Welcome to “Many Eggs, One Basket,” where I post stories so topical I only send them to one high profile publication who rejects them well after they’re old news. This one was sent to a famous magazine named after a city. They didn’t think it was right for them. Maybe it would be if there was time travel? Who knows? Enjoy!
Visiting a Texas prison with my new friend, Senator John “Snow” Cornyn in the hopes of ideas for prison reform! What sort of “reform,” though? Make them better? Or make them more prisony? Unclear. Don’t say anything yet, though. Stay silent.
Oh my, it stinks here.
What is that smell? Chemicals? Paints? Fear? It isn’t me! Not it! As we used to say at Frisch. If it smells this bad in the warden’s office, just imagine what the jail cells will smell like. Poop and sorrow, I bet. Keep quiet, though. Must not say a word.
On our way to the observation deck overlooking the recreation zone (I think they call it?), I try to imagine sharing a cell with another person for 15 years to life. Or more. It would be like taking the guest room closet, dividing it in half, and sharing it with what’s-her-name for the rest of our lives.
I’m wearing a cheap, ratty, old Brooks Brothers blue chambray shirt with fruit juice stains I borrowed from Eric in order to blend in with the other inmates in the event we get closer than the 800 foot distance the warden and Senator Cornyn have assured me we’ll maintain. But I have seen a few of the inmates and many of them are wearing no shirts at all. And they’ve got tons more tattoos (tats?) than I do. I just have the Mont Blanc emblem on my ankle. These gentlemen are literally covered from head to toe in tats (tattoos?). Unless those are skin tight body suits? Galliano, perhaps? How would a prisoner smuggle a Galliano or even a Gaultier into the “Big House” as I’ve heard Sen. Cornyn call it?
Cornyn. Cornyn. Are we sure it’s not “Corning”? Like the Corning family in Weston? Should I ask? No. Say nothing, Jared. Speak not.
I am appalled. And aghast, I think. This is what passes for a recreation zone? It’s nothing. There’s concrete. And what looks like an under inflated basketball. And a bunch of guys milling about. There are two grown men fighting like common brothers. There are three or four just standing there, staring at the ground, kicking tiny pebbles or whatever. Is that some sort of game?! Okay, those two are making out, so at least someone’s making something of a horrible situation. But otherwise…
Shouldn’t someone be doing some tai chi? They’ve got nothing in their hands! (Except that guy over there, toting his shame) Shouldn’t they have a cup of coffee while they’re milling about?
Call me old fashioned, but if you’re in a recreation zone, shouldn’t you at least try to recreate? A little?
Odd: Sen. Corning seems impressed, though a little concerned. He hasn’t stopped nodding once this whole time. Should I mention this to him? No. I should not. Silence, Jared. Sweet, sweet silence.
WHAT IS THAT SOUND?! Ah. Okay. When it’s time for me to have lunch, someone comes in and says, “It’s time for lunch, Mr. Kushner.” Here they blast a horn that sounds like it should be on an Oceania Riviera cruise ship which are so overrated. I hope they don’t ask me to eat.
Walking on a balcony like thingy (?) over the dining room. Here’s where reform is needed! Metal trays? Ochre-colored stew? Orange drink? Plastic cutlery? Where are the bread baskets? Where are the water caraffes? Still…
There is laughter. There is conversation. There is camaraderie. That word looks weird when you write it down. Oh. Now it’s starting to sound weird in my head.
But that is what the men of this prison have. Camaraderie. And what do I have? I have Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Complete silence except for ONE GUY talking about “I’m so great at this” and “I’m the best at that.” All while mother-in-law stares at me, mouthing “help” when no one else is looking. And he’s not even eating turkey! It’s Carl Jr.’s!
Who is this Carl Jr.? So gross!
So the wife (Yvonna? Sri Lanka? Don Jr.? Kidding! Carl Jr.?) tells me, “Say something, honey. Say something.” But I can’t. I simply can’t. I must be silent. I must not speak. Must remain silent.
Will you look at that? Another fight broke out.