The blank wall is my dear friend and is the first to wish me happy birthday as my resentful eyelids pry apart. I didn’t have to say a word, no pathetic hints were dropped for my own benefit, but the wall wished me well regardless. I love you, you fucking wall. Be forever mine. Marry me and take me away from all of this blight. Cradle me in your apathetic arms and shower me with kisses unspecific.
I would like to say that no one but me must know what it means to turn 19 while friendless and stripped in the spiteful cold of minimum security, but in fact there are lots of idiots in here doing exactly that. And I suppose that for every idiot kicking up his heels in such a shit hole on such an uneventful day there is a special wall with cracks like an uncaring mouth, from which comes neither praise nor reprimands, not compliments or insults; only consistency. And though things could be worse I refuse to admit it, and though there is no one to blame but myself I have my list.
I wonder mindlessly if any of the deeply wounded pricks I share my time with will find it in their sticky hearts to let me decide the day’s programming in the television room. I already know the answer. Fucking jerks. Selfish, rough, and tireless bunch of liars. The whole lot would be better off dead, and every single one of them—every last goddamned drop—will one day be so. I cast this spell personally on the very morning of my birthday. It is the gift I give to myself, since my “good friend” the wall is apparently too freaking CHEAP and/or LAZY to have taken care of my material needs on this SPECIAL day. I place into my own hands the ability to decide whether or not immortality will be given to any of my scumbag brethren, and in my infinite wisdom I withhold eternal life from the entire lot. So there.
I tell the wall thanks for nothing and my cell mate calls me a nutcase for the nth time. He isn’t dangerous so I tell him to go fuck a pig and he punches his cot and hates himself. I hate him too, although it must be noted that he is my friend (second in line only to the wall). All at once I am more tired of him than I ever was of my dear, insipid mother, yet I need him nearly as much as I did her in my infancy. My needs, in order of greatest to least, are as follows: water, someone to listen to me, food, and titties. I always knew about food, water, and titties, but I was surprised by my need for an audience. I thought I was above it, see. I thought I was the ROMANTIC LONER type, strong and silent and callous; self reliant to a fault. But as it turns out, I am just as weak as the rest of you. I am the deceptive rubber band, thought to be new, seemingly elastic and oh so pliable, hanging innocently from your doorknob, but when taken in hand and stretched, I snap almost immediately, my new jagged ends cracking back and stinging your fingers. And it seems to me incredibly unfair to have to find out all of this fucking horseshit about myself at such a young age, when it seems the rest of you fucking stiffs get to walk the earth for most of your lives under the dry shell of illusion, but what can one do when one so plainly brings it all upon himself?
My cell mate’s name is Jody—which is fucking stupid, but I suppose it’s not his fault. Just more proof of how the birth of children causes most people to drop 10 full IQ points (my name is Pendel and the irony is not lost on me. So fuck you, too, DEAR READER).
Jody has the face of a young dog beaten to the point of unassailable mistrust, with a sloppy mop of mahogany hair and terrified eyes that belie his 22 years tooling around the planet earth as his old man’s whipping boy. When I first arrived at PRISON—after I was first flung to the floor of my temporary tomb by a couple of overly enthusiastic gorillas electroplated into uniforms that grossly over-sold the said gorillas professionalism, and after I had a chance to check my surroundings for explosives—my attention fell upon him glaring at me from his bed, and I assumed that I was at least two years his senior. Wanting to appear tough and together and completely in charge of my environment, I sneered like a complete cock and asked him when he was going to get his braces removed. “I ain’t got braces,” Jody sneered in return. Well, you’re gonna fucking need them soon enough, if you keep that fucking look on your puss, I said. He punched his cot and hated himself.
Before the sweet reward of television has a chance to numb the constant drone of nostalgic remorse coursing through the dead alleys of my mind, Jody and I must walk ourselves through perdition: modern day Dantes in dull jumpsuits and no fucking brains, we must enter the ninth ring and sit frozen in ice as the local sinners arranged around the room tell Satan all about the horrible tongue lashings they have received over the years, the ones inevitably responsible for bringing them to such a state as they currently find themselves. I can’t stand to go into any of these ramblings in much detail, it’s all so useless and petty. Rationalizations. People spout them like sweat—they cool the skin and keep the ego from overheating, so I guess you can’t fault a man for basically turning his life into a sauna, but fuck me, brother! You act as though I can’t spot a rationalization when I hear one! But now hear this, you twisted ass: I dress in them from head to toe every morning; my very skin is woven from the fabric of these lies; I am not carefully sculpted from the delicate carbon dripped from starlight and collected upon the gossamer smiles of angels, no sir, I am hewn strong from the cosmic rock of delusion. I am an old hand; a master of the art. I have not yet reached twenty in human years, but in the measure of my conceits I have sewn many seasons.
Give me hypocrisy or give me death. Whatever. I am beginning to bore myself.
So anyway, these assholes are full of bullshit, I can smell it a mile away, the shrink lets them get away with it, and it just makes me want to fucking puke. But who am I to judge? What must it be for Dr. Nothing to sit day in and day out listening to this worthless bunch of low-life criminals lie to themselves three days a week? One loser cries over the spilled milk of the American caste system and his place in it, another bemoans the ass of his wife as it gyrates endlessly over the cocks of others. Dr. Nothing asks Jody what HIS fucking beef is nearly every day, but Jody says nothing. He simply punches his thigh and hates himself.
“How about you, Pendel? How did you get here?”
Simple. I was busted selling weed.
“But how did you GET here?”
I was busted selling weed.
“But what made you—”
Look, friend, I see what you’re trying to do (and at this point I even lend the sad piece of shit a smile, TRYING my best to remain friendly because oh how I want good behavior), but really man, I was just busted selling fucking pot, and that’s about it.
And he gazes at me sadly, steadily, like he knows something I don’t. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t..but how much could it possibly matter? Can I change where I am now? Can I change what happened last year? Can I change a fucking thing? The future? I tolerate his dissection of me for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds, and then I just say, hey, it’s all good—just let the chips fall where they may. He lets it go for now and on the inside my guts buckle like an old bridge.
Turns out television sucked. There was a baseball game on, and since baseball is considered an American past-time, it does nothing for me. I ask if anybody is watching, and one of the undesirables calls me a faggot and offers to break my arm. I sulk. Jody sulks. I meditate briefly on the irony of steroids and how every motherfucker on the motherfucking screen mounted high on the wall (not my friend, but just the friend of my friend) has probably taken the drug as recently as NOW, and how whoever sold it to them was probably doing just fine on this, the anniversary of my birth. Maybe he/she’s even a doctor or shrink or some other respected member of this twisted smoking metal wreck of a society. The bridge of my guts collapses completely and crumples with frightening ease into the river as the trapped occupants inside the motor vehicles struggle vainly with door handles and panic, and as they loose the fight and turn blue from death with surprised eyes and unresolved passions, I gather myself and return to my cell. I climb into my bunk and I tell the wall that I’ve had enough, that I give up, that loneliness is no longer an option on the table and it’s time for the two of us, the wall and I, to think about getting out of here. Good behavior.
The wall looks blandly back at me and does not betray its doubt, but I feel it. I punch the cot and hate myself.