Prison bars

A Brief Visit to San Dominick

By Maurice Carlos Ruffin on May 10, 2016

San Dominick beats the other penitentiaries on my route because even though it’s crammed full of the worst element of the great State of Louisiana a man can get a decent slice of chiffon cake for the road. Plus, Warden Aranda is a master. Knows how to break a spade’s will without soiling his own pinstripes. Some of the other vendors call him the Ape Whisperer. Me? I deliver salt for the grits, sauce for the meatloaf, and icing for the cake. Despite what wrinkles the Good Lord throws in my path, I iron them out and make my drops.

The roads are mostly impassable from Hurricane Omoo a few days past. My wife, Grace, is madder than a stepped-on skunk that I’m out with Junior among the fallen branches and tender road kill. They say there’s a second hurricane coming, but here I am in full color. Junior needs a new pair of glasses.

A black raises the kitchen’s overhead door, pulling the chain hand over hand. The room floods with dull, gray light. Thunder rolls from the south. Some other inmates behind the prep counter wave at me. Another scuttles around clearing away empty boxes and God knows what else since my eyes ain’t adjusted to the dimness. These empty boxes make my cavities squeal. Too many spots to hide things in a place where nothing should go unaccounted for. These people will make a killing device out of just about anything, if you don’t watch them. Whittle a mop handle down to a spear. Make a blowgun and darts from a straw and sharpened Tic Tacs. Rework a kiddie book cover into a paper blade and shank you with Tintin in the Congo [...]

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