15 July 05
The Journey to Tucson
“Lockdown! Special count!” a guard announced at 6am on Monday morning.
“We’re leavin’. Here’s the blue bags!” Long Island said. (The blue bags are used to transport our property.)
My belongings were trolleyed to a warehouse to be inventoried. In the warehouse, inmates were trying to avoid the guards they suspected would confiscate extra property such as books, clothing, magazines and cassette tapes. Having no extra property, I approached Officer Perez who has a bad reputation with the inmates. Perez was cordial. He divulged that his favourite groups include The Smiths and New Order, and that he used to frequent dance clubs in Phoenix such as the Blue Iguana and the Works Club.
The rest of Monday I spent in my cell without anything to write with– argh! To pass time I read some Buddhist literature and a book called Revolutionary Guerrilla Warfare.
At 3am on Tuesday the cell door clicked open. I was instructed to roll up my mattress, to deposit it in the day room, and to proceed to the chow hall. Breakfast was an orange and a turkey-ham sandwich that Long Island described as, “Foul-ass shit with chunks of bone in it.”
After chow, the guards led 75 of us a warehouse. They strip-searched us, ten at a time, in the middle of the room without using any privacy divides.
“Put your arms in the air. Open your mouth. Raise your balls. Turn around. Bend over. Spread 'em. Cough.”
Outside, against a fence, I was hand and leg cuffed.
On the bus I was greeted by a transportation officer: “Number!” His tone seemed designed to make us feel less than human.
Near the front of the bus, I sat next to Blackheart. Through the barred windows I saw
forest-fire flames dancing on the surrounding mountaintops. The illusion, which was confusing the inmates, was due to the angle of the rising sun.
As the bus cruised at 80mph on the freeway, the security gate separating us from the two guards clattered incessantly – a reminder that my life was rattling away.
Travelling east on the Interstate 8, road signs brought to mind past journeys spent on that freeway. Most recently I had taken my ex-wife, Amy, on a trip to Sea World in San Diego on her birthday, where we had dinner with Shamu, the celebrity killer whale. Years before that trip, I used to travel on the I8 with my girlfriend, Stormy, to visit her parents who lived on two houseboats at Coronado Island. Stormy wanted to have children and for me to quit raving. I wondered how different my life would have been if we had married and started having children.
From time to time, the driver swigged from a gallon plastic water bottle.
At Casa Grande, the bus exited the I8 and joined the I10 to Tucson.
The driver's partner fell asleep. His right leg ended up horizontal, propped up by the front of the vehicle and his shotgun. His dark eyelids and long eyelashes gave him a feminine look.
The vehicle swerved. Inmates jeered. Like a startled child, the sleeping guard opened his eyes and blinked hard. On gathering his bearings he pulled a stern face.
Passing Picacho Peak, countless saguaros appeared to be marching up the mountain. Some were lodged in the cliff face. At the foot of Picacho Peak sat the Arizona Nut House.
Entering Tucson we passed the Ina Road exit – the exit I used to take to get to my home in the Catalina Foothills
The signs Wilmot Road Exit and Arizona State Prison 4 miles marked the journey’s end.
Here's what I brought from Buckeye to Tucson.
Inmate Property Inventory
1 Radio clear tech Walkman
1 Corded electric razor without case
1 Reading Lamp with bulb
1 Box of legal material
1 Box of checkers
1 Bulb ‘Phillips’
15 Cassette tapes ‘Learning tapes’
1 Box of toiletries
1 Box of crackers
1 Jar of Peanut butter
Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them below
Jon's new address is below:
Shaun Attwood ADC#187160
Santa Rita, Unit 4-D-11, PO BOX 24406, 10012 S Wilmot Rd
Tucson, 85734-4406, Arizona
Copyright © 2004-2005 Shaun P. Attwood