Gramercy, Thank You’s and an Update

Hello my loyal followers, fellow authors & artists, and above all, my newfound fans!

First, let me begin by thanking you all for reading Gramercy. My website has almost gone viral and it is because of you guys reading and sharing my work. I am truly grateful for every reader and fan and I assure you all that as my 1st generation of followers and fans you will never be forgotten, and I will do my best to bring you along and share the bounty of my journey.

There are also two people I need to acknowledge specifically. Number one, my mother. Mom, I can’t thank you enough for being my editor. You not only push through my abysmal grammar errors, you are the only editor I know who will work for free. ;) My other acknowledgement goes to my number 1 fan, my loving Grandma who even in her late 80s has resisted slowing down her fight for social justice. She note only reads everything I publish, she prints it out and saves it, to have her own personal copy. Out of all the fans I can have, she’s always going to be the best. Better than any connection or groupie, nothing compares to the fact I can make this fan proud.

That being said, I must also inform you that I will be taking a two week break for the holidays, new chapters will return in January.

The final chapter of Gramercy will be released in March, most likely.

Thanks again for reading everyone. :D

Fearing Rape More Than Death

Originally posted on Chapter TK:

Death is said to be the greatest fear of the average person. I must not be average, then, because if someone held a gun to my head and tried to rape me, I would gladly take the bullet. Growing up, one of the nuggets of wisdom I received was to relax during a rape. If you fight back, you could die. If you just let it happen, you’ll live. That’s what’s most important, right? Well, I feel like that would work as well as ignoring my bullies worked. It wouldn’t.

Chapter TK - They say death is the #1 fear, but I find rape scares me even more.

View original 794 more words

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 6

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Chapter 6  Bored in Boise

Jack didn’t leave Sacramento as fast as he would have liked.  He merely wandered the streets trying to find his way out, and in the process he somehow he ended up back downtown.  He decided to take in what sights he could.  He visited Old Town Sacramento and J and K streets.

 

He walked past the capital and saw a group of people following one old bald guy with a hawk nose, as if he was the most important man on the planet.

 

“Must be the new governor,”  Jack thought.  He knew Arnold was finally out, but he didn’t know who had replaced him.  He was pretty sure that it was some schmuck who was already governor once before.  Jack didn’t really care either way, he didn’t have a stake in it anymore.

 

Eventually, Jack finally made it out of the city, and he just walked down a stretch of endless highway, it said north, so Jack followed the signs and headed north.

 

He passed through a few small and mid-sized cities.  After he found a junction heading East, he decided to turn and head inland.

 

It took Jack days, and countless chapters in Moby Dick, but he pushed through both as he walked all the way through Nevada and the top corner of Utah.  He then didn’t realize it, but he had made a full loop and was now headed towards Boise.

 

When he got to Idaho after weeks of hitch hiking and camping out, Jack felt bad for scorning Sacramento.  Boise was way worse than Sacramento.  Sacramento at least had the beauty and pristine of rivers and trees, and had plenty of art galleries and music stores.   There was culture to that city.  The fact Boise was the big city of Idaho just disappointed and almost depressed Jack.  He felt the town was pathetic and lacked any sense of life or mind.  He didn’t care for it much, but he was tired of wandering, so he decided to settle here for awhile.

 

He managed to keep his spending only on meals.  Which were still only cheap fast food meal deals, which still didn’t make Jack fat.  His beard and hair and grown and he had even lost so much weight that he didn’t even look like the Jack that left prison.  He looked like a true drifter, a cross between a hippie and Jesus.

 

He definitely wasn’t the Jack that left prison.

 

Jack hadn’t thought about prison for awhile now, other than comparing the luxuries of his new life to the things he considered luxuries in the pen, he now just didn’t think about jail much.  When Jack settled into another skid row motel for fifty bucks a night, he laid on his bed and thought long and hard about his old days back in the joint.

 

He remembered his first sentence, those five months in county.  Then he remembered watching his so called “friend” get iced in the gut for cutting in the lunch line.  Jack couldn’t believe he ever considered that jackass a friend.  He knew now that he wasn’t a friend, a friend doesn’t get another friend locked up in prison for shit they didn’t even do.  Kobe, Alex, Fiona and Alice, he could call these people his friends maybe?

 

But Jack did have one person, who in retrospect, he could call a true friend.  Russell his old cell mate from his second strike.  A nice guy, a black guy, a crip who got ten years for selling pot and crack.

 

He saw Judge Bachman for his trial.

 

Jack missed Russell.  He knew Russell was still serving time back in Folsom.  Jack hadn’t realized it until now, but Russell did do Jack a lot of favors.  Russell rolled with the other crips in the pen, it was his safety.  Prison is a lot like high school, the more friends you have the safer you are, as long as you don’t piss your friends off or they’ll fuck you, literally.

 

Jack had always convinced himself it was his icy stare and fearless step that had kept him alive throughout his sentences.  However the more Jack started to think about his time as Russell’s cell mate, the more he realized he had Russell to thank for getting out alive.

 

Russell was a lovable guy, even as a prisoner.  He charmed his way to basically being second in command to the Folsom Prison crew.  Jack didn’t roll with any crew.  Jack never agitated the crews, but Jack was always alone.  He always saw other inmates staring at him in the prison yard, and Russell would always go up and talk to them.  Jack had forgotten about this for so long that remembering it hurt Jack’s ego just a little bit.  He had worked his whole life to be so tough that he didn’t even show the most remote emotion when he was about to crush someone’s throat, and he had the bragging rights of being locked up three times and never needing a crew to get by.  Now Jack realized it was probably Russell.

 

Jack missed sharing his cell with Russell.  He was such a friendly, helpful guy.  It was thanks to Russell that Jack knew where to go to sell that weed.  He remembered all of the drug dealing advice he got from him when they were sharing cigarettes and some wine that they traded for cigarettes.  That was the other helpful thing about Russell was that he was rich in cigarettes, making him basically a billionaire in the eyes of prisoners.  Jack reminisced about all the booze they used to sneak and the stories they would exchange and Russell’s advice, Russell had advice about everything, from drugs, to prison, to girls.

 

“Go where teenagers hangout.  Malls are the easiest places to unload.  Outside high schools work too, but not right in front, go about three blocks away and ask the kids as they walk by, your less likely to deal with a cop that way.”

 

Jack just replayed all his old moments with Russell.  He actually missed something from prison.  Jack wished he could write Russell, he knew his prison number and the mailing address to Folsom.  But he knew he couldn’t write a letter without giving the feds an idea of where he is.

 

Jack started to regret escaping just a little bit now.  He didn’t think about how at the time he just walked out of Lampoc, he basically made himself a permanent pariah unless he wanted to go back to jail.  But then again he knew it had its advantages.

 

 

Jack also wondered if the media had caught onto his story, and if they did how well were they covering it.

Out of embarrassment, the Justice Department was trying to keep quiet about their search and his escape.

 

They were far behind.  They were still in California.

 

Jack took a few deep breathes and decided to get prison and its memories, both good and bad, out of his mind.  He just repeated to himself his usual mantra, “I don’t care.”

 

He picked up Moby Dick and continued reading, he liked this book a lot and was glad he picked this one.  Jack felt a connection as he did with Hamlet.  He also admired the bond between Ishmael and Quiquag.  It reminded him of his friendships with Russell and the trio in Southern California.  It also made him think of Alice.  Jack started to feel he was too cold to her when she was so grateful and nice to him.  But Jack shook his head, he knew there was nothing he could do about it now, so he pushed it all to the back of his mind and kept reading.  The whale was about to ram the boat and the giant book was building up to what Jack could tell was its epic climax.  Finally, when the dead of night set upon Jack he had finished the book, he simply patted it, thought it over and played out what he learned from the book in his mind, and he debated what to read next.

 

Jack woke the next day and paid for another night in his room, under the name Herman Melville this time,  Jack found it funny he still got away with this.  Either motel clerks aren’t very well read, or they don’t care as long as you’re paying in advance.  He asked the clerk if there was a used book store near, the clerk said there was one in the mall downtown.  So Jack walked for a good forty-five minutes until he reached the mall.  There was indeed a used bookstore in the mall, but it was so small and cramped in a little closet store that didn’t even have a front window besides the door.  It was jammed in between a Banana Republic and a Forever 21 that looked gargantuan in size compared to the book store.

 

Jack went in, it reeked of moldy pages and dust, Jack knew if he exchanged the books he bought in exchange for store credit on some used books he could save some money.

 

The older woman behind the counter, who seemed like a friendly old librarian who loved sharing literature with the minds that walked into her little closet of a store, gave Jack ten dollars of store credit for Hamlet, Moby Dick and Alice in Wonderland.  Using his credit, he bought a copy of Ivanhoe, which he was supposed to read in high-school, and two new Shakespeare’s to see if they were as good as Hamlet.  He settled on Macbeth and Titus Andronicus.  These three only covered six of his ten dollars.  The copies were fairly old and tattered so they came very cheap.  He wanted to get at least one or two more books, and eventually he settled on one that he had never heard of before, but it had a cool title and was apparently about a criminal running from the law, called Crime and Punishment.

 

With his new stack of books, Jack was excited.  He wondered what new things he would learn about the world and himself from these books, what perspectives would he gain.

 

As he checked out the lady commented, “Very Nice selections.”  She then looked at Jack through her thick glasses and smiled.

 

“Thank you,” he said actually smiling back.  He smiled because the sweet old lady reminded Jack of his grandma.  But Jack shook the thought out his head because he started to miss his grandma, his one beacon of love and safety as a child.  The one person who actually had any kind of faith in him, or ever trusted him.

 

Jack also felt guilty when he thought of his grandma, he was serving his first sentence when she died and he couldn’t go to the funeral.  He shook the thought out of his head once he was settled in his motel with a copy of Dostoevsky.  He then stuck his nose in the book until he had no more energy to read on and he passed out.

 

He dreamed of his Grandma, of the day she found out he got arrested, of the next day when she had a heart attack, and of the day after when she died.  Jack had this dream before, it was the first time he had it since he left Leavenworth, but every time he awoke saying to himself.  “I killed her.”

 

That was something his mom reminded him of when she actually used to visit him.  It wasn’t soon after Grandma that his Mom’s heart stopped and his Dad’s liver would fail.

 

Jack shook the thoughts out of his head when he had himself a large gulp of the whiskey he had bought on his way to Boise.  It was Sunday so all the bars and liquor stores were closed, which annoyed Jack but he soon got over it with a bottle he remembered he had in his bag.

 

After the alcohol calmed his nerves, he went back to sleep and decided it was time to get his mind onto other matters, it was time to leave this city.

 

Jack awoke the next morning, packed his bags, checked out, and walked away.  On his way towards the road out of town, he ran into a group of girls, between the ages of 18 and nineteen.  As he walked past them just standing on the street, he overheard their conversation which was nothing more than teenage blubbering and bitching, but to them it was the intellectual discussion of the century.

 

There was a short girl with brown reddish hair.  A tan girl with long black hair and an incredibly pleasing to the eye ass.  The third who was obviously the younger of the three had tan skin and black hair and eyeliner and mascara on.  Her hair was more curly than the others.  They were dressed for what looked like a house party that got busted too soon.

 

When Jack approached them at first he paid them no mind and was intent on walking past and getting out of Boise as soon as possible.

 

Until he heard the girl with the huge ass say this, “There is no place in the country worse than Boise.”

 

Jack immediately stopped and didn’t even hesitate to join the girls conversation.  He immediately interjected, “San Quentin!”

 

“What?” said the short girl with reddish hair as all three turned around.  The only one smiling at him was the girl in the make up.  The other two looked at him like two mother bears and Jack had just made a move for one of their cubs.

 

“San Quentin Maximum Security State Penitentiary, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary,  Folsom Prison.” Jack continued ignoring the girl’s with the big ass attempted interjections. “Or Sing Sing, hell Lampoc and that’s a minimum security which are basically resorts for convicts…”

 

“Well no duh the prisons are worse than here,” said the girl with the nice ass.  “But you can’t…”

 

She trailed off but the girl with reddish hair saved her. “You can’t make that big of a leap.” Jack felt that was a cop out.

 

“But it’s in the country and I can tell you they are all worse than Boise.  Plus there are places worse than here that aren’t prisons.”

 

“Like what?” said the girl with make up, genuinely interested.

 

“Del Paso heights in California, South Central,Compton.”

 

“Well…” the tan girl was stuck and so was her friend.

 

“I’m Jack.”  he said trying to be nice, putting his hand out to shake.  The red hair girl eased, the tan girl with the nice ass still sent him vibes of resentment and prayers of torture, and the girl with make up was genuinely friendly, and she introduced the tan girl and herself.   “This is Tammy. I’m Lori.”

 

The girl with red hair was kind enough to introduce herself and even smile.

 

“I’m Maddie,” she said.

 

“Did you just get into town?” said Lori, pointing to the bags.

 

“No.  I’m on my way out,”  he said.

 

“Lucky,” they all said in the weird unison girls’ choir.

 

“Yeah,” he muttered.  “Well sorry to bother you.  Have a good night.”

 

“Bye!”  Said Lori.  They all waved as he walked away.

 

Jack soon forgot about the girls, and he wondered what was going to happen at the end of Crime and Punishment as he walked into the dead of the night and the middle of nowhere.

Chris Rock talks about chokeholds and ‘I can’t breathe’ on ‘Letterman’

Originally posted on PopWatch:

[ew_image url=”http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2014/12/12/Chris-Rock.jpg ” credit=”CBS” align=”left”]

One of the highlights of Chris Rock’s press tour for Top Five has been his incisive cultural commentary, and Rock once again discussed current events during his appearance on The Late Show last night.

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Art for the Sake of Art, Words for the Sake of Words

Unconsciously composed

are the truth, the start

of all great coordinations

and compositions.

Composition for the sake

of itself.

For the sake of

rehearsal, and practice.

Practice for practice

overdue but now and

learned.

Make no mistakes

by allowing mistakes.

He who laughs with understands,

he who laughs at

dies alone.

10/18/14

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 5

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Chapter 5  To Liberate and Learn

 

Eventually Jack figured out he was heading North.  It took what seemed like an endless stream of days and nights for Jack to reach Sacramento, and by the time he did he had run out of his cash.  So he had to resort back to shoplifting in order to eat.  He missed the hot showers and food he got from his friends, but he managed to sneak into campsites and public bathrooms and get himself cleaned up enough not to offend passers by.

In Sacramento, it was hot, dusty and uncomfortable.  The city was so hectic and everyone in a car seemed to have personal vendettas against pedestrians and none of the cyclists have a helmet on, because it would mess with their hair that intentionally looks messy.  Jack could tell these people riding on bikes were those upper middle class white kids who liked to pretend they were the victims.

 

Jack over heard one of these fake-ass punks while walking past a coffee shop.  The little guy said, “This is the worst time in history to be a middle class white male.”  Jack immediately punched him in the face.  He collapsed onto the ground in a screaming pile of pain, bellowing about his broken nose, while Jack turned his back and walked away.  The man’s group of friends were still stunned and speechless by what happened as Jack walked off.  Jack simply said, in his emotionless manner, “Suck it up.”

 

Jack walked off, and he wondered how he could get away with doing these things to people in public and not have to deal with a single cop.  This was the second time Jack had committed assault since he got out, and each time he had gotten away with it, Jack wondered why.

 

Soon he could not stop thinking about the police.  He wondered if the police were on his trail, and then he wondered if they visited his friends yet.  They knew his real name, they could give plenty of evidence.  Jack did worry that the cops would throw his friends in jail for aiding a fugitive.  He wondered if they had tried to find his parents yet.  Good luck trying to talk to the dead, Jack thought.  He choose not to worry about it, he especially did not want to think about his parents.  Instead he choose to drink.  It was a long blur of a binge that day.  When nightfall came he slumped in an empty alley somewhere on L street and passed out for the night.

 

He awoke the next day around noon to the clutter and oblivion of the city.  The beat of the government employees’ feet speed walking to the capital.  The click and clank of coffee cups being chugged by hipsters sitting on the patio of the nearby coffee shops.

 

Jack was specifically awoken by a quarter being dropped on his face.  Apparently when people saw him asleep they thought he was a bum and dropped some change next to him.  Jack felt insulted.  He was homeless, but he wasn’t a bum.  But then he realized this was these people’s idea of charity, he knew they meant well, but he also knew it meant pity.  This infuriated Jack.  Jack needed no ones pity, but Jack soon resolved that once again he didn’t care.

 

He walked out of the alley and up a few feet to an artsy fake hipster cafe.  He walked to the front and asked the hipster girl behind the counter what the change could get him.

 

“A small coffee, and a biscotti.  We are giving out free biscotti today,”  replied the girl behind the counter.  She had black hair and a tattoo on her forearm, she reminded him of Alice.  Jack missed her for some reason, he didn’t know why.  Jack rarely misses anyone.

 

Jack sat in the restaurant and nursed his coffee and a tiny piece of stale biscotti as long as he could.  He took full advantage of the free water pitcher.  He sat and watched the other people in scorn.  They all looked at him as if he was just another bum sitting in a free space to get warm.    Apparently, thought Jack, being poor and cold is still frowned upon by people.  Jack wished they were poor and cold, if only for a day, Jack wished they could only know what this feels like.

 

Soon he left the cafe.  He resolved to find a shower somewhere.  He wasn’t going to a shelter though.  He knew those places are full of people trying to get in.  It wasn’t worth it.  He knew it would mean a roof over his head and a square meal but he knew demand was high in that department, and it just wasn’t worth the effort.  “Sad when the help to the needy is indeed no help at all.”  Jack remembered that from a Sunday school his grandma took him to when he was little.  Jack didn’t think about church any more.  He didn’t believe in god any more, not because he was an atheist or anything like that, he just didn’t care.  Like almost everything, Jack just didn’t care anymore.

 

When Jack left the coffee shop at around two, he wandered the town in hopes of finding an open faucet, or something he could use to at least wash his face.  His listless wandering led him to the town’s underside.  He didn’t know how but he went from midtown to some place called Del Paso Heights.  He knew he was in a ghetto when he saw a sign that said.  “This is a gun and drug free zone.”  It wasn’t even next to a school or a church, it was just a sign on the street paid for by the city.  You can also tell a ghetto because they have chain link fences surrounding the entire front yard instead of white picket fences merely separating two lawns.  The lawns here either didn’t exist or had brown bald spots like a green and brown Dalmatian.  The roads in ghettos are horrible too.  Pot holes and cracks that stretch from one end of the block to another.  Jack had discovered that Sacramento had it’s own version of South Central.

 

As the night drew out, more of  the underbelly of the city became exposed.  It wasn’t long until Jack had lost count of the amount of prostitutes that he saw and had made him propositions.

 

He walked past the beacon calls of, “You wanna go out honey?”

 

“You looking for a good time baby?”

 

“Need a date for the night honey?”

 

“Come on sweet cock, everyone needs some tail on a Friday.”

That one was the funniest to Jack, he had been asked by hookers plenty of times and he always ignored them.  But this was the first time one made him laugh out loud, because what hooker would resort to calling a guy, “sweet cock?”  She must either be an amateur or desperate, or both.

 

Apparently someone thought the same thing as Jack, only they didn’t think it was funny.  In fact they were out right pissed.  Behind him Jack could hear some loud guy shouting and the girl screaming and crying.

 

“BITCH!”

*Smack!

“WHAT THE FUCK KINDA LORE IS THAT? “SWEET COCK!”

*Smack!

“YOU GIVE ME ONE MOTHER FUCKING REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T FUCKING KILL YOU, YOU FUCKING UGLY ASS BITCH!?”

Jack just heard the guy go on and on, beating her while the girl was just screaming, “NO DADDY, NO PLEASE I’M SORRY DADDY!”  Jack turned around, the girl’s screams wouldn’t even phase the guy as he brought his hand up for each swooping hit.

 

Jack started having flashbacks to when he was a five year old clutching his teddy bear in his closet.  Trying to plug his ears to the sound of his mom screaming as he heard the smack of his fathers palm on her face.

 

Jack didn’t hesitate.

 

Jack ran up to the guy and clotheslined him as he ran by, the guy hit the back of his head on a fire hydrant and cut himself, deep.  While blood gushed from his skull, the girl took advantage of the moment and hid behind two trash cans.

 

Jack showed the man no mercy.  He knew no one in a ghetto was going to call the police at one in the morning if a cunt like this guy was getting what was coming to him.  He curb-stomped his front teeth to shattered glass, broke half his ribs, and crushed his back foot so bad the guy was destined to be a club-foot the rest of his life.  When he was sure the guy had passed out from the pain, or maybe was even dead, he searched his pockets.  He found little balloons full of heroin, he looked at the girl who was now shaking and crying and putting her hand over her eyes.  The girl was pale and thin, Jack could tell she was a junky.

 

He searched the guy some more and found a huge wad of bills, ranging from small to big.  He counted it out and there was over 5,000 in one wad.  He searched some more and found another wad containing another 5,000.  He took all of the guys gold and silver chains and bracelets, and a real rolex.  He took his clothes too, just to punish the guy further, and he left him in the middle of Del Paso Heights naked, bloody, and unconscious.  As he walked away he could still hear the girl crying behind the trash cans.  Jack still wasn’t used to this thing he called emotion, but now he felt the life altering emotion called pity.  He took pity on the girl and walked back.

He took out the two wads of cash.  He kneeled down to be eye to eye to the girl.  She hesitated to look at him and she still had her arms raised in fear.  She was shaking horribly, and Jack could tell it had been a while since her last hit.

“What’s your name?” He asked as tenderly as he could.  That wasn’t Jack’s strong suit.

 

“Mary,” she said, even her voice was shaking.

 

“How many girls besides you did this guy have working for him?”  he asked.

 

“It’s me and five others,”  she replied slowly trusting him more, but still crouching as far away from him as she could.

 

Jack counted out six thousand of the ten he had taken from the guy, and he slapped it into the girls palm.  “There, a thousand for each of you.  I’m keeping the rest.”  He pointed his finger at her like a father discipling a renegade teenage daughter who was finally scared straight.  “Tell the girls that he got busted, and they need to get out of the business while they have the chance. Give them the money, and then take yours and then leave the girls and wish them luck.  Go to a shelter, or a mission, or fuck I don’t know where just find a place where you can get some help.  Oh, and, DO NOT SPEND THAT MONEY ON SMACK.  CLEAR?”

 

“Crystal,”  replied Mary.  She obviously had experience with men telling her off, she replied without even a second of hesitation.  She knew to respond and respond fast, he had been so kind to her so far, but Mary knew that he could turn at any minute, she wanted to be ready.

 

She had no need to fear, all Jack said next was, “Good. Run along.”  Before Jack could even stand up all the way the girl was already up  to the end of the block.

 

“Damn,” Jack thought to himself.  “The girl can run pretty damn well in heals.”

 

Jack wandered until he was in the area that was sort of in between the ghetto and the suburbs, near some mall on the edge of the heights and some street called Arden.  The area wasn’t the ghetto, but it definitely wasn’t the rich part of the suburbs.  An upper lower middle class place.  He got a cheap room at a Motel Six, and took a long hot shower.  The first one since he had left his friends.  Jack missed them but decided it was best not to think about it.  He decided to watch some TV as he dried.  The only thing on was a bunch of old fuzzy movies and soft-core porn.  Jack left it on some old Joe Pesci movie that he didn’t know the name to.  He laid on the bed and passed out immediately.  He didn’t care if it was in a Motel Six right next to a busy loud street that was only blocks away from hookers.  He was comfortable.

 

 

The next day he woke up around noon.  He walked to the front desk and gave him the cash for another night.  Jack couldn’t believe the schmuck behind the desk took the name he gave, Jack didn’t even believe the name sounded real, but apparently all these people care about is that you pay.  Jack thought he could bring a twelve year old Chinese girl in chains who was screaming rape and this pimple faced fuck behind the bulletproof glass wouldn’t care as long as he either paid for the night in advance or had a credit card.

 

Still, it was funny that the guy actually believed his name was “Lewis Carroll.”

 

Jack had finished the book as he was drifting along the highways.  He loved the book, he thought it was fun and psychedelic, yet it made Jack think in a way he never had before.  Jack couldn’t tell exactly how, but he knew the book changed his thought process for the better.  He wanted to read more, and he decided to buy some more books with his cash. So he walked to the closest book store and he looked at the classics section.  He hadn’t heard of a lot of the books and authors in this section.  Except for the few he had seen as movies that he did not know started as books, like Treasure Island, Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes.  Even Dracula and Frankenstein.  He saw Shakespeare plays he had never even heard of like The Tempest and King John.    He settled on Moby Dick.  It was long so he knew it would kill plenty of time, plus Jack always regretted not reading it when he was supposed to in high school, but he decided that this would make up for it.  He also decided to get one of the Shakespeare’s he was supposed to read but never did.  He settled on Hamlet, he didn’t know much about Shakespeare, but he knew that Shakespeare’s supposedly greatest play was Hamlet.

 

The books didn’t even cost him twenty dollars, he still had thousands.

 

He thought about splurging on a grand meal, but decided against it.  He would make this money last and settled for a few cheap meals at fast food joints to make the money last as long as possible.

 

After a meal of Taco Bell and Motel Six tap water, Jack began to read Hamlet.  He didn’t stop until he finished, it took him all night and well into the next morning, but he was enthralled.  The story was so epic, so intricate and interesting that Jack didn’t want to put it down.  Plus Jack identified with Hamlet.  He couldn’t believe a book written so long ago could be so insightful.  But Jack knew how Hamlet felt when everyone in his world was against him, that was Jack’s world growing up.  His parents were against him, his teachers, his classmates, even his so called “friends” turned against him the minute the cops showed up.  Jack knew how Hamlet felt when he contemplated suicide.  Jack had lost count of the times he wanted to kill himself.  After his first arrest however, Jack learned to stop caring.

 

Jack felt a new excitement he never felt before.  He felt bad for making fun of all those people who told him reading was fun and opened new worlds to people.  Now he could tell they weren’t bullshitting, reading was amazing, he didn’t believe it at the time because he didn’t even know that books like this and Alice in Wonderland existed.

 

He resolved to make up for all the reading he didn’t do in school, or in prison.  He wished he took advantage of the book cart more in jail .  No matter what, he decided to start reading and learning as much as he possibly could.

 

That was it, Jack realized. That’s what these books were doing to him, they were teaching him, for the first time in his life he was actually learning something useful.  It wasn’t how to avoid getting gang raped or how to carve a fake gun.  He was really learning, it felt amazing.  Jack actually began dancing around jumping for joy and with ecstasy over his realization.  He was learning, he was actually learning.  He was the happiest he had been since he was a child.

 

Happy, Jack Lewis, who used to have the nickname “Stone Cold Jack,” was happy.   Jack wasn’t even this happy when he got out of jail the first time.  Jack was now ecstatic.  He almost couldn’t contain himself, his feet stomped so loud the people on the floor beneath him almost called the front desk.

 

Jack couldn’t wait to start reading Moby Dick, but Hamlet had taken out all his energy and his burst of joy had drained what was left of his strength.  Soon he crashed on the bed, but couldn’t sleep because he hadn’t eaten since 8 pm last night,  and it was already 11:30 the next morning.  He walked to Burger King and got a cheap but filling breakfast.  He saw a homeless man begging in front.  The man asked him for some change so he could get a bite.  Jack slipped the man a twenty and left before the man could thank him.  He yelled out, but Jack only acknowledged the man with a wave of his hand.

 

The man was so grateful.  Jack didn’t know it, but he was the first person in a week to give the man any money.

 

Jack went back to his motel room, after paying for a third,and he decided, final night in Sacramento.  He took the chains and jewelry he had taken from the pimp and laid them all on the table.  They consisted of one big gold chain, one thin gold chain, two slim silver chains, two silver bracelets, two gold bracelets, and the rolex.  Jack would cash them in at the nearest pawn shop tomorrow on his way out of town.  Jack also resolved to wash his one set of clothes before he left.  He hadn’t since he left his friends.  He changed into the clothes he stole from the pimp and took his clothes to the nearest laundromat.  He felt like a jackass waiting for his clothes in baggy south-pole pants and a King’s jersey.  Especially since we was now a thin white boy with a beard and growing hair.  He hadn’t realized how much weight he lost until he put on the clothes ,but besides the muscle he had basically made permanent since prison, Jack was starting to become wiry.  He was amazed that his fast food diet wasn’t putting any weight on him though.

 

When his clothes were done.  He went back to his hotel room and slept for his final night.

 

He woke the next morning, and walked out with his bags.  He wandered until he found a pawn shop, he got almost a thousand for the chains and the rolex.  Jack was surprised.  He had to remember this pawn shop, other places didn’t give you that kind of a deal.

 

Jack walked out of Sacramento.   He walked out the city with a sense of  scorn for its people, its elitist structure and nature, and its hot dusty weather.  But he would always remember the city as the place he found himself, the self he actually wanted to be and not the self his world had made him.  He wanted to learn.  That was it.  He just wanted to learn and he was going to do it.  For some reason, he felt he had this city to thank for it.