly. It’s an amazing thing. rules. She needs no coercion or con. housing. take care of her kids. finances. and plan that illustrious happilyever-after with her.
suitcase is a difficult feat. my tears will come. Boston College. I told her I loved her. the tears pouring down her cheeks. a drunk sings the lyrics “show me the way to go home—bom bom bom. which overlooks the River Avon and the Bath rugby field. we went out for coffee. but I couldn’t stop looking at her. Three months later. She’s packing her last suitcase. Outside her window. She told me the upright bass was sexy. Two months later.100+ Four A. and yes. but I know I don’t want her to leave. she told me the same thing. We are in her attic bedroom..M. Do you stuff her in head first? It seems she might suffocate that way. I wonder when. she brushed her right hand against the small of my back. I’m tired and I wanna go home—bom bom bom. and if.. But I’m really thinking about the distance between Minneapolis and my hometown of Amherst. 90 Trying to fit your girlfriend inside a carry-on . One month later. destined for Minneapolis. Skidmore College. and mine. the distance between her school. on a tour of Oxford. I first met her at Heathrow Airport. Do you stuff her in feet first? But her head would stick out through the zippers and everyone on the airplane would think you were a crazy person. and I have my head stuck in Steven Millhauser’s book Edwin Mullhouse. three floors down. Massachusetts.” I have no idea what he means. And three months and two weeks later. and I told her she was strange. I’m not sure she’s my other half.
and I have to walk her to a bus station. Theoharides. I walk her to the bus station. after another bottle of wine. I had written the poem already. “I’ll miss you. and I had a crush on .m. needless to say. At two a. so one of my friends and I followed him home from school one day. I couldn’t get the nerve up to approach him. 22 Amherst. At four a. MA Love Advice from a Magazine this guy who didn’t even know I existed. write a love poem. At three a.m. so I decided to go the subversive route.. I had read an article in Cosmo that a great way to attract your secret crush’s attention would be to buy him a box of expensive chocolates. I was afraid someone at school would see me putting the chocolates on his car. still two bottles of wine later.. until four a.” she says.m. comes.T R U E S T O R I ES Her flight departs the next evening. My friend put the box of chocolates on his doorstep and 91 I was 16 or 17 years old.. So I went to Godiva Chocolatier and bought him a pricy box of fancy chocolates. and place it on the hood of his car. I determine there’s no chance she’ll fit inside my carry-on bag. And tears stream down my face. she falls asleep. Alexander J. after a bottle of wine.m. and I’ve promised to stay up with her all night.
Love is continuing to feel strongly for someone. NM Love is caring more about someone else than The Prince Who Turned into a Frog way. desires. and I had been flirting with my kickboxing instructor for a few weeks when we finally began dating. needs. 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. I was 21 years old. NH Love Is for yourself. 28 Albuquerque. not despite of their shortcomings. Love is putting that other person ahead of your wants. Love is recognizing that your loved one has faults. Galilea.100+ I sped away. I had developed a 92 My story is about one of the bumps along the . 24 Lincoln. and well-being. which eventually led me to appreciate love when I finally found it. Scarlet Rose. but because of them. Unfortunately.
But a girl can dream. no? Saturday came. making our relationship grow stronger. I imagined something romantic. the old adage is true: You do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming. It can be between two men and between two women. and the kickboxing instructor took me out to dinner. I was looking forward to our second date when I knew that we would finally be able to kiss. 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. and we could not have our first kiss until after I had finished my antibiotics. 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. My brain screamed: THAT’S IT?! You’ve been waiting for two weeks and THAT’S IT?! So you see. PC. he leaned over and gave me the most unromantic peck I had ever had in my life. It’s that feeling as if we knew each other in another 93 L .T R U E S T O R I ES bad case of bronchitis. As you can imagine. PUERTO RICO In Love with Another Woman ove is something that is felt between two people. perhaps a scene from one of those chick flicks that could never actually happen in real life. 30 Arecibo.
Mare. MI Aphrodite Gone Wrong fell in love for the first time. A baby was on the way. I love you. but he was mine. my family. I came all the way to the USA to start a new life with him. I chose my hell. and my life. and you have always been the one. I tried to be perfect. and I thought I was immortal. I stopped dreaming because my dreams became nightmares. I stopped thinking because my thoughts became knives. and I tried to fight for my dreams. but he wasn’t in love with me. “I did it for love. and I became a murderer of my own flesh and blood. an innocent victim of the lost paradise. and I live there now.” I told myself. Maybe he was too old for me. and so many tears. the woman that he had been dreaming of. I hope that soon I can start building a new 94 I . I regret it. maybe he was strange. that heaven was to wake up with the love of my life. so I left everything behind: my career. Michelle. Our relationship is 15 years strong.100+ lifetime. Life is not supposed to be this way. I felt like a little girl alone in a big country. 36 Lennon. so many mistakes. and we are raising a daughter as well. I regret so many things.
but as for love. Lately. and every tear brings me closer to my paradise. 95 I . The sad part is that she is not letting me see my daughter. 18 Olmito. We are going to graduate soon. If I were to start my life all over again. We now have a beautiful baby girl. TX I I Fantasize about My Teacher fall in love with every guy I feel attracted to even slightly. but we’ll be living separate lives. Yeyo. but we’re not together anymore. I’d still make the same mistakes because they are my mistakes. My ex and I are currently in high school. I’ve been falling for one of my teachers. I just hope this is only a bad nightmare that will be over soon. and it lasted about a year and a half. though. Kikis_fairytale. GREECE Living Separate Lives met the most amazing girl. we fell in love. I don’t know. 27 Athens. but I can’t control it.T R U E S T O R I ES life. It’s a bad habit.
and I have no control over my actions. It is a scary feeling. but I have to learn to live a little!” So I jumped in the pool and hoped for the best. I just want to find somebody that gives me all these feelings. I thought to myself. and a smile that could melt a heart. I imagine the two of us together all the time. He was a southern gentleman with manners. I took a little trip to Tennessee with my family. 18 Brooklyn. looks. my body reacts in a weird way: I can’t breathe. His grin always seemed to catch my eye. Aila Balic. I shake.100+ He is only 24 years old and very attractive. “I may have a guy at home. but things had been slowly going downhill. it keeps growing. and I fell head over heels for him—I had never fallen that hard in my life. but it just happens. I don’t want to. It was our last day on vacation when he showed up at the pool. I gasp for air. the red-headed cutie at our hotel was about to open my oblivious eyes to the truth. talent. yet doesn’t make me want to die. In the summer of 2009. NY My Mississippi Man y boyfriend and I been dating for two years. Every time I see him. Although I didn’t know it at the time. 96 M . We started talking and before long we just clicked. but as much as I try to stop. We spent my final day together.
and it took all I had not to cry. I explored my options on the ride home. We wanted . but now it was time to make a big decision. too? Hayley. In life. I turned and left my Mississippi Man on the balcony. and realized Ethan was right: I shouldn’t feel tied to anyone or feel like my relationship is all physical. family and friends can witness our marital union.T R U E S T O R I ES The next morning. MEXICO 97 My fiancé and I eloped to Mexico. Anonymous KY Cake in Acapulco to get married in a romantic. I couldn’t believe it was over. yet that was all I had been feeling for the last two years. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Thanks. Why not have our cake and eat it. tropical location and it ended up being the perfect place. There weren’t any wedding planners. We eventually plan on having a church wedding so our parents. for showing me the truth about love. there are other people with other qualities that I really should meet. 26 Acapulco. no guests. I went to say my goodbyes. Ethan. and no hassle: just us. Guerrero.
as well as me. the prison chaplain married us and the warden allowed us to have the entire visiting room for the ceremony. 2006. was a devoted wife. Some letters were erotic. She was . On May 15. Her baby blue eyes glistened with life when she spoke and her words made me feel important and young inside. She changed my 98 Louise was ten years younger than me. Clearly magic was happening between us. I guess. It was a cloudy Saturday in March of 1996 when Louise arrived for our first visit. 1997. I will love her forever and keep her close at heart. I was totally crushed and cried for weeks. I will continue to do positive things with my life because she showed me the path. but life is not fair. For Louise. We sat at the table and laughed and talked as if we had known each other for years. but it doesn’t seem as important or exciting as it once did. I had not felt that way in years. Louise gave me nine wonderful years of marriage. We had exchanged pictures and written wonderful letters before our visit. but most were about our past and our dreams for the future. I actually felt like someone worthy of living. On March 27th. at age fifty-two. I will go home one day. Her death left a void inside me that cannot be filled except with sadness. Louise had a heart attack and died at home.100+ Farewell a beautiful blonde with long hair down her back and had the prettiest blue eyes God ever gave a woman. This story has the makings for a great ending. and made me happy in so many ways.
I’m not saying that our wedding was a total loss. the stress of planning and carrying out the whole affair was not worth it. However. but we had our wedding 7 months later.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. If we had to do it again. I will miss you. VA A Joining of Two. we would celebrate our marriage by inviting only members of our nuclear families on a cruise. Please save 99 M . DON’T. She gave me incentive to be good when bad was the norm in my world. Our experience taught me that weddings are overrated. and I had the fairy-tale wedding gown every girl dreams about. we realized that we were doing the wedding not for ourselves. Perhaps her purpose in life was to save me from mine: A task well done. So if you’re thinking about spending your life savings on a wedding. It would end up being cheaper than a wedding. in August. Louise.000 on our wedding. She gave me faith and hope for the future and allowed me into her heart and her dreams. but for our family members. beautiful flower arrangements. My husband and I spend upwards of $10. We had a nice ceremony. And in the end. 63 Burkeville. Not Two Hundred y husband and I married in January of 2001. George Hughes. Farewell.
I knew it is generally not acceptable to marry your cousin. and because of some problem involving lack of small children the duty fell on me. having my head poked with plastic combs covered in garish forest green flowers. When we finally reached the priest. I spent the entire car ride to the church itching in the back seat from my synthetic. What matters is that you’ve found your soul mate and that you are going to spend the rest of your lives together. the rings were handed over. 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. 29 Lowell. Even at 3. MA When “Going Green” Gets Painful dvice for couples planning a wedding: Treat your flower girl well. clad in a miniature tuxedo. This torture was in preparation for some distant cousin’s wedding. On the day of the wedding. forest green dress. “NO!” I yelled at him. In the fall of 1987. I accompanied my cousin carrying the rings. too?” he asked. Priscilla. the wedding doesn’t matter. I sat on a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover in my aunt’s bathroom.100+ your money because in the end. When the time came to walk down the aisle. 100 A . “Are you two getting married.
MA Falling Out of Love married for love and that love dissolved. “Just walk through the door when you hear your name. my cousin. all I remember being told was. 23 Somerville. Finally. Where were my parents? Tears started falling down my face. The emails became short and purposeful. not right away. The reasons I had married him were no longer there. and I started to ignore 101 I . but before I knew it. I was blinded by lights. camera flashes. I got to go home and ditch the wedding gear. nor awaited his phone calls and emails with excited anticipation. All I wanted to do was rip the combs with their plastic pearls and glue-gunned on flowers out of my hair. all the emotion and desire I once felt for him had waned. On the long list of things I hate. slowly and gradually. I had gotten used to him and he to me. three of them will always be: priests. Adelle Brown. and I had no idea where to go. until amorous love became filial affection. at some point. I no longer felt butterflies in my stomach when he was around.T R U E S T O R I ES At the reception. not right before my eyes.” When the doors opened. and forest green. and I scratched my shoulder as my dress felt like a thousand ants crawling over my skin. and I stayed in the marriage because of familiarity and security.
predictable existence is not the marriage or the life I ever imagined. I stopped caring about spending time together. and started avoiding him. yet I don’t want to take the initiative of leaving. torturous waste of time. but that memory is now alien to me.100+ his calls when engrossed in a TV show or a conversation on the other line. or lack thereof. This mundane. He was no longer my top priority. and let him do the same. for him. FRANCE The Divorce That Never Was know it sounds ludicrously selfish and misguided. For now. I liked that we worked different shifts because it meant that we would see each other less. just so they would focus less of their attention on me and more on other problems. I honestly don’t know what he’d think or say if he knew my true feelings. I have grown completely indifferent towards him to the point where I wouldn’t even care if I discovered he was being unfaithful to me. 102 I . I remember why I fell in love with him. I keep trying to push him away. I am not that unhappy. I did everything possible to avoid intimacy because it became a prolonged. but at times I found myself wishing my parents would divorce. January Paris. I am not that person anymore. nor is he. I am content to just exist.
Johnsbury. which never came. St. 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. Had I lived alone with my mother subsequent to their divorce. he would allow me to do whatever I wanted. I thought that if they divorced. They are still together. Alas. it would have been more difficult. Donna J. and if I were allowed to live with my father. my parents did not divorce. as he worked midnights and I could have easily snuck out of the house while he was working. VT 103 . I would have done so. and I’m glad they are.
Despite Diagnosis .
vermin. not let it get inside you. and dry yourself. Some don’t. but if you’re determined you can keep your mouth and nose and eyes above it. leftovers from consensual acts clogging the pipes and floating sudsy sewage out into the hallways. clean. always have a few friends outside smoking cigarettes and standing guard. you can cast off your filthy clothes. not because of knives but for their germs. Some dive headfirst into the waters 107 P . cartwheeling.” the black-clothed assassin that creeps inside and cuts your throat in the night. skidding. You are immersed in it. and finally splashing onto their backsides into the mire. alone. catching those who stroll unaware in flip-flops on a slippery stretch. you must wade carefully through the sewage. sometimes it’s neck-deep. In prison. Take showers in shifts. Fellow standup convicts issued me the requisite razor-sharp shank—a wicked. and leave the stink of the prison sewer behind. and when you get to the other side. and filth swimming and floating along with you. You have to slowly navigate through the rats. and sometimes it’s over your head. to survive it. Wait till the “others” get out. wash. they call HIV and AIDS “the ninja. then slips away unseen. leaving you there to bleed out. Prison is a sewer.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. go in with your homeboys. bide your time. Sometimes it’s waistdeep.
The problem was not eradicated. who told me that the titanium plate on my skull was 108 W . As the years passed.100+ of the prison sewer. A neurosurgeon informed me that I had a brain lesion 5 centimeters long. When I awoke. though my vision was still doubled and very much decreased. wondering if I will ever go home. so I went to an optometrist. I told the doctor and he put me on antibiotics. meningitis. they inhale deeply. become a part of it. Months later. FL A Tumor at 18 hen I was 18. Charles P. I regained some of my physical strength. It took many weeks away from home to get back on my feet. take it all in. I started having eye trouble. As for me. I had no idea what that was! I was rushed to the capital 3 hours away in a taxi and went straight to surgery. Norman. I stand in front of my shower with my spray bottle filled with bleach. who sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. making sure I cover the walls and floor and especially the drains. a cracked skull. And they die. I was told I had a brain tumor. I found a strange fluid leaking out of the back of my head. and that I had been in a coma for about a week. 59 Daytona Beach. I also discovered that I had no movement on the left side of my body. and I was sent to the neurosurgeon again.
I have had a few AIDS tests in my life. so I had a temporary tube put in my back to drain the fluid. 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.T R U E S T O R I ES infected and it had to come out. My cerebral fluid was not draining. to drain the fluid and stop me from getting as sick. I have always been fearful of contracting AIDS. After 4 or so weeks. but I think people need to be more informed about other non-deadly sexually transmitted diseases 109 I . Pete. I’m not saying by any means that AIDS awareness should not be spread. our culture has become so scared of AIDS that it has overshadowed all other diseases. Tasmania. I came out of the operating room only to go back in days later. Fueled by the media. Thoughts of “you never know” always run through my mind. and all came out negative. AUSTRALIA You Never Know am a paranoid person by nature. I spent a few more hours in surgery having the infected area of my skull removed as well as the plate. so in spite of having protected sex. 21 Devonport. traveling all the way down to my elbows. I was brought back for more surgery to have a permanent tube inserted into my head. just to be sure.
One time. Throughout my childhood. My mom fell to her knees screaming and crying. drawing a picture of me with my mom and dad. but they will make your life extremely difficult and sometimes shameful. 28 Portland. my father would leave because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain at such a young age. herpes and genital warts won’t kill you. We all had sad faces. so he donated his blood. My white blood cells were destroying my red blood cells instead of destroying bacteria. I was constantly in the hospital. OR The Scar of Life hen I was 13 months old. the chemo backfired and I started vomiting blood. my mom noticed my skin was yellow. so she took me to the doctor. About five nurses would hold me down so they could give me more chemo in my spine or through my portacatheter. so my body was dying. Every time a nurse would come in the room. I was in the bathroom watching my mom put on her makeup when the 110 W .100+ as well. but even that wasn’t enough. I can remember sitting on the hospital bed. The day I turned five. For instance. I was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of the blood). Jolene. My father was the only one with the same blood type.
the jail has delayed it. nearly bald. the judge can expedite all he wants. Five days later. There is no one to hold my hand or comfort me or pray with me. “Well. in college. fightingsurvivor19. I’m 15 pounds thinner. 19 Pembroke Pines. I am sentenced and the judge expedites my move to Perryville Prison because I still have not had any chemo. hoping to get rid of me to save money. I’m due for chemotherapy and more surgery. This never happened outside. Maybe it’s not really me. but you’re in prison now and you can get in line. Three months later. Maybe it’s a nightmare. There is no kindness. FL Fear am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy. the check-in nurse says. and very pale. I may have a scar on my chest from the portacatheter but I consider it the scar of life. Today I am 19. I am back at Estrella Jail. and they both cried tears of joy. I vomit constantly. my oncologist was determined 111 I . It was the hospital telling her that I was in remission. At Perryville. that I was cured! She called my dad to tell him the news. and 100% cured.” When my chemo starts. I see myself in the mirror for the first time in more than two months and I don’t recognize myself.T R U E S T O R I ES phone rang.
but does that mean I’m to be mistreated? Chemotherapy is over and radiation begins. Eventually. and then I dry heave until I cannot lift my head. and I’ve come to feel that they don’t give a damn. when I’m supposed to be healing. I am allowed a teleconference with an oncologist who is completely unfamiliar with my case. No more nausea. Nearly 16 months after my last checkup. But this protocol is not followed. but there is no way for him to examine me and he’s never seen my file. I’m worn out from fighting for proper treatment. 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. the doctor comes in. the radiologist says the protocol is a visit to the oncologist or radiologist alternating every three months for two years. When my treatment is over. I vomit until there is nothing left. and then annually. the medication is never ready on time nor is the newly discovered chemo diet. He recommends a tumor 112 . I know I’m an inmate. Despite the rigid schedule. then every six months for two years. In here. and nine months later. begging for what I’m missing. burning instead. The nurse comes with the news that the doctor is too busy to administer the shot to stop the vomiting. He acts like I’m faking and reluctantly administers the shot. obviously irritated to have to deal with me. I have to spend my sickest days walking to Medical. He answers my questions. I start the laborious grievance process. there is complete indifference. My life is literally in their hands. An hour later.100+ that my nausea be minimal. I am sent back to my room alone. I have three more chemo sessions.
That’s really hard in here. incompetent. How do I deal with that? In Pollyanna. always look for a reason to be glad. No amount of platitudes and cute sayings. As a result. That is why I am afraid. No one’s pain is unique—certainly not mine. Sue Ellen Allen Goodyear. but I’ll try: I’m glad I came to prison with cancer because I’ve experienced something firsthand that most people outside wouldn’t believe. mismanaged. no positive imagery can change my situation. I can deal with that. This isn’t irrational fear about some hostile guard or stupid rule. and I am helpless against its inadequate. an enormous octopus whose head cannot control all the thousands of tentacles who unite to form an impenetrable wall of incompetence. Six months later. 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. the girl’s father taught her to play the Glad Game—no matter what the circumstances. I’m glad my hair loss is visible and makes me vulnerable. it still hasn’t happened. many women come talk to me about the lump they found or how it felt to lose their mothers to cancer. This is about the State. AZ 113 . All of this reminds me that there are so many who suffer regardless of where they are. uncaring power. I will use this experience to help others survive their pain wherever I am… inside or out.T R U E S T O R I ES marker test. my life is in the hands of the State. Their stories touch me on so many levels.
a 9-year-old girl sat in front of me at the hospital. Later. she gave me the strength to make mine a reality. I didn’t understand why it had happened to me. but when he found out that treatment could last years. one of her relatives told me that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia and the doctors had given her three months to live. without even knowing it.100+ She Gave Me Hope week before my 26th birthday. he began to distance himself. It has been 7 years since I won my battle with breast cancer. Despite all this. my grandmother died from pancreatic cancer. 33 Santa Barbara. Although she wasn’t able to make her dreams come true. but I still haven’t forgotten that little girl’s face. I had to quit my part-time job and drop out of college. I hated to look at myself in the mirror. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two months after I started chemotherapy. she was looking ahead. making plans for the future. she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up. and I felt helpless all the time. My boyfriend was very supportive at first. CA A 114 . A year into my treatment. Dinorah Torres. With an innocent gleam in her eyes. I felt like I had been given a death sentence and that treatment just delayed the inevitable. That little girl helped me gather the strength that I didn’t even know I had in me to fight.
and had lived alone for decades. How sad. 18 Tacoma. The exposure to carcinogens is still there. for a smoker’s lungs. She was longdivorced. It just 115 I . She continued smoking cigarettes until the day she passed away. my aunt began chemotherapy and died shortly thereafter. He gave up smoking THIRTY YEARS AGO. My aunt smoked light cigarettes throughout her entire adult life and died of lung cancer at age 58.” 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. shape. The following year. for an addict’s. so she didn’t see any point in prolonging her life. never had any kids. or form diminish the likelihood of getting or delaying cancer. One year she was cancer-free. Hayden.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. WA S The Slow and Silent Killer just found out that my grandfather has lung cancer. and—to quote the doctor’s prognosis—her “lungs were in good shape. I am so embittered and disconcerted by the news.
not even decades after giving up smoking. Penzance. 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. Texas does not test all incoming prisoners for HIV or hepatitis. He lost his wife to cigarettes. Whatever the percentage. This is based on my knowledge of the number of inmates on HIV medication who continue to have sex.A. A fair estimate would be that 20-50% of the Texas prison population is infected with HIV. UK Stopping the Spread of STDs t is criminal negligence. My grandfather stopped smoking in the late 1970s when my grandmother was diagnosed with emphysema. in addition to the temptation of being around someone who smoked.G. his oldest daughter to cigarettes. on the part of Texas officials. F. and now he could lose his own life because of them. Prisoners are only tested if they 116 I . not to recognize the need and implement plans for the containment of STDs in the close confines of prison. Cornwall. it’s surely higher than the system admits or wants to know about.100+ goes to show you that no one escapes unscathed from cigarettes.
Provide condoms to all prisoners on request. A few suggestions: 1. Separate gang members from non-gang members. 7. 9. 3. Allow conjugal visits with spouses or other partners. sentence length.T R U E S T O R I ES request it. 4. and house them accordingly. With America exporting her views on penology as part of her foreign policy. Allow prisoners more freedom in the choice of cell partners. 8. End censorship of letters and magazines with sexual content. Make the administration personally responsible for all decisions concerning classification by implementing external policing agencies. it is more important than ever that all prisons operated by Americans. 5. 2. You can see how dangerous it is. The time has come to make prisons into civilized places of incarceration where rehabilitation is the goal and prisoners are 117 . Test all prisoners when entering and upon discharge. Classify prisoners by age. Prison is a violent place and bloody fights are more dangerous than sex. and typecrime. be as humane as possible. I myself may have infected ten or more people—not all through sexual encounters—but I’m not considered promiscuous by prison standards. All prisoners need to be tested and those infected placed in quarantine. Remove all opposite-gender employees from staff. whether here or abroad. Condoms must be made available to all prisoners to ensure that safe sex practices are possible. 6.
Harris. Daniel H. TX 118 .100+ changed for the better while being punished for their crimes. This could be a start. 48 Huntsville.
The Transience of Permanence .
All is forgiven. Each morning when I arrive at work. Some days. discussions. death is merely a passage or rite. even inside me. maybe an estate. some acceptance. I’m a state-approved janitor. lately I have come to smell and taste the death-row building even before I step inside. plans. he’s in a hurry to live to the fullest. Moloch—the ancient god of death and Skull and Bones mascot—calls all the shots. death out there now looks relatively easy. He understands that my time with him is short. so he’ll often cram as much conversation as possible into mere minutes. For “free-world” folks. which has its effects on me as well as on him. or SSI. I’m what Texas calls a Support Service Inmate. It’s not that he’s in a hurry to die. 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. I feel the dread on my flesh. Christopher Best Livingston. In the penitentiary. From what I’ve seen in here. I swear. especially on death row. If I give him that. In plain talk. TX I 121 . a last will and testament. I am the only human a death-row prisoner interacts with.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. then the whole world has done the same. He desperately seeks some understanding.
I make it down the stairs and across the dayroom to my cell. I thought He wasn’t supposed to give me more than I can handle. It isn’t working. and run the water for a few more minutes to wash the blood down the drain. G.” “taking it to the vent. Shit. I wrap the cut in toilet paper. I am feeling very ugly inside.T. Fuck them. I’m thinking that everyone knows what I did. I did not do anything to deserve 39 to life.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. People in the day room are getting suspicious.” or “moving on to the next phase. I choose not to spend another day in this place. yet relieved that I took action. 122 T . Shit. I would rather die than serve a life sentence I don’t deserve. I am in the psych tank shower at the Central Jail for half an hour. Fuck God. and it can be done right now. Light-headed. Suspicious. CA I Check Out Day here’s always a way out of prison. I’ll try again later. Very suspicious.” And I’m not talking about parole. today. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. It’s called “checking out.
The only thing that remains of him are the memories and 123 I . The vast majority were done in by their own hand. he lay down on his bunk with both exposed ends of the wire in hand and held them together. a neighbor of mine in Folsom. not in the clinical sense. He then stripped the insulation back a few inches on both ends. He wrapped one half around himself and put a wet washcloth in his mouth.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. Ben had studied all the books dealing with electricity he could find. Mike Rothwell Ione. He slugged the other half into the wall socket. 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. but a symbolic one. Ben took an ordinary electrical extension cord and cut it in two with toenail clippers. After that. 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. The prisoner who is confined in extremely isolated conditions soon faces a terribly frightening reality: he no longer exists to the outside world. I think the all-time winner for originality would have to be Ben.
matriarch of the family. caught in a sticky quagmire somewhere between heaven and hell. year after year. my big fat Italian grandmomma. It is as if he has died and observes from a reality that only the dead would understand. took her last breath 24 hours after delivering a fiery speech on her deathbed. the father he cannot be. He is tormented by two worlds: the one he lives in and the one he left behind. We always knew that she wouldn’t live forever. the son he failed to be. the lover he wishes to be. killed that greater part of himself. He has. and the person he never grew to become. he may as well be dead. gold. the prisoner has killed the “him” that should have been. diamonds. NY Deconstructing Nonna onna passed on… Yes.100+ love of his family. pearls. The day her body is brought to the graveyard.With his incarceration. 124 N . In the world beyond prison walls. one is nothing more than a ghost of his former self. sterling silver. Each female member of the family picks from an assortment: cameos. Hector Gallegos Otisville. The point is driven home when one realizes how much of his life has passed him by while he sits in the same cell. we return home and open her jewelry boxes. but life—even at 103—seems too short. in essence. In this sense.
spreading them out in the dining and living rooms. Who would believe that a swastika. Only pieces and parts of Nonna are left now. It brings fresh tears to my eyes. My brother receives a miniature revolver that once belonged to my grandfather. dating from the roaring twenties. as if no one else is 125 D . albums. was considered a good thing? The Native Americans did. except for a fundamental difference. MA The Final Countdown eath Watch is a section just like any other on the Row. Mother displays Nonna’s tchotchkes. My brother also gets the lucky Indian coin. bracelets and even an ankle chain Nonna received on her 80th birthday—no. and handcrafted dolls. 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. necklaces. pre-WWII.T R U E S T O R I ES watches. blankets. The first thing one notices is the quiet. Mary Higgins Reading. along with a collection of antique cigarette lighters. The following day. 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. she never wore it. key chains.
At other times. media representatives. and perhaps the condemned’s own family look on—is the final step in the natural order of things. wherein a man must sit for weeks or months to review his life and prepare for the end. TX 126 . although their recall is a razor that cuts both ways. Gene W. the fights he had in grade school. An ache settles in his belly.100+ there. but the mind rebels. his first girlfriend… The condemned is haunted and pleased by these memories. While the condemned sits in Death Watch and tries to reconcile his mind to the end of his existence. a foreboding that wraps him in wasted years. In remembering. the officials are stoic and judgmental. survivors of the victim’s family. He tries to trick his mind into believing that being strapped down and smothered to death via a triad of poisons—while dispassionate officials. treating him with the same contempt they have exhibited since his arrival to the Row. calling forth the loudest of his silent screams. Sometimes— depending on how much of a killing mood the State is in—Death Watch is full. Then the denizens of the Watch ease up to their doors to inquire who the new arrival is. It is like God’s “time-out” room. there are only four or five people. It doesn’t bother them that a human being is sitting in the cell thinking of events or people from the past that made him happy. making it ominously quieter. he realizes that all hope is gone. such as his first pet. Hathorn Livingston.
he was barely over five feet tall. While his tirades were generally belligerent and his sarcasm almost legendary. Sleep came with great difficulty. Freddy saw half a dozen different prison doctors. and his memory showed signs of failure. and his head was shaved clean. 127 E . A liver biopsy in January 2005 confirmed it and also revealed severe cirrhosis of the liver. including Freddy. he had become thin as a rail.” I forget why. Since Freddy had shared needles his whole life.T R U E S T O R I ES A Requiem for Freddy veryone called Robert Hagenson “Freddy. an angry Freddy filed an administrative appeal. “Every doctor has a different opinion. trying to get someone to do something. A doctor told him he’d soon be starting a regimen of interferon-ribavirin. if at all. He was a genuine character.” “partial. no one. Once muscular. a combination drug therapy. The appeal was dismissed and there was still no treatment for Freddy. really took it seriously. In October 2004. Freddy’s first real attempt to seek medical attention began in mid-2004. Since he always complained. I saw no real reason for worry. Over a period of a year.” and “lost” test results. he assumed he had the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). his body was covered in tattoos. after a slew of “unreadable.” Freddy complained to me one day. He was 45 years old when he began serving a sentence of 25 years to life for armed robbery. Freddy looked every bit the criminal and convict. Time was of the essence. and they all tell you something different.
massive gastrointestinal bleeding brought Freddy to death’s door. The only thing that could save Freddy was a liver transplant. it was too late. “If they got at me 18 months ago.” There was no anger in his voice. My loving husband and I knelt by the nursery window for hours. but he didn’t deserve a death sentence administered by neglect. He might have deserved to be permanently separated from society for a life of crime. We were left feeling nothing but fear and pain. only resignation. Eugene Alexander Dey Susanville. Freddy died alone the night of December 29. and now he’s dead. I gave birth to a beautiful boy. a twisting of the intestines caused by malformation in 128 F . CA I Lost My Baby Boy ive years ago. and he was afraid.100+ Months passed.” he told me. looking through the glass at our little one. they probably could have saved me. William was premature and couldn’t drink milk. 2005. He vomited blood one morning. “By the time they did something. Freddy was my friend. but no treatment was administered. but he threw it up. They killed me. By October. We named him William Kenrick. Our son was diagnosed with malrotation. They tried giving him formula.
I stood beside him as he was being resuscitated. Despite the pain. NCR. only to realize that he’ll never come back.m. my first son. and whispered. Jenelleish. PHILIPPINES 129 . fight for it. The next day. But I swear. carefully wrapped and kept hidden away. but it doesn’t mean that I will love him less. just let go.T R U E S T O R I ES utero. At 1:30 a. But I knew something wasn’t right. The most painful part was when I held him in my arms for the first and last time. “Baby. At 3 days old. only he was already lifeless. And for that. his heart rate slowed. he was letting me know how much he loved being held by his mom… Time and time again. I still think of him. And I knew though he was gone. which was declared a success. a smile formed on his lips. Then I start crying again and eventually. Like a whiff of a perfume it brings back memories. as soon as I held him. I love him more and more each day. I sang to him “The Nearness of You” as I stroked his head and held his delicate hand and fingers. I turn numb. he went. He will always be my first baby. perhaps the pain of losing William will fade. my first child. he had to undergo an operation. But if not. 32 Las Piñas City.. I still manage to gather his last set of clothes from the cabinet. And the pain becomes so overwhelming that sometimes I feel that I’ll definitely go crazy.” And as soon as everybody was there. Someday. if you can still make it. when I visited him. Holding him gave me so much comfort I’ve never felt before. milky scent is still there. the smell… His sweet. And oh.
After my dad’s death. But as a father. I didn’t shed one tear. I went through many phases. and listening to music. in a better mood than usual. I gazed at the prison-grey walls. AZ J Accepting He’s Gone married the love of my life at 23. he died suddenly and tragically. from denial to 130 I . we spent countless hours together doing fatherand-son stuff: playing catch. Facing the cell door.100+ I Miss You. Malachi Ephraim Florence. I miss him deeply. His sudden death made me feel angry and betrayed. I dreamed about him every single night.m. and I thought of my dad who died of lung cancer in 2005. My dad liked to sing and dance. He played the guitar and was into everything from the blues to rap music. Then I realized that today is Father’s Day. He was also a cigar and cigarette smoker and a heavy drinker. But I didn’t cry. as if all I ever wanted had been suddenly taken away from me. I was close to my father. 2008: I awoke today around 5 a.. he was really fantastic. But after 5 years of marriage. yet his passing was significant to me. enjoying the early morning light. roller-skating. fishing. Dad une 15.
45 Montreal. I drank to escape and forget. but that it was up to me to take responsibility for my life. After a long period of time. How sad that now sounds. who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I included a poem about my grandmother—her mother—that I thought she might enjoy. yet it is the one that got me through it: acceptance. I run my own business and am truly living the life I was meant to live. I withdrew for long periods of time into my own solitude.T R U E S T O R I ES anger. from being the eternal idealist at 23 to a cynic at 29. hate to indifference. happily single. I never heard from my aunt again because she passed away a few weeks later. As a last minute thought. I am now 45. Terri Giosia. Québec. as if by playing that song I would be able to feel him beside me like in the movie Ghost. CANADA A Parting Gift n December 2006. had no meaning. I wrote poetry and listened to “Unchained Melody” over and over. a Christmas card. However. I realized that what happened was out of my control. her youngest 131 I . and for a while I didn’t really care if I lived or died. with great parents and friends. I sent my aunt. Life lost its luster. the final and hardest phase arrived.
especially when you are only seven years old. He said that his mother called him a few days before she died and read him the poem that I had written. But after all the miserable hospital visits. He thanked me for giving his mother a little joy during a time of pain. she called every person she knew and read that poem.” is one of the worst ways to wake up. The night before. they diagnosed her with a cancerous brain tumor. Dennis Forrest.100+ son wrote me shortly thereafter. Not only did she call him. 51 Rosharon. I woke up one morning and walked into the living 132 W . many tests were run on her to see why she suddenly had a violent seizure. my mom held strong through all the surgeries and chemotherapy sessions. he said. Soon after. For two years. my mom had been taken to the hospital. The doctor gave her three months to live. “They took your mom away in an ambulance. my poem may mean nothing. but it meant something to a dying woman who relived memories of someone she loved and would soon join in the next world. she grew tired and wanted to stay home and forget about treatment. TX Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining aking up to your cousin’s voice saying. To the academic world.
where it was warm. and us. My dad taught me not to give up on those you love. “Daddy. He gently sat me on his lap and told me that my mom hadn’t made it through the night. I blinked back tears as I ran from the room into my closet to cry. and I shook my head and turned to leave—no news was better than bad news. My dad softly called me over. 16 Rexburg. Aubrie.T R U E S T O R I ES room where my mom had been living for four months. I raced to my parents’ bedroom and climbed into bed with them. He took care of my mom. It went on and on. This experience has made me stronger. My life was changed forever. why are you coughing so much?” I 133 I . My father continued hacking. My grandmother’s eyes were misty and I could tell something was wrong. but my experience has left me with a positive attitude about life and I thank my mom and dad for it. too weak to walk to her bedroom. but to help them through things the best you can. and even worked from home so he could be there. ID Making Amends was sleeping soundly when my father’s coughing woke me. 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. the house.
from a prison payphone in the dark. I wanted to make it up to him. offered me his condolences the best he knew how. He was in and out of the hospital for a couple of years. exhaled. I had unfinished business with my father. An hour later I was calling my brother Dan. There were hard feelings between us. I begged him to quit for years. but the last time inexorably approached. too. who knew my family well. so I recognized it in both of you. He said things. but nothing could overcome nicotine’s siren song of death.” 134 . but he died before I got the chance. real sick. A prisoner friend. closed his eyes. “Are you sick?” “It’s these damned cigarettes. Even when he was here last time. Over the past few years. I knew you and your dad had unfinished business. You settled your differences. son. as did my mother. and he loved you.” He was just twenty-four at the time. waiting him out: “Charlie. not speaking. He had a difficult time sharing his feelings. We feared lung cancer. I could tell. the reason I’m saying this. I said things I’ve always regretted.100+ asked. so I stood there. like you did. I admire what you did. you spent a lot of time talking with your daddy. You see. but emphysema got him first. healing wounds. I knew he wanted to say something. when I first met your family several years ago. He had held out for longer than anyone expected. and that was a good thing. I could see that you loved your father. is that I didn’t get that chance with my father. Don’t ever smoke them. collect. and he was gone. He looked at my brothers. with complications from lupus.
His tears soaked into my suit coat. leaned his head on my shoulder. Norman. “Mowgli” was a dead ringer for the jungle boy. My cellie threw up. He had jumped off the tier headfirst. I patted his shoulder and sobbed with him. I met some interesting characters: “Cut Throat” had earned his name by cutting his throat from ear to ear with a razor blade. 59 Daytona Beach. 135 I . that big strong man with bulging muscles broke down. I asked Cuckoo Cosmonaut why he wanted to kill himself. “Spider Man” had slashed both arteries in his wrists and sprayed blood just like the super hero sprays webs. Then he called for the sheriff’s deputies over the intercom.T R U E S T O R I ES Then. The doctor came to talk to me in the morning then released me to the acute care unit. “Cuckoo Cosmonaut” was wearing a massive cast that extended from his shoulder to his hand. FL Slash nstead of going to court. and cried like the little boy who still lingered inside. Charles P. I spent the night in a padded safety cell with a grate in the floor for a bathroom. It was the least I could do. I received stitches and a brace to keep the damaged tendons from snapping. While there. I decided to slash my wrist.
but had caused his fingers to get trapped between the makeshift rope and his neck. His eyes were half open.” “What are you facing?” I asked him. Evidently. “Six months. now that I see you and other people here looking at life sentences. His attempts to ease what must have been the ever-tightening grip on his throat had obviously failed.” It was as quiet in that huge cell block as it ever 136 F . CA Death Mask or the first time in my life I fully understood the term “death mask. Carrillo Atascadero/Vacaville. and his head was bent at an impossible angle in relation to his shoulders. he had been hanging for a while because rigor mortis had set in. I don’t anymore. Both elbows stuck out rigidly locked in place and told the story of the losing battle that played out during the last moments of his life. He must have changed his mind about his final life decision that night because both hands were at his neck. as though he had tried to undo the fix he found himself in while the last vestige of his consciousness ebbed into eternity.” G.100+ “Well.” The handmade noose around his neck consisted of sloppily braided strips of sheet.T. and mouth curled back in a horrible grimace— the “death mask.
Then. You could almost hear the mice scampering across the cold concrete floors. It was so still.T R U E S T O R I ES was. stood there for several seconds. San Quentin’s version of the Hollywood Bowl. he turned towards the convicts in their cells. who obviously relished his time in the spotlight and milked the silence as well as any award-winning Broadway actor. With a bit of a dramatic flair. hung it back up on the wall. just one word bellowed out of his mouth. slowly scanning the tiers that held his rapt audience. perhaps. It was as though he was on stage facing a giant vertical amphitheater. before he walked away laughing with his buddy. Usually there were various types of yelling around the clock: conversations between cells on different tiers. chess games hollered back and forth between cells with moves called out on numbered squares. the proverbial dropped pin would have sounded like a gunshot. CA 137 . “Next!” Mike Rothwell Ione. But not at this moment. I could actually hear the footsteps of the two old cops echoing through the cavernous cell block as one of them. For the first time since I was there. Even the crazy guys had shut up. loud enough for the inhabitants of all 250 cells to hear. 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. there was only solemn silence. to be careful lest one of us ever lands the lead role in this tragedy? The old bull. carrying the now light Stokes stretcher. He had everyone’s complete attention.
Hidden & Forbidden .
a football player. barging into her apartment. and it was my word against hers. When it’s time to leave the club. I only saw what I wanted to see. we can have sex. I told myself over and over that I had not raped anyone. sentenced to six years in prison. but I haven’t picked up a girl.T R U E S T O R I ES Admitting I Am a Rapist t’s January 7. I was convicted. I’ve had enough drinks to support the thoughts I’m entertaining. It opens. it’s her roommate. For twenty years. I’m telling myself that she wants me. I have my boys drop me off at the apartment complex of a girlfriend of mine. the white system.” I step towards her. I’ve gone out clubbing with my boys. a member of a fraternity. I’m thinking. so I need to make a phone call to get a ride. I’ve had fun. if no one else is here. it’s a habit of ours.” As I say this. and I’m in college. but it’s not my girlfriend. and a ladies’ man. I want to be with a girl. she’s home alone. Because she was white. “I came to see my girl. in front of a white jury. I was black. not only to have fun. my fraternity brothers. 1982. I am not invited over and I have not called to announce my arrival. I knock on the door.” I say. “Your girl is not here. “You ain’t gonna invite me in? It’s cold out here and I got dropped off. that it was a setup. forcing myself in. I say. racism at its best. popular on campus. I want some sex. angrily. she was white. 141 I . I am not going to be denied… I was arrested and convicted of rape. but also to pick up girls.
faithfully. for them. a wife. I had a sense that my sexuality was something of great importance and. and even the “fag” jokes provided by my “peers. The fantasy of grandchildren. pure houseboat. I know that not only do men need to be educated about how easy it is to rape. Ricky Quarles Vacaville. especially with men.100+ Today. so tragically sank the ship they’d built for me over the years. I would have to somehow redirect my same-sex attraction to the opposite gender. So I tried. was sent flying into the proverbial waters surrounding their safe. but also how one can be in denial about one’s violence. everyday with the help of “straight” pornography. and young men and boys need to be taught this early in life. “I’m gay” was the iceberg that. if I were to have a place in this world. I had known that I was a disappointment. CA I Couldn’t Be What They Wanted where it has been are factors in my parents’ continuous disappointment with me. For sixteen years.” 142 The direction in which my life is headed and . I’m committed to telling and sharing my experience with anyone who will listen. We men need to understand that NO MEANS NO. forced attractions to women. two kids and a boring life in suburbia.
boring corduroy-wearers. I was never happy being this amalgam of different philosophies of heterosexuality. 19 Hooksett. Nicholas arranged for me to give a talk to the Young Conservatives on astrology and. I am finally happy. that my parents felt the same. I was pissed off that the world would never accept me for who I was. my sadness never faltered.T R U E S T O R I ES During those sixteen years. At seventeen. having been to one or two of their small gatherings. all too well in fact. NH My Most Embarrassing Moment worked alongside Nicholas who ran the Young Conservatives in an English city. all of the negativity had passed and I was far too tired to let it ruin my life anymore. And I knew. with whom I constantly fought and argued. He talked politics all day long and I talked astrology. I was dismayed to see a huge hall 143 I . alternating paragraphs with Nicholas.. and I explained to him a little bit of how astrology worked. and the burden of hiding was spirited away. Daryl F. So I confessed my truths. I wrote a script. When I arrived. And it quickly and easily became the source of hatred and anger toward my own parents. One day. I didn’t expect more than 20 of these dowdy. only for who I pretended to be.
This brought about a case of stage fright. I went to my junior and senior proms with the guy.100+ full of people as far as the eye could see. especially for clothes. He had an “affected” tone of voice and LOVED shopping. but I always suspected that he was gay. His self-confidence saved the day. being a noble and resourceful man. it was swallowed hook. ENGLAND Two Sides to Every Coin have two friends who came out of the closet. I stood with mouth tightly shut and eyes bulging for the duration of the talk. We didn’t date. He dated one girl 144 I . 30 Maidstone. and sinker. Knowing very little about astrology. line. one male and one female. Nicholas. carried on like a trooper. I was literally paralyzed. He was very meticulous about his physical appearance and even suffered from anorexia for a time. Philippa.000 years and the sidereal time is due to the Earth’s wobbling motion. He made it so fascinating that no matter what he said. Kent. We started off well until I looked at the first row and this Scorpio guy was miming hysterical laughter. he just threw in the astrological terms he remembered and made up a little story about each one. 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.
My friends just did . However. she was always a tomboy. Jayne L. especially since I had always suspected it. it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he never had a sexual relationship with her. 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. When he told me he was gay. Waterville. Our friendship didn’t change in the slightest because she wasn’t “interested” in me. Our friendship didn’t change whatsoever. She never had problems getting a date and always had boyfriends. As for my female friend. ME My Struggles not understand what homosexuality was and they disassociated themselves from me. He came out of the closet after they broke up and she came out not too long after that. If she had expressed a desire to pursue a romantic relationship with me I wouldn’t have been able to remain friends with her after that. but I never really suspected she was gay. It wasn’t until she started dating a VERY effeminate guy that I thought she might be at least bisexual. They had a priest and my oldest brother try to talk sense into 145 I came out at a young age. I didn’t really think anything of it.T R U E S T O R I ES his senior year in high school and seemed to really care about her.
and the shrink said that they needed therapy. he’s given us a continuation because we “needed more proof” to prove that in Peru. We feel the judge was very homophobic. not me. I could marry her and she would become a legal resident in only 3 years.” Within 10 days. So I distanced myself emotionally from my family. knowing that if she 146 . After three years worth of evidence gathering. who is from Peru. He had no concern for my partner’s safety. 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. They even sent me to a shrink. My parents sent me to live up north with my fanatical brother. we are at the mercy of a very homophobic system. and my uncle forbade my cousin to associate with me for fear that I would make her gay. I fear losing my partner. He did not care that my partner and I appeared in a documentary shown worldwide called “Through Thick and Thin.100+ me. gays and lesbians are persecuted. Right now.” I did.” so we had to go back to court. the new judge denied the case and ordered her to be deported. we were given yet another continuance because the INS attorney said that my partner qualified under an old law called “Suspension of Deportation. As if things couldn’t get any worse.” which is about bi-national couples being forced to split up due to unfair immigration policies aimed at gays. the INS attorney contacted our lawyer and said. We are not giving it to her. but I am a woman and therefore. If I were a man. “Never mind. A judge has heard our case 3 times but each time. too.
Can we afford to delude ourselves when the sands of the hourglass are spilling before our eyes? Pain. We just had a fire at our condo 3 weeks ago and had no insurance. 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. William Steed Kelley Huntsville. the most effective teacher. TX 147 I . FL The Truth learned the hard way that a recounting of facts doesn’t necessarily equate with the Truth. 35 Tampa. We lost everything. These days. it has made us stronger and brought us closer. 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. Aileen Diaz. the only thing that really matters to me is truth. I consider my forced removal from this society of wolves and sheep a blessing.T R U E S T O R I ES were deported. no different than any other heterosexual couple. has taught me compassion. the Ultimate Truth.
The fact that the indiscretion occurred with a prostitute and was not a full-fledged affair doesn’t really make it any better. better not to tempt fate. But on the other hand. I feel like an idiot. I used to look up to my father and even praise him for never having been unfaithful to my mother. On the one hand.100+ Better Off Not Knowing couple of years ago. but there is a lingering feeling in the back of my mind. I probably would have been better off not knowing. Eloise Lebreton. I still love and respect him. but I will never be able to look at him the same way again. and I would never throw it in his face. Now. my mother told me that my father had cheated on her with a prostitute. My father doesn’t know that I know what he did. 30 Detroit. I’m glad my mother told me because I don’t like being in the dark about anything or anyone. MI A Keeping the Demons at Bay linical depression is what could give the Reaper the key to your cell. Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you. You have to always be 148 C . gnawing at me: the revelation that he’s not the man of integrity I thought he was.
My parents attended a wacko fundamentalist church where child abuse was the norm. I was allowed to play with a friend. One way is to keep doing those pushups. They help. so you better learn to keep it at bay. No matter how upbeat you may feel. 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. The cops are supposed to patrol the tiers a little more often during the Yuletide season because people do get more down than usual. Make no mistake about it: months and years in this environment can twist anyone’s mind to some degree. It’s always going to be there.” then there’s not much they can do about it. I don’t think it’s a matter of just staying strong. After church. 149 A .T R U E S T O R I ES on guard against succumbing to conditions that can spawn a state of mind so foul it can cause a young man in the prime of life to want to leave this realm. I lived in Shreveport. CA For Love or Religion t ages 4 and 5. there’s always a part of you that’s miserable. Mike Rothwell Ione. But if someone’s determined to “check out. Louisiana. I think it’s more a matter of never letting your guard down.
I have been an atheist ever since. My friend’s mother yelled. and I did not report it to my parents who were just as bad. another ultrafundamentalist sect. was too much to handle. Christians have a warped sense of love and justice that all too often results in child rape. she looked more like a demon from hell than what you’d imagine a Christian is supposed to look like. 47 Old Fort. I just stood there while all this happened and did nothing. He screamed in agony. Christian Missionary Alliance. NC 150 . especially my mother. you should see what torments await thieves in the fiery hell where you will be heading if you don’t repent! I’m doing you a favor by doing this. I still shudder at the memory of the stench of burning flesh. She dragged my friend to the kitchen. lit the gas stove.100+ One day my friend’s mother searched his clothing to find some candy that he had shoplifted. It is all out of love!” Seeing something like that in person. She barged into the room screaming. I was a victim of molestation myself—the perpetrator was a Sunday School teacher at a different church. molestation. her face contorted in rage. and held his right hand over the flame until it burned to a crisp. Yurshta. at my tender age. and abuse. “You think this hurts motherf’er.
demeaning.T R U E S T O R I ES Words Speak Louder pack just as much of a “punch” and can hurt just as much as a physical blow. and offensive words can After a Decade n the first 10 years of marriage. I swear. Gaby Hermann. whether physical or emotional. NETHERLANDS Harsh. and their wives or girlfriends are usually the easiest ones to pick on. should not be tolerated. at times I honestly would have preferred to be hit than verbally barraged. not even after he started drinking every night and fighting 151 I . I did not get angry with him. he became selfish and told me to cooperate with his other wife. I have never been physically beaten. but I have been a victim of emotional and psychological abuse. Any kind of abuse. Sometimes psychological abuse can be considered worse than physical abuse. I had nine miscarriages. Many aggressors feel the only way they can achieve this is by toppling the self-esteem of others. My husband was a fun-loving man until the 11th year. 26 Essen. Some men like to manipulate women and make them feel inferior because they have low self-esteem and need to build themselves up.
I was forced to call the cops. He is now angry with me and wants a divorce. Then one day. We’ll just have to wait and see what God has planned for us. INDIA 152 .100+ with me. Delhi. Sonia. so I’m planning to grant him a divorce. What has my life come to? I still love him and I don’t want to ruin his life. 36 New Delhi.
Eerie Encounters .
We cannot be alone. 28 Salem. Why would we want to be? Clarette. until I realize it’s the tide in the bay splashing over the rocks some 200 yards beyond the cell block. I keep swimming. I listen for a moment to a strange.T R U E S T O R I ES Who Wants to Be Alone? believe that extraterrestrials must exist. The universe we live in is far too vast for us to be the only ones who inhabit it. NH I Drowning t must be about 4 a. slight. swishing sound. I am swimming for San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t need to see to believe. Only human arrogance and delusion would conclude that we must be unique and special. Aquatic Park. although I’ve never seen one. They are looking beyond me. even Ghirardelli’s. 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. I can see the people. but I’m getting tired. In my nightmare. Nightmare echoes of drowning wash over me as flashes of my dream flit about in my head. just a quarter of a mile farther.m. I can see Fisherman’s Grotto. my 155 I .
Will Ferrara. It’s all I can do to stay afloat—getting cold. My best guess is that these dreams were about my failing liver. Foster. I dreamt I was a tadpole swimming in a dirty river. MA 156 T . I dreamt that I was led through a burned out house where I encountered a dead rotting fish on a platter. Am I going crazy? Frank E. out beyond the breakers. CA Dreams Reflect Reality hey say that dreaming about water has deep significance on one’s health. to the deep water. And about a week after that. 45 Delano.100+ arms are getting heavy. I dreamt about rowing across clear blue tropical waters. When I was 18. when I notice that I am looking down at myself. I am silently alone. I disconnectedly watch as tendrils of darkness seize my struggling body from below. And then. I hear something in the distance calling me. beginning to feel numb. 24 Lawrence. watching myself fight the water as I sink into the unforgiving depths of the bay. summoning me. The walls murmur. About 5 years later. I awake. The waves crash. I frantically look to see if I’m still paddling with my hands. I’m only treading water.
Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. my mouth stopped bleeding. I think that he presented himself in our dreams to apologize for his behavior. I boarded the “Orient Sun” and set sail for Singapore. One night. a strange heat enveloped my body. Almost twenty days later. In the following days. too. On our way to the hospital. showing us that we were right. He started massaging my gum and I felt a kind of energy entering my mouth. I dreamt that I was in Italy. while still aboard. I saw blood dripping from my mouth and my father saying that he would cure me with the help of an Indian doctor. While alive. my father got very angry with my mother and me when we talked about premonitory dreams. 56 Alfonsine. From that moment on. potable water and seawater mixed due to a broken pipe. In October. I noticed blood dripping from my mouth. I dreamt of a handsome Indian prince wearing a wonderful colored turban. and we had no choice but to drink it. So I left the “Orient Sun” and flew to Europe. Not long after. ITALY 157 I .T R U E S T O R I ES The Warnings n March 1991. at my uncle’s funeral. I immediately called home. Shocked. He didn’t believe them and thought we were nuts. I had two dreams in which my late father told me that I would have an extraordinary odyssey. In the dreams. my mother told me that my father appeared to her in a dream. I felt sick and went to sleep. My mother told me that my uncle had cancer. Ravenna.
staring straight ahead. as whatever I was looking at was far away. The tall buildings lining the street cast shadows on the cobbled ground. 19 Monaghan. IRELAND I I’ve Been Here Before the islands of the Caribbean. The object I was staring at began to shuffle closer. I felt as though I were traveling backwards in time. It was then that I woke up. but late for work! Paddy J. 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. but they continued moving and stretched me out. everything around me began to spin as if it were being sucked into a dark hole. its feet dragging along the ground. I landed at the feet of the creature.100+ The Monster in My Dreams stood in the middle of the main street.. It was pitch black. I could 158 The natives known as Tainos had inhabited . It was my dad! At that moment. but my legs were moving forward towards the thing. I remember shaking like a leaf. I stood up and looked at its face. not drenched in sweat or having wet the bed. I was squinting. And there I stood amidst the terrain on which the Tainos once roamed.
I was in the bathroom. it had disappeared. Enrique M. the silhouette of a Taino appeared on the surface. Going to middle school was daily torture for me. thin man.” someone who knew the area told me. As I placed my canteen in the water. When I returned home.T R U E S T O R I ES picture myself dwelling in their midst as they went about their daily lives. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. the vision of a tall. thinking about nothing. 159 W . It was at this moment that I saw. I heard cries of anguish and agony howling in the wind. for I had heard rumors that the island of Cuba has bad karma due to the fate of the natives. “That place is haunted. my mind completely blank. When I turned to look. I was constantly taunted for the way I talked and the clothes I wore. seemingly projected in the white tiles of the bathroom wall. I told my friends about my adventure and about the ghost I had seen. FL No Grim Reaper hen I was about 11 years old. As nighttime fell. I saw what seemed to be an apparition.” I thought. I got goose bumps for the terrain looked so familiar. Hiking along the trail. echoes from long ago. Fernandez Miami. One evening. That left me speechless. “I’ve been here before.
I have not had any such vision since. I felt an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu. still completely covered by the hood. the same flame of the candle the man had been holding. And on the candlestick was a single lit candle. I have no idea what the vision meant. The man appeared to be Jesus but with the physical characteristics of the Grim Reaper. his head slowly transformed into a single flame. hooded. His face was shrouded in darkness. carrying an old-fashioned candlestick with a looped handle. My mind froze in shock and I felt the full force of realization: “I” 160 I . and the vision was gone. grey cloak that covered his entire body. I remembered being there before. UK Between Time and Space n 1980. He walked towards me. Abruptly this vision metamorphosed into a close-up of just the man’s head.100+ He was wearing a long. The flame then gradually disappeared into the white background of the bathroom tiles. Bronwyn von Fuller Plymouth. but somehow I knew that he was bearded. Then. I entered the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Devon. when I entered the King’s Chamber. standing in that same spot. However. All I know is that it came during the most emotionally tumultuous period of my childhood.
This ensured my “timeline” wasn’t broken. Then my former self stood in my body. the kind that hang on from the time you open your eyes to the time you get to school. and activated it.” Lasers embedded in the four corners of the room sliced across and cut out four sections. moving the ancestors he didn’t want out of my brain and putting in the ones he chose.T R U E S T O R I ES was still in the chamber. I perceived my body standing in a science lab with dials along the walls. leaving the center in which I stood untouched. There were a few Atlantean scientists standing and watching as well. During this moment of déjà vu. but reconnecting from ancient Atlantis. Misty. My former Atlantean self shone a bright crystal light on my head. My ancestors became visible as their faces lined up chronologically above me. 54 Auckland. NEW ZEALAND I Saw It Happen hen I was 14 years of age. AK. I came back to my present “reality. the kind of dream that even in 161 W . and don’t believe time is always linear. I am able to communicate with my former self by telepathy.” Now. my present “reality” seemed to “freeze frame. I woke up one morning from a night of terrible nightmares. transferred his intelligence into my brain.
In my dream. I stood among men in uniforms whose shouts of urgency finally turned into screams of desperation. 59 West Roxbury. facing myself. a little more settled. slamming into and amongst what now were dead bodies.100+ broad daylight seemed real. a little more aware. I’m 59 now. Water burst from overhead pipes with such force that it threw them from their feet. trying to breathe… It wasn’t until one of my teachers started discussing the sinking of the submarine USS Thresher that I realized what I’d seen. I had “flown” over land then blue water that turned cold and black. but I’ve stopped myself because I’ve always associated it with something bad. I didn’t raise my hand to tell him. but I didn’t. D. I’m willing to see where it takes me. Huge pieces of orange insulation broke free from their casings and hung in the water. 162 I . Over the years I’ve started to “fly” on more than one occasion. MA Back to My Body had an out-of-body experience when I was 4 years old. drifting like seaweed. They knew what was about to happen. and a little less afraid. Lonn. More and more debris ruptured from every direction. I remember lying in bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body.B. I woke up taking short gulps of air.
Later. completely powerless to stop it. I started to read a lot of books. The driver lost control of the vehicle. which struck a barrier. After that. as I had in Spain. when I moved 163 G . Since I was only 4 years old. Those harrowing moments felt like an eternity yet. I learned the term years later. I was always interested in the possible existence of ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. I survived the accident with no major injuries. 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 had no concept of what an out-ofbody experience was. Waterville. and quickly drifting away. I had no fear at all that I was going to die. I watched shows on television. but with a different outlook on life–and death. I reached out to academics that believe in and study the possibility of paranormal activities. “I need to get back. It was the scariest thing being pulled away from my body. It was a car accident in Texas in 1995 that was the pivotal moment in my pursuit of the inexplicable. Jayne L. and then was finally able to label my experience. and we started to spin really quickly.T R U E S T O R I ES floating in the air. I began flailing and screaming in my mind.
“I must warn you that there is a young man who will ask to marry you!” Four days later. he said. One night. I dreamt that I was entering a church where the Pope waited for me. just one year before meeting Gabriele. facing him. I found the Boston Paranormal Investigators online and contacted them. a few steps from the altar. A year later. 37 Madrid. Smiling kindly. There is only going to a different level. But for me.100+ to Massachusetts. 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. at my friend Viola’s insistence. it’s one of my many pastimes. I went dancing with her at the Stork Club and I met 164 T . SPAIN The Mournful Guitar his story begins in December 1989. Pilar Gonzalez-Caro. 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. but with no success. I knelt down on a pew. My personal opinion is that there is no such as thing as death. I got slowly closer. I dreamt of a guitar sound transmitting such strong sadness and pain that it woke me.
striking me like a storm. ITALY 165 . I told him not to joke. but that he had just forgotten her thanks to our meeting. Through telepathy. struck by his suffering. he had sent me all his pain accompanied by the sound of his guitar. so I left. and I tried to help him.T R U E S T O R I ES Gabriele. but he had terrible secrets. He vowed to marry me. I felt all his fear and pain. Elisabetta Errani Emaldi. in January 1991. but he replied that he was amazed by what was happening! From that moment on. Ravenna. we became involved. While I stared at him. I met Gabriele at the Stork Club a few days later. But he continued smoking and drinking too much. 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 dreamt again of the mournful guitar. he told me that he had spent four days and nights without sleep. I knew that Gabriele was playing his guitar and that his pain was so strong that I could feel it through telepathy. His girlfriend had recently left him and his face showed his pain. Through telepathy. 56 Alfonsine. He told me that he had played his guitar and thought about me all night long. Then one night. But I already knew this bad news thanks to my dreams. To be sure. playing his guitar and thinking about his girlfriend.
On some nights. we became friends and she invited me to accompany her on a UFO hunt in East Kingston. NH. I thought I had imagined it ‘til I started to see them all the time. we would watch lights appear over 166 Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. 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 invited her to be a guest on my TV series on Channel 68 in Boston. He tipped his hat and smiled. a man the same height as me came up through the floor as if he were walking up some steps.100+ I See Spirits spirit. where she claimed that UFOs appeared regularly. Soon after. Now I have learned to tune them out so I won’t see them. During the five trips I made out there. Then all of a sudden. Determined to find a way to get to know Betty. I witnessed some amazing displays that I can’t explain to this day. I developed .
strobe for 30 seconds. up a tree. fly to some central point. I saw small strobe lights among the trees. First. We saw the usual lights in the sky. I remained a friend of Betty’s until her death in 2004. MA 167 . Other times. about 50 yards down the tracks. I saw a large backlit red disk go rolling across the tracks. “Look at that!” I turned to see a string of huge backlit lights rise above the tall pines. who was also an amateur photographer. and meet. then they turned off. As I returned to where Betty was parked. but then. a state psychologist friend of mine. accompanied me. 70 Waltham. On one of my last visits. On one occasion. it was the mother ship transmitting messages to the satellite ships we had seen earlier.T R U E S T O R I ES the horizon. we’d see “headlights” of various hues sitting way down the train tracks. I decided to walk down the tracks to the next crossing. and then disappear. Tom “Wolf” Elliott. Later. a huge pyramid of smoky plexiglass lights turning on and off in different sequences appeared. she suddenly pointed and yelled. and into the sky. It remained on the tracks for well over an hour as we circled around the block.
At Home & Abroad .
not financial statements. had to show the INS hard-working hands. German perfume. or Puerto Rican dialect. where all were welcome and. I arrived in Puerto Rico as a widow at the tender age of 24. my only adorable sister Translated by: “El Cuban” Morales and Nicholas Lockheimer always considered myself a “citizen of the world. We try to teach our children and grandchildren about what we consider valuable to our culture. so in our house we either speak English or Spanish in the Cuban.T R U E S T O R I ES Creating Our Own Melting Pot To: Angelita Ferreira. My current husband is a Cuban political refugee. but fell in love with the INS agent who waited on me at Customs. Colombian. I myself studied drawing and art appraisal in Venezuela. My grandfather used to tell us how he enlisted in the Spanish Army and emigrated to Colombia. and completely broken by life. We married and had a daughter. Russian caviar. I once had plans to live in London. My home still reflects much of Spanish culture with a touch of Colombia and a hint of Cuba. I originally went there to spend Christmas with my mother.” My father used to talk of Hungary. Lately. and my first husband introduced me to the States and Paris. and great America. but eventually we divorced. I love all kinds of music and my husband is an American music lover. we have also become interested in Greek culture since my granddaughter’s family on her father’s side is from 171 I . as proof of dignity. but life had a different destination in mind for me. with a 3-year-old son.
MA Do It the Legal Way what the immigration issue is really about. We all suffer when this happens. We love Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo. we love Bach. 36 Lennon.S. it reminds us that this country is great. Nidia F. 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. while others are trying to cheat the system. 54 Leominster. MI There seems to be a misunderstanding about Patience is a Virtue immigrated “backwards” (to Mexico from the United States) to be with my husband. Mare.100+ Greece. the Dolphins. on the contrary. We don’t feel less American because of that. Morales. He had never been out of Mexico and he didn’t have a visa to 172 I . Danny Rivera and Lucesita as well as Claudia de Colombia..
my . After a little over 2 years of residing in Mexico. harvesting crops. In Limbo family migrated north from California into Oregon and Washington. apart from being unconscionable. we lived with two or three other families in a small house or apartment owned by the local farmer.S. 27 Washington. There is no feeling comparable to that of getting the Green Card in the mail. it would have been too dangerous. my husband received his highly anticipated Green Card and we came to the U. a small farming town and our home for eight months out of the year. Later in the summer. Many times. while my 173 Every year from June until September.S. Then during the fall and winter months. I had family there. and I spoke the language so it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt to life south of the border.C. cars. and migrant camps. illegally because. so I decided to move to his.T R U E S T O R I ES enter my country. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him to enter the U. we would return to California in time to harvest grapes and almonds. D. we stayed in Livingston. My father is Mexican. I think that I was even more excited about finally having it in my hands than he was! Fernanda Aleman. We lived in tents. Even though I was the American citizen and my husband was the immigrant.
My friends went from primarily Mexican to mostly Anglo. I practiced speaking and reading out loud to lose the accent—I read whatever I could get my hands on—and practiced writing and spelling. School was a struggle from the beginning.” If these incidents were meant to discourage me.” “wet. In high school. Because of school. I got into fights because students would call me “wetback. mostly beans and tortillas. However. I practiced English as much as I could whenever I could. I was embarrassed by the clothes I wore. My baggy clothes and my brown skin embarrassed me. I was embarrassed by my first language. this was not a quick or easy transition. In fact.” or “spic. In grammar school. I was embarrassed by the foods that we ate. The student population was comprised of mostly white or recent Mexican immigrants as there had been a resurgence of migrants from Mexico. This is where I went to school. our bathroom was an outhouse. clothes passed down to me from my older brother. Not only were the white students 174 . Anglo children would make fun of my accent and name. I was held back in kindergarten. However. they didn’t work. and write in English. we took our baths in a big washtub. I realized that I was out of place in school.100+ father worked for a local farmer. they had the opposite effect. I struggled to learn to speak. I put in extra effort to correct the problems I had with English. There were times when I was embarrassed because of my family’s way of life—we lived in a house with no running water. Spanish. my language shifted from primarily Spanish to mostly English. Early on. read. halfway through my junior year.” “greaser.
tonight—“in theory” because one takes the word “pay” with some reservation when living in Peru. I wasn’t Mexican. but now so were the recent immigrants from Mexico. and my only hope is a private class at a rich guy’s house. I wasn’t white. My private class is in La Rinconada. but tomorrow I’ll pay?” He hesitates a moment but then he looks at his customer.. but on the inside I acted like a white person.” I remind myself. To white students. I didn’t seem to fit in.S.T R U E S T O R I ES looking at me suspiciously. “One hundred soles tonight. Although I was of Mexican descent. you know. “Now don’t run away on me. So I was called a “coconut” by many of them—I was brown on the outside. and I had lost most of my Spanish. not even two dollars. They will pay. 50 Boston. “Could I get a couple of cigarettes. Raul Ybarra. a five sol coin and two half sol coins.” he chuckles and jots my name in his notebook. an enclave 175 I . I was born and raised in the U. the usual. The man at the blue kiosk greets me with a smile and steps in my direction. a gringo wearing a tie. in theory. MA You’re Not Peruvian look again as if a second look will change reality: six soles. to the Mexican students.
I am cheered by the recognition. They don’t speak to me or to each other. she told me to come inside and wait. I have classes with her kids.” “I know she’s not here.” I say.100+ of well-off Peruvians outside Lima. I eye the tamal on the counter. as big as a sandwich. dressed in blue uniforms with their white aprons.” I know the maid will ultimately be blamed for letting me in.” “That’s okay. A broke American is beyond their comprehension. and shoot furtive glances at the gringo flipping through his books. It is not good manners to ask for something in Peru—anything. even your own paycheck. Peruvian tamales are so yummy and big.” “The señora is not here. Señora Tagle told me to enter and wait for her. I sit at the kitchen table. “She’s not here. Poverty rots within Lima’s downtown and La Rinconada offers both peace and status. They’ll pass it off as an American informality. No way. I hear the buzzer and push open the door. then a visa to the States becomes a viable option. It’s ají amarillo. They will not associate my asking for food with begging. Two maids. Remember. are washing dishes in the sink. you are not Peruvian. “You’re the Tagles’ English teacher?” asks the guard at the gate. with chicken bulging from its sides. never mind 176 . I wonder if the maid will realize that I am broke if I ask for some. If these families don’t find happiness here. Matt. “¿Quién?” “It’s the English teacher. I spot the intercom speaker in the dim light and press the black round button.
Chin up. 40 Amesbury. I hear three honks. The principal called the teachers into her office one by one. “Are we getting paid today?” I asked aloud once again. 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. Let’s see: one sol home and four soles for food tomorrow. Tagle honks again before the girl’s hand can turn the key. others were given a song and dance. A maid jumps for the keys hanging over the counter. Wipe any sign of need from your face.T R U E S T O R I ES food or drink from a stranger. I keep telling myself not to feel bad for staying. “That’s what we all hope. and I came. I was told to come.” the history teacher finally muttered to shut me up. An hour later. They looked at each other to see who would answer. 177 . “What time are they going to pay today?” I asked again. The room grew eerily silent. Matt Wirzburger. Some received their checks. It was the end of the month. “When do we get paid?” I blurted out in the teachers’ room at the school where I teach during the day. Mrs. and springs out the door to the entrance. That is the hard part: hiding the need. payday. No way am I going home empty-handed. and we were all waiting for our first check.
100+ with my hair up in a tight bun. Karen Manhattan. Something compelled me towards those lights like a magnet. I was in the city “on business. the city awoke and came to life. I plowed down Fashion Ave to the lights. The streets were numbered.” It would not so much as occur to the natives that I was not actually from there. It was well worth it. I felt that I had “made it there. As dusk turned to darkness. I happened to look to my right and observe a magnificent panel of lights. I spent over 2 hours in various lines waiting patiently to ascend to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. that I could even be classified as a loathed tourist once my job interview was over. NY 178 . I forgot my aching feet that were now causing me to limp. 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. yet spaced widely apart. I had finally taken a nibble out of The Big Apple. the whole city was there. It was then. It was then that I realized that it was a city to only be truly enjoyed at night. After the much-anticipated grilling session. As I again made my way down the grid streets. I wasn’t alone. and only then.” I was in Times Square: a place that up until then had been tangible only in my dreams. With briefcase in hand. I was amazed and delighted to see various people stopping dead in their tracks and taking photos without embarrassment.
”. we don’t.” or “U.” and countless other TV programmes that we Yanks stole.S. Indy 500/Nascar is too easy.T R U E S T O R I ES What I Learned from the British 1) Petrol stations are found at supermarkets and adverts before films. and Irish are different “races” and never compare them or lump them into the same “Celtic” category. it’s “America. Irish. 7) Humour is subtle. dry. 12) It’s not the “U.. Scottish. but the British cracked the Enigma code and won the Battle of the Atlantic. they helped a great deal. 10) The English. French. 4) Beer drinking is an art. and sophisticated. real ale. 3) We copied baseball (rounders/cricket) and American football (a variation on rugby) from them. sarcastic. Welsh. (“They just go round in circles!”) 9) They drive “properly”. does not give you the right to proclaim yourself to be of that nationality.” or “Yankland”. 5) Drinking and going to nightclubs during the week is acceptable. 11) The Yanks didn’t single-handedly win World War II.” “Pop Idol. etc. bitter. The 179 . 2) They invented “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. and you must learn the difference between lager. 13) The fact that your great-great-great grandparent was English.S. 6) Footy (soccer to Americans) is a religion.A. and stout.e. 14) Their most famous bands abroad aren’t necessarily their most famous or popular domestically (i. 8) Formula One is “real” car racing.” “The States.
18) There is no scene too sexually graphic or swear word too taboo for regular telly—as long as it’s after 9 p. 27) 50ºF is ideal weather for wearing shorts.m. 26) Given the choice between a Yank or an Australian. 21) Avoid seeming rude or offensive at all costs (except whilst pissed).m. FL 180 . they’ll take the non-Yank. 19) They still practise common courtesy and hold the door open for you. not pounds. 23) American coins don’t have their values on them (How would any foreigner know that a nickel is worth 5 cents and dime worth 10? It doesn’t say!). 15) The food is great actually (you just have to know how to cook it). Canadian. Gavin S. it means “dinner time” and is not necessarily served at 4:00 p. 22) There are 14 pounds in a stone. apologise profusely for it. 16) Nobody says bobbies or wimpies. and body weight is stated in stones.. 17) Red Indians and Darkies are terms accepted by the media. Rolling Stones.100+ Beatles. South African. or any other English-speaking foreigner. 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). Pink Floyd). If caught being rude. 25) You stay in hospital and do things at the weekends. 23 Jacksonville.
I remember being hit on my upper back with a 181 In August 1990. We discovered Diamond Head. I vividly remember the flavor of the taro root chips as if it were yesterday. My nose recollects the many encounters it had with the unpleasant smell of the sulfur steaming out of the ground. It was nighttime and my parents and I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand from the safety of our rental car no more than a few miles away across the inlet.T R U E S T O R I ES Return to Paradise the Honolulu International Airport after a 5-hour flight from Seattle. my parents and I arrived at . tropical island of Oahu and landed in the rustic lava field of the Kona airport. and Waikiki Beach. We trekked and climbed over “Pele’s Hair. the rainbow that was so large I had to take three separate photos in order to capture it in its entirety. there is nothing in the world that is comparable to these luscious. covering vast stretches of highway as a reminder to us that the Big Island is still young and growing and remains the aforementioned goddess’s domain. Although decades have passed. We took off from the claustrophobic. crimson berries. Pearl Harbor. I remember being awed by the enormous rainbow that spanned across the island one day.” which spans in black swirls over the island. Native and unique to Hawaii. We witnessed the destruction of Black Sand Beach at Kaimu Bay on the island of Hawaii. I can still taste the ohelo berry parfaits we ate at the Volcano House hotel.
29 Tultitlán. which unfortunately did nothing to facilitate my understanding. Estado de México. I remember wanting to return… H.100+ large. ovular. but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.” Despite my pitiful German. I traveled up through the heart of Germany on the bullet train from Munich to Lübeck. If Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” then Germany is the “Emerald Landlocked Country. MEXICO The Other Emerald “Isle” Germany: although English is a “Germanic” language. Those who observed the confused look on my face upon addressing me in German would immediately rephrase in English. and those who didn’t speak English would speak slowly in German.” I was pleasantly surprised and 182 First thing to consider when making a trip to . I turned around and perceived 2 tourists giggling. B. orange object and thinking that someone had thrown it at me. only to realize that I had inadvertently stood under a gigantic mango tree. Gutierrez. the only thing German and English have remotely in common is the phonetic similarity of the greetings “Guten Morgen” and “Good Morning. I was able to ascertain the meaning of most signs and maneuver the streets and “honor system” subway of Munich.
however unfounded that emotion may be. the “Allies” were now the “Axis” and I was seeing my homeland through the eyes of a WWII-era German citizen: bombs falling overhead. destruction everywhere. I took my time on a trip and decided to take everything in. Standing in St.T R U E S T O R I ES impressed to find a country of rolling. Schleswig-Holstein. I left with the feeling that all is forgiven. this knowledge did not diminish my empathy towards those who were innocent of the crimes of their government. However. and running in all directions. I had never pondered “being on the other side”. we were the enemy. 21 Lübeck. eerie feeling. but never forgotten. I packed up my leased . I even felt a bit guilty. I knew it was war. I imagined civilians screaming. I got off the interstate to travel on historic Route 66. Marien’s church in Lübeck. that it was them or us. Gisela. Along the road. green hills and plains. I experienced an unexpected. For the first time since the early eighties. looking at the cracked brass bell lying partially embedded on the floor. To them. checked 183 In late October 1998. crying. GERMANY Taking It All In Ford Escort and headed out West.
I spent days at the Pueblo. and visited various museums.100+ into small motels. the sun paints the high desert in colors no brush can emulate. There is always a scent of sage in the air. The small artist community is full of beautiful galleries. Brigitte Pauli Memphis. 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. admiring Indian art and taking photographs. and the spirituality of the place can only be described as refreshing. I arrived in Taos five days later and felt like I had finally arrived at a place of total serenity. delightful little restaurants. Documenting the lonely yet enjoyable drive in pictures. TN 184 .
The Toughest Job in the World .
He is very squeamish and I was amazed at how very calmly he did what he had to do. So. I woke up my husband and we proceeded to the hospital.m. I was awakened abruptly by contractions. My due date of June 19th came and went. I knew what to expect.” This is absolutely the truth than when it comes to childbirth. so on the 20th. we did not make it to the hospital. At 3:30 a. For child number two. 35 NY 187 It’s been said that “the best laid plans of mice . We were about 5 minutes away when I yelled to my husband from the back seat that the baby was coming out. Krista.. I don’t think my husband would have planned it any other way. after being able to share this special bond. We were told that I could be induced at this point. my husband and I went to the doctor’s.T R U E S T O R I ES The Best Laid Plans and men can often go astray. he did just that. I planned a Caesarean. but my water broke the night before and it ended up being a natural delivery. which is about 45 minutes away. For our first child. even while a bum and other obnoxious drunk people approached him. So we planned (funny how that word has a habit of popping up) to go to the hospital the next morning. Although having the baby in the car was not how I would have planned it. Needless to say. I advised him to call 911 and the woman on the phone told him to pull over and help me.
Friday evenings were always a thrill. a strange car would slow down on the highway and turn in at our house. take out the Sunday comics. It was just the three of us.100+ Through the Eyes of a Child father was home. wondering what kind of car Daddy would be driving this time. I’d lie beside him in the same pose. It would scarcely be daylight when he’d bring in the Sunday newspaper. Joe Palooka. He’d take off the rubber band. and my mother would call us for breakfast. bacon. and Tarzan of the Apes. I had no idea how complicated life could be for a struggling young married couple with a child. but fairly frequently. the smells of biscuits. and eggs would be emanating from the kitchen. and read each one aloud. All was good in the world. Alley Oop. Daddy would get out. car payments. By then. waiting for Daddy to come home from work. my finger pointing to each comic pane as he read it. I had no concept of rent. spread them open on the wood floor. causing the heavily defense-oriented industries of East Texas to lay off thousands of workers. then I’d beg him to read them just once more. My . Not every week. prop himself up on his elbows. and we’d both laugh at Mutt and Jeff. grocery bills. not working as he was the rest of the week. The car would stop. Dan and Tom). He’d slowly read the comics to me. lie down. and two more on the way (my brothers. and I’d run to 188 Sunday mornings were a special time. or the impending job market crash as the Korean War was shutting down. The Texarkana Gazette.
1. Daddy would take me for a ride to the store for an ice cream in his new car. Charles P. and lights. My family visited him and held back their tears when they came to visit me.220 grams. and he’d have to go to another used car dealer to get another car on a weekly payment plan. Not with .) My mother would be standing in the doorway holding the baby. Times were hard. FL I Thought I Had Failed overwhelming joy. I cried. My son’s clear plastic incubator had a card with St. begging him for a ride in the new car. 189 The first time I saw my son. and he’d let me sit in his lap and steer. but I never realized it. They said he was beautiful. (On Friday evenings. I was recovering from an emergency C-section. tubes. Theresa’s prayer and a sticker stating his name. due to pregnancy complications at 29 weeks. 59 Daytona Beach. I didn’t know until years later that when my dad couldn’t make the weekly payment. I felt desperate. I saw him for the first time 3 days after he was born. but because I thought I had failed. Norman. a frown on her face. Sebastian. or at least pretend to. I went to a place filled with noise. He was smaller than my forearm and covered in tiny tubes and wires. Finally. the used car lot would repossess the car he had. and his weight.T R U E S T O R I ES him.
and hope flooded me. He needed my protection and I could not give it to him. and I prayed. the hospital planted tulips and daffodils and the days grew longer. Lisa. After a week. Relief. pride. I’m too afraid of screwing up. I gained knowledge. I began to sob. I was entering the next stage of motherhood and I was happy.100+ His skin was transparent and wrinkled. The trees went from grey to a fusion of greens. I cried. I’m fearful of the pain of watching my child grow up. I ached to still be pregnant. and I don’t think I’ll ever want to be. He was so fragile and exposed. I was discharged. patience. I thought I had failed at the first stage of motherhood. He needed to be inside me where it was calm and warm. Over time. a new milestone was reached and tubes were gradually removed. At long last. fear. I spent numerous hours holding him in my arms pretending he was still in my womb. and confidence. 36 North Andover. he was bundled in his car seat ready to go home. and mourning. wanting to 190 I . Each week. I talked to him. I forgave myself for having a sickness beyond my control. MA Afraid to Be a Mom ’m not a mom yet. Outside. I became determined to care for him. I sang to him. Sebastian exceeded all expectations. besieged by guilt. leaving my baby behind.
we weren’t there to look at. I don’t want to worry about him or her getting hurt. and I 191 I . I don’t want kids because of the way I was when I was younger. which would walk up and eat right out of your hand. or getting into drinking.” a theme park that featured a deer sanctuary. drugs.. 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. or feed the deer. I don’t want to relive my childhood through their eyes. and not wanting me to be a part of his or her life. or gangs. or having trouble with the police. At about 3 a. 25 SC The Hunt t was 1977. It was a fenced-off section with machines loaded with pellets for feeding the deer. Tonight we were there to get meat for the house. Suzanne. my father and I were in his truck. and I was twelve years old. Right now. pet. But tonight. Though I was only twelve. I had worked weekends and summers with my father since I was nine. Tonight we were killing deer without firing a shot. or getting involved with the wrong girl or guy. Maybe they’d be better behaved than I was… Maybe they’d be a lot worse.T R U E S T O R I ES push me away.m. driving to our new “hunting spot. I don’t have any desire to find out.
Your children and their children can have this memory that was once yours. GA Moments Frozen in Time a second of life captured in a photograph. a second of your life. 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. It was one of the closest moments my father and I ever had.100+ was a master with the sledgehammer. We drank beer on the way home. My father hopped out and helped me load the deer into the back of his truck. I snuck up to the fence line. By the time he got there. 43 Jessup. I took my spot and waited. with the click of a camera. forever 192 A picture is a memory forever frozen in time. checked for traffic. You can take a picture and freeze time. Smash! I got him too! My father loaded the cane poles. I had already pulled the spike over the fence and smashed another doe. I didn’t even have to call the deer. Smash! I laid her out! I turned around and there was a small spike buck at the other hole. . Steven Small. The story was a big hit with all my friends and my dad’s friends. Pretty soon a doe stuck her head through the fence to eat. It took us about thirty minutes and we had three deer to eat without even firing a shot. they were already there.
Sitting on a stool at the counter. but something was unleashed in me. she was so excited that she leapt for joy. Life goes on. But the bigger part of me noticed what a precious moment it was. New moments are constantly being created. I didn’t expect much. My husband bought me a fancy camera to help me document our babies’ lives. It is so wonderful to discover the world all over again through a child’s eyes. moments are forgotten. Part of me wanted to pull her away. without a care in the world. My photographs hold a special place in my heart. a single moment that no longer exists is now yours to keep. I 193 M . 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. My memories are brought to life every time I look at one. Don’t we all wish we could be this free. so that she wouldn’t get wet and dirty. Kelly. sipping a chocolate shake. like when my daughter was splashing in a fountain on a hot summer day. and sadly. 30 Martinsburg. but those moments stay behind. I cherish every moment captured. just living in the moment? When my daughter saw the ocean.
John. It was in seventh grade. “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. Mama’s check didn’t amount to much.” she’d declare with her chin uplifted. without any explanation. I was proud to be her son. “Those aren’t for spending.100+ was as happy as a three-year-old boy could be. She seemed like the ultimate success to me. and well fitting. the afternoon waitress. and a few coins went into my piggybank. Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail. crisp. Dorothy. I do my best.” she said with tears 194 . She quit school to marry him. He had promised to take care of us.” “Your Mama ain’t got no education. Those are old coins. would give my stool a spin and laugh almost as hard as I did. Her green eyes sparkled. he left. my first year in middle school. Someday they’ll put you through college. “Your Mama works for tips. One day. I rushed home with some questions for Mama.” One day. Three dollars went to Aunt Tilley for babysitting. “I did my best. I couldn’t take it anymore. Everyday. Some streetwise kids set me straight. Mama would return home with an apron pocket full of change. collectables. when I found out what a dismal failure my Mama was. Mama was beautiful.” “Your Mama spends all day slapping men’s hands off her butt. after the breakfast and lunch shifts were done. Most of her money came from customers’ pockets. Her brown uniform and white apron were clean.
My middle-school friends had seen to that. that’s what it was. Told her ‘Nam was safer than Dallas on Saturday night. One day. I didn’t go to college after high school.. Oh sure. Something that says that the woman buried in this grave was loved and respected by her family. I joined the Army and was sent to Vietnam. TX 195 . There was just nothing I could respect about her.. Mama was gone. After it was over. Respect. Mama’s friend at the café. not love. you couldn’t help but love Mama—everyone said that. I wouldn’t need it. “Buy the nicest headstone you can find. Mama had asked her to sell the old coins and give me the money. Mama wrote every day. shame for being poor. But something was missing from my letters. I handed the money back to Dorothy. Mama asked if I needed anything. She’d died of breast cancer. They let me go home for the funeral. a letter came from Dorothy. shame for having a waitress for a Mama. VA benefits would pay for my college tuition after my enlistment was up. All my love turned into shame. She hadn’t told me because she knew I had enough to worry about. Something with angels on it. Dorothy came up and handed me a wad of money. shame for having no Daddy. I wrote back. Mama sent cookies. Before she died.” John Yarbrough Rosharon.T R U E S T O R I ES running down her cheeks.
Pieces of a puzzle I had to solve. I pulled out all the papers. “Last case for today. When outside. and no nice couches like at the doctor’s office. Finally. “An abortion. but I really wanted to shut that glove compartment quickly and forever. a letter thanking her for outstanding work taking the census. She must have known that I would see it. Occasionally. she answered. My mom looked better dressed than the other moms.S. When I did. but she didn’t say anything until I asked. we’re out of gas!” 196 There were women with children in every . and one of the moms would get up and herd her children to the counter. we got into the boiling car.” I acted as though I was reading the rest of the papers and even unfolded and tried to re-fold a U. and devoured them one by one. a lady came out and said. It was obvious that we were waiting for something. but there were no magazines. and headed back to my mom’s apartment. sit back down. a man or woman would call out a number. no television. map. and wait to be called into another room.” My mom stood up and walked to the window. but her face wore the same void expression. She would fill out some papers. I looked at the gas gauge and said. There were several overdue bills sent to old addresses. and an overdue bill from Cincinnati General Hospital. In the front. “Mom.100+ The Glove Compartment corner of the room. “Mom. put them in my lap. I opened the glove compartment. no books. what’s ‘dilation and curettage’ mean?” Without turning her head.
“Why the hell do you think you sat in the welfare office all day? You know. you’re just like Auntie Doll. Maybe she was seeing my dad or my grandma or the people who wouldn’t hire her to teach anymore. everybody in the world. lack of food. it was the look in her eyes as she raged at me. Yvette Louisell. No.T R U E S T O R I ES My mom stopped the car in middle of an intersection. Or maybe she looked at me like I was everybody. or the bills. A little redheaded girl who lived down the block. The look said I was not her own daughter to whom she had given birth.” I had seen her before and thought she was the prettiest 197 O . IA Standing Up for Me and Ma ne day. always wanting people to bury themselves in the backyard when they’re still living. When she turned to look at me. when I was ten. It wasn’t the welfare office. 37 Mitchellville. She looked as if she wasn’t seeing me. It wasn’t even the accumulation of years of my dad telling me that my mom was a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic that finally made it clear. I was sitting outside on the front steps. she yelled. but someone else. for me.” It wasn’t the words she said because they made perfect sense to me in the way that what isn’t sane often does. sat down beside me and said “Hello.
I have to take Ma’s jewelry back!” I insisted. the front door burst open and Ma’s lip was bleeding. She got a damp washcloth and placed it gently on my lip until it stopped bleeding. it didn’t take detective Columbo to figure out her jewelry was gone. she kissed my forehead and flew out the front door. she up and kissed me right on the mouth. Again she scooted closer and I stayed put. Big John wanted to go down there. She wrote a note to get her jewelry back. what had happened. and he punched me in the mouth and bloodied my lip. “You’re not getting it back! Now go home!” he screamed.” she said. and I carried it to the little redhead’s house. She said love makes you do crazy things. The next thing I knew.100+ girl in the world. “Down the block. When I gave the note to her father he got angry. She kept kissing and I kept bringing Ma’s jewelry to her until there wasn’t any left! When Ma came home from work. “No. Needless to say. That little girl was no fool. I told Ma what happened and that I was in love. I ran in the house and came back with a pair of Ma’s best earrings and gave them to her. “Green house. She 198 . but Ma said she would handle it herself. I took Ma’s hand. Then. I got home empty-handed. She scooted closer to me and I scooted away. Ma smiled and hugged me. After twenty minutes. both became angry. and put it softly on her lip until the bleeding stopped. white shutters!” Now it was Big John’s turn to fly out the door in rage. got a damp washcloth. Big John. She looked at Big John who had turned red with anger. When I told Ma and her boyfriend.
VA 199 . When Big John walked in with blood on his Tshirt. and left.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. I gave him a couple bloody lips to let him know he made a big mistake by hitting my woman and my kid. and every time we saw a carrot in the grocery store. we got a smile. we got the jewelry back. His wife. who had been putting away groceries. Then the little redhead’s mother ran from the kitchen. Meanwhile. snatched the bag. “Take it! It’s all there. “You didn’t… He’s not…?” “Dead? No. I promise!” Big John pulled the father to his feet. “You like to beat up on women and kids. Then he walked over to the counter. 66 Burkeville. “And retrieved your… carrots?” He had grabbed the wrong bag from the counter! Oh. screaming. 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.” Big John’s huge hand went into the bag. stood by the refrigerator. Ma ran to him. “My God. but we laughed and laughed like never before. are you all right?” He nodded. do ya?” Pow! He fired a fist into the man’s face. warning him not to touch us again. George Hughes. returning with a brown paper bag that she sat on the counter.
” the man screamed at me. With the fork in one hand. My mom and dad were sitting on our porch and could see and hear everything. My mother had gotten to her feet. accentuating each and every word like a conductor leading an orchestra. more surprised than hurt. Michael’s father sprung from a chair and pushed me off his baby. you little sissy. All I really remember was staring at the end of that fork as he waved it around. I looked over. “Oh it’s all right. I inadvertently bowled over a toddler. you scared the poor boy. look what you did. Michael’s father then growled at me through clenched teeth. Apologize to my wife for scaring her to death. Michael tossed a ball to me and I ran backwards to catch it.” Michael’s mom said in a kind but condescending way. I hit the ground again. saying. he leaned over me.” 200 O . “Don’t look to your folks for help. you made him cry. my friend Michael and I were playing in his backyard. one of Michael’s many siblings. but my dad sat her back down.100+ No More with the Neighbors ne bright summer day. She gently pointed me towards my house and gave me a little shove to get me started. saying. because he had in his hand one of those foot-long cooking forks used for turning meat. and look. screaming. I guess Michael’s dad had been barbecuing. “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. “Now run on home.
201 . Hours later. One of these days. Later. as I stared out the window from the top bunk of my bunk bed.” Not wanting my dad to see me cry. I said. I can’t be there to save you. you’re just going to learn to stand on your own two feet. More mad than sad. “No more with the neighbors. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my son. my little lipschkin. Grandma Berg was inside. My job is to make sure you have food to eat.” she said as she dried my tears. I ran to my room. dry house to live in.” I answered. “My little wunderkind. trying not to look at me. “You didn’t do anything when Mr. I looked at her then at my father. help Grandma eat this. Dad asked me why I was frowning and just picking at my food. clothes to wear. who just sat there and grinned at me like it all was some sort of joke. I think. at the dinner table. he spoke from the head of our dinner table: “My job is not to save you every time you’re in trouble. new shoes every fall. but sternly. You are not going to be able to run home every time you get into some trouble. Grandma Berg appeared with a sandwich and glass of milk. You’re not some little girl who needs saving or coddling.” I’ll ever forget what he said. cleaned my hands and face with her ever-present rag. She almost whispered.” and she passed me half of the giant roast beef sandwich. Very calmly. just thinking. and offered me cookies. “What you doing here in this dark place?” she asked. “Thinking.T R U E S T O R I ES When I got to the porch of my house. Peck was yelling at me. my mother continued snapping string beans into a bowl. and a warm.
In casual and cruel black and white print. As I scanned the newspaper. a name leapt at me. He was full of jokes. Grandma stood there until I fell asleep. I begged him to 202 So many of them flit into my dreams. no more you thinking. I received a devastating student update. Thomas Michael Fox. unchanged . He got to me like no other student that year. he had the ability to enrage me one minute and drive me to hysterical laughter the next. and intelligence. I don’t get to see what they become or how they live as adults. Sun coming soon. They were my life for 180 school days and then they were gone. quietly humming some old forgotten German lullaby.” She took the small plate and helped me under the covers. songs. Your father. but Grandma knows things. You must be sleeping now. Dream the dreams boys dream. He also loved conflict. My memory linked a face to the name of a murder victim. Grandma is old woman. tomorrow is better day. as the elementary students they were. CA The Sand Dollar by time. he is a hard man but he loves his little wobkin.100+ “What you thinking? You always thinking. They remain frozen in my subconscious. 51 Corcoran. chores to doing. Quiet now. Too much thinking for one so young. In the classroom.
I knew his story now. just a headstone. I smashed my heels in the sand. cursing him. I saw I hadn’t. He would nod.T R U E S T O R I ES use his intellect and leadership skills to his advantage. I was mad. Then the ocean placed a perfect. I hadn’t found one for years. He could always make people smile. I’ll be sure to thank him if he ever dances into a dream. picturing him in one of my wedding photos. 36 Wakefield. I chose to believe it was a gift from him. MA If Not Me. so much lost. smile broadly. Stacey Curran Conway. but he was the star. He wasn’t my first lost boy. I stormed down the beach. unbroken sand dollar at my feet. it ended on a blood-covered sidewalk riddled with bullets. So much wasted. no one got to me like him. Then Who? ometimes I go back and look at my original cover letter for job applications and wonder what happened to the person who wrote “I have a vision 203 S . Now one found me. a bunch of kids had shown up at the church that day. Reading the article through blurred eyes. and dance away. His name wouldn’t be on any college rosters or corporate paychecks. But even now. I always wondered if I got through to him. an 11-year-old in leather.
college teaching was appealing because I envisioned strolling down tree-lined walks with adoring undergraduates hanging on my every word. Surprisingly. of the students who might never make it to college without help. Finally. and kept students in line. In some pretty tough school districts. toed the line (once or twice crossed a line). and rehired. But my energy has been diverted by worries over school funding. students with social problems. however.100+ of what my students can become. I have discovered that what looks good from afar often falls short when viewed close-up. and have leaned on them as they returned the favor. I’ve been insulted. RIF’d. I sit 204 . I have come to the end of myself.” Back then. I have stood on the shoulders of those who believed in me when I was still uncertain. and have shaken my fist at the injustice of a world in which young men are buried in their prom tuxedos. and administrators with agendas. I have stood in line. I have helped a teenager learn how to read. I have rejoiced in the success of interdisciplinary projects. living wages. the places with the roughest exteriors have sometimes provided the most supportive homes for me to pursue my dream. Today I wonder if college teaching is the biggest mistake I have ever made. who trusted what would later come to fruition. I have held other teachers as they cried in frustration or despair. I think. I have mourned the untimely passing of more than one student. I’ve scrambled to make lessons meet the needs of a new population and been left hanging with little insight into expectations. sworn at. pooh-poohed.
for a new vision. My first job fresh out of college was teaching Spanish to 6th. 34 Framingham. 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. MA Unsung Heroes profession. If the administration did not care to give the course the importance it deserved. Spanish was seen as an elective. Not only did I have to put up with insults bordering on sexual harassment. 7th. nursing my wounds and nurturing the tiny mustard seed of hope within me. Unfortunately.T R U E S T O R I ES on the crest of the hill and wait. why would the students? Although I am no longer teaching. Unruly students aside. I applaud 205 Teaching is the most underrated and underpaid . what made me decide not to continue teaching was the lack of support from the administration. not a real course. much less trusting. Students knew that they could fail my course and still be promoted to the next grade. but also many parents didn’t seem to care about their children’s behavior. I would be mortified.” If I ever received a phone call like that from my son’s teacher. and 8th graders. more wary. The mother’s response: “I’ll talk to him. Zora. at the school where I taught.
and schoolwork were not his hobbies. 29 Norwich. silence. Julia Perez. I could survive the duration of this profession. If I could survive this class. Ted continued to wander about. the vicious three-headed hellhound. At the start of a usual class. 206 I thought it would be all about learning and . They were the most hellish group ever assembled. Sitting. Attempting to gain control. It takes a special kind of person to teach children. Most were sensible enough to sit. Ted appeared of a normal disposition but had no normal tendencies. CT The Taming of Cerberus inspiration. remnants of a continuous high. Even Dante would have struggled in this room. and I was ill-prepared for such beasts. I threatened detentions for students not in seats. I attempted to get all the minions seated while they walked around throwing markers. but I soon realized I was naively optimistic. especially teenagers who don’t always want to be taught. all teachers are able to receive the recognition (and salaries) that they deserve. This was Hades and he was Cerberus.100+ those who do. His eyes were constantly glazed over. he had a grade of 20% in a class passable by any student who completed the work. I hope that someday.
After five years I am still teaching and the punk didn’t graduate. but how was his bite? Move he did. 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. His bark was mighty. Enjoy guarding hell. I had called his bluff and had the last laugh.T R U E S T O R I ES “Ted. regardless of how many college classes on classroom management I took.” the child said confidently. MO 207 . Wait. I think you need a high-school diploma for that job. “Okay Ted. you can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. “Take your best shot. Norton Loomer Saint Louis. I have to call the principal to come get you. Slowly I spread my legs until I was defenseless.” I didn’t blink or flinch waiting for his move.” Ted opted for the unmentioned third choice and continued to yell and throw objects. “I’m gonna kick you in the balls. I decided on the only rational thing. I had stunned the high right out of him.” What he said next I could not possibly have been prepared for.
C.. 102 Elliott. Sue Ellen. Lance. Fernanda. 166 Antzes. 96 Anonymous. 142 Dey. 121 Boner. 37. 166 Ephraim. 51. James. 75 Carrillo... 155 Corson. 95 Barchard. 122.Author Index AK. 132 Babb. 111 Amberchele. G.. Matthew. J.. 53 Curran Conway. Tom “Wolf ”. 61 Clarette. 130 . Malachi. D. José. 79 Anonymous . 45 Brame. Stacey. 19. 202 Daryl F. Robert Hal. 145 Donna J. 44 Anonymous. Aileen. 22 Aubrie.T. Eugene Alexander. Cynthia. Christopher. 70 Best. 172 Allen. 60 Aleman. Adelle. 135 Christie. 33. Aila. 127 Diaz. 47 Balic. 32 Brown. 100 Burns.
Will.A. 17. Spoon..Errani Emaldi. Gene W. 110 Forrest. 115 Hayley. 163 Gutierrez. 101 Jayne L. Hector. Thomas Michael.. Mary. Dennis. Daniel H. Terri. 30. 116 Hathorn. 200 Galilea. 192 Kikis_fairytale. George. 28... 36.. 179 Giosia. 62. 77 Gavin S. 131 Foster. 92 Gallegos. 182 Gonzalez-Caro. Frank E. 97 Hermann... Gaby. 80. 124 Hughes. 197 Jackson. 94 . 156 fightingsurvivor19 . 147 Kelly. William Steed. Elisabetta. Enrique M. 151 Higgins. 157. 98..B. 181 Harris. 155 Fox. 125 Hayden. 40 January. 177 Kelley. 74. 53. 45. 144. 59. 123 Gavai. H. 109 Karen. 162 Jenelleish. 164 F. 130 Gisela. 128 Jolene. 158 Ferrara.G. Pilar. 115 Fernandez.
Charles P. Norton. Michael. 148 Salinas. 99 Quarles.. Yvette. 25 McKenzie. Julia. Mike. 23 . 188 Paddy J.Krista. Jan. Kitty.. Brigitte. Mark D. 71 Richards.. Byron. 143 Priscilla. 206 Louisell. 189 Lonn. 160 Momo. Santonio. D. Ricky.. 73 Lebreton. Zachary. 171 Murff. 88 Norman. 122. 86 Mare. Miriam. 196 Mansour. 141 Redfearne. 158 Pauli. 161 Loomer. 69. 136. Prashant Devan. 87 McKenna. 133.. 32. 77 McLean. 172 Mayo. 21 LeBeau. Scarlet. 148 Lisa. Nidia F. 183 PC.B. 85 Rose. 20. 91 Rothwell. 59 Morales. 93. 187 Kumar. Gary. Eloise. 92 Perez. 67 Misty. 108 Philippa. 107. 205 Pete.
Raul. 193 Ybarra. 55 von Fuller. 90 Torres. Agatha. 159 Wantz. Kurt. 114 Vogt.. 203 . 173 Yeyo. Adela. John. 190 Suzy. 151 Suzanne. 42 Windoftheclyde. J. Steven. 63 Wirzburger. 191 Sonia. 15. 175 Yarbrough. Idris. 95 Yochum. Alexander J. Dinorah. 85 Tedesco.. Melvin William Joseph. 149 Zephyr. Bronwyn. 16 Shurley. 87 Small. 34 Zora. 50 Theoharides. 41 Shelly. Matt.E.Samuel. 39 Yurshta.
100 Plus True Stories. MA 01840 . Inc. U. 2009. Anthology Published by Cambridge BrickHouse. Inc.S. Massachusetts.A. 60 Island Street Lawrence. Any commentary or permissions requests regarding this book may be sent to: English Department Cambridge BrickHouse.
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written as memoirs.com $19.100plusts.The authors of this book decided to share their personal experiences with others by visiting the following web site: www. floating in the air.” “I remember lying in my bed and suddenly finding myself suspended above my body. and remember.. or confessions. These are true stories told by people like you.I will never be able to look at him the same way again... anecdotes.com.” “A week before my 26th birthday.com. What’s your story? ISBN 978-1-59835-109-5 51999 Visit www.” “I watched the lava flow and set fire to the sand.100plusts. Cynthia survived a car crash without a single scratch.” This book is the result of an ambitious project in which stories were submitted via the web site www. Upon being published.100plusts. Dinorah survived cancer in her 20s. illustrate life’s many.. What’s yours? Memoirs Collection “I survived the accident with no major injuries. don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside: this is your chance to be heard. These firsthand accounts. This innovative experiment was successful in attracting people from all over the world.99 9 781598 351095 . The best stories were selected for this book. Now you are invited to do the same. Nicola experienced déjà vu in Egypt. Tell your story in your own words and from your point of view. no more than a few miles away across the inlet. varied aspects: Melvin was homeless at nine. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Many people are telling their true stories. who were eager to share their experiences..” “. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. reflect.. cry. Norton tamed a “Cerberus”… These candid narratives make us laugh. facing myself. you will be able to keep and cherish this book and share it with your family and friends. but with a different outlook on life–and death.