His hands oozed and bled within the first hour of work. The skin peeled from the blisters and the pain was plentiful. His work partners allowed him rests to dry up and to clean up the sores.
Morning coffee was glorious and more cigarettes were dropped off. The cops who worked at the range were very decent, even to Bill who was in for assaulting a police officer. One of them said he’d been in court the other day and was talking with Hopkins, the sergeant who had officially busted Bill. He said he couldn’t remember how they’d gotten on the topic, but they were recalling the day of the riot at the University. Hopkins was boasting about being credited with the first bust, a stupid kid named Bill Wynn. The kid had been knocked cold by the undercovers and came to in the paddy wagon. Hopkins boasted about having the kid led through a conversation that appeared verbatim at his trial, a conversation in which he said things about the police, calling them pigs and f—ing pigs and a whole lot more. An undercover planted in the paddy wagon led and guided the conversation. Hopkins was proud of the fact that the kid never had a chance, never knew what was happening, what was coming at him. He even boasted that the kid was so out of his mind from being knocked out that he didn’t know what he was saying.
Mid-morning, that cop came down to the work area and gave Bill some band aids. He also brought soda pop for all the inmates. He told Bill not to use the band aids unless he really needed them. Then he looked at Bill’s hands. He said another day and the calluses would start, that it’d be best if he could tough it out. He said the oozing would stop and the pain would abate.
Lunchtime, Bill sat by himself on a slight hill outside where they worked. He could see inside where the others ate their sandwiches and drank their packaged juices or milk. Bill didn’t eat and wasn’t hungry anymore. He drank a chocolate milk and closed his eyes to picture and re-picture that day he was busted, the events that occurred after he’d awakened.
There were three cops in the front of the paddy wagon. Hopkins was in the passenger seat. Bill didn’t know his name then, but he was called sarge, so that must have been him. The guy in the middle didn’t say much. Mostly he laughed. The banter up there was between the driver and the sergeant.
There were three prisoners in the back. Bill was on the driver’s side. His hands were cuffed behind him and the cuffs fastened to the links of the paddy wagon behind him. He couldn’t move his hands at all and he was bleeding down his face. The blood, he could see, was dripping to his clothes.
Across from him was Harlon. He didn’t know his name then, but he would learn it later. He was the kid the undercovers—later Bill would learn they were FBI—were beating on when Bill entered into the melee.
Next to Harlon was a guy Bill had never seen before. He was the one who led the conversation. He was the one who…
Bill remembered. In his cell was Harlon and the other guy. Like in the paddy wagon, the other guy led the conversation. Bill couldn’t remember what was said. He had a humongous headache. His eye was cut and his head was cut too. His shirt was blood-soaked. The only place to sit was on a metal bed-rack. Bill sat there and held his head.
About a half hour, maybe an hour into the lock-up, he couldn’t really judge time, that other guy was pulled out. He disappeared, just disappeared. But Bill saw him again, once, on a side street in Columbus. He tried to sell Bill drugs and Bill realized when he came around the corner and saw him get into a squad car down the street that the guy, he was an undercover. This was about two months after the day he was arrested and about three months before his trial and incarceration.
Bill was in lock-up that day for about ten hours before he was bailed out. For the entire time they kept bringing in new prisoners. Altogether six hundred would be arrested. He was the first. Sometime in mid-afternoon a gas was released into the lock-up. There were a lot of screams and yells and a really foul odor. Everyone coughed, Bill too, his head throbbing worse with each cough. The gas spray stopped after about five minutes, but the effects lasted about an hour. Or, really, they lasted a lifetime.
A lot of people could have said “he’s not my president” about Obama back in 2008. They might have asked who this man was who promised hope and change, the first African-American to win his party’s nomination, the first African-American to become president.
Throughout much of the country there was jubilation. Throughout much of the country there was trepidation. Blacks felt as if they’d arrived. Many whites rejoiced. Many others wondered and feared. But no one spoke out in divided terms (with the exception of fringe groups perhaps) or demonstrated or destroyed things or called him names. In fact, no one even deeply vetted the shady past from which he emerged, to wit, his ties to a known terrorist and a racist Reverend. No one seemed concerned that he was a left-wing socialist.
Along with Obama we got a first lady who said that only since her husband was nominated was she for the first time in her life proud of her country, or perhaps that always until then she was ashamed of it. Of course, now in her exiting the White House she has said that her husband’s departure means that hope is gone.
Obama is a narcissist beyond any ever seen in the White House. He claims many things, yet most of his claims are nothing more than that, empty words. He had no real accomplishments before entering the White House and given his actions in the transition period thus far, it’s safe to say that he will leave no positive legacy to speak of. Instead, he leaves the country more divided than he found it, the Middle East in turmoil and chaos, Russia and China threatening and even taking aggressive military actions inclusive of annexing territories. And that’s not to mention his leaving a politicized and corrupt IRS, State Department and lack-of-justice department that selectively chooses which laws to enforce and which to disregard. Of course, he also leaves a failing medical care system, Obamacare, in which unless you’re so poor that you’re totally subsidized, your deductible is so high you might as well not have insurance, which you can’t do since you’re penalized monetarily.
So he leaves a mess all around while claiming he’s the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln. Shame on him! Shame on him for the lies like Benghazi and for rewarding and promoting the presenter of the lies. Shame on him for his overt racism and for sympathizing with Black and Muslim criminals and traitors like hands-up-don’t-shoot and Bo Bergdhal. Shame on him for being more supportive of illegal aliens than the families of those innocent American citizens they’ve killed.
Shame. Shame. Shame.
And now the worst. He began his presidency by first visiting Arab countries and apologizing to them for America’s “actions.” He’s ending it by selling out our one Democratic ally in the Middle East and our greatest ally, Israel, by changing the longstanding American policy of supporting Israel in the UN. Along the way of his time in office, he supported every Muslim enemy and foe while snubbing and demeaning every Democratic ally. Remember that insulting gift to Queen Elizabeth? No wonder a good many people still believe Obama is a Muslim!
Shame on you, Mr. Obama. The only transparencies in your administration have been your blatant disregard for American values, for American citizens other than Blacks and Muslims, your blatant disdain for our allies, for Christianity and for anyone who does not hail you as the legend only you believe you are.
Most of all, the greatest shame of all on you for stabbing Israel in the heart and once and for all showing your personal anti-Semitism while again unleashing world anti-Semitism.
You alone think yourself a legend, Mr. Obama. But you’ve shown yourself to be a petty, shameful, ignorant, bigoted empty shell of a president.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Tonight will be a little bit different for here.
Before anything more is posted:
To all my friends, family, followers, viewers and visitors:
A very Happy Hanukah
A very Merry Christmas
A very Happy Holiday Season for anyone who celebrates a different holdiay
A very Happy and Healthy New Years—may all the best be yours
Second verse same as the first! The second morning and every work morning, as Bill would discover, were exactly the same. Same wake up time. Same eating time. Same razor routine. Same wait for the call to work.
Food was the same too. That second morning, Bill had not eaten a meal since the day he was pronounced guilty in court and sent off to the workhouse, almost two full days. Runny, sloppy cereal, cold, hard and unbuttered toast, watery eggs and a slice of some indistinguishable meat, like a spam.
Per his usual now, Bill drank the chocolate milk. He knew that if it was like yesterday, he would get decent coffee and maybe even more cigarettes at the shooting range. Maybe he’d be allowed to go to the bathroom there, get a short walk on his own, by himself, to clear his mind. Tomorrow, he thought, he’d get a shower. Deodorant was something else he’d need.
Something interesting happened that second morning. His work group had been called and they had boarded the paddy wagon to head out. But a bus with new prisoners had arrived early and was blocking the gate. Actually, the gate wasn’t totally blocked and they could have gotten out if the driver were so inclined. Instead, the driver and his partner were intent on watching the show. Two other work crews, also already boarded onto paddy wagons, were stopped and watching too.
Bill had seen the show. It was the same show. The only difference was that Bill hadn’t known it was a show when it happened to him. Bill had thought it was for real; now he knew it was a put-on performance.
The same guard who had gotten on Bill’s case for Bill’s looking at him, for their eyes meeting, was calling out one of the new arrivals, the one who had the longest hair.
“You eyeballing me boy?” he said loudly. He stepped into the new arrival’s face.
The new arrival, like Bill that day, had no clue what he was supposed to say. “No officer,” he finally said.
“You call me sir, boy.”
“Yes sir,” the new guy said.
“Lookee here,” the guard said. “We got us a bona-fide genuine hippie boy.”
All the guards came over. They all wore sidearms and carried shotguns. One guard cocked his shotgun and said “I see the slightest motion out the corner of my eye while I’m checking out this here hippie, I’m shooting at it first and asking about it after I shoot.”
“I’ll be damned,” one guard said.
“Remember the hippie we checked in yesterday morning?” another one said.
“I heard he enjoyed the strip search. You gonna enjoy the strip search, boy?”
The new guy did not answer.
Another guard, one who had not spoken, poked him in the ribs with the butt of his shotgun. “Didn’t you hear him ask you a question?”
“Yes sir,” he said.
“Well?” the same guard said, prodding the guy’s ribs with the shotgun with each word. “Answer his f…ing question. You like it up the ass? You look like a faggot to me.”
“No sir,” he said.
“You a queer?”
“Goddamn,” Bill said aloud.
“What?” one of the guys in his work crew asked.
“They ran that routine on me. When I first got here, the same guards, even the same words.”
“They do it every arrival,” one of the work crew members said. “Those of us been here awhile seen it lots of times.”
“It’s to scare the shit out of the new inmates, so they don’t act out,” another crew member said. “It’s to keep order.”
“Anyone been here before knows the game. But it works pretty good.”
“Worked on me,” Bill said. “Worked just fine.”
They all sat in silence for the rest of the show. Bill mulled things over and over in his mind. The thrust of his thoughts centered around reality, what was real and what was their messed up theatrical version of reality.
I’m living in their reality, he concluded. It’s real, he thought. But it’s not reality.
Bill lay awake in his bunk a long while. He pondered why he had not gotten anxious or afraid when the tough and his crew had come by. He considered where his words had come from. “No, a cop,” he had said. He hadn’t thought about it or pre-planned it. As soon as the tough had asked the question, the words had popped out from his lips.
Bill knew it was God. God had prevented him from being beaten up. Instead of being a victim, God had made him a lone wolf, an enigma that the other inmates would regard with caution and wonder. God had made him, in a strange sort of way, a super-star celebrity.
It would take him some time to realize the status he just gained. Meanwhile, no sooner had the group walked away than Bill was overcome with anxiety and fear. He got the shakes and was immediately glad he was on a top bunk so that no one could see him without actually coming up close and looking directly at him. That would have been weird for anyone to do.
The shakes stayed with him no matter what he told himself. Eventually, he had to breathe deep and calm himself with soothing thoughts and deep, controlled breathing. The thoughts he used were his regular, steadying thoughts, the ones he used to put himself to sleep on those nights when sleep was far away.
He was the number two on a huge space ship off in deep space away from earth for a long, many-year mission of exploration. He was off duty, off the bridge, on one of the lower crew decks. It was night. Actually, it was always night and so the lighting on crew decks simulated night and day. As he walked, as always in this thought, he ran into the captain. “Captain,” he said.
That was it. By this time, usually, he fell off to sleep. but not this night. This night he was painfully aware of the sounds of the forty-six men there. Those sounds were snores, farts, burps and even talking. Mostly, however, they were the harsh hacking coughs of cigarette smokers. Those coughs, this night, reminded him of his own mortality. He remembered. His mother had died from a coronary at age forty-three when he factored in the months to make the math exact. She was a heavy smoker as was his father as was he. His fate was mixed in with theirs. But he wasn’t quitting. smoking now. No way.
Several times men got up to go the commodes. In the scope of things, now, in the midst of the night, in the mostly dark of the dorm, was a good time to take a crap since there was relative privacy. Bill could actually hear the plops into the water, even a grunt or a sigh of…relief perhaps.
His sore hands did not help him fall off to sleep. In the dark, in the mostly-quiet, he was painfully aware of how much they hurt. He wondered how he would work in the morning. He wondered how much more he would rip them up. Still, he was glad he had a place to go to, glad not to be stuck in the dorm-cell all day and all night.
Eventually he slept. It was not the sleep of the dead. It was a fitful and encumbered sleep. And then it was day, all over again.