I’ve been waking up at about 0330 for the last couple of weeks with the same recurring nightmare. I don’t normally dream – I don’t think – but in this particular instance I’m always in a car. It’s a very stressful situation; I’m the driver and I’m alone. I’m particularly conscious of the driving laws so I’m painfully careful as I drive along.

In every variation of the dream, I’m entering the flow of traffic. I pause appropriately, gauge the oncoming traffic and then safely merge with the other vehicles. Yet everytime I do, I pull in directly in front of a police cruiser. I then always do something incredibly stupid like run a stop sign or a red light directly in front of him.

I then flash to the interior of the police cruiser where the officer turns on his emergency lights, and that is “where I wake up”.

I don’t’ have a clue what this means – if it means anything – but I keep thinking that’s my ticket back to a place like Solano County. I can’t tell if it’s what I want or what I fear. Freud argued that dreams were wish fulfillments but I can’t imagine ever wanting to return to this place or these circumstances. Perhaps though neither did Elrod, though you do get the impression that he prefers the comforts of Solano County to “pleasant society”. I can’t even begin to imagine preferring this to being free.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what I’m going to do when I’m released. Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what the dream is all about. Lately I’ve been worried about what life to create and what I need to do better going forward. I feel haunted by lack of self-confidence; I know all too well that things can go drastically wrong without much input from me. I guess I fear the variables that I’ve come to realize I can’t control. Doing your best and sticking to it doesn’t necessarily translate into success. Somewhere down the line you have to be in tune with the music, the flow of life. That is what Solano county reminds me that I lack. In retrospect everything seems to have been so hard.

I was sick in college, worse in medical school, and the obstacles kept just getting bigger in my professional life.

Mom in her wisdom admonishes me to talk with God. I feel I always have. My entire life has been in preparation to help others, and maybe that’s just it. It’s time to stop preparing and get to the doing. It’s time to stop trying to make myself perfect and just get on with life. At some level I have to learn to trust people and get going.

I guess that’s what the dream and all this is about: fear.

I see fear in the eyes of all my colleagues. It escalates as their trials get closer and closer, and they realize that judgment day is really approaching, and there is nothing they can do to control it. That is clearly Danny V’s biggest problem. He is scared to death.

Another guy with much the same problem is named Coombs. There is a lot of publicity in Solano County about a young councilman who was murdered a year ago. His name was Garcia and it’s actually an absolutely horrible story. Turns out three people were involved in a drug deal – methamphetamines – that went bad. The seller apparently made off with the drugs and the money. Coombs and his accomplices scoured the neighborhood looking for the guy. They spotted him trying to drive away – or so they thought. They fired shots, killing him, but it turned out it wasn’t him. It was the young Fairfield city councilman visiting friends. Just a horrible story, but most of the stories in here are.

Danny V, on the other hand, has become crazy. He’s constantly hasseling the guard about legal forms, he’s trying to fire his lawyer and worse yet, he’s now trying to get the judge removed. Apparently Danny V feels he’s getting railroaded. What he doesn’t seem to get is that his own insanity is the engine driving it. He’s screaming into the phone, crying like a four-year-old in the day room, and all the while, the guards are documenting it.

No amount of advice will help him because he doesn’t hear you or care what you have to say. I do so badly though want to witness this trial.

I’m continuing to wait on a reply from the classification officer. He’s the one who assigns housing. I’m not looking to change or question his or her decision. I’m just looking for answers. I have my beliefs on why I’m in H mod; I just want to hear his. Besides, I’ve watched four or five people get opportunities to work off time and I haven’t even gotten an answer, any kind of reply in six months.

We are entering another of what I call a “negative emotional cycle”. At unlock this morning, Smitty – as usual – and Danny V – quite amazingly – got into a physical altercation. Danny V began by asking what exactly, the program was, that Smitty was watching on TV. It was the early morning “unlock” and frankly none of us were quite awake yet. There is usually a lot of stirring on the part of guards prior to the actual opening of cell doors, but this morning they had simply announced it and popped the doors.

Smitty began a long dissertation lecture on why it was inappropriate for Danny V to ask that question. I’ll spare you the rambling details of what he had to say – frankly I found it too crazy and too disjointed to follow – but essentially he was explaining to Danny V as much the way an adult would instruct a child that had he sat and watched quietly for a few minutes, rather than interrupting, he would know.

Danny V, scared to death by the prospect of a 77-year sentence for three counts of rape, was nonetheless not in the mood for Smitty’s sarcasm, or perhaps sardonism. He suggested that a simple answer would have been sufficient and also offered the opinion– and probably everyone else’s in the room –that Smitty’s most salient personality trait, was that of being “an asshole”.

Well Smitty, not to be dishonored, rolled his wheelchair right up to Danny V’s lap and began his verbal assault.

Danny V, not to be put off, didn’t budge an inch. That, in itself, elevated the level of the confrontation and Smitty, forgetting his alleged injured right knee, as he has so many, many, many times before this, rose from the chair to square off at Danny V.

There was rage in Danny V’s eyes and for the first time since I’ve known him, he did not back down.

Bruce Lee (my new buddy, and yes that is his real name and he has heard all the jokes) attempted to intervene from his wheelchair. (Bruce has his left leg amputated just below the knee.) The combatants, though, would have none of it.

Danny V stood up in defiance. They glared at each other. The anger in their voices escalated. The tension in the room became thicker. Riley, the deaf-mute, now living as Smitty’s bunky, called out to Smitty in an effort to defuse things. I was actually amazed at his effort. Riley is creepy and quiet. He enjoys watching Maury and the Kardashians; the fact that he was mentally in the same room at the time is in itself a victory for the penal system. I have often concluded – at least in my own mind – that Riley must molest children or something, though I have no information to support that claim. More, he is simply a victim of harsh assessment because he is frankly weird. His effort was useless, though, and Danny V stepped closer to square off at Smitty.

Smitty lunged out to push Danny V; Danny V held his ground and scratched back.

I stepped between them and lightly touched Danny V on the shoulder and asked him to step to the other side of the room.

I turned to Smitty, whose look of obvious relief said it all, and asked him to sit back in his wheelchair.

This was an altercation that again didn’t require the scrutiny of the guards. Neither one of these knuckleheads could take a judge being aware of this little stunt. The DA was already trying to paint them both as angry little predators – which by the way he should have no problem doing. I just don’t think they should buy the rope that hangs them.

Besides, I couldn’t help but believe that the negativity that permeated the entire module that morning wasn’t responsible for their little cat fight. I couldn’t escape that from a social standpoint my own negativity was contributing to the mood of the room.

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