Eight Days in Prison

By on Jan 13, 2019 in Essays

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 Concert for Change flyer, subdued hopeful colors


It’s October 13, 2016. A little over a month has passed since I began my little experiment. At the beginning of this, I was the clerk in the counselors’ offices. I was a peer educator. I was preparing for an important upcoming concert. I lived in Housing Unit Three, where I’d lived since early 2011.

Everything about my situation has charged.

I’m no longer the counselors’ clerk. I’m no longer a peer educator. I live in Housing Unit Two now, which I hate. I work in caustics doling out chemicals seven days a week, on both first and second shift. Between forty and fifty hours a week. I make $28.80 a month.

For the past three years, I’d been able to create the illusion of stability, but that’s exactly what it was; an illusion. Prison is a very transitory environment where stability doesn’t exist. I don’t know that it truly exists anywhere, now that I think about it. Life is constantly changing, no matter where or who you are.

The concert was a huge success. Two sold-out shows with the gym filled to capacity. I was proud of the guys. No one will ever hear what we accomplished, but it was really something special. It deserved to be recorded. It was a work of art.

The Latinos are having their concert on October 23. They recruited me into their band. There’s always room for a bad-ass guitar player. I’m still in charge of the band room, so I offered to do  their sound for them and run the mixer, but they were all like, “Shut up, Neek, and plug in your guitar.” I’m not mad at them. I love any chance to play some music and show off a little bit.

I know I said I was only going to do this journal for seven days, but when I read back what I’d written, it didn’t seem to end. It just sort of stopped. No closure at all. Hopefully, this epilogue will accomplish that. Also, hopefully, it’ll get published somewhere. Who knows?

I will be a free man again. There are a thousand questions I ask myself on a daily basis concerning this reality, mostly along the lines of, “What will I do for a living?” and “Will I be able to adjust to freedom after so many years in captivity?” along with many more. The one thing I really hope, though, is that it will be easier to create the illusion of stability out there. Trust me, I’ve had enough chaos to last me several lifetimes.

With that, I’ll take my leave. Thanks for listening to my insignificant yammerings. A word of caution to any of you out there thinking of doing anything illegal: don’t. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.


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Nicholas Chittick is a writer and musician who lives in Danville, Illinois, where he now teaches music theory. He plans to relocate in 2027. Maybe sooner, with a little luck. You can find more of his work at PrisonsFoundation.org.