from Mary Rose Goes to Jail
by Andrea Boggs

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.

 

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