Sunday, March 5, 2017

William Myrl; Letters to No One (71)

Dear No One,

My roommate moved out, he was on the list for a single bed apartment and one finally became vacant. There was an age when all the prisons in Virginia were single bunk cells. That's how this one was built. Economics changed the picture, along with a swiftly growing population, and legislation that ended parole. So my celly moved, and for one and a half glorious days I had my own solitude.

During this time, people who I rarely spoke to, or knew only peripherally, came to counsel me. I was warned by four different individuals that someone who had been moved out of the pod was trying to come back. He was like a boogey man, his name called up images of glowering ghosts and rattling torment. They were terrified that he would return, and they wanted me to be terrified. Drama consumes us, and gossip, it is our sacrament and bread. There was never any chance of the boogeyman returning.

Coming home from work on the first day, a man met me at the door and suggested his openness to our being cellies. When there is an opening, it's not so difficult to have the unit manager switch someone around, as long as you catch him in the right moment. I agreed to the match, and he said he would try to catch the unit manager while I was at the tailor shop the next day.

The unit manager was not at work the next day, and my new celly arrived at around eight o'clock that night.

His name is Country, and he's in his thirties. He has a child, a lot of tangled relationships with women, and a supportive family. His sister is also in jail. He laughs like "Heuh heuh heuh" in a deeper than normal voice, and one of the first things he said to me was, "man, I'm glad your white." He's a fantastic bunkie. He has money, and he spends a lot of his time in the pod and outside. He transfered here, and he already knows more people than I do.
An empty cell is something special. We spend all of our days surrounded by voices and human shapes. Behind the door, the sounds still enter, the faces slip by, a small man with an afro irons other offenders pants on a board bolted to the wall. It is impossible to escape the humanity.

In an empty cell, when the pod is asleep, it's almost like being alone.

Country saw the copy of "Six Easy Pieces" I'm reading, read the word "physics" on the cover, and asked if it was about psychic stuff. When I said no, he asked if it was about reading body language. Country has done a lot of drugs. I'm genuinely glad to have him in the cell.

The bottom bunk is mine at last.

Hearts and Stars

William Myrl
Letters to No One

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