March 25th, 2007
Sean ‘Furry’ Miller, the Big Dawg, is busy pawning away all of his prisonly possessions as he is due to be discharged on Tuesday. ‘FurBay,’ the moniker he’s given to his popup marketplace. Prior to declaring his fire sale, he approached me about a battery charger he had on the block. He was looking to conjure up some cigarettes. Typically when an inmate gets released they’ll give away most of their effects that, while coveted within these walls, are more flotsam and jetsam to a life unrestricted. This isn’t Sean’s style, however. ‘Trade’ is his preferred approach yet, interestingly, the concept of barter appears foreign to him. He entered my room, sat next to me on my bed and opened the bidding with, “What’s it worth to you?”
A battery charger is of use to me as I’d inherited a CD player with a couple of rechargeable batteries from Al upon his departure. I opened with a bid of six tailor made cigarettes, half expecting the Big Dawg to laugh at the suggestion that roughly $2.50 in tobacco would approach the value of what he had on offer. At the very least I’d see a counteroffer in assuming position for negotiation.
His response? “Well jerk me off and call me Sally!”
Until he took the smokes I wasn’t sure what to think. And now, as my batteries charge while writing, I’m still not exactly sure what that quip even means!
With so many aliases, I needn’t begin calling him Sally! Sean, Fur-dog, Furry, Big Dawg or my personal fave, Meathead (though I only use that one in select circles), are enough AKA’s for one man-child. I suspect were I to actually call him Sally he’d forget it was at his own behest and I’d find myself in his ‘doghouse’ again, like the time not long upon his arrival.
Anyways Sally, er.. Furry, is now cruising the range offering any and all things ‘Furry,’ for payment in smokes, pop, chocolate bars, sugar!
A wooden cross, worn by Furry. One pop! “One pop for a beautiful wooden cross!”
Amidst his playful calls I threw out to him, “would that increase its value or decrease it?” drawing laughter from the guys milling about the smoking pit where we were gathered. Furry’s pillow. His empty tobacco pouch. All things touched and used by Furry must go! He offered to being open to a case lot deal for a couple of pops. Again I piped up, “I can just see you there passed out naked on the cell floor when they come for you I the morning… laying amongst a bunch of empty pop cans and crumpled candy bar wrappers!” Again, laughter. Even from the Big Dawg himself. Clearly his imminent release has him in unshakeably good spirits.
Stepping out for a late evening cigarette and the creaking and croaking down at the lakeside is the only thing cutting into the otherwise silent spring night. Nature’s symphony knows little of captive ears here at Brannen Lake Correctional Center. Blessedly, the steel bars, concrete walls and razor wire topped fencing can’t completely isolate us from evidence of life on the outside. It still beats on out there. As if to prove the point, today the weather well and truly broke. Through pursed eyes I was witness to a massive orb up in the sky pulsing a blue tinged golden glow across our mid-Coast region. Crisp, defined shadows dancing underfoot everywhere I trod in the course of my day’s work alongside the highway. Almost vertigo inducing! Spring has sprung, affirming time’s passage.
I must grant the drone of a life incarcerated may have helped numb me to the relentless overcast conditions of the past five weeks because sudden, full sun played like a sobering slap to the face. What a different atmosphere its light proffers this dreary place. If not for the chain link fence marring my view of the great outdoors I could almost feel transported to my tree-planting days of yore. The smell of the air. The angle of the sun’s early spring rays. The promise of a full working season ahead and the drab grey of a winter tailing off in the rearview. Oh yeah, good times!
Ah, but let’s not get too carried away in reverie, Mike. After all, there’s still the spectre of the razor wire fence.