Monday, May 25, 2020


Sunday, May 24, 2020, 7:12 p.m., Tomoka C.I., Daytona Beach, FL

It has been several days since I filed an update, for several reasons, mainly because there was little to report. Very uneventful week--three trips to the chowhall and back each day, no canteen or recreation, no one exhibiting symptoms, no status changes.

In a recent update I mentioned the cool breezes flowing through the adjacent barred window. Scratch that. It has been HOT, HOT, HOT! In the 90's, Fahrenheit, nothing but sweltering heat unabated. The puny ceiling fans merely stir the hot air. It affects everyone, tempers are short, frequent loud arguments, threats of violence--it's too hot to fight. Lots of ''selling out,'' ''trash talk,'' also called, ''selling wolf tickets.''

Video cameras record every place in the dorm except the bathrooms. If anyone gets in a fight, the guards ''roll back the tape,'' (actually digital, as is the entire world), and identify the participants. Next stop, solitary confinement. If two men are serious about fighting, one will challenge the other to meet him in the bathroom. They will wind up in jail, too. 

Although there are no cameras covering the bathroom, as soon as something starts, fifty pairs of eyeballs are staring toward the two combatants, like a flock of penguins in a nature show. The officers pick up on that in about two seconds, then call for backup. They may be short-staffed, but somehow, in less than a minute, a crew of hefty guards come busting in with their pepper spray canisters ready.

I'm too old to be getting into fights, but with all the mentally-ill prisoners, many not taking their meds, one must always be conscious of the surroundings, and prepared to defend oneself. It's better to get locked up for fighting than to get murdered by some nut with a grudge. I learned years ago that you can often defuse a bad situation verbally, with well-chosen words, rather than risk getting locked up or injured in a senseless argument.

I can't remember how it started, but some time ago I let myself get embroiled in a shouting match with a big-mouthed fool. He was doing all the shouting. I may be old, but I've had years of fight experience, and I knew I could beat this much-younger guy if forced to fight. One of the cardinal rules in prison fighting is the one who hits first usually wins, so I had my eyes open, guarding against a sucker punch, and planning my own.

We were in the middle of the dorm, everyone watching, one idiot shouting threats. I told him, you wanna go in the bathroom? Yeah. Okay, you go ahead. If I'm not there in 15 minutes, start without me. Laughter. Situation defused.

The prison administration is collectively crossing its fingers, hoping that the COVID-19 virus burns itself out soon here. Don't think the prisoners aren't praying for relief, as are our families. The last official to visit dorm K-1 told us that family visits will resume 21 days after the last quarantine ends. On TV, a state official said the new date for earliest possible visit, statewide, would be June 13, but that depends on the virus.

Today is our anniversary, Libby and me. We talked on the phone, a far cry from spending the day together, but at least we heard each other's voices. I talked to my mother, in the rehab center. She's recovering from Friday's therapy session, hates it, hates the food, misses her family. My brother Dan and aunt Alice call her daily, but no visitors allowed. I pray that their safeguards against the virus are strong, and she can come home soon.

My neighbor, ''Ant man,'' (I refrain from using his name to protect what little privacy he has) has been at it again, reading the Bible out loud, getting on my nerves. He seems to be skipping around the Bible without rhyme or reason, King James Version, 17th Century English, very difficult for a 21st Century crack cocaine addict to understand. Who is he going to turn to? Who else? Me.

It went something like this:

''Norman...Norman,,,'' (3rd time in the past 20 minutes).


"What's this word? I can't pronounce it.''

"Spell it.''





''What's that mean?''

"A eunuch is a man who has been castrated, his balls cut off.''


"What are you reading? The Book of Daniel?''

''No. Matthew 19."

I explained that the Book of Daniel, in the King James Version, talked about how after the Captivity, Daniel and his three fellow captives were turned over to the Chief of the Eunuchs for their three-year apprenticeship in King Nebuchadnezzar's palace in Babylon. It wasn't expressly stated, but inferred, that Daniel and his friends, as the king's slaves, became eunuchs. And in that time, eunuchs were trusted and influential.

In the ''modern'' Bible translation, the New International Version, NIV, the chief of the eunuchs became the chief of the royal court officials. In the verses Ant Man was reading, in Matthew 19, Jesus mentioned eunuchs in an entirely different context. I definitely did not want to get into that subject.

After explaining the Captivity, Jeremiah's prophecies, and the common practice of turning men into eunuchs in Biblical times, I thought I might get done some peaceful reading. No. More on that later.

Prison pandemic news briefs from USA Today:

Little Rock, Arkansas--A federal judge on Tuesday rejected an effort to require the state to release inmates at high risk of contracting the coronavirus and to take other steps to curb its spread in its prisons.

Silver Spring, Maryland--A jail in a COVID-19 hot spot is detaining more than 100 prisoners who have been authorized or ordered by a court to be released, according to civil rights attorneys who sued over jail conditions during the pandemic.

Charleston, West Virginia--There are now at least four coronavirus cases at the Huttonville Correctional Center in Randolph County after the lockup reported its first infection earlier this week.


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