Solitary - a deadly game

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
Ever been to a bar? Got drunk? Did something you regretted for the rest of your life?

James Ramsey did all three in one night and payed the ultimate price for it....

Submitted: July 01, 2010

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Submitted: July 01, 2010



My life sucks. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now my life is no longer worth living. 
Two years, one month, and three days ago, I was in a bar with my buddy Willy, playing pool. He was my best friend and we had grown up in south Baltimore.  At the time, he was selling cable contracts door to door and I was a journeyman electrician. He usually bought my beer because he was a good salesman, and I was only working thirty two hours a week at twelve an hour. Willy was a ladies man all the way.  I guess they found him good looking. All I knew was that he sucked at pool, drank lots of tequila and had a bad temper, but he never got mad at me. 
The bar was called Brickhouse, and it was a small, blue collar joint that was dimly lit and smoky. The seven foot pool tables in the back had seen better days, but it was cheap entertainment for fifty cents a game. The green felt on the tables was multi-colored, probably from years of spilled beer and who knows what other activities. The cues were crooked and most didn’t have any tips left, but we didn’t mind. 
That fateful night, about eleven o’clock, after lots of libations, Willy made a pass at a girl sitting at the bar. A brawl ensued. I saw Willy break a bottle on a guy’s head and grab a fistful of another guy’s shirt at the same time. Before I could figure out what to do, this big guy came rushing hard at me from the bar. I remember jeans, a plaid shirt, stubbly beard and rage in his eyes. All I had time to do was raise the tip of my pool cue in self defense…
The coroner’s office called it a homicide. They said that the pool cue had unluckily perforated a small hernia in the guy’s intestine and he had bled out internally. He had died quickly, right there on the pool table. The fight was over almost immediately. After the cops came and interviewed people, Willy was hauled away for a night in the drunk tank. I got a special escort to a holding cell down at County. A million dollars bail was set, which was humorous since I had all of twenty three dollars to my name and owed two hundred for rent the next week. 
I had never been in trouble before. I was a laid back guy with little ambition trying to find my place in the big world. I liked to drink, but was a friendly drunk who would have stood in a corner if it hadn’t been for Willy.
Three long months later, I remember the jury leader standing at the front of the court room reading the verdict. Although his speech was monotone, I feared his words. He said, and I remember exactly to this day, “We the jury, find the defendant James Ramsey GUILTY of first degree murder.” I was twenty at the time. Sentencing occurred the next week, and I got thirty years hard time in a maximum security facility.
I’ve been a resident at North Beach Correctional Institute for almost a year now. Every day, the pressure inside my head builds and I’m not sure how much longer I can survive. I don’t have time to go into all the details, but suffice it to say, I’ve been threatened with my life for cold hard cash; I’ve been raped, beaten and coerced to do things that repulse me.
My most recent incident sent me to the prison hospital for six days while I recovered from a blow to the head from behind. I don’t know who did it or why, but I know I had a cracked skull and was in intensive care for three days. As soon as I was healthy enough to leave the infirmary, I got sent to Solitary – a place where you have a lot of time to yourself. 
I’ve been here two weeks and if I had a blade, I’d put an end to my madness. My solitary condo is five feet wide by eight feet long by ten feet tall and built of solid concrete. There is a concrete bench/bed and a stainless commode with no seat or running water. I know about my surroundings by memory at this point. After two days here, the single fluorescent light on the ceiling stopped working and it’s been pitch black ever since. 
I’m guessing it’s about day twelve or thirteen in the dark. My interactions are limited. Three times daily I am served sustenance through a four inch by twelve inch slot in the middle of my solid steel door. This slot is opened by a guard for about five seconds at a time, and if I don’t grab the food, he shoves it through and it drops to the floor. 
In the AM, the meal consists of a piece of stale bread, fake eggs, some kind of soy-laden grits, and a container of milk. Lunch is no better; peanut butter between two slices of stale bread, an apple that is unfit for consumption and a container of juice plus water. Dinner alternates between bean soup with stale bread on the side and spaghetti with the same bread. I always get water with dinner.
The guard does not respond when I ask him anything, nor can I see anything but his hand and his belt buckle when he delivers my meals. Twice a week (I think), I am greeted by a fire hose which sprays down my cell with high pressure water. At first, I tried to stay away from the rush of water, but got soaked anyway. By the third day in here, I started looking forward to the rustic baths in the dark for it has been the only blessed interruption from my solitary darkness.
I am going crazy I think. They say it’s ok to talk to yourself, but when you start to answer yourself, insanity is upon you. In the past days, I have had full blown discussions between myself and three imaginary cell mates, in which I serve as the voice of all four. Panic has set in because I realize that I can no longer control my emotions nor my frightful delusions. Last night, I imagined that my pupils were so constricted that I could no longer see, and even if I was ever exposed to light again, I’d be totally blind.
I’m not sure when I last slept. The thought of sleep brings nightmares of giant spiders and roaches, crawling all over my body, biting me and eating away at my flesh. I am slumped on the floor in the corner with the urinal keeping me from falling over.
In my old cell, I at least could interact with all of the other killers and rapists, mostly gang members in for life. I started longing to spend time with Cane, the leader of the Crips gang. He was the one who had raped me upon my first week behind bars. “Welcome to North Beach”, he had said. I hated Cane and what he stood for. Why would I want to be near he who repulsed me? Because I was on the verge of insanity if not beyond. Solitary had taken its toll.
I imagined that I would die in this black hole, sure that everyone had forgotten about me including the Warden. At this stage, I envisioned my demise in solitary as just another sick joke by the guards. They were hard on us prisoners, even those of us who were wrongly accused. I had to find a way to terminate.
During my most recent discussion with my invisible cell mates, we had explored all of the options on how to kill myself. I asked them to kill me but they were all too chicken. I couldn’t hang myself because I had nothing other than shorts and a tee shirt and nothing to hang from, plus I couldn’t reach the ceiling. My cell smelled of urine as I had frequently missed the commode in the dark. I envisioned trying to drown myself in the commode, but I wasn’t confident that I would succeed.
The plan we finally agreed on is a stretch but I’ve got to try it. I’ve saved four stale rolls from the meals of late. I’ve got one more coming tonight with dinner. My plan is to break the rolls in quarters and start stuffing the pieces of bread down my throat. I know I’ll gag, but if I can get enough solid mass stuck in my windpipe, I’m hoping I can suffocate myself.  
My life is no longer worth living and maybe, just maybe, I can bring this solitary insanity to an end tonight…

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