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Posts by James Oscar

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  • A Simple Twist of Fate

    07/24/2012 8:39:39 PM PDT · 26 of 26
    James Oscar to James Oscar
    April 2012
    Bay Area

    This was really our first trip out of town. My birthday and the Masters always coincide, so it is one of my favorite times.

    We booked into the Marriot at Oyster Bay and it was a lovely suite overlooking the bay. Full kitchen and separate bedroom but the TVs were a little small.

    I was on my best behavior because we seem to be so right for one another, and this was our first overnighter.

    We divided our mornings into sightseeing and our afternoons into snacks and golf. It was so much fun to lay in bed and watch the Masters while sipping wine and snacking.

    We soon discovered that we could play a little and still watch golf. So all four days we would spend in bed while the golf was on and then we would nap a bit and hit the town.

    The wind was really up and we were all but blown away trying to get into the Beach Chalet for sunset.

    Once I discovered that they have a magnificent Basil Martini it has become one of my favorites. We sat at the window and ate while the wind raged and the sun slowly set. Our neighbors were kind enough to take a photo of us with my camera, and that picture is one of our favorites.

    There is a special place that I go to often at the end of Sloat Street where the North American Continent meet the Pacific Ocean. There is some parking, but the coastal erosion has ate into much of the viewing area.

    But it is special, before I had Outer Space radio I would go there and listen to the excellent space music on the local radio at night.

    The waves would be crashing and the perpetual fog would be in various states of thickness and I would zone out and think of many things.

    I took The Lady there.

    We sat and listened to the night and felt the chill of the cold water and air. It was beautiful.

    We had Bloody Marys at the Cliff House - trite but still a nice time, and then went to the Ferry House for the Farmers Market.

    It was pretty much your tourist itinerary except for the golf in the afternoon. Not a bad first excursion.

    We discovered that we liked each other and that there was a hell of a lot of chemistry between the two of us.

    And so it began - The Lady and I.

    Tonight we are home at her house and I am still writing while she talks on the phone.

    Some of the sod is not looking too well, perhaps the sprinkler in that corner is not providing coverage. That would explain the dead grass in the first place.

    It is nice to see all the birds drink in the fountain in the front yard. It rained yesterday but it is dry and hot today.

    Today she spoke with her daughter and broke the news that the widow has a boyfriend. It helps that I know and have spent time with her daughter a few years ago when she lived in the area.

    The good news is that it seems we have the daughters blessing, it may not be a big thing but it was very much on the mind of The Lady. I can see that she is relieved to have broken the news.

    And so it goes, the sun is setting and life seems all quiet and peaceful. All six zones of the irrigation system have cycled off and I will shortly move from the office to the back bedroom where she is happy and waiting.

    I am never certain which way the wind will blow, and there is a part of me that looks for trouble, not searching but ever vigilant for the possibility that this dream is transitory.

    There is a different feel in what we share. I have been alone for quite some time now and it is very refreshing to not be complacent and complete during my time separated from her - I enjoy the togetherness and it is hard to imagine how numb I once was.

  • A Simple Twist of Fate

    07/24/2012 4:43:30 PM PDT · 25 of 26
    James Oscar to James Oscar
    Fall 1977
    Texas Prison Farm

    It was 5:00am in the hospital. I was awaiting the chain list.

    Every morning we would get the chain list, where the first word (due to security) was received of those being transferred off the farm.

    It was necessary to review the inmates medical file and see if medications or special precautions were necessary. Then all the medical files of everyone on the chain list was transferred to the building lieutenant for transport with the inmates.

    Because I was now serving as the “Physician's Assistant” on the day shift, it was my duty to review the files and issue medications required for the transit.

    It is called “catching the chain” for good reason. Early in the morning a big converted school bus with bars in the windows pulls up to the yard. There the inmates going on bench warrant, to pre-release or being transferred to another prison are shackled at the ankles and hands. A leather belt with chain loops is attached to your waist and the entire group is put onto the bus. Where you are put behind a screen fence and the chain is removed.

    I pulled the chain list from my box and started pulling records from our files until the world started spinning. For there on the list was my name.

    It says transferred to pre-release. That was beyond belief, how was this happening? I had to sit down and catch my breath. There was nothing else to do but my job, so I pulled all the files.

    I took the files to the Building Lieutenant and he smiled for the first time ever and said he would call me when it was time to gather in the yard.

    What I did not know was that because of the huge wave of drug offenders being given time, the governor had appointed a commission to recommend the early release of first time/non violent offenders.

    I had been freed from hell.

  • A Simple Twist of Fate

    07/24/2012 4:24:02 PM PDT · 24 of 26
    James Oscar to James Oscar
    I fell out with the sick call line and moved to the infirmary. Little by little the line passed inside where you met a pretend nurse, a pretend dentist or a pretend doctor.

    When I presented myself to the Captain, he had my jacket open. He said “you have never been to sick call have you?”. I said no.

    Little did I know that the longer you go without ever reporting to sick call the higher your approval level rose with the brass.

    Any number of malingerers, drug addicts and mental problems reported day after day.

    The Captain then surprised me by taking out a newspaper clipping of my capture and asked “it says you have a college degree, is that true?”. I said yes.

    He then asked if I would like a job in the Hospital.

    I was truly shocked, it never occurred to me that I might get a job. There were squad mates of mine who had spent decades in the field, and after only a year I was being offered a building job.

    I said yes.

  • A Simple Twist of Fate

    07/24/2012 4:12:15 PM PDT · 23 of 26
    James Oscar to James Oscar
    Summer 1977
    Texas Prison Farm

    It is frightening to get a “lay-in”. If you have something scheduled then you are not surprised, but when you see your name on the board in the morning to lay in for sick call and you did not put in a slip - then it gets your heart racing.

    And for good reason. If it is to be a private beating then this is when it happens. The beating that are used to make a point with population are always public and usually in the yard. But after the hoe squads have left the building is when the real damage is inflicted.

    It is always written up as “fight among inmates” and in truth it really is. The building tenders, the turnkeys, the hired guns of the prison are all lifers with nothing to lose. If instructed, they will beat you to near death and eat lunch without blinking an eye.

    My mind raced thinking about any infraction or offense that I might have committed, but nothing came to mind.

    In the field I had earned my chops the old fashioned way. I fought when provoked and over the last few months, as I got better in the field, I had been used as a striker some.

    A striker is someone who can work hard, get out ahead of the squad and then drop in behind someone struggling to keep up and catch up their row. What you do is tell the inmate to move up to the squad and you work like hell on his row until you get it back to where he moved to. Then you run to your row and catch back up to the squad yourself. Striker.

    So my work in the field was good. I neither gambled or borrowed money, so they were not an issue.

    Nonetheless I took my watch and commissary book to a friend and asked him to hold it for me. It was best to never have anything on you that could be stolen or broken shou