The first time I encountered a burning building was next door to my house. Opened their door & yelled upstairs to my friend. He already knew ‘cause he started the fire. The smell was delirious. So intoxicating. Second time – Ponderosa in Chicago. Near Colette’s grandmother’s house. Out walking with Melissa (her sister). Black smoke & silence. Ran right in. Wall. Knocked me on my ass. Heard yelling like “Get out of there. Everyone’s gone”. I crawled back out amazed at the force. How did smoke build a wall? & why did I run in? Well the thought of someone trapped & the idea of confronting that sight overwhelmed. The third time – I created by accident in basement of our house in Bayview. I refinished furniture & was doing a small cupboard. I had the top covered with stripper. Well it was taking forever. I had just borrowed a heating element from my painting boss. It’s like the coils from an electric stove – heats up paint/gunk & you scrape off. Well needless to say – Poof! Instant crazy fire that proceeded to jump across my work space covered with cans filled with denatured alcohol, steel wool & tons & tons of saw dust – cobwebs, junk. So within like 2 seconds I was deep within a fire. So I yelled up to Colette “Basement on fire. Give me a few minutes & call fire department”. At this point the fire created sound & rafters were starting to burn. So I grabbed this fantastic thick brand new cotton rug, got it soppy wet, unplugged all tools & slapped that baby on the cupboard then proceeded to swing that run & knock out the flames. Over in seconds. The basement was black. I was beat. Yelled upstairs, “it’s out”. Broke out a window & cleared the air. I realized I made the right decision. If we would have called the fire department we might have damaged our lives. If I had never confronted fire before I might have backed down. I looked at those flames the same as thugs in an alley. I’ll be damned if I was going to back down. The next morning when the boys woke up – 2 floors up – Colette noticed that they had black snot. Unsettling. What’s the point? Know your enemy? Know & confront your fear? Act first think second? Perhaps. For me it was the fight. Actually wrestling – feeling every inch of me struggle – fight – succeed. Today I am 50. In some other blog I’ll talk about electricity. The times I’ve been hit by cars – jumping thru a plate glass window. Count my 9 lives. But this is about prison. The newest chapter.
I was out walking with a buddy today. Great guy – not really talked about him before. Smart & honest. When he was 22-23 he had sex with a 14 year old a number of times. He had been in trouble before. Bottom line – he received 2 in & 6 out. I chat with a 14 year old & have no contact even though a meeting was arranged & I get 2 ½ in & 5 out & yes I broke my bail by being on internet. So no question I broke the law. So I ask him did we get the similar sentence because of my age. He replies “No. To them it’s all the same.” I reply “so talking & even arranging to meet is the same as sex”. “yes”. I was stunned not shocked. But I understand. Now if I contact you & offer you money to kill someone am I charged with killing that person? No. It’s conspiracy. If I plan out a bank robbery am I charged with bank robbery? Now if I ask these questions here in group they’ll jump all over me saying I’m a denier. I’m not a denier. I gave the cops the keys to my apartment. I signed a confession. I’m open & honest to this whole “thing”. He said he was gay & had no one to talk with. He said he was 14. He asked for me to talk about sex. I did. He said I did it well. I said I like to write. It’s not hard. It was a few days we chatted. I talked of losing Colette – death of Evan- hard to talk to friends. He said he didn’t know what he would do if he lost his mother or sister. I said you’re either a cop or an old man jerking off or you’re who you are & I’m fucked. Said he wasn’t a cop. Said that was fucked up. Wasn’t until he sent a picture that I freaked. Said you’re so young. This is wrong. He was hurt. Thought I was turning my back. Asked me to talk dirty again. Said we should meet. I was on the fence. Said he lived on the south side. Said I could send a cab. I did. Cops came & this began. I ask myself over & over again – What was I doing? I didn’t & still not sure. What I remember is vague. I want to be honest. I want to tear off scab & look at wound. I pick & pick. Sometimes I’m embarrassed. Then I ask myself “do I desire children?” & I ask myself how was a 14 year old so smart – so considerate- so together. I relax. I do not desire. I was & still kind of lost. Not just what I had been through. I was tired. I was giving up. A few days before my 2nd arrest I chased a guy out my apartment with a hammer. I was going to split open his head but I had no shoes on. I forget what he did. But there was a lot of things going on. First, I feel I need to be clear about my crime. I thought by now some one out there would have asked me. No one did. Perhaps it’s not important to you. But it is to me. Justice is not blind & it is not true that 10 guilty men go free rather than 1 innocent man is found guilty. It’s about plea bargains & getting elected & keeping this system working. Taxpayers are charged $40,000 - $75,000 a year for us. Do the math. Wisconsin has moved from dairy state to a prison state. When the cop told me there was an actual victim I freaked. I asked to write an apology to him. His mother. Everything collapsed. “What have I become?” How could I, after everything, turn around & create such devastation. I was broken. The cop was satisfied. He knew everything I had gone thru. & now this collapse. The devastation. The torture. Don’t ever wonder why men commit suicide in jail. I was too numb to think. The next week a blur. I was stuck in holding for nearly 2 days. My blood pressure was to high. Why I didn’t have a heart attack or stroke with arrest was/is beyond my comprehension. Some how people found me – my sister – Colette – my boss. They hired a lawyer. He appeared out of no where. All would be okay. He asked why the confession – the letters of apology? Because I couldn’t live with myself if I created any more hurt. I truly had/have no idea where I was. Who I was/am. Everything became a blur. “John, there was no kid. You were chatting with a cop”. At that moment everything froze. I was totally fucked up. First he was this, then this & back again. Everything was twisted. The agony. Why did he have to lie? I was so clear. So repetitive. It’s like it was never enough. We believe what we want. I was grateful my actions didn’t include a kid. Though I broke all the hearts who surround me.
Why did I start with fire? Those were not metaphors. They were/are my life. Even in chaos I was clear thinking. Even with limited knowledge I knew what to expect. What to accept. Fire is living breathing entity. It’s incapable of lying. It’s agenda is simple – to consume. That cop, this system is hypocrisy. Inconsistent. Consistent inconsistent.
My mother-in-law always said difference between cops & cons were they (cops) had the right to always carry a gun. They are basically the same. True but right now after all this, I’d rather be with the cons. Within all there is a level of loyality/brother/sisterhood that is quite amazing. I’m reading Executioner’s Song. A profound book – amazing author. Norman Mailer & Gary Gilmore, quite the men. I guess they right now are helping me thru. Though I’m not on death row soon to be executed & even though I’ve not taken a life, I’m a lot closer to seeing out of Gary Gilmore’s eyes.
Kelly seems concerned when I bring up my crime. Maybe it’s because it seems like I’m trying to explain too much. I need to experience. I need to be honest. I need to transcend. If I were the only one to be going thru this I would shut my mouth. But believe there are monsters in here & there are those with questionable behavior. There’s drugs & drink & in time they’ll arrest for your thoughts. How does that go “First they came for the gypsies & I did nothing ‘cause I am not a gypsy. Then they came for the fags & I did nothing ‘cause I’m not a fag, & on & on ‘til finally they came for me”. I think you got the idea. Before you can stand up & fight for your rights, you need to be standing.
Enough already. I now spell it Amerika!