Mary Rose Goes to Jail

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Two technicians were called on to perform maintenance. As they approached the pastel green door with a black number 12 on it they were discussing the subject visible light.

"But my understanding is that not all light is visible light? " asked one man. They were in a women's high security prison.

"Correct," said the other as he peaked through a jail cell window. It was noon and she was sleeping with sunlight streaming all over her. Sunlight could come through the frosted cube glass on the opposite side of her cell but she could not see out of it. She wore a soft, pale, yellow nightgown that showed her arms, legs and sexy brown hair.

She was startled awake by the sound of male workers. The sheriff's deputies didn't talk much and they rarely walked on the floor in pairs. These guys were engineers and they were installing something. Mary Rose covered herself.

"Is this right?" 

"Adjust it forward like half an inch."

What could they be installing? she wondered. The door works fine. When she wasn't in the day room she had been either napping or reading from the Bible and taking notes.

When they left, she got up from her cot and walked in sandals to the window. She looked out across the cell block. Between every two doors there was a panel in the wall. She never noticed those panels before as they were designed to be extremely inconspicuous.

It was then that she became aware of the shape of the jail cells, how they fit together like a honeycomb. The sink was attached to a short wall which was diagonal to the other walls. There must be a space behind that wall where the guys were working. They think we are so dumb said Mary Rose softly to herself.

Mary Rose had badly chapped lips in the jail. No one offered her any ointment. Jail conditions were very dry. Two slices of bread with no butter were served at every meal and they were wrapped in plastic.
She dabbed her lip with the front of her yellow night gown and there was a dot of blood on it. She could see her lips were cracked and bleeding in the mirror and she was losing weight. It was painful to open her mouth to eat.

"Murphy" called a voice through the speaker inside her cell. It was the female deputy Schmidt. "Take the paper off the vent." 
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said Mary Rose. 
"There's a vent on the ceiling." She looked up and examined the vent more closely. There was a piece of plastic smaller than a pinkie fingernail on it. How did they know that was there ? she wondered and dared not say aloud. 

* * *

In the darkness Mary Rose followed instructions given to her by the guard. Walk straight. Stop. Turn right. Stop right there. Face the wall. The changing of the prisoner before the guard. She had no idea what time it was maybe 11, maybe midnight or later. The sidewalks connecting the buildings at right angles were wet and slippery. 
When she had awakened in a well lit holding cell, the cracks in the floor were moving. Her vision was slightly hallucinatory. She had dry blood on the sides of her wrists from where the handcuffs had cut her. Her hands felt numb, especially the thumbs and pinkie fingers. After about an hour a woman opened the door. 
"We have reason to believe that you might fear for your safety?" she said. 
"I don't know." 
The nurse closed the door and Mary Rose laid down on the hard concrete in fetal position. She covered her eyes with her hair as the light penetrated through her eyelids. Another hour later the door was opened again and the nurse took her out of the holding cell and walked her around the office to another room with ancient looking medical equipment for a chest X-ray. 
"Everyone has to have one." 
"Why?" 
"To see if you have tuberculosis." 
"What if I'm pregnant?" 
"They check for that too." 
"It's an abusive practice," said Mary Rose. She knew if she didn't comply they would leave her in the holding cell until she did. Next they took her class photo which would go on her file. They called her white and showed her glassy eyed level of disorientation from the combination of drinking and drug. 

*** 
After they arrested her, and she called all of the officers racial slurs until she couldn't scream anymore, they “hog-tied" her with cuffs that connect your wrists to ankles. 

"All this time I thought I was the wrong race!" said one of the arresting officers as he forced her into submission. Mary Rose lay stomach down on the sidewalk unable to resist. A female officer pinned Mary Rose's head against the pavement with her knee. Other officers stood by watching in semi-disbelief. Once they had her cuffed on the sidewalk they realized they still had to carry her to the patrol car and put her in the backseat that way. So they carried by the cuffs, hoisted her entire body weight by the wrists and carried her for what felt like miles in front of her parents while Mary Rose screamed bloody murder Don't hurt my hands! 
The ordeal was so painful it momentarily caused her to go limp to such an extent they feared she lost consciousness. An ambulance arrived her signs were checked, she was deemed fit for jail, after a perfunctory visit to the emergency room where she noisily disturbed things and the doctor rolled his eyes at her and signed her off without checking her wrists. 
"I'm gonna let you walk to the patrol car," said the handsome officer meaning he didn't want to order her around like a criminal. 
"I trust that you are going to cooperate and not try to run away from me."
He took her to an undisclosed location outside of town, a gray area between civilian and military base, where they met a Hispanic officer who was in good spirits and the maniac banter turned to the subject of dancing the Macarena, possibly his favorite song. Mary Rose was still having post traumatic stress fun in a sense when her captors took her past a front desk with two female employees and an elderly male security guard, into an examination room with an examination table, put her face down, pulled down one half of her size 12, made in Pakistan, beige cargo pants and gave her a shot of anti-seizure medication in the right buttock. The plan was to knock her out for the long car ride to Las Colinas, the women's prison on the north-eastern desert-edge of the county in Santee. 

***
Mary Rose walked two steps ahead of an armed guard as she was instructed to do. Inside the automated doors she was surprised to be entering a dark building although it was sometime around the middle of the night and the inmates were fast asleep. This was a place she had previously never spent more than 8 hours in before posting bail. She knew that jail was not a summer camp or a convent so she was surprised to see a deputy looking somewhat frightened and pointing to a cell in the furthest corner of 4A. It seemed completely unprofessional for him to point her across the floor of a dark cell block. They did not need to open the door to her jail cell with a key because those controls were located inside of the guard booth. 
She hadn't been lying down for more than 10 minutes in her dark jail cell amazed by all of the turn of events when she felt her heart palpitate in the most unusual way. It had to be a combination of binge drinking, the brutal injury to her wrists and hands, the psychedelic medication, and hapless chest X-ray. After the instant she felt her heart palpitate, and realized she was not dead she thought to herself, they tried to kill me, and they failed.
 
***
It took 7 days before Mary Rose could sleep soundly on the bed in her jail cell. The room was about 8 feet by 10 feet. The walls were made of large white cinderblocks allowing for good illumination of the jail cells, which were much like bedrooms in the afternoons. 
When the doors to the cells clicked open on the first morning a few hours later after Mary Rose had fallen asleep, the sound was astonishingly loud. The opening of the doors means come out right now. Breakfast was served at 5:30 a.m. There was one high school style clock in the day room of cell block 4A. 
Most of the inmates were given blue sets of industrial looking clothes to wear but some of the girls wore the same outfits in green. Only about 10% of the women wore green. There was 1 newspaper for 30 women. Most of them only read the newspaper to see if reports on their criminal cases were in the news. 
It was peculiar to Mary Rose that she got along best with the girls in green. She formed bonds with them quickly regardless of race. Many, but not all of the women who wore green were African American in about a 2:1 ratio. Mary Rose wondered if green clothes meant "felony" or "psychiatric patient." That turned out not to be true. Everyone who wanted them got meds like skittles at least once a day and many of them were felons. When Mary Rose found out what green clothes meant, she was surprised that she wasn't wearing them. 
One shirt one pair of pants, a soft sports bra and 2 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of underwear. These clothes were exchanged for a new set of clothes once a week and there were no pillows in jail so you had to rumple them together in some fashion if you wanted a pillow. 
There were no pens in jail, only golf pencils. However the inmates were allowed to buy eye liner pencils from the commissary which was somehow just. 
On this side of the jail most the women didn't look too friendly but there were a few exceptions. As Mary Rose got in line to receive her plate, she happened to notice a younger girl with toilet paper rolls being used to curl her hair. The inmate was embarrassed when Mary Rose saw her and looked as if she wanted to take them out but Mary Rose hoped she didn't. Mary Rose didn't have trouble finding a seat and took a place at the table closest to her jail cell. A buff white girl who didn't say a word and moved slowly like a man sat down at the table as well. Another woman was already seated and leading a funny commentary.
“Yes those are toilet paper rolls,” she said as if the new inmate needed explanation.
Mary Rose ate in silence. After a few minutes the tough looking woman finished her food, smiled at the funny lady and got up and left.
Later on her first day, a small girl who was behaving like a little rascal came up to Mary Rose and tried to engage her in conversation. 
"What's your name?" 
"Karla," lied Mary Rose. 
"Is this your first time here?" asked the curious inmate. 
"Yeah." Mary Rose didn't realize that this girl was a favorite member of a gang led by an older, heavyset Hispanic woman. The girl with the toilet paper rolls was also a member of this gang. While the little rascal was examining Mary Rose up close on the ground floor of the cell block suddenly there was a commotion nearby. A girl was on the floor and having a seizure. Mary Rose saw her shaking. Some inmates rushed to her side to protect her head from splitting on the ground. At the time this was happening a middle aged white male security officer was doing a rotation on the upper level of the cell block. Mary Rose looked for him and expected him to run down and pay attention to the situation however he kept walking at the same slow pace completely unaffected by what was happening as he watched on. 
"What's going on?" asked Mary Rose. 
"She's having a seizure," said the little rascal. 
"Oh my god is she okay?" said Mary Rose in a panic. The little rascal just shrugged her shoulders like she didn't know or care and went away. 
After things settled down a bit Mary Rose went over to speak to the young woman whose down to earth nature suggested possibly that she was not local. 
"Are you okay? Did you hit your head?" asked Mary Rose. 
"Yeah it hurts a little but I'm okay,” she said. No guard came out to take a report of the incident. Welcome to prison. 

*** 

The next morning, few girls were interested in looking at the newspaper which got immediately separated in sections and strewn on a table to maximize readership and access to the news. Mary Rose wasn't sure how the system of hierarchy in terms of reading the newspaper worked. She tried to carefully ease over and gaze at the headlines and scan some articles. Despite trying not to look overly interested, her eagerness to read the newspaper did not go unnoticed by the gang that was watching from the Adirondack chairs on the 2nd level. 
There was a pregnant black girl with a huge tumor on the side of her head in 4A. Sometimes she covered it with a bonnet. No one made fun of her. While Mary Rose sat at the table reading the newspaper, she could hear the girls upstairs making fun of her. 
"Dad's reading the newspaper," someone said and they all started snickering, the heavy Hispanic leader, rascal, curls, and two others who had joined them. Mary Rose could hear a few more mentions of the word Dad and some more muffled laughter. She couldn't focus and stopped looking at the newspaper and ignored the assholes.
While Mary Rose was briefly distracted by the newspaper another woman went into her jail cell and took a pair of her socks. The woman didn't even take them to her own jail cell she put them in the trashcan. 
Mary Rose only knew this because after they had been sent back to their jail cells to be locked up until the next meal or break she saw the middle aged deputy bring the woman out to the main floor and make her dig them out of the trashcan. Then he told her to sit on the bench and he briefly scolded her for being like a bad child which she seemed to enjoy as she had the faintest trace of a smile on her face. Mary Rose looked for her second pair of socks and they were missing. No one brought her a new pair. 

***

The next morning Mary Rose noticed a small athletic woman in her 50s or 60s walking silently in circles around the perimeter of the main floor not too fast but steadily. She was doing laps. Mary Rose thought it was exercise but she didn't understand the face. 
After eating breakfast the girls were sent back to their jail cells for about 2 hours and then let back out again for an hour and a half to enjoy the morning. Mary Rose was naturally curious about reading the newspaper and she didn't know that this was going to be a problem in jail. Mary Rose was also curious about the sheriff's deputies and she went closer to the guard booth but kept her distance. She could not see inside as it was raised off the floor. They were usually the same 6 or 7 people. There was a small window where the inmates could ask for things when they needed something like a roll of toilet paper, or a maxi pad no tampons. 
Then Mary Rose remembered that she wanted to read the newspaper. When she turned around to go to the table where the deputies put the newspaper she saw that rascal's gang all had their faces buried in a different section of it. Mary Rose went up to the Hispanic gang member who may have been from her own neighboring neighborhood she later feared, and snatched it away from her. They dropped their papers and stood up in shock and outrage. 
"What the fuck are you doing you bitch?" shouted the leader who was more round than tall but double the size of the others in her gang. A Mexican woman who had seen enough. The Sheriff's Deputies responded instantly. 
"Break it up!" Some kind of alarm was sounded and the lifeguards exited the tower. Schmidt and the middle-aged guard were on the floor in seconds telling Murphy to go to her cell. No one had been touched, but this level of aggression was unacceptable in jail and Murphy did not know this in her ignorance and fury. 

***

After the near fight over the newspaper, the deputies were forced to move Mary Rose to cell block 4B on the other side of the building. After the male security guard transferred her to her new cell, number 12 closest to the guard booth, he brought her the complete newspaper and slid it under the door. He looked at her like a sane, compassionate person and commanded her to behave.
Inside the housing unit of this newly built institution where the jail cells lined the cell block on the first and second level, there were many windows on either side so the inmates could see outside. At the top of the stairs to go to the second level was a loft with four Adirondack chairs. In general if you're cell was not on the second level you didn't go up there. It wasn't forbidden though.
To a prisoner, big puffy clouds might seem like an omen regarding the activities of the outside world or an upcoming day in court. Thanksgiving had just passed. The clouds covered the sky with big rounded shapes leaving only tiny fragments of blue atmosphere to be seen behind them. A long enduring sprinkling of rain had saturated the campus lawns and sidewalks.
The ground where the prison was built had some undesirable institution built on it for over 100 years whether an orphanage, an insane asylum or a prison. A place where people were held against their wills and lived and died. There were twin murals above the guard booth on each side of the building. The identical murals were of a desert landscape with a lake in the background surrounded by desert plants and sunset hues blended into the sky. Normally the inmates were only let out of their cells one half of the building at a time. So when 4A was recreating on the main floor, 4B was locked up and resting in their cells, and vice versa.
There was a shared outdoor area covered in concrete, an area about 40 feet by 25 feet. This area was enclosed with high walls and a crisscross structure above blocking the view of sky with beams. There was also barbed wire at the top of the high walls, in case the women cooperated to make a human ladder to mount it. When they landed they would still be on the grounds of the prison made of several buildings with green lawns and chain link fences between them. Escaping was not an option. The excessiveness of the enclosure was overkill. They were as helpless as birds sold in a pet store locked up in cages behind glass walls with clipped wings.
Mary Rose was called into the glass-enclosed room behind the guard booth on the 4B side to see a nurse. It had several chairs but no table. Mary Rose sat down and waited.
"Do you need medicine for alcohol withdrawal?" asked the Asian nurse who arrived.
"No thank you," said Mary Rose. "I'm not an alcoholic."
"How much do you drink in a day?" asked the nurse.
"About 6 24-ounces. Sometimes double that," stated Mary Rose. The nurse lowered her eyes as if to say As you wish and turned to leave. Then Mary Rose remembered her wrists and how it was hard to hold a pencil to write or to do anything. She felt that some irreparable damage had been done to her nerves. For the rest of her life Mary Rose's left hand would seize up like a bird's claw and she would have to massage out the cramp with the other hand.
The nurse briefly checked out the inmates wrists and then left. She waited for a deputy to retrieve her and allow her to return to her new jail cell.


***

During the night the lights on the main floor were kept on. She was not sure why the night she arrived they were off.
In prison during meals, if you are new and you don't know where to sit, your best bet is to find a seat close to your jail cell. Mary Rose tried the technique of sitting in the next logical spot like one would file into an elevator. This technique got her reprimanded by the person she would later come to identify as the gang leader's girlfriend or the girlfriend of one of the most dominant women. Dominance in jail was not just determined by race or toughness but also by the length of ones sentence.
"You can't sit here," rudely blurted out the sandy blond haired girl looking straight at Mary Rose and shook her head like Are you crazy?
Stunned, realizing she had just been rejected by the white people, perhaps for being new as much as her striking dark features, Mary Rose walked far away and took a seat at an empty table.


When she looked up two of the scariest people she had ever seen were seated at the table with her.

"Hello, I'm Smokes. This is my wife Chuckles." Chuckles looked like a male gangmember and a psychopath. She had short black cropped hair and a Fuck the World tattoo in Olde English ringing her neck under her collar bone. On the street Murphy would have thought she was a man.

Chuckles

"That's a nice sweatshirt you got," said Smokes.

 


The reading material in prison was very religious. Mary Rose was delighted to see that they had a table in the corner by the water fountain where there was a small pile of books. 8 Bibles and the Karla Faye Tucker story. So she took one copy of the Holy Bible and the Karla Faye Tucker story to her cell for some reading.
It turns out that Karla Faye Tucker was the first woman executed on death row in Texas in 1998 under then President George H.W. Bush. Karla Faye Tucker completely accepted Jesus and her fate and died peacefully in prison under capital punishment. Mary Rose decided that next time someone asked her name she would just use her real one.

***
Compared to 4A there were a lot of beautiful intelligent creatures in 4B. It was as if the girls had been sorted not just by chance but by intelligence. Crosses on temples, small peace signs behind ears, and tattoos on legs which they showed off by rolling up one side of their pants which the guards didn't seem to mind.

The gang in 4B was very strong and classy. They dominated with irreverence and there were a few members of all races who moved in and out of their company fluidly. Their names were the Untouchable, Rabbit and JoJo. They had the respect from the others to operate distinctly as individuals. 


Rabbit would have been more appropriately nicknamed Tiger. She was a big and tall Harley Davidson riding woman with long jet black hair. She might have had some Native American blood in her. Running was not allowed in prison but being loud was and Rabbit was very loud. Sometimes she talked about her son who was 7 years old. Seven was also the number of years Rabbit would be locked up. When Mary Rose would leave the jail 9 days later, she would be of the opinion that 1 year in prison was enough time for anyone regardless of the crime.
They would call JoJo black on her profile but she had a creamy colored skin tone. To Mary Rose she looked like a female Cuba Gooding Jr. She wore an emerald green set of clothing and she was serving 9 months with 5 months left to go. She could move from table to table without bothering people and she walked with an athletic stride.

The thin Scottish beauty was the Untouchable. She could have been a Hungarian beauty, or a Polish beauty, or whatever she was she was the Untouchable. The Untouchable didn’t look at Mary Rose once during her entire stay out of a simple and pure disinterest in her.
The Untouchable dressed with a little bit of flare and got away with it. She was a beautiful woman with silky auburn colored hair, light blue eyes, well placed tattoos and gangster potential. 

There was one robust female sheriff’s deputy with blond hair who liked to be extremely annoying and open the automated jail cell doors one by one from the control panel rather than all at the same time. Mary Rose was scared of this deputy the most and was glad she rarely ever saw her.
Deputy Schmidt was medium height with a small athletic body and chestnut brown hair. She was very stern and she never smiled. There was a tall slender Eastern European sheriff's deputy who often worked the same shift as Schmidt. She spoke with an accent and the jokers in 4B called her "The bitch who can't speak English." Mary Rose never found that funny and she was impressed by this deputy's work ethic and professionalism.
There were also two male deputies who regularly worked there. The dark haired one was slightly more gregarious. Mary Rose liked to see him as it was nice to have a warm male presence in the jail.

Murphy had begun taking notes from the Bible. One day as she was sitting on her bed enjoying the flood of light through the window that gave her a warm Bible reading space, Murphy felt as though God opened the Book to a text in her hands which was meant for her to read. It was the Book of Esther.

Mary Rose had relatives with that name, however being a Catholic when she used to believe in God, she wasn't familiar with the heroes of the Old Testament.

***

[Holding cell in Las Colinas/ loading bus to courthouse]

Mary Rose had laid flat on the floor of a holding cell trying to absorb the chill from the concrete through her skin and sucked air from beneath the door more times than she would like to remember.
After the holding cell was already overflowing with gang members going to court, a handicapped black girl with a terrible bacterial infection of the leg was rolled in in a wheelchair. She wore a bandage on her head. She lived in some building in solitary and said she had a television and access to medicine. She was a homeless veteran from Texas. 



The black girl helps Mary Rose calm down during her first anxiety attack. Tells her to roll her neck around then tells her to do it more slowly and gives her a light shoulder massage. She tells her to breathe. 


***

From the gorilla glass enclosure of the holding cell the women could see the arrival of two large sexually mature male sheriff's deputies. Out of all the king's eunuch's these two large ones, Bigthan and Teresh, handled the transportation of the prisoners. The women were called out of the cell 9 at a time by their last names.

"Johnson, Gonzalez, Murphy..."

"Line it up face the wall hands on the wall!" said the guard they liked.

Murphy and some of the other inmates found the Mexican-American guard deeply attractive. He was the sheriff’s deputy who would drive the bus load full of inmates to the courthouse. His partner who was the same impressive size as him looked like a pure misogynistic psychopath. The female prisoners were grouped in threes and handcuffed to each other.

"Please be careful with my wrists," said Murphy and the psychopath pulled the handcuffs tight on her tender wrists. Murphy refelt her injury and she knew this was bad for her anxiety. Next the deputies methodically arranged the women in rows while they prepared the other prisoners for transport.

In line to board the death trap, Murphy felt another anxiety attack coming on. She was handcuffed to 2 other women making a triplet of criminals. She fell to her knees.

“I can’t go. I can’t breathe,” said Murphy who began to sweat and panic. 


***
The sheriff's bus was designed to let the prisoners die rather than escape in the event of a rollover accident. All emergency exits had been covered with grates preventing a possible exit in the case of an emergency.

The front of the sheriff's bus was customized with Hannibal Lector cages for the prisoners too dangerous to handcuff to others.

After all the bad women were stowed away like cargo the signal to secure the door was given. The hot driver played music on the radio. His psycho partner sprayed some aerosol can into the air and the bus took off. Though it was a fresh, cold morning, it wasn't long before the windows of the bus began to fog up. Murphy felt like she was self immolating inside of her SD Jail sweatshirt handcuffed to two other women.

Murphy was seated behind 2 plump gregarious lesbians who occupied 1 seat made for 2 each. Somehow after meeting in prison, they were managing to get out at the same time and they were going to open some kind of animal shelter in Jamul.

It was clear that they were very happy and in love. They couldn't shut up.

"Actually my mom has more facial hair than my dad," said the short haired one.

"Can you please be quiet? This is the only time I get to listen to music," said an older Asian woman sitting several rows ahead who turned around to address the booming lesbian.

The lesbian replied with a series of sarcastic retorts that indicated she had no intention of following this request.

In the underground level of the courthouse was where the sheriff's bus delivered the criminals.

[Hot driver and psycho partner unload the girls from the bus. About 7 women total ]

[Hot driver touches Murphy's breast when he does a pat down. She says thank you - and he said that's what we are here for. ]

The holding cells at the South Bay courthouse were much dirtier than the ones at Las Colinas. The large triangular shaped holding cell had a TV mounted on the wall that was as high up as a basketball hoop.

For the inmates, a court appearance meant a long boring day waiting to see the judge. It was an all day affair. Eight hours in a variety of holding cells. Then to be returned to the jail in a van driven by a different sheriff's deputy.

All of the holding cells at the courthouse had a toilet and a sink as prisoners would be stuck inside of them for untold hours.
The underground level was the domain of sheriff's deputies, prisoners and the occasional public defender.
Gomez was a tough leader of the deputies at the court house. He was a bald-headed, blue-eyed man. The Mexican girls had an affinity for him. They liked to tease him when he came in and out of the holding cell to retrieve female criminals for the judge.
"No lap dance at the Hong Kong gentleman's club for you!" said the skinny Mexican girl. Gomez was in charge of the deputies who ran the TSA like scanning machine at the entrance to the courthouse as well as the guards underground.

 

The funny one who liked Gomez took a nap on a concrete projection in the corner of the holding cell.

The filipina girl braided the pregnant Mexican girl's hair into two french braids. It brought out the highlights in her hair. The pregnant girl was doing time for fraudulent use of credit card numbers or personal identify theft. She was part of a larger network of criminals she wasn't working solo. She cried a few tears in the holding cell after she saw the judge and learned she would be having her baby in jail.

"I can't wait to get a Dr. Pepper," said the woman in the wheelchair. Mary Rose understood this to mean when she got out at some unknown future date.

"Dr. Pepper makes my pussy drop!" said the woman out loud to no one in particular.

 

 

 

"When I was living on the streets my friend kept stealing my medicine for my seizures," said the woman. "They used to take it and shoot it up."

"What was that medicine called?" asked Mary Rose.

Before Inspection

On Wednesday and Saturday nights, inmates could make purchases from the commissary. Mary Rose saw the list of goods. She purchased a pad of paper, some Kool-Aid, and a few other personal items. Mary Rose sat alone on her first evening in 4B. She stayed far enough away from the other women to give them space. They were congregated in front of the TV watching some kind of holiday themed movie and others conversing throughout the dayroom. She located herself on a a projection under the front staircase. She felt safe sitting right in front of the guard booth. Shaving razors could be checked out on Friday evenings and they had to be checked in the same night. While Murphy sat minding her own business she suddenly noticed Chuckles strutting like a man on the floor space before her with a newly shaved head. All of her black hair was gone and her pale head was bald and shiny. She looked even more like a man. Chuckles wanted Mary Rose to see her. Chuckles had a big smile and she felt hot. After that event the guards announced shaved heads were not allowed. From her new jail cell Mary Rose had a view of the TV in the day room. One evening after the inmates retired to their cells, she got to watch the first 20 minutes of the Hunger Games (with commercials) while standing and looking out the window. There was a pair of enormous joyce-stick like switches on the wall in every cell that reminded the inmates of the electric chair. No one dared touch them. In the common area of the day room, you are not supposed to laugh unless you have earned the right. That's why many times you would only hear Rabbit laughing or the white gang leader laughing who was a heroin addict that robbed a bank. Despite these funny moments, prison is a miserable place especially for the people doing hard time. Naturally, the inmates try to make life bearable by sharing what little they have and forming bonds with each other mostly with people within their own ethnic group. On the 4th day a girl with a nice personality and gang affiliated looks came up to Mary Rose and introduced herself. "Hi, I'm like the librarian," she said holding a few books. She had thin, painted on eyebrows, wet orangish colored hair, and heavy eye make up accomplished with a black eyeliner pencil. "Oh cool," said Mary Rose. "There's an inspection coming up and we can only have 6 books in our cells," she said. "Oh I didn't know," said Mary Rose. "Yeah, I have 10 books, and I was wondering if you could hold 4 of them for me just until after the inspection?" said the woman. "Yes sure absolutely," said Mary Rose and she took the books, glad to have some new reading material. "Thanks I appreciate it," said the sweet librarian. The only part of the jail that was in better view than Mary Rose's jail cell to the guard booth was the shower area. There were 3 shower stalls each individually enclosed.

Bible study

On a Wednesday afternoon two ladies with cute haircuts came to lead a Bible study. It was about Rebekah, Isaac's wife. She had twins named Jacob and Esau. One of them was famously red.

Chuckles, Smokes, Mary Rose, a large inmate, and 2 faceless ones attended the voluntary Bible study. It was a packed house.

"How did Rebekah tell her sons apart?" asked the teacher.

"Esau had red hair all over his arms," answered Smokes, also a victim of the lack of reading material in the jail.

The following Sunday, two other women came to offer mass.

"Anyone want to go to church?" said the deputy.

"I'll go," said Smokes. Mary Rose also accepted. The large inmate showed up. They were greeted by 2 ladies from the outside world.

"How is the food?" the ladies were curious to know.

"It's gotten better," said the large inmate. "It used to be really bad, like barely edible."

When she said edible Mary Rose remembered the sloppy joes.

"You can have mine too," said Mary Rose to the person sitting next to her.

"Oh you don't like it? It's so good," she said spooning the excrement colored slop in her mouth.

During the prayer meeting, Mary Rose's attention would wander. She would drift off into the day room to see what kind of mischief the girls were getting into. At one point she locked eyes with Silent girl through the glass. Silent girl gave her the most hate-filled look she had ever seen, even surpassing the one she had got from the deputy. Mary Rose interpreted this to mean Silent Girl was an Agnostic.

The small blond woman spoke at length about her life a story full of lurid details. She had also been in jail for a short time and said she learned to do the following.

"I would just mark an X on them in my mind and walk around them. I didn't interact with them."

 


Inspection

In preparation for the inspection, the guards made it clear that no food was to be allowed in the cells. All food would be thrown away. 

A half dozen additional guards who Mary Rose had never seen before showed up on the morning of the inspection. They were armed to the teeth. The doors opened on a cold morning at 6:00 a.m. with the sheriff's deputies shouting "Take your hand towels and go outside!"

It took all of 20 minutes for the deputies to ransack every single cell in 4B. 

The night before the inspection Mary Rose prayed on her knees that her papers wouldn't be taken. If they must be stolen, she prayed, please let the content of them stay in my mind, reoccurring to me frequently. 

The prisoners gathered in the concrete outdoor space with high walls. The area was dry outside but it was very cold. Mrs. Lopez took a seat along the high wall opposite the building and Mary Rose found refuge sitting beside her. The ground was cold, the wall was cold, the air was cold. It was very uncomfortable. 

Other inmates could see the inspection going on through the windows if they stayed close to the building. They got louder and louder as they watched. 

"She just did a push-up!" said Smokes referring to Deputy Schmidt who looked under someone's bed with a military style push up. 

"Wow, that's tough!" chimed in someone else sarcastically. The push-up was everything the inmates despised about Deputy Schmidt. 

"She just threw away my drawings," said Smokes. Smokes looked like she was going to cry but Mary Rose wasn't sure if it was sincere. 

The gang leader and her girlfriend who looked like her twin walked together in circles talking like middle school friends. 

"I have a degree in business," said Irish letting the other educated inmates hear. During the same conversation she confessed something about using heroine that was heard by all. After they had walked a dozen laps Irish got on the elliptical machine. She seemed to be in good spirits, the inspection didn't bother her. 

There were 2 sinks and a toilet in the far corner of the outdoor space. Rabbit and her friend the young gangster were sitting in the sinks facing the opposite wall. The young gangster was poindexterish with the gang affilitated looks of the the old days that Mary Rose had not seen since she was in middle school. 

"Yesterday she was sitting on his lap," said Rabbit. The young gangster and Rabbit pretended to be the bitch who can't speak English and a male deputy.

"Rabbit she's going in your room," said someone. 

Rabbit went to the window where the girls were looking.

"They're doing the inspection Mrs. Lopez!" said poindexter walking with a gangster lean and dancing like a gang member. Mrs. Lopez looked sideways at Mary Rose and tried not to laugh. Mary Rose was trying equally hard not to smile because all hell had broken loose among the inmates and she didn't want to get on Rabbit's bad side. 

As Rabbit and the girls watched items being thrown from Rabbit's room as if a tornado had struck it.

"You Can Have It All My Empire of Dirt!" sang Rabbit at the top of her lungs, the loudest of the inmates, borrowing from Johnny Cash's hit comeback song. 

 

***

 

Rather than tearing her paper airplanes apart they unfolded some of them and took a few at random. They left the rest behind. 

Mary Rose felt that people who worked as deputies lacked heart, soul and imagination and therefore activities driven by talent were suspicious to them. She was glad that what they got were Bible notes. 

When the girls were let back into the day room after the inspection the extra guardsmen were still milling around and all the trash they had removed from the cells was strewn all over the day room floor. Mary Rose looked around in the trashcan for her handwriting. 

"Do you know what happened to my other papers?" Mary Rose asked a visiting male deputy standing close to her jail cell door. 

"Go to your cell," he said giving her a hateful look. In his opinion she wasn't human. 

 

The fact that they had meticulously unfolded her papers told her that they had spent an inordinate length of time in her cell spying on her and found nothing. During the inspection Chuckles, the Untouchable and someone else she didn't know were taken away to be put on a 24-hour lockdown. Mary Rose had a feeling that the deputies had found something other than food in their cells.

 

After Inspection

It didn't take long for Mary Rose to look forward to seeing JoJo at every meal. It was a great comfort to have a friend like her in jail. "What are you doing? You can't dress like that. Go change," said JoJo one evening when Mary Rose emerged from her cell looking a little too fresh. Mary Rose had seen the Untouchable wear the yellow nightgown with her pants after a shower. JoJo was quick to help her learn that dressing stylishly was not wise. Mary Rose always dressed as JoJo recommended after that. Blue shirt, blue pants. One day JoJo and Mary Rose were eating lunch with the older ladies Mrs. Lopez and meri weather. "So what are you here for?"Mary Rose asked JoJo. "Don't ask people that okay!" said Mrs. Lopez annoyed by the question. "I'm only asking her because she asked me," shrugged Mary Rose defending her innocence. Three sheriff's deputies were standing by in a light hearted happy mood eavesdropping on Mary Rose's conversation. "I broke a window out of a 7/11," said JoJo. Mary Rose suppressed a laugh. The sheriff's deputies especially the middle aged one found this amusing. Mary Rose didn't know why he was so entertained by this. The girls who knew how to remove facial hair by threading did so with strings carefully removed from the hem of their clothing. There were no spools of thread available. Murphy unknowingly purchased over $9.00 worth of Kool-Aid. At meals they were given single serving packets of Kool-Aid. She only wanted a few extra of these. Although she only bought 3, the hot cocoa item she purchased was no longer available so they sent 3 more bags of Kool-Aid. It looked like she had purchased 6 bags of laundry detergent. 3 Cherry and 3 Georgia Peach. She was nauseated by the scent of that much sugar in her jail cell. "Do you know what I'm gonna do when I get out?" said JoJo one day. "What's that?" said Mary Rose. "Get a bottle of Grey Goose and an eight ball," she said with her eyes smiling. Mary Rose feared she would be returning to jail if she did that. "Why do some people wear green clothes?" asked Mary Rose one day after she had got more close with JoJo. "It means they attacked an authority figure like a deputy," said JoJo. "Oh I see," said Mary Rose suddenly swallowing hard. The sweet librarians friend who asked Murphy to bring her the newspaper when she was done reading it. Murphy thought this was a very important duty. After she took some notes on the OPEC countries she had to stave off another woman who wanted the paper to carry out her mission. The librarians girlfriend's jail cell was on the upper level of the cellblock. She headed to the upstairs level of the dollhouse. “All is well I talked to Travis,” said the Untouchable sounding happy and relieved. She was speaking to her friend. She never acknowledged or made eye contact with Mary Rose.  When Murphy went to jail, she felt that it was God's way of giving her a chance to serve him better by opening her eyes to people who could use her help. She vowed to write a letter to the pregnant girl and send her a teddy bear from the outside world but K'Lynn said Fuck off to Mary Rose the last time she saw her. Mary Rose unintentionally observed the crack dealer trying to hustle a young gangster to buy some pills. It was only the crack dealer’s second day in 4B. She had landed in this nearly all white cell block in county jail after 13 years in the federal penitentiary.  The crack dealer had arrived out of the blue sitting at meri weather and Mrs. Lopez's table. She was a small black woman of ailing health but an aggressive talker. She was on a liquid diet and she seemed to bring out the crack user in the good witch meri weather. The crack dealer's cell was number 13, right next to Murphy's. "Do you like Kool-Aid?" asked Mary Rose. "Yes I like Kool-Aid," said the crack dealer. "I will bring you some next time," said Mary Rose. The crack dealer was neutral to Mary Rose before she gave her the Kool-Aid, but afterwards she was different. The morning after the transaction had occured the woman looked very irritable and complained of not getting any sleep. Mary Rose realized that this veteran inmate, a bonafide crack user, had snorted an entire bag of Georgia Peach Kool-Aid. This woman looked at Mary Rose like she had given it to her on purpose but it was far from the truth. Mary Rose was glad she was getting out on pre-trial bond soon. [Mary Rose sings first verse in shower - "That's sad," said the girl in the next shower stall. ] Mary Rose gets out of jail, checks the newspaper at home .... sees one of the women.

 


 

by Andrea Boggs | Copyright 2017 | All Rights Reserved