The Dumbfounded & Aghast Series, Intermezzo.
The Dumbfounded and Aghast is indeed the lighter side of prison, however there is a darker side. One in which I refuse to give my attention. Like the seven TVs that are always on. The powerful prisoners vie by various means for the TV cells, those cells from which you can set and watch TV from the comfortable confines of your cell during the day, and stand in the door at night and look through a three inch window and view TV all night if you like. Each TV has its assigned frequency and by tuning in your radio you can hear it. To add to the mix each race and/or gang controls a certain TV or two. Its the strong that rule in the TV world. Even in the area on the lower tier meant for a day room with tables and plastic chairs, each table and each chair belongs to someone. Where the chair sits is usually determined by a fight or worse. Each race/gang has laid claim to a table. Some even go so far as to mark the spots where each of the four legs of their chair are to sit. It is about control, and to change or even try to change it, is seen as disrespectful. As such it is encouraged to react with violence or you lose respect of the others.
I am not a TV person. I try to distance myself as much as possible from the darker side of prison. Those with a warped sense of the prison code written into their heads by those unknown authors of long ago. There are those who run with a gang and their affiliates and extort weaker prisoners and the elderly and mentally ill. So they can buy drugs. Then they prey on each other to appease their own self-intrest, rather than developing and supporting ideas that would support a better life in prison or out. What we do in prison is what we will do when we get out. There is no Magic door to walk through when you leave prison. Change is possible, but it must be made by setting your mind in a new direction while you are here. It’s not something you do “when I get out.”
Then there are those like me, the Grizzled old Geezers who are weather-beaten, ramshackle, battered and shattered but not into drugs, alcohol, weapons or anything illegal. Those who just want to live long enough to get out and sit on the porch for a quiet cup of coffee in the mornings. I don’t watch TV or involve myself in any way with the politics of prison. I don’t like BS and am not into drama. You could say that I am still among The Dumbfounded and Aghast as I watch the complete nincompoops, numbskulls and imbeciles and their scandalous and despicable shenanigans they come up with on a daily basis.
Now when you go to prison you have no choice where they send you and who you are put in a cell with, at least not legally. These two facts are responsible for much of the violence in prison and the negative results.
Most of the delinquents that are now in prison were born during the time I was in a Texas Prison on a hoe squad working in the fields ten to twelve hours a day. Where such minor infractions as talking during meals or mail call would get you beat to a pulp by 15 building tender prisoners. The federal Courts came in and changed all that thinking they were saving us when in fact they turned prison into a drug war inside the fences. They bound and tied us and fed us to the hungry wolves. The days back when to put your hands on an elderly person was taboo and would get you beat really bad. You did not mess with the elderly or the mentally ill. They were looked upon as wisdom and were watched and their behavior was their mentorship. One learned from them and respected them. Not so any more. They are easy prey.
Well, now I am in my 60s and I am one of the grizzled old geezers myself. Having lived most of my life in a prison or homeless I count each blessing in each day that I am given, and believe me there are plenty. Should you end up living in a cell with me I come complete with my own amusement. I have a talking apple tree “Wittle Miss Apple Tree” And I have a card board computer I made my self on which I practice my typing and work on MS Word. I even pick my screen saver as my monitor is a page from an old photo album that holds 9 3 X 5 pictures and I change them often so when I open the cardboard laptop even I am surprised at what is there each time. Miss Apple tree and I have some pretty deep conversations at times. Then there is the BOOKS from an a to z collection of self help materials that I gladly loan out to anyone wanting to better themselves. I am all for that.
Staying to myself seems to be the safest place to be and I truly have learned to enjoy my own company. Although I do look up several times each night to see Miss Apple Tree shining in the artificial moon (The big prison lights) as I can feel something there… something we share… magic? Animism? of one thing I am certain. What connects us is above and beyond words. It is a silent communion of sharing in a different dimension. The apple tree and humans have a long standing bond that is as old as time. The apple would not be what it is or where it is if not for humans and the same is true of humans. The question of who domesticated who in this long journey is a serious question and deserves a longer discussion but that is a story for another day.
Miss Apple Tree brings you sweetness, I bring you light (hopefully). Are there two more noble things in the world? They have directed us for untold years in so many ways on so many stars in so many galaxies. May we all find our way without being an injury to anyone or anything else.