Saturday September 16, 2006: I did not sleep well last night. I met the latest lower bunk occupant, whose name is either Jeff or Jim, then spent the rest of the night trying not to answer Gangster’s inquiries. He was not content to be right, he wanted to take over my case. In hindsight, I probably should have done everything he recommended. Logic as I knew it – and granted I was no Socrates – dictated people with life size tattoos of Jesus being shot-up by the devil on their bodies cannot be taken seriously as counsel in what I viewed as a life and death matter. He was not hostile with me, or angry. He exhibited more hostility in order to clear space for junk food. I answered every question he asked me, except one; “So what are you gonna do Gilly?” I just did not have an answer, there was no money for another lawyer and I heard nightmares about the appointed attorneys.
The day room was on full weekend schedule, so everyone was out at the same time. During the 6 hours of time out of the cell, I must have walked 5 or 600 laps. Walking and counting, trying not to let the doom I felt welling within me take control. There’s a lot of mind games in county jail. The guys have one objective; receive as little time as possible. Everywhere the lap walking took me, I would drift in and out of the same conversations. Someone telling his story, another guy offering his opinion, both exuding superficial optimism that was paper thin along with confidence which was a complete pretense. The guys want to be lied to, and I wished Gangster would lie to me. Maybe I would be able to sleep then. My mind entertained options on how to deal with my problem ranging from firing the lawyer to killing myself. The place was designed to make killing oneself a difficult task requiring much effort, but I saw a way or two it could have been done. I could not sit down at the table and watch college football when asked to join the football fans. I could not stop writing letters in the cell. It was growing increasingly tense in my head and I was feeling myself slipping away, or at least slipping into something I did not recognize.
Simple things, like paper to write on, or pencils sharp enough to write with, began to take on such significance. We were not allowed to have pens because they too much resembled knives, and we were expected to stab each other with them, instead of writing. Gangster walked a couple dozen laps with me, to follow-up on my case.
“Ya know Gilly, I’ve been thinking, running through my mind if I can remember anyone ever having the initial offer raised and I can’t. You know what this is like? It’s like you walk onto a car lot, the sticker says ten thousand. So you offer the salesman nine. But instead of bargaining with you, kind of meet you in the middle, your salesman’s is saying 12 thousand. He’s going above the sticker on the car, and it don’t make sense. The DA starts high so he can come down. They started high with you, and went up further. I can’t explain it.”
“I thought you stole cars, you didn’t buy them. What do you know about haggling over price on a car lot?” I tried to smirk, but those facial muscles were not working properly.
“Gilly, I used that example because I’m trying to speak your language. What do you think, I don’t know anyone who has ever bought a car? You’re a funny fuckin guy and all, but you better fire that clown you hired as a lawyer. I don’t think you’re taking this serious enough.” I said nothing, but it did not matter.
“I know what you think about the court appointed shit, and you’re right. You might have to request new counsel a few times then too, till you find the right one. But that won’t cost you anything.”
“Maybe it doesn’t show, but I am taking this as serious as I am capable of taking anything. If I joke or seem hesitant to fire him, it’s because joking keeps my head from exploding and I just can’t believe this guy isn’t going to make the proper effort. I just can’t believe that.”
“You’re a stubborn motherfucker, Gilly, anyone ever tell you that? I know you ain’t stupid, but if you’re going to be this stubborn, shit, it doesn’t matter if you’re smart. You’d be better off being stupid; stupid people can at least listen to reason when their life is on the line. You’re gonna fuck yourself!”