Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.
Frog Gravy contains graphic language.
Inmate names are changed.
McCracken County Jail Cell 107, Spring, 2008.
I am seated at the steel table, wearing my terry-cloth towel tin foil hat, watching the news. On the screen, a Kentucky courtroom custodian has been arrested with seven charges, for pissing in a judge's chair.
"I'm really starting to like Kentucky," I say to Sally, yanking my thumb to the screen.
"Well, fuck me straight up," she says, shaking her head.
I have a religious pamphlet in front of me, titled Left Behind, that is a transcribed sermon. Even though I am only on page 6 of the pocket pamphlet, I know I am doomed to be left behind, but I keep on reading because I am curious about some of the people who will not be left behind but rather, 'chosen' and then raptured into the clouds.
For example, why will the guards who close-range pepper-spray the homeless mentally ill man we call 'Harry' go into the clouds, while Harry will be left behind to soak in his own urine?
Even as I read this, Harry shouts for help, from his isolation cell down the hall, "Somebody Please! HELP! Let me out!! HELPME helpmehelpmehelpmehelpme Hellllpp!!"
The bottom of page six says,
Then the clouds will roll back, and we will see Jesus coming in all His glory. Oh, that's going to be a wonderful day and an awful day. Some people will shout for joy when they see Jesus, but according to what we've just read in God's word, some people will be left behind. Daddies and mamas will be left behind. I don't know how that's going to be, but maybe you and the children will just be sitting down at the table. Then all of a sudden there is a shaking and a loud noise, and suddenly your children start going up, away from their chairs, out the window or out the door...
I am beginning to wonder if there is a branch of chemistry called 'resurrection chemistry,' or of physical chemistry called, 'reconstitution P Chem.' I can see the bumper sticker: Honk, if you passed P Chem of The Rapture.
I think it is interesting how some, but not all physical laws will apply. People won't just blow through the rooftop- they will exit through appropriate, socially acceptable ways: windows and doors.
I get the gist here though, reading this. All those 'I-was-in-prison-and-You-visited-me' people? Fuck 'em.
By the way, these sorts of narrow-focus religious materials are all that the jail allows us to have. This jail specifically disallows education, job training, work for women, and in some cases (like mine), treatment. Not to mention the little things, like not providing enough menstrual pads, reducing women to using floor rags. They do these things full-time while they wait around for Jesus to arrive and give them, but not us, a ride to Heaven.
We will be left behind, but since we are already 'left behind' anyway, that event will be redundant. I already teach Ruthie, for example, who is a Kentucky-left-behind inmate, how to count, by making dominoes out of scavenged scraps of papers in the cell.
To sum it up biblically, where weeds and wheat grow, the weeds will flourish, and these full-time jail tormentors are the weeds in your lawn. They have found the perfect job destroying and humiliating inmates, and are unburdened with things like conscience, oversight, accountability, ethics, concern or empathy. They are vultures at a freshly disemboweled roadside deer. They do their job full-time, and so, that is why I have this pamphlet in front of me in the first place.
Tina and Meg are arguing.
Tina says, "I have not done anything to make you want to treat me like a dog, but if that's what you need to do, go ahead. But still, wash your hands."
Meg says, "I do wash my hands."
Tina says, "Bet you didn't wash all those dicks you sucked before you sucked 'em."
"Quit it," I say.
Out of the blue, in the pamphlet, it says on page 11,
I believe some of the best hiders in the world are the Mennonite and Amish people. But believe me, tonight Jesus knows.
Wow. Just wow. I think.
In a phone call with one of my sisters, she tells me that I should have taken a plea, because to fight things here is hopeless, because this place is just a corrupt, river town. I tell her that taking a deal would not have changed anything. Their 'offer' was the same as the sentence I am serving. I had no chance in this court, I tell her, because I am not from here, and worse- I am from 'out West,' which means west of St. Louis, no matter where it happens to be.
Jails, by the way, take the families hostage, and then rape them for money, in the form of phone cards and canteen money.
I get off the phone and Sirkka says again, "Never take anything to trial here. Everyone knows that."
"Yeah, yeah," I say.
In the pamphlet I get to some part where the preacher finds some rock tapes in a 'brother's' car. The preacher immediately confiscates the music tapes, drops to his knees and prays over "their power."
I put the pamphlet down, because I cannot finish reading it.
I adjust the towel on my head.
note: I still have the pamphlet, right here in my lap, and I still cannot finish it.