by Frank Scarangello
Itâ€™s a seven by twelve foot concrete room measured by placing my feet one in front of the other and pacing back and forth over the concrete floor for years without end.
There is a straight path to walk between the concrete table, chair and bed. Â I lost my right to move furniture long ago.
The door is red and split asunder with a bean slot to pass the food I will always eat alone. I have no right to company or conversation. Â The window in the door is opaque.
The cameras watch me day and night lest I try to escape to the next world. They used to watch me play with myself on the low water toilet in the corner. Â Low water lest I drown myself. Â I don’t do that anymore. Â Play with myself. Â i have forgotten how to imagine.
My room is sound proof. Â No window to the outside. Â There is no outside, Â I am kept in here 23 hours a day with nothing to do but my penance.
I see no one. I hear no one. Â My room is the Â perfection of isolation and solitude with only my breathing and heartbeat to fill the void.
One hour of every 24 I am exercised Â at the bottom of an empty swimming pool. Â Nothing to see but concrete walls. and a small sky. No birds fly over this place..
I have no reference points. I donâ€™t know where I am. Â I donâ€™t know the layout of this hotel. Â I live in a room. Â I have not seen any of the other guests. Â But I am kept alive.
If I wonâ€™t eat they run the tube up my nose and feed me to keep me healthy and prolong my living. Â I get first rate medical care. Why do they want me to live?
I can no longer remember my mother or the love of a woman or green grass. Â I can no longer remember green. Â There is no existence save the electronic zoo. Â And there is no green.
What was inside of me has dripped away into Dante’s hell.
Only Cleaner. Â Sanitized.
In the Gulag I might have died outdoors in the arms of others. Perhaps beneath the stars or a forest canopy in Siberia.
Stalin was more humane. Â He would have simply worked me to death still with the memory of my mother, a woman’s love and the color green.
0 thoughts on “American Gulag”
This is a spectacular piece. One thing though: I don’t think the allusion to Dante’s Inferno is necessary. Otherwise, welldone.
Many thanks for your kind remarks. Your comment concerning Dante is noted and appreciated. I’m just an old retired guy who never wrote a thing until six months ago. I’m enjoying myself. Many thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment.
I agree with your assessment of the two methods of ending life. Literally taking it seems much more humane than keeping someone alive only to drive them insane due to the lack of life. Life itself has to include motivation to arise from sleep the next day. In the American Gulag, there is no reason to arise. And they take the last right every human being should have the ability to fade away into nothing…. Yes that sounds like worse than torture.
Anna – Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I believe a life time of solitary in Super Max is cruel and unusual.
Frank, this was a very powerful piece. There are so many aspects here. I can’t believe you started writing 6 months ago. Congrats on the front page.
Trilogy – Many thanks for reading and commenting. This old retired guy is learning new things everyday.
Prior to last September I never wrote a word. What is it about old dogs and new tricks??
Frank, I really like this. I like the sparseness of it, which is just like the gulag. No extras, just a great write!
Scanner – Glad you came by to read and comment. Really glad you liked. it!