House of Correction

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“I remember making my own dog food and feelling very fulfilled by it, then by day four I was over it.”  Chrissy Teigen

When I was reading Jimmy’s letter and got to the part where he wrote that God had spoken to him, my first thought was, please, don’t do the God part thing on me, not just yet. But, knowing Jimmy, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. It seems that God had answered a prayer of his, and Jimmy noticed, and now he was all in with God.

He was downtown in the Correction Center, in the county jail, for stealing all the lawnmower equipment from the landscaper he had gone to work for. Video cameras caught his every move, and the Cleveland Police caught him. They made out a warrant for him. They dragged him downtown, up the river, to the clink.

The problem he had in jail was that he had become a little squirt. He used to be a big man, but he had been smoking crack for a year, so he had no weight on him anymore. He had stopped working out, so he had no more muscle on him, either.

He had been big guy, but now he was a little twerp. A little tiny twerp in a jail on a floor with forty other guys all bigger than him, pushing him around, and taking his food. The county jail doesn’t give the prisoners an over-abundance of food to begin with, and if it’s being taken away from you, that is not a good thing, not at all. He started praying to God that he needed some more food, any food.

“I need some help,” he prayed. “If you still hear me, help me. If you help me, I promise to turn my life around.”

He got moved to a new cell, a cell all to himself. An inmate approached him, said he could help, and gave him some food, and some extra food, too. Jimmy wrote that it was God’s hand at work.

I wrote him back, nine pages worth of letter writing. The first four pages were all about, fucking asshole, dumb piece of shit, what the fuck is wrong with you? You’re 52 years old! Grow the fuck up! Then I listed all the ways he had screwed me over, lived with us, took our money, and treated me like dirt.

Then I said, now that I’m done yelling at you, since I am a child of God, whatever help you need, I’ll give it to you.

I got a phone call from JJ, who is one of Jimmy’s sons, and he said his father had been trying to call me. But it was from a 0000 number, the kind of number I never pick up. Finally, I picked it up, when I knew where it was coming from.

“Julie?”

“Hi Jimmy.”

They have phones, but they’re not allowed to have phones. They have to have pre-paid cards to use the official phone number from the lockup. He talked and ranted all about life on the inside, even though it wasn’t even close to being a penitentiary.

You don’t get much time to talk, though, maybe about five minutes. When there was a minute left, we started saying our goodbyes. The phone went dead in the middle of a sentence. There wasn’t even a dial tone left behind. Just dead.

He called again the next week. We only had five minutes, so he got right to the point.

“Is Brian with you, is he there?” he asked.

He must have read my letter. I had written, all the stuff we did for you, all we do for you, I do because Brian says I can.  He lets me help you. In return you have been nothing but disrespectful to him. Show him some goddamn respect!

“Is Brian there?”

“He is going to be.”

“I need to apologize to him and to you,” he said.

“You can start with me.”

Another thing I wrote him was that I was going to get him a Bible. Many a man has found God in the slammer. I wrote, I am so glad you talked to God, that is great. Fucking fantastic! But I want to remind you about the argument you and I got into about the seven deadly sins. You said you were right about them, and that maybe I should read my Bible, read up on them.

Are you kidding me?

What book and what passage and what verse are the seven deadly sins in? Can you point that out to me? If you can’t, is that because you have gone the Roman Catholic way?

I knew he was hiding something, and I thought it was the Catholic religion bullshit. Their religion is totally man-made. Period! They don’t even call themselves Christians.

The God I believe in isn’t short on cash. That’s a direct quote from U2’s song, from Bono. Where in the Bible does it say you need incense and stained glass? If you’re a church, you preach the Bible. That’s the whole point. You read it and read it until you love it.

The Catholic Church has been around a long time. Roman Catholics believe they are headed by the Pope, who they think is the mediator between them and God. Finally, the Protestants protested, saying the mediator between man and God was and is Jesus. That’s what the Bible says. Catholics believe crazy things, like the seven sins, that are taught by people who aren’t God. Protestants believe in the teachings of God as they’re taught in the Bible.

I believe the Bible is 100% God-made. There’s no interpretation. Who needs a Pope? If you don’t believe one part of the Bible, then you might as well not believe any part of it. Don’t bother believing something you don’t believe in.

That’s what I believe.

That’s my whole strength. Now that Jimmy has found God, and knowing how much he likes to argue, and get his way, he and I were going to have thrash it out. Although if you’re in jail you thrash on your own time. If you are in jail, you have plenty of time, doing time, so Jimmy was going to have plenty of time to get it right.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

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