Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fish Story

New inmates seem really young.

Two kids are by the phone, neither of them with the body language the environment breeds. They aren't reflexively watching each other's back or keeping the telephone column behind them and scanning the room. They don't notice the color of my uniform as I move through the crowd of inmates and they missed the subtle change in sound when I entered the dorm. One passes the phone to another...

That's forbidden. It's possible for inmates to use three-way calling to harass victims or witnesses and the three way can make it tough to trace; because the calls are collect, it's possible for someone who really doesn't want to talk to an inmate to accept a call from someone else they know (inmates and their families make for a really interconnected mini-community). So our policy is that if the citizen accepts the call from Mr. Smith, they talk to Mr. Smith.

I walk over and it takes awhile before they see me- I'm standing very close and the first one to see me jumps a little. His friend doesn't even notice the jump. "I can send you both to the hole for passing the phone," I say. "Don't do that."

"I'm sorry, I didn't know."

"I figured if you knew you wouldn't have done it right in front of me. This is your freebie. Don't do it again."

The kid is relieved, "Thank you. Don't worry. It won't happen again." He reaches out and pats me on the shoulder.

I look at him and all the color drains out of his face. He freezes.

"You don't do much jail time, do you."

The hand falls limp, "Uh, uh, no."

"It shows".

I walk away.


Anonymous said...

Oh, baby!! What a writer you've become. I look forward to your blogs the way a CERT guy looks to take a shower after being on the line in armor for 10 - 12 hours. Your words are rain in the desert, blue sky in the spring, the first flower. They speak to the depths of all of us, connecting the tiny of mind and spirit - the violent ones in their world of pain and death, to the sheep in their mental pens, to the warriors who weep after ending the life of a spirit-waster. They make me laugh, cry, shake my head in wonder, wryly grin, and sometimes say, "what the hell was that all about"? Your next book will be on the New York Times best seller list and I will see you on Leno.

Anonymous said...

Rory, Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.