Sunday, May 10, 2020


Sunday, May 3, 2020, 9:45 a.m., Tomoka C. I., Daytona Beach, FL.

My neighbor in the next bunk over, an old black man, woke me up early, cussing and fussing. He had been hoarding peanut butter sandwiches in his locker. That was a mistake. About four million ants discovered the stash, and were in the process of moving their headquarters to his bunk when half a dozen ants began biting him, waking him ( and me) up. Thus began a time of discovery. He discovered a brown bag full of feasting ants, a locker full, dozens in his sheets, more on the floor, climbing onto his bunk, and a new colony in his laundry bag! I couldn't blame him for the cussing and fussing. As long as he didn't force them to flee to my area, good job. Take care of the problem. That was the beginning of a screwy day already.

The hot breakfast meal was filling: two boiled eggs, oatmeal, coffee cake, and an apple. I told the old man he should either eat the coffee cake or give it away, not store it. He ate his. Learned his lesson.

I phoned my wife Libby in Jacksonville and my mother in Tampa. We miss our weekend visits, supposed to resume April 5, a month ago. Libby is getting a lot of yardwork done, good exercise and results praised by the neighbors. My mother is out of the hospital with multiple ailments, goes back to see the doctor Monday.

The TV news reported that Governor Ron DeSantis was coming to Daytona Beach at one-thirty. The guard told us to get ''inspection ready,'' the governor was coming to see us. No way, I said, would he come into a big room with 43 COVID-19 virus positives, with a wife and newborn baby waiting for him to return to the Governor's Mansion. He might make a photo op for TV, talking in front of the Tomoka sign out front, but he wouldn't show up to see us.

In the slim chance that he does show, I have my question ready:

"Governor, my name is Charlie Norman. I'm from Tampa, Florida, I am seventy years old, and I have been in prison for forty-two years, as long as you have lived. When your mother was changing your diaper, I was fighting this murder charge. I have survived cancer, twice, have a heart ailment, fell off a prison bus step in the rain, in chains, injuring my back, suffer from arthritis and myasthenia gravis, an incurable neurological disorder, other health issues I won't bother to list, and recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

''There are thousands of similarly-situated sick, elderly prisoners in Florida whose care costs the taxpayers perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and the costs keep going up. Many of these men have violent crimes committed in their youth, who pose no threat to society. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people living in free society today who've been released from prison for more serious offenses over the years.

''I am asking you to initiate a review process that's purpose is to release these sick, elderly men and women from the prison nursing homes that cost the state so much, as a humanitarian act of mercy.''

If you would like to support this initiative, I could use the help.

Back to this day.

12:30 p.m. There is a certain type of sick individuals in prison known as ''gunslingers,'' men who expose themselves to the correctional officers. These men are universally scorned by prisoners and staff alike. The (mostly) female officers victimized by the actions of gunslingers, or gunners, publicly masturbating in front of them are understandably upset when that happens. This morning a Cuban prisoner, ostensibly taking a shower, began ''gunning'' the very nice, hardworking, new female officer working in the officers' station. When she realized what was happening, she became very upset, and called in another officer to take the miscreant to lockup.

While packing his own property (the officers usually do this, but the virus changes things), the inmate gave a bottle of bleach to my neighbor, the ''ant man.'' In these times, bleach is a treasured commodity, hard to get, not only used for sanitizing and cleaning, but for use in washing underwear and socks.

There are eight or so black gay inmates in here who hang together in a clique. One, the so-called ringleader, thinking his associates would back him up (they didn't), aggressively approached the old man, and told him the bleach was his, hand it over. The old man refused. Half the old man's age and fifty pounds smaller, the gay guy swung on the old man, foolishly assuming that white hair indicated weakness. The old man had spent his life on the streets or in prison, and proceeded to pound the younger man with both fists, until others separated them.

That wasn't enough for the aggressor. He tied a steel padlock to a mesh laundry bag, coming after him again, '''selling out,'' threatening to kill my neighbor. The old man stood up to him, the gay man swung, hit the old man in the head, before the old guy came after him, knocking aside the weapon and pounding the younger man with both fists again.

By now, the hubbub attracted the attention of the sergeant, who ordered them apart. The old man was bleeding heavily from the scalp wound, and went to medical. The attacker went to lockup with the gunslinger, whose actions precipitated the incident.

3:00 p.m. Four surveillance cameras record everything that happens in the dorm. The guards watched the video, correctly gathered that the old man was an assault victim, and after the nurse patched him up, sent him back to the dorm. The attacker could receive an ''outside charge,'' from the sheriff's office for assault with a weapon.

One last comment: today another prisoner positive for the virus was released from prison. Several more are scheduled to leave within the next week. Their sentences have expired.

More tomorrow.


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