Don turned 46 today. Incarcerated, with no letter or hallmark card sent from the place he once called home; the only birthday gifts he received was a few congratulatory, homophobic-driven, replacement-for-hugs, masculine-reinforcing, pats on the back, along with a $1.35 bag of oatmeal-less, oatmeal and raisin cookies (1) from Curtis and two over-sized shots of unfairly traded, plantation grown and slave harvested coffee (2) from yours truly. To be fair, the cookies did have raisins, even if they were listed under all the carcinogenic preservatives as the last ingredient.
Don, not as in Don=the godfather, but as in Don=the early retiree from the harsh weathered reality of northeastern Washington, has become one of my jailhouse buddies. After running moonshine, dandelion wine, and other mischievous brews for twenty some-odd years, Donny left his 4th generation Washington rooted family for a warmer Autonomous future. And so, a dozen or so years ago he made his way to the south Texas coast.
A couple years after arriving, Don could no longer justify the necessity of paying for a home in such a fair-weathered climate, consequentially adding his name to the short list of people I have met who willingly decide to become and remain homeless (3). Once lessened from the burden of rent, Donald then realized that bosses as well as landlords were to become a thing of the past. Sure he takes upon an occasional pay-for-labor task to in return treat himself to the occasional luxury, like the addictive coronary-clogging, life’s too short, corner-store hot dogs or the megalithic, 64oz high fructose filled to the brim, thirst-quenching, years lessening, fountain soda. But for the most part, he refuses work and enjoys his anti-retirement, “semi-charmed kind of life.”
One of the few people you’ll ever find at a downtown library willingly wanting to read – as opposed to the mass majority of folks who populate such places in either an attempt to steer clear of the “Anti-poor so the rich can get more” police brutality reach, or the kids forced to write research papers while being unconsentingly stuck under the oppressive and suffocating hands of compulsory education’s dream-smashing brutality. Don will check out a couple of books and take them to a nearby park to read in between naps.
Don, Donny, Donald, will be locked up for a total of 256 days as an institutionalized form of pentenance for the offense of creating his own anti-retirement, against the establishment, unplanned paradise (4). Of course now locked-up in the serious hazard to your health, Nueces County Jail, it is Don’s love for literature and high fructose sweetened, artificially flavored, fruit punch beverage that keep him mostly sane. In his already one hundred and some odd forty days of time served, Donny has read close to a grand total of a hundred and some odd books (5). His unrelenting requests for new literature out of the jailhouse “library” (more honestly read as the hallway closet full of books to which no inmate has direct access to) is without a doubt the only reason unit 4-P ever sees a change in our book selection.
Donald, although by profession – or lack thereof – a hobo, cannot for the drunken life of himself, grow the respectable and stereotypical homeless, sun bleached beer-scented beard. Instead, he compromisingly rocks a mustache that looks as if it had been imported from Denmark and a decade old beard, that through its own self-determination and resistance against all authority, remains seemingly well trimmed and kept, making neither the use of scissor nor razors an immediate or far-fetched threat (6).
All of this time being forcibly kept locked away in a large concrete, compartmentalized box has not waivered his anti-retirement, future investment plans one single bit. If anything it has done just the exact opposite. It has been megabyte of memory added onto an already overfilled and practically crashed hard drive that he calls his past life. A soon to be outdated file, inventoried in the folder marked hard times then effortlessly dumped in the trademarked desktop icon reserved as the place for memories trashed. The only thing that can rival his love for a fresh salted breeze and coastal bend fishing, is his undying hatred for recycled stale air, that has long since been bludgeoned to death by the miracle of central air-conditioning.
Within staying true to his anti-retirement, consistent as the scales of a chameleon philosophy, the first investment he plans on making, after being released during next year’s February, is the easily acquisitioned blanket and jacket. His first stop is the thrift store, where he says he plans to say “thank you” before defiantly fleeing out the glass and steel framed door (7). His second destination will be the local Salvation Army or Good Samaritan, where after asking for a bed and blanket, and once in possession of then acquired blanket, he plans on exclaiming, “fuck your scabies filled bed!” as he quickly proceeds to the nearest fire exit (8).
It seems that sleeping under mesquite and oak trees while fishing his days away in the Gulf of Mexico’s increasingly absent marine biodiversity, is exactly how Donald, age 46, plans on spending the rest of his south Texas anti-retirement (9).
#10126758 AKA Jailbird-J
(1) As much as it may seem I’m joking; the honey-less honeybuns and oatmeal-less oatmeal and raisin cookies are very much real. But to give the producers of such fine gourmet toxics the benefit of a marketing scheme doubt, they do actually state on the package of cookies “oatmeal and raisin flavored (in small print) iced cookies” and the term honey bun is only the common term we inmates and the guards use to refer to the cleverly titled “ICED MONSTER BUNGEZ.” I shit you not.
(2) Nestle brand Nescafe Instant Coffee. Research it if you don’t believe me. Nestle is fucking baby killing swine.
(3) That is, in as much as someone can make choices, locked in chains and under the reign of industrial capitalism.
(4) His actual offense was violating probation by being homeless and publicly intoxicated.
(5) This is an estimation being he reads through at least 5 books a week.
(6) Poetic clarity – for 10 years, his beard without ever trimming has stayed under 2 inches.
(7) Having said this one day jokingly conversing, I suspect just like other lifelong thieves he will walk out the doors more inconspicuously.
(8) This is an event he claims to have already happened on a number of occasions and stating plans to do again.
(9)He actually referred to his homelessness as “retirement” and the “anti-retirement” label was super imposed by me; not only as a poetic scheme but also in an authoritative and illustrative attempt to inspiringly set apart his fuck work – fuck rent mentality from the all too typical and depressing American “me!me!me!” retiree.
(10)So there is no ten and these footnotes had no real intended purpose, except maybe an after the fact notion and explanation of I try to be ridiculous yet maintain an honesty. By “an honesty,” I do not mean objectivity, because fuck all that noise!
Written from the Nueces County Jail
(Transcribed by Charity)