It was a Saturday night, generally a high point of the week in Huber cell. The nightly spades game had broken up and everyone was settling into their bunks. There was less than the usual tension, as no one had to get up early for work the next day. NO ONE got out on Sunday, unless it was to wash cop cars.

I lay on my bunk, lacing my fingers behind my head, listening while Insane Blaine held court. I’d been in long enough to rate one of the prime spots on Huber block – bottom bunk in the far back corner of the cell. Insane sat on the bunk opposite me, and a couple of the younger guys were gathered around.

“Black girls love me,” Blaine explained. “You know why? ‘Cause black guys don’t eat pussy; I do! Man, I aten so much black poontang! I lived with this one bitch in Cabrini Green . . .”

“You didn’t live in no Cabrini Green, Blaine!” someone said.

“Yes I fuckin’ did! I lived there six months. They had to sneak my ass in and out though, or the brothers woulda killed me.” Blaine laughed in a moronical/maniacal way.  “But I had this bitch there that sprayed like a fucking cat, man. She just sprayed jets!” He made a wet hissing sound through his teeth. His audience was much encouraged. “Yeah, so one time I decided, I’m gonna take that shit. I’m gonna swallow it.”


Insane Blaine laughed – morinical, maniacal. Blaine’s right eye had a permanent squint, giving him the look of perpetual strained concentration. He was small in stature and slight of build, but wiry with prison muscles. He wore his hair buzzed down to a rough, orange stubble and kept a long goatee. His county-issued stripes did not conceal a crudely-drawn swastika tattoo on his left bicep.

“So I’m goin’ to town on her, lalalalalalalalalala . . .” Insane tongues out a crude pantomime. “And she’s going, ‘ooh, ooh, baby, baby.” This in a high-pitched girl’s voice.  “She’s about to blow! So I get ready . . .” Blaine stretches open his jaw and gets into a squat, like a kid about to get it from a fire hose. “So I take it: schlurrrrp!” Blaine puffs up his cheeks and bulges out his eyes. The anticipation amongst his audience is palpable . . . Then, with a loud splooshing sound, Blaine ejects his imaginary store of female ejaculate. “Man, I just couldn’t do it. Shit tasted like spoilt milk.” Blaine shook his head at the memory of it.

Blaine’s audience dispersed, settled in to their beds with strange ghetto visions dancing in their heads. I went back to reading a book – or trying to. Perhaps the only drawback to the bunk in the far corner was that it received a minimum of the dim glow afforded by the emergency lights that saved the cell from total darkness after 10 pm. I had to hold the book at just the right angle to catch enough light by which to make out the words on the page. I kept up the noble struggle for an hour or so, and finally put the book down, pleasurably exhausted. I lay in the semi-darkness, listening to the ambient tapestry of the jailhouse: light snoring, rueful muttering and careless farts. It was familiar by now, and thus, comforting, not at all unpleasant. After all, if the rustic man can grow fond of the retarded chirping of frogs and crickets . . .

The somnolent din was soon disturbed by a commotion coming from a bunk up front, near the cell door. This was Russell. Russell was a newcomer to Napawaupee County, but a veteran of jails all across the country. He arrived with a litany of physical ailments: arthritic knees, a bad back, a balky liver and about half the length of intestine he’d started life with, to name a few.

It was Russell’s guts what got him up this time. He whipped off his covers with a frustrated motion. He swung his legs off the cot and rested his elbows on his knees, cradling his head. He sat there for a while like that, forlorn.

With a heavy sigh, Russell climbed out of bed and padded off toward the bathroom, his jailhouse slippers tap-tap-tapping the tile floor.

The bathroom in Huber cell was the manifestation of all your pissy-pants kindergarten fears: cold, cavernous, all painted cinderblock and ceramic tile, no doors on the shitters. You can imagine what the acoustics were like in a room like that . . .

Russell no sooner sat down than his bowels erupted in a rude symphony of flatulence. Every gurgle, every fart, every depth charge and anguished groan resounded and rebounded off the walls of the shit-smelling echo chamber, serenading the whole cell. “Jesus Christ, Russell . . . you blowin’ it up in there?” someone called.

“Blow ‘em up!” someone else answered.

There came a helpless giggling from one of my neighbors. This was LJ, a kid not much older than me who was in on a drug thing. LJ had prison in his future and so was constantly in the process of steeling himself. He usually didn’t talk to me. “He’d better not shit out the rest of them intestines,” he said now, in between giggles.

I was much encouraged – more by LJ’s confidence than by the prospect of poor Russell shitting out the remainder of his guts. “He’ll just have to suck ‘em back up like spaghetti,” I offered hopefully. “Schlurrrrp!”

LJ laughed convulsively, shaking his bunk and the one below him. I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks and poor Russell carried on with the gastral devastation and vile lament. Jail was nice sometimes.




Ted is a graduate of Algoma High School, class of ’97. His books are available at: joylesshousepublishing.com 

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