I spend a lot of time thinking but I don’t speak much. Ironic then that I should write a blog I suppose. I’ve always been most comfortable speaking through writing, and have since I was a boy. Not sure why really.
Today I’ve felt a bit out of sorts. The parole board was seeing guys at my institution and the outcomes were what everyone knew they’d be. Each guy got more time. These are men that have 30, 35, 40+ years in. When is enough time enough? Most are reformed and keeping them behind bars serves no purpose whatsoever other than to satisfy a thirst for punishment. Terrorists in Europe serve less time than Ohio parole board prisoners (literally). An amazing fact, because rehabilitation is (supposedly) a key mandate of the department of corrections here in Ohio. It’s obvious that no one cares about that.
Anyhow, I’m not trying to make this post an indictment on Ohio corrections; that’s not what this blog is about. It’s just one of the things on my mind at the moment. The parole board really isn’t that mysterious. They always take the path of least public resistance, and if you understand this you’ll know what to expect. It’s the hard truth. I figured out years ago that what happens once you’re incarcerated can be summed up in 6 words: the parole board could care less.
When my stress level is up or when I feel down, I’ll walk the Hamster Wheel to decompress. As I said, I think a lot. There’s a downside to it, and that is I sometimes get trapped in my thoughts. It’s the bane of an existence of a lifetime of free time. There isn’t much to do behind these walls and razor wire, so thinking is an easy way go to.
As I walked the track I overheard a number of conversations. Most of the time they’re forgotten by the time I make the next circuit, monotonous background noise in a prison universe of constant noise. Like the white static of a station off the air. Except this time what I heard was so ludicrous and stupid it caught my attention.
I heard a fellow tell another guy that this was his fifth prison number. Wow, I thought. Incredible. They’ll let this moron out to repeat over and over again, and I can’t even get a chance for release. He was telling the guys about the other institutions he did time at and how much he hated this place, that it was boring here and that there’s nothing to do. Okay, so I’ll give you that. It can be very boring and there isn’t much to do. But bro, it’s prison.
He said that on his previous number he ended up in the hole for an argument he’d had with a guard. Once in the hole he had the bright idea to cause as much chaos as possible to get back at the guards. In the course of his genius he and his cellmate decided to kick the toilet from the wall, yank the bunk from the concrete and bust off the sprinkler head in the cell.
“So I hooked the sheet over the sprinker and pulled it off the wall,” he says. “And all this black water gushed out. It stunk like shit.”
The guys walking with him started laughing, but the best part was yet to come.
“It was freezing cold. The guard came and was like, ‘What the fuck?’ He then blocks the bottom of the door with a blanket and the cell filled with a foot of water. We were huddled on the bunk freezing our asses off, and they left us there for a long time before shutting the water off.”
This elicited a chorus of laughs, even the guys who were his friends called him a dumb ass. I shook my head thinking, how poetic. This story made my day. I couldn’t believe how stupid this dude was, and in that moment when I passed him I knew his life story. He’s a real life manifestation of the stereotype inmate. Just another ‘dumb inmate’, and if there was ever a “look” for such a person, he was it. I hate that us prisoners are stereotyped, but can you blame people for doing so? Guys like this give all of us bad names.
Anyhow, I eventually made my way back to the housing unit. I arrived to see the prison ambulance, a modified golf cart with a stretcher, parked outside the front door. That’s never a good sign. We have a number of diabetics in the unit and every so often they fall out and an outside squad is called in. We also have a lot of drug addicts, and they periodically overdose on everything from heroin to bug spray (yes, I did say bug spray). This was one of those incidents, overdose on bug spray. Men smoking paper laced with Raid, stuff specifically designed to kill shit. I tell you this is true. You can’t make stuff up like this.
And I enter the unit, and right there on the floor flat on his back is one of the new admissions, new to my unit and prison just 3 days prior. He’s loudly groaning, talking in incoherent sentences, staring at the ceiling. He has peed and crapped on himself. His hands and arms are contorted, both his hands and fingers bent in a twisted claw like manner. Have you ever seen what an insect looks like when you spray it with bug spray? They die. They literally flip over onto their backs, and all of their legs bend inward in a contorted death hug. This is literally what this dude looked like, and it’s literally what happens every time they OD on the stuff. Their muscles spasm and lock up just like a dead spider.
The institution’s nurses tend to him. Bless these women, they deal with every manner of ‘What the hell!?’ day in and day out, and if it weren’t for them guys like this would die every week here. It’s incidents like these that are hard for me to wrap my mind around. When did it become fashionable to smoke bug killer? When did it become so blase out there that the whole spectrum of illegal drugs is no longer enough, that a can of Raid is the go to? What the hell is happening out there on the streets? When did the world suddenly become stupid?
Anyhow, Bug Spray Boy was taken out by the outside squad and will likely return tomorrow feeling stupid. As incredible as this is going to sound, these guys return again and again to smoking insect killer and repeat the entire experience. I just don’t understand it.
On a lighter note, I received the Moderna booster shot today. I’d been chomping at the bit to get this shot because I don’t want to catch COVID. I saw enough when it ripped through my facility last year. You can read about it by clicking on ”The Week The Apocalypse Arrived” and then ”I Survived The Apocalypse”.
The last time I got Covid vaccinated, the second shot gave me an adverse reaction. I hope the booster is different. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I know. Either way, I’m getting the shot every time. Covid is deadly serious in prison.
Before I forget, a reminder that you can read any post listed in the directory There are so many good postings written by male and female prisoners from all across the country. Please remember to like and share the ones you enjoy and THANK YOU so much for following. Prison life can be lonely and knowing that people out there enjoy reading what we have to say makes all the difference.
Oh, and if you haven’t, check out my new book ”Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal”. In it you’ll find hundreds of posts from this blog both mine and the thoughts written by other prisoners. Search Amazon by title and author name Christopher Monihan.
I wonder what tomorrow holds?