The Man Who Loved Jail

Around my twentieth birthday life became a series of incredible events. Perhaps in retrospect it has never ended. I was living on my own with other guys in houses where partying was the rule and bars were meant to be closed. I had started reading Eastern mysticism and was heavy into music after years of boredom in school. It seemed like the world was much more interesting in every aspect of life’s potentials. I wasn’t making much money as an apprentice accountant but I was getting lots of parking tickets. I had just met a woman seven years my senior by the name of Myrna, when I went to the Don Jail for my second visit that year. The policeman asked me if I’d like him to take me in Friday late, so they would have to let me out the same night.

“No, I loved it the last time. I learned more in two days in jail than a whole year in school. But thanks a lot; I do appreciate your kindness.”

“You are definitely different!”

“So are you!”

Myrna had gone to California to spend three weeks vacation with a Salvation Army Major friend of hers and their family. We had not really made love and her divorce was being finalized, so I had time on my hands. The week before I went to jail, a really freaky thing happened when I went to a party in Clarkson. It was a hundred miles from Myrna’s home in Bay Ridges. I had been at her Bay Ridges home with her before she moved. I walked into this bachelor pad and saw Myrna’s collage hanging on the wall. I pointed to it and told my friend Joe; “That looks just like Myrna’s.”

Under the picture was seated a man who gave me a glare and I suddenly realized it was her husband Jim. She had told me he was a violent man and that she had been afraid he might use his shotgun if he had caught us when we were at her house. It was such a co-incidence I couldn’t believe it. I went to Barry Cunningham who was living there and he started to tell me about it before I even asked.

“Does he know?” I asked before deciding to stay.

“Not yet. He is a bit of a hot head… This is pretty ‘far out’, eh Bob? He’ll never believe a kid like you is with Myrna. Frankly it is a little hard for the rest of us to figure out too.”

Barry enjoyed making fun of me, but never really believed anything I said, so I had learned to smile and shine him on.

My first time in jail had included frank discussions with some very diverse people. The prison was totally full and I was put in the hospital ward with 31 other people. One of them was on his way to the ‘big house’ for his second murder. Another was a professional thief in his early forties who had spent most of his life in prison, but enjoyed it. He was extremely fit and worked out all the time in prison. His philosophy was he could steal a lot of money when he was out, and take good care of his family who had a nice home. With no education and free food and board in jail every couple of years he thought he was doing better than most. He never hurt anyone and figured the people he stole from had insurance. Another man discussed how he had turned into a homosexual because he wasn’t able to handle the pressure of pleasing a woman. I told him that it sure would be good if sexual dynamics were taught to everyone. My own experience was close to non-existent but I knew I would be a good lover. However, Myrna had told me on the night she left when I tried to please her that I hadn’t succeeded. She was averse to cunnilingus and I was certain it would get better, but I couldn’t really help him out. Everyone loved to tell me their life stories and this perturbed a younger guy who was in for two months on a drug possession charge. He was the ward trusty and had a knife. He came at me brandishing the knife while the other guys were teaching me bridge.

The murderer stood up and glowered at the thin young man as he advanced towards me. “You! Stay in the corner or lose your life!”

It was amusing to see this man who was older than me cower and shiver in the corner until dinner. He never really recovered during the rest of the time I was there. Another man who no one ever talked to was kept drugged. He was a big black person with muscles like a football player. His case was something everyone else talked about though.

It had taken nine guards to subdue him one time when he was conscious. I was told he threw them off his back like they were little kids. His mind apparently operated in a high hormone state. He also was a sleepwalker. Late on the first day, a man was brought in to the ward who had just returned from Venezuela. He had loaned his car to a friend who had left him with about $400 worth of tickets. He was a professional man who feared everyone else there and stuck close to me. I was about six foot and two hundred and ten pounds with a good physique. His reasons were numerous, and fear would have been his companion regardless of where he was. He stayed on the bunk above me. As we went to sleep the black man got up and came directly to him. I think fear is something animals and people alike can sense. When I woke just before sun-up the man who had been in the bunk above me was gone. Everyone had a good laugh thinking about how he had rattled the bars and paid his way out, rather than deal with the sleepwalker who was reportedly gay.

The second time I was in the ‘Don’ turned out to be one of the most important events in my life. I was shown into a cell with about twelve single beds and no bunk beds. The prison pipes were alive with the news of my return. It is nice to be remembered but sad that so many people find it necessary to spend so much time in jail. The truth is that jail is safer than the shelters and more interesting than the group homes. Stealing something for throwing a brick through a store window and taking something you need often doesn’t result in jail. Sometimes it leads to having money to get drunk with your friends or better things. They don’t seek to put drugs down your throat or alienate you with religious dogma and/or analyze you to see if they can make you part of a drug program that removes your libido and zest for life either. Some prisoners and ‘street people’ are actually smart enough to see that this benefits some rich drug pushers in the psychiatric and drug complex too.

I found that people in jail like to be treated with respect and know that their opinion is valued and they can teach smart young ‘yuppies’ too. If there is one key word in relationships, I was learning that might be RESPECT! No one tries to force someone to do something they don’t want to do when they share respect, I think. It made me learn a lot about sales and how to become close to new people as well. Fear was definitely the opposite ingredient. I don’t know how many people in the supposed real world have as high an ethical or ‘brotherhood’ component as these friends I made in jail. I even began to wonder if I was in the ‘big house’ whether I would be able to charm enough people to make it so that I wouldn’t have had to offer up my anal virginity or worse. Fortunately my life hasn’t made this point clear to me yet.

As I walked to the bed that was to be mine I noticed a book on the floor. It was a compendium of existentialist authors! Sometimes I would answer the often asked question ‘What religion are you?’ with the high sounding phrase ‘I’m a French Atheistical Existentialist.’ during this time in my life. I definitely wasn’t into some man-made or projected GOD! They call this anthropomorphing in some academic circles. I was surprised to see this book along with some other intellectual books on the floor of the bed next to the late twenties man who looked a lot like Cat Stevens.

“Are you reading this?” I asked after I settled on my bed.

“Just refreshing myself. I’ve read it two or three times before.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Fifteen days.”

“What for?” I asked with genuine interest.

“It doesn’t matter really. Let’s just say they called it assault.” I sensed it might have been a female/male conflict and knew he didn’t want to talk about it.

“So what is a clean cut looking military man like you doing in jail? I thought the cops liked to give their own a break.”

“I am an officer in the Militia and an accountant but I don’t do the army thing anymore. I kinda wish I could let my hair down like you. I’m a hippie at heart.”

“Followers and flower children in the most part. Just do what makes sense; it’ll stand you in good stead.” The late twenties or early thirties man that I was drawn to, said wisely.

“Yes, I certainly do that. I like Sartre’s saying ‘Love is absent space.” He didn’t respond and I really wanted him to talk with me. “So, you’ve led a very interesting life, haven’t you?”

“They want you at the bars. Who are you? I heard something on the pipes that sounded like ‘the guy who loves jail is back’; is that you?”

I went to the bars at the front of the cell and talked to an older guy who had been in the hospital ward a couple of months earlier. I barely remembered having talked to him, but he was the retired guy who would throw a brick through a store window and sometimes wait for the police to bring him to jail. He told me that about seven people I knew who were back in jail. They wanted me to know they remembered me. I thanked him heartily and shook his hand through the bars with both of mine. I told him to thank the other people for their having remembered me and that I could have avoided jail by doing what the cop had offered. He knew that the others would like the fact that I valued what I had learned and experienced that much. As I walked back to my bed I smiled a lot. I knew I had made the right decision to let life bring me whatever was waiting for me, it felt like another good thing was about to happen.

“So, my name is Bob Baird. I’m here for the weekend and yes, I am the guy who loves jail. I don’t believe in paying parking tickets for unmarked zones, and there is no other place to park near where I have lived. More illegal taxation without representation.”

“Maybe we should have another tea party?

“Are you from the States?”

“No. But I spend a lot of time there. I am an actor and writer.”

“What’s your name?”

“I use different names. Kyle Edwards or Ed Kyle – Whatever you like!”

“Kyle. I like that! So you are a writer. I’ve written some thoughts about the dimensions of energy that surround us and even a sort of journal/biography but I know I can do a lot better.”

“It is a real craft that requires a lot of dedication and a tough skin to handle all the rejection. I’m working on one right now, in my head.”

It was fifteen minutes later that I realized I had been working on his book with him. He said very little and listened with no particular sense of amazement that I was reading his mind. I had read all there was on ESP and parapsychology but still didn’t accept it was a fact without personal experience. It was a watershed event for me.

“Say Kyle why don’t you read my mind. I’ve almost finished your book. Can you do that too?”

“Sure, it just takes a little trust and willingness to make a mistake now and then.”

He waited for a minute then began to give me advice on sex and my relationship with Myrna. It was very specific and somewhat embarrassing for him to know how inexperienced I was. That would have been enough to say that my trip to jail had been better than the last time. Much more was to transpire as a result of Kyle and his influence. It is only recently that I have a better idea of the extent of it. That is thirty years of thought. I hope the reader takes a little less time to accept the possibility of these things. However, I expect some people will reject the possibility or be left saying the same things I had said before this ESP event. I need to experience it myself!

That kind of skepticism is fine, if the mind doesn’t seize up and deny its’ powers of observation and relationship with the soul. Before I say what it was that makes this such an important event in my whole life let me tell you some more about Kyle; who I stuck to like a leech the whole time I was there that weekend. He didn’t want to tell me how to get in touch with him after I left. I am sure he was a little worn out by my enthusiastic pursuit of his wisdom. Some of what he told me was too incredible to put my mind around. Don’t be afraid to admit you feel the same way, and yet don’t close the mind to the possibility. That is all I have asked the thousands of people I have shared this event with over the last thirty years. Kyle had been a paraplegic at the age of five. One day in his Quebec home with his nurse in attendance, a fire truck went by.

“Kyle look it’s a fire reel!”

He rose from his wheelchair to her absolute surprise. Later at the age of eight or nine years old he participated in the Canadian National Diving Championships. He won the junior and intermediate title and was allowed to compete with the seniors. In the process of this competition he banged his head on the platform. The X-rays showed that he was a paraplegic, the doctor ordered a new set and they maintained a close scrutiny to ensure no further foul up happened. The new X-rays were identical. Kyle never graduated from high school yet he became a teacher in the prairies. He was an animal trainer and his description of his ability to relate with animals was something I had read about and Crocodile Dundee did with animals in the movie which came out two or so decades later. This is the key ingredient in the rest of this story. I guess that sounds a little like the radio host Paul Harvey.

When I left the ‘Don’, I saw a cat near the sidewalk ahead of me. It was an orange and white tabby that didn’t move out of my way nor did it come for rubs from my outstretched hand. It winked at me with one eye and I received a flash of enlightenment. The knowledge of what exists in the lowest form of life is ruled by the same principles and rules that impact the more complex creatures. Knowledge is not comprised of words or logical constructs and when fully integrated it appears quite simple. That is the nature of principles. Seeing or feeling the white light in Yoga has an element of this, as does the Near Death Experience. This was more than that!

In a mere fifteen seconds my head was filled. I may only have been able to incorporate a small portion of what it offered yet it seemed almost to be the kind of divine illumination that many ecstatic religions report. It was something I pondered upon for many years. My current attitude about it is that it was not the level of knowledge that I would have gotten at the most complex level of life, but rather one or more steps beneath that. James Redfield’s book the Celestine Prophecy told a nice story that incorporates the knowledge of the Enneagrams. Around the early 1920’s Jesuit priests brought this knowledge out of Persia. It is probably related to the Magi of Zoroaster and the three wise men of the Bible.