Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Day 21

Sunday – September 10, 2006: Sunday mornings continued with its recognizable routine, underway with the unlocking of cell doors, the self-righteous and the serendipitous vied for slots to scream at the captive congregation. Among the fella’s with a desire for creating “look at me” moments – never in short supply – jailhouse preacher and religious fanatic provided superb opportunities. As best as I could tell, perhaps the only time some of the guys ever dabbled in the arena of patience was waiting their turn to place the assemblage under their thrall. Incarceration guarantees a dearth of significance or purpose, so the illusion of meaningful behavior while espousing one’s newfound belief system at the top of the lungs was attractive by contrast. At least, that’s how it looked. There was not a guy at the “service” I could envision in church on the streets. It had been a few years since I last attended Sunday service regularly, so maybe the churches were full of people with head and face tattoos now, I can’t say either way with certainty.

While the preachers preached, football fans went about organizing a gambling pool for the NFL season openers. It was a two Top Ramen soup buy-in. Top Ramen are the gambling chips of prison and jailhouse casinos, their value adjusted to match the gouging rate of the facility. Gangster insisted on paying my way into the pool with such adamancy it might have sparked something detrimental to my already diminished well-being to disagree. I won fortunately, and was able to repay the loan by the kick-off of the Sunday night game. I did not know if he was setting traps for me or attempting in his own way to be, well, less than anti-social. He seemed sincere and genuine, but he probably seemed sincere to the missing paperwork guy when he pinned him against the wall too. I had yet to see him hit anyone, but I was 100% certain if it came time, he would not hold back.

By approximately 8 P.M. all shaving razors acquired at the window during the day must be returned. They make an announcement or two demanding the razors return. If this goes unheeded, the tone of voice on the second announcement indicates ignoring this responsibility will have negative consequences. In another races cell (It is worth noting it was not a caucasion error, because Gangster considered this an egregious act, to be misinterpreted by other races as disrespectful, and could result in real problems. To insure white awareness on the issue, in Gangster’s introduction anti-pep talk each new arrival received, a crystal clear threat was made as prevention.), someone mistakenly placed the razor at the sinks edge hovering above the Boeing toilet. Someone else flushed the toilet and in a flash the razor vanished at 200 MPH down into the vortex of the turbo toilet. Tonight was the night I learned what happens when a disposable Bic razor disappears.

By 8:30 everyone was marched cell by cell to a big room with wooden floors which some called “the gym”. I had not seen the room in three weeks, and never saw it used in a “gym” capacity during my stay. Around the room perimeter, 90 of us were told to face the wall, remove all our clothing, and kneel. I almost whispered 'I hope this isn't some weird dating ritual County employees have' to Gangster, but if I made him laugh and got him in trouble, I'm sure it would have been time to punch someone in the face.While the vast majority of County employees, many from other “tanks”, gathered in our evacuated area with the intention of ripping each cell to bits, a smaller group – which overcompensated for their lack of numbers with raging hostility the likes of which I had not yet experienced in my life. -  methodically went around searching the clothing and naked bodies for a razor blade. I knelt facing the wall when I could have sworn I heard a County employee say; “Lift your ball sack.” I did not turn as my reflexes beckoned to satisfy my curiosity and check my hearing. Whatever I thought I heard, it would be repeated 89 more times. Before it was repeated however, I heard “bend over, spread your cheeks and cough three times.” A request synonymous with having a gander up someone’s ass, and something they liked to do an awful lot in there. My mind scurried for understanding as I clearly heard the “ball sack” line again. Gradually, I came to realize they were checking under testicles and up rectums for razors. If they were doing this because there was precedent, then I had underestimated the level of mental illness kneeling facing the wall. If it was done just to deter future razor disappearances, further degrade and accelerate dehumanization, then there was a level of mental illness among the County employees I had underestimated. Judging strictly by the behavior each group was exhibiting at the time, I lean toward the latter.