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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Living Dead -- October 31, 2012

When I awakened today, it was dark. The sun had yet to rise and there was only a dim light reflecting off my dull gray cell walls. It was remarkably quiet for a cell house with 300 convicts stacked on top of each other on 5 floors. My cellmate also was not at the cell bars as usual, but on his bunk wrapped in a blanket still sick with a cold. The prison continues to be on a strict level one lockdown and I was glad for the relative serenity on this Halloween morning. However, it gave me time to ponder how grim and meaningless my life was. There was little I cared to live for and this cell may as well be my tomb. Only in death did it seem I could escape the ad infinite torment, oppression, and emptiness which pervaded my existence.

On the morning news, I heard the winds from Superstorm Sandy were receding. There were reports of over 10 foot waves on Lake Michigan and footage of them crashing onto the coastline of Chicago were shown. People were told to keep away, but I tend to think I would want to see and experience the turbulent weather. The wind was blowing from the north making not Chicago but the southern shore of the lake the most heavily hit. I have been to the Indiana Sand Dunes and could imagine what it would be like there. The dark gray skies would reflect off the water making it appear almost black. The dunes were a soft white sand and I thought about the giant black waves crashing down upon them. I also imagined how the force of the wind and spray of the water would feel. It may actually make me feel alive again.

After watching the news and completing my breakfast, I began my workout. Typically, I will wait until my cellmate has left the cell or has enjoyed enough time sitting on his box at the bars listening to music. However, with him sick and on his bunk watching TV, I thought I may as well kick start my day early. Possibly, it could knock off the cobwebs I felt being spun over my corpse. The intense hour long exercise did get my blood flowing, but it did not alter my bleak outlook. Before washing up in the sink, I asked my cellmate if he wanted to come down off his bunk. He looked miserable and had stuffed toilet paper in his nose to prevent snot from flowing out. He may have something more virulent than the common cold. Bobby eventually muttered what I interpreted as "no," and rolled on his side.

I considered reading a horror novel for the holiday. I have several books by the authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz some of which have been in my box for years. However, instead, I read the Wall Street Journal. The paper is delivered 6 days a week and consumes much of my reading time. Since the lockdown began, I have been able to catch up and read yesterday's paper while listening to Rush Limbaugh. The paper had a number of articles about the devastation left by the enormous storm on the East coast.  Despite the president's photo ops with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, it did nothing to help the millions of people who had their lives shattered. Expressed sympathy and some hugs did not rebuild homes or communities destroyed. It also did not restore electricity or gasoline, feed the hungry or warm those freezing.

Although the morning began quiet, it did not remain this way. By the time lunch trays were passed out, inmates were yelling and screaming. Several times I was disrupted by neighbors passing items down the gallery. Fortunately, it was not as bad as the former week when there was a massive traffic of goods. The lockdown left prisoners on the upper two floors without any commissary. They were desperate to get supplies and sent down mesh laundry bags tied to lines to be filled by their friends and fellow gang members. I called the lines from the 2nd floor to the 5th or 4th floor "elevators" and the convicts working them "bellmen." The bellmen had vast amounts of commissary being sent to them to go upstairs and I was continually bothered to pass it. It was a great inconvenience and I was disturbed by the cacophony of inmates yelling over each other to coordinate the movement. However, if I were unable to shop for a few months, I would definitely appreciate a handout.

I have begun to take mid-day naps and Halloween was no exception. In fact on the holiday, I looked forward to escaping from my miserable, loathsome existence. Prisoners often nap in the afternoon but they probably think it is odd I put on my sweater, jacket, gloves, and skull cap pulled down over my eyes to do so. I become nearly as cold as a corpse and I like to mummify myself whether for an hour or two during the day or on chilly nights. Along with all my clothes on, I push some earplugs in to muffle the noise around me. If I could, I would sleep like the dead, but my cellmate or the loud convicts in the penitentiary usually prevent me from doing so.

I dreamt about a girl I had corresponded with romantically in the past. We were at some cliffs overlooking a stormy sea. I had the compulsion to jump off onto the sharp rocks below and she seemed to want to go with me. I was awakened, however, by the loudspeaker announcing showers. Inmates had not been able to shower during the last two weeks. Immediately, there was an expressed excitement, although I did not know why. The showers did not work well and often were cold. The idea of showering with a crowd of men some of whom were gay also was not appealing. I could only speculate prisoners had a pent up desire to get out of their cells and socialize. Even though my cellmate was gravely ill he went, but I stayed in. My enjoyment was being alone, however, numerous prisoners passed by my cell ruining my solitude.

One of the people to stop by was the gregarious elephant. He noticed I had a remote control stick for my TV and ironically asked me if I was too lazy to press the buttons manually. I told him to push on and take a shower making sure to soap between the rolls of his fat. On the way back from the shower, Mertz stopped by my cell and I gave him some newspapers to read. When doing so I asked the former death row inmate where his hockey mask was. He answered by asking me where the candy was. I told him, "No costume, no candy."

For dinner, prisoners were served some slop. I knew my cellmate with the Ebola virus did not want it, but possibly my neighbor may. Like the character Sheldon from the TV comedy "The Big Bang Theory" did when knocking on the door of his apartment neighbor Penny, I pounded on the wall and said his name three times in quick succession. He responded, "What? What? What do you want?!" I was just retaliating for all the times he bothers me. Finally, I asked him if he wanted the dinner tray. He said "no," and asked me why I just did not ask him. I responded, "Then you would not have had to be disrupted and get up to come to the bars." My neighbor knew the joke I was playing on him, but said he yells out my name several times because he does not know if I have headphones on and cannot hear him.

Instead of eating the prison food, I made myself some burritos made with pink salmon. This probably does not sound appealing to most people, but it was my special Halloween meal. While I ate, I watched the Peanuts cartoon "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" as I do most Halloweens. The cartoon reminds me of my childhood and it has basically become a tradition. I knew every scene by memory from Charlie Brown mistakenly being invited to a party to him continually having rocks thrown in his trick or treat bag or Snoopy pretending to be a WWI fighter pilot being shot down over enemy lines to surprise Linus and Lucy who were waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

While watching the cartoon, I wondered if my mother still refuses to give out any candy believing Halloween was the devil's holiday. I told her the historic origins of Halloween and how it had turned into a social tradition enjoyed by kids. By not passing out candy, she was not only failing to be a part of her community but disappointing a lot of children. Even for the children driven from other areas to our subdivision to go trick or treating, I would still greet at the door to at least throw a rock in their bag like Charlie Brown. She does not care, however, and last year my parents awoke the day after Halloween to discover some kids had drawn an enormous penis and other crude drawings with white chalk across their expansive black asphalt driveway. Underneath the 20 foot dick was written "B. C. Murderer Lives Here." Apparently, the heavy news media coverage of the actual perpetrators' arrest and trials went unnoticed in the area, and I am still rumored to have committed the Palatine Massacre.

From "The Great Pumpkin" cartoon I changed channels to Rob Zombie's remake of the film "Halloween." After I had seen Michael Myers kill enough people and finished my meal, I turned off my TV. I was bored with television as much as I was bored with my meaningless existence. I stared at my cell walls and the peeling gray paint exposing the concrete beneath. It was again dark in the cell and I watched the shadows of light. I imagined from them a grim reaper with a long scythe and only hoped Death was here for me and not my cellmate who seemed to be dying.

From the shadows on my cell walls, I focused my gaze outside the dingy cell house windows to see a rising full moon. Its dull glow still represented the free primal and natural world beyond the prison walls. It was these romantic sentiments which captured my attention and still ruminated in my thoughts even though its light has past my vantage point. Existing in the catacombs of various maximum security facilities for nearly the last 20 years has slowly drained the life from me. In the crypt, the air is suffocating and the concrete and earth crushingly oppressive. It is what I imagine it is like to be buried alive. I exist only to be tormented in this tomb vainly trying to escape. The judge sentenced me to life in prison but it seems more fitting to be a protracted death sentence. I am no more alive than I am dead. I am the living dead.