Two Tonys on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

26 May 06

“Whattaya readin’?” Two Tonys asked.
Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov,” I said. “He was a prisoner in a Soviet labour camp in Siberia where they worked most inmates to death. I feel lucky being here after reading about these conditions. They were working in temperatures as low as seventy degrees below zero – so cold that spit froze in mid air. If you refused to work, you were thrown off a cliff or tied to a horse and dragged to death.”
“Have you ever read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?”
“No. There’s an Ivan Ivanovich in this book, who hung himself from a tree without a rope by placing his neck where the tree branches forked.”
“I’m talkin’ about Ivan Denisovich. It’s a book by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a writer who fought in World War 2 and was sent to the gulag for criticizing Stalin. The conditions were barely survivable. It was eat, keep warm, and try to stay alive. That was the whole struggle. There was none of this shit: 'chows twenty minutes late', or ‘why haven’t they opened my door for rec?’ Those folks in the gulag were prayin’ they’d get a fish eyeball in their soup – a little protein. They weren’t whinin’ 'cause they couldn’t wear a beanie cap. They had to wrap old socks around their heads so they wouldn’t lose their noses and ears to frostbite in the Siberian weather. There were no grievances and lawsuits. Imagine standing next to Ivan Denisovich, whose fingertips are turnin’ black with gangrene, and complainin’ that the store didn’t have your favourite brand of toothpaste or the water’s not hot enough or the razors are dull or you only got two rolls of toilet paper. It was a raw battle for survival. This was deep behind the Iron Curtain in the late forties, early fifties. Sheer communist totalitarianism. Most of the people they sent there were just political prisoners who hadn’t committed crimes. They’d just criticized some commissar’s old lady for havin’ a fat red ass.”
“Do you feel you’re lucky being here compared to what you've read about?”
“Yeah. My predicament’s a joke. I’m sixty-five years old. I’m gonna die in this motherfucker. But you’ve gotta die somewhere. Some get cancer. Some get their faces burnt off in car wrecks. Some kids get the flag waved at 'em in high school and hear, ‘God Bless America,’ and next thing they know they’re in the back of a Humvee in Iraq drivin’ over some explosive device, and all that’s sent back to their parents are their nuts and schlongs in body bags, folded in American flags, with letters from George Dubya Bush sayin’ ‘Thanks for the sacrifice.’ So big deal I’m gonna die in here. It could be worse. That’s what I’ve got comin’ 'cause I earned life in prison. I had to whack a few motherfuckers to get here. But at least I’m not in a Siberian gulag with some honky Polack, who ate pickles or fish-eye soup for breakfast, beatin’ me down if I don’t push enough wheelbarrows of iced dirt to meet Uncle fuckin’ Joe Stalin’s quotas.
Like I’ve said before: life is nothin’ but a state of fuckin’ mind. Shakespeare said in one of his plays: there is no happiness, there is no sadness, the mind makes it so. That’s why you get rich motherfuckers livin’ in mansions on Camelback Mountain blowin’ their brains out 'cause the stock market went down. Compare that to some Indian dude off the rez at the bottom of a ditch who loves life 'cause he’s got enough chump change to get himself a six-pack of Old Milwaukee and some green bologna. Why’s he happy? 'Cause his mind tells him he’s happy.
Me? I’m havin’ the time of my fuckin’ life.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
22 May 06

Tarot 2

Xena and I enjoyed your responses to the Tarot blog. Here are your readings:

Cheryl asked if she’s going to get off her "fat female butt" to look for a job. And what field it should be in.

“The Tower means total destruction. Cheryl loses jobs quickly and her relationships lack support. She has lots of family and friends but she is just getting by. To end the career instability she needs to go to school, learn a field, and become her own boss. She can make it happen if she gets off her ass. Good fields are sales, especially real estate.”

Lisa asked if she will marry the man she is with now.

“The person Lisa is in love with is the man 100 percent. Quarrels are a fact of life in all healthy relationships. Get over that and go for it, girlfriend.”

Joanne82 asked for a general reading.

“Joanne finds potential mates uninteresting. She’s not truly looking for love, but she wants a family, including a little boy. She hopes she doesn’t destroy herself by pushing in one direction. She should focus and get grounded on one thing before she starts her other plans. The fear has to leave. She’s not gonna have a whole lot – no big chunks of change or property – unless she keeps working at it.”

J asked if he should stay with his girlfriend.

“J wants to party. His girlfriend doesn’t. They have a child together but its not working out. If he wants to continue partying he should absolutely leave her.”

Mary asked if she would ever meet me.

“The inverted Magician tells me no, but the other cards say maybe. She wants physically and spiritually to meet you,but her family and friends are no help whatsoever because they don’t think it is a respectful move. She has surety of seeing you but doesn’t know how to initiate it. She is willing to meet you against the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and verbal commands of her family and friends. It is possible if she overcomes these forces.”

Vega is at a crossroads in life and wanting to be steered in a positive direction.

“It’s a positive reading. Vega is in bondage having to do with a child. There’s a lotta stress and little support. Vega has skills in finance. He needs to lose the extra weight that he is carrying mentally. The final outcome, upright Death, signifies the shedding of life and starting over. Start over Vega and things will be fine.”

Joanne wants to know if her son will get better.

“I see some improvement, but it’s gonna cost a lot of money. He has been very ill. You and your husband need to be there for him because he is in emotional turmoil. Travel and pursue your plans. If everything falls into place he will get better.”

Trena is concerned over her sons and imprisonment.

“The inverted Devil means there’s bondage Trena doesn’t accept. The Ten of Swords means murder. The bondage is due to her children, and she already knows the answer to this question. Yes, prison, and its gonna cost her financially. She has enemies: the people putting her kids away. I know it’s a snitch, basically.”

JMK is curious about where her life will go.

“This reading is about travel, and being tied down. JMK lacks money and help from outside sources. There’s negative energy coming from her family. There’s not much her father can do for her. Something is preventing her from being committed to take control of her life. She will travel. Her friends and family will hold her down until she is willing to break the bond. Information from her father should be relied on.”

Don wants to know if he should move to Nicaragua.

“This is a troubling reading to do with things Don has done. These things will follow him no matter. He wants to leave because he is in love. He wants to go and he should make it happen. If he stays the negative things will find him sooner rather than later.”

Xena’s closing statement, “To all of you who desire Xena and are looking for a relationship, you know where to find me. Just ask and I will answer. Anybody who wants a reading by me, ask and I will answer.”

Any more takers?

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
18 May 06

Through The Eyes Of A Killer

“How’s your mother and father doin’?” Two Tonys asked.
“They’re good,” I said.
“I only saw your parents by chance when I was outside Medical. I was thirty foot away from them in an eight-by-ten cage separated by two fences with razor wire. As corny as this may sound, I could see they were nice people. They smiled and waved, and I said, ‘Welcome to America.’ They were both nice people who loved their boy. And it’s because of them you are who you are.”
“I think you’re right.”
“I know I’m right. And a lotta people ain’t as fortunate as havin’ family like that. Have you guys always been a tight family unit?”
“Growing up we were, but after my sister and I graduated from university, we left home and travelled overseas. I ended up this side of the planet, and my sister ended up on the other side, in Japan. The distance drifted us apart somewhat, but my arrest pulled us back together again.”
“Then a good thing came outta your arrest. I can tell you were well-raised. That you were nurtured by people who cared about you. To stay alive in here, I hafta read people upon meetin’ them. Some I hafta be around a little while to figure out, some I hafta be in positions of adversity with. Others I look for controllability and wind-upness, so I can send them on missions like those eighteen and nineteen year olds Dubya’s sendin’ to Iraq. My point is this: I’m a good judge of character. You’re not perfect, Jon, but I can tell by talkin’ to you, trustin’ you, and discussin’ things with you I normally wouldn’t with others, I don’t detect any malice, greed or deceptiveness from you. You seem to be genuinely interested in my life. You seem to be real honest. And you’re outta your environment here. You know that.”
“Being in prison?”
“Yeah. But at the same time you’ve managed to maintain yourself and nobody really fucks with you. That’s because of the way you carry yourself, not like a swaggerin’ tough guy like Ogre who wants to cave skulls in 'cause you didn’t buy him a jar of coffee. You seem to have a knack for stayin’ out of people’s business.”
“Thanks a lot for saying that. It means a lot to me coming from someone with as much respect as you.”
“I think your blog readers would be interested in seein’ Jon through the eyes of a person such as myself, and I see you as a good guy, a compassionate person. I’ve come to you several times lookin’ to vent about some motherfucker or other. I’ll say somethin’ like, ‘Hey, Jon, so and so is a piece of fuckin’ shit, and you, in a roundabout way, usually say, ‘Hey Two Tonys, if that guy’s no good why are you wastin’ so much mental energy on him right now. He doesn’t know you’re hating on him like this. Why let him control your mind?’ And I think about it, and realise what you said makes sense. Then you told me to read Viktor Frankl’s The Doctor and the Soul, and already I’ve found somethin’ very profound in it."
“Frankl recommended that you find happiness in the simple things you do each day. You may not be environmentally free, but you do have a degree of freedom that starts with the decisions you make each day. You can decide to stress yourself out over people you dislike and release negative hormones into your system, or you can relax, read some Wolfe or Updike, and make the most of the circumstances.”
“I think I’m too much of a fatalist. I sit around and sweat myself over shit like gettin’ some new motherfucker for a celly who I might hafta get into it with and end up in the hole or in the hospital. Shit's just like that in here. It fucks up your plans.”
“So you’ve just gotta go with the flow of whatever comes your way otherwise you’ll drive yourself nuts worrying about things that’ll never happen.”
“I know. I’m slowly comin’ around to that. You’ve taught me that.”
“Look how happy you were the day I wrote the blog about you, the Two Tonys Day.”
“It’s nice to have a person around like you who I can sit down and kick it with in a refreshin’ way. Too many people here only want to talk about the great robberies they did, and how many kilos of coca they dealt, or how many show broads they banged when they went to Vegas with $100 bills plastered all over their foreheads. It’s good to be able to sit down and have a normal conversation. There’s motherfuckers in here, I’ve been around for years who I walk with and I don’t even make eye contact with. I don’t ever wanna speak to them.”
“So you don’t think I’m standoffish because I keep myself to myself and rarely leave my cell?”
“In here that’s not a bad trait.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
15 May 06

Sexy Mail

My mail included a Manila envelope from Royo Girl. In it I discovered four fantasy-art prints and a picture, but no letter. I enjoyed the perfume.
Why no letter? I thought That’s a first. Is Royo Girl trying to tell me something? Maybe the pics contain a cryptic message.
I examined the pictures. Four women drawn by Luis Royo. A redhead wearing only latex thigh-highs, elbow-length gloves, army boots and a leather cap; a tribal tatoo on her tailbone. A sleep-walking Goth in a flowing cloak, hands on hips, pushing a thong down. A brunette in a diaphonous gown holding a monocle. A woman with long black hair wearing a blindfold and elbow-length gloves. The fifth picture was a photo of Angelina Jolie in a sheer dress, looking down and smiling at her breasts. I had to stop looking at the pictures because they were disrupting my blood flows.

Royo Girl looks similar to the girl in the Luis Royo prints. What is she up to sending me these things?

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood

10 May 06

Psychotherapy With Dr. O’Malley (Part 3)

On Dr. O's desk sat a magazine article about Susan Sontag and depression, titled “Melancholy Minus Its Charms.”
“Here’s my thought journal.” I handed Dr. O two sheets of paper.
He began reading the positive and negative thoughts I’d documented since the last session.
“What I noticed,” I said, “by writing my thoughts down, was that I varied within certain levels of happy and sad until the weekend, then my happiness went off the scale. I think I was manic.”

Dr. O took extra interest as he read Saturday’s entry: Currently manic? Overwhelmingly, inexplicably happy. Felt as if I could accomplish anything. Have written for almost 8 hours. My mind is racing with ideas. Creativity and the right words are flowing naturally. I haven’t showered, done yoga, or talked to anyone other than ushering a few visitors out. Time is flying. The announcements of rec beginning and then ending (a two hour period) seemed like ten minutes. I thought I was hearing things when rec ended because time couldn’t possibly be moving so fast. I’ve accomplished a lot today, and I am extremely satisfied. In comparison to recent happiness, I am way off the scale. Why can’t I feel this good everyday? I feel like I could walk to the chow hall and back on my hands – and maybe even fly!

“When you reviewed these thoughts after you wrote them what did you think?” he asked.
“I thought, Oh no! Now I’ve got multiple personality disorder, because Saturday’s thoughts seem like they were written by a different person.”
“Some writers, when they are feeling great like that, achieve tremendous insights. What was the quality of your written thoughts on Saturday?”
“Words fell into place. My sense of humour was up. I liked what I wrote.”
“The reason I ask, is because when you are at negative or positive emotional extremes your critical ability goes down.”
“That’s true, because a lot of what I wrote was rubbish, but I judged my production on the things that bubbled up that looked good, things that I don’t think I could have written if I wasn’t in such a good mood. I simply edited out the rubbish when I’d calmed down, and used the good stuff.”
“Your sudden energy interrupted what you usually do in the day: yoga, taking a shower, and dealing with people. What did foregoing those things mean to you?”
“I didn’t mind. That was all secondary stuff. Most important to me was writing.”
“Is this energy you experience the same as the energy you utilised when throwing raves?”
“I never thought of it like that. It could be. Actually, I feel it wasn’t happy energy that led me to partying – it was depressions, thoughts of suicide, relationship break-ups, and negative emotions and events that made me look to drugs for solace. Also, a lot of energy, I channelled into sex.”
“You have to watch your swings. It seems that you don’t think of yourself as interesting when you’re not manic. You need to polish your thinking style, and be able to weigh the consequences of your ups and downs. You have a high state of denial - it’s something you must remedy if you want to have a normal life. ‘I like the highs! I can walk to the chow hall on my hands!’" Dr. O threw his arms in the air as he imitated me.
I laughed. “Here’s the rest of my homework.” I handed him my notes about my connection with the universal.

The Shakti (universal force) is the source of all power. We can do nothing unless the Shakti enables it. The ego resists this truth, and we believe we have our own power – which is a fallacy. We are unfullfilled until we discover the inner Shakti. Upon discovering it, we flow with good or bad events, conscious of the dance of the Shakti, the power behind all happenings and moods.

“Is that what you were looking for?” I asked.
“Yes. Yoga means union, everything, good and bad, dark and light. Whether studying Dao, the yin and yang of Chinese philosophy, or Christian theology at the mystical level, all paths lead to the union with the universal – including observance of the eight limbs of yoga. Such awareness doesn’t demand perfection. Whatever occurs is allowed to occur. The problem is: the mind interferes. The monkey mind. It doesn’t stay still. It behaves like a restless monkey grabbing at objects that aren’t there. The flow of the mind is the essence of many esoteric doctrines.”
“I understand that, but reading it and understanding it are different from being able to apply it.”
“It always is. You have to work at it. Look at ascetics, people who have isolated themselves from others. Not bums with their cheap wine and oblivion, but renunciators with their books and bags. Isn’t that an expression of intellectual energy? Although it has good and bad to it, it seems to enhance the path for some folks.”
“So where am I on that spectrum? I’m channelling my intellectual energy into writing, but I’ve also spun out of control into drugs and partying.”
“It doesn’t matter. My opinion has little to do with it. It is your image of yourself that’s important – your insights, your judgements. Can you imagine yourself five or ten years from now?”
“Yes. I have long-term goals. That’s why I try not to waste time. I’m happy knowing I’m moving in the right direction.”
“But goals shift. And rest is important. You need rest to be able to apply yourself to achieve your goals.”
“I need to rest more. I know this, but it seems impossible to apply.”
“That’s were mindfulness and self-awareness come in. If a Tibetan Buddhist monk lost his legs, he could still achieve his goal of making a journey around the Sacred Mountain. He would do it slower than most, but he would be mindful and self-aware. If your goal is to throw the best rave parties in the Valley –”
“Oh no, never again!”
“Let’s just assume that at one time it was. If you’d been mindful of the bigger picture instead of being excited by one thing and forgetting everything else, then you would have been more aware of the unintended consequences of your actions. Consequences that put you in here.”
“That’s true.”
“For homework, I’d like you to keep up the thought journal, and consider the difficulty you have with good intentions. As the old cliché goes: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Most folks don’t think about the consequences for themselves. With your physical practice – your asanas - I’d like you to be more mindful, and to consider your bone and muscle alignments. You should also try meditation to control your monkey mind."

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
08 May 06

Frankie’s Chess Challenge (Part 2)

“Well George, you read the reader responses to Frankie’s chess challenge, and they quite rightly pointed out that I shouldn’t do the bet because there’s nothing in it for me. I have no desire to see Frankie’s arse.”
“Fuck the readers!” George said. “ Its an honour thing. A commitment is a commitment.”
“I didn’t commit,” I said. “I told him I’d think about it. A good idea would be if he would agree to let you do my butt-naked pushups if I lost.”
Frankie entered the cell.
“How come,” I asked Frankie, “you haven’t been over to play chess in a few weeks?”
“’Cause you copped outta the butt-nakeds,” Frankie said.
“He’s put you on shine status,” George said.
“How can I do this if all I win is seeing your arse?”
“Maybe I’ve gotta good ass,” Frankie said. “And I’ve read your readers' comments. They make me sound like I’m a mean guy. I’m not a mean guy”
“Wait a minute,” George said to Frankie. “You are mean. You’re mean to me. Very mean.”
“No I’m not,” Frankie said.
“Do I need to remind you?” George said.
“What about the bet?” I asked.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” George said.
“And,” Frankie said, “you know I’m Caesar the Booty Pleaser. I’ll be gentle on you, Englandman.”
“Actually, Frankie,” I said, “George has agreed to do my pushups for me if I lose.”
“Then it’s gotta be more,” Frankie said.
“How many butt-naked pushups did you guys agree on?” George said.
“Ten,” I said.
“I want twice that amount,” Frankie said.
“Twenty?” I asked.
“No,” Frankie said. “I want more than pushups. They are eliminated if George stands in. I want some real action, you know what I mean, George?”
“No!” George said. “All I’ll do are his pushups at a dollar a time.”
“But what if I win?” I said.
“You get to watch him,” George said.
“What fun is that?” I said.
“Trust me,” Frankie said. “I’m a virgin.”
“I don’t see a virgin,” George said.
“If I put in a medical slip for an ass exam, it would come back rectus titus, but your ass, George, is big enough for a Greyhound bus to pass through it. And if Jon loses, well, you’ll see what a nice guy I can be.”
“Greyhound bus! I’m insulted you should say things like that about me,” George said. “There’s no talking to you. And as for you, Jon, you’re gonna hafta do your own fuckin’ butt-naked
pushups.” With that George stormed off.

What have I got into?

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
06 May 06

My Comments On Your Comments

Thank you for the comments posted during the first quarter of 2006, which kept me amused and entertained – by reading them over and over again – during the hostage situation, and the subsequent lockdown.

Frankie’s Chess Challenge almost broke the comments record set by the Anal Virginity Threat about George’s glory hole argument. Comments such as TonyRob’s about Frankie burgling my buttcheeks gave me a laugh. Then there were people like Brian who seemed to want me to take the bet and lose so they could read the lurid outcome. More sensible advice came from Andrew M, Cheryl, David Vogel, and JMK. As I beat Frankie 274 – 239 in a recent four-month championship, I might take Chris H’s advice, and make the bet with a different stake.

Tommy was made up with the nine comments on Breast Reduction. Xena said reading your comments made her day. Two Tonys enjoyed responding to your questions, which provoked some unusual answers.

The comments following Am I Crazy? Were touching. Lady Arkles, Carl, and K made sense. As usual, Zen’s comment was poetic.

Cheryl and TonyRob want Long Island to start a blog, but I’ve not heard from him since his release.

Martha and JMK expressed sympathy about my relationship with Claudia. Although Claudia urged me to call her, she never answered the phone, so I stopped calling.

JMK pointed out my misuse of dawg, versus dog. Dawg means homey. I should have used dog for the context of dirty dog, not dawg. American pronunciations of dog and dawg sound similar to me. Cheryl asked if calling someone dog versus dawg would start a fight. I doubt it. Someone looking for a fight will use the tried and tested, ‘I’m callin’ you out, you punk-ass bitch.’ Fighting words indeed.

Carl commented about studying behavioural finance. As I’m looking do post-graduate study in that subject, I was hoping that Carl would email me more info.

Many thanks for all your comments. Keep them coming.

Good lookin’ out, dawgs!

Coming soon: Two Tonys and Xena answer your questions.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
04 May 06

Final Special Visit

8:05am “Dog 11, stand-by for special visit.”

8:15am Two guards arrived.
“I’m ready,” I said.
“Hold up. We’re gonna hafta strip you out.”
That’s odd, being strip-searched going out, I thought. It must be an additional security measure.

8:25am I was escorted into the visitation room.
“He can’t come in here. This is my command post,” a sergeant yelled.
Oh no, they’re going to cancel the visit.
Officer Rossini appeared and said, “I’m going to escort you to a different room, a conference room. And the visit has only been approved for three hours.”
Only three hours instead of six and a half. But at least it’s not completely cancelled.

8:30am The conference table in the room caused flashbacks to my stockbroking days. Pitching stocks to clients. The view of Camelback Mountain from our high-rise. Power sales meetings. Rowdy New York Italian co-workers. Receiving awards for high commissions.. Worshipping Wall Street and Mammon.

8:35am Dad and sister arrived.
“I thought I wasn’t going to get to see you two again any time soon.”
“I noticed,” Dad said. “You should have seen your face yesterday. You turned as white as a ghost, and if you’d had hair, it would have stood on end.”
We laughed.
“We’ve only got three hours,” I said.
“It’s better than nothing,” Karen said.

9:00am The DW passed by and we thanked her.

11:30am The visit ended.
“This might be the last time I see you in a while. They may not allow your final visit,” I said.
We hugged.
“I’ll call the prison on Saturday, and we’ll see if they’ll let us in,” Dad said.
“Thanks for coming. It’s been great seeing you.”
“Goodbye Jon,” Karen whispered, tears running down her cheeks. “Love you.”
“Love you,” I said.
“See you, Jon,” Dad said. “Love you.”
“Love you.”

11:45am I was told to wait in the outdoor visitation area until a guard could be found to conduct a strip-search. In the main visitation area, dozens of guards were eating pizzas.

12:15pm I was suddenly surrounded by staff members. C03 Dunn, wearing a yellow shirt and a Stetson, asked how my visits had been. Some guards discussed how they had considered resigning during the hostage situation. Everyone laughed when Officer Stewart – who looks more like a model than a guard – tried to respond to a radio call with a mouth full of pizza. A C03 said sixty pizzas had been ordered. Warden Mann, the boss of Tucson prison, arrived.

12:45pm I was summoned to be strip-searched.
“How’d yer visits go?”
“Great. I was lucky to have them under the circumstances.”
“When’s yer next visit?”
“This weekend. But I don’t think we’ll be off lockdown by then, so its not looking good. I don’t think they’ll allow a special visit on a regular visitation day if we’re still locked down. People would complain if I got special treatment.
“Did you ask the DW about that?”
“Yes. But we’re just grateful for what we’ve been allowed so far.”
“We do have searches and an investigation going on. Prisoners are getting upset, because they don’t want to miss their weekend visits, but they hafta realise there’s security procedures we hafta go through.”
“It was good the hostage didn’t get hurt.”
“She was all shook up though.”
“I’ll bet she was. Do you think we’ll spend the weekend on lockdown?”
“It depends on prisoner attitudes. If people stay calm and ride it out, things will get back to normal. The problem is some people have made things worse. Like a group of prisoners yelling at a female C03, ‘Come and sit on my face.’ When the DW hears stuff like that it’s not gonna help you guys get off lockdown. Another prisoner who was getting stripped out threw his T-shirt at a guard."

The regular Saturday weekend visitation was cancelled, and the prisoners were still on lockdown when Derick and Karen flew back to the UK on Monday 8th May.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
03 May 06

My Sister in Tears

8:01am Two guards delivered breakfast: pancakes, hot cereal, syrup, peanut butter, an
apple and milk.
“Did you get your visit yesterday?”
“No.” I said. “I spoke to the DW and she said we're going to be locked down for a few days.”
“Damn. That’s rough. And they came all the way from England, right?”
“Yes. The trip cost thousands of dollars, and they only came here to see me.”
“You should see if DOC will pay for the trip.”
“We’ll see what happens. I’ve got visits until the weekend. Maybe we’ll get off lockdown by then.”

8:47am “Dog 11, stand by for a special visit. Get ready.”
How the hell did that happen? Perhaps the DW reconsidered. Maybe they came down here and pled their case. I’d better hurry up and get dressed.

9:05am “How did you manage to get in?” I asked Dad.
“I called down here, and they said it was approved. DW Wallace must have given her permission.”
“You must have felt frustrated when you couldn’t get in yesterday.”
“It was terrible,” Karen said. “My stomach was in knots. I was throwing up all day.”
“We saw it on the news on Monday night,” Dad said. “A reporter was standing in front of the prison, and as soon as he mentioned Santa Rita, I thought, bloody hell - it’s going to be a lockdown and we won’t get in.”
“What did the news say?”
“A woman guard was held hostage for six hours by a prisoner who demanded to be transferred to Montana.”
“Any weapons involved or did she get hurt?”
“He had razor blades but he didn’t hurt her.”
“It’s a good job nobody got hurt. Last night it looked like a scene from Star Wars in here with all the storm troopers wearing protective gear. Did the news say how it ended?”
“They told him,” Karen said, “they’d move him to Montana, so he gave up and they moved him alright: straight to SMU [Special Management Unit] in Florence.”
“Perhaps he was doing a copycat of the Morey standoff, because one of the prisoners involved – Steven Coy – got transferred to Maine. He raped a guard and a kitchen worker, and he got seven consecutive life sentences plus one-hundred-and-fifty-two years. But if he was already serving life, the additional time means nothing.”
“Well, we got in today,” Dad said.“We’ve only lost one visit, so we didn’t do too bad.”
“How’s Mum taking it?”
“We told her we’d try and get in today,” Dad said, “ and that if we weren’t answering the hotel phone, that means we got in. So by now she’ll know where we are.”

2:30pm Visit ended.

“Do you think I should ask Officer Rossini whether we need to call the prison before we come tomorrow?” Dad asked.
“If they let you in today, you should be all right for the rest of the week,” I said.
“That’s no guarantee. We’d better ask,” Karen said.
We approached Officer Rossini.
“Officer, do you think we should call tomorrow before we come out here?” Dad asked.
“Let me call the DW and find out.”
A few minutes later, Officer Rossini emerged from her office with an uncomfortable look on her face. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the DW said no."
“No what?” Dad asked. “That we don’t need to call or we can’t have the visit?”
“That you can’t have the visit.”
I felt sick. Dad and Karen looked devastated.
“I’d like to speak to the DW,” Karen said, tears welling in her eyes.
“Let me call her again. Actually there she is. Maybe she’ll talk to you in person.” Officer Rossini hand signalled the DW who came through security doors and joined us.
“Thank you very much,” Dad said,” for allowing us to visit today.”
“You’re welcome,” DW Wallace said.
“Is it not possible for us to come tomorrow?” Dad asked.
“The prison is going to be locked down for the next few days while we do our investigation. I spoke to Jon, and I was able to give you today’s visit, but tomorrow’s not possible."
Dad and Karen both started to speak at once.
“One at a time please,” DW Wallace said.
Karen broke down. “I’ve not seen - sniff – my brother in two years – sniff-sniff. That’s all I am here for – sniff – just this one week – sniff-sniff – to see my brother."
“We’ve had this trip planned all year,” Dad said. "We’ve come five-thousand miles at considerable cost, just to see Jon. All of these visits were approved by the prison, and we’ve already lost one visit.”
“Which visit did you lose?”
“And when do you go back to England?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Right, here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll authorise tomorrow’s visit, but if anything, and I mean anything, goes wrong on the yard during the visit, we’ll have to send you home.”
“I understand that,” Dad said.
We thanked the DW and after she departed, we praised our luck. We said goodbye.
After I was strip searched, the guard asked, “Did you have a good visit?”
“Yes. It was great. It’s just bad timing with this hostage situation.”
“That guy was crazy pulling that stunt.”
“I understand you have security procedures to follow.”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t be punished 'cause of one idiot.”
“I think the DW sees it that way. We’re lucky she’s kept some of the visits going considering what’s happened.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
02 May 06

Hostage Situation (Part 2)

5:50am Should I get up? I thought. I’ve got to look out the window to see what’s going on.

5:52am Not a soul near Building 2. Good.
No kitchen workers in Yard 4’s chow hall. Bad.
Mixed signals. Are we still locked down?

6:01am Ah, two kitchen workers and a guard in the chow hall. A good sign. I’d better start preparing for the visit. It seems that things are back to normal. And I spent hours last night stressing out. What an idiot I am.

7:17am Why no stand-by for chow? The hostage situation seems to be over. Surely it’s back to business as usual? I hope there’re not going to punish us all by keeping us locked down for days on end. Here comes the nurse distributing meds - a good sign.

7:21am Kitchen workers started to deliver chow to Building 1.

7:30am “I’ve got a special visit today. Are we still on IMS?” I asked Officer Marquez.
“We are on IMS.”
“But the situation on Yard 2 is resolved right?”
“Yeah. But who knows if you’ll get your visit.”

7:36am Breakfast arrived. Tortillas, refried beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and applesauce.
“Do you think I’ll get the visit?”
“I dunno,” Officer Marquez said. “I can ask.”

9:00am Why haven't I been called out for the visit? Obviously, I’m not getting a visit today. If I miss one, it’s no big deal. There’s three remaining. Making four out of five wouldn’t be too bad. Perhaps they just need a day to get back to normal.

9:40am Two guards appeared. Trash collectors.
“I’m supposed to have a visit today with my family who flew in from England.”
“We can tell yer not lying. You’ve certainly got the accent.”
“I’m certainly not lying.”
“The DW's walking round right now. You’ll soon be able to ask her.”
The DW was outside Junior Bull’s cell, working her way around the run, coming in my direction.

9:45am “My family have flown from England, and I’m supposed to have a special visit today.”
“You won’t have it,” DW Wallace said.
“What about the rest of the week? That’s all we’ve got left before they fly home.”
“You’re gonna be locked down for a few days. I don’t know about the weekend,” she said and walked away.

I might not be seeing my dad and sister for a while. I don’t understand this. If kitchen workers can walk around, why can't I? If the situation is resolved, then what’s the big deal about letting me walk to the visitation area? Maybe my dad and sister will get a better opportunity than I did to plead our case. I'm sure they'll speak to someone here and try to get in somehow.

11:30am I wondered whether my dad and sister would be allowed in tomorrow.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
30 April 06

Hostage Situation (Part 1)

“Surprise cell inspection,” Officer Rivero said, entering my cell.
“Uh-oh,” I replied, acting surprised, although I’d heard him say the same thing to my neighbours, giving me just enough time to chuck the clutter on the countertops into the drawers.
“It’s quite clean in here,” he said.
He ticked my name on his clipboard, and continued down the run.

4:25pm Officer Rivero sprinted across the rec area and out of Yard 4 into Yard 2. Numerous officers from all directions were running toward Yard 2. I assumed there had been a fight or an assault on a guard.

5:40pm Kitchen workers, ordered to return to their cells, were yelling:
“We’ve got another hostage situation!”
“A hostage has been taken on Yard 2!”

My heart sank. A previous hostage situation at Buckeye had lasted for fifteen days, making it the longest prison hostage standoff in US history. On January 18th 2004, two prisoners – Steven Coy and Ricky Wassenaar – took a male and female guard hostage in the guard tower, where the female was raped. During the crisis, inmates were not allowed out of their cells, and didn’t get food for several days.

My dad and sister have travelled so far to see me, I thought. Unless there’s a swift resolution to this situation, I might not get to see them. How will they feel if they are turned away tomorrow?

6:05pm Guards amassed on Yard 2, and put ladders up to the roof.

6:25pm Why's this got to happen right now? How soon before everything is back to normal? Calm down. There’s absolutely nothing I can do. What’s going to happen is going to happen. And what about the person who’s been taken hostage? How do you think he or she feels right now? A person’s life is on the line. I feel sick. Stop pacing the cell and go back to reading.

6:34pm Strategic Response Team (SRT) members arrived at Yard 2 in flatbed trucks.

6:35pm SRT members marched into Building 2. Yard 2 had begun to look like a scene from a war movie.

6:37pm More SRT arrived.

6:43pm A floodlight was shone over Building 2, lasting ten seconds.

6:46pm Another truckload of SRT arrived.

6:54pm The setting sun turned the mountain behind Building 2 pink, adding to the surrealism. SRT members extracted equipment from the trucks.

8:00pm Darkness. Bats swooped around the yard lights catching moths. Another truckload of SRT members passed by.

8:47pm “Are you a regular or a diet?” asked a guard at the door.
“Diet. I’m a lacto,” I said.
“We’re serving regulars right now, but I gotcha,” he said – meaning he may or may not be back with my food at some hour of the night.

9:15pm I ate peanut butter and crackers as I didn’t fancy staying awake for black beans and mashed potatoes.

9:30pm Shoved wet toilet paper in my ears and went to bed – still worried about the visits.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood