This is it . . .
The door closes in the sound of a terrible echo that slams shut down a long hollow corridor. This is the sound of justice ending its sentence with the painful sound of an exclamation point.
On the left side of the hallway is a tall concrete wall that reaches up to a series of frosted windows along the length of the hallway at ceiling height. The unclear windows are partially opened and tilted slightly outward. They open slightly but not enough to see the sky or taste the presence of fresh air.
On the right side of the hallway is a long line of steel cages with caged doors that run from the beginning to the end of the corridor. At the entryway of this corridor is a sign, which is hung just above the door as a warning to the officers at the holding facility.
The sign is on a white sheet of paper in black lettering with a picture of a revolver drawn in blank ink.
Next to the pistol on the sign read the words, “NO GUNS BEYOND THIS POINT,” to prevent an inmate from reaching through the bars, grabbing the firearm, and creating an ugly form of violent retribution.
This is it . . . .
Once the caged door shuts the sound of steel latches into steel and keys jingle in the hands of a guard looking through disdainful eyes at the prisoner behind bars. The guard snarls with a sense or perverse satisfaction and then walks towards the exit at the beginning of the hallway.
This is it. This is the place.
The room is small and the smell from neighboring men in other cells is less than kind. A loud drunk howls about his innocence while another drunk howls his vomit into the face of a stainless steel toilet.
There is little to see in this room. There is a wooden bench on the right side that faces the empty wall on the left. The silence here is painful because it amplifies the excruciating seconds of a clock that moves far too slowly.
The noise in this place is equally painful. Either the sounds come from the clapping of hard-heeled shoes on guards walking the hall, or it comes from the sound of cries from convicted men that filter through the stagnant air.
The sounds come from frightened inmates. It comes from the comfortable ones that have run through the system before. They are the seasoned ones. They are the veterans of this facility that have taken this trip and received a dry bologna sandwich on white bread with a small pint of warm milk that comes to them beneath the courthouse after arraignment.
The cages here are filled with socially refused, as well as the thieves, the drunken DWI convicts, and the suit and tie chippie, or weekend habit junkies who were popped late on the corner while trying to cop their fix.
The cages are filled with violent and faithless men. To some this is only the entryway to a next step before fitting into an orange jumpsuit.
To some, this is the quiet before the storm. This is only a moment before the consequences. This is before the judge sits on a stand in a suit and tie with a black robe and sneers while looking down at the defendant.
To some this is only the beginning of an unknown journey. This is the starting point to a long bid where life is limited and freedom is restricted to one’s ability or inability to dream. And to some, this is just another day in the life.
This is the place where a pit of lies and excuses burned every bridge that lit the way to this very point.
This is a place of predators and predatory victims who prey on the weaker in a succession of events. Bullies become bullied and on it goes in the dynamic of a brutal food chain, in which there will always be sharks and there will always be guppies.
This is it . . .
There is no air in this room that has not been re-manufactured or processed. There is no natural source of light and any source of brightness has become man-made or synthetic. There is only the dimness in the cell and the humming of fluorescent bulbs that run along the ceiling in the corridor.
The air too has been altered and re-manufactured. There is nothing fresh about this place. It is dismal and damp. It is lonely and moreover it is the combination of consequences that led up to this event.
Hands grasp the bars of the caged doors to test the strength of steel, which, inevitably presides in strength as well as punitive discipline. There is no beating or bending the bars in the cage. There is no breaking the concrete or pulverizing the steel doors that segregate the inmate from freedom and society.
There is nothing here but the truth of crime and the institutionalized members of a fallen society. There is nothing here but void and absent years of stagnant life and stagnant death.
Locked in the room with time to face, there is no one else to deflect upon. There is nothing but the unending minutes of regret. Meanwhile, the rest of the world lives free and clear from you and your silly tragedies.
And there’s no one around. All else is abandoned; loved ones, and friends have all gone their separate ways. No one knows—and no one understands. No one sees the blood trickle and no one else feels the pain. And no one “Gets it.” They only say they do. They couldn’t get it because they did, they would be in the same place, living the same lifeless life, and washing away like waste water down the toilet.
This is it. This is the cell that leads to the lifelong cell.
This is also a perfect metaphor for addiction, alcoholism, depression and mental illness.
Either way, we all have to find a way to satisfy our time and please the warden. And whether we serve literal time or in a figurative way, it often takes lifetimes to realize that is us who hold the keys to our freedom.
It’s all on you
It always has been
and it always will be.