Vernon – Ep. 2

Day 5: Robbie came by to see me today. I really look forward to his visits. I think he’s the only person on the outside that visits me and treats me like I’m normal, like I’m only away at a boarding school. It’s refreshing but then again he’s my brothers.

A few times I’ve had visitors that come here looking and acting miserable and you’d think they were the ones locked up. I just want people to act normal, joke around and make me laugh. I already know I’m a pariah and don’t need them to keep throwing it in my face.

Speaking of pariahs, that word came up in the first conversation I ever had with Tara. She was trying to work this old Lexmark copier we had in the office and I was just getting back from lunch and saw her struggling with it so I helped. She started talking and she described herself as a small town girl with big city sensibilities which is the sort of thing only a person from a small town would ever say.

According to Tara she was a pariah in her family. She was the wild child, the one that seeks trouble. She said she needed chaos to function. Looking back, those were all red flags that I failed to see. She said all her friends were guys because girls are too catty and don’t trust her because of her flirty nature. Another red flag I missed. Never trust a woman that’s not trusted by other women.

We started talking about friendships and who our closest friends were. That’s when I first heard about Jason– Jason… How did the police not look at him? How’s he still walking the streets and I’m the one in here. Why’s it the evil ones always get away? What kind of justice is that God? He’s scammed, killed and raped but YET HE GOES UNPUNISHED WHILE I LANGUISH IN HERE FOR SOMETHING I DIDN’T DO!!!!!!!!

… head



I’m suffer fr

Day 6: I spent last night in the infirmary. They changed my prescription and I’m not happy about that. These guys just switch up your medication for no reason. They don’t even consult you. They don’t care about your medical history or what you’re allergic to, they just give you whatever the state wants, which is usually some crappy knock-off they would never even give to an animal… I guess those of us in here are even less than that in their eyes. It pisses me off! You sit in the infirmary not knowing if you’ll live or die and no one can visit you there… No family, no friends…

… Our lives are shaped by the people we call friends and those we call enemies…


…it just occurred to me that all my friendships have run their course with the exception of Robbie. The only people I can develop friendships with are the other inmates. The idea of my entire social network consisting of inmates is beyond surreal to me. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. You have to create a full life out of your punishment, there’s a visceral cruelty to that.

It’s hard to make friends in here. Most of these people are not the kind of guys I grew up around, in fact most of them are the people that I was taught to be cautious of– gang members, violent men in general– some of them are vile human beings… If you can even call them that.

Then you have guys that are just addicts either from drugs smuggled in here or what they were given in the infirmary. To be honest, I’m more afraid of the infirmary than I am of death. I’ve seen some inmates walking around like zombies. They are given these drug concoctions of only God knows what and they walk around in a stupor. It’s like their minds have been locked away in some lab and their body is just an empty vessel awaiting death. I don’t ever want to become that. All I have are my thoughts and memory left. I can’t let anyone take that away from me.

Magnum is one of the few guys I talk to. To be honest I don’t even know why he’s in here. I mean I’ve never asked and he’s never told me. In the movies you see inmates sharing their lives with each other and talking about why they’ve been locked up but that doesn’t really happen in real life. Your personal life is currency in here. If you over share, someone’s going to use it against you down the line maybe to push your buttons or to blackmail you or worse. You protect your identity in the real world and in here you take on an entirely new one.

It’s a type of self defense mechanism. You have to keep both people separated, you leave your humanity in the real world the day that gavel comes down and you bring in only the survival instinct. Maybe I shouldn’t even describe life on the outside as the real world because prison life is more real than any form of existence maybe with the exception of being in a war zone. In these two situations all the crap we surround ourselves with, the fake smiles, the disingenuous Facebook page, the carefully crafted Instagram account to show how much of an excellent life you have– all that is gone in prison. All that’s left is the savagery of our true selves and I believe that who you are in prison is your true nature and who you are on the outside is the thick layer of makeup hiding your insecurities.

Magnum is funny.  Yesterday during breakfast we played a game,which guys do a lot to pass the time. The game is called f*** one, marry one, kill one. Every morning we play the game and you are given  three options. The choices yesterday were Madonna, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Wendy Williams. A lot of the guys got clowned on, as they say, about their answers. Mine was sleep with Wendy Williams, marry Madonna and kill Zsa Zsa. Magnum on the other hand would sleep with Madonna, marry Zsa Zsa and kill Wendy. He got clowned on but then he explained it, Zsa is old and was about to die so he figures the marriage will be short lived and he can’t deal with Wendy Williams busting his balls so he’d kill her and if he hooks up with Madonna she won’t go crazy on him because she’s been with so many other guys. I laughed, all of a sudden Magnum was a genius. That’s just the way he is, he really thinks things through with everything and comes up with these nuggets of brilliance.

I think back to when I was a pastor and if I heard kids play this game I would have judged them for being disrespectful or being crude but here I am now playing the game and laughing at these guys responses and I realize that we’re all just trying to pass time in the most sane way possible. I don’t think about my future, I try to take things one day at a time. Sounds corny but that’s really all I can do.

I got on the topic of friendships because I was talking about my encounter with Tara. After our run in by the copier I became her go to guy when she needed any thing, didn’t matter what it was. She’d even come to me to help her open a jar of pickles.

One night I was at the office late, I had Missy’s car and Missy had mine. I was in charge of car maintenance and any time Missy needed an oil change we’d switch cars and I would get an oil change during my lunch. Right as I was leaving the office I saw Tara and she seemed stressed. She told me left her lights on and her car battery died. I told her I had jumper cables in my car then I remembered I was driving Missy’s car– the cables were in my car, all the car tools were there.  Tara really had to get home because of some kind of emergency so I drove her.

She didn’t want me to drop her right in front of her house. I had to drop her two blocks away. The next day she showed up at work with bruises on her face and arms. She told everyone she was in a car wreck. I was the only one that knew she was lying because of course I dropped her home the night before. I should have called the police but I didn’t. I’m a fixer. My mom used to call me her little superman. I’m drawn to needy, broken people. I guess subconsciously there’s an inherent need to fix them…. But some people aren’t yours to fix. In fact now I don’t believe people should ever set out to ‘fix’ others. It’s not our place. A broken hammer can’t fix a broken chair.  I shouldn’t have said anything to Tara but I did, I injected myself into her world– THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I REGRET EVERY SINGLE DAY– Her world was a wretched and dark place that reminded me of my childhood. Her life was poisoned and it dredged up things I had buried deep down and all that slime was dredged up and contributed to me spinning out of control.


~ by Ahmadu Garba on July 20, 2015.

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