The Monday night prison visits continue, agreeably.
So far I have given out two assignments. The first was to write about a feeling, any feeling. For the second exercise I asked them to write something that would make themselves, and their audience, laugh.
The unforeseen obstacle to this assignment was, in the words of one lady, “I can’t write this stuff down. It would be like writing a confession.” And the room erupted with laughter as everyone agreed on the folly of putting it all in black and white.
One lady told of a time when, “The husband and I were drunk,” she began, “because that’s what we did with our afternoons. So we’re watching this man hitching his boat to a shiny new truck, and when he walked away the husband and I crept over and unhitched the boat and dragged it a few slips away, out of sight. When the man came back he was looking all around, and we’re trying not to explode laughing. Then he went away a second time, and the husband and I got into the truck with the empty trailer and drove it around a corner. The man came back and totally freaked out. We’re pissing ourselves. The man went away again and returned with a gang of police, but we had already put back the truck and the boat. Like nothing ever happened. The police listened to this ranting man, and gave him a Breathalyzer!” She had to wipe tears of joy from her eyes.
Another lady recounted a time when she and two friends found themselves stiflingly bored. Sitting in a pickup truck, in a parking lot, with bags of snacks, but nothing much to do. And that’s when one of them noticed a man asleep in a car, conveniently with all the windows rolled down. They approached in a stealthy drive-by, and when they were on top of the dozing man they hurled everything they had onto him. Before they could speed away he was awake, and stunned into inaction, he simply lay there, sprawled with dripping milkshake and sardines stuck to him.
The storyteller got a round of applause but the mood in the room deflated when she said, “I was in ‘lock’ (solitary) for the past three weeks. I wrote everyday, but it wasn’t humorous stuff.”
I asked her to read something from those pages, providing she felt like it. Which she did, here is her essay:
Sitting in here shaking my head, asking myself why do I put myself through hell.
‘cause the past four years it seems like I keep doing the same damn thing, waking up in a jail cell.
They say when you hit rock bottom you’ll know ‘cause there’s no coming up ‘till you’re ready.
Makes me wanna go back to when you was a kid, giving kisses and hugs before you went to your bed, left with nothing but your teddy.
Knowing this ain’t how I should be livin’, and I’m trying everyday to be the person I was made.
‘cause as long as I wake up in these fuck ass jails, I ain’t doing nothing but watching my life slowly fade.
by, ‘Milkshake and Sardines’