CLEAN CIGARETTE SMOKE OFF WALLS. PERSONAL TOUCH CLEANING SERVICE.
tHe DaYs NoiSe
I must have been about nine or ten. I had been in this office plenty of times. It was cold in there, too. Though I’m sure the cold had more to do with the anxiety of wondering what my mom was going to do to me when I got home. Mr. Pratt, the principal, was in the hallway, talking to one of the assistants, trying to decide what to do with me. The conversation ended with him asking them to get my mom on the phone. We lived with my grandma in Rightwood at the time. Rightwood was a neighborhood that was big enough be called a town. Everyone knew each other. Most of the parents worked long hours in all the factories that surrounded the town. The ones who didn’t work in those factories, worked in the fields, picking fruit and vegetables. Interestingly, if you were standing in the right spot, you could see the affluent neighborhood in the hills, Evergreen Heights. A twenty-minute bus on the highway would get you close enough to marvel at the contrast. If you didn’t work in the factories or the fields, you were taking that bus to the Heights, working for those people… cleaning their houses, taking care of their children, or landscaping the abundant property many of them owned. My mom worked in one of the factories. She got off work right around the same time I got out of school. She was always waiting for me at the bus stop. It felt good to see her there from the window, smiling at me when our eyes would meet, as the bus would come to a slow halt. She usually had a snack or a drink of some sort for me, too. She would hold my bag till I finished whatever it was she had given me that day. But those moments were saved for days when she wasn’t receiving phone calls from my school, while at work, telling her about the trouble I had caused or was a part of in some way. The bus came around the bend off the highway and came to a stop at the park, where it dropped us off. My mom was waiting by a bench. She stared at me with a scowl as I approached her, probably thinking of about a dozen ways to kill me, I’m sure. She said nothing when I got to where she was. We just began walking. “What happened?” she asked. “I didn’t do…” “And don’t you dare lie to me, you little creep.” “I’m not lying.” “You better not be, cause I’m definitely not in the mood for this shit.” She gave me one of those looks… if I continued to irritate her, everything to follow such a look would surely be physical. I told her what had happened… about how one of the kids had brought cigarettes to school… and how I had brought a lighter with me for some reason, and that somehow, one of those cigarettes had mysteriously ended up in my mouth, but I wasn’t quite sure how it all had happened. “What the hell are you doing smoking at school?” I said nothing. “And where’d you get that goddamn lighter?” “It was grandma’s.” “You’re gonna blame this on her?” “It was on the counter near the keys… I saw it when I was leaving this morning.” “Does it belong to you?” “No.” “Well then what business do you have taking it?” There was a pause. You could see her thinking, trying to control her breathing at the same time. She hit me on the back of the head. “You’re smoking cigarettes now?” “No.” “Weed?” “No.” “Well then what the hell are you doing carrying a lighter?” “I don’t know.” She leaned down near my face to see if she could still smell the smoke on me. I took another shot to the head. This one was much harder than the first. She closed her eyes and shook her head… there was this disturbing grin on her face, too. “Do you know how embarrassing this is for me? To be called from the floor… to have to go into that goddamn office and take a call from your principal… with those people in the office listening to the conversation… thinking to themselves what a little monster my son must be…” I said nothing. I had an image of what it all must have looked like. But it was far too difficult to concentrate on anything else besides her hand, watching it swing at her side, preparing myself to brace for the impact if it was to swing towards my head again. When we got to the house, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Her anger seemed to diffuse itself in the silence as we walked the rest of the way home. She didn’t seem as mad when we got the door. But there was no way to be sure. She told me to go to the room when we got inside. My grandma was on the couch watching soap operas. She sat up and asked my mom what had happened. She seemed more interested in that, than what was on TV. I could hear my mom mumbling the details. I heard my grandma scream something in disgust, just before I closed the door behind me. I went to the room and waited for her. I remember it being so quiet whenever I was sent to the room, awaiting punishment. You heard things you never heard… things that the day’s noise usually made inaudible, like little breezes coming through the window, or cars in the distance on the highway, or the clock hanging on the wall just aboveA shot of Gos through the bars in a solitary confinement cell AKA the Treatment Unit
Some of "The Rules": #6. DISCIPLINARY ACTION may result in loss of some or all of your privileges and/or confinement in the Treatment Unit. #7. TREATMENT UNIT is the segregation section of the Institution where privileges may be restricted to a minimum. # 30. CELLHOUSE RULES Caps are never worn in the cellhouse. You may smoke in your cell, in the Library or in A-Block, but not elsewhere in the cellhouse. DO NOT SMOKE OR CARRY LIGHTED CIGARETTES OR PIPES ON THE GALLERIES OR FLATS IN THE CELLHOUSE AT ANY TIME. WALK -- DO NOT RUN when moving from one place to another. Upon entering the cellhouse, remove your cap and walk directly and quietly to your cell. Loud talking, loitering or visiting on the galleries, stairs or aisles is not permitted. Don't enter any other inmate's cell at any time. When you talk in the cellhouse, talk quietly. Don't create a disturbance. Keep your cell neat and clean and free from trash and contraband. Keep your property neatly arranged on your shelves, as shown in the cell diagram on Page #8. Don't leave things stacked on the bars or on your folding table and seat. Don't paste or tack anything on the walls or shelves in your cell. Keep the floor and the bars of the cell-front free from dust and dirt. The only articles permitted on the cell floor are shoes, slippers, trashbaskets, drawing boards and musical instruments. Your cell is subject to search at any time. Contraband items found in your cell will be confiscated and a disciplinary report will be placed against you for possession of same. Any dangerous articles such as money, narcotics, intoxicants, weapons, or tools, found in your cell or on your person, that could be used to inflict injury, destroy property, or aid in escape attempts will result in disciplinary action and possibly U.S. District Court action. The presence of articles of this nature on your person or in your cell will be considered evidence of intent to use them for unlawful purposes. "Extra" razor blades are classed as dangerous weapons. At the wake-up bell in the morning you must get out of bed and put on your clothes. Make up your bed properly (as shown in the diagram on Page #8) with your pillow at the end near the bars, blankets tucked neatly under the mattress, and extra blankets folded neatly at the foot of the bed. Sweep your cell and place the trash in the trash basket. Don't attempt to flush trash down the toilet. Don't sweep trash or dirt out onto the gallery or off the gallery. At 9:30 P.M. lights out, retire promptly. All conversations and other noises must cease immediately. Keep your person, clothing, bedding, cell equipment, toilet articles, personal property, library books, etc., clean and in good order at all times. You must not mark or deface your cell, library books, furniture, equipment or fittings of the institution. Do not throw anything from your cell at any time. Advise the cellhouse Officer when you need hot water and a mop to clean your cell. You will be required to remain in your cell and clean it whenever it is reported for being dirty. Loud talking, shouting, whistling, singing or other unnecessary noises are not permitted. You are permitted to hold QUIET conversations and to play games QUIETLY with your adjoining neighbors ONLY. Do not tamper with the electric outlets or radio fixtures in your cell. If they do not operate properly, notify the Cellhouse Officer. Your cell light must be turned out when you leave your cell except when you go to meals. LEAVE YOUR CELL LIGHT BURNING WHEN YOU GO TO MEALS.
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