Chow’s on deck.” I awoke startled by that consistent
statement that was filled with a voice that changed
everyday. I felt I heard that saying a thousand times in
a day, and each day was a parallel line with forever. I
knew that time stopped for no one, but it had a way of
pacing itself when the passenger is in a jail cell. I
thought about the other inmates-how they must feel-
the ones that had never been to Hawaii and snorkeled
in Honomu Bay swimming with blue, white, and yellow
multicolored fish, or the congregation of Japanese
tourists, the ones that had never been to Mardi Gras to
see, the Zulu dancers the peacocks of the festival, the
ones who could never say they blended in with the
young and old dancing in a second line, and the ones
who would never eat in Hollywood at the Dar Maghreb
where there are Moroccan belly dancers who balance
swords on their heads. At least I had my memories.
They became so priceless I began to count them like
money a wealth of experience and riches of adventure.
I thought about Jose, the little Mexican boy who had
just been convicted of murder and was facing two life
sentences. I couldn’t even imagine the lifeless feeling
of the only thing to look forward to are the days that
This particular evening nightfall had an eerie tone and
aggression was in the air. It was the weekend and we
were all locked down in our cells without free time.
The air was crowded with complaints and as the
voices struggled for a leader, the air slowly freed itself.
Two hours passed and the last voice faded into eleven
o’clock, and by midnight, the sound of heavy sleep
emanated from many jail cells. Resting on the rock of
thought, I could feel the death of men’s desires for
another chance at freedom, and then I knew; that too
late was the graveyard for untimely learners. My sleep
that night was chartered with the good fortune of a
traveler passing by disaster on his way home, and my
striving to move forward was in agreement with
forgetting the past, because the memory of my past
pains resurrected the pain within me.