Sometimes, when it’s really late… and I’m scared to go to sleep… I try and imagine I’m in one of those old time prisons, a real penitentiary. I picture it all around me, cement and iron and cold steel, row after row of cells, each cell holding shadowy men, all you can see of them are these scarred, tattooed arms hanging out the bars and the red coal glow of the occasional cigarette. Stale tobacco and the stench of old sweat pulls at my nose. I can hear it ALL. The sounds, coming from from every direction, these brutal conversations passing from cage to cage, the taunting and the insults — Come on PIGEON come on be my pigeon say yes come on say yes you STUPID LITTLE TURD!!, the sound of bars rattling and closing — CLANG tink tinktinktink TUNK!, the guards stamping their boots as they go from cell to cell, barking at prisoners — kunk… kunk… kunk… kunk… kunk… kunk… kunk… I said WAKE UP!!, the almost silent “huh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh” from the pair in the next cell. And the whispers, floating silently through the whole place — pssspsss pssspssss pssssss psssss pssss psssssssssssss…..
And I can see me in the middle of this. Unshaven. Hair greased back. Smoking. I’m a CON-VICT. And I look cool, tough, laid back, almost suicidally calm. I’m the king of this castle. It’s my domain. You want something, I’m your man. You gotta problem, I’m the solution. I’m never getting out of here, but that’s… OK. Because out there, the world is long long ago dead. I am alive. Caged, beaten, in Death’s eye at every turn, but I am ALIVE.
A guard stops at my cell-
(That’s what they call me. “Duke”.)
Hey. Duke. Time to move.
I take a looonngg, slow drag on my cigarette. Then, I raise my head a bit, just a bit, so I can stare at him through my half closed eyes-
I ain’t quite ready at this par-tic-u-lar moment. Why don’t you get back to me later? Okay… “pal”?
I can feel this crackle of pain as he smashs my fingers into the bars with his billy club.
AAA! CHRIST! You dumb SHIT!
He throws open my door and shoves me into the far wall. I can hear the sound of boots pounding as the other guards run to my cell. They start to work me over. My world dissolves into flashes of pain and force. I can feel the butt end of a club smash into my jaw — AAAW! — loosening teeth. Boots — HUH! — crash into my legs and stomach. Their slobber flies out of their slack mouths onto my face. Uunnnnnnhhhhh… I feel a wave of sick fall over me as a heel grinds into my crotch. The whole time they wear these ugly rotten teeth smiles… Eventually it’s over. I’m nothing but a mass of pulp on the floor. But as they leave, I raise my head, and with my swollen, half closed eyes, I stare each of those bastards down and they know, oh they know, that they can’t beat me. I can never be beaten.
I don’t quite have that same self image here.
I don’t have ANY self image here. I couldn’t tell you for certain what I look like now, all of me at once.
Holds up tiny mirror.
Just TRY and take a look at your whole body in one of these. I can only catch parts of me at once and then I have to try and piece the different images together in my head. Patchworkman.
But I guess it really doesn’t matter what it look like. Who am I going to impress?