As it turns out, I didn’t get to see, smell or feel the cold of that 1970 winter season in Montreal.
My escorts brought me straight to another underground parking, through a door of some sort and down the longest corridor I ever remember walking.
The whole arrival is hazy and sketchy, the bits and pieces that come to mind are so miniscule I doubt the reality of them. The next clear memory is entering what would be my home for the next 5 or 6 months.
Immediately to my left after stepping through double doors was a row of cells. That very first cell was occupied by a girl who was on the floor, long hair tangled and curtaining her face. She was pressing that face into the “decorative” iron-worked bars of her cell. Screaming obscenities and shaking her fist, sounding weirdly like some kind of wild creature I had no name for, I quickly realized she was directing it all at me. “Fucking mental case. She didn’t even know me, barely even saw me…how could she have so much hate for me?” these thoughts filled my mind so I was distracted from taking in all that I could. My ADD mind could not filter out the hostility coming from her direction AND notice the rest of what was happening in that space. I remember a wall of windows further down and a sharp corner leading to another type of hallway that I later found out led to another row of cells.
I sure remember my “new room”! My little cell was 8′ X 6′. At the very back was another “bed” which was really just a board attached to the wall with a mattress thrown on top of it. It didn’t smell of piss though.
On my right there was nothing…empty wall, empty space. To my left was a floor to ceiling row of skinny enclosed shelves which housed what appeared to be clothes, a pillow, bedding, popsicle sticks and Elmer’s non-toxic white glue. Super. I get craft time.
Next to the shelving unit was another board attached to the wall, made to look like a desk. Plastic trash can underneath. Flimsy excuse for a chair as well. Stuck on the wall above the desk was a strange type of reflective thing which was “the mirror”. Unbreakable. Distorted face looking back at me when I saw myself.
Nothing sharp. Nothing breakable. Nothing. Nothing. NOthing. SHIT. I was in trouble.
Ordered to change into the jumpsuit which was my clothing for the time I was there. I had to pass my clothes through the bars of my cell and someone took them eventually. I never saw who.
Terse orders, clipped tone, no-nonsense type of bland face I would not recognize today. Every adult from that time fits this description. Fact of the matter is, I would not recognize a single solitary person from that time…not the guards, not the policemen, not the judges, not the inmates nor our keepers. No one face has remained in my memory bank to retrieve. That whole time periodis a blur of sorts, blank holes with the odd event happening here and there. Just one long stretch of empty time. My mind slipped into unconsciousness, where it remained for another couple of years. All that boringness put the brakes on my ADD mind. Halting any type of mind function I was little more than a zombie.
Anyway, I got changed into the hideous clothes, put the sheets on the bed, stuffed my clothes and shoes through the bars of my cell, laid myself down on the bed. I was surprised to find something in the waistband of my jeans and happy to see it was a couple of smokes with a piece of matchbook. Hot damn. At least I could smoke eventually. Did I fall asleep? Lie awake? Go to the bathroom? Eat supper? I don’t know. Eventually, whether it be hours or days later, I was taken to the bathroom by the guards along with the other girls. Turned out to be quite the event.
Our heads down slightly, not even bothering to look left or right, I was marched down a hallway to the large communal washrooms. Painted dark grey cement walls and floors, showers along one side of the room, toilets with no doors along the other side of the room and the far wall between the two were sinks with real mirrors. Did my business and didn’t give a damn about the lack of privacy. It had been forever since I’d been to the bathroom! Went to wash my hands and was given a toothbrush with toothpaste on it. Shrugging, I brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face and was just looking up into the mirror when someone grabbed my hair from behind and yanked hard. Son of a bitch! I threw my head back faster than that person could pull so that the back of my head met quickly with someones face. Turned out it was that “wild girl with the crazy hair” who had taken such an instant dislike to me. Over in an instant thanks to the alert guards, I still managed to get a look at her face. Hatred is ugly. She was ugly. Distorted face in a sneer, animal like look in her eyes, hair all over the place, blood running down her nose…did I do that?…ugh…she needed to be put down. She was the same height and size as me except her arms were thicker than my stick arms.
I was quickly taken back to my cell. And I never had to use the washroom with all the other girls again. After that, I had one guard bringing me to the washroom when it was empty. I peed and showered alone. Whatever.
My next outing was a recreational event. Same line formation except this time there was a lot of chattering by the girls. Other than me, everybody was talking. We were taken to a room that had 2 bowling lanes. Divided into groups of 4 per team, with the “good” girls setting the pins for those of us throwing the balls. The good girls were the ones that were following all the rules, participating in everything and enjoying certain privileges the rest of us were supposed to aspire to. What…..ever.
I never got to throw a ball. A screech pierced the air, echoing in my mind for quite some time after that day, the “wild crazy thing” was at me again and this time she had a weapon…a heavy freakin’ bowling ball! Thank you stupid lady guard for stepping in front of me and taking the blow. Again, I was the one brought back to my cell.
One more time I was allowed to participate in a communal event. They took us swimming. “Wild crazy thing” jumped on my head and tried to drown me almost as soon as I was in the water. She swallowed a lot more water than I did. I never saw her again. I never saw anyone again really. I was kept apart from all other inmates, confined to my cell for the rest of my stay except for when they decided I needed to use the washroom and wash myself. That 8 X 6 space became my world for a very long time. ADD + boredom + inactivity = complete mental shutdown.
I still had not spoken to anyone. Not one word. Not one sound. I asked no questions and I did not answer any questions.
I was stilled.