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