DOG DAYS OF PRISON

Today was a Sneaker day. We couldn’t go to the gym/library and spent most of out time locked in our cells. I am not sure what was going on to cause it as they didn’t consult me or other inmates.
To say that things are tough would be an understatement. Some days are better than others, but all a dull gray. Weaning off the meds doesn’t seem to help my mood as I thought it would. Father Domido, whose visits have diminished, says the only thing that will sustain me is Jesus living in me through the Holy Spirit. Right now I do not know anyone who would want to live in or near me. I don’t even want to. How could He forgive me and accept me after all I have done and the wreckage I have caused to so many?
Yet life goes on, even in here. Count, breakfast (or some facsimile thereof), cleaning, another count, lunch (ditto) maybe rec and library time, still another count, dinner (more of the same) then rec and bed with yet another count thrown in there. Hey, they wouldn’t want any of us getting out through double locked doors, through locked hallways and outer doors and over the high walls with wire on them would they? Some days it is different, broken up by counselor or priest visits or a call out but I cannot recall details of when. I don’t really care. That old darkness of ending it all still looms over me. Then I think of my kids and that is replaced by further sadness and shame, most of which I have to hide from others around me so as not to be taken advantage of by the vultures in here. Any weakness shown is like blood in the waters around sharks, so either act tough or like nothing is bothering you.
Phone time, if I can manage to get to one and actually catch my wife and have her press 3, (to accept the call) is another challenge. With about 30 guys in here for two phones I get maybe one try per night if lucky. I try to remember when she said she would be available but it is foggy in my mind, clouded also by the fact I want to talk with her all the time. That is odd too because I wasn’t much good at talking before I imploded and much of the time I am crying and telling her how sorry I am and asking her to forgive me. It must seem like a broken record for her. I really do not have anyone else to talk to. Father says pray and talk to God, but I think He is too busy for the likes of me right now.
I don’t remember who suggested it, my counselor I think, that we set up a word or phrase that would tell those I call how I was doing since we don’t really want to broadcast it to the inmate population – as if they didn’t know when they see and hear a sniveling old guy banging the wall and wailing into the receiver. A phone booth would help but these phones are just stuck here on the concrete wall.
So my wife and I came up with code words, not like we are hiding anything or spies. After all, the calls are all monitored and even recorded so I am sure the Gestapo has already figured it out. We use dog names to tell of my moods. Sneaker, our old Golden Retriever who was aptly named because he ‘sneaked around’ as the kids used to say, became code word for a bad day. Yogi, our present Golden, who by the way is my best dog ever and I miss terribly, is used for good days, or at least tolerable ones. It goes without saying that there have been more Sneaker days than Yogi days. Even our best day in here is worst than anyone’s bad day out there.
I’m not really sure why we play this charade or if it is even healthy. Hiding my feelings and pretending it is a Yogi day when it really isn’t doesn’t seem right. I know why I was cautioned to do it, because of those inmates around me who will ask for everything and anything that we have, which isn’t much because we are in prison! That doesn’t seem to hold them back even when I am on the phone. “Hey, ask your old lady to ……” or “can you get…” or some such. Money, phone calls, letters information are just some of the things requested. Or they’ll sidle up and feign concern only to later ask something of you especially if my commissary buy is coming up.
Of course mentioning my dogs name sets me off in a way too. Sneaker is dead, buried in our acreage behind the house. But he was a good dog and fun. Then we got Yogi Bear, aptly named because he was roly poly like a baby bear who became my prize even though the kids were supposed to care for him. My daughter did some, especially when she dressed him up in people clothes and took pictures. I trained him in sign language and to run along side of me on the bike so he would get enough exercise. All the people in our small town knew Yogi as I took him with me all over. The Post Office workers, who would feed him treats when we visited, caused him to wander down there sometimes on his own if left loose for too long and I was not around. Right now I hear Yogi isn’t doing well since I left, kind of mopey like his master I guess. So bringing up their names just as when my kids names are mentions can adversely affect me as well.
I know I must deal with all of this and I guess I am as I am still here. Yep, still here and rotting away on the inside having Sneaker days.

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