Extra Duty

It was a rough day.

After being one word or action away from going to segregation (which we call “the hole”) I found myself in the vacant chow hall scrubbing the cement floor with a deck brush and a bucket of soapy water. This task was a result of earning “extra duty”, which was a consequence of doing something wrong or what the institution might call insubordination.

I scrubbed and scrubbed with only the back-round humming of a distant ice box machine behind the cafeteria line. As mad as I was throughout the afternoon, it was actually humbling or quite peaceful to have some time of silence.

As I scrubbed slowly to appear like I was doing something to avoid any more trouble, I was lost in daydreams. I stared out the chow hall windows which illustrate a large view of the prison yard. I thought about people I once knew who I had not seen in years. I thought about my brother in Los Angeles who has not responded to the three letters I’ve written him in the past six months. I thought about my girlfriend and my infatuation with my ex girlfriend that I somehow have not been able to shake in the past 7 or 8 years it has existed. Maybe it’s a resentment.

Humming a Nirvana song that was performed on their “N.Y. Unplugged” C.D., I proceeded to go into a downward state of negative and depressing thoughts. As I hummed, visual images flashed through my mind as my thoughts tried to keep up. Maybe it was the other way around.

In these visions I saw my funeral. I committed suicide, I was shot to death, beat up, and had beaten up the imaginary fiancé of my ex girlfriend, who still, in her evil powers, infatuated my simple, insipid daydreams from a penitentiary chow hall.

While in a trance, I was suddenly interrupted by my own volatile shock. The shout of another man in the room was like an exploding imposition to my visions, thoughts, and slow melodious Nirvana tune. It was a short, fat corrections officer that had primarily given me my extra duties. His antagonizing words and annoying voice can really produce a hatred for anyone who has to deal with this man on a daily basis. He yells throughout the chow hall during the work days taking advantage of his superiority. His orders as if he was yelling at slaves in a sweat shop. His build is sloppy and round. He knows the only way he could ever act like this is when he is wearing a badge and walkie talkie that with a push of a button has the back up of several men within seconds. His body radiates a sour and bitter energy.

His unforgettable voice shouted “Stouffer!” and penetrated like a sharp spear in my head. How badly I hated even hearing this man’s voice. He said “get your shit and come on. You’re done for the night.” I grabbed my deck brush and bucket and began to walk to a doorway where he stood. I then followed behind him to a utility closet to put my utensils away. As I was walking behind him, I stared at his fat head. I suddenly decided, with an impromptu instinct to swing at his skull with my deck brush handle. He collapsed to the hard concrete that I had spent hours scrubbing. In a black-out rage of anger, I saw the wooden handle being swung up and down like a machine damaging his face. His eyebrow split open. His nose began to bleed and his tooth appeared to break a hole in his lip. The long wooden handle turned to a pinkish crimson color as he lay with bloody hands on his head as if he had tried to protect himself. His loud cries like a screeching pig turned into short, out-of-breath whimpers of defeat and pain. I then looked down at his beaten face to swap up saliva in my mouth and spit it slowly onto his cheek and nose. My black state issued boot slowly moved up with anticipation and then…

“Stouffer come on!” he yelled. I put the bucket and deck brush into the closet. I put on my coat, clipped on my inmate i.d. badge and began to walk out of the chow hall into the bitter freezing night. I pulled out a pack of matches for a quick scent of sulfur and a flame to my hand rolled cigarette of generic tobacco. I exhaled a large burning cloud of smoke and fog out of my mouth into the cold night air. Walking on the moist black pavement in a subtle emptiness, I just wanted to lay down. I just wanted to put my thoughts to rest and go to sleep so I could start a new day in the morning. It was a rough day.

I need to get some sleep.

2006