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.