The New Great Escape
The beams from the yard’s flood lights are dissected by the bars on my cage. My relic of a clock radio tells me it’s almost 5am. I can’t remember where I got that clock anymore, but it’s exactly like the one my Mother had on her nightstand decades ago, you know the one, right next to the lamp and ashtray.
I plug in my already full hot pot, and slip my ear buds in as I turn on my outdated Walkman. If a decent tune is on maybe my morning will start right, but I would rather listen to a commercial hawking Rogaine instead of hearing that god forsaken count bell. It goes off every day at exactly 5:20am. It’s the same bell that signaled class was over and it rings for a full minute. I can’t stand to listen to it anymore, but I know if my radio is at the right volume I won’t have to.
Usually some sadistic C.O. will hold his finger on the button a bit longer to remind me where I am, just in case I didn’t notice the steel toilet bowl and sink just inches from my head. Already dressed, with my cup of no name instant coffee steaming next to me, I pull my typewriter close to me. I perch my feet on the lid of the plastic storage bins and my machine comes to life. Let’s see if I can remove my mind from the institutional green walls that surround me. I’m not fond of green walls, but it brings out the color in my eyes nicely, along with my darker green state-issued pants. I know this because more than once I stared at the changing hues in the mirror, yet I think I was looking deeper, trying to find my soul which I never did see.
Instead, i recalled the night before I was cast into decades of organized limbo. I sat quietly in my garage, tightening a bolt and cleaned imaginary dust off a motorcycle I’d recently built. It was one of several, but this one was special. Only the very best parts money could buy was used in its creation. Considering I sold far more satchels of cocaine than the circus sold those little light up things kids twirled on a string it was understandable.
The intricate paint job was of my wife at the time, holding ace’s and eights, the “dead man’s hand.” Along the bike’s corvette yellow sides was the crazy joker biting through the bars of a prison cell. I spent thousands on the artwork alone, which she begged me to change. “It’s a jinx right from its birth,” I clearly recall her saying.
I promised to change it one day. I mulled it over far longer than I should have, as I watched that women predict evil in ways I still can’t explain. In Medieval times she would have been burned at the stake for one of her predictions. Yet, her visions were correct as days later I went out, and still haven’t returned home. This happened after I was free from the grasp of over a decade of fighting to the middle of a heap of well-dressed men pretending to be something they weren’t. It was all testosterone fueled posturing and endless powdered violence with a few Valium vacations in between.
Now I reside in a world that revolves around a 5:20 am bell, and I am becoming something I never thought I could be. I can no longer wield a knife on a piece of steak my comfortable wife supplied to me. It feels wrong, to hold the cold steel without feeling the anticipated rage before I hear the warning shot from a gun tower. I can’t sleep unless it’s on a hard piece of steel, with an inch thick piece of foam imitating a mattress, yet as hardened as I became, I still need to put a pillow between my knees to not feel alone.
It’s now sixteen plus years after I refused to redo a paint job which was the vehicle equivalent of walking under a ladder with a black cat perched on it. All I can do is turn up the volume on my headphones and type faster. After I’m done, I am always curious what the words on the paper will say. However, after being in a better place all day in front of my machine, it really doesn’t matter.
Yet during this process, I still have to be aware of where I am, and never get so comfortable in my travels that I forget what surrounds me. Vermin that Lucifer himself couldn’t imagine lurk at every turn, and like the monsters they are, try their hardest to hamper my journey.
One of them actually managed to claw across this very tale, almost hampering my mental escape. Now all I have to do is patiently wait till tomorrow at 5 am and try yet again.