Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 10

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.

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Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 6

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Chapter 6  Bored in Boise

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He definitely wasn’t the Jack that left prison.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He saw Judge Bachman for his trial.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

They were far behind.  They were still in California.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“I’m Maddie,” she said.

 

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

 

“No.  I’m on my way out,”  he said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 5

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Chapter 5  To Liberate and Learn

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“You looking for a good time baby?”

 

“Need a date for the night honey?”

 

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

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

 

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

 

“BITCH!”

*Smack!

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

*Smack!

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

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

 

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

 

Jack didn’t hesitate.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 4

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Chapter 4  Jack Lewis, Meet Lewis Carroll

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Fuck off George!”  Kobe told him.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

They said their goodnights and all went to bed.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 3

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Chapter 3  Fresh Bacon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yup,” Alex said from the passenger seat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 2

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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.

Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 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.

NEW CHAPTER NEXT SUNDAY!