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Klaus, Mark, and Dave : part 3 by thadeusz
First week in prison
The next day, I woke up once more on the strident sound of the siren. I had dreamed that all that was only a nightmare, and now I realized it was not the case. I placed my hands on my neck to feel the reality of my dog collar and I was tempted to cry: the Chief Guard had reduced me to the status of "dog".
Besides that, my second day went by like the first one. The Chief Guard came once more near me, raised my prison hat and passed his hand on my hand as if he was checking whether I needed a haircut or not. Of course, he promised me a "severe haircut" and he added that he might need sandpaper to get my head clean. He left me shivering once more.
I worked hard, probably more than was really necessary. I did not follow Dave’s survival advice, but I have always been like that: when I work, I give it all I can. I also hoped that my attitude would calm down the Chief Guard. We worked with bare hands. I was not used to manual work and at the end of this day, I had many serious scrapes on both hands. Luckily Dave helped me with good advices once we were back in our "free domain", our cell. Among other things, he carefully cleaned my poor hands. I still had my dog collar, but I had gotten used to it. So as soon as ‘lights out’ was announced, I prepared my plank for the night and I started rapidly to sleep: I was decided to be in good shape for the next day.
My main problem for the time being was the absolute silence, except for the drummer and for the chat with Dave. I was used to work with music, classical music. Now they had even succeeded to deprive me of Mozart.
Of course the Chief Guard had come close to me at the end of the day and asked me:
"Did you work well, prisoner 175483 ?"
I bent my head down and answered with humility: "Chief Guard, this prisoner has done his best. He sincerely hopes that it was sufficient but he is aware of his limitations."
"Well my boy, this shows that your permanent dog collar is helping you. You will keep it for a long time. Be ready for tomorrow, it is another hard work day."
This continued without any change till the end of the first week. On Sunday, prisoners had a few hours "free time" in a big common room. That means that we could have a shower and clean clothes. More important, we had no shackles and no handcuffs during a period of three hours and we had a third hot meal at lunch time.
Just after lunch, the Chief Guard came close to me. He chained me despite the free time and told me:
"Sit here, 175483."
He was constantly referring to me only by my prison number, which was humiliating. He was calling other prisoners by their name. The Chief Guard then once again took possession of my head, simply by placing one hand on the top of my head. I was shivering more than ever. The Chief Guard started to move my head in all possible directions. The other prisoners had stopped talking and were now looking at me. Suddenly the Chief Guard took clippers. He showed me that his clippers had no guard and he started to shave my head once again. He passed carefully from front to neck, in the middle of my head. Then he passed again next to it, he turned my head without asking me to follow his moves: he was manipulating me like an object, once again. It lasted a certain time, longer than the first time. The Chief Guard really wanted to push and pull my poor head, to turn it to the left and then to the right. He even pushed it on each my shoulders. He was brutal and he hurt me, but I did not dare say anything. Suddenly he said:
"That’s all for today, but I will check your head everyday and if you need it, I will shave it again next Sunday."
He then told me to stand up and he ordered one of the guards to unchain me ! I was in a state of shock ! I did not say anything until long after Dave and me were back in our cell. Dave-the-wise-prisoner explained:
"This Chief Guard is a pain in the ass. He always does it with new prisoners. He did not do it with your brother. Probably because he was paid for that. Wait patiently until a new prisoner, a new slave, comes here. The Chief Guard will stop taking extra care of you, Tanner."
"Dave, did he do it with you ?"
"Of course, I could have warned you but it would have served no purpose. Simply, try to resist mentally. Be strong. The Chief Guard attitude is despicable, but you can only change it if your appearance shows that you don’t care."
"But I do care, and my whole body is shivering whenever he approaches."
"Then you are doomed my friend. Try to learn to resist mentally, I can help but in one year I am out of this place."
But I could not control my body’s reactions of fear and this process went on. Each week, I got a "special shave" given by the Chief Guard during our so called "free time". I was always trembling, which seemed to fill the Chief Guard with glee. After the fourth week, the Chief Guard did his spiel once again and then, instead of letting me go, he added:
"You really look filthy, prisoner 175483. I will also give you a face shave !"
At that moment, I started to shiver even more. My whole body was trembling: I knew very well that I had shaved this very morning in our cell and I was wondering what new form of torture the Chief Guard had invented. He looked at my uncontrolled quivering body and smiled viciously. He then started with his clippers on my cheeks, on my forehead, on the sides of my ears, everywhere even where it was not necessary. He was silent which made him even more threatening. He then tried to get at the small hairs in my ears and in my nostrils. Suddenly he had an inspiration:
"I know why you look like a beast, your eyebrows should be shaved too."
At that very moment, Dave, who was standing close to me, shouted:
"You can’t do that. This guy is a decent prisoner and you know he should not be here."
"Prisoner Dave, I have decided that 175483 will have his eyebrows removed, NOW."
"But you can’t do that Chief Guard, you know very well that it’s illegal."
"Dave, you are a prisoner and thus the scum of the earth. Here I say what is legal and what is not. Guards, get this prisoner and chain him too."
Then the Chief Guard continued his work and removed my eyebrows. He did it rather rapidly and did not show the dreadful joy I had expected in his eyes. As soon as he was done with me, he made me stand up with my chains and he turned towards Dave.
He pushed dave on the chair I had just vacated and he started to shave his head savagely saying things such as:
"Aha ! It is illegal ! Aha ! The sentenced man knows the law better than I do. The little animal tries to provoke a rebellion in MY prison !"
He had taken possession of Dave’s head, like he had done with mine but Dave was wise and did not shiver, at least apparently. This enraged the Chief Guard who kept pushing and pulling Dave’s head in order to shave already shaved places. Finally the Chief Guard attacked my friend’s face and shaved his eyebrows. In order to do so, he took great care to go slowly so that he could appreciate. I was close to them and I noticed that Dave who had not shivered before was now crying.
Mark’s Waking up
As soon as he was done, the Chief Guard told his guards:
"Take this rebel to isolation, I will discuss with director what we are going to do with him."
When "free time" was over we all went back to our cells. At the entrance of the cell, the guards took off my chains without a word. Then came another "ordinary" week. But I was alone now and could not be chained to Dave who was apparently in isolation. This was bad for me because Dave was intelligent and brave. He was also well adapted to this prison where he should never have landed for such a small theft ! But the fact that this brutal headshave had been imposed to a friend, and that I could have an external view on it, made me seriously think. I realized that I ought to react, but to react smartly. During the next week, I also realized that all this drumming was precisely meant to stop us, the prisoners, to think … and to rebel. In fact, thinking about my old books in my previous life, I realized that this drummer noise was exactly the same as that used on Roman galleys: not only keep the slaves in rhythm, but stop them thinking like real human beings !
On the next day, during formation, I was still alone. The Chief Guard came and passed his hand as usually on my bare head, then on my bare face. He simply told the guards : "Put him on the wheelbarrow."
That’s when I learned how this tool functioned. When I came down of the truck, close to the place where I should work, I was provided with a harness, like a horse. This harness was also fixed on the wheelbarrow and my hands were chained to each of the wheelbarrow handles, in my back. I was told to pull this machine behind me to different places, let the prisoners working there fill the wheelbarrow with the gravel they produced and then start back pulling a full load. I remained in that position during the full working day, even during our short rest. A guard freed my right hand to enable me to drink and eat, and immediately after put it back "where it belonged": the handles !
This job was even more extenuating than the regular job. I felt like a horse, a cart horse, and no longer like a man. On top of this the drummer kept giving his rhythm which I unconsciously tried to follow, walking in steps with it. But something had changed. I did not digest the treatment which had been inflicted to my friend, yes rapidly Dave had become a real friend !
Every morning, while forming the ranks and chaining the inmates, and every evening while taking our chains off and letting us go back to our cells, the Chief Guard came, raised my prison hat, passed his hand on my head to check my hair and placed a finger inside my dog collar as if he wanted to check whether I was thick enough to "kill the turkey". But now that I had seen him acting on another, moreover on my friend Dave, I did not shiver anymore. I remained straight, in the position of attention, apparently impassive and emotionless. Obviously the Chief Guard found this less pleasant but since he was a beast, he nevertheless continued as before !
The following Sunday, as usually, the Chief Guard had me chained and seated during the only "free time" we prisoners had. He tried to take possession of me by putting his hand on my head, but unluckily for him, whenever he tried to pushed my head backwards, I pushed it forward in such a way that he could not say that I was resisting his orders. I kept doing so, trying to volunteer moves, in order to help the Chief Guard, but starting exactly the contrary of what he wanted to force me to do. I made sure that my "anti-movements" of the head were not too obvious, but they existed and showed the Chief Guard that there was a form of resistance. I made sure that my contradictory moves were not too obvious for the other inmates. The Chief Guard nevertheless succeeded to move his clippers on my head and on my eyebrows, but it was useless: I was already completely bald. Finally he abandoned this not too visible fight, but he gave the order to let me remain in chains even in my cell. This made it very difficult for me to eat my evening meal, and later my morning grub. A guard passed by my cell and told me to kneel and eat directly in that "dog" position. Luckily the next evening, my chains were taken away for the night.
Dave reappeared on the next Sunday evening, after our evening meal. He had also been shaved, eyebrows included. This proud man seemed completely reduced to nothing. So I let him rest a bit, but it is only the next evening that he told me his story:
"The Chief Guard had me during one week in isolation. That’s an awful place, try never to be sent there. There is nobody to protect you. So one day, or night I have no way to know, the Chief Guard entered my cell and since I was still completely chained, he took my pants down and shaved …, " speaking seemed too difficult for Dave, so I tried to help him:
"He shaved there ?"
But Dave did not reply. He kept silent and as soon as possible, he lowered his plank and turned towards the wall without one more word.
It is only the next evening that he told me:
"You asked what the Chief Guard did when he lowered my pants. Well he shaved my private parts saying that I was not a man anymore. And then he … used the neat place he had made. At the end he forced me to keep this special dog collar."
I looked closely at Dave: he had now, like me, a permanent dog collar, but his had a word engraved on it: "REBEL"
Dave added something even worse:
"When my week in isolation was over, the Chief Guard took me to the Director who gave me two years Additional Detention Time. Two years ! And I thought that next year I would be free again."
"How could the Director give you two years ADT ?"
"He simply said that I got one year because I refused to obey orders, and one year because I made nasty comments about the Chief Guard. The Director even added that he could give ADT at any moment and for any motive he wanted, even 1 minute before letting me go. He also said that I had what I deserved as ‘dirty N**R. I am afraid now he will try to keep me forever, as N**R slave."
I spent most of the night trying to console my friend, but Dave seemed to be a broken man. I did not know then, and I still don’t know, if this was due to the two years ADT or to the special shaving Dave had been subjected to, or to what came next and. Dave was a proud man. He never accepted to describe precisely what the Chief Guard did to him when they were alone in an isolation cell, while he was chained and the Chief Guard free.
Since his liberation from isolation cell, Dave was subject to the same treatment as me: every morning and every evening, the Chief Guard imposed his hand on our bare heads and faces, claiming he was petting us and thus checking how our hair had grown. In fact he was stroking us as if we were his … pets, and in fact he had done what he could to transform us into his dogs since we were provided with a permanent dog collar. It worked as he expected with Dave but now, it no longer worked with me.
Each Sunday we were both chained and we got a "special" head and face shave. I did no longer react, knowing that otherwise I would be chained for the night, but I behaved as if I did not mind anymore. Dave was constantly frightened: he tried to obey the guards’ orders even before they were formulated hoping to be freed as soon as possible.
I think that this attitude was precisely what would convince the Chief Guard and the Director to give him more ADT, knowing that they would keep an efficient and obedient prisoner and worker. My own attitude was ignored by these authorities, but at least I fell that I continued to be a real man, maybe a better one than before.