Authors: Kimber S. Dawn
The last poignant visual of the past seven years I’ve lived can be reflected in what I saw on my last night within the gates of Bill Clements.
What landed me in that little facility called a maximum security prison in Amarillo, Texas? Don’t worry. We’ll get to that.
I’d worked in a program called PAMIO, or
Program for Aggressive Mentally Ill Offenders.
I still don’t know exactly what my job description entailed—all I knew was they called me an SSI. And no, I don’t know what that shit stands for either.
I was just there to serve my time, not make friends or call the place home.
Anyway—I'd just finished my shift where it was my job to clean up behind all the crazy as fuck people who were locked up in West Texas. And I was headed from what us inmates called the shoo. In reality, the shoo is just an old SSI closet where they let the trustees from ad seg,
or general population,
change clothes or take a piss during our shifts.
However, it was the only place in the maximum security prison I could call home. Mainly, because it provided privacy.
I went there to unwind. And breathe.
I went there just to get out of my own head sometimes.
The last night I was there, which just so happened to be
night, I'd wrapped up last call, straightened up the shoo, and locked up the last ward of Texas's criminally and mentally insane. After I clocked out, I stepped outside into the frigid Amarillo night air and lit up my last cigarette when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.
I only had seventeen more hours to serve. Seven-fucking-teen.
This guy’s name was Robby.
I stood, stuck in place and watched him from the grounds outside his cell, and I couldn’t help it. I could
Morbid curiosity is a bitch, but it’s human, too. Keep that in mind.
Robby was mentally insane, of course, they were all fucking mentally insane.
criminals. But of all the other inmates I worked around or with, I’d felt a connection with Robby.
Every time our eyes locked, it felt like I was seeing an old friend again.
Needless to say, I blamed that connection on my being stuck last night.
I blame that connection for doing nothing, while witnessing another man die.
Over the last months, hell—it’d almost been a year since he was transferred here—I’d basically watched Robby starve himself to death. The guy probably weighed two-ten when he shuffled into Bill Clements gates shackled at his hands and feet eleven months ago. But the same man who stood in front of me last night at six-feet-two, couldn’t have fucking weighed a hundred pounds.
And as I stood, stuck, on the perfectly manicured grounds outside his cell, I watched as he slit his wrists with a razor and an eerie calm settled over me the further up his arms he cut.
Then, he took his smock—yes, I said smock. And no, I’m not kidding. They didn’t trust the PAMIO inmates with anything.
Shoestrings. Sheets. Clothes.
Because this guy had been diagnosed with suicide tendencies, related to self-deprivation of food or starvation, he was sentenced to spend time in PAMIO, a 390-bed facility located at the William P. Clements, Jr. Facility in Amarillo, Texas where he was given a paper smock. The kind you wear at the dentist when they’re cleaning your teeth—and nothing else.
Let me say this a little clearer, he was given nothing else
Now I, like everyone else in this god-forsaken place, knew that you could purchase a razor blade for the bargain price of seven stamps. Hell, you could probably purchase a fucking kidney for the right amount of stamps.
So this kid, this Robby, he probably got the razor with some stamps, and the smock when he was processed in at BC-PAMIO for seventy-two hours to seven days.
The smock was the trust he didn’t possess.
Either way, between the smock he shoved down his throat and the razor blade he slit his arms with from wrist to armpit, Robby, or PAMIO inmate number 12567, did get the job done.
And as the other SSI trustees had attempted to resuscitate, called the time of death, and hosed his cell clean…I finished my last cigarette and headed back to my cell.
It’s fucked up, Idn’t?
But on a fundamental level, we’re all beasts. Mind fucked. You either live or die. Especially when you’re in places like Bill fucking Clements. And when you’re ready to die? The fucking chances are you will.
And that’s all I’m taking from my time there. That knowledge.
Then, seventeen hours later...this world was mine. Again.
My oyster. Mine. And I’ll do with it what I will.
Because, I've paid my fucking time.
I have paid my goddamn time.
And now that I have, it's time Travis fucking Jackson paid his.
Travis was a sophomore when I was a senior. And I’m not sure how he even found his way into that New Year’s eve party my twelfth grade year, but he did. And he was loaded down with any and every party favor and cocktail you could imagine.
He was a regular, a fixture, at every party from then on.
It honestly took me a while to warm up to the cocky little bastard, but after one night I stopped some punks who were kicking his ass, I loaded him in my car and took him home. And I don’t know, he sort of started looking up to me, I guess. Because everywhere I went from that night on, and I mean everywhere, there he was.
The kid reminded me of a puppy.
And no one can be shitty to a puppy.
So I let the fucker tag along, and we were friends.
Close friends. Hell, more than best friends, we became brothers.
Then I found out about Ma.
I had to leave New York when I was in my early twenties because my mom fell ill.
Fucking breast cancer.
See, the summer between my eighth and ninth grade year, mom and dad decided they wanted my high school diploma to have a little more merit than a public school diploma from Pittsburg would, so I moved from my mom’s to New York with my pops on my fourteenth birthday.
My father, Michael Bennett the third, was pretty well off before he married ma and they had me. He liked money, and he loved to spend it. He also was raised to believe in pre-numps. And ma…well, ma believed no one should live in excess.
“If you have it, good for you. But don’t flaunt it,” she’d say when I was little.
That didn’t work so well with my ostentatious father, however, it worked out perfectly for his pre-nump happy parents. And because of my mother’s impeccable ability to live easily within her means, she never had to work a day in her life. Both as Mrs. Bennett and after, my father made sure of it. He never let me or my little sister, Scarlett go without.
My mother also, obviously, loved the movie Gone With the Wind. Hence, mine and my sister’s name.
Anyway, the point is: Life at Dad’s was extravagant, life at Ma’s was not. It was very simple.
I’d been dating Summer Jackson since right around the time Trav and I’d started hanging out.
Sweet girl. Fucking great tits.
But too prissy. And way too needy.
She just wasn’t for me, okay?
I kept her around for the same reasons I kept her puppy brother around, because neither of them knew when it was time to go home and they were always fucking there.
But that’s neither here nor there. My apologies—back to the story.
By the time I moved back to Ma’s, we, Travis, Summer, and I—we were damn near family. I saw Summer almost as a sister at that point, and I’d been seeing Trav as my younger,
irritating as fuck
Mr. Jackson had always liked me. He liked that I was the starting quarterback for the varsity team, he liked that my GPA never dropped below a four-point-0, and he liked that I abided the curfew he had set for his daughter when she was with me. But I think what he liked most about me, was that I worked my ass off for him from the time I was fifteen till I had to move back to Pittsburg at twenty-two.
From secretarial bullshit, to hanging walls and piecing together cubicles, to pitching and landing some of his firm’s, still to this day, biggest clients. I helped build Jackson’s first little office off Wall Street.
Fuck, before I tutored for my series seven, I was landing some of
biggest recorded clients for the Jackson firm.
And I put my right hand to the Lord as soon as that damn plane landed in Pittsburg and I stepped off of it, all of that fucking died. Everything that I’d done for that family, all the blood, all the sweat, and all the tears, fell on silent witnesses and the entire family tree that had sprouted up from simple insistency, consisting of Trav, Summer, and Henry Jackson, wilted to shit.
I’d left my fingerprints on everything. Fucking emails, documents, accounts—both bank and client accounts.
The amount of money exchanged and the frequency of those transactions taking place under that building’s roof on any given day, was utterly absurd.
It was bull market and I had my PA, I knew money.
I also knew Mr. Jackson knew money. Now how much and from how many different businesses and private buyers he dealt with on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t know.
So when he told me to deposit or make a transaction, I did.
On paper, everything always checked out.
Everything. Always. Checked out.
I was a fucking kid, and these people were my fucking family. I didn’t think trust was an issue with someone I’d spent almost every day of the last seven years of my life with.
Now? Now, I know just how little time seven years really is in a lifetime.
And my little seven years between fifteen and twenty-two years old, didn’t mean shit to a fifty year old man who was finally on his way to the top.
So I landed in Pittsburg, finished my masters and successfully completed my series seven, while caring for my dying mother, and around the time I was able to finally say I was a
stock exchange broker, I regretfully had to lay her to rest.
I’d just started sending my resumes to a few firms I had my eye on and made the appropriate connections to guarantee an interview when my life went to hell and time stopped.
On the day I had my first interview, I was in Dallas when I got a text from Scarlett telling me that Travis had called and told her the authorities had taken his father in.
One year later, with Henry Jackson’s army of attorney’s on one side of the court room, and my father’s on the other, the judge ruled.
And it was not in my favor.
Because of my lack of knowledge and young age, the insider tracking that was found to being practiced at Jackson’s Agency-NY, was placed on me.
Either the old man was that bad at insider stock exchange, or that good at covering it up by using a kid as his scapegoat. And with Travis and Summer standing side by side with their father, I was the only odd man out.
And I paid the price.
Not only for my stupidity, but because I trusted someone. A friend.
A fucking wasted youth, to be precise.
Wasted for many reasons, but the one that will haunt me the longest, even more, now that I’m out, is my sister.
I’d hardly made it into seg, much less out of New York, when I got a cryptic message on JayPay from Travis with nothing but five cryptic words written.
‘A sister for a sister.’—T.
And I had no idea what the fuck his words meant. Not for the longest. And when I finally did, God did I hope that I was wrong.
But I wasn’t, and all I could do was watch from afar as my old life unraveled and fell apart. I bitched at my father, demanding him to make them to stop seeing each other, and he tried. He did.
Just not enough. Because, it didn’t work.
No one could do enough, though. Not with Mom gone.