Between 11:30 AM and about 3:00 PM, the guards brought in five other guys. Two of these were as rustic as I had ever been in prolonged contact with. The third was a one-time jock derailed by drug addiction. The fourth was an obviously seasoned con from Newark and the fifth was a teen surfer from out west. The new arrivals plus the four already there made 9 souls crammed into that oddly shaped cell. There we were: Northampton County’s own Breakfast Club, less the pretty girls, pop tunes and funny clothes.
The Newark kid (“Newark”) had already spent some time in the jail and was dumped in the bullpen to await transfer to another facility. Out of jail house courtesy, he gave the rest of us a rundown on this joint’s inner workings. As jails go, he didn’t reveal anything earth shattering, but it was good to know what to expect.
It turns out that the jail has a relatively new annex. Newark told us that the annex was the place to be in summer because temperatures on the top tier of the main gallery seldom dip below 85º. ¡No bueno!
Alas, Newark’s ride came before the guards delivered lunch so we were denied the chance to break bread. Nevertheless, he left us with a warning that we shouldn’t get our hopes up about chow. Newark didn’t discuss why he was locked up, but he definitely wasn’t guilty of lying about the food! OMG!
A C.O. wheeled down the hall a utility cart laiden with styrofoam containers. My cellies seemed excited about this. I was hungry, too, but as much as those trays looked like Applebee’s takeout, I so knew better!
The Coffee Man? I cannot post much of what he said about anything, much less the food, but he let the C.O. have it for keeping us waiting so long. Then he demanded a cup of coffee.
The delivery C.O. was young and inexperienced. He wasn’t intimidated by Coffee Man’s challenge, but he seemed a tad embarrassed that the food hadn’t arrived sooner. He opened the gate and grinned sheepishly as he handed out trays as quickly as guys could grab them. Coffee Man opened his tray and, with a look of mock astonishment, exclaimed “What the ____?”
Coffee Man shouted at the C.O. a stream of expletives occasionally broken by a noun or verb. I laughed so hard, I almost dropped my tray. The cell was transformed into an echo chamber by the laughter of several men bouncing off the walls. When I regained enough composure to open the tray, I beheld some sort of patty that superficially resembled meat, a brown, liquidy substance that could have been gravy or pudding, an ambiguous block of yellow cake or cornbread, a huge helping of gray rice and a portion of dry, unseasoned sweet peas. At least they threw in an apple for good measure.
As I’ve written, it was good to know what to expect.
Beggars can’t be choosy. I had only eaten a banana that morning before the hearing. I scarfed that stuff down as if Gordon Ramsay himself grilled it up in front of us hibachi style. Oddly enough, they brought nothing to drink. As one might expect, this did not please Coffee Man, and God did the C.O.s hear about it!
Excuse me…I’m not finished.