The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



Jacob is in the red, whatever that color symbolizes. For him it means release is imminent. He wants me to call Records or Intake to see if they can tell me if it will be today. Of course those departments are not listed on the phone directory. I dialed 0 and waited. When he answered, I asked for Records.

“They won’t even pick up. What are you looking for?”

“My son is in the red, and I want to find out if he might get out today.”

He told me that these guys are just busting to get out and start pushing, but that doesn’t mean they are getting out. He asked for the inmate’s name and then asked who I was. Wife? Girlfriend?

“I’m his mother.”

He begins, “Well, mum….”.

I am definitely not this man’s mother. He then said he was going to explain things to me; and if I didn’t understand, just interrupt. My husband was making those universally rude hand motions as I tried to pay attention to the lesson.

The man read dates and motions from the screen in front of his face. I already knew all this. I told him the judge signed the order on the 10th. He said that did not mean Jacob was getting out on the 10th.

“I know; it’s the 12th.”

He had told me to interrupt if I had questions, but my interruptions agitated him as his education lesson in how it all works was agitating me.

I told him that I had information from Jacob’s lawyer and his parole officer with the probable time frame for release. In fact he had an appointment with that parole officer the next day. Should I call to cancel it? He dismisses their information as unreliable, and as if to say they should just stay in their own lane.

I ask, “Are you saying they are lying?” This is the great cross-examination question to a witness. ‘Are you saying so-and-so is a liar? This was a question to Jacob’s witnesses when their testimony differed in a minor detail. So the answer can only be that you are the liar or the other person is a liar.

Court is theater or maybe it is a magic show where a question is like the sleight-of-hand to distract from the big thing with a little thing. What was clear was that these witnesses had not rehearsed for the show or they would had identical stories to the detail. The main point of their testimony was they had seen and heard nothing in Jacob’s matchbox upstairs where most of them slept on that hot night before Jacob’s wedding.

Finally my instructor gives up on me, and says; “I’m going to transfer you to Discharge and Release.”

“Thank you.”

“The disembodied voice on the other side of this call tells me the hours of operation and a second phone number to chase.

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