Upon arriving at the Vernon Parish Jail, I removed my Army uniform and switched to my inmate attire.
It wasn’t the last time I would have to wear the uniform but I definitely was feeling less like a soldier and more like an inmate.
A guard led me back to my cell.
Once the door closed and locked, I was all alone.
There were people all around me that I could hear but I couldn’t see.
Jail is loud ALL the time, but I really wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying.
I had a lot on my mind.
I did not realize when I agreed to help CID that it would delay my transfer to Fort Leavenworth. They would not move me, until I testified in the trials of the soldiers that I wrote statements on.
I would not have access to any rehabilitative programs in this civilian jail. I was not able to fulfill any requirements to be eligible for early release.
So I would just have to wait.
I had no idea when all these trials would be scheduled.
Captain Jokinen told me he was going to appeal my sentence. He would try to have six months removed because of all my assistance with CID and the fact that I had to be detained in this disgusting and very backwards place.
It was January 1990.
The boredom of sitting around the cell was starting to get to me.
Christmas and New Year’s had passed and I have no recollection of anything being done to celebrate. If they did something, I really just don’t remember.
Day in and day out the same routine.
Sleep until someone brought food to my cell, watch the TV until I fell asleep, eat again, sleep again, so on and so on. The food was the exact same every day.
It would be years later before I could ever eat beans and rice again.
I remember being cold at night. The metal walls, a metal slab for a bed and the worn out, wool Army blanket did little for warmth.
Also at night there would always be lights on so when the night guard walked around the cell block he could see into each cell. It kept me up sometimes but eventually I got used to it. Sometimes I would just pull the blanket over my head.
I had not used any drugs for about two months but I could still feel the need.
It was as if they were calling out to me.
In a letter to my parents I said, “My body craves them.”
In my head I knew that I needed to stop.
Look where drugs got me! Nowhere fast.
But, I could not stop the voices calling me back, enticing me to escape again and again.
Reality sucked and I did not want to deal with what I was facing. It seems as if I still wanted to run away from everything, even if only in my mind.
About a week later I talked to my lawyer.
There were three trials I had to attend, so it looked like I would not be transferred until the middle of March.
This place was really getting to me, so I wasn’t too excited to find this out. I guess it was the price I had to pay in return for a shorter prison sentence.
Eventually I felt like writing letters again.
I began to run out of paper, so I asked my parents for more writing pads, envelopes and some stamps. This would be a common request for the next few months.
I was reaching outside of the walls. Looking to matter to someone, wanting to not be forgotten.
I was feeling isolated and cut off from everything that I knew or that I thought I knew. I could feel my mind slipping and I did not want to lose myself.
Shortly thereafter, the Warden Mr. Creasy, started to leave my door unlocked during short periods of time during the day.
It was the same for some of the other inmates that did not cause trouble. I don’t know if it was their version of an elevation of custody or what, but I didn’t complain. This gave me the opportunity to have access to some books sitting in a box.
There were a few paperback westerns, and some other stuff that didn’t look too interesting.
But then I saw a dark blue book with a gold circle on the front. Inside of the circle were the letters NA. It kind of reminded me of the cover of the book “The Neverending Story” so I picked it up and went back to my cell.
To my surprise, the letters stood for Narcotics Anonymous. I had heard of AA, but never NA. I dug in and started reading.
It said that one of the first steps to rehabilitation was admitting that I had an addiction. There was a lot of good information in the book and I felt like it was useful so I kept it in my cell and read through it a couple times.
After reading that book I felt the need to write an apology to my parents.
In the letter, I told them that it was not their fault in any way that I ended up in jail.
It was my irresponsibility that caused the problem.
I was starting to ponder the purpose for my life and the reason for all this happening.
I felt the urge to discuss or share with anyone who wanted to listen.