4 steps. That’s all it took to walk the diagonal of my cell. 4 steps. If I leaned the wafer thin mattress against the wall that gave me enough room to walk those 4 steps without stepping on my mattress. Each morning it was an adventure when I flipped it on its end. Bed bugs and other creatures of the nearly microscopic world would race for the warmth and darkness that had once been their home. I spent the first 2 months in solitary trying to kill as many of them as I could. It seemed for every roach I crushed beneath my heel, 2 more would take its place the next night. After 6 months I began to supplement my diet with them. Twas only fair. They fed on me during the night and I fed on them during the day.

9 month, I think it was nine months of my captivity the new guards arrived. He replaced the short balding moron who only opened the door long enough to let the trustee replace the tin plate of food and exchange my shit bucket. Neither the moron nor the trustee ever said a word and never made eye contact. First I asked questions like ‘what’s going on?’ ‘Why am I here?” What did I do to deserve this?”then I started to yell at them – calling them the vilest and most disgusting names I could think of. All that got me was a second padlock on the iron bars. Now the new guard started doing the rounds with the trustee. He had a limp, like his left knee was asleep so he had to swing his hip around to get his leg to catch up.

A week ago we made eye contact. For a half second we locked gazes. He has the deepest black eyes, like pools of oil, shimmering in the full moon. I knew that was a signal of some kind! Actual human to human contact and it only took 9 months, or maybe it was a year. 6 months maybe. But it was a step in the right direction. After that, I began to save a roach or two every night and put them in the far corner of my cell. The dim light from the corridor lights never shown in this corner. I could have hidden a body there and no one would be the wiser.

If only I had a body.

I don’t know what went wrong! Limpy looked at me again. That’s when I jumped up from the center of my cell and dove for the dark corner and scooped up a handful of roaches. I rushed to the open cell door and shouted ‘Here! Have some! They’re for you! A gift from me to say thank ….” He was startled and leapt backward hitting his head against the far concrete wall as if he were a dancer. So light and quick on his feet. The trustee slapped my hands and the roaches went flying everywhere. I found one in my hair.It’s so hard to understand what’s happened to me and why Limpy was so afraid of my roaches. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe he doesn’t like dead roaches. Next time I give him a few roaches I’ll make sure they’re all alive.

There are now 3 padlocks on my door. Top, middle and bottom.

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