Thursday, June 25, 2015
Juvenile Detention Center
((A Neighborhood Escaped) (1963))
To the left and right, the view is restricted by light pinkish stone blocks, large bricks, with a gloss to them; an ash-colored floor; above and throughout this building’s structure, are the walls of a juvenile detention center. A holdover before going to Boys Town, or Redwing Reformatory, or if the judge decides, back home. The cell has chalk-like white doors, faintly shaded with a cream color like haze. The window in this 12 x 6 foot room, towards the east, the morning sun rises in the sky, has a pearl-yellowish tint to it. At its zenith an orange-yellowness spreads out touching the morning clouds which stretches over this structure called: “Woodview”. Patches of blue surround the white and shady clouds, the patches of blue assume a kind of paleness, and perhaps it’ll rain. Youth and earth are simply pebbles in time, like days. Time and space floats—it is like one is standing still at the speed of light, not aging, not doing anything. I can scarcely distinguish one hour from the next, but from the summer light in the sky I can tell by its vibrations, on a sunny day, what part of the day it is, especially at twilight, and sunrise.
God the Father has a long beard, this I know for certain, and the apostles have goat-skin tunics. The person across the hall in the other cell is seated on his bed, cross-legged, I know this also for a fact. And I also know for a statistic, I’m not made for serving time, it’s been over two-weeks, I’m fifteen years old, and this is my fifteenth day in here. The sun has gone over the building, must be on the other side.
“Another day!” What more can I say, “One more gone forevermore.” This is miserable, more so than anything I can think of. All the things I would be doing if I was not here. I’d head on down to downtown to the Mississippi River. Climb Indian’s Hell in our neighborhood, the police call ‘Donkeyland’ or see Jackie, we were dating, or Nancy Pit, I dated her last summer, or Kathy S., she’s been around, Big Bopper said she’s interested in me. Or I’d be singing and humming with my guitar, like Elvis, or Rick Nelson, or Johnny Cash, or hanging out with the boys, or drinking, but that’s what got me in here in the first place, drinking under age. Now all I do is keep arranging invisible things, or every piece of furniture in my cell, which is really nothing but a desk, and a toilet and a bed and a chair, and a Bible, and count those large stone looking cement bricks that make up the walls. I think of how the brick layer had to place every brick in place, just for this one little room.
Trifling acts. I ask to be allowed to do duties in the kitchen, I can perform such with ease, and so far they’ve allowed me to so, wash dishes, mop the floor, prepare this or that food item, by show and tell, and then do. We all eat and drink breakfast, lunch and supper, and get up with the chickens, every day, everything the same, regulated. Monkey see, monkey do.
I socked somebody square on the right side of the face, lowered his jaw some, after volleyball yesterday, as we were leaving the gym, up the stairway, I hit him so hard he slid down the stairs like a wounded ostrich. You got to be careful though, it was that I was on the higher step, and he kept poking me with his finger in the back, he actually been needling me for days unending, looking to advance his reputation in here, anyhow, I did a turnabout, and with a slight learn, smacked him a good one! When one is on a hill as I was, it is a good point of attack, if need be, I have a point of retreat also, whereas, he has none other than forward where he can’t go I’m blocking his way, or back where he came from: thus, down, down, down he fell with two arms extended, he fell backwards onto the bottom step and floor. That punch I hit him was as if I lost the fountain of mercy inside my soul, and the devil flowed though me, into my brain, or perhaps God was saying: enough is enough, knock him a good one, and teach him a lesson. Whatever the case may be, He doesn’t bother me anymore, and my anger is dried up. Why is this? ... Perhaps satisfaction?
When they sent me to Woodview, after I got smart with the judge, my mother cried some, first time I ever saw her cry, she sank into a dying state, so it appeared: “My brother’s in Redwing,” I told the judge, “send me there, I’d like to be with him.” The judge had a flat effect on his face, and my mother said something to the consequence: “He doesn’t know what he’s saying.” And she wept. There appeared aging around her eyes, like rings. The judge addressed her, “He’ll get a taste of confinement at Woodview, and we’ll see how he responds to that before I make my decision,” thus he delayed a possible lengthy incarceration, which might have been nine-months, but only suspended temporarily, to a more exacting juvenile center for trial and error. Delayed for a couple of weeks, to be reevaluated, that is.
As my mother fled my presence, somewhat in disarray, my smart mouth must had been a loud and menacing tone or echo in her head; like a camel galloping continuously until she was so far out of my range, it could no longer reach her, and my face vanished from her sight. At which point I became spent.
This cell is like a subterranean grotto, amid whose gloom, the air has stifled me with deterioration, and the odors of youthful sweat, no sweet smelling aromatics around, although the aroma that comes from the kitchen—its herbs and so forth—adds a better chemistry to it, at meal times. I suppose it’s that way, anytime you’re around groups of people.
I heard a voice arise down the hall, this is my 15th day, — they’re calling my name over the announcement system, my mind drifts into a hideous haze. I flee to the iron door, it has a little window in it, and one of the staff is coming towards my room with the key! I feel like a scorpion ready to crawl out of a hole, amongst the stones, having been hidden from the eagle overhead, who is constantly whirling in circles across the sky awaiting for someone to try and escape, there has been a few who used a toothbrush to open these windows I hear, and escaped: my subconscious says “Don’t get smart again.”
The devil or is it a demon who inhabits the upper corner of this cell with me, whomever, he is groaning, telling me: “Scratch his eyeballs out of their sockets with your talons, bite his flesh, take a hunk out of his cheeks, brush them away with your wings, you’ll get their respect, bite and tear off one ear, gnaw his nose in half, hurl him to the ground! Have no fear, I’ll go along with you.”
I’ve been his venerable pupil too long I tell myself. He calls himself, Agaliarept, says he’s Lucifer’s right hand man. Something tells me he’s his flunkey, one of those want-to-be folk demon.
Whatever the case may be, he’s a devious one, but I tell him “I’ve learned my lesson, it’s over!” and he leaves, I’m quite sure he’s found a new summit to whisper his mischief from.
I am this day, discharged, put on six-month’s probation, returning home. As I leave the facility, I pass alongside the judge, brush against his $1000-dollar suit, it’s actually shinny. I tell the judge, “I’ve had enough.” He just nods his head with a smile.
His discourse—what he had said in his chambers—sometimes comes back to my memory, and though I try not to dwell upon it, it can haunt my thoughts, he implied, ‘You got to learn one way or the other, the hard way or the easy way,’ the lesson was well taken, and it reminds me of the gas chamber when I went through boot camp at Fort Bragg, in ‘69, in the Army, they have you take off the gasmask so you can feel the pain the gas causes, so you don’t forget, I think the judge had the same training I had in the Army, but long before me.