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We all start out so lovely. It’s clearly unnatural for humans to be cruel. That is not to say that many are not, or that it isn’t one of our top attributes. Read any book that details the atrocities in war (Flyboys is good one) and you’ll consider whether the opposite is true. But even those acts of insanity seem to stem from an inner desire to bury surrounding horror. That, or the Devil truly exists.
I was woken at six and told to come downstairs. Two guards waited behind a gloomy reception counter. One asked what I wanted. I said I wasn’t sure. The other said that’s because I’m a dumbfuck. But seeing him, not his words nor his scowl, I know he was going against the very fibers of his will when formulating such a waste of energy.
The second guard sensed it too, for after taking my name and searching a form, he politely explained that I was supposed to head over to early chow and then to medical.
Outside, walking the hundred yards to the chowhall, I felt nostalgia as the humid morning air splashed my face. That was the first time I had been outdoors at that hour in over a decade. Well, sober anyway. I strolled to breakfast with a grin threatening to overtake my features. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply.
After eating, I went to medical.
Over the next six hours I spoke to a doctor and had my heart-rate and blood pressure checked. The entirety of my medical experience spanned perhaps fifteen minutes. For the other five hours and forty-five minutes, I listened to the fifty inmates around me.
I noticed there was a door that separated two worlds.
One world consisted of wild convicts who detailed stories of the murder that brought them here, the lick they hit, the snitch they wanted to kill.
A story from the previous day circulated of a prisoner on the fourth tier, in a section far from mine, who briefly bested two officers in a tussle and nearly pushed one over a railing. And though the officer was uninjured, everyone glowed when envisioning the inmate who, sick of being ridiculed by the guards about the foolish manner in which he had been apprehended, decided to strike back, and despite overwhelming odds, had brief success.
On the other side of that door was a world so polite that a blind person would have believed they were surrounded by men addressing their mothers and grandfathers. Guttural, “yes, ma’ams.” and “no sirs” peppered the room. Everyone was orderly and patient.
What made those two worlds so unique was they were populated by the same men.
On one side of the door guards watched, barked, and threatened. On the other, medical staff smiled, kept eye contact, and were interested in what was said.
As an observer, nothing could instill more confidence in the potential for human decency than witnessing society’s trash display decorum fit for an elite luncheon.
Conversely, which to me is an astounding wonder of man, is that many of these men of cordial excess will go on behind these walls and stab others, sodomize, and extort the weak.
I’m not sure any of that matters or was as insightful as it felt, but they were my thoughts for the day. I hope you enjoyed, and I thank you for respecting me enough to read this.
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Remember to read these in order, POST FOUR