By Tony Casson
Once the pecking order is clear and everyone knows his place, life isn’t so bad–for prison, of course.
I must say that Oakdale is very clean and in very good repair. The staff seems to do their jobs and no one seems abusive.
I’ve found that, like most situations in life, prison life can be worse than it actually is if you allow yourself to dwell strictly on the negatives.
As time passes (and I have little of that ahead of me), I will talk about the different types of facilities within the prison system and the different philosophies and approaches to incarceration and rehabilitation as perceived by myself and my fellow inmates and acquaintances.
I believe I am fortunate in being placed where I was placed and meeting the people I have met. We share ideas and thoughts on a wide range of subjects that should provide fodder for this blog for as long as this story lasts, and for as long as anyone cares to share these times with me.
This isn’t intended to be a daily journal, even though things have begun pretty much as a daily progression, but that was just to set the stage a little for you.
Being who I am and my needing to make my presence known in any situation, I must tell you about the most bizarre dream I had in the early hours of the morning on Monday, April 12:
We are locked into our cells around 11 p.m. each day, and the doors are unlocked around 5 a.m. The assumption is that people sleep during these times, and I certainly do try, but I’ve never been much of a sleeper, and I’ve always seemed to have rather outlandish and complex dreams, most of which I cannot remember much about except for the moments just before I wake.
I have the upper bunk in my cell–I may or may not have mentioned it. Of course, that’s the less desirable real estate since there is some climbing involved and the ladders we recall as children from our bunk beds do not exist in prison–at least not in my cell. This requires the use of my high-backed plastic chair and the metal desk as steps, if you will, to enable me to get my old ass up there in the nose bleed section.
Actually, as you will hear, nose bleeds were the least of my problems.
Our bunks are situated along the back wall of our cell. That puts them in a north-south orientation and I chose initially to sleep with my head on the southern end, which becomes important when you apply the laws of nature and physics and me being right-handed.
So here I am sleeping peacefully, certainly looking more innocent than I am, I imagine, and I seem to recall a couple of dreams that built in intensity and I somehow wound up observing an old time western gunfight. Now, I wasn’t involved in this gunfight other than as an observer, but I do remember being chosen by one group of participants. No one seemed to be a very good shot.
Well, one of the individuals closest to me apparently heard me and looked over where I was hiding and crept over some rocks to investigate. Realizing my error, I crept down below where I had been observing all of this action and tried to hide under cover of a slight overhang.
Well, the overhang wasn’t OVERHUNG enough, and the bad guy spotted me. I saw him light a stick of dynamite and drop it down next to where I was seated. I remember seeing the stick, the fuse, and seeing and hearing that little sizzle on the end of said fuse. I reached for it, but for some reason, while being right in front of me, there seemed to be an invisible shield in front of it and I couldn’t grab it to throw it back up at the bad guy.
Of course, not wanting to die, I turned and jumped away from it.
This is not something one wants to do when on the top bunk–YOU GOT IT. I DOVE off the bunk at 3:40 a.m., hitting my head on the sharp edge of my high-back chair, slamming my knee on the metal edge of my cellie’s bunk, scaring the hell out of Stan, waking us both up , and bleeding profusely from a 2-inch gash just above my right temple.
“Holy shit! Are you all right?” Stan said.
Stan could see in the light seeping through the window and when I say, “I think so”, he says “The HELL you are! You’re bleeding like a stuck pig out of the side of your head!”
I reach up and verify that, yes, this is true. There is a towel of mine hanging on a hook next to the bunk and I grab it and apply it to the side of my head, but blood has already gotten all over my shirt and the floor.
Bear in mind that this is not a hotel, a hostel, or a boarding house. There are no phones in the “rooms”, the door is locked, there is no panic alarm or intercom. There is one C.O. working and his office is on the floor below us, so Stan bangs on the door and hollers while I tell him not to wake everybody up.
It took about 40 minutes to get his attention, in which time I had gotten the floor cleaned up, stopped the blood flow, and Stan had found a butterfly bandage in his locker that he put on and seemed to be working–he insisted I needed stiches.
An early food service worker passed by and Stan got his attention to get the C.O. who came a few moments later.
Although the bloody shirt and towel spoke otherwise, the wound itself was pretty well covered and not leaking at the time of his arrival, so the C.O. and the lieutenant on duty decided I could wait until sick call at 6:30–two more hours.
I finally got stitched up (about 6) and received medicine.
I’m not sure if this was irony or divine intervention, but you may recall me making a comment about a sinus infection in a previous entry. I had received a physical exam on the previous Friday, and I didn’t mention it, because it was uneventful. It consisted of me weighing myself and taking my own blood-pressure and pulse and giving the numbers to the PA who entered them into a computer along wit the answers to a series of questions. There was nothing physically examined, although I did mention my sinus infection complete with its requisite greenish discharge and was told, “Welcome to Louisiana”. I had hoped to get antibiotics for it, but that didn’t happen…
Apparently you cannot enter prison in anything but good physical condition. My infection was unaware of this rule and, infections being what they are, was not improving.
The antibiotics I received to ward off infection in my head wound did clear it up, however. So was it irony or did God pick me up and throw me on the floor so I could receive the help needed?
Thank you, God, for the irony OR the intervention. I feel much better now, and I have received my first (and only, I hope) prison scar.
I did rotate on my bunk 180 degrees and now sleep with my head to the North…it seems to have helped.
(Note from Anthony: my dad always has a tendency to ramble, hahaha. Take everything in little chunks. I find this all quite entertaining, to be quite honest!)