As the warm sun enveloped me in it’s comforting rays, I wiggled my toes deeper into the fine powdery sand. I closed my eyes and inhaled a deep breath of salty ocean air as the waves lapped at the shore. I listened as they fizzled and dissipated, then returned once again to greet the sand. This was my happy place. I had never taken advantage of the fact that I lived 5 minutes from this paradise. I vowed right then and there to make a habit of spending more time here. As I filled my lungs once again with the warm ocean air, my moment of peace was interrupted with a loud ‘bang‘. I snapped my eyes open and attempted to visually locate its origins. I saw nothing. Only sand, water and bright blue skies. Maybe someone in the distance had slammed their trunk shut…I closed my eyes once more and reached for a handful of sand. The second ‘bang’ was deafening. I sat straight up and opened my eyes to find I wasn’t on a beach at all. The realization of where I was suddenly hit me…I was in jail…
A wave of shame, embarrassment and guilt rose up from the depths of my being and immediately consumed me. I felt as though an anaconda had wrapped itself around my body, and as the seconds passed, it clenched tighter and tighter…
The emotional pain I felt in that moment was matched only by the physical pain I suddenly realized I was in. I felt as though I needed desperately to get up and use the toilet, but I couldn’t bring myself out from under the warmth of my covers. It felt as though each and every bone in my body was in a vice grip, moments away from being snapped. It was unbearable. This was usually the point I would do anything and everything to get my drugs, but that was no longer an option. I was trapped, and surrounded by guards, all I could do was feel. Feel every ounce of pain this addiction had left me with, feel every ounce of shame associated with what I had done.
I began sobbing, as I realized I was trapped in this broken body, this warped mind, and had nowhere to go. I wondered what time it was, how long I had been there. I glanced at my cellmate, she was in the same position she was in when I dozed off. I laid down and stared at the ceiling. This cell had nothing but metal and cement. Everything was bolted down. There was no color, it was as if they wanted to strip us of any reminder of the outside world. I didn’t even have a pair of underwear. Yesterday I was watching Dr. Phil and eating ice cream on my couch with my puppy, today, I am in a dark room with a stranger whom I will have to, at some point very soon, take a poo in front of. This was hell on earth, but I put myself here, it was basically as if I had purchased a one way ticket to incarceration with the choices I made. I chose this.
I managed to fall back asleep somehow. This time I didn’t dream. I was actually grateful for that, because being ripped from paradise and thrown into the depths of hell in under a second, was traumatizing.
I peeked my head out from under the covers to scan my room, and screamed as I realized my cell mates legs were an inch from my face. What the f-. My eyes followed her legs all the way up and as I got up to her face, she was looking down at me…..and smiling.
“Yo my bad dude, your bed is right under the window, I didn’t want to wake you up but my boyfriend just got back from work.” She said. My eyebrows furrowed as I tried to process what she had just said. “Um……I’m sorry what?” I asked, feeling as if I was in the twilight zone. Boyfriend? Work?
I sat up and wiggled my way out from under her, stepping back to get a better look at what was going on. She was standing at the window, doing what I can only assume was sign language to someone. Her hands moved at lightening speed-she would pause, start laughing, say something like “boy you crazy“, then start flipping her hands around again.
“Love you too!” She said to no one, as she kissed the window.
She turned around and noticed me wrapped in my blanket like a burrito, looking at her like she was nuts. “Das my man right there.” She said, clapping her hands together. ……”Right where?” I asked. She pointed-“Right there! You don’t see that building right there?” I leaned right up to the window to see what the hell she was talking about. I squinted my eyes and stood on my tippy toes, as the door to our cell flew open. “INMATE JOHNSON!”
I spun around and stared wide eyed at the guard, wondering why he was yelling. “Get away from that window, RIGHT NOW. The hell do you think your doing?” He asked, stepping into our cell. I looked at my cellmate for back up, but she apparently got the urge to make her bed all the sudden and she now had her back to us. “Oh, I was-um…I just – (don’t be a snitch, don’t be a snitch) -I was just checking out the view….I guess…cuz it’s…I wanted to see…I’m sorry is that bad? Should I not, look out the window? I thought that’s what windows were fo-” “Enough!” He interrupted, “Do not look out the windows. You are new here, so I’ll give you a warning, but only one, stay away from the windows.” He said angrily as he turned to exit the room.
When the door slammed shut I turned to look at this traitor in my cell. “Um, first of all, thanks for leaving me hanging, second of all, why the f*** are there windows if we cant look out of them?” She turned and sat on her bed as she let out a heavy sigh. “Look, my bad. I’m doing 11-29 as it is, I can’t risk no more time. My man and I got locked up together, and that’s the only time I get to see him, when he get back from work. He’s in the work pod. So we talk through sign language. You ain’t allowed to do it tho, so you gotta be careful.”
“What is 11-29?” I asked. “11-29, its 11 months, 29 days. If you get sentenced to a year or more, you go to prison, sometimes they will give you one day less than a year, so you gotta serve your time in county.” She said.
What the hell. A year? I began to wonder what this woman had done, when our cell door opened again.
“Put your mat on the floor until we can get you a cot.” The guard said, ushering another inmate into our already cramped cell. “Don’t bother getting me a damn cot, pig. I’ll be outta here in 10 f***ing minutes.” The woman yelled over her shoulder at the closed door, obviously drunk. I noticed she had crutches, and as I looked down to her legs to see if she had a broken bone, I noticed that there was actually-only one leg…..Her jump suit was dangling in the wind where her leg was supposed to be…
“The f*** are you starin at 4 eyes.” She said to me as she leaned up against the wall attempting to regain her balance. “I have f***ing diabetes okay?
“Hey scuuse me…girl…not you 4 eyes,the other one.” She was pointing at my cellmate. “My name is Destiny, what do you want?” “Can I tell you a secret?” Ilene asked, (We will call her Ilene, I don’t know her name.) “What?” Destiny said. “Well, I’m asking you, because I know that nerdy girl with the glasses will probably snitch, but you look like you can keep a secret, come here.” She waved Destiny towards her. Destiny got up and went over to Ilene, she bent down and Ilene whispered something in her ear.
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack, I just need some help.”
“If you f*** me over, I will cut off your other leg, do you understand me?”
“Loud and clear.” Ilene said as a smile crept over her face. They both looked at me and my heart started pounding. I’m gonna die. This is it. They have just planned my murder….
“Hey, Johnson, we need you to keep a look out. If you see someone coming say ‘Jolly Rancher.’ Destiny said. “A lookout? For what? I don’t want to get in trouble.” I said, sounding like a little b***h. “I know man, that’s why we aren’t involving you, if you don’t see nothin you don’t know nothin. Just face the door and don’t turn around until we say. If you see someone coming, let us know-okay?”
“I guess….” I said as I got up to stand and face the door like a 5 year old in time out. I heard Destiny say “Ready?” and Ilene said “Go”. Ilene let out a groan, and the curiosity of what the hell was going on behind me was overwhelming. I had to look.
I slowly turned my head until my eyes reached the women. What I saw next will haunt me for a lifetime.
I snapped my head forward, in shock, and stared out into the hallway to process what I’d just seen. Destiny……had her entire fist, shoved into this one legged woman’s, um, rear end.
I have seen a lot of messed up things in my life, but for some reason, witnessing 2 complete strangers, whom had met less than 5 minutes before, fishing around in each others bowels was on the top of my “Things I Want Permanently Erased From My Memory” List.
“Got it” Destiny whispered as Ilene began laughing. “Hell yeah, good girl, hurry up and rinse it.” “Can I turn around now please?” I asked. I was asking permission to turn around, what the hell had my life come to? “Yes, but if you say anything I will beat the brakes off of you, you hear me?” Destiny said sounding scary again. She had already scared me into flashing her, she could definitely scare me into keeping a secret. I went and sat down at my bed, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. The two women were sitting across from each other on the bed, hurriedly spreading into two lines whatever the hell just came out of that woman’s a**. They each took turns sniffing whatever it was, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with jealousy. “What is that?” I asked. “Destiny looked over at me as she sniffed whatever remnants were left in her nose-deep into her nasal cavity. “It’s meth….you want some?”……