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In jail and in quarantine, people always say, “Just wait until you get to prison. Your time will fly by.” But I’ve never wanted time to fly by. Time flying by is the entire reason I got into selling drugs. In high school, I may have sold some bags in order to make mine free, but I was far from a drug dealer… well, in my eyes.
I had a good job out of high school. I was a lumper. A lumper rides around a warehouse on a hand-cart and stacks items onto a pallet, then onto a semi-truck. You can work hard as a lumper, or drag ass. I worked hard and prided myself on always being in the top three for productivity and first in accuracy. I worked long hours, six days a week, and made a good living for a young man. My bosses loved me, and I loved the steady growth of my bank account.
One day my boss approached me and handed me a sheet of paper. On it was a set of glassware, a watch, and a radio. He told me to pick one.
I was in my groove and didn’t appreciate the interruption. “What’s this?” I asked as I tried to hand it back to him.
“It’s your one year anniversary gift,” he said.
I looked at the paper more closely, back to him, then chuckled. “I haven’t been here a year.”
“Yeah, X, Friday will be one year. You’re doing great.”
I stepped off of my hand-jack, furrowed my brow, and thought over the time I’d been there. There was no way it had been a year. I couldn’t picture having done anything that year. Work, sleep, errands.
I pictured the past year repeating itself for seventeen and felt an actual fright so strong my body got cold. “Nope,” I yanked off my gloves and set them on my hand jack. “Fuck that, I quit.”
I did. I quit right there. I left that place so confused that a year had passed, aware that this was how people got sucked into a mundane life.
By the following week, I made double the money, had fun every night, and always saved for something extravagant.
I still went to my old work, on payday, to hand out great deals on weed, sometimes ecstasy, even coke to one guy (the GM).
From the day I started selling drugs, I knew it would land me in prison, but that was fine. I just figured I wouldn’t commit crimes that carried stiff penalties, and then I would change my life once released.
As the years progressed, I saw everyone I know go to prison, then everyone I met after them, and so it went. I always focused on minimizing my risk. I employed barriers. I used love, fear, or respect to ensure that I wasn’t a cooperator’s first choice, but too much time passed. Then, my hero died and I lost my purpose.
I was living in another state when my dad got cancer. He was forty-nine. It crushed me, but there was no question he would beat it. I talked to him daily. He even progressed to going back to work and I thought everything was fine.
I loved him so much.
The family took a surprise vacation to Alaska. It floored me that I was left out, but nice to know he was doing well enough for an Alaskan adventure.
He passed away on the flight. They conducted an emergency landing because of it.
I learned the reason I thought he was doing so well was that he wanted to save me from seeing him in his deteriorated state. It was noble, and from him, not surprising, but it was unfair, and the wrong thing to do.
I got the call around three in the morning. I was asleep and just said okay and hung up. It hit me the following morning.
At this point in life, I didn’t know what grieving was, but it’s what I did. Apparently, I had a lot of pent-up emotion. I wailed nonstop for two weeks and remained inconsolable for a year.
I’ve had a great life. Great friends, fine foods, women above my station, vacations, famous associates, spent days with truly wealthy people, but all the while I harbored a secret goal, one that didn’t show itself until my dad called and said he had terminal cancer.
I was in my backyard in Florida. I thought I was financially independent enough to be a snow-bird and this was year one of the good life. I’d been digging out a pond with a backhoe and was taking a break, reveling in my progress.
I answered my cell and don’t recall what was said, but I remember my knees giving out. I crumpled to the ground. As I laid there crying, I kept saying, “Don’t do this to me, man. Don’t. We’re supposed to grow old together.”
I’d always pictured us spending our golden years fishing next to one another beside a placid river. We’d own cabins, of which I’d let him have the nicer one, but mine would be right next door.
Sometimes I’d wake up after a night of partying, peel a beautiful woman’s arm off my chest, and count how much money I had spent the night before. I would snag a fifty or a hundred or a couple of twenties that I’d later change up, and I’d sneak into my library to stash the money in between book pages. Before I returned the book, I’d think about my father.
A man who loved his wife above all, who obsessively supported his kids’ extracurricular activities, whom everyone loved.
I’d think of being an old man fishing on that sparkling river. We’d both take geezer pot shots about who the best angler was, but what we would really be saying was, ‘I love you’, ‘You’re a great dad’, ‘I’m happy you’re here’.
I’m sure it’s a natural wish, but I would trade the remainder of my life for one more firm hug, for one more laugh.
Following his death, I no longer cared what I made each month. My goal of retiring at forty became pointless. I’d have bar tabs in the thousands of dollars, but more disturbing was the fact that I had grown ashamed of my life. I’d be at a round table in the nicest restaurant in town with a girl I barely knew and eight other “friends”. We would all be dressed in the latest fashions and continue to chat as if nothing was happening while waiters washed our hands for us. We’d laugh boisterously as we had drinks before walking down to the stadium to attend a concert where we would have the best seats. I’d get smashed and make everyone laugh, but at every pause, I’d feel like a fucking idiot.
I drank every day. I conducted business carelessly. I got arrested, did some time, and was released. Then, I got tossed aside because a sect of my old cronies smelled weakness, and now I’m here, in prison, my life in ruins.
Writing about my dad has made me sad. I’ll feel better soon. I won’t say I’m content in prison, but if I don’t get killed, maimed, or scarred, I think I’ll heal.
I believe I’ll realign my life. I have good people to help me, people who are better than me, people who motivate me to make something of myself. If they stick with me, I’ll transform.
Only time will tell, and I have plenty of that. Thanks for listening.
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