Chapter 22

And so it was, that on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009, Dan caught another mouse. He wrote about it to me in great detail. I probably cried. That seemed to be my reaction to everything. I probably also cried because there was always some asshole guard who could have just done his job or not done his job, but either way left Dan alone, yet who chose to make his life harder.

"4pm Sunday
I got a stamp finally. I traded my Wall Street Journal from Wednesday for it. So, I'll get to mail some of this letter. I just realized that I have seven sheets of paper already in this letter and a single stamp takes only six sheets. So I'll either get another stamp or I'll mail this sheet on another day. 

A mouse just ran across the floor in my room. First, I thought it was a large cockroach, then I jumped at it and realized it is a mouse! Ok, so I'm not the only unlucky soul in this prison cell. He is fast!

Today I was asked if I was Muslim by a CO. I said, "No." He responded with "It says here on this list that you are Muslim and you are fasting." I said "I'm Jewish." He said, "Well, we'll have to see if you get food tonight because the list says you are Muslim."


I CAUGHT THE MOUSE! Stupid little mouse is now in a milk carton."

In my mind, I have this image of Dan scrambling around his tiny SHU cell, maybe enacting a bit of parkour acrobatic type shenanigans. Little mouse zipping to and fro and Dan in hot pursuit. Truthfully I was grateful that there was a little mouse who provided some distraction and gave Dan something to do and write about.

I left a note on my door that says "CO, I caught a mouse. I don't feel like I should have to share my cell with him. He is in the milk carton by the door. Please dispose of him properly. Dan
p.s. Can I please have my property now?"

Since the note is covering my window they should see it soon. Now I'm the damned exterminator in SHU. Sick!

Well, the CO brought me dinner. No entree. Just a piece of fruit, a little lettuce, spinach, one tomato, one green pepper and four slices of bread. Sad. I'll starve on salad!

He was in total disbelief that I caught a mouse. He took it away repeating "I want to know how you caught a mouse!"
(10 minutes later)
He brought me a real tray of food because I caught the mouse! Pasta and chicken- same as the other prisoners. It is a full tray too! So I have lots to eat! Yea!

6pm Sunday
Ok, eating that "tray of real food" didn't go so well. My stomach revolted. Damned revolutionary!

I cleaned up and took a bird bath with soap, a hand towel and lots of pushes of the water dispenser in my sink. I smell decent now (at least I think so) and there is no mouse any more... I should have kept him so I would have had a friend to talk to.

Even though I was miserable about Dan being in SHU, although not as miserable as he was to be there, I found his letters hilariously entertaining. I would read parts of them aloud to my family and we would all reminisce and giggle as it reminded us of other Dan related stories.

He could listen on his radio to the TV's from the floors above and below him, so one night he wrote about the Miss Universe pageant. He gave me a play by play on each contestant, how they sounded and if they answered questions well enough. He was only listening to it on his radio, so he couldn't see them but I had watched the show myself and his predictions had me laughing for a long time.

Dan also continued his quest to read every book ever written, with the goal of getting a Book Club certificate of achievement. After devouring the expected literature available, he wrote he was happy because he had just gotten a copy of Twilight. He remembered that I had read the series and was looking forward to reading them so we could share thoughts on the story.

The 1st 20 pages of Twilight are about an unhappy high school girl. This is not what I expected!

Page 43- Still about a high school girl and some bizarre interaction/crush on a beautiful boy. Bella and Edward.

Page 65 Edward saves Bella's life but Bella now suspects Edward has magical powers.

10:30pm Monday
The orderly dropped off two batteries for me... actually the CO gave them to me from him. So, I am not worried about my radio going dead. I have the two batteries I'm using and two new ones now. I should get my property tomorrow and commissary some day this week. I wonder what day is commissary. I vaguely recall it being ordered Wednesday for Thursday arrival.

The writing in Twilight is easy to read. I'm enjoying it so far. Since the book is 500 pages it should take me many hours to finish. Probably 10! Yea! I see from the cover that there are 3 more books in the series.

11:20pm Monday
page 130-150 So the Cullins are vampires and the Indians have a pact with them. Interesting. Sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Beaver Cleaver in Mayberry. Innocent, yet dark and brooding, in a 50's sort of comic way.

Did you ever see the movie?

1am Tuesday
I'm getting tired, I'm on page 242. So it is a story about high school romance with a vampire twist. I'm not sure whether to be mortified that a high school girl is falling for a permanently 17 year old vampire or if I'm shocked that such a simple story line can be such a big hit. Maybe a little of both."

Ok, so maybe Twilight wasn't exactly literature, but as evidenced by the pages he wrote about it, it definitely kept Dan entertained. The next day he was given some of his property. A lot of items were missing and Dan was pretty distraught about it. Most importantly, his tallis and tefillin were gone. We had worked really hard to get a pair for Dan in prison and now they were just gone. He also caught a cockroach in his cell and once again asked the CO to dispose of it. Dan wondered if the cockroach came out because the mouse was gone. I wondered why he cared.

The next day Dan was informed that the duty officer had "found" the missing tallis and put it away for when Dan got out of SHU. Still no sign of the tefillin though. It didn't really matter anyway, SHU sucked regardless. There was talk that Dan would be released the next day, but no one could confirm it and until it actually happened there was no sense in believing it. Dan drew out a chessboard on a piece of paper and played hours of chess with Kareem, another SHU inhabitant across the hall. They would call out their moves to each other and mark it down on paper. At least it kept them occupied and distracted.

Dan traced a picture I sent him and mailed it to me. It was one of me holding my tiny preemie nephew on the boardwalk in Manhattan Beach, NY. My whole family had gone to Brooklyn for a housewarming party for my sister and her husband. There were a lot of wonderful pictures taken that day, but I loved this one most of all and sent Dan a copy of it.

I hadn't heard from Dan and I didn't know if he actually was out yet or not, so just in case I went to visiting that Monday. I was turned away. It always hurt to be turned away, even when I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be admitted to begin with. The week dragged on and I harassed every contact I had to get Dan out of SHU. The real story was slowly coming out (as Dan described it in his letters). Essentially, he had been asked by an officer to try to purchase a cell phone that was rumored to be for sale in the unit. When he went to the officer a few days later and asked if he was supposed to talk to SIS (they are like the secret Gestapo of prison officers), he was whisked away to SHU without explanation. Now it was up to me to figure out a way to get the Free Dan train back on track. Him being in SHU was interfering with everything- his designation, his meetings with his attorney and the judge and most importantly OUR VISITS. 

I wasn't expecting a call from Dan, but I was waiting on many different other calls so when my phone rang and it was him...I was unprepared. He kept telling me he was ok, that he was getting out of SHU today. It was hard to process. Why was he calling me to tell me he was getting out of SHU, when he was still in SHU? Just call me when you're out of SHU? I mean, I was glad for the call, of course, but the whole thing felt odd. I was absolutely flummoxed and unsure what to expect. What the hell was going on???? 
Friday, Aug 28, 2009 10pm (Not In SHU)
My Dearest Darling Chani,

What can I say about today?

I awoke in a different cell than I did yesterday.
I was told to "get dressed" and cuffed and brought to the SHU Lieutenant's office. Awaiting me there was the 'Acting Captain' who made a point of repeatedly telling me that the Warden had told him to tell me to "Call your wife, she can't sleep, tell her you are getting out of SHU today." He handed me a phone and said "Now what are you going to tell her?" I said "that I love her." He said in response "and that you are fine, you are ok, remember to tell her that you are "out of SHU today"."

I've never experienced this.
Moreover, he let slip that "your transfer is being worked on and you'll be out of here in a week or two to the place you want to go." I asked "Otisville?" He said, "I don't know." What an experience! This was at about 9am too. What a way to be awakened!

So, I called you and then was put back in my SHU cell by CO's that were acting extraordinarily nice to me. Something obviously happened in the past two days. The attitudes of all of the Co's changed towards me to "hands off, respectful, treat with care."
At 1pm I was taken to 5 North where I currently sit.
Not much has changed in 5 North. I have a different bunkie now though. Can you guess who it might be?

It was Tank. 370 pound Tank who ended up being, hands down, no question, the best bunkie Dan ever had throughout everything. He was also a legitimately nice guy and looked out for us both. Tank even told Dan he had seen me come for the Monday visit and get turned away. He could see where the visitors waited from his (and now Dan's) cell window. Tank gave Dan some clean clothes to wear until he got his property back, and some shower shoes so Dan could take a proper shower.

I don't know what specifically made those officer's change towards Dan. I know I called in every favor I could. I reached out to all the people I thought might have influence or pull to get him out of SHU. Many times, if an inmate goes into SHU, for any reason, they get stuck in there because no one cares enough to get them out. Whatever magical combination of buttons I pushed, it worked. Dan was back in general population, in a good unit, with a great bunkie. It was a decent end to a pretty stressful summer. Somehow August was over, and I was still in New York. Wake me up when September ends.