by Brian Lafferty, a formerly incarcerated contributor
From PHN Issue 3, April 2004
A conversation between two inmates: Frank, an old head who has been through the system more times than he chooses to remember, and Luis, a young man doing his first bid. They are cellmates, talking during count time.
Frank: So, you about up, huh? Feel good, right?
Luis: Man, you don’t even know. Get back, see some girls, make some money. Been too long.
Frank: Hear that. You want some coffee? What you doin’ when you out?
Luis: What you mean, what I’m doin’? You know what I’m doin’, man.
Frank: What’s your plan? What you got set for yourself?
Luis: What you talking about?
Frank: You got to plan for this.
Luis: Man, I ain’t fittin’ to stay up in here planning something. I’m out, dog. I’m out.
Frank: Coffee’s ready. You think about that program they was talkin’ up?
Luis: That state thing? Man, now I know you crazy. Damn, this coffee’s hot. Thanks.
Frank: That state thing gonna keep you outta here. You know the street’s gonna bring you back.
Luis: Man, I’m goin’ home, meeting some girls, my man Tony gonna get me a spot, make me some money. Be where I know everyone. All I got is four months and a wakeup. I’m golden.
Frank: Them girls is what got you here in the first place. How you expect to go out slinging for Tony and not bring back a hot urine? You know what happens you do that? Be right back here, drinking packets of coffee and doing pushups.
Luis: I got willpower. I ain’t coming back.
Frank: Man, willpower and a box of x- lax is the same thing. A load of crap. You go where you know everyone, means everyone knows you. And your business. Do that state program, it’s a whole new start. Max out, clean urine, you done.
Luis: Done. After a 30 day blackout. I wanna be out, man. Out. I need some money. Can’t make no money there. You know that.
Frank: What you need all this money for? Do this program, walk off your last 6 months of probation, they hook you up with some schooling, a job. Then, only time I see you will be a visit. Right?
Luis: Right. That does sound good.
Frank: Think about it. It’s your life.
Luis: Yeah. It’s my life.