“WHAT? Lice?” I whispered, trying to keep this quiet, because the last thing I needed was for the other girls to hear.
“Ewww, hell naw. You heard what dat girl just said? Bitch has lice, bruh” Kiesha said standing up from the table near my cell and walking away. “Not uh, who?” another girl said, scratching her head. “Dat girl right there” Kiesha said, pointing to me.
The next thing I know – all hell is breaking loose.
Everyone begins scurrying away, in an attempt to protect their heads from any stray lice. Apparently lice is a big problem in jail. Once one girl has it, it’s usually followed by numerous other girls contracting it. I remembered the way the last girl who had it was treated by the inmates, and I was dreading receiving that same backlash.
They all retreated to their cells to check each others hair. Some girls were dramatically scratching their heads saying they felt itchy and there were plenty of curse words and threats being tossed my way.
To say I felt embarrassed would be an understatement. I wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear, but I was trapped. “Hey, don’t worry about it Tiff”, Sarah said trying to lift my spirits, “I’m gonna let the guards know and we will get it taken care of, okay?”
She was a good friend. She could have run away like everyone else – but she stayed.
Just then the pod doors swung open and Miss Riggins came flying in. “Which one of you nasty bitches got bugs in your hair?” Apparently someone already alerted them.
“Cell 5 got em“, “The tall girl wit da glasses“, “Get her outta here Miss Riggins, ain’t nobody want no lice”. All the girls were looking at me with disgusted expressions, including Miss Riggins. “Let’s go. Don’t come near me, just head to the door” she said, pointing to the exit. Everyone was watching me, everyone knew what was happening, and they were all being so damn mean about it.
The lack of compassion was shocking; they were treating me like a dog with rabies.
As Sarah followed me to the exit, Miss Riggins yelled behind her. “I don’t know where the hell you think you going Carnwell, but this ain’t no buddy system, you need to get yo ass back in your cell.”
What Sarah said next made me stop dead in my tracks.
“I have lice too, Miss Riggins. I need to be treated as well”
My heart felt as if it was going to explode. This girl just outed herself, in front of everyone, so she could come support me. I was speechless.
“Oh hell naw. Go. Hurry up and go on out, Deputy Silva will take ya’ll to medical” Riggins said giving a disgusted shiver and scratching her head. “Ya’ll nasty bitches makin me wanna get checked”.
Sarah and I entered medical and were met with looks of disdain from several deputies. “Don’t bring them over here, toss em right into holding cell 2”, someone said, referring to us. I could hear them murmuring about how we both were infested with lice, how gross we were, and how if we didn’t walk the streets and sleep on the sides of roads, that we wouldn’t be having this problem.
I wanted to tell them to shut the f*** up. That I had been here for 2 months, and someone else must have brought it in with them. But speaking to them in a disrespectful tone would get me sent to lock, and I’d rather eat the lice than go to lock.
When the door shut behind us, I gave Sarah a grin so big that it hurt my cheeks. “I can’t believe you did that. You don’t have lice, do you?” I asked.
“No. But I couldn’t let you come down here alone. Besides, it’s Valentines Day. I thought this would be a nice romantic getaway for the 2 of us” she said.
I burst out with laughter and it was immediately cut short by someone banging on the window. “Shut up in there! There’s nothing funny about lice”.
I rolled my eyes and turned back toward Sarah. “Holy crap it’s Valentines Day? I forgot all about that. I just realized I’ve spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and now Valentines Day behind bars. That f***ing sucks, dude.”
The door swung open and a guard threw 2 boxes of Rid inside our cell, and promptly slammed it shut. I guess they were afraid my lice would jump out and get em if they kept it open any longer.
“Well Tiff, the good news is, this is the last holiday you will spend here, and I have planned a beautiful day for us. We will begin by lovingly picking nits from one another’s scalps. Then, we will lather our selves up with this highly toxic lice killer, followed by a romantic hose down by a random Deputy, it’s gonna be incredible.” Sarah said, picking the boxes up from the floor.
It had been a really long time since I’d had a true friend. One who didn’t use me, and expected nothing but friendship in return. Sarah was a good friend, and in that moment – I felt incredibly grateful to have met her.
After getting stripped and hosed down, Sarah and I were brought back to general population. When we entered to pod, everyone was staring and moving away as we walked past. I wanted to run around and start hugging people and shaking my hair all over them, but decided against it.
“The lice has been treated, you guys can go back to playing cards and snorting headache medicine now, nothing to see here” Sarah said as we walked into my cell.
“Hey, thank you so much for doing that for me. You didn’t have to. It really means a lot.” I said. “Aww, you’re welcome. I’d chose picking lice out of your hair, over hanging out with these whores any day” she smiled.
“Who is Big T?” Jayda, an inmate who had been released and re-arrested 3 times since I’d been here yelled from the day room. My ears perked up. My friend Keke who used to be in our pod but got moved to high security next door used to call me that.
“Anybody in here go by Big T?” Jayda said again. I walked to the entrance of my cell and stuck my head out. I saw her showing something to another girl and heard her say “I don’t know, someone named Keke slipped it under the door from high security.” The girls began laughing at whatever it was.
“Me! I think it’s for me”, I said, walking toward her. “Did you say it’s from Keke?”
“Yeah, are you Big T? Here” she said, handing me the piece of paper. I took it out of her hand and glanced down at it. It was a note, in the shape of a — penis and balls, and it was definitely from Keke. It read:
Hey biatch, I miss you and your jokes soooo much, I’m trying to get back over to that pod soon. It sucks over here. Write me back and slip it under the door.
I love you!
A bunch of girls came over to look and everyone thought it was hilarious that it was a penis. We were like 6 year olds who had never seen a male body part before. I didn’t even know you could slip notes through the door. “Girrrrrl, you better flush that shit down the toilet asap before you get caught” Tonya said. Tonya was the last person I wanted to take advice from. Homewrecker.
“She’s right Tiff, you should get rid of it” Sarah said quietly. “Okay, SARAH, I will” I said staring straight at Tonya, I didn’t want her to think I was doing it because SHE told me to. “I didn’t do anything wrong though, I can’t get in trouble for receiving a note. I didn’t ask her to write it” I said, taking it to my cell and flushing it down the toilet.
I watched it swirl in circles as it went down the toilet and I jumped as the pod doors flew open.
“EVERYBODY ON THE GROUND, NOW!”
A team of guards I didn’t recognize came busting through the door and ordered everyone down. I dropped to the floor by the toilet and turned my head so I could see what the hell was going on.
I watched as they marched over to Jayda and pulled her arms behind her back. They handcuffed her and dragged her out of the pod. Then they began walking to my cell.
I watched their boots as they got closer and closer then stopped about an inch from my head. The next thing I know it felt as if my arms were being dislocated from my shoulders.
“What did you flush!!!?” The guard yelled at me.
“WHAT THE F*** DID YOU FLUSH, DAMNIT?! Was it drugs?” they said, pulling me to my feet by my wrists and patting me down.
“We saw that something was retrieved from the other pod under the door. We witnessed you bring it in here then flush something, what was it?”
“A note! A penis shaped note! It was nothing!”
“Lets go”,She said, pulling me backwards out of the pod.
“Search these cells” She yelled over her shoulder to the remaining deputies.
All this over a note? What the hell? Where were they taking me?
We took a flight of stairs to an area I had never been before, and I noticed a wall of red cell doors. The deputy holding me radioed in for someone to open cell #1. Once open, she pushed me through the door and shut it behind me.
“Put your hands through the slot, now“ she said. I turned around to back my hands up to the slot and took a survey of the cell while she was uncuffing me. It was no larger than a closet. There was a toilet, a sink, and a cement slab with no mattress. There were no windows and I could stick my arms straight out to my sides and touch both walls.
Once the cuffs were off I turned around to face the deputy. “Where am I and why am I here?” I asked pleadingly.
“Receiving and possessing contraband is in direct violation of the rules. You are currently in Solitary Confinement. You will not be permitted to make phone calls, have visitation or receive mail unless it is from an attorney. You will be taken down to shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and you will receive 1 roll of toilet paper per week – so use it sparingly.”
“What? For what? The note? How long do I have to stay here?”
“60 days. You will be spending the remainder of your sentence in here. I will bring you toilet paper soon, try not to go before I get back” she said, slamming the slot shut and walking away….