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Sitting in prison cell during lock down with the temperature well past 100 degrees, and time moving at a snail's pace.
[1,138 words]
John Lauda
[July 2014]
Middle Of The Night (Non-Fiction) Being in your cell alone in prison in the middle of the night. [1,055 words] [Crime]
John Lauda

"It's terrifying to see. someone inside of whom a vital spring seems to have been broken. It's particularly terrifying to see him in your mirror."...Mignon McLaughlin
24 hours a day in a cage gone ripe with the body odor of 2 torrid men. The radio says its 101 degrees outside, which means probably 115 degrees inside these prison bowels.
There's no water and that hurts. If I had water, I could wash away some layers of grime. If I had water, I could clean my bedsheets, now soured from many days and pints of dried sweat. Most importantly, if I had water, I could flush that nasty toilet, quench my mounting thirst and recoup some of the liquids I'm steadily losing in this morbid sauna. Then, maybe I could calm the sense of irrational panic fermenting in my gut.... What if they don't turn the water back on? Desiccation has got to be right up there with fire, in the very disagreeable ways to leave this earth. It's a ridiculous fear of course, even the nation's leading man killer, Texas, wouldn't allow a group of prisoners to die from dehydration, right? Surely, even an indifferent American public would scream at the inhumanity, wouldn't they? My growing phobia seems immune to reason and the resulting stress is probably exacting its toll, likely measured in days from my life. Bastards.
Its quiet; God but that's so rare, 200 bored souls within talking distance and this suffocating heat has silenced them all. If I weren't so uncontrollably distressed about water I'd relish this incongruous peace, heat or no.
r ..
I mostly stay captive on my bed throughout the lockdown, it's an unspoken etiquette in these tiny 2 man cages; when you're on your rack; you aren't in the way. There's not enough space for 2 people to move around at the same time, and by staying inactive, you cause less body heat. Unbelievably, it does make a difference!
There is some relief from the heat though; whichever side of your body touches the fire-proof
mattress, immediately becomes drenched in sweat. So when you turn and expose you sodden
flesh to the air, the sensation is very nice Ahhhh, yeah.
Laying on my tummy, I gaze through the black painted chicken wire covering the bars, at the greenish gray cement in front of my cell. Little of the floor is visible; it's covered in trash all the way to the dingy broken windows, 10 feet in front of our cages. Where does so much garbage come from in an environment completely isolated from consumerist America? After all, we only have what the police state lets us have and that's not going to keep you running with the Jones'. Actually, I can see lots of crushed cans, corn chip bags and countless Ramen noodle soup wrappers amongst dozens of well used magazines. Perhaps prisoners are permitted to consume more than I thought. The fortunate ones anyway. The bulk of the trash consists mostly of brown paper bags and bread crusts. The sandwiches that come in those paper bags are the only source of nutrition for many of us economically disadvantaged inmates. They feed us sub humans 3 sack lunches, affectionately named "Johnnies", each day. The Johnnies usually contain 2 sandwiches, one of which is always peanut butter.
It's interesting to me that men can consume so much bread and peanut butter, yet still we lose weight. All that fat and starch, not to mention those evil carbohydrates the media warned us about....eat your heart out Weight Watchers!!
With exception to the major shakedown, (search), Johnnies are the most dreaded part of a lockdown. A guy misses canned vegetables, hot meals, and bowel movements.
On the other side of the coin: Nobody enjoys being forced to labor without compensation and most of us escape our Texas slavery during the lockdown, which might explain this mountain of garbage I'm staring at. No slaves to stuff it into the 55-gallon drums waiting at the end of the run. That duty now falls to the redneck guards who could care less; thus, the garbage has accumulated
and rotted for 3 days. I also think our captors are trying to deny us the delicious pleasure of
watching them work
With a sigh of boredom, I try to count the number of Johnnie sacks amassed within my narrow scope. My cage is one of the 22 on the lower run and like apartments, there are 22 more of these septic tanks directly above, contributing their share to the paper carnage in front of me. Its impossible to count through all the layers of lunch bags and I give up before I near a hundred.
I spot an albino cricket frantically jumping amidst the refuge and I wonder just what's gotten into this crazy insect. The intense heat is an ultimate deterrent of any excessive activity, especially for a glandless bug. As I focus a little closer, I now see what's got this blonde cricket into in a frenzy, I'd failed to notice the thousands of ants coating the garbage and areas of exposed floor. The frantic cricket no sooner lands than he is attacked again by ants. Actually, though I can't see for sure, I suspect he has at least one tiny ant attached to him and causing great pain, because he doesn't cease hopping even when he lands in an ant-free zone.
It isn't long before my new hero succumbs to exhaustion, he's stopped moving and I wonder if the overheated exertion has killed him. It hasn't. I see him twitch as the ants converge to eat him alive. I'm not sure at what point the little guy dies, but I hope it was quick. The ants dismantle him with efficiency and the last ant struggles away with his grizzly food fifteen minutes later. There's not a single visible sign that the albino cricket ever existed.
Time passes and I continue to gaze at the garbage where the fellow met his painful end. Maybe death from dehydration wouldn't be so bad after all.
I've read that environment affects your mood and impacts your decision making. Even colors influence your moods. I suppose its true, but where does that leave me? I'm completely surrounded by decay; the cracked and browned, plaster coated walls, the chinked yellow porcelain fixtures and the grayed cement floor with its tiny rifts. Even the metal, liberally coated with black gloss, has been chipped in endless places, exposing the rusty metal beneath. I'm engulfed with infinite garbage, the odors from numberless sweaty bodies, and hundreds of unflushed toilets overflowing with waste. Later the voices of violence will begin, rocking the despondent air with their ghetto-accents to stifle their monotony and destroy my sanity.... What a wonderful environmental medley for the soul.
If surrounding truly affects prosperity, it is any wonder I can feel my hope being consumed like a cricket devoured by ants?


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© 2011 John Lauda
July 2014

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