Having woken up no more than an hour ago and immediately realizing that I had completely neglected to introduce myself yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the relative quiet in the pre-sunrise hours by telling you a little about who I am. For starters, my name is Whitney Smith. My family and most friends call me Whit, everyone in prison calls me Smitty. In addition to being a full-time convict I am also a Luciferian skinhead, dedicated to the eradication of all non-Aryans, with a passion for carving soapstone swastikas and arson. OK, I made that part up.
Born on April 10, 1984 in the mean streets of Cincinnati, Ohio (and by that I mean middle-class suburbs), I developed a need for attention at a very young age. Whether I was regarded with admiration, shock or disgust was completely irrelevant, just as long as people were regarding me. This persisted in varying degrees until just after my 21st birthday when I bit off more than I could chew by botching a bank robbery and subsequently leading police on a high-speed chase across three counties, two states and one Ohio River, ultimately ending with me holed up in, irony of all ironies, the same high school I dropped out of. In retrospect a good defense to use in court would have been that it was only a stunt to encourage kids to stay in school.
Anyway, the twenty news cameras which recorded every second of my skinny bank-robbing ass being hauled away provided me with a new found appreciation for subtlety and anonymity. In court nine months later a judge gave me 6 1/2 years to reflect on what a moron I am.
So that's my story. My name's Smitty and I'm a moron. Admission is the first step to recovery, right?
The life of a moron isn't nearly as fun as it sounds. Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is not bliss. At least not for this dunce. As these big brown eyes survey my surroundings, a small room which could be considered the ultimate efficiency apartment, the sadness of this existence presents itself. For 23 hours a day my scenery consists of four walls enclosing a six-by-ten space containing a bunk bed, sink, toilet and small steel shower. Normally there's a roommate to stew in the monotony with, but for over a week I've been lucky enough to remain by myself. Days are spent reading, writing, exercising or draping blankets from the top bunk and playing fort. Granted, this is a section of the prison termed the Segregated Housing Unit, otherwise affectionately known as "The Hole," while those in general population have far more freedoms and privileges than the SHU does. But this is where I've been rotting for the last 10 months while awaiting transfer to another prison, so this is what you're going to read about.
The structure has four stories, the bottom two strictly "Hole" cells, while the top two levels hold Death Row. Each floor has three wings, or tiers, which splay out to form a sort of "W" and are lined with cells.
Present company on this tier is a motley bunch of convicts with just about every major prison demographic represented in one cell or another. Representing the "white power" group is Hawkes, a stocky man in his mid-thirties who speaks with a stereotypical southern drawl which betrays his South Carolina upbringing. Despite his tough guy appearance and smattering of tattoos, including the words "Solid White" in large letters under his right eye, Hawkes is one of the friendliest and most respectful guys you'll ever meet. Generous to a fault.
Then, who could forget Ruby? Ruby is a Puerto Rican homosexual with a cartoonishly feminine voice. The long black hair and slender build are no doubt features which Ruby prides himself on, however his most distinguishing feature would have to be his breast implants. Even I have to admit that, at a distance, this has a startling visual effect in a men's prison. Needless to say, Ruby is very popular in certain social circles.
A few doors down from Ruby is Jesse, the massive, corn-fed Oklahoma boy whose 30 years in prison has made his 45 years appear no less than 55. Jesse fancies himself as one of the cleverest and most intelligent men in the prison. He seems to be completely unaware that he's about as smart as a Pop-Tart.
All the way at the end is Cobbs, a middle-aged black man who apparently has legs of steel or a very large supply of amphetamines, because hours of his days are spent kicking the door for no reason at all. To keep himself occupied in between kicking sessions, Cobbs will scream inspirational phrases over and over, like "It's a universal blackness," or "See a cracker, kill a cracker; let God sort 'em out."
And in the cell right next to my own is Sleepy, a Mexican-American from Texas with a propensity for setting fires and breaking windows. He and Cobbs share some sort of unspoken bond.
Of course every couple of months the names and faces change. There will be a whole new crew of kickers and such. I'll miss Cobbs when he goes.