" March Of The Convicts "
By: Guy Zappulla
When people think of the things they could lose when they come to prison obviously after your freedom, the big ticket items are the first to come to mind. In no particular order it's usually the Wife. The House. Then the car, usually with the wife driving it. Then each of us has a slightly different list of toys that goes bye-bye also. What no one thinks about before signing up for this is the little things, minuscule segments of your life you never give a second thought to. Like opening a fridge when your not hungry, or just to see the light go on. Using a toilet bowl with a seat, even though you refuse to put it back down. Taking a shower when you want, or before the hot spots start smelling like a well stocked pork store.
Or the foundation of this very story, simply using a phone. As the first time I heard one ring after 12 years actually scared the shit out of me. Then even though I was expected to answer it, after not doing as much in so long, it was actually uncomfortable. I almost felt like one of Jerry's kids as his mother intently watched to see if I could complete this newly assigned task. " Come on mommy, pick it up, now say hello". Then a "your so smart," before I got a pat on my back. But the reality of it is aside from having to use one every two months for a phone count, I never hear nor ever think about picking up a ringing phone. Let alone dialing one.
Instead, I have to use 1 of 8 pay phone's in the sand encrusted element exposed yard. Now you might think okay this is not so big deal, and it would not be except there are 8 phone's and 220 inmates in a cell block.
" Here we go"
Now for the majority of you that never met me, I have an enormous tattoo of an eerie jail scene covering my entire back. From one shoulder to the next it reads : Only The Strong Survive, which unfortunately for the better part of my prison exsistance it was not just my crede, I lived it to the fullest. Needless to say I did'nt wait on many phone lines. Now much older, then having my revelation in which I vowed to live me life being more humble, wait on a phone line I do. That includes now, when in the dead of winter in these mountain the temperature routinely drops into the minus digits.
So I stand there and do the pee-pee dance without needing to shed a drop. My beard which I grow out just for this reason, freeze's like an artic explorer. Then by the time I get on the fucking thing, I'm actually pissed off that someone cares enough to be waiting for my call. As if no one gave a shit, frost bite wouldn't be setting into my extremitie's. Now here is where my patience gets tested, as while I wait my turn hopefully next to someone I can have a decent frozen conversation with, without fail there are always several idiots that didn't have an Epiphany and decide to cut the line.
To make matters worse, almost as if it was a test of my humility, these are people that I would at one time just smash their skulls and not even be winded when I was finished. Which would give me ample time to make a call before they came to take me away. So when it happens, I look away to give my pride a chance to reboot and just make like it never happened. Only to turn and see my friend Jocko chewing a hole through his bottom lip. Of course while making a face as though he was struggling to pass a ten pound turd out of a five pound Irish ass. As the smoke billow's off the top of my friends head, which is now the color of his home made mittens, I try to convince myself it's just because that what happens to bald people in the winter, even if he is wearing a wool hat. And a hoodie.
Then I can almost feel Lucifer tapping on my shoulder calling me a bitch, how could I just stand there while this happens. How can I just stand there and do nothing ? My feet start to move towards my target, when I realize why I was in line in the first place.And along with knowing someone cares enough to wait for my call, I desperately want to hear if there is any news from my lawyer, even though I know it's too soon. So I have no choice but to walk in circles with my associate like penguins on PBS. To break the tension I pretend to have an egg carefully tucked between my feet.
But in the end, Lucifer lost his battle as his request went un-answered. My decision to live more rightiously was still intact. And I can laugh with my friend, head still steaming, who now is also walking like he has an egg between his boots. Now I just have to look skyward and pray. That my comfortable Wife has a cell phone signal !!.