Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 9.

Chapter 9  Don’t Dance With Molly

Jack was in an awkward spot.  He spent the next day trying to find this girl and her sorority.  He walked every path and every walkway of every street and of every-which way by, to , and through the school.  He saw her nowhere.  

He found the closest free clinic.  After a four hour wait, he saw a doctor and he found out that nothing was wrong.  He was relieved.  Jack decided to get the hell out of Eugene.

So Jack left the city where it was quite possible that the mother of his child was off binge drinking and enjoying menage a tuas.  

Jack was glad to be out of this town more than he was to be out of Sacramento or Boise, at least there he didn’t have a possible love child.

He packed and got out of there by checkout time and was back on a road in the middle of a green nowhere in a matter of hours.

Three days later he ended up in Portland.

He found a hostel and paid for a few nights.  His cash wad was getting progressively thinner and Jack resolved to get some money soon.

He thought about stealing some cash, but decided against it.  He was already on the run   and had crossed countless state lines.  He chuckled to himself and thought how it was the fact he was a fugitive from the law that was making him more law abiding.

The next day he wandered onto some street called Hawthorne which was just a block from the hostel.  The street was full of college hipsters, punks, hippies, and nerd punk hippie rockers, Jack decided.  He looked for any potential cash opportunity.  He eventually stumbled on one.

Apparently Portland has a huge problem with bank robberies.  There was a bank on Hawthorne that got robbed as he walked past.  The men ran out and jumped into a car only to have the paint bomb go off.  Except on the bag they didn’t manage to close which had a huge trail of twenties falling out of it.  The cops were so busy busting the guys in the car, they didn’t even notice the homeless hippie sweeping up the cash until both the cash and the homeless hippie were long gone.

Jack had made another thousand and couldn’t believe his luck.  He then wondered if this made him an accessory to robbery or if this counted as tampering with a crime scene.  Actually it was both, with the process of “staking the charges” Jack could be charged for both.

Jack didn’t know and didn’t care.  Jack was just glad that he didn’t have to worry about money for a while and he was glad to now have this time to read.  So after he went back to get his books he settled in a coffee shop with a large black coffee while reading his Shakespeare and Ivanhoe.

He didn’t like Ivanhoe as much as the others but he liked how it was like reading a Shakespeare play in the form of a novel.  It was different, and Jack liked that.

Jack walked back to his hostel.here he found he would be sharing the bunk with a hippie named Toasty.  They shook hands, Jack was polite but immediately decided he didn’t like the guy.  That changed when the guy asked the question, “You wanna do some Molly shots.”

Jack asked what that was and the guy told him, “Pure Ecstasy.”

Jack had heard plenty about Ecstasy, and had been with tons of people when they did it, especially back in 2005 when hyphy was blowing up in California.  He had never taken it himself though.  Out of curiosity he took two shots of Molly and water.

After an hour of impatient waiting, Jack started feeling better than he ever had before in his life.  He felt so ecstatic and happy.  As if he was climaxing at a nonstop rate.  He felt alone in his hostel.  He wanted to get out and be around people, and listen to music.  Jack hadn’t wanted to listen to music more than at this moment in his entire life.

He wandered the town in the dead of night, enjoying every sight he saw, even the people he saw passing by.  Jack loved it, he felt energized to an endless point, and he couldn’t understand it, but he loved everyone.  He felt like his life time of indifference has been a mistake.  He actually loved these people walking by him, and he just smiled and gave an emphatic hello.  Eventually he came across a house party full of college students, who were blasting good music.  Jack walked in as Superstition just ended, and Thriller just got started on the speakers.  Jack immediately walked in, not having to pay anything, and stayed on the dance floor until the cops came.

When Jack returned to the hostel, he rubbed the sheets like they were the last piece of cloth on earth, loving their texture, and wishing he had Ann with him right now, and Alice and Fiona too.

Jack didn’t feel half as happy the next afternoon, when he awoke to what felt like the flu and a hangover combined.

Still, Jack felt he had to take this in with the ecstatic joy he felt last night.  It was worth the trade off, and Jack was glad he was feeling something.

Jack resolved to get more Molly from the guy, but by the time Jack woke he was gone.

Jack thought it was for the best.  

He soon changed his mind about Molly as he felt like shit for almost half the week,  and after the woman running the hostel regaled him with all of the retarded things he said like apologizing for dropping his own cigarette.  After the woman was done laughing in Jack’s face about that night and Jack stormed off to her laughter he simply resolved, “Never again, it’s not worth it.”

Jack soon forgot about the Molly, recovered his state of indifference and recovered from his cluster fuck morning after disease.

The next day Jack felt much better, and felt ready to conquer the word.  However,  instead he resolved just to find a spot to read some more.

His plans changed when he saw a white windowless van parked across the street.

Jack got the fuck out of there with all of his bags.

The van eventually faded into nothing, and he was safe, but still scared stiff.

“The fuckers are on my tale.” He thought.

He continued to wander the city in paranoia and eventually settled on stopping at a bar to get a drink to calm his nerves.  He drank his beer while constantly peeping over his shoulder to make sure no under-covers followed him, and to make sure the van wasn’t waiting outside with a  swat team to beat him into submission, drag him back to Leavenworth and keep him there the rest of his life.

The van wasn’t an undercover cop. What was inside was a man raping his girlfriend at gunpoint.  Jack was so paranoid he didn’t even try to check somehow.

Jack felt ashamed, as if this desperation of his was pathetic, but sadly necessary.  It was run away from strange white vans, or be on your guard 24/7 surrounded by iron and concrete.  Jack knew he had made a few mistakes, but he also knew he didn’t deserve twenty five years to the rest of his life just for following instinct.  He didn’t deserve that kind of a life.

Hell, he started to realize he didn’t need the kind of a life had now, but he decided he would rather be running from the law instead of in its grasp.  At least when you’re on the run, you get the pleasure of outsmarting the law.

In its grasp, the law reminds you every single day you could never be smart enough to out run it, never strong enough.

Jack felt that by walking casually out of Lampoc he had been strong enough, and indeed he had.

He had no idea how pissed Judge Bachman was when he found out one of his convicts had escaped.  He prayed when that they brought him back, they brought the escapee back to him in his court, but when he found out it was Jack Lewis, he only remembered that cold lack of emotion, and he couldn’t help but tremble just a little.

If he had seen Jack now, in a state of drunken paranoia, he would have had his ego restored.  Jack was lucky he was only having a panic attack.

Eventually he was drunk enough to forget about it all, and stumbled out onto the street.

When Jack woke up the next morning he was in the middle of some intercity park, his bags were spread out and emptied on the grass next to him.  All his food and all his money was gone.  They only left him his clothes and his books.

Jack tried to figure out what time he passed out, and he was glad his books were still okay.  He simply repacked his books, grabbed his now empty bags and started looking for a place where he could get some food.

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Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 8

Chapter 8  Missing Raincoats

 

Jack awoke the next morning to a hot coed with long hair and bangs snoring next to him, completely naked.  As she stayed asleep while hugging the pillow to her side, Jack stared at her ass that was twice as big and better than the tan girl’s from Boise.  He remembered her name miraculously, Ann.

She consented that she forgot his name too, and he told her that it was Jack.  She had changed since the last night.  He didn’t remember her voice being so high pitched.  He also didn’t notice how chipper this girl was.  It was as if she didn’t even have a hangover which both surprised and impressed him.

 

“So, would you wanna get some breakfast?” she asked not bullshitting, genuinely interested in sharing more time with Jack.

 

“Um, sure.” He conceded,  but he didn’t hesitate in exempting himself from further responsibility.    As pretty as the girl was Jack was in no position to be starting anything serious.  “I’m sure you can tell by the fact that I’m in a motel that I’m not a permanent resident.”

 

She smiled and relieved Jack.  Literally, she reassured him by jerking him off while she said this;

 

“Guys aren’t the only ones who like to have fun.” She timed it perfectly so that she said it right when he came all over her clenched yet soft, delicate fist.

 

Jack was surprised.  This girl was giggly, pretty in a Pink brand tee, but she was feisty at the same time.  She was the femme fatale you always see in movies but never in real life, thought Jack.  He started wondering if this was real life.

 

His philosophical thoughts ended as he lugged his hungover and recently sexed up self out of bed.  He got dressed and was soon off at a diner shooting the breeze with Ann.  She did most of the talking, occasionally asking Jack, “What do you think?” and then carried on again after Jack gave his one sentence answers.

 

They separated after breakfast.  She walked away smiling chipper and with a spring in her step.  Jack was glad they parted ways finally.  He did enjoy watching her marvelous big sturdy booty move as she strutted down the street back to her sorority sisters.

Jack went home alone and finished Crime and Punishment.  He smiled the entire way through and was glad to be alone again.

When he passed out he slept for a good hour, but then was awoken by one of those sudden thoughts that come leaping out at you from the dead of nowhere in your mind.

Soon, Jack panicked and jumped out of his bed and went through every scrap of garbage in every garbage can in his hotel room.

 

He knew he probably flushed the thing, but usually the wrapper was just left out or was in a waste paper basket.

 

Jack couldn’t find the condom or the wrapper anywhere.

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 7

Chapter 7  Fun and Games

After Jack was lost in a series of circle trips and junctions to nowhere, he eventually found himself traveling west, crossing the border into Oregon.  He carried on foot during the day, and at night posted himself in the cheapest motels he could find.  There was nothing but hills of grass and highway for miles in any direction he walked.  He passed the occasional truck stop and small town that felt like Northern California and South Central combined.  

Eventually he landed in Eugene, a town that felt like what Sacramento would be if it was pulsating with frat boys and sorority girls.  He eventually came to the University.  He sat in an empty bench in the courtyard of some random building near the edge of campus.  He put his bags next to him, and he pulled out Crime and Punishment.  He had just got to the part after the murder.  Jack was enjoying the book, but he couldn’t understand why the main character committed the murder since he had nothing to gain from it in the first place.  But Jack knew plenty of people in Leavenworth who killed for all kinds of reasons, most were crimes of passion, some were just flat out crazy, a few continued to claim it was self defense, a few did it either out of spite or to get something out of it, Jack had lost count of the people who swore they didn’t do it.  Jack didn’t believe them, nobody did, that’s why they were in jail.

Jack could tell these college students were a lot colder and less open than the ones he met in California.  They looked at him as if he was dirty, crusty and stale.  Which irritated Jack at first but then he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a near by window.  He was, in fact, crusty and dirty.  His hair was so long now that you couldn’t even see his tattoo on the back of his neck.

His beard had grown long and his hair was a weird brownish blond stained from the constant sunlight.  His skin was two shades away from being brown, he decided to clean up.

He still had over a thousand dollars left, but he didn’t want to waste it.  He had recently bought a tent in one of the mini Compton’s on the way here.  He continued to wander to find a spot to set up camp.  As he walked away from the university he passed by a number of fraternities and sororities.  One he could tell was about to host a party.  Jack decided to check it out later, and see if he couldn’t get some beer out of these kids, maybe even a little weed to to kill some time.  Jack was a little tired of reading every night by himself and decided he could use a little company for a night.

After a long debate with himself Jack consented to wasting some money on a motel room for at least tonight and tomorrow.  He cleaned himself up and he trimmed his beard just a little bit, to look a little less scraggly.  He also cleaned his clothes.  When ten-thirty rolled around he decided it was a good hour to go.  He got to the party, there was a small line to get in, and it was $5 at the door for guys to get a cup and drink all night, girls got in for free.  Jack got in and immediately became a wallflower on the stairs. He didn’t mind, he knew he didn’t look as good as back at the California party, but he wished at least one girl would notice him.

Every time he wished someone would come up to him he took a gulp, and after every three gulps he needed a refill.  By the first hour he had six beers.  The next hour he had six more, and he tallied them all on his palm.  Soon a cute redhead caught site of the marks and hollered, “Damn.”

She pointed to his palm, Jack looked at it and chuckled.  All he said was “I’ve been around the block a bit,”  with a coy smile.

The girl smiled back half taking him seriously and half laughing at him.  She extend her hand and said, “I’m Ann.”

Jack knew he had finally hit a home run.  He gently grasped her hand in that overly firm hand shake you give a girl when you’re a guy who has just met her.  “I’m Jack.”

The rest of the night at the party would remain a blur to Jack.  He did remember walking back to his motel with Ann, both stumbling drunk as hell.  The part that wasn’t a blur was when Jack pounded the hell out of that coed for four straight hours.  The part after that was just darkness.  The same was true with Ann.  She had never been pounded to the point of being so sore with pleasure.

Then she asked herself just before she passed out from ecstasy, “Holy crap, did this guy just get out jail or something?” But she didn’t care and had very pleasant drunken blurred dreams.

Jack didn’t dream that night.

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.

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.

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 4

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Chapter 4  Jack Lewis, Meet Lewis Carroll

Jack didn’t awake to the sounds and smells of a fresh breakfast.  This time Jack awoke to Alex’s loud vomiting in the bathroom.  It was 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, Kobe and Fiona were still slumped in a hangover coma on their respective claims of the couch.

Jack wasn’t even nearly in as much pain as any of them.  Jack had been a regular drinker since he was 12, he could chug half a fifth of anything and still wake up the next morning feeling as if he hadn’t drank at all.  The only alcohol that ever made Jack sick was the wine he would make or buy in prison.  His stomach would burn for days after drinking that stuff.

So to say the least, Jack had a better tolerance than his friends.  He even poured himself a Jack and Coke before they were awake.  Alcohol this good would have been a treat in the joint for Jack and the other inmates.  Jack remembered how excited they would get when he could get some prison wine made under his bed.  Needless to say, he was grateful to finally have a drink bought at a store.

 

When Fiona, Kobe, and Alex, were finally strong enough to slump into the kitchen, Jack had surprised them by making breakfast this time.  This breakfast was one thing worth while that Jack’s father had taught him.  It’s the perfect hangover cure, besides weed.

 

Buttered wheat toast, orange juice, ice water, fresh sausages and eggs with cheese for protein.  Jack was glad to finally share something he made with the group.  Jack at times felt guilty he didn’t have more to offer these people who were so nice to him, but he reminded himself it wasn’t his fault because he was fresh out of jail.  He knew the mantra didn’t make sense, but it was enough to clear his head so he could return to his traditional state of indifferent balance.

 

The weather had turned south on them, it was raining so hard it actually hurt to go outside and it wasn’t even hailing, it was just incredibly heavy rain.  So they decided to laze about inside.  The three would do what homework they had to get done, which didn’t take long, and the afternoon was free for just sitting in a circle, listening to music, watching movies, and smoking.

 

They got into conversations about who was better, Stevie Wonder or Barry White.  Fiona  spoke for Stevie and Alex for Barry.  Jack settled the argument by saying they were both amazing artists who changed music for the better, but they played different styles and were therefore not suitable for comparing and contrasting.

 

It was the smartest thing Jack had said since he had gotten out of jail.  For a few seconds he was very proud of himself.  He could never think of another time where he actually used the word “therefore.”

 

The topic soon shifted to the power of psychedelics and their emphasis in Alice in Wonderland.  Jack told the group he had never read it and they looked at him in a wide eyed shock, as if he had kicked their puppy.  Then they laughed, they teased and assured him it was worth reading, along with Through the Looking Glass.

 

“In fact,” said Alex as he stood up.  He walked to the shelves of pipes and grabbed a book that had been resting behind a bong and handed it to Jack.

 

“You can have this, I got an extra copy.  They are must reads.”  Alex handed Jack a Barnes & Noble copy of Lewis Carroll, both books in one, just for Jack.

 

The conversation shifted more into literature and Jack was once again left outside the trio’s ring on this subject.  He just sat and listened, feigning interest but not really caring or understanding.  Although when they got incredibly enthusiastic about Cornel West, Sinclair Lewis, and Moby Dick Jack did become curious.  “I should remember those names,” he thought to himself.

 

Suddenly, there was a loud bang on the front door.  Then a bellowing yell, “FIONA!”

 

“Shit,” she said to herself as she scattered and ran into her room.  Jack thought she was going to hide and lock the door but she came back out with a baseball bat.  Jack immediately smiled, “I love this woman,” he told himself half joking and half serious.

 

He stood alongside Alex and Kobe, forming a human wall between her and the door.  Jack looked back at her to see the hatred, and fear in her eyes.  Yet for some reason, she wasn’t about to run and hide.

 

The bangs and yells continued until Kobe opened the door with Alex standing behind his shoulder, both were in plain sight, and tried to look tough, Jack just stood between Alex and Fiona looking naturally intimidating as he usually does.  Soon the door was open and the whole crew were exposed to Fiona’s drunken abusive ex from high school.

 

“Fuck off George!”  Kobe told him.

 

“And a hello to you to,” slurred George in a drunken stupor.  When he saw Fiona with the bat he just laughed smugly, “What you gonna do with that? Huh?”

 

Kobe and Alex tried to push him back as he stepped forward into the door, but George punched both of them in the stomach so hard they began to gag.  When he stepped towards Fiona, she gave one swing into his ribs, and for a few seconds he was hunched over.

 

Before Fiona could swing again, it was as if Jack had awoken from a coma.  In a matter of seconds Jack had leaped out, grabbed George by the front of the neck, and with one hand had him pinned against the wall and off his feet, at least three inches off the ground.  The rumors about all the muscle you build in jail, if you do it right, are true.

 

What made it all the more terrifying was the fact that Jack didn’t show even the slightest sight of anger or any other emotion on his face.  He was less than an inch away from crushing this drunk’s windpipe, and he wasn’t even showing a hint of anger, stress, or hesitation.

 

“Listen,” Jack began. “I’ve served time in the hardest of prisons with some of the most dangerous of people. You see me standing here now?  That means I had no problem surviving.  I have no problem going back, and I especially have no problem going back for crushing your throat  until your arteries burst and spray like liquid fireworks.  You got me, fuck face?”

 

George gave what he could of a nod as his face was turning bright blue. Jack let go and the pathetic man slumped onto the floor, he wondered who the hell this guy was, why he was so quick to defend these people, and what the fuck was wrong with him.  George was violent, but he had no idea anyone in this world could be so ruthless.

What Jack said terrified george.  George had been threatened before, but never had he believed it.  He genuinely believed this guy, the fact someone could say something so horrific with absolutely no emotion was capable of anything.  George attempted to stand up and leave but Jack forced him back onto the floor with a kick down.

 

“No,” Jack declared.  “You crawl out of here, or you don’t leave at all.”

George obeyed, and he crawled out of the house on all fours, like a sad wounded pup, and into the harsh rain.

 

Alex and Kobe recovered and stood by Fiona, who had just watched the entire scene both gratified and speechless.  She was thrilled to see George finally get what he deserved, but she had no idea Jack was capable of such terror.

Immediately after the crisis had been handled, Alex,  Kobe, and Fiona could nothing but just stare at Jack.  Jack hadn’t even noticed them, he was in the kitchen pouring himself a drink when he turned around to find them all staring at him.

 

“Nice Job with the bat,”  he said to Fiona.  “Good choice for home defense, I used to have one back when I lived with my folks.”

 

The three still stood speechless.  They all sat immediately when Jack did.  Jack finally asked through his drinking, “So what was the deal with the bastard?”

 

“He was my ex from high school, I was with him all four years, which was a mistake, he was just a drunk bastard who just, had this power over me.”  Fiona seemed almost ashamed to talk about him.  “I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t until I finally got him out of my life that I could make something out of myself.”

 

She paused for a moment, searching for the words.  “I can’t explain.”  She said again continuing, “But when I was with him at first there were these moments when he just made me so happy and feel so special, then he would just go off on some booze and ecstasy binge and remind me of how quote, “I’m nothing without him.”  Eventually I got away.  Eventually I realized I don’t need a man to make me whole.  No girl does, and men don’t need ‘better halves’ for that matter.”  She was just thinking out loud at this point, but the boys let her speak, they knew she had been holding this in for a while.  “Security starts with the self, you know?  I’m not saying love isn’t real or important, but you have to love yourself before anyone else can. You know?”

 

Fiona was silent.  She apologized for going on a tangent.  Kobe and Alex looked stone cold serious and empathic at Fiona’s painful reminisce.  Jack could tell the painful memories were not just her’s but theirs as well.  Kobe rubbed her shoulder in a comforting manner.

 

Jack felt empathy for Fiona.  “I wish my mom was as strong as she is,” he thought.  “Then maybe she wouldn’t have taken all of dad’s bullshit out on me, she could have gotten away.”

 

Jack rubbed her other shoulder and assured her she didn’t need to explain herself.  She thanked him, but the look of caution was not going to be wiped off of their faces any time soon.  Jack could tell his actions weren’t comforting them.  They did thank him for getting rid of the guy, but Jack could see there was a mild fear in them, and it made him feel shame.  He knew that they would never look at him the same way again.  They knew what he was capable of now.  Although Jack would never hurt these three, he knew they would forever be afraid of the chance.

 

They said their goodnights and all went to bed.

 

Except Jack, Jack did not go to bed.  Instead he lied on the floor staring at the ceiling playing the events over again in his head on a loop, and he cared a little less each time he replayed the events.  He didn’t over react, he did what he had to do to keep them safe.  He did, however, decide it was time to walk on.  He had made a share of money from the pot sales, and he didn’t want to bare the looks of his friends knowing that behind the friendly exterior they fear a murderous potential.

 

Jack packed his bags, counted his agreed share of cash out, and took a few ounces of the less potent weed, knowing they wouldn’t mind.  He also grabbed a few bottles of Jack Daniels, and he left a note that said, “Thank you for everything, you were the first people who were legitimately nice to me in years.  Thank you again. I will always be in your guys’ debt.”

 

Then, shaking it all off and quickly resolving back to not caring, Jack was out the door and back on the road.

 

He stopped quickly to check his bag to make sure he didn’t forget something.  He was relieved to find the book they gave him when he opened his bag.  Sighing, he closed his bag again and continued in what he believed was North or North East.  He was glad the rain had stopped and the wind had parted the clouds, so he could see the stars as he walked.

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 3

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Chapter 3  Fresh Bacon

Jack had never had slept so comfortably in his entire life.  Usually he was in so much pain when he woke up in the morning that he needed either a shot of whiskey or a cigarette to make the pain go away.  For the first time in a while he woke up in high spirits.  It wasn’t either to the prison alarms or his mother’s angry fighting with his dad, or his mother’s crying, or his mother calling telling him his “lazy good for nothing ass needs to wake up so that he can get some kind a job and pull some fucking weight for once.”

This time, he awoke at 10, a more than comfortable hour for once, to the clitter and clatter of pots and pans and the delicious smell of frying bacon and scrambled eggs with pepper-jack cheese.  

FRESH bacon, an inconceivable luxury in the joint. Jack knew it was real cheese in the eggs he smelled to, the fake cheese they used in the pen reeked of grease and chemicals.

Jack got up yawning and walked to the kitchen, Kobe, Alex and Fiona were all at work at the same time making the delicious treats.  Jack offered his help but they assured him they had everything covered.  

“Bro don’t trip, we got it,” said Kobe with his usual smile.  “Go wait in the living room and pack a bowl, work up a good case of the munchies for a bomb-ass breakfast.”

Jack obeyed.  He wished there was some way he could help, but he settled for bong hits by himself in the living room.  Once the breakfast was served they all sat around the kitchen table with breakfast and a joint.  Kobe, Alex, and FIona carried on the conversations they would have if Jack was not normally there, and Jack just sat and smiled when everyone smiled and laughed when everyone laughed.  He pretended to know what they were talking about when they talked about SHpongle and Bass-Nectar.  Jack hadn’t followed music since he got locked up and the Crunk Hyphy “movement” was going on.  These were the conversations that reminded Jack he was an outsider, just a visitor.  He loved these three, but he could tell that he wasn’t intimate enough to be a part of the family.  He was more than welcome, he didn’t doubt that.  He just wasn’t an official member, more like an honorary one.  

But he enjoyed himself for now.  The three had decided to spend another day at the beach, and Jack they said was more than welcome to tag along.  He accepted, and they set out.

While in the car Jack decided to ask, “You know, I am a little short on cash at the moment, you guys wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a little work around here, at least for a few weeks?”

Kobe actually smiled, “Yeah, Actually, we have a job opportunity for you.”

Jack guessed, “Does it involve the giant crop in your guy’s cottage?”

“Yup,” Alex said from the passenger seat.

“Basically we need someone to sell our weed for us.  We are in school when we aren’t in the house taking care of the plants.  We already are sitting on a shit ton of crop that we haven’t moved,” Kobe said.  “The most we can manage to push is just an occasional quarter or ounce that that our friends buy.  You know, don’t get me wrong,” he conceded, “it’s nice of them to buy from us, but it only goes so far, you know?”

“I get it,” said Jack.  “You guys want me to peddle your weed for you while you’re in classes.”

“Exactly,” said Kobe.  “We’ve been looking for someone for a while, and since you’re crashing on the floor for now, consider it your rent, and we will give you 25 percent if that’s cool with you?”

Jack was more than cool with it. “Sound’s perfect.”

Jack enjoyed another day at the beach with his new friends, they then retired to the cottage to more weed and beer and a Bill Murray movie marathon.  The next day was Monday and the three had classes all day long.  So Jack got as much of one of the strains that was already dried, the first was Purple Kush, into sandwich baggies, weighing out grams, eighths, and quarters.  He then loitered outside local high schools, malls, and beaches, and anyplace else he could find teenagers.  He sold out before noon and had to make his way back to the cottage on foot to get more.  

He made four hundred in cash.  He got lucky and he knew it, but still Jack felt smug.  He couldn’t help but feel he had earned his keep.

Needless to say the three were thrilled that so much weed had been sold.

The next day was slower, much of his previous customers still had the weed from yesterday, but they all brought friends to Jack.  The weed was so good that word of mouth spread faster than Jack could expect.  

The third day was better than the first, the original customers were out by now, and so were the friends, and this time the other friends brought their friends.  

In less than one week Jack had pushed a pound of weed.

They decided to celebrate their new found success by showing Jack the party scene.  Everyone from school was going to this beach bonfire and so were they.  They had more Jack Daniels than anyone else at the party.  

Fiona and Kobe were off dancing together, Alex was with his girlfriend, and Jack was standing alone with some weed and taking swigs of a fifth of Jack Daniels.  Jack usually didn’t care about whether he was alone or not.  When random drunk college girls were rubbing up on him or talking to him, Jack just stood and didn’t react in the manner that the girls had wanted.  Jack was confused as to why he was so uninterested.  He had been in jail for such a long time that at night he felt like he could jump on any girl at any minute.  But now he was just uninterested, he couldn’t help but feel a little pathetic considering how many opportunities he had. College girls are already loose and being a thief and ex con gave him the danger angle, but he decided to just spend his time getting intoxicated and watching the crowd.

As he stood and people-watched, Jack could not help but reminisce about the parties he used to go to back in South Central.  They weren’t many differences, but the few that there were, were noticeable and not what Jack was accustomed to.  He was used to shit getting broken, fights breaking out, and know one used to share stuff, it used to be all BYOB and bring your own weed.  But in a college party the air seemed to be about sharing.  It was the goal of everyone not just to get fucked up, but to get everyone fucked up with them.

It wasn’t until the sirens and lights went off that the party came to its close.  Everyone made their way out, and got into their cars and drove off.

Kobe had a few drinks, but he was definitely sober enough to drive.  Alex was so drunk he forgot he was wearing pants, Fiona was in a girl drunk, she was giggly and slumped onto any shoulder she could, and since Jack was in the back seat he was the lucky winner of being her support beam.

They stumbled their way into their house, got into a circle and smoked a final joint for the night.  They all passed out almost in unison exactly where they slumped in the living room.

That night Jack dreamed of Alice, only in the dream she didn’t have her tattoo.

He then had another dream that he was still in prison, watching a guy get jumped in the courtyard during break.  Jack had lost count how many times he had seen that happen in real life.  But there was a big difference this time.  In his dream he could remember saying, “I wonder if he is okay.”