Sunday funday

Trustee status

It was visitation day at the prison… from the outside I kept watch of the inmates as they were called out to get ready for their visits. Twenty minutes of agonizing hurt as they spoke to their loved ones through a glass on a shitty phone that reeked of saliva and snot. No one ever cleaned those phones, or the glass or the floor of the visitation hallway.  the lights were also always dim, making the almost white paint and dirty floors seem more depressing.

I heard the slider open as the last guy who got a visit that day went out. I don’t even know what the fight was about. Jerry Springer was on TV, I sat there trying not to see the time on the computer screen. I heard yelling, something like slapping a slice of raw chicken on a plate and more screaming. I was cutting out pictures on a bible, trying to create a book scenery with a piece of a staple I found on the ground while the main corridor. I heard the guards come in to get the guys that were fighting. The picket officer was standing by the glass, a piece of cookie in his right hand, some crumbs on his shirt. They took the guys out, I didn’t bother hiding the cut out bible… the staple I just placed it between my two fingers and continued to lay on my bunk.
– who started it?
The fat corporal with the little boy face and fuck-boy hair cut. You knew he made rank because he knew enough people and came from a family of money, but the guy was a moron. He didn’t care about the fight any more than the rest of us in the tank. We were all just waiting to be sent to the releasing facility from here, some of us had a few months left to go, others were on their last two years.
-The black guy started it boss man
(Stupid Son Of a Bitch, that’s what BOSS stands for…backwards)
The black kid was the youngest one in the tank, he was given 5 years for stealing cars and managed to get a sentence reduction. He had only been here a few weeks and had completed one year of his sentence, goddamnit he was a pain in the ass. He rarely showered and each time he jerked off he did it in the toilet and not the shower… we caught his pubes on the seat of the toilet and sink every time. He wasn’t the only dark-haired one in the tank, but when you spend so much time around all the men, you recognize that black dudes have thick pubes, mexicans are curly also but they’re thinner… and well white guys’ are usually blonde or white because they’re old.
He had poor hygiene and we didn’t want him in the tank, I think the fat Asian just took the fall for all of us when he snatched his soup from his foot locker as he was playing cards with the old man.
The old man told the corporal everything, he knew because he had been sitting with the kid playing spades when he saw him get up and push the Asian. The Asian was sentenced two years for DWI’s … the old man was a murderer…. he had served 18 years for running over his granddaughter’s husband because he saw her slap her across the a face on Easter. He wasn’t a nice looking old man, he had done his time before he killed that poor fucker, his skin hung on him like old leather and it was gray from shoulder to shoulder with tattoos. The old man could make good Hooch, we respected him but he didn’t run the tank, that was the Mexican Mafia guy. He was here because he beat his kids so bad he broke one of their  arms and left the other one with older fractures. Somehow his wife took the blame and she was sentenced to twenty years in the state jail. We didn’t fuck  with that guy, we all just wanted out. He didn’t mess too much with us, he controlled the TV and the phones, he never stood in line to use the phone and no one else changed the channels without checking with him. Same thing with the toilet paper, we were given each two rolls a week but he never ran out.
– Trustee! come pick his stuff up and put it in the barber shop
I shoved the staple into my fingernail… it hurt like hell. The guard handed me a red net bag where I placed all his commissary stuff, I went under his mattress and grabbed all his correspondence, I found a kill shot, I thought about keeping it but something got tight in my stomach and my heart sank a little. It was a young girl, she wasn’t wearing a thong, she just rolled part of her underwear into her crack and some of her pussy showed. You could see an Linkin’ Park poster in the background of an almost messy room. I put the kill shot between the rest of his mail and did my best not to wrinkle the letters, I don’t know why but I felt bad for the kid. I placed the red bag in the barber shop as a guard attached a tag on it with the kid’s name on it… he’d be spending the rest of the day in “seg”, the night shift would take him out and bring him back. The fat corporal locked the door to the barber shop and left the section. I went back to the tank,
– and then there were 12
said the old man as he sat down to pick the cards up. I wasn’t sure what he meant with that… the old man said a lot of things that made no sense sometimes… he was also a little schizo.
The kid had been raised in a foster home…. not the kind with a family that could either be good or really fucked up and did it for the money. He lived in a youth home where there are a bunch of kids that no family wants to take in….ever.  He mentioned once tha t he knew he was taken from his mom when he was about three years old and lived in a few foster homes until around 10 years old. He tried to join the army at 18 but wasn’t able to make it past reception due to his low weight and other health problems. He was pretty small for his age, he also had a sixth toe growing right between his right pinky toe and the other toe… he also had a limp. The kid was fucked up… he drooled a little when he talked, the saliva would come off the corners of his lips and he made a snorting sound after every few words. The girl in the picture was really ugly… I wonder if she had some retardation or was also a foster kid. No one kept kill shots of their ugly girlfriends or wifes, that’s why they were kill shots… just for cumming, not for reminiscing.
The kid came back that night sometime around two in the morning… he smelled like piss. He was hugging his red bag, he didn’t even bother checking his commissary, he looked through the papers… found the kill shot and went to one of the sinks. I faced the other way, I felt so much pity. This kid didn’t have a damn thing…



His hands looked massive holding her petite face, yet at that moment it was her gaze that kept him standing tall and strong…

Antonio had never been what you’d consider a nice guy, he looked like everything but. He had a rugged look, broad shoulders, firm gaze and a handshake that let you know he could break you in half if he felt like it. Even with that, he was soft-spoken and had a way of patting me on the shoulder and messing my hair up that was as gentle as a warm meal after a long cold hard day. He was peace for my mother… that man made her feel safe even with all his pandemonium.

Antonio did marry my mother, he didn’t get on one knee, he bought her a ring, put her arm around her while she sat on the sofa reading and asked her to marry him and let him take care of her. She said yes right away and he made sure he did just that… every day of his life and sometime after he took care of her… and me.

Antonio loved my mother, he was a good provider and he had the ability to make her face light up each time he walked in through the door and an immense fear took over her eyes every time the door closed behind him. He wasn’t my real father of course, I never my real father but I’m ok with that, we had Antonio. I was old enough to know he hadn’t always been a part of our lives and grateful enough to figure out that he had been there when she had no one else. I don’t recall when my grandmother moved back to Cali, Colombia… back to her small neighborhood Floralia. It was small and as you can imagine, super crowded. It smelled like sewer and brown sugar fritters. I visited twice a year up until I was around 16, then grandma told us it was safer that we no longer flew over there and let her come visit us once a year on my birthday or Christmas. Grandma would do just that, once a year she’d come and stay for a week. During that time Antonio was either here or wasn’t. He’d either stay the entire week or be gone the entire time. Mom always told Grandma he worked a lot. I’m not saying it’s a lie but I sort of figured Antonio didn’t exactly have a set schedule to follow.

We lived in Texas, in a small town by the name of Beeville, located in Bee County; where there are more cemeteries than playgrounds. Mom worked at one of the three state prisons located in Bee County.  I believe this is where she met Antonio, no he wasn’t an inmate or an offender, as my mother still refers to them. Antonio only worked there for a few months, mom put up with it for 5 years until she was able to get her teaching certification and got a teaching job there in Beeville at the Elementary School. The Trojans … that was our mascot. Antonio got my mom to quit and stay home until she finished her online certification after she was assaulted by an offender. He didn’t rape her, he might have, had she not put up a fight and almost bitten his ear off. He did beat her up pretty bad by the time the picket noticed her struggling in the janitor’s closet. Mom stayed home due to the injuries for about 3 months, then her worker’s comp didn’t come through or they gave her the run around due to it being a mutual fight. I’ve always been big for my age, Antonio looked like you’d break your teeth if you ran into his chest. The man was a standing bull. My mother is a flat 5 foot tall, petite woman not an ounce over 120 pounds. I don’t know what her assailant looked like but I know she fought hard for her life and had it been a lazy picket officer she might have never come home that night.

I wasn’t allowed to ask what Antonio did for a living, I doubt mom ever did either. We had an idea, not in agreement because we never sat to talk about it but on the last day, we both knew. Every other day or for 2 days once a week he’d leave for the entire day or until late the next night. He’d say he was going to Mexico, they’d talk on the phone or text for the three hours and a half drive until he reached one of the 4 or 5 US/MEXICO borders that are located along Brownsville and Hidalgo, Texas. Then he’d return, looking like he hadn’t eaten or slept in those two days. Oily hair, dark circles under his eyes and the fire in his eyes burned a little brighter than when he left. Like an angry pit bull that got pulled off a dog fight too soon. Perhaps it was anxiety to finally be home and hold her again. I used to fantasize that my dad, Antonio, was in a fight club. I pictured him, a total bad ass, fighting in an underground club surrounded by a noisy crowd and corrupt politicians watching from above. Eventually I figured it had to be bigger than that and perhaps not as unsanitary. He did love my mother, I knew that. I also knew he was violent but never towards us. In fact I can’t remember ever hearing him curse. He never smoked or drank an ounce of alcohol, he never spanked me and he liked to cook for us.

– let him have all the meat he wants, it’s not gonna constipate him that’s nonsense, it’s gonna make him get big and strong, men are supposed to be big…

He’d tell my mother as he evened out my serving of vegetables and meat. He had no idea how to be a father but he did a damn good job at it.

One time a drunk tried to pull my mom around at the yearly town Easter event that the community college holds. I was about 8 years old when I saw Antonio drag the guy by the neck towards the wooded area behind the running track of the college after the dumbass tried to pull her towards him and then spanked her butt when she pulled away. I didn’t see the guys face on the news that night, nor did I see missing posters anywhere. About a week or so later someone reported the smell behind the bushes behind the baseball field; the college stray cats and coyotes had already chewed most of his face and torso off. No one suspected who did it, the police didn’t come asking questions. Beeville in Bee County was just too small to care about another drunk who might have been a potential pedophile.

Antonio played soccer with me ever once in a while but mostly he thought me to defend myself and stand strong and breathe through the pain of a punch. I eventually joined a boxing gym… well the boxing gym in beautiful Beeville, Texas. I still managed to get my ass kicked over a girl in middle school. Antonio wasn’t happy, he wasn’t mad either… he seemed sad. Mom cleaned up my face that night and gave me some strong Ibuprofen. Antonio came and shuffled my hair as I sat on the recliner watching TV that night… awkward silence as he stood behind me with his hands on his hips and looked up at the ceiling searching for words. I saw his reflection on the TV as a commercial for a device to help old people put their socks on played.

– Son… my only regret right now… the thing that just .. it just ticks me off that it was another dam kid your age and size and I can’t put my hands on him like I want to

-…..umm…thanks Tony
that was all my pubescent dumbass was able to stutter out

He was a beast, tamed by my mother. I was 19 the last time I saw him. Mom still looked radiant at 46. Antonio was about 5 years younger than her but still seemed older than her.  She was still teaching at the elementary school. He hugged us both separately before he left that morning.  He held her last for a bit longer than usual, kissed her forehead and then held her face petite face in his massive hands. No I love yous… nothing, because they both knew, she knew and he was just lucky to have her.
He kissed her again and whispered I’ll come back as he closed his eyes and pressed his lips to her forehead one last time as she wrapped her arms around his waist.
That was the last time.
It was I think two days later when a stranger in dark jeans, a black military like cap and a brown jacket showed up to our house. He handed her his jacket and a yellow envelope full of money. He shook my hand firmly with a hand full of callous and dirty fingernails. He squeezed my mom’s shoulder and left his number in case we ever ran into any troubles. I had never seen him before… she might have, or not. I’m not sure, but with his visit we both knew Antonio was gone from our lives forever. I started to ask her what happened and then I saw her face, red as tears poured down to her cheeks and she held her breath. I wrapped my arms around her and Antonio’s jacket with its faint scent of blood and gun powder. She let out a gasp and loud sobs, I squeezed her to me and immediately a river of sadness overtook me. He was gone.
Later that night I began to search his jacket’s pockets not sure what I was looking for. Inside the chest pocket I found a single fading picture of mom and me. We’re kneeling under the peach tree, I must have been 4 years old, shirtless, my red shorts and sandals, the chili bowl hair cut. A chocolate ice cream cone dripping down my bare stomach and the mess on my face. Mom is kneeling next to me, one arm around me and my eyes are fixed on the cone. Her black hair is shoulder length, wavy and loose, tucked behind her ears showing her entire face, no make up, just her. She’s barefoot in white shorts and a pink muscle shirt. She has that million dollar smile like when someone would say something funny and she wrinkled her nose and showed her perfect white teeth between her pink lips. My sweet mom and her million dollar smile, the one Antonio always said was the prettiest smile ever. The back of the picture doesn’t say anything, no year, no date. There’s a faint bloody thumbprint and other yellow stains, as if he pulled it out many times before… perhaps this was the last thing he saw. I took the picture and tucked it under my sock drawer face down, it hurt to think that he carried this with him every time he went away.
Mom never remarried, a year later I joined the Marines as a human resources specialist. Mom continued teaching. My contract took me to Missouri where she came to visit for a few days during her summer and Christmas breaks. I got into a bar fight once there with a civilian who was a bouncer or a bartender at one of the many bars surrounding the base. I got my ass whooped again of course. We were about the same size but I hadn’t been in a fight since middle school. The guy ended up stabbed and robbed behind an alley about a month later when I was given fire guard duty at the BOQ’s and couldn’t join my friends for beers and titties.
I guess they just wanted to rob him and he must have put up a fight
I said when I first heard the news as I scrolled down my phone and deleted the phone call to a cell phone in Mexico two weeks ago.

Behind bars

I almost thought she was possessed, I knocked on her window and called her by her first name “Mandy”… not Amanda or Miranda… “Mandy”, even her first name was adorable.

She wasn’t combative at all, not a single time that she needed to be moved did she lash out violently. You could tell she had come from a loving home, she was a pretty girl that somewhere in her stage of growing up she was introduced to drugs and then that was the end for her. Perhaps her life had been way too easy and she didn’t have it in her to say no that first time. So she became addicted. Her face poured pure innocence, a 27 year old mother to a two year old, married and the middle child to two parents whom were teachers at an elementary school. The first month she spent it in an isolation cell, she was naked most of the time, she couldn’t understand to put her clothes on. She rarely showered, we often had to go in and put her under the shower and put a bar of soap in her hand. She wouldn’t flinch and would just stand there staring towards the cell window into nothingness. We had her under 15 minute visuals due to suicide attempts, I doubt she wanted to take her life… she was simply an addict. I believe she didn’t know how to be violent, she would simply scream and cry asking for her meds.. anything to help soothe the fire boiling inside her from the feeling of withdrawal. One time as I conducted a visual on her cell I saw her on her knees, bent backwards, her face towards the door and her mouth wide open. I almost thought she was possessed, I knocked on her window and called her by her first name “Mandy”… not Amanda or Miranda… “Mandy”, even her first name was adorable. I always called them by their first name when they were aggressive or… like this, stoned out of their mind. I knocked about three times and thought about leaving. In the prison this means nothing, not a damn thing… she’s not hurt nor threatening to hurt herself… but Goddammit if she were my sister or girlfriend I’d be going insane. She finally sat up and turned to look at me, her petite pale body twisted and her face so calm and lost at the same time …
-yes ma’am
-Are you ok?
-Yes ma’am, thank you for asking
-….ok then
I walked over to the next cell, this one was here for head lice, it was 3 in the morning and she was snoring like a pig. With that weird rhythm to their snorts like when they eat and they grunt as they pick up food.
I came back about 10 minutes later, this time she was standing with her face right on the window to the cell… she scared the shit out of me

-Mandy are you ok?
-Yes ma’am… I’m just looking ma’am
She had an innocent looking smile. I walked away again over to the next cell, she hadn’t been snoring… she was masturbating.

I had a college degree, I used to be a school counselor. Not in a high school, at an elementary school. It sounds easy but it wasn’t… specially when the children opened up about an older sibling or parent that molested them or they witnessed their other siblings get abused. I didn’t leave for that reason, I left after my husband cheated on me and left me while pregnant to re-marry a woman 12 years older than he. I was 27 and my self-esteem was at it’s lowest. So I gave birth to my daughter, moved back in with my parents and dropped the counselor job to go work at a state prison 3 hours away from home. I’d stay over there the 4 days out of the week that I was scheduled to work and then come back for the other 4. It changed me, I lost my sympathy and all my feminine habits. Now I cursed more and didn’t wear perfume.

The prison was hard work… if you’re not resilient. I wasn’t resilient … there were just other things that bothered me more than lesbians masturbating to me and prison fights over who was going to clean the section that day.

I did my job the best I could, I was hard but a bit considerate, specially to the addicts that came in. There was an inch of pity to see them suffer as they detoxed from the drugs they were used to taking on the outside. They reminded me of me in a way but allowed me to feel less pity for myself. I too would have given anything to numb the pain of enormous failure I felt. Elena was the only good thing about me. Mi Elena de Troya, my Helen of Troy, my baby girl. Elena was my Xanax bar, my spice and my cocaine when the 12 hour shifts were beginning to wear me down. The 3 hour drive home seemed eternal until I could hold her in my arms again.