Mar 25 04

Sufferer Of The Week

I am allowed out of my cell for one hour each day to make a phone call and to take a shower. During my first "hour out" in the new pod, I was serenaded by the inmates, who performed a husky version of "A Yellow Submarine." I was touched by their demonstration of high spirits in a part of the jail known for extreme suffering.

My new neighbours are enduring the twin evils of a broken swamp cooler and a cockroach infestation. They are proving to be the crème de le crème of good sufferers.

A seventy-year old downstairs became the first victim of the soaring temperatures. He was stretchered from the pod after suffering chest pains. Before he collapsed, he became delusional and made a variety of bizarre comments that disturbed his young cellmate:
"Take me to the hospital, so I can put on my clothes."
"Take me out to the desert and shoot me."
"Let's go! Grab the key to the front door."
"I have a broken back. I can't walk!"

A neighbour who is asthmatic happily described his experience with a cockroach that had crept into his inhaler during the night. When he woke up, he grabbed the inhaler and blasted the insect down his throat. Feeling the cockroach moving around, he promptly vomited his stomach contents. Unfortunately, the cockroach was not ejected, as it was lodged inside of him. He was subsequently awarded “sufferer of the week,” a title I came up with to entertain my neighbours.

Mark and I have used six tubes of AmerFresh toothpaste and six ounces of Razorless Beard Remover cementing cracks in the walls. The cockroaches still flood our cell every night and I have awoken numerous times this week to observe my hair stood on end and a cockroach crawling on my body. I previously considered my apelike fur coating as one of nature's cruel jokes, but now I have discovered it to be a useful defensive shield against verminous insects. My upright hairs must seem like an unwelcoming forest to the little foragers.

I once read about a lady in Australia whose ear was entered by a cockroach as she slept. It chose not to come out. She was hospitalised, operated on, and she successfully sued the Australian government for failing to eradicate the cockroaches from her council home. She came to mind this week when a cockroach climbed a pink flannel I had hung below our tiny steel table to dry. It gravitated toward some earwax residue on the flannel, stopped, and breakfasted on it excitedly. I told my cellmate about the Australian lady and he now sleeps with his pink towel wrapped around his head.

Chicken Wing is in a neighbouring pod and I am trying to find out if Church on the Street will accept him when he leaves.

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