Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis

N2cover

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis

By James J. Jackson Jr

Chapter one.  Jack Lewis, We Hardly Know Ye.

Crime to Judge Bachman was a choice.  It does not matter what you see Judge Bachman for, you will see the fullest sentence for it.  May god help you if it’s your third strike.

It was Jack Lewis’ third strike.

Jack Lewis in the eyes of the law, or rather Judge Bachman, was a good for nothing thief.  First offense; when he was nineteen a buddy of Jack’s broke into a house and didn’t tell Jack of his intentions.  Jack was standing outside when the cops rolled up. He and his friend both got five months.

Jack’s friend got knifed three days into his sentence and died on the way to treatment.  He didn’t even live past the cellblock doors. 

Jack served his sentence, then two weeks later Jack got caught trying to grab $500 cash from the front seat of a car by reaching in the passenger side window.  It turned out to be a sting operation.  Jack tried to claim entrapment and failed.

He got 5 years for attempted larceny and for violating his probation.

He got out in three years, but then he pulled another job and stole $5,000 cash from a Beverly Hills family home at gun point after a failed break in woke up the father.

The cops rolled up on Jack before he could even make it past the drive way.  When Jack lived in South Central and he called the cops on his dad for beating the shit out of his mom, it took them twenty minutes.  Here they were practically waiting for Jack to leave the house. 

He never even knew the guy had a silent alarm.  He also had no idea how much they cost.

Now Jack was here, about to stand sentence for breaking and entering and armed robbery for his third strike and was about to be sentenced to 25 to life.

When Judge Bachman banged the gavel and made the sentence official, Jack didn’t even flinch.

There was no surprise, no shock, fear, or worry in Jack’s face, and Bachman didn’t like that one bit.  Bachman was used to making the baddest and toughest criminals hang their heads low in despair, yet Jack didn’t cede.  Bachman couldn’t understand why, and for the rest of his term on the bench he would always be a little self conscious that he would have another Jack Lewis in his court.

Jack got into the orange line of men being put into a big iron caged bus with tinted windows.  The man in front of Jack was a bank robber and the guy behind him was a child molester.  He would get his throat cut before the night was over.

Jack still had that emotionless look on his face.  Completely unfazed by the world around him, it didn’t matter that he was in a bus full of men who would never see the light of day again.  His face was almost set like a stone statue, no fear, and no remorse.

Jack was a model prisoner.  No guards ever fucked with him more than they did with any of the other inmates.  It’s pretty much required in the job that you torture them all just a little bit, but you reward the quite ones by torturing them just a little less.  Jack also never got into any scuffles or got on anyone’s bad-side, nothing happened to him when he took a shower, and he even enjoyed conversing a little with the other inmates in the smoking sections.  They would exchange cigarettes and stories, but that was the extent of Jack’s socializing.  He was a loner outside of prison and he was going to stay a loner in prison, no matter what.

The warden rewarded Jack’s behavior by pulling some strings and convincing his superiors that Jack was suitable for a minimum security “resort,” so they complied and Jack was transferred to Lompoc in California. 

Jack’s lawyer appealed day in and day out as he did for all his convicted clients, but nothing could be done to get the sentence reduced.  Judge Bachman also had a way of pulling strings, making sure every sentence he ever makes, even if it’s proven wrong, stands. 

It wouldn’t matter because Jack would be out soon any way.

One day when the guards were doing a head count they noticed the irregularity in Jack’s cell, not only was he gone, but so was every single shred of Jack’s existence in the cell, even the blankets and the pillow from his bed.  All of his possessions had been cleared out as if he was scheduled for release, he wasn’t even scheduled for a parole hearing for another five years.

One day, Jack Lewis, simply tired of the prison routine, packed everything up in bags and backpacks.  He then put on street clothes he stole from laundry, and he just walked out the front door.  The guard even waved to him and wished him luck as he walked out.

Jack was now at an impasse, he didn’t know what to do now.  He didn’t care about the fact that he was now probably going to become one of the most wanted men in the country, as far as the prison matter was concerned it was the past.  Jack never gave a shit about the past, all he cared about was now.

So, Jack simply decided to keep walking.  All his worldly possessions in one overstuffed backpack.  He didn’t know if he was going north south east west or whatever.  Jack simply decided to walk.

He wasn’t stupid though.  He knew that he should probably change something with his hair or do something to disguise himself, so he wore a pair of glasses to mess up any facial recognition programs the feds might use, he saw it in an episode of Law and Order.  He decided to grow his hair long and to grow a beard.

Jack was now ready to continue walking.  He wandered until he found the Pacific Coast Highway and just walked and watched the beautiful beaches and sun stained cliffs, and in a rare moment of emotion, Jack couldn’t help but crack a smile and couldn’t help but chuckle and be amused about the blank new life he had before him.

Chapter 2  Jack’s New Friends

For the first few nights Jack just crashed, tentless, in empty lots and beaches.  He had pinched and saved little bits of money over the years by trading with some of the other prisoners, but it certainly wasn’t much and it certainly wouldn’t last very long.

Eventually Jack decided to move his wandering inland, and he ended up in Los Angeles.  He wandered through East LA, down to Gardena, and even found his way to his old neighborhood in South Central.  Three cop cars drove past him while he was there and they didn’t even look at him.  He wondered how long it took them to get his APB out.

Jack’s wandering eventually led him to a bar.  “The GULP” in Hollywood, it was one of the places where the bohemians and the young of LA came to drink and discuss whomver was the new band on the scene.  Jack overheard the conversations and thought they were mostly rather self important.  

Except for one girl, the one with the Sailor Jerry hula dancer tattooed on her forearm.  She had tan skin and black hair, and she went on about how the state of the will has always been non existent and has only been the illusion of the mind.  Jack didn’t have any clue of what the fuck she was talking about, but he was interested.

But then some jackass who overheard her and who completely misunderstood her point got offended started yelling something about the existence of God and called her “SKANK,” at the top of his lungs.  

When he grabbed the girl by the forearm, Jack did not hesitate to bash his glass against the prick’s head so hard that a shard almost made it through the crack that was made in his skull.

The bar went silent except for the man’s cries of pain.  Blood stained the bar and the floor as the man clenched his burgundy stained palm to his forehead, and Jack had no sign of emotion on his face.  He simply put on his coat, paid his tab, nodded and muttered “Ma’am,” to the girl as if this was a scene out of a John Wayne movie.  He then turned and began to walk out.  As he walked out the girl yelled, “My name is Alice.”

Jack didn’t stop walking or even turn around.  All he said, loud enough for everyone in the bar to hear was, “That’s nice.”

He then walked into the night’s cold wind, stepping over homeless slumps on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Kermit the Frog was now home to a disturbed Vietnam vet, and Lucille Ball hosted a schizophrenic who thought Ivanhoe and Dr. Faust were his associates.

Jack walked on and he gave what little change he could to every cup that he saw.

Jack had no place to sleep in the city, so he settled for one of those transient hotels on the underside of town.  He got an almost free room there, he lied and said his name was Lewis Jackson.  He slept on the hard mattress and pillow and was thankful to have a roof over his head again.

For a brief moment, he wondered what had become of his old room at his mom’s, and what happened to all of his belongings.  But like usual he didn’t care, he merely shrugged and went to sleep.

The next morning he was awoken by a knock on the door.

Jack had no peep hole so he had to crack the door to find that it wasn’t the police but the girl with the tattoo on her arm.

Jack was annoyed.  “Can I help you?” Jack grunted, drunk on gin and sleep.

She was timid but eventually she found the words.  “I wanted to thank you.  I never thanked you properly and I just wanted to…”

“How did you find where I was?” he interjected.

“I followed you last night…”  She was still timid.  Jack’s tone wasn’t helping her nerves.

“And why didn’t you just thank me last night?  Why wait until the morning?” He interrupted again.

“You seemed like you wanted to be left alone, plus it takes a little while to gather up the courage to thank someone for shoving shards of glass into someone’s face.”

“Fair point.” Jack conceded, “The girl is smart,” he thought, “a little weird but smart.”

“Well, Alice was it? You are welcome, but listen I don’t know if you have any other intentions or anything else you want to say or ask or anything like that.  So, please do it now and then please do me the favor of fucking off.  Don’t take it the wrong way but I’m not the kind of guy a girl like you should be getting involved with in any way shape or form.  You got it?”  He said this with his usual lack of anger, stress, or any other remote emotion.  He simply stated it as a straightforward matter of fact.

She rubbed her arms and conceded that she only wanted to know if there was anything she could do to repay him?

Jack said that he hasn’t had sex since he left prison, so she gave him head, and they had three rolls in the hay.  She left doing something she wasn’t when she arrived, smiling.

Jack felt sorry for the girl as she left, in Jack’s mind anyone who was willing to have sex with someone who would bash another person’s head in must have some serious issues.  Jack was grateful to finally have gotten some tail though.  But he didn’t let it stop him from packing up and moving on to the next town.

Jack went back to his aimless wandering and ended up on the coast, Jack could have sworn he was walking south, but it didn’t matter, a change in venue was a change in venue.

Jack had a problem now though, Jack was out of money.  He could steal some, but until he had cash Jack settled on shoplifting random foods and bottles of water.  He spent his whole childhood shoplifting, and he never got caught, he was practically an expert at it.

He managed to get ten pre wrapped sandwiches, plenty of canned goods, and any bottle of whiskey he could sneak.

After he stocked up on food he wandered about the town, and eventually ended up back on the beach.  There he saw a group of college kids smoking pot and drinking beer.  Jack was in the mood to socialize so he walked up to the group, introduced himself using only his first name and offered some whiskey if they would smoke pot with him.  

The obvious leaders of the group were a long haired thin white hippie in a baja sweatshirt, and a tan black haired kid in a grey Cosby sweater with a hawk-like nose.  The leader of the females of the group was a brown haired Amazonian who had long flowing hair and thin square hipster glasses.  Jack immediately wanted to sleep with her, but for the first time in his life Jack was actually intimidated by this woman.  He didn’t know what it was but she was so beautiful, in a strong way.  

The three did not hesitate to smile and welcome Jack to the group, and invited him to not only enjoy the pot but to also enjoy the marshmallows they were roasting, the fire to keep warm, and they even offered to let him crash at their beach side house that night.

Jack was taken aback by their open friendliness. It was a warmth that Jack hadn’t felt in a long time, not since he was a little kid visiting his grandma who would spoil him with Oreos and Pizza Rolls and tell him how special and imaginative he was.

The atmosphere was so open and welcome, that for the first time since he was a child, Jack genuinely smiled, laughed and had a good time.  Eventually he pointed out to the others “You know you guys never told me your names.”

The others laughed and apologized, and all the three leaders introduced themselves along with the others who seemed more or less to be the followers of the group.  The thin kid with long hair was Kobe, “Not pronounced like the ball player. Not kobie, kobAY.” He giggled like the stoner he was, the tan kid with long hair introduced himself as Alex.  The girl leader of the group was Fiona, and she smiled what Jack thought was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen.

“So where you from?” Alex asked Jack.

“South Central.” Jack replied as he inhaled a joint.

“That’s rough dude,” said Kobe.  Jack could immediately tell that he was the social butterfly of the group, he interjected on any conversation casually and naturally.  Jack wished he had social skills like that, and conceded to himself that if he had gone to college maybe he could have developed them.  But he remembered that no one with criminal records get financial aid, and college like everything else in the US, except air, costs money.

But Jack liked Kobe nonetheless, it was impossible not to like him.

Their conversation went on for a while, and Kobe revealed they were students at Santa Monic College.  Eventually, Fiona joined the conversation by asking, “So where did you do your time?”

The whole group was taken back by the question, except for Jack, he just smiled one of his rare smiles and said,“Smart girl, how’d you know though?”

“You can’t seriously tell me that I’m the first one to point out the bar code tattooed on the back of your neck. Bar code tattoos either means you really like some product and have an odd way of showing it, or you did time and got your number tattooed under a barcode.  It’s a common prison tattoo.”

Jack could not feel stupider.  He had forgotten all about his tattoo, which no one had in fact mentioned.  Jack never saw his tattoo because it was on the back of his neck, and in prison tattoos are so common no one bothers to mention them to each other so you eventually forget you even have one.  Jack just smiled, and replied, “Lampoc, for larceny.  Don’t worry, I’m clean now.”  He felt no need to list his whole record, or the fact he was on the run.  He didn’t want to trouble them with that fact.

Fiona smiled back, “Dude it’s cool.”

Alex added, “Totally,” as he coughed excessively.

“Forgive and forget, that’s what I say.”  Kobe said with his friendly smile.

“Thanks,” said Jack. Jack couldn’t believe it.  Most people in the world would shun him faster than anyone could.  But they didn’t, Jack almost wanted to cry, but managed to stay in high spirits.  They didn’t even withdraw their invitation for him to crash at their place.

When it came time to pack up, Jack helped them and sat in the back seat next to Fiona, whom he always smiled to and who always smiled back.

The house was a simple cottage, with a kitchen and living room and pot plants growing and drying all over, and a whole wall decorated with every kind and color of smoking utensil imaginable.

The minions had dispersed to their homes, and Jack was left with the three leaders in their home.  They circled up in the living room exchanging stories and hitting a vaporizer.

Jack hadn’t smoked pot since his second strike.   By his second hit he was so high he felt like he was floating.  When he passed out  he felt like he was floating even in his dreams, which consisted of Fiona and Alice.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 to 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.

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.

Chapter 10   Nancy

Jack walked and walked, depleted of memory or energy.  He felt weak, he needed food and needed it fast.  He was glad to find water fountains so he could drown his dehydration.  Jack hadn’t been in so much pain in years.  So devoid of energy and strength, he felt open and exposed, as if anyone could get him at any time if they wanted to, and it was true.  Any one could get him at this time, Jack was surprised that nobody tried.  Then again they already had.

Jack eventually found a mom and pop liquor store.  He walked out with his bags as full as if he had just gone grocery shopping.

He walked up half the block before the pop from the store, a sixty something Vietnam vet, fired and reloaded a shot from a small handgun, grazing Jack’s palm, taking out a healthy sized chunck.  Jack looked back and was lucky the old coots eyesight was failing him because he just dodged another bullet meant for his stomach, the last bullet was supposed to go into Jack’s spine.  

Jack easily outran the bastard but now became aware of the sound of sirens behind him.  Jack thought the sound was coming from at least two blocks behind, and he saw a dumpster ten feet ahead.  He timed it just right and laid low in the dumpster as he heard the sirens pass.  He didn’t hesitate to see how far they were. He just grabbed his stuff and went in the opposite direction of the old coot and the cops.  His palm smeared blood on all his clothes and a big red deformed animal print was left all over the dumpster.

The cops hunting Jack would never find it.  They still thought Jack was in Boise.

Jack ran grasping his palm in horrific pain.  He took out the pimp’s shirt from his back back and tore a long thin strand of its fabric and wrapped it as tightly as he could around his  hand.  He choked off the bleeding, but couldn’t move a single finger except his thumb.  He could actually see the gap in his palm and see the pool of blood filling it in.  Jack wondered what to do, and he resolved to get the hell out of the city as soon as he could.

Jack got out of Portland in a matter of hours and before the day was over, he had entered Washington state.  Jack decided to continue his trek north, as far north as he could go.  Jack would do what it takes, but he resolved he would start a new trek in Canada.  It was far from the authorities and he could fight extradition easily. he wasn’t Leonard Peltier after all, what do the cops have to gain by putting one schmuck like him back into some already over crowded and diseased infested prison.

Cops only had the bragging rights to gain, saying they brought in a dangerous, escaped convict. It was all they had to gain by putting Jack back in, and it was all they wanted.  It was all the reason they needed.

Some of the guards at Leavenworth even hoped they would bring him back there, and in their hopes were already preparing their taunts and teases for the bugger.  One was going to take Jack’s chains off and leave the front door open and pretend he didn’t have his gun.Then if the bugger made a move for it he would bash his brains into the depths of his bowels.

That guard had a heart attack and died the same day he had the idea.

Another was going to dangle keys in front of Jacks cage like a game of keep away in an elementary school play yard.

Jack was completely oblivious about the fact that the law was going insane trying to bring him in.  The media hadn’t even mentioned the story since Jack first walked out which Jack also hadn’t realized it but that was six months ago.  It had been a whole six months since he saw Kobe Alex and Fiona, he missed them.  Especially the warmth of their home.

He decided to camp in a clearing under the stars when his energy was no more.  When he lied down to go to sleep, he could not help but find it a little funny that after he might have knocked up a girl he got shot in his hand.

By the time Jack reached Seattle he had finished Ivanhoe and was now beginning The Art of War.  He had been moneyless for days and had stolen every drop of food and alcohol he had when he ran out of goods from the old coot’s store.  The palm caused Jack horrific pain daily, yet with almost everything else Jack saw, he didn’t care.  He honestly couldn’t care less about the safety and cleanliness of his wound, he was more concerned with the lessons to be taught by Sun Tzu.  

Jack still had no use of his hand except his thumb, but he still managed to get by alright.  The blood had thickened into an almost perfect circle, and had solidified as if Jacks palm had a big red circle in the middle of it creasing into the bottom edge of his pinky.  The streaks and lines on his gushy circle looked like a cross hairs of a sniper rifle.  

Jack slumped in an alley behind a pizza shop, and stuck his nose in his books, but he was interrupted by the rain.  It started to come down in bucket sized drops, and the wind blew harsh like a tempist storm.  Jack consented to sit in the pizza place until they kicked him out.  He knew that since he couldn’t buy a slice they wouldn’t let him stay too long, but Jack just wanted to be out of the rain.  Now he started to miss his old friends even more.

He sat in the farthest corner of the parlor, a 21 year old covered in tattoos came from around the counter and asked if there was anything he could get him.  Jack told him he didn’t have any money and just wanted to get out of the rain.  The obvious death rocker told him it was cool, and he understood. He told Jack he could stay as long as he needed, or until they have a rush and needed the table.

Jack thanked the guy and returned to reading.  “The man’s generousity definitly conflicted with the bloody sea creatures and deformed mutants he had tattooed on his arms,” though Jack.

Ten minutes later another person, much older and probably the owner, came up to Jack asking the same question, but in a much more forceful irritated and rude manner.  Jack told him the same story, and the man asked him to leave.  Jack told him the other guy told him it was cool.  The man asked to be excused for a second.  

In the back room he could hear them screaming and shouting.

“ITS NOT YOUR FUCKING RESTAURANT ITS MINE.  YOU GOT IT?” the boss screamed.

“FUCK YOU,” screamed the tattooed employee.  He continued knowing he was definitely fired after that outburst.  “HE’S JUST A BUM TRYING TO STAY OUT OF THE RAIN.  WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THROW HIM OUT ON THE STREETS?”

“YES!” screamed the owner back, soon following it up with a yelp of pain, a gurgling of blood, and a crash which was then followed by benign yelps of, “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST GET THE HELL OUT!”  

Jack soon saw the employee storm out and throw his apron on to the counter.  He put on his leather jacket and walked out into the rain.  Jack followed after him.

“THANKS.” Jack cried out sincerely.

The tattooed death rocker had let his hair down since leaving, revealing curly untamed Tarzan locks. His combat boots were stained with paint, and like the rest of his clothes they were black.  He puffed away at his cigarette under a shoddy umbrella as he turned to face Jack.

“No problem!” he yelled over the traffic and wind.  “Don’t trip, it ain’t your fault, this was just a long time coming.”

After a brief pause the man made Jack an offer he couldn’t refuse. “You wanna come smoke some pot!”

Jack jumped on the opportunity and followed the man up four blocks to a townhouse that reeked of pale ales and pot.  When Jack stepped through the door it was like being back in Santa Monica, only with one other person in the house.

“I’m Jack by the way.” Jack said as they stepped through the door.

“Nancy, and if you make a joke about that I’m going to punch you in your crotch.”  He replied soon following it with a vibrant smile and chuckle.

“It’s cool,” said Jack, “I’ve been to the pen so I’ve heard weirder names. Trust me.”

“Oh,” he said following it with another chuckle, “No shit?  Well, whatever dude.  We’ve all had a run in with the law.  Do want a beer?”

“Sure.”

Nancy retreated and soon returned with two large pale ales.  “Yeah a couple of these fuckers, and they’ll put me in my place, and its a good place.”

They both chuckled and drank their beer, as they talked Nancy packed and lit a bowl in his bong.

Jack did think it was odd that a man with bloody skeleton tattoos and psychedelic sleeves would go by the name Nancy.  But Jack was fairly open minded for your self educated ex con. The guy could be named Pinky Mcgee and Jack wouldn’t have cared.  

Nancy was different. He had the look of a death metal Marilyn Manson worshiper but the air of a friendly and good natured person.  

Then the conversation somehow shifted to Charles Manson,  apparently although he thought he was a horrible person, Nancy admitted that Manson’s writing Helter Skelter was in some aspects true and should be given credit where credit was due.  “I mean he was right about a lot of shit, I mean, yeah, he’s responsible for killing innocent people and almost killing a president, but he was right about shit, like how everything is going to have to be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”

Jack didn’t quite agree with what Nancy was saying, but he consented to give Helter Skelter a read.  He was slightly irritated over how he didn’t agree with what Nancy said about Manson, but Jack couldn’t think of anything to counter or prove him wrong.  He knew he was wrong but he could not figure out how to explain why, as with almost any other intellectual debate Jack had ever had remote involvement in.

After Jack was drunk on pale ale and high on Nancy’s home grown, Jack pardoned himself and said he did not want to be a mooch and consented to leave.  Nancy assured him it was no problem, and he extended an offer of his couch for a couple of nights. “This storm is supposed to last half the week, I couldn’t just turn someone out into this weather, even if I knew them or not.  I mean I trust you.  You’re not like a baby fucker or creeper,or anything like that right?”  Nancy followed it with his usual chuckle to reassure Jack that he wasn’t being serious, and it was just his twisted sense of humor.

Jack appreciated it. Jack had developed a twisted sense of humor since prison, and he was glad someone else had one two.  Jack had to admit, Nancy was brutal at times, but it was funny none the less.

Jack accepted and slept on the couch, both men had passed out into comas by seven, and had awoken by nine.  Jack arose to Nancy stewing a big can of baked beans over his stove.

“Just in time,” said Nancy, grab a plate and a coffee, and there’s some bread on the table.

Jack sat down and helped himself to a slice of the white bread on the table and put another on his plate. He then sat down as Nancy poured two big scoops onto both of the plates.  They ate quietly as the storm outside raged.

“I appreciate you taking me in dude,” said Jack after they had finished their beans and started nursing the coffee.  “I mean most people are less than open to..”

Nancy interrupted him with his palm and a shake of his head, “Don’t worry about it dude.  When all you’re trying to do is live your life, you shouldn’t be fucked just for that.  It’s super messed up that I actually had to fight my boss over shit like keeping someone from catching pneumonia or some shit like that.  I mean… what was I supposed to do be a dick and kick you out into the storm?”  He answered his own question with another chuckle.  “Hell no.”

Jack nodded in complete agreement.  After the meal they washed it down with some more pale ales and bong rips. Then Nancy put on a copy of the Big Lewbowski. Jack had never seen it before and loved it.  He loved John Goodman’s character, and knew he was going to quote him more than once.  “YOU’RE ENTERING A WORLD OF PAIN!”

“Classic,” thought Jack.

The two stayed up for a few more hours watching basic network shows as Nancy made fun of each sitcom and commercial.

“What moron would need that!”

“Isn’t it funny that someone can be as much of dick like Charlie Sheen, and they get ridiculously paid just for acting to a bad laugh track?”

“Why the fuck did Jim Belushi’s brother get a show again?”

All of which were followed by Nancy’s usual chuckle and smile.  All of which Jack agreed with as well and thought were funny.  

Eventually Nancy couldn’t help but ask.  “So what happened to your palm there,” he took the voice of a crotchety old mining prospector “Ol buddy.”

Jack made up some story about being caught in the middle of some gang crossfire and was too poor to get health insurance.

Nancy sympathized, and said he didn’t have insurance either.  

As the hours of the night passed, Nancy retreated back to bed, and Jack was left awake in the weed filled living room, furnished with an old leather couch and milk crates.  He sat on the couch until the start of dawn with his nose in a copy of Ivanhoe and Macbeth.  

Jack was starting to think that Shakespeare was his favorite.

He slept for a few hours.  He was awoken once again to the sound of sizzling beans and bubbling coffee.  The rain still pounded outside, so Jack and his new friend were stranded for another day.  It consisted of downing pale ales and of Nancy giving an estate lecture on Rembrandt and Marcel Duchamp.  It also consisted of Nancy’s explanations of why he hated Aretha Franklin and Chevy Chase. Jack defended them, not entirely sure why seeing how he wasn’t a die hard fan of either, but he didn’t dislike them.

They mixed their pale ales and conversations with more bad television and Weed.

“I just thought of something,” said Jack. “That Helter Skelter book, you got a copy around here?”

“Oh yeah.” said Nancy as he finished his sixth beer.

“I don’t suppose you got a copy I could borrow, at least for my time here?” Jack asked, figuring he could probably read through the thing in a night or two.

But Nancy ecstatically responded, “Actually I got an extra you can have.”

Before Jack could even officially accept Nancy had already gone back to his room and reemerged with a little black book with red letters and handed it to Jack.

“Thanks,” Jack said nervously.

Jack was interested in the perspective of another convict, but he did have the feeling it wouldn’t be as insightful as Hamlet, or Moby Dick.

“No problem,” replied Nancy, happy to share something he enjoyed with someone else who wasn’t scorning him, or thinking he was insane for reading a book by Charles Manson.  Jack could appreciate Nancy’s enthusiasm, he could tell other people didn’t.

“Yeah, my mom gave me a copy for my birthday last year, but I already had a copy so you can have this one,” continued Nancy as he swung back more beer stumbling back into his seat and returning his attention to the rerun of Two and a Half Men.  Then he made a smart ass comment about a tampon commercial.

“They should have Carlie Sheen do one of those ads, he’d be perfect especially if they put them in during his show. Think about it.”

Jack chuckled as he took another bong rip, grateful to finally be sharing someone’s company again.

Chapter 11 Portlandians

On the third day, the rain had not stopped, and Jack rose that morning in such a hungover stupor that he felt like he was rising from the dead.  He stumbled drunkenly into the bathroom and emptied his water-ballooned bladder.  He was groggy, he didn’t realize how strong those ales Nancy drank were.

Jack could tell that the place was empty, Nancy was nowhere to be found.  Jack thought nothing of it and proceeded to load bong hits.  Nancy returned fifteen minutes later with another twelve pack of beer and a few groceries, soaked from the storm still raging outside.

“We are in luck,” said Nancy.

“Why is that?” asked Jack.

“I just cashed my last check, and now I got hella beer money.”  Nancy chuckled and lit a cigarette.  He gave one to Jack along with a beer.  Jack reluctantly accepted, remembering it was blasphemy in his world to pass a free drink.

They resumed their past activities of shit talking trash tv while getting drunk and stoned.  Until after a loud crash of lightning and thunder, when the entire house went black.

“Ah fuck!” said Nancy with a chuckle, which made it hard to tell if he was seriously upset or not.

“Well let’s just drink and smoke.” Jack proposed.

They continued and jabbered on to twiddle the hours.  This time Nancy went on a tirade about how it’s unconstitutional to pay taxes, which didn’t sound quite right to Jack, but he decided not to challenge it. He was not in the mood for a debate; he didn’t care if he was right or not.  Jack liked Nancy, and he wasn’t about to instigate conflict by challenging his views.

The conversation then shifted to Nancy giving a thirty minute tirade about how stupid twitter was, and it ended with Jack admitting he had no clue what twitter was.  Nancy explained it to him as “stalking made easy.”  Then asked if he hadn’t heard about prisoners sneaking in phones where he got locked up.

“All the time,” Jack admitted.  

“That’s one of the things they do with them, they actually updated their facebooks and twitters with shit like, ‘Oh shit some nigga just got shanked and shit like that.’”  Nancy explained.  “Charles Manson actually just got in trouble for that, but it makes me wonder how the fuck he got a cell phone.  I mean a guy like him has to be pretty hard to get to.”

Jack pointed out that Manson did have a wife who visits him, and Nancy and him both had a laugh about how desperate that bitch must have been.  Then they both cringed a little at how crazy the bitch must be.

The conversation shifted back to an explanation of twitter.  Which led to a conversation about Facebook, which Nancy also hated, and from Facebook trends in general.  Which lead to a conversation about dub-step.  Jack admitted had no idea what it was, and Nancy immediately told him, “Good,  it’s the worst trend in music and it’s an embarrassment to guys like you and me who don’t waste our time when we get fucked up.  All dub-step is, is techno on ecstasy and acid.  It sucks.  It is the shittiest music genre ever.  It’s worse than country, hell with country you have to at least have enough intellect to come up with lyrics, shitty though they may be.  But with dub-step all you need is a mix-table and a laptop, hell you don’t even need the fucking mix table.  All you need to make dub-step is a laptop, mainly because any dub-step song you make no matter what you use sounds the fucking same.  The people who make dub-step don’t think so, they think they’re being fucking artists, and they get all pompous and bull-shitty about it.  Now every jerk off with a PC can “make music” while spanking it to Bree Olsen and then go around calling himself a musician.  It pisses me OFF!”

Jack had seen people in his cell block get stabbed, he heard them getting raped during quiet hours, and he had seen his father beat his mother to the point of death.  None of those things scared Jack anymore.  This reaction of Nancy’s, scared the living piss out of him, but like usual, he kept his composure and all he did was nod, and reply with, “I know what you mean.”

The time passed, Jack and Nancy passed the hours by drinking more beer, smoking more pot, and swapping stories.  Jack told Nancy about meeting Leonard Peltier and how many shankings he had witnessed, 75, and Nancy told him about countless nights of blurred drunken escapades that generally involved either a sardonic take on satanism or some anti societal bias.

The storm passed the next day.  Jack resolved it was time to leave his friend and carry on.  Around noon they shared one last beer and bong rip, and they parted ways.  As he walked away Nancy yelled out, “Remember you’re out and you can stay out. I know your girlfriend Bubba will miss you, but you’re a good guy, you don’t belong in jail.”

Jack said his thanks as he walked away, he felt bad he didn’t show more emotion because that was actually one of the nicest things anyone had said to him.

“A little kindness from a stranger can go a long way.”  Jack resolved to himself.  He knew he would miss Nancy just as much as he missed Fiona, Alex, and Kobe.  He wondered if they ever thought about him, but soon resolved that he didn’t care.

“I don’t need people,” Jack always told himself, “I didn’t need them in prison and I don’t need them now.”  Jack was very much in denial in regards to these matters.  Like anyone in denial he knew he was, but still like everyone of them he told himself he didn’t care.

It was immediately after he had this thought that a homeless thug came up from behind and bashed him in the head, and robbed him blind.

Jack didn’t wake up for nearly two days, when he woke up he had no shoes and no cash, not even his books.  Blood covered half of his face, some of it still wet and other parts drying to a deep red crust.  He was slumped in front of a free clinic, according to a homeless man, he got dumped in front of the free clinic when he was taken to a hospital and it was found he had no insurance.  They didn’t notice he was also an escaped felon.

Jack got his wound sewn shut after a three hour wait.  He wandered the streets circling block upon block, his beard dirty and stained with dried crusty blood, lost in a confused amnesia like daze.  For the first time in years Jack felt alone, scared desperate, and confused.  He was like a three year old lost in the supermarket looking for his mom.  He was clutching his dirty hobo hair on the verge of tears, lost in fear and anxiety.  As soon as the world started to spin, Jack passed out again.

Every few hours Jack would open his eyes, only for few seconds, and then suddenly they would close again.  Every time he opened them he saw something different.  First he saw what looked like the shadows of humans surrounding him.  Then he felt like he was being carried, moved , as if he was flying, he opened his eyes only to a bright beam of sun behind a form sitting next to him.  He still felt like he was flying.

He didn’t wake up until the next day.  It was to the smell and sizzle of fresh bacon.  He awoke with a start.  Could it be he was back with his college friends?

No, he wasn’t.  He immediately realized thathe was not in a beachfront house, but an apartment, that looked like it was decorated by Tommy Chong and the Grateful Dead. Tapestries with celtic knots and tie dye covered the windows.  Hendrix, Morrison, and Zeppelin posters decorated the rooms.  The person cooking in the kitchen was some hipster in a thrift store sweater, fitted jeans and a beanie with a strand of hair sticking out over one eye.  At the table was a pale kid with brown short hair and a lime green sweatshirt with the faded logo of some college no one’s ever heard of, he was strumming a baby blue nylon string guitar and singing about things he saw around the room. “Lamp, Lamp, Oh Oh I looovve Lamp.”  He stopped when he noticed Jack coming to.  

“He’s awake.” he told the guy in the beanie cheerfully.  

The man cooking turned around to show he had a thin beard and glasses.  He smiled along with his friend at the table. “Good, he looks way better.”

“Yeah he’ll be alright,”  replied the guitarist.

“Where am I?” Jack asked still delirious from his pulsating brain.  

“You’re in our apartment, we found you lying on the sidewalk with that bump on your head and that mutilated hand of yours and we thought “Wow, this guy needs help,” said the guy with the guitar.

“We were going to take you to a hospital but a guy lying knocked out outside of a free clinic doesn’t seem think you would have insurance,” said the guy in the beanie.  “So we brought you here, did what we could for your wounds, you know, cleaned them and treated them with this balm.”

“Then we laid you down on the couch.  You’ve been out for almost a day,” completed the guitarist.  “I’m Hal, and this is Conner.”

“Nice to meet you.”  Jack said, “I’m Jack.  Thank you, that was an incredibly nice thing of you to do.”  He was amazed, that was probably the nicest thing anyone had done for him, up to this point at least.  These two had such a happy friendly air that Jack couldn’t help but feel happy along with them despite his pain, which was thankfully starting to die away.

“How are you feeling?” asked Conner.  

“I’m feeling better, thank you.”  Jack replied.

“So what’s your story stranger?”  asked Hal after a dramatic strum.  “How did you get all these wounds if you don’t mind me asking?”  

Jack explained to them about the gash on his head and how the store clerk mutilated his palm.  There only response was “Damn that’s fucked up,” followed by a comical tirade by Hal about how bad guns are.  

Jack sat down at the table as Conner served the breakfast and joined them.  Jack also explained that he was homeless because he was an ex convict, and about his past thefts.  Hal sympathized.  “I was put on probation for Opium possession when I was in college.”

“Bummer,”  was Jack’s reply.  Jack remembered when he was first put on probation when he was seventeen.  Some bitch in school lied and told the cops he held a knife to her throat.  Jack got two years probation and had to see a counselor.  He faked his way through therapy then got busted again.

Jack enjoyed the company of these two.  They had the air of living cartoon characters who were only concerned with having fun.  Through their talks they revealed to Jack that they were musicians in a band.  The had been working a lot of local gigs for the last couple of years, to the point where they can even make a decent living off of it.  They had a few demos recorded but no official album.  “Our dream is to get a record deal,” said Conner.

“We are getting there,”  added Hal.  “Our gigs are getting bigger and bigger and a lot of people follow our shows.  So we already have fans.”

“We are going to be having practice soon if you want to hang out and listen,”  said Conner.  “The other members should be here around three.”

“I’m down.” said Jack, he felt the least he could do for these guys was listen to their music after they took him out of the cold, fed him, and treated his wounds.  

The two smiled and were happy to have someone to play for.  They spent the morning smoking a joint and playing Super Smash Brothers, waiting for the rest of the band to show up.  The other two members showed up and introduced themselves.  One was a long haired hippie named Seth, who Jack decided he liked immediately because he had as friendly of an air as Hal and Conner.  The other guy, was Jason, a non pot smoker but avid drinker who showed up with two bottles of whiskey for everyone.

The band got their stuff together and started playing.  They rehearsed their songs and covers, then worked on a new song for an hour or so.  Jack enjoyed their sound, they sounded like a return to the rock n roll of CCR in an indie band with synthesizers added to the mix.  Jason was a fantastic drummer, and Seth’s bass was perfect with Conner’s vocals and his guitar.  From song to song, Hal jumped from a drum to a keyboard to a rhythm guitar, and he did it with such ease that Jack was impressed.  When their practice was finished Jack gave them a genuine applause and praise.  

“We have a gig in a few nights if you want to come?” said Seth.

“I’d love to.”  Jack said

After the rehearsal, Jack spent the hours smoking with the members of the band and conversing.  Jason didn’t partake but he stayed and hung out while serving everyone whiskey.   While they got stoned, Seth and Conner began doing some half baked philosophy.

“You see I don’t think you can say humankind is good or evil,” said Conner as he toked up.  “I think that people are what their surroundings make them and what they choose to be.  You know, like good and evil aren’t really real things”

“That’s not a hundred percent accurate,”  interjected Jack, which surprised no one but Jack, he was never one for philosophy.  “I’ll agree that humans are not intrinsically or naturally one way or another, but good and evil are very real things.  For there to be people who are nice decent and good there has to be people who are pure scum.  I’ve been in Jail for a long time, I’ve seen both the most disgusting scum ridden piece of shit, and I’ve seen decent guys who just got a bad stroke of luck.  It’s half luck, half effort when it comes to making your own world or defining who you are.  But good and evil are very real.”

“Yeah but what defines good or evil?” said Hal, “Who’s to say what is good or evil?”

“Evil is the unnecessary harm of living things. Harm may be necessary at times, but people who profit or amuse or relish in the suffering and pain of others are evil.  I’ve seen these people.  I can say they were evil.  As for who creates the written in stone definition of the two, that’s completely up to the individual.  I said good and evil were real but I never said they were not relative.”  

Jack was shocked at himself.  That was the most eloquent and intelligent thing he had ever said.  The others nodded their heads and mulled it over, then Hal suddenly changed the topic to opium laws and Andy Warhol.  

Jack didn’t talk for a while after that.  He was confused, awe struck even.  He couldn’t figure out how a schmuck ex con like him, who didn’t even show up for most of his schooling, put together such an intelligent sounding thought.  Then he realized, it was the reading and the travel.  He was finally starting to see a world beyond that which he knew.

The gentlemen got more and more stoned or drunk until they were basically glued to their couches. They eventually passed out on the couches slumped in manners that would destroy their backs and necks the next day.

Chapter 12  I’m With The Band

The next morning they all awoke one by one at the early hour of dawn.  They all rubbed their twinging necks and backs and gave each other shit for being so stupid for sleeping sitting up on the couches, especially these couches which they found in a scrap heap and had hints of scabies when they first got them and cleaned them.  

They recovered from their twinges with whiskey and a hearty breakfast, as well as a hash pipe session that Seth was so kind to initiate.  Jack asked what the plans were and Conner responded, “Well, we have practice today at five to eight.  Before and after that we’re free, but before practice I’m gonna take a nap.”

“You know what we should do today,”  said Hal, “role a fat joint, and I mean cigar sized, and we go to the forrest, drink some beers and have some fun.”

After about forty five minutes of rolling joints, packing food, and arguing for shotgun, they shipped off in what was an hour long drive into where Jack had no idea, it was some transcendent place in the Cascades.   The more they went on these nameless freeways and roads that went deeper and deeper into the trees and fields the more Jack was getting lost in the awe of the sights before him.  With every turn, with every mile came more and more beautiful blue sky lines dotted with puffs of white and the ground was just a bloom with the most vibrant greens, browns, and reds.  The almost neon technicolor wildflowers sprung from the hills and dotted the green horizon.  Jack had never seen anything so beautiful, so worthy of awe, in his entire life.

They eventually reached some huge park that Jack had never heard of, it was a popular local spot.  After they parked the group carried their blankets, food, and drugs deep into the forest on some painful yet pristine path.  Eventually settling on a spot deep in the woods far away from everyone, right next to a small lake surrounded by a grove of trees like a white picket fence, protecting our friends from the harms of the outside world.

They began their day.  Joints were lit and the boys talked, some vented about their girl troubles, Hal went on tangents about the need for music and art in society, while Conner strummed a small acoustic guitar, and Jack just got high and listened.  He was paying attention to what his new friends were saying and taking all of their words and perspectives truly to heart.  However, he wasn’t in the conversation; he was not even looking at them when they passed him the joint.  He was still lost in the awe that was before him; the shimmer of the lake, and the shine of the sun with its sweet reflection on the clouds in the sky, along with the circle and the bounty of the trees before him.  Jack couldn’t help losing himself in it for some reason.

Jack was amazed and lost in the beauty before him.  It wasn’t until Hal said something that he was shaken out of his nature coma.  

“JACK!”  yelped Hal with a smile.  “You good over there bro?  You haven’t said anything for a while.”

“I’m fine,” Jack replied.  “Just, you know…”  Jack was too stoned to think of an eloquent response.

“Just lost in the forest, huh?”  Hal completed with a smile and without hesitation.  

Jack nodded, “Yeah.  I don’t know why, it’s just so..”

“I know why!” Hal interjected again.  “It’s because its’ the brain kicking in your natural instincts.  Our brains are so caught up in the artificial world we feel we need to survive we ignore the states of emotions we get just by coming out of the artificial.  Just by coming out here you’re just getting a taste of what prehistoric man saw and experienced.  You’re getting a taste of what the Natives saw before we stole their land and you’re feeling what the first pioneers must have felt when they saw the world beyond what they were used to.  Now anyone could say these aren’t natural instincts, these are romantic fairy tales, that being awe struck isn’t a natural instinct but just psychological romanticism.  

“But they are wrong.  All our emotions, are somehow in-tuned to some animal instinct we have.  Our awe of nature is our instinct of reflection on the self and the world.  It’s through this reflection that we are able to see who and what we really are and can be the more wiser for it.  

“It was the awe and beauty that ancient man felt that inspired him to create song and paint on walls, which are the things that make life worth living.  Now some say that still isn’t natural and we don’t need those things, but again they are wrong.  If it wasn’t for our songs and our art and these outlets, these entertainments, then we would be just like every other animal. That’s what makes humans so cool, we not only have animal instincts but our instincts also become both analytical and psychological while still standing in the romantic.”  Hal paused for a minute and tried to remember what he was originally talking about.  His speech returned to its normal speed when he said, “So I know why you felt awe struck.”

Jack didn’t say much in response.  he just smiled nodded, he said that it made sense, and passed Hal the joint.

The hours passed, Jack and the others had become incredibly stoned, they were blotchy and red from the sun, and were out of food.  As the sun slipped away and the sky began slipping to its tri-colored beautiful warning sign of the night, they shipped off and returned home.

Once back, Seth gathered his things and left to go back to his place.  He said his goodbyes to Conner, Hal, Jason, and Jack and promised to be back for practice the next day.  Jason left soon after.

Once Seth and Jason were gone, Conner got a big box of Pizza Bagels and heated them up while Hal put on a movie.  Conner then passed out beers and they sat and passed the hours of the night once again.

“When’s your guys gig?” asked Jack when he remembered.

“In two more days, at 10:30 at some house party.”  said Conner.  “It should be pretty awesome.  Tons of beer, tons of girls, you know just a fun time and a hopefully good show.”

“It will be good,” said Hal with his usual enthusiasm.  “We got lasers and bubbles!”

The days passed in the manner that Jack had become accustomed, in a smoke filled haze.  After hours and hours of pot smoking and cartoon watching, the day of the gig came.  They all left for the party, and Jack acted as sort of a roadie.  He helped them set up and enjoyed the benefits of telling the passers by at the party he was with the band.  

The crowd grew and built in mass.  Soon the house was full to burst with people like a 19th century ship on the Atlantic filled with East European immigrants. Jack was front and center when the show began, first with a cover of the Red Hot Chili peppers’ “Can’t Stop.”  It was the minute the intro peaked with the guitar solo that she walked in.

Jack was frozen stiff.  Jack had never seen anyone so beautiful, so original, and so soft of an air.  Thanks to a stroke of luck, her eyes caught his, and both looked away with a smile, and both drifted closer and closer to each other as the band played their set.  Eventually they met, and Jack extended his hand.

“What’s your name?” he yelled over the deafening guitars and drums.  

“Kate.”  She said with that sweet auburn smile that hypnotized Jack.

“I’m Jack,” he responded, searching for the next thing to say.

“You have a very strong grip.”  Kate said to him.  Both couldn’t help but giggle at how awkward and dorky the other felt.

The night carried on with the most minimal and awkward of back and forths between the two, but one thing was desperately obvious.  The two were already falling in love with each other.  

Jack didn’t want to believe it, but he did.  He didn’t know what it was, but there was something about this girl.  The more time he spent next to Kate, dancing with her, talking with her, the more he couldn’t bare the idea of being apart from her.  He wished the music wouldn’t stop and that this party would never end.  Jack had never felt like this before in his life.  The warmth of her body as he held her close sent a sensational tingle up his spine.  He didn’t want her to leave, he did not want to let her go.  

Soon the gig ended, and the party slowly dispersed, but they still held each other close and still talked.  On the surface it seemed like idle chit chat.  Yet Conner and Hal could see in Jack’s eyes that he was falling for Kate, and decided to help him seal the deal.

“Hey Jack,” said Hal, “I see you met our friend Kate.”

“I did.  She was telling me she’s learning to be a nurse.”  Jack replied.

“And I was about to ask Jack about his tattoo,” added Kate, much to Jack’s despair.

Kate saw the frozen look of despair on Jack’s face and she knew that it was her last comment that made it happen.  But it confused her to no end.

“What’s wrong?”  She asked.

“I didn’t want to tell you so soon.  The barcode is a prison tattoo.  They’re my numbers from when I was in Leavenworth.”  Jack, for the first time, felt pure unadulterated shame when he had to say that, the only thing Jack was ashamed of before this was trying to tell his dad he loved him when he was five, and his dad laughed and beat him and called him a faggot.  

Jack couldn’t even look her in the eye when he said it.  Hal was so uncomfortable he just slipped away.  But Kate only smiled, she lifted Jack’s chin up with her fingers, and led his face toward hers.  

They kissed, and for the first time in his whole life, Jack let his guard down, and he let the warmth of the woman he loved into his life.

Chapter 13 Fun Playing God

Needless to say our star crossed lovers spent that night in each others arms.  In fact they had spent every night for the last three w eeks in each others arms.  Never had either one been so happy, so warm, so full of joy. Kate was used to men being douche-bags, but she felt Jack was soft and sweet, but so masculine at the Same time. Plus she wanted to take care of him. She felt she understood him, and the world didn’t. The world just locked him up.  But she wouldn’t shun him, she wouldn’t hurt him.  And Jack knew this, and for the first time in his life he felt comforted and at peace.  What Jack couldn’t believe was how much light and change had come into his life, in a single night.

They awoke each day at her apartment.  A studio a few blocks away from Hal and Conners home.    This morning, he heard her sing in the shower, she was singing “God’s gonna cut you down” by Johnny Cash and Jack was simply intoxicated by the beauty of her voice.  

While lost in her song, he danced about her apartment and by her impressive bookshelf.  Upon which he decided to grab a book and lose himself in both her voice and her books.  He walked the shelves until he found the one that struck his interest the most

He picked the one with the most worn out spine.  A collection of short stories by some author who had 17 manuscripts lying around from his teen years after he died.  “Clearly she reads this one a lot,” thought Jack, “I should get a sense for her taste in books if this is going to work out.”

He cracked open the book the first story and began, losing himself in Kate’s songs.

Fun Playing God

by *******************

*Authors Name Omitted for Liability

I am God.  I Control the heavens and the Earth.  I crafted and molded the peak of Everest and I spread the water across the seas.  Life is a canvas and all that is and all that you see is my masterpiece, the beauty of the stars and galaxies are my Mona Lisa, and the majesty of my creatures are my David.  Out of the billion and billions of my creations among my stars, Earth was my masterpiece, my requiem.  

Yet, when I created this Earth I found something was missing.  There was nobody to appreciate it but me.  I thought I was being selfish, so I created other beings, humans, to share these gifts.  I gave you the planet out of selflessness hoping that you would in turn bless another soul by returning the kindness of the Earth .  I also hoped that all would give to the Earth as it gave to them.  

But I was wrong.  You humans have raped my beautiful creation.  The earth has become a filthy scum ridden infestation.  Greed is as constant as oxygen.  My perfect blend of sea and land, unlike all the other planets, my perfect piece of art, my child, my greatest creation, full of evil. pain, and greed, all thanks to you.   Don’t worry, like most artists will tell you, when there is something wrong with a picture, you fix it.  Robert Louis Stevenson created three drafts until he perfected DR. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I just need to do the same to earth.  

Actually, you humans are doing that for me.  Climate Change , Depressions, Wars, disease, all because of your lack of responsibility.   You guys sort of took all the work out for me.

THE ANSWERS

What are the Answers?

Where are the answers?

Are they hidden?

Is there a definite answer?

Answer to what?

What is the question?

Do you know?

Does anyone know?

Who is anyone to say that they know?

I thought no one knows?

Maybe some do, and most of us don’t, so that’s why they are so hard to find?

But then how did those people find the answers?

I hear these so often, truth be told the answer is there is no answer.

YOU ARE NOT THE SUBJECTS OF A GRAND LEADER.  WE ARE EQUALS IN THIS WORLD. WE NEED THE BEGGAR AS WE MUCH AS WE NEED THE WORKER, FOR THERETO BE UP THEREMUST BE DOWN.  IF DOWN WAS ALWAYS DOWN, AND UP DIDN’T EXIST, DOWN WOULDN’T EXIST, BECAUSE DOWN WOULD ALWAYS BE DOWN, IT WOULD BE CONSTANT.  REMEMBER THIS, ALSO REMEMBER TO  SEE THROUGH THE PROPAGANDA EJACULATED TO YOU BY YOUR COMFORTERS.  LIVE BEYOND THE ILLUSION OF COMFORT, ONE FREE OF COMFORT AND DISCOMFORT IS TRULY AT PEACE.  THEY SEE THE WORLD AS IT IS.  

And so it was, the word of the lord.

Peace.

Love.

Happiness.

This was all there was supposed to be to life, but thanks to you cowardly fucks overcomplicating everything by creating your mirage.  You have destroyed what was Eden,and you bastards raped it to shreds.

When I look back I wonder what happened, I wonder how It came out of my grasp.

Let’s tell a few stories, maybe you can get my point.

With every believer there is a prayer, and all those prayers have to come to me, do you understand what it is like to have millions of voices in your heads at once?

Every prayer someone is almost always asking for something, rarely is it ever just one of thanks.  Some things I can help with and something’s I can’t.  I can’t make your dreams come true, I cannot grant wishes, I am merely a teacher, you are the own who must evaluate my lessons.

THERE IS NO DIVISION, THERE IS NO SEPARATION.  EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED, WE ARE ALL ONE, GIANT INFINITE BEINGs ALWAYS EXPANDING AND EVOLVING.    

WE ARE ALL ONE THING, THIS DIVISION IS SIMPLY A MIRAGE.  A MIRAGE THAT IF YOU FAIL TO SEE THROUGH, YOU WILL SUFFER, AND YOU WILL FAIL TO SEE THE SEPARATION OF SUFFERING AND JOY.  YOU WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO THE RUSH OF THE DEEDS BUT THE COMEDOWN OF SUFFERING IS FOREVER THE PRICE OF THIS HIGH.  ABANDON THE MIRAGE.  MIND IS THE FORERUNNER OF ALL ACTIONS.

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

Even an evildoer feels happy

Before his negative actions reach fruition.

However when the evil ripens

He will have a bountiful harvest of evil results.

The Dhammapada

I found how blind you humans are somewhat hilarious to be honest.  I look around at my children and I see them taking medicines which hurt and destroy them with chemicals and synthetics.  I gave you humans a bounty of medicine in nature.    I gave it to you free for the taking.  But because you people are blind deaf and dumb, you created more disease, more filth.  Having a beautiful clean world shouldn’t be a chore, it should be your joy.  I only have one earth, I thought that meant you’d appreciate it.

Perceive the world as a bubble.

Perceive the world as a mirage.

If you see the world in this way,

You render the Lord of Death powerless.

The Dhamapada

I willed for many a tragedy to happen.  I also will for every miracle, it entertains me to reward humans for their successes, and it satisfies me to punish you when you deserve it.  Your failures of classism, racism, and all the rest of your fuck ups, have been restituted with the deaths of numerous benevolent leaders, musicians politicians, actors, you name it.  The scandals of those who preach my name, it is there restitution for abusing my name.  They use my name to hate other innocents, so I make them sex and coke addicts and give them incurable cancer.  Oh the fun I have killing the unworthy, but I cry when I kill the innocents to punish you, it seems sometimes that’s the only way I can teach you a lesson is to take away the good.  

 But hey, shit happens.

Free will.

It comes with responsibility.

For there to be moderation there must be overconsumption.

For there to be up there must be down.

Life cannot exist without the positive and the negative.

For there would be no balance

LOOK AROUND THE ANSWERS ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.  A FINGER IS POINTING AT THE MOON, DON’T FOCUS ON THE FINGER OR YOU WILL MISS THE BOUNTY AND BEAUTY OF THE MOON.

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

A question I hear from you a lot is, “How was this planet created?”  Well as I said I am God I control the heavens and the earth.  I pull the strings with my own two hands without you ever seeing it.  The laws of gravity are constant thanks to my planning.  As for how the Earth was created essentially I clumped a big ball of nothing together into a dense mass, until the mass was so dense it imploded upon exploding into the world.  You humans evolved from the puddle of ooze that was the Earth into carbon based living beings.  Marvels of the majesty that is art and science can be seen throughout nature and even the naked body.  Yet you let ancient metaphors block your judgment keeping you blind to the beauty of the body and the joy of sex.  

Don’t you think there is a reason I made sex feel so good?Because I wanted you to enjoy yourselves.  Death is inevitable. So I gave you simple pleasures, like sex and natural intoxicants, such as wine.  Yes, I gave you wine. Wine comes from nature, look it up.  

Why do you humans think you need to suffer your whole life to be rewarded in death?  Don’t you see I gave you Earthly pleasures to enjoy your short time there?  Think about it, “Heaven on Earth!?”  What the hell do you think awaits you in the afterlife?   So long as you don’t hurt anything or anyone you should feel free to do as you please.  Enjoy your entire time on earth, don’t suffer in the long run in order to be happy in short run.  Life is not a wave you have to work and paddle to ride and enjoy, life is the ride of the wave itself.  So drink up and grab your lover.  Those of you how enjoy others suffering are doomed to suffer.

I have all the answers, and I am always willing to give them.  I recall a meeting with one of my children, just weeks ago.

She approached me but she dared not to get to close, she was a young woman, and you have no idea what joy it gives me that some people care enough.

“Are you God?” she asked.

“Yes my child,” I replied and she wrote something on her notepad, I could tell she wanted to hear what I had to say, she wanted to write it down and remember it all.  She continued to ask me questions.

“Do you know everything?” She asked, I could tell she was just a little skeptical, they all are when they first meet me.

“Yes,” I said.  She decided now to seize the opportunity and put to rest her quest for answers.

“What is the meaning of life?”  She asked first.

“Peace, Love, and Happiness, I suppose.  Come back to that question in little bit so I can think it ove because there are a lot of right answers to that problem.”

She wrote it down without hesitation.  “Why did you create suffering?”

“So you may know what joy is.”  She wrote this down.

“Do you control everything?” She asked, I not buried her skepticism.

“Essentially, I do, but I do it without you ever seeing it.  I keep you on Earth with gravity, it holds you on the planet, and I don’t have to do a damn thing after I invented gravity.  You invented the label for it though.  Remember all labels are subjective.ook at the different labels that are my children’s languages.”

She nodded and continued to write.  “Did you settle on an answer for the first question?”

“I’m afraid there is no answer to that question my child.”

She nodded, “I understand,” she gave me an offering as a thanks, and left.

THE MEANING TO LIFE IS THERE IS NO MEANING TO LIFE.

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

HUMANS INVENTED RAPE, HUMANS INVENTED MURDER, YOU ARE THE GUILTY INNOCENTS.  YOU ARE ALL SAINTS AND YET SINNERS.  YOU ALWAYS ATTEMPT PERFECTION.  YOU FAIL TO SEE THAT WHAT MAKES YOU IMPERFECT IS WHAT MAKES YOU THE SAME.  YOU ARE ALL VICTIMS AND VICTIMIZERS BOTH.

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

People under the idiotic notion that the only way to be happy is to be free of stain.  You forget no one is free from stain.  No one is free of criticism.o one is free of pain.No one is free from attack.You humans look for ways to be free of these things, but you cannot be.

Why do you humans waste your time asking me all these questions when you already know the answers?  You ask me what is the meaning of life is, and you know what it is, but you can’t accept the fact.  You are always preparing for the future.   There is no future.

MY NAME IS NOT A TOOL TO BE USED FOR ANY MATTER.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING THE WORLD “HEAVEN ON EARTH”. THE WAY IS NOT BY YELLING MY NAME AT PEOPLE BUT YELLING MY MESSAGE.

AND I MEAN MY MESSAGE NOT YOURS.  LOVE THY NEIGHBOR, GIVE YOUR COAT TO THE MAN WITHOUT ONE.  YOU ARE INDIVIDUALS, BUT YOU LIVE IN A COMMUNITY, WE PERCEIVE THE WORLD SEPARATELY YET TOGETHER.  WE CAN MAKE THIS WORLD THE PLACE IT WAS BEFORE YOU HUMANS INVENTED WAR.  YOUR ANIMAL INSTINCTS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE USED IN SELF DEFENSE.  NOT MURDER.  

ALL WAR IS JUST AN EXCUSE FOR PILLAGE, RAPE, AND MURDER WITHOUT SUFFERING ANY CONSEQUENCES, SO I CREATED CONSEQUENCES.  

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

When I say I’ve killed innocents, I’m talking about Martin Luther King or Gandhi. They died to show you the suffering which you have inflicted on others.  I also felt that they could serve a higher purpose in death than in life.  Because in death their lessons can be appreciated, in life they remain the subject of debate.  In death they are subjects of history.  They are the symbols in death they couldn’t be in life.  I truly cried when I had to kill Lincoln, King, the Kennedy’s, and I laughed my ass off when I popped Hitler, Stalin, and Jerry Falwell.  I  cried when I had to open the gates of heaven to Hitler’s 11 million.  

THIS IS HEAVEN YET THIS IS HELL. THIS IS REAL YET THIS IS FALSE.  THIS EXISTS YET IT DOES NOT.  I’M REAL, YET I’M NOT, I’M EVERYWHERE YET NO WHERE.  INFINITE YET CONFINED.

And so it was, the word of the Lord.

She visited again.

“Do you still control, the heavens and the Earth?”  She asked.  I understand her skepticism.he debauchery and sin of the world has reached shocking levels under my radar.  But fear not, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

“I understand your skepticism, it would seem I have lost control, fear not my child, it is all part of the divine plan.  But it gives me hope for my people when I see them so concerned about my kingdom.”

She looked back at me, “I was more concerned about you.”  Then she smiled, this one is truly a gift to this Earth.  She then gave me two blue offerings and scoop from the well, and she was off again. I always want to follow her, but I can’t.   I want to run and tell her how much this world needs people like her, so considerate of the welfare of so many beings, even the Lord.  But this locked door, these padded walls, keep me from getting to her.

Why do so many question if ‘I’m god?  They say “No, you are Isaac J. Constantine,” why can’t I be both?

You humans keep your own creator in containment because you have wandered so far away from me, you don’t even recognize me.  You don’t even recognize your father.  You have become so unfaithful. You’ve taken my words for heresy and follow the priests and preachers like the Hitler youth.  It’s okay, abuse me all you want, one who can take abuse without delivering retribution is truly in control of themselves.  I can only lead by example and hope those follow.    But remember, God is everywhere. I am everywhere. I am everything. Just as I am the plants in the ground and the clouds in the air. Look in the mirror, and you will see I’m also you.

So, you can keep my hands tethered to my sides in this jacket,. You can keep my body in this padded cell.  You can throw the word “insane” around all you want.  You can fuck with your free will all you want. Just remember, I have the final say in reality.For I am God, and I control reality.  I am reality.  So…

SO NOW  GOODBYE.  IT’S TIME I KEEP THE PROMISES MADE IN REVELATIONS.  I HAVE MUCH WORK TO DO!

GOODBYE, GOODBYE,  GOODBYE.

Jack found the work weird and confusing, he heard Kate get out of the shower and he could hear her singing even louder now that the water was off.

Lost in her song once again, he turned to another story and kept reading.

Chapter 14 

Jack had finished the story by the time Kate was long out of the shower. Now that he had come to, he decided that although the author of these stories was very talented he was also greatly disturbed, or at least in a very dangerous state of mind when he wrote these.  Jack figured maybe it was a fine line between genius and crazy. 

Her return broke him out of his feast of literature, and he directed his attention to her lovely, curvy, soft pale body.  He grew hard as instinct began to take over.  He wanted to be with her now, and not the books any more.

“I see you’ve got quite the collection here,” Jack commented on the room full of Poe and Shakespeare. As he got up and gently kissed her on the neck and snuck a soft hand down the back of her towel.

“Oh, well thank you,” Kate said in that tender, erotic whisper that was her bedroom voice.   He had such strong hands yet such a delicate touch.  Jack’s kisses slowly began to trail down her back.  “Yes, I really love reading.”

`“Me to,” Jack said as he moved her arm up, allowing the towel to fall so that Kate stood naked, wet, and helpless, Jack’s lips got closer to their target.

“I try to read everything, classics, contemporaries, obscure authors and works, essays, journals, but my personal favorite, are my art books.  I love art, Oh my god!”  She wasn’t going to be able to contain herself anymore.

Jack began to dig his tongue deep into her as she tried to carry on, but she just couldn’t.  For some unknown trail of time Jack buried his tongue and two fingers into her body as fast and gentle as he could until the inside of Kate’s legs were gushing and sopping wet, and her screams of pleasure echoed throughout the house.

The two needed a minute to catch their breath in between their loving and congratulatory kisses of climaxing.  “Would you like to read with me?”  Kate said in a sudden spur of smiles, love, and inspiration

“Sure,” said Jack as the two laid down on the bed to rest.  “I read that last book while you were in the shower.  The guy who wrote it is pretty twisted…”

“That’s nothing, you should read Naked Lunch,” Kate interrupted

“Anyway,” Jack carried on.  “I’m kinda tired of reading, so why don’t you read to me, while I just lie at your side and kiss you until my lips are sore?”

She kissed his chest in order to signal that this was a splendid idea.

Kate picked out a book and the two made themselves comfortable on the bed.  Kate made herself some tea and Jack poured himself a strong full glass of bourbon.  Kate showed Jack the book, it was a collection of essays and poems by the same looney who wrote the other stories.  Jack wondered why she was so fixated with the author but he didn’t care, he was just glad to be with her and to listen to her read.

She carried on  and she began in that amazing theatrical style she did so naturally while Jack cupped her left breast and kissed her neck, gently finding his way down her stomach to the bottom of her leg and back again.  He did it soft enough to make her smile and not distract her from the reading.  She selected her favorite poems and began.

wishes by crazy modernisms and former external instincts. 

By natural unnatural intoxication knowledge.

Depraved yet smiling on another winded day.

But so of another wandering light of love on milton forgotten days.

What so can be said of a forbidden lust and wandering capture.

What escape and what a love of such a word of that and what!

By lyric

By center and by try these all and forever will and will not,

ever by light of the modern, and the former, and the knowledge,

and the forgotten days.

“Beautiful,” exclaimed Jack.

“Yes, it is a good poem isn’t it?” replied his love.  “It reminds me a lot of EE Cummings.:

“No,” exclaimed Jack.  “The way you read it.”

His love blushed and turned the page, carried on with another poem as he continued his kisses up and down her body.

Chapter 15 Gotcha, in the Cops and Robbers Game.

Jack had stopped listening long ago.  It wasn’t a voluntary thing, he was just too captivated by the sight of her to care about anything else.  After she had stopped reading she caught his gaze, which was locked on her eyes.  They both smiled and kissed a kiss so passionate that it belongs in a movie.  They damaged her mantle piece with the love they made.

Later, he sat on the edge of the bed, brooding.  Jack never brooded in jail, but he brooded now, naked, sweaty, and coming down off an endorphin rush.  His busty satisfied lover next to him sleeping and breathing heavy, happy breathes.  

Jack truly did love Kate, and because he loved her he had never been more conflicted.  Jack knew that the reason he hadn’t been caught and thrown back in jail so far was because he had managed to move from place to place.  So now he had to make some choices.  He had been here with Kate for three weeks now, he knew if he stayed much longer it wouldn’t be long before the cops would catch up with him.

“What do I do?” he thought.  Does he risk getting caught and keep her at risk, this living gift that Jack had received after years of apathy and suppression.  Or does he flee, leaving a note for his lover explaining why she may never see him again.  Either way, he knew he would hurt Kate, and that was exactly what he was trying not to do.

He sat on the bed for two hours, trying to think of a way to elude the police and keep Kate.  The more Jack thought about it the more he realized one way or the other Kate was going to find out that Jack was a fugitive.  If he told her and she was okay with it, she would get locked up for aiding and abetting, and that was something Jack would never let happen.  He would sooner take a bullet than let this woman go through the hells he did in prison.  Especially a women’s prison, where she will be subject to the already sadistic guards.

He needed to clear his head and think.  He put on some clothes and shoes and a beanie Kate had given him that she knitted herself.   He kissed her cheek, then walked to the corner store to buy a pack of camels.  

This turned out to be a mistake.  

Jack got the cigarettes and left the 7 eleven with no confrontations, as he usually expected when going to a market at 3 at night.  He lit one and smoked as he wandered the neighborhood and parked his ass on a bus bench, chain smoking and trying to figure things out.  

Jack went through four cigarettes when he first heard the sirens, he thought nothing of them.  He hadn’t been here that long, there was no way they could find him.

They did.  When one of the six squad cars parading the area turned the corner and started speeding towards him.  They braked suddenly by the bench, the red and blue sirens illuminating Jacks face from a fierce and distressful red to a chilling stunned blue in a taunting back and forth.

They blocked off the sidewalk with the car and before Jack could react or flea, another car came and blocked the sidewalk in the other direction. Jack had a cop car blocking either side of him and he now had four cops standing in front of him blocking him from fleeing across the street.  Each one was strapped in kevlar and had their gun drawn.  Within another the ten seconds the helicopter appeared and the light was right in Jack’s eyes.  In a last attempt to keep his freedom, Jack blindly sprang to his right and managed to leap over the hood of the cop car and out paced the spot light momentarily.  But he didn’t outpace the rookie’s taser which sent 50,000 volts into Jack’s body for what seemed like an unreasonable amount of time to take down an unarmed fugitive.  When Jack came to he was in handcuffs, sitting on the curb with some schmuck in a suit and trench coat standing in front of him like some Law and Order SVU cliche.  

I’m agent smith of the FBI, as you can guess you are under arrest Mr. Lewis.

Jack nodded. he read him his rights and then took in one of the most wanted men in America.

The news hit the media in less than an hour.  While he was out Jack was just another transient to the world, now he that he was back in he was a celebrity, the entire world was captivated by the man who walked out of prison. Hashtags started trending for days, ones like #LongLiveLewis #JackAttack #WeLoveJackLewis  he had become a folk hero of sorts to some.  To others it was a chance to reveal their darker side of the internet once again with hashtags like #frylewis #LifeforLewis and the less creative #wehateJackLewis.

He used his phone call for Kate, he got the machine, she was dead asleep.  Jack said he got arrested, gave her the station number, and said don’t bother trying to bail me out, they wouldn’t let it happen, there’s a lot I didn’t tell you, but if you give me a chance to explain… I will.  I love you.

As he hung up he realized a bunch of the deputies were watching him and laughing at him.  and mocking him  “I love you..(grunt) yeah right”

“Bullshit”

“You’ll say anything to get people on your side won’t you.”  were some of the jargon.  This officer then shoved jack’s head, not enough to be called brutality, but just enough to remind Jack he was in and was powerless.   That’s how the police operate in this world, they remind the citizens they are powerless.  Jack knew this game, and he had played it his whole life.  Who is the court going to believe the cop or the three time felon?   The cops were going to remind Jack of that the entire time he would be in holding.

The other cells were full, so they threw Jack into the drunk tank but kept him under round the clock surveillance.  It was futile effort Jack just sat there hanging his head until Kate arrived.  When she saw him she leaped to the cell door and hugged him and kissed him.  She asked what happened before Jack could explain a cop had his baton between the two and he pulled Kate just out of arm’s length.

“At least two feet from the bar Miss.” jack noticed when the guard started pulling Kate away with his arm his hand noticeably brushed Kate’s breast.  Kate noticed it, and Jack definitely noticed it.  And the deputy definitely confirmed it as he smiled small but smugly as he walked away.

Later this cop would be sorry.  Jack made sure of that, the next time he came to tauntack he had a surprise for him.

But now he had to focus, Jack didn’t hesitate, he wanted this to be as quick and painless as it could be.  So Jack just spilled the beans, he told Kate everything; the escape, the wandering, Nancy, the head wounds, the crippled hand, Alice and the sorority girl, all of it.

Kate was speechless for five minutes, then when she got the chance as the guard wasn’t looking planted long wet kiss on Jack’s lips.  “Let me know when the arraignment begins. I’m there with you the whole way.  I love you.”

“I love you too” jack said and meant it.  He never knew one could fall in love in such a short period of time, but he did.

Kate left, confident she could help Jack in someway, unaware she had helped Jack in the best of ways.  Her presence in his life had given him something to live for, something to fight for.   

Jack was left desperate for more of her company, this look was blatant on his face, and it drew the cop who just sexually harassed Kate over.  He had some new material to taunt Jack and was about to use it. Jack hadn’t been in there for twenty four hours and already sixteen different cops have taunted him right in front of the holding cell door.  This time the pervert cop got greedy, and opened the cell door and stepped in and out and in and out.  “Look at me” he teased “ I can come and go as I please, just like a certain Mister Jack Lewis thinks he can. I can just waltz out of here and visit my friends and go and have sex with my girlfriend any time I want and wait, why don’t you too?”  He kept the door open and stood aside while he raised his palm directing Jack like he was free to go, sarcastically of course, but the cop finally made a mistake he did this standing inside the cell.  The three drunks in the tank made a leap for the door but were immediately clotheslined by the cop.  “not you drunkies.  Come on Lewis.  go for it.”  Jack hated it when he was addressed by his last name; this was the final straw. Before  the cop could react Jack grabbed his outreached arm, twisted it like a motorcycle handle, then brought it down with all it’s gravity onto his knee.  The bone began to stick out through the flesh as the elbow was now bending the wrong way, the guard yelped with pain, and Jack used the cops weight to chuck him on the ground, smacking the back of his head on the concrete floor causing a nice concussion He grabbed the cell keys and the gun. He stepped out and slammed the door and locked it, and told the drunks to “go nuts.”

The cops injuries were so bad he was given early retirement.

Jack made it out into the hall in a sprint but was once again stopped by some offensively high number of volts that leaped out from behind and bit him in the back.

chapter 16  The Aftermath

Judge Bachman was ecstatic to hear Lewis was in custody.  He was disappointed to hear he was in another state and would be tried by a separate Judge, but he would watch the trial coverage on FOX NEWS as close as possible.

Once Jack was caught, it wasn’t long until a cop leaked info to the press.  It also wasn’t long until the guy who broke out of jail by walking out the front door became the news of the century.  His trial would have more followers than Scott Peterson, OJ, and Casey Anthony combined and unlike all of them, the public loved him.  The more they dug up the more they realized this guy was less of a criminal and more of a conundrum.  The more they retraced his steps the more they all saw a man who had beat the system, had lived the ultimate adventure, and had made a strong network of friends.   Alex Kobe and Fiona did not mind the publicity.  Others, like Hal and Conner, disconnected their phones to not be bothered.  Kate showed her face without fear, and before her highly rated 60 minutes interview, she had released only one statement.  “I love him so much.”

Then a girl named Ann delivered a rebuttal and was used as a character witness by prosecution.  “I Hate him! He got me pregnant and I had to…” She broke down “I destroyed my first child, and it’s his fault. But I’m in college, I can’t have …”  It then went on to become more about her and less about Jack.  It wasn’t long until no one gave a shit about the rich-bitch sorority girl he had a one night stand with.  That’s how fast the news moved on social media.  The jury also didn’t think much of her either.

Another girl came to the press about having sex with Jack, in a more positive sense because he had rescued her from what she said would have been “a guaranteed rape.”

A former prostitute gave a short interview from her room at a rehab clinic, apparently Jack was her “Guardian Angel”, who guided her with fatherly words and a much needed iron fist.”  The girl was quite poetic now that she was sober.

Some hipster told a story of how he had been beaten senseless by Jack.

Conner and Hal only appeared in court and offered no statement to the media.  They only voiced their support for their captured friend and acted as character witnesses for the defense.

Nancy delivered only one statement, he burned his supena in a video he posted on youtube.  He refused to show up for court and be at risk of saying anything against his friend, period.  “Fuck you.  He’s a good man, good men don’t belong in the shit house!”

The whole trial if it so can be called, was more of a rush of media, the law waving theirrestored masculinity around, and a fast forward of witness after witness that Jack didn’t even pay attention to.  Jack didn’t even know his lawyer’s name.  

Jack was sent back to prison, obviously.  He was to serve at least 20 of his 25 to life years before he could start serving an eight year sentence for escaping and another eight for the various assaults, and finally two more for assaulting an officer.  Jack was to serve at least forty years, not eligible for parole until half of it.  The outrage from his fans was massive and pushed on the verge of rioting.  Jack got endless flows of fan mail, none of which he read.

Jack accepted his fate with the usual discourse and lack of emotion he always had before.  Except one thing was different.  He never could stop thinking about Kate, every second he wasn’t with her he wanted to die.  He was not allowed a conjugal visit until they were married, which they were soon after the “trial” had ended.  

Jack’s cellmates were two black guys and a hispanic man, all in for drug charges.  When they learned they were on the same cell block as the famous Jack Lewis, they spread the word and before dinner, Jack was a hero.

Jack got a package every other week when Kate visited.  It consisted of cigarettes, suggestive photos of herself for lonely nights, and books.  

Jack was keeping his reading up like never before.  Reading everything he was sent from beginning to end. Jack also took advantage of the book cart every chance he could.  Reading the classics, pop fiction garbage, anything that looked interesting.  For the first month of his sentence he was on an Oscar Wilde kick. Then he started to read some prison narratives by Leonard Peltier or Mumia Abu Jamal.  Soon he began a Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King phase.

One day on the book cart, jammed between two volumes of War and Peace, was less of a book and more of a pamphlet.  Jack looked to see it was by the same author Kate and he would read together.  Memories of his last hours in Kate’s bed came to him.  He decided to read this pamphlet.  He hoped it wouldn’t be as demented as the writer’s fiction or as archaic and scattered as the authors poems.

The parody of the self

a manifesto to the young millennium.

by James J Jackson Jr

“the more i see, the less i know, the more i like to let it go.” Snow by red hot chili peppers.

Introduction

We, as a species, are ever burdened yet rewarded with the human condition.  We have been given this gift of logical thought and consciousness; yet, we are ever burdened with the knowledge of our own mortality, the weight of physical and emotional pains coincided with our pleasurable emotions, and the fact that there is and are things in this universe that we shall never comprehend, not even in death.

We as a generation, are cursed.  We live in the generation that is blank abstract and a parody of itself.  Every cliche sense of identity, every generation has lived through some sense of identity, except ours, and the more we think we figured it out the more abstract it becomes.  We elected Obama and thought a new generation of peace and tolerance would take over the country, but other than killing Osama and marijuana dispensaries, we see Obama is just the black Clinton, left but not left enough.  A progressive American, but still an American, still putting delusional faith in the ultimate evil, the “market.”

We as a generation, have no sense of identity because of this sense of American economy.  Every sense of identity has now already been taken, and our generation is nothing but vintage chic that copy other generations.  We have people living the hip hop lifestyle that died with Easy E and Tupac.  We have hippies wearing their granola parents old clothes.  We have club kids creating multiple genres of rave and electronic music that would make the 1980’s blush.  We have the “fashionable” still flocking to the mall to throw away their money.  Everything, it seems, from the art world, to the film world, to the simple world around us, is blank because all that could be done with each medium has been done before.  Is there anything wrong with this pursuit of identity?  No, it is a part of the human condition.  It is one of the burdens of our gifts of conscious thought.  It could use a little more structure however.

We as a culture, lack culture.  Our authors have shifted from literature to nothing but commercial interests.  Mark twain would not survive the literary world unless he took shock value to another level.  50 Shades of Grey is a hit when its writing is pure garbage and names like Kurt Vonnegut, ee cummings, and Ralph Waldo Emerson are in danger of slipping into hipster obscurity.  We have no respect for the academic and the educational like we should, and those in the academic or educational run the risk of being cut off from reality and being stuck in theory.  Both people, academic and non, are guilty of ego and entitlement.

We are so egotistical, so up our own ass, we refuse to acknowledge the Us government is guilty of genocide of natives and blacks, that immigrants and gays are being attacked for being who they are, that the authority of teachers is needed to educate our students, and that media is more powerful than it should be.

The human condition, despite its strifes, is a beautiful and amazing thing.  We live in a beautiful world, and are capable of leading beautiful lives.  Yet these lives we constantly refuse to mold and make our own.  Not only that, but we are often under the delusion that we are the molders of our life, when in fact we are not.  As Goethe said, “ No person is more enslaved than one who falsely believes they are free “

We as a generation, are the generation of the 21st century.  We have to make up for the mistakes of our ancestors.  They promised so much to us by this century and none of it was delivered.  I say we deliver more than what they asked for.  Let’s not just shock and awe our failed ancestors with our technology and progressive inclusion. Let’s amaze them with a philosophical, artistic and creative strength not seen since the enlightenment and the renaissance.  That is where the waves are shifting.  Our existence, pointless. Our efforts for professional success, a waste of time, it is in the creative world that our generation belongs, and it is there we will stay.

The poet, the artist, the sculptor, the filmmaker, the musician, these people now live as “starving artists” and garner no respect from the public as they should because they don’t hold “productive careers”, they just express themselves.  Well, maybe if some of these white-collar conservative jerks expressed themselves once in while they wouldn’t be stuck in their meaningless existence. An existence where the only thing left behind to show for their lives will be a stack of money that will some day be gone and spent, and maybe a plaque on some office or library wall that will be up for a few years before the building is moved or torn down;  While the author and the artist have a lifetime of work to leave behind to show for their lives.  If that is not productive, and if that is not what this world needs right now, I do not know what is.  Also, these people make no money and live as they do because these Same people who criticize them for living so meagerly download and exchange their work with each other for free.  Capitalism has created the worst kind of entitlement, the kind where we practically have enslaved our artists and entertainers.  They look down on people trying to make a living through their creative side and then go around stealing it.

Consider this a manifesto, a philosophy much needed for the modern age.  Call it whatever you want, just take what it says to heart.  My only hope is that this book teaches you something, if you can walk away from this book with one difference of opinion from when you started, whether or not it’s agreeing or disagreeing with me, I will know I have done my job.

Also, I wish to mention that not a single original thought exists in this book, everything in this book has been said a thousand times before, and will always be said a thousand times again.  But every once in a while it needs to be put on to paper.

Lastly, I wish the reader to remember that this is merely a book, do not find meaning in this work where there is none and don’t miss the actual meanings altogether.  But remember this is merely one book written by one man, and in all respects should never have had to be written; for as Lao tzu said, “those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.”

And there is hope, there is always hope.  For if there is not hope, these people strangling our culture, strangling our generation, which is a generation of artists, then our generation has already lost.

______________________________________________

When he finished, Jack  closed the book, sighed, and waited for his thoughts to catch up with him.

Jack enjoyed the read.  He was a little excited after he finished.  He stood and looked out the cell door.  Down the hall he could see the only window high at top by the catwalk that the guards use to look over the entire cell block.  He could see through the window that it was a blue sky and a sunny day, and despite all of Jack’s best efforts to stay grounded in reality, to keep himself from getting any fruitless ideas, he couldn’t help it.  After what he had just read, he could not help but feel that the author was, in fact, right.  If you want to stay victorious, there always has to be hope.

As Jack looked at that tiny window far off in the distance, at that one square of blue in a bleak wall of gray that was almost blocked by a guard with a rifle and an NFL build, Jack could not shake the feeling that there was hope.  He then turned to his cellmates and joined their game of cards, still smiling, and he started to get excited for his visit with Kate tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s