Prison 101:15

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…


I was in the mess hall with a work crew one day. I had been working with this crew for a couple of years. The way the movement worked in this prison, the work crews were fed after population, or pop as we called it.

What it amounted to for us, was that we sat for quite a while, while the mess hall emptied out, so our C.O.’s could come and pick us up.  In a Max inmates don’t move unescorted. No officer, you sit and wait. In a medium you go everywhere on your own. Sitting and waiting on your officer in a max mess hall you ended up seeing a lot of the crazy stuff that goes on.  After all you’re stuck there, there isn’t much to do but watch.

While we’re sitting there, I watched this kid keep getting into a beef with an older guy. The older guy would nod his head patiently, and walk away from the kid, but the kid would chase him down, and start the shit all over again. The old guy put up with that for a good fifteen minutes, before he turned to the kid and warned him off.

The four of us on the work crew, sat and wondered what might happen next. But the kid walked away, and the old guy went back to working. I just made up my mind to watch something else to pass my time, when the kid came back from the kitchen and threw a punch at the old guy. The old guy backed up, pulled a pen from his pocket and stabbed the kid in the eye with it. The mess hall was locked down for the next four hours and we were stuck there sitting at a table by ourselves for most of that time.

Another time, a bad one, I was sitting in the mess hall with the Carpentry shop crew. And two men got into an argument. The argument went back and forth several times, the one guy would run his mouth to the other, and the other would say some slick shit back. Eventually the mess hall emptied out and it was just four of us waiting to get picked up.

At that point the mess hall workers come out and mop, pick things up, clean tables, so it isn’t unusual for them to be walking around.

So the one kid comes back carrying an aluminum tray in his hands. He says nothing as he walks up behind the guy. The guy senses him and begins to turn. The kid takes the tray and slams it into his eyes. Blood went everywhere. They had to call in a specially trained Bio Hazzard crew to clean up. The state police showed up. Markers were set by every blood drop and photographed. We sat there through the whole thing.

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Prison 101:11

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

In prison I understood the drugs. I knew speed had me from the first day I ever tried it. I started at about 11. When I was on the streets I switched to methamphetamine, easier to get even back then. It almost killed me twice, I mean like blood pressure over 220, stroked out, but I could not quit. I finally managed to stop. I watched my son being born and that floored me. I watched my cousin Mike continue on with Cocaine and die in his sleep, massive heart attack at twenty-six. I had another friend I saw check out from that same drug with a heart attack in his early thirties. Bad stuff, all of it, and I cannot tell you why it didn’t get me back then, why it took so long. But because I understood it, I saw the draw. I could see how these guys came to prison with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, and how they could be unable to stop those addictions even though they knew it would probably kill them. Too bad it didn’t also convince me to stop drinking, but there was still time left on that train wreck

In prison I was always the guy that had to stand up to the bullies. You would think from watching prison movies that all the guys in prison are bad asses. Nope. Most are bullies that had it made outside of prison, but they can’t run the same game there. That’s because in prison there is always someone who will yank their chain. Out in the world they might intimidate someone, but inside the guy will say, “Let’s go then. Right now.” And then the game is up. Many times I ended up being the guy that had to yank that guy’s chain. I hated it because, although I have skills, I am not superman. My ass can be kicked, and that could have cost me more time, and it could also lead to violence, and violence doesn’t solve violence. But the other part of me, the part that was ashamed of the way I used to be and hated bullies just could not pass it up.

The biggest scam was extortion. A big guy comes along and tells a kid, ‘Look, when you go to commissary next time you are going to pick this list of shit up for me, if you don’t I am going to fuck you up so bad you may not ever make it home.’

The kid could tell a C.O., or drop a slip as we used to say. If he did either, the most that would happen would be that he would get placed into P.C., but P.C. Is not a safe place. It is just as easy for someone to get to someone in P.C. as it is in Pop. Or the C.O. may tell him flat out, ‘Deal with it. I don’t care.’ So really, unless you have a bigger guy you can send to have a conversation with that bully, you better be getting his list of shit when you next go to commissary.

Jesus. I used to watch those kids write those letters. Their family, sister/mom/brother/aunt is barely making it outside and they are asking them for top of the line sneakers and cartons of cigarettes. Wow. I could not believe it, but that is the mentality there. It’s the extreme of what men inside put their families through, not the least of which is writing for cigarettes, boots, sneakers and anything else they think they can talk their grandmother on social security into, so they can pay off those guys that are extorting them. It makes you want to smack the shit out of guys like that.

Smacking the shit out of someone really doesn’t do any more than say I can do that to you and you have to take it. It makes the person worse, not better. So I used to step in, but I policed myself. Stuck to my guns. Never overstepped the boundaries I myself set. There were a few times that I stepped into an extortion that some guy was doing and shut them down. I cannot tell you how many times guys told me someone would kill me eventually, but that’s just another bully tactic. No one ever got me. I walked out the door in one piece, and I was glad I stepped into situations and stopped those situations. It made me feel better about me.

I was tempted to get a tattoo a few times in prison, but I knew two different guys that nearly died from Hep. On top of that I taught and played guitar in prison and those guys would buy my bottom strings to cut up into needles for their home made tat guns (Made from cassette players) I knew how long those guys used those needles, and how clean they were, too long, and not very, so I took a pass even though I saw some really good artists.

I did see guys do tattoo work in prison who were very careful, and other guys that were very sloppy. I saw guys in prison eat from the same bowl as their friends. By that I mean they make food in bowls, rice dishes usually, cooked on top of the radiators, then they get two or three forks and they all eat directly from the bowl together. It used to freak me out because of AIDS and HEP and TB, and I would see guys eat after guys who had those things. It just made no sense to me. So dirty needles for tattoos were not the only thing to be concerned about. Prison is like one huge infectious nightmare. You have to be careful, and tattoos are just one small part of that care.

There was a guy who had ‘Fuck You Cop’ written on his forehead. The C.O.’s hated him, but could do nothing. Every time they had to frisk him they would be staring at ‘Fuck You Cop‘. They gave him a hard time all the time. Rough in prison, and not so good when or if you go home. The guy had life so he didn’t care, and it bought him a certain amount of prison cred with some inmates and a few of the C.O.’s too. In prison lots of guys get their girls face done. Usually not good as they are rarely together long into the bid. And some prison artists are not that good. So they end up with a face that doesn’t look like their girl… Forever too.

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Prison 101:5

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

It had been part of what had pushed me to the drug overdose that had put me on the streets. That poison inside, some mine, some I carried for others, but poison is poison, it doesn’t care who it kills. My poison had been the streets where you die all the time, where some kids did die. There today, gone tomorrow. And sometimes I asked myself where they had gone to. Did they get off the streets? Did they make it out? Sure, I told myself. I knew it was bullshit, but lies were better than the truth even though the truth was what was killing you. It was like that with him. The truth was killing him, and I knew from my own life that you couldn’t do a real thing worth anything in the world until you somehow got it out of you. So I understood it.

He didn’t say much more. Cried for a long time. I prayed with him. He did get me to promise to call my lawyer and talk to him. He couldn’t bring himself to do it as he had lied to him and told him he didn’t do it. I could have told him that everyone lies to the lawyer at first. The lawyer usually hears the truth later on when things get serious, but the lawyers aren’t stupid they know. But I said nothing. Just tried my best to pray with him and reassure him.

The next day I called my lawyer and he came down to see me. I told him what the kid had told me and he took care of it. When I came back to the block he asked if I had talked to the lawyer. I nodded and that was about all there was time for. A second later the C.O. called him to the gate and he was gone. The C.O. himself came in later on and packed his stuff up.

He was immediately transferred out of the jail and I never saw him again. I did see the lawyer again of course as I worked through my own legal problems. Eventually the kid plead guilty in court and went and did his time, life.

I wanted to tell this story for a couple of reasons. First, it is very difficult to be honest when you are facing something like that. I tried not to think about the crime. It was something I had to put aside or else I would have nothing but hate for him either, and that is not what God wants from us, what God wanted from me. Second, he stuck to it. It’s one thing to come clean in a moment of absolute despair, but he stuck to it. Saw it through and then he went and did his time.

Lastly. It made an impression on me. And so when it came time for me to be honest I was able to do that too. I was able to follow through with the plans I had set into motion and then go and do my time, and I think it made me a better person. My mind is clear. It allowed me to be honest with myself. I don’t think that people should be able to walk away from those sorts of consequences. It appalled me to think that some people do, but in the life I had lived I had seen it happen very often. It was nice to say I do believe you should do the time, stick to it, and be honest for a change.

The balance of my county time slipped by very slowly. I started AA classes. Began to look at my problems with addictions. I began another class there that looked at the mental part of bad decision making. Both things propelled me down a road that would last the next ten years in prison. Both groups gave me a desire to continue with that self-examination they started.


Alcoholics Anonymous. I never dealt with addictions because I had never admitted I had one. I could not even admit I might have one. Addiction just didn’t exist for me. My use of alcohol and speed was not an addiction, or something that could be an addiction, or even lead to addiction, instead they were simply tools I needed to make it in the world. I had to have them to do a better job that was different from addiction. Addiction meant you could not function without them. I could function without them.

Here I was functioning. I was in jail, not drinking, sober, no drugs. I could do it. I hadn’t died. Yes, I had been sick for the first few weeks. So sick they had locked me in a cage, naked, all welded wire walls, so they could watch me. That’s how bad it had been, but my mind had blocked that part out. It didn’t exist when it came to evaluating myself.

That attitude lasted until the guest speakers that had been handling the AA meetings left and the actual guys who ran it came back from where ever they had been. I attended that morning and it seemed like any other morning to me at first. I didn’t know the men speaking, or at least I didn’t think I did, but they began to talk about their lives as alcoholics. How they had lived, where they had lived. It turned out they had both lived on the streets for many years, and as one told his story about sleeping in the park, I realized I did know him. I had seen him. He had described where he stayed so well that it bought that place and time right back to me instantly.

My friend who had run the methamphetamine lab was still with me that morning at that meeting. As I listened something changed in me and I really began to look at my circumstances. Really look at it, where I was, what lay ahead of me, my past, the fact that I had known one of these men from the streets: Watched them negotiating their disease, something just let go inside of me. The next thing I knew my hand was up and I was talking about my addiction, acknowledging that I had one. Admitting that I had gone so far as committing the crime that had bought me to the jail and would take me to prison. My friend freaked out. A half dozen men in the room had wanted to leave the meeting right then and call up their lawyers, make a deal with what I had said about myself. I could have cared less, besides, I had already told all of it. I was only waiting to go and plead guilty and go. They didn’t know that.

After that the process should have been easy, but when you practice lies, addiction, and are emotionally unattached to the world, there are many layers you have to get through to begin to chip away at the walls. One footstep, many to follow.


I went to prison for being a bad guy. I had a standoff with the cops that lasted for hours. I was a bad guy at that time and I deserved to go to prison, but that is not what I mean. What I mean is that there was a time where I did not hurt myself or others, where I just wanted to get along; when my philosophy was let’s not fuck each other over. Let’s not hurt each other. A time when I would and did turn the other cheek, but then I wound up in the projects, suicide, and then two years on the streets. I don’t think that, that is an excuse, but what I do think is that somewhere in there I said, this is enough. I have had enough. The next fucker that runs their mouth is done up. And the switch flipped. Too bad someone couldn’t have kicked my ass right then and said something useful like, ‘Hey, this isn’t living, it’s just killing yourself slowly!’ Something profound, something that would have made me think, but no one did, and truthfully that is once again putting it off on society. People grow up, deal with problems without help and they don’t end up where I ended up. Still, guidance is what I needed. Guidance is what most of us never had. There was no positive role model in my life at all. The role models that I did have robbed, slept around, lied, didn’t work, did drugs, drank, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t want to sound like I believe it is the world’s responsibility to help me out, it isn’t, but in another way I think society operates on the premise that we are all responsible for each other. That is the way I live now. For real. I see things clearer. I can and do understand how selfish some men can be, but again, because I made those errors, so I am seeing them in hindsight. But I also do live that way for real, so I don’t just say the words anymore, I live them. It’s not easy shutting my mouth when I should, compromising, reminding myself that this is someone I love and so I’m not going to lie to them no matter what, even if it is hard words that are coming, I’ll be honest with them. And even if this is someone I do not even know, they deserve my respect and consideration because they are another human being. We could all learn to be compassionate to others we meet in society. Too often the people that need understanding and compassion the most are simply used and used again.

In 2002 I entered a Maximum Security prison, what we simply call Max, and I thought my life was over. The bus pulled up to the prison in the late afternoon, the stone walls rose farther into the air than I could see, the gate opened and we were inside.

I met a kid my first day in Max. It was crazy in Max even though we locked down. Inmates do not go directly into Population, or Pop as we call it, when I had come in the night before I was locked down in Administrative Segregation, Admin Seg.. They lock you into these tiers of protective custody cells until you are classified because they don’t know who you are. So I’m sitting there, smoking, listening to the sounds of prison. Very bad. All the homosexuals lock there too. They try to keep them away from Pop as it’s called.

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Prison 101:3

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…


(This is from my journals and from conversations with friends. It is also prompted by questionnaires given to me by counselors of various groups I was in.

You can do your time in prison without attending these groups, they are voluntary, and with tax cuts they are becoming very hard to get. I had to fight for a few of the ones I did get.

In any case, once you are accepted into a program you have agreed to many things that you must stick to. You have to agree to be completely honest. You have to agree that everything you hear in group stays in group. You have to agree to discuss things, not refuse, lose your temper, get in arguments or fights with other group members. And believe me there are times you would like to just explode. And there are times when you are tempted to lie, just because you can’t face the truth. But your councilor has everything about you in a folder they bring with them, and they have no problem pulling it out to set the record straight.

I have seen men restrained by C.O.’s and taken to the box because they didn’t realize that telling the truth meant telling the truth, not sticking to the lie you told in court. And calling the counselor a cunt, or a bitch, or any other number of names is definitely going to get you a one way ticket to the box and at least thirty days there to think about your stupidity; and you won’t be coming back to group. No second chances.

It’s all worth it, because you are learning that you do have control over yourself. You are learning that the things in your life that are true are part of you. They are not going to change, and it’s better to talk them out, deal with them, and move past them to a different you.)


It took me going through waking up in county jail and realizing how badly things had gone, not because I knew it, but because a cop that I had been in grade school with told me what happened. I don’t know why, but every drunk or addict I have ever met or done time in AA with, or prison, has had to learn the hard way. That is how I knew that there had been women in my life that I actually had loved and who had tried really hard to work things out with me and I had just fucked it up, because it was my nature to fuck things up, to be irresponsible, to drop the ball. So I knew I had screwed things up. I knew I did not want to be that way any longer, and that was my wall I hit. Others hit a wall like that and get up and keep on fucking up. Fucking up their lives, their relationships, lovers, friends, children, everything until nothing is left. And that is why it matters who you are with, because it may be one of those people who will use you up. If you stop and tell yourself you are worthwhile, you don’t need this fucker and the bullshit they have bought into your life, you can be okay. Be able to walk away.

A friend I grew up with ended up in county jail while I was there. He had been arrested for selling methamphetamine, but the cops didn’t have enough to get him really good. They charged him, but his lawyer said they would probably drop the charges eventually. Just stay cool, don’t talk to anyone, and he would work on bail.

So they held him for a few months trying to gather more evidence. County jail is a perfect place for that. Guys will start talking about almost anything. Sometimes because they are bored, others because they are convinced they got away with whatever they did so they just have to brag about it.

So in county this kid gets friendly with my friend. I mean everything he does, the kid is right there. The kid is also in a shit load of trouble for heroin sales. Caught red handed with the product, witnesses, all of it.. He is looking at years in prison and he doesn’t want to do that kind of time. I know that because he tries to get next to me while I’m working out. He tells me that, and he asks questions about the other guys on our block, like he’s shopping for an out.

Next thing I knew he was hanging out with my friend all the time. We have recreation time, an hour a day in the gym. We have night rec., which consists of two hours out to watch TV in the common area outside of the cells. We had yard rec., which was a joke, there was no yard, so we were really in a common outside area shared by all the blocks. Asphalt, the size of a basketball court, goals on each end. An hour twice a week. Day room rec, three hours from breakfast to lunch, most days, and another three hours from after the lunch count to shift change around 4:00 pm. Where ever we were the kid was there, sliding right up next to my friend, asking questions like, “So, how do you make methamphetamine? How much does it cost to make? What do you need to make it?”

I said to my friend, I think that kid is a plant. He’s trying to get information from you that can be used against you in court. He told me I was paranoid. That couldn’t be the case. The kid just wanted to know how to make methamphetamine. He could teach him and he would make some money from the deal too. I doubted it. My argument was, how will he ever be out to do that? He’s looking at a sentence with life on the end of it, three to life, maybe five to life, or something like that. My friend says, no, he told me that his lawyer is working out bail. The case might fall apart. It’s not as solid as they said, so he needs to know how to make methamphetamine to pay the lawyer to get him off at a trial. It sounded like bullshit to me.

Sure enough, a few days later they released the kid on bail. A few days after that my friend suddenly got bail, and he went right back to manufacturing methamphetamine, the kid with him. The kid was a plant. They arrested my friend a short time later, and charged him with King Pin status so the Feds would take the case.

My friend came back a few days after the arrest, I think they had him in solitary for those first few days, and he told me the whole story. He spent the next several months trying to fight the federal charges. The Feds don’t bargain, they just tell you how much time you are going to do. He is still in Federal prison. Almost all the men I met back then are in prison. The Feds moved in on every case and took them over.

In county jail I turned to Bible Studies and God. I don’t know many men that don’t. In fact I don’t believe there were any atheists or non-believers of any kind there. Everyone believed in God, everyone, because they still believed that God would get them out of the situation they were in. I held bible studies. I got the job because both of my brother in laws and my brother were ministers. So it appeared that I must have an in with God. I got the job.

Twice a week we held studies in the small day room mess area that the cells opened onto. Steel tables, open shower stalls. Two hours a night out of the cells and that was considered recreation, whether you were watching TV or having a group bible study. The C.O.’s would watch us hard. It isn’t often when the whole block area becomes quiet, but they let us be. We were out of their hair and we were quiet.

I was in jail waiting to go to prison. There was not going to be any last minute reprieve, or some surprise witness, because I was one of the few guilty guys in the jail. I had spoken to my lawyer, spoken to my family. There was a court date several months off, but it was set. Waiting for me to do the right thing and I intended to do it. Being sober and in my right mind, I was a lifetime alcoholic, helped immensely.

Being sober was new for me. It’s not like you can’t get booze in jail, or prison, or even in a psychiatric center. You can, I know, I have been to all three places and had it offered or handed to me. I remember an AA meeting, years ago, before trouble had come around and I had chased it down. The speaker said, “Your addiction will lead you to Jails, Prisons, and even mental institutions.” I thought, bullshit. He was right though, it had simply taken a few years for me to get to all of those places.

I had been running the bible study for a few months at that point. Just a few of the guys on the block. Yes, men who have sold drugs, flesh, murdered, all take a very keen interest in religion once they’re inside. Some of it is fake, some of it isn’t. I’m no mind reader. I could never tell the fakes from the real ones. I knew that for me it was real, on my terms though. Not beating someone over the head with the bible or telling others they’ll go to Hell if they don’t get Jesus. Just a simple belief in God. There is a God. I am in trouble. I need help. So I started the Bible study and a half dozen guys came by every day while we were unlocked.

The thing about jail is there are so many kinds of people. Thieves. Killers. Rapists. Drunk drivers, parole violators, guys behind on child support. You name it. They like the public to believe that the harder types are kept away from the drunks and shoplifters. Not so. There is isolation. There is P.C. (Protective Custody). But those units are small and expensive to run. They can’t put everyone there, so they save it for the ones who are absolutely not equipped to make it. The ones that will get eaten alive in pop (General Population).

I tended to take the guys in my study under my wing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a tough guy. I don’t look for trouble, but I grew up on the streets. I lived, slept, did drugs, drank, took rides, on the streets. It was home. There was nothing else.

I had gone from the projects after my drug overdose that was nothing more than a failed suicide attempt, to live with relatives in the mountains. I loved it. I went from the mountains to the city and right to the streets, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and all the other stuff that goes with living on the streets at a young age. So jail, or even prison, tough guys, killers, it’s not something that can scare me. The place. The men. I have seen men murdered right in front of me. How can a guy in jail scare me?

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A story of addiction and recovery. From the streets, to hospitals to prison…

Prison 101:2

STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…

Twelve years ago, after years of drug and Alcohol abuse I fell down completely. Destroyed the life I had and went to prison. I am not the sort of person who believes people should get a pat on the wrist and then move on. I didn’t always believe that. I went and I did my time because I was guilty. I worked at understanding myself and my addictions. With help and insight I got those addictions under control, and eventually I came home.

I want to say a few things before we begin. I believe men and women that commit crimes should go to prison and do their time. Whether they are lawyers’ sons, Judges’ sons, or some dirt poor kid like me. I don’t hate cops. I don’t hate C.O.’s. I don’t hate the judge or the prosecutor who put me inside. I don’t hate authority, society and rules. I was just never sober or straight enough to see that clearly. Going to prison for ten years changed me. Saved me.

There are depictions, explicit depictions of drug use, street life, sexual situations, alcoholism, prison life and more. I want you to understand that I wrote these situations as they were then. I do not believe now that drugs, prostitution, alcohol, promiscuity or anything else actually does anything for the pain that is buried inside many of us. It certainly doesn’t solve it. This was a different time too. This was a time, some of it early on, when a man could beat his wife and children and it was considered his business. If the cops were called in situations like that it was because of too much noise, not because they intended to do anything to the man. So when I write it, I am writing it from that perspective alone. I am not in any way endorsing or romanticizing it.

Lastly, this is not written to please anyone. I expect it would embarrass a few people in my family, maybe a few people who once knew me and think they probably still do know me. It was not written for people that committed crimes against myself and another family member that scarred us for life, although I want them to know, although we couldn’t speak then we have now. It was written for men and women who have become trapped in addictions, street life, crime, and are looking for a way out of that existence.

I have talked to many therapists, counselors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Correction Counselors, convicted men, Correctional officers, Police officers, Doctors, Nurses, Civilian DOC employees both in and out of prison, Judges, and I listened to the things they said to me. I took the advice and help they offered to me. I didn’t do any of this on my own, and you don’t have to either.

Most of this is written in first person, but some is written in story form. Story form writing was a technique I learned that allows you to place some distance between yourself and painful events so you can gain clarity, and be able to discuss or write them out.

In AA, they say that addictions will take you to hospitals, Mental Institutions and Prisons. It’s true. They will. I have been in all of those places because of my addictions. But addictions are not responsible for the life I lead entirely, and certainly not responsible for the things I did. I may have used because I believe it solved problems, or to cover pain, but the decisions I made, I made because I wanted to make them, because I chose to make them.

I know those are hard words for some of you to hear. I have sat in groups when those words were given to me and I did not want to hear them, but the biggest part of healing, getting the poison out of you, is admitting the hard truths so you can move past them. So they do not own you any longer. So I want you to understand clearly how I feel, and what I learned about those actions.

Everything that follows actually happened. This is about my life…

Wendell (Dell) G Sweet January 28th 2014

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Conversations with my fathers

Original Material Copyright © 2015 by Dell Sweet

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Special permission is granted to copy and use this text in any word amount, or in its entirety, for study, or a study aid in any state, county or privately run facility: Including state prisons, county jails, mental institutions, drug programs, sex offender programs, AA, NA, or any program where the aim is to share experience to promote healthy change and progress in men and women.


This is not a work of fiction. Names have been withheld and changed to keep the focus on the Addiction and the Addict, not the person or persons. The story is true.

Accidentally Meeting God

It was June, maybe it was even July. I truthfully couldn’t tell you, any more than I could tell you what happened the rest of that year. It’s a blank in my mind. June or July is only a point of light in my mind because I heard about it, not because I lived it, but because I was told about it. That is, all but the one part of it. The absolute memory that I’m sure of from that day. But the details… The rest of the year… I have no clue.

It was June or July. My brother was supposed to go to the fair with his friend Star, but he had instead taken off with my sister. I never knew why, and I’ve never been curious enough to find out either.

It was June or July. I was in the front yard lining up some Matchbox cars, running them around the base of one of the huge Elm trees that grew in our front yard. The sidewalk ran right between them to the front steps. The trees took up what yard there was. I have been back to that house later in life. The trees are gone. Cut down because of Dutch Elm disease. And the yard seems to be huge. It seems to go on forever, but back then the Elms owned that yard on either side of the sidewalk and my brother and I had a perfect place to make roads and run our matchbox cars around.

I have no idea why I was there that day. Where my friend Dick was, why I wasn’t high, drinking or both. There isn’t enough of the memory to tell me, but there I was running my little cars around when I spotted Star from far off. I thought maybe he would pass by. After all he was my brother’s friend more than mine, but he stopped.

“Hey,” Star said.

“Hey,” I allowed. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look up from the cars, at least not at first.

“Where’s Dave,” he asked?

“Fair,” I answered.

“He told me he’d go with me,” Star said.

“Huh,” I answered. “Maybe he forgot because he left with my sister… A while ago… Like” I tried to think of how long ago it had been, but I was unable to come up with it. “Like… I don’t know. A while I guess.”

I hadn’t gone because I didn’t like the Fair. The year before I had gone, ridden the roundup, and puked as soon as I got off it. I had been sick all night too. I hated being sick, specifically being sick enough to puke, more than anything in the world. No way did I want to go through that again.

“You gonna go,” Star asked?

“Uh,uh,” I answered. I pushed the Bat mobile back in line next to a green metallic tow truck.

“I got two bucks,” Star said.

I looked up, “Well, I got only fifty cents,” I answered. That was the other reason I hadn’t gone. The Bat mobile had called to me from the toy car rack at Woolworth’s… Bat mobile?   Fair? Bat mobile? Fair…

“That will get you a couple of rides,” Star broke in. “I’ll buy you a Coke.”

I looked at him. “Okay,” I agreed instantly. My rock solid reasons I had against going had flown out the window at the promise of a Coke. “But first I gotta take care of my cars.”

I have no idea what happened to that shiny black Bat mobile with the amazing bubbled windshield. I never saw it again.


The County Fair grounds were on the other side off the city. A long walk.

The tracks, our name for any of the many sets of railroad tracks that bisected the city of Watertown, would take us most of the way there. We walked them balancing on the rails as we went. When we came to the Coffeen Street crossing we left the tracks and walked the side of the street to the outskirts of the city and the Fair grounds. I was thinking Double Ferris Wheel. No puking, just sightseeing. You could see almost all of Watertown from the top. And if you were actually lucky enough to get stopped at the top for a few moments, and I had been, you could actually pick out landmarks. I recalled that from the year before. Before the Roundup and the puking. And after that I would get the Coke Star had promised. Then I could stop at Majors Market on the way back and buy a second Coke with my other quarter. I had the whole afternoon mapped out and it seemed like a good plan to me.

The fair grounds were crowded. I saw my sister once, but she seemed to be avoiding me so I didn’t press it. We were less than a year apart and it was never really clear to me whether we hated each other or liked each other on any particular day. I saw a girl from school, Debbie something. One of my friends had referred to her as a Carpenters delight… A flat Board that had never been nailed. I didn’t really get the joke, I was always a little slow back then, but I did think she was cute. She smiled at me and I smiled back thinking I had no chance at all, wondered briefly about the board and nail remark, and then turned my attention back to the Fair Grounds.

I went with Star to the ticket booth, paid my quarter, and we headed to the midway.

“I gotta try the Double Ferris Wheel,” I said.

“I was thinking about The Roundup,” Star said.

“No way,” I disagreed. “Puked last year.” I was only too glad to tell him the story. He ended up agreeing with me on the Double Ferris Wheel ride.

I guess I do remember some of that day. Sitting here writing it all out brings a lot of it back. Maybe it was after that day that I have trouble with, even as I write this my next clear memory is about a year later. I know I do remember all the next immediate events, but I mean, the feel of that day. I remember the feel of that day too. The smells of Cotton Candy… Buttered Popcorn… Cooking Sausage and Hot dogs… The crowds and the noise… Not long ago I smelled Popcorn and it took me right back to that day. All the way back. For a split second I was standing on that Midway once again… The crowd was moving around me. I was Happy… It was high summer. Watertown was a beautiful place to live.

That is why I think my memories are real, not just things suggested by people who were there. And, of course, afterwards, I remember all of that clearly. There was no one else there but me to see it, feel it, and hear it. And all these years later it is just as real as it was then…

The Double Ferris Wheel was really the coolest ride I had ever seen. I was in front of Star as we wound our way through the line. I could see the guy running the ride. One of those typical Carney guys. I had cousins who were Carney’s. I knew the look. And this guy was old school Carney. Dark, greasy hair. Cigarette plastered in one side of his mouth. Arms bulging. Crude tattoos covered his exposed chest and arms. Dark, almost inky, Gypsy eyes. He held the long steel handle that controlled the ride in one hand. The cigarette was unfiltered; Camel or Pall Mall, pumping up and down as his lips moved. His smile was cocky. His eyes bloodshot. He was none too steady on his feet. Bumping the handle occasionally. Rocking the steel cages that held the seat buckets as he bought them around for loading and unloading. Letting kids on and off.

The long line wound it’s way down. I gave up my ticket and stepped forward and that was the end of my summer. It ended up being the last carefree childhood thing I ever did. It’s more than forty five years later now and I can say that as a fact. The rest of the real world part of that day came from Star’s testimony at the trial years later when the ride operator was sued.

The guy took my ticket. I stepped forward to get in. The cigarette jumped as he took a deep pull, jiggled the handle, lined up the wheel, and my leg swung into the open seat bucket. That was when it all went wrong. He did one of those unsteady joggles on his feet, bumped into the lever with one thigh, and kicked the ride into full operation.

For some reason, I couldn’t tell you why, I hung on instead of letting go when the bucket lurched forward and rapidly climbed up into the sky. Maybe it was simple instinct, fear. Whatever it was it probably seemed to me to be the smart thing to do until I hit one of the struts about thirty feet up and got knocked off the bucket and down to the ground. I ended up under the buckets which kept coming around and hitting me because the ride operator was too drunk to turn the ride off. Too drunk. Forgot, Froze. Whatever it was I was stuck until another Carney ran over and shut down the ride.

Nobody knows what was up with him. At the trial he claimed that I had run through the line and jumped at the ride like some crazy kid. It wasn’t a good story. The jury didn’t buy it. And it didn’t explain why he was drunk or why he didn’t shut the ride down. The jury came back with a ten thousand dollar judgment. A great deal of money for back then, but that is secondary to this story and didn’t happen for a few years. What this story is about is what the next few weeks were like for me.

I put my feet into the seat bucket and the whole wheel seemed to lurch. The next clear memory was absolute darkness and God speaking to me. Comforting me. Not hurried. Not sounding Godlike, just sounding like an ordinary, reasonable man who for some reason had nothing better to do than talk to me. A little kid.

God was behind me. I never saw him, yet I still knew it was him.

When my sight came back to me I was far above the Fair Grounds watching the ambulance weave its way through the crowds as it made its way to me. The next thing I knew I was inside… The siren warbling, and I was on my way to the hospital. God continued to talk to me and comfort me as I looked down at my broken body

I don’t know what they knew then, but I had a laundry list of injuries. Broken neck, broken vertebrae in my thoracic spine. Broken vertebrae in my lumbar spine. Broken left scapula and joint damage to the shoulder. My upper back had been hit so hard that the muscles that attached from my shoulder blades to my spine had been torn free. I don’t know if I was still breathing or not. I stopped at some point in there, but it really didn’t concern me.

I watched as I was unloaded and rolled down the hallway of the emergency room. My mother ran beside the gurney, crying. The nurses cut the clothes from my body as they ran. I was filthy. Either the filth or the nudity embarrassed my mother, but the nurses did their work as they rushed my body along that hallway. And although I could feel their thoughts, hear their words, it did not affect me.

The next few weeks went by fast. God never once left me. Talking to me. Answering my endless questions. And I did have endless questions, but he had endless answers. Everything… All the knowledge of the entire world… Universe… Universes, was mine.

She tricked me this way: The nurse was young. Pretty. Even to me, a kid. She took my hand and began to talk to me. She had no idea I was busy talking to God, so I forgave her, at first anyhow.

But then she began to call my name. Call me Honey. Tell me to wake up, and it began to bother me. I couldn’t concentrate on God if she didn’t leave me alone. I wanted to tell her to shut up! Stop! And so I imagined my mouth opening to say the words and that was it. I was back in my body. Stuck in my body. God was gone. The pain was everywhere. Huge. Unyielding. I was stuck. And worse, everything God had told me was gone. It was like it was some sort of top secret knowledge. Top secret God knowledge that could not exist outside of death. You could know all of it if you intended to be dead, but none of it if you intended to live.

I hadn’t intended to live, I remember thinking that. Who in their right mind would leave the company of God to come back to this world? Not me, but she had tricked me. Tricked me, and I had fallen for it.

The story of my addiction is here: 

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Real Quotes:

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.” Al Capone

“You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun.” Al Capone

“Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.” Al Capone

“When I sell liquor, it’s bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver tray on Lakeshore Drive, it’s hospitality.” Al Capone

“I don’t even know what street Canada is on.” Al Capone

“You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” Al Capone

“Save a thief from the gallows and he will cut your throat.”  Anonymous.

“Let’s do it.” Gary Gilmore, upon his execution.

“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is God’s messenger.” Saddam Hussein before he was hung.

“No one will ever kill me, they wouldn’t dare” Carmine Galante: American Gangster

“We took care of Kennedy” Sam Giancana: American Gangster

“It takes many steppingstones, you know, for a man to rise. None can do it unaided” Joe Bonanno: American Gangster

“I have killed no men, that, in the first place, didn’t deserve killing” Mickey Cohen : American Gangster

“Playing the game, and unfortunately, playing the gangster game is very profitable.” Quincy Jones: American Record Producer

“I’m a gangster, and gangsters don’t ask questions.” Lil Wayne: American Rap Artist

Last Words: “Thomas Jefferson–still survives.” John Adams US President. He did not know that Jefferson had died earlier that same day.

Last Words: “Aye Jesus.” Charles V: King of France.

Last Words: “I am not the least afraid to die.” Charles Darwin.

Last Words: “It is very beautiful over there.” Thomas Alva Edison: Inventor.

Last Words: “A dying man can do nothing easy.” Benjamin Franklin: Patriot, inventor.

Last Words: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus Christ: Savior, carpenter, teacher.

Last Words: “Let’s cool it brothers .” Malcolm X: Black leader, to his assassins as he lay dying.

Last Words: “You sons of bitches. Give my love to Mother.” Francis “Two Gun” Crowley: American Gangster on his execution.

Last Words: “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” Thomas J. Grasso: Convicted Murderer.

Check out this crime fiction entry I wrote in 2009 in prison... An awesome story, first in a trilogy... Banned by Facebook...

The smell of hot metal filled the air. David looked to the car on the cement pad first: The trunk had popped and all manner of stuff that had been inside now lay scattered across the ground. Hot oil and antifreeze dripped from under the hood and onto the concrete. The front roof line was smashed flat to the top of the driver’s seats. The backseat area seemed untouched.

He slipped around the end of the trailer and looked at the other car. A newer Ford: He could see the badge on the rear deck. The front end of the car was wrapped around the oak in the backyard just as he had thought and steam was rising up into the air. The Ford first, he decided. The car across the road would have to wait.

Google Play:


Food for thought… I was looking at my friend total on Facebook, and I noticed it is, at this point ten. I thought, holy crap, I better get a few more friends, I’m a little short. Most of my friends have many more.

Then I realized that although I have only ten friends I know them. I can tell you things about most of them. I wouldn’t have to stop and say… “Hmmm, George Jackson…. Hmmm. You know, I don’t know who in hell George Jackson is… I just don’t know.”

It is kind of weird to me that in this society we are measured by things like this though. Bob has 600 friends, but Marcia has 3400, so she’s a little further up the social ladder. To look at my friend list you would think I’m unpopular, have a need for more friends. Work a boring job in a factory somewhere, live with my mother… Um, wait, some of that is true, lol. But you would maybe think I lead an unfulfilled life, kind of pathetic, but it isn’t true. What is true is that the people I care about are really people I care about.

The rest of the world is closed off from me. I keep it and the bad stuff I know it contains at arms length. Tomorrow before dawn the hookers in Times Square will go home, and the garbage tucks will zip around and clean it all up really nicely. And even though I know those things, knowing them doesn’t change them at all. I will still be living my life as best I can with my ten friends. Looking for reasons to keep doing it every day, same as everyone does, either below or at the surface.

So I guess I am saying that life is not so bad. You keep the blues at bay, have one or two people who really and truly do mean the world to you and it’s pretty damn good to have that. Some people don’t, and some people don’t slow down long enough to ever know whether they have that or not.

Hope all of you are well and fighting the things that can make you unwell.


I wanted to touch on intolerance a bit today. The more I see intolerance in this world this more amazed I am. Does it take a truck to run over some people to get them to see? I tend to not want to shove my complaints off on someone else. I see that often and I don’t like it, you have your own opinion or you don’t. If you do and you say things like, “Well, this guy said that“, or “That guy said this.” Then you are just wasting time. You are arguing someone else’s position and hedging your bets so that you don’t have to say anything about it yourself.

I would call that chickenshit, but of course that isn’t politically correct, so I would have to call it Waffling or something, but we all still know it’s chickenshit. And if you read my blogs I would say you are already aware that I am not politically correct anyway, nor do I have any aspirations of being politically correct. In fact, I think political correctness has its own place in the chickenshit lane. It says, I really want to say this, but I am afraid of what saying that can do to me.

Intolerance: I am a christian, but I am also part Native American, so I kind of mix those two things. I could lie and say, No, I am completely this way, or, I am completely that way. But I tell the truth when it comes to that because I happen to think the creator would want it that way. The thing is, I have three different kinds of blood in me and I wonder about all three of those cultures: And I have felt pulled by that mix of blood in several directions all of my life; as though I don’t truly belong in any of their cultures at all.

I don’t really get anything to my face, and I have lived awhile so there really isn’t too much that hurts my feelings, at least not when it comes to me. It is when I see intolerance towards others that I tend to get upset, especially if one of those someones is someone I care about, or it touches a nerve. I think that is maturity, moving past self to care of others.

Just food for thought. Be somebody. Stand for something. Say what you feel. To hell with those that don’t get it, or try to shut you up. You get one roll of these dice and it’s over, so make it count, Dell…