As soon as the judge told me he would be giving me the mid-guidelines to my sentence my heart dropped. My years of drifting through the system were over. I wasn't surprised. I wasn't grief-stricken. I was fucking pissed. They can't do this to me! I'm too fucking slick. Since the mid-nineties I'd been skating by with county jail time. I'll tell you, there is such a thing as too late. It's just that we don't realize it until we've been hit on the head with it. It's a common fucking theme; I'm pretty sure it's the premise of Tolstoy's War and Peace, but to be honest I've always lied about reading the whole thing. I've been a closet Dostoyevsky fan since I came out of the womb.
So, thirty months. Not the end of the world. With 333 days time credited it adds up to about a year and a half to do. The time isn't so much the issue as the fact that I'm going to fucking prison. All my life, (since I was 14 anyways) I had been looking forward to prison. Acting hard in the softest county jail in the fucking world, Livingston County Jail. I used to think, and to a certain degree I still do, old paradigms die long, painful deaths, that being a tough guy was all you needed. I thought the person who came up with the adage "It is better to be respected than it is to be feared"- I think it was Yosemite Sam - had never been feared. To be feared is a respect that few ever accomplish. Ask America, she knows. It's a proud, glistening wet thing, and it feels like a large constrictor snake. It was the pinnacle of my night to be drinking and hear a story told to me about how "bad ass" Ryan Martin was and the person telling me the story having no idea I was him. I know it sounds egotistical, shit it is, but I had enough false modesty to 'aw shucks' the fuck out of it, and That, my friends, will pull some serious tail.
Well, now I'm in a place where 80% of the people here had the same idea. Let me tell you, of those 80%, 65% of them are cold-blooded killers. That I ever thought I was mean is just so much peacock feathers. There's an old saying, - "All roosters are chickens, but most men are hens."
I got in a van with a certain amount of trepidation on December 7th, 2011 headed to Jackson State Prison. If you're not from Michigan, Jackson might not ring any bells, but if you do happen to be from the mitten it's Dante's 7th ring of Hell which, if my memory serves, is for the treacherous. All that modestly bundled up in a tight little package. Fuck. It's an old prison and the majority of it has been closed down as it is too expensive to run. If you have Google Earth, look it up if the system will let you. Of all those walls, only one is operating, and that's as a quarantine before you're shipped off to one of the many prisons Michigan boasts. The first thing you see coming off the expressway is a wall. I'm talking about a fucking WALL. I'm not sure on the stats, but I'm gonna say it's between ridiculous and retarded tall. the only thing that takes your attention away from this wall is the razor wire and the small cemetery just in front of the fence. they're small, ancient looking tomb stones as crooked and random as barroom teeth. It's the most depressing thing I think I have ever seen. I once watched some videos on the internet of some children being blown up in some sandy country and it wasn't half as sad as this small grave yard. These men died in what was once one of the most violent few acres of Michigan. This thought wasn't the worst of it, they died imprisoned. The children in those videos probably had breakfast with their families that morning. they probably pulled their sisters' hair or broke a barbie doll. There was a semblance of freedom there that even in a dictator-run third world country made it a death with meaning. The men in that cemetery were told how to move and when to move every minute of every day. And in between these demands they were wearing armor made out of semen-stained nudie magazines so the handmade knife didn't hit a vital organ, or trying to not become what is the majority of most mens fear, a woman. These men had to tuck any feeling of fear and compassion between their legs like a transvestite ready for the town. They had to be something that they weren't to keep the people that they hate at bay. And they lost. They died and were buried and were forgotten. It wasn't a warrior's funeral, and it should have been. I watched this cemetery go by and it dawned on me - sometimes you don't leave prison. There are no grave yards outside county jails.
We pulled in to the gates and the walls were so high you couldn't see tops through the windows in the transport van. Every man with me had on a mask of indifference, myself included, but we all had to have had the same thing on our minds. "WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?"