The man woke in the dark like he always did. He had been dreaming. This time he had been a bird. Freedom. Corrections officers were loud out on the pod. He turned on his side and listened for a moment. He knew that it was probably close to morning but it was hard to tell in here. There was a small gash of plexiglass close to the ceiling which let in light. The walls outside were massive and blocked virtually all sunlight from reaching them anyway. He didn’t know. He didn’t care. His cell mate snored away above him. Reaching over beside the thin mattress, he pulled out his penlight and the skateboard magazine that he had traded contraband for. He glanced at the glossy cover. He thumbed through it and was pretty stoked. “Whoa!” He had turned the page to a pool article. “This Jimmy Wilkins is ripping!” He paged through and saw other photographs that made him feel like he was back in a better time.
He had finally got his hands on a different skateboard magazine about five years earlier. Thrasher. TransWorld. He didn’t recall the name. It was lame. All he saw were a bunch of kooks falling down stairs. The magazines seemed to be bending over for the advertisers. Whatever. It wasn’t skating to him. He had rode almost every day before he was placed in here. He remembered the golden times. The money. Endless boxes of product. Autographs. Women… He remembered a girl pulling him by his hand underneath a contest ramp to an isolated spot. She just smiled and knelt down. She said his name as she unzipped his shorts. “Gator” He recalled those times in his life often and let his mind soar outside of the confining walls he lived in. He heard his cell mate still snoring and jerked off into his pillow. He was a freak then and he was a freak now. Back then, no one knew. He wore his mask well. Leaning on one arm, he paged through the magazine again. It was full of awesome stories and great pool and pipe photographs. It was soulful and real. He chuckled as he came upon a photograph of someone he recognized. Owen Neider. They had rode at Del Mar together all those long years ago. It briefly made him happy that some of the old crew were still ripping.
He soon heard the Corrections staff opening the pod and getting the inmates ready for breakfast. The prison was dangerous. It was full of every race and culture. It was no melting pot though. He smirked to himself. It was more of a garden salad. The cucumbers stayed with the cucumbers. The black olives stayed with the black olives. The iceberg lettuce remained with its own kind and although they may lay on top each other from time to time exchanging juices, their flavors never mingled. It was an odd and joyless world. Persistent pain.
He looked away from the magazine. Jessica. He thought of her from time to time. She was the one white-hot incandescent spot that burned in his brain and made his nights sweat-soaked and sleepless. Jessica. His association with her had put him in here. This was what he told himself when he thought of the horror of a human being that he became. The moment he choked her, the line blurred. He wiped a small tear that threatened to spill from the corner of his eye. It wasn’t for her. He didn’t operate like that. He was wallowing. He only thought of himself. People were objects and she was the one smudge of his pathetic past that he couldn’t wipe away. It reappeared every day. Cursed. Failure. If he could be honest for one second in his life, he would know how he deserved his suffering. Thanks to MRZ for the images. Skate – Ozzie