The next day was 23 NOV, and I realized when that it was Thanksgiving Day. There was no celebration, no family, nothing. This was inmate life.
Grits, slimy eggs and coffee were served for breakfast.
Leaving the two man cell where I slept, I entered the common cell. I kept to myself and observed the dynamics of the inmates I would be spending some time with.
I was a little out of place. They wore orange jumpsuits with VPSO printed on the back and I wore the green field pants and denim shirt with Inmate printed on the back.
Most of the guys were locked up for petty crimes, nothing too serious. Every day they would sit around playing cards and dominoes, telling fishing and hunting stories.
I did see two guys that seemed somewhat normal. They were more my age with really long hair. They were arrested for stealing band equipment from a church. We talked about music and how they ended up there.
Everyone else just lay in their bunks and watched television. Westerns, war movies, or hunting and fishing shows were on all day long.
The people were not too bad but I knew better than to trust too much.
Every hour on the hour, you could hear keys jingle as Mr. Reesey made his way around the hall that went around the back side of all the cells.
He was a very tall, heavy set, red neck with black pants and a white short-sleeved button up shirt. He had to be about 50 to 60 years old. When anyone would ask him how his day was, he would always respond “It’s just anotha’ day!”
Each time he walked around the cell block he would check around for anything suspicious. As soon as he would leave, unauthorized activity would start up.
Inmates would trade items from cell to cell. Sticking an arm through the bars with an item on a string then swing and drop it in front of another cell.
The recipient would use toilet paper rolls stuck together as a retrieval tool. Then something would be reciprocated.
Mostly cigarettes, stamps and money were traded. Other stuff found its way around. Certain types of food from the kitchen could be bartered for and even sometimes drugs.
I just paid attention, kept to myself and kept my mouth shut.
In the evening a snack cart would come around but you had to have cash to purchase anything. People could send cash in the mail as long as it was annotated in the letter, otherwise it might not get to you.
This was because all incoming mail was opened and “inspected.”
I was allowed to send out three letters a week for free, any more than that, I would need stamps. So I started writing letters to my parents.
In the letters, I talked about the conditions of confinement, the food and the other inmates. I requested stamps, and a little cash for food from the snack cart.
For some reason I felt the need to discuss all my drug use and the fact that I still was craving them. It was like being in jail was a truth serum.
I wasn’t trying to brag about it, maybe just confessing it all out. In hindsight, I was probably over sharing.
I finally got to talk to my lawyer. Captain Castillo told me that because I missed my original Court Martial date, my 6 year pre-trial agreement was thrown out.
This left me with no protection from a maximum sentence of 36 years. I would be at the mercy of the court.
He also told me that in all the defense cases involving drugs that he’s seen come through, he felt like I would be getting the most time. Through our entire discussion, he seemed very flippant.
I had been scared of this type of thing and because he didn’t seem too interested in actually defending me, I requested to have another lawyer assigned to me.
My new attorney, Captain Jokinen, was a lot more compassionate. He seemed to care about what happened to me.
He interviewed me and told me he would get to work on my case right away. My willingness to cooperate with the Army Drug Suppression Team would be to my advantage.
I was told that Thundercloud would come get me on the 30th which was eight days after I had arrived.
The days went by so slow. Staring at the walls and the bars for hour after hour, day after day. The meals were always the same, nothing changed and the drugs were still calling my name.
I was determined not to take anything else though. I don’t know if I was truly remorseful at this point or if I even realized the gravity of the situation I was in. I did know that I was messed up, my life was messed up and I needed help.
People were praying for me. I knew about some of them but there were others. Many others all over the world took the time to kneel before God and mention my name.
Some I would not find out about until 25 years later. This and God’s plan for my life at this time was the only thing keeping me alive and I would not realize it until later.
The 30th came but no one came to get me. I thought maybe they forgot about me or they didn’t get approval or something.
The next day, a guard opened the cell door and said;
“Inmate Mike! Come with me right now…”