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Day 17

Sunday, Febuary 20, 2000

I had a good night's sleep, although it got a bit chilly. After the fun filled 4:00 AM breakfast, I though we were going to have a very interesting morning.

Yesterday they moved this new guy into the cell. He's about 6'5",and easily 300 pounds. he looks big and strong as an OX, which is why I'll affectionately call him, "Ox." He talks a lot of shit and came in like he owns the damn place, and that's exactly what he wants us to know.

At breakfast, some of the guys were talking about the race. After all, the Daytona 500 is supposed to be like the Super Bowl of NASCAR. This is the seventeenth day I've been locked up anf this is the first time I've ever seen any racial separation among the population of the inmates. It seems the Daytona 500 starts at 11:30 AM, and the Lakers play the 76ers at noon. I thought heads were going to roll. Ox was thr first to speak out.

"You motherfuckers just keep on thinkin' you gonna watch that race. We'll be watching that basketball game and you can fuckin' FORGET your damn race!"

"Bullshit, BITCH!" said one of the good ol' boys. Ox turned and shot him a glance like a bull stares at a troubadour. This spawned an exchange of heated cussing, and a lot of threats, but no violence, and no racial slurs, which I thought was a miracle. Basically, both sides ended with, "We'll see, motherfucker, we'll see."

Eleven O'Clock came and about twenty or so guys sat around the TV as the pre-race interviews wound down to race time. At around 11;30, the green flag waved and the race was on. Fifteen minutes later, lunch was served. The guard, a black guy, was sympathetic to the pleas to leave the race on during lunch. Many of the black guys got pissed, and started making racist remarks to the guard, who while black, was a lighter skin tone than many of the inmates wanting to see the basketball game. This pissed off the guard, who threw one in the hole (an isolation cell for bad boys) and told the rest the basketball game would NOT be shown because of their attitude.

Ox and the basketball enthusiasts bitched like a bunck of little kids. It was a temper-tantrum enhanced with vulgarity. Eventually, the guards made a compromise. Race fans from the dorm next door were allowed to come over and watch the race with us, and the basketball fans from our side were allowed to go next door and watch the game. This seemed to make everyone happy. No I could concentrate on the race numbers.

My best hope was Jeff Gordon, who quiclky had an oil leak and fell four laps behind putting him well out of the running for a win. Terry Labonte never made it close enough to the front of the pack to be a contender. Steve Park kept overheating and spilling steam and water from his radiator overflow. I didn't even know where my other driver was.

Then with 25 laps to go, a caution flag came out. Everyone hit the pit. Some drivers for gas and four tires, but a few only got two tires to save time. One of those drivers was number 10, Johnny Benson. My fourth driver. As he came out of the pit, he was in first place. I couldn't believe it. I guess it was kind of fitting he was my car, because his sponsor is, and I was the only one in the room who had a clue what that was. Anyway, after leading until four laps remaining, he fell behind Dale Jarett, then ten others to finish 12th. At this point, I just went ahead and found out what locker to drop my five bucks in.

And now for a bit of disturbing news. My downstairs neighbor, Dave (the guy in the bunk below mine), informed me thatlate last night, around three in the morning, one of the less popular guards crept into the dorm and woke Dave. He was asking for the location of Hall's tub of belongings. Hall is the long haired guy who left feeling bad last night after dinner. The guard didn't give any details, didn't have any expression, just came and got Hall's stuff and left. Later this evening we heard a rumor that someone had a heart attack. Then we heard a rumor that someone died. Dave and I are starting to worry about him. Hall was on nitroglycerine medication for his heart. Regardless, it has become obvious that he isn't coming back.

We looked at some of the stuff the guard left behind. Hall was gone and they would be putting someone new in his bunk soon. They had left his shower shoes, laundry bag, and some of his hygenic items. Knowing these items would be discarded when the new inmate arrived, Dave and I raided his stuff like vultures. Dave took his deoderant, I took his shower shoes and shampoo and conditioner. I felt guilty taking his stuff like this, but He and I had conversed the other day about how the jail shampoo sucked for those of us with long hair. He offered to let me use his shampoo and conditioner since I only had the standard issue jail shampoo. Now I guess I will.

Being the sneaky person I can be, I got a guard to let me look at the Work Release Shceduling book. Knowing my schedule by heart, I turned sraight to Hall. I jotted down his employer's name and phone number, as well as the name of his supervisor. I hoped to call the guy and see if the jail had given any reason for Hall not returning to work. Although I didn'teven know Hall's first name until I looked at the schedule, I feel a deep concern for him. We're all strangers here, but we're all in this together nonetheless. You may not like your cellmates, they may not like you, but there's some strange bond of being on the same side, so to speak. It's weird. For whatever reason, I'm worried about Hall.

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