Thursday, April 28, 2016

William Myrl; Letters to No One (48)

Dear No One,
The jail in Virginia was an entirely different sort of monster. It was older, dirtier, and more crowded than the one I had lived in awaiting extradition. It served five counties, dividing its occupants into color coded security levels. Intake was the only place where you didn't see stripes, their uniform was a uniform canary yellow set of scrubs. When you first arrive in a jail, they give you a laundry bag with your clothes and maybe a bar of soap and a roll of toilet paper. There is always a rulebook that you need to sign for. The rulebook has nothing to do with anything, but they have to have one. Intake was an open dorm on two levels. There were bunks, but the bunks were all full, so I joined the line of other floor people along the far wall. Mattress and pillow, sickly green and ultimately not that uncomfortable. My frame of reference is skewed from years of sleeping on these things, but I've never been too uncomfortable to lay down.
Someone stole my laundry bag while I was on a court run one day. It took a couple of weeks to get a replacement, in the interim someone let me use theirs a few times. You put whatever you want washed into a bag, send it out in the morning, get it back sometime. The bags all go together in huge machines. This is how it works everywhere I've been in Virginia. Other places do an exchange. They bring around washed clothes, and you give them your unwashed clothes in return. What you wear one week was someone else's the week before. Not a fan.
We all shared toilets, one of the many aspects of open dorm living I do not miss. I suppose I should be grateful that the showers had curtains.
This jail had weekenders, people who paid their debt to the state in two day installments. They always stayed in intake, meaning the population fluctuated pretty heavily based on their presence or absence. They brought butt tobacco with then, and other butt drugs. They were paid for their colonic fortitude by those both in and outside of the jail. The corner I ended up bunking in was also the smoking hotspot, sadly. My sleeping area often served as a bench for the butt tobacco folk. I was once given a "roll-up" for being such a sport about it. I sold it for a bag of candy. Not a great price, I've never been a good negotiator and this wasn't something I wanted to hold onto.
I learned how to play spades there, and it was where people first started calling me bank robber. Interestingly, most crimes don't become monickers. I've never known someone to go by Crack head, or Breaking and Entering, but I've met a number of Bank Robbers, and at least one Murder. It didn't matter who I told my real name to, they knew me by my crime for the two years I was there. Being in the newspaper every time I had a court hearing likely exacerbated the issue. 
There were some interesting characters in intake I never saw again. Tank stands out in my memory. He was big and flabby, tattoos all along his jaw to disguise the fact that he couldn't grow a beard. It was a hormonal thing. Tank had been in the military, allegedly, a lot of folks claim they were in the military. One day he stood at the top of the stairs screaming at someone about the remote. Them was fighting words, but he never cane down the steps, and the other guy never went up. That sort of thing was common, is common still. Afterwards there will always be some reminiscing about the days of yore, when men didn't let such words pass, or if they did, they suffered for it. Maybe its true.
One day at the poker table there was a bit of a kerfluffle. One man threatened another, his brothers by belief joined him. The threatened man revealed a shank, or the tip of one anyway, and all dispersed. My celly said that in the old days, such a thing could not have been let pass. I'm glad these are the new days, where things just blow over.

William Myrl

No comments:

Post a Comment