Click HERE to read everything from the beginning.

28. I Was A Jailhouse Cyrano

I apologize for the breath, gang.  I had to get some shit together in my head and clean some filth up for storage.  I've kept my deviancy to a minimum but old habits die hard.  Really hard.  Maybe it's a commitment issue, I'm sure some of you would agree with this but I don't know.  It's hard to fight your nature.  The thing is, you don't hear much complaining when it's in your nature to strive for medical school credits or perfecting that note that you can't quite seem to grasp.  It's in my nature to be cynical and teeter on the edge of what most people would consider ugly.  I've been trying to change it.  I really have.  That's why I've decided to write about my latest prison hustle.

I have, for a price, been writing love / freak letters for some of my fellow convicts.  As of this writing I've been quasi- love birding most of Southeast Michigan.  It started with my bunky who can't read or write.  He got some young guy in here to convince his mother to write him.  As much as I'd like to, we won't go into the general fucked-up-edness of this situation.  Every two seconds, he was asking me how to spell, "where," and asking advice on how to woo this mother with the written word.

I finally told him to hand the pad of paper over and I wrote a short letter pontificating on the carnalities of level one prison life.  Some real tier-one shit.  I tickled her chin and stirred her martini.  Here, dip your whiskers in this, kitten.  I guess it worked as I began to, annoyingly enough to me, help him keep up the charade by answering her lonely letters.  Here's the rub - my bunky's a couple months from the door.  He's going to get out there and this woman's going to be in love with an illiterate hillbilly.  Don't get me wrong; my bunky is a great guy.  This woman has been reading a language that  isn't his.  The only poems he knows are dirty limericks.  I'm not overly conflicted about this, but it always sets up about an hours worth of musing about human nature.

Through conversation, my bunky told a couple of other guys about our deal and now I have a steady job wooing about 10 guys' women.  There's demand for more if I could handle the extra work.  I didn't think that I had a hand for the night breath, but they keep writing.  I get a new kind of dirty now.  Not a sexual dirty.  I've never been into that kind of dirty.  I have the secret pleasure of peeking into windows that aren't mine.  I get to look through all these lonely women's dressers - I know Kathy makes shitty tips and isn't getting by, Stacy's son is shooting dope and she just doesn't know what she'd do if she came home and he was dead.  I know Nancy is so goddamn scared and lonely that killing herself has become an option, sometimes.

The letters don't start that way, of course.  It always starts with shiny costume jewelry words, shitty poems, and pseudo-proclamations of love that sometimes raises bile to the back of my tongue.  I have run out of adjectives to describe penetration.  Ugh, that's the worst.  Their association of sex with love is appalling.

I have a guy who wants me to write nothing but freak letters.  I wrote the opening letter for him to a potential pen pal.  He gives me his information- name, age, likes, dislikes, some random thoughts or ideology and I write them into a semi-coherent letter.  Simple enough until she wrote back.  The very next letter he wants me to write is a freak letter.  Who am I to say?  The most that I can ask for is that this woman acknowledges how creepy that is a discontinues writing.  She didn't.  I now write these laughably horrible Harlequin sex scenarios to a 300-plus pound black woman.  I never look him in the eye when I hand him the letter and he hands me five dollars in commissary.

Is it weird that I listen to The Hold Steady exclusively when I write these letters?  Freaky or otherwise?  I hope I don't accrue some horrible association every time I listen to them in the future.

So, now I feel like weird imaginary prostitute.  I technically don't exist.  I didn't plan on having to continue these letters.  I could just stop.  I don't need the money.  There would be a good number of women out there that believe the convict they are were writing had some Sybil-like personality shift and stopped writing them, that would probably be best.  Those are some terribly broken women.  These are some enormously predatory men.  I just get to be a mediator of filth.  It's good work if you can get it.

Send Ryan Some Mail!

Ryan passed word to me that he'd appreciate some questions coming to him.  He's at a loss as to what you'd all like to see on his blog.  Send him anything - questions about life in prison, life in general, thoughts on pop culture and current events, anything.

Send correspondence to:

Ryan Martin 370865
Detroit Re-Entry Center
17600 Ryan Rd.
Detroit, Michigan 48212

OR post a comment here and I'll get it to him.

27. Retaliation

I'm anxious all the time, now.  This isn't much of a change except for the constant persistence of it.  The prying, holding weight that's constantly pressing into my chest.  A sense of foreboding that's relentless.  I create my own nervousness, my own delusions and realities.  It's been less than a week since I pounced on a man in his cell and beat him until he whimpered and bled onto the fire-resistant mattress.  A mattress that doesn't allow blood to soak into it.  The fluid just puddles and holds in the indentations my knees make as I straddle his chest.  Both of us breathing heavy, my arms splattered to the elbows.  I am not proud.  I'm shaken and upset.  I'm shaken because my brain is working overtime, a million scenarios at once; how do I leave this man's cell unnoticed, is he going to lay in and take this like a man or tell, did I really beat this man like this over $5 street money or was it the $100 prison money it was worth?  How do I proceed from this spot?  I get off of him like a spent lover dismounting.  Maybe it's more like rape judging from the look I'm getting from this man's one open eye, his breathing heavy and sort of mewing.

How did I get to here? I thought that this would turn out to be a blog about the actions of others, a reflection on a prison life I witness while I wait out this bit.  Things haven't turned out like I hoped.  I can't beat my nature, I can't out-maneuver it.  I feel like a monster and I can't deny the power of that feeling. It's exhilarating.  I imagine it's how a lion must feel strolling the veldt.

I was never like this.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a stranger to violence and I'm handy in a fist fight, but I never felt like I was an instigator.  I never felt like I was a predator.  I never felt boss.  Situations were always dealt to me as a matter of fact, things fell my way and I dealt with them as I felt appropriate.  I have never been directly confrontational.

I feel like this place may be changing me fundamentally.  It isn't good and I'm in a sort of confused state of remorse and excitement.  I've got to decide that this animalistic behavior is a barrier to my return to civilization.  If I keep at this I'm afraid that it might be too hard to return to normal operations once I'm released or a non-issue if I'm fucking killed.  I'm not exaggerating.  I'm going too far.  I won't explain about what's going on in depth, but most of you know already.

As to that, from here on out I'm shutting it down.  What I though was easy money was anything but.  Ain't shit free on Planet E.  I thought I was providing for my family, but at what cost?  A few dollars for my soul?

I can't piss in peace.  I shower ready for anything.  My enemies have become numerous.  These things aren't what scare me, though.  If you can believe it, it's the thought of never seeing my children again.  OR if I do, I'm afraid I'll be caught in the perpetual motion machine of the Michigan Prison system.  I don't want that for them.

I push through the week just to see them on visit.  To hear their stories and 5-year old perceptions.  It just isn't an option to fail them any more than I already have.

So I've decided to tighten it up and get my shit together.  There might be some backlash but I don't foresee much aside from maybe some revenge, maybe not even that.  With my confession and plan for change out of the way I'll discuss some nasty little particulars.

If you've been owed money or whatever for a sufficient length of time and when talking isn't getting it done, it is recommended that you use violence.  Unless of course you decide to cur up and get out of whatever hustle you've just gotten beat at.  Anyways, if violence is in order you have got to prove a point, if not to the surrounding inmates then to the person of interest and to yourself.  If you don't plan on stabbing the person you had better make him wish you had.  What I'm saying is that you  have to make this person scared to retaliate.  You have to have him so scared of another beating that he either pays or keeps it moving.  This is sometimes hard to come to terms with because it's so personal.  The person in question is somebody you obviously thought was cool and probably kicked it with often.  For whatever reason he's decided that paying you wasn't going to happen so you have to make a move.  You can not let this go.  It's impossible to stay in operation if you do, at any rate.  The best way to go about this is to play it cool.  You have to be a good actor.  You pretend to be friends, reassure him you believe he's going to pay you, continue to play cards or dominoes or what have you.  This can be referred to as, "rocking him to sleep."

If the guy is bigger and stronger, my advice is to catch him at his most vulnerable, preferably while he's showering or taking a shit.  You can also use your ID as a key, break into his cell, shake him and ask him if he's woke, and then beat the living shit out of him.  This is one of the better ways.  You've got a lot more time to commence to ass kicking and there's little chance of getting caught.  Keeping risk to a minimum should be of utmost concern.  You have to understand that you can't just give the guy a couple of jabs and walk away.  You have got to make the man scared.  This part is hard because the guy in question is not going to want you punching away at him.

If he's laying in his bunk, straddle him and try to hold his power arm at the shoulder.  Most likely, this will be his right arm.  Holding the wrist isn't as effective as the shoulder, as this is where the power of a punch is generated.

NOTE: When in a bar fight, wrap the shirt up at the right shoulder of your opponent with your fist and swing and continue to advance with your right.  Remember to focus on his shoulders while punching at the sides and lower jaw and neck.  If you try to look right at what you're trying to punch, you'll miss it more times than not.  My dad can probably fill in the mechanics of this to anyone interested as he boxed.  I only try to go with what works best for me.

Anyways, with your opponent's power controlled and using the leverage you have by sitting at his waist, start punching.  Hit all the soft delicate spots.  Nose, eyes, temple, chin, and lower back half of the jaw.  You need to do this even after he's begged you to stop.  It's probably safe to quit once he starts crying; you've got to use your judgement here.  The point is this guy has to fear  you.  He has to be so upset by this ass-whipping that he second guesses retaliation.

Retaliation by his friends is a non-issue if you don't fuck with gang bangers which, as a general rule of thumb, is a good idea.

So much for my third party testimonies.  I have sent myself  the cease and desist order and hopefully I can do it.  I've always lived reckless but this is becoming something that is actually making me stop and consider or weigh the amount of Monster to Man ratio that wasn't there before.  It all seems so easy until there's a knock on my cell with the offer of a $100 Western Union.  I try to trick myself into thinking things will be different this time.  It's like a fucking battered woman movie on Lifetime.  The underlying theme there is always the same.  He's going to continue beating you.  He won't change.  He can't.

I've been on a huge Bruce Springsteen kick lately thanks to John.  I've especially been into the Greetings From Asbury Park album.  There's a line that's been stuck in my head since I heard it a couple of weeks ago.  I've been moving it around in my mouth and it tastes fine.  It has nothing to do with anything I've written here, I guess I just feel like sharing it.

"You're not man enough to hate, you're not woman enough for kissing."

After writing it, maybe it does pertain to me.  I might be that middle of the road ambiguous not much.  This isn't a self-deprecating statement as much as on of fact.  I don't feel like I'm that bad but I'm really not that good.  Being in the middle is probably worst of all.  Who knows, thanks for all the confusion, Bruce.  I'll be thinking on it some more.

PS - I received a really great letter from my dad recently and I'm wanting to share it (with some things omitted i.e. Lauren stuff) but I'd better ask permission, so with getting two birds stoned in mind (a Trailer Park Boys reference John should enjoy) I'm asking for it here.  I've only got four stamps till the next store.  It's a very enjoyable piece of writing.  It should also show where I get my unique sense of humor and cynicism from.

Night.  XOXO,


26. Part Five - How A Resurrection Really Feels

Catch up with PART FOUR before you read PART FIVE.

I got to the city and headed to Thompson Square Park where Sada had been spending her days.  I wont go into any diatribes about this city because there's nothing interesting there.  It's all too impersonal and big.  I guess I like my filth and degeneracy condensed, I don't know.  New York didn't impress me.  I met up with Sada and I knew right away that everything was different.  Sometimes it's just that simple.  There just wasn't anything there and it was okay.  We wandered the city for awhile and she told me she was staying across the river with some nice cocaine dealers who offered her a place to stay.  Good for her.  We wandered and saw colorfully interesting people, all oblivious to everything around them.  We broke into a door in an alley that we thought might make a good squat and it happened to be the downstairs to a bar.  All this liquor was just there behind a chicken wire cage.  I emptied my pack of the unimportant stuff like clothes and food and loaded it with whiskey.

I'm sorry if it seems like I'm being intentionally vague about New York, but to be totally honest I only remember it in fractured segments.  I either died or came close to it that night and everything directly before it is pretty fuzzy.

I drank, I got drunk.  I was a stumbling mess.  Sada told me nobody was allowed to stay with her on account of the cocaine dealing.  She told me I could stay in the East River Park and that she'd see me the next day.  I recall walking around the park and running into some other travelling kids.  It turns out they were a train gang out of West Virginia called Back Alley Ruckus.  Fucking brutes.  They guy who seemed to be the leader talked with me for a while and I became drunk sober.  A state you can come to while drunk when a situation becomes incredibly tense.  He asked if I'd ever been to prison.  I told him I'd been locked up a good deal.  He asked if I ran with the Aryan Nation.  I told him that I look out for myself.  He asked if I was a good boxer.  I told him, 'fair.'  He asked if I could take 'him', and pointed to a blonde-haired hulk and I didn't say anything.  Before I knew it, I was in a fight.

We had each other by the throat and we were both punching, hammering, the other's face.  It went on for what seemed like forever, just punching away at each other with little scuffle or movement.  If left alone he would have surely won.  He outweighed me and stood taller, his pain tolerance the same as mine.  It wasn't left that way, though.  They descended on me like a pack of feral dogs kicking and punching.  It was like being tossed around in an ocean wave - moments of clarity only to be pushed back under where everything gets hazy.  Then there was nothing.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I usually refer to this as 'going to my happy place' or being knocked out, but it wasn't a sleep.  It was a nothing.  Just no goddamn way to explain it.  Nothing.  I probably was just knocked out, who knows?  I couldn't have been all the way dead because I'm writing about this but it wasn't anything I'd experienced.  Not the unrememberance of overdose or the hazy in-out of unconsciousness.  No floating, no sense of weightlessness.  There was no color, no emotion, no wonder, but I remember it.  Does that make sense?  I didn't find gods or demons, nor answers to questions.  I just all of a sudden heard a girls voice say, "Leave him alone, he's dead already."

I heard that and all the devils inside me responded.  Not me, not here, not at the hands of monsters like me, made like me, smelling like me.  No fucking way.  I was awake and with it and got up.  I got to the big fence separating the park and the freeway when they noticed me and returned, beating me into unconsciousness vicious knees an kicks.  I woke up again sitting on the sidewalk with blood pouring between my feet in a river.  It was like a never-ending faucet and a kid sat my pack next to me and told me that someone called an ambulance.

I don't remember anything until the next day.  I woke up in Bellevue feeling like I'd been hit by a train.  When I did move, it was in a sort of dried blood everywhere crackling sort of way that busy doctors leave you in when they believe it's your own fault.  Medical tape plastered everywhere ripping my hair out wherever it was stuck.  The nurse came in and told me that six of my ribs were broken, as was my nose and cheeks.  My ear was ripped along with my scalp.

Nobody offered me a mirror, but I could feel every place on my face distended and swollen.  I could see my cheeks and lips from the swelling.  I was, as they say, a fucking mess.  I was informed that they didn't have enough bed space to keep me, but I could stay until I felt that I could walk without falling.  They had cut off my clothes and offered me donated clothes that were too big even for my swollen body.  There's no revelation here, it's a clear case of you win some, you lose some.  Who could I even be mad at?  I'd left people in the same condition.  Sometimes dogs bite each others' faces.

The pain wasn't the worst but I was far from okay.  I was given a prescription of Ibuprofen to be picked up for free from the hospital's pharmacy.  After looking for what seemed like forever I gave up.  My chest felt like fire and I had to drag my pack.  I walked outside and rolled a cigarette and gently sat down.  People walked around me like I was the elephant man.  I had to have looked like him, all lumpy but with dried and caked blood to boot.  Fuck'em.  I just sat and smoked.  I made the 15 blocks back to Thompkins Square Park.  I met up with a cold and distant Sada.

I tried to see it out, sleeping on the park bench trying to heal.  I couldn't do it.  After the third day I called my grandparents.  I just couldn't move.  It took me 20 minutes to sit up.  Walking was almost impossible, the pain had quadrupled now that it had all set in.  I couldn't tough it out and it made me angry.  I called my grandfather and he just said, "Where are you?"  I told him and he didn't sound exasperated.  He just said, "I'm coming to get you."  He and my grandmother drove to New York City, came through the traffic and the picked me up.  No questions.  He just came and got me and didn't question it.  I'm crying right now and I can't explain the enormity of that action.  His saving me.  His unwavering love for me.  I crawled in to the van and I slept all the way back to Michigan.  My uncle has never forgiven me for having my grandfather come get me in that city.  I don't blame him.

My grandfather is the bravest man I know.

25. Part Four - Back To Howell and Off To Jail

Catch up by reading PART THREE before reading PART FOUR.

Okay, I have to close this because I keep forgetting where I am and because of my hate for writing long hand.  I can't bring myself to write as long or as detailed as I'd like to, anyhow.

Sada and I crossed back over the desert the same way I'd come.  Because of the "puppy" and the violin, things went much more smoothly.  There is something to say about the persuasions of women.  It's easy, too.  A set of tits will get you money for gas long before a set of testicles.  Even if you can do cooler shit and pick up heavier stuff.  It's a fact and it's never been overlooked, we get it.  You can stop bitching about the raw deals you get and ease the lighter away from the lace.

The trip home was much loftier but nothing close to love or lust.  It;s difficult to explain the way that this woman was, maybe because she was much like me.  We found the same things irreverent and sometimes that can be much better than having too much in common.  It definitely make for easier lengths of time staring out into the desert, tossing around the same doubt.  Dear God, do you remember the Doors?  What was up with them?

We discussed going to New York to meet up with her friend, Neva.  We made a plan too tentative, everything was all very nihilistic.  She didn't drink.  I did -- to excess.  The ride through the desert was very Raoul Duke in my mind.  In her's it was most likely very annoying and boring.  A Lumina is no shiny convertible, but it will still shudder at speed, threatening to turn you ass over tea kettle into the cold desert where the scorpions with sting you just to sting you, like a woman bored with the years and indifference.

We made it back to The Mitten with some gas to spare and I was in a hurry to show her my beloved Detroit.  I was home in these neighborhoods.  I pointed out my favorite spots and houses and buildings.  She mostly just looked sad and far away and lost.  The city can turn you off of humanity or turn you on to it's ugly truth.  There was a famous smart man who said, "Nothing human ever surprises me."  He'd never been to Detroit I'd wager, never been offered a blow job by a 70-year old black lady in a BP gas station parking lot.  Never been nervous at a stop light.  The rob children and rape reverends and vice versa.  It is din.  Everyone wants and nothing gives, they are ankle to eyebrow deep in the boiling Grand River of blood.  An old black man at a liquor store told me something I'll never forget.  His mouth stank and his teeth hung by threads.  "That woman," he chuckled, "crossed me like Mack crosses Woodward."  (for the uninformed, Mack crosses Woodward twice.)  Pointing at a thick-thighed, stretchpants-bound woman wiggling across the street.  I don't know what she did, but ain't that the truth of it?  Detroit in a nutshell and woman to boot.  The old man downed his beer and threw it at her overhand, showering the avenue in ghetto diamonds.  I left before she could stab us both.

Sada was unimpressed and uninspired, and it was the sort of let down you feel when a small child opens a present he doesn't like.  A half-assed almost appeasement  and then discarded in retrospect.  You can't make somebody lick a urinal and expect them to tell you that it tasted good.  On the other hand, you can make them lick it, and you can make them tell you it's not so bad, but there's no hiding the bad taste that's left in their mouth.  That, my friends, is an analogy of my relationship history.

We got to Howell and I dropped the car off behind Mancino's and let my aunt know where my mother could pick it up.  I couldn't deal with her yet, I still had some shit to do.  I hadn't finished whatever it was that was pushing me over these brinks.  I couldn't see the end yet, but I think I knew what was there.

We spent a few nights at a friend's house where I overheard an acquaintance in another room ask why there was a nigger sleeping on the floor.  We settled it outside but the fight I wanted didn't happen.  I didn't want to be back in that town.  Too much about Howell has turned me against her but I can't leave.  I'm weak.

We had no money and little direction and slept outside waiting for the train.  Hour after hour can pass waiting for those fuckers and I waited an hour too long.  While we slid in and out of sleep, police approached us and I had a warrant.  They took me to jail and I told Sada to go ahead, I'd catch up to her in New York.

I'm sitting here thinking about what it was that I went to jail for, what I had done to accrue a warrant, and for the life of me I can't remember.  I went and spent about a month though.  During this stay my mother forgave me like mothers do and I got out and kept it moving.  I got a job with my friend Chris doing some tree work to earn a few dollars to get me to New York.  I talked to Sada on the phone and she told me she'd found Neva and that they were on the Lower East Side.  Fair enough.  I put a pack together and I went.

24. Prison Glossary pt. 2

The Thriller; That Situation; The Stunner; Banger: n. 

Slang for a shank or a peeko (I guess a peeko is slang for a shank, also.).  If a convict is wearing a winter coat in the yard in July, he's probably got 'that situation.'

Honeybun Hit: phrase

If you pay somebody in store items to take care of business for you, it could be called a honeybun hit.  I love this one because of the absurdity of beating or stabbing somebody for 10 or 20 dollars worth of commissary items.  Awesome.

White Meat: n.

This is what is referred to when someone is cut to the bone or the bright fat under the skin.  "Dude got at him with the the thriller and cut him to the white meat.

Sweet As Bear Meat; Wouldn't Bust A Grape If His Middle Name Was Welches; Soft As Charmin (sometimes with 'twice as absorbent' if you want to throw in a gay 'slip'): phrases.

Used in reference to how soft or weak a guy is.  Not really effective, but really funny.

Slip: v.

This is the act of sliding in a gay innuendo on a guy during conversation.  If you pull it off, you've effectively 'slipped' him.  Men tend to have an inherent ability to act gay or accuse each other of being gay, so the act of 'slipping' shouldn't be foreign to many of you.  EX - "Dude talked slick to me, but I handled that shit." "I bet you handled it, probably two-handed with a masterful stroke."

Predadactyl 3000s: n.

I came up with this one myself.  It's a reference to the glasses that the State Of Michigan will issue you if you have no money.  No matter how cool you are, once you have these on you automatically look like a predator / cho-mo (Cho-Mo: n. Child molester.) ready to swoop down on somebody.  They're better than those Groucho Marx glasses.

Punt Faked or Pump Faked: v.

To trick somebody into acting a certain way by deliberate deception.  Lets say that the guard announces to the unit that there's going to be a shakedown (cell search) and you dispose of all your contraband.  If the guard never shakes down, you've been successfully 'pump faked.'  "That bitch pump faked the shit outta me."  "Yeah, it's going to take forever to collect all those dick pictures and ass lube again."

That was a pump fake into a slip demonstration.  Later.

"Sleepy Tobias" for Georgia Scout

Editor's note:  The following is a story written by the Jailbird for his cousin's daughter, Georgia.  He expressed interest in sharing it with the readers of Enjoy.

I knew about a mouse once, Georgia.  A little grey mouse with a black spot around his eye.  His name was Tobias.  He knew about you too, you know?  He used to tell me about you in this very cell.  Tobias was a special sort of mouse.  He could move about from place to place as he pleased but never forward or backward in time.  Maybe he was a magical mouse, then again maybe he wasn't.  Who am I to say?

Tobias lived here in this prison and he got along pretty well.  To Tobias, this place wasn't any worse or better than another, but then again Tobias could leave whenever he pleased.  He would travel to the most nonsensical of places.  Sometimes he would pop up at the animal shelter to rile up the cats.  Other times he would pop up amongst the un-knockoverable bottles at a field fair in some forgettable town.  He would wiggle into the weighted bottles and make them tumble onto the floor - before any ball were even thrown!  Often times, he would pop up right in your very room so he could report to me all the fun things that you get up to.  Maybe you saw him in your shelves when you played in your room on rainy days.  You would have had to look close, he was a slippery, shimmering thing.

Tobias had a great sense of humor.  After he had gone cell to cell getting little bits of bread or cheese he would come to mine and cheat at cards or dice.  He had some funny jokes, too, but they were a little blue so I'll save those for another time.  Tobias would tell me about all of the places he went and what he did.  "The greatest part," Tobias would tell me, is that the never had to be a reason for him to be where he was at any time.  "Nobody ever notices me," he would say, "and I dig that just fine."  He thought there was a sense of being bigger than all of it.  Nobody acted different because to them he was never there.  He saw the good side of people but also the natural ugly side.  He saw the side that picks their nose and wipes it on the couch.  He saw the side that pulled on a puppies ear to hear it whine.

Tobias told me he saw these things and it was so human that it was animal and that in it's self made it less of an atrocity.  He liked to taunt cats, remember?  He said these people's mean streaks usually never outweighed the niceness that they showed.  "Usually," he said.

Tobias had a pretty good grip on it.  He would sometimes go and comfort other convicts when it got to the heavy places.  He could sit with them and speak softly into their ears, sometimes tickling them with his jittery whiskers.  He once told me when I was in a particularly narrow place that as long as you still experience the stars as something "above you" you lack the eye of knowledge.  Tobias knew that I knew it was a quote from Nietzsche.  He also knew that I would get through that narrow place deciphering it.

Like I said, he really had a hold on it, man.

You know, I wasn't even sad when Tobias stopped coming to see me.  I'm not sure where he ended up, maybe you still see the old boy.  He's sometimes known to whisper in the ears of sleepers tugging at the dream until it's a thing of bright tiger's eye.  I'm not saying he's a magical mouse, but I ain't saying he isn't.  You just keep watch for him, George.  Keep a sharp eye.

23. Guts

Well, gang, just when I thought nothing interesting was ever going to happen in this shithole again, low and behold I got to see some guts.  Guts guts, the insides.  I had to go over to the medical building to get a vaccination on Thursday.  The medical building is a sort of neutral territory placed right in the middle of levels one, two, and four.  (Michigan got rid of level 3's some years ago.  I'm not sure why and I don't specifically care, just sayin'.)  There's an officer that sits at a desk while convicts of different levels sit in the plastic chairs against the wall like a tiny DMV.  Just like any DMV, everybody is angry and most don't have the correct paperwork and will be sent back to their unit empty handed.

The guard has everyone's ID and call-out sheet and when your number is up he'll direct you to either the doctor or the dentist.  It's a cattle call and very efficient.  There's no time wasted (for them) but you may sit there for hours.  Usually, guys from separate units will pass contraband back and forth and gossip.  Christ, the gossip.  I thought broads liked to gossip but there is no grape vine like a prison grapevine.  It's all who is snitching, or who's got basketball numbers for some double rape / homicide, (basketball numbers are when you get a sentence with so many years that it resembles the score for a basketball game.)  who's not paying whom, this guys a broad because he said something disrespectful to some other guy, but the disrespected guy didn't do shit, so they're both fucking broads.

There's no end, it goes on and on and it drives me batshit.  I don't feed into or spread gossip in the world and I thought, in general, most dudes didn't.  I was wrong.  It's like a bizzaro episode of Days of Our Lives but with stabbings and tons of ramen noodle soup.

Anyway, the escorting officer brought us into the medical building (which is blessedly cool.  There's no air conditioning in this prison.  It's a goddamn sauna in here.) and the guard behind the desk says, "You might as well take 'em back.  we got a couple of cutters from 7 block coming in."  The escorting guard replied, "Fuck 'em, they can wait.  I'm going home."

So we sat in the little school-style chairs against the wall and the boys commenced to gossiping.  Then they brought in the cutters.  7 block is the unit where all the crazies are housed.  I don't mean your average bi-polar or drunk, I'm talking about shit-in-a-box-for-a-pet type crazy.  They wheeled them in with wheel chairs and the first guy had cut himself pretty good up and down both his arms and legs.  He was a real bleeder.  If you've ever seen a significant wound caused by a razor blade you'd understand.  An inch-long cut can spread double that wide.  There's the white just beneath the skin and then a vivid yellow layer of fat followed by tendon and muscle.  It's vicious and bloody but not usually life threatening. unless you're digging for arteries.  The longest cut I saw was about three or four inches long and lay wide open along the top of his thigh.  He was trailing a spectacular amount of blood and it left tracks from the big wheel chair wheels.  It looked like a couple of ten speeds had been drag racing.

Then they brought in the show stopper.  This guy was a notorious cutter / puller.  He had cut open his abdomen on a separate occasion and had been caught pulling at his intestines.  They took him to the hospital to get fixed up and stapled but he had managed to pull the staples out and was digging around in there again. When they brought him in, the guards had handcuffed his hands to the arm rests so he wouldn't be able to keep pulling his guts out but he still had a significant amount of intestine hanging out.  The smell was the worst of it.  I can't describe the smell of the inside of a human's abdominal cavity and I'm sure you wouldn't want me to try.  It could have been from some infection he had developed from his previous gut tugging but I'm not sure that it wouldn't have smelled that way anyway.  My cousin Meghan might be able to fill us in on that.

What amazed me most about the scene wasn't the wounded men but the one's watching.  The exasperated and bored and irritated looks on the guards' faces.  The convicts who tried to look bored or just looked outright terrified.  There was no screaming and yelling, the nurses just casually walked out and spoke to the cutters by name in a kind of disappointed motherly sort of manner.  The blood was immense, more from the first guy than from the Puller.  After a minute it was a confusion of boot prints, wheelchair tread marks, and small, child-like sneaker impressions left by the nurses.

They ushered the men through and all that was left behind was a bunch of gore.  The guard let out an exasperated sigh and mumbled something about, "these goddamn lunatics," and got out a spray bottle of 2% bleach and started to wet the blood, turning it an instant black.  He looked at us and said, almost apologetically, "I like to spray the blood before the porters get over here cause most of them don't have blood-borne pathogen certificates."

It was all over except for the tar-black bleach-soaked gore that the porters came in a started squeegeeing off of the tile.  I got my poo-monia vaccine and kept it moving.  Fucking prison, right?


PS - I gossiped about it as soon as I got back to my unit.  Nobody was really impressed.

This is where John does the typing.

22. Part Three - Liberace Minus the Piano and a Dog Named Broccoli

Catch up by reading PART TWO before reading PART THREE.

I'm in West Hollywood, where the Boulevard ends.  Shad and Heather found Heather's friends, We go down to this - believe it or not - swanky YMCA and go inside to wait for this real faggy dude, "Faust", to get dressed.  I've never met a more conceited male in all of my life.  Ever.  He was a slight, good-looking guy but gave off an air of cockyness that made you want to murder him.  He knew he was the King Little Shit of this enterprise or hustle that he had going.  There was him, a Giant Mexican named Angel, and this really hot Korean chick who was his girlfriend and the Nemesis of Shad's hideous girlfriend, Heather, who had, "no use for the bitch," as she put it.  I knew it was because she was into Faust.  I'm not altogether certain as to why, but it probably runs along the line of reasoning my friend Chryssa has on the subject.

His hustle was this - he and his cronies would dress up in fashionable punk rock gear, as in the style please-kick-my-ass punks would wear in the eighties.  I guess the correct term would be, "fashion punks."  Anyways, the hustle was simple.  Tourists paid $5 to have their picture taken with them.  It was ingeniously called. . . Pictures With Punks.  My-fucking-God it was annoying.  While it screamed W. Hollywood, it made me want to gag.  If it wasn't for this tiny pretentious prick, Faust, I could almost get behind it, but he was a half-assed Little Richard without the cool and Liberace minus the piano.  Angel and the chick, I believe, were on the same page but as with all little Hitler-type monsters, the literature is so good it doesn't even occur to you that you're slaughtering your own soul.

Oh, this fucking guy.  What really pissed me off was that Shad's missing-link girlfriend thought this dude was some sort of Sid Vicious Elvis Jerry Lee Fucking Lewis and that we needed to hang out and listen to his bland, cauterized blurtings.  It was incestuous dribble and self-masturbation, kinda like these writings, but there just wasn't a laugh.  There was no punchline.  These guys sat around him cross-legged and he just couldn't give them anything.  He was a goddamn Baptist preacher with a really well manicured mohawk.  Christ on a stick if it wasn't for the gorilla-sized Mexican, Angel, he lugged around with him I would have smashed him.  Goddamn Angel was big.  I mean the big sort where it doesn't matter that you've "got this motherfucker right here."  That you've used your face and fists.  It just doesn't matter when you face a Mexican that fucking big.  If you find yourself in that situation, slowly back out of it, certainly don't do what I did, which was to try and fuck Faust's hot Korean girlfriend whose name I can't remember.

It was one of those names that, like most Asian names, sound like a question when you say it.  She was really pretty and I wasn't taken or anything.  I had actually just gotten out of a long relationship with Shad's sister not long before we left.  I wasn't looking to be with anyone, or to remember their difficult as fuck name.  I'm going to tell you right now that I didn't bang her.  It might be anticlimactic (haha, in a very literal way) but in the interest of honesty I just couldn't pull it off.  We'd all been drinking and I must have been not my normal drunk self because she suggested we walk off.  I remember that part because I remember wanting to venge-fuck her to piss off Faust.  I distinctly recall thinking that while my eyes crawled around on her.  I also remember thinking, "no-fucking-way," when she escorted me to a gross abandoned house while everyone was listening to Faust's loutish ramblings.  I vaguely remember my really bad attempt at night talk, trying to sound fascinating and original.  I had nothing.  I had a gut full of cheap malt liquor and this really hot Korean girl whose name I couldn't even pronounce.  Everything was dirty and wet.  The floor of the squat was strewn about with random pages out of a hard core pron magazine.  I remember being really drunk and frustrated that this wasn't what I wanted but was really so much of what I wanted at the same time.  I wanted all this filth, I actively spent my life looking for it, hunting it down like the red-eyed dogs that frightened Ralph Steadman so badly.  I remember the conflict and then I remember nothing.  I guess I let it be too much.  I don't remember the things I was saying.  I only have this faintly over-romanticized idea of what it should have been, of the things I should have said or done.

Instead, I woke up behind the dumpster outside of the house with my head in her lap.  I had began puking and passed out and there, she said, she'd found me.  She said she couldn't move me, so she put my head in her lap to keep the maggots off of me.  She said that - I wish I had made it up - with the tenderness of a housewife who's kept her husband's dinner warm for him, knowing he'd be home to eat it.  These unfailing burdened duties women women feel obligated to do for men.  For drunk men who can't get it up out of overindulgence and fear. . . I just sat back to try to figure out how to finish that sentence and it all seems like so much contrivance.  It's so fucking hard to give your experiences adjectives that express the fear a man can have laying in the lap of a stunningly beautiful woman just feet away from the things people throw away.  It just feels like it should mean more, but it really doesn't.  It just didn't mean anything more than a woman too stupid to walk away from a man who's passed out in his own puke.  It;s a goddamn horror and may all the Christ Gods bless these women for the extra steps they allow men like us to take.  I remember I felt like death and more than a little ashamed.  I was also bummed that I'd missed my chance to bang Faust's girlfriend.  Isn't that what it really amounts to when you get to the meat of it?  That missed chance to invade your enemy's woman.  The old folks would say, "C'est la vie."

We spent the day not saying much to each other and sat outside of a liquor store begging for change to catch the bus back.  When we got off the bus at the run-away shelter we just kinda looked at each other to acknowledge my ineptitude and went our separate ways.  Heather came out and gave me the third degree about where I had went and that if, "I'd fucked that bitch," she'd tell Faust.  I couldn't take her seriously.  One, I was too fucking hung over and two, I had apparently tried to tattoo her face the night before and stopped mid-tattoo.  It was fucking hideous, this primitive-type design that I had probably talked her into that was her whole chin and some shit in her sideburn area and on her goddamn nose!  All she was missing was a plate in her lip and a harpoon on her side.  Shad was so pissed he said they were headed to the train yard and that was that.

While I was deciding what the fuck to do next, I met a girl named Sada.  I had talked to my mother finally to confirm that I had stolen her car.  I'm not sure how she'd managed it, but somehow she knew some ex-special forces guy or maybe a helicopter pilot who lived in the area and he came and disabled the car.  Now, I'm not making any of this up, maybe she can fill us in in the comments section, but I have no clue how this dude found the car.  None.  I got to it and it wouldn't start.  This guy had gotten the hood open and took a fuse that was vital to the car starting.  He wasn't that fucking smart, though.  I just replaced it with the air-conditioning fuse.  Game.  Set.  Match.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though.  I guess I've got to take you through this brief romance I had with Sada. I met Sada at the runaway shelter.  I was sitting out on the bench smoking cigarette butts and trying to decide what to do next.  I looked up and there was this mulatto chick wearing Carhartt bib overalls, a tank top, and those stupid fairy wings five-year old girls prance around with.  She sat right down next to me and introduced herself.  It was a really surreal experience.  She was one of those girls who had a gentle naivete to her, one of those rare people who can talk to anyone like they've known them years.  She wasn't stunningly beautiful but she was excessively pretty.  Carmel skin and dark eyes with long tightly curled hair.  Her father, she said, was from Kenya and her mother was Canadian.  I didn't care, I was enthralled with her.  It was her easy nature that captivated me.  It's hard to be that naturally easy going and child-like when you;re living on the streets.  It was almost like she pranced and slid around.  She leaned over the overpass railing and looked at the 101 like she'd never seen a car.  After all that filth and degeneracy I think, at that moment, I needed to be around something that seemed this. . . I hate to say it, pure.  I was tired and worn and my faith in civilization was at a breaking point.  Sada bandaged that for a while.  It, of course, was all smoke and mirrors but like all good magicians, if the illusion is good enough then what the fuck, right?

We wandered the city the whole day, her talking ceaselessly and me listening without saying much.  She told me about the shitty poetry she loved and the medieval act she was passionate about.  She adored that savagely straight noses all the people seemed to have.  We stopped at a laundry and burned a hole through the machine you buy bouncy balls from and filled a bucked with them.  We smoked cigarettes and ate free tacos at the clown head place because she knew the boy who worked there.  When it got dark she took me back to the place she live, and she lived in the old TAV building.  The TAV building was where they used to film Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  I don't know if that's true, but we climbed a fence and went in.  She explained to me that I should stay close to her, that she lived a few floors beneath the street level in one of the old studios and it was dark.  Godddamned if she wasn't right.  I've never been anywhere darker.  I remember worrying her flashlight would fail and that we'd be stuck in an eternal purgatory that smelled like wet concrete and asbestos.  She led me down hallways and through actual walls that the drywall had rotted off.

There were wine bottles and beer cans everywhere.  It wouldn't surprise me if more than one bum had lost their way or if I'd kick their bones.  Sada explained that some really nerdy runaways had found the place and had electricity.  About the time I started thinking she had taken me to the spot she planned to kill me I could see an outline in one of the walls.  I realized the outline was light around a steel door.  She opened it up and it was like a fucking apartment.  (At this point I wouldn't blame you if you thought I was making this up but I assure you I am not, there are hidden nerds who live underground.)  There was light and bean bag chairs and  two really classically nerdy-looking guys.  They were maybe 19 and obviously unhappy to see me.  It was a disappointment that stung of theft or betrayal.  Sada either ignored or was oblivious to it.  She tornadoed  into the room and introduced me like she'd just brought her boyfriend home to meet her brothers for the first time.  We stayed two nights and the guys and me maybe said 10 words.

She led me to her "bedroom" which was a huge group shower room that must have been for the employees. It was nothing but these tiny tiles, a sleeping bag, and miscellaneous things girls tend to collect.  Shiny bits of glass she intended to use to make something arty, a stuffed cat, jewelry that didn't match, a small collection of books.  All these things made me desperately sad.  She hung up her fairy wings like a jacket after a hard day at the office and plopped down cross-legged on the sleeping bag.  As I stood and looked around the most enormous thing that hit me was the hear.  It was terrifyingly hot in there and the only way to cope with it was to be still.  Any movement caused your body to pour sweat, it seemed like I was slowly being suffocated but it passed eventually.

You just had to be still.  We weren't physical that night, or the next.  If it wasn't the heat it was the immensity of the thing, the coming together, for no apparent reason, of two people who don't know where they are or where they need to go.  I know it all seems too romantic.  Maybe now in retrospect it is, but fuck , it was something.

That night I sat there and Sada played her violin.  The instrument had seen many dark places or the player had, either way, she or it sounded beautiful.  I couldn't tell you what she played, I never could get into classical music, but it was soft and she would play these long notes where it seemed to take forever for the box to complete it's stroke.  I was amazed and awed, this seemingly over-bubbly creature was capable of this music that, in the cave-like atmosphere of the shower stall, sounded like a wet smooth stone.  It bounced off the walls and wet my ears.  We fell asleep without ever touching one another.  Maybe it was heat, maybe it was something else.  I just hope it doesn't sound too much like a Pat Benatar song.

We woke up some hours later and assumed it should be light out - it was hard to tell down there - and made our way out to the street.  We wandered and talked more, we held hands like sophomores.  Sada comandeered an Irish wolfhound puppy and named it broccoli an we dragged that gigantic-pawed brute around the rest of the time I knew her.  The dog had no personality.  It must have only been a couple of months old but already it was the size of a regular dog.  It would walk for about a mile and then just give up. The beast would sit and refuse to move, no amount of coaxing, begging, or yelling made a differance.  I would carry the thing through it's tight places, the places where it gave up.  I didn't feel like Jesus though, I hated the mongrel.

We needed money.  Sada told me she played her violin outside of the very famous rock clubs in Hollywood but that she'd make more money by herself.  I agreed and dragged Broccoli with me and sat outside of a not-famous nightclub.  I planted myself on the sidewalk and begged for money with the 50lb puppy on my lap.  It worked like a 17-year old hooker.  Drunk chicks looooove puppies.  I was getting fivers all night.  I cleared 80 bucks.  It was nothing compared to Sada's night.  When we met up she had $275 and some change in her violin case.  Un-fucking-believable.

I'll try to finish this story with one more entry.  My hand's tired and there's a good amount left.  Next will be my bringing Sada to Howell and my trip to meet up with her in N.Y. where I get beaten to death.  Sweat dreams, XOXOXO.

21. The Road To Good Intentions Is Paved With Self-Righteous Shit Heels

I'm going to stop from recounting the shit I've done in the past and really get to the scab of how I feel about a couple of things.  No matter how I spin it or try to make it funny, prison is a horrible place filled with swine and murderers, child molesters and monsters.  This is a place I wouldn't send my worst enemy, let alone a friend.

I want to talk about the situation that got me here or mostly I'd like to talk about the people who would have gladly taken a hand in it if they had gotten the chance first.

Now, we know that in a fit of anger my wife showed my father-in-law a picture of me holding a pistol.  Based on that photo, my father-in-law lost his shit and went to my probation officer, "to see if he'd straighten me out." i.e. throw me in jail.

Who gives somebody the right to judge what I'm doing with enough authority to take away my freedom?   Whether it be 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 fucking years?  This is the question I will discuss.  There is never any shortage of people who think they know how best to deal with or save somebody who isn't them.  The same people who get into or on their vehicles after a long night at the bar or smoking weed or whatever else in their homes and cars.  These sanctimonious fucks who, under the justification that they've got their shit together enough not to get caught, think that they have everything put together enough to judge someone else.

I want to explain my big crime that I seemed to have committed previous to my coming in here that tempted others to want to call the law on me before my father-in-law did.


I was working full time.  When I was around my children I devoted my time to them.  I became a member of a motorcycle club that I had wanted to become a part of for years.  I spent a lot of time with the club, I admit, but because every tubeworm likes to just assume, they failed to understand why.  I'd also like to mention that "a lot" consisted of Friday and Saturday nights and a couple of hours on Wednesday after work.

I have a brotherhood that can't be explained.  We don't make any money doing illegal shit but you know what, when push got to shove it was my club who paid for an attorney for me.  It's my club who has money in the safe for whenever I need it.  While I have a couple of friends who would do this to an extent, it was the club who, when my bike wasn't working and I couldn't afford to get it fixed (because of all the drugs I wasn't selling), gave me a custom Softail  to ride, indefinitely if I needed it.  All with nothing owed.

Nobody would know this because nobody cared to fucking ask.

One visit up here Alison said to me that before her dad had done anything there were people who told her they were going to do the same thing - call the law.  BECAUSE THEY WERE WORRIED ABOUT THE DIRECTION I WAS HEADED!  Are you fucking kidding me?  You people act like I'm out on a corner shooting dope and robbing old ladies while walking around in shit-soiled jeans.  Who the fuck are you?  Who the fuck is anyone to judge how my behavior is effecting me based on whatever Alison has told you?  I'm sure she was upset when I'd finish work, give the kids a ride around the yard on the motorcycle a few times, do what needed to be done and then go up to the club house for meetings or to get shit together for an event.

Now, I'm talking about the club a lot here because I know it was Alison's biggest bitch so I'm sure that's what the people she bitched to (the ones who also wanted to call the fucking law) heard the most about.  I told Alison before I even probationed that they first year or two would be very busy.  I don't have to go into detail about why to you, but she knew and agreed.  She knew how bad I wanted it.  But just like anything else people are agreeable to, something once said can quickly become untrue.  The transparency of people or at least the translucency of people disturbs me.

I know a lot of my friends only want me around them tentatively.  I can tell none of them ever really feel comfortable around me.  I sort of interjected myself into their lives and they, more than anything, tolerated me.  The only real and close accepting friends I've ever had were Matt and Jessica and Mikey.  A third of that group is dead.  Before them I had some close friends but due to circumstances within my control they accept me around in a 'hows everything going' kind of way.

I live my life the only way I know how.  I don't do anything just because I think it might be impressive or with any regard to how it will look to other people. I haven't written any fiction in this blog.  I am really and seriously uncomfortable all the time.  Getting through the days are a struggle for me.  I have to live life in a way that I'm not so banged around that I can't bear it.  It isn't up for debate and it certainly isn't anybody's fucking decision to take my freedom away because of it.

THAT IS NEVER AN OPTION, person who has never spent a day of life in a jail cell.  Who is the person who thinks it's ok to take a father from his kids because you perceive that I'm "going downhill"?  How do you do that without even consulting me first?  It never once ran through anybody's head to talk to me about how you felt?  No, that would put a wedge in your prejudiced mind.  I am hardly speechless.  Who gets to do these kind of things?  I am here because of a woman's vengeance and a father's (you know, I was going to call it love, but it's not) fury.

Alison talks too much.  We all know that.  I have never laid a hand on her.  When I got pay checks I signed them over to her.  I got through the week on a $20 bill here and there.  If I was living a miserable existence, what business is it of yours?  Alison wasn't the only one unhappy.  If I had come bleeding my feelings all over the fucking floor, would the answer have been to "man the fuck up you cry baby"?  I believe it would have.

Whatever happened or happens in my marriage is not anybody's concern.  I didn't abuse my wife.  I did things that my wife didn't like.  Just like in any young marriage, she did things that I didn't like.  So fucking what?  If anything was going on that needed immediate police action, me having a picture with a pistol isn't it.  The picture wasn't even for Alison, she broke into my phone to find it because she thought I was banging everything with a pussy.  Even if this was true, IT STILL ISN'T ANYONE BUT MINE AND ALISON'S BUSINESS.  YOU DON'T GET TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME.  Especially when it comes to my freedom.  They wanted to give me five years minimum for that picture.  I got 30 months.

I sit in this fucking place and I hate.  I am stuck in a cattle lot for another year as of this writing.  You, on the other hand, have a hard time relating, doing whatever Summer time demands.  You go to the beach and drink beers, I constantly have to look over my shoulder for flying locks and shit in public.

I've only been in here for nine months and if Alison's phone rings her mother says, "You don't have to answer that." and if she's going to bring my kids to see me, her dad says, "You don't have to go up there."  I don't know who the people are who would have been the ones to "do this for my own good," but I'm certain I'd never hear from them because it wasn't for my own good, it was just a good way to get rid of me.

Out of all my friends and family, I converse with four people on a regular basis.  Besides Alison, Jeff (when I can get him to answer a phone), Alexa, Meghan, and John.  My club brothers also answer the phone anytime I call.  I know it's tough out there, there's lots going on.  It'll be tough when I get out, too.  Real tough.

I also want it to be known that the excuse, "I didn't think they'd give him that much time," won't fly.  Taking away two days of my  freedom is unacceptable.  I have to say these things.  I'm not sorry if it hurts feelings.  I don't want anybody thinking that doing that is ever ok.  If that the way you think, then call the police the next time you see one of your friends smoking weed.  The next time a drunk friend argues with his wife, make that call.

I just need to reevaluate some things.  If this was ready to happen before, it will most certainly happen again. They were never my friends nor were they enemies.  They were simply another pig-masked face in the crowd.  I'm not sorry.  I can't just change my being and be you. I can't and I won't.  The way I live my life is hard even for me.  I have terrible short-term memory loss from repeated skull poundings.  I don't think or act in commonplace ways.  I act and think and live to excess.  I've lost too much and gained too little.  I try to make my way forward every day and sometimes I just don't get anywhere.  I have weeks of lucidity that are always followed up by storms of madness.  I am always uncomfortable.  I miss and I hurt and I live the only way I know how.  Some people know that and I do not ever bind anyone to me unwillingly.  Anybody is free to go at any time without the threat of violence.  At any time.  After years of having my freedom taken because of myself I will not have it taken by others.  EVER.  I don't care how high the horse it, how sharp the chip may have gotten.  As I write this, my grandfather is recovering, tentatively, from brain surgery.  I can't touch him and on the phone he asks me, "Where are you?  Why aren't you here?"  I can't tell him that somebody thought this was in my best interest, that the way to fix somebody is to place them in a cage with monsters and hope he come out better for it.  I spit on your faces.  I've made amends with the people that deserve it, it's nobody's business.  I know few people lose sleep but believe me, sleepless nights will be had. If my grandfather dies while I'm in here for your righteousness, Hell will be your haven.

Me And The Jailbird

I first met Ryan sometime around the Summer of 2005.  We are from the same hometown and have a bunch of mutual acquaintances, but had never formally met.  That isn't to say I did not know who he was.  The first time that I remember seeing him was probably during the Spring of 1997, the end of my freshman year of high school.

During the time that I was in high school, the late nineties, our hometown had a thriving music scene.  Well, it was about as thriving a scene as a town of 10,000 could support.  Young people took it upon themselves to rent halls, book, and promote concerts featuring local bands and acts from around the state.  This still happens there to a certain extent, but with the same recklessness that it did 15 years ago.  It was at one of these shows that I first saw Ryan.  Back then he was Kemo.

My friend put on an outdoor concert in his backyard which happened to be on the same street that ended with that terrible trailer park that Ryan described earlier.  This was about ten years before the place was bulldozed.  Some of my older acquaintances were playing in a band called Deaf Child Area and their 'singer' was this guy that everybody called Kemo.  My band had already played so I was free to watch the spectacle.  Kemo was shirtless and quite drunk with long hair that was reminiscent of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden.  He looked dirty as fuck.  I'd heard about this guy many times, mostly stuff like, "Kemo beat up my dad," or,"I was just skateboarding along when all of a sudden Kemo. . ." but this was the first time that I'd ever seen him in person. He was screaming and ranting and taunting the crowd.  I'm pretty sure he roughed up this tiny mohawked kid named Mark that everyone used to call "Hair Boy" because he was like five feet tall but had a massive 14-inch liberty spiked mohawk.  I stayed away from him.  It was probably a good choice.  At that point I was a pretty soft kid.  I don't think that I had it in me to try to not get trampled in the stampede that Kemo seemed to be.

Some short time after I graduated from high school I went with my friend Marc to a music venue in Ypsilanti, Michigan to see a bad local band.  A few of my friends from school and past jobs were there and Kemo was there, too.  Only I think that by this time he was probably 'Ryan.'  He ran up to my buddy, Scott, and picked him up in a big bear hug.  He was wearing a driver cap, had short hair, and I noticed a spider tattoo on his neck.  He kinda gave off a Mike Ness vibe.  I didn't talk to him.. Still intimidated, although less so at this point.  By then I was getting drunk and picking fights with people who wouldn't fight back out of boredom.  It would be a couple more years until I actually met Ryan and figured out that under that rough exterior is some more roughness but plenty of thoughtfulness, genuine curiosity, and fierce loyalty.

Eron, baby Joseph, Ryan, and Me, shirtless for some reason.  2007
I met Ryan at a party at a place that we call, "The Ranch."  The Ranch is our good friends' parents' house on the outskirts of our home town.  Jan and Steve are really great people who gave their daughters' friends a safe place where kids could be kids.  I'm sure they still do it, even though the kids are approaching thirty and have kids of their own.  Ryan was camped out in an rv on their lawn, for some reason, and had started hanging out with one of my best friends and the singer in my band, Eron.  I guess they would get really drunk  and possibly otherwise intoxicated and write song lyrics, which is what they did for most of the night when our bad played at the Ranch.  In the morning when we went to say goodbye to Ryan, there was a pair of cowboy boots and a quarter of a bottle of whiskey sitting on the step to the rv, getting hotter in the early morning Summer sun.  He wasn't really happy to be woke up only to say goodbye.

In early 2005 we all started listening to a band called The Hold Steady.  I won't really get into the band itself because I could write on for pages about them.  We all got tickets to the show when they came to Hamtramck that year and we were all crazy excited to see them.  Around this time, Ryan was having a hard time with drugs.  At the last minute before the show, Eron managed to wrangle Ryan a bed at this free detox in Ann Arbor that was notoriously hard to get into.  It meant that Ryan wouldn't be able to go see The Hold Steady, but we knew that his health was more important.  Eron picked him up and drove him to the detox place himself because he knew that if he left it up to Ryan, he would skip out and go get high.  You can't trust an addict.  Ryan went in to the building but came out shortly and told Eron that they said that since he was already starting to have withdrawal symptoms, he would need to go get high and come back and that Eron should drive him to where he could get one last fix.  This didn't sound right to Eron so he said that he would go in so they could tell him what they told Ryan and then he would do it.  Ryan was like, "Goddamnit, fine.  I'll go."  And he went back in.  He was getting clean while we were watching the Hold Steady for the first time.  The crowd for that show was really small, but the most obvious void was created by Ryan's absence.
Me and Ryan at The Hold Steady concert in Pontiac, MI.  2008

He has been clean since then.

I'll only speak to things that I know.  I'll leave the rest up to Ryan.

20. Part Two - In Which The Author Finds Soul In The Glow Of A Crack Pipe, Reflected From The Mascara Running Down A Dude's Face

Catch up by reading PART ONE before you read PART TWO

Okay, guys. where were we?  Leaving New Mexico I believe.  I really liked New Mexico.  It was all really hippy.  There were these co-ops where aging hippies would buy you all this food made from twigs and brush and shit.  As if any of us need any more difficulties, add sandy bowel movements to the equation and it was a laugh-a-minute.

We met some interesting people and did a ton of illegal things and then left before they caught our scent.  Shad and Heather were in a hurry to meet up with some of her friends in West Hollywood. and I was game for anything.

We took off into the desert and it is not as cool as the tv would lead you to believe.  It's hot and miserable and I was worried that we didn't have nearly enough luxuries like water and gas.  The towns were so small and far between that it took almost two days to get through the fucking thing.  We couldn't really steal gas because the towns consisted of five dudes with shotguns, so we'd limp in and beg a couple of dollars here and there to lube up the tank.  God, it sucked.  Do you put $3 in the tank and (hopefully) get almost to the next level of Dante's inferno or buy a couple of slushies to cool your dick off in?  I tell you it was ridiculous and surreal on a Dali level.  Time melted and just sitting in those gas stations for hours was murder.  My head baked and constantly throbbed and after a time you'd just have to laugh cause the heat made you delirious and nobody within 100 miles even wanted you there, sitting on the curb telling dirty jokes with a biblically-ugly linebacker with tits.  It was like Young Guns when whoever says, "Why ain't they killin' us?" and then what's his face says, "Cause were in the spirit world, asshole."  It was like that but without the sitting on the couch, comfortable and wondering why Emilio Estevez didn't change his name to Sheen when everyone knows that his acting chops couldn't carry his pretentiousness.  Yeah, it got confusing like that.

We did finally get out of there, though, and it was good.  On the third day, there was West Hollywood.  Holy fucking West Hollywood.  Remember when  told you that I loved crazy people?  Well gang, this is where they're all from.  It was like a drive-through insane asylum.  They really know their crazy there.  We got into town and kinda drove around aimlessly because we didn't know where the fuck we were.  Heather had talked to her friends on the phone and had come up with a vague meeting place by a YMCA that we had no idea even existed let alone where it was located.  The logical assumption here would be to find YMCA-y type people.  While this is ultimately the best case scenario for me, it was frustrating for Shad and Heather.  I drove until we found a relatively quiet residential area to leave the car and decided to walk a bit.

Did you know that there's two Melroses?  OH Christ.  There's Melrose Place and there the Melrose we found that kinda looked like Detroit's East side but with trannies stumbling around on broken heels with balls hanging out of their short skirts.  Trannies with five-o'clock shadow and leg hair, deep voices trying to 'come hither' you.  Would you have guessed the glow from a crack pipe reflecting off of the mascara running down a dude's face could be soulful?  It was the Devil's Ray-Bans.  It was getting late so we found this squat (an abandoned house or building filled with degenerates, deviants, and the all-around maladjusted) and decided to hunker down for the night.  Now we had no idea that on the other side of the large brick wall next to the squat was an elementary school, nor did we know that these guys had been throwing dirty needles and shit over it, but the cops did.  We hadn't been there a couple of hours when they raided it full-on Cops style.  There was fucking helicopters shining lights everywhere, guys in riot gear screaming and chasing trannies and junkies all over hell and back, bull horns squelching and blaring.  It was chaos and blindingly bright.  That's what really made it something - how bright it was.  You don't ever really grasp how dark a place is until someone shines a light on it, usually unannounced and uninvited.  It's then that you see the things you'd have rather not seen.  The dead and rotting body of a rat only feet from where you were laying.  The used and sad condoms and bent needles discarded only because they were so clogged with infected blood that they refused to work any longer.  All the receipts for nothing but the cheapest beer or wine in the largest bottles, broken bracelets that had been unwillingly torn from somebody's wrist, four kittens huddled in a corner, too scared to even mew.  These are the narrow places, gang, it's where it gets really heavy.

We were all rounded up and sat down.  The cops asked if any of us had ID then laughed and began to give us all a lecture on the virtues of adulthood while wearing riot gear and pointing assault rifles.  I know there's something poignant or maybe ironic there but i'll be damned if I'm going to give it a go.  I'd probably be wrong anyways, who am I the fuck to say, right?  Everything ever worth taking has always been done so and the end of a gun, but were they taking of giving?  Can someone in the depth of such a state be drawn back to the realities they've hoped to run from with threats?  These equally violent overweight brutes couldn't possibly have had more guts than us.  This guy who's teaching a class here in this prison would probably call this deluded thinking.  So far he'd lay it all out as that, but I don't know.  I don't think it's so simple.  I ask questions in his class but if the answer isn't in the manual that they gave him after his hard won two years he seems awfully vague or directly hostile, but I guess that's not what we were talking about.

We moved on and found this little place where Hollywood Blvd. ends at the 101 that feeds the homeless and sometimes gives you clean works if you're a junkie.  Mostly it's a safe place for younger runaways.  It's clean and the people who worked there were pretty up & up.  If parents called looking for their children the place kept it's word of anonymity and wouldn't tell them if they were there or not, but would take a message.  Nobody looks too hard for lost children, though.  I found a note on that board from my aunt Cindy, though. I never called here based on that note but I always did wonder how she found the place.  That woman helped me through some heavy places, but that's a different story I suppose.

Shad, Heather, and I used that place as our base of operations so to speak.  The gave you something to eat a couple of times a day and it was the one place we knew we could go to regroup.  Shad and Heather would go out to find her friends and I'd leave to wander around and find the twists and knots.  There's a hotdog stand that's run by transvestites.  Mustard with grilled onions and a bitching place to score meth if speed and tough hand jobs was your thing.  Most of the liquor stores that were in the "inside" (kind of a behind-the-street street, dirt swept under the rug) all had small walls outside to sit on so you could drink your beer and argue with fat Mexican girls.

I never looked for Marilyn Monroe's star but that whole town was her grave, only every time air from a grate blew up a dress I swear to Christ there was a dick under it.  I have to stop here.  I'll continue next with meeting Shad and Heather's friends and some other fun and gross shit.  Till then, hugs and kisses.


19. Number Nineteen, In Which Our Author Hops Trains And Kicks Teeth

I got a bug up my ass to travel once.  I had close friends who used to ride trains around the country and I thought that was where it was at.  I still envy these kids, I really do.  It almost killed me.  By the way, that's literal, not a cheap THS rip-off.

My close friend, Shad, was in town on a break from travelling.  He'd brought this ugly scary chick he'd found at some homeless camp in Canada.  She was filthy and built like an ox.  Her face looked like a child crying in a sandbox and her pores looked three times as large because of the coal dust crammed in them.

She was a masterpiece and so goddamned ugly I could appreciate the women of the rennaisance paintings.  Our idea was to ride a train out to West Hollywood to meet up with some of Heather's friends.  After about four bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 I came to driving through Nebraska in my mother's car.

None of us had any money or food or clothes.  I had about five days worth of morphine which I made last a whole three days.

Even being sick and having stolen my mother's car, this was a great time.  Like outlaws we stopped in small town off the map and stole gas or we'd wait behind a pizza joint at closing and the teenage kids would give us their throw-away pizza.  You can also go through the garbage of a fast food chain and dig out a bag, take the receipt inside and claim you didn't receive a couple of the items.

I saw a lot of the country with zero dollars.  Always staying off the expressways if we could, listening to the three crust punk and one Willie Nelson tape that we had.  At this time, right around Georgia, Shad wanted to get back to riding trains and the gorilla he'd brought with him was thinking the same.  As much as I wanted to I did have my mother's car and just didn't feel comfortable leaving it on some Georgia back road to be accosted by gypsy moss and the slow, dragging heat.  It just didn't seem fair.  My conscience works overtime at the  most inconvenient of moments.  We agreed to stay together till Hollywood.  I told Heather she could get out at any time and that she was ugly to boot.  You remember the movie Cry Baby with Johnny Depp?  She was Hatchet Face with tangled brown hair and shaped like an odd dwarf, everything proportionate except her short arms and personality.

We decided  that we wanted to stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico after we had a grand old time in Denver and New Orleans.  (I didn't even want to talk about New Orleans.  Alison and I went back there not to long ago and it was a much more relaxing time, except for the stupid phone call that I made to Eron.  I apologize still, not only to Eron, but to Steve, EJ, (Was EJ there?) that chicks tight pants and her husband.)

Denver, though, was beautiful as was the Garden of the Gods.  All those rocks with flowers planted around them by people who aren't gods.  I should think that the gods would be less concerned with pretty areas of land and more concerned with the amount of retarded babies they're making.  Besides my cynical observation it was beautiful and we got drunk as fuck up there and probably left a few bottles of King Cobra around to prove it.  Nobody gets mad when there's a 40 bottle laying on Mack Ave. even with it's extraordinary architecture, but leave one King Cobra bottle among a bunch of rocks and flowers and you're a real piece of shit.

On our way to New Mexico we needed to stop for gas and the only place that was close enough was this fucking huge mega truck stop.  I pulled in and it was chaos.  About five acres of trucks in the lot, 15 pumps all being used, and last but not least - four cops parked outside a restaurant attached to the service station.  All of them were inside but I was still nervous.  Nervous like an altar boy.  No, it was less sexual than that.  I was nervous like a child who has thought about returning the candy bar to the store shelf but said "fuck it.  In for a penny, in for a pound."

Anyways, we're all scared shitless and nobody wants to pump.  I decided to do it because it's my mother's car.  Where I came to the moral or ethical decision that I should be the one to pump the gas just because I was the one who had stolen the car, I'm not entirely sure, but I started pumping.  Okay, so rule one when stealing gas is to look nonchalant.  Now, if you're within view of four cop cars I DARE you to look non-fucking-chalant, especially if you look like I look when you're just regular old chalant.  Needless to say, I was shook and because of this my reasoning told me to just put in a few gallons, like that made any goddamn difference.  I then gently took the nozzle out of the gas hole (that's an Eron term. "Get your nose hole away from the gas hole," regarding me smelling how much if any gas was in Pinky.) like any small click or noise would alert the guards, and then rested it on top of the pump itself.

Fact:  If you steal gas and then hang up the nozzle it will beep inside to let the cashier know that you're finished pumping.   Don't steal gas, friends.  Listen to that little cop on the sticker on the pump.

I got back into the car and Shad and Heather were crammed in to the back seat like I was a fucking bomb or something.  I told the to stop being pussies so I'd stop feeling like a pussy and tore off a little too fast and a little bit in the wrong direction.

I ended up lost in the lot full of semi-trucks and I couldn't figure out how to get out.  It seemed like I circled that lot for an hour thinking that those cops would be blocking the entrance if I ever found the fucking thing.  Every lap or so I could still see the cops parked at the restaurant.  I finally found a hole and took it.  It wasn't necessarily an exit hole but it got us out of there and, just so you know, a 90's Lumina can take some serious air and be okay.  We entered into traffic Dukes of Hazzard style with an impressive fishtail that fizzled out too quick for my taste thanks to front wheel drive, ran a red light, and jumped on the expressway like five gallons richer.  For forty minutes we thought the State Police would be behind us at any minute.  That little restaurant in New Mexico must have had some really good food.  I don't think that any of those cops budged unless they were some elaborate decoys or something.

We made it to Albuquerque.  We were there to meet up with some of Shad's train-hopping buddies for some R and R and general rowdiness.  I'd never been to the desert before this and I'd probably be okay with myself if I never do again.  If I ever hear somebody say "Yeah, it's hot but it's a dry heat." I'm gonna punch their face and say, "Yeah, it's a punch, but it's a dry punch."  So, it's hot and there's no grass yards.  People rake their dirt.  I'm not shitting you, these people are all crazy.  The one plus is that all the bars and shit are outside and they have this system where it mists on you from pipes hung overhead.  It's so hot that you never get wet, it just cools you off.  If you don't have any money, you can walk along the sidewalk and benefit from this mist - and get drunk snatching drinks off the table while the people at it are staring at your friends' facial tattoos.  Win-win in my book.

We met up with Sid, John, and this other kid - I can't remember his name.  They were part of train gang called The Outlaw Rail Riders.  I can tell you with all honesty that these kids are 10 times more scary than any colored gang or motorcycle club by far.  These guys and girls leave home at 12 or 13 years old and live on these trains going town to town like goddamn hurricanes.  You don't know much about them and you've probably never seen one unless you live in a major city.  They're rarely dangerous to anyone that's not a traveler, but among themselves their like warring tribes.

Now if you consider the normal gangs, they sound dangerous.  They are, and that's why we love them, just not out loud.  It's just that their danger is more mythical.  These big gangs can become infamous as the result of one publicized incident and ride that out for years with just small pockets of violence to keep the myth rolling.  These train kids, they're the real deal and they don't want you to know it.

In the life there's different castes, so to speak.  Train kids who just like to travel and are crusty and dirty can be violent and drunk but they're not always murderous.  There's hobos, these are the original train hoppers.  Some are absolute wet heads from drinking wine that comes by the gallon for so long that they're harmless in a scary insane way.  Then there's the others who would kill you as soon as look at you.  Lastly, there's the train gangs - young, indiscriminate killers but also, coincidentally, really fun to party with.

These guys live in a way most will never experience and that I only got a glimpse of and ultimately was at the receiving en of.  One minute we're partying, having a good time, the next someone's gulping for air with that scared, long away look and everyone's slowly walking away.  There was no argument, no screaming and fighting, and no "fleeing" the scene.  There, in fact, was no scene because we were literally in the middle of nowhere because the train had stopped in the middle of nowhere.  There are hundreds of faces on milk cartons that at one time matched the scared, gulping face of a kid who just didn't know what he'd gotten himself into.  When the young murder, it's more primitive than moral.  It just is and it feels that way.  When you see it, it feels like a ritual in some way.  Like Inuits pushing the elderly out onto ice floes.

Sid, John, and the guy who's name I can't remember were alright, though.  Shad had traveled with them before and they had a pretty good repoire.  They were still pretty stand-offish with me for a while, especially Sid.  Sid was 16 and his face was completely covered in pseudo-Maori tattoos and random train signs everywhere else.  This kid had absolutely no regard for anything, living or dead.  It was like walking around with an untrained and un-diapered spider monkey.  It was an example of barbarism that can only be exercised by hungry youth.  We spent two days together camped out in the back yard of some crazy guy who walked around with a grocery cart full of junk and claimed to be the manager of GG Allin.  It must have been true, he DID have a GG Allin shirt.  In those three days I witnessed Sid punch two college kids for no reason and got into a rumble with him one night drinking Early Times.  Sid was on my team.

The six of us had stolen a fifth of Early Times at the grocery store and were sitting in a circle, passing it around.  an hour or so into this peace pipe-type drinking session, four kids happened along.  Among the train kids they're called House Punks (the punk rock kids who have homes). and the ones who want to be more but try too hard are considered "oogles".  They are hated.  They are from a weaker tribe, an invading tribe.  These kids sat down and we drank and things got impressively tense.  One of the guys had no shirt on, a pair of suspenders, and the word "oogle" spray-painted on his back.

After I've been drinking I can become violent.  There's never any doubting that.  When I am violent it's usually over a slight I've perceived as being at myself or a friend.  I had been with these people long enough. I started to become entrenched in their ideology.  The mindless violence for violence's sake.  The way these kids would tattoo their faces and become murderously violent unprovoked might have been a preemptive measure.  It might not have.  I do know it was contagious.

For no reason I got up from the circle we were all sitting in and with my steel toed Carolinas I kicked that oogle dead in the mouth with a football-style punt.  His mouth exploded and he tipped over backward, bleeding and choking on teeth.  Before I could even decide what to do next, this kid's friend and I were fist fighting.  When I think back on it I'm glad someone cared enough to risk major bodily harm to keep his friend out of a coma.  If this guy hadn't jumped up and started swinging at me I'm sure I would have continued to stomp and kick at the downed kid.

Now here's where the unflagging loyalty of like people shows itself and has been something that has never left me.  While I was one on one fighting, the downed kid's friend and his other friends had circled me.  they had no time to accomplish revenge.  Sid had already smashed the whiskey bottle over my opponent's head and was moving to the others.  There was a general melee that happened faster than I can recall and then they all ran, Sid and John not allowing them to collect their fallen friend.  This guy I'd kicked, unprovoked, in the face was dragged and left in a ditch.

Being so deeply entrenched in this lifestyle I felt no remorse for him.  I wont lie, I still don't.  Men fall, some don't.  It could have just as easily been me.  As a matter of fact it was me.  I was probably left worse.  We're not there yet, though.