“Send in the Clowns”
Today I was going over some of my past posts on my Blog and realized how down or depressing they might have been. Yes they are true and accurate of my account in prison for those 10 years, but none the less depressing. They are words brought on by anger, frustration, sadness, and desperation. In a small way they help me release my inner demons and ghosts. For you all reading them my hope is they help you better understand what your loved one is going through inside.
Reading all your posts and messages I see I have many of you cry and tears have flowed. In some ways that is a good thing, for it makes one alive and in touch with their feelings. Makes you alive and breath and fight the good fight and stay on course. Today I think I will try to make some of you smile or even laugh a bit. For all of the horrors of prison, humor still finds its way through those ways.
I worked the Garment Factory making socks on a machine from Italy or Serbia or some other European country. We worked, depending on your shift, anywhere from 4 to 8 hours a day. We would wait eagerly in the day-room for the “Garment Factory Workers” call over the speakers. Then the 2 mile walk or so would start. The caravan of desperate men, as many as 100 again depending on your shift making its way to the barn to get naked….Yes every day we were stripped going in and stripped coming out. I lovely sight for sure seeing a hundred naked men.
Some who had no business ever getting naked in public? There was one I remember well, let’s call him Shitty Smithy (no relation). Well old Smitty was about 5’8” but weight about 300 pounds and he loved to bend over in a way to shock us as well as the guard whose job it was to inspect if we bad inmates had anything hidden in various parts of our bodies. The old CCR song “Bad Moon Arising” came to mind. What was comical was in doing so old Smitty allowed us to sneak but the others guards who were in a state of shock.
See at times it was arranged to work as a team to get items back to our house to sell. Same thing applied for kitchen workers and most all other workers. We were industrious little bees. We would send in a clown to distract the screws. Another common tactic was to place an item between your cheeks and I’m not talking the ones on your face. Most guards never really checked that area real good. I fast turn around and maybe a bit of a bend was all that was needed to masquerade the item.
Now for the unfortunate inmate staying behind the “Mule” (that is the person who brings stuff back) to see a rather large butt bending over with a bag between there, well you know, an eye opener. It wasn’t uncommon to hear Jesus Christ’s name mentioned. And in some case Smitty was small lol. I made socks at a tune of about 1 every 30 seconds. The machine consisted of about 100 needles that spun at about 400 RPM producing a sock about 20 inches long. We could adjust the machine to make a smaller or longer sock
Saying that I made some very small socks and would bring them back to the pod and throw them at someone saying “Here’s your package warmer” sorry for my language lol. Of course my socks were about 10 feet long as I proudly waved them around. Of course you had to joke with the right guys. Most would take it well, some not so well. You knew who you could “play” with. In a place of such ugliness it was good to see the guys smile or laugh. Humor knows no color or religion. I could be bad at times as a prankster.
We had some very avid readers who could finish a 500 page book in a day or two. I know this is bad and some Librarian will punish me in the great library in the sky but I loved this little prank. I had a buddy named Troll who could not read enough, he devoured book after book. Now Troll was a lifer and will never see the light of day. Troll never got money so I always took care of him best I could with the money I got. I would always buy him a bag of coffee on store day along with a few soups and ice cream. In doing so I felt I had a certain right to torture poor Troll.
Troll would come out his cell at first in and out, usually around 7:00am and got back it near rack time around 10:00pm. Troll did not work because he was “unassigned” meaning medically unable for whatever reason. Either physically or mentally. So my buddy Troll would bring a few books to the day room along with his cup of coffee in sit at the same table and seat day after day. I may tell a new inmate who may ask “where should I sit”, “Oh all new guys have to sit at that table in that seat” of course pointing out Trolls seat.
Troll hopefully was late this day or at a lay-in for this little trick to work just right. The look on Troll’s face as he came down the stairs or back to the pod from the outside window looking in was priceless. If looks could kill….lol. Daggers were flying at this innocent new guy. Of course I would make sure Troll didn't take this new guy out but explaining the “mix up”. Not to be out done by my inner genius, the old missing page routine was truly a masterpiece.
See for this to work right it took a cunning mind (me of course) and a few bathroom runs or ins and outs. Troll as trusting as he was would leave his cherished book on the table to go use the day room toilet, or better yet “Hey Troll go get me some hot water on the next in and out and I’ll buy the coffee.” I would spring into action like a Navy Seal humming the Mission Impossible tune as my plan started to come to life. A few pagers were surgically removed and replaced with others from the same or different book. Taped in place just right. For this to work right it may take a few ins and outs or bathroom breaks. See a lot of books from the library had missing or torn out and re-taped pages.
Now my unsuspecting victim would settle back down with a smile on his face to continue his journey in some far off land of Dragons and Wizards. At this time it would be a smart move to leave the table. Of course depending where I assaulted his book. I may have done it for the nice few pages or a few hours from now. Ya I know I’m a demon spawn. So the time bomb was ticking and a few of us waited for the explosion. A look of confusion passed over Troll face, then frustration, then anger and rage. A few choice profanities were thrown about and evil stares, it wasn't uncommon to see the book missiled at a wall or at me.
“Why do you do that to me Smith, Damn you to hell.” The day-room would erupt with laughter and I had done my duty once again. Pats on the back were given and knuckles touched. Shakes of the heads and smiles were directed at me and you know what it felt good. I would get up with a bag of coffee in hand and head toward my beloved Troll….”Get away from me, and take your coffee and shove it.” “Come on Troll I was just joking, I’m sorry buddy.” Then Troll would tell me something along the making love to myself line? Oh but a smile would finally break on old Troll face and my gift was accepted, with the condition I never do it again.
“I promise I won’t do it again buddy……today anyway.” I would then give back his pages and all was back to normal and Troll submerged himself into his world of fantasy. There is a part of me that misses all that, a part that wishes I could still do the old page swap again. It is time to bring in the clowns. Oh well I hope this little story made some of you smile and laugh. There are many many more I have swimming in my mind. The best ones were the ones played on the cops/guards/screws. Those I miss most. I remember one we played on a bunch of new boots (that’s a term for new hire’s) they were all, about 10 walking down the bowling alley when I yelled “2 by 2 new boots” some would look around but some actually got paired up. For the most part they were harmless, childish pranks that made us all forget where we were and for a brief moment we were free again. Ya I loved sending in my clowns…..”Pair up new boots” ha-ha priceless.