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Klaus, Mark, and Dave : part 4 by thadeusz
That’s when I decided to appeal the sentence given to my brother (and now imposed on me): as lawyer I knew that there were flaws in this file ! In fact, the Dave incident had opened my eyes and I was afraid of the potential torture imposed by the Chief Guard. I wanted to discuss that. I also wanted to discuss my abnormal situation in a prison where I had nothing to do: my brother had knocked me down, with the Chief Guard as accomplice and thus forced me to take his place while he disappeared as a free man. But I could not discuss that inside the prison. I thought an open court was the best place, so an appeal was the only possibility according to my "professional" opinion as lawyer.
I waited for a good moment. During all this time, the routine went on with the Chief Guard checking Dave’s haircut and mine every morning, with dog collars imposed permanently and with special hair- and face-shave every Sunday during the prisoners "free time".
I was in prison since nearly one year when the Director convened all prisoners of our wing in the big hall meant for "free time". This time we were all chained. The Director announced that the Chief Guard had had a very serious accident and could no longer function as guard. He was replaced by a certain Patrick, new Chief Guard for our wing.
The routine continued, but now the new Chief Guard shaved us without the same hatred, without showing the same hostility as his predecessor. Other details were changed and our lives became better, more bearable. I nevertheless wanted to make an appeal since I had nothing to do in prison.
I asked to see the Director in order to prepare an appeal. He did not like it, but could not refuse it. He gave me access to my file on one Sunday afternoon only. He also authorized me to take notes. Then a date was set and I was sent to court, in prison uniform, with my prison hat, my dog collar provided with a leash and shackles on my feet and handcuffs in my back. I was also provided with the same chain belt as during working days. I thus had a water flask and a box with bread. There were two other prisoners with me: Bert and Lance. They came from another wing and I did not know them, but while we waited for a transportation van, we could exchange a few words. They did not go to court for an appeal but for other counts for which they had not been sentenced yet.
A prison guard came with us. We were was first placed in a transportation van provided with cells defined by solid bars. There the guard pushed each of us in a separate cell and attached us by our leash to a ring on the exterior side of the cell. I did not protest since I was hoping to leave the court a free man. The new Chief Guard had, of course, shaved my head before I left "according to old instructions", but he had done it nicely and without brutality. In the van, we had to remain silent.
When I entered the courtroom, the guard was pulling me by my leash. The main Judge looked at this and winced. I first thought that it was because of the leash, but he quickly said:
"Prisoner, you should know better: don’t keep your hat on your head when in court !"
I immediately replied : "Your Honor, this hat is compulsory in my prison and now my hands are tied in my back."
I hoped that the Judge would tell the guard to free my hands so that I could take off my hat, but he simply said:
"Proceed then with your hat on"
"Your Honor, could you please tell the guard to free my hands during this hearing so that I could handle the necessary documents."
"Prisoner, your lawyer will handle these documents. Where is your lawyer by the way ?"
"Your Honor, I am a lawyer and I want to take care of my own defence."
"I see in your file that you have been disbarred, so you can’t do that, prisoner."
"Your Honor, this an appeal. So as long as you don’t confirm the first judgement, I should be considered as innocent and thus not disbarred."
"That’s stupid, but do as you wish. It will not last long anyway."
"Thank you, your Honor. Can I have my hands freed ?"
"Can you handle papers if you have your hands in front of you ?"
"Certainly, you Honor."
"In that case, during this hearing the prisoner will have his handcuffs in front of him."
The guard came close to me and changed the position of my hands. As token of respect, I immediately took my prison hat of and I placed it in my belt. The Judge looked at me and surprised said:
"You have been completely shaved ? Eyebrows included ?"
"Yes your Honor."
"Is that usual in your prison ? There is nothing about it in your file."
"Your Honor the previous Chief Guard decided that I needed that to learn to be a good prisoner. With your permission I will come back on that later."
"Permission granted. Now come to your appeal."
I first explained to the Judge that I admitted that "Klaus Tannenberg" had committed some crimes. I said that the counts of tax evasion and illegal transactions were clearly proven. But money laundering was only an assumption and association with the mafia was only suggested by this money laundering charge. I thus asked the Judge to reformulate the sentence on the basis of the proven facts only and to abandon the ‘disbarment’. I added that I would have another request to formulate as long as the court was in session but after the new sentence had been imposed.
The Judge looked surprised at this prisoner, poorly dressed, but speaking like a polite and well trained lawyer. After a short recess the court came back and the Judge formulated his new decision, after stressing the fact that it was now a final decision, without possible appeal. He simply said that money laundering and association with the mafia were rejected "for lack of proof" but that the two other counts remained. He added:
"This Klaus Tannenberg must be treated with severity since there are doubts concerning other counts. But less severely than previously decided by the lower court. He is thus sentenced to 10 to 15 years in the same prison as before and he is disbarred. Is that OK with you prisoner ?"
"Yes your Honor. Anyway whatever you decided was the final and legal decision. But there is another important point I must, respectfully, submit to the court."
"Which one, prisoner ?"
"Your Honor, I am not Klaus Tannenberg, I am Mark Tannenberg his brother."
So I started to explain what happened to me, what my brother did with the then Chief Guard as accomplice. My guard tried to silence me, but I was in a court of law and the Judge was listening attentively to every word I said.
When I was done, I asked the Judge to set me free as soon as possible. The judge asked me if I could prove my allegations. I told him that since I had been thrown in prison while trying to defend my brother, I did not have the possibility to get proofs of these facts. But I added that it would be easy to check whether I was Mark or Klaus by comparing my DNA and my fingerprints to those that were stored in Federal databanks, not accessible to Klaus and his friends.
The Judge replied:
"I can only set you free if I have proofs, Tannenberg"
I noted that he changed his way of addressing me: from "prisoner" I had become "Tannenberg" so I told him:
"As lawyer, I can understand that. So I simply ask the DA to start an inquest about these facts. I also ask you to place me provisionally in another prison."
"DA, what is your opinion ?" asked the Judge. And the DA replied:
"This case has been carefully examined in the past. There is no reason to send my office on an implausible fishing expedition. So I conclude in favor of a total rejection of this prisoner’s claim that he is not who he obviously is."
"In that case," concluded the Judge, "I send you back to your present prison to serve your new sentence until YOU can prove that you are not Klause Tannenberg. Guard, take this prisoner away far from my court."
Then my prison guard took hold of my leash. He showed with his smile that he was really pleased that I had to stay in this High Security and Hard Labour prison. The guard placed again my hands in my back and handcuffed them. He then got hold of my prison hat, pushed it brutally on my head, and started pulling me behind me like a dog or another sort domestic animal. I had partially won, but I had lost the main part: nobody was going to investigate and try to know who I really was. I felt defeated.
The guard led me to a bare room with a nice window provided with strong bars. Since there was no chair or bench, I decided to sit on the floor. A little bit later, the same guard introduced Bert and Lance who also sat on the floor as soon as the guard had left the room. I decided to ask them:
"How bad was it ?"
Bert answered: "I got 5 more years and I am sure that when we are back at the prison the Director will give me some Additional Detention Time to compensate for this one day absence."
Lance added: "I only got 4 more years, but the Director will certainly compensate the difference by giving me more ADT than to Bert. What happened with your appeal ?"
So I replied: "The judge reduced the sentence to 10 to 15, but he did not start an investigation to check that I am not the real culprit."
"Never mind," said Bert, "you will also get some ADT."
At that moment the same guard pushed in our room a very young boy. He only had handcuffs in front of him. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit. He was also black, black with long hair in afro style braids standing straight on his head. This poor guy was crying. So I asked him:
"What’s your name companion prisoner ? Why do you cry ? Was it so bad ?"
"My name is Nicholas, Nicholas Bradford. It was dreadfully bad. The Judge told me that since I am in love with a white girl of my age, I am a danger for the society. So he decided to judge me as an adult and he gave me 5 years Hard Labour in a High Security prison. And that’s why I cry."
"5 years," I said, "you must have commited a great crime."
Nicholas simply replied: "I just stole a pair of shoes for my girlfriend and now the Judge gave me 5 years Hard Labour in a High Security prison. That’s unfair !"
"5 years for a pair of shoes ?"
"The judge said that since my girlfriend was white, it could be assimilated to an attempted rape on a minor."
"How old are you ?"
"I am only 16. My girlfriend is also 16 and she said she loves me. I wanted to join later the Marines, but now my life will be rotten."
"Try to appeal."
"Me ? Nobody will accept to be my lawyer. I don’t have no money."
Suddenly, the guard came back with another one. The first guard told Nicholas to be quiet, he added:
"Boy, you will soon be chained like the others. You will receive a proper headshave and start looking decent".
The poor guy cried even more, but was whipped severely by the guard. The other guard looked at all of us and shouted:
"STAND UP, YOU SCUM OF OF THE EARTH."
We all immediately stood up and waited.
The second guard had clippers in his hand and ordered Nicholas to kneel in front of him. Nicholas did not understand what was going to happen and did not move. Bert, Lance and me had understood but we did not dare to say a word. The clipper guard shouted:
"YOU? YOUNG CRIMINAL, COME HERE"
Nicholas moved closer to the guard who suddenly pushed him and forced him to kneel. He told the other guard:
"Get hold of this dirty mop by the top," and the second guard got hold of Nicholas hair and pulled it. Then the clipper guard started to do his work. Without saying a word, and with his colleague having taken possession of Nicholas’ head, he let his clippers pass and pass again. He made a sign to his colleague who pushed or pulled, according to the situation, the poor Nicholas’ head. They even turned or bent his head as if it were a ball without a body below it. Nicholas was so stunned that he did not utter a sound, even when it was obvious that it was painful. Finally the two tormentors were done and Nicholas was like me: bald.
Once again he received strong lashes from one of the guards, without reason. The other one told him to undress completely. He then gave him a broom and told him:
"Now, dirty boy, clean this mess you have created."
Nicholas, naked, took the broom which was handed to him and cleaned all his shaved hair. I could see that he was crying, but he did not utter a sound. When he was done, the clipper guard gave him a prison uniform and told him to put it on rapidly. He then put a prison hat on Nicholas head. The other started to place shackles on his ankles and to handcuff him in his back. As final touch he placed a dog collar with a leash on his neck. Nicholas was from then on a prisoner, like Bret and Lance, and even more like me since the two other ones were not completely bald.
The four of us were then led to the transportation van. Nicholas was pushed in one of the van cells and his the leash was fixed to the side. Our turn came: Bret and Lance landed in cells placed as far as possible from each other. I landed in a cell next to the poor new guy and the guard told me:
"Since you wanted to leave us before your time, I will attach you in a special way."
He did exactly what he had announced, instead of fixing the end of my leash to the ring of the side of my cell, he attached directly my dog collar to it. This forbade me completely to move during the long ride back to the prison. Nicholas looked, frightened, at me but did not dare to say a word.
As soon as we were back at the prison, my guard took my leash and pushed me towards the Director’s office. There the Director looked rather furious and said:
"So, prisoner 175483, you believe that you have now less time to serve here. Be sure that I will do everything I can to keep you here during 15 full years. Moreover you tried to embarrass the court: for that I give you 10 years ADT. Worse, you made false remarks about the former Chief Guard: for that too I give you 10 years ADT. You have now to serve 30 to 35 and be sure that I can add ADT whenever I want. For the time being, you are going to spend 2 weeks in isolation." He then turned towards the guard and simply shouted: "Take that animal out of my sight."
The guard pulled me really out of the Director’s office and made me go one floor down to the isolation quarter. There were five or six cells in that basement. He opened the door of one of them, changed the position of my hands so that I was now handcuffed "in front". The guard took off my chain belt and my leash but he left me with my dog collar and my feet shackles. He then actually pushed me into that cell. I had a few seconds to see, with the single lamp on, that the cell was small, that the ceiling was so low that I could not stand and that this place was totally empty. There was no window and the door was a full metal plate. Suddenly the light went off and I was left alone. From time to time, a guard opened a small wicket in the door and put on the light to check if I was still there, or better if I was still alive. From time to time a guard opened a small door in the bottom of the main door and pushed through it some bread and some water. These were the only contacts I had with other individuals during my stay there and I was totally unable to guess how long I had already spent there. Suddenly the new Chief Guard came and said:
"So you are the scoundrel who tells nasty things about my predecessor," and he punched me in the nose. He then took me out this isolation cell, put a leash on my dog collar and lead me to my usual cell.
Once there, I found Dave, sad, defeated, broken by the treatment the prison had given him. I tried to cheer him up, but with no immediate result. He asked me what had happened in court and I told him what happened there and also what happened once I was back in the prison. He was glad to see me again because he thought he would never see me anymore. He asked me:
"Don’t you feel defeated and locked forever here, like me ?"
"No, I think there remain only one possibility and I will try to do what’s needed."
"Which possibility ? I don’t see any hope for any of us anymore."
"One word : escape."
And then it was "lights out" and I was glad I did not have to give more details. In fact I knew where I wanted to go to be protected, far from this prison. The problem was that I did not know how to get there. So, I turned on my plank, face towards the wall and … I slept very well.
The next morning Dave asked me how I thought I could escape. I told him that I did not know yet. I also told refused to tell him where I would go if I ever succeeded to get out of this prison ! I simply told him that I hoped the DA would start the investigations I had requested. In fact I knew that he would do nothing of the kind, but my project required secrecy.
The prison routine started again, with a special status for Dave and me regarding our haircut. There was an addition, a new prisoner in our wing: Nicholas. This boy was constantly crying and I could see from far that he was not working very efficiently.
The new Chief Guard behaved now brutally with me and all the guards had changed my name (Tannenberg) and my number (175483) into "scoundrel" but I survived this. I also survived the fact that Dave could now have decent eyebrows, but that mine were again shaved every Sunday during "free time".
During our first free time after I came back from isolation, the Chief Guard shaved as usually Dave’s head and then mine. Suddenly a smile illuminated the Chief Guard’s cruel face and he called:
"Bring Nicholas to me".
The other Guards, and most prisoners, had understood what this meant. Nicholas, who did not understand, was chained, handcuffed and got a dog collar. He was then seated on the chair I had just vacated. The Chief Guard told him:
"So you are my new little animal. But," he began to shout, "DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD TO PAY FOR YOUR CRIME. I will teach you a lesson".
As could be expected, the Chief guard started to shave nastily, brutally, the boor 16 years old and none of us, me included for my great shame, dared utter an objection.
From then on, the Chief Guard’s routine on Sundays was longer: a nearly mild shaving for Dave and me, but a cruel one for Nicholas. I must say that the boy grew rapidly and was soon a man. If he had not been in chains, I don’t know what he would have done to the Chief Guard who kept speaking about "That poor nice flower you tried to rape."
But Dave remained defeated: he was convinced that the Director would keep him in prison for the rest of his life. I started discretely to make escape plans, I did not abandon. Whenever the Chief Guard came to check our headshave, or to give us a new one, Dave simply bent his head down showing how obedient he was. I had done so in the beginning, before the Chief Guard attacked Dave, but now I kept my head proudly straight and I did not remain passive when the Chief Guard shaved me.
The new Chief Guard seemed to like Dave’s submissive attitude and to dislike my "proud" behaviour. One evening, he decided that Dave could be freed of his dog collar, with the mention "REBEL" but that I was to wear permanently this infamous dog collar. He also changed my prison hat for a red one "visible from everywhere". I realized that I had chosen the wrong path: for my future escape I had to be considered as a "good prisoner". So I adopted a submissive attitude too. The situations were very different: Dave had adopted this attitude because he had no more hope, on the contrary I had adopted this attitude because I had escape plans, but I wanted to hide that fact.
Slightly more than two years later, I was called in the Director’s office. This powerful man explained to me that my brother had passed away. In his will, he had requested my presence at his funerals, asking the Director of "my brother’s jail" to give me a short "exit pass despite his bad behaviour". My brother had left a letter saying that he knew that "my brother has been severely sentenced for very serious crimes, but he is the only relative I have." The Director gave me three days: one to go to the big city where my brother lived, one for the funerals and one to come back. He told me that my recent behaviour had convinced him that I was now accepting my sentence and behaving adequately.
As soon as I was back in my cell, I told Dave what I considered a good news. He disagreed. I did not tell him why I considered this as a good news, but I decided to behave as a model prisoner.
The next day, the Chief Guard inspected me completely. He told me to come with him in a small room where I had to undress for a "special" body search which I am not going to describe here. The Chief Guard gave me a "special" hair and face shave and sent me, completely chained, to the transportation van. This time, I was again locked in one of the small cells but attached more comfortably to the ring provided for that purpose. I was alone with a not too nasty guard. The trip from the prison to the city where my brother lived was very long, so I waited till the guard got tired by his lack of activity, but not too much: he might have decided to whip me. So I dared speak to my guard:
"Chief, permission to speak ?"
"What is it that you want prisoner ? You know that normally you are not allowed to say one work during working time."
Chief was not his real title, but I thought it might smoother some feathers. It was an apparent success, so I continued:
"Chief, don’t you think that it would be disrespectful for my dear dead one to appear in front of his friends in prison uniform and in chains. After all", I was pleading now, like a real lawyer "you know that I am not a dangerous prisoner. On the contrary, I am really doing my best to obey all orders."
"That’s true, prisoner, you are a well behaving prisoner and even a deserving one".
"Do you think you might allow me to change clothes, just for the cemetery ?"
"I must keep an eye on you."
"Chief, you could leave me with discrete handcuffs."
"How then, prisoner ?"
"Well, you could take me in the morning, with my chains, to my brother’s apartment and let me put on one of his suits, I know we had about the same size."
"I must keep an eye on you, prisoner, I must have full control on you."
"Yes chief," and I stopped talking for a certain time. When I felt that the guard was getting bored, I told him:
"Chief, you gave me an idea. You could take me, dressed as I am now, in chains, to my my brother’s apartment early in the morning. There I would change and you would place again the handcuffs on me, holding them with a discrete chain to avoid hurting my brother’s friends feelings. After the ceremony you could bring me back to his apartment and I would put on immediately my prison uniform. Nobody would know it and my brother would be honored as he deserves it."
The guard remained silent during a long period of time. He then said:
"Maybe, I must think about it"
I remained silent for a long time and then I told the guard:
"Chief, I thought again about this project. It sounds stupid. Maybe my brother wanted me to be forced to appear in chains and prison uniform to show that he was superior to me."
"Certainly not, a brother remains a brother. I will take you there tomorrow morning and you will do as I instruct to do. If you refuse my orders, I will whip you in the cemetery. Now, keep quiet and pray for your brother."
I started seriously to pray, not for my brother but for the real Mark Tannenberg. I was concentrating on all the possible mistakes I should avoid if I wanted to stop being whipped. The van arrived late in the courtyard of an old police station. The guard, acting rather brutally, extracted me from my tiny cell only to throw me in a solid one inside the police station. The difference with the prison is that I got a relatively decent meal and that I had a cover for the night. The next morning, the guard told me to follow him out of the cell. He asked policemen to help him with a police car which he first drove, with me in it, to my parents apartment. In fact, my brother did not want to be recognized by his or my neighbours, so he chose to live in our parents apartment. I remind the reader that our good parents had died shortly before my brother was arrested. We had thus not disposed yet of their apartment.
The guard let me change clothes. I chose an ad hoc suit in my brother’s cupboard and left my prison uniform and chains in his bedroom. The Guard placed discrete handcuffs on my hands placed forwards. He stood next to me holding the handcuffs by a short chain. We went in this attire to the cemetery and all that had to be done there was done. It was strange to see the name engraved on my brother’s tomb: Mark Tannenberg. I was the only one to know that the real Mark was alive and present !
Immediately after this ceremony, the guard told me that we had to go back to the apartment in order to let me change back into prison uniform and chain. He added that I would have to spend more time in the police station comfortable cell because the transportation van would only be available the next day.
When we arrived at my parents apartment, I told the guard:
"Could you please let me stay alone during a few minutes after I change clothes. I would like to pray and remember my dear brother in his bedroom where I will probably never more be allowed to go ?"
The guard gave me his authorization, after taking off my handcuffs to let my hands free and let me thus change clothes.
I rapidly disappeared in the bedroom, which was my parents’ old bedroom. There, I knew that there was a safe. I found it: the code had not been changed. In it I found cash, my own old passport and my own old driver’s licence: my brother had never dared changed these federal documents. There was also my own credit card. I took all these documents and disappeared through a small door leading to the kitchen. There, I knew that there was another door to the apartment. This door was meant to take the dustbin out, this time it enabled me to leave the apartment and then very discreetly, the building.
I ran to a car rental garage which was in the neighbourhood, got a car and started to drive as carefully as my situation required it: I did not want to be stupidly arrested by a cop for speeding. I went to the canadian border. There a border policeman laughed and told me that I did not really look to my own picture, being bald in reality. I replied that he could check my fingerprints if he wanted. He did so and the fingerprints were OK. I now had the proof that I was the real Mark Tannenberg. Nevertheless, I chose to be as far as possible from my prison. I jumped in a plane and flew to Paris. There I changed all the money I had. I spent the night in a great hotel, in Paris. That was my last luxury before enlisting in the French Foreign Legion, which I did the next morning in Fort de Nogent, near Paris. I had payed everywhere in cash, taking care not to leave any trail.