He was panting like a maniac and she was tired of waiting for him to come. Finally he blurted out those words, those corny words, “I am the King! I’m Mr. Whopper! I’m the Electric Man, and I light them up!” Same speech each time. Pitiful. Then he was silent. Thank God it was over. She just shook her head. His dick wasn’t as big as the cigarette she was smoking, and it reminded her of a Newport because it got smaller and smaller each time she experienced him. She smoked and stared at him as he got dressed. They really could have done better with the uniforms. They were so drab and ordinary.
When he finished dressing, he reached up to the shelf stacked with clean laundry. He retrieved a brown paper bag and threw it at her. “Nice job, here’s your reward,” he said. Paula checked out the contents of the pouch—a hoagie, a pack of cigarettes, and a can of beer. “You’d better hurry and get yourself dressed so I can walk you back to your cell.” She looked at him, rolled her eyes and got dressed. Jesus, she had to fuck him three times a week for that one sack.
She’d been in over two years now and had a weekly clientele of three guards. This was Berman. Berman was a redneck from West Virginia. He was a closet Black-women freak.
As the two of them walked back to her cell, she had to listen to him brag about how smart his wife was and how much money she made. His thick southern accent was enough to make her vomit.
When Paula got back to her cell she sat on her bed and pulled out the hoagie and the can of beer.
“Hey Josie,” she said to her cellmate, “Do you want half of my hoagie or a swig of beer?”
“No, thanks,” Josie replied.
Paula sat there munching on the hoagie and gulping down the beer, thinking about me Amber, Horace, and “That bitch Emily” who were the cause of her being in jail. She wished Emily had died when she crashed that statuette into her head two years ago. Amber, who always caused nothing but problems, had now managed to get out from under her Grandmother Fannie, ending the county checks that Grandma could have been collecting. Had she been with Grandma, she would have sent part of the money to Paula, who was sitting in jail because of the three assholes, Horace, Emily, and Amber. “I should have hit Amber in the head, too,” Paula thought. Horace was the father of Paula’s youngest of three daughters, Renee. He and Grandma separately had brought her three children to see her nine times since she’d been there. Paula couldn’t stand the sight of Amber, Sydni just cried when she saw her, and Renee acted like she didn’t know who she was. So Paula told them all to stay home for the rest of their lives.
Paula was having a pretty rough time dealing with prison life. She had to learn how to deal. She had to give sex for favors on a regular basis. The three guards she was playing hostess to were not only taking full advantage of the situation, they were wearing her out. Jake was a real tyrant. He was a big guy who reminded her of Paul Bunyan—size wise. He had a shaven head with gorgeous green eyes—like a cat’s. Jake was a stone freak. He was an Aries, and Aries men are truly perverted. They like all kinds of crazy sex. Jake likcd ice. Yep, he liked his stuff on the rocks. His spot for having sex with her was in the kitchen. He would get one of those giant silver salad bowls—the prison housed 1,600 and the bowls were humongous. He would have her fill the bowl up with ice and sit in it. Jake wanted her ass frozen when he came through. He’d make her take everything off late at night and sit in that ice until she couldn’t stand it. He’d start getting his private parts ready for the ordeal while she was freezing everything up for him. Then he’d make her get out and he would enter her first from the back, that lasting what seemed like forever. He’d grab some ice cubes and stuff them up her vagina while she had a mouth full of something else. Then, when it was time, he entered her the natural way. After it was over, he’d make her get dressed, wash him up with warm sudsy water while he was standing, dry him off, and then clean the place up like they’d never been there. She received two packs of cigarettes and a homemade coconut cake once a week for that. Jake had his mother bake the cake telling her one of the inmate’s kids had cancer. He told Mom the inmate was a nice girl who had gotten caught up with the wrong people and gotten into trouble. He said the only time she ever stopped crying and smiled was when he came with the cake. So Mom kept baking cakes and Paula kept a frozen ass a few times a week.
Her other man was Carlos Camacho—a Puerto Rican pimp. He was single and twenty-seven years old, and she really didn’t mind him too much. He was a lot more normal than the other two and treated her better. He’d get the keys to the library and that’s where they would meet. She had a little control over him. He merely required a nice blowjob and he would read to her while she did it. The only strange thing about him was that he had this quirk: he never kissed or touched her. When he was with her he kept one hand on his gun. The other hand held a book while she did her work. He gave her a bottle of bath gel twice a week for her trouble.
Josie, Paula’s cellmate for the last fourteen months, was pretty cool. She was in for killing her husband, Larry. She shot him five times with a .38 for running around on her and making her life miserable.
Larry just liked to stay high off anything most of the time. He had a job working for the City of Philadelphia. He drank at happy hour at 12:00 noon, and happy hour at 5:00 p.m. He ran around with co-workers, she had caught him with one of her supposed “friends,” and he also kept a main stash on the other side of town. He loved wine, women, and song. She took a lot of shit from him. He lied like a rug, paid bills at their house—his share—and messed up every other dime of his money. He’d been married once before she and he got together. She should have known that “what goes around comes around.” He’d been running around with her when he was married to the other wife. But she thought he’d change.
He stole money out of her purse, and her car—a stone thief. Josie said she would go to bed at night and hide her money. Sometimes in the freezer, the vacuum cleaner, or anywhere she thought he wouldn’t find it. Then he graduated to the ultimate—taking her MAC card and robbing her in the middle of the night while he was out getting coked up. She didn’t even know it. She’d been so upset with everything she was going through that she started seeing a therapist. One day she explained to the therapist, Dr. Morrone, that she must be losing her mind because she couldn’t keep the checkbook straight anymore. Checks were bouncing all over the place. He told her to bring it in and the bank statement on the next visit.
He took a look at the statement and said to Josie, “This is the work of a person who is on drugs.”
“What do you mean? Nobody in my house is a drug addict. It’s just me and
Larry and our daughter Sherrie in the house. Now, Larry may be a drinker and may do a line or two of coke, but no way is he a drug addict.”
“Look at this statement and the times that this money is being withdrawn from the machine. Look at the pattern. First a twenty-dollar withdrawal, then a forty-dollar one an hour later, then in the next forty-five minutes another thirty-dollar withdrawal. This is the way people on drugs operate. Have you been checking all your statements, and are you out at night at two, three, and four o’clock in the morning making withdrawals?”
“No,” she answered.
“Well, this is the way it works, and I know because we counsel these people. They start out with a small amount of money. They feel that is all they’ll need—just a little bit of drugs. Then they find they need more, so they get a little more money, and they tell themselves that this is the last hit—at the machine and with the drug man. Then they realize they need another hit. That’s why they run back and forth this way. Your husband is on drugs.” Josie was shocked. She couldn’t imagine Larry really being a drug addict.
Larry didn’t get in that night until about 5:00 a.m. He slept two hours and got up for work. She asked him about the money missing from the checkbook and he denied taking it.
So yes, she admitted to herself, she had a liar, a cheater, and a thief. She knew the three things ran in succession. If you lie, you cheat and you steal. That’s the way life is. So she informed him that she was going to the bank to explain that her money was missing and she was also going to demand to see videotapes of the ATM machines. He held to his story that he was never there. She went to the bank and explained. The bank required that she get a signed affidavit from Larry stating he had not made the withdrawals. They gave it to her to take back to him to sign. They would not replace her money or lift the bounced check fees unless she returned it signed.
She went home and waited for him to come home from work. He showed up about 1:30 a.m. She explained the circumstances and he refused to sign the affidavit. She told him she wanted her money back from him and he told her he was not giving her shit. He went to bed and got up for work. She waited until he left and took a shower. She gave four-year-old Sherrie her breakfast. This was Larry’s payday.