Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bela Abel Opens Wide the Bars Into Prison in The Indian Gift...

Bela Abel is an imaginative writer with a unique perspective about life earned from time spent behind bars in an American prison. His collection of fictional stories take place in the fictional Bayboro Correctional Facility. His characters go through the tedium and violence of American prison life intermixed with magical reality and supernatural elements. These magical elements appear in many ways from subtle signs to overwhelming demonic powers, but no matter how many of those supernatural forces are present in the plot, Abel insists that his short stories reflect the actual life events that had happened to him directly or to people he has been locked up with.
What, Benny?
No, I don’t have a tag. They gave you a name tag because you can’t talk. Very kind of them. No, nobody else is getting a name tag, unless one is a runner. Runners do have name tags. Like this pussy ass, Franklin. Our seg runner, he just passed with hot water. He also brings ice and news. Loose tongue, you know. A man shouldn’t do like that — la-la-la-la-la-la like a market gossip monger. He is an assmonger too. How do I know? I know. You be here as long as I am, and you’ll know it too. This is my fourth year in this apartment. Cozy, huh? Eight feet by eight, two bunks, two tables. All other woodpeckers have less than half as much. All that for me alone. Cripples like me are rare. Yes, I am getting layover men once in a while, like yourself, but most are moved to the hospital in two maybe three days — whenever a room is ready for them there. Why that? It’s simple. Because damn guards hate to walk you down to the hospital every morning for vital signs and every
afternoon for procedures, that’s why! Putting all those chains on you, calling lockdown in hallway, and shit — they hate it. When you are in the hospital seg it all will be just three steps away, you’ll see.
* * * 
Maybe you’re right, Benny, maybe I should get a name tag. Last three days I felt like a hospital runner, or, say, segregation hospital runner, if they have one. No, man, no, you’re not a trouble at all. I actually like that you are here. You’re a perfect neighbor, Benny, just perfect — not a word of complaint. By the way, I meant to ask you about your name, Benny Spaeth. You must be German, I mean of German origin, right? I’ve been to Germany, to Stuttgart. And I used to live in Sweden, in Malmö. Sweden is like a Scandinavian Germany. You see, I’m like everything here, of some outer origin. So you are not from Germany yourself, but you are not from Bayboro either, I reckon? You have this Yankee look, you know. I wish I could hear you talking. Aha, up North. OK, don’t try, I’ll guess. Wisconsin? Minnesota? Aha, Minnesota. You see, that makes two of us. I am from North too. My name is Yukke J-A-R-V-I-N-E-N. Järvinen with “J” almost silent, so it should be pronounced like “Järvinen.” I bet you’ve never heard a name like that. You see, I knew it! But in the place where I came from a name like that is a common name. Yukke Järvinen is a Finnish name. Yes, I am a Finn. Not born in Finland, but of Finnish descent. Now I see you are looking puzzled. I know, and I’ll tell you why I am here. I’ll try. Just lie down and listen. You need rest and the story is not as simple as some of those woodpeckers may think. You’ll see.

The Indian Gift: 
The Chronicles of Bayboro Correctional Facility III

By Bela Abel

Many people like me who are from the country seldom know the realities of the people living in today's world... For instance, I have never seen an individual intoxicated... I have never known somebody who was in jail... Perhaps that is the reason I wanted to read Bela Abel's book; it is illuminating to say the least... For me, it was an introduction to some of those individuals who find themselves imprisoned for one crime or another. 

...that Yukke Järvinen is 
locked here for four lives.
 Locked, although, as you can
 see, I can’t run anywhere
 even if I wanted to. 
I am mobile like a two-legged

 dog. Yeah, although all that

I am telling you, Benny, 
does not mean a thing, or,
 even if it does, it means little.
 And, sure, I can read you,
 you want me to tell you what
 does mean a thing then, 
right? You do, Benny?
 I’ll tell you then.

After I read it, for me, a criminal became...an individual to know... No I am neither naive nor uneducated, but Abel's books opens up a world that many of us would never know intimately. He introduces us to people who have a story to share... I appreciated the opportunity...

The Indian Gift is an anthology with the title story closing the book. You can find story summaries on the author's web site. Each are unique and have new characters; all are prisoners in fictional Bayboro Correctional Facility...

Blur. The first story reveals the plight of the physically handicapped in prison. Normally alone, they had housed a wounded man there until arrangements can be made to move him to the hospital. My first thought was that Yukke was so lonely and in need of company that he started talking and never stopped. He had a captive audience at first, but soon the other man tried to start communicating even though he couldn't talk.

By talking to his silent roommate, readers learn the life story of Yukke Jarvinen...

You, Americans are caring, I know. See for yourself — a handicapped cell, wall handles, and shit. Same in the shower room. I think if I was to be hanged, I bet my gallows would have a handicapped ramp. I would be hung with my wheelchair. Whoosh! No, Benny, don’t laugh. It’s bad to laugh in your condition, you can’t shake. No, just listen, listen. Whoosh! The damn wheelchair falls down the hatch, and I am hanging like a piece of Finnish cervelat. You know what cervelat is? It is sausage, salami. You know, I bet salami is a Finnish name!...

Needless to say, he kept right on talking, except when one or the other needed to sleep... I think this was the perfect story to begin the book and I enjoyed it and certainly did get to know Yukke!

Farewell to Jimmy Lee was sad and to many will be unfathomable. Consider if you would how you would "throw a party" or celebrate when one of your friends is being released. All of the options were explored, including sharing an "intimate" party... or other rites that have been used:
Like, say, the Brotherhood boys just give each other a damn good last day beating. All getting together in a circle and beat the lucky one, one who is leaving. They beat the shit out of him, taking turns, one after another, until he will crawl out on his four or will take a nap. Then, on the next day, on his way home, he will feel how much his friends care...
The horrible thing was that it was almost understandable why violence would be considered a positive sign of congratulatory farewells from his close mates...

Quincunx was a personal story of how a man, simply called Q, came to the author to buy his legal services, using coffee as his trade... Actually, what he wanted was to have Bela write out his personal story...by that time Bela had begun writing on a routine basis...
But I remember when I saw her there, everything was crystal clear and I said to myself, ‘Gee, Marty, look at that whore! What a whore — just what doctor had ordered!’ “I remember it was nicely cool night, not too cold, it was only early October. Someone’s car on the lot was open and radio played ‘Tainted Love.’ It was all in sync — I saw her there, standing at the time of my utmost need — right at that moment, didn’t you get it, Belkins?” “Yes,” I sang, “tainted lo-ove!”
Q nodded to me. “That’s it. There she was — a whore and maybe even worse, a slut. Or, actually, neither one. It is important, Belkins, to put it down. I mean in a sense of a motive important. I’ve got the motive; OK, I was motivated, you know, yes, that’s the word!” “Tainted lo-ove,” I sang. “Q, what are you here for, what have you done? Is it a rape, assault, murder? Or what?” Was it in my question or something else that spurred Q for a moment? But he suddenly stood up from my bunk...
Abel is a great storyteller. His words ring true for those who are living in correctional facilities. There are four additional stories in the book... But it's not meant to be totally entertaining, except maybe for those who have had the experience and can relate or disagree with the author. I knew a pastor who had left the church I was attending at that time, to take on a prison ministry... Some of you may be called for a mission of some sort. I have tried in the past to find somewhere where I could easily pass on my books to the prison library, with no success... This book is an excellent way to begin to consider sharing with our prison population. Or, to help as you consider former inmates for positions in your community and/or for jobs... Highly recommended  in general, but social workers, sociologists, teachers, prison workers, and people in similar positions, should consider this a must-read in my opinion...


No comments:

Post a Comment