Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Workin' it

In steps and stages does BC-3 move forward. I've begun running through part of it because this weekend will be taken up with a trip to the nearest Chase -- in Brockport, again -- and family in Texas. So I've little to speak, meaning here's a snippet of what I'm happy with.

This is Allen describing his new world to Eric in his first letter.

So...comes my turn to look in the mirror of truth.

To do so, let me first acknowledge my surroundings. So I sip a cup of paper-flavored coffee. I turn on a lamp. I shift my notepaper. I look around. Do you wish to know what I see?

The four walls that encompass my brave new world. Two are of concrete, painted beige, my least favorite non-color. One is of steel left gray and dented despite its strength. One is of a scratched and almost murky Plexiglass drilled with holes. The modern replacement to steel bars, it seems. A window in the more narrow of the concrete walls allows some light in to mitigate the florescent harshness; a pair of bunk beds on gray steel legs is bolted to the longer wall. Mine is the top bunk and neatly made, which demands minimal effort on my part. It’s only a foam mattress and pillow covered by two sheets and a wool blanket. My roommate’s bed is usually only half done and irritates those who control me, now, so I’ve taken it upon myself to complete his task in exchange for a little peace until I can figure out how to gain a semblance of solitude on my own terms.

A small outcrop of steel panel half-hides a toilet and sink in a corner area that is no larger the size of an airplane lavatory, so I can have just a hint of privacy when I brush my teeth, albeit not too much. I might get spoiled by such an indulgence and demand something as insane as a door to allow me to hide as I defecate. Imagine.

I have two shirts to wear. Two pair of pants. Two pair of briefs. Two pair of socks. One pair of slip-on sneakers which must be kept nice and clean, if not perfect. One set of clothing is for wearing while the other set is being washed. My laundry is picked up daily and returned to me folded, not pressed. No need for that little nicety; the material smoothes out neatly enough. I also have a towel, wash-cloth, toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap to call my own and a metal shelf upon which I keep my belongings. Nothing more. No dresser. No closet. No refrigerator to hold a midnight snack. If I get hungry or thirsty between meals...well, that’s just plain unfortunate.

I spend my days helping in a library barely worthy of the name (this is where I will input my notes so I can transfer them to the USB drive you furnished). We carry books by Clancy and Uris and Halberstam and the like, though I did happen upon an old set of “Hardy Boys” mysteries that some of our, shall we say, “less educated” and more “intense” patrons latched onto with a joy that was almost prurient. Having grown men buffed into massive mounds of musculature avidly perusing semi-well-written stories about two slim teenaged boys solving mysteries and getting themselves into perilous situations of bondage over and over and over brought some funny, albeit disgraceful, thoughts to my warped little brain, so I went looking for some “Nancy Drew” to see if that would bring about the same reaction. I found none, alas. Merely a group of ancient tomes from “The Reader’s Digest Collection of American Classics.” I admit to snorting in derision upon seeing them. Imagine -- Steinbeck reduced to scrambled eggs. Hemingway sliced as thin as Prosciuto (did I spell that correctly? I do worry about such things). Dreiser cut and processed like individual strips of fake cheese wrapped in thin plastic. Sacrilege visited upon our greatest authors, to be sure...but so American in execution.

Our magazines exist mainly in the “Popular Mechanics”, “National Geographic” -- when not having nudity in them -- and “Discovery” area. No “Playboy” or “Penthouse” or even “GQ” or “Vanity Fair.” I understand when they used to carry the latter two, the pages of ads with pretty girls and boys in them tended to...oh, get “stuck together,” shall we say? No books on tape. No records or CDs or DVDs available that were produced later than nineteen-sixty. Certainly nothing in the way of Rap, considering the lyrics they usually entail. Nothing, in fact, to fire anyone’s unused imagination too-too much. Better to let one’s thought processes wither and die.

My roommate is pleasant enough, for a Nazi from Riverside. You can tell he is one by his consistently shaved head, low-rent eyes and perpetual scowl. In his late twenties and smoothly-muscled into a form that would make Bruce Weber salivate, he is nowhere near as tough as he thinks because he is not as bright as he believes himself to be, and that can be a fatal flaw in any man. But he has just enough swagger to pull his attitude off -- in the colony, anyway. He would have been fun to make use of, except I’ve seen him out of this vile excuse for a uniform and cannot ignore the mass of hideous tattoos covering his powerful arms and back, or his racist nonsense. My step-father was even more powerfully built than he and even more laden with tattoos, and anything that reminds me of him would be worthy of nothing but contempt...were it not for manner in which his legs flowed perfectly into his glorious rear...and the shape and form of his elegant cock as he allowed me to pay it homage.

Is “cock” too sharp and sudden for you, Eric? Shall I use penis? Manhood? Masculine appendage? You may choose your euphemism; I give you permission.

More paper coffee. A moment to collect my thoughts. A guard strolls past in his blue uniform. A scowl of a man with thin legs topped by too large of a body. How they support his frame must be explained by some physicist who can understand such things, for I cannot even begin to care. He once hinted he’d like to be one of those I serviced, but I pretended not to understand.

A door slices through the plexi, barely visible in its scratchiness save for the hinges and lock. Oh, that lock. A big bold monster of a mechanism used more for intimidation than actual security. I seriously believe I could pick it with my eyes closed. When opened, it allows me to step out on a long narrow second floor passageway, two doors down from the stairs, and look out upon an open space of tables and chairs bolted into the concrete floor. This is the general area and is where most of the men trapped in this hell hold their pissing contests. I’ve seen any number of fights, a few stabbings and one man get his neck broken down there, and the guards never come until blood is flowing or someone is screaming insanely from pain. Of course, it’s too exposed for rapes to occur -- and they do still happen, but more for revenge or an exercise in control than for gratification, and they normally happen in the laundry room or private cells that have been left open, and for some reason the guards are either someplace else or deliberately ignoring the pleas for help.

While I am usually left to my own devices, when not working or in my room, every door I pass through is locked and may only be opened by one of the staff. And even with my excellent record, eyes still peer at me twenty-four/seven. Especially when I shit. That seems to mean something to the powers that want to be and understand and act like they know all about you. I am forced to attend sessions with a “doctor” twice a week to discuss my reasons for being inside. I quickly understood that to proclaim one’s innocence to the likes of them only further increases their certainty of your guilt, so I lie. I tell him long stories of my step-father’s abuse from the age of five -- both sexual and physical, despite neither having occurred; who was to say otherwise, since they could not be corroborated; the son-of-a-bitch experienced a far too simple death from lung cancer years ago. I wept at my sense of loss at the abandonment of me by my father -- though to be honest, he never factored into my life. He left but a year after I was born and I did not know enough to miss him prior to my mother’s remarriage four years later. I met him once, a few months after I moved to California. He was such a stupid arrogant log of a man, I found I truly despised him and his attitudes and never saw him, again. Be that as it may, my willingness to “open up” and revel in the deep-rooted causes of my “psychoses” before that “learnĂ©d” quack in that appalling facility endeared me to the powers that be and added to my quick consideration for release.

Yes, Eric -- I am actually up for parole in just under four months, not the six they would have you believe. And I think they’ll allow it, now that the uproar over Bobby has died down.

I can just think of how that makes you feel.

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