|Posted on January 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM|
He sat in his prison cell with his orange jump suit on, sitting on the bottom of the bed that consisted of a green wool covering that didn't appear comfortable to the average taste. He could hear someone approaching beyond the cell bars. Knowing it was a guard making his or her way down, chances were ninety five percent good that the guard was a man though. It was one set of footsteps with no jingle in chains to go along with. From experience, he knew it was just a guard walking down the halls. He stared at the white brick walls with a poster of the band Hammerstein at the far left. His legs were shaking while he spotted his package of Marlboro reds by his pillow. His left hand reached for them and dumped them out on the blanket. With a cheap red lighter to fall along the cigarettes. He took a cig and the lighter and lit one while he heard a black militant voice furious but incoherent heckle the guard.
The footsteps of the guard increased in volume in the nervous mans ear drums.
"Quiet down there asshole!" The guard responded to the heckler.
The nervous man increased on the shaky leg while the guard dragged his nightstick over the bars now approached, awaking the prisoners in the next cell from him.
"Hey what the fuck"? Yelled on of the prisoners.
"Shut the hell up.”
And finally the dragging of the nightstick and the footsteps had stopped while the random ranting increased from the prisoners filling the air.
"Joyce." the guard called into his cell.
The nervous man looked over to that voice and saw a guard whose body showed that he liked bodybuilding. He was around thirty five years old, and had a black mustache and a small goatee to go along with. He began to smile while tapping on the steel bars gently.
"Dominic Joyce." the guard identified the man, then he asked, “enjoying a victory cigarette before you get out of here?”
The man known as Dominic Joyce nodded.
"Eleven god damned years, hey?”
Dominic nodded again.
"Well let's see if we can get this door opened so you can get the hell out of here.” The smiling guard added. He then went to his shoulder walkie talkie, "Hey, open 217, he's going free".
Over the mic, "Okay, give me a sec."
A buzzer sound came up, followed by a click that would indicate a door unlocked. Automatically, the door had opened.
"Well Dominic you are free." The guard said.
Dominic just sat there looking at the guard while taking another puff of his cigarette.
The guard dropped the smile and said, "Look, if you think that you can't deal with life outside these walls, why don't you go beat the shit out of somebody just like when you did when you got sent here?"
Dominic just sat there still.
The guard rather impatient with Dominic's refusal to exit the cell had stepped in, "Listen asshole your free. I heard your family is waiting, how about I just kick your ass down the hall and embarrass you?”
Dominic dropped the cigarette on the blue concrete floor while the fire was still lit.
"Nah, that won't be necessary." Dominic said while stomping the cigarette out.
Dominic Joyce had stood up. He stood taller then the guard by mere inches, at six foot two and at a lightweight of one hundred and seventy-seven pounds. He had a bald head, shaved every few days. The Twenty-Nine Year old stretched his arms out and took a victory yawn finishing it off by taking his right hand and slapping his mouth when he finished his yawn.
"You know," Dom said, "that for all my time here, you were one of the biggest assholes in this motherfucker".
"For a good fifty-two thousand a year the state pays me, I do my best. Now get the hell out of here shithead, your free to go."
And with that he did. He exited his cell, 217 was empty.
Through the walkie talkie, "close it down.”
“I was beginning to wonder what was going on." The man said through the walkie.
The guard said, "He wasn't so sure if he wanted to leave prison."
Dom turned around to see his cell door automatically close while hearing the buzz beforehand, despite the incoherent yelling and heckling of the inmates behind the bars. He could hear two black men screaming out his name followed by racial slurs in no particular pattern: honky, cracker, whitey, casperass.
But Dom never offered a look he just watched the door slowly close then the click.
"Later Ku Klux Klan." One of the black men said from cell two eighteen.
Dom looked back with a smile, "Hail Hitler!"
The guard gave Dom a push.
"OK fuckface, lets get you out of here before you get chopped.”
Dom walked down the hall with the guard following him.
Each cell of inmates had their own opinion of him leaving, weather they knew him or not. A few gave encouragement while many cursed at him with foul words, racial slurs, anti-homosexual slangs, and accusations of being a backstabber by the few skin headed white inmates who bared tattoos of swastikas, or other Nazi related insignia. When Dom reached the end of the hall, he stopped and turned to face the opposite direction he walked away from and yelled out "peace out, peoples!"
Afterwards he heard a loud, "fuck you Joyce, you fucking faggot".
The guard leading him out had his own two cents, "Yeah, fuck you Dominic, now stop fucking around and lets get you out of here.”
Out of the general population area Dominic and the guard left. Not only was Dominic leaving, there were two others the same race as him. The guard had let him into the room in which it was defined by the staff 'as the lucky fuck room.' Dominic and the two were the lucky fucks to be leaving. Inside the room he was being lead into appeared like a civilized office with an oak desk and some plastic chairs around it to fit a large obese bottom or an inmate, or visitor.
Dom found a seat closer to a prisoner who was serving his minimum of twenty-five years, now happy and eager to be leaving this place for good. He had a good set of short and straightened black hair that went around the top of his head and a pair of glasses for eyes. Woodard was his name, a fifty-one year old who beat up his then-girlfriend good back in 1973 after he left his second tour of Vietnam from being a Marine for four years previous. His then girlfriend was found in bed with an underage guy. That enraged him and he beat them both nearly to death. His sentence was twenty five to fifty, and he cooperated very well most times, but not enough for an early release.
Not too far from him was Barry Skinner, who was previously an insurance agent who scammed many by raising prices of his insurance and getting a piece of the pie. However, he did get caught six months later and the state gave him three years.
The five-foot-nine man had a smile on now and Dom knew why. He was often fouled with by the various prison gangs. Although he tried to join a gang with mainly black people in it, which later constituted into a major failure and a beating from the six-foot-seven, three-hundred-sixty pound ringleader. This was something that Dominic and many other inmates had witnessed. Skinner sure had plenty of embarrassing moments in prison, from beatings to being cursed out, to even being raped in the shower. His greed got him in bad situations and Dom hoped he had learned his lesson for his own sake. That smile on his face probably meant that.
Two doors had lead to the outside of the office. One that Dom had entered into and the other where the family members and for other people who wanted to visit the leaving inmates. Dom wasn't paying any attention to the doors and looked straight down at the carpet. Seconds later, the doors opened. Dom looked to the door the visitors were supposed to enter but that door wasn't opening. Instead the door where the lucky fucks were entering out of, had opened and out came a catholic priest
"Woodard." He called out as he entered.
The man serving twenty-five looked over, his smile grew while he stood
himself up, "Reverend Merrill".
He approached the aging reverend that was having a hair loss problem with open arms, the two connected.
"Woodard, I'm glad to be seeing you get out, you deserve it." The priest said.
"I know, I'm glad to see you before I go" Woodard replied.
"Yes I wanted to see you too before you go".
Dominic had sat there and watched Woodard, who was often called "Major Woody" due to a parody of his name and his time in the service. However, he wasn't a commissioned officer. That line the priest said replayed in Dom's mind, 'I'm glad to seeing you get out, you deserve it'. It replayed in his head while he saw the two of them speak to each other, but it was incoherent to him on what the two of them were talking about. Perhaps the two were both excited that Major Woody was getting out. He then saw Skinner walk into the conversation, the priest and Woodard both listened to him. Unusual for Woodard, for he often taunted Skinner each time he set his eyes on him when the general population was pulled out. But since Woodard was leaving, all the grudges and bad ideas he had while in prison had no longer existed for now he had a chance at priest and freedom.
And Dom's mind went back to September 1987, inside Cathy's Bar in Saint Clair Shores, when at the time they had performances. The tape in his head was playing at a fast rate. He was up there with his four piece band that he previously played for.
The heavy metal music that filled the bar with the words about the end of the world, a fast bass and drum line to go along with Dominic's guitar solo. While that tape played, he saw the majority of the fifty or more costumers were not interested in the music the rookie-league glam metal heads of the eighties had to offer. The band that he played guitar for was awfully flaunt with the wear of other popular or infamous metal bands on their backs. However, they were playing in front of a mostly disinterested crowd that turned their cheeks or walked out of the bar, where as a few people remained interested in the band. A couple people in the crowd were dissident. The two, a young immense male and an older senior female remained dissident to the band.
Dom remembered he didn't pay a load of attention to the senior citizen female who had an issue about how loud the music was. But he did remember the immense man that was a little older then him at the time was up front screaming words that couldn't go over the volume of the music. But Dom knew he was being flagrant by the expression on his face. The singer, whose name was George Levine and the rest of the band had regarded the crackpot but Levine continued singing about a graveyard at night with the dead emerging out of their coffins and the band did the same respectively with their instruments. Towards the second verse, the crackpot had a good proximity to the small stand up stage and grabbed Levine's foot.
This prompted him to drop the singing voice and invoke an angry voice screaming into the microphone, "get that motherfucker out of here, get that cocksucker out of here!”
Levine's words had caught the attention of a loud portion of the crowd. A few had approached to attempt to interject, but Levine's emphasis to do physical harm to the heckler could not be stopped. With his black steel toe boots on, he had taken a good old fashioned boot to the face to the heckler. Next, he jumped off the small stage that was three feet high and approached the crackpot with his fists flying at him, while the rest of the band played the song on instrumental but paying attention to the brawl up front.
Despite the man taking a boot to the face, he mustered himself up to defend any kind of punch that Levine was throwing. The rest of the band knew Levine was not a good fighter, although he previously attempted to input the fact to his band mates that he was. With the band not doing a good job at stopping the fight, Dom pulled the guitar off from his body. Without delay, he ran off the stage. The heckler was able to get Levine to the floor kicking him in the ribs while the crowd was yelling for him to stop. Dom with his steel toe boots on kicked the man in his left leg. The man took a look at where the kick came from but as he saw the person responsible, he would also see a speeding sucker punch to the face. For his own personal control of the situation, Dom also gave him a kick in the balls. That took the man down while he attempted to defend that area. Dom instead went to grabbing the man by his shoulder and repeatedly punching him in his face.
"Hey Dom?" a voice came through Dom stepped back into reality Woodard was in front of him with a smile on his face.
"What?" Dom asked.
"Aren't you glad to be out of here?" he asked.
This was interesting to Dom as Woodard and him over the last few years were rivals. For the last few years, Woody was an asshole to Dom. Now the sudden kindness towards him came as a surprise. But Dom knew best that he really wanted his freedom when the chance came and he really didn't have a reason to be angry anymore, to him or anyone else. He is free and is very happy to finally have his freedom back.
"Woody I am glad that you are happy now about your freedom, but I am a little fuzzy about forgiveness. Even with your issues with me when I helped out that man who preferred his isolation to being in a gang".
Woodard was insistent with his light voice this time, "C'mon Dom, it's all over, lets forgive".
He pulled out his hand, rarely did Dom ever hear that kind of voice of reason from a man that had his ties with the Arian-Nation affiliated gangs and was rather open with his hatred of black people. But Dom decided what the hell so he shook hands with Major Woody.
"Sorry about the past." Woody added.
Dom wanted to laugh at that but he helped himself up while letting go of Woodard and looking at Skinner who was talking ecstatically to the priest on how he had been waiting his three to six years to leave prison. Unlike Dom, he got lucky to serve his minimum however it was easy for Skinner to serve his minimum, he rarely created trouble. What Dom and most prisoners thought was trouble was starting fights or causing the guards to get angry. He would do his best to avoid fights or other situations involving gangs. Dom, previously with a white power gang starting at the beginning year three in prison would be told by the ringleader from time to time to fuck with other inmates most times with other opposing gang members and rarely with isolated inmates. Yet, Dom knew that other gangs, whether they were white-orientated, black-oriented, Hispanic or Latino-oriented, would often foul with isolated inmates who preferred not to join a gang and hold themselves up until they get out.
Like Skinner, most first-time inmates who were serving a single digit number of years would not join any gang, whether it was easy to join up, or if you would have to jump through hoops. Sadly, for Skinner, he had done what was a carnival sin in joining a prison gang; he attempted to join a black-oriented gang. Dom knew best that what color you are, if you feel the circumstances are to a point where you must join a gang, you should and always join a gang that represents the same color of your skin. Surely, Skinner wasn’t thinking. Prison was not a place for desperate insurance agents who jacked-up rates to go over the actual rate the customer was paying; the remainder went into his pocket. Dom never knew and never asked his whole story. He knew he had married sometime before he found himself in the bad side of the prison walls. Perhaps he had a demanding wife? That was an easy hypothesis besides his own greed. But would his wife have some goodness in her heart to visit him in prison? Or come to greet him on his release? He will soon find out.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think we have properly met.” Said the priest.
Dom looked up to the aging and balding plumped priest, appearing to be at his sixties.
“Oh…uh…no, we haven’t.”
The priest offered his hand, “Rev. Merrill.”
Dom took it, “Dominic Joyce.”
“May I ask what you did to end up here?”
“Nothing.” Dom said with a smile.
The reverend appeared confused; one could tell that his smile shifted. But, he and Dom knew best, a good sum of prisoners at Jackson Correctional Facility had always said, ‘Nothing’ or ‘I didn’t do it’ when asked on what they done to be sent to prison.
Dom finally answered while dropping his smile, “I was accused of assault and battery. Six to twelve years.”
“Oh, I hope you just served six.”
Dom shook his head, “I was hoping so too.”
The priest didn’t reply.
“I did eleven.” Dom answered.
“Oh.” He said while the smile dropped. Dom knew he felt sorry.
“Yes, I’m disappointed that the parole board couldn’t put me out when they gave someone who happened to be a different skin color out a little before his minimum, while they keep me in because I made a few false decisions while I had been here for eleven years.”
The priest tried to smile, but he sure was a lost of words.
Not only he did hear it, Woodard and Skinner both heard that. Dom knew his words would strike a note to a suddenly happy Woodard who was now hypocritical about this due to the look on his face. Skinner’s face also read the same notion, but Dom could recall him bad-mouthing the black inmates when he knew where it wouldn’t reach there ears. But how hypocritical could the two of them be to look down on Dom for his comment. Skinner for once secretly dismissing a few black gang ringleaders with the n-word. And Woodard, a former Arian-Nation gang leader who, unlike Skinner, openly and often used that word. Dom thought of calling out the hypocrisy of the two, but the opposing door opening had stopped him.
All four men in the room had quickly turned their heads to see a homely-female guard entering and holding the door for another homely and plumped female in blue jeans and a purple shirt. Dom could guess she was in her late forties at the very least heading towards Woodard with a smile and open arms. What followed her were two young balding boys wearing FUBU jerseys who joined in the group hug that surrounded Woodard who was now in tears.
Next, two men around Skinner’s age and appearance wearing leather jackets and dress shirts under them had approached him to shake hands and hug. A little later, a older woman who could be assumed to be his mother, or unless that older woman just happened to be his wife with high standards had walked in.
“Mom, I’m so glad to see you.” He said while frantically approaching her with open arms and tears in his eyes.
Nope, she sure wasn’t.
And Dom looked to the door with the Female guard looking at him with a dour frown on her face. That was quite common for what little amount of female guards the Jackson Correctional Facility provided from when Dom entered to when he was about to leave, very little stayed for more than a year and the all of half of them had thick skins to push away any insults.
But Dom didn’t want to think about that, he was wondering why his family hasn’t showed up just yet. He wanted to see his mother and father for the first time in three months and his older brother and sister in close to nine. He looked over to the door and began to make his way there.
“Who are you looking for?” The female guard asked.
Dom smiled, “I was hoping my family would show up from behind the door.”
“A woman earlier was in line, but she had to go to the rest room, could that be the person you are looking for?”
He dropped his smile, “No, I mean my whole family. They should be here.”
She shook her head, “A blond and white-haired woman appearing to be in her fifties to sixties, rather short and thin in size is the only person who hasn’t entered in her yet.”
And when she finished that sentence, the woman she was describing had appeared beyond the doorway. She stopped to see Dom while he did the same, seeing his mother Georgia Joyce, a five-foot-two, approximately one-hundred to one-hundred twenty pounds, blond hair turning white. She wore a white leather coat and light gray dress pants.
She smiled with a few wrinkles on her face and called out her youngest son’s name, “Dominic.”
Dom smiled and surrendered to his mothers arms. He held her head against his chest; it was the first time he was able to hold her in his arms since over two years back when he was able to have congregational visits.
“It’s been too long, Dominic.” She said while choking down tears.
Dom wanted to say something, but he could not find the right words.
She continued on, “Eleven years… you’ve been locked-up here.”
He had to say something.
“Eleven years.” She said slowly while squeezing her youngest and tallest son.
“Uh… mom, where’s Dad? Where are Chelsea and Mike?”
She loosened her grip and looked up to her son, dropping her smile to a face of wonder.
“Oh, Dom, Dad is very buys at work. Mike and Chelsea wanted to come, but they are very busy working. I mean, things are going good, Chelsea is selling cars, and Mike’s doing well writing those financial columns for The Detroit News. Dad’s busy building cars, he is trying to get more money in our retirement funds so we can have a good retirement. Really, Dom, they wanted to be here.”
Dom tried to smile, but he had that nagging doubt in his head. Yes, his dad, his sister and his older brother were busy, but they could spare a day off. His brother Mike was a successful freelance financial writer for mainly The Detroit News and quite a few publications whether they were local or national. He wasn’t extremely well off, but he was on his way. His sister Chelsea sold cars for a metropolitan Detroit Ford outlet. And most members of the Joyce family drove Fords. His father was is a supervisor for a plastics mold injection factory that built mainly Ford parts, interiors to be exact. Yes, Dom had that awful paranoid thought: Work was more of an importance than seeing there embarrassment of a son or brother coming out of prison. He didn’t spare too much thought into that incontinence and asked, “Mom, can we get the hell out of here?”
Some twenty minutes later, Dom had exited his home of eleven years with a new set of clothes his size and his release papers in hand. He did have a large sum of money to owe the great state of Michigan for room and board, not to mention his Bachelor’s Degree in accounting. That was professionally framed.
“Um, I bet you would like to get a good first meal after prison. Where do you want to go? I’ll buy.” Georgia offered her son.
“Let’s go back home first. I want to get the hell away of Jackson.” Dom replied.
He kept walking while she stopped for a moment. She asked, “What, you want to get a good distance away from here?”
Dom stooped to turn around, “Yes, let’s just get back to Saint Clair Shores first.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mom, I want to get as far away from this hellhole without stopping.”
She smiled, “Okay, it’s a good thing I filled up my gas tank before I stopped here.”