From On the Shoulders of Giants
“Your Honor, I’ve been Ezra’s caseworker since he was four years old, since he was removed from his biological mother. A neighbor found him playing with a syringe in the front yard of his home and called the police. Lydia James was arrested for child neglect and possession of narcotics. When she was released from jail, she never attempted to regain custody.”
I was suddenly naked in a room full of strangers. Their sympathetic eyes like infrared lasers aimed at me from every direction. I wanted to crawl under the table and hide from their pity. I wanted to shout “what the fuck are you looking at?” But the judge was looking at me the same way and I knew that, uncomfortable as it was, sympathy may not have been the worst thing in the world at that moment. So I ate my shame.
“He’s spent the last eight years bouncing between The Bridges group home and various foster families–”
“Various?” the judge interrupted. “How many foster families?”
Ms. Hurst wrung her hands. “Six, I believe.”
The judge raised an eyebrow that appeared to be drawn on her face with a marker. “Why so many?”
Ms. Hurst shot me a nervous look. “I think that maybe… due to the difficult circumstances surrounding his early childhood, he sometimes has trouble adjusting.”
“Apparently so,” said the judge. “Is the current foster family here today?”
Ms. Hurst glanced over her shoulder. “No, Your Honor.”
The judge frowned. “Where are they?”
“The mother works at the Navy base and the father takes care of their infant son. Over the past few months, the mother has called my office and expressed concern over Ezra’s erratic behavior but when this latest incident happened, they forfeited custody and withdrew from the program.”
Wow. The view from under the bus was shockingly clear. With a sinking feeling I watched the judge make another note in my file.
From With Arms Unbound
A line of twenty-seven men marched through center gate carrying their property and bedrolls. The newcocks were easy to spot: wide-eyed and stiff with rumpled brown bags containing their few personal items. Most of the vets were toward the back of the line, grim-faced men who struggled beneath the weight of years of accumulated property.
The legal work was the worst. A decade’s worth of denied motions, court transcripts, depositions, and stacks of case law could easily exceed a hundred pounds. Lugging it from prison to prison was like carrying around a boulder … literally and figuratively.
Kevin Freeman stared at the twin bulging mesh bags slung over the shoulder of the man in front of him. They were stuffed with files the size of phone books.
He remembered those days–the direct appeal, the 3.850, the First D.C.A., the State Supreme Court, the Federal Remedies–each level, a bigger long shot than the last; each denial, more debilitating. He spent his first five years in the Law Library researching case law, filing motions and watching the legal mail callout like a junkie watching the road for the headlights of his dealer’s car. Hope is addictive like that.
But there’s a freedom in saying fuck it, in accepting one’s fate, in staring at the release date on that gain time slip and bowing to the inevitable. Four years earlier, after the Federal District Court of Appeals in Atlanta denied him without an opinion, Kevin ripped every legal document in his property into tiny little pieces and dumped them in the trash. Once the last stack was shredded and removed, he sat on his bed and gazed into his suddenly spacious foot locker. Gone was the possibility of ever getting a new trial, but so too was the heavy weight of hope…
Literally and figuratively.
From Consider the Dragonfly
The old bus creaked and bounced its way down the two-lane highway heading west. Freedom pulsed on the other side of the mesh-plated windows. It raced by in passing cars and oncoming headlights, in distant sirens and hunched streetwalkers, in florescent white gas islands and flickering neon tavern signs. It was close enough to smell, but it might as well have been a movie screen to the passengers on the bus. A movie of which they were no longer a part.
Gradually, the traffic thinned. The storefronts gave way to industrial sites and warehouses before bowing out completely and surrendering all signs of civilization to the marshland. Dawn was still a ways off. The men rode in silence, each handcuffed to the next.
Earlier, just after midnight, CJ packed all his worldly belongings into a brown paper bag. It wasn’t much, just a Bible, a toothbrush, and some letters from home. He bumped fists with Kane and stepped into the cage. He looked back once at the overcrowded cell that had been his home for the last year. He then stood up straight and walked out into the narrow hallway, leaving 6-B-2 behind him for the last time…
They spotted the gun towers just as dawn was breaking, hovering over the tree line like modern-day turrets. A low murmur swept through the bus as the fences came into view. There were two of them, both twelve feet tall, layered in spirals of flesh-ripping razor wire and wrapped securely around the sprawling gray buildings of the prison. As they drew closer, CJ could see the silhouette of a guard holding a machine gun in the tower.