The Donut Hustle
excerpt from I Slept Through The American Dream
There were Helms bakery trucks around the neighborhood, blue and yellow trucks that would honk this odd noise to let you know they were in the area. Swing open the back doors and big trays of doughnuts would appear. For six cents you could get an apple fritter or a bear claw. After school the Good Humor ice cream trucks would play their ice cream song and we would get a nutty-buddy or 50/50 bar (they call them dream-sickles now). We were eating all the time.
Eventually the school cracked down, calling the Helms Company and banning their trucks from the school area and anyone seen with a white bag would fall under heavy suspicion. But for me that became a game of cat and mouse and I enjoyed playing.
I was also made to go to church, but never engaged in the message being delivered. As a child I would have to go with my grandmothers when they would visit, both Southern Baptists. The older women would be wearing fox stoles; seventy-something degrees out and they would have on a fox stole with the head still on it. The eyes were made out of glass balls and sitting in church next to my grandmothers, I couldn’t help staring at those fox heads. They looked alive and seemingly staring back at me. My mind would tell me they were gonna jump off the old lady’s shoulder any minute and grab me by the neck. That was my mindset during the longest hour of my week, church.
School and Church wasn’t for me, I didn’t know a lot but I knew this.
In nineteen sixty-two Frank Morris along with the Anglin brothers, John and Clarence, escaped from Alcatraz never to be seen again. This escape was made famous by the movie Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood. At the time, Alcatraz was considered the most secure prison in the nation, and since their bodies were never found dead or alive after the escape, they closed Alcatraz in nineteen sixty-three and sent everyone housed in Alcatraz to Leavenworth which was now considered the most secure prison in the United States. And there I sat in my once horse stall cell eating sandwiches and wishing I was anywhere but here.
When I awoke that first day and after my morning constitution on the toilet, I was washing up and shaving using the polished aluminum mirror in my cell and seeing a blur in the reflection along with hearing keys jangling I knew something was up. I went to my cell door and looking through the bars I could see the guards carrying out a body on a gurney, it was the loudmouth from the bus and his throat had been cut. I had become emotionally numb to prison killings but what struck me odd was how the killer or killers didn’t even wait for their victim to leave the cellblock, instead as soon as B block and the cells were unlocked on that first morning of our arrival they rushed in slicing his throat. No one was apprehended or charged for his murder and I went back to finishing shaving as the officers mopped up the blood.
Running, working out, reading, eating and sleeping that was my life and on some days it was hard to accept for me, and I wouldn’t share my thoughts of confinement with anyone since they were in the same predicament as me. It was as if I was being fed a spoon full of hate daily and on the days that it was the hardest I would take a double dose of hatred. The madness continued affecting me less and less and I was being desensitized to any humanity that I may have had before. Sometimes I wondered if that fucking quack prison psychiatrist had been onto to something when he diagnosed me, but fuck him and fuck all these ball breaking guards, I was twenty-six years old and nothing or nobody would deny me what I have to do to get back to my life on the streets.