Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
My name is Dennis Wayne Hope. I like country music, fast cars, and beautiful women. But most of all, I like excitement. Guess that’s the way it all started.
I sat on the cracked leather seat of a chain bus heading towards the Darrington Unit. The maximum security prison that is my new home.
“Hey young fella, you ever been to prison?”, an older man sitting across from me said.
“No. It’s my first time.”
“Well kid, let me give ya some advice. There’s been many a’ stabbin, many a’ beatin here”, the old man said, “Never turn your back on an inmate or guard”
“Thanks for the pointers”, I told him. The bus ran over a pothole, shaking the restraints we each had on.
“Don’t you go try anything here. I can see it in your eyes,”, the man said, “this ain’t no county jail. This is the real deal”. I looked out the wire meshed windows at the terrain. Around me was a large sprawling forest, and some fields of corn. If I were to make a run for it, this is where I would go. The prison was situated in Brazoria County, Texas. It was a sticky hot mess to spend the rest of your days in. The majority of the inmates are serving long sentences for crimes varying from murderers to armed robbers. It was a dangerous place, people got stabbed and beat up, there was corruption among the guards and higher ups. You’d be surprised what a pack of smokes could get you in prison.
The bus finally arrived at the entrance to the prison. Two large metal fences with rows of barbed wire encased the lot. Multiple watchtowers loomed over, armed guards stood inside with the orders to shoot to kill if any inmates were seen attempting to escape.
“Get up”, ordered one of the officers on the bus. He was standing at the very end near the exit door, and held a shotgun to his chest. We all got up slowly and marched in a single file line towards the door. As I was almost to the door, I noticed a large man in front of me crack his neck. I could sense something was about to happen.
“I’m watching you Rainer”, I heard the guard say to the man in front of me. He cocked his shotgun, ready to defend himself.
“Dirty pig.”, the man in front of me spat back.
The guard kept a stern gave, “Keep walking prisoner.”
I picked up the pace and stepped out into the cold air. We were led inside an area of the prison commonly referred to as a dog kennel.
“Welcome to prison.”, smirked one of the guards, “Take off your clothes.” I began to strip off my street clothes as instructed. Guys around me did the same, weary that they were being watched. Being naked in broad daylight with many people around you was very uncomfortable. The warden of the prison stood a few feet away, watching over everyone who exited the bus. He was very large and mean looking. I did not want to slip up in front of him. A group of guards approached us in the prison courtyard. We were each redressed in the prison’s attire. For new inmates like us, we had to wear a bright orange jumpsuit. It was as if I had a giant target on my back. The jumpsuit had no pockets, and the only decals on it were a string of numbers on the back. In here, our names were just a serial code.
“Very well, follow me”, said one of the guards. All of us newly arrived inmates were led into the prison complex for the first time. The place we went into was called the Classification Building, this was where new inmates like us learned about prison and what we can and cannot do.
“Y’all ready for this”, chuckled a guy by my side.
“Shut your trap Mr. Dennett. You will only speak when spoken to. Is that understood?” Shouted the warden as he followed us into the Classification Building.
“Yessir! Won’t happen again!” The guy said back.
The first thing they asked us when we got into the building, was what we wanted to do with our street clothes we came in. We had three options: we could throw them away, donate them to the Salvation Army, or mail them home. The clothes I had weren’t great, a heavily worn pair of jeans and a brown T-shirt with multiple holes. I decided to donate them to the Salvation Army, they weren’t going to do me any good here. Maybe they would better suit someone out there in the free world. From there we were all led into a different room in the building. This room only had a mirror, a chair, and a pair of hair clippers sitting on the chair. The mirror had a large crack running through it, probably from a past struggle.
“Make a line everyone”, announced a guard. We formed a single file line, waiting for our turn in the chair. I brushed my hand through my hair, it had grown considerably since I last had it cut a year back. I now had a full on moustache and a beard to go along with it. I looked like a homeless guy picked off the street. I was second in line. The guy from earlier, Mr. Dennett, was in front of me. They made it no mistake to tell us, that if we did not comply with the shaving process, we would immediately be thrown into solitary confinement. Otherwise known as The Hole.
“Mr. Hope, please come forward.”, called out the barber. Multiple armed guards stood closely around, monitoring every movement. I got up into the chair.
“Quite a hairy man we have today eh?”, the barber said.
“Get it over with already.” I grumbled back.
“Of course of course!” The barber draped a transparent blanket over me and around my neck, to make sure no hairs fell onto me. I heard the whirl of the buzzer as he raced it across my scalp. Locks of hair fell to the ground, I was stripped of all my facial hair, except my eyebrows. It felt a lot lighter up there, I quite liked the bald look actually. The entire process took less than 2 minutes, he acted fast. Then again so would I if I had dozens of inmates hair to cut off in a short amount of time.
“All done!”, the barber announced. He was way to cheerful for a job like this, probably got fired and the next best thing was working here.
“Thank you.”, I got off the chair and walked over next to Dennett who was running his hands over his bald head. Dennett had a cartoonish Joker look to him. His eyes were wide open, observing everything he could see with his scrawny little head.
“Hey mister!”, the little guy was trying to get my attention, tugging on my jumpsuit. “Wanna hear a joke?”
“Go for it.”, I told him.
“What do you call a group of rabbits hopping backwards?”, he asked.
“Can’t say I know.”, I replied.
“A receding hairline!”, the little man said. He was screaming with laughter before I could even respond. His head was tilted back as he laughed like a maniac. I noticed the guard next to us chuckle a little.
“Good one kid.”, the guard told him. Dennett was still laughing, he looked like he could barely breath.
“Hey you alright?”, the guard began to become concerned. Dennett grabbed his throat with his body fingers, the nails bitten off as far as they go. I could see terror in his eyes.
“Can I get some help over here!”, the guard looked around, trying to find someone to calm Dennett down. The laughing didn’t stop. It wasn’t a normal little chuckle, it was a full on circus. A medical team rushed over. They quickly subdued him and placed a mask over his large mouth, probably to provide oxygen for him. The medics strapped him to a stretcher, restraining his hands and legs to it. He was injected with some sort of calming agent. I could still see his eyes wide open, never blinking, staring right into mine as he was rolled away. What have I gotten myself into I thought to myself. These people were insane. From there the remaining bunch of us were led into a big auditorium. We sat on what was like a giant set of bleachers, except our ankles were tied to it. We sat down and faced the center of the room. The warden spoke loud and clear of what we could and could not do. Mostly the latter option. We were only allowed as much that could fit into two cardboard boxes. Equating to about six cubic feet of personal property. Items such as toothpaste, musical instruments, religious texts, and any money they earn in prison or receive from loved ones. We were allowed to smoke inside prison as well, but a pack of cigarettes would cost you $6. You were only able to spend $15 a week in prison. There were some heavy smokers here, two packs a week wasn’t going to cut it, that’s why cigarettes could buy you a lot here. Smoking was a way for most people to relieve their stress from being in prison everyday. After they told us all of that, we had to watch The Movie. One of the most disturbing videos I have ever watched. The Movie was a video we were required to watch upon arrival. It was about sexual assault in prison, there were prisoners telling their stories about how they were raped every single day. It was horrifying. After the scariest movie of my life was over, we were told where we would be housed at. That was the block our cell was located in. We were practically kicked out of the Classification Building to go find our cell. Everyone was intimidated after all of that. There was some small chatter amongst us, people were nervous about the kind of environment we had found ourselves in.
“Is it really as bad as they make it out to be officer?”, asked one of guys walking with me.
“You bet sunny boy, let me give you some advice. Don’t get into no gangs or gambling, and don’t talk to no homosexuals. That’ll keep you outta trouble for the most part.”, the guard said back. I was trying to hide my anxiety as we walked to our cell block. I couldn’t let any of it show or I would be considered weak. I couldn’t let that happen, so I kept a straight face and kept on chugging along.
“What if I’m already a homosexual?”, asked another guy.
The guard laughed, “then you better grab onto something tight during shower time.”
I could hear him gulp from a mile away. We were now inside the main cell block, where most of the inmates, including us, were to live.
I finally reached my cell, the guard unlatched the giant steel framed door and led me inside. From there he removed my restraints, gave me a nod of good luck, and got out as fast as he could. I sat my box down on the floor and looked around. There was a tall skinny man sitting on one of the beds. This was my cellmate.
“Hey buddy”, he said. His tongue was sliced down the middle, like a snake. He was covered in tattoos, from head to toe. His hair was long and braided, falling down to his feet.
“Welcome to prison.”, he hissed. He watched as I taped some of the photos I brought along with me to the wall. He almost seemed to blink sideways, it was probably just my mind playing tricks on me.
“Hey listen, I don’t wanna cause you any trouble. We cool?”, I told him. I just wanted to make it through the night.
The snake man laughed, “Of course. My names Deegan. But people around here Orochi.”
“Isn’t that Japanese for Big Snake?”
Orochi laughed, “Oh yes, 大蛇—The eight-forked serpent who demands virgin sacrifices!”
“Great. First I gotta worry about being beat up outside, now I gotta worry that my cell mates gonna drain my blood as I sleep!”, I told him as I put up another picture, this time of my mom and I, dad cropped out.
“Don’t worry! I won’t bite. Need help with those pictures?”, Orochi said.
“Yeah. Fine. Just don’t make anymore hissing noises I’m already scared straight as it is.”
Orochi slithered my way, picking out a couple of photos from my box. The cell was a 6 by 8 foot room, meant for two. If I got in any major trouble they’d move me to an even smaller cell, just for me. In the corner of the room was two concrete beds with thin cotton mattresses on top. Beside it stood a concrete desk and stool, and a toilet that was combined with a sink and water fountain. That was going to get disgusting, drinking water from the same place I went to the bathroom. I was going to have to get used to it one way or another. This was my life now. Prison was my home.