by Brian A. Wilkins
This day corresponds with Friday, July 25, 2008. Advisory: contains some adult language.
“Wilkins!” I heard a voice while I was half-sleep at about 645am. I was cold, tired, and my neck was ALL messed up from sleeping – if you want to call leaning my head on a cold metal table while sitting on a cold, concrete “chair” – sleeping. “Wilkins!!” I had forgotten where I was, but the voice through the intercom snapped me back to reality. “What?”
“Come down for medical!” the voice said. I had already been through this medical mess once at the Matrix and wasn’t particularly in the mood for it, so I told myself to just play toy with them and get it over with. Before you actually get to medical though, the holding tank – where the people can have staph infections, the flu, or are waiting for psychiatric therapy – is at best 15X15. And a guy in there just happened to be taking his morning shit…about 2 feet away from me!
When I walked into the medical room, the nurse took my blood pressure, pulse, etc. This was the first time in my life I’d ever seen a triple-digit diastolic. “We haven’t gotten your meds.” I had to take a deep breath before I responded. “Why did you guys even bother asking me about the pharmacy and my regular prescription?” I was still a little freaked out by the 100-bottom-number. She handed me a “form” and told me to fill it out AGAIN. I figured this was their way to plant the seed telling me they can kill me slowly too. Maybe I’m paranoid, but 150/100 is pretty scary, especially with my family history. When I returned to the holding tank, a guy in there said he could never get the “D.O.’s” to get him one of those “medical tank orders” (as opposed to a “general” or “legal” “tank order”, which were what you used to request the jail to do something for you). According to him, medical tank orders were gold in his cell block. Since I was done playing their “form” games, I gave the guy my form and would just hope for the best, as far as my health.
After forty more minutes in the ,tank I was led to the x-ray room so they could “prove” my hand was actually broken to justify giving me a splint. I sat down and the x-ray woman pulled this giant machine over my head, which I quickly realized was the x-ray camera. I asked her if she was going to cover my body up with one of those lead aprons. She asked, “why…are you pregnant?” When I tried to refuse the x-ray, the technician said that those rules no longer applied since she had already started. When I tried to, at the very least, turn the front side of my body away from the machine to protect my ability to procreate, she got irate and told me to remain like she places me. “If you don’t like it, you should stay out of jail!” she said. (7/25/08 @ 10:30 a.m.).
After being denied my blood pressure medication and (possibly) sterilized, I met Walter when I got back to the cell block. He handed me the receipt from when my friend Richard – who I’d called a day earlier – was able to get access to my bank account and put $100.00 on my “inmate account”. This is the money I would use to buy soap, shampoo, sour patch kids, donuts, writing paper, deodorant, stamps, etc. from “commissory.” But at this point, for one, the deadline had passed to order anything for the week’s delivery; you order on Wednesday for delivery today (“commissory days” were Thursdays). Secondly, I refused to buy anything since I figured, in my heart of hearts I would walk out of that place next Tuesday, July 29 when I had court. I was more planning on having the $100 to get home from jail when I was released next Tuesday, since I heard they give you, in cash, all of your remaining balance when you leave.
“The ‘D.O.’s’ put this in your cell.” Walter is a cool kid…only 18, but had done some STUPID stuff in the past couple years. One word for you…crack! He knew, and knows now, crack is why his life took this turn. I believe him when he says he’ll never do it again. I told him thanks, introduced myself, shook his hand, and went back to the cell. That whole medical ordeal in its entirety took almost 6 hours. I was starving, so the best thing to do was lay there and try to think about nothing. That’s when Train, all 6’4, at least 370 lbs of him, walked in the cell and said, “man you should come out of here more often. Move around.”
This encounter would turn into two hours (between “head counts”) of conversation about the streets of West Phoenix, the streets of Marshalltown and Des Moines (Iowa), and how hungry we were. When they called for “chow,” Train and I continued the conversation at the table with the new occupant of cell #14 (I think); Rodney Smith. The man the media has proclaimed the deadly, ruthless “South Mountain Shooter” would become a good friend that day, and is like family to me now. That whole situation, for everyone, could have been avoided, but you’ve heard this before.
Train and I disappeared back to the cell while everyone was trying to ask Rodney 20 questions. The conversation turned to how and why I was even in there. Train could tell that jail was getting to me a little bit. I told him how Richard called a few lawyers and they were all telling him “$25,000 for representation,” “your friend is facing 40 years in prison,” etc. “They’re just playing the game, Brian,” Train said. “They got no case on you. The charges will ultimately get dropped man.” This is when Train brought God into the talks and also when I thought he’d lose me, as far as our good conversation. But he pointed out a passage I had seen somewhere before. It was Matthew 7:1-2. Though I saw it phrased different ways in different Bibles, this about sums it up:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with that measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
“You reap what you sow,” I said. Train then pointed out another passage in Galatians (I think chapter 6) that basically says the same thing. “God will make sure all those people answer to him for doing this to you. And those are God’s words,” Train said. We laughed because I told him he somehow pointed out the only Bible verse I had any reasonably-verbatim memory of. He convinced me, and kind of ordered me, to attend “prayer circle” every night from here on out. “Since God’s word put your mind at ease, you owe him this at least,” Train said, referring to me telling him I don’t go to church. I figured what the hell…if God can help me, he has a new recruit!
At lockdown for the night, Mario came back to the cell. He rarely left the cell from this moment forward. I would learn that night he has court the same day I do. “I’m really hoping they give me probation man,” he said. He was another drug-victim (meth) who had been in-and-out of jail and prison on drug possession charges. Mario was a god-fearing man much like Train, so we talked a little Bible before the conversation turned to women and music. He gave me a honey bun and a tube of chapstick he’d gotten from commissory before helping me up to the top bunk. “When we get out on Tuesday, let’s go to Filibertos,” he said. “Just keep praying every night man.”
At lights out, I thought of how cool it would be to walk out of here with Mario next Tuesday. Then again, walking out of there on Tuesday, under any circumstances, would have suited me just fine.