Ch. 6: The Paranoia Journals. (Arrest.) September 12-October 6, 1987.

Ch. 6: The Paranoia Journals. (Arrest.) September 12-October 6, 1987.

A Chapter by Gee Roughin

Saturday, September 12, 1987.

I am sitting in a concrete jail cell. I finally got paper.

Pen to the paper, hard truth to the eyes. To record the beginning of the end.

The cops were vicious. It was me who called them. I tried to get hold of Ruth but she seems to be gone somewhere out of reach, wonder how she'll find out? Probably read it in the news.

They asked for my ID--how stupid--that was so stupid I laughed, “Oh, I’ve got that!” I said, laughing, and they looked at me like I had lost it. Maybe I have. It’s probably not normal to laugh after you just killed somebody"I feel like I've got a screw loose. Somebody. Look at me trying to pass the thing over. “Patricide.” There's no word for that. I just keep seeing his head smashing into the lampstand in a loop in my brain. I’ll go crazy if I don’t stop it.

Didn't expect it to be like that. One of the guys was feeling me down and he touched my breast. I started yelling--“Don't touch me!” I was yelling like that--we were outside--so then it started--he shoved my head up against the car, pushed himself up against me to keep me still and pulled down on the cuffs till they cut into me while the other guy finished the search--I was yelling about filing a report against them so they started kicking at my heels and insulting me--you're a f*****g killer now, you think you're gonna pull that one on us? So they shut me up, like they meant.

I was really stupid--I started talking before I was arrested--They said “What happened?” And I said, “He came at me.”--“You did this?” they said. They shouldn't be allowed to ask questions like that. I guess I was naïve, I guess I was really stupid--I said I was raped--it was self-defence--so duh, they arrested me. I'm really scared now.

I don't even know how I did that. I didn't think I could. I thought I might knock him out, or he would grab it and kill me instead--my heart was racing but I thought I was too weak. I didn't mean to kill him. Or did I?

End of pause for banging my head against the cell wall.

I'm hungry. It's 3pm and they just brought me a hot dog and stuff for writing, but we didn't get anything yesterday.

Yesterday they'd put me in this crowded cell with 26 other people--most of the women were strung out, they should've been in a hospital. One woman who kicked me a bunch of times when I was trying to sit down talked to me a little afterwards. She asked me how I got there, so I was talking about what happened--I guess I was talking loud--so she stopped me and said I should really shut up. When I said it was self-defence she laughed in my face. Then in the middle of the night she started touching my ankle--we were all sitting pressed up against each other anyway--and moving her hand up my leg. I screamed. All 26 cellmates were cursing me up and down for waking them up, and then this cop came up barking at me, dragged me out of the cell and stuck me into an empty one.

I spent today calling down the hall for food and stuff to write with. They finally brought me two pieces of paper a pen and a hot dog. Aside from that, I haven't seen anybody else all day.

Monday, September 14, 1987.

Today I got 5 minutes with the lawyer. Got--he was not a pleasant guy. The whole thing was rote, and I didn’t like the way he looked at me, kind of cross-eyed. Ok, it’s not cause he was cross-eyed, there was something seedy about the way he took my statement about the rape and all. I wish it was a woman.

So it's definitely not a juvenile jurisdiction. “Capital offences” are not juvenile. Also, he told me it would be pretty tough to plead self-defence in “a case like that,” he told me. What’s “a case like that”? I yelled, thinking of course if this isn’t self-defence then what is? He said it’s cause I used a weapon and “the victim” was unarmed. He raped me for God’s sake, I was screaming back at him. How in hell is a 16-year-old girl supposed to defend herself against a 50-year-old man with police training if she doesn’t use a weapon? He kept telling me to calm down, which really annoyed me, and then explained pedantically (he was totally bored) that because the rape had occurred several weeks before and could not be proven by the medical team it could not be considered as an element in a self-defence case. I tried to explain the file that was already prepared to press rape charges, with the medical exam and all, but he insisted that even with that, it happened too long ago. I said he charged me--so then he said (closing his briefcase and standing up)--“Any witnesses?” with a weird smirk.

He ended up mouthing the words “temporary insanity” then walking away.

Well I certainly feel temporarily insane, but does that mean they’ll stick me in the loony bin to do my time? I really will go insane.

Thursday, September 17, 1987.

I just got more paper. I'll have to write smaller.

The cell and me are starting to smell. There's something wrong with the plumbing, so the toilet only flushes halfway. There's nothing to clean it with, and no water anyway--the sink doesn't work. They bring me a little cup of water with my meals--three a day now but no fruits and vegetables--so I'm constipated. Guess that's good for the toilet problem! But I feel sick as a dog.

It's getting cold in my cell--it was hot when I first got here but the weather's turned now--when I ask for a blanket they just tell me there's a shortage.

That's when they talk to me. I think they're punishing me. I yell down the hall all the time but it makes no difference, they just ignore me. I'm still in the cell by myself and I haven't seen anybody except the people who bring me my food and that one lawyer since Friday night. They don't talk to me when the food comes. I think they're trying to break me.

The light's on all the time, it's hard to sleep.

I keep asking when the trial is supposed to be, but no point to that. Ruth still hasn't come. I've never felt so alone and on the verge in all my life.

Maybe the lawyer told them to do this to me so I'd go really insane before the trial. It's working. Everything feels like a plot. They turned off the water on purpose. They're refusing blankets on purpose. They took a whole box of roaches and emptied it onto the ground right outside my cell door.

I mean it, I'm going crazy for real. Sometimes I wake up and instead of seeing roaches, the room is crawling with spiders. I scream, jump up on top of my bed and start banging my head against the wall to stop the thing.

Sometimes I stare at the lightbulb and I'm convinced there's a camera hidden in it. I tell myself, that's not logical, they can look in your cell any time, there's no reason to hide a camera in the lightbulb but no amount of logic can take away the belief once it's there.

When the women in the cell next to mine start laughing or yelling or swearing, I'm convinced it's about me. I try to tell myself that's not logical, what the f**k do they care about me? But I can't undo the thing.

I was thinking about the Russian prison today. I never really took it seriously, but maybe I always have been crazy. If I've always been crazy, how do I know what's real or not? Is this cell real? Has time stopped or am I really living day after day like this with no contact? I was even asking myself if the rape was real. Maybe I invented that too? Of course that would be the worst, it would mean I killed for no reason. I know it's probably stupid--when I put it on paper it looks stupid--but after days on end with only the image of Daddy's smashed head to keep me company, the question keeps coming round and round like a whirlwind, like a tornado, like living death.

Monday, September 21, 1987.

There was a “therapist” who came to see me today. I think she was sent by my lawyer to validate his case. She kept asking me if I’d ever suffered from any mental trouble before. I was very sane when she arrived--they even sent me for a cold shower this weekend so I didn't smell. At first I didn’t want to say, but when she kept insisting I gave in and told about the Russians. I didn't tell her about this week. She looked very excited and wrote furious scribbles in her notebook. I don’t think I’m really that crazy--I felt perfectly fine as soon as I was in front of a human being--maybe I just got an over-active imagination. In the case of the Russians (I thought a lot about that this week) I think I must have fainted when I tripped, you know? Oh my God, who’s the “you”?--I’m becoming schizophrenic. Anyhow, I was disgusted how she got all excited over that part, I wanted to throw up. Then she lit into the rape--are you sure that really happened to you? Are you considering your history? It was like she wanted to argue me into agreeing it wasn't true.

God that was horrible. Especially after this week--my outrage is suffocating me. How can she f**k with my head like that? The worst is that I'm really feeling unsure about it all. I don't know if that's true, but I’m haunted.

Friday, September 25, 1987.

Today I finally got some books, and a blanket. It feels like weeks and weeks, I still haven’t gone on trial, I see nobody all day and I got nothing to do but get crazier. I've been yelling down the hall all the time (the cell next door hates my guts) I want books. I want books. You want me to go crazy? I’m crazy alright, but I want books. I’ve been doing it for a week, so they finally came. I asked for books about mental illness, and as soon as they came I sat down and read them all straight through.

Maybe I’m a paranoid schizophrenic. I guess I'm not really qualified to diagnose, and I don't think it's advanced--I was never so off when I was out there. But if the shoe fits...

They don't help anything with my real issue now--If I'm paranoid, how can I know what's real and what's fantasy? I know it sounds stupid--but it's paramount now. Can I trust myself? The memories? Which memories, and how? It's not possible I wasn’t raped. That’s more insane than anything--I’m sure I was raped. But can I really trust that? I’m tormented.

I say “I'm tormented”--it's cause I don't want to describe “I'm tormented.” On a cloud of stability with mental stimulation, but coming up from hell. I'm sitting on my cloud of sanity and logic just wondering how long till it bursts, when I'll be back down wallowing in the mud.

Monday, October 5, 1987.

No more books since that first set I read all in one sitting.

I can't control myself. I know I should sit quiet and patient all the time like now, but I can't control it.

There was a voice talking to me yesterday--don't know if she was real, but she was speaking to me--not just cursing at me from down the hall like usual. She said, “You keep yelling like that when you in State they gonna f**k you up till you broke, girl--Get a grip!”

Well she sobered me up for a while. I spent a while whispering, “Thank you. Thank you, whoever that was. Whoever you are. Thanks. Thanks for talking to me. I'm losing it. Nobody's talking to me I'm gonna lose it.” Then a cop came in and told me I better stop talking to ghosts or I'd get life in loony town.

I'm terrified. I gotta try and keep my head. I spent a week and a half yelling at the roaches, then the spiders, then the snakes, then the mice, then the rats. I sort them out only with my logic. Roaches are normal in groups of ten or more, spiders in one or two. Snakes are definitely not normal. Mice are normal. Rats are rare.

But the animals, to be real, they keep me out of the real pit. The real pit, where my father's smashed head keeps squirming, smiling at me saying, “It's nice to see you, Suzie-Q.”

Tuesday, October 6, 1987.

Ruth came today. Today I am a human being--sane, logical and brave. Ruth cried in front of my eyes.

I told her the thing about if I’d really been raped. Ruth's face went white. She said that “therapist” should spend a month where I been. She said there's nothing wrong with me, she was there when I told her what happened, the doctor signed to it and that's the end of it.

She’s turning rape prosecution files over to the defence, and's recommended an assisting attorney. On the self-defence thing, though, she says it’s true. 25% of women in for homicide claimed self-defence, and they get 15 years. The plea won't fly because of the weapon thing, but also for “burden of proof”"once I claim self-defence it's me who has to prove, not the prosecution, and with no witnesses?...

The “temp insane” case is strongest, she says. I'm terrified of getting locked up forever as a crazy, but she told me there's a very good director at the criminal psych ward where I'd be. He's human about mental illness and logical for “temp insane”, especially when they're really self-defence cases. She said this place is a pig pen, and the sooner I get through the trial the better I'll be. I hope she’s right.

I couldn't tell her how crazy I've been here. I hope I won't get stuck for life.

© 2011 Gee Roughin

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Added on October 19, 2011
Last Updated on October 19, 2011
Tags: paranoia, fear, america, 80s, prison, arrest, paranoid wasp


Gee Roughin
Gee Roughin

Cairo, Egypt

Before spending seven years writing Paranoid Wasp, I studied literature at Wheaton College (IL), Yale University and the University of Chicago. I moved to Paris in 1999. In addition to ten years in Fr.. more..