If You Like What You Read

Monday, November 14, 2011

What A Fool Believes

Edit n. 1. Addition by subtraction.

Does one proof-read what one has written so far, so as to edit what should not be there and add what should? Or does one just plunge onward and worry about the bloody details later? I vote the latter. So on we go.

Why would I, a well-paid twenty-year employee for the once and future great state of New Jersey even consider for a fraction of a nanosecond helping a convicted felon escape from state prison, thereby risking my own incarcerated damnation? On top of the fact that there hadn't been a successful escape in any of the state's thirteen prisons in the last fifty years? And on top of that fact that I'm completely mad? Well, let me explain. In fact, let me do more than that. Let me confess.

It is said, what a fool believes he sees. But what if he sees what a fool believes?

Answer: Then he's no longer a fool. He might still be a crook, but he's no fool.

So the idea behind the whole escape thing was to get the prison-keepers to believe something about a prison-kept person they were keeping in prison that wasn't necessarily true about the prison-kept person they were keeping in prison. That way the prison-keepers would just let the prison-kept person out, no questions asked. Simple. Easy. No questions asked. Yes, the prison-keepers would soon discover the prison-kept person gone. But then, so would I be. Both of us never to return to that hell hole on earth, otherwise know as a jail, a penitentiary, the big house, the joint... the House of the Rising Sun with lousy ventilation and asbestos air fresher.

It was my job to forgive people. The state of New Jersey paid me well for the privilege. But damn, they sure didn't appreciate me. At least that's how I felt after fifteen or so years there in Paradise Lost. Not that appreciation was what I was looking for. It just makes the job a little easier though if you know you're at least not working against the grain. Now, it's one thing to not be appreciated, but it's another thing altogether to not even be wanted, to be, in effect, despised. I can take a hint. Torture is a big hint. If you're trying to torture me, I can tell you don’t like me. It doesn't matter to me if you're conscious of the intent to torture me or not. It still hurts. And believe me, working there the last five years was pure torture. Just ask anyone who did. They'd tell you the same. From the unbelievably incompetent administration to the petty and resentful correction officers, from burnt-out and goofy teaching staff to infantile inmates who could give a rat's ass about education, to the mind-numbing daily routines and endlessly redundant mountains of useless paperwork... it simply sucked big time.

So the plan was made to help one Jerome McMullen, age twenty-nine, escape prison. He’d soon be sent to Trenton State, where he’d do the next ten years of his sentence in the big house with hardened criminals. Men, who for the most part didn’t give a shit about changing directions anymore, but simply looked to survive by any means necessary, where the strong dominate the weak in a most unholy pecking order.  Not that we weren't a real jail, but for the most part we had a population under thirty years of age and one that still might be able to change the course of their ill-chartered ship. Being a teacher's aid, McMullen was one of the few inmates his age allowed to stay on a Gardenview, where the education and vocational programs were more prevalent and better than any of the other state's twelve penal institutions. But even his teacher's aide status wasn't going to keep him from soon being transferred to Trenton to finish out the remaining twenty years of his thirty year sentence for a double cop homicide in a drug deal gone bad he swears to this day he never committed. Trenton was hard core and for the most part, a grave yard for any hopes and dreams one might have of turning things around and having at least half a decent life.

But that wasn’t McMullen, that name not being the real name of someone who wanted to change his life in the most real of ways. And that’s ultimately why I helped him do it I guess. Or try to do it. Can’t give away the ending in the beginning, now can I? Anyway, I eventually found him to be innocent (in my view any way), and in need of some assistance, as well as myself in need of some assistance in the form of some ninety-seven thousand dollars in cash and (soon to reach six-figures) growing faster by the day. So, it was a way out. For both of us. It was the only way out. For both of us. At least the only one I could see at the time. I mean, what else could I do?