Truth Against the World

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Solitary Confinement


I put my utilities on and was escorted to the master at arms shack. They had rounded up four others from berthing. All four of them had been participating in the drinking and gaming. I had been there, watching, and smoking cigarettes, but I wasn't drinking. What mattered was that I was out of my rack past 2200 hrs. That one infraction was enough to earn me a ticket to Captain's Mast, which is more non-judicial punishment, which just means there isn't a lawyer involved. A week or so went by and then it was time to go to the navy's kangaroo court to defend myself against my terrible crime of being found out of my rack past 2200 hours while on restriction.

When I got down to the lair of the ship where the Captain's Kangaroo Court was located there were about 30 of my shipmates standing in formation waiting. There were so many of us, in fact, that the Captain was cycling us through four at a time. I guess they figured we were all guilty of the same thing, being shit bags. They march us in to stand in front of the captain and he read off our charges. All four of us were being charged with drinking and gambling (I was honestly just watching). The captain then asked if we had anything to say. I did. "Sir, I was not drinking or gambling. I was in the shower while all of that was going on (which was a lie, cause I was watching, but they didn't know any different). I was caught returning to my rack." By this point the captain was familiar with me. He no doubt remembered me from my "rainbow chit" and I had been to mast once before upon returning to the boat from being UA and missing ships movement. This was the third time I had been before him for being a shitbag. The captain pointed his finger at me and said "fireman McCarty, you will not win, you will lose, three days bread and water in solitary confinement." I couldn't believe it.

The next thing I knew I was being hand cuffed by a master at arms. I was escorted up to the hanger bay and paraded by the ships crew. I was cuffed with my hands behind my back. There were three master at arms escorting me to berthing where I was to acquire the items on a list under direct supervision. Toothbrush, white t-shirts, skivvies, utilities, socks. Once all of the items were acquired I was escorted off of the ship and into a prison van that was waiting for me. I was driven to naval base Kitsap in Bangor Washington where they have a military penitentiary. The place has maximum security capabilities. That's where they were taking my happy ass. We arrived and I got processed in. I had to strip naked so that prison staff could inspect my body. They even noted where my tattoos and scares were located. I had to bend over and spread my butt cheeks so they could have a look see up my ass hole. I had to take a physical with a physician so that he could verify that my body was fit for three days of bread and water.

I was given five minutes to take a cold shower, and I was informed that it would be the last shower I would receive while there. From there I was taken past the main control center for the prison. There were several halls I could see to my right because the upper walls were made of glass. Through the halls I could see a large area with inmates milling about (general population), and I could also see a circular command and control structure in the center. I was taken into a large room that had lockers and a picnic table in it. The stuff that I had gathered was placed in one of these lockers. I wouldn't see that stuff until I left, so I don't know why they had me gather it. Before they stuffed me in the cell they took my belt and my boot laces. They didn't want me opting out. I guess they had a problem with people on bread and water killing themselves in the past. There were four cells in this room all adjacent to one another. I had one other guy to the left and two to my right. There were already two prisoners present. Me and another guy that was awarded solitary from that night would be filling up their solitary capabilities.

I was shuffled into the small cell and quickly shown around. The guard with the duty of acclimating me to my new home said, "There's the sink with a styrofoam cup for drinking tap water, the overhead fluorescent stays on 24 hours a day. You are not allowed to lay on the bed until 2200 hrs, you can sit on it. You are not allowed to cover your head while sleeping. We will be by three times a day to give you your bread. Here is your reading material." He handed me a copy of the prisons "rules and regulations." "Any questions?" I just looked at him until he decided to close the door, lock it, and leave. There was a sink, a toilet, a metal rack with a very thin cushion, a thin military wool blanket, a feather pillow, a window that was about two inches wide by three feet long that I could see through by getting on my tip toes on the rack (which was not allowed, and would have gotten me a couple more days of solitary if caught), and the door to the cell that had a slit in it big enough to pass a loaf of bread through with a window that was about a foot square. I had three days and three nights to go.

I learned what it was like to be locked away by the machine while I was in that cell. I knew that it was only for a short period of time. I knew that it would pass, and I would eventually be free from this nightmare that the navy had become for me. I was angry about why I was in that cell. It did not feel justified to me to have to endure three days of solitary confinement bread and water style over such a small infraction. The Captain was using me as an example to all would be restrictee offenders. He had grown to not like me for obvious reasons. I was 22 years old. I decided that I would make the best of it and treat this like training for monastery life. I sat down on the bed and began meditating. I could meditate for an hour or two at a time before needing to get up and move around a bit. Eventually I learned that I could hear the door to the outer room open and shut when the guard would enter to check on us. It was a very faint sound, and I had to stand at the window and watch the guard to identify it. Once I knew the sound, I knew when I was not being watched. I would lay on the bed for hours and try to keep a feather suspended in the air as long as possible by blowing up in it's direction. Time slowed to a grinding halt and it seemed like I would never get out of there.

Sleeping was difficult because the fluorescent light was just above my rack. Three times a day they would come by and give me a white loaf of bread through the door and allow me fifteen minutes to eat as much of it as I wanted. They give you a choice between white and wheat. I chose wheat and they gave me white. I confronted the guard about it and he said "sure enough, you did ask for wheat...you want this white bread or not?" I think it was just more psychological games. I would roll the slices of bread up as tightly as possible and make gooey bread sticks out of them. Keep in mind that they fed their best servicemen food that had "not fit for human consumption, prisoner and military use only" stamped on the box. This wasn't your grandma's homemade bread. One can only eat so much white bread no matter how hungry one is. I would eat about seven to eight slices per feeding before I would no longer want to eat. Sometimes I didn't eat at all. I didn't shit for weeks after I got out of there.

At one point the dude in the cell next to me lost his mind. He started screaming and yelling wildly and would not shut up. I also remember that he was singing songs from Pink Floyd's "The Wall." This got the other two inmates screaming for him to shut the hell up. It sounded like a bunch of wild rabid zombie chimpanzees. I think the dude losing his mind was in there bashing his head against the walls. At least that's what I assume those dull thumps I heard were. His name was Guideon, and he was on restriction with me, but he had more time to do then I did. I saw them cart him off to somewhere. He was fighting and thrashing against the guards to no avail. There was blood present. I don't know what happened to him, but I never saw him or heard from him again. There is no telling what happened to him. They kept us in line by threatening more solitary confinement. They made it clear that if you were caught breaking any of the rules you would have weeks and months tacked on. We were informed that there was no limit to the amount of time they would keep us locked up if we did not behave. That's how they kept us in line. Knowing Guideon's stupid ass, he's probably still in that fucking prison in solitary confinement.

This was the climax for me in the Navy. This was my most precious and deep message. I was lucky to learn it as easily as I did. I now know what it is to be locked away by the defenders of our hologram. I experienced the tyranny that is perpetuated by one man at a time. I saw it in the way the guards looked at me and in the tones of their voices. I experienced it as the beginning level of the depravity that they were more than happy to perpetuate for me. It was an environment where nobody cared about you in the least. They really did not care if I rotted my life away in that cell. There was no compassion to be had anywhere in that place. My family had no idea I was in that cell. The feeling was that I could be left to rot, and my family would just wonder what had become of me. I'm sure the navy would have just told them that there was a training accident. That's what it's like in the military. My stay in that brig was a very surreal experience of what the military industrial complex considers a person. We are numbers, nothing more, and nothing less. I know this in my bones now.



6 comments:

Jason Heppenstall said...

Whoa - that's a powerful post. Before the end I half expected them to come in with the face eating rats.

Seems to me you got a pretty good lesson, as you say. I'd warrant it would be impossible to go through such an ordeal and be able to fit right back into 'normal' civilian life.

Thanks for sharing it.

Luciddreams said...

you know Jason, I've never looked at it like that, but then I've never fit into normal civilian life. Not before or after the navy.

I see it as a taste of prison life, just a small taste. Yet that's all I need is a taste.

At least I didn't have to worry about Debo and his prison gay needs, or gettin' shanked, or prison gangs, or any of the other stuff that comes along with long term sentences in prison. I just don't want people thinkin' that I think I'm all "hard" now because of that experience.

At the same time I'm not going to downplay how powerful of an experience it was for me. It has also had a large impact on who I am now.

Justin Wade said...

These stories begin to make sense for me how bone deep your belief in the natural ordering of rigid hierarchy is. For all anyone's talk, you experienced being put in a cage for not taking orders or backing down.

My experience is more primitive, I once got beaten by a mob of my teenage peers (12-13ys), more or less, for saying that I was not afraid of an athletically gifted classmate. The primary beater was said classmate. We had been friends once as elementary students and stayed over at each others houses playing games.

In my case, my only offense was similar to yours. Refusing o back down on a point. I took my beating standing up with m arms at my sides, and towards the end I started grinning. This broke the spell and the crowd dispersed.

Fortunately we were just kids, so we could do no real damage to each other, flesh wound type stuff and tissue bruising. It took about a weak to heal, and I don't recall having a sense of smell or much taste for the rest of my life.

It looks the same in anarchy as hierarchy only from the perspective of hierarchy because hierarchy considers a mob of people beating someone senselessly the root definition of anarchy.
From the perspective of anarchy, being calm and unaccommodating is a form of resistance that ultimately works strategically no matter what the short term, tactical losses. As a long term strategy, setting an example of being calm and unaccommodating to others is a net gain. Everyone who saw what you went through learned something from that may help them be calm and unaccommodating in their own struggles. Calm and unaccommodating is healthier from a social perspective than calm and aggressive, of any mode of frantic aggressive-passive behavior. The worst example is to be frantic or calm and passive. Calm and passive people end up being led by the nose and want to talk endlessly for days on end rather than take action, like go to the brig, or stand your ground.

Yesterday I spent my entire day stone still as a statue meditating in a place of unfinished business. In not making a noise or movement, I did not disrupt their business or interfere with their other customers by making any sounds or motion. When queried, I only insisted that the person who could resolve the matter be brought before me.

It wasn't a terrible day by any means, I had no idea I could meditate like that. The four hours felt like a 30 minute visual dream, but I remember in detail almost every aural interaction.

I'll spare you the details. Make good time.

Justin Wade said...

That was kind of belaboring the point, which is that no matter what the ideology, the solution is the same. Face your fears. Face them calmly and with a calculating mind that determines how you should be behaving. The best way to face them is to put yourself in whatever circumstances you think you should fear and thinking your way out.

I think I am going blind, I finally told my wife last night. I am not afraid of the outcome, part of me is excited because my hearing is sharpening and I think maybe now I want to get into music instead of painting or writing. The other part of me is a baby, but he's only the guy that I remember zombie marching through life in moments of awakening. Useful when hitting a punching bag or digging a garden, but his tastes are otherwise questionable. I mean, have you seen his paintings?

Luciddreams said...

Justin, I've looked at your shotwell gallery. I wish I had some insight for you, but I'm no painter, and I never studied it either. What I can say is that there's no way in hell I could draw or paint any of the stuff you have.

Going blind? Man, that really sucks, but it sounds like you are accepting it well if it's true. What makes you think you are going blind?

William Hunter Duncan said...

Luciddreams,

Thank you for sharing. You might check out the blog Pro Libertate, by William Grigg, for some solidarity, in terms of the...well you know. What again, is the meaning of apocalypse, but a lifting of the veil?