by Brian A. Wilkins
This day corresponds with Monday, July 28.
“You’re fuckin’ dead, nigger!” my neighbor said. He stabbed me numerous times until I woke from my sleep. I hit my head so hard on the ceiling, I thought I was concussed. This nightmare happened nearly every night I actually slept soundly. It was scary, as was the lump on my head from banging it on the ceiling. But what was I going to do? Go to medical for help? I think not.
Only a few minutes after the doors opened for the morning, a D.O. yelled from the bottom tier, “towels, boxers, and blankets.” I had been wondering if you just had to wear the same dirty, filthy clothes everyday you were in here. I would learn Mondays were clean towel and boxer days (you got a clean blanket every 4 Mondays). It was nice, considering I hadn’t showered since Saturday because the towel I had smelled like mildew. Everyone removed their boxers in their cells, then proceeded to the line forming on the bottom tier. You threw your dirty boxers and towels in a large hamper, and the D.O. would give you clean ones. And yes, everything was bright pink, as Sheriff Joe Arpaio likes to boast about. He obviously stole the idea from Hayden Fry and the Iowa Hawkeyes pink themed visitors’ locker room, but that’s a different story.
8 o’clock rolled around and I couldn’t help but think about being at the first day of my new job. I had been looking forward to this day for weeks; ever since I was informed of being hired. It was by far the highest paying job I’d ever had and it was a job I was actually interested in working that wasn’t in media. There was the possibility of taking the last few courses I needed to graduate from ASU via the University of Phoenix for free and transfer them. Speaking of which, today was also the day I was going to enroll for those aforementioned final courses, pay my tuition, and look forward to graduating in December. Of course, this would not happen either. I laid in that bunk, staring blankly at the toothpaste-painted images on the light fixture for several hours, just thinking of what I am losing out on today. As the hours went by, I knew my chances of retaining the position even if I had gotten out tomorrow were narrowing. I don’t think I could have told them I was in jail and kept the job anyway. My head was full of several thoughts; none of them positive.
“Monster” came to the cell that afternoon, sensing I was anxious with what was to come tomorrow. “Man, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get out tommorow,” he said. To that point, I had never even considered this possibility, but it was real. “They lock brothas up for j-walking dawg,” he said. Monster knew he was headed back to prison for a couple of years, but shared with me his plans once he got out. He drew designs for mens and women’s clothing and showed me some of his work. He used his son’s very unique name as the brand for his clothing line that included shoes, jackets, handbags,and even bathing suits. For only having jail-pencils and paper, his drawings were very realistic and looked professional. “This is what I’ll be doing in a couple years,” he said.
Monster and I would play 7 or so games of chess what evening. He beat me most of them, but he conceded it was probably because I was thinking about tomorrow. It was prayer circle time, so I walked outside and waited for everyone to get there. It was my turn to stand in the middle of the circle, since I had court tomorrow. I remember at least five of the 15 or so guys out there said a personal prayer for me. It was heartwarming and put on display the fundamental decency of people; even those in jail. My case had become common knowledge throughout the cell block and many wanted to see me walk out of there Tuesday. In fact, I told Black I would give him my glasses if I walked out of there tomorrow. He had tried them on and said he could see better than he had in his life. Since I had a couple other pairs at home, I figured he would need them more than I would. Mario was the only other guy with court tomorrow and he stood in the circle with me. He made a point of saying “when Brian and I walk out of here tomorrow, I will have gained a friend for life.” I thought to myself if I really got out of here tomorrow, yes, he would be a good friend for the forseeable future.
We went back to the cell at lockdown, with court still being the topic du jour. Mario told me the procedures for actually getting to court from jail. The D.O.’s would let us out of the cell around midnight if we wanted to take a shower (and of course put the same funky pants and shirt back on) and gave us disposable razors if we wanted to shave. I was going to the Mesa Criminal Court on the U.S. 60 and Mesa Drive. Mario was going to court in downtown Phoenix, so we wouldn’t know what happened to the other until we got back. The next 24 hours would be an emotional and logistical roller coaster, as you will see.