I’ve found that I can create my own stories, from the punch lines on the walls. I would picture what the inmate that created them was like; their life as a criminal, how they got put in HSP… everything up to what they looked like and what their life was like before. I could easily spend hours doing this, and often, I’d get so lost in my own thoughts that I would start to see them projected before me. Once or twice, the wardens caught me talking to the guys.
I’m probably not helping myself as far as getting out of here and back into general population goes, but for fucks sake, if I just sit there all day I’m going to be driven out of my fucking mind. And really, in the scheme of things, what’s the worst case scenario? Really?
Rec time hasn’t changed in the slightest. I keep trying to get through to Terrence, but all of a sudden he’s this fucking brick wall. I don’t know what happened – at first he was the socialite of the damn unit, but now, the second I bring up Washington State, he turns his back on me and won’t answer for the world. I’m capable of murder – I know I am – and he makes me want to wring his little fucking neck. He can’t give me hope, rip it away, and then wave the shattered pieces of it in my face once a day. He’s just like all the other madmen in here.
Yesterday, in a fit of insanity, I started to pick at the left wall of my cell. It’s basically this foamy shit, with plaster behind it, so I had no problem getting through the first layer. The second one on the other hand… I managed to break a nail already.
See, this is how the cells work. They’re only separated by that one layer of plaster in between them, and if you’re determined enough to get through, you’re free to communicate and conspire with whoever the fuck is on the other side. And I’m the sanest one here; I could sure as hell con some schizophrenic flake into giving me some tips.
So here I am today; thought I’d give it another go.
I sat hunched over in the corner, scratching the plaster beneath the hollowed-out circle of foam with the tip of my fingernail. I let my mind wonder off to its usual places; time passed in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it, I had almost gotten through. My fingers were raw and bleeding, my palms were sweaty, and a few more nails had been broken. But I found myself unable to feel the pain that I knew I should have.
Am I finally dead?
“Hello!” I shouted into the near-broken-though hole. “Terrence?”
[/With my luck? Ah hell no. I’ll get one of the killers.
I heard a faint scratching noise from the other side. Frantically, I tried to punch the remains in. Just as my knuckles started to bleed and spill down onto my white jumpsuit, pieces of the wall fell into my lap. I peered through the hole, and met a wide, green-grey pair of eyes.
“Who are you?” I panted.
He backed up from the hole, and I was able to see him better. He was 30 or 35, frail and emaciated looking, with long, stringy blonde hair and sores all over his face. A meth addict; it was easy to see. He looked sick, and probably should have been in a hospital instead of in prison.
“J-Jeff.” He stuttered, his voice cracking, as if he didn’t talk often. “Y-You?”
“Frank.” I sighed as any hope of reaching Terrence in private was shot. “So… what’s up?”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this guy in rec time before…
He fiddled with his kneecaps nervously.
He seemed unable to talk all of a sudden.
“Why are you in HSP?”
Apparently I pulled the right string, because he seemed almost excited as he answered.
“I was testing out my shank… and they fucking thought I was trying to commit suicide. How fucked up is that?” He laughed distantly, like he wasn’t completely there.
“Well what did you do? Fucking stab yourself or something?”
“Tried to cut off my head.” He grinned into the hole in the wall. “And they put me in here?”
He looked around innocently. He really did think that there was nothing wrong with trying to cut off his own head with a prison shank. Just one of his normal, everyday activities.
“But that would kill… ah, fuck it.” I said, figuring there was no use arguing the logic of someone so obviously and severely damaged by drugs. “Do you know Terrence?”
“You mean Terr? Everyone knows Terr.”
“Yeah, Terr… he’s been in Washington State Penitentiary?”
“Rumor is he spent a quarter of his sentence there.” Jeff said.
“How do I get him to talk to me about it?”
“You don’t. He don’t want nothin’ from you.”
I took a moment to think. Everyone has a price… there must be something he wants from me. I would do anything I humanly can do in this place, just for a bit of information.
“Jeff… why does he hate talking about it?”
He was silent for a minute or so.
“Here’s what I know.”
He continued to tell me all he had heard of Terrence’s story. Rumour has it that he was first convicted of mass theft, domestic abuse, illegal narcotic possession and distribution and aggravated assault. Later he went on to collect the further convictions of repeated assault of guards, and first degree murder of 2 cell mates. He was originally in WSP, but after his last convictions, he was transferred to California State.
“He’s been in isolation forever since I arrived.” Jeff stated, his words as jumbled and erratic as the average psychotic. “He’s dangerous. But he’s tried to commit a few times in here.”
The next day during rec time, I went into the gym with my head held high. I had a foolproof plan; it couldn’t fail. I passed by Spidey, Stumpy, Joker, and all the rest of the freaks, and strutted my shit straight over to Terrence; seated as usual in front of the TV watching reruns of some bullshit sitcom.
“Terrence, old buddy, how’s life in the padded cell?” I asked in the most annoyingly happy voice I could muster.
You live with Gerard for a couple of months; you learn to master the art of being infuriatingly gleeful.
“Take a look at yourself, Frank. The answer lies right in here.” He answered, elbowing the left side of my chest.
“Nice, bullshitting me.” I grinned confidently. “Everyone has a price. Name yours.”
“What are you talking about, Frank?”
“You know damn well what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, you refuse to talk about Washington State. Seriously, what harm would it do you to take pity on a fellow inmate?”
As usual, he went silent. I was hoping this wouldn’t happen; but as I knew it likely would regardless, I had a plan up my sleeve.
“You’re not as fucking bulletproof as you think you are. You tried to kill yourself; you’re just like everyone else. You want a ticket out of here. You’re weak, Terrence.”
He turned towards me with fire burning behind his eyes.
“Don’t we all want to be dead, Frank?” He smirked. “And if I wasn’t in this damn straitjacket right now, my hands would be around your fucking neck.”
“So you want death? That’s your price?”
“That’s all I have left.”
He took a deep breath and relaxed in the chair.
“Here, I’ll offer you a deal.” He said. “I’ll tell you how to get into Washington State, if you kill me afterwards. You have more freedom than I do, crazy as it sounds. I’ m begging you, Frank.”
In a split second, the entire atmosphere changed. One minute he’s saying he wants to wring my neck, and then the next, I can literally see the pain in his eyes. He’s human; as vulnerable as we all are inside, whether we want to admit it or not.
“Okay. I’ll figure something out.” I said. “If that’s your only price.”
“I’m gonna be executed in a couple more months anyway. I might as well die for a good cause.”
“Frank. Just because I’m insane, doesn’t mean I have no conscience.”