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Day 18

Monday, Febuary 21, 2000

Another day, another dollar. Four AM came mighty earky this morning. Breakfast was an incarsaration classic - grits, turkey-bologna, two pieced of less than fresh white bread, a little packet of jelly, and some just-add-water eggs. I swear I think this place has ruined breakfast for me altogether. All I had was the coffee, and it was a barely warm. Any warmer and I might use it as a weapon.

At 6:15, we walked down to the locker room to change into our street clothes. I heard a vaguely familiar voice from behind me, "Damn! I heard yo'ass sawin' logs last night, I said 'I KNOW that's got to be that big long haired motherfucker!'" I turned around and it was Mookie, one of the guys I shared a cell with the first few days I was in. Mookie had just been approved for work release and had gotten in late the night before. He had spent the past two weeks since I had seen him in another jail across the street. We spoke as we got dressed and it was strange how I actually gave a shit to see him again. We hardly spoke when we were locked up together before. I guess a familiar face is a familiar face in here. We were lwt out the same time, and I showed him the shortcut over the railroad tracks and through the parking lot of Sam's Wholesale Club to the main road where his ride was waiting.

I walked on to Waffle House. As I arived, Dave was leaving, his boss had just pulled up to take him to work. I sat and ordered a coffee and waited. It was 7:45. I knew Lee wouldn't be there for some time, so I pulled my Walkman out of my bag and tuned to the Bob and Tom show. I sat listening, laughing out loud once in a while, and looking out over the intersection in front of me. Mext door there's a busy Amoco station. Several men were standing near the air pump, waiting for their ride to work. With tattered and torn pants and sweatshirts, coveren in either paint or some material, I assumed these men were part of some kind of construction crew. they stood, smoking, laughing, talking, drinking coffee from their styrofoam cups, and smoking...

"Damn," I thought to myself, glancing at the silver ashtray lying upside down on the table in front of me, "I'd walk a mile for a Camel."

Eighteen days. Eighteen days I've gone without a cigarette. I hear my fellow inmates talking all the time about smoking. At work I see co-workers taking extra breaks to run down the hall to the smoke room real quick. There are several people I used to talk to every day that I haven't seen in weeks because I only used to see them in the smoker's break room. I haven't wanted a cigarette in eighteen days.

"Fuck walking a mile. All I have to do is walk across this parking lot."

"One of those guys will give me a light."

"I can come back here and smoke right here where it's warm."

"I could only smoke ONE..."

Finally, I put the thought out of my head. I've gone this long, I can go another day. Just ONE more day. ONE day at a time.

Lee picked me up shortly after 8 AM. Traffic wasn't too bad. Maybe because it's President's Day. God Bless America.

Work was work. I spoke with my dad on the phone. He's starting to suspect something's up. He and Mom can never reach me at home in the evenings, but know I'm in my office during the day. I seem to be at work Monday through Friday, because I call from there, but i'm never home on the weekends. He swears I'm never at home, yet I answer my e-mail from my home address. He can't quite put his finger on it, but he KNOWS something is strange.

I hate lying to him, really I do, bit after years and years of being a fuck up, I am glad to have finally made him proud by settling down, getting a good job, studying for a degree in computer science, and giving him not one, but TWO beautiful granddaughters. He's finally prud of me. If he knew I ws in jail, it would all be gone. All I've done and how far I've come would br for naught in his eyes, because here I am, in jail, just like he said I'd be when I was running the roads every night hanging out with my friends when I wore a younger man's shoes. I have been trying to make him proud for years. Years before I had any kids, years before I even MET my wife. If he knew, all that pride would be gone, and I'd see that look of disappointment in his eyes again, and that would hurt me just as badly as it does to be away from my wife and kids. If he finds out, he finds out. But there's no way in hell I'M going to be the one to tell him.

Dad and mom looked at that house I spoke of earlier. They both seemed to like it, but said it was a bit overpriced.They're asking $104,900.00. Dad thinks I should offer about $98,000 then settle for $100,000. That is, IF we decide we like it when we see it. Dad's still looking for more houses for us. I can tell he'sexcited to see us move back home. He and Mom both miss my two year old terribly, and have only seen my newborn twice.

I never found out anything about working the KISS concert or about what happened to Hall. I forgot to take Hall's work information with me to work, so I couldn't call about him. I tried to call my old boss back about the show, but I kept getting his voice mail. He is a bitch to try and get a hold of.

I was going to keep calling him until I got off work, then leave him a voice mail. About ten minutes before I was supposed to leave, my wife called and said she was in the parking lot to pick me up. I told her I'd come out and let her in since I had some things to finish up. I had already uploaded my journal entried from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and I needed to add the links to the main index page. I waited a minute to give her time to get to the door, then I walked toward the door.

I went down the hall, past the water fountain, through the breezeway, and turned the corner to the long hallway leading to the glass door going outside. I glanced to the door expecting to see my 5-foot 2-inch wife. Instead someone's little kid was there, about 2-foot 5. It made me miss my little girl, whom I hadn't seen in over a week. The kid stood looking inside the door where I was, and peered up into my eyes. As I approached, she started jumping and shaking in jubilation. A tear came to my eye as a grin shot across my face. I knew this little kid.

It was my sweet Melissa.

Without wasting a second to think, I ran to the door and took her into my arms. I spun her around as she yelled, "Daddy! Daddy!" From behind the wind-breaker wall stepped my wife, smiling. She knew how much this surprise visit would mean to the both of us. She had pulled one over on us, although my daughter had recognised my office building when they pulled in the parking lot. She's DAMN smart for a two year old.

For the longest time I held my daughter, getting hug after hug, looking into her beautiful little eyes, her broad innocent smile. She's more than the love of my life.

She IS my love. She IS my life.

I went back inside, showing her off to Lee, Danny and Rob. They all know how much I've missed my darling little girl. She made them all laugh, being silly like her daddy, and much to my wife's chagrin, she looked at Danny and called him "numnuts." We all had a good laugh. I know its awful, but there are worse things she could be saying, and actually, "numbnuts" was an accident. She was trying to say his last name, "Czulewicz" (Shuh-LEH-vits). It came out sounding more like "numbnuts", and then she heard us saying what it sounded like, so that's how she says it now. Danny Numbnuts. If you knew him, you might say she's right.

I clocked out and we left. For the next hour I played with her, tickled her, sang to her, and played "hide Pooh Bear" as we rode back to the jail.

I gave my wife and daughter kisses and hugs and reluctantly waked up the stairs toward the jail entrance. My daughter's little head stretched around to keep me in sight as they drove away.

With my hand still waving goodbye, I felt my smile slip away as they drove up the hill and out of sight.

As I walked back in the the doors slammed shut behind me, I realized how much I hate this place. How much I hate this place and long to be home.

Home, where I belong.

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