“Seven-Block, fourth tier, get ready for chow,” booms the lady voice over the intercom.

Try making up every day to that, I think. It reminds me of the lead juror’s voice at my verdict reading, “Guilty.” Maybe this whole sentence is just one long guilt trip.

I lie with my eyes closed. The whole idea of walking a quarter mile away to breakfast at six in the morning aches my mind. If the weather is anything like yesterday’s blizzard, I can wait until lunch. My stomach growls, reminding me that I haven’t eaten since five o’clock last evening; that fabulous hot dog dinner. I sit up and plant my feet on the floor while sighing. Concrete is my new hardwood. Welcome to day three of my new life.

My bunkie passes gas above me. I look out at the rest of the giant birdcage known as Sevan-Block quarantine—four stories of double-bunked calls stacked on top of each other, stretching as far left as the eye can see; a few hundred at least. A guy sits in the cell directly across from ours on his toilet; fool didn’t even put a sheet curtain up. I don’t know if I smell his feces or my bunkie’s gas. This whole place stinks.

I get up, put on the same blue prison uniform that I wore yesterday. They only give us two. I left a whole wardrobe of Louie Vuitton and Prada, Armani and Gucci, Polo and Coogi out there in my girlfriend’s loft with the hardwood floors.

The noise starts slowly as others rise and stir. I listen while brushing my teeth: a request for a coffee shot, talk about last night’s Pistons game, a few wagers on tonight’s Heat and Cavaliers games, a couple insults. One guy threatens to whip Shooter’s head, but he don’t mean it. He been talking crazy since we got. here. This is all a big joke to them. They can’t have the time I got.

Now they’re yelling, everyone. I brace my mind. It’ll be like this until three or four hours after midnight tonight. I ask my bunkie if he’s going to chow. Ha stirs for a moment then jump from the top bunk; farts again while squeezing past me. I don’t hear it but he’s carrying it with him. I see my little’s sister’s crying face at my sentencing again. I hear myself promising her again that I’ll be good. I forget about sucker punching him.

It’s the least I could do now. She’s twelve with dead parents. Losing me to the system was just what she needed. 5hs still hates me for instructing our aunt to keep her away from her friend’s block. How can I explain over the phone that my enemies are over there— that she could get hurt if they found out she was my sister? She just wants to play like any other kid.

I’m contributing to taking her childhood away. My hands grip the bars as I glare through them at my hell: this is where mine went. A nineteen-year old kid convicted for two shootings. They want me to turn fifty before they let me out of here. Yet people tell me I’m lucky for the other first-degree murder acquittal; that the third and worst shooting charge would’ve got me a life sentence. Thirty years is e life sentence in this place. These first three days of non-stop noise, of smelling this dank air, already feels like eternity.

The gates clank. I hear them opening on the fourth tier gallery about two football fields to my left. It’ll be another twenty minutes before they reach our cell on base, but I step into these cheap state oxfords anyway. I put on this royal blue state coat end this bright orange state skullcap. I don’t even claim this mess as mine. My hands grip the bars again. My eyes hate the concrete floor outside my cell. My ears catch more curses. My lips draw taut. The clanking nears above me.

Mb and Lexi won’t survive. She always picks arguments about old stuff like she’s looking for an excuse to leave. Maybe I should give her a way ou—SPLACKKK.

What the…?

The silence in my head spreads throughout the whole cellblock. My eyes sea a watermelon burst open on the concrete floor. Fruity red slush gushes outward from its huge crater. I notice its red juice splatters on my pants and shoes. The rest of the juice pools into a halo around the smashed melon. My mind whirls to wrap itself around it.

Maggots eat away at the wasted fruit. No, that’s brain matter. The splatter on my pants suddenly becomes much hotter, heavier even. I know it’s blood. The melon crystallizes into a grotesque soup of crimson blood, blonde hair, gray skull bone, and pink mutilated flesh. Blue prison garb clothe the twisted body around it. I throw up inside my mouth and swallow my breakfast.

The silence is loud in my head. Who was he? My bunkie ask me why he jumped as if I really know.

“There he go, right there,” I say. “Ask him.”

We’re all trying to get a grip on this birdcage stuff, I guess. He looks as if he could cry. Who pities the poor jail bird who chooses to fly? A sudden urge to punch this sucker again. If anything, I envy that dead guy and his open head for growing wings. He’s free.

I wipe his blood splotches from my pants and shoes with my damp face rag end wait again at the bars. For what, my mind asks. Someone to come clean this messy corpse away from my cell? For my gate to clank open so I can walk to breakfast? For day four of this thirty-year guilt trip to come, so I can wake and wash my face with the same rag?

My eyes hate the concrete floor even more now.

Deylon Neal #360091

Barage Maximum Correctional Facitility

13924 Wadage Road

Barage, MI 49908-9204