I’m Coming Home I’ve Done My Time
I woke up feeling good as I looked over at my thirty scratches on the jail cell wall. Each day I made a new scratch. It was my countdown to freedom. They don’t supply you with calendars in jail so I had to keep track like some sundial making ancient Roman or something. My cell wall calculations were my oracle and they foretold that its time for “Yankee Boy” the now infamous New York jailbird in some South Carolina Correctional Facility to get out of this hellhole and back to….. Well I‘m not sure where I’m going yet but believe this my brothers and sisters anywhere is better than jail. I was ready to breath free air once again. I was finished with my 30 day stint for driving with a suspended license. Yea I know, major crimes division was all over me but the truth is they locked me up for that because they couldn’t make the marry-wanna charge stick and they had no real proof that it was me using a garden hose as a credit card for gasoline. Thirty days may not seem like much to you but when you can’t go anywhere, get feed cold instant shit grits four days a week, fill up on some bitter spinachy thing called turnip greens, and the highlight of your day is watching some dudes argue over the game of checkers it feels like forever. Not to mention it takes less than a week to lose your identity and fill yourself with a nagging sense of hopelessness. Besides all that thirty days without even seeing a female was torture for a 20 year old with hormonal overdrive syndrome.
So it’s time to alert the friendly guards so they can escort me to freedom. I was feeling a little bit New York cocky so I addressed my jailors in terms they are not especially fond of, “Yo turnkey! Hey oh, today is day 31, I’m supposed to be getting out of here!” My words echoed off the jail cell bars so I tried again. “Hey! Oh! I did my time I want to get out of here!” Maybe yelling louder will help. “HEY COUNTRY BOY 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 my own Lifetime TV movie about a young hippie who gets locked up in a South Carolina prison for thirty days then ends up doing a life sentence in a prison run by sadistic cops. The other prisoners, most of which have never even seen me but were happy to trade insults with me all the time, had a sudden change of heart towards me. Insults and trash talk were really just bullshit, spoken to sorta brighten up the day but when the cops fuck with one of us? Man 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 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 those 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 anyhow?” Just my luck, my old pal Billy boy, always ready to rumble with a man in handcuffs anytime of the day and a big fan of kicking Yankee ass. Fuck it come hell or high water I’m gettin 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 brand of condescension, “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 time you can believe that. Tell ya what now boy, if’n you done ruin my baseball game fir no reason I’m likely ta kick yaw ass alla way to hell boy! So yawl better be right quiet till then son.” His dissertation contained the usual amount of greasy spit flying off his unruly thick mustache. That vile saliva always seems to accompany his attempts at proper use of the English language. I wiped my face, “Listen here turnkey, I been 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 only been there thirty days but I’m starting to talk like him.
I stood at the bars waiting patiently for Billy boy to return but he didn’t come back for over an hour. When he finally did come he walked up to me smiling, “Seems ain’t no one here today can look up to check yer story boy. Now lookie here, heres what we gonna do, yew done gun shut yer trap an get on back to yer little home there ith alla the other law breakers here and I’ll leave a note ta have em 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 started 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 which, sad to say, wasn‘t much of an upgrade.
I paced my cell. Two steps at a time as that was all the pacing room I had. The minutes passed even slower than a watched pot. Dinner came and then lights out squashing all my protests in vain. I was here until tomorrow. My living quarter was tiny cell with all the amenities literally at my fingertips and once lights went out we had our nightly talk session, where we offer each others therapists help for the criminally insane. I remained silent because I was afraid my voice would crack and betray the fact that tears had welled up in my eyes. The inmates in my neighborhood tried unsuccessfully to cheer me up as I lay in silence. They finally tired. I fell asleep and dreamed about the beach.