I’m Coming Home I’ve Done My Time


“Yo turnkey! Hey oh, today is day 30, I’m supposed to be getting out of here!” My words echoed off the jail cell bars so I tried again. “Hey! I did my time I want to get out of here!” Maybe yelling louder will help. “HELLO!! I WANT TO GO HOME!” But no guards came by and even if they did they would probably just stare at me with utter disgust and distain, the one thing they’re real good at. It was beginning to feel hopeless, like I was destined to be Lifetime TV movie about a young dude who gets locked up in a South Carolina prison for thirty days then ends up doing a life sentence in a prison run inbred cops. The other prisoners, most of which have never even seen me but traded insults with me all the time, had a sudden change of heart and supported my cause. When the cops fuck with one of us they fuck with all of us. Nothing like a little injustice from authorities to break down barriers creating a bond between the oppressed. Someone else started yelling on my behalf, “Yo, let Yankee boy out.” Another voice repeated the phrase and then another. Before long it was an out and out chant of a brotherhood of wrongly ain’t gonna incarcerated inmates enjoying any opportunity to piss of the guards. An ear shattering chorus of “Let the Yankee go!! Let the Yankee go!!” now shook the iron bars.
A loud clanging of a billyclub on prison bars brought a momentary silence, long enough for a guard to raise his voice. “HEY! Alla y’all better shut the hell up right now! I ain’t hearin no shit from y’all today the Braves is playin’. Y’all bess shut up right here and right now! Whicha Y’all started this mess and done ruined my game?” Just my luck, my old pal Billy boy, always ready to rumble with a man in handcuffs and a big fan of kicking Yankee ass. Fuck it come hell or high water I’m getin outta this shithole, “Me, I started it officer Billy. Your favorite long hair Yankee. I done finished my time and I want outta here now!” Billy walked up to do what he does best. He stared me down for a few seconds then spoke in his own special bran of condescend, “Now listen here Yankee boy, if’n its time to kick yaw stinkin’ long haired ass out this jail I be happier an a pig in a New Yoke City shit puddle but I ain’t no judge or no record keeper boy. So you bess shut your mouth now an let me get back at mah game. I’ll check with the warden bout your claim. Tell ya what though, if’n you done ruin my baseball game fir no reason I’m likely ta kick yaw ass sideways to hell boy! So yawl bettern be right son.” His dissertation contained the usual amount of greasy spit that accompanies his attempts at using the English language. I wiped my face, “Listen here turnkey, I beena counting every day here and the judge done give me thirty day and its been thirty day. Great day in the morning how much longer I needa stay here? I wanna git outta here.” Jesus shit, I’m starting to talk like them now!
I stood at the bars waiting patiently for Billy boy to return but he didn’t come back for over an hour. He walked up to me smiling, “Seems ain’t no one here today can look up to check yer story son. Now lookie here boy, heres what we gonna do, yew done gun shut yer trap an get on back to yer little home there and we’ll check it out first thing come morning.” To make sure I understood he put one end of the billy club between the bars pointed at my chest and slammed it right into my diaphragm causing me to gasp. The pain was a not so gentle reminder of how mean an sadistic he could be, especially with people in no position to fight back. He smiled triumphantly, gave me a sarcastic “Y’all have a nice day” and walked away loudly lecturing the lot of us on keeping quiet so he could enjoy the game. The rest of the inmates now stared calling the guards names and offering words of comfort to me. I’d gone from dumb shit dirty Yankee asshole to a prison guard whipping boy martyr and it wasn‘t comforting.
I paced my cell as the time passed slower than any of the past horrible thirty had. Dinner came and then lights out all my protesting in vain. I was here until tomorrow. Our living quarters were six tiny cells with a hallway so we could talk but not see each other. We amused ourselves many a time by “fishing” which was throwing cigarettes, or matches, or a candy bar in the hall and everyone else whipping their bed sheet from the little food hole at the bottom of the cell. The first to snare or fish the prize wins. Most nights I would sing a song by Taj Mahal, and old bluesy number about “I’m going fishin‘, yes I’m going fishin’ and my baby go in fishin’ too” It was stupid but our entertainment was kinda limited and my cell mates thought the song funny. I didn’t fish or sing that night as my mates tried unsuccessfully to cheer me up. They finally tired, offered words of support but I was already falling asleep.
First thing that wakes you up in prison is a breakfast, or a reasonable facsimile of a breakfast passed under the door. I wasted no time in letting the breakfast deliverer know I wanted out but he explained he was just a “trustee” a prisoner who kissed enough guard ass to get special privileges and easy work details. He had a rolled up magazine in one hand and he passed it under with my cold eggs, cold grits, and embarrassed toast “Here Yankee, its an EZ Rider magazine. Its contraband so if you get caught you on your own. Cain’t get ya outta here but leastwise y’all have something to pass the time. Errybody here is pullin fer ya boy, ain’t no one wanna spend no more time here’n they should.” It was small consolation.
When the cells opened into the common area my hopes were renewed. I called to every guard within earshot that I was supposed to get out but they absolutely did not care. This went on for two more days until I finally got a guard to listen in the afternoon. A young Christian man came to my aid in a twist of irony. “Jesus loves you boy. Whats yer name, I’ll check it out fer ya?” I gave him my info and as he walked away I wondered why he took this job. Maybe it was a family thing because he sure didn’t fit the mold of the rest of the turnkeys in jail. No matter, at least someone was listening, maybe my nightmare will end.
About an hour and a half later Jimbo, another law approved sadist came to our block. “Hilltop, Justin! Step forward.” It was here, it was over, I was getting out. Time to pretend to be a rehabilitated member of society. “That’s me officer.” He shot me an angry glare, “I know who you is Yankee boy! Get yer stuff, we gowin see da warden.” What? Warden? Did he say warden? I swallowed hard hoping this was only a formality, it’s not like I have a lot of experience being freed from a jail. I went to my cell, rolled up my excuse for a mattress, and said my good byes to my mates. Oddly bittersweet.
I sat in the wardens office with his secretary, or maybe grandmother, but Warden never showe up. After another 2 hours of processing the old woman finished my paperwork then handed me a big manila envelope. “There y’all go Mr. Hilltop, this is everything you done come in with.“ Inside they had stuffed all my worldly possessions, my wallet, an Oakland Raiders cap, and …..an that’s it? “UM, excuse me maam, where’s the rest of my stuff?” I was missing my sneakers plus about thirty dollars and change. Aunt Bea stared with deadpan eyes, “Cordin tar records Mr. Hilltop, this is allya come in with. Course if y’all like ta stay awhile an tawk at the warden bout it yer more’n welcome.” Sarcasm from Hooterville, the last thing I need. “yea, ah, I get it. How do I get the hell outta here?” Aunt Bea pointed to a hallway, “Ain’t no need fer cussin son, jess foller that hallway to the exit.”
It was seven PM, sun was going down, I was in the middle of Mayberry with no clue which way to go. Where the Hell is the scarecrow when you need to decide this way or that way in a strange world? I opted to go right, figuring it wouldn’t matter because either way there’s nothing but one long ass road anyway. Not even a street sign. Well, hope New York is this way, its away from here anyway. Even with the sun down it was hot. I crossed a small bridge and heard running water. I stopped to collect myself. Its getting dark, I have no idea where I am or which direction I’m heading. I have nowhere to sleep or eat. I am lost in Deliverance, South Carolina looking out over a stream and watching…OMFG.. Alligators! Can it get any worse? On cue, a cop car pulled up.
My mind was racing. Alligators below me, cops coming up to me, and jail not more than an hours walk behind me. Oh well, maybe They’ll put me up another night, better than being eaten by a gator. To my surprise it wasn’t cops, but cop, singular. The bigger surprise is it was the one who helped me get out. “You look lost son, whatch dewin here fer?” Not sure what he wanted, I answered politely, “Truth is officer, I had difficulty getting out and I have no money, no shoes, and I’m not sure if I’m heading in the right direction to get back home to New York. The cop chuckled, but not a mean chuckle, a friendly chuckle. “Well on if ya keep onna headed this away Y’all be in Georgia in bout an hour. But I tell ya what son, you want to git outta Carolina, we sure don’t need no New Yokers here, so Ima give Y’all a ride to the border, to Augusta Georgia an I’ll drop you off at the Salvation Army there. They likely to put y’all up fur the night an you can head on back to New Yoke tomorrow from Georgia, not South Carolina.” I stared at him contemplating the fact I had no other option. “Look son, y’all don’t look like a bad guy, and I’m a man of Jesus. I heard they let ya go late an it ain’t right, so the Christian thing to do is to hep my fellow man. Git on in the car and take my offer.” What could I say. A long way to home, starving and tired, much like the gators, and clean out of options “Yessir.” What new adventures am in store for now? I guess hitch hiking back to the city it is.

Busted, Disgusted, and Can’t Be Trusted (the consequence)

Be wise and don’t wise of to a southern cop. Especially if he’s your jailor

The Brutal Truth
This was no Sunday stroll these two backwoods hooligans planned to take me on. As I was escorted down one corridor I noticed a cigarette machine with a paperback book on top. Thinking I may need some reading material over the next who knows how many days, I grabbed the book as we went passed without the goon squad seeing it. We made many turns and I was confused about where I was until we stopped at a door that said “Interrogation Room” If I was confused before, I was completely perplexed now. Not sure what interrogating planned but I h they had a nervous feeling about their interpretation of the word interrogate. As it turned out, having nothing to interrogate was the plan. Jimbo opened the door and led me inside. It was a relatively empty room. Four chairs, three on one side of a small wood table, and one lonely chair on the other. It was apparent which one was mine and Jimbo led me right over to it and signaled for me to sit down. Nervously, I sat. It was Billy who spoke as Jimbo moved the other chairs and the table to the corner. “Boy, we need to git an unnerstandin’ tween us here. Firstly, I done never wanna here ya call any of us law officers turn-key again. That get through all that hair into yer brain boy?” With serious alarm I shook my head yes. I was in a very precarious position and was quickly weighing my best options. He stared at me with razor eyes and said “I caint hear you boy, I asked if yew understood!” I sheepishly let out a soft ”yessir.” I was taken aback at how wimpy it sounded. Even the echoing on the near empty room was scoffing at me. Jimbo lifted his right foot up in the air and brought it down hard. He kicked me with his “County issue” stiff leather boot. He had reached up higher than I would have thought he could manage with his roly poly body and landed the heel of that boot directly in the muscle portion of my left bicep. Both me and the chair were caught off guard (pun intended) and went sailing across the floor in search of the wall. My head hit something hard, and I knew I had found the target. A flash of pain and a second of darkness warned me a major headache would accompany me later. Jimbo walked over to my shaking body and got about an inch away from my ear. “He asked you if you got that boy? You lose yer tongue or sumpin?” He didn’t need to scream so loud, what with me being a half inch away and all, but he did feel a need to cover my ear in spit as he yelled. Now I was at a horrible disadvantage and needed to react quick to win these guys over and get out of here. I looked him in the eye and said clearly “Yes sir, I got it. I will not call you turn-key ever again.” It took about all the strength I could muster to say it. Billy was picking me up and Jimbo assisted the chair. “Now that’s much better boy” Billy was now speaking with an air of superiority that he enjoyed immensely. “Sit back down now boy, we don’t want you falling off your chair agin y‘all might hurt yerseff” Big bad Jimbo leaned down to my dry ear and began to talk in a half whisper. “Let me tell ya how this is gonna go here yankee boy. We dun like no strangers comin roun here causin no trouble. We don like you, but y’all gonna be here a while so you need to git the rules straight. Theys pretty simple. Rule one, we are always in charge and you nevah nevah talk back to any one of us.” I was nodding my head in agreement, but before I could get a word out, Billy Boy had whacked my left calf with his baton so hard I felt fire surging up my leg and go numb in seconds. First pins and needles then my calf was throbbing. Jimbo looked over on the floor saw the book that took flight when me and the chair went airborne. With a mocking disgusted look he picked it up. “Boy, now what the Hell is this? Lookie here Billy, hippie boy done stole someone’s book.” He shook his head like the condescending asshole he was, “ Now see , hairbag, this is just the kind of thing we wants to avoid. Where’n the hell y’all get this?” I gently shook my head trying to think of an answer that would appease him, but to no avail. “Nevernin boy, it ain’t matter no how.” He placed the book up to my temple, pulled back his baton to hit the book so hard my head snapped back. A new pain shot through my head. Throbbing, burning, and pounding like I had never experienced before. The chair and I both tumbled to the ground again. Billy walked over to where I had fallen, and stepped hard on my calf. “Is this the spot where you hurt yaseff boy?” I felt throbbing all over, in my leg, my head, and now in my stomach. When I looked up Jimbo was standing over me with his baton by his side and a sadistic smile on his face. I felt nausea whirling up and feared if I puked it would just piss them off more. It snuck up into my mouth and I clenched it shut and swallowed. It was even worse than the mornings year old oatmeal. I was having trouble breathing which is when I realized I had just been whacked in the stomach with his baton. Now my solar plexus and ribs ha joined in the misery. My head was spinning and my eyes had teared up and I everything looked blurry. Jimbo picked me up and locked my arms behind me. Billy took the book I had found, and placed on my temple again, and whacked the book again. He moved the book to various places on my face and continued the beatings. “See boy, you did us a favor with this here book y’all stole. Ain’t gonna be no marks on yer face, but I bet its gonna hurt for a long time comin’ You ain‘t gonna steal no more books, are ya?.” Jimbo sat me down in the chair, or should I say threw me into the chair where I collapsed in pain and exhaustion. I could hardly breathe, and barely speak. I looked up through the tears in my eyes and watched them parading around with ugly satisfied looks on both of their faces. The beatings continued for what seemed like an hour, but was more likely only five or ten minutes. They applied the book and baton combination to various body parts, mostly concentrating on my face and arms. It was accompanied with their hideous sadistic laughter. They were seriously enjoying it but I was beginning to fade in and out of consciousness and began numbing up. I swallowed another mouthful of vomit for fear of worse beatings. My entire body was throbbing and aching, and Billy got right in my face again. “So I think we have us an unnerstandin’ here, right boy?” He pointed the baton to my face and smacked it with his other hand. The hard wood made a direct hit to my nose and I could immediately feel blood trickling down my face. It took every ounce of strength to just nod yes. Satisfied, Billy stood up and smiled at Jimbo. “I think he unnerstans Jimbo. Maybe we should get this nice young law breaker something to drink, he looks like he has a mighty thirst. Maybe you better fill out a report bout how he got into a fight with another inmate. Use Chester this time” They both laughed. Billy left the room and Jimbo picked up the paperback and handed it to me. “Keep it son, you earned it. Now don’t y’all go nowhere ya hear me?” I looked up at him but everything was still blurry. I knew he was very close because I could smell his stale smoke breath. He grabbed my pony tail and lifted me off the chair, put his forearm to my chest and flung me as hard as he could into the wall. I collapsed and just laid on the floor, not sure if I couldn’t move or just didn’t want to. He threw what I hoped was a clean handkerchief at me and told me to clean myself up. I heard the door close and sensed I was alone. I think I cried as the blood from my nose was thinned out with tears.
After abut a half an hour I scrambled to stand up but fell again. I couldn’t put any pressure on left leg without feeling intense pain. I managed to climb onto the chair and rubbed my leg. My head and face took turns pounding out a tribal beat. I could actually feel the blood coursing through my veins as though my defense system was an ER on full alert. Blood to the injured areas, STAT! Blood rushing to my injure face, my swollen forehead, and my still throbbing leg. I was breathing hard and the dried blood on my nose made it more difficult. My ribs and my stomach hurt. I had been worked over real good, like Cool Hand Luke. Now a puddle of crying beat up excuse of a man was sure his street creds were all but over.
The door opened up and it was Jimbo again. “C’mon boy, it’s time to take you home.” He walked up close and stepped hard on my foot with his fat ass digging in his leather heel. A twist for good measure then a sarcastic smile and wink. Billy walked in with a bottle of water and threw it at me. “See boy, we takes good care of our crimy-nals in these parts. I sure hopes we got us a good unerstanding now.“ They each got on one side of me and basically carried me out of the interrogation room and back down some more corridors until we reached the general population of the jail. I was hobbling along limping and bent over like a captured animal. It was as if they were parading me around all proud of how tough they were to beat up a prisoner and making a statement to the others about who is in charge. They walked me to my cell and tossed me towards my bed. I plopped down on my mattress. They left and I just laid down and started to re-live the beating. Everything hurt. My face felt swollen and my spirit had been broken. I was barely conscience of my surroundings, but I heard noises all around me. After about a half hour, I fell asleep and dreamed. I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. I dreamed I was going to a big mansion somewhere in the sky, and wondered if I was dying. The song “Spirit in the Sky” played over and over in the dream. I was in and out of lucidity for the rest of the day and night. Tomorrow would be another day