Here’s Chapter 3 of the book. I hope you are enjoying what you’ve read and will come over and read the rest of the story. I’m up to Chapter 15 and it’s going quite well.

Judge Robert Ulysses James leaned back in his chair behind his desk. His middle name was in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, whom his mother and grandmother considered a saint. This was carved in stone on his mother’s side of the family. Robert had been told the story of his family being former slaves at least a thousand times during his childhood. They would have named his brother Abraham if he had had one. He was the only child and felt that their heritage now rested on his shoulders. He often wished he had a sibling to help share the burden, but he accepted his fate gladly.

He was in his chambers and relaxing after a short lunch and getting ready to go back into his courtroom. His courtroom. Even after all these years on the bench, the thought of having his own courtroom still seemed a tad unreal, as if it was all a joke and soon someone would walk in and tell him so. That was nonsense. He knew that. But he always had that stray thought in the back of his mind. It never left him and never would. It kept him honest and on his toes. Every day was another day that he worked to fulfill his promise to himself to make things right, to better the condition of his fellow African-Americans and everyone else, and to never forget where he came from.

His was not the usual and often used cliche of a poor black child growing up in poverty without a father. That stereotype bothered him more than the “Amos and Andy” or “Super Fly” droll that passed as fact amongst most people, black and white alike, as the usual life of a black man in America.

He was familiar with the “Shuck ‘n Jive” routine of his ancestors and friends growing up in Oakland. To downplay it whilst being hassled by a white police officer was the best way to go. Not necessarily being stupid, but acting it. Keep your mouth shut, nod your head, offer no resistance, and he could usually walk away unscathed. Well, unscathed physically but not emotionally. It did no good to get upset. It was best to agree, be courteous, and offer no information unless asked. The few times he was stopped for being in the wrong part of Oakland, he would politely hand over his ID, mention his father’s name and wait. Always with a smile and always with patience while the officers checked and then double-checked his ID, asking questions and trying to trip him up. He learned to give quick and concise answers and to not elaborate. That lesson served him well as an attorney and later as a judge. “Rule your life with intelligence and not emotion” was his motto.

The officers were always surprised to learn who his father was. Robert did not fit the stereotype “Negro” of most bigots. He came from a good family, his father was a well known and respected attorney in San Francisco for a prestigious law firm, made good money and lived in Piedmont, the nicest area in Oakland. They owned their home, drove nice cars, kept the yard clean and tidy, and ate food other than fried chicken and watermelon.  He spoke proper English and his mother was constantly correcting his grammar. Any type of street or ghetto talk was not allowed. He was taught to speak properly, enunciate his words, and to hold his head up high.

Robert learned of racism not from his family but from simply walking down the streets of Oakland as a young child. He was aware of the different colors of people, but he was born in 1945 when Oakland was a place for hard working people who were harmonious with each other. Racial tension was rare.

Founded in 1852, Oakland quickly expanded due to the railroads. In 1906, the number of refugees and homeless people doubled as they made their way from San Francisco after the devastating earthquake. General Motor’s opened a plant in 1916, followed by Chrysler in 1929. Oakland soon became home of many manufacturing plants, canneries, metal factories, bakeries, manufacturer of the internal combustion engine, cars, and ship building. It was known as the “Detroit of the West.” It was prosperous and expanding. After WWII started, thousands of poor and rural African-Americans migrated from the Deep South to work in the shipyards.

After WWII, the black population began to expand as the shipping and automotive industries disappeared. Harmonious and prosperous before the war, by the 1950’s, the population was becoming poorer and poorer. Between 1950 and 1960, 100,000 property owners left to live further north. It was known as the “White Flight.”

The Oakland police began to heavily recruit white officers from the Deep South in order to respond to the increasing population of the African-Americans. The stage was set for racial tensions and was escalated by the brutality that the blacks were dealt with. False arrests, planted evidence, excessive force, and falsified police documents became the norm rather than the unusual.

In 1966, there were 16 black officers and 661 white officers. “The Black Panther Party for Self-defense” was formed. They followed white officers on their rounds, documenting their actions and openly carrying guns. By 1970, gang controlled dealing of heroin and cocaine caused the murder rate of Oakland to be at least twice that of New York city or San Francisco.

On one spring morning as Robert played basketball with Jerome, they stopped as the cop car parked and two white officers approached them. They asked them the usual questions of who they were and what they were doing.

“Why are you asking us that?” Jerome asked. He was a foot taller than the two officers and was as lean and strong as Robert. At 16, they were immortal, young, and healthy.

One of the officers sneered at him. “It’s not your place to ask us any questions, boy,” he said. Robert felt Jerome’s hackles rise. He gently put his hand on Jerome’s arm to calm him down. Jerome pushed his hand away and stepped closer to the officer. Robert’s stomach tightened.

For the rest of the story, go here:

My Name Is Chantelle

 

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Yep, sort of an odd thing to say. Mind you, it’s not that I ever talk to them about me. I don’t. They don’t know who I am or where I live. They only know me as a woman named “Susan” who grades their lessons and keeps them going.

Some correspond back with a letter attached to their lessons. Some just send the lessons back. It doesn’t matter as long as they are moving along.

Today, one sent me this and as I read it, I felt the universe settle down again and make a bit more sense.

On change – I’ve never met a person I didn’t care about or not care about what condition he/she was in. I could always see their possibilities. I don’t care how many may consider himself a failure. I believe in him for he can change what is wrong with his life. anytime you are ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he/she develops the desire, they can take away from their life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within. Criminon has transformed my lief in every way. It’s barriers of study will help you understand who we are as individuals. Without these courses and the awesome instructor helping you change in the right way, it would be harder. So just go ahead and take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step. I did and it’s great! Thank you Criminon!” R.H. “Learning Skills for Life”

For you see, there’s only one thing I know when I work with an inmate – they are in jail.

The rest? It doesn’t matter because I know once someone is in the system, it’s designed to keep them there. Repeat customers are the cheapest way to keep the money flowing. It’s good business and make no mistake – the criminal justice system IS a business.

I have my own problems and the only way I know to deal with them and come out the other side is to help another.

I’ve got lots of these wonderful letters. If you want me to post them once in a while, let me know.

He tried to open the door and was met with the chain locking him out. Hearing him try again and call out somehow made me feel angrier, even though I was the one who locked him out. Standing just off to the side of the front door and behind the wall where he couldn’t see me, I leaned against the wall and looked up at the ceiling. I couldn’t decide what to do.

On one hand, I wanted him to struggle and try to get in. If I didn’t let him in, at some point he would try the garage door, which I had also locked, and then the patio door, also locked, along with all the windows. It was hot but I shut them all and double checked.

On the other hand, I wanted to let him in and let him know I knew what he had been up to. I wanted him to know he wasn’t going to get away with it. I wanted him to hurt as badly as I did.

I had put Maverick outside in the backyard, but could hear him fussing and crying because he heard his dad at the door. He wanted in. He wanted to run to the door and do his happy dance. Scout sat on the fireplace mantle piece, casually licking his paws and grooming his face as if this was an everyday occurrence. I had always admired his aloofness and lack of care or concern about anyone but himself.

“Hey! Are you there? Let me in. You put the chain on the door and it won’t open. Susan? Honey? Are you there? Where are you?” he shouted and kept pushing at the door. This was typical of Sam. Something doesn’t work, but keep doing it anyway. Door won’t open so keep pushing it. I wondered how long he would keep trying that.

I heard my cell phone ring. It was on the table near me in the living room. He could hear it too. I turned my head and watched it bounce slightly from the vibration.  It stopped after 3 rings. I waited and listened to him leave me a voice mail. I felt like I was in 2 different dimensions. The one that was where I was standing and the other wherever it was that contained my voice on the voice mail. I closed my eyes and rubbed them. The mascara was long gone from my crying. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see if I had raccoon eyes or if I had shed enough tears to have washed it all away.

“Susan, if you’re there, pick up…” I heard him say. Once again, he couldn’t quite get the difference between leaving a voice mail and talking into an answering machine. I sighed and came around the corner.

For the rest of the story, please come over to my Patreon site and follow along. I’d love to see you over there!

“My Name is Chantelle”

 

 

If you’ve followed this blog for a few years, then you’ve read many of my stories about the battered women and convicted felons I’ve worked with. I am now writing the book I promised them, many years ago. The book is about Chantelle and myself, and how our two opposite lives came together one day and how we helped each other. I hope you will join me and cheer me on and support me as I write this.

She sat on the edge of her bunk, eyes closed and reminding herself to breathe. She breathed through her mouth because her cell smelled of urine and hot dogs. They must have been serving hot dogs and beans again, along with a piece of bread and cold coffee. Her lips were swollen and her head hurt where she had slammed it on the dashboard of the car the night before. She hung her head down and tried to block out the sounds. The constant talking and clanking and yelling of the people in the ward never stopped. Her cell mate was snoring soundly with her back turned towards her. She was huge and her orange jumpsuit barely contained her massive ass and thighs. The fabric was stretched thin against her back and she could see the outline of the woman’s bra.  The cell mate arrived yesterday and immediately wanted to chat with her. She asked her her name.

“Jane. My name is Jane,” she replied. Jane seemed like a good name to use. It was the name first given to her as an infant and her head hurt too much to be clever or witty. Jane was her fallback name. It came out of her mouth effortlessly.

“Hi Jane, nice to meet you. What they got you in here for? Oh, my name’s Clarice,” she said and extended her large and black hand towards her. Jane remained seated as she stuck out her hand and gave it a limp shake. She didn’t like being touched but it seemed easier to shake hands rather than explain it. Clarice looked at her for a moment and then sat down on the bunk across from her.

“Is that your bunk?” she asked Jane. “I hope it’s OK for me to take this one…”

“It’s fine. I’ve been the only one in here today,” she said. Why was it people could never take the hint when you didn’t want to talk? Jane was tired of talking and explaining herself. It seemed like people had an urge to tell you all about themselves, when in fact, no one gave a fuck. Maybe they just liked to hear themselves talk. Maybe it made them feel important or at least alive. Jane didn’t know and didn’t care. She leaned back and stretched out on her bunk and stared at the stained mattress above her.

The place was dingy, but that was to be expected. It’s not like this was a 5 star hotel. It wasn’t even a 1 star hotel. It was the County Jail and she was being housed, fed, and clothed on the taxpayer’s dollar. She knew that because she had been reminded of it her entire life.

“Oh is that right? Well it’s nice to meet you,” Clarice said and sat down. She looked around but there wasn’t much to see. Two bunk beds and a toilet in-between them. Concrete floors and walls and bars across the front, which looked across to another cell. They were in Ward C. The hallway was long with 30 cells built-in. All of them were full. This was where they brought everyone and stored them, to be sorted out later. Jane couldn’t count the number of times she had been placed here. Four? Or maybe five? It didn’t matter, she knew the routine.

She’d go up before a judge, be assigned a public defender, and plead innocent. This would annoy the judge, but a court date would be set. She’d not be able to make bail because no way Razor had the money to bail her out. He hadn’t done that the last time or two. She was getting older but not too old to keep working. Razor had other younger and prettier girls he would take care of before her. If he bailed her out, great. If not, she was prepared to do her sentence again and wait it out. At least this way, she had a place to sleep and food during the day. It was boring as shit, but it was better than being out in the cold. December was a horrible time to be a whore. Trying to look enticing without freezing to death was impossible. She had her regular customers, but they were home with their beautiful wives and adorable children for the holidays in their warm houses with wonderful food on the table. She imagined their homes as she lay there, listening to Clarice prattle on.

For the rest of chapter, and to follow along as the book is published, go to: https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis?ty=h

I’m still here

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Yeah, been a long time, but I’m still here. I am hard at work on my Patreon site:

https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis?ty=h

I’m publishing my book about Chantelle, one chapter at a time. The story is done, for the most part, but now I’m doing the final draft. Once it’s done, the plan is to get it over to an editor and then publish it.

I hope some of you – or all of you – will wander over there and see what I’m doing.

I’m not someone that is trying to make a living as a writer. Sure, it would be great, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I want to tell her story and then the story of others.

I’m also toying around with a children’s book about my pit bull, Blue, and what happens when he meets a dragon. Telling the story of Blue was actually my mom’s idea and I liked it. A lot. So I’ve been throwing that into the mix as well.

I stopped blogging because, as you can see, I never put ads on my site or tried to make a dime out of it. I’m not against anyone doing that, but it’s just not my deal. Plus, in my opinion, there’s too many people blogging without much to say.

So, yeah, not going to do that.

My life is very complete and busy. I didn’t start writing until a few years ago. It was something that I put on the back burner and I only meant it to stay there for a while. Well, guess what?

That “while” ended up being decades.

So here I am and I must say, it’s harder than I thought. Much harder but I like the challenge. I want to leave at least one good book behind me before my short time here on Earth is done, at least for now.

Thanks for being such wonderful and loyal followers. I am here..but I’m not.

If you know me, then you understand what I just said.

I can explain

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OK! OK! I know. I know, I haven’t been blogging but I have a really good reason. Honest.

I’m working on my Patreon site instead. I decided that I REALLY needed to finish my book – the one I’ve been working on for 2 years – and working a full-time job and a part-time job doesn’t leave much room for writing.

That’s also not counting the volunteer work I do every week nor a few other projects that I’ve been doing.

Yes, I keep myself busy. It’s the only way I know not to go insane. Well, that and not have another dipshit boyfriend, but I digress…

Here’s the link for it and I’d love for you to check it out. Sponsor, if you can, or check back for a few random free posts:

https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis?ty=h

I know most of us writers don’t make our living with our writing, but that…

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Got criminals?

Posted: June 22, 2015 in jail
Tags:
STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL DEMOCKER Tuesday, February 26, 2008 Marlin Gusman's tour of Orleans Parish Prison An inmate sleeps in his cell in the 10th floor psychiatric section of Orleans Parish Prison.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL DEMOCKER
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Marlin Gusman’s tour of Orleans Parish Prison
An inmate sleeps in his cell in the 10th floor psychiatric section of Orleans Parish Prison.

As many of you know, I work in rehabilitating inmates. Our program is available to anyone who wants it. But what you may not know is this – I can (and do) work with people BEFORE they get into trouble OR have recently been up before a judge.

In many cases, catching the offender and helping them before they go further can halt that path. Judges, parole/probation officers are often looking for a program to send the offender to.

We do offer that service. Many of my students have successfully completed our course and the documentation was sent to the court. This pleases the judge. This makes them happy and often times, they are more considerate of the sentencing.

If you know of someone that could use my service, or if you need it yourself, please contact me privately about the details. Your information will be held in the strictest of confidence, as always.

So before you give up on them, or yourself, it might be worth your time to talk to me.